Archive for the ‘Thankful November’ Category

{Thankful November} 25: Thanksgiving…

December 23rd, 2011 | Rachel

…and other people or food-focused holidays.

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

Thanksgiving Spread 2011

Here we are, the namesake of this whole “Thankful November” blog feature.

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for a long time.  I remember contemplating the essence of Thanksgiving back in high school, so we’re talking at least ten years now.

I don’t particularly care for holidays and events that involve gifts.  This might make me look like a scrooge, but I don’t like birthday presents or Christmas presents or even wedding presents per se.  What I do like is finding something that makes me think of someone and getting it for them or purposely seeking out some sort of token to show someone I am thinking of them.  I also prefer shared experiences over tangible things.

This is just one of the reasons Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  There are no gifts exchanged at Thanksgiving, no societal pressure to buy your kids the coolest toys or give your significant other something they can brag about to their friends.  No, the only purchases made at Thanksgivingtime are made at the grocery store.

The focal point of Thanksgiving is, usually, the Thanksgiving dinner.  With the food is the main event, a natural byproduct is sitting around a large table and conversing with one another.  It is in every way a communal holiday.

Although I was not able to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year, I did participate in a lovely Southern-style traditional Thanksgiving dinner c0-hosted by my friend Arthur.  We had a great group of about 12 guests including Steve, several of our church friends, a friend’s visiting mother, a Canadian and a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen since college who happened to be visiting from San Francisco.

Thanksgiving Co-Hosts (2011)

Delicious Roasted Turkey (2011)

Dinner was about an hour and a half behind schedule, so there was plenty of time for our guests to catch up with the people they knew and get to know the people they did not.  When the turkey — a gift from my bakery — was finally finished, there was much feasting, followed by even more fellowship.  It was everything a holiday should be.

Christmas is coming up this weekend, and even though gift-giving is an expected part, there will also be many opportunities to focus on the two far more important aspects: food and people.  I am greatly looking forward to both.

My brother, father, and grandfather loading up their plates on Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving for two with my mom (2008)

{Thankful November} 24: Steve

December 22nd, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

Steve with turkey cookie in Park Slope (2009)

This is the first photo I took of Steve a little over two years ago.  I’ve been documenting his every move with my iPhone ever since.  Ok, it’s not that extreme, but the album of Steve and Rachel photos would be pretty extensive already if I ever took the time to put it together.

Steve and I have somewhat of an unconventional relationship due to the fact that he works on a ship and is away roughly three to five weeks at a time and then returns for a similar duration before going back to the ship.  When we first started dating, Steve was working at a shipyard in South Korea.  Right now he is five miles off the coast of South Africa.

Steve and I met probably the only way a merchant mariner with penchant for traveling and a busy New York City litigator could meet:  I had been sifting through messages from lame 40-year olds and guys with severe grammatical impairments when I did some browsing of my own and found Steve’s handsome face and witty profile. It took us three months to finally meet due to Steve’s work schedule and the fact that I kept cancelling our dates.  When we finally did meet, it was at a wine bar near Flat Iron and I was already three or four glasses down the rabbit hole thanks to a wine class right before our date.

We sat and talked for several hours, well past closing time, until we could no longer ignore the daggers coming from the eyes of the waiter and bartender.  We had our second date a few days later and a third date a few days after that.  Fast forward two years and we’ve island-hopped in Greece, road-tripped in France, house-hunted in California, Magic-Kingdomed in Disney World and taken full advantage of the cultural and culinary offerings of New York City.

I was initially captivated by Steve because of his love of adventure and great listening skills.  Steve is *almost* as well-traveled as I am ;-) and when you talk to Steve, it really feels like he cares about what you are saying.

Not long after that, I learned that Steve is also really good at planning things.  A few months after our first date, Steve sent me a detailed list of 24 dates he wanted to go on, including “23. Tango lesson… followed by Argentinean Steak dinner and pisco sours” (which we did) and “2.  New York Philharmonic and afterwards visiting the famous cheese cart guy” (we’ve been to the Philharmonic several times, but I don’t know about the cheese cart guy).

Steve has a great sense of style (in his own special Steve kind of way… both in his wardrobe and his apartment), and he really cares about his family.  He is very smart, very supportive, very sweet and a little spontaneous.  And he’s good at fixing things.

Steve is a lot to be thankful for, and he’s the perfect companion for this crazy adventure that is going to start next year.

