Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Home

The other night, around hour 19 of a 20 hour work day, I was 35,000 feet above somewhere in middle America heading home. I was in the last row, in front of the bathroom, 38 aisles away from the door, and next to a middle aisle traveler with an over aggressive left elbow and awful playlist. I wanted to be in my bed. So badly. Visions of ruby slippers, clicking me home, danced through my head to the Pop 2K tunes blaring out of my neighbor's earphones.

Touch down, though seemingly a mile away from the plane's door, meant rest, relief, home sweet home, and a three day Easter weekend.

The problem was in my Mom's eyes, I was only half way there. Home was another couple states away. And I could tell she was sad that I wasn't getting back on a plane to complete a near cross country journey.

Every year, Bing Crosby croons that there's no place like home for the holidays. Which I'm assuming you can translate not only to Christmas, but Easter and a couple other majors. But when you are 30-something and starting your own little family, home because a little less defined. Is it the place you are raising your child? Or the place you were raised? Present or past? Here or over the river and through the woods?

Recently, I've started to equate the notion of home with rest and convenience. It's where my bed and Mary's crib are. It boasts my oatmeal, a jogging stroller, grill accessories and a subscription to Mad Men. It's where I can find an alternative to the outfit that doesn't fit, an endless supply of diapers, and my rules. Home is easy. Which in essence makes the holidays a little easier.

So we spent yet another holiday in and around our house.
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And although it felt right - like we were creating our own set of traditions that would help shape Mary's memories of Easter celebrations to come; there was something missing. Namely, my side of the family. Which will always make staying 'home' for a holiday a little hard.

Through the years, I know it will get more difficult too. Especially as I think about the day that Mary closes our red door and opens her own. Maybe we'll only really understand what home means when we're all together again.

Lo.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tight

Yesterday morning, I had a hard time figuring out what to wear. The problem wasn't only that it was a jeans day (which always makes it twice as hard) or that at second, third and tenth glances, my closet looked tired, but that I was discriminating against reasonable ensembles with a filter that I had picked up recently.

This week, I attended a four-day course detailing every area of marketing, media, merchandising and more that my Company touches. While I learned a lot from the presenters, the bulk of my education came from the attendees - a group primarily made up of (early) 20-something agency girls.

We had specific direction to wear business casual attire all week, which I had been working on. While my tailored response to work ware would have made my old boss proud, I found myself very out of fashion. More precisely, I looked around and realized that I was one of a few women who could breath or bend over.

Tight is in. And for that matter so are tights, or leggings, or whatever you call the stretch pants that no one should ever constitute as business attire. Along with formal spandex, tight cocktail dresses, hosiery free legs, high, HIGH heels, and long blown out hair are all in. Paired with a tight jacket of course. We're not talking day to night ware here; the next stop wasn't going to be Happy Hour, these girls were dressed to go to the Club.

I feel like I'm being unfair though. Because for the record, I used to embrace tight too. I spent the better part of my twenties working out and dieting so if I had it, I was going to flaunt it. And yesterday morning, after seeing just how constricted the world was, I wanted to see if post-baby I could still pair tight on tight and get away with it. I didn't just want to work, I wanted to work it.

Several inappropriate attempts later I gave up and in to the flow of one of my favorite blouses and an unbuttoned blazer. It didn't just look better, it felt a whole lot better. I'm officially over tight and with it have some new guidelines that I'm hoping make their way into the working woman's newest ranks.

  1. If you have to pull it down all day, it's too short.   
  2. If you can't bend over to pick up the pen you dropped, it's too tight. 
  3. If you can't walk normally, they're too high.  
  4. And if your over-sized shirt doesn't clear your bum, change out of your leggings immediately.  

Life is tight enough. At work, at home and on the road, I think we all need as much wiggle room as we can get. There are far too many angles to capture.
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Cooking Out
Lo. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

PGH

Earlier this week, in Rockford, Illinois I met George Washington. A friendly, African-American produce supplier who was going to help me show restaurant managers how to make our new product. We hit it off immediately. He had a great smile and fascinating career.

But the moment you hear someone say 'aht,' you lean in a little closer. What did you say?
Oh you take the tomatoes and onions aht ... 
No. Way. Where are you from?
Oh Jeanette. Greensburg area. Pittsburgh.
I knew it. Me too!
The conversation stopped. Then escalated.
You're kidding. Where from?
Shadyside.
Oh I know Shadyside well. 
Walnut Street. Little's shoes.
Ha! That was our shoe store growing up. We went there every year. 
You know Buddy?
And that was our favorite shoe man.

When you meet someone from Pittsburgh, it's more than a geographic connection or a chance to play the name game; when you meet a fellow Yinzer, you share a unique language, history and family.

Your class picnics were at Kennywood, you went dahntahn on special occasions, you don't use cardinal directions to tell someone how to get to the Waterfront, and you rooted for Barry Bonds when he was thin and played at Three Rivers Stadium.

You've learned that the greatest people in American History are Roberto Clemente, Rachel Carson, Andy Warhol, Mr. Rodgers, Mean Joe Green, Andrew Carnegie, and Henry Clay Frick. And George Washington, because he visited Pittsburgh too.

