Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Compulsion to Create

 Creativity is invigorating.

Being a mom can be really hard at times. Each mom is forced to deal with her special mix of issues, created by her special mix of kids (not to mention her special mix of self). Somedays, by no fault of their own, the kids run me into the ground. With a sprinkling of PMS and a bad night's sleep, incessant questions and tantrums, doctor's visits and therapy sessions, grocery store runs and playdates, and last but not least piles of laundry on top of piles of dishes, after which you clean up you then have to make dinner!...well you get the picture, and moms, if you are reading this your saying, "Ehmmm. I LIVE in that picture."


I've always been a creative person, from as far back as I can remember. Most of my first memories are of drawing or crafting in some fashion. So when life gets overwhelming, there is nothing better than creating or growing something. Both things introduce life and life is one of the happiest things there is.

When you grow or make something, whether it's a sprouting tomato seedling or simply doodling for the sake of doodling, there is a satisfaction that washes over me and it refreshes me. Sometimes just gazing at those little sprouts breathes life into this weary mommy.

Aren't my baby sprouts the cutest? I love how they crave light. They uniformly lean their little slender bodies towards the slightest bit of light. I like to change things up and turn them around, just so I can watch them move again.

Maybe it's because I'm so desperate for Spring, or maybe it's because I need a mommy break badly. But I find myself craving to create like it's a drug. Anything! I don't care what it is. I put a puzzle together for the first time in years, a couple of weeks ago. It was so much fun!

 Did I ever tell you I love all things Alice in Wonderland? Well, I do -since I was very small. It's currently in the works to turn my kitchen into a Wonderland kitchen. I will have to do a post on that...

Here's the rub: when you are rundown, tired, overwhelmed or frustrated, taking that time to sit down and create something can be yet, another thing on your to-do list. And instead of becoming an oasis that it was intended to be, you find it annoying. BUT, if you flip it, view it as a "spa time" for you, and only do something YOU want to do, (this kind of creative spa time does NOT include the following: putting together a toy for your kid, doing a science fair project, or trying to figure a "creative" way to keep the cat from pooping in your potted plants) and the great thing is that it could be as simple as taking some pictures of the budding trees in your backyard, or tying a bright pink ribbon in your ponytail or hanging that picture in your dining room that you know will just "make it".

But if you have a little extra zing that day, whether it be from an extra cup of coffee or your mom has the kids for the day (or even an hour), don't spend that time doing laundry! Use it to feed you. I often times find that the most impromptu creative moments are the best. They are so surprising and leave me with a glow all day.

It's in our nature to create, as humans. I think it's the ultimate high. It's where I most find God. Creativity is like my secret door to the secret clubhouse that God and I have together. In that tiny window of time, I'm co-creating with Him. It stirs conversations and healing. It awakens hope in some of dark corners of my heart. It relieves the burdens I continually choose to carry and reminds me that He will gladly carry them for me...all while doodling my latest idea for the kitchen decor or pressing tiny seeds into a planter to grow, He speaks.

I love that creativity is not bound by rules. It is what you want it to be. Its an indulging of the heart. There is no right or wrong. It could be baking a pie or painting a mural. Sometimes just breaking the ground for where your garden will go, can be as thrilling as a final stroke on a painting or piano key.

And then there is the creating in the midst of chaos, which can be the "quiet" you are looking for. Even when the kids are screaming and running, or my Tiny is tearing up the tupperware drawer for the 19th time that day, I will make a pie. I know, it seems nuts, but I don't have the luxury of always waiting for the "perfect moment" to create. Often times, it's more like a quick fire challenge on Top Chef than as leisure pie baking session with grandma. It's occupying the kids in smashing the graham crackers to smithereens so I can make the custard...but I'm still creating and loving it.

The other day, I was cleaning up the kitchen to make yet another mess and I laughed to myself as I cleaned up the oils and ingredients for my cosmetic making endeavors, the potting soil from the seed planting and the paints from the kid's craft time. As soon as I got that all away, I was reaching for the cutting board to start dinner. So my kitchen (as I'm sure yours is as well) is not only a kitchen, but a science lab, greenhouse and an art studio. The thought of that makes me so happy.

I also wanted to follow-up with you concerning the last post, Potatoes and Prayers. If you have not heard, Monet's sister passed last night and joined her son in heaven. It's such a tremendous loss. If you have not, please stop by her blog ( and flood her with support. We love you, Monet. This photo I took the other day, made me think of your sister today.

Love ya, Foodies!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Potatoes and Prayers

I would like to cook my friend a meal. I would like to cook one for her entire family- a family who has walked through so much the past few years that it's hard to imagine.

We foodies generally show our love and affection and our nurturing spirits through the food we cook. But unfortunately, all I can do for this friend is pray and sit and wait for her updates regarding her family.

That friend is Monet.

Many of you already know Monet through her inspiring, descriptive and delicious blog ( where her words are as intoxicating as the food she makes. Even more than that, is the love that Monet spreads everywhere her written word appears. Her kind words and sweet spirit have lifted my heart more than a few times.