Artistic representation of Steve with turkey cookie (2009)

{Thankful November} 23: Discomfort

December 22nd, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

If you read the title of this entry and immediately thought of an ad for FiberOne, you are not alone.  It did not go over well with my test audience.  Still, no one could think of a word that better summed up my point.  If you have a suggestion, please share.

Simply put, I am thankful for the times we are inconvenienced, uncertain and uncomfortable because those are times we are the most creative and resourceful.  Those are also the times we are inspired to consider other possibilities and try new things because it is easier to see how much we have to gain… and how little we have to lose.

A prime example of this is my last job at the law firm.  It was no secret that I wasn’t loving the job anymore, and I regularly joked about what I would rather be doing (namely, moving to France and opening a bed and breakfast, which is how this blog was named).  Even though I knew I would be happier doing something else, the fact remained that I was making a very comfortable salary at the firm and enjoyed a lot of other perks of being a “successful” professional in New York City.

Then the day came when two partners walked into my office and informed me the firm was “terminating its relationship” with me.

The first emotion to hit me was that of indignation.  How dare they tell me they didn’t need me.

The second was of panic.  What did this mean about my financial stability?  My career?

The third and longest lasting emotion was that of annoyance.  The Plan was to work at the firm for five years and then take my life skills and nest egg elsewhere.  Instead, I was suddenly faced with the question of “what do I really want to do?” two years early with barely any legal experience or money in my bank account.

At first, I tried to find a similar law firm job to keep in line with my original plan.  However, as the months passed and my severance came to an end with no job prospects in sight, I realized I was going to have to start considering other possibilities.

I had already filled out the paperwork to collect unemployment when I stumbled upon the help wanted sign at my present bakery.  Sure, when it came to lawyer jobs I didn’t want to consider anything that paid less than six figures, but when it was an issue of collecting piddly unemployment versus getting paid $9 an hour, the decision wasn’t quite so extreme.  Unemployment would have paid more, actually, but I knew I needed the daily structure and was curious to gain more experience in the hospitality industry.  Plus the bakery offered health insurance.

Throughout those first few months after I got laid off, I kept telling people that I wished I could see myself in six months because I knew everything was going to be ok, but I didn’t know how I was going to get there.  All I knew is that the transition was going to be very uncomfortable and little bit scary.

Curbing my spending habits and moving out of my apartment so I could sublet it and save money were a huge pain in the ass.  Sorting through the mountains of paper in my office and moving out all of my personal belongings was beyond inconvenient.  Packing up all of my kitchen supplies, furniture and clothes and putting them into storage until I move to California was downright annoying.

Still, I am thankful for all of the discomfort I’ve experienced over the past year because it is pushing me towards a life far more fulfilling than the comfortable life I was living before.

{Thankful November} 22: Education

November 29th, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

From preschool through law school, I feel blessed to have had a challenging yet balanced formal education.  I am thankful for all of the teachers who helped me along the way, particularly my AP government teacher, Jerry Willard, who is the reason I majored in political science as an undergrad, studied in Oxford through a political science program, took an international law class while at Oxford, loved that international law class so much I decided to go to law school, and went to law school at the University of North Carolina, his alma mater.

I believe equal access to education starting from a young age is essential in the fight against poverty, crime, drugs, and a host of other social ailments we have today.  I hope that one day (sooner than later) we will make primary and secondary education the political priority that it needs to be to keep our country socially healthy and globally competitive.

Thank you, formal education.

{Thankful November} 21: Smells

November 29th, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

I’m thankful for all of my senses, but smell is something I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for since working at the bakery.

Sometimes I show up at work and the whole kitchen smells like warm chocolate cake.  Other times it smells like butter, sugar and vanilla. When I open in the mornings, the kitchen often smells like toasted bread from the freshly baked muffins and scones with a hint of chocolate chip cookies. The walk-in refrigerator downstairs often smells like oranges and fresh ginger.

The week leading up to Thanksgiving, the kitchen frequently had an odd vegetative scent resulting from the dried beans used to pre-bake the pie crusts.  Another unexpected scent is that of boiled potatoes, which are used in the dough for the cinnamon rolls and the sticky buns.

When I am working out front, I am surrounded with the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans whenever we brew a new pot of coffee or pull a shot of espresso.  Some of the teas also have unmistakable scents: hot cinnamon spice, green, and pearl jasmine. Every now and then a foreign scent will waft in from outside, like cigarette smoke or asphalt.  Yesterday a woman came in the bakery whose perfume was so strong it just about knocked me out.

Good or bad (but preferably good), I am thankful for the many scents that enhance my day.