It’s begining to look a lot like I’m late decorating for Christmas.

Are you still eating Thanksgiving leftovers? Are you still in a turkey coma? I hope everyone had a good holiday. Here’s a couple of pics of the last of our turkey which went into some pies. Our pot pies are one crust only – which caused a lot of controversy in our house at first. No bottom crust? Crazy. But now everyone’s in line.

img_1460img_1467I know it’s December, and I know everyone has moved onto lights and trees and stockings hung by the chimney with care – but I’m a little behind. The leaves are still falling in our neighborhood and my dead mums are still by the front door. And guess what – I don’t really care. The plaque on the door still says Gobble Gobble and my mantle is still living in the past too.

This weekend is it. I’m on it. I need to make the move. The switch. Goodbye rotting, half eaten pumpkins! Hello Christmas. Can’t wait! Well, I mean, I can wait just a little.  I’m not doing it today. I’ll do it tomorrow. When I say weekend I mean Saturday. Sunday tops.

The gobble gobble 

It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving – my absolute favorite time of year. Who would have guessed that a vegetarian Indian girl who never even really acknowledged the holiday until 1991, would be this obsessed. I hear my husband saying it’s all him. He’s the reason I love it. Maybe. 

First turkey day ever: Milford, PA circa 1991

Memory: Aunt Dee Dee (whose real name is Mary inexplicably) handing me the sausage to cut up for stuffing. First time I ever touched sausage. Good times.

For years we went to her house every year – even right after my little baby girl was born. Speaking of baby girl – she came home for the holiday. On her 18th birthday. We missed cake for breakfast so we did cake at a normal time. 

18. As in a year younger then I was when I went to my first Thanksgiving in Milford. This is some twisted time warp. But she’s home! And by home I mean she’s out with friends but in the same town as us. I’ll take it.

 We also saw some oldies but goodies. Katherine. Howard and Luigi. Santa. And Janey. The picture says it all. It’s blurry. Off center. Everyone’s smiling – even Howard – he’s the bald head floating on top of Janey. (On a side note) Katherine has her tree up. We have neighbors who have lights up. I know it’s tradition but I’m still rocking the pumpkins. I need to hold on to pumpkins people. And that is in no way a diss to Christmas-on-Thanksgiving people. You do you.

So anyway it’s the Tuesday before…Thursday  and all through the house, not a creature was stirr… that’s not true. Creatures are stirring. They’re stirring all over the place. 

Turkey #1 is in the brine! Do you brine? Do you dry rub instead? Do you do none of the above and your turkey comes out better then mine? Don’t tell me.

I brine because I’m a sheep to The Food Network. If Ina tells me to do something – by god I do it. My brine is a combo of mulling ingredients and things I’ve heard are good to dump in there.  Yes that is star anise in there. And yes, also some dried apples and pepper cloves. Citrus? Yep. Onions and garlic? Yep. Good turkey. Nice turkey. What do I care – I’m not eating it! Just kidding..  And now something that has nothing to do with anything but is just as important. I want to share a photo taken by an amazing photographer(among other things) in our town – who as fate would have it just happened to be my baby girls soccer coach in middle school. Small beautiful world. 

He took this pic of the lake in our town. I screenshot (or is it screenshotted? Is that even a word?) it a week ago and have been looking at it ever since. I was totally going to pretend that I took it – but he’s too nice a guy. Thanks Pat for sharing your talent!

 

Thanksgiving week is on – and in the words of Jim Morrison or Mandela or Bobby Flay…the only way out is through. Let’s do this.

Times they are a changin’

Last week we decided to make what seemed like a few small changes. We have a playset in the back yard that hadn’t been used in years. With a 17 year old about to graduate and a 12 year old boy obsessed with his trampoline, we thought it was a safe bet to get rid of it.

But as it was being taken down, piece by piece, I had a sinking feeling. I don’t remember being that emotional when we moved them from the crib to the bed – maybe because the rest of their room was still covered with toys and they were still a version of land locked with us at home.

The other change was a much needed refresh of my daughter’s room. New paint, new dresser, new bed. It was time to say goodbye to Ikea furniture that lasted her for more than a decade (held together by glue and prayer). But even when we were cleaning out the room it still felt like she would be in it. She picked the colors, the furniture, etc. It didn’t feel like an end, just the next step.

