dressing the bird

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Yeah, the blog has taken a backseat to life’s happenings, and I miss it. Writing here is honestly a bit of a creative exercise, and exercise is always better when it’s a regular thing, wink wink.  

With Thanksgiving Day a week from tomorrow, thought it might be a good time for reentry by sharing my first published piece, Dressing the Bird. Never mind it’s a neighborhood publication, it feels good to have something I wrote actually in hard copy print, thank you Megan. We’re all about trying new things, putting yourself out there a little, and taking small risks. So, here we go, sharing with you my submission for Delaware Park Living magazine:

Dressing the Bird

First Thanksgiving dinner thirty-one November’s ago we brought to the table a partially frozen bird. Who knew you couldn’t make the Wednesday night bar rounds, sleep a few hours, wake up early, run the oldest foot race in America and do Thanksgiving dinner soup to nuts all in a few hours?
That was our first married holiday meal, and we invited guests. Mom showed up early afternoon and wondered why the turkey wasn’t in the oven and I really didn’t know why either. Simply jumped in with no experience and went to town. Can’t remember how I ever got dinner on the table and fed my people, yet it did happen, and it was memorable.
Now, three decades later, six kids, a new son-in-law, and we’ve got it down. There’s got to be two turkeys, (and now we cook them just fine), good old-fashioned bread stuffing, cooked cranberry sauce with cinnamon and orange, green beans, double amounts of mashed potatoes, candied yams with of course marshmallows on top, roasted Brussels sprouts, soft, buttery dinner rolls, triple amounts of scratch gravy, pumpkin, blueberry, and apple pies. When the kids were little I used to make them pick the berries, and froze them for our November and December holiday pies. Now I call the farm, order a flat or two, and freeze them in 6 to 8 cup zip-lock bags for pie on the ready. Crust has got be scratch, and only with butter, no white shortening in this kitchen, and that can be done early, and frozen before rolling out as well.
One turkey to carve and one to look at until dinner is done. The second bird is so we can send hearty leftovers home with family and friends and for sandwiches the next day. In the early years when Gourmet magazine was still a thing we jumped around with the stuffing, adding chestnuts, or weird things, always with complaints if there wasn’t old fashioned bread stuffing as well. Now we just go with the tried and true, cutting the crusts off of two or three loaves of Pepperidge Farm white and letting the bread dry on the countertop for a few days. In a pinch we’ve been known to throw it in the oven for the speedier version.
The only Thanksgiving dinner I didn’t cook in the last three plus decades was the year I was pregnant with our fourth child, it was her real due date on the big turkey day, and husband and I with our eldest son and our twins were invited for dinner at mom’s house. Walked the Turkey Trot that day, (no drinks the night before), me pushing a double stroller and husband pushing a single, and went for dinner. Second son Maxwell who was two then pushed back from the table after it was all over and declared, ‘I’m loaded’: we still laugh about that today. Helped with dishes that night, told husband it was time to go, left the three wee ones with the grandmom, went and birthed Sarah. Sarah is now turning twenty-six this Thanksgiving season, and we are forever grateful, and still serving basically the same meal.
This family of ours now depends on tradition, and the food that goes with it. They can come home and know the bird will be dressed with old-fashioned bread stuffing, and that there will be gravy and pie, and all the fixings. It’s a secure feeling, and we are thankful for the bounty of this beautiful land, and for the soulful and good feeling of coming to table and breaking bread with those we love.
Wishing you all a holiday season of honest food, and a full heart.
Every day dress, and dressing the bird. xoxo

everything takes longer

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tomato and roasted red pepper soup

Okay, so we’re desperately working on finishing professional plant-based cooking curriculum at Rouxbe, and it’s as expected in our world taking longer than what’s expected. We even paid extra for extra time to finish, a 30 day extension for $129.99 to be precise. As we have only 9 days left to finish, upload and send 28 graded activities, we’re most likely definitely looking at another extension for another chunk of cash. We’ve got life to tend to, the fall garden, the small business, and the family.

We’ve always been a non-traditional student. Night school non-matriculated courses at State University of New York at Buffalo served as our college introduction, and that entire process evolved over seven years, with an eighteen month old and twin newborns in the arms of my husband on graduation day.

