Category Archives: Moving On

The Smell of Books and Coffee

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, NY
Wednesday, 23 December 2020

[REPOST OF AN AUTHOR FAVORITE]
Originally published from West Valley City, Utah, on Thursday, 29 September 2016.

dscf3679

I’m nestled into my favorite corner of the cafe at Barnes & Noble, sipping a pumpkin spice steamer.

It’s not just any Barnes & Noble, it’s MY Barnes & Noble, the one I’ve worked at for over 12 years.

And it’s not just any corner of the cafe, it’s MY corner. The corner with the little round table with the burnt-orange top, with my back to the wall, a tucked-away spot where most people won’t even see me, where I can sit and write and think, all without interruption.

In one short week, it will all come to an end, and I will have my last day working for BN. Today I had a teary-eyed moment. Three of my regular customers came in and I realized I wasn’t going to see them any more: Vincent, Jason, and Antonio. I had to walk away and look out the window to regain my composure.

And then, then a woman showed me her leg. I work near the downtown shelter and she was thin, dentured, and homeless. She had a hole in her leg. She had gangrene and her ankle was very swollen and grey, discolored.

I was feeling very emotional after all this, so I sat down after work in my little corner to do what I like to do, something which brings me peace and recenters me. Writing.

I’ve seen it all here.

I watched a man with a black American Express card drop $1,000 on books like it was no big deal. I’ve seen professional women with sparkling fingernails and the longest of eyelashes, wearing beautiful suits and shining shoes, carrying luscious leather totes which cost more than I make in a week.

I’ve seen distinguished-looking men with blinding white shirts, fresh from the dry cleaner, wearing expensive gold rings from prestigious universities and sports teams, whisking around to important meetings.

And I’ve seen the other end of the spectrum, too: the heroin addicts, the people who steal travel blankets and booklights to use as flashlights, because they sleep on the streets. I’ve seen people with meth-pocked faces and women with dirty fingernails and cancerously dark shoulders bared from tank tops, the kind of brown you get from the heat of too many homeless hours under the harsh sun.

I’ve seen people with brown and decayed teeth, and people with the whitest of veneers. I never knew there were so many kinds of people in one small city.

And speaking of the city, I used to shy away from it. I used to not apply for jobs if they were downtown, because I’m a country girl, and I was afraid.

But now I’ve conquered this fear, and take pride in knowing I take a train to work, march confidently around city streets at all hours, and am afraid of no one and nothing.

But back to my beautiful store. There are so many things I’m going to miss.

The children and teen departments. Truly, those books were loved and cared for, in the five years I was department lead. It broke my heart when my manager transferred me to a different area.

The store’s shadows. The way the sun hits the chairs by the magazine area in the morning, the slats of those old wooden library chairs in shadow on the seats.

The way the sun slants into my cashwrap window in the afternoon, casting the shadow of window frames in brilliant squares, or the pattern of the balcony’s wrought-iron table on the padded green carpet behind my cashwrap.

The magazine stand. I will miss browsing dozens of gorgeously glossy cooking, house and home, current events, and travel magazines each month, without having to spend a penny. But trust me, I do. Some of them are so pretty I have to take them home. So. Many. Mags.

The gift department. I will miss seeing new and lustworthy stationery come in, cards made of colorful cotton that soaks up the ink of my black felt tip pen. 

I’ve had a thing for stationery ever since I was a teenager, buying it by the boxful at the Greenport Hallmark.

The journal wall. I will miss it. What writer doesn’t love the promise of blank books? Leatherbound, smelling like a tack shop. My favorite elastic-closure journals which lay flat. Peter Pauper journals with secret pockets in the back. Bombay journals with leather straps to tie them shut.

Tote bags. I will miss the temptingness of totebags. Whenever I purchase a new one, I’m convinced. Convinced, THIS is the tote bag which will finally organize my chaos into some semblance of order.

I will miss the excitement of seeing summer tote bags come in every spring, with comfy rope handles and nautical stripes, and then, end of summer, the fall totes, charcoal grey and squash-orange felt totes.

The books, oh the books! I will miss leatherbound Barnes & Noble editions with titles stamped in gold and silver, heavy to lift, gold leafed edges.

Trade cloths with dust jackets and embossed and foiled lettering. Trade papers with thick stock covers, cool covers designed by Penguin.

And yes, even mass markets. I will miss mass market paperbacks by Signet, with thoughtfully designed covers.

Bargain books. I will miss the unexpected thrill of seeing a book I coveted at full price be reissued at bargain price. Like Barbra Streisand’s My Passion for Design, total and complete satisfaction, in knowing I got a book which was originally $60 for the low, low, Litko discount of $7.

The cafe. I will miss the anticipation of each August, knowing Pumpkin Spice is coming, and with it the unmistakable following of fall. And then, eggnog arrives!

I will miss going to the ice chest in the counter of the cafe each morning, pulling back that stainless steel cover, and filling a cup with ice water, so I can make it through a day of required questions and chatty conversations with customers.

I will miss the burnt-orange of these cafe tables, scraped up against the scuffed mahogany brown walls, and the familiar clunk, clunk, clunk of the opening barista putting chairs down to the black-and-grey tile floor for the day. I will miss the smell of maple-walnut scones baking, and the distinctive whir and whine of the espresso machine.

The music department. I will miss rummaging in the discount bin section of the music department, finding classic CDs for $4.99. I will miss learning about artists I might never have discovered, like Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Gnarls Barkley, Lukas Graham, and Keane.

I will miss the familiar phrases, the ones I probably mumble in my sleep:

“The bathroom? Head to the polka-dotted wall.”
“The Rite Aid is on Main Street, right by City Center TRAX stop.”
“We don’t carry Bic pens.”
“We don’t sell Sharpies.”
“They have gum and mints at Rocket Fizz.”
“We don’t carry postage stamps.”
“The food court is at the south end of the mall, down near the movie theatre.”
“I dunno when they’re gonna put some more stores in this mall.”
“Thaifoon has been gone for a few years now. I miss it too.”
“The souvenir shop moved nearer to the convention center.”
“See the Gone With the Wind poster on the wall back there? Travel is in the little room to the right.”

I will miss the crazes. Harry Potter, Sudoku, adult coloring books, manga, Pop figures, blind boxes. I wonder, what will be next?

I will miss the customers. My favorites.