You've explained that we're not a dirty steel town and we're not Philadelphia; in fact we're on the opposite side of the state. You've shared articles siting Pittsburgh as the place to be / dine / live, and you might even have my parents' coffee table book, 'Pittsburgh: the Paris of Appalachia" on display in your home.

Pittsburgh is one of those random cities on the map that a lot of people know nothing about. They have a distant cousin that lives there and he likes it. Or they've been to Cranberry on business and eaten at Panera and TGIFridays. (Not Pittsburgh.) But like any other girl who can easily slip into Yinzer twang, I have an inflated pride in my hometown. And I'm telling you it's one of the best cities in the country. My advice - book a long weekend in the heart of the Golden Triangle and get an itinerary from someone who lives there. (Or me.) You won't be disappointed.

Peter, Mary and I just landed in Pittsburgh's big, beautiful, always empty airport - and there's no place like home.
Untitled

Lo.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Good Eater

Mary has a tint of red in her hair; it actually looks strawberry blond in certain lighting. When I mention it to my Mom, she tells me that my Grandpa 'Red' would have loved her. Of course he would have. And it makes me think of her other qualities that would have made him smile: her chubby thighs, her translation of hugs and kisses, and the fact that she is already a good eater.

Growing up, he classified me as such. With the exception of meatloaf, I didn't discriminate against meals - especially the heirloom recipes served at family gatherings. Sure, I had preferences, but with the promise of dessert on the other end, I always carried the badge of a clean plate.

Aunt Dee's annual St. Patrick's Day dinner was no exception. Injected with a quarter dose of Irish blood, I was a champion chewer when it came to corned beef, cabbage and Irish Soda Bread. Following dinner, I'd find a seat next to my Double G and gloat about the head of cabbage I polished off as he laughed with loving approval. 'That's my girl. Always a good eater.'

As soon as Mary got her chompers, I had sensed that she was going to be a good eater too. But after this weekend, one of the most delicious ones we've had in a while, I feel like she cemented her claim to the title.

Our household theory is that Mary eats what we eat; and she sits down to dinner when we do. So far, she hasn't refused a thing. She ate all of her mushroom risotto on Friday night. She was likely showing off for Tess, but on Saturday she nearly ate a whole breast of chicken. On Sunday morning, she showed our friend Jess how she brunched. And on Sunday night, she would have made her Irish Grandpa very proud as she noshed on her first slice of corned beef. Definitely a good eater.
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I'm pretty sure my Grandpa's Irish eyes were smiling down on Mary, his little leprechaun yesterday.
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 Lo.

Corned Beef
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1 3-pound Corned Beef Brisket, brined.
1 can beer
1 onion, cut in eighths
2 carrots, cut in thirds
2 celery stalks, cut in half
1 shallot roughly chopped
Enough water to submerge corned beef
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 small head of cabbage, cut into eighths
8 small red potatoes

In a large Dutch Oven, combine water, beer, vegetables and corned beef. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 4-5 hours.

Remove the Corned Beef from the Dutch Oven, scraping away any larger chunks of fat that might remain. (I had to do this on the underside.) Set the Corned Beef aside, covered in aluminum foil. Strain out the vegetables and fat from the liquid.  Add cabbage and potatoes to the leftover liquid, bring to a boil again and then reduce heat to low, simmering at a gently rolling boil for 45 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, about 10 minutes before ready to serve, heat oven to Broil. Cover the top of the Corned Beef with brown sugar then broil on high for 5-7 minutes. Careful to watch it because the sugar will caramelize and then burn quickly. Cut on the diagonal grade and serve with potatoes, cabbage and Irish Soda Bread.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Birthday

Dear Mary,

A year ago, as you entered our world, time stood still. And I was breathless. (Delirious, sore, and exhausted.) But completely overcome by the miracle that was resting in my arms. We had the whole day, just to hold you, look at you, and cherish every moment that your eyes opened and closed; every time that you ate, that you cried and that we found the voice and embrace to sooth you.

Today, time will likely move as fast if not faster than it moved all year. You'll spend the day crawling, laughing, playing, moving faster and faster away from being a baby and into a little girl. You'll probably learn a new word or two; you might even get the confidence to walk without a hand. Regardless, you'll lay further claim to the unique person you are going to be. And I will become even more proud of you.

You have grown and seen and learned so much in just 52 weeks. And in those same weeks, you have given me an education that I didn't anticipate. You have taught me that life and the responsibilities I hold are sacred; that the definition of a good night's sleep is relative and that crying in public is okay. You taught me that parties with a 4:00 start time are awesome and that play dates can be the highlight of a week. I've learned that reservations for three and lap baby scenarios are very underrated, and that reading aloud to you is better than getting through the latest best seller. You taught me that life is too short to worry if my jeans are a little snug and that 52 weeks wasn't nearly enough time to call you my baby.

While I know I can't slow you down. Tonight, just like every night, I will try to freeze a moment or two and lock it in my heart. As we read together, and as we rock in your great Grandma's rocker; as you finally give up on your special day, close your little eyes and nuzzle into my arms so you can hear my heartbeat the way you used to; I will hold that moment. And in it, you will always be my little girl.
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Thank you for making one year so marvelous. Happy Birthday, Mary.

Love,
Mommy.

(Cue somewhere near 52 weeks of photos)
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