On ruining a meal…

cozinha-fogo.jpg

When it comes to cooking, I don’t fail often. Part of that stems from the fact that I’m not terribly adventurous in the kitchen. I’m a far braver baker than cook. So when I fail at cooking, I fail hard. There are a few instances I can choose from…the time I set my oven on fire (with oil) and attempted to put it out (with water) or the time I so thoroughly burnt falafel that I still can’t bring myself to make it again (that was over two years ago) or the time I had a beautiful meal planned and realized (as I was beginning to make said meal) I was missing three of five ingredients.

When it comes to screwing up in the kitchen, I tend to do it with the most basic things.

This is the story of my most epic fail. And it just so happens to be a Thanksgiving fail.

Almost ten years ago, I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with a couple of friends up at their mountain home. They’re both pretty phenomenal cooks and always use the most primo ingredients so this was an easy invitation to say yes to. Best of all, they knew how important gravy was (is) to me when putting together a holiday meal. Gravy will make or break Thanksgiving. It goes on literally everything. If the gravy is garbage, the meal is basically ruined. My family tends to makes the objectively best gravy that has ever existed. And you’re not allowed to be in charge of gravy until after some pretty serious training. You have to be the taste-tester first (for many years) and then you graduate to giver-of-opinions (but you still don’t get to actually add the ingredients). I’m 36 years old and have been my immediate family’s GoO for over 15 years. We don’t take gravy lightly.

So being asked to be in charge of gravy for my friends Thanksgiving meal was a big deal to me.

I arrived at their house and after a glass of wine or two, I set to work. I asked for all the ingredients I’d need: drippings, flour, water, seasoned salt, poultry seasoning, and a few other things. They pulled everything out of their extensive pantry of high end items and I began my work.

But after a pretty significant amount of time (and more flour than I’m used to using), the gravy wasn’t thickening. I hadn’t yet tasted the gravy, because this isn’t something that happens until the thickening begins. There’s a process, dammit! So I looked over at my friend and said, “Um, what kind of flour do you weirdos use?!  Something just isn’t working.”

And that’s when my world fell apart and I literally started crying. Because he looked over and said, “Oh shit! I grabbed the powdered sugar!”

There’s not much left to say after that. Thanksgiving (for me) was all but ruined.

Thank God there was pie…and more wine.

nablopomo_badge_2016

Sunday Brain Dump

EHAID.jpg

This month, I’m going to use Sundays as brain dumb days. I don’t even have the energy to come up with a marginally clever title.  If I find something of importance or value to say, I will. If I don’t, that’s fine, too. Sometimes it’s nice to just ramble.

I’m 22 weeks pregnant right now and all the pains I remember from my first pregnancy are making a violent return. Round ligament pain and early pelvic separation are no joke. I can’t even put on yoga pants without significant struggle.

I was reminded by a very good friend today to dream big. I’m going to record a Christmas album…and as it turns out, I have a lot of friends who I can turn to for advice and help in that arena.

One of my friends touched on it earlier this week, but I think part of the reason I’m okay with starting the Christmas season early is that the world (and particularly the States, recently) could use a little more joy and a lot less tragedy, lies, and disappointment.

I’m going to try to talk my husband into setting up one of our pianos (yes, we have more than one. It’s kind of insane). I want to start playing again. And what better time than now? Especially with Christmas looming and all my favorite music about to be on blast for the next several weeks.

Despite all that, Fall is officially here which means my baking season has begun. I loves me some dark liquors and I really enjoy baking with them. Fall flavors lend themselves well to dark liquors (especially bourbon, which I’m more than partial to). I have some staples that I make every year, but I try to come up with something next every year. I did a dark caramel drizzle on some gingerbread and bourbon cupcakes yesterday. That was a solid win. I get to make one of my favorite pies this weekend to share with some girl friends (except that my crusts are still the bane of my existence so I’m going to turn it into a crisp instead).

So it seems I have nothing significant to say this evening. And that’s okay. But it means it’s time to end the rambling and turn my attention toward the Broncos v. Raiders game. #timetoride y’all!

nablopomo_badge_2016

On living in glitter…

IMG_1370.JPG

When my husband and I started thinking about decor and a theme for our first daughter’s nursery/bedroom, we knew we wanted something smart and clever that wasn’t too girly. We came up with books and “girl power” quotes. I scoured the interwebs and Pinterest and queried friends for their favorites. There were a LOT to choose from. I had to narrow down something like 200 quotes to ten. Not an easy task.

Each quote means something special to me. So today I’ll choose just one to talk about.

“She is a dreamer, a doer, a thinker. She sees possibility everywhere.” 

This one means a lot to me. I think it’s because it’s the kind of person I always hope and try to be. I want to see the good in everything. I try to see every silver lining (sometimes it’s hard…those are the ones I call “aluminum linings”. They’re dull and not as fancy as silver, but they still sparkle if you look at them in the right light).

