Near the end of September, we received some unexpected news: our landlord would be putting the house we had been renting (since April) up on the market, and soon. At first I was upset; the thought of moving again so shortly after the stressful process of moving here felt unbearable. We had two large dogs, no furniture, and needed a commute that wasn't awful for two people who worked on separate sides of the island. We could have stayed until the house sold - who knows, it might have been right away or taken years - but we decided not to take a chance on having to take the first available rental, and began looking for a new place immediately. After nearly a month of searching, we finally found it: a small, but unique and brightly lit place in Kailua, HI, the next town over. And that, my friends, is where I've been these last few weeks - in the process of packing, cleaning and saying goodbye to our old place and unpacking into our new one.
Nothing remains without change. ~ Buddha
When we left Eugene, it felt like we had emptied our lives of more than half of our belongings, paring it down to the things that felt necessary for feeling like we were at "home" when we made the difficult move from Oregon to Hawaii. But when we were packing up our stuff this time, it suddenly felt overwhelming how many things we actually still had. It was stressful and was not how I wanted to spend my evenings after working all day. Over 50% of our remaining things consisted of kitchen stuff - small appliances, serving dishes, pots, pans and gadgets. Suddenly, we were giving up our big, granite-topped counters and ample storage space for a much more modest kitchen where our things would barely fit and where even food storage was problem. Instead of several cupboards filled with food, we now had only one. But somehow, after frantically unpacking because we had guests arriving the first weekend we were living there, it all fit. And you know what? It already feels like home.
Contrary to what LB might tell you, I've been wanting to become more of a kitchen minimalist in many ways. I've always enjoyed cooking simple, rustic meals...those that don't make many dishes, don't have complicated ingredient lists and where the flavor of the few ingredients you're cooking with are the main flavors of the dish...you know, the kind of food that would make Alice Waters proud. Having a small kitchen seems the perfect catalyst to change to a simpler way of cooking and eating, and I can't wait to see where it takes me. While I thoroughly enjoyed the shiny appliances and beautiful mahogany cupboards of our old place, our new kitchen is the type of kitchen that somehow just "fits" us a little better. We do have to be organized (very little counter space), dry our dishes (no where else to put them away), our drawers are filled with fewer gadgets (but who needs them anyway?) and we really have to work as a team. I can already imagine a jar of fresh yogurt culturing on the back of the counter and a colander of freshly washed greens in one side of the sink. There are kabocha squash seeds drying on a cookie sheet near the window right now.
And you know what? All the windows make it perfect for taking pictures - day or night. And right outside all those windows lighting up the living room? A perfect view of the steep, mist-covered slopes of the Ko'olau range. Maybe change doesn't have to be so hard after all.
Regardless of how easy or difficult the transition of moving may be (and no matter what, it's still stressful to do the move itself), arriving after work to your new home for the first time and finding a package with your name on it - and full of food, no less - is something magical.
I hadn't participated in Blogging by Mail (BBM) in a really long time, and when my friend Deb suggested I go check out the most recent announcement at Stephanie's great blog, Dispensing Happiness, I decided I needed to get back in the game. This round of BBM had a huge number of participants, but thanks to Stephanie's hard work, it was easy to follow and everything went smoothly. Thanks Stephanie! The theme was "10 items or less" and entailed choosing 10 small but favorite things from your home and sending them off to another blogger. My box came from far away - Stockholm, to be exact - and from the wonderfully sweet blogger, Angelica from Butter & Beans.
Angelica sent me such incredible goodies in my box! There were tons of chocolate snack foods (a woman after my own heart, obviously!) - Ballerina cookies (think: chocolate and vanilla shortbread with smooth, rich chocolate sandwiched between; I've already broken into these and nearly half of them are gone...), Dumle original, Marinanne chocolate filled mint candies (what could be better - chocolate AND mint?!), a large block of Karl Fazer special edition milk chocolate (LB has been drooling in anticipation of opening this one), Center milk choclate with toffee filling (also delicious, I might add), and several smaller little chewy candies.
She also included a handwritten note explaining some of the other items, which helped me navigate the rest of the things she included. My favorite so far is the slightly salty Kalles Kaviar spread, made from fish roe and it's wonderful on the traditional spelt crispbread she sent to go with it: Spelt-Dinkel. She also sent two types of jam, Hjortronsylt (cloudberry) and a jar of beautiful raw lingonberry jam that is the most amazing shade of purple! According to Angelica, the cloudberry jam is native to the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland and her favorite berry. We're having crepes this weekend and I'm going to try it on them, just as she suggests! To top it off, she also included a cookbook, "Served from the Swedish Kitchen: 50 classic recipes from Sweden." Angelica recommended the lingonberry jam with Swedish meatballs, and lo and behold, there is a recipe in the very book she sent, and many of the recipes look simple to prepare - perfect for my new kitchen. The best thing? She wrapped some of the goodies with a pink and white polka-dot ribbon, which made them seem even more special!
Thank you so much Angelica! You helped make my new home feel warm and comforting even as I was in the midst of boxes and chaos, and that means more to this blogger than you could possibly know. I'm so glad I decided to join in BBM because I now have the opportunity to get to know you through your blog!