Craig, the distinguished, silver-haired estate attorney, who loves children’s books like I do. One Christmas season, after purchasing his books, he, face flushed, dropped money over the counter to me, then almost ran out of the store.

Dianna, the financial advisor, with her long black wavy hair and pink lipstick, who bought her grandson’s groceries while he attended college downtown.

Bree, the energy plant owner, with her short blonde hair, she ate a whole watermelon every day, and had the prettiest complexion.

Mike, the grey-haired, retired musician and cement truck driver, who came in the morning for his USA Today, after he got his coffee at McDonald’s in the food court.

On my last day, I kissed him on the cheek. He turned his face and kissed me on the mouth, hard. He loved me, I knew it all along…

Randall, the grey-haired Vietnam vet, who rode his bike to the bookstore for years after his cancer diagnosis, and bought history books. I wonder where he is now. Is he still alive?

Vincent, the African American UTA bus driver, who once sung Motown to me. He was the first man to notice me after I left my husband. I kissed him on the lips for the first time on my last day, and he bought me Ashes, by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Antonio, the burly Indian who wears plaid shirts the size of picnic blankets, loves manga, and has a strong, beautiful, regal face like a brave chief…

Jason, the photographer and Fidelity guy, who’s seen BOSTON as many times as I have. I kissed him on the cheek my last day, and he ran from my store, blushing. I know, my coworker saw him on his way back to work…

Sharon, the white-haired older lady who buys Architectural Digest and Vanity Fair, wears the cutest brimmed hats, and calls me Vicky. I don’t have the heart to correct her. I think her husband emotionally abuses her…

And dozens and dozens of others.

I will miss the tourists. The giggling Japanese girls who invariably buy calligraphy pens and ink. The Europeans who buy maps of Montana and Wyoming and Idaho, as they’re headed off to Yellowstone Park.

The people on the way to the airport, who want to pick up a quick paperback to dull the pain of flying in cramped quarters, seated by strangers.

The conference attendees who come from all over the world, seem flummoxed by our American money, and want to know:
Where’s a good place for lunch?
How do they get to the train?
Where can they buy medicine?

I will miss the familiar, resounding thunk of the break room door. The employees here, they’ve kept me young(er). Each one different like a snowflake, dozens and dozens of employees. I cannot go there right now, or I will surely cry again.

I will miss the Nook counter. I stood behind it once with someone I deeply loved and admired. There was just enough room for the two of us…

Maybe, just maybe, when I walk into a Barnes & Noble in the future, I will be able to smell the books and coffee. Sometimes, customers come in and stop suddenly, just after the front doors, and breathe in deeply, exclaiming, “I love that smell! Books! And coffee!”

And I’m sad and a bit jealous, because I haven’t been able to smell it for a very long time. I come home and my children tell me they can smell it when they hug me…

I’m looking forward to so many things, one of them being the smell of books and coffee. Again. When I visit Barnes & Noble, I will be able to smell the books and coffee, again…

dscf3680

[RECOMMENDED LISTENING]
Hopes and Fears, Keane, 2004.
St. Elsewhere, Gnarls Barkley, 2006.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, 100 Days, 100 Nights, 2007.
Lukas Graham, self-titled debut album, 2012.

[RECOMMENDED DRINKS
FROM THE BN CAFE
FOR THE NON-COFFEE DRINKER]

Passion iced tea.
Not with lemonade, and with no added sugar. This is an herbal tea and served over ice, so it’s a great low-calorie alternative and really refreshing when it’s hot out. (You can buy a tin of large Tazo tea packets from some grocery stores and make a pitcher of this at home.)

Pumpkin spice steamer.
A steamer is warm milk with flavoring. Most people drink their pumpkin spice as a latte, but I take mine as a steamer. A steamer can be made with any flavoring the cafe has on hand. (If you want to make one of these at home, pour a little sweetened condensed milk into a mug and dust in some pumpkin pie spice. Microwave until it’s liquidy, fill your mug with milk, microwave again, and stir.)

[REFERENCES]
“The low, low Litko discount” is a line taken from the movie About Last Night, 1986, TriStar.

FINDING 50: Like It’s 1999!

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Upstate New York  I  Tuesday, 7 October 2020

PRINCE: 1999 (official music video)

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post was originally published on 31 December 2016, New Year’s Eve. (Much Chinese food was also eaten that night.)
The dates have not been updated. Minor edits have been made.]

In April of this year, when Prince died, I played his music like crazy. His album, Purple Rain, was new when I was a senior in high school and it was pretty much the anthem of our Friday nights, cruising around the boat docks, trying to find people to hang out with. Guys from G-town, guys from C-town, we met them all to the strains of Purple Rain.

But in 1982, two years before Purple Rain, Prince came out with an album called 1999. It seemed so far away, the year 1999, we couldn’t even imagine it. Would robots be doing all our housework? Would humans be living on Mars? It would be the cusp of a new century!

I remember how we all fantasized about where we would be on New Year’s Eve 1999. We were SURE it would be someplace fabulous.

And then, I remember being on a plane once in the mid 90s, reading an article about it in the flight magazine, and wondering what I myself would be doing as we ushered in a new century.

Would I be hosting a fabulous dinner party at my sparkling center hall colonial, with my adoring husband and four perfect children?

Would I be living it up at some trendy restaurant or rocking concert in New York City?

Would I be someplace exotic with my husband, maybe an amazingly luxurious hotel in a gorgeous location, while our kids were being babysat at home by dutiful grandparents?

None of these things happened.

To tell the truth, I can’t even remember now what I was doing on New Year’s Eve of 1999. I’m sure it was much like all my other New Year’s Eves when I was married. I probably made some Chinese food for everyone to nibble on (egg rolls would have been a sure thing) and watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV, me on one end of the couch and my husband on the other end, struggling to stay awake, with Thing 1 already fast asleep. Not very exciting, huh?

I remember the Y2K scramble, when everyone was sure computers would crash, our water systems would become defunct, and it would be the end of the world.

We had a bunch of boxes of bottled Dasani water in our storage closet (my husband worked for their distributor, Coca-Cola, and we got a deal) in case all the doomsday predictions came true, but that was the extent of our preparations for disaster.

Everything worked out fine. Just fine. At least with Y2K, but not with my husband.

And now, 1999 was 17 years ago. 1999 is smack dab in the middle of it all, equidistant from 1982 and 2016:

1982+17=1999
1999+17=2016
See what I mean?

