The Circle of Life

A few weeks ago I was on a plane traveling across the country, sitting next to a sweet, young guy who had just completed a two year mission with the Mormon church. He started talking to me about his work and how excited he was to see his family after being gone for so long. We talked about everything; life, love, art, marriage, and of course, religion. I had never spoken so much to a complete stranger, especially never on an early morning flight, but I was interested. He spent the last two years in the poorest parts of Oakland, Concord, and Antioch. I’m sure it was not easy, actually, probably terrifying at times, but he was still extremely positive about it all.

I was traveling back east to see some college friends, their two month old baby boy, my cousins, and most importantly, my grandfather (Pop) whose health is declining. The night before I left I was feeling incredibly sick myself. I had left work earlier that morning, and laid on the couch the rest of the day, feeling like I couldn’t move, and hoping I didn’t have the flu. I really thought about canceling my trip. On top of all that, I was nervous to travel alone this time. It had been years since I saw Pop and I was nervous of what I might find. Nervous he wouldn’t remember me, or worse, say something unfiltered and hurtful that my sensitive self wouldn’t be able to handle. But ultimately, I knew I would regret it if I didn’t, and so somehow I managed to pack a suitcase.

Stepping off the plane, with the guy whose first name I don’t even know, I felt at ease. It set the tone for the trip, and I was feeling good about all the people I would be spending the next few days with.

Religion, and all religions, seemed to have been surrounding me this trip. I thought about that guy and how it was so interesting to talk with him, although if he would have come to my door, I probably would have just quickly said “I’m happy being Catholic”, and not given him the chance to share his beliefs. The funny thing is how all that changes under different circumstances. I didn’t feel the pressure of him wanting to convert me; he just wanted to talk, and so I listened.

Splitting time between a two month old, and an 86 year old, who both need 24 hour care, you really see the entire circle of life played out in front of you. The baby cried as I held him, and I just wanted to make everything ok. Pop cried, for what may have been the first time ever in front of me, and I felt the same. All I wanted to do was hug him, and make him healthy again. And in moments like that you realize love really is the most important thing to us all.

After spending a couple nights with friends, I walked to the subway station with Shawn before heading off to Albany, and I and wondered how time had passed us by so quickly. It was like nothing had changed, and yet everything had. His old backpack and skateboard from our LMU days had since been replaced by the baby snuggled up against his chest, and the dog leading our way. He’s survived a lot in the decade I’ve known him, and life just keeps moving forward.

On that train ride out of the city, I thought about growing up 3,000 miles away from the rest of the family, and how it would have been very easy to not feel connected, especially in a childhood without texting, facebook, and all other social media. I have to credit my parents for doing an incredible job in making sure that that didn’t happen. We got back east a couple times a years as kids, and although it usually took a day to warm up to our cousins and get comfortable again, we always had so much fun seeing everyone.

My dads parents both passed away over twenty years ago. I never really understood how hard that must have been on my dad, until I’ve recently started thinking more about what it might be like for my mom to lose a parent. We were so young, it’s hard to remember a lot. I do remember their house, and loving going there to see them, but I think most of my memories come from stories I’ve been told again and again. My dad had my mom, and us (his daughters), and my Nan and Pop who have been second parents to him for the past 40 years, but I know that’s not the same as your own parents. I know he must miss them constantly.

The last night of the trip I was back in the city, and went out in the east village with my cousins. We were standing in some bar when Brighid asked “do you think Grandma would be proud of us?” I quickly answered “that we’re hanging out and love each other? Yes!” I knew that wasn’t what she was asking, however the more I think about it, the more I think what I blurted out in that moment is the absolute truth. It’s not just that she would proud that we’re all college educated, that we’ve found a passion in something, and have careers all our own, but rather that her children raised their children similarly to what she would have done herself. That they taught us the importance of family, marriage, and kindness. And yes, that we all love each other, no matter how far away we may be.

I hope we still have several more years with Pop, but I’m happy to have so many wonderful memories with him, and I know that his presence will live on through us all no matter when that time comes.

