Shhhh, just listen. (And happy thanksgiving)

I’m not sure why I want to keep talking about this, I only know that every few pages I’m texting excerpts to Aaron from the other room and there is no emoticon for FIST PUMPING YES MOTHERFUCKER. So I’m typing that a lot also. (Sorry, Grandma … and mom?)

Thanksgiving 2015

I started reading this book yesterday and not really in earnest until after the kids were in bed and instead of retiring to the basement for mindless television we both crawled in bed with a book and spent the next few hours turning pages. I laughed, I cried, but mostly I laugh-cried. Somewhere around midnight I put it down and closed my eyes.

I’ve been having really vivid dreams lately but I didn’t wake up with details of last night’s complexities, instead I woke up slowly to the wafting smell of bacon coming from the kitchen. And like I was hoping would happen, I had those visions of coming home for the Holidays and waking up in your old bedroom while your parents are downstairs starting the coffee and making breakfast. (That’s what Thanksgiving and Christmas are for, you see.) I’m not gonna lie, it was like a movie and I just laid there savoring the moment, even if it was fleeting, of feeling like I was young again.

Thanksgiving 2015

I was giddy and that was a welcome feeling for today.

Thanksgiving 2015

One of the chapters of this book talks about the dark secret of lazy parenting: the ritual. Before this book I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s newest title, Better Than Before. A few chapters into it I had one of those moments where I had to get up and walk around and immediately sit down to write the rules I know about myself.

It was a short list, but on it I chronicled:

I drink coffee every day.
My day is bookmarked by carpool.
I always use chicken bones to make stock.
1st snow means hot chocolate, photos, and lots of anticipation.
I like habits, their boundaries feel wonderfully safe to me.

Plus a few other items – but I love how looking back on it I see this list differently in just a few short weeks. I love the ritual of life and traditions. I love knowing that every time I roast a chicken I know the next two days my house is going to smell like chicken soup with lemons and garlic and bay leaves. I love knowing that the morning of the first snow is always a celebration in this house.

In Dinner: a love story, Jenny says “In other words, when there are so many little things to think about, it’s comforting to know that I have a few of the big things running on autopilot.” (FIST PUMPING YES MOTHERFUCKER.)

After breakfast we piled the kids into the car for a Holiday Hike at Riley Trails. I’ve found that walking 30 minutes a day is somewhat of a secret trick to managing my bloodsugars so I do that without lapse. Every day, rain or shine, I walk at least half an hour. If I can manage to get my family to do this with me: I love it. But for the first thirty minutes of any hike or walk – I have a zone and I go there. One step, two. Breathe. Exhale, inhale, look up. Look around, look down. Inhale, listen. The wind in the trees sounds exactly like the lake lapping the shore – it’s the most beautiful thing to listen to in the dead of a forest.

Silence has a song, too.

Thanksgiving 2015
Thanksgiving 2015

And after my half hour is up my mental check list turns off and I can slow down a little. I don’t feel so much pressure to keep walking, just keep walking. I don’t feel like I’m saving myself anymore: now I just feel like I’m serving myself. We go off the path a bit more and explore.

Thanksgiving 2015

And once in a while I can stop altogether to close my eyes with his, heads laid out in wonder while every other sense in our control is on high alert. Smelling the breeze, touching the wind, listening to the rustling of the leaves.

Thanksgiving 2015

Winter is coming, we can smell it.

Winter means soups and stews, pasta and sauces. It means homemade breads and bottles of wine. Cheese boards, exotic fruits, champagne. Winter means time. We have time.

Having people around our table is something we’re trying to do more of. More families, more couples. More meals together. Not out (although we love a good night out) but in. More sharing what we already have with people in our lives that we already love.

Jenny, again, writes about hosting (Phase 3) with kids. She tells a story about another couple, equally as daring as she, who coordinated an evening of pasta making for her family and theirs.

“Making pasta from scratch was the kind of endeavor that I would’ve once called a “someday” project. As in, “Someday, when the kids are older and I have more time I’ll attempt to do that.” That was the best part about having friends like Todd and Anne. When you feel like you’re all in it together, someday suddenly seems a lot less intimidating. Someday suddenly feels … here.”


