Taking Tea in the Kasbah

*opens creaky door to kasbah*

Hello? Anyone here?

*walks into cobwebs strung about like streamers*

*flails about trying desperately to remove the cobwebs now clinging to my hair and clothes*

*steps outside and grabs nearest large stick*

*returns to kasbah and with spastic, ungraceful motions clears away cobwebs with said stick*

That’s better.

Now, where were we?

Oh, right. My prolonged absence. My only excuse is to say that I’ve been really busy. Ok, it’s mostly been a lot of tormenting myself in my funny little brain, but that takes up a lot of air time in here and leaves little space for creative endeavors. Like crafting posts and chatting with y’all.

Lame excuse, I know. Sad, but true.

But now I’m back.

I thought it best if I began this journey into 2014 as many of you have done – reflecting upon the previous year. I realize we’re already 13 days in, but a girl’s gotta start somewhere.

2013 was a year of great change for me. Some of it good, some of it not so good. In the end, and in spite of the challenges, I came out of it having learned a thing or two.

In 2013, I bought a house. All on my own. From start to sign-on-the-dotted-line finish. With a lot of help from my friends, I renovated said house and rescued it from the 1950’s where it had been stuck for the past several decades.

Ugly wood paneling in the living room and entry way

Ugly wood paneling in the living room and entry way

Trapped in the 1950's. And not in the cute, vintage-y sort of way.

Trapped in the 1950’s. And not in the cute, vintage-y sort of way.

Note the tragic floor. What you can't see in this photo is the lovely burn marks on the outdated linoleum.

Note the tragic floor. What you can’t see in this photo is the lovely burn marks on the outdated linoleum.

living room and entry way, sans wood paneling

Living room and entry way, sans wood paneling (And yes, those are paint chips on the front door because I was trying to determine what color to paint it. Actually, I still am…)

New floor, new countertops, new appliances, and with it, a new set of knots to work out of my shoulders and back...

New floor, new butcher block countertops, new sink and appliances, new tile backsplash, fresh paint, and a new set of knots that had to be worked out of my shoulders and back after having done most of the work myself.

I moved into this house and began an arduous grieving process for the house I left. I’m still grieving that house, but I’ve been slowly making friends with the new one. Some days we’re pals, other days we’re enemies. Above all, it’s been a lesson in thankfulness for what I’m truly fortunate to have, even if it’s not exactly where I’d like to be.

In 2013, (technically in late 2012) I said goodbye to a marriage. While it was the right thing to do in spite of the crushing shame and failure I felt afterwards, I learned that I have the strength to make it through to the other side. On the flip side, I welcomed some new people into my life and have been blown awayΒ by the joy and the love they bring. Discovering those things (and being able to share it here) has been a lesson in recognizing the courage I didn’t know I had.

In 2013, I finished the first draft of my very first novel. With all of the changes mentioned above, the revision process has been happening in small bits. A chapter reworked here, a few paragraphs moved there, but not much progress of which to speak. Knowing I can take an idea, shape it into words and sentences and paragraphs and chapters was a lesson in finally tapping into a well of perseverance and creativity inside me that had been dormant for far too long.

Through all of 2013’s ups and downs, I always knew I could find some nurturing in one of the few comfort foods left to me: the quesadilla.

The humble quesdailla. photo credit: I Believe I Can Fry via photopin cc

The mighty quesadilla. photo credit: I Believe I Can Fry via photopin cc

Recently becoming gluten-free and a long-time vegetarian, there aren’t many quick and easy foods left on the menu. Enter the cheesy goodness of the quesadilla: shredded cheese (I prefer a nice sharp cheddar, but pretty much any cheese will do) gently sandwiched between some fresh corn tortillas. With a little salsa and some sliced avocado on the side, I found that I could easily give myself the comfort I craved throughout the year. Sometimes, I’d even get a little fancy and roast some veggies to nestle in among the cheese. Yummm…

But no matter how I shredded and sliced it, this was the one constant I could count on. I’ve probably eaten twice my weight in quesadillas over the course of 2013. It was my go-to lunch or dinner whenever I was in a hurry. Or wanted an excuse to buy a bunch of avocados and fresh salsa. Or just wanted a little comfort. Wrapped in cheese.

