Tag Archive: me

Jan 12 2014

Stuffy Heads and Moving Miles

I’m on my second cold of the winter. The last one took 3 weeks to move on its merry way, leaving me with only 5 or 6 days of respite before the next one moved on in. Lovely. I could tell it was coming. I went out on my lunch break and everything was fine. I walked back to the office and my throat was scratchy and sore. Misery ensues.

I’m not a resolutions girl. I kind of hate the idea of saving all our changes for one designated time of the year. If something isn’t working in your life, why not address it right away? Why put it off? Still, a new year is a time for reflection, and it seems that, despite my disdain, I tend to accidentally jump on the bandwagon. I just don’t make any hard and fast rules and go with it. Then if it doesn’t stick, I don’t have to beat myself up over it later. Self preservation.

So, yeah, head cold. Misery. Smoothies. But I can’t seem to ever make them myself. My blender is too underpowered to do much more than make a mess of things, leaving chunks of kale and other things that make them far from smooth. Gag. But I’ve really grown to love Bolthouse Farms‘ offerings, and have been supplementing my lackluster diet with them lately to ensure I’m getting at least some fruits and veggies in my diet. The Green Goodness‘s color was a little off-putting at first, but it tastes pretty darn good. I just pour into a fancy glass, add a snazzy straw, and look the other way. I’m also a big fan of the Multi-V Goodness. I wonder how it would taste with vodka…?

Then I stepped it up a notch. Because I’ve been paying for my gym membership and haven’t gone since April. (I swear, that’s what Foursquare told me!) Because most of my friends are far more physically active than I am. And because they were talking about this 100 Days of Miles thing for 2014.

100 Days of Miles… It’s supposed to be that you run 100 miles in 2014, spread out over 100 days throughout the year. I ran my mouth off on New Year’s Eve and announced that even a gimp-footed girl like myself could do this. I mean really, it’s only 1 mile at a time, 3 times a week. I used to run 3 times that! Piece of cake.

Except that I’m not really supposed to run. One of my frequent sources of frustration post-discectomy was that every time I asked my orthopedic surgeon if I could run again, his response was evasive. With good reason–I have the honor of having the most disc removed out of all surgeries performed by that man–but annoying, nonetheless. Running represented far more than physical activity to me. I came to it at a time in my life when it felt like all the walls were crumbling down on me. It saved me. It taught me that I could do so much more than I thought I ever could do. It gave me confidence. It gave me strength. It made me proud of myself. And it kept me sane. All that was taken away with it.

So no, I’m not running 100 miles in 2014. But I figured I can at least walk them. That’s extremely manageable. And so I have begun this new journey…again. Combined with attempting to join my friend in her new round of daily exercise. I’m on Day 4 and have racked up 8.73 miles so far. Today was the worst–I absolutely did not want to go to the gym at all. I wanted to lie on the couch in a DayQuil haze, watching old episodes of Girls preparing for the new season starting tonight. By 3 PM, I had to draw the line. There would be no more episodes until I earned them. No more Hannah or Marnie or Jessa or Shoshanna until I had worked up a good sweat and worked off some of those Doritos I ate in a moment of weakness. So I did it. I dragged my butt out the door, down the street, and into the gym. I got myself up on that elliptical and powered away. I even added 5 minutes on to my program. And I’m happy I did.

Tomorrow? I’ll try again. It’s easy to avoid. I work a desk job. I blog at night. And the Charlie horses, nerve pain, and backaches that continue nearly 3 years post-surgery make it easy to come up with excuses. But I hate that rusty Tin Man feeling I get when I don’t incorporate some level of activity in my life. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where the path takes me. That’s all I can ask for.

What changes are you making in your life for 2014?