I've never met Monet in person, yet I feel such a connection with her as I know so many others do. So when I heard about the tragic accident that happened over the weekend to her sister and her sister's husband as well as her two nephews, I was shocked. How much more can this family endure? (read here,

So I sat staring at my computer screen, trying to make sense of what has happened to this family. "Why?" is the knee-jerk reaction. I think of Japan. "Why?" I scramble for a reason, something that comforts, something that hushes the deep questions that resonate inside when I hear about tragedy. It shakes my core. It throws a shattering piece of shrapnel through my spirit. Why this family? God seems so unfeeling. He seems so far away when this kind of news emerges. Is it because it's true or because we see only bits and pieces of the plan?

We cling to cliches like, "God is good...all the time" or "there's a reason for everything", yet none of us know what that reason is. Yes, at times, later on -sometimes much later on- we can see clearer and see some sort of Divine artistry, but at that moment of raw impact, we are left broken and hopeless and finding taking our next breath difficult and at times, less than desirable.

Sometimes things get worse. Sometimes they get very worse before they get better (pardon yet another cliche). And then, yes, then a crack starts to develop in the wall of protection we have carefully and vigilantly built around ourselves. A fissure that comes bearing a painful proposition...hope.

"Hope?" the heart blurts out, in hot anger and weary frustration. "No, I'm quite comfortable here in my cocoon of despair that I have created. And besides, Hope will require me to believe for better."

The heart desires Hope, regardless of what it may say or how it reacts. The heart lives for hope. It's how one reaches the shore of a land they cannot see or it's how a woman gives those final pushes in birth, when there is seemingly no strength left. Either hope of a new life or hope of a new life.

In this case, where that "new life" may begin is not ours to choose. It may begin in heaven, where all is healed and all is fresh or it may start again here on earth where a road to recovery is slow and hard yet victorious, either way, we are required to let go in some form.

And so we pray, we weep, we try to stuff the questions that arise away. We reach out, we help, we give, trying to bring some comfort. And it does. Because the most precious gift we can give to a family in this situation is support. When a community surrounds you, you no longer feel alone. You know you can take another step, even if it's scary or you don't know where the road leads, you can do it because others are around you. You see God's hands through those who feed you, wipe away your tears and hold you.

You may think it strange that I am incorporating potatoes into this rather deep Foodie House post. Well, I'm inspired by the way Monet writes and how she can creatively work a experience or story in with her recipes.

So Monet, if you are reading this, I would make these potatoes for you. Of course, not just potatoes, dear friend, I would cook you a whole meal, but these would be the comfort factor. I'm sure what you and your family are eating right now consists of cafeteria food and vending machine cuisine. How I wish I could come and bring you and your sweet family food, lots of hugs and a hand to hold...and maybe a pot roast.

These potatoes are homey and rustic. I simply crisped up the potato rounds in lots of olive oil and butter, thyme and rosemary.
 Crispy Rustic Potatoes

2 russet potatoes, baked
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper

Heat pan over medium heat with olive oil and butter. Add herbs and let them perfume the oils. Add slices of potato, season with salt and pepper and leave it for a good 5 minutes. Do not flip until dark golden brown and very crispy. Do the same on the other side. Serve with the herbs, for they are salty and crispy...delicious. 

So here is my challenge to you readers, share this link with others. Share the Caring Bridge link above with others. Let's get the word to get out. I want there to be an outpouring of love and support. Whether it's praying or donating (you can donate on Monet's blog or on the Caring Bridge site) or any other creative way you can think of.  Let's lift this family up and breath hope into these weary hearts.

Love ya, Foodies.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Her Kitchen Reeked...of Chaos

The dishes sat in the sink mocking her.

"Yup, we're going to be extra crusty in the morning," the cookie sheet said as it nudged the mixing bowl.

"Yeah, crusty dishes plus her coffee breath equals a grumpy mommy, " the mixing bowl mused. "You know how she hates the smell of her own coffee breath."

A coffee mug, buried deep beneath everyone, mumbled something but no one could quite make it out. And no one bothered to ask it to repeat itself.

A spoon poked it's head out to see if anyone had been loaded into the dishwasher. When it saw that everyone was still in the sink, it slowly lowered itself back down into it's hole for the night.

She had given up tonight. Normally, dishes were not left in the sink until morning, but tonight was different. She threw down the dish rag and simply walked away.

On top of that, everything seemed to need de-cluttering. The fridge was over-loaded with her children's artwork, coupons, birthday cards, invitations, to-do lists and moments of inspiration, jotted down on a scraps of napkin. She had gotten so used to looking at it, that she didn't realize how cluttered it had become until she took this picture.

She felt overwhelmed. That's why the dishes did not get done...among other things.

And this was a strawberry rhubarb pie that she was so excited about making that, though looking full of potential here, ended up accidentally under-cooked (she didn't take the time to carefully read the cooking time instructions...probably because her kitchen was in such utter chaos) and left a rather chewy, fibrous feeling in the mouth. Yet another reason she felt deflated and unenthusiastic about cleaning.