And, I’m perfectly content to continue the trend in 2014.

In fact, I plan to continue all of the trends – to recognize the depth of my courage and resilience, the breadth of my creativity, the strength of my perseverance – throughout 2014. That is, when I’m not busy eating quesadillas.


Next time I’ll share my thoughts and plans and devious schemes for 2014. Until then, tell me, fine readers, what gifts or talents did you discover you had in 2013? Better yet, tell me what your comfort foods are, especially if they’re of the gluten-free, vegetarian variety. The kettle’s boiled and the tea is ready. Sit, sip, and share. I always love to hear from you.


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19 thoughts on “2013: The Year of the Quesadilla

  1. What do you suppose they were thinking with all that paneling? Wow, but your interpretation is so much nicer! And I can’t imaging how difficult this last year has been for you, but I’m very glad you’re coming out on the other side.

    • Not only was there paneling in the living room, entry way, and the garage conversion, but I also had the joy of discovering there wasn’t any drywall behind the paneling once I removed it. Who does that?!?

      Thanks for the kind words. Slowly, but surely I’m emerging from the fog. One. Word. At. A. Time.

  2. Good for you, Tami. I can imagine that was a big step, ‘coming out’ here in the kasbah. Onwards and upwards. Courage and creativity. And quesadilla (why can’t I spell that?).
    And ice cream.

    Actually, that quesadilla looks yummy. I think you should post a recipe. I need to stop eating in cafes all the time and I might even manage one of those. πŸ˜‰

    Your kitchen is about the same age as mine… I’ve been planning to renovate it for 10 years now. I suspect if I had done it right at the start it might have been easier. But I never thought of replacing the counter tops and appliances, while leaving the cupboards. Hmmm. I did polish the floorboards, and that lifted it, and that’s about as far as I got!

    Are your renovations almost finished? I can imagine it’s very time consuming and mind encompassing — which is why I keep avoiding it.

    • Yes, it was a big deal to share my story here. Thanks for acknowledging that.

      I’m afraid if I did a post on quesadillas, it would be very brief. Tortillas, shredded cheese. Slap together. Melt in skillet. I could, on the other hand, share what I put in my roasted veggie quesadillas. If anyone is interested…

      As for the kitchen, it was way more cost effective to keep the base and upper cabinets (which are original to the house and made completely of wood vs. the pressed board cabinetry sold in home improvement stores). It was A LOT of work sanding the old paint down, priming, and painting them inside and out, but I’m glad that’s what I decided to do. Since I did most of the work myself (aside from the countertop installation and the flooring), I had to find ways to make the tedious tasks more enjoyable. Audio books were just the thing. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods saw me through many days of renovations. There are a few tasks left to do, but I had to take a break for a while. After six solid weeks (without a break) of working on the house, I couldn’t even fathom picking up a paint brush. πŸ˜‰

  3. Welcome back, Miss Tami. My goodness, what a year you have traveled through. My heart goes out to you in having to leave a home you were anchored in, and for having such a wild life change as divorce. Been there. Done that. Feel your angst and also your sense of wonderment at all things new…including YOU! You will write from a different standpoint than the YOU of, say…two years ago, and that’s a good thing. I’m proud of you for tackling your novel and your new home with such courage. Your house is adorable, by the way, and will become more so as the two of you become more acquainted.

    My life changes have been immense the past 18 months, but I’m plowing through with hope and excitement, as you are, and I always expect something great just around the next bend in the road. 2014 is going to be awesome because I say so. I say so for you, too. Is that okay?

    • Thanks, Jodi. It was quite the year. And you’re so right – I’m writing from a different perspective from even six months ago. It’s all part of the journey, right?

      Sorry you’ve had such big changes in the past year and a half. Your optimism is so admirable and contagious.

      And yes, it is definitely okay to say 2014 is going to be awesome for me. Thanks for your support and encouragement!