The morning I flew home I tried hailing a cab by myself at 5am, with no luck, and I started to stress about all sorts of things. Some guy, who was still out from the night before, came over and got one for me within 2 minutes time, which I definitely appreciated, and was a nice way to end the trip. And then on my flight home the plane was filled with what must have been 50+ Hasidic Jews…Somehow I felt comforted once again.

Things to be thankful for

Not too long ago I was speaking with a woman who said something that left me completely speechless. She was talking about her grandchildren and how they shouldn’t have to tell each other they love each other if they don’t mean it.

My problem with that, is this: The first we ever learn about love is within our own families, and if we continually allow young children to hate each other and never make-up after a fight, we are simply breeding hate. We are telling them it’s ok to hate.

For some reason or another, I keep finding myself in these situations where people are talking so negatively about one another. Yes, I can get involved in gossip myself, and I won’t say I’ve never said anything I didn’t regret later, but I can not handle when the only thing people ever have to talk about is something negative, or hurtful about another person. It all just becomes gibberish in my head.

Without saying too much, there have been two people in my life who I actually felt some sort of hatred towards. One of them was a teacher of mine. She was the first adult I lost all respect for. There were several reasons why we didn’t get along, but I let so much negativity build up inside of me, that it actually felt toxic to be in the same room as her. I couldn’t stand her, and I think it drove her crazy that I wasn’t buying what she was selling.

It finally got to the point that I had to drop her class.

We never had a conversation about it. Instead, I spoke with another teacher, who was a mentor of mine, and the head of the dance department. Looking back, I’m not sure that was the right decision for me in the long run, but it was the only healthy decision at the time.

I thought about her class every day for the rest of the year, as I tried to avoid her on campus. I think some of the younger students looked at me like I was crazy, and I almost felt like something was wrong with me for not idolizing her in the same way everyone else seemed to. Her class was the one people couldn’t wait to get into. And it was somewhat known that once you got into her class you had “made it” in the department.

That summer I went to a company performance of hers. She gave herself a solo, where she walked slowly across the dark stage, in silence, as the incredibly long train of her dress dragged behind her. There was something so beautifully vulnerable about that moment. It almost brought tears to my eyes, because it was in that moment that I realized she was human. That adults are people too. She was insecure and emotional and craving the support and praise of everyone in that audience. She took the risk of putting together this show, and it could have failed. She could have failed.

That week I sat down to write her a letter. I don’t remember if I sent it or not, but there were things I was sorry for. No, we never became friends, and I haven’t talked to her since, but it was nice to be able to let go of that hate.

This weekend, I was reminded of a lot about that time that I had blocked out. But so many years later, it’s much easier to make light of the situation.

I’m writing this, because this is the month to be grateful. Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and it is without a doubt, my absolute, number one, favorite day of the year. I love everything about it. And this year, instead of being thankful for the obvious things, I choose to be thankful for the people like her, who pushed my buttons, drove me a little insane, and more than anything tested my patience. It is these people who taught me things about myself, about other people, and how I want to approach things going forward.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Baby Schultz!

Today we celebrated Melisa, and the little guy we are all so excited to meet in a few short months. Her shower was just perfect. I have to say, everything I’ve ever received from her, I’ve opened and thought “oh that’s so Melisa”. Be it her wedding invitation, a thank you note, birthday card, or baby shower invite, it all looks exactly like what I would have picked out for her if I was the one doing the choosing. She knows herself well, and definitely knows what she likes. So, I was not expecting her to pick a sports bar for the shower, yet when I walked into the garden in the back I quickly understood the choice, and thought again, “beautiful, and so Melisa!”

It’s really special for me to see her preparing for this next stage in life. She is someone I have looked up to for years, and someone I like to think of as an honorary Moore sister.

