travel notes

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Buckingham Palace; My Kitchen

In Global events, London, Traditions, Trends on November 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Can a girl be traditional AND trendy?

What does cooking my first Thanksgiving Turkey and Prince William’s fiancé Kate Middleton have in common? Both aid my quest to honor the past while blazing my own trail.

The task at hand: buy, baste, and bake a turkey for the Youth for Christ Wednesday night dinner. The complication: grocery stores only have frozen birds in stock, giving me less than 48 hours to complete the process.

This morning I eye my enormous 16 lb. buzzard. A little thrill runs through me. I’m remembering my mom, aunts, and grandma in the kitchen cooking yummy Thanksgiving dishes for our large family. I’m conjuring up images of women on the trail out west plucking feathers and tying feet with twine. Feeling very much connected to the past, I dig my hands inside the bird and pull out the gizzards. Just the word “gizzard” makes me feel tough and gritty. A true American woman.

I chop carrots, celery, and a yellow sweet onion for the stuffing. I use classic seasonings: rosemary, sage, and thyme. Herbs of Provence – just a dash.

Happily, the bird is in the oven with ample time to spare. I whittle away the afternoon indulging my romantic fancy watching Prince William and now fiancé Kate Middleton interviews. Thank you, Huffington Post.

I’m admiring Princess Di’s blue ring against the elegant blue dress when the interviewer throws a hot question into the mix – to paraphrase:

“Princess Di was an iconic figure…are you worried about measuring up?”

My ears perk up. I’m absolutely delighted with Prince William’s response:

“Obviously my mother was a fantastic woman. But it’s about creating your own destiny. Kate is going to do a great job of that.”

I so often feel like Kate: wearing someone else’s ring, blue from a woe-begone era. Wanting to honor those gone before me, yet wanting very much for my future to be different.

I am, admittedly, a self-made woman. Not always by choice, but by necessity. Independent and autonomous; I have put deliberate, conscious thought into the type of life I want to lead, the kind of person I want to be, the sort of traditions I want to form. And like Kate, I feel as though the world is watching.

The timer alerts me to baste the turkey, interrupting my reflection on tradition. An enticing aroma fills the kitchen. I squeeze the drippings from the bottom of the pan over the breast of the bird.

Returning to my reverie…these are the trends I commit to…these are my traditions:

Noticing the small details of life: enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning like a sacred ritual.

Not settling for a mediocre marriage: having a life of tremendous love and passion until I’m old and bent and gray.

Generous stewardship: cultivating financial literacy, having an abundance to provide for myself, my family, and having an overflow to give away!

Mental health: seeing the world with optimism, and fighting to stay intellectually strong.

My family tree may be dotted with poverty and pessimism, but my branch is a healthy offshoot, grafted to traditions of love, laughter, and life! No poverty of spirit here!

That evening, slicing and serving my big, moist, wonderful turkey, with juicy pieces inevitably making it to my mouth before onto the plate, I decide then and there that this is a tradition I will always keep. This, and wearing vintage jewelry.

What traditions will you keep?

What trends will you begin?


5th Ave and Lexington, New York, New York

In New York on November 8, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Is it possible to be satisfied in the city that offers everything? I discovered it is on an evening a few weeks ago in SoHo.

I treated myself to a delightful early dinner at Bread, indulging in decadent people watching for a few glorious hours along with a glass of wine – decent for the east coast. (Menu recommendation: the Special Salad with Sicilian Tuna and caper berries). I stumbled out onto the street for some after dinner shopping. My finds: a pair of sleek, snug fitting riding pants at Zara Basic and a classic cream and navy stripe boatneck T at GAP. I stopped at a frozen yogurt cart and ordered vanilla topped with coconut and dark chocolate chips, only to find they didn’t take credit cards. “On me,” the frozen yogurt man smiled and passed my cold treat through the cart window.

As I walked home toward 5th Ave and Lex, through the streets lit by shop signs, people still bustling at 9 p.m., I experienced the happiest version of myself. My belly and soul felt satisfied with delicious delights. Enticing aromas, sounds, and sights filled my senses. I was want for nothing. Among the street stacked with Gucci upon Coach upon Dolce & Gabana, among the fashionable women in luxurious furs and bejeweled purses, I felt myself to be the luckiest girl in the world, with my new shirt and frozen yogurt.

Maybe it’s realizing that I can never own everything, and even if I could afford it, I wouldn’t want to. Or maybe there’s something delightful and freeing about admiring the beauty of others; seeing myself as part of the beautiful conglomeration of humanity. Or maybe it’s just realizing that at the end of the day, a good glass of wine and a bowl of frozen yogurt cannot be enjoyed any more or any less, no matter the number of bags dangling on my arm.