Friday, May 17, 2013

On Paint and Gravy

My home coffee bar...a.k.a. Morning Mecca
On Paint
For the past two days, I've been painting my favorite room in the house.  Like so many families, the kitchen is like 'mission control'.  I spend a great deal of time in and around the space; cooking, baking, writing, reading, creating, organizing, etc, etc, etc.  Since moving in, I've been wanting to add a splash of color and a few decor elements that make me happy, and help make the space 'mine'--or I guess I'd be making it 'us', since I've got a whole flock of ducklings who need to feel inspired in the room as well; to eat, do homework, create a project, say grace, or be helpful to me in some way.  So, I chose a pumpkin-y orange color that's bright and cheerful and helps 'bring the room together', and coordinates with the hodge podge of kitchen-y accouterments that I've collected from various stores and shops in Colorado and Texas.

Painting the space was no easy task.  The over-300 square foot room doesn't boast a lot of large, open, easy-to-paint walls.  Cabinets, crown molding & baseboards, windows, a chair rail, doors, and three arches all require precise 'taping off' prior to paint application.  My 'cutting in' skills are just...well..they're non-existent.  Therefore I used two rolls of painter's tape to protect any space I wanted to keep 'pumpkin toast-free'.  That, paired with the other 'pre-painting' requirements was probably the reason it took me six months of living here to muster up the energy to undertake this task.

It felt like it took forever.  Partially because that's what prep work 'does', partially because I was trying (in vain) to keep the girls happily entertained and relatively clean, and partially because I'm incredibly ADD and relish 'the show' far more than I do the 'set up'.  I kept popping into Randy's office to ask random questions.  One of the more popular questions was, "aren't you proud of me for doing all this prep work?", to which the answer was, "um,'s what you need to do".  Bummer.  Twenty minutes later....'Well surely, he'll have a different answer this time, let's ask and see'.   {Nope}.

You can see why this task took longer than it probably should have.

At any rate, after the room was prepped, I finally popped the can open and dipped the paint stirrer into the bold, viscous color that would soon warm up the walls and add a little more of 'us' to our home.  I began brushing and rolling the color over the walls, along the trim, and around the cabinets, doors, and windows.  With my earbuds playing a fun and random playlist of well-known hits, I found a bit of solace and peace in the action of swiping the color-soaked bristles across the {literally} blank canvas of wall.  As I did, I'd come across smudges, knicks in the wall {thank goodness for texturized walls, right?}, and the occasional thumb tack holes.  With a quick swipe of the brush or a flick of the roller, they were covered up, masked behind a pop of color, forgotten.  In time, the whole room was bright, refreshed, and worthy of a few ooohs and aahhhs from the flock of ducklings.
The 'before'...shortly after moving in
The 'after'
I love how the color continues through the archway
A few curtains and the breakfast area (well, we eat all our meals the 'food area')
will be complete!
I'm super pleased with the results.  I instantly felt more *inspired* last night as I was preparing dinner :)

Okay, really?  As I was prepping dinner last night, it felt somewhat like I was in the midst of a military mission, trying to keep my fellow soldiers in line.  Unsuccessfully, I might add, as they played 'wall ball' in the family room, rehearsed a {top-secret} dance routine in front of us while requesting {nastily} that we 'not watch' her, and pushing a toy shopping cart into my shins and over my toes while whining {a lot} and wearing only a {very soggy} diaper.  Oh, yes, and my dear brother called to 'check in and chat'.  The point is, whatever 'creative sparks' this new paint color was supposed to send forth had become dimmed by the insanity of dinner hour.  *sigh*  I guess the paint needed to fully cure.

On Gravy
I've heard that I'm a pretty good cook from various {what I consider to be reputable} sources.  I don't really ever use a recipe for anything other than inspiration for my own spin on things.  I often times take random ingredients, add a little butter or wine {or both}, and pair it with some rice or pasta {and the rest of the bottle of wine--for me, of course} and call it dinner.  So far, the kids haven't complained {too much}, and Randy's goal of 'unhunger' has been met nearly every night I've cooked.  Which is most every. 

So last night, in my *refreshed* kitchen, I felt compelled to make something extra super yummy.  More often than not, that means gravy.  I love gravy.  Not as much as bacon, but yes, the adoration is certainly there, and is not discriminatory.  I love all gravy.  Thanksgiving gravy, gravy you'd pour over mashed potatoes alongside roast beef, gravy that my sweet grandmother makes to accompany her homemade potato gnocchi.  Give me a little bowl and a spoon, and I'm a happy girl.

So naturally, last night, I decided that our meal simply *needed* gravy.  In our warm and cozy kitchen, in the midst of the warm and humid Houston heat, we had thinly sliced chicken breast in a chicken & mushroom gravy that I {obviously} flavored with white wine with farro and steamed broccoli.  I tasted the deliciousness bubbling away in the pan a few times more than necessary while it cooked and I prepared the rest of the meal.  

At some point, I became distracted by one {or more} of the kids.  Surprising, I know.  When I got back to the kitchen, I became glaringly aware that the table was covered with all of the things I needed to re-hang on the walls and windows to help 'finish' the room.  I checked on tasted the gravy one more time, stirred the farro, and began getting the table cleared of the 'stuff' so that it could be set for dinner.