This Professional Plant-Based Certification Course is intense. Designed as a six month foundational instruction in plant-based culinary arts, it focuses on the core techniques found in a plant-based kitchen. The course forces me to explore and practice a variety of recipes and flavors from around the world that I might never experience without having to leave my home. It’s all online, love that, and you receive ongoing chef instruction and support. I am consistently challenged to master technique, and those skills will now stay with me forever.

You might recall I was enrolled in the Rouxbe Professional Cook Certification, and that course took me longer to complete than the expected six-months as well. For us, everything seems to take longer, and that’s okay. A few of the lessons are repeated in the Plant-Based curriculum, such as knife skills and dicing practice, and I could upload my earlier work to move the process along. Thought about it, and then thought not. I’m here to learn, and get better, and by doing it again I’ll only get better. Doing things again and over and over to make a more pleasing, satisfying outcome, is the basic tenet of our every day dress lifestyle. It takes work, and it can take a long time, and like I said before we don’t always get it right.

simple cabbage soup with heat from cayenne

confetti quinoa salad – big hit with twenty-six year old daughter

While prepping plant-based soup and salad a few days ago I’m sure I swore and eye rolled a few times as plant things seem to take way longer to bring to table than throwing a tenderloin of any kind into a hot oven. Simple Cabbage Soup with scratch vegetable stock and Confetti Quinoa Salad with garlic fried quinoa will take every flat surface and probably every bowl and several pots and pans in your kitchen.

It’s a journey, and we’re definitely learning new things, and that’s kind of what life is all about anyways.

 

As for the what to wear where, we’re about adding some color to the rotation. If we’re doing new things in the kitchen why not add some new dimension to the wardrobe.

Every day dress all the time and why does everything always take longer than what we expect?

thirty one

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Woke up this morning, had some coffee, hit the gym, and made the bed. Thirty one years ago today and almost all of those days in between I’ve followed pretty much the same routine, although that specific day I married the man of my dreams, the love of my life.

I knew at first sight that he was the one, he thought I was way too young. Kind of positioned myself so he would notice. Notice he did: a bride at twenty-two, a mom at twenty-three; we’re still here, still loving.

Good habits and aligned values have helped us endure. Family first, lots of exercise, shared meals.

taller than my man, and wore Azzedine Alaïa for church ceremony

We created our wedding day and have created every day since. Even then I loved clothes, and made the wedding dress, and the dresses for five bridesmaids, and two flower girls. Sewing my clothing was a self-taught skill, a hobby, and a necessity back then. Crazy girl, yet crazy kind of got me here today, thankful. Still love clothes, yet finding I need less, and want better. Even so I’m often most comfortable in husbands shirt, rolled sleeves, and worn in blue jeans.

Sure we still love to dress up, and celebrate. We celebrated large for oldest daughter’s wedding a month or so ago, and felt it fitting to share photos of that day, on this day, as both days celebrate love.

Thirty one and more, and every day dress. xoxo

all photos | Sarah Bridgeman

Yes, I wrote this post on our thirty-first wedding anniversary day, yesterday. Sarah Bridgeman, our daughter’s wedding photographer, compiled over 1,700 photos for us, each one seemingly better than the last. As you can imagine it takes hours to sort through, and wanted to post some of her images here, as to us they are just so magical. We hope you too can feel the love. Thank you, Sarah. 

where we’re at

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late summer quick chicken with tomato garlic compote | all vegetables from farm share

2000 miles via auto and air and 8 states in 7 days and now we’re back in the studio and making dinner at home, woot woot.

today in the studio trying on plaid, these are size 6

love this look 

leopard and plaid denim and red pumps, yes please

I’ll be in the studio until the morning of September 11th, and for the record kind of all about these plaid denim pants.

Hoping everyone out there is hitting their stride with all new season stuff: back to school, back to work; and the world spins on….

molasses cookies with vanilla and sea salt caramel ice cream, why not, still summer, still living, this was desert for 3

kitchen goods | me

clothing items | Worth New York 

xoxo

the very best blur

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Two weeks ago Saturday oldest daughter was married and it was a very best day and the very best blur. Of course we have crystal clear memories, yet honestly it was all so magical and all so fast, kind of like all best days, leaving an indelible and permanent feeling of euphoria on the mind and in the soul.

