Monday, February 2, 2015

Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies (For the Big Game)

Not counting tomorrow’s game, there have been 48 Super Bowls. That means 48 Super Bowl parties…and A LOT of chili! With each year, the menus at the parties I’ve attended have gotten more and more elaborate and over the top. This year, I say, “Enough with the fancy schmancy party food!” Back to the “basics” for me tomorrow—good, easy to manage food—with a little bit of a twist. 


“Enough with the fancy schmancy party food!” 


These brownies from Alice Medrich are just what I’m talking about. There’s no dark, 72% chocolate called for in this recipe—no melting, no fuss. They are the quintessential brownie—rich, fudgy—perfect for any game day. Toss in a handful of coarsely chopped nuts of chocolate chips if you must. A touch of cayenne and paprika adds a bit of heat that you won’t notice until you’ve finished your first bite, because on a cold day in February, everyone could use a little bit of heat.

ALICE MEDRICH’S COCOA BROWNIES
Makes 16 to 25 brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet via Sassy Radish

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (105 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (start with less to see if you like the amount of heat)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3c. walnuts or pecan, coarsely broken into pieces
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper so that there is an overhang on two sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, paprika, cayenne, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. 

Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla, Once the batter looks shiny and well-blended, stir in the flour until no streaks remain. Vigorously beat the batter for 40 strokes. Stir in the nuts if using. Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Sprinkle the sea salt lightly over the top.

Bake until a toothpick in the middle comes out slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes Remove and let cool completely before lifting out of the pan and transferring to a cutting surface. Cut to your desired size.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Can Winter Clothing Be Functional AND Fashionable Too?

Winter is a rather impersonal season. (At least in the colder climates, it is.) When the temperatures plummet, so too do our spirits. And our high hopes that by some miracle this year will be warmer than the last are broken like icicles falling from the eaves. We find ourselves running from place to place swathed from head to toe in whatever bulky item we can dig out of our closets. The primary goal on days such as those is to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible, with no distractions. There is little desire to stop and smell the metaphoric roses or chat with a friend we meet on the street by happenstance. The fact is, everyone is so bundled up that we would be hard-pressed to even recognize a friend on the street.


Unless the cruel winds of winter are blowing uncontrollably and/or are accompanied by a barrage of sleety pellets, I don’t mind the cold temps. (As all my friends from California where I lived for twenty-five years roll their eyes.) My philosophy mirrors the old Scandinavian axiom that advises there is no such thing as “bad weather,” just “the wrong clothing.”  Alas, the right clothing will keep you feeling warm, but you won’t necessarily feel, dare we say, “fashion forward.” So one I wonder, can one’s clothing be functional and fashionable too?


Thankfully the answer is “yes.” Winter wear, across the board, used to be clunky, shapeless, and heavy—especially the footwear. But many clothing designers are now combining form with fashion, and with a little ingenuity and a good sense of humor, women no longer have to look as though they shop at the sporting goods store for their frosty finery.


When the weather is unbearably cold, one of my best friends is Mr. Sorel. These waterproof Cate the Great boots have seen me through a number of winters. They are funkier than most and they keep my tootsies toasty way down into the minus numbers.
Sorel Caate the Great $175
Sorel Cate the Great $175
And these wedge booties will keep you warm in a stylish way.
Reneeze Janice Wedge Bootie
Reneeze Janice Wedge Bootie
If one is splurging, these shearling-lined boots from No 6 Store are both warm and even a bit dressy.
No 6 Store $390
No 6 Store $390
Doreen Dove recently schooled us on how to shop for coats, and there are plenty of lovely ones out there, and they’re on sale!
This one from Ralph Lauren is warm and packable, which means it’s not bulky. So you won’t look like you borrowed it from Nanook of the North.
Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren
Layer a thick sweater under this Military Parka with quilted sleeves and you’re golden.
Zara
Zara
A great way to beat the winter doldrums, and still stay warm is with a fun-patterned coat. There’s no rule that says only summer clothing can be whimsical.
TopShop
TopShop
For more whimsy, a trapper hat or a woolly fleece-lined Himalayan knit can be added. You’ll have to stop worrying about your hair once  you head inside, but you’ll be warm and adorable outside.
J . Crew Trapper Hat
J . Crew Trapper Hat
Himalayan Knit Hat – Etsy
Wrap a cozy fleece infinity scarf around your neck or a show-stopping shawl over your coat, and Old Man Winter will be helpless when he attacks.
Fleece Infinity Scarf - Etsy
Fleece Infinity Scarf – Etsy


