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This week’s episode features Part 1 of Kristin live at the Turquoise Table talking to her own neighbors about how they got to know each other. Through a few simple steps of outreach, their community and neighborhood flourished as neighbors took the initiative to be welcoming, hospitable and accessible. Listen in on their conversation, which is full of advice to those of us who really want to know our neighbors, but don’t know where to start. You’ll love hearing about where they started and where they are today – and how we can all create greater connection on our own street.
Kristin: Welcome to the Turquoise Table. I’m your host, Kristin. Today you are in for a treat. We’re going to talk to my real-life neighbors. This episode is super special to me. You’re going to have a seat at my table, with my people–the people who literally live next door, and catty corner, and across the street. I’m going to introduce you to my neighbors; Monique, and Mandy, and Amy, and Shannon, and Nicole, and Marybeth and Kristen. Our conversation is fast, and lively, and very unscripted–so don’t worry about keeping up with who’s who. Focus on what’s being said and the heart of the conversation.
My hope is that you will hear a voice or one of my neighbors’ story that really resonates with you, that’s someone you identify with and say; “me too!” You’ll hear that one of our neighbors Mandy has lived here all of her life, and she now lives 3 doors down from me in the house that her grandmother lived in. So, she literally lives in her grandmother’s house. You’ll meet Kristen, who is newest to our street, and she just moved here with her family all the way from Australia.
We talk about being introverts and extroverts and the early and hilarious days of getting to know one another. But we also get real invulnerable talk about our fears and misconceptions and even a hospitality failure or two. You’ll hear that we can’t remember exact dates. Some of our details on events and timelines are a little fuzzy, but remember, these are the original FrontYard people. We had no idea when we started this adventure together that one day we’d be recording a podcast to share our experiences with you.
So, on that note and get a journal. That is my advice to you. Get a journal and start writing down names, and stories, and hard times, and good times, because trust me, you will want to look back on your adventures of building community and getting to know your neighbors. It’ll be a delight to have that as an archive and to show how far you’ve come.
So, it’s been almost five years since I put the Turquoise Table in my front yard, and I only knew two of these women by name at that time. We were friendly, but we were not friends. It astounds me because today, I cannot even imagine life without the women who you’re going to meet. There’s many, many other neighbors who are part of the story and I look forward to introducing them to you at some point–if I can twist their arms into talking into a microphone. But the ones who are brave enough and crazy enough to say ‘yes’ are here today–the ones who said ‘yes’ to being on a podcast–but more importantly who said ‘yes’ to the very first invitation to the Turquoise Table. Here are my neighbors.
Neighbors Reaching Neighbors
Kristin: Welcome, you guys, this is crazy! I can’t believe we are not outside at The Turquoise Table because of the weather, and also because you can’t hear, and all of this technology stuff doesn’t work out at the table. So, thank y’all, thank you for everything you’ve done to get us to this point. Who would have thought we would’ve had a podcast?
Front Yard Person: I know, it’s so exciting.
Kristin: Right? I mean, seriously. Okay, so here’s what I wanna do. For those of you listening, these are my real-live neighbors. They are real people, they’re just … You’re gonna fall in love with them. I know you’re gonna love them as much as I do. I can’t wait to share practical information and just a little bit of our backstory.
But why don’t we go around the room, and you can just say your name, your first name, if you want. And maybe when you came into this neighborhood, if that makes sense.
Monique Wright: Okay, I am Monique Wright, and we bought our house summer of 2013.
Mandy Niles: I’m Mandy Niles and I was born and raised in the neighborhood, but we have lived in our current house for 7 years.
Kristin: And it’s your …
Mandy: It’s my grandmother’s house.
Kristin: Grandmother’s house, see, I love that, so you do have a lot of history …
Mandy: I do.
Kristin:… on this block.
Amy Hoyda: My name is Amy Hoyda, and my husband, Ava, and I bought on Rock Ledge in 2011 when Ava was 3 years old.
Shannon Maroney: I’m Shannon Maroney, and I cannot believe it, but we’ve been in this neighborhood for 13 years.
Kristin: Wow, yeah.
Nicole Vicky: I’m Nicole Vicky, we moved from out of town to this neighborhood four years ago, and didn’t know a soul.
Kristin: Where did you move from?
Nicole: Orlando, Florida. The happiest place on earth.
Kristin S.: Except for our neighborhood.
MaryBeth Hubick: I’m MaryBeth Hubick, and I have lived in this neighborhood for eleven years.
Kristin S.: Wow.
Kristen Campbell: And I’m Kristen Campbell, we’ve lived here less than a year, so I’m the newbie here, and we’re so happy to be here.
Kristin S.: And where’d you move from?
Kristin C.: We moved from Australia, just down the road.
Kristen S.: Just down the road, mate.
Kristen C.: So g’day.
Kristen S. So g’day, to all of our friends in Australia. So yeah, you’ve probably come the
Kristen C.: Yes.
Kristen Schell: And, you’re the newest. So, welcome.
Kristen C: Thank you.
Shannon: What a great range, I didn’t realize that, until you made us do that, of how we all came at different times and it’s been from, born and raised, to right up until last year.
Kristen C: But like Nicole was saying, I moved here and didn’t know a single soul.
Mandy: And now it’s hard to imagine that you haven’t lived here a real long time.
Kristen C.: I know. It is.
Mandy: Like, you jumped right in.
Kristen C: Yes, thanks to y’all.
MaryBeth Hubick: We, I grew up in Austin, and have lived in Westlake, and then West Austin, and this has been my favorite so far, because it is the most neighborhood-y of all of them. It’s been great.