So, how was my holiday this year like my holiday of 1999?

I did not work retail this year, compliments of my generous patron saints. When, you ask, was the last time I had a Christmas season when I wasn’t working in a store through the holidays? 1999, in fact. I began working in a bookstore April of 2000.

So, what did I do with myself? All the things I love!

I took umpteen photos of trees. Trees with golden leaves, trees stark and bare. Trees dusted with snow. Trees draped with colored lights and sparkling, colored ornaments. Trees, trees, trees.

Grandma Sweetie, our ancient maple tree, covered in gold, then blanketed in white.
Same vantage point, different seasons.

Barren trees look so beautiful against a winter sky. The first photo is B’s Hill, above the pond I used to ice skate on with neighbor kids. The second photo is taken across the street from our Christmas tree farm.

These trees are on Main Street. The first photo is a daytime tree, decked out with colorful ornaments. The second photo is three of the five perfect pines next to the town’s memorial for veterans.

And finally, Grandpa Blackberry, our ancient oak tree, in the white of winter, then under an azure sky of summer.

I also took photos of houses, many of which you may have seen in prior blogs. My favorite ones on our road, my favorite ones in an architecturally picturesque town we pass through to go shopping. I drove by some houses so many times, trying to get perfect lighting for just the right shot, I’m sure my license plate has been duly recorded in case the furniture comes up missing.

I also made cookies and candies and cakes. I baked Buttermilk Chocolate Sheet Cake twice. I made Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies at least four times. I braved Jo McCall’s Toffee three times (it turned out great the second and third times) and white-chocolate pretzels twice. I made Celestial Chocolate Chippers many times.

And then, we made cookie plates and delivered them to neighbors.

Making Buttermilk Chocolate Sheet Cake. C’mon, you know you want to lick that bowl…
Also, please admire my Red Linen Formica counter, and yellow Pyrex mixer (404).
Thank you, I knew you’d like them.

My third batch of Jo McCall’s Toffee, which I made by myself, against my better judgment. It’s much easier when you have a helper to scrape the hot toffee from the pan.

Batter for Celestial Chocolate Chippers, my boys’ all-time favorite cookies. This recipe card is the second draft of my quest for chocolate chip cookie perfection. The oven mitt was purchased at Sur la Table, to look period-appropriate in my red vintage kitchen.

A cookie plate, all ready to go to a family we love from church.

I helped host Thanksgiving dinner at my new place.
I attended a Winter Walk and my paper-cutting artist friend Pamela’s open house.
I went to the church Christmas party.
I attended Christmas concerts at Thing 2’s school and at my church.
I went to a volleyball game one of my young friends was playing in, and attended a basketball game at Thing 2’s school.
I went to dinner the day after Christmas at my friends’ house.

I was relaxed and happy.

And I’ll tell you what I didn’t do.

I did not get sick. I remember Christmas 2011, when I collapsed in an exhausted heap downstairs at my parents’ house, and slept for three hours, sick with a sore throat from contact with so many customers and their dirty money, sick from the stress of driving through a dark, slippery canyon on Christmas Eve, fighting with my husband the entire way.

The Carpenters’ Christmas Portrait sent me off to slumberland, and I woke up feeling so much better. Was it the rest or the music? You decide for yourself. I know my answer, and it was both.

I did not work at unreasonable hours while everyone else was out shopping or home relaxing with their families. On Black Friday, I shopped at one place, and one place only, the Christmas tree farm. I did not go to Wal-Mart (or any other store) in search of a really great deal. I did not have to be to work at 6 am the day after Christmas, to set up holiday clearance and make the rest of the store look like Christmas never happened.

I did not sit there in a fog on Christmas Eve and wonder what happened to all those days between Halloween and Christmas. I enjoyed those days and spent time with my own family. This year I did not help everyone in tarnation find just the right book/Lego set/stuffed animal for the people on their list. They were on their own.

I was in the dollar store a few days before Christmas, where one of the sales ladies was consolidating all the holiday items and lamenting to me, “My boss wants me to have all this stuff gone the day after Christmas.”

And I understood. Because I had lived her pain for 16 years.

So, what will I be doing New Year’s Eve this year, 17 years after 1999? That’s easy. I will be celebrating with my family, at home here in upstate New York, while nibbling on homemade Chinese food.

I’ll probably be falling asleep early on the couch, too, with a satisfied smile on my face, knowing this year I enjoyed the holiday season even more than in 1999.

PRINCE: Baby I’m a Star (official video)

EMMA CHRISTINA: The Things I Carried

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Ghent, NY  I  Thursday, 19 October 2017

The oval, cut-glass bowl on the top left came from Goodwill in Greenport, NY. The gorgeous cut-glass dish on the top right belonged to my father’s mother, my Grandma Emma Christina. She gave it to my mother, Carol, and now, finally, it’s been passed down to me!

The two pretty dishes on the bottom came from Deseret Industries, a thrift store in Utah. The rectangle tray, on the left, is pressed glass. The oval fanlight or sunburst on the right is cut glass.

When you’re traveling cross country by airplane, like I did earlier this month, you have to decide what to put in your carry-on luggage, and what to check.

Because, as we all know, sometimes the airlines lose your checked luggage. Sometimes it turns up hours or days later. But sometimes, it’s never found again. In December of 1995, my garment bag, containing all my favorite dresses, it disappeared into thin air and was never seen again. Thank goodness I learned this lesson early in life, and only with clothes!

So, when I was flying on this trip, I carried with me my white Herschel backpack, the one I got on a fantastic sale at Urban Outfitters, which used to be by my work in downtown Salt Lake City. I paid $20 for a bag which was $75 normally.

Can we talk about pockets? “Because you know how a bear feels about pockets!”

One of the things I loved about my new backpack was all the pockets, right down to a fleece-lined pouch in the very top, perfect for sunglasses and reading glasses, a fleece-lined laptop slot, and all kinds of other little zippered and tabbed pockets, plus a key clip. It’s lined with red-and-white stripes, a signature of the Herschel brand.

Anyhoo, on this trip, in my backpack, I carried:
-some old family photos
-my mother’s little dark-blue suede high school diploma
-two pieces of her wedding silverware. (The dinner knife was confiscated by TSA and I had to mail it to myself from the airport.)
-Black Beauty, my treasured Fujifilm X30 camera
-a bunch of camera cards
-a composition book (I use them to plan events.)
-my keys
-my wallet
-my journal
-an assortment of pencils, pens, and Sharpies
-some snacks
-October issues of Martha Stewart Living and Southern Living. I love me some fall magazines, I do!
-my Chromebook, which fell out of my carry-on tote and into an overhead bin, getting left behind. It had to be retrieved by a ramp attendant, panic!