Pendelton Wool Shawl
Pendelton Wool Shawl

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Review: The Art of Social Media

Communication guru Marshall McLuhan asserted that "the medium is the message" so many years ago. I'm sure he had no idea how many platforms that message would be funneled through by the 21st century. I thought of him a lot when I read The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, the new book by information power players, Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick. And as I attempted to absorb all that was put before me in this fast-paced, coming at you from all angles at breakneck speed book, I realized that no one could have predicted what today’s message disseminators were going to have to deal with. 

The first line of the book sets the tone as Kawasaki tells us the authors want us to “rock social media.” This is not “Social Media For Dummies”--if you are looking for the ABC’s, you will have to look elsewhere. In order to really appreciate what the book is about you must understand the basic concepts--meaning, no neophytes here, please. Only those who have already dipped their toes in the proverbial social media sea will benefit.

Kawasaki expects the reader to hit the ground running, and if you can keep up, you will find a huge storehouse of information about how to approach every social media platform and use it to its best advantage--for yourself, your business or a client’s business or organization.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, are all discussed in depth with content curation being a dominant focus. Where to find content that fits your niche, how and when to post, and how to respond to what will hopefully be many comments. Kawasaki stresses the importance of knowing your audience, building your network and increasing your fan base: “There are only two kinds of people on social media: those who want more followers, and those who are lying,” and his sharp wit often helps bring his point home. Of course, all of this is done with the ultimate intention of making money.

By often referring to his co-author, Peg, and providing both textual and visual examples of how she handles social media issues (she too is a thought leader in the field), the reader is actually getting a “two for one” deal. Kawasaki also uses a liberal hand when peppering his explanations with quotes and links from other industry smarties. (NOTE: I read the electronic version and found being able to immediately click on his links to be amazingly helpful.)

In addition to the “How To’s” (how to run a Google Hangout, how to take charge of an event, how to create a SlideShare presentation, how to organize a Twitter chat), the author has no problem telling us what not to do: “don’t be a pimp,” “don’t swear,” “don’t beg for shares and follows.” There are times when he does chide any naysayers--something I found to be a bit disconcerting--but he also goes out of his way to state that his “tips, tricks, and insights” should not be taken as gospel.

Whether you drink all the Kool-Aid or not, the book is so super-packed with information that you can’t help but take something away from it. It took me so long to get through it because I kept stopping to take notes! And, some of the most helpful portions appear after the conclusion...the list of apps and services is invaluable for someone like me who is often looking them up online. 



This book will serve as a helpful manual for anyone who handles social media for themselves or others and wants to learn how it can help grow your business. I know that I will reread it many times--each chapter is largely written as a separate entity, and can be easily referred to independently of the others. Algorithms will change and apps will come and go, but the philosophy and strategies that the authors so comprehensively share will continue to be pertinent for a long time to come.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Uninvited for Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s something I plan for weeks in advance–pulling out my huge stack of November food magazines that I’ve been collecting for years. The other months’ issues are relatively dispensable as far as I’m concerned. It’s the November issue that’s the crown jewel of the year. I love seeing what new sides the editors have come up with and how they tweaked the old ones. ("Add morels to the mashed potatoes" one year, "take them out and add bacon" the next.) 

The photos of the table settings are always dazzling, and the people in the photos are always dressed to the nines, while having a grand time. Babies are never crying, their tear-stained faces smeared with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. There are never pictures of drunken Uncle Al or miserably hostile Cousin Minnie. In those photos, everyone is beautiful and laughing, and life is perfect.

In the real world, Thanksgiving is a study of contradictions. It’s supposed to be a day when we turn inward and reflect on all that we are thankful for in life, and then hopefully (at least in my house) we turn outward and express our thanks in words and deeds. Ironically, the things that I find so special about the holiday–being together with family and friends–make other people’s skin crawl. In many homes, the Thanksgiving gods are frauds. Not everyone loves their family. Sometimes harsh words and actions of the past cannot be overlooked, even for one day. The wounds and scars they've left behind are immutable, and being with certain family members merely serves as a reminder of the damage. I can appreciate that, and I feel truly blessed that I can look upon the holiday with anticipation rather than trepidation.