Kristin S: We’ve had a journey. I mean we really have, and so, I wanna … obviously we’re gonna get into that and tell a little bit of our stories. But Amy, I may point to you first, because I think you were the first person I met.
Mandy: That’s not surprising.
MaryBeth: That makes sense.
Mandy: Mrs. Kravitz was sitting out on her front yard, probably, waiting …
Participant: She knew …
Mandy: You need a better name that Mrs. Kravitz.
Kristen C: That’s a very good question, I just asked Kristin when she moved here.
Kristin S: So, yes, Tony and I moved into this house, we have been in Northwest Hills since we got married, and we’ve been married 20 years, we bought over on Lost Ridge 18 years ago, and then we’ve been here y’all, I think, I’ll have to ask him but I think it’s been 15 years now.
So, we lived here for two years, and then we moved out, and then kind of, you know, did a little bit of cleaning up and then we’ve been back. So, we’ve been here a while. When we moved in, I don’t know … It doesn’t sound like anybody was here yet.
And so, when we moved in, we really were sort of the first of the wave to buy from the original homeowners. It’s changed, obviously so much. But when we moved in, there were not a whole lot of young kids running around, and we were sort of the young ones. Now I feel like we’re kind of the old ones again.
A Legacy of Community
And so, okay, here’s a better question. Let’s start with the Memorial Day party. And some of you won’t remember, but to those of you who’ve been here a little while, you may remember the Memorial Day party. Okay, so Shannon, Amy, Mandy, do you remember those?
Mandy: It was in the cove.
Amy: In the cove, yeah, we came.
Kristin: Way before the table. Way before the table. And so, Mary Beth, you do remember that?
MaryBeth: We were never here on Memorial Day, but we …
Kristin S: You knew about it.
MaryBeth: We came one time. We came to the party.
Kristin: Okay, so that’s kinda where my context for meeting people was. When Tony and I–and y’all know this story–but when Tony and I signed the papers at the closing, when we were closing on the house, and this was Christian, who we bought this home from, asked, “Please keep the Memorial Day party going.”
And so, we did. You know, and with a little bit of help from others who knew what they were doing, we kept it on. And so, eventually we started making our circle wider, and so that’s where I remember sort of … I know we all had met, but we didn’t know each other. Right?
Amy: We didn’t. So, the Memorial Day prior …
Kristin: This is Amy, by the way.
Amy: This is Amy. So, we moved into Rock Ledge September of 2011. Well, we were renovating before that, and there was a flyer …
Amy: For the Memorial Party left on our door.
MaryBeth: Yes. I think that’s the one I went to.
Kristin: And the kids, it had clip art on it, and the kids ran around …
MaryBeth: That was the one we went to.
Amy: Yes, so we said, let’s go to this party …
Kristin: I remember that, yeah.
Amy: …and meet our new people. And so we parked at our house, and we walked down and we were like, “We’re gonna like it here,” because after that, we did the July 4th parade, and we were like …
Mandy: That’s, I was just thinking about that, this is Mandy, and I was just thinking about how you and I, Amy and I live back to back, and how we kind of moved in about the same time, and you came over to my house for popsicles after we did that first July 4th parade. Now what’s hilarious is that Amy has now chaired the July 4th parade and had a million other positions with the July 4th parade. But it’s so funny to think back on that really short seven years ago, when, yeah, anyway …
Amy: Fun, I love it, I love it.
Kristin: So that was going on, like, you know, and then y’all know the story, but then I was frustrated, because like, sweet Bob and Peg Gary would come down, you know, and then we’d have the … the ..
Participant: The Whitney’s.
Kristin S: Yes, the Whitney’s, but then, who y’all bought the house from …
Participant: The Hayes.
Kristin S: The Hayes would come down and it was like, well I kind of knew them all and I recognized them, but I didn’t know them. Right? Like I didn’t know them. So that’s when I started kind of planting this, I don’t know, the seed. It was nothing deliberate, it took me clearly a long time for this idea to hatch, but this neighborhood already had such incredible good things going for it. I mean, y’all mentioned the parade, the Memorial Day party had been going on for like, at that point, 30 plus years. Since the late 60s y’all, since the very late 60s.
So, across the street where the Burns’ lived, and then this house and a couple of others, they started that Memorial Day party the year that they all built their houses, which was between 1967 and 1969.
Participant: That’s very cool.
Kristin S: Isn’t that cool? So anyway, that was my..
Shannon: that was surprising, though, because the lady that you bought your house from, Joanne Christian, is just a rock star.
Kristin S: Yes.
Shannon: Like the original rockstar.
Kristin S: Yes, she’s amazing, and very involved in the community, and so in hindsight now when she asked me to keep that going, you know, that was really … and she has, she has passed on and to me, it just makes my heart glad to know that she, in some way … Well she knew about The Turquoise Table. But then in some way, that she knew …
Mandy: It’s like …
Kristin S: …that their legacy was gonna continue with what these people who were brave enough to build these homes, y’all, number one, this was way North Austin, you know, and now it’s Central Austin. So what they started continues, I love that legacy. You know? It’s awesome.
Kristen C: Well, she passed the torch onto you.
Mandy: I was gonna say, it was in the bones of the house, apparently.
Kristin S: But of course I had no clue, I wouldn’t have been smart enough to know that the torch was being passed, I just said, “Yes, I’ll do it” …
Kristen C: Hindsight, 20/20.
Kristin S:… just to get those papers signed. I would have probably sworn to anything at that point. I wanted to move, you know, I wanted a new house.