Sep 06 2013

Awkward…the story of my life

awkwardHave you watched that show Awkward? I probably shouldn’t admit that I have–or that I consumed the entire first season over 12 hours when I first discovered it–but I have, and I did.  You see, the A. that’s my middle initial–it may as well stand for awkward. Not in the TV series sort of cute-awkward-girl-still-gets-the-guy(s)-way. I’m no Zooey Deschanel. More in the doesn’t-fit-in-even-18-years-after-high-school manner. Yup, my dirty little secret is out–I’ve never really been in. I probably never will be either.

What were supposed to be the “best years” of my life weren’t exactly a day at a Cancun resort. I imagine that’s true for many people. You couldn’t pay me to go back. And since then? Well, that’s been pretty full of awkwardness, too. Not really knowing what to do with myself in social settings. Overcompensating with mixed drinks and a loud mouth. Still feeling like the piece to a different puzzle altogether.

Tonight’s catch-up episode from Season 2? Reminded me of an experience I had 3 years ago. Right before this blog started, when my creativity burst free again, and I decided to do something with it instead of ignoring it like I had for far too many years. A high school acquaintance crossed my path and, at the time, was trying to get people to attend a weekly poetry night he hosted at a local juice bar. It reminded me so much of the mid nineties coffee house scene that I couldn’t miss it. And after my first visit, I was hooked. This is what had been missing in my life. This is what I had been overlooking. This needed to be a part of my life again.

The idea of standing in front of a crowd, baring my heart and soul, terrified me though. My friend understood that was exactly the kick in the derriere that I needed. One night he called me up on the makeshift stage and I had no choice but to do his bidding. And while my arm wouldn’t be still and my voice wavered with fright, I survived. And then I craved more. It was scary. Oh, being in front of a crowd, even if it only consisted of about a half dozen souls, was an anxiety attack waiting to happen. The adrenaline boost, however, exceeded any alcohol-induced buzz I experienced, and what came after can only be described as an awakening. The prince had placed his kiss. My slumber had been broken.

The more difficult part came 9ish months later. The birth of an idea that was fertilized that summer; a poem that won a creative writing award during my last semester of school. I was 32 and I was about to recite a poem about things most of my classmates had no frame of reference for. Shaking like a leaf is an understatement. I managed to speak every word, to attempt eye contact at intervals across the room, and all because nobody I really knew was in the room (other than my favorite professor and his pet student, who was helping run the event). These people didn’t know what all those birds stood for. They didn’t understand the feelings behind the poem; the internal struggle that waged, finding its way out in these words. It was subtle enough for the uninitiated to remain clueless. It was soul-baring enough to make me feel naked in front of the faculty–those who had lived enough to probably know exactly of which I spoke and probably have their own tales to tell. It was one of the bravest moments in my life.

Now? I’ve traded my rare moments in the spotlight for a few random, intermittent, semi-drunken karaoke sessions. Other than that, I keep to the back of the crowd. Where I belong. Do I need to be a part of it? Well… sometimes it would be nice. It would certainly make some aspects of life easier. But do I need it? No. I have two awesome kids. I have a husband with whom I’ve shared 18 years of my life. I have some great friends who are my support system. That’s all a girl really needs, right? So I didn’t outgrow my awkward phase. There are worse things in life than that. (Like my television viewing, apparently…) At least I’m choosing to be me. Whoever she is. That’s what matters… right? I’m too old to be Jenna. And too old to be bothered by that either.

Aug 04 2013

Big Summer Potluck 4: A Treat and Retreat #BSP4

As you already know, I attended Big Summer Potluck in Bucks County, Pennsylvania last weekend. I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts so I could write a re-cap, but what I walked away with was more of a mind-altering experience than something concrete to put to pen and paper (or keyboard and screen). In a word, amazing. But even that feels inadequate, nowhere near descriptive enough to explain what the weekend meant to me.