Most of my Thanksgiving memories are happy ones. In fact, there’s only one that I can think of that rocked me to my Chanterelle mushroom-gravy-loving core….

Many years ago our family was “uninvited” to the house of a “friend” two days before the holiday. What we thought was going to be a day spent with that friend and her family was obliterated when she called to say that her mom wanted it to be “just family,” and she hoped we understood. As shocked as I was, there was not much for me to do at that point, other than say “yes,” and as I did, visions of myself running through the aisles of supermarkets searching for dinner ingredients clicked through my head like a film projector on speed.

 I don’t remember why I initially gave up the taking of the helm of the Thanksgiving boat that year. We were relatively new to the area, and spending the day making inroads with some new friends sounded appealing, perhaps.  Ultimately, I did manage to patch together a tasty meal–tears falling into my mixing bowl as I prepared the stuffing and peeled the sweet potatoes. (I know, that’s a little melodramatic, but it is true.) And as salt-bitten and puffy-faced as I was, feeling alone and missing my family 3,000 miles away, my boys, who were very young at the time, didn’t seem to notice me or that no one else was joining us for dinner.

When the sumptuous meal was served and eaten, it was obvious to all that another family (a few families) could have joined us at the table and there would still have been leftovers. 

And then I had a brainstorm: why not share the leftovers with those who had no dinner? 

This was going to be one of those great learning experiences! We told our boys (who were by then, slumped over their dinner plates because we had eaten so darn late) that we were going on an adventure, and as my husband and I furiously packed up the rest of the turkey, cornbread stuffing with sausage, sweet potato and apple gratin, and pie, they looked at each other and rolled their eyes. “Just another one of Mom’s kooky ideas.”

We loaded them and the food into the car and proceeded to head to downtown Long Beach, because if you were looking for people who were not partaking of Thanksgiving dinner in the conventional way, of course they would be just lying on the streets of this urban wasteland…waiting for you! Not!  This was not a well-planned mission–this was a fly-by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants project. We didn’t (I didn’t) stop to think that most people who had nowhere to go were probably being fed at churches and community centers. So, it was no surprise that at 8 p.m., on a chilly Thanksgiving evening, the streets of downtown Long Beach were deserted

We drove around for a while and found one soul pushing a supermarket cart that was loaded with bags filled with who-knows-what.

“Stop the car!” I yelled. “This guy is getting our food, whether he wants it or not.” 

I grabbed one of our shopping bags and added it to his collection. “Happy Thanksgiving,” I said. He nodded, and as we pulled away, I turned around and could see him gingerly looking through the bag.

We didn't stick around to see whether the recipient of our gourmet meal was thrilled or befuddled, but I'm sure there was a smile on my face (first one of the day) as we drove away. “You see, guys, we turned our Thanksgiving around…now let’s go home and have some pie.”

This Thanksgiving parable may sound a little hokey, more like something straight out of an O.Henry anthology or better yet, a Jean Shepherd film, but it really did happen. Did it have a huge impact on the lives of my kids? I’m not sure they even remember it – I’ll have to ask them when I see them on Thanksgiving. But it meant a lot to me. It reminded me of the importance of sharing, your time, your food, your compassion, with others during the holidays. How an act of kindness may sometimes be more valuable to the giver than the receiver. 

I have hosted many Thanksgiving dinners since that one, and invariably there are one or two at the table who would ordinarily have nowhere else to go. These are the celebrations that have left their mark on my sons. They appreciate a full house as much as they appreciate a full plate.

One of my standard desserts around this time of year is Pumpkin Bread Pudding. The only pumpkin bread recipe I use when making this comes from the nuns at The Monastery of the Angels in the Hollywood Hills. They began selling their famous pumpkin bread years ago during the holidays, and rumor has it that they sell upwards of 18,000 loaves a year. I’ve read that the “nuns are skeptical that their bread can be duplicated,” but this recipe is touted as being theirs. If you add some cranberries, dried or fresh, or chocolate chips, it is really good enough to eat all on its own.

