All I seem to be doing today is counting the hours until I can retire to my jammies, and curl up on the couch for pizza and a movie with the kids. I had hoped to share some details about a project I’m working on with Kidzvuz. Rebecca, one of the founders, is a long-lost sister of sorts, and I’m really excited to collaborate with her and Nancy finally. I will be back with the goods on it all next week. Continue reading »
Every time I think I’ve moved a few steps forward, life sends me a reality check. My mind has been restless, probably because of the million things on my To Do list. I’m sure the key lies in surrendering to the chaos a little, and not worrying so much about the future. It’s hard when you’re a perfectionist to accept that the world itself is an imperfect place. Just writing ever so briefly about the clutter in my head helps me feel a little less encumbered by it all.
There’s good news for all the busyness, though. I mentioned last time that I was writing for Relish Magazine again. Shifting my focus a little in my writing, not having every word flecked with memories of Michael, is important. It’s good to get out of my own head, and necessary if I’m going to really sustain and nurture a life without him. Of course, he’s always in my writing, even if I don’t mention him with a specific reference. As I was developing my recent recipe for Relish—chocolate malted waffles, all I could imagine was his reaction to waking up to them on Valentine’s Day. He had this way of closing his eyes when he took the first bite of a new recipe, and a wave of calm delight would wash over his face when it was a winner. Continue reading »
A few days ago I was in a meeting and mentioned that Fridays are always pizza and a movie night with the girls. In saying that, I also casually said I make my own dough. One woman at the meeting commented, “I love how your pizza night is with homemade dough and mine is takeout”. She told me she wished she had the time to make it from scratch.
I told the woman at my meeting that homemade pizza dough is no big deal, and much easier than most people think. Still, it got me thinking about how to really get this message across. The essence of Homemade with Love is not about the recipes per se; it’s about spreading my monumental love of being in the kitchen and cooking. My hope is that a little of bit of that love becomes contagious, and people begin to look at cooking as another way to express their own love for the people around them. I woke up with this lingering idea in my mind of how I could convincingly get my point across that homemade pizza dough is indeed easy. Continue reading »
It is no surprise that I’ve been in a state of foggy consciousness for a while now. My body seems to float in and out of moments, a smile on my face, while my mind is a million miles away. Part of my mental listlessness is due to having taken too much time off after the book finally went to the printer. I was so drained mentally, emotionally and physically that I decided not to focus on work until the New Year. It was a decadent move, but one I felt I both needed and deserved.
I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things, sowing my seeds for the year ahead. For starters, I did my first interview for Homemade with Love. I’m no stranger to interviews, as I did quite a few of them back in the day when I had my personal chef business. Still, it’s been over a decade since that part of my life, and I was admittedly nervous. The moment I got on the phone with the editor at HGTV magazine, though, my nerves calmed. I realized all I had to do was be myself, so keep an eye out for the June issue.
I blinked, and somewhere in the process November became December. Days seem to blend into one another lately, and the last week has especially left me pondering my life now compared to just one year ago. There are a million words swirling in my head, yet they float not quite capable of connecting themselves to one another to form a proper thought. The words being emotions and feelings really, much of which leave me even more confused when I try to piece them together.
So, my approach these last few weeks has been to really take my own advice. I’ve been consumed with just trying to be present and fully aware of every moment. We spend so much of our lives being connected to something, instead of someone. And so my silence here, there and everywhere these last few weeks has been because I’ve been absorbed with experiencing life rather than simply documenting it.
I looked in the mirror a few days ago and thought “holy shit” you’re going to turn 39 any day now. Then I glanced back, this time with a smile, and reminded myself I have survived 39 years on this planet. Sometimes the canvas of our lives seems like a Jackson Pollock painting. A spattering of events that require careful introspection so as to not miss the meaning in all those moments.
Yes, my 39 years thus far have had their share of doubt, uncertainty, and sadness. But, they have also been filled with more love than some people experience in a lifetime (and I’m counting on being here for at least 39 more, fingers crossed). The tough times etch their way into our souls like a branding iron fresh from the flames. At moments, I have felt tired and weary, quite sure I was ready to throw in the towel. The last 16 months have been particularly exhausting. It has felt like dog years in terms of my growing process, but I am still standing. I wake each morning with resolve, ready to do it all over again…ready to keep this promise to myself. Continue reading »
As a kid, I was partial to chewy cookies. I remember the warm oatmeal raisin ones my parents used to buy at a bakery somewhere near Little Italy. One of these days I’ll also remember to ask my mother where that bakery was exactly, though I imagine it is long shuttered by now.
