Start With an Onion
It can be hard to get excited about making dinner. But it never fails, as soon as I get my lazy tush into the kitchen and get the chopped onion into the pan (because don't all recipes start with that?) the awesome smell of caramelizing onion cooking causes me to forget my resistance, and to relax in general.
People ask me often if I cook while my husband is overseas and they are surprised to learn that I do. For me it is not strange for cooking to sometimes be private and solo; I starting learning to cook while living alone in my first apartment, and lived alone for much of my twenties. While eating at restaurants a pastime that I have enjoyed as much as most in my age group, cooking still strikes me as a critical life skill, not mention a good pillar of long-term health. My skills have been slow but steady enough in their evolution. Interestingly, and perhaps leading to my willingness to cook even when no one is looking, I experience cooking as nice creative outlet of the hands-on variety. For now anyway; I'm sure motherhood could change that, although I hope it doesn't.
Just as the onion lights my cooking fire even when I'm just not feeling it, books and fabric ignite my sewing and design excitement, especially if I'm not sure where to start. I recently splurged on a book like that; it has some beautiful images that remind me why textiles and sewing make me excited. I am particularly enamored because I have been harboring a big crush on blue colors for a couple of years now. Here are a few images from the book:
I was also having a hard time getting inspired with ideas for our nursery (nursery-slash-guest-bedroom, more accurately). Babies do not come naturally to me, nor does the soft and sweet vibe that I see in so many photos of suggested nurseries. I kept coming back to some hand-dyed cotton knitting yarn that I had picked up at a craft fair in NYC years ago while visiting a friend. I was working on knitting a baby blanket with it, so when her mom offered to make us a quilt in our choice of colors, I suggested those same colors: red and orange, turquoise and indigo, in a variety of shades.
Still, in spite of that, I had no vision for the rest of it. Especially with the room already full of home office and guest bed furniture and my husband on the other side of the planet with only a fuzzy timeline for return.
Not to worry; I found my inspiration when I went home in June, right where if I'd been thinking, I would have expected to find it: the flea market that I've been going to with mom since I was a kid (see photo above). I even found my second prom dress there, a vintage flapper dress that mom altered and that I've been known to still wear once in a blue moon. The market occurs every Sunday, as it has for 45 years; since long before Anthropologie figured out that people would pay hundreds for shabby-chic objects that their buyers found in France for a few Euros. I'm not as devoted a flea market attendee as my mom; I'm willing to skip vendors that I don't find promising and I do get distracted by some of the old-looking new goods that have crept in over the years, while she easily finds beauty in objects you couldn't pay me to bring home.
Regardless, that's where it came together. A wall shelf made from metal and wire fashioned into a canoe-style boat washed in an aqua color (old-looking but new) and a metal minnow bucket with orange print (actually old but clean and free of minnows, transported in my carry-on across the country) made their way back to Texas. Our little guy will surrounded by reds, oranges, and blues and more importantly by some evidence of his Northern roots while he gets comfy in his Southern home.