Shannon: You were though, because it took a lot of effort to, get the fliers out, you know? And to expand the circle. To me, that was the first time that I felt part of the neighborhood … is that Memorial Day party, the cove party. Because you know, we had been here for a while, we didn’t have kids our first year, and then we got pregnant, so for probably our first two years, we didn’t have kids, and you don’t connect as much when you don’t have kids because you’re not …
Once you have kids, then you’re like out walking the stroller, and doing things like that and then you start to see people and connect or whatever, but if you don’t go to a preschool in the neighborhood right away or something like that, which we didn’t, we stayed home with a nanny for a year, you don’t connect. And so, that cove party to me, we came down with Kyle in the stroller, and he swung on your tire swing …
Kristin S: Yes.
Shannon:…and was from that day forward smitten with whoever lived in the house with the tire swing.
Kristin: You know what, I forgot about the tire swing. We had, in one of our storms, that tree got spliced by lightning.
Shannon: Oh, I’m aware, because …
Kristin S: Because Kyle, but then they grew up and then they were able to climb the trees.
Shannon: Right, and then they became tree climbers, but honestly, I think that was like a precursor, because it was in their front yard. That’s why. It was a connector. It was in your front yard, it wasn’t in the backyard.
Meeting Neighbors In the Front Yard
Kristin S: Okay, and you know the story about … I don’t even know that I’ve ever even thought about this … but the whole story … So, for those of y’all listening, we live on a cove. It’s a cul-de-sac. Regular old cul-de-sac. But it’s called … we call it the cove.
So, we put a regular old tire swing up there, but it was my spare tire. We were getting rid of the car and we needed to do something, and I was so cheap, I thought, “We’ve got to save this tire,” like “I don’t know what to do with it!”
Then Tony was like, “Do you know how hard it’s gonna be to hang this stupid tire?” So by the time we got the proper bolts, and the ropes, and we found somebody to…
Mandy: You couldn’t just borrow …
Kristin S: Put it up in this massive oak tree. He was like, “This was not really good economics to save the spare tire.” But anyway.
Shannon: It was worth it for a while.
Kristin S: That’s funny, I never thought of it as, you know … Well, who else? Mary Beth, y’all have a swing, don’t you? Or who is it that has the swing?
Kristen C: We have a swing.
Kristin S: Kristen, you have a swing, you’ve got the swing out front now.
Kristen C: Yeah, and I love it because Mary Beth’s little boys come over and play, and we have a rope, too. My kids … my boys are 13 and 14, so on the cusp of not hanging out in the streets with the little ones, but they still like the swing, because it’s a novelty and it’s new. I love when I see Mary Beth’s little boys coming out and playing.
Just makes my heart so happy. So when my boys see them swinging on our rope or swinging on our swing, my boys will say, “Mom, look, they’re back, you’re gonna love this.”
MaryBeth: I’m so happy.
Shannon: And don’t you think that the front yard … just the front yard anything …you know what I mean? Because we had a front yard swing before we had the tree house. We had a swing, and then we had the pogo stick.
Kristin S: Yes. I remember your pogo stick, yes.
Shannon: Right, the swing. And it was just swinging in the front yard, that made me feel like, “This is awesome. We’re meeting people just because we’re in the front yard.
Then we went to the pogo stick, and we they were like, “Why not? Just a treehouse, but …”
“We’re meeting people just because we’re in the front yard.” – Shannon
MaryBeth: We were out in the front yard more. We have a pool, everything in the backyard, but we’re out in the front yard.
Intention To Create Community
Kristin S: Isn’t that funny, though? Because I thought … and maybe y’all hear this in your circles, too, that like, you want to be the house where all the kids come, right?
You want to be that house. Okay, well for a long, long time I thought that it was gonna be the pool, you know, that would do that. And I’m looking around and a lot of y’all, you know, the houses came with pools. And that’s fine. But I think something about being in the front yard is even ten times better and a billion times cheaper!
No maintenance, you know, you gotta mow your lawn, occasionally. But that’s all.
MaryBeth: Well, you never know who’s gonna come by, you know?
Kristen S.: It’s very inviting.
MaryBeth: And if you do have something like a swing, or a dog, or you’re doing yard work, that is immediate … It’s not as stressful for people to talk to you, I think.
Participant: Do y’all remember … When we first moved in, we had one of those blow up bounce houses? And we would put it in the front yard, and all the kids would come over and stop and play just to come into the bounce house.
Kristin S: Yes.
Participant: It was in the front yard, we didn’t do it in the backyard.
Kristin S: Yes, I mean, I love all that. Love all those ideas. And this was all sort of going around, you know going on below the surface … or not below the surface, in our front yards before … way before The Turquoise Table. I think that that’s partially, just by the good luck of where we live, you know, and I think that sort of environment already pre-existed before any of us, as we know from some of the original homeowners that we had.
But it does take intentionality. Each of y’all have made an effort, whether pogo sticks, or swings, or tree houses, or you know, now turquoise tables. To be in the front yard, I think it really does matter. And, hello, since we’re front-yard people, that works out really good for us, right?
Participant: It does.
Fostering Connection All Year Long
Kristin S: So, all of it, I think it’s important, if you’re listening, to know that there were already things going on. I imagine that wherever you live, there are already some sort of block party or maybe a National Night Out perhaps, or something through a community center. There’s probably something unique that you’re already doing.
Then what I think happens, and I’m not gonna speak for all of you, but I will speak for me and then y’all can chime in, is that it was good but it maybe wasn’t enough. It was sort of in-between, or we were out … You know, the Memorial Day Party was fantastic, but that’s once a year.
