Wednesday, July 30, 2014

hello there!

I needed a few minutes to dust off the cobwebs from this sad little neglected space before I sat down to write today. I didn't have any intentions of going this long without posting but I suppose I forgot just how crazy moving can be. The boxes, the travel, the odds and ends, the seemingly never ending list of projects. It's all I can do these days to keep my head above water. And with this little boy coming in two months I'm really a ball of nerves as we try to get this house/new life ready.
So here I am today, in a new room but at my old desk that has followed me from California to Virginia and now Georgia. My view is no longer of our beloved woods but of a row of homes. It's hard to believe sometimes that the cabin is now in the past. When I occasionally scroll through photos on my phone and come across a few from our life back in the Valley it strikes me just how unique life was there. Now this is by no means a way of saying that I'm just moping around missing the cabin because trust me we are LOVING it here. The cabin had it's charms and it will always hold a special place in our hearts but for someone who is about to become a mother of two and works from home the conveniences of life here are a welcome relief.
When we left the cabin over two weeks ago we were in such a rush. Papa bear and his brother wanted to get on the road as soon as possible as they were driving our belongings down and the rest of us were just dog tired. Moving while six months pregnant with a toddler is quite the adventure let me tell you. So that night instead of heading to Maryland where I would be staying for a few days before joining papa bear in Georgia Birdie and I stayed at a hotel. The next morning I felt a strong desire to pay the cabin one last visit before I leave. Our car grunted up the familiar dirt road and I turned into our driveway. Birdie fumbled up the stairs to the deck and I unlocked the door and walked in. And it hit me, the first pang. It wasn't home anymore. Our things were gone, our smells were gone, our life there was... gone. Poor Birdie ran around the house confused. She got especially frustrated when she got to her room. I sat down on the floor with her and tried to explain all these changes to her while flipping through photos of our new house on my phone. When there wasn't much else left to do I took one last look out of the kitchen window where I spent so many hours washing dishes, washing my baby or just daydreaming. To my surprise there was a gigantic luna moth sitting right on the window. In all our three years of living there we had never seen one. I couldn't help but shake the feeling that it was some sort of sign.
Finally, I strapped Birdie into her carseat and headed back down the mountain. She was asleep within minutes and that's when I let it go. I silently ugly cried for a solid hour as I made my way through the winding country roads past fields and farms and forests. I cried for everything the cabin meant to us. I cried for the beautiful life we built there. I cried for the good times and the bad times and I cried because of all the unknown. But mostly I cried because I was happy. Happy and grateful for this crazy life we live, for the experiences we've had and will continue to have and happy for our family.
Life is so unpredictable, absent of any guarantees. We wake up each day vowing to do our best and hoping for the best. Some days are hard, some days are bad and some days are just amazing. But when it's all said and done I think it all ends up in the good column sooner or later because even the hard or the bad was a lesson we would never regret. And so we adventure on, fearlessly, stronger today than we were yesterday.
And it turns out that luna moth may have been a sign, a parting gift from our little blue cabin. Luna moths are thought to symbolize renewal and rebirth. Isn't that just neat?!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

all boxed up

Sometimes I look around this place and all I see are imperfections, the way this tiny cabin of ours is exploding at the seams thanks to an ever growing family. I get frustrated with doing the laundry on our dining room table, the way the piles of toys have snuck their way into every room, the way we whisper and tiptoe after Birdie falls asleep because hey it's just three rooms! The memories of this brutal winter will forever be seared into my mind as will the piles of ruined sheets and towels thanks to filters that never quite seem to work right. I get tired of the bumpy dirt road up to our house (it's extra fun when you're pregnant... NOT). And I suppose a lot of times that's what makes packing easier. As I apply line after line of tape to yet another box I daydream of walk-in closets and the pantry and the paved driveway. I fantasize about what it must feel like to have things delivered to your door as opposed to making a special trip to the post office to pick up any package that doesn't fit in the mailbox. 
And yet... I'll come upon a moment like last night when the sun was just beginning to dip below the tree tops and ground smelled of rain and mushrooms and the neighbor's horses are out frolicking in the wet grass and my heart will break a little. I don't know that we'll ever get to experience this kind of life again, this quiet country life. Everyone thought we were crazy three years ago when we decided to move into an uninhabited cabin in the middle of nowhere. And perhaps we were crazy but it turned out to be one of the best things we've ever done. 
I will always consider this cabin the place where we became a family, where we grew up. Life tested us here like never before - physically, mentally, spiritually and in every other possible way. We've never worked so hard to make a place our own. We've never worked so hard to find ourselves and our place in this world between dreams and reality. We became parents in this home, we grew into each other in a way like we never had before, we became handier, more patient and relaxed, stronger and wiser. We shared so much love, laughter, tears, prayers, fears, joys, disappointments and trials here. 
I'll never forget pulling into our driveway from the hospital and being greeted by a gaggle of pink balloons my parents had tied to a tree to welcome Birdie home. I'll never forget all the times we walked down this mountain through snow to get to our car, baby in tow. I'll never forget the meals we cooked together over this stove with food grown just minutes from our house. I'll never forget our late night talks and early morning strategizing sessions, planning for our future. I'll never forget the first time Birdie ran to the front door to greet papa bear. I'll never forget sitting on the sofa with four positive pregnancy tests this past February, giggling like children over our excitement of adding another little person to our family. I'll never forget the crackle of the fire, the sound of crickets late at night and warblers early in the morning, the way a good snowfall would fill our entire home with a bright white light, the cascade of autumn leaves upon our deck and the way the sun darts through the treetops at sunrise. 
I came here as a lost and somewhat broken twenty-five year old and I will leave here in just a week as a twenty-eight year old mother of two. The cabin and our life here gave me so much, so many valuable lessons and so many insights into life but the biggest gift will always be my two children, the apples of my eyes. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

the best peach cobbler (one word: biscuits)