By the time we sat down, it was later than I had intended, the baby was now completely naked, and the desire to pour myself a pint glass of wine was outshined only by the incessant and slightly competitive whines and noises and sounds coming from my flock.  Once everyone was served, I made a *small* request that there be 'no talking' for the first three minutes of the meal.  Serenity.

As I cut into the chicken and took a bite, I quickly became grateful for the fact that there was gravy.  Not just because I have a weakness for it, but because the chicken, which I have prepared countless times before, was not up to par.  It's not that it wasn't 'good', it just wasn't quite the 'extra super yummy' I had intended when I began chopping the garlic and shallots an hour earlier.

As the three minutes of quiet came to an end, I asked Randy if he thought the chicken was dry.  He chewed, said it was good, and continued shoveling forkfuls into his mouth, interrupted only by the occasional swig of beer.  I don't like beer, but I was grateful for it, because I thought it might have had something to do with why he wasn't giving me a hard time about the meal, like he often takes the opportunity to do when I critique my own cooking.

I suddenly felt guilty for giving the kids 'blah' chicken, and began offering up another spoonful of gravy on top of their meat to help drown out dryness.  I mean, it's gravy.  You can't go wrong with gravy.  In a move that made me question if in fact they were my children, they all said, 'no thank you', and kept eating.  Sweet, innocent, undiscerning palates.  Gotta love 'em.

On Paint *and* Gravy
As I was doing the dishes and cleaning up last night, I started connecting things in my world and {silently} noting the irony and beauty of it all.  I had gotten the chance to get an hour of unexpected, uninterrupted, and oh-so-appreciated reading in while Brynn was in dance class.  It was bliss.  The only thing missing was a coffee, but I made up for it with a handful of chocolate covered almonds I had instinctively thrown into a bag before heading out the door.

I began thinking about the response I had received from my last post, How To Be, and how so many fellow women and mommies shared little snippets of their lives with me {as well as 'there', usually through social media}, revealing how they, too, feel inadequate and as though they're not 'good' mommies at times.  It made me remember a quote that I had read {and, subsequently, probably 'pinned'} that says, 'Don't compare someone's highlight reel to your behind the scenes'.  I've seen variations on this {and again, probably 'pinned' them}, but it's pretty much a good summation of what I was trying to say.  I'm just wordier.  Sorry if you felt you wasted your time time, just check my Pinterest ;)

Anyhow...I was then reminded of a quote by Lao Tzu that I found in one of my recent *philosophical* searches for a yoga intention {makes me sound fancy, huh? yeah...thought so, too ;) }

~Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others.  Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval.  Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.

A-freakin-men. begin 'doing' just that.  *Sigh*

I put the leftover piece of chicken into a container, and then spooned *all* of the remaining gravy over top {can't waste gravy!}.  I walked over to the refrigerator, the door hit against the wall, and I made a mental note to be more cognizant when opening the door now, because I didn't want to scuff the color.  Funny.  I had never realized how the occasional 'door bump' affected the wall before painting.  Any scuffs on the wall were now covered up by the bright and colorful paint.  Putting the container in the fridge, I realized that my sub-par, 'flawed' chicken was kind of like the walls in my kitchen.  Not perfect, but workable, and covered up with something more colorful {or flavorful} to mask what I didn't want seen {or tasted}.  

From then until now as I sit at the counter in my kitchen to type this, I've been thinking of all the other ways in which we paint and gravy our lives in order to appear more 'put together' than we actually are.  How we spend money on things to mask the true beauty of our face and bodies and hair color {and, for the record...guilty, guilty, guilty}.  We spend money and time 'keeping up with the Jones's' whether they be next door, around the block, or in a whole different state but you've become aware of their home decor/manicured lawns/*ideal* life via social media {again, guilty}.  We limit what we share with others for fear of being judged, being looked down upon, being thought of as 'less than' {guilty...but working hard at being more open, showing more raw honesty, and letting the world see me}.  We compare, compare, compare...and assess others qualifications/abilities/worth based upon a snapshot that's been zoomed in so closely, it's like talking about a single star in an entire galaxy.  

And we're all guilty.  Every single day I find myself practicing a less-than-graceful display of myself and immediately respond with an internal 'talking to' followed by an apologetic plea prayer upward.  What's pretty cool is that when you make time assess yourself, reflect on areas where you need a 'fresh coat of paint', and {most importantly}, begin to act on becomes a little easier to broaden your perspective, see things {and people} for what {and who} they are, and begin to let it go.  Let go of the *need* for things, the facade, the cover-ups, the negativity, and the competitiveness that will always, always wind up with us feeling less than adequate in one area or another {or more}.

I'm not bragging in saying that I'm 'better' at doing this than any one person, but I am 'better' than the me I was six months ago, six weeks ago, six days ago.  It's daily work to spend time being honest and open with yourself {and being willing to do so}.  It can get ugly, it can get tear-filled, it can cause you to close off circles in your life where you used to feel as though you 'belonged' but have come to find that those circles no longer serve you.  That's'll find new circles, new areas in which you can allow your true self to shine, to serve, and to just be.  It takes strength and courage to scuff the paint, push the gravy aside, and stand alone and bare and exposed.  Keep standing there, and you'll start to realize that you're not as alone as you might think.

Perhaps the paint in my kitchen has cured, inspiration has come, and I've given myself yet another thing {or two or three} to ponder.  

Or, the fumes have gone to my head.

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