First came the purging.
For years we collected little plates and striking platters and saucers with squat holes in which a sweet little tea cup would sit just so. We couldn’t use the same plates over and over again for food photos, so we collected a closet worth of eclectic dishes, not one of them matching, over the years.
We don’t do that anymore. We don’t push aside the mess on the table to make a clean white space to create a little dream of dinner in which nothing else intrudes. We gave up the blog. I stopped developing recipes for small companies and photographing them myself. I don’t even use my DSLR anymore. We didn’t need those dishes.
And we didn’t need the 20 white wide bowls from IKEA we bought five years ago, when we thought we would be doing special dinners for people at our kitchen studio. Or the boxes of silverware for catering or events. We let go of that studio four years ago but we still had all the remnants.
Let it go. Let it go!
We had three weeks between discovering we would be leaving the house we had lived in since March of 2012 and the day we moved into our new one. We could have panicked and decided to keep everything, stuff it into our new home since we have more room, and deal with it later. Or we could throw shit out as fast as we could, since I had just started a full-time job in Seattle and Danny still had several weeks remaining before he left the restaurant where he had been working. And the kids were on summer vacation.
Let’s get ready to have a garage sale!
We put stuff in boxes to take to the thrift store. None of that stuff mattered anymore, not the expensive blender base we always intended to fix or the couch with a sagging cushion or the 12-foot trampoline with a net that needed repairing. We had been living with these things every day. The stuff wasn’t us.
So I led the charge. 50% of every room had to go away before we moved.
We did it.
There is still stuff, of course. We will be unpacking boxes for weeks. We’re not exactly minimalists.
But our new kitchen, which is three times the size of our old one, with a deep Midwestern pantry and windows across the wall facing southeast, is starting to come together. Good friends gave us a little table and chairs they have been holding in storage since they moved from DC to Vashon, and it turns out to be just right for that space. “We have a kitchen table!” shouted Lucy when she saw it. “We can have breakfast and lunch here and dinner in the dining room.” She’s right. Somehow we have never had a little kitchen table. There will be good conversations here.
It didn’t occur to me to take test photos on the table to make sure it was the right placement for capturing those breakfasts. We set it up there because it will be good for our family.
And I snapped this photo quickly to send it to our friends to say thank you.
This weekend, our first full one in our home, was a doozy. Danny had a big catering gig to cook for the restaurant, on his last day of working there. Everyone on the line gave him a round of applause when he was done.
I had two antsy kids, unsettled after moving to a new home and starting school and Daddy at work all day. So we played and read and had French fries and Dole whip floats at our favorite burger place instead of something nutritious. Desmond, as we suspected, was fried after all the changes in his life — to him, it seemed like everything shifted — so Saturday evening was long and hard. But after Desmond was finally asleep, curled up in our bed, Danny and I sat on our new deck, talking and watching a wicked, exhilarating lightning storm that lasted for hours.
Maybe the storm cleared out the hard stuff. Maybe it had merely been a week. Every day we are in the new house, it’s one step closer to fully feeling like home. As we told Lucy and Desmond both, repeatedly this past month, “Home is where we are together. Home is where our friends visit us. Home is where we sit at our table together.”
Sunday morning I woke up before anyone else. I walked upstairs to make coffee. I sat on the outside deck and listened to the birds. I watched an eagle fly over my head. And then I poured a cup of coffee, hot and dark. As I sat at the dining room table, cleared of all the boxes, I could feel myself believing in my body what I told the kids.
We are home.
And this coming weekend, I’m taking 15 more boxes to the thrift store. We don’t need stuff to know who we are. We have enough already.
Green Goddess Avocado Dressing
Last week at work, I went down to Sosio’s, my favorite produce stand in the world. I picked out baby romaine, purple frisée, butter lettuce, carrots, celery, ripe figs, bunches of fresh basil and dill, huge heirloom tomatoes, and a bag of nectarines ready to eat now. I put it all on the work account, then walked across the Market to the place we all call the hippie dairy to buy goat cheese and yogurt. Then I went downstairs to make staff meal.
We make lots and lots of interesting food at my job. But some days that might mean marshmallows made out of Jello or microwave caramels. I missed vegetables that day, so I made everyone lunch with produce. A big salad with pistachios and goat cheese and a sharp dressing made with champagne vinegar. Slices of nectarines. A basket of figs. Thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and flaky salt. Lunch was a hit.
My favorite bit? The herby avocado green goddess dressing I made up on the spot. I am making it at home for our dining room table tonight.
Put the flesh of a large avocado, salt, the leaves of an entire bunch of fresh basil and another one of dill into a blender. Plop in a quart of really high-quality yogurt. The juice of two lemons. More salt. Blend until it all becomes a lovely puree. It should be thick. Scrape the sides and put it all in the middle of a blender again. Turn on the blender and drizzle in some olive oil — I like a really fruity one here — until everything moves easily in the blender. Turn it off. Taste. Add more of whatever you feel it needs.
It’s good with cut-up carrots and celery. Or figs. Or anything you want, really.