Pam's house in Pennsylvania

Friday night started out here for a lovely potluck dinner and cocktail reception

It started with a drive west to Poughkeepsie, New York to the first of many faces I would finally be able to put to names–Brandy of Nutmeg Nanny. When tickets to Big Summer Potluck 4 became available in February, we were two of the first to pounce on them, determining early on that we would not only be attending, but sharing a room, as well. By the time Big Summer Potluck rolled around, Sam of Sweet Remedy joined our crew, and we were off together for the weekend’s adventure.

roomies

Brandy of Nutmeg Nanny, me, and Sam of Sweet Remedy – roomies for the weekend

I wasn’t sure what to expect. 75 amazing bloggers would be attending this conference–more of a retreat than conference, really–and I had only met a couple in person before. I was well-acquainted with many of these bloggers online, but had never seen them “in real life” before. The blogging world is huge! What would I say? What would they think of me? I knew it would be a good experience for me to attend–I really wanted to be there–but I also suffered a fair amount of anxiety. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about. Everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming.

Attune Foods breakfast

Friday night, after a few hours of feasting and making friends at the reception at Pam Anderson‘s home, it was time to return to the hotel. We needed to rest up for the big day on Saturday. In preparing for the weekend, I envisioned big after parties in the hotel. In reality, we nearly crashed upon arrival in our room. We talked until we drifted off, me with my glasses still on. It had been an exhausting day of travel.

BSP4 food

Saturday morning, two big yellow buses waited for us outside the lobby. School buses. We had an hour’s drive to our destination, the Bucks County Audubon Society at Honey Hollow. We sat in the back and dubbed our bus the “cool” one–for surely it was with the passengers we amassed. Corn fields whizzed by on our journey deep into the country. Beauty surrounded us. This was wonderful.

big summer potluck 4

The Audubon Society was a dream. Reached by a narrow road bisecting woods and crop fields, the stone barn emerged on a hillside as a step back in time. I wish I had captured more images of it, but there was so much going on around me that I took far fewer photos than usual. There were fears before this weekend that we would wither and wilt in the summer heat; luckily, through a combination of more agreeable temps and this barn’s construction, a cooling breeze caressed our skin all afternoon; it was rather comfortable.

Sunny and me

Sunny of For Your Pies Only and I waited years to meet–and showed up in color-coordinated dresses and matching heart sunglasses!

We were treated to conversations by Jessamyn Rodriguez of Hot Bread Kitchen, Jessica Powers of Why Hunger, Robyn Hillman-Harrigan of Shore Soup Project, Jeni Britton-Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Joe Yonan, travel and food editor of The Washington Post and cookbook author, Coach Mark Smallman of the Rodale Institute, Abby Dodge–the infamous Abby Dodge, and Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food and The Boys Club. The theme: investing in yourself. Each had a different take on the topic, but all were inspirational, thought-provoking, and a true pleasure to listen to. I’m sure you’ve been to seminars and speeches before where your mind wanders and your eyes flutter. Big Summer Potluck was nothing like that. So much food for thought for minds eager for more, more, more!

#bsp4

Having the opportunity to connect in person with those who understand you is one of the best parts of Big Summer Potluck. I wish there had been more time for this. Portions of the Potluck would end seemingly abruptly, we were so wrapped up in our conversations that we lost track of time. Less than 48 hours wasn’t enough to fit everything in. There was just enough to whet our whistles, but we were left desiring more.

dinner menu #bsp4

Still, I can’t imagine putting together an event of this magnitude. Pam and Maggy, Erika, Chris and Karen, Rod and Debra, Sabrina–they’re all to be commended for all of their hard work. Sponsors like OXO, KitchenAid, Sabra, Gourmet Garden, Kerrygold, Attune, Philips, and Musselman’s made the Potluck even more special, with chances to speak with their reps and lots of giveaways and demonstrations. (Hello? Have you seen the KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series 4-Slice Automatic Toaster? Using it for breakfast on Sunday may have been the most fun I had all weekend!)

#bsp4 brunch

It has been only a week since we said our good-byes, but it feels like an eternity already. How will I make it another year until I see these people again? Some of us are discussing a New York City gathering this Fall, knowing that we will not make it 52 weeks before breaking bread once more. When you find those whose souls sing the same song as yours, you can’t let that go.

