I spied this scene while out walking with my family on Sunday evening. I would not have even noticed if my daughter hadn’t asked for a water break. So, we stopped underneath two Holly trees that create an arbor over the sidewalk. As the kids drank water in their peckish and slow way, I looked up. The golden sunlight was streaming into the nooks and crannies of the Holly leaves. That’s when I spied this:
After a rough Monday wrestling with how to proceed in fundraising for the Bolivia workshop, today I announced that I am suspending my efforts until the workshop has a firm date. And, while that left me feeling rather down, I am inspired by this photograph.
It shows exactly how I feel. After sharing it on my personal Facebook page, my friend summed it up perfectly: “I see a seed who probably gave false hope to a spider who hoped to devour it. Seed is in no danger and is getting a prolonged sky view before landing and sprouting. You are full of life and encouragement even if you feel stuck! Enjoy the view sweetie and don’t forget Im always up for taking you out to coffee when you are here!”
This is the story of how I discovered my passion of photography. It starts, however, with a boy.
We were going to get married, that was the decision. He knew we were meant to be together forever. Then, like the practical girl that I was, I explained to the boy that we had to get a good idea of the costs to get married. For example, how much does a ring cost? How much for a wedding? What about living expenses? I was a girl of 20, he a boy at 19. We both lived at home, and attended College.
The ring seemed like a good start. Without an official purposeful, we decided to look at rings together and see how much they cost and what would strike my fancy. Why not make it a good excuse to hop over the border and visit Canada?
Once we arrive the sunny day turned dark with gray clouds, a foreboding sign. We ate lunch, and then entered a very rainy day. This put the boy in a bad mood. Things were not going according to his romantic plans. Being an optimist, I said, “Well, let’s buy an umbrella! It’ll force us to walk more closely. And, we’ll have a good souvenir.” So we did. A bright white and red one with the Canadian Maple Leaf on it, telling everyone we passed that we were tourists.
We hopped in and out of jewelry stores, until there were no more within walking distance. With the rain dashing our plans of simply walking around along the waterfront or through gardens, we strolled through a Mall. I spotted a little photo-booth, the type where you get 3 or 4 of those tiny square photos on a strip. I smiled and suggested we get another souvenir. He said no, he was grumpy. Finally, we landed in an old bookstore stuffed to the ceiling. While we sat on a little bench, I clutched a book of Portraits done by National Geographic Photographers. I was captivated.
With the twinkle of inspiration and hope, I shared aloud, “I want to make a book like this someday.” The boy’s grumpy mood must have overtaken him with his resonse, “You can never do that. It’s unrealistic.” That’s when I knew the truth. He was not THE ONE for me. Despite his model perfect chiseled good looks and old fashioned manners, we didn’t really fit. I had some lofty dreams, but I knew I wanted someone who encouraged them, even if deep down they doubted.
I felt like a wilted flower at the end of that day. With a bit of truth I didn’t want to swallow, I knew I loved photography and that didn’t work with this boy.
The boy and I were not meant to be, because I said no. I chose a different path, one with no boy in sight.
Then, almost like an accident, and a few years later, I met a different boy. Someone who watched clouds roll by with me while lying on a blanket. We shared dreams. His analytical mind didn’t shoot my ideas down, but they challenged the logistics of how to make them happen. That is why I married my husband. And, that is why I’m still taking photographs.
Do you have a passion? Or many passions? When did you know they were what you wanted to pursue?
My son’s new favorite song starts out like this, “You can do better, You can do better, You can be the Greatest Man in the World…” We’ve been listening to it a lot lately. I’m not sure that his 5-year-old self can relate to the catchy tune’s lyrics, but it is really fun.
The other night while tucking him into bed, he told me, “When I am big, I want to be a little bit like you and like Dad.” I asked him how he wanted to be a little like me. He said, “Like you help Daddy, you help him with the problems. And you wash dishes.” The last part almost made me laugh. Yes, I do the dishes! But, I didn’t realize that he’d noticed the frequent conversations my husband and I have around his work problems. He is a software developer, and often needs to sort through a puzzle verbally before he realizes a solution. I do my best to be a good listener, and only understand about 3/4 of what he is talking about. He often reciprocates and listens to me ramble about whatever issue I’m passionate about or after I’ve had a defeated sort of day.
