My Black Friday Christmas List

Black Friday is the day after tomorrow. I know this because my mailbox, email inbox, and voice mailbox are full of offers promising to save me all the dollars, on all the things, for all the people, forever and ever amen. I’m exhausted just thinking about all the savings.
To help me sort through it all, I’ve put together a Christmas shopping list. Perhaps you’ll find it useful as well, should you also need help wading through your gift-giving and purchasing processes.
Happy day-before Thanksgiving!


• Wisdom as I try to better love, nurture, feed, educate, and raise my Littles in a world that values their pocketbooks more than their creativity, their bodies more than their minds, and their contributions more than their ethics.
• Skinny jeans that aren’t jeggings, leggings, or tights; that don’t gap in the back when I bend over, and that don’t have glitter on the back pockets. My butt doesn’t need glitter, thank you very much fashion industry.
• A paid-in-full mortgage on the place I call home.
• Sleep in any form—free from extra children in my bed, late night cries for water, bad dreams, snoring, and random fire-alarm beeping due to low batteries.
• Words at the tip of my tongue when I need them, as opposed to two days later in the middle of the night.
• Grocery carts that don’t flip when being ridden upon by four small children.
• Car seats that buckle and unbuckle themselves.
• A checkbook that balances itself.
• A checkbook that balances.
• Balance.
• Someone to decorate my house like JoAnna Gaines’s house.
• JoAnna Gaines’s house.
• JoAnna Gaines.
• Netflix shows that have a longer than 14-second next-episode countdown, so I can actually work up the willpower to stop. watching. at. 2am.
• Willpower. Of any kind.
• Greater empathy, deeper kindness, expansive generosity, more certain convictions, faith that never wavers, and a love that never fails the people I care about the most.

What’s on your Christmas list? I’d love to know! xo


what I want for mother’s day—a list

Mother’s Day is a week away.
I know this because Target has a massive display of cards that says so. I probably would have forgotten otherwise. Also, Target has several end-caps full of whimsical gift ideas that are sure to delight every mom in your life. Like coffee mugs and sticky notes that say things like “Beautiful” “Lovely” and “Breathe.”
They’re nice. But they’re not on my list of things I want for Mother’s Day.
Do you have a list?
Mine is long. And it’s kind of unlikely that I’ll get anything on it. But just in case you’re looking for ideas— *cough* *cough*—well, here you go.

• The knowledge that I’m getting this Mom stuff right—the certainty of it.
• Freedom from the endless cycle of pants through my closet that fit and then don’t and then do and then don’t and then do and then don’t . . . .
• More sleep.
• Less fear over what could happen to my tiny Loves in the course of a day, week, month, lifetime . . . minute.
• A minute to pee. In privacy.
• The ability to articulate my thoughts without excessive quantities of emotion. Especially when talking about babies. The future. And food.
• More time to write, garden, sleep, read, tuck my babies in, eat, sleep, shower, watch my babies sleep, sleep, and clean the fridge.
• A clean fridge.
• Laundry that stays done.
• Landry that stays folded.
• Laundry that folds itself.
• No laundry.
• Strawberries that aren’t on “the dirty dozen” list.
• More kisses and hugs from my Littles.
• Fewer concerned looks when I forget to wear makeup.
• The ability to run without my backside slapping my legs.
• The promise that my Mom will live forever—because that’s how long I’m going to need her. Also my Dad.
• The ability to love perfectly. Courageously. Selflessly.
• The ability to walk down stairs silently. Also open doors silently.
• The eradication of the stomach flu from the face of the earth for all eternity future.
• All the coffee.
• Forest animals who clean my kitchen.
• A place for all the stuff.
• Elimination of the word “should.”
• Longer summers.
• Deeper stronger faith.
• Cashew carmel cluster ice-cream in my freezer right . . . now.
• More kissing practice. (You can always get better at that).
• No more bullying—of anyone. Anywhere. Ever.
• Groceries that put themselves away. In my clean fridge.
• The right words to explain how thankful I am, how blessed I feel, how emotional I get, how inadequate I feel to fill this honored, wonderful, holy, fearful, beautiful, messy, broken, ordinary position of being mama to my people. Every. Blessed. Day.

Happy Mother’s Day my fellow moms—you who love on children across the world whether they are yours by birth, by adoption, by association, by relation, or by the outpouring of love you so graciously extend. Thank you for doing your part, however great or small, to give the world these little people. There is no such thing as other people’s children—we are all moms.