This afternoon I was looking around, and noticing the different generations of friendships that came together to celebrate someone who is important to each and every one of us.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this out loud, but I’ve always admired Kris’ (Melisa’s mom) circle of friends. They have all followed each other. Meeting as young mothers in San Leandro, they all moved to Woodranch and then Greenbrook. Raising kids together, and now becoming grandmothers together. It’s really unique and seems pretty rare. I’ve never seen another group of friends follow each other in the way that they have. Her other friends (my mom included) formed in the dance studio we all started at as kids. But what I love most of all, is seeing that all these moms have stayed friends in the same way that their daughters have.

And yet, I’ve never compared us to them until now, but Melisa, Kristin and I all followed each other in the same way. From Danville, to LMU, to a short period in NYC, and then back home. Those girls were a huge part of the reason I chose to go to LMU in the first place. I visited Melisa during her freshman year, and decided that trip, that was where I needed to be. Looking back, I really don’t think there could’ve been a more perfect place for me to spend my four college years. We grew closer as friends, and having them on the same campus kept me from ever being homesick.

We have so many more years of get togethers to look forward to, and I can’t wait to see Meghan, Melisa, Kristin and Erin’s boys all playing together and forming the next generation of friendships. You are all going to be/already are amazing mommies!

On growing up, turning 29, and moving out…

I had been dreading turning 29 for a couple of months now, it was not a birthday I was looking forward to celebrating. I feel too young to be that old. I really wasn’t feeling ready to be at the end of my twenties, only ONE year away from 30! 

Instead of letting myself be sad about it for too long, I sat down to write a list of the things I’ve accomplished in my twenties, and a list of the 30 things I would like to accomplish before I turn 30. I highly recommend everyone in their late twenties to do the same. 
 
Some things are serious, some silly, some I can’t even believe I’ve gotten to this age not knowing how to do, and some just because I figured why not. Among those thirty things, the number one on my list was to move out, and I’m happy to say I’ll be moving tomorrow morning (as long as I can get myself packed, which I’m definitely procrastinating by writing this!)    
 
I’m lucky to have lived in some pretty incredible places since graduating high school, including, New York City, Los Angeles, the Twin Cities, and Napa Valley; however, I can easily say there is no place like home. I’ve been living at my parents the past couple years in order to save money to start a business, yet, having put that dream on hold, I’ve decided it was time to go out and build a home of my own (figuratively, not literally). 
 
I wrote something, about a month ago, regarding making snap judgments of people you come across on a daily basis. I had recently gone to the bookstore in town for a dinner/book signing with a woman who opened a local restaurant and also wrote a cookbook based solely around Mac and Cheese. I wrote “it was there that I truly realized, nothing brings people together the way food does. Especially comfort food. When forced to sit with other people at a community style table, you are able to listen to the unfolding of their lives within such a short amount of time.” 
 
I went on to write about the man who sat across the table from me and all the things I discovered about his career path up until this point. And also the cookbook author who accomplished all these other things in the corporate world before ever entering the food industry. I found myself actually surprised by how wrong my initial first impressions of both of them were.
 
It’s really easy (at least for me) to assume everyone has all these things going for them, and that they got to where they are now on one simple and direct path. Facebook doesn’t help much. It makes the lives of others look so perfect, because for the most part, you only see the good things. 
 
Since that night, I’ve thought a lot about why the age 29 scared me more than any other age thus far. And I’ve realized that 29 for me doesn’t have to be the same for everyone else. I am grateful that I grew up in a time and a place that allowed me to go at my own pace, and do things in my own timing. I never really succumbed to peer pressure, and no one made me grow up faster than I was ready for. So why does it have to be different now? 
 
I get caught up in thinking you have to be where you’re going to be for the rest of your life right now, because for some reason it’s hard not to do that. But as I drove home from the bookstore that night I was thinking of my mom and where she was at my age. Married, and a stay at home mom of three, she had followed my dad across the country for a job, away from both of their families. She finally went back to work when Kerry entered Elementary school, although she went back slowly, keeping her schedule the same as ours at Sycamore Valley. My mom has since gone on to earn her Masters degree and a PhD (with the support of my dad), and has built a career for herself that she probably couldn’t have even imagined at 29. And this is why life is so crazy to me. What if my parents never left New York? What if my mom never went back to work? What if, What if…?
 
