Until today, I had no idea an olive oil cruet could hold such meaning.
This is my favorite corner in my kitchen, and it came around by accident. It started with the vintage pictures of Buenos Aires I received two weeks ago. Then, last week, I brought out this old basket (8 years?) I had collecting dust in a cupboard and used it to corral Mikey’s cold medicine. I have the boys’ vitamins in there now. The flowers are from the garden, and the container is one of Nicholas’ glass baby bottles because I needed something tall and thin and free of charge. And then, there is the olive oil cruet.
I’d been admiring my happenstance corner of lovely all week, but it looked even more charming when we came home last night from an early showing of Where The Wild Things Are. When I pulled into the driveway, I could see through the kitchen window my favorite corner bathed in the soft light from our porch. It all looked so warm and inviting and picturesque that I immediately thanked God for blessing me as He does daily.
And then I thought it was a shame the olive oil cruet was so circa 1999.
If I took a picture and posted it on the blog, I reasoned, I would have to style it nicely, the way other bloggers do. The piece of paper detailing how I should dispense the boys’ vitamins would have to go, and I should probably find a third flower, since things look better in groups of three. The cruet, though approaching ten years of age, is in mint condition. It would be a terrible waste to buy something new or “I’m trying too hard” vintage just to avoid a shot of faux-Tuscan kitchen accessories. Maybe I’ll just take it out and replace it with something else for the picture. Le sigh. Being disingenuous is hard work.
I took the picture this morning, deciding against all the changes that would make my favorite corner perfectly vanilla. (Quirky and vintage can be vanilla, too, you know.) The whole idea bothered me. It took me a while to figure out why, because I don’t like that olive oil cruet. It doesn’t match my house and as an actual Italian, the grapes bug me. But, in trying to figure out why I refused to style the picture I realized I also love that silly thing.
I remember buying it. The Mister and I were newly married and in our first home. We had invited to dinner his brother, John, our sister in law, Stephanie, and their 9 month old daughter, Brayden. (You can see all 9 years of our niece in this picture, here.) They would be our first dinner guests, ever. I was very nervous and wanted everything perfect. I rushed out to House to Home (remember that store?) on the day of the dinner and bought that olive oil cruet to hold the chimichurri. I also bought the matching bowls, appetizer plates, and platter. And steak knives. I bought steak knives, too.
That night, at our first ever dinner party(ish) we had rib eye steaks with chimichurri, mashed potatoes, roasted bell peppers two ways (stuffed with brie and drizzled with honey or mozzarella and basil drizzled with olive oil) and a mixed green salad. For dessert I made brownies from scratch, vanilla ice cream, and drizzled that with ducle de leche, also made from scratch. (Do you remember that night, Stephanie?)
At the time, Brayden didn’t like mashed potatoes. Potatoes at all, really. But she ate mine, and I had a smile a mile wide for days because my potatoes were good enough to please the palette of a 9 month old who didn’t like potatoes.
Since then, that trendy, trite, and out of style cruet has drizzled more olive oil than seems healthy. I’ve tossed and sauteed and marinated countless meals over 9 years for family and friends, each time reaching for an olive oil cruet I purchased as a young bride from an ordinary home store in the middle of suburbia. If our last nine years could waft out of that bottle like jeanie smoke, out would come two homes, a law degree, a layoff, a new job, a few vacations, many celebrations, just as many arguments, a couple of businesses, new friends, old friends, two boys, two dogs, and one happy family.
And that is why the olive oil cruet stayed in the shot.