Yes, it was a very best day: two families and the gods and the stars aligned. A singular new little family of two was formed, and our two respective families and friends grew exponentially.  Love all around.

To get to that day and place required each and everyone of us put forth our very best efforts. The team was immense, intimately intertwined, and planning started the very next breath after the giddy engagement, November 5th. If my math is right, it was exactly 40 weeks of planning and preparation, equal to what goes into a birth, which are my other best days, each one internally tattooed.

Proper ceremony was in the city, and beautiful reception in the country. Husband and I moved  ourselves into our summer house the last week of June and gardened our hearts out until the very morning of August 11th, it was heaven on earth.

Today is Monday and there are new beginnings happening all around us. Fifth child starting her collegiate sophomore year and sixth and youngest beginning her first. Oldest son soon to celebrate his third decade, and newlyweds moving from NYC to Boston next weekend.

Thankful for life, and all of its idiosyncrasies. Wishing everyone their very best blurs.

xoxo

professional photos | Sarah Bridgeman @ sarahbridgemanphoto.com

all others | iPhone

 

cooking at home

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Four of us are on the road, one Providence College move in and drop off, circle home quick then out and a Furman University drop.

Road food has been great, been thinking about that lobster roll all summer long. Girls and I love and enjoy food, and any shared meal is often our favorite part of the day.

We’ve been cooking at home for as long as we can remember, and honestly feel it’s a kind of super glue. Cooking at home brings us together and creates unbreakable bonds, the kind that make college drop offs unbelievably bittersweet.

get back to it

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No better way to break the ice than to simply get back to it and sink in. We’ve been out, and loving every minute. Not every day that a child gets married, and we put our all into it to make it happen. Happen it did, it was amazing, in so many out of the world ways. Wedding post coming, need to gather resources, stay tuned.

What we really do most days is aim to wear good clothes, cook and eat good food, and try our best to think good thoughts. With that, we did a kind of Sunday dinner on a Tuesday, and broke bread with those we love. Every day things.

Every day dress, after an epic wedding push, trying to get back to it. xoxo

44 days…

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6:59 am text to oldest daughter, bride to be, ‘is it really 44 days away or did I count wrong’. Her immediate reply, ‘you counted correct’. Holy moly.

Tuesday we planted 5 more hydrangea, weeded a ton, organized furniture, and did basic life. Wednesday we went and got more hydrangea, weeded forever, (even the driveway because no one I know is going to weed the driveway), and loaded in 15 cases of wine that arrived from last out-of-town excursion until after this wedding day. Now Thursday, and we’re staying put, and head is down.

We love doing parties, and this will be our biggest yet. Nothing like throwing a party to get you in gear to do stuff you’ve thought of doing. We’re renovating, for sure. Completely redoing a barn, recovering cushions, digging a second well, redoing decks, establishing new garden beds. It’s not every day we get to receive 200+ most favorite humans, some from as far away as Brazil, for a celebratory dinner out in the country-side. Kind of feel like I’m living my best life, because really I like my hands in the dirt.

While in the weed patch today I was thinking of this site, and thinking I should simply chronicle what’s going on for the next 44 days as weddings are big life events. Thank you for hanging in, we’ve kind of got mountains to move, and when I blink I know it will have come and gone, and that’s the circle of this wonderful life.

all photos by Alexis, dear friend of the bride to be, coming to celebrate with us from San Diego

dress | W by Worth

shoes | Christian Louboutin

ps. turning 53 in a week or so and have decided here, in this space, it can be what it needs to be, different at different times, kind of like when you roll through the decades. Also, no filter. 🙂

Every day dress, 44 days…..xoxo

 

joined a farm share, and had a plant party

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farm box, and Amish potholders 

all the goods

farm fresh egg, cheese, greens

Never mind book club, we’ve joined a farm share for the season and couldn’t be happier. Picked up our box last week Thursday, and have cooked and baked from it since.

