Why I write this blog?
What started out as a place to write creatively, record my recipes and share snippets of life turned into this space that I expose the world to who I am, what I think and what I feel. It's raw. It's imperfect. But it's real. It's me.
I have to write this disclaimer that yes, I am a grant writer by day, but this is my space to break all the rules and to write freely. I am breaking grammatical rules left and right because what I want to happen is for the words and feelings to explode onto this space without fear and worry that I need to edit what I say and how I say it. I am sure every beloved English teacher and Journalism professor (and my dear Uncle Harlan) that have ever taught me are cringing and grabbing for their red pens, and I apologize.
Supposedly when you start a blog you have to pick a category. Nothing seemed to fit what I wanted this blog to be but I had to pick one and settled on the "Food and Lifestyle Blog" category, based on my selections.
My Blog Goals
When I started this process these were the goals that I penned in my notebook:
I want to craft a real blog...with real feelings, real food, real events, real memories and real opportunities to duplicate.
I want this space to be inviting, approachable and uncomplicated yet trustworthy...you know that if these recipes were conquered by me, then you can dive in and make them too.
I want this blog to cause you to run into the kitchen or to go grab your plus one or your offspring or pets and to love, to celebrate and to create rituals and memories...with no hesitation not waiting another day.
I want to take you through the seasons of the year...and the seasons of life by providing ideas. I share bits and pieces and snippets of day to day merely to suggest, inspire and share.
I want to expose you to new recipes and share some of our family favorites. I come from a long line of amazing cooks (my mom and grandmas and uncles and great aunts) and bakers on both sides of my family with many great recipes lovingly shared from these family members, both living and deceased. I have a great uncle Harlan, a gourmet chef, who has wowed many over the years with his secret recipes, and when given the green-light with his permission, I will happily share his creations.
I use fresh ingredients whenever possible vs. other options and I stay away from processed foods. I live in the Pacific NW which rains and has a lack of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables during the winter months but even then, I still strive to use fresh root vegetables or frozen and try to stay away from canned vegetable options.
I try to make almost all my recipes from scratch but not yet nothing too difficult (except for the challenge from The Bittens to make Bon Appetit's recipe) but I will be the first to mention if a recipe is going to be too time-consuming or challenging.
My daughter is deathly allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts which I try to stay away from using in my cooking, although you will find a nut recipe every now and then for the times when she is away.
My favorite cookbook author is Ina Garten of the Barefoot Contessa fame and I was a huge fan after having my first baby over 16 years ago, when I needed to learn how to become a better cook, and Ina transformed my cooking (well, maybe that and the real butter she uses...whatever it takes).
I believe that there are no bad cooks...just people that don't follow directions.
When my friend Julie read my blog early-on, she shared "After reading your blog I feel as if I was pulled up to your kitchen table and we swapped ideas and recipes as we sat and sipped and laughed and cried together." And that is what I want this blog to be. I want you to feel that you are shimmying up to my bar stool at my kitchen counter and we are sharing and inspiring each other. I want this place to be where you can discover and share and be inspired along with me.
I want to show my non-cooking/non-baking friends/family that yes, indeed they can and these are the recipes for everyday cooking. Because I was that non-cooking, non-baking gal just a few short years ago in my early twenties. Just ask my old roommate Debbie.
She will tell you about the burnt potato casserole that surprisingly didn't start a fire, but probably cooked all day and all night, in the oven...when neither of us were home!
Or you could probably hear similar stories in regards to my lack of cooking abilities from any of my previous male relationships. I'm sure they would all concur. My first attempt at making carrot soup called for coriander and instead of using the ground version, I used the full seed pods. Um, awful is not a strong enough word to describe that flop of a recipe.
I am in that stage of life that I need to whip out a meal quickly and efficiently and it had better be worth of my time and turn out to be tasty and a hit with the family.I'm admitting that I am not a patient cook.
I want to be able to knock-out a recipe quickly and easily but I want that recipe to have the "wow" factor.
I'm the epitome of the imperfect, 'messy but marvelous' cook. I am not meticulous and I am not detailed in my cooking. I am a mess-creating and kitchen-wrecking cook...as the Hubs would quickly confirm, as he is the guy that loves to clean the kitchen after my whirlwind strikes. ;)
I want you to taste these recipes and experience how incredible they are and realize that they are (for the most part) the healthier version in this edited form. I want them to be your foolproof, go-to, everyday recipes you can make over and over again.
I find items that you can find...if I can locate them in my small-town America, you can too...or we can order them from places like Amazon, thank goodness! ;)
A little about my family...
The Hubs and I have four kids together - two 14 year olds, and two 16 year olds. Yes, we are in that really "exciting" teen years! Honestly, I love this age. I'm not a fan of the diaper days and can do without the toddler meltdowns, although it seems that they are coming back. When I worked at a youth organization prior to having my own babies, the middle school and high school age groups were my favorites.
