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Potatoes

Scott and I spent a week and a half in Ireland last month. We toured historic sites, drove narrow roads on the left side, and ate a huge number of potatoes. In one memorable meal, I ordered a potato-topped seafood pie and was served both mashed and roasted potatoes alongside the dish containing the pie.

Despite the fact that I love them dearly, potatoes are not one of the vegetables I often cook at home. Scott is often eating a low carb diet, which means that potatoes are outlawed. When he is eating a more extensive array of foods, I realize that I associate potatoes with an unhealthy diet and so eliminate them from my shopping trips.

However, they are delicious. And filling. And versatile. And they don’t necessarily have to keep company with sour cream, butter, and cheese (though god knows, that makes them infinitely more appealing).

I was in college when I had the best baked potato of my life. My parents were in town for the weekend visiting me and we drove from Walla Walla to a little town maybe 45 minutes north (the name currently escapes me). After wandering through the town, we ended up in a local bar for lunch. My mom was skeptical, but the only other restaurant was full and we were hungry.

In the end, it was one of the better meals of my life. All the food was homemade, and then there was that magical baked potato. It had a crisp exterior, but was entirely tender on the inside. It was topped with sautéed onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, garlic, and shredded cheddar cheese.

I’ve made versions of it many times in the years since, but it’s never quite as good as it was that autumn day with my parents.

The Great De-Fuzzing

the defuzzer

There is currently a seasonal capsule wardrobe movement afoot. All across the internet, bloggers are editing their clothes down to just 25 or 30 pieces and then sharing all the different outfits they can create with the pared down selection. It’s an exercise designed to create freedom through limitations and remind one that more isn’t always better.

I applaud those who are able to winnow down to two or three dozen items. In all honesty, I probably don’t wear much more than that on a regular basis, but there’s something about creating restrictions where none are necessary that makes me chafe. And so, this blog post isn’t about my decision to pare down. It is, however, about one small thing that I gleaned from all this capsule wardrobe reading I’ve been doing.

In a nutshell, one thing people are discussing is that an inevitable result of narrowing your available items of clothing is that more pressure is put on the garments that remain in rotation. The pieces you are wearing will need extra care. But that’s okay, because in the end you’ve still got less to tend for. That means there’s time for things like hand washing, overnight airing, and fuzz removal.

March 6

Now, like I said before, I’m not trying to do a capsule wardrobe. But the idea of spending just a little bit more time taking care of the things I have struck me. And so, I’ve been making a point of hand washing some sweaters that were long overdue. I’ve done a bit of mending (a pair of socks with a year old hole took three minutes to repair). And I’ve mercilessly tackled all the pills and fuzzies that dot my knits and woolens.

To that end, I bought myself a brand new fuzz shaver. I had a travel sized one years ago, but it was of limited utility. This new one is like a race car in comparison (though the fuzz collection space could be bigger). I’ve been shaving fuzz from everything within reach.

I groomed a beloved sweater I’ve had since college and it looks much revived. A new thrift store find got the treatment and now looks like it’s straight off the rack. And this morning, I didn’t let Scott leave for work until I ran my little fuzz shaver over the pills dotting the cotton zip-up he was wearing (it’s surprisingly effective on occupied items).

It’s the little things that please me most.

Speaking My Language

language quiz 640

In my family, dialect and language have always been a big topic of conversation. My sister and I were raised on the west coast (Los Angeles and Portland) by parents that had grown up primarily on the east coast (my dad lived in Hawaii for five years, but otherwise spent his youth in Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, and Boston).

When Raina and I were young, one of our favorite leisure time activities was asking our mom to pronounce certain words and then laughing uproariously when her “orange” sounded so much different from our “orange.” Though she never had a painfully strong Philadelphia accent, traces of that city remain in her voice to this day.

I moved to Philly nearly 12 years ago and have slowly lost some of my perfect west coast pronunciation and vernacular (we always get our comeuppance). My vowels have lengthened and I have to consciously work to keep the worst of the nasal tones out of my voice. The way I say the word “horrible” has forever changed and I’m afraid I will always call a sandwich made on a long roll a hoagie.

And so, when the New York Times published a regional dialect quiz, I was curious where it put me. Would my west coast roots reign, or would my current location call the shots? I answered as honestly as I could and was surprised when my map came out as distinctly Pacific Northwest (I’m ignoring the fact that it seems to think that I also talk like someone from Reno. I’ve never even been there beyond an airport stop).

My mom took the quiz and we all were amused to find that despite her 43 years in California and Oregon, she still talks like someone from the Philadelphia region. The dialect of your birth is darn hard to shake.