I’ve been accused of living in a Pollyanna world. That doesn’t bother me one little bit. I’ve found it’s a lot easier to look for the good in things, to see the bright side, to hope for the best, than it is to be crabby and whiny and upset. It makes more sense to me to dream, do, and think about how to make the world a better place than it does to bitch and moan and wallow.

I want my daughter’s to live in a near-constant state of wonder. I want their lives to be filled with some kind of magical combination of Disney and Christmas all mashed together. But I can’t do that for them. They’re going to have to figure out how that works for them, how they can find the magic in the everyday. All I can do is show them how I find it.

I find it in things like glitter and cupcakes and sunshine. And when it’s gloomy and grey, I find it in hot tea, a good movie, and a warm blanket. I find magic in singing along like I’m the lead singer in a band and we’re at a sold out concert. It’s in my Colorado green chili and my spaghetti sauce (both of which have brought me to tears because I’m so excited to make and share it). I find it in a turbulence-free flight.

It’s in whatever I choose to find it in. But those are my choices. My daughters are going to have to find their own magic. And I can’t wait to see where they find it.

nablopomo_badge_2016

On things that define me…

i-know-him.jpg

It’s far enough past Halloween that I don’t feel (too) guilty for writing about Christmas. Traditionally speaking, I don’t let myself listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. Every holiday deserves it’s own space and, for some reason, waiting until after Thanksgiving makes Christmas seem even more special to me.

But this morning, I went ahead and listened to the Christmas playlist I’ve been working on for a few weeks. And I don’t feel one bit of bad about it.

If someone were to ask me what my favorite kind of music is, I’d have to say Christmas music. It’s a genre. I’m deciding that. Apparently, when I was quite small, it was the only type of music that would put me to sleep. It’s no wonder it feels so relaxing and homey to me. There are few Christmas songs I don’t know all the words to. I wish I had my piano set up right now. I miss playing the piano, but I really miss playing Christmas music.

I’ve been thinking a lot about things I want to accomplish in my personal life. I always said I wanted to write for Vanity Fair, but those odds are so very slim.  Singing is the only thing in my life other than writing that has so completely consumed me. But I don’t really play any instrument well and I’m a pretty terrbile songwriter, so I usually just end up singing karaoke whenever I get the chance. I’ve been able to sing BGVs on a number of albums thanks to a producer I know in Denver. And my best friend in the whole wide world is a real live rock star and let me sing a BGV or two at her first show in Nashville. But I’ve never even considered the idea of doing my own thing.

Until a couple weeks ago.

I was driving home form Richmond and turned on some Christmas music (hey, it was cold and foggy and looked like it could snow and I had a hot cup of coffee in the car. The elements were almost entirely there). I decided that I’d give myself the chance to record a Christmas album for my 40th birthday. It’s a few years off, which is good, because our family is about to move literally to the other side of the world for a few years and (shockingly) recording music costs money that I need to work for and save up. But I’m going to do it. I have a few things in mind, but I have no idea what it’s going to cost, how to go about asking people to help me, or even how to arrange a song (not to mention get the rights to). I literally have zero marketable skills when it comes to music. I can read music and find a harmony more quickly than most people I know and I can hold a hell of a tune. But I’m no musician.

Despite all of that, this is something I’m determined to do. I want something tangible that I can give to my daughters some day, something that is real and meaningful and completely me.

Because if there’s one thing they’re going to know about me, it’s that I’m basically a lunatic elf hopped up on peppermint when it comes to Christmas.

nablopomo_badge_2016

On knowing when to speak…

honesty

I don’t believe this. Not for one second. I used to think honesty was the best policy, but then I had some really painful, really honest things happen to me and I just can’t get on board with this anymore.

There are just some times when honesty isn’t going to do anyone any good. Sure, these instances are few and far between, but they exist. I assure you, they exist.

I can think of a million ways I’d like to be honest with people, to tell them what I really think, but I’m learning to take some steps back and consider: is what I’m about to say beneficial? Is it kind? Is it worthwhile? Is.It.True? If what I want to say doesn’t meet those requirements, it’s probably best to stop and think about it for a hot minute.

People don’t always need honesty. Sometimes, I think it’s better to be kind.

But even as I write this, I’m not sure I buy it.

Here’s what I think the problem is: Honesty gets confused with truth. And vice versa. The two are not the same. Speaking the truth comes with it the responsibility of speaking with love and kindness. Being honest? I don’t know…people can be really awful when they’re being honest. It’s a really easy way to cop out and say something horrible with the tag of, “I’m just being honest.” It doesn’t make it not hurtful.

Sure, hearing the truth can hurt, too. A lot. But if someone is really interested in telling the truth, it’s often coming from a place of understanding, of reasonability, of care.

So the next time you think you’re about to say something honest, stop and consider if it’s also true.

nablopomo_badge_2016

On all the things I’ve done…

brave-91Day 2 of my adventure in writing every day. Today’s prompt is about as exciting to me as yesterday’s (which is to say, not very). When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?”

