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my valentine

February 14th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

He is the least romantic person I know, and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.
{{and he knows that I feel this way about him. Funny thing is, he agrees}}

And Valentine’s Day is not a holiday that we pay any particular attention to in our marriage. After nearly 11 years together, there is that deep and abiding understanding that what you do every day of the year means far more than some silly gestures, a box of chocolates or a pink frilly heart on only one of those days.

This man…. he makes every day worthwhile.


After every day of those near 11 years, despite the inevitable ups and downs of marriage, he STILL makes me burst out laughing on a regular basis with his silly jokes and comments.

He married a woman with an 8 year old son, and has been the kind of Dad that every boy needs. Especially mine.

He brings me coffee six mornings a week, while I lay in bed. {{on the 7th, I wake before him, letting him sleep}}

He makes sure my car runs smoothly, because quite frankly, I have no idea how to do it.

He gladly cleans up even the worst of my kitchen messes, with a smile on his face. As he puts it, it’s the payback for having such good things to eat in our lives.

He is a willing participant in our striving for good health. He cares about what he eats, and encourages me in the kitchen even moreso when he’s happily, and gladly, eating the food I create.

My computer runs beautifully. And he makes sure he backs up all my important files.

He makes this blog shine because he just ‘gets’ my crazy and often vague ideas on how I want it to look.

He treats my friends with amazing grace.

He encourages me to step away from my life once in a while, to get out of the house, to go hang with a friend, to get out and socialize. He knows when I’m being crushed, when I need a break and he makes me do it.

But more importantly, and likely the best thing of all…….

He loves me, for me. He has no expectations of what I should be, and his unconditional acceptance gives me wings to be free and explore the me that I was created to be. This has been, far and away, the finest thing any human being, outside of my mother, has ever done for me.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Mike,  the love of my life. Marrying you was the best decision I ever have made. Thank you for helping make it so incredibly blessed and for making me feel so deeply loved.


January 10th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

There’s no resolutions, no expectations for the year ahead. There’s no ‘To-Do’ list for 2012, rich with lofty goals and making better all those little things that make me who I am and there’s no Bucket List. Definitely no Bucket List.

But this morning, as I sipped my coffee and watched the sun rise over the neighboring roofs, much like I do each morning, what came to me was a word: mindful. And I began thinking of all the ways that being mindful could benefit the 12 months ahead. More than making resolutions, more than tackling a Bucket List of items to cross off before I die, more than the desire to drop a pants size once again (sigh….) more than any of that and even more important than any of that is the need to be mindful to my life and all these little areas of it that slide up against one another. The job. My family. These incredible friends. The cooking. This blog. My need for space and nature. The desire to keep my body from stagnating with age. My deep need to learn, stretch, grow and evolve, still.

I need to be mindful of all of that. Mindful of the hours I spend at my job, and that it always, always lifts me up to step inside those doors, don the deep blue chef coat and do what I do, even when all I’m thinking about is being home, snuggled up with a cat and a book.

I must be mindful of the foods I place in my belly, to know that the best ones give me the best feeling inside, that the wrong ones seem to insult me, pushing my head in the wrong direction, and sadly, make me want more of the bad, less of the good. Funny how hard that is to fully understand and accept what my body so clearly knows.

There needs to be mindful thought to the interactions I have with others; to not be selfish in our discussions, to be mindful of their needs and wants, to meet them on their terms and convenience even if it means I drive across the city to them, to sometimes just close my mouth so they can open theirs. To embrace and accept them as they are, where they are and who they are. Celebrate the joys, empathize with the sorrows, support the new endeavors, cheer on the small victories. Mindful of watching, learning and gently cradling what we have, these friendships that lift me and flutter within my heart.

I must be mindful that a story exists in each day, that a simple photo can capture more that words can express. Mindful that a few hours outside can make me understand God far more than anything else, that a charged phone goes a long way in grasping tight this daily shuffle of life and light, and even a short walk around my house on a sunny day can find so much simple beauty.