Monastery of Angels Pumpkin Bread

3½ cups sifted flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1½ tsp. salt
4 eggs beaten
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups canned pumpkin
Walnut halves
1 cup each, chocolate chips and dried cranberries (opt.)


Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Combine eggs, oil, water and pumpkin and mix well. Stir into dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chocolate chips and/or cranberries, if using. Turn into 3 greased loaf pans and top with a few walnut halves. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool before slicing.  Makes 3 1-3/4 lb. loaves.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Brush With Fame and "The Boomer List"


The last of the Baby Boomers turns fifty this year, and in celebration of that auspicious era when we first graced the world with our presence, PBS will be airing “The Boomer List” tonight to highlight just how unique we really are. 

I am not profiled in the film, nor have I seen it, but I was lucky enough to be photographed by an amazing photographer who made me look as though I was one of the celebs in the film...

It all took place a few months ago while my friend and fellow blogger, Lisa Carpenter and I attended the AARP Life @50+ Conference in Boston. After a long day of meeting some terrific people and hearing about all the great benefits AARP members can get with their AARP card (shameless plug there), we headed out, only to be sidetracked by a colorful booth close to the Expo’s exit. 


The last of the Baby Boomers turns fifty this year, and in celebration of that auspicious era 
when we first graced the world 
with our presence, PBS will be airing 
“The Boomer List” 
tonight to highlight 
just how unique we really are. 


Mary Ann Gatty, and her son Mike were taking photos in the booth that was promoting the upcoming film. I make no grand pronouncements that the only reason we stopped at the booth was because I was interested in the film...the beautiful photos of Billy Joel, author Amy Tan, journalist Maria Shriver, and others (taken by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) did pique our interest, but equally so, we were lured in by a huge jar filled with Boomer candy, and the Turkish Taffy was calling our names.

Never a big fan of having my picture taken...or invariably of the finished product, I acquiesced to standing in line. At best, I would have a souvenir of the conference, and in the least, I could add another photo to the batch of duds at the bottom of my desk drawer. 


Who was this insightful woman? I wanted to know her, so I came back the next day to hear more about her life and career.


Mary Ann thrust a bouquet of flowers in my hand, positioned my chin just right and told me to “think of myself.” When the photo came rolling out of the developer I was astounded--in the few minutes it took for her to look at me, have me pose, and snap my picture, Mary Ann had captured ME! 

Who was this insightful woman? (I’m sure Mary Ann won’t be insulted if I describe her as “well-seasoned.”) I wanted to know her, so I came back the next day to hear more about her life and career.

Originally from Pittsburgh, and now living in Virginia, Mary Ann was a true BA50 when she divorced at 58 and then found herself at a crossroads at a time when the list of career and lifestyle choices for women was rather short. After taking a year off to recoup and reassess, Mary Ann realized she liked being alone and “eating pie in bed,” and then hit the ground running. Having already had a little photog experience under her belt (her ex-husband, also a photographer, spearheaded her career by asking her to go the Hill and take a picture of then Senator Ted Kennedy--how’s that for a Baptism by fire?!?), Mary Ann began doing more work in D.C. while she raised her son. Once Mike graduated from college, the two of them combined their expertise, and a business that has been thriving ever since was born. 




While other women Mary Ann’s age are thinking about retiring (or have already done so), she’s too busy to even give it a thought. The week before I met her she had just finished photographing Magic Johnson, and she was getting ready to board a plane for yet another photo shoot once the conference was over.

To say that Mary Ann is a true inspiration for today’s BA50s, would be an understatement. And to use words such as “spry” and “feisty” to describe her would be insulting. She is a professional in the highest definition of the word--a businesswoman from a world and a time when women were not readily making their mark in the profession of their choice. “The Boomer List” chronicles a group of extraordinary men and women who were icons of a certain generation, but it is people like Mary Ann who were our role models. I am hoping some of the celebrities will give a nod to those women--their unsung heroines.

(Note: In addition to the film, the Newseum in Washington, D.C. will open an exhibit of Greenfield-Sanders photos on September 26. And a companion coffee-table book will be available on October 1.)


Ultimately, I wound up having much more than a great souvenir of the day. And the photo that I assumed would be stuffed into the bottom of my drawer...it’s now my Facebook profile.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Are You Still A Mom When Your Kids Are Far Away?

