Sunday, July 20, 2014

Simply Authentic...Your Soul Voice is Calling. Authentic Expression in the Home

Authentic Expression in the Home

I knew from a young age I needed my surroundings to reflect how I felt inside. I was fortunate to have a bedroom of my own growing up, and I always decorated it in ways that made me feel good. (Never-mind that for much of my adolescence that meant many posters and magazine pages of a sometimes shirtless Erik Estrada—whom I did meet in my 30’s—my first really big dream come true!!)

Authentic expression at home is so crucial to me I don’t think about it; I just do it. Whenever I move (which seems to be fairly often, something I didn’t expect when I was that adolescent in my personally decorated bedroom kissing posters of Erik Estrada or pretending my pillow was his lips) the first two things I do are start to unpack and decorate one space, and then find a walking route. This happened again when I rented a house with my fiancĂ© early March, and this time it wasn’t just my space but his, the cats, and ours. Yikey Crikey.

I have certain ideas of a color scheme, pieces of furniture, etc., but I also just go by how I feel and what calls to me. I avoid clutter and buying or hanging onto items other than those which are useful or I find beautiful, “things” that lift my spirit. Often with little expense. Here are a few examples.

I wanted red and gold in the living room, after years of green (my favorite color) and releasing the furniture I brought with me from my marriage after my divorce. Note the round wool rug in this photo. I found it at Cost Plus/World Market for three hundred bucks. (Actually $299.95, and I sometimes wonder if the world of retail will EVER get over this deceptive and pointless routine.) I waited until it was on sale, and I had a coupon, and brought that rug home for $63 about four months after I first laid eyes on it. It’s still one of my favorite purchases, over three years later. 

I found a long, low dresser, nightstand, and bed-head-and-foot-boards by the side of the road, while I was walking, for $20. When I called, I found the $20 included delivery (because I asked)! Turned out the quality wood furniture (finished in an unfortunate shade of almost green ivory-ish) had been in the family for three generations. After our move, we repainted the dresser and nightstand deep brown, via spray cans from Home Depot, for approximately $30 and not a whole lot of our time. The waiting-for-it-to-dry time was more than the painting time! (George removed the hardware beforehand and put it back on when everything was dry.)

George wanted to take photos of me through these arched openings at the El Morro Fort in San Juan when we spent a week in Puerto Rico late February. A girl and her singing brother (whom I found myself singing with) were running through while George was trying to take the photos. However this happened, each photo ended up with a slightly different shade, which can only be explained by clouds shifting outside or mystical forces. Or perhaps a camera glitch! But they were all taken so close together it’s odd. You can see the girl in two of the photos, running in and running out. I am in love with her. And her brother I sang with who is not in the photos. When I decided to have these photos enlarged and framed, I ran across a 40% frame sale at Aaron Brothers.

Five tapas I bought in Tahiti in 1998 are still with me. I don’t remember how much they cost, but they didn’t sell in my last moving sale, and I still have them and still love them. But this one was way too small over the dresser for my aesthetic sense. I considered a number of things, including taking my own photos, looked at the Saturday Market, etc. Then I remembered this painting by my Aunt Barbara that my mother had hanging in the hallway. I mentioned it to George and he suggested we take a photo of it while we were in South Dakota visiting my family over the week of July Fourth, and then make the print into a canvas transfer.

I thought that was a great idea, and mentioned it to Mom when George and I were there. Wouldn’t you know it? Mom had taken down all of the artwork in the hallway. She wasn’t using the painting anymore; it was being stored in the basement. She said I could have it. My heart leapt – I had wanted that painting for years. Cost of shipping: less than $16. This is a priceless piece of artwork in our bedroom, created by a woman I love dearly who is now on the other side of the veil. She must have laughed from “above”, knowing how many stops we made at UPS stores and USPS outlets the day after the Fourth of July, until we finally found one open in a grocery store in Sioux Falls.

Cheers to Aunt Barb, a woman whose home (from her in-house hair salon, to her paintings, to the kitchen where she made screwdrivers to drink and cooked delicious foods to eat) reflected her awesomeness. I hope someone remembers me one day as fondly as I remember Aunt Barb.

Authentically Yours,


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Simply Authentic...Your Soul Voice is Calling. The Spice of Life

The Spice of Life

I am now back to writing after my trip to South Dakota. And this isn't what I was planning to write.This is a letter to one of my favorite authors and an invitation to spice up your life!