But in a separate black Barnes & Noble book quote tote bag, I carried some other pieces I treasure too much to leave behind, and far too much to put in checked baggage. Three dishes: one of them pressed glass, two of them cut glass. I have a large collection of pretty, clear-glass dishes, picked up at thrift stores for 50 cents here, $1 there. (It’s all Cami’s fault! Her mother got me started on this hobby. But that’s an entirely separate blog.)

But these three are my absolute favorites, and I simply must have them on my table at Thanksgiving this year. My pickles and olives demand the best!

Last October, as I was moving to New York, I was determined to take two of these favorite, fancy-glass dishes, and placed them on the table for last-minute packing in a carry-on bag. But, after a rough all-nighter of closing out my apartment into storage and suitcases, then turning the place over to Thing 1 and his best friend, I was just too tired, too rushed, and too stressed to pack them.

They got left behind on the table, and I’ve missed them so.

This past trip west, earlier this month, I went to Thing 1’s apartment in Salt Lake City to drop off a bag of BLT fixins from our favorite sandwich shop in New York. (That’s a story for another day. Or another blog, as well. Or whatever.) I ransacked his cupboards until I found the two dishes.

They were coming with me this time.

Up at my parents’ house in northern Utah, two of The Rockets helped me pack at the end of my stay, before driving me, my father, and Thing 2 to my friend Tina’s house, to spend the night before flying back to New York. What good friends I have, truly. Anita took the task of wrapping the three dishes carefully in newspaper and plastic grocery bags.

Pretty sure she wanted the chance to admire them up close, since she likes antiques as much as I do!

I can’t wait to see them on the table this Thanksgiving, holding Cranberry-Orange Relish, dill pickles, sweet pickles, and black olives…

Welcome to Emma Christina @ My Copper Kitchen! New features will be available on an intermittent basis, whenever I inherit a cool dish owned by my paternal grandmother, Emma Christina. I will also feature newly acquired dishes from her era which I think she would have liked.

She, a lovely Swedish lady who died before I was born, she loved cooking and gathering her many children around her Craftsman table, with its four leaves.

I’m told that sometimes, when Emma Christina felt bad and life was wearing her down, she would head to the Implement and put a nickel down on a dish. Kinda like me, her youngest granddaughter, heading to a thrift store and picking up something inexpensive to buoy my spirits, something special and beautiful, all for 50 cents…

[REFERENCES]
“You know how a bear feels about pockets” is a line taken from the wonderful children’s book, A Pocket for Corduroy, written and illustrated by Don Freeman. I highly recommend it, and its predecessor, Corduroy, for all the children in your life.

The first book, Corduroy, was groundbreaking in that the main character, a little girl named Lisa, she and her mother are obviously not white, probably African American or Hispanic. They live in an apartment in the city, several flights up.

Considering the white-picket-fence, blond-haired, blue-eyed Dick and Jane books (used to teach children to read in the 1930s through 1970s), Corduroy is welcomingly inclusive of ethnic children who live in large cities.

Plus, Don Freeman’s artwork, scratchy black-and-white outlines, filled in with color, is truly delightful.

[VALERIE RECOMMENDS]
I love Herschel backpacks!
https://herschel.com/shop/backpacks/pop-quiz-backpack?v=10011-00001-OS

[RELATED MCK POSTS]
Read Finding 50: The Things I Carried, at:
https://mycopperkitchencom.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/finding-50-the-things-i-carried/

Read more about Grandma Emma Christina at:
A Word About Windows
https://mycopperkitchencom.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/anatevka-girl-on-architecture-and-design-a-word-about-windows/

Learn how to make Cranberry-Orange Relish for Thanksgiving at:
https://mycopperkitchencom.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/my-favorite-thanksgiving-side-dish/

[AUTHOR’S NOTE]
The subtitle of this blog is a derivation of the book title, a modern-day classic, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/things-they-carried-tim-obrien/1100228685?ean=9780618706419

FINDING 50: The Things I Carried

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Claverack, NY  I  Tuesday, 17 January 2017

This tote contains my journals from age eight through my early marriage. The little red notebook was my first diary, and the navy blue corrugated notebook (placed spine down on the left) was my journal until 2002.

When you’re moving cross country by airplane, like I did last October, you have to decide what’s really important to take with you. For me, it was a pretty simple decision, because it had already been made years ago.

What do I mean? Well, I’m sure you’ve stopped and thought about what you would grab first if the house was on fire or if you were suddenly forced to evacuate, right? (This is, of course, after the people and pets were safe!)

What things would be irreplaceable? What things would you sorely miss?

I’ve thought about it a lot over the years, and the things I would be devastated to lose have been packed away into totes for quite some time.

Years ago, I discovered Sterilite totes, and I love them. The lids come off easily if I want to view the stuff inside, and then they snap back on again, securely, if I want to carry the totes. If my place was to flood, my valuables in the totes would be somewhat more protected than if they were in cardboard boxes. And, bonus! The totes line up neatly and stack nicely, as well.

Anyways, there were three of us flying last October, moving Thing 2 and me from Utah to New York. I knew, according to Southwest Airlines’ rules, we could travel with a total of nine pieces of luggage for free: two checked pieces and one carry-on each. In a notebook I mapped it out, what to put in each of the small, medium and large suitcases.

I decided we would carry on the three plastic totes containing my most valuable things, packed in the small, carry-on suitcases. These are the things I would be heartbroken to lose, the things I couldn’t leave behind in a storage unit, the things I couldn’t even trust to pack into my checked bags.

Because, as we all know, sometimes the airlines lose your checked luggage. Sometimes it turns up hours or days later. But sometimes, it’s never found again. In December of 1995, my garment bag, containing all of my favorite dresses, it disappeared into thin air and was never seen again. Thank goodness I learned this lesson early in life, and only with clothes!

Along the same vein, once I had a backpack stolen while riding a bus, and it contained two of my journals. They contained four years worth of writing and I’m still upset about it. I was going through a really rough patch at the end of my marriage, and I agonized about it on paper, but I also wrote about my kids and other details of my life, too…

I’ve tried to console myself, thinking maybe the journals were meant to get lost. Maybe my posterity wasn’t meant to read these details of my life? Maybe they’re in the hands of someone who was meant to read them? Maybe they could help someone? But most likely they ended up in a trash can, and my loss still stings.