When the kids went from carseat to booster to nothing, we celebrated. When the training wheels came off, we celebrated. Even when my son left his elementary school last year, we celebrated. Our babies were amazing but we have a lot of fun with our kids. We live in a neighborhood that let our kids bike around, walk around and now drive around. We always felt so happy when they made another, brave step. Maybe because at the end of those steps they came back home. It didn’t feel like an end.

The playset being taken away felt like an end.

I know it’s normal and parents all through time have done this. I know there are bigger moments to come, graduation, weddings, etc. But this feels like a big movement. A home that doesn’t have little feet that’ll climb the slide. A home where I don’t stand at the kitchen sink and watch them play. Truth be told they haven’t touched it in years, and it’s a great big eyesore, which is why it was so easy to decide to get rid of it. Still it stung.

Here’s a look down memory lane and then the memory being demolished and taken away. Just kidding. Not really.
 

   
    
    
  

 

Good morning roast

Sometimes…on a Friday morning, for no good reason, I wake up and make a roast. 

Normal right?

A few years ago my husband got me a Dutch oven. It’s high romance around here. Since then, I’ve slow braised the hell out of chicken, beef and lamb. And oh the chili I’ve made! 

I don’t make any veggie things in it because I feel like there’s braised meat in the bones of this Dutch oven. The soul of it is now meat. That’s right. It’s got a meat soul.

It’s an easy recipe. Cover the roast in salt, pepper and garlic. Sear the meat on high to get crust. Let the meat rest while you cook down onions, carrots and celery. Then add beef stock and a few bay leafs. Put the beef back in. Cover and into a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours depending on size of roast. Done! 

Now go about your day, smelling like meat and bay leafs. You’re welcome.

   
    
    
   

Garbage in garbage out 

  
When I left the house this morning for a fun lunch with some friends, this garbage can did not look like this. 

How long do you think my crew would have kept the tower of trash going? The box of OJ is barely hanging on. You can’t see it, but someone lodged a banana peel on one of the sides. 

Do you think they would have just let it overflow and gone about their day? Which, by the way, consisted of napping and eating. 

I know they were waiting for me to get home to change the bag. I know because very much like a full dishwasher that needs emptying, full garbage cans can only be seen by my eyes. I’m magical like that. 

Here’s the funniest part of this whole thing. After our lovely lunch – we went to The Container Store. The mecca of organization and cleanliness! Ha! I was walking around in a daze thinking about spice racks in alphabetical order while my house was basically a dump!  I’m obviously delusional. 

I’ll aim a little lower. Is there such a thing as The Bigger Garbage Can store? Sigh. 

The Edith Chair

My husband Joe and I have been talking about getting a new couch for ages. Actually he’s been talking about it. I’ve been avoiding the talk. Not because I don’t want a new couch, I’ve been avoiding it because I know what one piece of new furniture means. It’s a slippery slope. It’s also not that I’m frugal and I don’t want to spend the money, it’s just that I’m fine with it all. Yeah the sofa wasn’t perfect, but wasn’t horrible. It didn’t smell. It didn’t have visable stains. Was it comfortable? No. But I got over that like 5 years ago.

In the end, we went down the slope and got a new coach and a new rug, lamps, a new recliner for him and a chair for me. And an ottoman. A small one.

Years ago, shopping with him for anything new in the house would be an experience full of all the emotions. Laughter, sadness, tears, yelling, forgiveness, and finally reconciliation. Joe’s got opinions. Lots of them. My girlfriend April and I talk about this all the time. Her husband Pat has opinions too. We dream of husbands who don’t give a shit about furniture, wall colors, curtains, etc. I know men like that exist. The kind that just show up one day and see a whole new living room and say,” nice” and then go back to their football game.

In our house, we have discussions before I pick up a new spatula. No joke.

But! (this is where I back track) He’s gotten better. Mellow(ish).

This time around it was pleasant, easy, dare I say…fun.

Or maybe we’ve just both gotten older and decided to bend. A little.

We knocked it all out in about a week. In addition to what we knew we’d have to buy – Joe found a chair for me. He calls it the Edith chair. Are you old enough to know what I’m talking about? As in Archie and Edith? As in All in the Family? Google it.

