Monday, January 23, 2012

20th Anniversary Dinner (and breakfast)

Last week we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. And what better way to do so than at a restaurant it takes 20 years to get a reservation? (Or close to it.)

By sheer luck (or default) we did manage to secure a spot at Nashville’s newest culinary hotbed--The Catbird Seat Restaurant. It features no menu, but an offering of 7-12 courses of whatever the chefs feel like making and/or what’s in season. As a foodie and lover of all things new in the dining experience, they had me at “porcini Oreo.”

Unfortunately, the only reservation available in this decade was on a Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. We didn’t get seated until after 10, which is usually the witching hour for people with jobs and kids, so I preface the entire experience with that caveat. Once we were seated, we were immediately plied with several of the most delicious courses paired with interesting libations that I would never have been able to remember later save the graph/flow chart that they give you on the way out.

Among the offerings I can remember was an oyster in cucumber water that tasted like the sea, a cow liver braised in an onion cream sauce that tasted like the earth, and a dessert of, “Wood grain sponge cake, maple jam, Birch cream, and pine snow” that I swear was a spoonful of the forest. It may have been one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten, and certainly the closest you could ever come to opening your mouth outside and taking in a big, luscious bite of Mother Nature’s pantry.

There were a couple of things that may have been better left outside to the elements (the beef cheek was a miss along with some mead that tasted like Beowulf brewed it) and that may or may not have contributed to my nausea that lasted the weekend. But so much was so right with the experience (and it was more than a meal, it was a journey) that I will assert that the 27 saltine crackers I ate over the next two days were worth that one small plate of aerated foie gras with Meyer lemon mostarda, St. Germain pudding and pumpernickel.

Just maybe not at midnight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

381 more words about my hiatus...

...And then I'll be done and we can move on to the new stuff.

Here's the last column I wrote for the WOW, and it explains things a little more.

From the October 2011 issue

Flip Flops for Cowboy Boots

I’ve been writing this column for the WOW for the last seven years. In addition to this bit of ridiculousness, I have also had the honor of sharing my other favorite topic, reading, in the Casing the Book Shelf column. For a time, I even covered the Voting Member meetings, and yes, still lived to tell about it.

One year ago, our family got an awesome opportunity to move to Nashville. We packed up the four kids, dog, and eleven years worth of sand and salt-coated memories and made the journey to Tennessee. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been the right move for us.

One piece of advice that I’ve tried to instill in my children as they’ve tried to shake off “the new kid” label is the wisdom of investment. Absolutely hold on to those old friends and memories, but genuinely try to invest yourself in the place you’re living. Take advantage of every opportunity while making new friends, trying new things, and becoming a native.

This hasn’t been the easiest lesson, but I think it’s an important one so I try to hammer it in anyway.

And so by example, I think that’s where I am with the amazing World of Westchase. I’ve made some wonderful friends, have had loads of fun, learned a great deal, but it’s time for me to fully invest myself in my new home.

I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has allowed me into their homes (even those who just let me sit sweating in a plastic bag in the driveway before tossing me into the recycle bin) by sharing a story or a laugh every month. It has been an honor and privilege that I won’t soon forget. I would especially like to thank Chris Barrett and Tracy Urso for giving me this opportunity and creating and maintaining such a quality publication. It really is a gift to the community.

As I’ve said, I’ve learned a lot here. Amongst my many lessons is to always have a copy of Robert’s Rules for Parliamentary Procedure handy, and that neighbors can become friends with one simple act of kindness.

And above all, don’t forget to invest yourself.

It yields the highest return.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Good-bye and Hello

When I wrote that last post in July, I didn't intend for that to be my final blog of the year, nor of my writing career. However unintentional, it was at least true of the former.

There is no big story, drama, issue, major problem, or otherwise specific explanation behind my accidental hiatus. I simply discovered that it took a lot longer to really move in even long after every box was unpacked.

It turns out moving is a lot more of a time-consuming process than I originally allotted for. It takes time to find your way--both literally and figuratively--and when you multiply that by four children, one husband and a dog, well, it's not exactly speedy.

But not in a negative way by any means. I love this new place, and have enjoyed the last six months really living it rather than worrying about writing about it later. We've traveled, met new friends and reconnected with some old. We've gotten to know some neighbors and alienate others. We've started new schools, got a driver's license and another concussion. We've seen another ear surgery for Amy, stalked some more country music stars and watched a whole lot of hockey.

And a funny thing happened.

Instead of worrying about if, how, where and how much to write about those moment, I simply lived them without any further thought on recording them.

And that was pretty liberating.

In September, I officially gave up my writing gigs. I think some were surprised by the decision, but it was the right one at the right time. I loved my jobs, but they belonged to a different writer--a different person than the one who types this sitting at her kitchen counter in Nashville, Tennessee before leaving for a hockey game with six or seven kids in tow.

I'm not exactly who she is yet, but I know I'm going to enjoy getting to know her better in 2012.

I hope you will, too.