So, after all this, I decided there are certain things I will never trust to storage units or moving men or airline baggage handlers. I will carry certain things myself and not let them out of my sight.

So, I packed my clothes and beauty products and a few of my indispensable kitchen implements in the medium and large suitcases we would check, and my most treasured and important things, the ones from the plastic totes, they went into the three small suitcases we would carry on.

I also carried the boys’ yearly Christmas ornaments on the plane with me, in a tote bag at my feet. I’d been saving little bubble wrap pouches from work as I unboxed gift items for display, and they work great. I like them a lot because I can see through them to tell which ornament is inside. They work much better than the previous ornament-wrapped-in-a-paper-napkin-in-a-fold-over Baggie method. Ha!

It was a struggle to lug all this stuff onto the plane, since each suitcase contained a heavy tote and was difficult to hoist into an overhead bin. We left a wake of glaring passengers and disgruntled flight attendants, to be sure. But I didn’t care.

These are the things I carried.

This tote neatly stores all the boys’ formal photos: their first baby pictures from the hospital, photos from Kiddie Kandids, and all their school pictures. It also contains our birth certificates, immunization cards, and Social Security cards.

 

This tote contains journals from later in my marriage, the medium-sized ones lined up on the left. Also, the green notebook is from sixth grade, the red journal from ninth grade, and the navy blue binder took me from college through the mid-90s. Also, I started journals for both of my boys at the time I found out I was pregnant, and they’re the three thin ones near the navy binder. The canvas pouch contains various candid photos.

 

I probably need a fourth tote for the boys’ Christmas ornaments. As I unboxed gift items at my work, I saved small bubble wrap packages and used them to package each of the boys’ Christmas Santas and snowmen.

 

Wow, this was quite a move. Thank goodness for luggage carts!

 

[MORE INFORMATION]
http://www.sterilite.com/SelectProduct.html?id=645&ProductCategory=0&section=0

[AUTHOR’S NOTE]
The title of this blog is a derivation of the book title, a modern-day classic, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/things-they-carried-tim-obrien/1100228685?ean=9780618706419

 

FINDING 50: Like It’s 1999!

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Ghent, NY  I  Saturday, 31 December 2016

In April of this year, when Prince died, I played his music like crazy. His album, Purple Rain, was new when I was a senior in high school and it was pretty much the anthem of our Friday nights, cruising around the Hudson boat docks, trying to find people to hang out with. Guys from Germantown, guys from Chatham, we met them all to the strains of Purple Rain.

But in 1982, two years before Purple Rain, Prince came out with an album called 1999. It seemed so far away, the year 1999, we couldn’t even imagine it. Would robots be doing all our housework? Would humans be living on Mars? It would be the cusp of a new century!

I remember how we all fantasized about where we would be on New Year’s Eve 1999. We were sure it would be someplace fabulous. And then, I remember being on a plane once in the mid 90s and reading an article about it in the flight magazine, and wondering what I myself would be doing as we ushered in a new century.

Would I be hosting a fabulous dinner party at my sparkling center hall colonial, with my adoring husband and perfect children? Would I be living it up at some trendy restaurant or rocking concert in New York City? Would I be someplace exotic with my husband, maybe an amazingly luxurious hotel in a gorgeous location, while our kids were being babysat at home by dutiful grandparents?

To tell the truth, I can’t even remember now what I was doing on New Year’s Eve of 1999. I’m sure it was much like all my other New Year’s Eves when I was married. I probably made some Chinese food for everyone to nibble on and watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV, me on one end of the couch and my husband on the other end, struggling to stay awake, with Thing 1 already fast asleep. Not very exciting, huh?

I remember the Y2K scramble, when everyone was sure computers would crash, our water systems would become defunct, and it would be the end of the world. We had a bunch of boxes of bottled Dasani water in our storage closet, in case all the doomsday predictions came true, but that was the extent of our preparations for disaster.

And now, 1999 was 17 years ago. 1999 is smack dab in the middle of it all, equidistant from 1982 and 2016. 1982/1999/2016. See what I mean?

So, how was my holiday this year like my holiday of 1999?

I did not work retail this year, compliments of my generous patron saints. When, you ask, was the last time I had a Christmas season when I wasn’t working in a store through the holidays? 1999, in fact. I began working in a bookstore April of 2000.

So, what did I do with myself? All the things I love!

I took umpteen photos of trees. Trees with golden leaves, trees stark and bare. Trees dusted with snow. Trees draped with colored lights and sparkling, colored ornaments. Trees, trees, trees.

Grandma Sweetie, our ancient maple tree, covered in gold, then blanketed in white.

 

Barren trees look so beautiful against a winter sky. The first photo is Burfeind’s hill in Ghent, above the pond I used to ice skate on with neighbor kids. The second photo is taken across the street from Collier’s Cold Spring Tree Farm, on the outskirts of Hudson.

 

These trees are on Main Street in Philmont. The first photo is of a daytime tree, decked out with colorful ornaments. The second photo is three of the five perfect pines next to the town’s memorial for veterans.

 

And finally, Grandpa Blackberry, our ancient oak tree, in the snow and under an azure sky.

I also took photos of houses, many of which you may have seen in prior blogs. My favorite ones on our road, my favorite ones in Claverack, an architecturally picturesque town we pass through to go shopping in Greenport. I drove by some houses so many times, trying to get perfect lighting for just the right shot, I’m sure my license plate has been duly recorded in case the furniture comes up missing.

I also made cookies and candies and cakes. I baked Buttermilk Chocolate Sheet Cake twice. I made Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies at least four times. I braved Jo McCall’s Toffee three times (it turned out great the second and third times) and white-chocolate pretzels twice. I made Celestial Chocolate Chippers many times.

And then, we made cookie plates and delivered them to neighbors.

Making Buttermilk Chocolate Sheet Cake. C’mon, you know you want to lick that bowl…

 

My third batch of Jo McCall’s Toffee, which I made by myself, against my better judgment. It’s much easier when you have a helper to scrape the hot toffee from the pan.

 

Batter for Celestial Chocolate Chippers, my boys’ all-time favorite cookies.

 

A cookie plate, all ready to go to a family we love from church.

