chronic illness, confession, creative, depression, family, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, home, journey, marriage, parenting, parties

I know it is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year…

 

Holiday baking is this really incredible, magical ideal I have always had. My grandmother was the sort of woman, of her generation, who loved others through the food she made. She canned, preserved, baked and stewed almost 24/7, in one way or another. She believed, to her core, in hard work and I realize looking back that she lived the life of an authentic feminist, just at a time when this was more a way of life and less a mouth driven, man-bashing subculture. That woman truly needed a man for nothing, but had chosen to love one until his death. She was incredible, my grandmother… And the holidays were no exception. Her cookies, (often times colored and pressed, in that vintage way that is all about nostalgia now) her candies, cakes and pies were seamlessly there and ready, dependable and delicious, just like we’d grown up knowing they would be.

My own mother wasn’t much of a baker, or a cook really, but she certainly believed she was. Even now, in her state of dementia, when she begins talking about the days before her illness, she was the cook to beat all cooks. My childhood consisted of lots of microwave dinners, (unevenly heated and disgusting, mind you) bologna sandwiches and then when my step father was around (5-10 days a month) we had real meals. Sometimes my mom cooked them, (if that were the case, a box or can of something was typically ALWAYS involved) and sometimes he grilled them. Cakes involved mixes, eventually cookies involved mixes. She was all about that short-cut cooking which was introduced to America around the same time she was. It makes sense. It wasn’t that she was lazy… The woman painstakingly made chocolates to die for, and they were loved by many, many people, across the nation.

I remember when I learned how to cook, (a sordid and woeful journey, poor Chw…) I was very excited to share with her, my skills. That is how most young girls are. No matter what ill hurts lie between a daughter and her mother, that desire to get her approval is strong. My first big success was lasagna. An elderly woman, who was very dear to my husband, was also the brilliant cook to create his all-time favorite dish and as a wedding gift she was teaching me, from her wheelchair, how to make it. My mother was full of complaints and disgust over my perfected deep dish of love, and I was devastated. This became a theme, really… Mom, look at my new couch! It’s hideous, I’d never own something like that. Mom, I finally perfected a lemon cheesecake. I had thought it would taste way better than this, it’s almost inedible. And on, and on, and on.

And now I sit, at the start of another Christmas season. I have my dutiful little list all written out… What I will bake, and for whom. When. And slowly the dread of doing so, and the self-doubt of why begins to trickle in. Over the past few years I have the same pattern, and though I plan and list otherwise, it will play out the same. The past few years have been the first where I have not had a holiday season filled, to the brim, with friends and family upon which to force my confections. This is far more bitter than sweet for me. This season it is mostly just the two of us, and Chw’s perspective is that of- there is no need to stress yourself out and go to the trouble when it’s just me and I probably won’t eat much of it anyway.

And I am sad.

I always say that I don’t love baking, but I remember loving it. I remember sugar cookies, ornately decorated, every season of my motherhood, until we moved back to Michigan. I remember reveling in my cheesecake masterpieces, creating cakes centered around loved one’s likes- for their birthdays, I remember delving into flaky pastries and pies and tarts and loving it all.

And then nothing.

No new cheesecake adventures, and truly I miss it. I do. But if I were to craft a new cheesecake, half of it would go into the garbage, and that hurts my feelings, though it probably shouldn’t. No cookie exchanges, no holiday parties or gatherings. It is easy to see how the holiday season can become so depressing for people. I look back on the good old days, where holidays were full of love and faces and people, my home always full and people enjoying what I’d made as we conversed and laughed over board games and quality moments. I knew then, that these were the life moments I loved, and how great things were. I remember pausing my life for a micro-second, simply to absorb how great it all felt. I remembered to appreciate it, always. What I never expected was it gone completely, all that is left is the reoccurring holiday list…

cookies

cupcakes

marshmallows

cheesecake

It is doubtful that any of it will get done. The thought of doing it exhausts me, (because, why?) but the thought of not doing it stabs me somewhere gutturally. And I think about these women before me, the holiday sugar journeys and how grateful I am for them. Maybe this season and phase of my life are meant to go in other culinary directions. I am strongly (and overwhelmingly) toying with the idea of tamales. I grew up with the eating of them a Christmas eve tradition. This was also in New Mexico, where everyone you know makes them, and they are readily accessible. I, myself have never made them and I am thinking that, maybe it’s time…

I am also toying with a few other adventurous little recipes to try out, since it is just us. I am both excited and tempted to just stick with doing nothing at all.

What about you? What baking/cooking will you plan to do?