My cooking. This blog. It’s all important, and worth some thoughtful attention. I need to remind myself that it’s an ever-changing, evolving, rotating place of food and life. I need to be mindful of stretching and exploring the means to nurture and feed, that it’s not only body, but soul. And heart.

Mindful. No resolutions. No Bucket List. No outrageous expectations. But mindful thought, interaction, growth. Grace.  Always mindful grace.

It’s ‘Just Write {{17}} over at The Extraordinary Ordinary.


November 24th, 2011 | Comments Off on thankful….

For the many blessings in my life…….

For the abundance that sustains us, the grace that guides us, the joy that fills us, and the friends that warm us.

May you all have a blessed and delicious Thanksgiving!!




November 12th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

I awoke this morning with a full heart, enriched from an experience last night that really blew me away. I’ll share it soon, when it manifests in reality. But it got me thinking, with Thanksgiving approaching, about everything that I’m brings me gratitude in my life. I could go on endlessly, because my life is filled with abundance for which I am deeply humbled about, but today, in this quiet moment with the sunrise, two cuddly cats and a steaming cup of coffee, this is what comes to mind.

Today I am grateful:

~~for chances taken, despite how ridiculous they sound in my head.

~~for my job, which is about to get crazy busy and exciting and fun and I’m looking forward to every moment of that.

~~for fun, because we all need to have fun in our lives.

~~for the support of my amazing husband and for an equally amazing son.

~~for two loving felines in good health.

~~for a warm home, good food, abundance and never-ending grace from above.

~~for a reliable vehicle.

~~for endless creativity and spark that keeps me excited for life and each new day.

~~for rest, even when it’s fractured.

~~ for friends, amazing, loving, warm-hearted, passionate, silly, engaging, strong, beautiful friends. My life has been so richly blessed by the presence of so many incredible people and the kind and generous ways they’ve guided me. I don’t know where I would be without them in my life.


What’s on YOUR plate this month??

wordless wednesday, july style

July 13th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

“we stagger through an immense summer morning after showers leave their sweet bouquet
smelling of liquid lace, lovely as a song and secret wild blossoms……”

 “the sun has burned our skin dry, like a slender page,
we crack with sound and heat, like red dirt whipping on the wind
thin streams of perspiration trailing cheekbones pink with heat”

“green leaves shimmer with resigned fury against the burning sky, clouds sift by
lazily chasing the sun, tomatoes gently boil on the vine
and even my shadow has left to look for shade.” KJS


“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day
is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk
with the belief that all’s right with the world.”
–  Ada Louise Huxtable 

owning my success

June 15th, 2011 | 12 Comments »

I can’t recall, nor can I find the exact date that I first hit the ‘Publish’ button on this blog and began this journey, but it happened in June, and it was five years ago, in 2006. There were hardly any food blogs then, and I really had no idea what I was getting myself in to, nor what would happen over the next 1,825 days, the people I would touch, and who would reach back to connect with me, the ways I would explore food and all it’s impact on my life and the way this little niche world would explode like it has. I had no concept of how this venture would change me, and who it would make me out to be. I’m a food blogger, for certain, but also, I buck the trendiness of food blogs. I don’t follow the popular ones, I don’t criss-cross the country for conferences, I don’t jump on the latest food bandwagon and post a recipe that’s been talked about to death. It’s not because of who I am, but because of who I am not.

Because I’m not one of those bloggers; you know, those picture perfect bloggers with the amazing photos that are always in rotation on the websites that every food blogger dies to get linked to, and the fact that I can’t even remember the names of these sites is proof I’m not one of those bloggers. I’m one that doesn’t reach for the stars, that doesn’t spend hours styling every photograph. I’m one that just makes stuff they like, take a few shots of it on an old TV tray set near a western window in a sunroom full of plants. A girl who crosses her fingers, most of the time, as she aims a simple point-and-shoot camera, hoping one or two of the 20-30 shots she takes will look really nice. And then applies all the best iPhoto techniques to them anyway, just in case, posts it to her blog and sends it into cyber space. To a place that no one really seems to go, but they do, according to the numbers. But they don’t, according to the comments.