I’m not quite sure who first used the metaphor “nest” to refer to one’s home, but that wise soul was really spot on. We’d often come across nests poking out from under the eaves of our house. If we were lucky, we’d see the papa bird getting it ready for his lady,  leaving and returning from a bird’s version of Home Depot with just the right materials in his beak. Only when he was done would the mama bird show up, and eventually, tiny eyes could be seen peeking out from above the shreds. At the end of the season, without even a goodbye, the family would be gone. Their nest would be left behind for some other family or depending upon the dad’s building prowess, it would fall and eventually be blown away. 


The pastoral image of little ones being sheltered by any semblance of a home is comforting. But when those children are no longer little ones and the time comes for them to leave, that homespun visual of a warm embrace and cuddle up in bed cuteness gets altered. And what was once a “nest” has now become an “empty nest,” and the visual for that is quite different–stark and spare, and a lot less comforting.

Adding insult to injury, some other wordsmith came up with the “Empty Nest Syndrome,” a phenomenon that occurs when the nest one has so lovingly built gets emptied by the ones for whom it was created. “How can these guys and gals do that to us?” we ask. We gave them love and shelter, and they leave us with twigs and bits and pieces of string.

"My son’s bedroom will now become a guest room and his “desk” in the kitchen will now become a baking station..."

My younger son was still with us on a short summer break when my husband and I moved into our new place just three weeks ago. Although a lot of his things are still here, he’s now gone; this is really our place. For the first time in twenty-eight years (practically our entire marriage), we are living closer to more family and old friends than ever. They’ve been coming by to visit and chat, and fill up the spaces that my son left behind. So, it’s not exactly “empty.” And considering we occupy the top three floors of a brownstone, most metaphoric types would consider it, not a nest, but more of an aerie. Especially when you look out through the top skylights and see nothing but blue and the random bird flying by.

My son’s bedroom will now become a guest room and his “desk” in the kitchen will now become a baking station–things they were intended to be when we first looked at the space. This has never been a place where two little boys wrestled and played so loudly with many other little boys that you thought they would fall through the ceiling. No birthday parties with cakes made to look like pizzas and baseballs and dinosaurs have ever been thrown here. The two beautiful wooden and glass front doors welcome you when you walk up the stoop (yes, we have a stoop!), but they’re not the doors that my boys stood in front of for their annual first day of school photo.

So, I am left to wonder as I walk by my son’s/my guest’s bedroom, did this place ever function as a “nest?”  And if not, do I have the right to feel even the least bit of Empty Nest Syndrome here? The question is similar to the one I often asked during the early days of being far away from two boys to whom I had been virtually tied at the hip for so long. Are you still a mom when it seems like it’s been ages since you’ve seen those you’ve mothered? (Did you really mother anyone at all?) Are you still a mom when the “mom-ish” tasks you have been doing for so many years are no longer necessary…or are just different? 

 "Are you still a mom when it seems like it’s been ages since you’ve seen those you’ve mothered?" 

Years ago people stayed put, and the family home often got handed down. Generation after generation could feel the same feelings and live amongst the ghosts of the past. The impression of Great Grandma’s footprints had worn a distinct path from the kitchen sink to the stove. And the wooden bench in the shed still bore the indentation of Grandpa’s tool box. If you closed your eyes and concentrated, you might be able to hear your young aunts laughing in the bedrooms up the stairs.

The Baby Boomer credo is not to plod the same path often enough to wear out the floor, but to forge new paths. Midlife men and women are reconnecting, reinventing, and like my husband and myself, relocating. We are not our grandparents or even our parents.

This has not been the first move we’ve made from the original “homestead,” and the “heirlooms” have long since found other homes. The emphasis is on turning, not to things, but to experiences that will have legacy value. As we all grow older and age, a mom task can be done via Skype or during a text. And a nest can be made not only in a tree high in the sky, but high in the sky in a row on a plane as you sit next to your son and talk about his future and the dreams and hopes you have for him.

This originally appeared in Betterafter50.com



Friday, July 25, 2014

How Moving Forced Me to Declutter





shoes in a closet


With an (yet another) upcoming move on the horizon, the very wet July 4th was taken as a sign that it was time to begin purging packing. The last time we moved, three years ago, I had the Herculean task of consolidating a whole load of crap beautiful things from many years of living in a large home into less crap a proper amount that would fit into an apartment…across the country. This time, the move will not be nearly as far-flung, and the space will be relatively the same, just reconfigured. So, this time it will be a “breeze.” I thought.