What this reminded me of is what I really want to do: help people. It comes naturally, and is at the core of just about everything I do. So, I’m going to do better with this blogging thing. I’m working on a new site, one focused more on being a blog and resource with more organization and easier navigation. What I’ve learned in just 7 months of blogging is that I love it. I also want to focus more of my energy on creating recipes and a community that is more helpful and inspiring.
On September 5th, I’ll launch my new site! Stay tuned…
For the last week, our family has traveled by plane to a Florida Beach wedding and then a long anticipated visit to rural Arkansas to meet Great Grandparents. Each place another world from the one we call home in Seattle. Our first time flying with both kids, the longest trip as a couple, the new family and friends we met brought a sense of welcome to each step. People are generally kind and considerate. Our children welcomed friendliness from strangers everywhere. The smells and temperature of the air welcomed us home.
Stop. After a week away from blogging and consistent Internet connectivity, I decided to jump back in by joining The Gypsy Mama’s Friday 5 Link Prompt: Welcome. After so much to process mentally, photos to upload, laundry to do and time zones to get adjusted to for life back here, I thought it was time to link up.
On Saturday, I sat in the warmth of sunshine while admiring sculpture and reflecting on what I’d just heard during the opening talks of the World Domination Summit. I was outside the Portland Art Museum, and a security guard approached my husband, Casey, and I. He wanted to know what the event was about. He said something like, “What is the World Domination Summit? We were trying to figure it out from the website.” We proceeded to explain it as a conference like event for creative entrepreneurs. I’m not quite sure that really does it justice.
The event reminded me of a conference/reunion/seminar for folks looking to use their passions and make a living. I found myself grasping to accurately describe the event to strangers we met on the MAX train while traveling from our Inn near the airport to the Portland Art Museum. It was actually unlike any conference or seminar I’ve ever attended. Overall everyone was friendly, ready to strike up a conversation and full of their own creative ideas and projects. Not everyone, mind you, but most. It was really amazing to actually sit and strike up a conversation with someone from Trinidad and get positive feedback about my new found passion with this here blog. People attended from several countries, and all over the US. We almost felt like cheaters having only driving about 180 miles from our home for the event. But, we can’t help being strategically located in Seattle!
Hello, My Name is…
The week before this trip, I had a Dentist appointment at a new Dental Office. I got the two most common questions about Who and What I am:
At the end of our introductions, the Dentist asked me, “What Are you? Are you Asian?” I get this question about every 6 months. Seriously. One time it was from a young Asian guy accepting my donation at Goodwill. To quench your curiosity, I’m not Asian, just an odd mix of Native American, Croatian, Norwegian and a dash of English, German, Finnish and French Canadian. Funny that my odd looks garner such quandary.
The Dental Hygienist asked, “So, you’re a Stay At Home Mom?” Yes, I get this question a lot because, I am. I usually put, “Home Maker” down under Occupation. To my positive confirmation at her question, she remarked that she’d lose her mind if she didn’t work 3 days a week. Good for her to know herself that well. But, I love being home with my kids. I know we’re all different, but I feel singled out so often because I get to stay home and choose to be a housewife. I feel the title is limiting and doesn’t fully express all that the job entails, the creativity, dedication and exhaustion that it brings.
This was good practice, I thought, for the upcoming weekend meeting strangers.
What I learned
Everyone is unique, but can bask in the glow of each others passion for life. I met people from all over the world, and some from my own part of Seattle.
Bloggers are People too: It’s funny to finally see and talk with bloggers I follow. They take on a mythical like status, like old authors I love to read. At least, that’s what it’s been like for me. I loved seeing famous bloggers and folks like me plugging away at their own little niche. What was cool was feeling like an equal to each one of them. It was really neat to be able to chat with some of my favorite bloggers and discover new ones. My new Seattle favorite, is over at Seattle Homestead – I have literally passed their house dozens of times while driving to visit my Aunt and Uncle this past Spring.
