Learning From Her

Friday, July 22, 2016

December 21, 2014

I was scrolling through FB this morning and Alicia shared this post called "On Baking Bread and Slow Days". The title alone was enough to get me to click over to it. As I read the paragraph about the author's mom's cooking lessons, I was transported back to the lessons I received from my own Mom when I was growing up.

And all of a sudden, I realized what a gift they were. My sister is 18 and is always getting onto me about being the reason that she can't cook (she totally can, but she doesn't have her kitchen legs under her yet as far as getting a whole meal onto the table at the same time goes...she can do that too, but her point is that she doesn't have the experience that I had when I was her age). I go back and forth between feeling totally bad about it and realizing that it's more circumstance than anyone's fault.

From the time I was little, I was always right by my whatever adult was in charge of me. I asked questions, I imitated, and I wanted in on whatever "we" were doing. I still remember standing over the stove at my grandparents' house helping my Mom make tomato soup. She whispered in my ear something about it being a good thing grandma couldn't see us (my grandma tended to be a bit nervous, especially when it came to small children and things that could hurt them). In that moment I realized that I was doing something special. I've never forgotten the feeling of grown-upness that set into my shoulders.

The years went by and I started scrambling my own eggs for breakfast and browning the ground beef on taco nights. Eventually, I settled into being the resident baker. When I was in jr. high, I didn't play a spring sport or have to attend confirmation like my friends did, so I found myself in the kitchen. I sat at the bar across from my Mom chatting and watching her work. I never offered to help and she never pulled me into what she was doing.

I started learning what went into certain dishes and being totally grossed out more often than not. She put up with my many monologues that went something like this, "Gobs and gobs of mayonnaise in Chicken Divan?" That was worth complaining about. "That much vinegar in the cabbage salad that I love? I'm not sure I'll ever eat that again." "Wait, you're putting mustard in that? I'm gagging now." She would tell me to hush and that that's the way she always made it and that I would eat whatever it was and love it just like I had every time before.

Eventually, I made my way around the counter and started cleaning up after her and doing prep jobs. I'm not sure which one of us asked, but I can still see us in that harvest gold kitchen working magic and having the time of our lives. I didn't know it then, but I was turning into a cook and one of my greatest joys was being passed on to me. I learned her tips and tricks and before I knew it, I was ready to do it on my own. By the time she let me loose we had been co-cooking for several years. I had been helping plan and shop and cook and one day I was ready to have her be my assistant. Another year or so went by and I found myself being the resident dinner maker. Eventually she didn't even join me in the kitchen any more.

Learning to cook took time. It was time that I had and time that my Mom gave. Those days were slow. They weren't perfect, but looking back on them makes me so happy that tears follow. Learning to cook wasn't the reason I sat down in the chair at the bar or why I went around the counter to help. Learning to cook, like just about everything else I know how to do, happened when my Mom and I lived life the way we'd been living it. Together.

I can't cook anything without thinking about where I had it or who taught me to make it. My Mom comes to mind quite often when I'm in the kitchen and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Currently: July 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 1, 2016
Excuse my absence. Again. I drafted this post several weeks ago, but never got around to posting it...So here ya go. I've got allll kinds of things to write about and pictures to share. I've updated my summer reads and I do hope to be back to posting here sooner rather than later! 

June was amazing. It may have been THE best month we've had since moving last August (and we've had some GOOD months). We had some seriously HOT days in June and I'm always up for sunshine.

In the garden, my little cucumber and pea plots are coming right along. There aren't any vegetables yet, but I haven't lost hope (update: I ate my first sugar snap pea two days ago and there are a bunch more that will be ready any day)! My zinnia patch is blooming which is SUPER exciting. I've tried to grow zinnias twice, but each time I think my cosmos choked them out. Trying to start seeds in the window boxes turned out to be foolish. You win some, you lose some. 

In the fun department, there was one week in particular that was one fun thing after another. I spent a day at an amusement park, went hiking, went to several potlucks (I need to keep a tally going...), and made some new friends. I'll be posting about it soon!

I also had several opportunities to do some HELPING. I'm still in the middle of one of the projects, which is costuming for my brother and sister's latest play (update: the play has come and gone. It was a huge success and we all survived!). This is my first time working in costuming, so I mostly find myself asking LOTS of questions and organizing and reorganizing EVERYTHING. 

July is here and it really feels both like summer is JUST getting started and that we've been living summer all along. I still haven't gone swimming yet, but SOON (update: my sister and I went swimming yesterday and it was everything I hoped it would be. We'll be going back very SOON). In the meantime, I'm currently...

