Each February, around this time I get in a slight funk. The holiday season, full of bustle and hope is long gone, work projects I seemed excited to tackle in January appear now more paycheck than passion, and there’s a huge space of reality between now and the next time I’ll see anyone in my family. But, mostly, I think it’s because this is the week my father died.
Some years, his birthday, or my parents’ anniversary, or the anniversary of his death might roll right on by, and several days later I’ll slap my forehead and remember. Other years, I dread it until it comes, worry myself into a panic, and allow it to pass fairly uneventfully since I’ve gotten myself into such a tizzy beforehand.
Either way, it’s strange to miss someone and both try to forget because it hurts, yet want to remember because it’s the only thing you have left.
My favorite editor once described Atlanta as the not-as-cool little sister, and it fits so accurately. It’s no big sister city like L.A., NYC, Miami, or Chicago. Despite desperately wanting otherwise, it will forever be the Jan to Marsha Brady.
I get asked the question often enough to finally warrant an article, “Where in the world does one head if visiting the ATL?” I moved here in 2000, and the past 12 years are the most I’ve lived anywhere. There are several things you should know about my adopted city: First, a car is required. Atlanta (not unlike Dallas) is a highway city and public transportation isn’t the way to go for more than one reason (it’s run in four primitive directions, North and South line, East and West, and frankly, MARTA is a culture shock no one from out of town should be subjected to on a first visit).
Second, hitting the right neighborhood in Atlanta is key to a good time. While Buckhead was the posh spot reigning supreme in the 1990s boom, hipper intown areas today are Little 5 Points (L5P), Virginia Highland, Old Fourth Ward (O4W), Midtown, and Inman Park.
Here’s the whole pop on where to go and what to do in Atlanta.
I can’t be trusted with plants, and I’ve known this from an early age. For a long time when I was growing up my chore list every other week was to water the plants in my parents’ atrium. Well, if it wasn’t for my mother sneaking in a misting behind me, I’m certain everything would’ve been dead by the time I graduated high school. Miraculously, that room, to this day still looks like a jungle of ferns, cactus, succulents, and the most gorgeous blossoms basking in the sunlight.
My current home has a dining room table in the kitchen, so I look at it daily and love nothing more than fresh cut flowers on it. When I don’t get those, I at least try to keep something alive on the table at all times, even if it’s just a bowl of fresh fruit. Lately I want something a bit more permanent. Something I can tend to and enjoy every day. But I know my limits. I mean, my brother’s family recently sent me the loveliest white orchid. Shortly thereafter, it had a burial ceremony complete with a proper humming of Taps to accompany its journey to the trash bin. I need help.
In a lot of Eastern cultures, plants balance the energy of a home. But, if we’re being honest, I feel like ever since I threw out the lucky bamboo that basically completely violated an innocent vase, our fortune has actually changed for the better. At any rate, I’ve commissioned a good friend who is an expert in flower arranging (he’s trusted with some of the top restaurants and retail storefronts in the city) to do something with this space on my table. If he can’t help me pull together something I can’t manage to murder, I don’t know who can. I’ll report back with the after-arrangement.
Image: Courtesy of Brian Woodcock
Lately, I’ve been in quite a purging mood, trying to rid myself of things that don’t inspire me or leave me feeling weighed down. In doing so, I’ve realized how many things I adore in the process, everyday items I cannot live without. In the spirit of love, here are a handful of things I’m swooning over at the moment.
1. obsessed with the Crawley’s of Downton Abbey 2. a favorite sculpture from my twin sister that sits in my living room 3. Papier Brillant’s stunning sheets of glitter wallpaper all produced from a Roswell, Georgia studio 4. finally found a Bolognese recipe worth making in Donna Hay’s anniversary issue 5. my first article in a national publication 6. excellent read by the über-talented Amy Flurry 7. Bloody Mary’s made easy with Dimitri’s 8. perfectly aged Cougar Gold cheese gifted from my cousin 9.artisan chocolates from Olive & Sinclair 10. these wedges make me excited for warmer weather 11. my hair can’t live without Moroccan Oil. Heart filled with flowers image: Olive & Cocoa
Although I’m not a football person, I do know the Superbowl is this weekend. Which means you need something fattening and ridiculously delicious to eat, right? And preferably something loaded with a fair amount of cheese. Easy there, Paula Deen. Since it is a special occasion, I have just the thing for you courtesy of one of my oldest friends in the whole world, Linda.
I’ve known Linda since we were about 12, which is quite the feat since I come from a military family and we moved around a fair amount. From our start in seventh grade at East Junior High, I eagerly wanted to be friends with the cool girl with clear braces wearing the Benetton jacket. And I’m so glad we were (and still are). Through the years, she’s done everything from helping me master the dance to Marky Marky and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations” for cheerleading tryouts at the end of our junior year of high school, to driving an hour out of the way to meet me for a much needed break during my mom’s recovery from her stem cell transplant last year … the gurl shows up.
This past holiday Linda and her husband hosted my husband and me alongside another dear friend (the one responsible for the recipe found here) and her husband for what ended up as a fun night down memory lane with all of us laughing so hard we were crying. Oh, and Linda also served this amazing spinach artichoke dip that she whipped up from scratch. Thankfully I wasn’t left alone in a room with this fabulous casserole of goodness. That would’ve been dangerous. It’s perfect for this weekend’s worth of yelling at the television.
Linnie’s Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 pack cream cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
about 4 cloves of fresh garlic (food processor)
a lot of fresh basil (food processor)
1 bag of fresh spinach torn in pieces
2 small cans of artichoke hearts (or 1 regular size) (food processor)
Mix everything together in the Kitchen Aid then bake in oven at 350° for about 30 minutes. Serve with pita or tortilla chips, crusty bread or crackers.