You are probably trying to figure out how I could have birthed all those kids within a 28-month period or wondering if we have twins...and the answer is that we are a blended family. I used to LOVE watching the Brady Bunch growing up and now I have my own version. When we met we both had two children - all under the age of 6! Ironically, I had always dreamed of having either two or four children, (never three because of the middle man).
Blended families bring so much to the table and they take a lot of work but we are at our best when we are all together. It's hard to work with the comings and goings and we miss our kids terribly when they are away with the other parent. Hats off to them...the kids who adapt from one household to the next.
I work really hard to make our house their home. Everyone has their own space and we honor each individual's uniqueness. We were blessed with two girls and two boys that for the most part, love being together! For years it was like a built-in playdate when we'd get the troops together every week.
I am always cooking as if I am feeding a family of six, regardless of who is seated at the table. It is not unusual for the kids to have friends over to join us for meals and sleepovers and I don't even think twice about adding another mouth or two, as it feels so normal now.
Over the holidays, each of the four kids had a friend over for a sleepover. While at a basketball tournament, our friends were discussing where they would go out to eat. Knowing that a huge batch of Taco Soup was brewing in my Crock Pot at home, I quickly invited the family of four over. That night, we served 14 pretty effortlessly (thanks to a slow cooker meal) and the Hubs' mad skills in whipping up a batch of his mom/grandma's cornbread and brownies.
I love being a mom.
Gosh, it is the hardest task ever put before me, but honestly, it's my favorite.
I cringe at the thought of becoming an empty-nester but also make sure that my kids' lives do not define me so that when they are gone, I will still have a life beyond raising children.
The only problem with having all four kids within a 28-month span is that we are going to blink and they will all be out of the house tornado-style! Ugh!
The way their birthdays fall, although they are the same ages (two of each) for part of the year (and the two babies are the same all but two months), they are all one year apart in school. So, yes, folks, that makes two in middle school and two in high school all four teens in high school right now! (Thus, why I exercise and dance regularly.)
I love being a wife to the Hubs.
He was my "second chance" and now it's obvious that he is reason that I went through the hard times before we met.
You never understand why you go through trials until you are out on the other side, adjusted, and then - poof - surprise - an infectious smile with pearly whites beams you up at a University of Oregon Duck game, and the rest is history.
He is my true north, my time-keeper, recipe-tester and best friend.
He complements all my weaknesses and makes me want to be a better person.
I'm mushy and moody and he accepts me regardless.
He puts his family first and loves unconditionally.
I am so lucky to have him! xo
There is not one answer for every situation. There is no darkness without light. There is no bitter without sweet. There is the choice to wake up every day and choose to fight for your love and relationships and believe you are worth fighting for too. Be brave. Take care of each other. - Author Unknown
I'm so glad that you are joining me, and my family, on this journey.
Thanks for understanding my imperfections and excusing my grammatical errors in advance.
Kindness, I've discovered, is everything in life. -Isaac Bashevis Singer
If you want, you can...
+Sign up to follow my feed here.
+Check out my most popular posts that readers love most - The Best Grilled Salmon Recipe You Will Ever Try, the famous Spinach Dip (made without mayo), the Cookie Dough Frosted Brownies, this Cheesy Garlic Bread Bite Appetizer (affectionately known as Cheesy Bread Crack amongst my friends who always beg for me to bring this appetizer along) and My Uncle Harlan's Buttermilk Scones.
+You can find my Recipe Index here for an updated list of recipes (although forgive me as I don'g always have the list as updated as I should)!
+Check out my most popular recipes on Pinterest here like the Unbelievable Fresh Strawberry Pie, the recipe for Flapjacks (chewy granola bars, not pancakes), the Easy Roasted Tomato Marinara recipe, Sam Choy's recipe for 30-Minute Hawaiian Marinade, the Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies, Our Favorite Green Smoothie or these to-die-for Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies with Mocha Frosting!
+Read my monthly confessionals (10 confessions on the 10th of each month) or my "Keeping It Real" posts where I let it all hang out, including my secrets or my "Be Vulnerable" posts - if you really want to know the dirt!
+Click over to my Grant Navigator site if you are looking for a grant writer to write for your favorite good cause, you can book my business to write a grant proposal, coach a new grant writer or edit your work
+Buy a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook for fail-proof recipe inspiration, invest in Norwex microfiber window cleaning towels, or Jambu shoes or a microplane zester (you can't live without this one)...and thank me later. (I don't profit from any of these plugs, I just LOVE the products!)
Let's all love one another, celebrate and love this life we've been given!
Thanks for stopping by!
I believe every human has a finite number of heart beats. I don't intend to waste any of mine. - Neil Armstrong