I'm officially calling this the summer of peaches! I don't think I've ever had so many fantastic peaches all in one month. I've always been weary buying them because their scent alone can be deceiving and they can still turn out to taste mealy, bitter or just plain tasteless. Not this year though! I've bought them from several different farm stands and they've all turned out to be delicious! 
Most of the time we just hoover them up as soon as we get home, the juices trickling down our hands and in the case of Birdie her mouth and chest and all the way down to her belly. But recently I went ahead and indulged in ten pounds, yes TEN pounds, of this goodness. There was enough to enjoy right away and plenty left for freezing and a cobbler. I had never made one before so I spent a good long while researching recipes to find the perfect one. The moment I spotted this particular one and the word "biscuits" I knew it was meant to be. So here it is, simple and absolutely divine:

For the filling:
6 c sliced peaches
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger (peeled)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the topping:
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c heavy cream
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 375˚. Toss the peaches, ginger, lemon juice, flour, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Transfer filling to a nine-inch pie plate or small skillet. 

2. Prepare the topping: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the heavy cream. With a spatula, fold cream, and flour-mixture together until combined into a sticky dough. 

3. Pinch biscuit dough into clumps and arrange on top of the peach mixture in the plate; brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sanding sugar, if desired. Transfer pie plate to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until peaches are bubbling and the topping is golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

I will say that I have an extra large pie plate so I ended up doubling the topping recipe. Also, to me cobbler isn't complete without a heaping spoonful of delicious vanilla ice cream so I recommend having that on hand. 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

two birthdays, one city

I so badly wanted to throw papa bear some huge 30th birthday party this year. In fact, I even had a pinterest board I had been curating for years dedicated to that occasion. But life had other plans, very good very exciting plans, but ones that made it impossible to plan such a thing. Between trips to Atlanta to scout for housing and the actual move as well as papa bear's work schedule it just wouldn't work. So I thought long and hard about what could be just as good but less stressful. Vegas? It would involve committing to tickets... San Fran? Same and we would need more than a weekend... And then I thought why not our beloved NYC? I threw it out there and we both decided it would be ideal. And just in the nick of time I scored a deal on dreamy hotel in the East Village and we were off! 

We arrived on a hot Thursday morning (the day of my birthday) and began our weekend of joint birthday celebrations with lunch at Gemma. After lunch the heat was still showing no signs of letting up so we ran up to our room, changed into some breezy outfits and headed out hand in hand. We just walked and talked, took in the views, the scents. When a city gets this hot every scent becomes sharper - tires and asphalt, cologne or body odor (with some it's hard to say which one is worse), overripe melons roasting on green shelving outside bodegas, halal carts and cigarettes. And though the smells are mostly bad the sounds I love. The tinkling of bicycle bells, the faint and sometimes not so faint sound of a car horn, the buzz of conversation, the sound of music emanating from an open door or fire escape, the clap clap clap of feet on the sidewalk and the whoosh of air conditioners beneath it all. I like that you can travel to so many different cities and yet when you close your eyes they all sound the same, that standard hum. 
By the evening the sky had grown dark - a deep shade of gray. We hurried back to our room after dinner and caught the first few drops as we rounded the corner where our hotel was. It turned into a perfect summer rainstorm - loud, threatening and absolutely torrential. We ordered up some coffee and took a bath (I love having the opportunity to really enjoy a rainstorm, napping during one is even more delicious!). Finally, right before the sun set the rain let up and the city looked like a sauna - all swathed in pink, steam rising steadily from the pavement. The forecast for tomorrow promised more rain so we planned to hide out in museums and restaurants. 

Instead of rain, however, the next morning we were met with the coolest breeze and quiet city streets. We grabbed a bagel uptown, meandered through Zabar's and picked up some cookies from Levain. And just as the beautiful morning sky turned dark again, threatening rain, we jumped inside MoMA. It was the perfect place to wait out the rain and we left each having learned or seen something new. Later that evening we took in the fireworks show (all thirty minutes of it - good job NYC!!) and looked at photos of our baby because by this point we were missing her terribly. It's funny the way as a parent you can appreciate time away from your child and miss them horribly right in the same instant. We loved, loved, loved feeling young and romantic, holding hands next to flickering candles at tiny tables in dimly lit restaurants but we would often find ourselves saying "I wish Birdie was here" or "Birdie would love this," all the while knowing that if Birdie was there she would probably spit out the food we would try to feed her, demand a show on our phones and generally prevent any type of meaningful conversation from happening between us. So even the most wonderful of experiences are somewhat bittersweet without your child because you're having a great time but you also wish they were there (and you also know better! oy!!!). 
But no matter how much we missed her we needed this. We needed to reconnect, to talk for hours, to sleep in, to hold hands, to be carefree and silly and have the luxury of focusing on each other only. We ended our trip by taking a row boat out in Central Park and it was the perfect cherry on top of a great trip. Something about this time in New York was extra memorable, extra meaningful. Perhaps it's the fact that now as parents we never take opportunities and experiences like this for granted or perhaps it was just a trip coming together even better than I planned, the surprises being pleasant ones and the memories simple but sweet. This quote I recently came across on Pinterest sums it up well:

"The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you." 

The city was a beautiful backdrop but what I'll really remember is just how happy I was walking arm in arm with my love, laughing and sneaking kisses.