Monday, October 28, 2013

The Complications of an Empty Nest...

It can be complicated...
Until recently, for the past 40 years, I was the only female in our house (except for our dog Maxine, who often sided with the male members…except at meal time.) After 9 years of marriage to one male, I gave birth to two more in a 10-month span, increasing the odds against me.
So, for four decades, I was the lone person on defense while the offensive players lined up opposite me. At stake, were meals and clean clothes. (Actually, the clean clothes were my insistence. My sons believed that a spray of Frebreze was all any clothing article picked off the floor needed.)

As for meals, all three of them believed that unless chili had enough "heat" to melt the spoon you were serving it on, it wasn’t hot enough. Chili nights were coincidentally my "Rice Krispies" nights.

Well, my sons have aged out of the system, so to speak, and my (ex) husband has moved on. (I took him from boyhood to manhood; I guess someone else can take him from manhood to Depends). Anyway, while my home is still often full with family or friends, it is mostly me now. And I must admit, I sometimes feel like a kid in a candy store. (Literally, a chocolate bar stays in the fridge for longer than five minutes…um, most days.) But living on my own for the first time EVER, has presented some issues.

Like, when I use the bathroom, is it necessary to close the door? I do, but I never do so without wondering why. I’m on a second floor unit and the front door is always locked. The same thought occurs when I shower. I not only close the bathroom door, I close the bedroom door as well! Why? I think years of only needing to use the bathroom one second before someone else needed to use it has altered my perspective.  

And while we are "in" the bathroom (a room that truly exasperates the differences between men and women), I offer the following. As a woman who often witnessed one son exiting the bathroom and getting a thumbs up from his brother for leaving it smelling like road kill, I am thrilled now that not only is the toilet seat always down, the floor around it is clean!! (It always amazed me that both my sons could shoot 3-pointers in basketball at will, and still not be able to hit....well, you know where I'm going with this.) I can burn a fragrant candle without a 12-year old coming out with his finger in his mouth, gagging. On the downside, it is no longer the room I can hide in until all the groceries are unloaded. 

For years, my two sons had alternate weeks assigned to take the kitchen trash out. For years, my two sons played trashcan Jenga, each perfectly balancing items as far up the wall as they could before absolutely having to pull the bag up and carry it 20 feet to the trashcan outside. I'm not good at this. I don't know how they pulled the bag up without knocking trash to the floor. As I recently scrapped coffee grounds from the floor back into the filter, I was actually jealous of their skills.   

And after years of spending fall Sunday afternoons watching football (which I do like), I discovered that you don't have to suffer watching a team that continues to play badly week after week, season after season. (If you live in the Philadelphia area, you know the team I"m talking about). No, if by halftime you are screaming obscenities and throwing the remote across the room, it's time to pick it up and change the channel! What a concept!

And though 799 channels belong to sports programmers on Sunday afternoons, I promise, the 800th one will show a Meryl Streep movie! How did I not know this before now? Last week by halftime, I found "It's Complicated", this past Sunday, "The River Wild". (I actually didn't have to wait till halftime this week. When watching the game became as painful as slamming my head in the car door, I switched after the 1st. quarter. Only a woman would do this.)

It's not that I don't miss the sound and feel of a family constantly around me, I do. But everyone's
 nest empties at one time or another. I'm just getting use to it a little younger than I had anticipated. There are pros and cons to this lifestyle. I use to take cooking classes, now as a first time solo home owner, I recently attended "Beginning Carpentry" at Home Depot.

I miss snuggling on the couch, but I absolutely LOVE that there is never a need to compromise. It's my way because I own the highway! One day, I may open myself to the possibility of allowing someone into my life...but not now. And though it really may seem complicated at times, my nest is solidly on the limb...and never really empty. I'm there!

"It's Complicated" photo courtesy of ImageGoggle

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Those who know me, know of my passion for October. We are almost 3/4 of the way through, but my schedule has not permitted me the time to pay proper homage to it until now. But I can't let another day, another moment pass without acknowledging what this month means to me...which is everything.

October has attitude! It says to those who feel gloom over the loss of long days spent on a sandy beach, "Really? I will dazzle you with color so brilliant you will forget about cold tea and sunscreen." If October were a flavor it would be caramel. Warm, golden and soft...and never lasting as long as you want it to.