Mandy: Right, like you’d have a great time talking to all these people, but then you’d be like, “Well, I guess I’ll see them in a year.” I mean, that’s too much of a lag.
Kristin S: That’s why I started things. I’m not gonna go back into the story, y’all know the story. What I want to share today with y’all, while we’ve got the wisdom of the saints around the table, is just to hear from them, because this could have also really gone south.
I mean, y’all have to remember, I put a turquoise picnic table in my front yard, and these women sitting around here, for … I mean, this is your chance, ladies, to tell me if you think it was stupid, but …It really could have just … I mean we have no idea, right?
Mandy: Right, seriously.
Kristin S: Let’s just flash forward. The table’s out there, right? And I don’t know when each of you … if you remember seeing the table before we even met? Do you remember that, anyone?
Amy: Not before we met, because we had met.
Kristin: But before we know each other. Before I could just walk into your house, and say, oh my gosh, you know …
Shannon: the cove party, but didn’t see you a lot, right? Didn’t get to know you very well. Knew, “Oh, that’s the lady with the tire swing,” and that’s like, all we knew.
Kristin S: Right.
Shannon: And we knew you had a bunch of kids, right, but they were mostly different ages than mine, and that was it.
Kristin S: Right. Right. Okay, so that’s kind of the way, I think we all sort of felt. Like we knew who each other were, probably …
Nicole: I didn’t know you at all.
Kristin S: Well, and I mean I guess that’s important, because Nicole, you’re not on our little street, so let me describe our street, for those of you listening. Close your eyes … Unless you’re driving.
Imagine. We live on, what I like to call a “J.” The letter J. So our street starts at the top of the J and goes all the way like a normal block would … houses right across the street from each other … and then it curves like it would make a J. Sort of a flat J. And then there’s a cul-de-sac, like sort of an appendage off of that J, and then there’s actually another little street in between before the J hooks, if that makes any sense to y’all.
The reason I think it’s important, is because we’re not just a linear block, right? So, it’s very possible for like, Monique, who lives on the straight part of the J, and a lot of y’all live on the curve, or then on the street that shoots off … While we’re all what, like within, what, ten houses of each other?
We … it’s not unlikely that we didn’t know each other. And Nicole, you actually live, what, like eight or ten blocks away?
Nicole: I could have walked here, I didn’t today. No, I heard about … Not even you, I heard about your table.
The Turquoise Table Unveiled
Kristin: Right. Nobody knows who the heck I am. Which is great. I love that. I love that it’s just the Turquoise Table lady. So you heard about that, you heard about the table after it happened.
I wanna see first, do you remember, Amy? You remember the first time you saw the table,
Shannon: I do. And I thought, “She’s lost her mind.”
Kristin S: Right. Right.
Shannon: …lost her mind, I was like, “What’s that doing out there, you know? That’s weird, was that there before?” Then I asked Mike, and he said … my husband Mike, he said, “I don’t think that’s been out there before, what do you think she’s doing with that?” And I was like, “I don’t know, maybe she wants to have a front yard thing going on.” And low and behold, you did.
Kristin S: Well I didn’t really plan this, as we all know now, but did anyone else remember seeing it and going, or did …
Mandy: I remember …
Kristen S: Or did any husbands go, “Oh, there went the property value”?
Mandy: I remember when you ordered the tables for the backyard event. You and I were friends at that point, I don’t remember where we were in our … I mean we were friends.
Kristin S: Yeah.
Mandy: But I remember you sending out sort of, the call for, “What color should I paint it?”
Kristin S: Right.
Mandy: I don’t know, I really like turquoise. So, I remember that whole debate. Then I remember Amy was one of the first people to then follow suit, and then like, get her turquoise table in the front.
Amy: But I remember the table being there, and still at that point, I just admired it, and I had a table … I got my table, and the first thing I said to myself is, “What color am I gonna paint this table?” And I painted it a different color.
Mandy: You did, that’s right.
Amy: Because it was, it was like a gray. Because I was like, “Well, I’m not gonna copy …” Because at that point I didn’t know … there wasn’t … I wasn’t aware of the story behind it.
Kristin S: I don’t even know at that point there was a story behind it. It was sort of my thing, like a, “Oh, this would be cool,” but there wasn’t anything to sort of copy at that point, right?
Mandy: No, it wasn’t like you were trying to infiltrate the neighborhood with turquoise tables. You hadn’t even thought that far.
Kristin S: Oh gosh, no.
Mandy: You were just trying to get it into the front yard first. Like, what?
Kristin: Right. And that’s when, so when did you put your …
Amy: So, we had a discussion, and we were talking about the turquoise table, and I said, “I have to admit, I’ve admired this but I didn’t want to take your color.”
Kristin S: I remember.
Amy: And you said, “No, I want you to, do it.”
Participant: Oh, wow.
Amy: And you were talking about the meaning behind your table. And I was like, “I love it, I’m gonna do it.” So, I painted it turquoise.
Kristin S: So, between that time, I’d probably had had a little bit of time to think. You know …
Kristin S: And this is also, and for those of y’all listening, this is why I wanted to have this conversation. If you’re nervous about putting your own table out there, this is how organic and beautiful and simple it can be. We don’t even remember all the facts, five years later, you know?
But then, you were at a birthday party, right?
“If you’re nervous about putting your own table out there, this is how organic and beautiful and simple it can be.” – Kristin Schell
Front Yard Fridays
Amy: So, I’d just painted my table turquoise …
Kristin S: This is Amy.
Amy: This is Amy. So, I’d just painted my table turquoise, and I was at a birthday party with our little girl, and this mom, who now we know was Julie Willeford, who if anybody knows her, she’s infectious.
