Sunday, October 19, 2008


When I was a child, there was only one room in the house where everything really happens. Since there was no distinction between kitchen and dining room, you can imagine that most conversations, interactions and family activities centralized around this area.

There would always be someone preparing food, eating, making a snack or using the dining table as a study desk, drawing table, battlefield for toy soldiers or secret bandit hideout from the cops stationed in the living room. I used to hide under the table to escape from having to sleep in the afternoons when I wanted to play. My mother had the coolest make-up kit from my grandmother's Hong Kong trips with little drawers and slide-out compartments. I'd sneak it out from her dresser, paint my face up and make a dash to the kitchen sink when I heard her coming down the stairs to hunt me down for the bothersome nap.

Most growing up conversations also happened around the kitchen/dining table. We'd get reprimanded, praised or grounded until we were thirty while we were having breakfast, lunch or dinner (when activity reports usually roll in for our parents to comment about). Of course you couldn't leave until you finished your food so even if you wanted to die of shame from being publicly executed, you had to soldier on while conversation flowed to other more wholesome topics around you.

When I was old enough to help in the cooking, the conversations evolved as well. From how to cook my favorite Sinigang (Tamarind Soup) to how to deal with the bullies in school, to deeper, more intense issues later on in life. Life lessons are easier to deal with while your hands are busy, but wrestling with them while chopping up vegetables amidst the warm, homey smells of bubbling broth seemed to drive them straighter, truer and deeper into the heart.

Late at night, on occasions where one is restless and sleepless with the countless things that plague growing minds, the kitchen/dining table was the scene of many a hot coco philosophical discussion.

Heartbreaks, arguments, life decisions, confidences. I'm sure many kitchens and dining tables in small houses like ours have heard them all.

My ideal house would have the kitchen/dining area exactly like that, where the heart of the home is at the hearth. (sidenote: Hearth= heart, earth/mother, eating, sharing food for the belly, heart and the mind are such earthy wonder we feel fuller and more grounded, reconnected.)

I've always dreamt of a home that would be sanctuary to family and friends. Such as when I was growing up and bringing home friends, we'd gravitate to the kitchen where my mother would usually be found cooking dinner. And since I brought extra appetites, she would whip up something for us and we'd help cook while filling her in on what happened during our day. Sometimes, one of my friends would find herself confiding in my mom while shelling peas or stirring the stew. My mother would listen and dole out her brand of wisdom like she would dole out steaming soup for the heart-sick. My friends would always say how cool my mother was, sated with the yummy food we helped prepare, hearts soothed and minds at peace with practical advice.

When I was still single, I had the fantasy of living alone but always having a warm and welcoming home. Now that I find myself married and a mother to a precious little girl, I am nostalgic for kitchens and dining areas that remind me of my mother's kitchen. Of course, this would mean warm wood furniture, unobtrusive kitchen appliances, functionality with down-to-earth, homey styles . . . and a bunch of wild flowers stuck in a jar somewhere.

I want Oona to know how it is to come home, plunk her school bag on a chair and tell me all about her day as she gobbles a snack and I start preparing the family dinner. As it is, at 14 months, she likes playing under the kitchen/dining table. She listens in on the conversations of her mother, father, grandmother and nanny. She offers her babbled opinions every now and then and pokes our legs to let us know she's still there. Whether we're cooking, eating or typing away at a laptop, she'd be right there, camped under the table, among the chair legs.

I look forward to having midnight coco in my pajamas talking over the serious business of a first love or deliberating over college courses with Oona and her siblings (hopefully soon!). I can't wait to be solving crossword puzzles with a cup of coffee at 2AM, waiting for the last kid to come in after a concert. Or making anti-hangover specials for someone who came in four hours after their curfew, reeking of way too much beers, hunched guiltily over black coffee, waiting for me to read them the riot act. God forbid my kids have my spunk! But I DO truly look forward to it all, including cooking their lunches for school and baking cookies (Cookies? Bake?! ME?? Quick, someone pinch me!). Well, I'm sure there are idiot-friendly contraptions nowadays for people like me who can basically cook but can't whip up a chef's masterpiece.

My husband would laugh and tease me no end if ever he reads this. He's never seen me take the initiative with ruling the roost, so to speak, let alone cook everyday. But since his Mom lives with us and she likes to cook for the family, I can understand her sentiments enough to know it warms her heart to see us gather round to eat together and enjoy her food. And I know, it will be my turn soon enough, to have my own kitchen and rule the roost. Nowadays, I share the crown with the hubby and his mom, but mostly, it's Oona who wears that crown most.

Currently, we are paying for a pre-sold condo home at nearby Beacon (so near, we pass the construction site everyday). It's amazing how it feels, to watch your investment for the future rise from the foundations going up, up, up! Before we know it, it will be our floor that's going to be done and the condo guys will be calling us to go over the specs we want for our new home. So this early, I'm already looking at lovely stuff I want for our own first home, interior decorating it in my head.

Most especially, I would finally be able to have a kitchen, a hearth of my own! Sure I'd still be sharing with Mama, my hubby's mother, but I would have picked the tiling, the cabinets, the stove, the everything! Besides, it doesn't take anything away from me to share the traditional domain. It makes for incredible conversations when we're cooking together, even now. For sure, since it's a condo and we have kids running around, we'll have appliances that would be space-saving and child-friendly (if not child-proof).

I'm glad I'm a net surfer so it's easy for me to find things I like and hopefully buy, when the time comes for moving in. The condo's already fully furnished in my head! Although I'd love to go out and "get dirty", walking around to hunt down furnishings, drapes and sinks, it really isn't realistic for me nowadays. It helps that the ever-reliable Shopwiki's there. I don't have to go all over the place to find something I need, they already have stuff from on-line stores all across the web, centralized in one website. Think your very own, friendly, reliable on-line warehouse with goods from all over the world in one place! The interface is very user friendly and very informative.

I would also suggest fully reading through the Shopwiki shopping guides as it also helped me decide which ones I can do without and which ones I would definitely need for condominium living and the lifestyle that I want. What's noteworthy for me is that they help promote Green Living with earth friendly products! Definitely for us earth mommas! They also support advocacies and causes near and dear to our hearts, like this October's Shopping for a Cause is about Breast Cancer Awareness. So think pink while shopping and beat shopper's guilt by saying: "It's for a cause!"

From the bedrooms, to the curtains to the little reading corner I want to have (with a computer, naturally!), I have bookmarked a dozen pages or so from this shopping guide! Too bad our bathroom's not big enough for a bath tub or a home spa . . . Oh well, I'll keep that in mind for the next house! :D

All in all, I truly look forward to making our new house into a home, where my daughter, her siblings, their friends and everyone we welcome into our midst, would feel the love and warmth radiating from the heart/h, filling up tummies, minds and spirits with food for the body and nourishment for the soul.


Anonymous said...

ooh! i love that you're into kitchens! im hoping to find an apartment that has a bigger kitchen as well :-) how are you sweetie? your blog is always a good read!