I helped host Thanksgiving dinner at my new place. I attended the Hudson Winter Walk and my artist friend Pamela’s open house. I went to the church Christmas party. I attended Christmas concerts at Thing 2’s school and at my church. I went to a volleyball game one of my young friends was playing in, and attended a basketball game at Thing 2’s school. I went to dinner the day after Christmas at my friends’ house. I was relaxed and happy.

And I’ll tell you what I didn’t do.

I did not get sick. I remember Christmas 2011, when I collapsed in an exhausted heap downstairs at my parents’ house, and slept for three hours, sick with a sore throat from contact with so many customers and their dirty money, sick from the stress of driving through a dark, slippery canyon on Christmas Eve, fighting with my husband the entire way.

I did not work at unreasonable hours while everyone else was out shopping or home relaxing with their families. On Black Friday, I shopped at one place, and one place only, Collier’s Cold Spring Tree Farm. I did not go to Wal-Mart or any other store in search of a really great deal. I did not have to be to work at 6 am the day after Christmas, to set up holiday clearance and make the rest of the store look like Christmas never happened.

I did not sit there in a fog on Christmas Eve and wonder what happened to all those days between Halloween and Christmas. I enjoyed those days and spent time with my own family. This year I did not help everyone in tarnation find just the right book/Lego set/stuffed animal for the people on their list. They were on their own.

I was in the dollar store a few days before Christmas, where one of the sales ladies was consolidating all the holiday items and lamenting to me, “My boss wants me to have all this stuff gone the day after Christmas.” And I understood.

So, what will I be doing New Year’s Eve this year, 17 years after 1999? That’s easy. I will be celebrating with my family at home here in upstate New York, while nibbling on homemade Chinese food. I’ll probably be falling asleep early on the couch, too, with a satisfied smile on my face, knowing this year I enjoyed the holiday season even more than in 1999.

 

Tin Snowman Update

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Philmont, NY  I  Thursday, 22 December 2016

Here are the Christmas ornaments I got this year for my boys, and for the first time ever, I bought them online. Even though I have more time on my hands this year than I have for a very long time, there is an alarming dearth of stores nearby, without a Smith’s Marketplace in sight. (Smith’s had become my go-to destination for the ornaments, as they had many matching Santas and snowmen to choose from.)

The clincher to this particular set of ornaments, when I saw them online, was two things: they looked 50s retro, like my new place, and the set included a tree farm ornament. Seeing as how this was the first year I’ve ever gone to a Christmas tree farm, they seemed perfectly perfect. So I ordered them and then held my breath. It was a leap of faith for me to not see them in person this time. And when they arrived, I loved them!

For awhile now, I’ve been wondering what I’ll do about this tradition when the kids get older and are on their own. It’s something I’m not really fond of thinking about, since I’d like to keep my babies little forever. But since this is an impossible dream, I’ve been asking myself some tough questions. Will I keep buying them matching ornaments every year, even after they’re adults? When they have their own families, will I keep their childhood ornaments with me at my house, or will I split them up and give Thing 1 his snowmen and Thing 2 his Santas?

And this year, I had a decision to make. Thing 1 doesn’t live with us anymore, so I wasn’t quite sure how to handle the ornament situation. Fortuitously, the ornaments I chose are flat and made of metal, so I came up with a very intelligent scheme. I took them down to Staples and made a color photocopy of each one, sure the copyright police would nab me. Then I cut them out, punched holes, and hung them on string.

When I sent out Thing 1’s goodie package earlier this week, I included the copies. I’m pretty sure he and his roommate don’t have a tree, but perhaps they can hang them somewhere else. Can you tell which ones are the originals and which ones are the copies?

Oh, and the original Tin Snowman? This year, when we decorated the tree, I had Tin Snowman stashed in my pocket so no one else would put him on the tree. After all the other Santas and snowmen were hung, I set up a Facebook video chat with Thing 1. I showed him our tree and asked where he wanted the Tin Snowman to be. His answer? “Up high.”

P.S. Thing 1 received the paper ornaments and hung them off a Royal Pine Little Trees air freshener. Haha!

[MORE INFORMATION]
“A very intelligent scheme” is a phrase I lifted from Martin Short’s hilarious character, Ed Grimley, as seen on Saturday Night Live. If you’re not familiar with him, YouTube it and have a good laugh! The humor of SNL has really helped to pull me through lately…

 

FINDING 50: Leaving

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Philmont, NY  I  Friday, 21 October 2016

dscf5167FIVE MONTHS ALONG/FIVE POUNDS OF SUGAR/5167BB

Life sometimes separates people so that they can realize how much they mean to each other.
-Paulo Coelho, The Winner Stands Alone

Last Wednesday I caught a last glimpse of my son, Seth, through a closing elevator door at the Salt Lake International Airport.

Earlier that morning I left behind my old apartment, deserted most of my possessions in a storage unit, and said goodbye to the walkable neighborhood I loved so much for 18 years.

I took a final look at my place, so forlorn and mostly empty now, seemingly lifeless. I shut and locked the door, and pulled myself up the half flight of stairs. I turned around and looked down the stairs to catch a last glimpse of my entryway, the one with all the autumn decorations still on the door, the entrance I had taken so much care to cheerfully and tastefully decorate and keep clean the past three years.

It always made me so happy to come home after a long day and see my bright little corner of the landing, to unlock the door, and land in my cozy nest with my two little waiting birds.

I walked slowly to my waiting Uber, a huge truck, the bed embarrassingly full of luggage. In the backseat, crammed in close to Thing 1 and Thing 2, I cried so hard it scared me. Seth put his arm around behind his brother to touch me reassuringly on my shoulder. As we got closer to the airport, he and his brother snuggled into each other, solemn faced, the entire rest of the ride.

I felt my heart positively splitting open at the thought of moving so far away with only Thing 2 and leaving Thing 1, who is now almost 19. He and his best friend decided to strike out on their own and take over our place, the one with the two-butt kitchen, the original home of My Copper Kitchen.

dscf5179THING 2 AND THING 1/5179BB

Of course I had invited him to come with us to New York, but he said no. I had to let him choose on his own. And he decided to stay. After all, he’s an adult now, right?