There’s a lot that I do well, and even I can see that. And I hold stubbornly hard to the gut instinct that this blog of mine stay as organic, as original, as personal as possible. But it’s hard to continually put your best foot forward, akin to dressing for the coolest party and then showing up to an empty house, before you begin to think you’re just banging your forehead against the wall and no one is hearing the ‘cronk cronk’ sound of your effort. I’m no slouch as a food blogger, and my friends, my dearest most amazing and supportive friends will never let me forget that. They are my lifeline during those times I post what that I feel is incredible, yet also feels like something that no one seems to have found. But I will not compromise myself for success, and it’s been a long hard road to accepting the internal, and perceived success of this little place of mine. Because it isn’t out there, that success; it’s in here. It’s inside of me, not in the search engines, not in the popularity polls. It’s not in the accolades, ever. Ever.

And every year, as the anniversary of starting this blog approaches, I am faced with the same ‘standing on the ledge’ feeling; the sense that I want to jump ship, give up on this baby I’m trying to raise in all the right ways, maybe stuff both of us with junk food while watching endless amounts of bad television, while I hover over the ‘Delete’ button, eyes dripping in tears. It’s like we’re both five years old this year, this blog and I. Five. Years. Old. If this was a child, I’d be thinking of sending her off to Kindergarten. And those of us with children, we know how emotional this stage of life can feel.

But really, it’s a blog about food that has grown up in a superbly saturated food blog world. There are thousands upon thousands of food blogs out there now and unless you’re screaming at the top of your lungs from the rooftops about what you do and spreading yourself thin to every corner of the world in order to get your point across, you are, for the most part, an insignificant attendee at a big ol’ trendy party, hovering just outside the glare of the paparazzi.

And that’s not me anyway. My friends will be the first to remind me that I’m not a showgirl. I’m the one who enters any gathering and circles around the edges, a smile on her face, waiting politely for a group to stop talking so I can step in and say ‘Hello’.  I never burst in and shout ‘Here I am!’ flashing something eye-catching, showing off my bling and ruffles. I’ll celebrate your success while I keep quiet about my own. I’m good about deflection. I’m humble about where I’ve gone, what I’ve done and what kinds of creations spring from my fingertips. I’m so good at what I do, but I’m terrible at telling you about it. I like for this blog to do that, to spread the word for me while I quietly hum to myself in the background, maybe washing the dishes out of sight, my sleeves rolled up and a stray lock of hair falling over my forehead. If I based my sense of success on how glam this blog is, how well received it is, how much people talk about it, then I’d never lift my head off the pillow. But that isn’t what success has come to mean to me. Not for this little blog, in her unassuming way. And it certainly isn’t how I measure my own success.

And in terms of the last five years of blogging, I can, with the utmost confidence say that this blog has been a success; a rousing, mind-blowing, gorgeous and delicious success. In my own world, where the only thing that counts is the measuring stick I hold up next to me, this blog of food, photos and stories has had an undeniable, smashing run. I can look back over the last five years and see how far I’ve come in terms of my writing, my pictures and the foods that I show you. It’s grown by huge leaps and bounds, become tightly focused and, within the last few years, has found it’s footing with an audience that loves what they find each time they pull up my site. Within my local food community, the people in my immediate circle, the ones who move and shake the food life of Minnesota, I’ve found a platform that is solid and an acceptance that is monumental. My reach as a blogger may not be far, but it runs very, very deep. And in my own quiet and unassuming way, I’d like much more to deeply please and really touch half a dozen people than a hundred or more in an utterly superficial way. One ‘Yum’ comment means little to nothing for me. I want to stir something in you with what I post. I want it to make you feel something move within your heart, or your gut. At the very least, I hope it makes you hungry. And not just for food.

