Just Me

There are 80 gazillion blogs on the Internet—half of them aiming to rebrand housewifery. (These aren’t hard stats, but you get the idea.) Recipes are abundant. Entertaining ideas are innumerable. Dinner party is the new date night. Everyone and her cousin want to teach you how to dress up and play the proper hostess.

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Except me. I’m not trying to reinvent your normal, busy life with hand-carved napkin rings and French crème croquembouche. I’m just trying to celebrate the moments—the magically distinct moments— when everyday reality gives way to creativity, inspiration… domestic brilliance. I believe these are moments worth sharing and give busy families incentive to come home. I hope people come here to do that.

Just Like a Certain Famous Home Maker…
If She Were an Actual Person

It’s flattering to receive compliments on my cooking and design projects.  Still, I think I’m a far cry from Martha. I don’t bake to intimidate. My party ideas start with people—not place cards. I don’t carve my routine around bulb planting, sheep shearing, and vegan bento boxed lunches for my kids every day. Just the idea of it makes me want to lie down.

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I live in a regular house and drive my beloved Explorer.  I buy generic, and the fluff cycle is my idea of ironing. Like most wives and moms, I pick my battles. Free time for sheep shearing isn’t one of them.

So what exactly brought me here?

My Backstory

I grew up in Alta, Iowa—a town of 1,700 people. My parents owned a bed and breakfast during my teen years. (Stand by for stories from that era…) Later on, my mom became a successful caterer and baker. I have 23 cousins in my family. All of them lived in Iowa growing up, so food and family were much intertwined. 

I went to Iowa State University and earned a degree in interior design. After graduation I moved to Boston—a stepping stone on my way to the Big Apple, where I intended to become a famous designer.  I worked in corporate interior design, facilitating projects across the country.  The fall before I was planning on moving to NYC, I met my husband—and thus Boston became my permanent home.

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Today, I have two rambunctious boys, ages 5 and 9. I hold an MBA from Northeastern University, which helped me launch and grow my own business, a creative party planning venture that has evolved into a full-service corporate event management firm. (Never underestimate a gal who knows pivot tables and peppermint truffles.)  When I’m not busy saving the world from ho-hum corporate events, I volunteer at my son’s school, and give time to many non-profits.

My Inspiration

More than any of the plot points above, my inspiration for this website comes from my mom. Through her bed and breakfast (Addie’s Place) and her catering business (Catering on 5th), my mom culled together oodles of amazing recipes. We always knew they belonged in a published collection.

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Once we had them all together, we realized the material was too much for just one cookbook. We decided to divide them by season and include recipes, entertaining ideas, gardening techniques (my mom was a master gardener), menus, shopping lists, and schedules.  In 2004, the Cook’s Journal series was born. We self-published the books, distributing them to friends and neighbors throughout Iowa and Massachusetts.  I finished the last one—Winter (2005)—from my hospital bed, after delivering my first child, while my mom sat by the bedside yelling, “Keep typing!”

My mom was diagnosed with Lupus a month after I moved to Massachusetts. She battled the disease for 18 years while making yearly trips to New England, and continuing to run her catering company.  In August of 2012 she lost her fight, and passed away at 63.

By extending the reach of her recipes and her stories, I hope to keep her spirit alive.  I also want to take all of the lessons I learned from her on keeping life simple and apply them today to help parents keep their heads above water and perhaps even enjoy the ride.

A Few of My Favorite Things

In a busy, busy world, it’s easy to second-guess time spent on anything. Brown paper packages tied up with string?  Most of us would rather dump it in a FedEx envelope.

But if nothing is worth our time, then what are we so busy saving it for? I believe that life happens in the small touches and quiet flourishes. Here are some of my favorites:

Recipes

Shared family recipes, for cooking that lies at the crossroads of comfort and health

Home Ideas

Taking folks along the way, as I slowly transform my 1960’s ranch house into my dream home

Lifestyle Tips

Notes on keeping my head above water, when it comes to homemaking and entertaining

Special Occasions

Party ideas, crafts, and designs that can be achieved by the average person—one who is also living a chaotic life

Personal Musings

“Day in the life” accounts of a real mom, whose hapless adventures (emergency room visits, chipmunk run-ins, kitchen calamities) deserve their own anthology.

Videos

Monthly video challenges and “webisodes” to give you formulas, systems, hacks and tips to bring your busy family back home

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So I hope you enjoy my site!  Poke around. Read some posts. Snoop inside the cabinets.

For many reasons, the Internet is an intimidating platform… where one person’s words can be dwarfed by a world full of information. But for all the important reasons—preserving my family traditions and celebrating life’s everyday art—building this site is the best idea I’ve ever had. Thanks for helping me grow it.

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