30 days of posting challenge

30 days of posting challenge: day 30!

We made it to Day 30. The challenge is complete. I should really have a better quality and/or celebratory image, but I don’t. Some nights are just like that.

I’ve learned a lot in the past 30 days. I was reminded that I love and have missed blogging daily. I figured out that that the connection between this personal blog and my job designing brand campaigns for real estate developments, is that they are both about home.

Most importantly though, in the past 30 days we finally started to move into the first real home we’ve had in over 3 years, and that just tied in really nicely with my return to the blog.

I posed the question a few days ago about what makes a home feel like home. And then I spent a lot of time thinking about it.

Of course it’s different for everyone. For me, it’s about my family but it’s not only about that. Living with my family in a tiny, dismal, dark hole of an apartment for a year didn’t make it feel like a home.

I want my home to be the nicest place I go all day (except on days that I go to the beach). I want it to be filled with beauty, light & art. I want to be comfortable and happy there, and I want to cook and eat good food there. And I want… my things.

Yes! My things. I know it sounds horribly superficial and un-Buddhist-minded of me but it’s true! My stuff makes me happy.

By stuff, I don’t mean pedestrian stuff like lotion, belts or Coach bags (or whatever). I mean the carefully curated, mostly-vintage, yard sale finds that are pretty much useless but for the fact that finding, collecting and admiring them brings me great joy.

You may have seen some of these things if you were following the black and white challenge The Steady Table did on Instagram last week. If not, no worries because I’m going to start featuring these wonderful items—I hope you’ll find them wonderful too—on Fridays. Friday because it’s the day that I am most likely to find the time to shoot pictures. And because then I can call it Friday Finds.

In the mean time, happy Tuesday! Shane made chicken and rice and was so hungry that I didn’t even get to set up the shot. I threw a hunk of cheese on my salad.


Day 29: Throw a hunk of cheese on it

My dad cooked for us tonight, except for the broccoli which I made while Sid alternated between crying, playing with slime, using a garlic press as a nut cracker, crying more and eating cereal – all while wearing a purple cape and mask. Good times.

The main course was salmon with anchovy and caper brown butter. I’m going to go ahead and assume he used this recipe because as you may have heard, my dad always cooks Melissa Clark.

He also made some lovely roasted root veggies and there was the broccoli.

So what does a vegetarian person like me do when my family is eating meat? Oh, nothing special. I just throw a hunk of cheese on it.

30 days of posting challenge: day 27

We had our first fire in our very own fireplace tonight. It’s actually the first fire in the first fireplace I’ve ever had in my own home as an adult, so that made it extra awesome. That and the fact that I got to watch out the window as Shane sharpened a hatchet and then chopped wood.

For the record, yes, I certainly did yell out the window: “Aw yeah! That’s the way to do it! Chop that wood, baby!” Which Shane may or may not have appreciated.

We had dinner with the downstairs neighbors (aka my parents) since we had the good fireplace ambiance and all. Shane made some steaks. I made pasta with Marcella’s Sauce. My mom made grilled romaine with a Franks Red Hot and mayonnaise dressing (yum!) and red peppers stuffed with panko, feta and chopped pistachios (also yum!)

It’s really feeling like home around here.


Day 26: When in doubt, penne alla vodka

It’s not so much that I didn’t know what to cook, than that we didn’t have much in the fridge. I was going to make my usual last-minute-on-a-Friday go-to dish—pasta with corn and whatever else we’ve got, but we didn’t even have frozen corn. And the only vegetable we had was a piece of a head of cauliflower.

All in all it was a decent meal considering. We were fortunate that there was some leftover vodka sauce in the fridge, that bit of cauliflower, and a lemon. I really need to eat a green vegetable tomorrow.


Day 25: An outing

I went out tonight. That’s right. Out!

Some mom colleagues and I went to the make-you-cry-hilarious Pump & Dump Show. Before that, we had dinner at Explorateur. I had the burrata and tomato flatbread which looked an awful lot like pizza and was excellent. Also, you gotta love pizza that’s served with a side of salt. Seriously.

Ok, it’s late folks. Goodnight.