Nights like that one are why I believe family dinners are so important. You can learn a ton simply by sitting around the table listening to others goals, road blocks, failures, and successes. Even though I had heard this a hundred times before, and although I was in a room full of strangers rather than family, it was nice to be reminded, as ironically as it seems, in the town bookstore I’ve know my entire life, that you can’t really judge a book by it’s cover, and you can’t live anyone else’s story but your own! 

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Happy Birthday Stroud!

Happy Birthday Stroud!

I’ll keep this one short, and hopefully sweet, as I’ll save the
emotional post for the week you marry my sister. I just wanted to say
thank you for being a great friend to me, thanks for kind of
pretending to like desserts when with our family, and thank you for
being someone we turn to when we don’t know the answer…Because I
mean, if it weren’t for you and your multi-page professional reports,
my dad may have never gotten a new T.V., and without that doctor kit
of yours, Sean Terrance might have been sent back to NYC with one less
finger 😉

We all love you and are so happy you are a part of this family!

Also, thanks for suggesting a Mexican Fiesta theme. Here’s the
guacamole recipe I used (courtesy of Alton Brown)…

Ingredients:
3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teas. kosher salt
1/2 teas. groud cumin
1/2 teas. cayene
1/2 medium onion, diced (I only used a 1/4)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:
In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to
coat. Drain, and reserve the juice. Using a potato masher add the
salt, cumin, cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno,
tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add remaining reserved lime juice. Let
sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

It’s so easy to make – enjoy!!

It’s a Ring Thing…

My family spent the majority of Labor Day over at the Rings house…I didn’t cook much more than brownies that day, but Rick and Debi know how to host a party better than anyone I know. They’re in the restaurant business and if you haven’t been to Pasta’s in downtown Pleasanton you should go, and get the butternut squash ravioli, it’s delicious! 

Mere was in town from Texas and got to meet baby Jack for the first time, along with several other members of their extended family. This family (the Ring family) means so much to me. 

I’ll never forget the first time I met Ryan Ring. I’ve told this story so many times, but it always makes me laugh. When Meghan and him first started dating I was living up in St. Helena. I had heard a lot about him and they were planning on driving up to take me to lunch in Napa. My sister had told me that he was different than all the other guys she had dated, and that he dressed, and these are her words exactly, “kinda punk”…when they met me that afternoon he was wearing a pebble beach polo tucked into Khaki shorts, with a belt and loafers. I liked him right away. 

As I got to know him I liked him even more. He is someone who I have come to really respect and look up to. He has given me great advice over the years, and I always like his insight. I think we are similar in a lot of ways, and I like to think that is why he is good for my sister, and why she is so good for him. He has become a brother me, and I love him very much. However, things weren’t always so perfect. 

Right before Kerry left to study abroad in Italy our family had a going away dinner for her at Basil Leaf Cafe. Meghan invited him, which I wasn’t to happy about. It was a goodbye dinner for Kerry, not Meghan, and yet he was still going to be there. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him, I just remember being emotional over the fact that it was probably never going to be just the six of us again. At that time in my life it was difficult to accept the fact that our family was growing. I actually cried when Meghan told me they were moving in together, not because I wasn’t happy for them, but just because things were changing. I thought I was losing her. 

After awhile, and getting over the fact that things weren’t always going to stay the same, I realized my relationship with her would only get stronger from then on. I have learned so much from both of them, and am so grateful I live close by as they have started their own little family. 