October is the matriarch of the calendar family. After months of vacations, getaways, and self-anointed time alone, it calls everyone back home. It's cooler temperature keeps a fire burning in the hearth. Its shorter days draws us in from the dark to the warm glow of a soft lamp in the window. Its longer nights force contemplation as winter is about to set in and the need to be surrounded by family is ever so strong.

And its flavors!!! Where do I begin? Okay, I will start with my favorite...apples! From the Winesap's, to the Golden Delicious, or the tangy Cortland's, there is just nothing better. I assume that this was God's favorite fruit too since He used it to have Eve tempt Adam, so who am I to question this preference! While some apple varieties are available in September, hardcore apple snobs, like myself, prefer the tarter varieties of October.

And then there is the symbol most associated with my favorite month:  THE PUMPKIN!!
This beta-carotene rich fruit was once mainly used for pies, decorating or carving into Jack-O-Lanterns at Halloween. But pumpkin lattes, soups, muffins, breads, ice creams and many other culinary sources have laid claim to this fall favorite causing its farm market status to rise dramatically!

October resonates with my soul. From a young child cutting crimson colored construction paper along stenciled leaves to hang in the classroom window, to a young mom decorating the front porch with corn stalks and haystacks for her little boys, it owns me. Not even December makes me as happy.

Like Linus in "Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", I believe in the magic of October. I refuse to let the sudden, unexpected end of a marriage, in this very month last year, taint my feelings. Some things you just can't take from me!

So, step outside and breath it all in. The golden colors, the cool air, the slightly musty scent of leaves decaying into the damp earth. And if your schedule, or maybe even your geographical location, doesn't allow a glimpse of all that October has to offer, click on the video below. You'll be glad that you took the time.

Photos by ImageGoggle, Video by Youtube & Barry Manilow

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Kitchen is Open...And Baking (Almost)!

Wheat and cranberry paint replaced...
It's a little smaller, but at least the pink and black wallpaper is gone. It's still minus the upscale granite counter tops, tiled back splash and center island that my other kitchen was decked out in...but it's now cozy and adorable (these are real estate terms I learned over the last year that actually mean "functional but small".) And it's all good! I actually have more cabinet space than I previously had, so it's a wash. and black wallpaper!
But more importantly, after weeks of scraping, painting, hammering, nailing, cleaning and decorating, my new place is ready for fall and the holidays to come. There is a bit more work to do in the bedrooms and bathrooms, but that can wait till January when we are in full blown hibernation mode and there is not much else do to. For now, let the party begin!

Hardwood floors replaced white Linoleum 
On a recent cool, rainy Sunday when the leaves were swirling by my window, I wanted to fill the house with the warmth and aroma that comes with fall baking. But weeks without grocery shopping prior to the move have left my pantry somewhat challenged. Then I remembered my niece Beth telling me about a cookie recipe that she found on Pinterest that only needs two ingredients; a box of spice cake mix and a can of pumpkin. Both of which I had surprisingly, (okay, there were left over from last year, but still usable.) Beth made them and loved them! (Shh...and between you and I, she has rather discriminating taste, so they must have been good.) Also, must give a shout out to the site that originally posted this recipe, a web page I always find user friendly with very flavorful ideas! So here it is!

  • 1 box Spice Cake Mix
  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease cookie sheets
  • In large bowl, stir together the cake mix and pumpkin until well blended
  • Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared sheets
  • Bake 18 to 20 minutes
  • Allow cookies to cool five minutes before moving to wire racks
Found room for Buyers Choice chefs!
Now you know me, I actually made this a three ingredient recipe by adding raisins. But I must say, these cookies were moist, chewy and wonderful. (And, if such things matter to you, each cookie is only 2 Weight Watcher points!) And even if you don't eat cookies, if you just want to capture the essence of autumn, nothing does it better than the waft of spice and pumpkin flowing through the house!

I am so glad for the timing of my kitchen re-do. With the big holidays coming up, so much time will be spent there. Granite counter tops and tile will come eventually, but for now, each day I add something that makes it more "mine", and I am grateful to be home again. Cozy is okay with me!