So this post is an acknowledgement of ownership. This baby, this little one that’s grown, evolved, matured and become stronger is not going anywhere. And neither am I. We’re going to stick with our plan, the foods that nurture you both in body and spirit, while continuing to avoid the proverbial blogging TV, the ads that make you Want! Want! Want! and avoid the urge to think that somehow, it needs to me more than it is. Although I may have moments where I gaze in frustration at what the public seems to find appealing in terms of food blog posts, I can’t measure my own acceptance by that tiny and insignificant stick. Every post that comes through my fingertips originates within my heart, and springs to life through the food, the recipe, the words and the feelings it evokes. Nothing you read here is ever forced or contrived, even the posts for financial compensation. Nothing is ever posted to fill empty space, a day in the week or some need to be heard. I rarely have an agenda when I write, except when I’m eager to express what my food wants to say. And my food speaks clearly when it desires to be heard, and tapping in to that effect is what makes this blog soar.

I must admit though, that this post has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. It’s an acceptance that doesn’t come easy, evidenced by how hard I push against the tide each Spring, how often I look at this place of mine and grind my teeth over what it’s not. We’re hard-wired to always want more than we have. We bombarded over and over with what we think we need, what we should do to become successful, to be popular, and to buck the trend, to get off the horse while the rest of the crowd rides on is difficult and often very lonely. But I can’t become something artificial. I can’t force this into a shape that it isn’t. And I absolutely won’t write anything for this blog that doesn’t spring to life within the muscle that powers my life. I’ll remain true to what I want within these pages, to follow my own path and trail.

And I hope you continue to stick with me in this journey.


November 24th, 2010 | 12 Comments »

~~ for my health, especially following last month’s car accident.

~~ for the fact that last month’s car accident was not serious

~~ for good insurance, oh thank goodness for good insurance

~~ for the 5 kittens and their mama who were rescued last month, and that someone may open their hearts and homes to them.

~~ for a wonderful, amazing, supportive, loving, accepting, gracious spouse

~~ for the best 16 year old boy anyone could ask for

~~ for the skills of my masseuse and chiropractor who keep me feeling good, and my hairdresser who is nothing short of amazing with both her talent and her personality

~~ for a nice home, good cars, warm clothes, sturdy shoes, hats & mittens, central heat, cozy blankets, good furniture, entertainment and rest

~~ for the food in our kitchen, and the ability to buy what I need

~~ for the warm fuzzy felines that lay all over me purring their love, and for their vet who keeps them healthy

~~ for the fact that life sometimes breaks your heart, then turns around and unexpectedly gives you another chance, a better story, a happier outcome. We would never appreciate those peaks of life if it weren’t for the dark valleys we travel through to get there.

~~ for being able to choose my happiness, for being strong enough to say ‘No’, for the ability to say ‘Yes’, for knowing when it’s time to let others make the decisions, for being wise enough to ask ‘Can you help me?’

~~ for being able to see that the little things in life are often far more important than anything else

~~ for family, as imperfect as they are

~~and last, but most definitely not least, I am incredibly thankful for the ladies who give me reason to smile every day, regardless of how close they are to me, or even if I’ve yet to meet them in person; wonderful and warm women who support me, encourage me, inspire me, humble me, remind me of who I am, and love me anyway. Women who seek me out, who point me out, who rave over what I do and jump with glee when they see me. Women who give me bone-crushing embraces while smiling to the end of the universe. Women who share their lives, their expertise, their failures and victories, their beautiful children, their humor and grace, and most of all, themselves……. people like Liz, Missy, Molly, Tracy, Darcie, Jennifer, Liz, Samara, Jen, Stephanie, Shaina, Crystal, Anna, Heather, Monika, Kristen, Chris Ann, Trish, Jen, Laura and Barb, Cindy ……. I suppose if I’m going to be thankful for these wonderful ladies, and the presence of them in my life then I need to also be thankful for Twitter because without that platform, and without me jumping in to it headfirst just one year ago, I wouldn’t have met any of them. And to try and stress how much it’s changed my life, and how grateful and thankful I am for them…. well, I would need an entire post to do that.

My sweet valentine

February 14th, 2009 | 5 Comments »


I’m no fan of Valentine’s Day. I don’t know many people who are. It stands, in it’s cheesiness and hype often regarded as the very pinnacle of love, but in reality I can’t think of anything that is as antithesis to romance as February 14th.