You see where this is going? I can’t stop. Something happened, I let the dam go. So I stopped everything (after texting that passage to Aaron with my, now well known, sentiments absent of emoticons) and went to the kitchen, giddy all over again. I had a cantaloupe that needed eating so I sliced it up and while I was emptying it’s sunset-colored belly of seeds I just had this feeling … this is simple and extravagant. This is good.

Thanksgiving 2015, snacks

Simple extravagance is important to me because it doesn’t beg for more. Because small voices with big hope are more powerful than large voices with an echo. Gentle conversation where inspiration breeds ambition, these voices matter to me. It allows you to show up, it doesn’t take your coat and replace it with a cloak of titles or achievements. It takes your coat and wraps it’s arms around you.

Thanksgiving 2015, snacks

I’m on page 228 and this is what I know:

Room temperature cantaloupe is sweeter and pairs well with Chardonnay. Having something to say but not knowing how to say it is a reckless way to spin yourself in circles. One step, two. Breathe. Exhale, inhale, look up. Look around, look down. Inhale, listen. Add a pinch more salt, to almost everything. Keep canned tomatoes in your pantry and a good olive oil. Your freezer is a treasure trove of last minute ideas. And it’s ok to begin from nothing: to build something with depth, to wait just a little while longer for the flavor to develop.

Because silence has a song, too. And she’s singing wether you’re ready for the show or not.


Last week on Instagram Shauna Niequist mentioned a book in one of her photo descriptions. Something about how if you start with an onion something will come to you when you’re stumped about what to make for dinner. The photo didn’t hurt either, waxing poetic by one of my favorite writers, and she had just suggested a book: and the subject matter was food.

I bought that book based on her recommendation in 200 characters without blinking. It arrived today.

Day before Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving break started today and while I was amped and ready to go this morning, all of a sudden it was 8:30 am and I realized I had a good 12 hours left to go. I was out of ideas. I panicked and started texting friends who have kids the same age as me: were they surviving? Why was this hard?

I made a split decision to go get coffee and detour to the grocery store alone. With my 20 minutes of silence I did some bargaining with God. Like, if He could just please get me through the next few days, I would, you know, say thanks.

It took fresh air and a walk and about 5 more hours but I did get there. After our long walk to the library for some new books and Christmas movies (and more coffee, always more coffee) we drove into the driveway and there it was: the brown package.

All day I’ve been making turkey stock from Thanksgiving bones (one party down and one unfortunate defrosting fiasco with the extra freezer in the garage), I decided earlier today that I’d be making bolognese tonight for dinner. And, because I love the idea of something simmering, I wanted it on the stove all day too. I bought pappardelle noodles last week at Eataly and I’ve been day dreaming about this meal for just as long.

Day before Thanksgiving 2015

And then I sat down. Cook books, especially the newer versions of them, where the recipes read like conversation – I can’t get enough of them. Food is such a story, the dinner table: It’s the entire reason I started a company solely based on gathering around a table to eat. Every page I read I’d sit up and giggle. There’s just so much packed in one recipe, one chapter.

It made me think about the story of our own dinner table. Of how even though I’m estranged from my birth-dad and we don’t speak, I still remember the venison sausage and eggs he’d make for us for breakfast during hunting season. I still make, and am teaching my daughter how to make my step-mom’s homemade white sauce for ravioli. How she taught me how to make a vinaigrette.

It reminds me of making scones, the gentle rise of the baking soda batter. How easy they are, but how complicated they seem. Breakfast is one of my favorite meals to make, we love eggs and hollendaise sauce (Barefoot Contessa’s cheater version is life changing). Mozzarella and tomato caprese salad is a summer staple, and how different the basil out of my own garden tastes compared to the stuff I can find fresh at my grocery store.

It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow and yesterday I made my first turkey (see above for the garage freezer situation). I guess it was good timing? But I don’t like turkey. Or stuffing, cranberries, or pumpkin pie. I love mashed potatoes and the green bean casserole and I love the way that every Thanksgiving feast I’ve been a part of for the last 10 years the green beans have been my staple dish to bring. Not because I make them any better or even because it’s a crowd favorite – but because the people asking me to show up know that this is the casserole that spells home for me on a day when home is so far away.