I’ve been buying souvenirs for him wherever I go, though: a bag of candy raspberries, the kind he loves, at a shop in Delaware, Ohio, a container of pumpkin pie spice (which he loves to put in drinks in the fall) and some gummy pumpkins at Amish shops in Jackson. We spent almost a week in Ohio visiting with my sister, her husband, and their variety of animals, including the stray dog who came to stay, Hobie.

Anyways, I miss my child so much. His tall, lanky body on his Cruiser skateboard, the way he rides it with such ease and grace. His smile, so much like his father’s sister when she was a teenager, way before we married. The smattering of freckles across his face. His black and red and grey wardrobe. The way he snuggles down under his popcorn-eating vampire quilt. The sound of him typing furiously on his clicketty-clacketty computer keyboard.

I remember when I was pregnant with him. I would sit on the floor of my living room at the Clark Apartment, sit on the floor with my legs out to the side, in a position which is far too awkward for me now, and listen to Elton John singing this song on my stereo, over and over and over, singing along and dreaming of the child growing inside me.

Truly, truly I have been blessed be his mother. And I will continue to be, even though the miles now separate us.

B L E S S E D

Hey you, you’re a child in my head
You haven’t walked yet
Your first words have yet to be said
But I swear you’ll be blessed

I know you’re still just a dream
your eyes might be green
Or the bluest that I’ve ever seen
Anyway you’ll be blessed

And you, you’ll be blessed
You’ll have the best
I promise you that
I’ll pick a star from the sky

Pull your name from a hat
I promise you that, promise you that, promise you that
You’ll be blessed

Performed by Elton John
Songwriters: Maurice White, Jerry Eugene Peters

 dscf5176

THE VERY SAME WAGON/5176BB

 

JT’s Root Beer Cookies

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  Hamden, Ohio  I  Friday, 14 October 2016

dscf3703

Yesterday I left Salt Lake City with Thing 2 and my sister and flew to Ohio. We left Thing 1 behind at our place with the two-butt kitchen to start his new life as a grown up.

But more about that later, it’s very Bittersweet. Shall we talk about cookies? I like to Shower the People I Love With Love. And cookies.

I used to work with this guy, I’ll call him JT. He had the same name as a famous singer (there are hints in this post, let me know when you figure it out!) and everyone loved him because he had a great sense of humor. He had thinning, curly-brown hair, a friendly, gap-toothed grin, and was brimming with mischief. You could just see it on his face, in his eyes and in his smile.

His cute wife worked as an executive assistant at the same company, and boy, could she ever match an outfit! Some ladies just know how to put things together, and she was one of them. It was always such a treat when she visited our marketing department and I could see what she was wearing. I still remember how she had big eyes behind her glasses, sometimes wore daisy earrings, and had a perky hairdo.

Anyways, in the fall, heading down that October Road, JT used to delight our department with plates of his delicious, moist, root beer cookies. You wouldn’t expect this jokester to ever be home baking cookies, but yet he did.

I begged this recipe off JT over 20 years ago.

JT’S ROOT BEER COOKIES
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon root beer extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Root Beer Glaze (see recipe below)

Cream brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Mix in egg. Stir in buttermilk, root beer extract, flour, and baking soda, and mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease cookie sheet. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet and bake 6-8 minutes. While cookies are baking, make root beer glaze.

Root Beer Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons root beer extract
3-4 tablespoons hot water

Cream powdered sugar and butter. Stir in root beer extract and hot water and whisk to make a smooth  glaze. Keep glaze in a small bowl on stove top, so heat from oven will keep it from thickening up too much.

After cookies are baked, place them on waxed paper and spoon glaze over top. The glaze that drips onto the waxed paper can be reused. How Sweet It Is!

Variations
These cookies also work great as ice cream sandwiches. Glaze only half the cookies and put the glazed ones on top, the unglazed ones on bottom, and vanilla ice cream in the middle. Freeze. They taste super delicious on a hot summer day!

These cookies end up being brown and rather boring looking, so make sure to serve them on a colorful and decorative plate to add interest.

Or, they would look pretty dusted with some finely crushed root beer sticks. You know, the old-fashioned striped ones they sell in jars at candy counters. While glaze is still runny on cookies, sprinkle root beer stick dust over the glaze, and press down gently with back of a spoon. Allow glaze to set.

When I was a child and we were headed to Greenport to go grocery shopping or to do laundry, I would beg my mother to drive there via Fish & Game Road, hoping we would stop at Hotalings. It was a pretty little farm market, surrounded by an apple orchard and views of the Catskill Mountains. They also sold root beer sticks…

[PROP NOTES]
My sister Cheri bought me the blue-rimmed cookie plate/cake stand in July of 2015. We purchased it from Berkshire Pottery in Hillsdale, New York, right near the border of Massachussetts. The pottery is run by the Stosiek family, and I went to high school with their daughter, Erika. The shop is in a bucolic setting, in an old red barn right near a river, and full of wonderful pottery for sale, artistically arranged. Adjacent is the neat little family farm. Check out their history and wares at:
http://www.berkshirepottery.com/

The root beer extract is from Hires Big H in Salt Lake City. To learn more:
http://www.hiresbigh.com/about

The green glass was a fab find from Saver’s thrift store. I had two but they got broken as I was packing to move. Both of them were sitting on the counter and I reached up to grab some glasses for packing. One of my stoneware mugs (which had been double stacked for three years without incident) came flying down and obliterated four different glasses.

Don’t worry, I’ll be haunting Salvation Army in Greenport as soon as I make it there. Need. New. Things. Ha!

The orange-rimmed stoneware plate is from TAG’s thrift store. I was able to purchase five of them, and was excited because I knew they matched the one I’d seen at my parents’ house in New York, where there was mysteriously only one. How can you not be happy when eating off a plate with an orange rim and cheerful yellow flowers? Impossible.

Soon I’ll be making cookies in my new old red kitchen, In the Light of New York, in the house on the Country Road. Stick with me to follow my journey. You’ve Got a Friend!

Oh! Have you figured out what JT stands for?

[NOTE]
JT gave me a photocopy of the recipe, taken straight from a cookbook, but it doesn’t have the source. I’ve tried to track it down, since I’m big on recipe provenance, but have thus far been unsuccessful.

 

Family Movie Night

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  West Valley City, Utah  I  Friday, 7 October 2016

dscf3802

It’s been a long day and I’m relaxing on my bed, feet up.

Earlier today my sister and I went to my work (I guess I should say my former place of employment, since Wednesday was my last day, yipee!) and brought home enough cardboard Barnes & Noble boxes to kill a small forest.