Tackling the big, black hole of my closet, was a scary project, but I was up to the task. I had been very conscious of space limitations these past three years, and thus was “relatively” prudent when it came to purchasing new things. (Or so I thought.) I did try to adhere to the recommendation, one thing in, one thing out, but if there is really anyone on this earth who actually abides by that hogwash, I would love to meet her. 

For some expert advice, I turned to an article in Elle Magazine, that suggested I look at the entire process as a “cleanse.” Not exactly an appetizing endeavor, but one I could wrap my head around, since the only thing actually getting the colonic was my closet. As I went through the physical things that basically told the story of my life, the questions I asked myself were not, as the article stated, “Was I high?” but “Haven’t I done this before?” and “Why weren’t these thrown out three years ago? 

I obviously could not detach myself enough the last time I packed, but I was determined to be ruthless this time.The too small (yes, there were more of those), too outdated, too stained or torn items were immediately relegated to the “toss” pile…but then there was the old high school sweatshirt (was it even mine to begin with?), the tee shirt from the final parents’ weekend at my son’s college (that I only wore once–during that weekend), the shirt my former coworkers gave me when I left New York, that said “I Love NY” and left sparkles behind me whenever I wore it. Now that I was moving back to New York–shouldn’t I be wearing it again? (NO!) 

Any workout wear that was too short, too old or too worn was aerobically lobbed into the throwaway pile…but some of those pieces reminded me of the instructors I had loved (and lost) during the years. And what of the sweaters that came with me to Los Angeles (where I never wore them) from New York over 25 years ago, and then back to the East Coast (and I still never wore them)? Those heavy, itchy, classics were…classic! After they saved me during the most horrific winter, how could I give up on them now? Ruthless me turned the sweater skyscraper on the floor into a one-story double-wide. 

"I am by no means a shoe diva, 
but the amount of shoes I've 
amassed would give 
Imelda Marcos pause."

And then it was on to the nightgown/lingerie drawer. The crossword puzzle pj’s that my hubby bought me, thinking they were SO adorable (and they were…uh, are!), but have yet to come out of the bag. My barbie doll nightgown (that would be, not one that makes me look like a barbie doll, but one that is flannel, and has barbie dolls scattered all-over-it) has been with me since before I was married (really…I haven’t worn it since I said “I do!”) 

I am by no means a shoe diva, but the amount of shoes that I’ve amassed would really give Imelda Marcos pause. Since I am now trying to adhere to the “Slow-Fashion Movement,” any pair of shoes that were bought cheaply and worn once (or never) got tossed. Better to leave the curating of a footwear museum to the wise people at the Smithsonian. 

As the day wore on, melancholy began to settle in. I realized one does not have to actually wear the clothes to appreciate them. There is a lot of sentiment and memories metaphorically woven into those fibers. I have read de-cluttering articles that suggest taking photos of the well-loved and well-worn items, and I can appreciate that, but it’s just not the same as looking closely at something and immediately knowing when you wore it, whom you were with, and how it made you feel. Touching the fabric brings you back to when you last touched it. There might still be a hint of perfume or body lotion (OK, sometimes not so good) hanging on for dear life. You can’t get that from looking at a photo. 

And then a voice inside me yelled, “Snap out of it!” One glass of wine–this was only a symbolic “cleanse”–and I could feel the fibers of mental strength coming together once more. By the time I got done, the boxes were packed, the closet and drawers were empty and I had the satisfaction of knowing that there would be some lucky people tap-dancing in their new shoes, and happily itching in their newfound sweaters come next winter.  (And emptier drawers and closets on the back end will enable me to do some more shopping!) 

"And then a voice inside
 me yelled, 'Snap out of it!'"


As I said, the rainy weather served as good incentive to get some work done, and my husband felt the same way. He had his own piles of giveaways, and he is by no means as attached to his belongings as I am. He’s out running as I write this, so it’s a great opportunity for me to check on what he’s got in those bags…and I think I see an old Hawaiian shirt from many moons ago that he definitely should NOT be parting with…not yet anyway.

This article previously appeared on HuffingtonPost.com