I start to think of when my mom was away this summer, in Washington, how much I was hurting because my brother and his family had just moved away. I felt a million miles away from someone who connected me to family, I felt alone and afraid and this new horizon for my future looked really lonely. But I opened the cookbook my mom had hand-written for me before I got married and fingered each recipe until I found the Red Sauce for Salmon, I knew there would be a salmon cook out while my mom was away – it’s the one thing we always know will happen in Washington when we go to visit. Grandpa grills salmon and Grandma makes the red sauce.

So I found the worchestershire sauce, cut the onion, opened the tomato sauce, spooned out the brown sugar and I set to making my home smell like the place I wanted to be the most: with them.

I feel a deep sense of loss in my community: family has scattered to good places but I can't seem to pick the pieces and make them fit. This has been a very hard season, and one of the most beautiful too. My kitchen is torn out but my stove is still plugg

I’ve chronicled my story with food on this site for a long time. Oftentimes I’m fighting my way through making peace with food, when really food is the peacemaker for me. Food is what always brings my family back together. Every night we crowd around something warm on benches by the table and in about 10 minutes all the preparation and time I’ve spent making something to feed us becomes a memory. But these are the memories I get to keep reliving.

When I was in high school my mom tells me I spent a good chunk of one of my relationships baking for a boy. I don’t remember this but I love the idea of it – and maybe that’s why I did it then, too. Because I grew up listening to how my mom was a baker as a young child. How she would bake for her family, later her boyfriend. I loved the idea of showing someone you loved them by using your hands to literally fill them with something good. After my parents divorce was final my sister and I threw my mom a “Divorce Party!” – we invited her girlfriends and made orange jello that didn’t set up and chocolate chip cookies (I think we swapped salt for sugar in that recipe, too) but I remember just knowing that when it was time to celebrate or love someone, you fed them. I was only eleven.

One of my kids’ favorite stories is of when I had just started dating Aaron: I asked him if he wanted me to bring him lunch and he answered, yea, Lobster. Like the smart-ass he was. So I made him Lobster. And now every year on his birthday we have lobster. (He also takes me seriously now.)

Food is tangible memories for me. When I buy salmon I always think of my Grandpa and fishing with him on Silver Lake. I’ve perfected my own chocolate chip cookie staple recipe, we make hot chocolate mix every winter, I know my family loves tacos so I’m never without a white fish or ground beef and recently another mom shared a chicken recipe (frozen to melt in your mouth in 20 minutes … I’m not kidding) that has made it’s way into our “oh shit! whats for dinner!?” rotation of dinners. It’s also a crowd favorite over here.

I know that Jessica will open up about almost anything over a freshly baked loaf of sourdough. Oliver will linger just a little longer if you offer him tea, or a nutella sandwich, and he makes some mean scrambled eggs. Every Christmas I make cinnamon rolls but the store-bought ones in a can are the simple extravagance my kids love through out the year. I love that as a kid my favorite part of a birthday was that whoever’s birthday it was got to pick out a box of cereal (any one they wanted!) at the store that week and I’ve carried that into my own kitchen. We don’t have store bought cereal very often and it’s not reserved just for birthdays, but the times we let them pick a box – it’s always so funny to watch them shop. Jessica will always pick Cheerios and Oliver is a shoe-in for something with marshmallows.

Right? Why have I been so hard on myself. Not only in the food department but the writing one? I’ve been racking my brain with writers block wondering what the hell I have left to say? Not wanting to tell some of my stories, wanting desperately to tell others. I’ve been frustrated with how to get back into a rhythm of writing. Of practicing.

And when I get to the point of throwing my hands up, I go in the kitchen and turn on the burner under my kettle. I fill it with water and wait for it to steam. I pick my favorite tea and thumb through a cook book for dinner ideas. Then I hunt in my pantry for the staples needed to feed my family and I start chopping onions, browning butter, salting meat.

