Thanks, moms

Well, I’m in love with mom jeans.

They make my bum look a foot long. They accentuate my belly pooch. And they make my legs look shapeless. But guess what? I love them anyway.

In fact, I can honestly sit here and tell you: our moms were onto something.

Read more

Toast to our families

It’s been more than a year since I’ve been able to see my family. And, yep, I miss them terribly. In fact, I could throw a really elaborate pity party — tear-shaped cakes, Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome,” blue balloons — but I know my situation isn’t much different than anyone else’s. In fact, I’ve secretly felt like if I do complain, people’s response will just be, “Well, that’s the risk you took moving so far away from home in the first place.”

Read more

Considering the paint job

Last night, I made my pitch. It was after dinner and a bit of wine had smoothed off the edges of the day. William sat in his usual chair in the living room, and the dogs were playing relatively peaceably on the floor.

“So, I’m thinking of painting my office this weekend,” I said.

I watched William purposefully arrange his face to make it look neutral.

“Oh yeah?” he said.

“Yeah. You’re working anyway, so I think it might be a good use of my time.”

There was a long pause.

“Have you done a lot of painting in your life?” he asked.

Read more

Diamonds from the heart

The other day, I received this Facebook message from a woman in Laurel County:

“Hi, Tara. My daughter Kirsten works at Lake Cumberland with your husband Dr. Baker. She had given him some beef liver before, and he said he really liked it. My husband and I are going to be in Somerset tomorrow. If you wouldn’t care to meet me, we have five packages of beef liver that we would like to give to you both. No one here eats it. Let me know if that works for you.”

Read more

A pandemic cooking review

After I finish some writing this morning, I am taking the afternoon off to do something I haven’t done in a while: cook a fancy dinner. There is no special occasion. There are no guests. But it’s a sunny day, spring feels soon and, well, I want to. It’s reminded me what a great feeling it is when the horizon of your day doesn’t involve anything more complicated than chopping, kneading, and stirring white chocolate. Read more

I’m a survivor, I’m gonna make it

Yesterday morning, pre-ice storm, I decided to cut up some vegetables so we would have part of dinner prepped in case the power went out. Eventually, my husband, who is off this week, came around the kitchen wondering why I was chopping carrots at 11 a.m.

“It’s for our warm vegetable salad tonight,” I said. “In case we lose power.”

“Are we going to lose power?”

“Well, I don’t know. Best to be prepared though.”

I recognized my tone was a little strident, possibly holier-than-thou, but I primly kept chopping. He stepped away silently and, post chop, I proceeded with my day, feeling extra smug about the fact that I thought to work out on the elliptical and then have a shower while we still had hot water.

Man, I thought to myself. My survival skills are on point.

Read more

I just called you up

You know, I have a lot of feelings about talking on the telephone. But never have they shifted more abruptly than over the past year. While its ring used to make me cower, now it makes me brighten up and run toward it.

Crazy what a 100-year pandemic will do to a girl.

First, allow me to explain. For the past 15 years, I’ve been the person whose friends know not to call unless it’s an emergency. To me, a phone call always feels like an interruption. An obligation. Work that requires me to shed my natural, introverted self and pretend to be, horror of horrors, chatty.

Read more

The Ultimate Cookie Lives Near You

Well, I’ve found it. It’s taken a lot of research. It’s taken a lot of time. But I’ve finally found it.

The very best chocolate chip cookie on the planet is baked and sold at Market on Main right here in Somerset, Ky.

It is chewy, but not under baked.

It is big, but not ridiculous.

It is so loaded with chocolate that it appears as both chips and layers.

It is perfect.

Read more

Days in the ugly jacket

The latest addition to my daily pandemic outfit is a black fleece jacket I’ve owned since 2002. You wouldn’t think something black could be this impressively ugly and, yet, here I am confirming it is. It’s incredibly pilled. It’s incredibly big. And it has these sleeves cut so wide that, in a pinch, you could probably pack a thigh in there and still have room for supper. The overall result helps the dictionary define the word “frumpy.”

And yet, several times a day now, I reach for this fleece jacket, zip it up and silently praise it for still zipping, still fleecing, still facing North.

The reason for this stylish little number is on account of another stylish little number: our new babydog Hugo, who joined our household last week. Hugo certainly wasn’t part of our plan so soon after we lost our beloved Fitz, but a very sad Tilly made this new addition the right thing to do — and, we’re learning, for us.

Read more