Sometimes, you have a bad moment (that you can laugh about later). Sometimes you have a bad year (that you can hopefully grow from and pat yourself on the back for). And sometimes you just have a bad week that you don't know how to snap out of but know you will because, hey, life goes on and that's what you gotta do to survive.
I am no stranger to change, both good and bad. As time goes on, something I've realized about myself is that I've learned to adapt and make limoncello out of lemons. It's been a weird week full of reflections about my past, present and future. I've thought about my family, particularly my dad who I miss so much at times and wish I could just hear his voice, even if it was just for a few minutes. I've also been thinking about my sister who has just embarked on the adventure of a lifetime living and working abroad in Seoul and how it must feel like she's got the world right at her fingertips just waiting to snatched up. I couldn't be more proud of her!
I've thought about my friends, both near and far and those who have come in and out of my life. Having moved around so much as an adult, it can sometimes be hard to maintain very close friendships with people, but when those friendships are found and cultivated, I affix them to my heart and they hold a permanent place. It made me think about sympathizing with each other during times of sadness and celebrating greatness in times of happiness. Friendships shouldn't be mutually exclusive to one of those two feelings. Friendships should encompass it all. Yet it's not always easy to put into practice. Human emotions get in the way of being fully present at times and eventually people sometimes exit to start over and make their own new beginnings without really knowing if they'll ever return to their past. And that's okay.
So, while this week may seem bad to me in this moment, I'm keeping perspective and paying attention to this quote I found from Socrates to help me persevere. I think it's working.
Living in a place where there's an actual fall season is still an exciting thing for me. Having spent most of my life in Florida where it's either hot or not-so-hot, I'm really taking in the changing foliage, cooler weather and everything else that comes along with this time of year. Naturally, after having seen photos from my wedding florist's (isn't she adorable?) Instagram of her apple picking excursion with her husband, I was intrigued and convinced Jesse that we should drive an hour-and-a-half north of here to do just that.
Upon arriving, we discovered that it was apparently the last weekend of the season to go apple picking and the orchard we were headed to was the last orchard that was still open to the public to fulfill this task. Needless to say, there were swarms of people who had the exact same idea I did.
Imagine a carnival. Or a state fair. With carnies and fried Oreos, tourists and corndogs, crowds of cranky children and funnel cakes. Now take all of that and imagine it without any neon lights or rickety rides and replace it with an enormous orchard with barely any apples left. That was what we were walking into. Nope. We ate the last of our corn nuggets (you don't want to know) and high-tailed it out of there, thwarting our original plans for something spontaneous instead.
We landed on Downtown Ellijay. Without getting into the gritty details of our day, let's just say that it was not as we had expected, yet we had a great time. We serendipitously ran into good friends of ours in this random Small Town, U.S.A., had a few beers, grabbed some ice cream and caught up on a patio on a beautiful sunny day. We wandered into antique shops, we showed A how to use a real camera and we counted how many scarecrows were around (too many).
The day wasn't a total loss. We spent time with each other outside of our comfort zones and explored other possibilities. We laughed and connected with each other, away from our normal routines. Although apple picking never actually happened, it didn't matter. I already got the best apples of the bunch.
I don't know how it didn't occur to me to post this until now, but if you guys haven't seen this movie, you should! We saw it a couple of weeks ago and I still can't stop thinking about it. Here's to a happy Friday and an even happier weekend!
P.S. You can rent it on Amazon video! ;-)
15.10.14 Labels: dinner, kimchi, kitchen sink, leftovers, recipe, tacos Posted by Tanya Fujiki Clark 19:00
If you're like me and you find yourself feeling slightly uninspired with dinner in the middle of the week, there's always the option of ordering in or going out. But, again, if you're like me, you don't particularly want to spend money when you know you've got food in the fridge that could be (read: needs to be) eaten before it's turns into something unrecognizable.
A few days ago, I bought my very first crock pot. I know. I couldn't believe I had never even owned one before and, obviously with it officially being fall, Pinterest is chalk-full of slow cooker recipe ideas. To break mine in, I went for a classic: brisket and onions. You guys. This recipe is not to be messed with. I started cooking it on Monday night. We had it for dinner on Tuesday. And I put an egg on it this morning. Clearly, it was done right.
However, this piece of perfectly tender, pull-apart, melt-in-your-mouth meat was huge. It was enough to feed us until Sunday and while I would not be opposed to this, I don't think the rest of my family would appreciate it. Of course, I didn't want to waste any of it and so I peeked into our fridge to see what I could do. And then it hit me: tacos!
I had some radishes that I quickly pickled and left in the fridge to cool for a couple of hours while I set up the rest. Say hello to The Taco Bar.