It’s a Big, Small World: Everyone is unique and each holds a voice waiting to be heard. If you’re a writer with a dream of being published, for example, you can do it yourself by publishing an ebook, or using an online service. The world is full of alternative options now.
Following your passions = Being Alive: We are culturally wired to feel safe in the routine. Finding your passion often requires new experiences, and facing fear. Do it. Life is short. Personally, I already knew this, but it is refreshing to hear it again through stories of others finding their way.
For those of you reading this who have many passions, and interests and don’t know what to do with them, check out one of my favorite blogs: Puttylike.com – I met Emilie and Abe in person, and they do a great Podcast interviewing folks living the unconventional life this summit was all about cultivating.
Museum of Contemporary Craft
Where I am going now
I love creating new recipes, sharing about health through real food and learning from you, dear readers! Thanks to those of you who filled out the poll in my last post. Basically, you love all of it here – Everything was tied! So, I will continue doing what I do here, but also building something new, something where I can spread the “make it from scratch” gospel farther. When it’s ready, I’ll move this content over there, and let this become a more personal site where I’ll let another passion of mine have some space: Art and giving. It’s still stewing at the back of my brain, but I’m excited to share it with you soon!
Last September, I had no idea that I would finally find a solution to my baby’s constipation and embark on a new passion: finding healing through nourishing food. As chance would have it the previous 9 months had laid the ground work for me to be open to making changes to how we eat, and spark my passion for learning more about food. Add to that the book, The Art of Non-Conformity, and you have the inspiration for my growth in wanting to share what I’ve learned and to finally start this blog.
This weekend, my husband and I will be attending Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit – it may sound lofty, but it’s bound to be an exciting adventure as we get to hear from experts in the field of blogging, social entrepreneurs and crazy fun people doing what they love.
Back in December I attended Chris’ AONC book tour stop at the UW Bookstore, and still wasn’t sure about this whole blogging thing. I’m so glad that I finally started!
But, I want to hear from you, dear readers:What do you really enjoy around here? Please take a few seconds and fill in the poll below, or leave me a comment if you want to have your say about other stuff: Do you want complete meal recipes? More book reviews? Menu plans?
p.s. I’ll be taking off Monday from my regular posting.
Do you want to start cooking from scratch? Cool! I am cheering for you right now. I probably don’t need to tell you how much more nutritious your meals will be for you. I do want to let you know what you’re getting yourself into, what I’ve found myself struggling with, how I’ve adjusted and what I’ve learned.
The dirt: Cooking and baking from scratch means I have more dishes to wash. Seriously, we now run the dishwasher (an energy-efficient one) once a day, or every 24 hour period. It also means more time spent preparing and creating meals or snacks. I am making a huge effort to streamline the time I spend cooking, but that usually means I put in a chunk every few days on things like Bread, Soup, or Crackers. I have to think ahead about ingredients like Yeast, Butter, Vegetables, Flour, Salt, Olive Oil, and on the list goes. Basically, it can get as long and arduous as you chose to make it. For our household, I make every meal from scratch. That includes staples and treats like Cupcakes. All of these things require more individual purchases when you count flour, salt, Baking Soda, etc., but, they actually reduce my grocery bill. And that helps me justify buying more expensive ingredients or giving me room to experiment with new ones.
The benefits: Surprisingly, the things that are the least expensive and prepackaged like Tortillas or Bread are easy to make and even taste better. I never would have thought a Tortilla made at home could taste so yummy! Somewhere along the line of our industrialist revolution we started buying the easy things to make: soup and bread, for example. The things that take some time to make were some of the first to be sold in markets.
Less waste: I know, I know, who would have thought I could get excited about garbage and compost? For our house, we found ourselves only
filling our garbage can half full. We’ve downsized it and save about $36 a year (not huge, but still provides at least one movie date out for my Honey and me). Our compost bin, on the other hand is almost full every week. It’s really satisfying to physically see a difference our food choices are making on our garbage output.
