Monthly Archives: June 2012

Summer sangria*

*Instead of cupcake monthly, that my waistline wouldn’t let me actually keep up with, please enjoy this first official installment of Kitchen Monthly. Though I doubt it’ll be monthly. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

To quote my niece: “Holy god, that looks good.”

One of my favorite things to drink in the summer is a fruity, chilled, and slightly sweet sangria. I first tried my hand as making sangria a few years ago after watching a bit too much Rachael Ray. From her I learned that you should usually have a citrus, a stone fruit (peach, plum, etc.), and a seed fruit (apple, pear, etc.). That combination has stayed with me, and I’ve been tinkering on versions ever since. The last one I made was by far my favorite one I’ve ever made, so I thought I should share my basic recipe.

Summer Sangria

1 btl dry rosé

1 lime, sliced into thin disks, then halved

15-20 cherries, pitted and halved

half packet raspberries (about 3 to 4 oz.), fresh (not frozen)

2 peaches, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark rum, whatever brand you prefer

1/4 cup brandy, best quality you can afford

1 can fruit-juice sweetened spritzer (I like Knudsen’s brand) in strawberry

Ice, as much as you like

read on…

And then, we can, do anything, we want…*

*Lyrics from something Anything We Want by Fiona Apple off her latest album. Only her fourth album in 16 years, I think it’s worth a listen. She’s an actual musical artist (unlike so many in the business of making and selling music), and you might like her work. Or you might not. I do. 

BEFORE: Recently, we took some exterior photos while the peonies were still in bloom. The side fence was then just raw, untreated wood left in its natural, weathered state.

Months ago, when we had our side porch and rear porch stairs redone it was too cold outside to finish coating the decking and new railings with exterior paint and stain. So we waited for the weather to warm up. Which it did. But then it rained. Like, a lot. For weeks and weeks, every time it would just about get dry enough to do something outside it would rain again. For enough days to warrant a dry-out period. So we waited. And waited some more.

read on…

you think you can simply press rewind?…*

*Lyrics from You Must Be Out Of Your Mind by The Magnetic Fields from their 2010 album Realism. I’ve been spotifying again. I like it. Reminds me I’m overdue for a blog song mix post. Hmmm… first things first.

BEFORE: Embarrassed doesn't even begin to cover how I felt when I opened the garage. Frustrated, overwhelmed, annoyed, guilty, you name it.

May I just say what a relief it is to NOT have to look at that (above) anymore? As many of you may recall, we completed our major home makeover in the fall of 2010. And, as many of you also know, we ended up slowly redo-ing our family bath beginning in the winter (January) of 2011. And I trust that you know we redid our basement not that long ago. What you may not know is how hard it is to wrangle, corral, and otherwise lasso construction debris after so many major projects.

Here’s how it starts out: At first you think, ‘Hey, I’ll just move this stuff into the basement, you know, just to get it out of the way for now.’ Then, after you realize that you can’t keep whatever junk you have stored in the basement down there forever, you say, ‘Hey, let’s move that junk to the garage so it’ll be easier to get rid of it.’ Eventually, you forget about said stuff (or can ignore it easier), or you need to add new stuff to the ever-growing pile. What starts as a few sheets of plywood, some scraps of salvaged trim and old solid wood doors (saved aside because surely someone can use them) turns into a cast-iron bathtub filled with empty paint cans, unusable scraps of wood, and a heap of carpeting as big as your car. I’m actually not exaggerating – we had a tub, toilet, 800 sqft of carpet AND padding, a rusted old gas grill, so much wood debris I can’t even name it all, in addition to used furniture and leftover trash from construction, from moving (my mom) and from painting and masonry. Our garage was a total mess (for those of you who don’t mind the odd adult-rated curseword, it was a shithole).

read on…

and just what they didn’t get, those beautiful babies…*

*Lyrics from Lost Together by Frazey Ford from her album Obadiah. (The album is amazing, as I’ve mentioned before.) This song reminds me of my own childhood, my own feelings about my parents’ split, and my mother’s awakening that sadly began in the ashes of the divorce. Every now and then I am struck with the need to write about something other than design, decor and home-related stuff. This is one of those times.

A pretty image, balanced with enough coral to make the green greener, and enough green to make the coral glow.

I’m not a mother. Nor have I any intention of becoming one. Steps have been taken to ensure that that doesn’t happen, that’s how serious I am. I don’t even really like children (though of course I love all my nieces, and my god-less-son, and generally enjoy all my friends’ kids), and pretty much hated being a kid. I’m sorry, parents, your children aren’t really that cute to everyone else. I’m glad you love them, though. Truly, I am.