Anyway I finally have a chair of my own. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that we situated it, by chance I swear, right across from a window. Do you know what that means?

It means that on the weekends I can sit there with my coffee and watch the neighborhood go by. I can see all the dog walkers and joggers.  I can also see the teens getting off the bus with their huge backpacks slugging their way home. Seems boring to you? Not me. I love it.

Here’s a shot of my view in my chair (working from home and daydreaming out the window) and my chair. Sorry I said “my chair” like a hundred times. I’m excited. About my chair.

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Chair

Mise En Place Life

We spent the majority of our Saturday with some of my favorite people. Other than you, ofcourse. We rode up to an unexpected part of the Bronx, right on the Hudson River. I’ve known her for almost two decades so what I found at her house shouldn’t have surprised me. I’ve been to her apartment and I’ve seen what she can do with a space. I’ve been to her office and marvelled at the thoughtfulness and creativity. And I know her. She’s meticulous. She has good taste. She used to be my boss and drive me crazy with her good taste. Many a night were spent in the office catering to that meticulous, some would say obsessive, nature. It’s no wonder she found the perfect house for her and her family. I’d even seen some photos.

But it was bananas.

The view. The layout. The pool. The elevator. Bananas.

As I said to her when we toured her master bathroom (with a view of two bridges and jet propelled hot tub), “I’m filled with equal amounts of happiness and bitterness for you.”

Jokes aside, I was all happy for her. Because as careful and nutty as she is – she’s the most generous person I have ever met. Generous not just with materials, but with time. You have an idea for a business/wedding/event/dinner/party/dog/job whatever – she’s all in with you. She’ll spend hours talking with you about every detail. But she’s crazy. No doubt.

Back to the house. I didn’t take a ton of photos of the rooms because: a) I was too busy gawking with my mouth open to remember to take pics and b) I wasn’t alone. Sometimes other people (menfolk in particular) tend to get annoyed while I take 30 shots of each thing I like. Here’s the view from almost every room.

  
Let me preface this by saying that I am very blessed. I have a wonderful home that I love. A family that I adore. And a cat that I live with. I can’t remember the last time I got jealous. Like…jealous. In the true sense of the word. Biblical coveting of thy neighbor’s stuff kinda thing. I have wanderlust sometimes. I get dreamy about certain things I that I want to do, or places that I want to see,  but I’m not a shopper. I don’t get off on the newest, shiniest shoe or purse. When you say the word Cayenne to me I think of a pepper, not a car. You get the idea.

So imagine my surprise when we do the tour and see…her catering closet. Which would be normal if she was a caterer! And can I just point out that it’s not exactly a closet. It’s more like a mini room. Do you see my green monster coming out? Again, if I was alone I would have spent twice as much time looking at it. But because I was in public and not invisible, I nodded politely and moved along.

“A catering closet…um hmm..totally normal. You and Ina. Great.”

  
And then there was this cabinet….I think she called it the mise en place cabinet. I wanted to cry. I wanted it more than I’ve wanted anything. A cabinet full of little things to literally “put in place”.

  
You can keep your Blahniks and your Fendis. I want a mise en place cabinet. Actually, I want a mise en place life.

But of all the things I saw that day – there was one thing that rocked my world. No, not the pool on the Hudson River. Not the view at night when the bridge(s) lit up. Not even the Molten Brown products in the first floor bathroom. When she handed us our drinks, I looked down to see the most perfectly sized square ice cubes. (Yes Howard, I’m writing about ice cubes) Have you ever envied ice cubes? Sadly this isn’t my first time. There’s been a focus on ice cubes lately for cocktail drinks, you haven’t noticed? I have.  And these were the best. The were sized perfectly for the glass. They lasted for hours…ok…an hour. They were awesome. I know I need help. I sense you judging my sanity. And I don’t care.   

 I’m going to go now and make peace with my very un mise en place life. And with my stupid stupid ice cubes. Because that’s my lot in life. Some people have catering closets. I have a messy pantry full of open cereal boxes. But as Scarlett O’Hara said, “as God is my witness, one day I will have those ice cubes!”. Or something like that.

Here’s what my world looks like… This is an actual cabinet. Now you know you me.  


I rest my jealous case.

 

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