Starting from Scratch
If you’re ready, here we go:
1) Start small – Trying to cook every meal from scratch is overwhelming. Try starting with whatever meal you’ll have the most time to prepare – lunches might be a good place since you can make them ahead of time (don’t need to be piping hot from the oven). Look up recipes and learn one new one every couple of days. If at first you don’t succeed, try it again. Seriously. It took me several tries to come up with a good cookie recipe to meet my daughter’s dietary restrictions. We had a few batches of some that were either too bland, too crunchy or too soft.
2) Get help – If you have a family you’re cooking for, I strongly suggest letting them know you’re going to try something new. Perhaps you can bring it up at dinner or hold a family meeting. Invite them to help you, but don’t get stuck if no one is interested. You can do this. Another place
to look for support and inspiration is from food blogs or recipe type forums to see how others experimented with a recipe or how they overcame a problem.
3) Host a social meal – It might sound daunting, but it can be a lot of fun. You can do a traditional potluck with the theme of “cooked from scratch” or try something like a “soup swap” where folks bring a set number of soups to trade. Or try something totally new – the only limitation here is your imagination.
Last year for my birthday, we had friends come over with instructions to bring two things from the Farmer’s Market or our beloved Seattle’s Pike Place Market. We didn’t plan ahead for types of foods, just that everyone needed to bring two things. I was a little bit nervous that we’d end up with a bunch of bread and apricots, and agreed with my husband that our plan B could be to order Pizza. But, we never needed our plan B.
The experiment was an exciting, fun, delicious success!
Once everyone had arrived, we laid all the food out, made a list, then brainstormed what to create from it all. We then divided and conquered the prepping and cooking. Our menu included: Grilled Salmon, Spinach-Raspberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Olive Oil, Pesto Pasta with Bacon bits, Chicken Sausage, Grilled Zucchini and Apricots (glazed with Honey), Bacon (not my personal favorite but did add flavor to the pasta and Spinach salad), Sliced Rainbow Carrots, Celery and Cucumber for munching, Rye Sourdough Bread and hard Apple Cider. We finished the meal off with Chocolate Sponge Cake, sliced Strawberries and Vanilla Ice Cream (not made from scratch, but made from only 5 real ingredients).
I want to host more of these Farmer’s Market Meals. We were able to host 10 people and our 2 little kids only because we ate outdoors. Our home will only fit about 6-8 adults if eating and cooking inside.
Okay, now go out there and have fun!
p.s. I’m still learning. I’d love to hear about your favorite food blogs or cook books or general words of wisdom.
It has been one of those weeks where I feel like I’m just out of my groove. I think stuff just kept piling up without leaving me room to breathe and it all collided with a simple cold for everyone in the house. Nothing to call the doctor over, but enough to make everyone cranky. But, aren’t we supposed to not get sick so much, because we’re eating healthy? I don’t really know. There’s no way to tell, to isolate myself and do a controlled study. I had to stop myself from thinking just that, and just focus on getting out of my analytical rut. The simple act of uploading photos which highlighted the fun stuff helped. I focused on what I could do like making soup, getting the kids to nap and taking it easy to get better. And, in the span of just one day of shifting my focus, I’m feeling better.
I’ve noticed myself getting into a similar cycle of discouragement with blogging. I am having a lot of fun with this blog, and feel like a whole new world has opened up. I’ve met like-minded folks, learned more from other bloggers and experienced joy from sharing recipes or finding that I am not alone in my struggles. Part of this process has been discovering others who are doing delightful things with their blogs, making money, showing off skills I simply don’t have or the time to fully pursue. They all have a set focus, and seriously rock at their thing.