Kristin S: She is.
Amy: And I just, I was naturally drawn to her, because she’s charismatic, and she’s cute and pretty, and just sweet, sweet, sweet …
Kristin S: High energy.
Amy: High energy, just …
Kristin S: Always smiling. And she was supposed to be here today. But we’ll catch her later.
Amy: So, she was going on and on and on about this woman who has a turquoise table, and what the story was behind it, and what the message was behind it, and I was just waiting to be able to say, you know, “I know her! I can introduce you to her. She’s my friend. She’s my neighbor.” And so I did. So she said, “I’d love to meet her.” So I was texting you …
Kristin S: From the party.
Amy: … and we immediately set up a coffee date …
Kristen S.: Yes.
Amy: … and planned it.
Participant: At the table?
Kristin: At the table. To come to the table. And that was one of the first times we, kind of branched out with people, I clearly didn’t know. Because I knew you …
Kristin: But not like we do now.
Kristin S: But I had no clue who Julie was.
Amy: And then she invited a friend.
Kristin S: And she brought a friend. She brought Kimberly. So that was the first time that two women, who I had no clue who they were … and then obviously you were the chain, you know, in that link, Amy. So we did, it was a Thursday morning, I think, and we briefly … it was very spontaneous … and we were just gonna briefly meet, share the idea, and two and a half hours later, or something, we were all like, “Oh my gosh, we have to go.”
But I distinctly remember, I kind of thought, just from the things you had told me, about Julie, and about sort of her enthusiasm. I kind of thought there’d be some buy-in, and that they’d be enthusiastic about it. But do you remember? They had already bought tables between the time …
Kristin S:… that you saw her …
Amy: She ordered it right away.
Kristin S: She ordered it while at the birthday party, and they were … So, I didn’t expect that they would … like all of a sudden now, we might’ve had four turquoise tables. So, we had mine, yours, Julie’s and Kimberly’s. And then my sister-in-law in San Antonio had gotten one for her birthday. That’s when I started thinking, “Wow, what is all of this?” You know? Like what is it?
But I think it’s important, too, to say, simultaneously, y’all were doing Front Yard Fridays. And so, this is where I want to share … remember that “J” I told everyone listening to about?
So, I’m on that straight edge of the J, and then … Mandy, who were the original Front Yard Friday people? Mary Beth and Shannon?
Mandy: Mary Beth and Shannon.
Kristen S. So, Mary Beth and Shannon live, they’re on the curve of the J and at the very end, the tip of the J. So, I didn’t really know them. So, y’all’s Front Yard Friday started but it hadn’t infiltrated yet, to our end. So, these … I love how these things just sort of … merged because y’all had that same urge. That same need, that same desire, to bring people together. The two just had not connected yet, because we just didn’t know one another, really.
So. tell everybody how y’all learned about … or the idea of Front Yard Friday, because it’s fabulous.
Shannon: Well, I wish I could say we invented it, but … I was at my boys’ soccer game, and I was talking to another neighbor, who did not live anywhere near us. She lived in a neighborhood out in the suburbs that are much easier for people to connect. The houses all, you know, look the same and the streets … they’re very close to the street. Not a lot of streets, right? They’re like literally on the edge of the neighborhood. And she said that because their neighborhood was not really finished out yet, they just had a dead-end street. There was nothing past their street.
So, they just came out on Friday nights, and everyone came out in the streets and the kids played on their bikes and brought their stuff and … they just ordered pizza every time. If you were there, you went, and if you weren’t, you didn’t have to, it was no big deal, very low-key, whatever. And I was like, “Ah, that is such a great idea” because we could do that because we were always all out in the yards, in the streets, why not just make it official, right? We’ll do this thing on Friday and create it, and what could we call it? “Front Yard Friday,” right?
Like, I just started thinking about it, it’s all about front yards and Front Yard Fridays. And I think I was talking to Mary Beth about it, because I’d just met that lady. So, I told her the story, and I was like, “Hey, what do you think?” because she lives across the street from me and down couple, and our kids are the same ages.
I was like, “Wouldn’t this be fun? And we could just make it a thing and every Friday …” They do it every Friday. I don’t know if we have that capacity now, but, you know … but maybe we pick one and somebody just, you know, when they feel like it, they throw it out there and host.
We don’t have to do pizza every time, because we’re not really a pizza every time kind of street, I don’t know why, but we’re just more of a pot-luck-y kind of thing. And so we just kind of—that’s a great idea. And you ended up, having the first one, making it happen.
MaryBeth: This is Mary Beth. We have a big circle drive in the front of our house, so it was kind-of a natural gathering spot for the neighbors because the kids can kind of ride on their trikes in front of our house, as well as just go crazy in the yard. I don’t know, I kind of just built. I think we just would … there were a couple of us that would just hang out in my front yard because we had little ones and they would just go on their scooters.
Shannon: You were with Amy and Mandy, mostly, because …
MaryBeth: Uh-huh. And Amy would heckle people walking by, and say, “Hey! What are you doing?” No, it was so great. Amy is making a panicky face.
Kristin S: Let’s define heckle in a good way.
MaryBeth: In a good way. No, she would talk to everybody, somebody would be walking by with their dog, or they would come by with a stroller, and she would say, “Hey, where do you live? It’s so nice to meet you, what are your names?” And suddenly, we just started gathering a list and that is kind of how it grew.
Shannon: And the first one was pot-luck … The first one was, everybody bring something …
MaryBeth: Or it was pizza. We did pizza.
Shannon: We did do pizza? Oh.