She felt very embarrassed as she wrote this post and hesitated to post it, but posted it nonetheless. The process of creativity is not always a pretty one.

Oh yes, and three other little reasons why she sometimes leaves the dishes in the sink, under-bakes a pie and dives head-first into a chocolate bar. But would she have it any other way? Most certainly not.

Now where's the chocolate?

Love Ya, Foodies!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Film Debut, Dahhhhling!

I could sit here and moan and complain about how we continue to get bouts of sickness around here and how sick I am of being sick....

But instead I'm going to tell you about a little something special that happened to me a few weeks back.

I got an email one day, mid-January, from Alexa at Foodbuzz. She approached me with a quite delightful offer. She would fly out from San Fransisco to come to my little house in Kansas City, coordinate to have a PROFESSIONAL videographer show up, and have me star in two mini videos on how to make a video featuring Newman's Own products. Is there anything here I would object to? No.

A week later (yes, ridiculously fast) I welcomed Alexa and Adam (the videographer) into my mom's house- for she has a much cuter kitchen than I- and we set up to do these two super fun, silly and carefree videos to be sent out to bloggers in Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program.

Both videos are around 2-3 minutes in length. Take a gander!

In this video, I throw together a delish pasta dish, featuring Newman's Own Sockerooni Sauce. I also do some silly things that are about as cheesy as the Parmesan cheese that I sprinkle over the hot rigatoni.

And in this video I make a super easy salad to go along with a Newman's Own Thin and Crispy Pizza. This one is even sillier and I show you what to wear and what not to wear in a video of your own. My mom made sure her stockpile of vintage clothing and accessories were available for our use in these videos.

It really made me feel so special that they chose me to do this project. Here I was thinking that Foodbuzz hated my Emergency Cake video for Project Food Blog, since that was the round I got sacked, but oh, contrare, they loved my video and chose me to do these Newman Videos based on that ridiculousness.

I'm used to setting up my little video camera on a precarious, teeter-y tripod, hitting "record" and jumping in front of it, to make my cheesy little cooking videos. I'm used to doing hours of editing and spewing very heated words under my breath until the video is done. I'm used to losing videos, videos not uploading and more than a fair share of "glitches in the matrix". This time? All I had to do was be in front of the camera. I didn't have to do any of that other crap. 

See these two right here? Aren't they just darling? Alexa and Adam. Alexa was like a breath of fresh air, energetic and full of ideas and fun. Alexa and I were chatting like two high school friends, voicing ideas and thoughts, laughing our butts off and trying to focus on the task. Adam was laid back, super calm and just as sweet as he could be. That giant camera of his was staring me in the eyeball, stirring up a bit of nervousness, but Adam had this zen way about him, even the way he counted down to recording made me feel a bit better. He'd just say, "When you're ready." I was calling him "Yoda" towards the end of the day, for all his insightful comments that seemed to translate what Alexa and I were trying to say, in our chatter-y little way.

After sitting down and noshing on the product of the first shoot -the rigatoni- and drinking from the one and ONLY Taco Via cups (yes, that little lady logo stirs many childhood memories for me...mainly delicious, greasy, burrito bomb, Mexican food type memories.) we felt very at home with one another. Sharing a meal seems to break the ice and everyone relaxes. Or maybe it was the Taco Via cups, because we did laugh quite a bit over them and learned that Adam didn't really like Mexican food, to which, Alexa and I both gasped.

Okay, so this picture is a bit awkward of me (sorta look like I'm be dramatic about the salad or something...such a diva) but I like it because you can really see how cool that camera was! Isn't it so fancy? I was in awe of the quality of the video. It was so cool!

Alexa brought me a little treat from San Fransisco, a box of caramels. Six luscious caramels that I was not intending to enjoy so greatly or have to share so freely. I quickly offered up a piece to everyone and that was BEFORE I tasted them. After I tasted them, I wanted to reach down into everyone's throats and retrieve the golden, creamy, slightly salty treats. So I was down to three. I offered one to my mom, who graciously watched the kids all day for me so I could do the video, but was relieved when she said it would yank out her crown. So I still had three. I gobbled down two more and teetered on the fence of sharing the last one with the Hubs or not. I chose to be nice and shared, all the while I sat drooling and I watched him slowly chew that sticky piece of golden, creamy heaven.

 So here's a crazy picture of me at the end of the shoot. I look like a crazed woman with a fork, which isn't too far from the truth, and just floating on cloud nine. I felt so energized, filled and excited that I got to do something I love (cooking and being a ham) and get to do that with such wonderful people! Thanks again, Alexa and Foodbuzz for picking me. Thanks Adam for being such a great videographer!

Sorry for such a delay...again, between posts, dear ones. It has been so insane with the kids. Winter always brings much sickness, but this year is really nuts. When the kids are sick and I am sick, my creativity goes down the toilet. All I want to do is sleep, but of course, we all know that doesn't happen with three little sick baby birds, right?

Love Ya, Foodies!!! (ahhh-choo!...excuse me.)
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