Giving Room to Root

This has been a long two weeks. Really, salve it has been a long month. Despite being incredibly busy, as so many of us are these days, I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve been traveling all over the country – Austin, New York City, Napa – and have been able to keep track of the most delicious foods, hottest food trends and some amazing chefs. I am very blessed to be immersed in the food world, in one way or another.

But as I was driving home from the airport the other night, exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep (or a drink… you know the kind I’m talking about) all I could think of was how great it was going to be to “ground” again. So much time away from home really makes you wish for the mundane, the simple and the easy. I thought about my ideal day – to wake up to my snuggly dog and cat (and husband, too, of course), lay in bed for a while to soak up the sun and chirping birds, and then head outside to play in my garden for a while (which would most likely be followed by a homemade dinner). Yep, that sounds fabulous. And it was just what I needed after this whirlwind month.

This is my third year to have a garden. It’s a small garden, all in pots on my back patio, but it’s full of inspiration for me. There is something so rewarding and comforting about growing plants from seed, nurturing the little seedlings until they are strong enough to live on their own.

strawberries

Every time I smell potting soil, I remember when I was a little girl and would help my mom plant flowers. She showed me how to gently break apart (loosen) the roots before planting them in the ground. “This will give them room to root,” she said. She taught me to take off any leaves or flowers that are dying in order to preserve the life of the plant. “This will make them stronger because the plant might otherwise kill itself to save the dying leaves,” she said.

I listen to those words every time I’m playing in the dirt, but this month it struck a special chord in me. We get so wrapped up in our day-to-day lives that we don’t get back to our roots (our family). We’re all trying so hard to finish that project, make that money or please that boss that we lose site of the simple pleasures in life. We’re killing ourselves just to accomplish the “shoulds” versus allowing ourselves some time for the “wants.” We oftentimes don’t take off the dead weight to give ourselves the room to root.

Think about it. When was the last time you lost yourself in true glee, passion, bliss? I definitely made it a point to ground this weekend, no matter how busy I was, and that little bit of “me time” was worth every day of chaos. Dorothy was totally right: There’s really no place like home.

herbs

Wet Paint

You can never go home again.

Is that how the saying goes?

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Boston – our beloved city. Rick grew up in Upstate New York and moved to Boston for college… I grew up in Oklahoma and (gladly) moved to Boston for Rick. (Our love story is a good one and will undoubtedly come up in a later post, shop so if you’re a romantic like me, sildenafil you’ll want to stay tuned.) This is a city where we had our first home together, ask where we had our first big fight, where he proposed and I said yes and where I found my independence from my (wonderful) tight-knit family and the (not-so-wonderful) self-doubting voice in my head (a small town girl can survive in a big city!).

We hadn’t been back to the city for about a year and a half, and in our minds, it was time to go “home” for a visit. We were sure that we would magically fall back into the rhythm of the city, and to some extent, that was true. We had a blast visiting our old haunts and eating in restaurants we were never able to try before. But Boston just didn’t feel like home to us anymore. Not to mention the numerous roadblocks that said to us, “There’s nothing left for you here… Keep moving forward.”

Nearing the end of our vacation, we decided to make one last stop at our favorite spot in the entire city – the place where Rick proposed. It was at our bench in the middle of the beautiful Tufts University campus, a place where we would stop on our morning walks, a place where we’d bring a picnic lunch and chat about our day, a place where we had spent so many moments savoring the beauty of the trees, the city and our blossoming relationship.

As Rick and I approached our cherished spot, we both stopped dead in our tracks and started laughing. There, taped to the middle of the bench with blue painter’s tape, was a handwritten sign that read, “Wet paint.” We couldn’t believe it. Of all the times that the school could’ve chosen to repaint this bench, it chose the one week my husband and I were there to visit.

Wet Paint

Our bench with "wet paint" on a dreary day in Boston.

Another roadblock. Another sign that told us not to look back, but to keep looking ahead. The cherry on top. The icing on the cake. This was another moment in Boston that we would always remember. We were clearly shown that home is where you make it, and who you choose to make it with. And I’m happy with that.

I will always love Boston and all of the memories that go along with it, but I’m grateful for where I am in my life right now and for all of the people who have helped color and shape it. Sometimes, wet paint isn’t actually a bad thing. It can be the start of something even better.

And you?

What are the moments in your life that have made you realize the beauty of the direction your life path has taken you?

Snow in Springtime

Snow in the SpringSnow is probably one of my favorite things on earth. No matter how cold, sales no matter how windy, no matter the amount, I love snow. This morning I woke up to the sounds of… silence. My heart started to patter and the corners of my mouth began to turn upward – I knew it was snowing before even looking outside.

With sweaty, anticipatory palms, I jumped out of bed and threw open the blinds. Snow! Beautiful, big flakes covered the ground and the rooftops in our neighborhood. Tree branches drooped heavily with the weight of the freshly fallen beauty.