But I know tons of women who are mothers. Practically everyone I know outside of my family seems to either want kids, or already has them. I’m told it’s a biological urge. If you say so… but I’ve also noticed this trend in women that I find a common, disturbing, and totally understandable side effect: they (you, if you’re a woman and a mother) forget they’re anything but mothers. I can’t count the number of times in my life I’ve been informed by women (never men) how hard it is to be a mother, how all-consuming it is, how it takes over your whole brain (not really making a good sale there, ladies). Motherhood is hard. But, you know what I think is the real hard part? Forgetting you’re a mother.

The parenting bit, yeah, that’s hard. Duh. Thinking of someone else’s needs every hour of the day for years and years? No, thanks. But, it’s during that time – especially if you’re the primary source of food – that the real mind-fucking happens. You have to train yourself to ignore your own needs. Like, constantly. Who in their right minds, no matter how much you love your baby, would submit to feeding them 10 times a day (and diapering equally as often)? I tell you, your brain has to melt to think that’s fun. I mean, sure, 3 or 4 times a day might be sweet, intimate, bonding… but after the 7th time? Yeah, your brain has to simmer, just a little. Couple that with the number of days, weeks, months (years?) that this goes on, and it’s no wonder that women forget they are anything other than mothers.

Fathers, I haven’t forgotten you, but you’re much better at forgetting that you’re fathers. You are proud of your kids, you love them, but you aren’t required to do all that mind-melting, so you don’t (of course, if you’re a primary care-giver and you’re a male your brain has to melt, too – for those fathers out there, I’m sorry). And I suspect some of you mothers out there are jealous, just a little. On the whole, the biology of the event of parenting makes the female responsible for all that forgetting that they’re a person stuff, and the male (in general) gets to go on as things have always been. Maybe just a bit more tired.

So, to you mothers out there, allow me to remind you of one tiny, currently insignificant thing: you’re people, too. Remember in the ’80s when there was that whole ‘kids are people, too‘ campaign? As a kid I was jazzed to be thought of as a whole person who mattered (clues into why my childhood might not have been so fun for me), but I honestly don’t know why that started. Well, we need to have a ‘mothers are people, too’ campaign started. Like, immediately. I know too many of you who have forgotten how to not only assert your own needs, but you’ve also forgotten how to identify them. Beyond the simple, ‘if I don’t pee now I’ll die’ the needs that you ladies have aren’t close to being met.

I can speak about this because I used to have friends. Now I know people who are parents. I am not bitter (ok, maybe a touch, but it’s fleeting), I’m really more concerned. Where do they go? Ladies, where have you gone? All of your interests – beyond crafts and games for kids on rainy days, beyond the miracle that is the learning that your kids all do right on schedule, beyond scrutinizing your children’s poop and telling the world alllll about it – where do your ideas, thoughts, interests go? Not unlike training people to re-matriculate in society after a prison term, I think we should have re-entry classes for women coming to after a particularly harrowing stint on motherhood row. Because you will not let yourself not be a mother ever again. Too busy competing with other mothers for the trophy of best, most well-adjusted, most cared for child on earth (you need to stop that, too, mothers).

I wrote about this because I recently noticed that a number of my friends, who have kids, are currently trying to remember what they were like without kids, before kids. Now, I don’t think that you can (or should) go back to who you were before children. Impossible – you have new humans in your life, new feelings about your place in the world, new responsibilities, new interests. But you must, simply must, be interested in more than your children. Please. Do it for us. We’re interested in more than your children (and, in some cases, we’re not really that interested in your children beyond knowing that they’re healthy and you’re happy). Ladies, spend some time on you. Your kids can wait. You dads can help out a bit more. Your kids can entertain themselves. What about you?



Can I wait the hours, til they find me…*

*Lyrics from The Hours off the new Beach House album, Bloom. I find them to be both enchanting, depressing, and soothing, all at once. Have a listen to the album on spotify for a preview. Purchase if you like. I like. I purchase.

My favorite little photographer working on some spring shots of the house.

Let’s talk about social media. Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Instagram (of the famed 1 BILLION dollar acquisition by Facebook). Blogging. Right, blogging. Neglecting blogging. Feeling bad about it. Overcompensating by taking Instagram pictures of stupid and repetitive things, but in a pretty way, of course (who doesn’t want to see dozens of pictures of random flower arrangements?). Updating Facebook statuses more frequently for the blog than actually blogging. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

Clearly, I’ve been busy. With family birthdays, including a darling tea party for my niece’s 9th birthday, a week long visit from my younger sister who’s poised to embark on a six-month stay in a foreign country, and all the requisite parties that we either attended or hosted, needless to say the blog fell off the to-do list fastest. But, I do have some projects so near completion that I’m sure to have a flurry of blog activity in no time. Some of these projects require dry and/or sunny outdoor conditions to complete. Hence the delay.

read on…