Why does listening to Gordon Ramsay cook make me want to change the world? I saw a tutorial yesterday and decided I would also massage garlic into red meat. This art of cooking and eating well, it feels spiritual. Like we were created to connect with what

It’s what spans the distance from memories to reality. And because of that, I’m never alone when I’m in my kitchen.

Things are not what they seem

Over the summer I was hit with this sentiment again and again. Conversations would reveal just a big enough crack to wonder if I could trust what I was hearing, or who I was hearing it from. And not from a place of distrust, I didn’t instinctually not trust these conversations and individuals. Quite the opposite, I will always trust you first. I’m a bit gullible, perhaps naive sometimes, but I don’t waiver on believing the best in people.

Gimme those lips, those forearms. Wrap them around me and don't let go. #poem #poetry #amwriting #handlettering #sumiink #slingingink #brushlettering #therearenoparttimedreams #lovewhatyoudo #love #wildandfree

I’m suspect of people who are surprised by honesty.

I’m often upset with the process it takes to get me from point A to point B. Whether it be a personal conviction or something I need to learn, even a talent I’m refining; I’m a decision maker. I know and then I do. I don’t need convincing, persuading. If it sounds good and aligns with what I’m hear to do – I say yes. I’m frustrated by the process of elimination. There’s always more than one good choice but I’m paralyzed by choice after I’ve made a decision. Because What If is the boogie man who lives underneath my bed. Constantly wrapping those tentacle arms around my ankles and pulling me under. A deep dive into doubt.

The most beautiful palette of deeply muted colors with a shocking ribbon of pink on the horizon. Winter is coming, I can't wait.

But things are not what they seem. A few weeks ago we were out with friends and ran into acquaintances – people we recognize but don’t know. They made comments about how “put together” we looked. Which, lets just get this shit out of the way. My hair was combed, so sure I put myself together. But listen up, let’s not be so insecure that we have to accost strangers into making us feel better about how real we all are. Let’s be human. Why is this so hard? The family who looks like they have everything, could be drowning. Their children might be in trouble, they could be dealing with affairs, financial ruin, deep loss of dreams they had to let go of. They could be on the other side of turmoil, finally able to celebrate. We’re all just walking each other home. Be careful.

I have to remember to take other people out of the box I’ve kept them in. People are not their pasts, their elementary selves on the playground, or their yearbook photo. I don’t want to be in that box, why do I think everyone else just stayed put whilst I ran far, far away?

Had an inspiring coffee date today. Somehow sharing a table with a friend can inadvertently just peal layers away without you even knowing it. It's souls like this that make the tears of the onion so worth the effort.

More than anything I think this phrase was for me. (Things are not what they seem) Not as a warning to listen differently to the people around me, but to listen closely to myself. When I pound the pavement racking up miles and miles of wandering and waiting and looking for the other shoe to drop – things are not what they seem.

As a little girl I asked two questions: Do I matter and am I enough? As females, we all ask these questions. Sometimes they look like begging for belonging, other times these questions look like hiding. And when, as an adult, I start asking these questions it looks like “Where do I belong?” and I always go back to the last place I was sure.

Girls Weekend Up North 2015

There’s something completely unsettling about this for me. I don’t like starting over (see above: process of elimination, decision maker.) but every time I’m forced to do this all over again I realize more and more that I don’t need to be reminded of the last time I was sure of something so fickle.

Things are not what they seem.

But sometimes they are.

It’s Monday and I don’t want to Adult today.

Case of the Monday's

Everywhere I look in my house there’s a reason to get busy. Dishes, laundry, sweeping, the aftermath of a weekend with paper and scissors.

Case of the Monday's

Case of the Monday's

Case of the Monday's

Case of the Monday's

Case of the Monday's

Case of the Monday's

There are projects I’ve started that are collecting dust and excuses, bills I have to pay, and my coffee is cold but I’m still drinking it. We had a good weekend, full of places to go and people to see. My kids are almost 11 and 7 1/2 now, we’re no longer under the dictatorship of napping schedules so their social calendars are full of fun things to do. Sports clinics and teams, friends to play with, even dates with grandparents. These kids are exciting.