  4. on ,
    marcia said:

    Nice visuals. What a transfermation! Amazing face lift….. But I must warn you, home improvements are never ending and then there are the electric and plumbing surprises that come up unexpectedly. A prime example happened this morning before work. I’m taking a nice shower this morning when suddenly a series of strange bubbling sounds occur and then suddenly water up around my ankles! Get our of shower to find all drains including toilet are now plugged, all bubbling and looking evil! Called plumber who said problem could be roots from the 7 oak trees in our yard invading the sewer pipes! Plumber is busy…said he’d call back later today.
    Tami, Thanks for listening. I’m ready for about 6 quesadillas and several adult beverages!

    • OMG, Marcia, you are quite the trip. Here’s hoping your plumbing issues get resolved quickly and inexpensively. Regardless, I’ll be happy to make you some quesadillas and hand you a beverage. πŸ™‚

  5. on ,
    Koa said:

    You’re amazing and I can’t wait to write some fun stories for 2014!!! I have a feeling they might include our sister wife co-op gardening experiment. And you know. If you give a girl a shovel and some plants…she’s going to want a quesadilla to eat after it. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Koa. You’re pretty darn amazing yourself. I can’t wait to start the co-op gardening experiment OR the dinner group gatherings. 2014 is looking better and better.

      Also, if you give a girl a quesadilla, she’ll want a margarita to go with it. I see a new children’s book series in our future… πŸ˜‰

  6. Your new kitchen looks bright and happy! I’m gluten free too. I used to be vegan but that was just too strict when I had to go gf. Now I’m mostly vegetarian. My fave snack right now is a cup of tea with a Garden Lite zucchini chocolate veggie muffin (or the banana chocolate chip flavor). If I can’t get those muffins, then I have Udi’s toast with jam. πŸ™‚ Happy 2014, Tami!

    • Thanks, Coleen! I’m mostly vegetarian these days, too. I haven’t tried the zucchini chocolate muffins. I’ll be looking into those. I eat a lot of Udi’s bread. With jam. Or peanut butter. But always with my morning cup o’ joe. πŸ™‚

  7. I’m trying to do gluten free & mostly succeeding. Don’t know why I never thought of corn tortillas and quesadillas. *shakes head* I love Udi’s toast with jam too. And I just discovered Udi’s makes a pizza. I add extra veggies and extra cheese.

    I am totally impressed with how well you handled the Stress-O-Meter of last year. You came out of it just fine. I’m so happy you’re back in the Kasbah. I’ve missed our Wednesdays! You are a great writer, Tami. Just take it a paragraph at a time and you’ll meet that goal too.
    PS. Lovey renos!

    • I had to ease into gluten free, but once I realized how much better I felt and functioned, that became its own reinforcement to go all the way. I’m thankful that I’m not highly allergic. More sensitive than anything.

      Thanks for the compliments and encouragement, Suzanne! I’m taking everything in my life one paragraph at a time. πŸ™‚

  8. Renovations on your new-to-you house are symbolic, I suspect, dear Tami. Clearing out the dead wood, so to speak. You are in a new chapter of your life, and the remodelling is, imho, a reflection of the changes taking place in you. Tami, updated, Version 2-point-O. Some changes are behind the cupboards and panelling, some is on the surface, all is polished to a shine.

    Rock on, my friend.

    • Love your visuals. And your writing. Yes, the changes and the renovations were both symbolic and tangible for both myself and the house. Still working on feeling comfortable in my house. And in my skin, for that matter. Version two-point-oh is already in need of an update. Perhaps a trip to the hot springs for a little recharge is in order.

      And a mighty rock on to you, too, pal.

  9. You really went through the major-life-change wringer last year, Tami. And with an amazing amount of style and grace, I might add. Along with a trip to Hogwarts!!!

    You’ve created a delightful new home, that will only become richer as time goes on. There’s something about making memories that turns a house into a home. You’ve done a terrific job of rescuing it from the ’50s. In true Kazbah style.

    Oh, and comfort food. My go-to comfort food is homemade hot cocoa, using the richest Dutch chocolate I can get my hands on. πŸ™‚

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