We’ve been sorting and packing things into numbered boxes. Yesterday, we got to box 24. Of books. And that was before we even started packing my cookbooks. Today, somewhere around box 30, my sister asked, “Are there more books somewhere?” That’s when I started laughing like a maniac. You know, when you’re stressed, but can’t stop the inappropriate laughing? That was me.

We’ve been working hard and are going to reward ourselves with family movie night tonight! If we can find the TV. If we can get the DVD player to work. My equipment isn’t exactly state-of-the-art. The living room is chock full of boxes. But we’ve managed to clear off four chairs, one for each of us.

Last winter, when my sister came to take care of me, most Friday nights we ate her homemade pizza and watched videos: Chocolat, The Hundred Foot Journey, The Maze Runner, and others. We made popcorn in my new hot air popper, as well, and I got addicted. Sometimes I eat popcorn for breakfast, a whole bowlful. Hey! It’s a grain, so how is it any different from Cheerios or oatmeal or toast?

At my place, we have two holiday movie traditions.

I know most people are crazy for Christmas Story, but at our house, every December we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, and I laugh myself absolutely silly.

I love the Griswolds’ beautiful house, the wacky relatives, the sullen teenagers, the scene where Clark gets locked in the attic and is wearing a woman’s hat to keep warm, the part where Clark and Ellen are in bed and he gets the subscription card for People magazine stuck to his hand, etc., etc.

And in October, we watch Hocus Pocus, with Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. I long for New England in the fall. The old Salem houses in that movie, and the flaming leaves, they always make my heart ache for the east…sigh.

I love the widow’s watch in Max’s room, the beautiful Colonial house Allison lives in, and how she ditches the gorgeous, yet stuffy party her parents are having to go on an all-night adventure at the Sanderson museum and all around Salem with Max and Dani.

The Sanderson Sisters! I love Winifred’s crazy red hair, buck teeth, and expressive, long-nailed fingers. I love Sarah’s blonde, ditzy, pitch-perfect boy-crazy act, and dark-haired Mary’s crooked mouth. I love the scene where the three witches board the Salem bus and say they desire children.

What movies do you love? Are there ones you watch over and over? Family movie night and holiday movies are so fun.

Right now is a good time to gather your family and friends around, go make a bowl of buttery, salty popcorn, light the requisite pumpkin candle, dim the lights, and press play…

dscf3806

 

ANATEVKA GIRL ON ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN: Where My Heart Is

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  West Valley City, Utah  I  Thursday, 6 October 2016

dscf1575

The kitchen is the heart of the home.

I’m so pleased to announce I’m relocating My Copper Kitchen to a beautiful RED kitchen! A kitchen with a red Formica counter and a vintage stainless steel cooktop and matching wall oven. A kitchen with cheerful red scalloped valances over two windows which overlook a wide expanse of green lawn, with deer who visit, a giant forsythia bush, a driveway with bunnies who frolic, and cars that crunch up the gravel, bringing friends!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a kitchen which wasn’t cookie-cutter-boring, beige-and-white, built in the bland 90s, absolutely devoid of any personality. In fact, three apartments in a row, I had the exact same sheet linoleum, off white with beige diamonds. What are the odds of that? It must have been cheap, cheap, cheap. So, it’ll be nice to have a kitchen with some built-in personality.

I’m looking forward to moving into my new red kitchen, decorating and remodeling. There will be much to do.

I have an absolute ton of dishes and there’s not a lot of cupboards. There’s not a big counter either. It’s an old house in the country, and I’ll need to figure out how to store food so the little critters don’t get into it. Where will I put the microwave without ruining the vintage look? And so on and so on…

There are some puzzling things about the kitchen. The dark brown ceramic sink isn’t original to the kitchen, and neither is the cabinetry housing it, nor is the white-with-gold-fleck Formica counter on either side of the sink. No one seems to remember how it got this way, even though my family has owned the house for nearly 50 years, since I was a six-month-old baby.

I know my father must have moved that dark brown sink there, because I’m positive it came from Anatevka, the old center hall Colonial which used to be next door, and I have the photos to prove it.

I hope someday, after I’m settled, I can put in a white ceramic sink like the one downstairs, some red Formica like the rest of the counters, and silver cabinet handles to match the other cupboards. Oh! And I’m convinced the sink’s backsplash should be silver. Think 50s diner!

Then, there’s the matter of flooring. Growing up, I remember it was square linoleum tiles, some green, some blue, with no method to the madness. I always thought it was a bit strange, what with the red valances and countertop, but since there are some non-matching things going on in the downstairs kitchen, too, I chalked it up to the original owners not having a real flair for design, or maybe not a lot of money during the throes of the Great Depression, when the house was built. 1930, to be exact.

Now, since the adjacent bathroom has been remodeled and shifted a few feet towards the west, the tile is irrevocably marred and has been covered up with blue low-pile carpet. Carpet in a kitchen? Not my favorite idea.

But this past summer, when I was visiting, I solved the mystery, the mystery of the original kitchen flooring!

I was digging around under the sink, looking for a bucket. That’s when I made an amazing discovery and started acting like a lunatic!

It. Was. Red.

Under the sink was the original linoleum tile, and it was red, red and beige! I got super excited when I saw it, since I’d always known the blue and green tile just wasn’t right. Suddenly, things started to make sense and seem cohesive. I grabbed a sponge, wiped down the small area under the sink cabinet, and started taking pictures. It makes me so happy to know the floor was originally red.

In this new old kitchen, there will be just enough space between the two windows for my little table for two, the one I bought at Best and first had in the Clark Apartment. The matching chairs are broken and gone, a shameful story, but I’m a fan of mix-and-match and unexpected combinations, anyways. I’ll either get some stools which will slide under the table, or use the cute little fold-up Chippendale-inspired chairs I got at a yard sale this past summer for $1.25 each. Yup, you heard me right, $1.25!

Over the table, between the windows, there’s a small shelf with silver trim and fab pink Formica, and I’m debating which cute knickknacks to display, as the focal point of the kitchen. I have an old flour sifter with a pattern of red tulips, some new-ish Jonathan Adler red tulip bookends to hold my vintage cookbooks, a red Pennsylvania Dutch tin, and a red clock. Hmmm, we’ll see what works when I get there…

It’s going to be such a fun journey, fixing up the red kitchen and making it the heart of my new home. Would you like to tag along?