a friend of mine is getting married next summer — actually two friends of mine are, but i was only talking to one of them — and it came up in conversation that she felt the same way i do. we are both twenty-something, both driven career-wise to make good choices and hopefully find something both fulfilling and worthwhile, both desparately in love with the idea of making a home, and both completely unsure as to how to go about that.

“i want to be the kind of woman who has a great career and makes a difference, but also be home all day making cookies,” she said (or something close; she’ll forgive me the paraphrase).

why, i wondered to myself and to her, is it so hard to believe the things we want are compatible? and why do we want things we consider incompatible in the first place?

it’s pretty much entirely the reason i started writing this blog. i have never been so confused in my life as about a month after i got married and started a new job. i was happy with my marriage, and happy with my job, but unsure how to make them fit together. i wanted nothing more than to make our new apartment a home. it’s the first apartment we’ve ever had to ourselves, the first time for both of us that we don’t have roommates, and therefore the first opportunity to really claim a space and make it our own.

i have my very own kitchen, my very own pots and pans that no one else will spoil by using metal spatulas on non-stick surfaces, our very own very small living room to decorate… but then, it turns out that even on weekends, the last thing i wanted to do with my free time was think about decor. i wanted to read, i wanted to spend time with my husband, i wanted to learn exciting new recipes that would actually turn out edible.

and there’s another part of the rub. i feel defensive about how good my relationship is. when did that become something to be ashamed of? i mean sure, we’ve had very rocky moments, but we’ve had very good ones, and the good ones outweigh by far the rough ones. and i’m not talking about yelling matches, or declarations of hate and frustration. i’m talking about quiet conversations where we both attempt to put into words things that are difficult to say, without unduly hurting each other.

i am inclined to blame it on society — sex in the city, friends, and then all those terrible family life sitcoms like everybody loves raymond and married with children, where everyone is miserable all the time and the good moments are just icing on the misery cake.

but then again, i’ve never actually sat down and watched an episode of sex in the city. i have watched a decent amount of friends, but the show stopped when everybody got married/serious so who knows what their relationships would have been like. i have a deep and abiding hatred for ray romano, so that may be more to the point than my attempt at social criticism.

i guess what i’m trying to say is, i’d love a role model. my marriage is nothing like my parents, and my mother truly was a homemaker and housewife, so not much help there. and while i can come up with tons of examples of relationships or women that are not helpful, i can’t come up with a single one that is.

so while i’m elbow-deep in mushrooms, preparing to make and share a new and exciting recipe from above-mentioned friend, and meanwhile juggling six different projects at work, i guess i’ll try to make some time to go role model hunting in there somewhere.

here’s to my favorite in-the-kitchen role model!

Ruth’s Mushroom Soup
adapted from Comfort Me with Apples

1/2 lb whole mushrooms (i’ve been using white ones, but i think any will do)
1/2 stick butter, unsalted
1 small onion, diced
4 tbs flour
1 1/3 c beef broth
3/4 c half and half (i believe the original recipe called for 2 c half and half and 1/3 c broth)
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg

-thinly slice mushrooms
-dice onion
-melt butter in deep pan over low heat
-after foam subsides, add butter and saute until golden
-add mushrooms and saute until brown
-stir in flour, SLOWLY, distributing evenly and stirring immediately
-add broth VERY SLOWLY, stirring constantly
-heat half and half, then add
-add spices
-cook over low heat for 10 minutes; do NOT let boil