Lately it seems like our life is all new – new house, new job, new colony of bugs in our mailbox…
But there’s something exciting about the possibility of it all, so we’re rolling with it – and it’s forcing us to switch things up and try a few things we’ve been meaning to try for years.
Like, for example, making ice cream – maybe Mark’s favorite food on the earth. It’s practically a crime we haven’t tried it before.
For our very first attempt at the cold creamy stuff — ever (it’s just crazy) — we partnered with Ford and their super-clever new series Switch it Up to use one of our very favorite summer ingredients – sour cherries. And I have to say, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
I love to think of a birthday as the start of the next great year… one more chance for reflection and resolutions, and not necessarily the kind we might make at the turn of the calendar year. This time around, I feel like I have many and none… but I find myself marveling at how much can change in just a short time.
I don’t want to imply that I’m feeling entirely at peace… there’s always a restlessness inside me. Something that pushes me to tweak, pick, search my way to a better version of myself. But I feel much more at peace than I have.
And I’m working on feeling even more… trying to take some time to slow down, take care of myself, and enjoy a little more time with my guys.
Which is not to say I’m good at it. We’ve spent the last two weekends traveling and the weeks in between sewing napkins and delivering pies.
… add a fair amount of home renovation and a demanding new job to the mix and there’s barely a moment to breathe.
I grew up on the coast, with a vast ocean just a few miles from my home. I felt strangled in my small town, and when I stared at the ocean in the clean, crisp, salt air, I saw nothing but possibility. I never even considered a school in my own state…
Instead, I moved to California… and I cried for months, missing my trees, until the desert sand and warm ocean waves etched a permanent place on my soul.
Still, I thought there must be more… my heart needed to wander. So I packed my car and moved to the east coast. Away from my ocean, away from my trees… and I’ve lived here in Maryland and worked in DC ever since.
Here, the beaches have boardwalks. The smell of Old Bay, malt vinegar, and sunscreen fills the air… and for Mark, that smell is every bit as nostalgic as my own.
I’ve never fancied myself much of a gardener. My grandmother? Yes. My mother? Hell yes.
… but me? Even the paper flowers are afraid to set up shop in my pots.
We’ve had some success, in years past, with tomatoes. Even so much so that last year we managed to win ourselves an angry warning from the HOA. (Our giant potted plants had, at some point, managed to piss off a pesky neighbor…)
But I can’t take much, if any, of the credit for their health… the poor things would’ve dried up at week two if they’d been left in my hands.
… and really, let’s be honest… though our garden may have grown, that simple fact hasn’t changed. During the week, I’m usually on the run. Especially in the mornings, when I revert back to my teenage self just long enough to put the time crunch on my commute, and poor Mark is stuck with the plants, the kid, the dog… he even makes me coffee and sends me off with a bite to eat.
… I’m completely spoiled. And so are our – very healthy – plants.
We have a new home. There are moments of terror and moments of wonder and all things in between… but the walls that felt so strange just a week ago are beginning to feel more and more like our own. And the possibilities are hard to deny.
First things first, did you know that if by some chance — and you might need this, so I hope you’re taking notes — an ant colony sets up shop in your mailbox, you can just leave the door wide open and they’ll evacuate like the San Andreas is about to bust?
… okay that’s not a very funny joke for a kid who grew up in Oregon with tsunami nightmares, but seriously. I’m not sure how — or if — Mark knew, but just a day after leaving the door ajar, whether because we were both too scared to touch it again or we really did have some semblance of a plan, the whole mess moved out and they haven’t been back.
… of course I’m trying not to think of where they might’ve gone.
Did you also know that attics are scary? I just thought I might mention it, since as of today, neither Mark nor I has ventured into ours.
There was a time when I thought we led a pretty minimalist existence — the little voice that told me I could live in a tiny house was strong.
Then I moved.
In moving spaces, it suddenly occurs to a person just how much stuff they’ve managed to accumulate over the years. Clothes, linens, props, 40 place settings for the occasional gathering.
… okay those last two might be unique.
But whatever you might keep stuffed in your own closets and corners, there is one thing we all share — we all have a lot of stuff we don’t really need.
The truly precious items, the ones we’d mourn if they were somehow misplaced in the move, are fewer and farther between. And that’s all the more reason to do whatever we can to make sure they’re protected.
… as we settle into our new home and I settle into a new job, a lot of feelings seem to sneak up and overwhelm me on a daily basis. Worry, excitement, general terror, elation… okay mostly just the two. But life and the people we love somehow feel more precious in these times of increased intensity, and the lost connection to those we’ve held dear more stark.
I have only a few items to remember my grandmother, who, growing up, lived just through a trail in the woods… and some of the most precious items I own are her handwritten recipes.
How do you like your eggs? I feel like this all-important question has haunted me since Runaway Bride. Because as much as I’d like to pick just one… I’m sorry, I like them all, and I like them pretty much every way.
Hard boiled on a salad or alone, fried on top of a sweet potato hash, scrambled on my toast, poached and smothered in hollandaise, or bathed in a beautiful red sauce with sausage and kale.
You might’ve seen shakshuka around – but you might not realize just how creative you can be with the dish. Since my vegetarian days have long fallen off the wagon, I couldn’t help but crave a little local sausage with my eggs.
… and since everything we’re eating is pretty easy these days – as in off a box (until Sunday!) and limited to those tools we can actually find – this dish fit the bill.
We bought a fixer upper. And everything about the idea seemed fun.
Carpeted bathrooms, purple toilets, and gardens full of weeds were all just opportunities to put our own spin on the perfect home we knew it could be. After all, most of the updates in the newer homes we could afford weren’t our style — this was the best way to make it ours.
… then came the move.
Dust, dirt, stained walls, wrinkled carpets, broken attempts to dry our clothes, and an ant colony (not just ants) in the mailbox all serve as daily reminders that we’ve only just begun.
Add a new job to the mix and everything seems suspended in space — or, more accurately, in boxes. I feel myself becoming a terrible friend, a cut-rate blogger, and a hack of a wife as I unpack my life in more ways than one… tallying the hours, days, months, in my head it will take until we’re settled back into a normal routine.
But slowly, when I’m able to step back from it all, I’ll admit that with every day that goes by, it feels a little more like home.
Our counters are ever so slightly cleaner, our bedrooms have beds… we even have a thing or two put away.
… and hey, the carpets in two out of three of the bathrooms are gone.
The summer sun is beginning to beat down and, because I can’t help being me, I feel the pull to make things happen now. All of the things… so I can run off and treat my white legs to some warmth.
But I have to remember that it will all happen in time. The dream house we know we’ll love is hiding under a few deep breaths and a little bit of time.
For now, I’ll just have to work on enjoying the ride.
… and breaking up that ant colony so I can pick up my mail.
The boxes are piling up and we’re down to the wire. I’d hoped it would feel more certain than this, but because of last minute repairs we might not have a final green light on closing until we’ve loaded all our worldly possessions into a 28′ truck and hit the road.
To say the last couple of weeks have been stressful would be an understatement – uncertainty isn’t quite my favorite thing – but we’re almost there! We can count the days and hours now until it’s all said and done, and that’s certainly something to celebrate.
Especially since the boxes are piling up.
… 28′ is enough room to move into in a pinch, right? Because at this point if it all falls through, that’s about all the plan we have.
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