Day 24: Does this slice of bread look like Martha’s Vineyard?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes home feel like home. People say it’s the people. I’m not really sure.

I lived with my family for a year in a dark, dismal basement apartment. It never felt like home, even though I was with my family. Even though I really tried with all my might to find some joy in that miserable place.

Why was that? Was it because we were deprived of natural light? Was it because we didn’t have all our stuff? Or because we thought we were going to be there short term and it just dragged on and on? Or maybe because we just couldn’t feel settled? I don’t know. I think it was probably the lack of natural light (and maybe also all the bugs and the stinky, moldy basement atmosphere).

Tonight really felt like the old home we know and love down in Unit 1, my parents unit. My mom set a long table for lots of people, my dad made pasta Bolognese, and dinner was noisy and chaotic. This is essentially how things have been down there since 1982 with the exception of the past year, when we all moved out to convert the house to a two-family.

Unit 2, our unit, is totally new though, so it’s not a matter of getting back to how things were for us. So I wonder, what is that thing, that moment, that perfect set of circumstances that makes a place feel like home?

And I wonder, does this slice of Gail’s famous cheese bread look like Martha’s Vineyard?


30 days of posting challenge: day 22

When I started this 30 day challenge, the idea was to figure out how the blog relates to my professional work and how to leverage it in order to raise my professional profile. Over the course of 30 days, I was going to write, think and explore commonalities between what I post about here and what I do at work.

I’ve thought a lot about it but haven’t shared much of it with you. The reason for this is twofold. One, is that I’ve just really been enjoying the routine of posting every day, it’s fulfilling in the way that having a disciplined activity, like writing in a dairy or doing a daily sketch is fulfilling. It makes me feel like I’m actually accomplishing something amidst the chaos that is day-to-day life.

The other reason is that I feel like I kinda nailed it on Day 5 when I said that the connection is home. You can read that post here.

My family has been living in a state of flux for over 3 years now. We’ve moved 4 times since the summer of 2013, that’s a big deal for a family with young kids. Sid has been moving around for essentially his entire life (from 7 months to almost 4). And now here we are, finally (god willing) in our forever home.

It seems only natural to revive the blog now that we have a home again. As the blog has picked back up, our home has started to come together. Last night we sat in our own, permanent, packing material-free living room for the first time since the spring of 2013.

Now that we know home is the common thread, I’m going to spend the last week or so of the challenge trying to figure out where to take the blog and how to leverage it to build career success and visibility. Suggestions welcome!

P.S. Mexican tonight.


Day 21: Another birthday

So today is my birthday. Shane, as always, orchestrated something amazing. The table was gorgeous, the food spectacular and perhaps most imporatantly, my living room is packing box-free!!!

My folks came over (ie: upstairs) for dinner. Shane chose and shopped for an Ina Garten potato leek soup which my mom prepared. The recipe’s got a lot of steps and you could tell because it was more delicious and complex tasting than an ordinary potato leek soup, even Rose at it and she’s not a soup gal.

The main course was something like penne alla vodka (but a little different) from one of our favorite Italian cookbooks, Trattoria Cooking, which I picked up at a yard sale in the 90s when I lived in Tucson, AZ. We still love it, so that’s something.

Salad was a last minute addition, to the tune of: “Nina, I didn’t think you’d want salad because there are already two courses” “Shane, I always want salad.”

For a change of pace, I requested a flourless chocolate torte for dessert, and that’s what I got along with a hefty dose of drama from my kids. Turns out, kids these days have no idea how to use matches. Rose almost “burned her entire arm off” and Sid ran around frantically screaming “pause, pause, pause!” when he realized she was lighting matches and he didn’t have his guitar to accompany the happy birthday song.

Shane, who was a seasoned smoker by the time he was Rose’s age was appalled by our kids’ complete lack of match-lighting skills and gave them a quick how-to. When Rose complained about the risk being posed to her life, he persisted with “just keep going, light the candle, light the damn candle!”

Our cat just jumped out of the 3rd floor window as I was writing this. He’s fine, but there’s some real chaos surrounding the birthdays in our family this season. The cake was delicious, I’ll leave it at that.