Most of you know this already, but Meghan’s pregnancy started with twins. The day she lost one of the boys was one of the hardest days I have ever experienced. My dad told me the news right after he got off the phone with Ryan, and all I remember was driving to the hospital and saying over and over again “this isn’t right, they’ve made a mistake.” Walking in and seeing my sister I wanted to crumble to the floor. I wanted to take that pain from her. She has been my rock my entire life, with me through everything. My sister is seriously one of the strongest people I know, and someone I had hardly seen cry all of our growing up together. I tried to stay strong, but I struggled to find the right words. I couldn’t articulate how I felt for her, and Ryan, and the other healthy baby. I just sat there and watched, and listened to the way Debi comforted her. Moms seem to always know what to say, and Debi was there for her in a way I wish I could’ve been. Watching them together I was so happy that Meghan has that relationship in her life. I saw her mother-in-law in a new light, and appreciated her in a way I hadn’t before. We are all so incredibly lucky to have the mom that we do, and I felt lucky to witness that she has that same care and support and comfort with her in-laws. That was a hard day for us all, and I will never be able to comprehend the experience Meghan went through, but I do know it brought our families closer together. 

Last night I spent the night with my sister and we stayed up talking until we both fell asleep. I miss those types of nights with her, it had been a long time since we did that. But I woke up at four something in the morning listening to her calmly try and soothe Jack, as he was screaming, and I was so proud of the woman she has become. Thinking back through all the big life moments I’ve experienced with her, proud of all the decisions she’s made, and wanting to be just like her in the same way as when we were kids. 

I’ve watched Meghan and Ryan’s marriage grow stronger than ever the past six months, and the amount of love that has poured into Jack Ryan from everyone and everywhere is one of the most special things to witness. 

So Rings- thanks for bringing us all together, and thanks for a great party! Love you all! Happy Anniversary to Meghan and Ryan! 

Veggie Life

I didn’t cook this past Sunday. I had been out of town with friends all weekend, and got back just in time for dinner that night, so the boys grilled instead. I was standing across from Ryan Ring as he was mashing together large hamburger patties, and I realized I have absolutely no memory of ever eating one. I have a few memories of meat, but never a burger. I recall sitting in the Burger King parking lot with my mom one afternoon, I must have been about six years old at the time. I’m not sure why it was just the two of us, but having fast food with her was definitely a treat back then. I had chicken tenders and I still can remember loving the spiciness and the crispness of that outer breading. They were different than McDonald’s chicken nuggets, much better. I remember loving the flavor and never wanting that taste to end. With that said, I can’t remember if I have ever eaten them since that day, and one of my only other memories of meat is eating steak at the kitchen table in our house on Barrenger Drive. I don’t even necessarily remember the steak as much as I remember the worcestershire sauce. Because probably, and very impolitely in our own home, I licked the sauce off my plate with one tiny little finger. I loved it! Even years after I stopped eating meat I would still put some of that sauce on the edge of my plate. 

 
People ask me why I don’t eat meat, and my response is always the same..”I just don’t like the taste of it.” but that’s really only part of the truth. The more honest answer would be, “it grosses me out”. When I was very young I started to figure out that the piece of chicken on my plate wasn’t just some food created in the kitchen and put there for me to enjoy, but it actually used to be a real, living, breathing, chicken. I couldn’t separate the two. I had a hard time grasping the concept and truly couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to eat animals. But people still did, every day, so I questioned it. 
 
Later that year we went away as a family and stayed on Carnation Farms in Bellevue, Wa. I was obsessed with the whole experience, and to this day it’s still up there as one of my all-time favorite vacations. I wanted to live there permanently. I used to tell my parents I wanted to grow up and live on a farm, simply because it was so breathtakingly beautiful there. However, as I got older the reality of it all set in. Yes, that was a farm with animals and a lot of land, but it wasn’t anything close to what living on an actual working farm would be like. Very picturesque; the property was owned by Nestlé USA and used for business meetings and family get-aways more than anything else. We had a cook in the house who I thought was the coolest person ever. My dad took my sisters out fishing one afternoon, and I stayed behind to help the cook prepare everything for that night. I loved assisting in the kitchen. Preparing dishes, setting the table, and making sure everything looked perfect for the night was right up my alley. I was seven and I wanted to be Martha Stewart. When dinner was finally served the fish was on the platter in the center of the table and still had its head attached. I had never seen anything like it. The poor little fish was staring right at me and I think my eyes just about popped out of my head. I’m all about the presentation of food, but this was something I couldn’t handle. I kept thinking about how the fish was alive earlier that day. It had a brain, and probably a family, and all the sudden it was lying on our table ready to be cut into. 
 