MaryBeth: I think we did pizza.
Shannon: So we did pot-luck like afterward?
MaryBeth: We weren’t as brave as the Maroney’s. And then y’all took it to another level.
Amy: Well, then we did it as a campaign event for Robert.
Shannon: The first one was just a regular one, it was a … We said, “Hey, let’s just roll the grill out.” I mean, we already had a tree house, so we’re ready, right? We just, we were like, “It’d be great if we could bring what happens in our backyard into our front yards.” So, I was just like, “Let’s just roll the grill out, it’s got wheels, right?” So, we took the grill out in the front yard and we hosted one and we said, “We’ll do the dogs and burgers, y’all bring the sides.”
Amy: Yes, that’s right, I remember that.
Shannon: Super easy, though, we set up the pop up tables, you know, and I went to Costco and got a bunch of burgers and dogs and buns and ketchup and mustard and stuff. It was super easy. And everybody brought great food, and it was just huge and super popular and everybody loved it.
Nicole: Who did the 5:31?
Shannon: I don’t know who made the sign.
MaryBeth: It was Rob Gordon. When the Gordons hosted.
Kristin S: So, I have to admit, that I have been telling this story wrong. Everywhere. So, tell the story, I apologize now, I told Susan, but I have not told Rob face to face.
So, I thought … Okay, first of all, there is a sign, and I will put a picture of this on our show notes so y’all can see this, that we’re so fancy that we have an old wood sign that has 5:31, the …
Mandy: …says “Front Yard Friday, 5:31.”
Kristin: Right, meet at 5:31, right? So, I thought that the 5:31, how we came to that 5:30 … the “1,” which is, a little weird, was so that people would remember, because if not, you’re thinking, “Oh, was it 5:00? Is it 5:30?”
So, I thought it was a very highbrow super smart executive decision to make it 5:31 so that it would retain in all of our memories.
MaryBeth: Uh, but no.
Kristin S.: So, Mary Beth, tell us … because you did, you schooled me. On why it became …
MaryBeth: I honestly do not know. It wouldn’t fit on the sign, right?
Amy: So, the Gordons were hosting a Front Yard Friday, and he took it upon himself to make a sign, right? And hang it. And he ran out of room on the sign. And instead of a zero, with no room for the second zero, he just … made a “1.”
Shannon: I think he was saying, “Everybody gets off work at 5:00, and then you drive home and you’re home and can maybe spend a couple of minutes getting ready by 5:30, and then I’m out of room, so 5:31.”
Kristen S. I love that. So, for those of you listening, if you’re hung up on some sort of, like perfection fallacy that you have to be perfect, we ran out of room, which is why it became 5:31. And I love that.
Shannon: There’s an awesome picture that we took that day, the first one that had the sign. He had a ladder and the sign was hanging on the ladder, and all the kids climbed up on the ladder and we took a picture at the end of the night, it was so adorable, because they were all just in their finery, you know, they were having so much fun. The sign is, like, wonky
Mandy: But now that sign, any time you’re hosting, you say, “Hey Mary Beth, I need the Front Yard Friday sign.” Or we put it out, you remember who has the sign and you hang it in your yard.
Giving Up Perfection For Connection
Nicole: I think there’s this preconception, at least for me, when I heard about The Turquoise Table movement, was like, “Is it gonna be ‘Pinterest-y’?” You know that, it had to be this perfect put on party.
I’m like, I’m not that girl. I’m not that girl on Friday afternoons, I’m exhausted. I remember we you know, tried it at our house, and it literally was like, whatever was in my refrigerator. And all these people came, and all of them brought what was in their refrigerators.
It wasn’t an old wooden sign, but it wasn’t a lot more than that. That’s what made it work. All the other women on my block were like, “Oh, I could do this next month.” It just took the bar for expectations, which I know we, as women, all put on each other. You know, we make them for ourselves. Our husbands don’t care, if the napkins match the plates, and you know …
We do it to show off to each other, and kind of what I’ve loved about this is it has … We are a block of very different women, and it has stripped us down, to like, “Who’s got cheese, who’s got crackers, who’s got wine, who’s got juice boxes? Okay, we’re good! Let’s go.”
Mandy: That is the best part of the whole thing. There are times that Kristen and I have been planning something like our … Your Good Friday where we dye Easter eggs, and you and I’ll start … Or you and I’ll start talking about, “Okay, we could do this.” And it’s so easy for us because we love to plan parties … to start amping it up …
And it’s like, “No, stop,” that is not the point,” and we will scale back intentionally. It’s so freeing. It’s just the best feeling to know that that is actually sort of against the grain of the movement. That’s not what it’s about, and I love that.
Kristen S: That’s the key, you have to give each other permission …
Mandy: Yes. And then caroling this year, I’m setting up, and all of a sudden, I’m like, “Oh, great! I don’t even need tablecloths.” And we just have like, sort of mismatched, you know, our white long pop up tables. I’m like, “What do I do?”
I was just like, “Coloring books.” And I just tore out pages from our Christmas coloring books, they weren’t even colored, and I just taped them down on the table. Because I’m like, this is what it’s about.
It’s not about perfect, you know, looks beautiful. This is not for Southern Living. This is just for my people who are gonna show up on the last day of public school getting out, and we’re all tired and we are just gonna do something fun together. And nobody cares, by the time we cover this table in food, nobody even knows what was on it. So that, Nicole, I agree, and Kristin, thank you. Because that, is the point, of the whole thing.