I’m jaded, admittedly; jaded by men who pulled out all the stops on the 14th- dinner, chocolate, googly eyes, maybe a card with hearts on it or flowers of some kind, hand-holding or other forms of surety to their affections, deodorant-  and then the moment the gong strikes twelve midnight, went right back to the insensitive clod of a guy they were on the 13th. And somehow, they think this is acceptable. What’s worse is that this type of behavior is what fuels this holiday in all it’s Hallmark glory. There are guys out there who feel it’s perfectly fine to show their ‘romantic’ side once a year by doing something nice for you on a specific day, and sitting back in their chivalrous glory for the other 364. This is precisely what’s wrong with Valentine’s Day.

Of course this isn’t the norm, and really, there’s nothing wrong with a guy who shows his lady some love on the 14th as long as they know that this doesn’t give them a ‘Bye’ the rest of the year. And there are plenty of really great guys who do this. I commend them. I even know some of them.

Mine isn’t one of them.


But I’ll tell you something- I couldn’t care one bit. This man- my husband- while being quite possibly the least romantic man I’ve known, is far and away the best, most consistent and loving husband a girl could possibly ask for. I’ll take that over a box of chocolates any day.

So we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Interestingly enough, there is so much historical confusion over who exactly this martyred saint was that no source I read seemed to come to any conclusion. It was generally agreed that the modern version of the holiday is tenuously related to the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, or Wolf Festival. This was a brazen and ribald celebration of the she-wolf, or Lupa, that apparently sustained Romulus and Remus of ancient mythology. Men of rank would run naked through the streets, striking at women with goat skins drenched in sacrificial blood. This was a desirable aspect of the celebration as it was believed that any woman struck by the skin would have increased fertility in the coming year.  That sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? Line up ladies!!

My husband does so much for me all year round, and it’s exactly why he happily gets to ignore all things Valentine related:  He takes care of my car- getting the oil changed, replacing the burned out headlight (and then washing the winter muck off it) buying the right wiper blades and sometimes surprising me with a full gas tank. He makes sure my computer runs beautifully. He has a pot of coffee ready around the time I roll out of bed in the morning, and if there isn’t a fresh one waiting, as I am coming down the stairs he is putting one together, with a smile on his face. He recognizes when life is straining the very blood out of me and encourages me to slow down. He sees pain in my face and asks me how I am, and he genuinely wants to know. He understands my need for tactile love without words, drawing me into his lap or placing his arms around me just at the right moment. He pulls me back into reality when I’ve gone too far into my own head. He sees solutions to problems when all I can see is a huge mess.  He is amazing when I am sick. He works very, very hard for us and soothes me through my struggles to gain employment. He makes me laugh every day- hard. He gets me on a level that I sincerely have never known in my life and is fully committed to the happiness of our union. And after a few days of me wistfully wishing for chocolate to stem a sweet craving, he comes home from picking up Griffin and quietly drops a bar of good dark chocolate into my lap. With a smile.

I could seriously go on with more accolades, honor and praise for this man, this thoroughly unromantic man who balks at the very mention of flowers and Valentine’s Day, but you get the picture and I don’t want to sound too mushy. Even though I am. He’s all about the day-to-day living; he’s the guy who shows me through his actions every single day, no matter how mundane or insignificant they may seem, that he loves me, he chose me above all others to be the one to receive his love, and that he can’t be happier with his decision. We’ll celebrate seven years of matrimony this year, and I still have days where I gaze at the rings on my hand in awe, still trying to wrap my oft-dreamy brain around the fact that I am married, and how beautiful this union has turned out to be.

My sweet husband reads my blog whenever a new post goes up so I know he sat down today and saw my words. Mike, I love you so much and am so happy being your wife. You bless me each day with your love, grace and kindness and I would marry you all over again, in a heartbeat,  if given the choice.

Love should be celebrated year-round, daily and with a happy heart. Enjoy today if it’s your thing, but show your loved one tomorrow, next week and all year long how much you love and care for them. That’s my plan.