I’m draping you in purple

This could be an unpopular post. Forewarning. Also, it’s not really a foodie post. Ah well. Good to break format once in a while.


Two things happened yesterday. A MUCH prayed for baby was born to a friend of mine—healthy and well, despite some early indications that it would not be so.
And the artist Prince died.

The contrast of these two things struck me this morning. I watched brief clips of people flooding the streets singing Prince’s music, weeping, while the city of Minneapolis draped itself in purple. And I thought how interesting it is, that we take so personally, so intimately, the loss of someone we never truly knew, because of how his work impacted our lives. And it made me think about how we value those around us.

Is value imparted because of how a person made us feel? Or because of the work they contributed to the world? Or because of who they knew? Is the life of Prince more valuable than the life of the baby that was born yesterday?

. . . My perspective is different because my heart was not tied to Prince’s music the way so many of my peer’s hearts are. He was amazing! And I am certain, now, that I missed out. I wish my teen years had been a little more touched by his work. But my perspective lends me a emotional distance. And here’s what I believe: Every life should be draped in purple.
Not because of what we bring with our accomplishments (or the lack of them). Not because of who we know (or don’t). Not because of the various social media votes we receive in all their numerous forms. But because of the intrinsic value placed on us from before the dawn of time by the hand of God. (This is the probably-unpopular part of the post I warned you about). I believe this with my whole heart. Every life, no matter how small, accomplished, flawed, broken, criminal, or deserving of death . . . no matter how celebrated, revered, awarded, or enthroned, has value. Only because God made it and God can redeem it. Even the very worst. Because, if I can’t believe this, then there is no hope. We are all capable of the very best—and the very worst.
So here’s what I’m doing today. I’m draping you all in purple. Every face I see today. Every voice I hear. Every man, woman, child, and unborn baby. I’m throwing that royal color around you in my heart and mind. Your life has intrinsic value. You are beautiful and loved and important. You are worth singing in the streets for. You are worth illuminated bridges and buildings.
You matter because God said so.
And I’m pretty sure He’s got a corner on the market when it comes to that kind of thing.
Right. I’m done. Off my soapbox.
Back to typical posts about my kitchen, things my kids say, and soup.

Harry Potter and buttermilk pie crust

Ever notice how what you’re reading influences what you eat and cook, or what you WANT to eat and cook?

I finally started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to my two older kids this weekend, and oh my goodness. SO. MUCH. FUN. Only a couple chapters into the first book and they are already picking up on the challenges of making good choices, courage, the reality that adults don’t always get it right, that life isn’t fair, and that doing the right thing is always the right thing.

And the food . . . Rowling got it. I love how she details food.
Bags of stale crips.
A can of tomatoes on toast for breakfast.
Fried bacon.
A package of squishy sausages in Hagrid’s pocket.
Candy and sweets with so many odd names and flavors I can’t even remember them all at the moment. Except those jelly beans of all different flavors—because Jelly Belly, obviously, have jumped on that train.
I need to write about food in my own stories some more . . .

Today is about pie, though. Rowling’s description of the pies and tarts at the Hogwart’s feast got me itching to try a new pie crust recipe I’ve been thinking about. Plus I made butter again this weekend, so there is both icy cold buttermilk and fresh butter in my fridge waiting for experimentation.

Hope you had a great weekend, friends.
Here’s to good books and good food.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup chilled buttermilk

In a food processor, whirl the butter, flour, and salt until crumbly. Then, one teaspoon at a time, add the buttermilk until a dough forms. The trick here is not to overwork the dough or let it get warm. You don’t want the butter melting into the dough, but rather staying rather crumbled within it—those butter bits are what will make the dough flaky when it bakes.

Note: these measurements make a single crust, so you’ll need to double the recipe for a top and bottom crust.

I prefer using wax paper or parchment paper to roll out pasty dough because it means I don’t have to try and scrape it from my counter top or risk over-flouring it. Also, refrigerate whatever dough you aren’t currently working with.

Lay the bottom crust in the plate and add the filling of your choice (I’m going with apple, cheddar, and sweet-potato today).

Roll out the top crust as you did with the bottom, fit over top the pie, trim any excess around the edges and crimp.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown across the top and bubbling. About 40 minutes or so. Allow to cool before cutting so the juices can re-incorporate.

For a full tutorial on how I use wax paper and crimping, check out my earlier pie crust recipe tutorial. —Different recipe, same method. 🙂

making butter

So this isn’t really a recipe post as much as a reflection post . . . because one doesn’t really need a recipe for making butter.
To make butter: Pour whole cream into a bowl, add a dash of salt, whip the daylights out of it, and presto: Butter.

