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life in words and photographs.
Friday, January 16, 2015
The day that David proposed, he assembled a picnic of food from our favorite places. He picked up roast beef sandwiches from Clementine’s, mint lemonade from Literati, strawberry steak salad from Damon & Pythias, cupcake babies from Vanilla Bake Shop. I had an early class, and all I wanted was to go back to my room and take a nap. But the food convinced me. He was speaking my language, a language that I had discovered sometime in college, somewhere along our string of dates.
Seven years since then, some of my favorite memories involve food, with him.
There was Athens on our honeymoon. We took naps in the afternoon, sunburned and tired form the heat of the day. By the time we woke up, the subway was closed, so we would take a taxi to the plaka. One night, we had street gyros after seeing Public Enemies on a building rooftop. Another night, we ate dinner by moonlight, al fresco at a restaurant that served us watermelon after our meal. It was the best watermelon I’ve ever tasted.
Then, on our first anniversary, there were strawberries in wine at a little restaurant on a corner in Santa Barbara, one of my favorite places in the world. On vacation in Palawan, on our island-hopping tours, we ate fish, bought fresh at that morning’s market, grilled over a fire, small enough that we could each have our own. And afterwards, in town, halo-halo that we ate out of pastel-colored plastic ice cream sundae glasses.
In Shanghai, our home for over a year, we lunched at Mr. and Mrs. Bund for David’s birthday, one of about five days in the city where the sky was actually blue. The sauce served with the steak was foamed, and the fruit with lime and pop rocks will always be a favorite. The first time we went to Da Dong in Beijing, we walked for miles in the freezing cold, not realizing that there was a location down the street from our hotel. The Peking Duck is the best there – the skin so crispy that it melts in your mouth and the sauce almost a molasses, rich and dark. They have complimentary drinks in the waiting area, because there is always a wait at Da Dong, and the last time we went, they had pitchers of a strawberry whisky cocktail.
We celebrated our 4-year anniversary in Paris and the wedding of one of my college roommates. The only time we’ve ever ordered a full bottle of wine for ourselves was in Paris, at Le Bistrot Paul Bert, where Dave picked out the best Pinot Noir i’ve ever had and where the raspberry macaron we had for dessert was the size of my head.
Fancy dinners out aren’t at the top of our list now, with a baby and my strong affinity for sweat pants. But date nights are more important than ever, when we take time to connect not about work or bills, but about our hopes and fears and the work that God is doing in our hearts these days.
This month, I’m reading Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship not only in the kitchen, but on the couch. It’s already found a place on my coffee table, along with Our Q&A a Day: 3-Year Journal for 2 People that I get so excited to fill in every day (that would make a great gift for Valentine’s Day, if you’re looking ahead).
One of the big themes in my life seems to be waiting. And the other big theme, it seems, is creating space. I want to do more of it in 2015, starting with date nights in, starting with cooking through this book, creating space to connect month by month.
Labels: Book Club ///
Thursday, December 25, 2014
I wonder what Christmas would be like if we stripped everything else away. I wonder what Christmas would be like if where were no presents that needed to be bought, wrapped, or given out; if there were no holiday parties and no Christmas cookies, no Christmas lights or extravagant traditions. I wonder what Christmas would be like without the full stockings on Christmas morning or the presents under the tree, waiting until December 25 to be unwrapped. I wonder what Christmas would be like if there were just one light, shining in the darkness, onto the manger scene.
This Christmas season has been the simplest one we’ve had together as a family. I don’t even think we’ve been to one holiday party this year. Our gifts were mostly for Noah, mostly keepsake items and things that we would have bought for him anyway in the coming months. Honestly, though, I can’t do without traditions. I’m not a stickler – we’ve passed on seeing It’s a Wonderful Life at the Lido Theater this year because I’m not about to smuggle a newborn into the movies. There was no fancy Christmas brunch, no cinnamon rolls or mimosas. For dinner, we had soup. But there were Minted cards, a glittery, shimmering tree, monogrammed stockings, Silent Night by candlelight.
Most of all, I can’t do without tradition of advent, or without worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and interspersed throughout the season, in those quiet moments as we sip hot cocoa or candy cane green tea. Sharing those moments with my husband and my baby boy have been the most beautiful part of this season for me.
There is nothing like the joy and anticipation of Christmas morning, being woken up by a precious baby who you can’t believe is your own. There is no celebration like the celebration of gifts given to and from loved ones or the meditation of preparing meals from scratch, breaking bread and sipping wine. I will always hold onto the meditative tradition of singing Silent Night by candlelight, our faces lit up by a warm, tiny flame as we sing.
I love traditions for their groundedness, their familiarity, the repetition. Traditions anchor my soul and prepare my heart. They’re a respite from the heartbreak and the violence. They are stepping stones leading to the manger scene, solid and illuminated. Merry Christmas.
Labels: Christmas ///
Saturday, December 13, 2014
So, I’m 28 now.
When I wish someone happy birthday, I usually wish them the happiest birthday yet or the best year so far. My birthday is usually my favorite day of my favorite week of my favorite month of the year. Usually.
On Sunday, I had my first birthday as a mom and also my first mom birthday. Moms, you know what I mean. Or at least, I hope you do, and that I’m not the only one. By mom birthday, i mean that I had to make my own breakfast, and we capped the day off by going grocery shopping. Of course it was amazing in its own way in that every day with my precious baby boy feels special to me, but no outsider would mistake me for a birthday princess. Most tellingly, I did not get a sushi dinner at Nobu, which I’ve been telling Dave is the only thing I wanted, since I’ve been pregnant and sushi-less almost this entire year.