Toasting: Banana bread. Along with HOT weather, we've had a lot of rainy/gray days where temps barely reach 70. Strange? YES! But, I'm making the most of it with chances to burn candles, bake, and make hearty meals. 

Going: A LOT. As I mentioned, there seems to be a potluck or two every week with one group or another. One thing I didn't mention is that my Mom and I went to a staged reading of The Great Gatsby and it was sooooo good. They read the final line and it hit me just like the first time I read it in my backyard several summers ago. I walked out of the theatre in stunned silence. 

Smelling: At this exact moment, I'm smelling the fresh rain smell that's coming in through the open window. The candle I mentioned happens to be left over from fall, but I've been burning it anyway. Hello, pumpkin spice afternoons. 

Wearing: A combination of summer clothes and jeans and sweatshirts. Also, Banana Boat's "After Sun" lotion. 

Wishlisting: For more of the same. LOTS and LOTS of sunshine and chances to get to know these people I have met. 

Linking up with Jenna and Anne one last time (update: totally missed the link up, but posting anyway)! Jenna, I wish you the best with the time you'll have on your hands each month now that you're passing your co-hosting duties on to someone else!

Open Letters pt. 2

Thursday, June 30, 2016

May 13, 2016

It's time for another round of Open Letters with Julie!!! I was sad to miss out on last month's link up, but I wrote my letters and I'm linking up this month! Here goes...

* * * * *
Dear Rod (the produce guy),

Do you know how much you look like Mr. Olivander? Do you know that the first time my Mom referred to you as "Rod" I thought it was because she thought you looked like Rod Stewart even though I had been trying to convince her that our produce guy was totally Olivander himself? No? Well you do and you do and I get excited every time I see you. Thanks!

Dear Donor of the British copy of HP #7,

You made my day a few weeks ago. This one doesn't match the others, but it's paperback and I listened to my Mother and bought it. I'm that much closer to being able to read the whole series. That bookmark from Italy that you left tucked in at chapter five was pretty neat too. I wonder where you are now and what you're reading. Are you FROM somewhere else or are you a world class traveler? Drop off 5 and 6 if you have them.

Dear Beth,

You'll probably never read this, but thanks for all your work at the church yardsale and thanks for needing a hand and letting my Mom volunteer me. It was my first time putting my servant hat on here in this new town and it did my soul A LOT of good. I know it was just sorting and hauling a bunch of JUNK, but I needed that. I meant it when I said I was happy to help. Happier than you'll ever know.

* * * * *

Be sure to hop over to Julie's blog to link up! 

Movies I'm Watching Again and Again

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

January 1, 2015 || What kind of picture goes with a post about movies? A shot of 3 of my favs watching one together. :)

I'm one of those people who finds a good thing and sticks with it for a long time. I've used the same face wash since I started washing my face. I'll always buy Smucker's Strawberry Spread, Welch's Grape Jelly, Jif Creamy Peanut Butter, and Hellman's Mayonaise. I've been reading Mary Higgins Clark since jr. high and will keep reading as long as she's writing. If his name is George I'll probably love him (my Ghiddu, Mr. Washington, and Mr. Whitefield happen to be three Georges I'm crazy about).

The same goes with movies. Ever since I was a little girl, I get hooked on a movie and I'm content to watch it again and again. My family likes to tease me about watching the same six movies all the time.
I never know when I'm going to stop watching one or replace it with another. It's just a quirk and one I didn't even think about until my youngest brother pointed it out to me. I don't do it on purpose and six just happens to be a number that my brother threw out there. Some movies stick around for years at a time, while others last for a couple of seasons. 

Renee asked what my current round up is, so here you go:

Last Love - This movie takes place in France where one young woman and one old man become fast friends. It's sad and touching and slow and quiet and perfect for just about any mood I'm in. 

Mostly Martha - This German movie is about a chef who finds her life turned upside down and I love it. Like Last Love, it's slow and sad and quiet, but it's perfect. It recently got removed from Amazon, so I won't be able to watch it for a while. 

How To Marry A Millionaire - Marilyn Monroe stars in this NYC based movie. It's the only movie I've ever seen her in and one I watched the first time because of New York. It's quirky and funny and the sets and costumes remind me of a time that I wish I could have seen first hand.

Desk Set - I discovered this one over Christmas break this last winter when we were had snow for a solid two weeks. It has a very similar feel to HTMM and that may be why I like it so much. It's teh story of a reference department (also in NYC) that is in danger of being replaced by a computer that is basically Google. Katharine Hepburn is fantastic in it. 