I can’t focus on one thing. I never have, and can’t bring myself to do it. I’m learning from the “have it all together” bloggers, but also find myself getting caught up on those sneaky comparison thoughts. How will I ever look as polished as Jones Design Company? Or as alluring as Gluten Free Girl? Or have such a large following as Nourishing Gourmet? Okay, so yesterday night, I had to stop myself. Shift my focus. I can be inspired by these women, not intimidated. I am not them. I am me. I am a multipotentiale. I love so many different things, want to learn more, and enjoy sharing the process. This will be my mission.
Just like with failure, I can learn from discouragement. I can choose to shift the discouragement into inspiration. I just have to remind myself.
Besides, what really matters is offline. If my kids and family are happy, and think that my choppy-home-made-from-scratch cake is awesome that’s all that matters.
What do you do to get out of discouragement cycle?
I felt like I walked into another world full of sunshine, warmth and simple beauty. I was forced to slow down. I was in a rural Oregon town to visit my Mom and family for a quick Easter weekend. While I only had a full day to visit, I savored every slow hour.
The drive down with my brother behind the wheel was a mixture of anxiousness at his careless texting while aggressively driving and gratitude for the quiet time we had to talk while the kids slept in their car seats. We only really visit each other when he needs me to cut his hair or at a family dinner. It was neat to reminiscence about childhood, and where we are as “adults” in life right now. He has an epic adventure to Japan coming in September. I have my own adventure with this blogging thing, plus life as a parent and wife. It was interesting to hear what he cares about or struggles with in the context of stuff, owning a Truck, and debt. I tried my best to not tell him what I think he should do, but just listened and appreciated where I am with similar things.
Lesson #1: I don’t have a vehicle I am emotionally connected with – and that feels freeing. I don’t want stuff to get in my way of being debt-free or traveling. Right now, we’re aggressively paying off our debt, and will be free from it in the next 4 months. I have the itch to do more de-cluttering of things that fill our home, and focus on my own things that just sit around to just look pretty or are unused.
: : : Too much Phone Time : : :
As chance would have it, I forgot my phone charger at home, and the battery died. I was without a cell phone for almost 24 hours. What a great way to realize that I check it too much! I waited until this year to get a Smart Phone, and only got it because my husband thought I should have one. Honestly, it is really nice to read eBooks on it, check Email, get Blog Comments, or use Google anywhere. But, I have been using it too much. Do I really need to respond to emails every hour? Not that I get that many, but still…it was a little uncomfortable not having it on me while I knew my husband was on the road driving to meet up with us. He did check in by calling my Mom’s phone to let us know when he’d left home and provided an estimate on his arrival time.
Lesson #2: I can still enjoy my Smart Phone, but don’t need to check it every hour. It’s addicting and very tempting to use all the time, especially since I can also take pictures and post them to Facebook. So, I am going to still use my phone, but with less frequency for things like Email and Facebook.
Speaking of Facebook, my friend, Staci wrote a really honest post about her realizing that she’s on it too much. The post actually got me thinking about sharing these lessons I learned Easter Weekend, and prompted my need to share.
: : : Food is the great divide : : :
While only eating a whole day’s worth of meals in this rural Oregon town, I was
aware of how hard it is to get local, or a decent selection of vegetables and hormone free meat. You have to know someone who knows someone and buy like half a cow. Or, stock up at the weekly Farmer’s Market. Sure, the Super Walmart has some Organic branded options, but it’s not the same as finding fresh Kale or Rutabagas. Rural America is given less food choices than urban areas. And the irony is that most of our food is grown in rural areas and shipped to the cities for “picky/informed/passionate” consumption. I hate the fact that I can buy fresh Kale, Cucumbers and Basil within 5 minutes of my house, but my Mom has to wait until the local Alberstons store decides to carry Kale (the last time they had it, she said it was old, and wilting but she bought it anyway to support such variety).
Lesson #3: I am passionate about food and access equality. Why can’t the rural Americans have as many choices as we do in the city? This fuels my desire to further support locally, sustainably and organically grown food. Somehow I hope to accomplish this, at least as another straw on the Camel’s back, with blogging.