Abby Dodge and her KitchenAid mixer

Abby Dodge couldn’t resist showing her love for KitchenAid during her shortbread demonstration. Don’t worry–I love my mixer, too!

So what does “investing in yourself” mean to me? It means making the time to not only write, but also recharge when necessary, because even the marathon runner has rest days. I am no good to myself–or anyone else–if I’m running myself ragged. It means never giving up; there will always be pitfalls along the way, things that don’t turn out the way we expect. Picking ourselves up, altering course, and continuing forward–always moving forward–ensures that I’m doing what I have to do for success. It means surrounding myself with inspiration in its many forms. Filling my life and mind with the things that call to me will only improve the quality of what I create. There are many, many ways we can invest in ourselves. Finding the ones that work and spending time every day on them are what’s most important.

taxidermy owl

Who, Who?? Who are you?

Have you ever attended an event like Big Summer Potluck that nourished you fully–stomach and soul? What did you take away from it?

Jun 17 2013

Food Blogger Prop Swap

Food bloggers have a lot of pressure on them to make fantastic photos. While magazines have a whole staff of experts to bring you those delectable, gorgeous recipes you drool over, we’re one-man shows, forced to become as close to experts as possible in recipe development, recipe testing, recipe writing, storytelling, and photography in order to gain enough exposure to have anyone read about the recipes we make. It’s a little more work than you count on at first when all you want to do is share your love for baking, but it also teaches us to branch out more and become better at everything we do. It’s a good kind of pressure.

food blogger prop swap

Perfectly composed photos generally are not of the food item alone. Browse through Pinterest, Foodgawker, or your favorite culinary magazine and you’ll see all sorts of extras–props–that help make the photos pop. Whether they are fancy plates, colorful napkins, or funky silverware, they help bring the photo together into something more than a snapshot. Each piece is carefully selected to accentuate the food best. And each blogger probably has a prop cabinet just full of the items used to achieve these results.

What do you do with the props you’ve grown tired of? The ones who have given their all and you just don’t think they have anything left to give you? That’s where the Food Blogger Prop Swap comes in.

food blogger prop swap

The Food Blogger Prop Swap is the brain child of Alyssa of www.EverydayMaven.com and Faith of www.AnEdibleMosaic.com. Each of us was given the name and address of another blogger to send a medium flat rate Priority Mail box full of props to. In return, we would receive one from another blogger. What a great way to change things up!

food blogger prop swap

When it came time to ship out my box, I had a hard time parting with the props I had. It was my intention to recycle them from the start, but I just couldn’t do it–I couldn’t send them on their merry way. Instead, I went on a bit of a shopping spree at HomeGoods. HomeGoods is a food blogger’s paradise; a place where you can buy plates and linens individually, suiting our needs perfectly. I packed up my box of goodies and mailed it to Anne of From My Sweet Heart. I was a little nervous selecting items for someone else–what if she hated them?–but Anne not only loved every item I selected for her, but she also sent me an early thank you to be sure I knew just how much she liked them! I’m sure they’ll get great use in her house!

food blogger prop swap

When I arrived home a few days later and saw that my Food Blogger Prop Swap box was from Shea of Dixie Chik Cooks, my heart raced. I love her blog! How exciting to be on the receiving end of her re-gifted props! She sent me some lovely linens, a cocktail shaker (oh, yeah!), a bowl with a rooster on it, and a fork and knife (which I badly need some flatware!). Some American flag toothpicks topped it all off. LOVE it! Can’t wait to get to work with all these new goodies!

In the end, I would gladly participate in a Food Blogger Prop Swap again. It gave us a chance to reach out to bloggers we may not have heard of before and make an impact on their lives, even if in a very small way. Plus it’s just plain fun getting a box of goodies even though it’s not your birthday or Christmas!

food blogger prop swap

Interested in reading about the other participants in the Food Blogger Prop Swap? Check out their blogs here:


This linky list is now closed.

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