From that day on it was an easy choice for me, I just stopped eating it. Luckily, my parents were supportive and allowed me to be picky. They probably thought it was a phase I would grow out of, not something that would only continue to get worse as the years went on, but either way, they still stood by my decision. My dad was one of those kids who used to have to sit at the table every night until he cleared his plate, or more common than not, until he sat long enough that his parents would have had enough and just excuse him anyway. To this day he is still one of the pickiest, if not THE pickiest, eaters I know, so clearly that method of punishing kids with food doesn’t work for everyone. I get my stubbornness from my dad, so it’s not easy to change my mind once it’s been made. 
 
As I grew older I continued to cut more and more out of my diet. I was a picky eater, and I was somewhat embarrassed by it. Growing-up in Danville in the early nineties I didn’t feel like kids ever excluded full food groups. Kids have always been picky, but not like the kids of today who all seem to have some sort of allergy or another; eating special diets designed of locally grown, organic, gluten-free, and diary-free foods. I wanted to be like everyone else, but I never liked the foods of my generation. I didn’t like Mac & Cheese or pizza, hot dogs or snow-cones, jello, baloney or Shirley Temples, etc. I had a very limited list of foods I would eat. I pretty much lived off of plain pasta and sour dough bread until I graduated from college. And although I didn’t want to change, I wasn’t proud of it either. 
 
People, at least in my opinion, have major stereotypes of vegetarians, and I don’t think I fit into any of them. It bothers me when people refer to vegetarians as hippies, like really bothers me. I have also heard people saying they won’t go to vegetarian restaurants because they always smell like dirty feet, seriously.. I’m not sure where they are going, but I haven’t been to any of those restaurants yet, and don’t plan on it. I also get asked all the time if it will bother me if someone eats meat sitting across the table from me, which I just have to laugh about. Not eating meat is my choice, I don’t make that choice for anyone else. I serve meat pretty much every Sunday, because I want people to be happy and satisfied after a meal. If you eat meat and enjoy it, I’m not going to turn you away from it. I’m like an Italian grandmother, I like feeding people. I actually enjoy grocery shopping for other people, because it’s fun for me to buy things I wouldn’t usually buy for myself. Once, I was on a date with a guy at Ruth’s Chris steakhouse. He ordered a very expensive bottle of wine, and before we even drank any of it discovered I wasn’t going to order a steak, asked for the check and took me somewhere else that served vegetarian cuisine. I don’t think he believed me when I said I wanted to stay, and that I actually loved steakhouses, but I do. I like the ambiance of nice restaurants, and the level of service there, plus they always have great salads and side dishes. A steakhouse or a seafood restaurant are always my top choices for any special occasion, and guys luck out because not ordering an entree makes for a pretty cheap date..
 
But all kidding aside, the one stereotype that really gets to me is when people assume vegetarians should be rail thin, and question when you’re not. This is the reason I never wanted to tell people how picky I was in the first place. I was a chubby kid. I’ve struggled with weight and body image my entire life. I didn’t eat meat, but that never meant I was on a raw food diet, they’re completely different things. I cut so many foods out, but kept my sweet tooth, that I honestly didn’t know how to be healthy. It took me until my mid-twenties to really open my eyes up to the world of food. I had gained weight when I went away to college as a dance major, and then lost weight when I went to culinary school a few years later, funny how that happens, most people would think opposite. 
 
Today, I no longer consider myself much of a picky eater, only because of how far I’ve come since childhood. And although I’m eating RedVines as I write this (oops) I still would consider myself a fairly healthy person, it’s just taken years to get to this place. There continue to be many restrictions when planning the menu for my family, but I guess that just makes it all the more fun! 