It is exactly what you would imagine it to be. Think of it as a more interactive version of "kitchen sink" anything. There are no rules, just what you have on hand and what you'd like to experiment with. A little kimchi here, some avocado there. Why not? Happy Wednesday!
2.10.14 Labels: beach, family, love, memories, movie, road-trip, vacation Posted by Tanya Fujiki Clark 10:18
Jesse, being the documentarian he is, managed to capture one of our beach days and made a short little vignette for your viewing pleasure. Looking back at the movies he's made so far always leaves me nostalgic for those times. The memories are always with me but to see them as snippets and moving pictures set to great music just make them that much more extraordinary. I hope you enjoy it!
I recently read this post about ladies' nights and how precious those moments can be. Moving around a lot has been both a blessing and a curse in my life. A blessing for obvious reasons--the ability to call a new locale "home", meeting new people and discovering your new favorite whatever. Yet, there are also the difficulties that come with changing scenery--the inability to become close to whoever you meet, feeling lost and at times, lonely. Throw in the challenge of being a mom who doesn't really enjoy mom groups* and it's another hurdle completely.
Maybe it's because I had some great girlfriends in Florida who also happened to have children around the same time as me that I placed an expectation here that it would be fairly easy to meet people like them. I felt (and sometimes still feel) pressure to meet other mothers but after reexamining why I felt this way, I decided to do away with the prerequisite must-have-kids. Who cares if I'm in the mom minority in a group of girls? I guess I always just felt that other moms would be more relatable and then I reminded myself that just because I'm a mother doesn't mean I lost my identity as the person I was before having a child. I still enjoy my independence and going out. I still believe in the power of a great circle of friends and how those friends turn into family. And I definitely don't want to limit myself because of a self-imposed restriction.
Then some rare gems appeared and before I knew it, we're sipping on fabulous cocktails, having oysters and exchanging stories and anecdotes about each other during a recently discovered "oyster happy hour" at one of the best restaurants in town which also happens to be less than ten minutes away from where I live. It doesn't matter if you're single, married or divorced. It doesn't matter if you're a mom, if you're not a mom, or if you never want to be a mom. The point is, none of that stuff is what defines friendships. It's about being surrounded by people who let me be my complete self around them. Those moments are what feel so familiar, even though sometimes, it could be just the beginning.
[*I don't hate mom groups; I just haven't found one that I really enjoyed being a part of since moving out of Florida. And that's ok! For those who have found their circles, good on you! They're just not for me.]
22.8.14 Labels: dinner, fresh, italian, kitchen, recipe, scout + wolf, summer Posted by Tanya Fujiki Clark 12:00
To say that I like Italian cooking would be a gross understatement. To say that I love Italian cooking...now, we're getting somewhere. Being married to a half-Italian man is both awesome (the food! the passion! the family!) and incredibly intimidating (the food! the passion! the family!). Having met him (along with at least thirty of his relatives) for the first time at his family's annual traditional "Italian Night" feast, I had a feeling that I'd fall in love with him and all he came with, secret recipes and all.
Although I love to cook and experiment with ingredients that are otherwise foreign to me and my kitchen origins, I had my work cut out for me. I had meatballs to live up to, lasagna to perfect, and sauce to master. The truth is, though, admittedly, it's very hard for me to adhere to a recipe word for word. I can be exacting, but when it comes to food, I believe in trial by fire (quite literally). Needless to say, my "versions" of family recipes are always just slightly ...different. ;-)
I decided to make eggplant parmesan the other day. It was a Monday and while it doesn't always work out this way, I have been trying to make "Meatless Mondays" a thing in our household. Why not? It can't hurt to cut out meat (at least) once a week. I started looking through my cookbooks and scouring Pinterest boards. It's the middle of August and we are in prime tomato season. Forget canned tomatoes! I wanted a sauce recipe using fresh ones! And then I found it: Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce.
A little bit about Hazan: from what I've gathered, she's basically the Julia Child of Italian cooking. She wrote a book called The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking that is just as ubiquitous as Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Interestingly, despite having no kitchen background, she made it a mission of hers to learn how to cook for her new husband shortly after they married. In her years, she taught cooking classes from their small New York apartment kitchen and eventually wrote books. The rest, as they say, is history.
So what makes this sauce so special? It has four ingredients. FOUR. Tomatoes, one onion, butter (you guys, butter), and salt. That's it. Huh? Where's the garlic? Where's the basil? Where's the whatever-else-you-want-to-put-in-your-sauce to make it sauce? I had to take everything I had ever learned or read about making sauce and shove it in a drawer, to be opened at a later date. I was determined to try Hazan's sauce but just as I mentioned earlier, I couldn't help but divert from the original recipe. Instead of using canned tomatoes, I opted for the beautiful fresh yellow and red ones I had sitting on the counter just waiting for their opportunity to shine.