Baking

Home and Routine and Clean

neighborhood-in-color

We just took a walk around the block. The sun is setting earlier these days, and I did not want to miss the last few rays of the weekend. As we rounded the corner, and stepped back onto our street, I inhaled deeply. Weekend walks smell like laundry detergent. I find it comforting to know that people are managing their chores – not for the sense of accomplishment – but rather the commonality that we all have dirty things to tend to. Laundry detergent smells deliciously comforting, like home and routine and clean.

Home and routine and clean. These are three factors that have been essential to survival this year. When the outside world doesn’t make sense, and my own heart has been learning to heal, my home, a gently forced schedule, and chores seem to be what have grounded me.

And so, this weekend, I am thankful for the absolutely ordinary. Because coming out of loss after loss feels anything but.

I am thankful for the excitement that going on a simple date night provides. For the beauty in tacos, a new restaurant to try, the two dollar movie theater. I am thankful for the beautiful resources that allow us to spend time together, laugh at clever children’s movies, and for gift cards that allow date night to cost only $3.86.

I am thankful that after that date we came home and did chores. I cleaned the bathroom, Dylan started a new home improvement project. When gratitude sweeps its beautiful arms around us, I start to think, “Oh my goodness what a gift it is to have our very own toilet to clean.” And I mean this with sincerity, because many people don’t have such a thing.

I am thankful for creativity, and Home Depot, and the amazing miracle that it is that we can drive to a store that is filled with an aisle devoted to screws. We live in abundance, and this gift is going to help my husband recreate our banisters. I am excited to see the finished project.

I am thankful for my crockpot, and the way the smell of bacon fills up the house after you make B.L.Ts for lunch (well actually just B.A.L.s – we didn’t have tomato, so I replaced with avocado.) I’m looking forward to the soup that has been simmering on my counter all day long.

I am thankful for baking, chocolate chips, and bloggers like Amanda Rettke who devote their time and talents to sharing their treats with me. I am thankful for  an oven and the appreciation of sweet things. Sundays are for baking.

Treats are so important. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies even more so.

These components all seem rather ordinary on the surface. For me, they are a beacon of hope that we can return to the basics of what make up our lives. Even chocolate chips make a difference.

 

42 Christmas Movies

“Daddy, why is they singing Jingle Bell Rock?” said the little girl sitting next to me in a plush chair at Starbucks.

Creative Christmas music is pulsing through the speakers above me. You know the kind – the remakes and attempts at original Christmas songs that may or may not still be blasting through the speakers next year at this time.

The dark haired little girl, likely four or five, is wearing a striped jumper that has to come out of J.Crew kids. Her father – mid 40’s, hipster glasses, fancy shoes – pulled her to the side and simply responded, “because it sounds like rock. You’ve got to jam.”

She nodded as if she understood, and started pulsing up and down in her little leggings. This family must have hip conversations about music and about Christmas. Their family time at Starbucks is making me feel really happy. Watching others interact is a beautiful thing.

This week I came across this fabulously written blog post about how to handle the world when things seem absolutely out of control. Did you read it? Fifteen Things for When the World is Shitty and Terrifying

I was inspired by Katherine Fritz’s reminders to choose to live in the good, the magical, the absolute power and miraculous components that make our world work. Inspired by  Ms. Fritz’s article, here are a few of this week’s moments that seem ordinary and enchantingly beautiful at the same time. It does not take a lot of effort to find the beautiful surrounding you.

  • We got to spend time with Dylan’s cousin who has an 8 month old baby. Spending time with a young family is a perfect reminder that we have the capability to create human life. While families each have their own challenges, joys, and sufferings, we choose over and over to make new little humans. To me, watching this little 8 month old, reminded me to that we HAVE to choose hope that our world is beautiful, magical, prosperous. For this little guy, for the little girl next me in the jumper, for all of the babies out there gumming their way through the day.
  • Baking cookies – have you ever spent time thinking about the miracle that is the American oven? This week we made more holiday cookies, and I have the opportunity to simply press ‘bake’ and this magical metal machine heats up in my kitchen to over 375 degrees and cooks things. Blend sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla and you get a heavenly treat, but for thousands of people living around the world this process of cooking takes so much more effort and resource. I am spoiled, I have an oven, and it allows me beautiful treats.
  • 42 Christmas Movies. This weekend we had a gift exchange with some family and a few DVD’s were floating around the room. No one wanted to claim the various collections boasting 10 Lifetime Christmas Classics, 20 Traditional Christmas Classics, or 12 Hallmark Christmas favorites. These movies exist people! While the themes may be cheesy, and the acting sub-par, our culture continues to create stories of Holiday hope, inspiration, love and connection. Except, well, maybe one of them. One of the titles included Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964).