Having it all

I had everything I wanted to write down about my personal diet and the other picky eaters in my family, but last night I read the article “Why the woman who ‘has it all’ doesn’t really exist” by Debora L. Spar and it hit pretty close to home. So instead I’m writing about that…

A little bit about me: I went to college as a dance major, and during the beginning of my senior year I decided I didn’t actually want to make a career out of it. Hard to realize at that time, but not all that shocking. I had someone in my life back then who when I told what I was thinking he responded by saying “well it’s a little late to change your mind”.. Not really supportive, or what I wanted to hear, especially at just 20 years old. There’s a lot to explain about how I decided to study what I did and how I came to change my mind less than four years later, but that’s for another time.

All I know is there are two things I have loved my entire life, dancing and being in the kitchen. I’m happy to say I am still able to accomplish both of those daily. I may not be in the studio much, but you can always dance in the kitchen, right? 😉 

After college I pretty quickly changed careers and went full-force into the chocolate world. Which seems strange if you didn’t know me, but it really just made sense. I was baking for my friends in the dorms more than I was actually studying. I worked in the front office of a small business for a year before heading back to school within the baking and pastry arts program at the CIA. After school I had big ambitions. I wanted huge things to happen right away and had a difficult time being patient. I had a great job with a terrific boss, and about a year or so later I landed what I thought was actually my dream job. I loved my position within the business and dreamed of owning my own chocolate empire someday. It wasn’t just that I liked making chocolate, that’s really only a small part of it. I love small business. I love customer service. I love creating things for others, and marketing the product. I love working hard and being able to see the benefits of that work. There was so much I loved about that job. But I also worked seven days a week, am to pm. I had no life. There was a guy who I really liked, but I could never find the time for him..probably because I was too scared to actually let someone like him into my life, but needless to say it never happened. 

Then in 2012 I lost my job. I was devastated. If there is a word for beyond devastated I was that. I was truly heart-broken and I felt as if I lost my identity. People in town knew me as “the chocolate girl”, I didn’t know who I was without that title. As horrible as the situation was it seemed to quickly turn into more of a blessing than anything else. Afterwards, I had so many goals and ambitions to start my own business and I dreamt of coming back even better and stronger than before. However, as time went on and I had time to think about it all, I thought about all the things I was missing. I had missed out on all the major holidays the past few years. I missed going on vacations with my family. I missed my sister picking out her wedding dress. I missed dating that great guy. I had missed out on simply spending a regular Sunday afternoon with girlfriends. I missed so much, that I’m just sitting here in tears thinking back to that time, and it only makes me appreciate the fact that I still had so many wonderful people in my life on the other side of it. The best family I could ever ask for and great friends who stood by me through the years I acted like I didn’t have time for anyone. 

So I made a decision, I didn’t want to go back to that. I didn’t want to ever throw myself back into a similar type of situation. I didn’t want to go back to working the way I was. It took sacrificing on my part, and also took a good amount of my savings, but a year later it still seems 100% worth it. I wanted to start a business because I wanted to prove to people that I could do it, I didn’t want to look like a failure, but deep down I didn’t truly feel ready to start anything on my own. Someday, yes, but not right now. I thought about the big picture, and what else I wanted. And more than anything I wanted a husband and a family of my own. As much as I sometimes lack confidence in myself, I feel very confident in saying that I think the best thing I’ll ever do in this life is be a wife and a mother. I’m sure of it. I fell in love this year in a way I never have before. I’ve also believed in God in a way I never have before. I’ve always believed in God, but I’ve never been so sure of the fact that things happen for a reason, and people are put in your life for a reason. There is a purpose for everything. And we don’t know the outcome yet; as much as we may try to persuade certain people and things from happening in our lives, we’re just all on this amazing journey together.

So “having it all”? Not really in the traditional sense of the term, but I feel pretty close to it. I feel very lucky. I have a wonderful group of people around me who support me, and who I love more than they know. People who I want to cook for every Sunday, so we can sit around the table and catch-up, and laugh, and build stronger memories with one another. As this family grows I am filled with an incredible amount of love for everyone. It’s a table for eight, but I can’t wait to see that number increase over the years, and I’m honored to continue cooking and sharing what I make to please the picky eaters with everyone each and every Sunday! Stay tuned….