Here’s the short history of me making things: I was not good at it. That is a really. big. understatement.
Take learning to knit. As a child, I made lots and lots of bubblegum pink Barbie scarves. Think about that for a second. My second attempt at learning to knit was approximately fifteen years after that. I was sitting next to my mother at the St. Louis airport, coming home from a family wedding, and she was “teaching” me to “knit.”
By which I mean, she started the thingie for me on the needles (see?) and then she and I proceeded to bicker through the next three lines of my attempts at knitting and purling. We were such entertaining bickerers that the guy sitting across from us put his book down and watched us. That actually happened.
Needless to say, that ball of yarn and still attached, half-assed knitting is still wrapped up in a plastic bag somewhere in my house. Don’t ask me where.
I have always been vastly more successful in the kitchen, where my mistakes were generally edible, and my mother generally trusted me to follow a recipe and clean up my mess. In fact, she bought me a really cute little kiddie cookbook that came with a set of primary colored measuring spoons that I still own. The spoons, not the cookbook. And it was primarily she who inspired me when she purchased a copy of Fanny at Chez Panisse, the exact copy of which I still own. I was fascinated by Fanny’s adventures in the kitchen and this magical place called a farmer’s market.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember the first dish I ever made. I don’t remember the second or third, either. I remember burning myself on the oven making enchiladas one time, and spilling flour making cookies. I remember helping my mother make batch upon batch of Christmas cookies ranging from snickerdoodles to pfeffernuesse to good old sugar cookies for Santa. To this day, my mom relies on me as her sous chef when I come over for dinner–she tells me to stir this, put those ingredients together, make the salad, whatever she needs. It’s a good feeling, actually.
As far as working on the house goes, I had exactly two projects under my belt before high school graduation. My father enlisted me to shore up the two story wooden back deck one summer by drilling new wood screws into every board in the back deck, and the stairs that joined the two.
It sucked. And then he made me power wash the driveway. I suppose I was lucky that he is a gadget fiend, and I didn’t have to embark on either project with hand tools.
So it’s come as a bit of a surprise to people who knew me in high school that I’ve become so interested in DIYing anything, really. And I guess it came as a bit of a surprise to me, just how much I’ve been enjoying it. Life is kind of funny that way.