The Help - Skeeter Phelan is the one character from literature that I can relate to 100% of the time. She's tall and skinny, she loves words and cares about people, it took work to get her to be a lady, she's okay with the fact that her goals are different, and Emma Stone's rendition of her was PERFECTION. I read the book after finding it at a used booksale back in 2012 or 2013 and fell in love. I got the movie for Christmas several years ago and FINALLY opened it earlier this spring. I'll be watching it for a while. 

Maleficent - We rented this movie from Amazon several winters ago with a credit we had and proceeded to watch it two times before the rental expired. My Mom and I rented it and watched it by ourselves and loved it so much that we rounded everyone else up to watch it with us. It was that good. Since then, it's the movie I want to watch all the time. Our library has it, so I'll probably always have it on hold.

Bonus: Grantchester - is the TV series I can't get enough of. This BBC series is a spinoff of the book series by the same name. I love the first book, but each one gets worse and worse (spoiler: Sydney marries the German in the books and the writing kind of falls apart a little bit). I'm still not tired of the TV series and what they've done with it. I love Sidney and Geordie and the relationship they share. Sydney's character is to me what Mr. Darcy is to 99.9% of females over the age of 9. He's a clergyman who grapples with sin and takes it seriously, he likes jazz, he names his dog after his housekeeper's favorite word, and his best friend is breaking his heart.  Again, the time period really adds a bit of sparkle to things! This is the one movie on my list that isn't always appropriate, so if you decide to watch it,keep the remote handy because some of the themes and cases get a little too graphic (in my opinion) and  preview it before you gather your kids around to watch with you.

2 honorable mentions and 3 movies that the jury is still out on because I've only watched them once are 84 Charring Cross Road,  Canela, A Coffee in Berlin, Barbara, and Like Sunday Like Rain. 

And, you might be wondering what movies were on my list for YEARS at a time. A short run down: Beauty and the Beast, Remember the Titans, High Society, The Lake House, Annapolis, Roman Holiday, Glory Road, Inception, To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, Suspicion, Friendly Persuasion, Shadowlands, October Baby, We're No Angels, Sabrina, Babes in Toyland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...And, the list really could go on.

What's one of your quirks? 

What are some movies you've been watching again and again?

The Scenic Route: Summer Adventures (So Far)

Friday, June 24, 2016

I'm sad to say this, but it looks like my trusty point and shoot camera is dying. I recently uploaded some pictures from the geocaching my Mom and I did on Memorial Day along with a batch of shots I took during a little hike we took while my brother was at rehearsal one evening.

Some of them are blurry and some of them are a little wonky, but they're the pictures I took and they're the ones I'm sharing today!


This round of geocaching was inspired by the fact that we had a couple of travel bugs that we NEEDED to drop off. We haven't done much geocaching lately, so it took a little bit of effort to get everything together and out the door. It was Memorial Day which meant that there might just be people EVERYWHERE, so we would have to be careful.

Well, the first cache almost stumped us. It turned out that we were in the wrong area, but we looked and looked and looked. We use a GPS, but people don't always get the coordinates right which means that you put the GPS in your pocket and start looking anyway.

I kept waiting for a hobo to pop out of the bushes. We did run into two kids who were on the way to "a cool place to hang out", but other than that, we were all on our own. We probably spent most of an hour circling around and around on this trail before giving up and moving onto the next one.


As you can probably imagine, this spot was a little prettier and we did run into quite a few people who were out enjoying the day. We walked around trying to get the GPS to show that we were within 10 feet of the next cache when we realized that we were pretty sure a family of four and their dog were RIGHT ON TOP OF IT.

Thankfully, their dog kept running around trying to visit with people, so they decided to head home. As soon as they were on their way, we went over to where we thought it was and were stumped for the second time that day. We think the cache was discovered and removed by whoever found it. So, we moved on to the next cache which turned out to be the first one we were looking for.

After that, we found the rest of the caches and I stopped taking pictures. We were moving quickly and were eager to finish up and get home for some lunch. The day got off to a rough start, but we found three of the four caches on our list, which made us both pretty happy!

Our hike consisted of a short walk to a historical site that we had tried to find one other time. The last time we tried to find it we were short on time and gave up before figuring out where it was. Before my sister left for her trip to SC she said that she really wanted to find it this summer, so with a little extra time on our hands one night, my Mom and I decided to scout it out to save us all the frustration later.

I'm not surprised we couldn't find it. It was NOT where you would expect to find it at all. An apartment complex and little strip mall have gone in convincing tourists that they are in the wrong area. We followed the directions and sure enough, there is history buried behind all of our modern eyesores.

So far, so good, right?

What have you been up to so far this summer?