“It’s not about perfect, you know, looks beautiful. This is not for Southern Living. This is just for my people who are gonna show up on the last day of public school getting out, and we’re all tired and we are just gonna do something fun together.” – Mandy
Shannon: And it also has to be that way, for people to feel comfortable doing it. Because nobody has time. Ain’t nobody at this table that has time to like, make it perfect before you roll that grill out in your front yard. That’s not what it is. It’s permission to be authentically, “Come as you are.”
Amy: I mean, honestly, when I saw the pictures out of the coloring books, I was like, “Wow, Mandy’s kicking it up a notch.” I mean, I thought, “Is this Martha, or what?” I mean seriously, I was like, “She is so creative.”
Mandy: I went to the dollar store, I bought some plates and napkins, and that was the end of that.
Kristin S: But like, that’s highbrow for us.
Mandy: It doesn’t even … I mean that’s the beauty of it. You were right when you talk about it being a foreign concept to a lot of people, because they think it needs to be layers upon layers of invitations, and flowers, and perfectly coordinated stuff. When you really tell them, “All we do is send out an email, and everybody shows up with their coolers and lawn chairs and their food and that’s it.” And there’s nothing … It’s just so much more accessible.
Kristen S: It is, and I think … Where we headed into all of this, just to sort of reiterate, just the sustainability of it. So early on, the amount of effort and work that went into that Memorial Day party was not something that we could sustain on a more … even a quarterly basis.
Mandy: No, because y’all had a magician come …
Kristin: We had a magician and bouncy houses and all of these fun things, which were fantastic, for a once a year type thing. But what the beauty of the 5:31 sign is, it’s just that sometimes we do … You’re very, very good, Mandy, you’re the glue that kind of keeps us organized, but we don’t always even have that email.
You look for the sign, and so I know that if it’s Thursday or Friday, and I see the sign in one of y’all’s yards, all I have to do is show up. That’s how low we are keeping the bar.
Kristin S: It’s not even … And now, I mean sometimes maybe five people show up maybe, and sometimes … Y’all? I don’t know, what have we A lot. A lot. Let’s just say a lot.
Mandy: When we say it it scares people, and I’m like … But you’d be surprised. Like when you just … Yeah, it sounds scary when you try to amass how many people it is. But then a lot of times, y’all, think about it, we had forty families here. So, yeah.
Nicole: I think sometimes keeping that bar low, is what makes us feel like it’s okay to show up, when we’re all a little cranky and tired. The hair’s not done, and the kids aren’t washed, and you know, it … I’m like, if it was a fancy party, I’d be like, “Vicky’s are out.” We don’t have it in us tonight. But when it’s “Okay, Beck just got out of soccer practice and he smells gross, let’s go!”
“…keeping that bar low, is what makes us feel like it’s okay to show up.”- Nicole
Mandy: Let’s go, exactly.
Participant: Go for five minutes. Come and have a slice of pizza and you’re just gonna walk home, because it’s your block and … you can just go home.
Kristin S: I think that’s what the 5:31 implies, right? Is that it’s not a party you have to get ready for. It’s a party you just rush as soon as you get home.
Amy: Well if you have the understanding … If you know the backstory behind the 5:31 and you realize it’s not a typ-o. Some people thought, “Oh, we thought y’all just made a type-o,” because we had sent out instructions about how to set up a Front Yard Friday and we’d put 5:31, and people thought, “Oh, we thought that was just a typo.”
Kristin S: Nope. We just … it was purposeful.
Amy: Kristen Campbell … I wanna hear … because you just moved here from Australia …
Kristen C: Yes.
Amy:… and I remember …
Shannon: Very different culture …
Amy Hoyda: See and we do all these things, we do this for Halloween, this for … you know …
Mandy: Fourth of July, caroling, yeah.
The Table: Friendship, Fellowship, Prayers
Kristin S: Hold on, hold on. Two seconds before, because this is … This is really a Saturday, for those of you listening, and so first of all, everybody has to go somewhere in a minute. Monique has to go to her son’s baseball game …
Monique: Yeah. He’s pitching. Yeah, first game, so.
Kristen S: Which one?
Monique: Um, Bennett, so nine … Texas league.
Kristen S: So she just kind of sent me a note, “Can I please tell my story before I have to go?
Monique: Well, and mine’s not Front Yard party related, so I didn’t want to change gears. But, I was … we moved in … was walking, back and forth, and Kristen, my friend Lyssa … Lyssa Anderson, is good friends with her sister, Emily. And Emily was a senior when I was a freshman, who we idolized. So, I knew who you were, but I didn’t know you. But I’d be walking back and forth, and then Kristin would be sitting at the table on a laptop, and I think you’d just moved in, so I don’t know anything about the backstory. But I’d just quit work, from burning the candle at both ends. I was really struggling, being a stay-at-home mom.
Participant: For a congressman.
Monique: Yeah, I worked for a U.S. Congressman, burning the candle at both ends, and then to nothing. So I just one day stopped to talk with Kristen, and kind of just talked through it, and we talked about God, but for me, that’s The Turquoise Table, just friendship, God, prayers. That’s what fellowship … that’s what it’s really been to me.
“…for me, that’s The Turquoise Table, just friendship, God, prayers. That’s what fellowship … that’s what it’s really been to me.” – Monique
The parties have been great, but also just sitting down, you know, getting to talk to neighbors, because then we’d be talking and then someone else would walk by with their dog and start talking, so, it wasn’t just parties.It was also like, Life. Talks.
Monique: And I didn’t realize we moved in right when the parties started, then, because that must have been right at the beginning. We did. I thought, “Wow, we lucked out.” And we did luck out, but … I didn’t know …
Kristin S: But I remember that night, so you texted me. We’d had that conversation. You were the first person that said, “Table Time.” You know, and you said something about, “Do you have that time after dinner for ‘Table Time’?”