: : : Slow Down : : :
My husband was only able to join us on the trip for an afternoon. But, we fit a date into the time we had, and really enjoyed walking around a small town. They have an amazing coffee house, White House Coffee, and local book store where a kitten played in the window and beckoned us inside. We wandered through isles of old and new books finding little spots to sit and read. While purchases one book, I couldn’t help but smile at the little sign advertising that you can also buy farm fresh eggs (at a book store!). It’s places like this that outshine mega stores or franchised businesses.
Lesson #4: I will make more time to slow down and enjoy unscheduled time with my husband and family. Just this weekend, we took time to explore our neighborhood walking trails. I want more of that in our lives. It makes me less wistful about living in a small town and raising Chickens.
Life is good. Sometimes I just need to slow down to really savor it.
What do you love about where you live? Is there anything you’ve gotten too busy to appreciate? If so, maybe you should take a day off from scheduling it full and just wander. You never know what thoughts or adventures await.
For three days I did not leave the house. Our Little Miss was sick and only wanted Mama to hold her. We read dozens of books, Dr. Seuss ones being a favorite – hence the title of this post. Holding her while she napped, I had plenty of time to think, think, think, think. Sometimes she just wanted me to sit next to her in bed while she napped in a dark room. During those times, I caught up on reading blogs.
Reading a post on Peace and Projects, “Remember Where You Came From” gave me a topic to think about, and inspired me to look back on my life. A few months ago while de-cluttering our bookshelf, I stumbled upon an old folder that contained an old resume and letters of recommendation. Tucked in with them was a letter I received from Nell Newman. She was responding nicely to my letter looking for a mentor, and kindly declined. In 2003, I was interested in getting into the Food Industry. I wanted to create good food for folks on the go – something my mom and I had talked at length about pursuing. She had some amazing recipes, and was game if I wanted to get things going. I knew that first I needed a mentor to learn about the industry. Nell was behind Newman Organics, and since I admired the line of ready to go “healthy” snacks, I could think of no other person I’d want to emulate. She could not be that person. But she gave me a copy of her new book, The Newman’s Own Organics Guide to a Good Life, with an encouraging note. Life led me in another direction and that book sat on my shelf gathering dust with the letter.
Fast forward 8 years, and the question, “What can you offer the world that no one else can?” posed in Chris Gillebeau’s book, The Art of Non-Conformity, pops up in my mind. The only answer I could think of at first is simple: Raise our children to be healthy and independent. I think the past three days has given me enough time to see another answer, one where I can give more than two little people. I can share how we’re getting our kids to eat more vegetables!
About a year ago, I watched one of the first episodes of Jamie Oliver’s, “Food Revolution,” and was super excited! I believe that good health begins at home with what you eat. While I didn’t agree with the attitude that Jamie threw at folks during the show, I agreed with his message: inspire people to fight obesity by cooking their own food. A wonderful, concise presentation of this is given during his TED talk. It’s 20 minutes and worth watching!
All these thoughts came together for me today after a trip to the grocery store. The trip was the first I made out of the house since Little Miss got sick. Today happened to be one of my usual grocery trip days. At the check out, I saw the usual Checker Guy and Bagging Girl. They both automatically said, “Hey, Guys” within moments of each other, then noticed that I was alone. I explained that the Boy was at Preschool and Little Miss was at home reading with Grandma who was visiting from out-of-town. The Bagging Girl asked if I was going to do anything nice for myself after shopping, and I said, Yes, make lunch. I thought that sounded kinda lame, but the truth is, I love to cook and eat. So, I did just that, making everything from scratch and enjoying the compliments my mom gave as she enjoyed it with me.
I am motivated to join the movement afoot to get folks cooking their own healthy, tasty food. For the month of March, I’ll focus on sharing my recipes for vegetables and my favorite resources. A childhood friend has her own blog, Feed Me Like You Love Me, and her last blog post shares a similar sentiment of being good to yourself with food in a healthy way. Other food blogs I enjoy by people I know in real life are: NerdyFoodie and PineappleSage (another friend from childhood).