I love my town.
I live in a lovely, historic village that overlooks the Hudson River. It’s close enough to New York City that I can get in quickly (and often), but when I come home………..aaaah.
This month marks 20 years that I have lived here and I feel very lucky indeed. It’s quiet and safe, the schools are good, and I have a network of friends and neighbors that are, in a word, “there” .
“There” when you need a cup of sugar/dog crate/extra folding chairs.
“There” to sit in your kitchen for 15 minutes, because you have to run out and the baby’s sleeping.
“There” when there’s illness or a new baby or a power outage, and a home cooked meal is so, so welcome.
Yet I dream – constantly – about leaving. And Mike and I talk – constantly – about leaving.
Why? Well, “before Noah”, I was starting to plan the next chapter in my life. One where the kids were no longer kids, and out in the world. One where we could start over, anywhere we wanted.
And now we’re “after Noah”. Which puts me in a conundrum. On the one hand, my town is as close to perfect for raising children as it gets. Why on earth would I leave? To learn a new school district, navigate the volunteer waters again, try and find the best OT/soccer class/music lessons?
But oh, the thought of staying here for another 20 years feels so…daunting. The SAME schools. The SAME routines. The SAME old SAME old. I’m ready for a change – new surroundings, better weather, you get it.
And then – just like that – there will be a day like this.
A block party.
You know the deal. All the neighbors pitching in, contributing food, coolers, crafts and music. And it’s as old school as you can imagine – sidewalk chalk, beads, water balloons and face painting.
Or forearm painting.
And I watch Noah run, play and “not eat” and remember why I love living here. And why it really won’t be the same as it was the first time. Because I’m not the same. And Noah’s a brand new kid. And it’s been more than a decade since I walked those halls, peeking into those classrooms.
And I’ve made a whole new crop of wonderful friends. Creative, smart, warm and loving families, with children just Noah’s age.
So I continue dreaming. And we continue talking.
And in the meantime, I bake up the BEST* brownies ever, put them on sticks and dip them in chocolate and sprinkles. Because a good block party demands nothing less.
So tell me – have you ever picked up and moved after many years in the same place? Have any of you left and come back? If you have kids, how did that affect your decisions?
And where is YOUR dream place to live?
adapted, I think, from Bon Appetit
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar (400 g)
1 t. vanilla
1 c. sifted flour (4 oz)
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2 pan.
Melt chocolate and one stick of butter over low heat, stirring until smooth. Let cool completely.
In your mixer beat the remaining stick of butter with the sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, then blend in vanilla and cooled chocolate mixture. Add the flour and salt, beating till well blended. Pour into your prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or till it pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it. Let cool completely in the pan. Cut into bars and serve.
* A note about “best”: In the “cake-y” vs. “fudgy” brownie debate, I’m firmly “Team Fudgy”. If you agree, then you too, will think these are the BEST brownies ever. That is all.
For Brownie “Pops”:
You will need: craft sticks, one bag of chocolate “candy melts” (or about 6 oz. chocolate chips) and assorted sprinkles.
When the brownies have cooled completely, cut into bars and place them slightly apart on a cutting board. Freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and insert craft sticks. Freeze for an additional 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper.
Melt the candy according to package directions. Dip the tops of the brownies about one third of the way into the melted chocolate, followed by the sprinkles. Lay the pops on the prepared baking sheet – refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.
This delicious recipe brought to you by Donuts, Dresses and Dirt