My current cookie obsession has been baking thin crispy ones, the kind that benefit from a dunk in tea or coffee. I set out recently to create a new cookie of this—well, let’s call it genre. Everything was going well, at first. I used this recipe as a base for my proportions. Except I made some tweaks, because I can’t leave well enough alone. This is the best attribute a recipe developer can have—reckless abandon in the kitchen. Okay, so maybe deciding to brown the butter instead of simply melt it wasn’t a revolutionary or reckless idea (except for my waistline), but you get what I’m talking about. Setting out to create a new recipe comes with the understanding that failure is a distinct possibility. Continue reading »
I’ve been intrigued by Lillet ever since Heidi posted this recipe. I’ve yet to try those buttermilk milkshakes, but did finally buy a bottle of Lillet a few months ago. I tried it both straight up, well-chilled of course, and as a spritzer with a twist of lime and seltzer—my lasting impression being that Lillet was not my thing. That changed last night, along with my mood, which heaven knows needed some tinkering with these last few days. I’ve been feeling “off” lately, like a balloon floating across an open sky, bouncing wherever the wind fancies. Try as I might, nothing seems to shake this constant sadness that tugs at my heart. Actually it wavers between sadness and anxiousness, the kind with which you wait for it all to go wrong, for your inner happiness to disappear at a moment’s notice.
Grief bore down on my heart like a vice grip yesterday, and it ended with me in tears as my eyes scanned the empty dishes at the dinner table. They previously held homemade tortillas, beans cooked from scratch, and guacamole Virginia and I made together. But at that moment, while the girls were upstairs and I sat at the table staring at the extra chair that has sat empty for 13 months, all I could think was “why do I do this”. The “this” being all the food I had just an hour before lovingly prepared. Or was it really out of necessity and survival? I don’t know— at that moment, all day long in fact, the idea that I’ve used cooking as an escape had been lingering in my mind.
I’ve learned a lot about myself this summer. Some lessons were really just reminders of the “me” that fell into a deep slumber last August 7th, and about embracing my own fearlessness. I’ve never been afraid to take chances, yet when faced with the responsibility of raising my girls all alone, being the sole decision maker—well, that is simultaneously overwhelming and terrifying.
One of the early conversations Mikey and I had when we met was about parenting. We talked about the immense responsibility that comes with rearing little human beings that will contribute positively to the world as a whole. How to best love them and let them know they’re the center of your world, but not the world. Back then he said a test should be required to have children, and I still agree with that sentiment. One glance at a newspaper headline is all you need to understand what he meant.
I thought about this the other night as I watched Away We Go. The next morning I awoke, and the movie still fresh on my mind, comforted and reminded me that the sadness of our past needn’t be a hindrance—we are the sum of our experiences. The painful parts have the ability to inspire us to dig deep within ourselves.
This is my seventeenth summer going to Cape Cod. Michael first took me just a few months after we started dating in August of 1995. I was a kid back then, just 21 years old, but still remember that summer so vividly. The 300 mile drive in his little red Toyota Celica, and the box of cassette tapes he used to pack for road trips. It was the first time I’d heard Cracker, and found myself singing Movie Star again all these years later as I made the drive out here last week. I still keep the Best of Van Morrison, Vol. 2 cassette in the glove compartment.
As we make the drive out here, I still murmur silly things like Bic Pen Drive, as we pass the Bic Drive exit on the I95. And crude things like “Exeter, I wasn’t even in her”—Mikey made that one up as we drove through Rhode Island once. Then there’s Mash-the-peas, as we pass Mashpee, one of the towns on the Cape. The motel we stayed at, Terrace Dunes, is just down the road from the house we rent now. I glance at the efficiency unit we called home for those two weeks every time I drive by it on my way down Shore Road.
And there I go with the “we” again. Technically, I’m still part of “we” because it’s me and the girls, but often the “we” I refer to in conversations is me and Mikey. It’s hard to remember that “we” is now just “me”, at least in the immediate, physical sense of the being.