The perma-smile on my face and skip in my step brought me into the kitchen, where I promptly made some coffee and poured over the pages of numerous cookbooks. This was a perfect morning…

How can something so ordinary (in reality) be so extraordinary to me? I guess it’s because snow, to me, represents peace, hope and new life. I look at it as a “washing away” of negativity, worry, baggage from the past, anxiety. So, instantly, I feel inspired to create, to do, to be.

What’s your snow? What inspires you or calms you down when nothing else will?

Good Friday

Emily and mom

All smiles: My mother and me on my wedding day

When I was little, drug until about age 10, seek my mom would create a “nest” of pillows and blankets on the floor for me when we’d have family time. I’d settle in to watch a movie with the family on these treasured nights and felt so special because I was the only one who got The Nest. Everyone else got the couch or comfy chairs – the usual stuff. But, medications being the youngest, I got VIP treatment – you know how that goes. (Now I know this was because no one wanted the floor!)

So, why am I reminded of this on Good Friday? Because every year of my childhood (that I can remember), my mom and I would watch Ben-Hur for Easter and I would lie in The Nest and try my hardest to stay awake until the end of the movie… but to no avail. (This is a very long movie, by the way.) Inevitably, I would fall asleep halfway through the film, never finding a resolution and waiting until the following year to try again.

I have since seen Ben-Hur in its entirety and love it dearly, but that’s mostly because of the memories that go along with it. I’m hoping that amidst the wonderful chaos of my family’s Easter shindig that my mom and I can find time to snuggle up together and watch our special movie. (Maybe she’ll even make me The Nest!)

With our busy schedules and fast-paced lives, it’s difficult to “make time” for those who matter most to you. But this weekend, slow down and focus on the things closest to your heart and remember why you’re here. Happy Easter!

Thank Goodness for Leftovers

Normally, clinic after a busy day I love to come home and lose myself in a new recipe. It’s like therapy to chop vegetables, look feel fresh herbs between my fingertips and nibble on each ingredient being added to the dish. But then there are the days that just drag on and on, advice drain you of energy (no matter how much caffeine you ingest) and feel like a good ole kick in the pants. This was one of those days…

Nothing out of the ordinary happened (which might be why the day felt so long) and nothing negative to note. But I just wanted to go home, put on comfy clothes and indulge in some comfort food – and leftovers are just that. Now, I’m not one of those inventive home cooks who turn their leftovers into something totally different (like turning last night’s hamburgers into a gourmet breakfast with a fancy sauce and two sides – it’s like magic!). Nope, I tend to hit reheat on the microwave and repeat last night’s dinner exactly. But I’m okay with that, and, as a Virgo, I find consistency and stability quite comforting.

So, I thank my lucky stars tonight for leftovers, allowing me to be a little lazy and take a little extra time for myself.

What’s your stance on leftovers? Do you avoid them like the plague (apparently, some people are morally opposed to eating leftovers), reheat and serve (like me), or repurpose altogether (more power to you!)?

 

Special brew, special recipe, special woman

Cup of joe and a recipeAs I sat down to enjoy my cup of coffee this morning – a daily ritual – I thought about waking up to the smell of coffee at my grandmother’s house. I stayed with her (we called her Mini, dosage for reasons only known to my brother) for short visits during the summers growing up, and every morning she would fix a pot of coffee, a scent that permeated the entire house. (That must be why I have to brew some almost every day of the week, even if I’m not in the mood to actually drink it.) I would come sleepily stumbling down the stairs and into the kitchen to find my smiling grandmother waiting to hug me good morning.

The first time she offered me coffee, I was about 6 years old. I felt like I had passed some sort of threshold into adulthood, or that I could join the ranks of and would finally be “cool” to my older sister. (Was coffee really that magical to me then? Wow.) And to top it off, Mini served the coffee in beautiful demitasse cups with dainty little spoons. This was my very own tea party with an extra special guest, Mini.

Before anyone starts to worry, the cup of coffee my grandmother gave to me (the then 6-year-old) was mostly warmed milk with a splash of coffee and the tiniest bit of sugar. But that didn’t matter to me. This was my special time with Mini, to have her undivided attention.

She passed away a short time ago, but she is still with me every morning while I’m making my coffee and deciding what I’m going to make for dinner that night. This morning, as I savored the first sip of my morning brew, I flipped through Mini’s old recipe cards and found a recipe for her signature dish: Chicken Tetrazzini. I’ve never made this before (my family and I think we’re walking on sacred ground with this one), but I think I’ll give it a try tonight. Making this dish is honoring the woman that means so much to me, the woman who gave me my first real tea party, the woman who deepened my roots and treated me like an equal (well before I even knew what that meant). I love you with all my heart, Mini.

*Tomorrow’s post: Mini’s Chicken Tetrazzini recipe