Advertisements
adoption, beautiful, chronic illness, confession, entertainment, family, fibro, food, friendship, gratitude, home, infertility, journey, Lately, marriage, parties

Consider it an invitation…

I love Jesus.

I am pretty ok with that, and I hope that you are too. If you aren’t, just know I am ok with that too. My loving Jesus isn’t about you at all, it is about me. It’s about my heart, my life, my choices, my journey, and a lot of other large and small things which add up to equal my faith.

I cautiously consider myself a Christian. I say cautiously because, honestly, at least in America (and some perceptions of American Christianity) the name has gained a bit of a rough reputation.

My pastor spent Sunday morning talking about Detroit. This looked a little like a history lesson. It involved political bits, heart bits, hard truths and a bunch of other uncomfortable and completely relevant things which together equalled a pretty amazing talk. He challenged us to be honest with ourselves about the walls we build. Initially the topic came up because Detroit was once known to have a dividing wall. I guess pieces of this wall still exist. This wall was raised to literally divide the African-Americans and the Whites. Though the wall isn’t technically much of a thing anymore, Detroit is still ranked as the most segregated city in America. I live in the metro part of this amazing city and I have to say this announcement shocked me. Our church alone, (granted, it’s a pretty huge church) likely has multiple people from most nations, in attendance. Our neighborhood actually has a dozen flag poles sporting flags from 12 different nations because we are such a diverse little community. Then again, this is the metro area, and not Detroit itself.

He illustrated his point by having several people from different countries approach the front of the church. They looked at each other, chatted some, laughed a little and then affirmed “there are no more walls between us.” I’ll admit it- it was emotional and I totally teared up. After this, he had fans of rivaling college teams do the same thing. It was funny and laughs were had, but when he sobered and asked us what walls we put up, I was challenged. I am pretty accepting. I don’t shy away from anyone really. I love meeting people and things that are different don’t scare me. Since that service, I’ve thought a lot about this. There are off-putting things, about me, which likely cause others to put up a wall between us. Despite losing 130 lbs, I am still overweight. I have a lazy eye. I was separated from my husband for 6 months (an issue that many fellow Christians we know can’t seem to get past.) in fact, here is a list of things which have caused people I’ve known to distance themselves from me…

I voted for Hillary.

I have a diverse taste of music.

I don’t support people who discriminate against ANYONE and using their religion as an excuse.

I worked as a film critic for years.

I drink.

As a photographer I have done many boudoir sessions.

I am an adoptive parent.

I struggled with infertility.

I am pro-choice and hate abortion.

I was sexually abused.

I hate porn and believe it decomposes a person’s ability to have healthy self image/relationships/etc.

I am a feminist.

I believe in marriage.

I support equality.

I do not believe men and women are equal. I am different from my husband and my brother. I am not better, but different. I don’t want to be like them.

I do believe men and women should have equal rights, DO HAVE equal worth and value.

I love Jesus.

I will never “shove Jesus down your throat” or preach at you.

I am a person and so each of these things make up a piece of my story… Each of these things has a story and reason for it’s position in my life.

I will not bother/hurt/offend me if your stories are different and your beliefs do not match mine.

 

If you know me, you know that I am a party planner. Best of all are dinner parties. LOVE THEM. Upon moving back to Michigan in 2013, my party opportunities are limited, and this makes me a little sad. After that sermon though, I got to imagining a dinner party. What if we had a lovely homosexual couple over for dinner. What if, in addition to them, we had an African-American couple, a middle eastern couple and a few other diverse additions? Other than the likely fact that we would have some really interesting and unpredictable conversation, what would we have?

A dinner party.

That is literally it. It would not be an experiment. It would not be a meeting. It would not be anything other than a group of people getting together to share a meal and converse. Obviously we would all have SOMETHING in common, or the dinner party wouldn’t exist in the first place. (hence the interesting and unpredictable conversation)

I really wish this dinner party were happening. Do you know why? Because I am seriously lonely and want to host a lovely little dinner party. (That’s the only reason actually. Maybe you should come for dinner…)

When it comes to a different race, or a different class, or a different religion, I am unruffled. None of these things will hinder me from approaching someone, or befriending them, or responding to them if they approach me. The one thing that may honestly hinder me is the fact that I am a total introvert and often have much better intentions than follow through, and I get a little insecure. While I want to approach someone, those things I first mentioned (overweight, lazy eye, etc.) become the wall I throw up to save my ass from someone else’s rejection.