Upon a Wikipedia search I found this description: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a 1964 science fiction comedy film that regularly appears on lists of the worst films ever made. It is regularly featured in the “bottom

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Movie Poster from Wikipedia.com

100″ list on the Internet Movie Database, and was featured in an episode of the 1986 syndicated series, the Canned Film Festival.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch that? We need to find reasons to laugh, to embrace the absurd, to connect and to enjoy the ridiculous. I plan on rallying my family for an afternoon of aliens and Santa Claus. What could be more engaging? At least family time is beautiful.

Biscotti: Almond (the year isn’t over -my resolution not forgotten)

Essie Nail Polish: Fashion Flares

Restore

Life is a lot to juggle – and I do not even have children. I read amazing stories about women and men who are working three jobs, and raising five children, and making ends meet. The thought of that reality is exhausting. I know my opportunities have given me the privilege to not have to be working so hard. Nevertheless, I still struggle to find time to make it to the grocery store, or do all of my laundry, stock the freezer with breakfast burritos, vaccuum, or read all of the books that I want, or work my two other part time jobs (while not full time, I guess I do have some other endeavors on the side of my 9-5). Who needs a clean floor anyway? That’s what a dog is for. Psh, I don’t have time for a dog right now, much to my husband’s chagrin. My mom has this quote hanging in her house, and I think I’ve adopted the philosophy (thank you Joan Rivers and Real Simple). Sometimes, the necessities of daily life just need to be postponed!

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This week, however, I was tickled with the concept of restoration. Throw hazard to the wind and make it a priority to do everything that I thought I wanted to do, rather than needed to do. Oh shit, no, that’s not true. I’ve still got piles of laundry to put away. I’ve got the washing part down. In starting my new job it has been unnerving to not have a to-do list that is 47 items long. I struggle showing up in the morning not quite sure how my day will be filled, and to be honest it makes me a little bit anxious. I had a great friend remind me, “Katie, it’s not going to be this way forever. Enjoy it while it lasts.” I like weekends that are jammed full of friends, and family, and errands, and then Sunday night rolls around, and wham, I’m tired again. So, in an effort to be conscious of how much I try to make myself busier than heck, I tried to embrace the pause.

Here was my weekend:

A baby shower for a dear friend from high school. Nothing is more bizarre and emotionally beautiful than watching your friends get ready to be parents. It is exciting and shocking and brave to watch someone you love anticipate the loving of something (someONE really) so intensely. Restoration comes from reconnection with old friends, and connections with people who have known you longer than the days of being intensely over-scheduled.

A hair cut. My mom and I get our hair done at the same salon. She and my hairdresser (again a dear friend who used to do my hair for prom) joke about how I only get my hair cut every seven months. I told her gossiping about other clients while their MOTHER in the chair is inappropriate. My hairdresser laughed, and said, ‘simple solution – come see me more.’ I laughed and said, “ain’t no body got time for that.” It is nice to self groom, and my do, if I don’t mind saying, is beautiful.

Bike yoga. Ok – this wasn’t an officially organized activity, but I think it needs to be! Who is with me? On our Sunday morning bike stroll I was messing around on my cruiser, and trying to stretch my hips, and laughing way too much at myself while improvising some sort of “tree pose” on Ruby, my cruiser bike. I need to play more. If you want this to be a thing, I will most certainly attend.

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Dinner with my parents. I know I’m over 25 and supposed to be all independent and such, but I LOVE MY PARENTS. I love that they remain a part of my life, and that Sunday dinner swapping houses between my two sets of parents may be a new tradition. I love that they came to my house and I cooked them food that I bought, not even with their credit card! I love that I am in the beautiful place of being able to give back to them, and nourish them with the same recipes in which they nurtured me.

Here was my take away. I think, for me sometimes my definition of success means that my every minute is scheduled. I like predicting, knowing, controlling. It is uncomfortable for me when I am unclear where I am going, or how my day will unfold during the week. Yet, once Friday at 5 pm rolls around I crave a little bit of time to be spontaneous, for the bike ride, or the trip to the coffee shop, or an hour where I say, “hmm I think I’ll bake something.” I want to work on the beautiful work of integrating that concept into my work week. Do you find beauty in planned out moments, or do you prefer going where the wind blows you? I’m realizing there is peace and quiet and restoration and space to learn in the unplanned moments – even when they make me nervous. What is success when I’m not micromanaging my life?

Restore. What does that mean to you?

Biscotti – Espresso Chocolate Chip  – turned out pretty darn good – Don’t use whole wheat flour ( I left out the hazelnuts – ain’t no body got time for that.)

Essie Polish- Handle with Flair