But the actual act of making butter connects you to something else. Something beautiful and nourishing and transformational. Is that an exaggeration? I don’t know. But making butter, for me, feels like all of those things.

As I sit on the counter, watching my stand mixer do the work housewives before me grew blisters for, I marvel at their tenacity. Their determination to do something good for their people. And gratitude is the only word I can think of. I’m thankful for them. For these women, all of them, who came before me to make the world what it continues to become. I’m thankful they cared enough about their people to do the work, day after day. To nourish and feed and love and build life out of nothing. Do to transformational work—in the kitchen and out. I think it fair to call butter making an allegorical act. A work that tells a story. In making butter, one useful nourishing thing is changed into another useful nourishing thing. And isn’t that what it is, to parent and cook? To wife and partner? To work and build and grow? We change ourselves, and those around us, with small daily acts, from one thing into another.

So as you go about this week, take a minute. Pause. Remember. You’re making butter. In and out of the kitchen. As men and women ages before you have done. The unseen, blister-growing, heart work that transforms lives. Well done. Churn on.

the Diver

“One may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to colour and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover.”
—C.S. Lewis (Miracles)


I’m going to start off with a note acknowledging that this is a bold, personal post and I know not everyone reading it will agree or appreciate that I felt the need to post it. And that’s okay.

I have loved C.S. Lewis’s quote—or word picture rather—since the first time I read it.
It gives such clarity to the theological truths I live by. This idea of foolish, extravert Grace that strips down to nothing, and descends even farther—so far as to be cloaked by death, but not consumed. And all for something He considered precious, though by all appearances and realities, the “prize” wasn’t worth the cost it required to obtain it.
The very act of God’s plunge gave it value.
Lost things are given value—worth—by the one who searches.

This Sunday we celebrate Easter—the death of death. The plunge and rise of Christ for the sake of me, and you, and every broken heart that ever was or will ever be. It’s a celebration of all the “Re.” —Restoration and Rebirth, Rejuvenation, and Relationship if only we accept the outstretched hand and the offer of air.

This is a blog about food. About the things that nourish need. And I’ll be first in line to admit that my need goes far beyond physical. I crave wholeness in every aspect. Physical and mental, emotional, and spiritual. And praise God, who sent His one and only Son to earth, to plunge and rise again, that He refused to leave those needs unmet—yours and mine.

Happy Easter, Dear Ones.

do your job.

Sometimes I wonder how much more. . .
How much more suffering and loss and questions and heavy hearts?
How much more hunger and pain and grief and empty tomorrows?
And then I look around and think, “There’s work to do.”
I’m only one small person. One small voice. I can’t cure any of it, or make it stop, or fix the brokenness. None of us can.
But I can love hard and lean into sadness with those who need me to.
I can hold a hand, lend a shoulder, cry with a friend, make a meal, use my hands, feet, heart, and words in the best way I know to say Love is bigger. Over and over again.

Don’t despair. The story isn’t finished. The walk Home is long, but none of us have to do it alone. Do your job today: Go off script and love someone—anyone—with the sort of kindness that pushes them toward Hope. That’s the only reason we’re here.

#prayforbrussels #andforusall #loveisbigger

my people

I made a new friend this week.
That sounds so funny. Like third grade all over again. She’s going to laugh when she reads this. *digs out friendship bracelet string*

But it’s a beautiful thing to type those words on the page and even more, to mean them.
I’m an introvert. I can pretend to be something else for a little while (I am truly envious of all of you social-birds out there) but pretending to extrovert for any length of time saps me of energy in a big way and takes me a day or two to recover. For that reason, blogging is easy, and making friends is hard. I’m not particularly good at being vulnerable. Although I’m working on that.

I am discovering that vulnerability is courageous, and it is the desire of my heart to live in the sort of bravery that welcomes people close and invites them in, rather than walling them off in the name of self-protection.

So in that vein, I made a new friend this week. And she’s delightful.I have a handful of them. Like-minded and like-hearted people who come to one another’s rescue with pizza and wine, warm words, and helpful hands. Never judgmental but always honest. They love courageously, selves aside. These women parent and wife, and friend, (yes those are verbs) with vulnerability, fearing mistakes but leaning in to the hard things and loving anyway. These are my people. Some of them I see on a weekly basis. Some I only get to see once a year—soaking in sunshine and coffee on my kitchen floor. Regardless, it’s our heart-condition that keeps us close, not proximity.