We’re all about eating fresh, and working on adding in more plant-based items to the daily rotation. Work it is, as I find plant-based a bit challenging, and honestly kind of time-consuming. Maybe it’s just getting in the swing of it, not sure, simply seems to take forever to chop so many ingredients to arrive at great flavor. I have to say though that once the prep is done, the results and the taste and the variety of meals you can create is worth the effort, so go figure. Daughters in the house love when I cook this way, they are all over the Cucumber Rounds w/Cashew Cheese Tapenade.

soaking heirloom tomatoes for consomme and cashews for ‘cream cheese’

recently bought 3 bistro tables from Amazon for entertaining activities 

Friday night committee meeting

we like odd numbers

tomato consomme shooters with avocado garnish

roasted pepper pesto crostini with fresh horseradish garnish

cucumber rounds with cashew cheese tapenade and garnished with balsamic figs 

prepping Beefless Southeast-Asain satays

serving Beefless Southeast-Asian Satays with Peanut Sauce

(don’t think I’ll ever do this one again, would rather use grass-fed, organic beef)

On Friday I was in kitchen heaven as entire family was out and about. Simply settled in with a counter full of plant ingredients and did what I could for a little patio and lawn committee party we had that evening to kick off WNY Women’s Foundation Fall in Fashion 18. Lovely evening, lovely women.

Sunday night halibut and asparagus

Monday morning halibut on toast with fresh squeezed OJ

As for creating, this morning we started with last night’s halibut garnished with olive and sun-dried tomato tapenade, protein at breakfast in our every day dress world is always a good idea.

strawberry rhubarb pie

A few disclaimers:

  • Started here as a ‘style’ site and feel like we’ve evolved more into maybe a ‘food’ site? Whatever, we’re passionate about both, even if involves most of our time spent in denim. We can still clean up nice when needed. 🙂
  • If you read my posts on Facebook, here is my apology: I am freaking terrible at Facebook, and one of my young admins linked my blog to Facebook seasons ago and I still haven’t figured it out, oh, well, always learning and figuring things out. Sorry if I’m not good at replying to comments.

living in denim, and sneakers, and a puffer, still in June

black cotton dress, Dior bag, guitar strap, waiting for Uber 

Saturday office look, new shoes, and loving Diet Coke in a glass bottle

Joined a farm share, and had a plant party. xoxo, Rebecca

arts and crafts

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We’re up to our eyeballs in all kinds of projects: youngest daughter graduated high school last week Monday and oldest daughter getting married this August.

bought a bunch of pink roses and tulips at grocery

one of her favorite candies is Sour Patch Kids and we had those little plastic cups on hand, instant party favor

 

cut the flowers and in about 10 minutes had 5 small vases for restaurant dinner

For high school graduation dinner we dined out- not our usual, yet the groom was coming from out of town. He wanted to dine out with our caterer, and Giancarlo’s did a fantastic job. Post coming, as soon as photos are uploaded. When we dine out for special occasions I always like to bring flowers, candy, and votives, it simply sets the scene and personalizes things a bit. We have a love of all white flowers, this graduation Monday there wasn’t a white flower to be found- it was the Monday after the royal wedding and there wasn’t one single white flower at the market. So, we went with pink. And Sour Patch kids. And white votives.

scrappy iPhone photo, it was late, and getting dark, and we we’re getting hungry

style note: resurrected the Valentino rockstuds, and they felt right

She wore a white dress I made for her oldest sisters high school graduation years ago, and she looked great.

House and garden at reception site are in major overhaul mode, there’s nothing like having a party to get your butt in gear for things that have been idle on the wish/to-do list, thank you Caroline and Sean.

before I decorate I pencil out ideas after tracing cookie cutter

at the last minute switched to pink icing details instead of blue

groom is wearing Louboutins for wedding, so pink icing on his soles as a nod

edible gold glitter

I’ve been crazy baking too. Bride, groom, and bouquet cookies, blah blah blah.

another iPhone pic, husband stocking one of two ponds with fish 

last night’s full moon rising, LOVE

Every day dress, arts and crafts all around. xoxo

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