Picking apples

Fall Family Photo Shoots 2015

But they’re constantly leaving a wake of chaos. I was talking to a friend this weekend about how surprised I was by this feeling of “complete” I’ve had since the projects on our house have finished. I wasn’t expecting to want to stay. The last project (our kitchen and mudroom remodel) didn’t go well. The contractor we had been working with really dropped the ball and ruined the relationship. I was feeling upset about the process, not even sure if I would enjoy the finished product because of all the turmoil that went with the progression. But having the ability to settle in the wake of that – and wanting to come to a place that feels like home, it’s created a shift in how I feel about this little house with big ideas.

The result of that is wanting to live in this space. I want to be here. I like it here. And, maybe for the first time ever, I feel a sense of pride in my home. Not because I think it’s beautiful or the best. Because it’s ours. Together, this family, my family, we sailed the salty waters of change together and here we are. Landed, ground amok in the messy harbor of life outside of those boxes.

And it’s a beautiful picture for me every Monday when the playroom is torn apart and beds aren’t made and breakfast dishes leave a wake of crumbs on the island with milk rings from their cups. I’m reminded at the beginning of each week that I get to do this. I get to care, I get to choose to want this. I’m no longer chasing the emptiness in my soul because where I was looking for so long for the spout to fill me up; there was only more loneliness in that spring. And this is thankless work, the work of caring for others. The unrecognized pattern of following the chaos to the other side of the room so that when you get there to catch them, they fall into your arms instead.

I find it difficult to not be recognized for this kind of work. To not be put on a pedestal in a public manner for doing the hard things, without being asked. I can get upset about the trajectory of the next 10 years, how many more hours I’ll log doing dishes, making beds, folding laundry. For how many internal conversations I’ll have about what really matters, and the result of that is always putting them before myself because they’re not here for that long. And when you have a burning desire to chase your dreams inside that is constantly met with the reality of your everyday, mundane tasks of sweeping instead: you can suffer in silence. You can cut off the oxygen to that fire that wants more for you.

But friends,

Case of the Monday's

You can be one of many and still be chosen.

You can still write that book, build that table, paint those canvases, write those scripts. You can still run that marathon, and become that chef. You can still own that restaurant, be a photographer, write those poems, own that clothing store. You can be one of many dreams, you can even have more than one: and you can still go get it.

Sanctuary Woods

Finding adventure

A few weeks ago I took Oliver on a hike to Sanctuary Woods.

Finding adventure

look closely

There’s a rhythm of habitual practice to the way I go about my life. I used to be worried about developing habits, I didn’t want to be so predictable. I wanted to be as wild and untamed as I felt inside. I wanted to follow the whims of my demanding temperament.

Finding adventure

Finding adventure

But I’ve learned that I throw myself into predictable chaos to protect myself from the reality of my vulnerability. Only what if every day was a choice to move forward? Regardless of what yesterday left undone? What if every moment was an opportunity to practice acceptance for who you are – right now?

Finding adventure

Finding adventure

Spending time on these trails reminds me to look closely. To pay attention. And when Oliver is with me, the conversation is light, he notices things I can’t even see until I take off all my preconceptions and put my cheek to the ground to see the magic he sees.

Finding adventure

He looks for the adventure and when he happens upon it, he partakes. Like a feast for your soul, he dives in. There’s no waiting to be invited to the table of wonder when you’re a child – you just leap. And I love that about them. I love living that all over again on each adventure. It rips me from my routine. It takes me from my head to my heart and it keeps me here.

Finding adventure

Finding adventure

I take a lot of photos, an overwhelming amount of memories to store and keep. I’m often reluctant to snap because I feel the weight of the responsibility to take them from the lens to the page and in all of those photos are snap-shots of my feet. I’ve been keeping track of the movement of our family for years. I’ve had a camera attached to my hand since I was fifteen, and the only place I turn it on me is down, towards the ground. Where I can prove I’m there. Where I can see that the ground is still there, where I’m planted firmly beneath the moments I keep.

Finding adventure

And the legacy of proof I’ve collected that I’m still here, still standing; Well, it keeps me moving one step forward, one at a time. Leaving old ideas, habits, and routines behind that no longer serve me well. Leaving footprints but still collecting theirs.