Do you have People? Friends who stand in the gap when your heart is heavy, who are quick to offer dinner or watch your kids for an hour? Friends who ignore your dirty bathroom and sink-full of dishes? Introvert or extrovert, we need them. These like-hearted people. They hold us up when life is hard and we desperately need people to share the road on the long walk Home.

Friendship is weird. It takes two people saying “Yah, sure! Let’s try this,” with the kind of bravery that uses vulunarbility as a welcome sign. It’s not easy. But it’s imperative.
In this brand new week, take a moment to gather your people. It’s as simple as a text message. Tell them they are loved. And if you feel your people are far too few in number, or perhaps nonexistent, be brave. Go off script and let someone see your messes. Be vulnerable. Adulting isn’t really that much different than third grade. We just get to have wine instead of juice boxes. 😉


This isn’t a parenting  or personal blog, it’s a blog about food, mostly. And some writing. And doing right by both. But I’m also more than what I cook. My kitchen is messy and my heart is messy, so I’m going to take one post a week—a weekend post—and blog about what it means, for me, to live bravely in all of the messes. As a mom, a wife, a friend, and a home cook. And maybe you’ll find a word or two that encourages you. We’re in this together, after all. This thing called life. Around and around and around the sun we go.

toward courage

“I wish I could go back,” he said. “And undo all of my mistakes.”

We were cuddling before bed. Story time was over, he was getting sleepy, and then he throws down this one and I’m suddenly caught between nostalgia for my soon-to-be-ten-year-old and the worst case of parenting guilt I’ve felt for a while.

What on earth?! Dude is nine years old. What mistakes has he made that there is anything to regret? And what have I done as his mother to ensure this kind of pressure for perfection? I gulped.

“Mistakes? What do you mean Bud? What mistakes do you wish you could go back and undo?”
“That time I hit you.” He said. “And that time I didn’t catch my sister when she fell down the stairs. Those kinds of things.”

We were silent for a little while, each of us contemplating. I was desperately trying not to get swallowed up by my own conviction that once again I was failing this kid. And I knew he was mentally listing all the other things he wanted to undo.
I took a deep breath.

“Know what?”
“I have a list of things I wish I could go back and undo too.”
“Oh yah. REALLY. None of us are perfect. Only God is perfect.”
My sweet red-head nodded.
“It must be nice not to make mistakes.”
“Someday we will be done making them. But until then, we get to learn from them.”
“Yes,” I said. “Every mistake we make is an opportunity to learn and do something different next time. And you, Kiddo, are one of the best learners I’ve ever met.”
“Really. And I’m so proud of you.”

I kissed him goodnight and he was sleeping in seconds, but I couldn’t stop revisiting his words and wondering—wondering—wondering what I was doing wrong that this thought would be anchored in the heart of my nine year old.

I wish I could go back and undo all my mistakes.

I told a girlfriend about it over drinks one night and tearfully confessed to feeling terribly inadequate to parent this kid—I felt like I was failing him. That perhaps somehow I had created an expectation for perfection. Something I had vowed never to do to to my kids.

She smiled and squeezed my hand.
“You’re taking too much credit,” she said. “And I mean that in the kindest way possible. You don’t get to be responsible for all his winnings or successes any more than you get to be responsible for all of his failings or shortcomings. We could be the best moms in the whole world and never make a mistake with our kids only to have them make their own horrible choices and ruin their lives. Also, we could be the worst moms ever and have our kids turn out absolutely amazing!”

I thought about that and then nodded, tearfully. She was right.
“I see you doing the best you can,” she continued. “And that is all any of us can do.”

All week I’ve been thinking about this. About doing my best. Not taking too much credit (for either the good or the bad) and loving my people well. —Not toward perfection, but toward something else. Toward courage, I guess. Courage to be honest and vulnerable and able to make the sort of mistakes that allow us to learn, and then forgive ourselves.

This isn’t a parenting blog, it’s a blog about food, mostly. And some writing. And doing right by both. But I’m also a mom. My kitchen is messy and my heart is messy, so I’m going to take one post a week—a weekend post—and blog about what it means, for me, to live bravely in all of the messes. As a mom, a wife, and a home cook. And maybe you’ll find a word or two that encourages you. We’re in this together, after all. This thing called life. Around and around and around the sun we go . . .

So here’s to messy kitchens and messy hearts. This is the stuff courage is made of. Take this brand new week to live in that direction. Mistakes and all, because they’re simply opportunities to learn and live bravely.

Be well!