Recently I had the opportunity to get to know a small group of women. One of the women I shallowly pegged immediately as a little stuck up and clearly she had it all together. She was thin and honestly, gorgeous. As time progressed though, it became surprisingly obvious that this beautiful woman and I had far more in common that anyone else in the group. Ironically the fat girl with the lazy eye and the drop dead gorgeous and in shape woman became friends. Is that how she saw me? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I threw up a wall with my initial assessment, and what I assumed would be hers… Thankfully that wall became a gate and now it is gone completely. My point is, when pastor Bob challenged us to find our walls and why we build them, this friend instantly popped in my head. I could have missed out on so much because I jumped to conclusions. I don’t do that as a habit, but I don’t want to do it ever. I want to be better, with others and with myself.

I want to have dinner party after dinner party where my table is filled with people who contribute to great conversation, people who enjoy food and maybe an occasional game or glass of wine. Beyond that, while I don’t want to be blind to their differences, I do want to understand and appreciate them for the unique people they are. (whoever they will be)

 

 

food, home, journey, list, marriage, music, paper, parties

Perhaps a bacon wrapped pillow would be more appropriate…

4ALUVYYlQLC004zkGhd9_Sunset at WindermereGood morning, sunshine…

It is minutes til 2 a.m. and I’m so body tired and mind revved up that many states may classify me as a train wreck. (if this is true, please don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.) It’s a sad think to know of tragedy touching the lives of people you care about. There are things in this world I just do not understand… And rather than dwell on them, or try to figure them out (thank God it’s smart enough to know it can’t) my brain is just consumed with thinking about every other thing on the planet. Seriously, everything. All at once.

At any rate, it’s Monday, and that means it’s time for my Hi-Five!

Song– You had to see it coming… I’m not that unpredictable. :)

Share– If you like classic literature, this looks really fun! I’m super excited!

Something I’m loving– Last week, in Chicago, we had bacon wrapped dates at a lovely little restaurant in Algonquin. They were incredible, so this week it’s my quest to find a recipe for them that we love equally.

Something I’m into– oh my gosh. We are very casually house hunting. I say casually because who knows what will happen and we are pretty open to whatever. We’re enjoying the process though (maybe a little too much.) We’re really getting a kick out of house listing photos. What are some of these people thinking? We’ve seen sinks of dirty dishes, mounds of laundry, close-ups of candles (and nothing else.) it’s flat-out nutty! (but so fun!)

Something new (to me)– This one is really tough for me, both to admit and to adapt to. I’m a paper girl. I still use a paper planner and REFUSE to store agenda dates in my iPhone. So, when the reality came up that I would have to loosely organize a bridal shower for my older daughter Amanda (which my youngest daughter Gen is technically throwing, In Idaho, without me) from 2000 miles away and with VERY SHORT notice, I had no choice but to do it electronically. I decided to use Paperless Post and honestly, it’s made things easy to keep track of and the invitations were elegant and cute. Would I make this my preferred method? No. But, it’s not horrible, either.

Are you into anything you’d like to share?

Are you looking forward to anything this week? I feel like I am, but it’s now 2:07 and my fuzzy brain can’t recall anything other than the fact that tomorrow is full of meetings and appointments. I have one bright and early, (so basically, in a few hours) up until evening… I should try to force my brain to bed perhaps…

family, gratitude, parties

Strung out…

I know, i know… 
I have these big gaps in my posting, and then all of a sudden I string out this one party and it’s photos. 
But you guys, right now it’s just really NICE to look at these lovely faces. 
My only regret is that, in the last hour of the party, about 7 people came who i wish I’d taken real life photos of… Just to stare at them now and feel a bit more joyful. 
More grateful. 
Anyway, these are lovely people, from a lovely afternoon. 

 {Note: look at my man… he is a kid man, for sure…
We need another little one… that’s all- end note.}

 {Cousins

post signature

beautiful, creative, family, food, gratitude, home, parties

You gotta fight, for your right…

We had a little drop in Picnic Party for Amanda, last week, to celebrate her achievements in her Army training, as a combat medic. 
It was so great to have loved ones drop by and pay their love and congratulations to Amanda! It was great fun chatting and drinking fresh squeezed lemonade and super sweet tea… Chocolate chip cookies melted, in the sun, to become a delightfully gooey mess, and many a great conversation was had. We had melting ice cream bars, giant bouncing balls and a photo booth to keep kids entertained… 
{This is the part where we ignore any stress, any excessive near-heat strokes or that the gooey chocolate wasn’t really as fun as all that…}

 {For the record, that says EAT not FAT…} 

post signature