            Dear Kate,  

            Now that I’m back and somewhat recovered (bah-ha) from my trip to visit family in South Dakota…here is a cross-country package from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine! Ta-Da…the seasoning packets with recipes from Cuisine Mentor I mentioned to you on Facebook. I decided we should drive across the bridge to Sellwood and find some nice salt and pepper for you at Savory Spice Shop as well. I would have gotten some of the olive oils, vinegars and/or hot sauces, but I didn’t want to mess with packing and shipping anything liquid.

            Let me know how this stuff works for you, if you will, as I’m planning to do much of my holiday shopping this year through these two companies, both based here in the Portland area. I never really need an excuse to go to Sellwood anyway. It’s a cool area of town, and when I decide to go hiking at Tryon Park (which we didn’t today) that is right on the way. Sellwood is filled with older, every-one-looks-different (rather than the whole neighborhood being erected a few years ago by the same developer) houses, antique shops, one store dedicated to soaps, another to creative collage, a couple cool art galleries, people leave water bowls out for dogs on the sidewalk…I’m sure you get the idea. J

            Today George (my fiancĂ©) and I drove over there after an amazing service at the COEXIST Celebration and had lunch at the Grand Central Bakery, one of my favorite places in the Universe to get a mocha – with REAL whipped cream – in a cup the size of a soup bowl, on a saucer. You have to ask for the whipped cream light if you don’t want it on your face when you take a sip, and if you stir it in with a spoon it flows all over the sides and onto the saucer. Which is perhaps why they use them. You could use a straw. Anyhoo, I digress.

            I mentioned briefly on FB that I have a personal story in regards to Cuisine Mentor. It all started at the Portland Saturday Market. Well, no, it actually all started at Lake Grove Chiropractic Clinic in May of 2010 when my back – especially the left trapezius – was bugging me so badly I absolutely had to book a massage or I may have climbed a wall. Well, no, rather I would not have been able to climb anything because of the physical discomfort I was experiencing. And I remembered this chiropractic clinic across the street from my apartment offered massage therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, etc., I called them, and was told a therapist named George had an appointment available that evening right after my work time ended.

            I booked that appointment and kept going back every time I needed a massage because George helped me – his touch, skill and energy were therapeutic. Before your mind even goes there (it already has, right?) I will tell you George had never dated a client and had a personal philosophy that he never would. And I never thought of him in a romantic or sexual manner either, anymore than I would my dentist or my gynecologist. I was usually the last client of the day because I would go after work and the gym…so everyone would be gone in the clinic but us, and George would close up after I left. We got to talking, with him behind the reception desk and me on the other side. Sometimes for up to a half hour or more at a time. I developed a sort of friendship with this really nice and cute guy who helped me feel better, physically. We both liked music and became friends on FB because of a music link I wanted to get from him.

            And then one day around the time of the US open tennis tournament, during or after a massage, it came up that we both had played tennis in the past and would like to again – but just for fun and exercise, without keeping score or serving or being competitive. George found his tennis racquet, I replaced mine that had been stolen from my car several years prior, and got a pair of shoes and a can of balls.

            There is much more to this story surrounding a minor uterine surgery I had already scheduled, that George took me to the hospital for at 4:00 in the morning – not insisting, rather making it very clear he was available and wanted to – when I was planning to take a cab. But the deal is we went to the Saturday Market after batting the tennis ball around twice. That’s when I figured out he was asking me on a date, and we weren’t just tennis buddies after all.

            We found the Cuisine Mentor booth and I tasted several of the wonderful samples. I bought four seasoning packets for twenty bucks and rifled through them as we walked, wondering which one I would make first. I decided on the Moroccan chicken, and said so outloud. George asked, “Is that when you are inviting me over for dinner?” I said yes and how about next Friday and he said sure.

            I admit I was a little skeptical. Green olives and dates along with everything else? I chopped and diced and prepared the night before, so I could just make myself pretty after work on Friday and stick it in the oven before George came over. The Moroccan chicken was sublime, and the rice and salad as well. We became boyfriend/girlfriend that night – 10 days after our first walk to the tennis court. We’re engaged now, since 10/13/13. When people ask if we’ve set a date for marriage, the response is “One of these days.” I like that. We like that.

            Much like these wonderful seasonings.

            Ah, ah, ah….the spice of life!! Enjoy, Kate.

Authentically Yours,