Monique: And wine.
Kristin: I was doing the dishes, and it was almost bedtime or what-not. And you and I went out there and sat and remember, Bob Gary by?
Mandy: Of course, he did.
Monique: In his convertible.
Kristin S: In his convertible. And he’s mid-eighties, and he’s just sort of … We call him our mayor of our street. So Monique and I are having this beautiful conversation and we’re just sharing … and it was more intimate than usual, you know, conversation going on.
So, Bob Gary sees this, he says, “Stay right there.” He goes to McDonald’s and gets us sugar cookies, and he brings them back and says, “This is what community is looks like.”
Monique: They were warm, they were awesome.
Kristin S: But you know, it does take that generation … He saw what we had not yet even identified. We knew we needed each other, and we knew that there was maybe gonna be an opportunity to connect, but he told us, you know, what we were doing when we couldn’t even see it ourselves.
Shannon: What he saw, was what they used to do …
Kristin S: Exactly. Exactly. He saw these neighbors, in this tiny, almost insignificant, could have been moment. But for you and I it was not insignificant. I think that’s when our friendship then …
Kristin S: you know went a little deeper.
Monique: Absolutely, yeah. I just, well I respected you, and I thought you were great and you’d be a good person for me to talk to, so … That was great and then it. So thank you, for letting me give my little …
Kristin S: No, I’m so glad you brought that up, because I think that’s probably where we’re gonna head and it segues in perfectly to what Kristen …
Monique: Okay. Sorry to leave …
Kristin S: You go.
Monique: I gotta…
Mandy: Go Bennett!
Kristin: Let us know what the score is …
Monique: Okay, I will.
Kristin’s Kitchen Sponsored By Shipt
Kristin’s Lemon Rosemary Cookies Recipe
Kristin: Hey friends, thanks for joining me in the kitchen today. I am going to walk you through a recipe that is one of our neighborhood’s very favorites, and this is the recipe for lemon rosemary cookies.
It actually comes from Mandy, who you just met, Aren’t my neighbors the best? Anyway, Mandy showed up about 4 or 5 years ago to one of our Front Yard Friday events at the table with this platter of lemon rosemary cookies. Y’all, we flocked to her. I mean, it was hilarious. She was swarmed with neighbors, kids, adults, all of this. These are so simple. But they were like little bites of shortbread spiked with rosemary–fresh rosemary and lemon. They are just morsels of heaven.
So, they’re super simple. You just need:
- softened butter,
- some sugar,
- three tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
…and I have got three lemons right here. I’m going to double the batch because I’m going to freeze some of them. So, I’m kind of just rolling out the lemon to get all those juices, release some vanilla, four to five teaspoons of fresh rosemary chopped. Then it has a really delicious icing. I’ve made these with the icing, and without, and it’s delicious both ways. If you the frosting, you’ll need a little bit more butter, some lemon juice, more vanilla, and then confectioners or powdered sugar.
So, I’ve had several comments of people asking “where are the recipes that I talk about in the kitchen segment?” So we have “show notes” I know that sounds fancy, but anyway most podcasts and ours in particular has what’s called show notes. So it lists everything that I talk about; recipes, books, links. If a guest shares it, it has all of their information where you can connect with all of our guests. So if you will just go to the TurquoiseTable.com/podcast. All of the episodes are listed there. So, the Lemon Rosemary cookies, Mandy gave me her recipe to share with you all and you will be able to print the recipe. All the recipes that we talk about and that Shipt helps provide for y’all, are all on the show notes. So, you can just go there! Anyway, sorry for that digression–I’ve been asked several times.
Click here for Lemon Rosemary Cookie Recipe.
So, I am just going to zest a little bit of the lemon on just a little microplane. And I don’t even have a brand on here but I can put the pictures on the show notes as well. And that’s it. You know, you don’t want to get into the white part of the lemon because that’s bitter–the pith–and so just gently zest your lemon. I wish y’all could smell that. There’s nothing more fresh and awake than lemon zest. I’m just going to chop up my Rosemary and I’m going to make these as soon as I finish with y’all.
I hope you are encouraged by meeting my neighbors. I hope that you heard part of their story and that resonated with where you are or how you’re feeling about stepping out and reaching out and getting to know one of your neighbors. So, it’s going to be fun. We’re actually going to bring you stories from real life people and either my neighbors, or part of our community, our friends and people in community al across the United States. So, every third or fourth episode will be interviews with people who are our ambassadors in their front yards, or in their apartment buildings, or in their communities all across America. So I’m super excited about that.
Before I get back to my cookies I want to leave y’all with with a quote for y’all to ponder as you are making lemon rosemary cookies. This comes from the very wise and wonderful Cookie Monster. Yes, I’m going to quote Cookie Monster. My kids are old and we don’t watch Sesame Street anymore—in fact–somebody tell me, is Cookie Monster still on Sesame Street? Anyway, I came across this quote from him and I love it, and you are probably laughing at me right now. But I want you to think about it, and I want you to think about this quote as you think about your neighbors and as you think about your community and as you make these fabulous cookies from Mandy.
So, from Cookie Monster, and I’m not going to do my cookie monster voice. So, imagine Cookie Monster saying this, not me:
“sometimes me think ‘what is love,’ and then me think ‘love is what last cookie is’– for me give up the last cookie for you.” – Cookie Monster
So, ponder that. Ponder the wise words of Cookie Monster and until we meet again, gather small and love deep, friends.