So long, 2016!

Happy New Year, everyone!

As 2016 is coming to an end, I thought I’d share a bit about my year with you. It was kind of a funny year for Scissors & Sage. I found that I didn’t have a chance to write many blog posts on the things that Anne and I were crafting, baking, and doing together. A lot of my creative energy has been going toward planning for our wedding (July 2017!), preparing for the holidays at terrain, and making homemade Christmas gifts for our loved ones.

There are countless reasons why 2016 wasn’t the greatest year ever. You all have your own reasons; I won’t rehash them here. But yesterday I found out that I did not get a job that I had been hoping for for several months. It would have been a perfect next step in my music therapy career. I am disappointed and disheartened to say the least, but I am glad to be able to leave this in 2016. I am excited to see what new opportunities are ahead in the new year.

There was also a lot of love in 2016. Anne and I were able to connect with many friends and family this year, and it left me feeling very whole. We traveled to Arizona to see some of Anne’s family and go to Cubs spring training. We witnessed my cousins graduate from college and my sister from her master’s program. Anne and I went lazy river tubing and felt like kids again. We brought my parents to Chicago and Wisconsin for the first time to meet Anne’s extended family and to spend time wedding planning together. My sister got married and I gained a brother. I spent a night singing with my closest college acapella friends. The Cubs won the World Series. My family had its first-ever holiday book club (we read Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson), and it was a huge success.

I am so excited to ring in the new year tonight. There is a lot on the horizon for 2017, and I can’t wait to embrace it all.

janWe played in the snow in January. [Philadelphia, PA]

febI got fancy for Valentine’s Day in February. [Philadelphia, PA]

marI tried a prickly pear margarita in March. [Phoenix, AZ]

aprI got in bed a little early in April. [Philadelphia, PA]

mayWe made a quiche in May. [Philadelphia, PA]

junI almost stole a dog named Luna in June. [Arcadia Beach, OR]

julWe played bocce in July. [Platteville, WI]

augWe picnicked in August. [Platteville, WI]

sepMy sister got married in September. [Amity, OR]

octWe stamped envelopes in October. [Philadelphia, PA]

novThe Cubs won the World Series in November. [Chicago, IL]

decWe got festive in December. [Glen Mills, PA – We Laugh We Love Photography]

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DIY Address Book

One of the things that is most vivid in my mind from childhood is the address book my parents kept in the kitchen drawer. The outside was covered in a patterned green paper, tattered around the edges from decades of use, and the inside was kind of hairy — business cards and scraps of paper with phone numbers written down were tucked between the already-full pages. Names and addresses had been written and rewritten as people moved or as someone got a cell phone for the first time.

Only now am I realizing how important it is to have a book like this, filled over years with friends and family we can reach out to. These days, it seems like community networks are growing smaller and smaller. This was not the case when I was growing up. Maybe it’s a symptom of being twenty-something.

But who has an address book these days? Everything is in “the cloud,” and I’m still trying to figure out what that means exactly. Information is scattered between apps and devices, and conveniently vanishes when I go looking for it. It is high time for our very first address book.

If there’s one thing you can find many of in our apartment, it’s blank notebooks. I can’t say why, exactly, but we just have this thing for notebooks. Obviously, I wasn’t about to go out and buy an address book when I’m sitting on gold. Time to DIY!

DIY Address Book

Materials:

  • Blank notebook with about 80 pages
  • Letter stickers
  • Colored paper
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors

Step 1: Stick each letter on different colors of paper. Cut out the colored paper so that there is a small border around the letter.

Step 2: Line up the alphabet along the edge of the notebook to decide on spacing. Use double-sided tape to adhere the colored paper to the inner edge of the notebook. (Note: It’s up to you how many pages each letter gets. I gave mine anywhere from 1-4 pages, depending on the letter.)

Step 3: Get creative with a title page!

That’s really all there is to it. It was a fun project, and one that we’ll be reaping the benefits of for a long time to come. Here’s to building community. Happy crafting!

Reflections in the Kitchen

Something magical happened yesterday in a Like Water For Chocolate kind of way.  Rather than pass on a specific project or a certain recipe to you all today, I want to share an experience I had in the kitchen.

I set out in the afternoon to make minestrone.  I need something to warm my bones in this cold weather, and it is the first thing that comes to mind.  My family made “minest” a lot when I was a child, and it’s a dish that is incredibly comforting to me.  I call my mom to ask her for the recipe (which is always “a little of this, a little of that” — the Italian way), and when she doesn’t answer her phone, I have a moment of mild internal panic.  My grandmothers have passed away, and my great aunt passed away just two months ago.  Heavily reliant on my family’s matriarchs for culinary wisdom, who else is there to call?

Luckily, my mom calls back only a few minutes later.  She provides me with an outline of possible minestrone ingredients, approximately how much of each goes in, along with when to add the ingredients to the simmering pot.  I’m used to this by now, and find comfort in making it my own as I go.

I always channel members of my family when I am cooking or baking.  When it’s cookies, it’s Grandma Anne or my mom.  When it’s a hearty dinner, it’s Grandma Elisabeth.  When it’s drop-dead-amazing breakfast scones, it’s Grandpa Augie.  This minestrone recipe is Grandma Elisabeth’s.  My mind wanders and I begin thinking of what her house might have smelled like when she was a child.

These moments in the kitchen connect me to those who are no longer with me, and so I continue making these family recipes as often as I can.  Later, when I sit down to transfer my scribbled notes onto a recipe card for my new recipe box, I realize something.  I realize that I am writing down the recipe not for myself, but for others to read many years from now.  I am writing, without meaning to, a set of instructions that are intended for someone else — maybe for a child or a grandchild to mull over when they’re my age.

We have boxes and binders full of recipes from my grandparents, and I love nothing more than to flip through them to see their handwriting, read their stories, and see what types of ingredients they used to cook and bake with.  Grandpa Augie bookmarked his cookbooks with all kinds of pictures, drawings from grandchildren (myself included), party invitations, postcards, and other clippings.  It sometimes feels like he left a scavenger hunt just for me to someday find.

I lift the lid, smell my simmering minestrone after some time has passed, and cry.