Then Dave flew out to Florida early Monday morning and came back late Thursday night bringing a suitcase of dirty laundry and stories of unlimited drinks and all-you-can-eat lobster. I missed my free Sprinkles cupcake and my Anthro birthday party, which, to be honest, I’ve kind of been looking forward to all year. I’m just thankful that my mom was around or it would have been a full-blown pity fest. I would have Solly-ed Noah all the way down the street to our village market to buy overpriced pints of Jeni’s ice cream, and then I would have eaten them all, in spoonfuls between diaper changes. Instead, I made salad.
Friday was no better. Overcome with disappointment, I held back tears at the Corner Bakery where we picked up my free birthday treat. I held back more tears at the Nordstrom cafe where I bought a mint steamer, trying to drown my sorrows in that milky creme de menthe goodness. And again, this morning, I held back tears after the Mermade Market as we sat at a diner, waiting an excruciatingly long time for a breakfast bowl made with warm, plain yogurt and bland melons.
I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I have a beautiful, healthy baby and a husband who loves me (most of the time… I think). I live only a few miles from the ocean, and I have six saltwater pools at my disposal. I am grateful. These are no small blessings. But I’m also wondering when the longing ends, if I’ll ever get to the place where I feel settled.
I feel like I’m inching scarily close to the edge of no where left to move. That I’m teetering on the brink of stuck. That’s the scariest thing about twenty-eight. It’s not terribly old or terribly young. It’s just the age I thought I’d have it together. I’ve been through so many iterations of myself; I didn’t know, before twenty-eight, that it was possible to fail as many times as I have failed. I am so envious of people who have found their path, people who have a path at all, who know what the next step is and who know exactly, numerically, what targets to hit in order to get there.
I’m learning that the waiting, and the growing, and the becoming is excruciating. It feels like I’ll never get to the place where I’m supposed to be. That I’ll keep waking up at 4 am, unable to go back to sleep because that’s when the worry hits. That’s when I reach out for the tiny chubby perfect hand next to me, with fingers like miniature taper candles and a palm just big enough to cover my lips. That hand is everything.
Tomorrow is a new day and the beginning of a new week. It won’t be my birthday week anymore, and for the first time in my life, I’m relieved. Tomorrow, I’ll look for the beauty in that tiny, clammy hand. I’ll try to find my joy in the little things, like a latte that is extra hot and not too sweet, and a doughnut that that melts onto my tongue. I’ll find joy in twinkling Christmas tree lights and in advent readings. When I wake up again at 4 am, I’ll stay awake to watch the growing glow of the winter sunrise. I’ll keep being grateful for these things because that’s what 28-year olds do.
Labels: real life ///
Thursday, December 11, 2014
|adorable place settings at our second Thanksgiving dinner|
|a beautifully hosted dinner with my boys|
(Mostly) Raw Kale, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprout Salad
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December 2014 issue
- 1/2 head Napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/2 stalk brussels sprouts, removed from the stalk and sliced in half if large
- 1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and thinly sliced (or Swiss chard if you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (I used Tamari)
- about 1/4 cup black truffle olive oil (from Trader Joe’s)
- about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ounce Pecorino Romano, shaved or grated (optional)
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2. The original recipe calls for the brussels sprouts raw (trimmed and sliced thin), but I like them roasted. Toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a pan for about half an hour at 425 degrees, giving them a stir halfway through for more even roasting. While they are roasting you can toast the walnuts stovetop in a pan. Let the brussels sprouts cool a bit then add them to the greens.
3. Make the dressing. In a small jar, combine the vinegar, mustard, soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of salt. Slowly whisk in the oil. Use about half a cup of oil combined. I love the flavor that the black truffle olive oil adds, so I use that in combination with regular olive oil. Give it a good shake. Toss the greens with about half the dressing, adding the cheese and the walnuts. You can refrigerate it for up to an hour before serving, but I dished it out right away with an extra grating of cheese.
Labels: sip & savor ///
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
And by slow I mean that the months have gone as quickly as our stash of disposable diapers, but we’re living day by day, hour by hour, not really thinking too far ahead. It’s a way of being that makes for really long days, but there’s also a beautiful present-ness wrapped into it. It’s advent now, almost winter and almost Christmas, and I’m learning each day that the best kind of waiting happens when I’m living minute to minute.
Noah was born at the beginning of September. His arrival marked a new season for us, literally and figuratively. The first two weeks as a new family were exhausted, bleary-eyed bliss. I actually made a to-do list the day after we came home from the hospital, on my Make Today Lovely letterpress pad with a pink ultra-fine point Sharpie, like I did every week before he was born. I never really had a maternity leave, so I was trying to make up for stolen time (these adorable little time thieves, cue the Target commercial).
Of course, that list got thrown out.
Two, almost three, months in, and we spend our days mostly in bed, mostly singing along to Vance Joy (Georgia is so my jam right now). The work button is still on pause, and I am still in yoga pants.
We’ve celebrated Thanksgiving and now here we are in December. I hope December is just as slow, because we’ll never again have this December. Firsts for everything, and lasts too. I quote Emily Dickinson so often because she is dead on: That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.
This fall I’m living in motherhood time — the paradox of long days in short months in what I can only imagine to be the quickest years. It’s a magical kind of monotony where every day is the same — nursing, diaper changes, naps and playtime on repeat — but it isn’t. It’s why I have a camera roll full of pictures capturing Noah’s growth, click by click, frame by frame. I swear he looks bigger in each consecutive photo.
I choose to believe that there is, definitively, a season for everything. This season happens to be a lot quieter, a little bit more lonely on some days, and so, so special. These are the days. The baby-wearing, diaper-changing, squishy cheek-kissing days of fall.
Slow, and sweet.
Labels: motherhood ///