I honestly can’t remember the *last* time I was brave. I haven’t done much in the way of exciting or noteworthy in the last several months. Ouch. That sort of sucks to write.

But I have a lot of experiences to glean from when it comes to being brave throughout my life. I’ve lived in another country (okay, it was Canada and it was for college, but it was still another country and I had to use different monies and learn new lingo, some of which I still use to this day). I moved out of the safety of my parent’s rent-free home when I was young (much younger than either of my siblings did). I  have quit toxic jobs without anything else lined up. I have gone back to university when I felt like I was too old and too broke and I successfully completed my courses in the time I allowed myself. I have ended a damaging marriage. I have bought and sold a dream home. I have run several half-marathons. I have moved to a new state and lived in a new place for the first time in 33 years. I have gotten re-married to the love of my life while people questioned my motivations and balked at my happiness (because it all happened so quickly). I have openly and unabashedly claimed to be a Christian, a liberal, a supporter of #blacklivesmatter, a friend to the LGBTQ community (*gasp* even so far as to say YES, they deserve the same rights I have) – all at fairly significant personal loss. I have given birth – vaginally and unmedicated. I have opened up about my struggles with post-partum depression. I have gotten pregnant again. I have said YES to moving to a very-much foreign country for the next three years in order to give my husband the career checks he needs and wants and to give our daughters the chance of a lifetime.

I’ve talked ad nauseum about all of these things. I could continue to talk about all of them (especially the marathons, divorce, marriage, and childbirth). But I’m not going to.

I think what’s making me feel the most brave right now is that I’m willing to demand of myself the time and space that I need. I need to take time to read and write. I need to turn off the television and immerse myself in life again. It feels oddly brave. My free time is very limited so what if I choose the wrong book to read and it ends up being a total waste of time? Will I still have gained something from that? I certainly won’t miss anything if I turn off Netflix. For a while, it felt like the bravest thing I could do was to let go and just be okay with messes and inactivity. I’m a champion at over-scheduling my life so when I gave that all up, it was hard and it felt really brave. And I got used to it. So now maybe it feels brave to start taking back all those things I pushed aside for the last 2+ years.

nablopomo_badge_2016

 

 

On needing to feel desirable….

nablopomo_badge_2016

Today is November 1 which means it’s the first day of #NaBloPoMo, a writing challenge I’ve attempted several times in the past and am hoping to be more successful at this year. It helps that I’m joined by two women who are both good friends and excellent writers. I encourage you to read their work as well!

I’ll be (mostly) following the prompts from BlogHer. Today’s prompt wasn’t all that exciting to me: When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?”  I’ve written about self-care before. It’s not new territory for me. I sometimes feel like I’m whining when I write about it. 

But maybe there are parts of it that are new territory.

A lot of times when I think about self-care (especially as regards my mental health), I consider it a solo activity. I like to spend time by myself. I enjoy being alone. But as a wife and mother (mostly as a mother), taking care of myself means requiring the help of other people. I need babysitters or I need my husband to be home so I can leave the house. Oddly enough, it’s frowned upon to leave a two-year-old on her own for four hours. But it’s not just my husband’s help I need. He provides so much for me and for our family. He “gets” that I need to be not-Mommy for a few hours a week in order to even adequately care for our marriage and family. It’s something I deeply appreciate and all-too-often take for granted (that’s a whoooooole other blog post).

I think I’m getting to a point where I need the rest of the world to cut me some damn slack when it comes to self-care. Okay, not the rest of *the* world, but certainly the rest of *my* world. Motherhood is a deeply sacrificial experience. Every time I turn around, I feel like I’ve given up something else, some other piece of myself, in order to be a mother. And just when I think I have nothing left to give, someone or something finds a piece of me I forgot about or didn’t know I had and that gets taken away too.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to be angry about that. And I swear on everything I (still) own, I will lose it if even one person tells me, “Yeah, well, you chose to become a mother!” Screw that noise. I’m well aware of the choice that I made. We should all be very aware of our choices. I think I’m angry because I’m sitting her, waiting for the moment when someone or something decides am worth sacrificing something for. I had absolutely no idea the concept of sacrifice until I became a mother. I thought I knew. I’ve given up a lot in my life. I’ve had to choose between two very difficult paths a number of times. It’s not a new concept. It’s a far deeper concept now.

So when I get asked to chip away just a little more of my time or my energy or my talent for this thing or that event or whatever it is that needs my attention, I start to ask myself, “When will I get a little in return?” Not in smiles and hugs from my daughter. Not in kisses and kind words from my husband. I get those in spades. Those are the things that keep me from lighting my own fuse and completely blowing up.

I’m waiting for the world to offer up some small gesture to show me that I matter, that my time is valuable, that my presence is desired, that my opinions count.