Gather Around the Table

If there is anything my grandmother has taught me, it’s that people LOVE food.

My grandma is a 96-year old spitfire of an Italian woman with a knack for cuisine. I remember from a young age, wearing an apron approximately 6 sizes too large from me, standing from my vantage point and staring up at this woman who could whisk, chop, marinate, and tend to a cornucopia of food items at once and create them into a masterpiece. At that age, I could barely stir batter without spilling it all over our tile floor. Oops.

I remember the days leading up to holidays, baking torcheniels and patzel cookies with opera in the background, and slowly savoring the cooking smells as well as sacred time in the kitchen with my grandmother. During breaks, we would dance and spin like no other, and she would admire my 5-year old singing with joy in her eyes, clapping her hands together and asking for an encore. Those are memories I pray to give my children one day. Some day.

With young ears and eyes, I clung to the words of  “You will be ready to get married once you are able to have every item that makes up a meal be done and on the table at the same time”.

Dang it grandma, I’m still working on that one.

Moral of the story: My favorite room in the home is the kitchen. I also consider myself having the spirit of a grandmother: one who wants to nourish others with food, encouragement, spinning and dancing, joy in the eyes and clapping, begging for an encore.

If I’m a fraction of the woman she is, I’d be humbly grateful.

I’ve taken on a traditional love of food, company, and gathering. I consider myself an amateur chef (or one that is REALLY good at a set list of simple items 😉 ), but nothing brings me joy quite like gathering people into my home around the table, uncorking a bottle of wine while the food marinates its final moments on the stove, and encouraging my loved ones to “sit down, forget the cares and worries of the day, and make yourself at home”. I just love to love on people that way. It brings me a sense of capacity, nurturance, and simplicity that I truly seek during the hustle and bustle of what this world calls “living”. I thank my grandmother for passing down this love affair with the kitchen and the table, and have seen the table serve as such a beautiful artifact for connection and warmth.

I can remember my best and most intimate conversations with others happening over a warm cup of coffee, hands cupped around mugs and enveloping one another in secrets, hopes, pains, and compassions. I hold fondly my most encouraging words shared amongst friends while passing around heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, digging into savory plates of chicken parmesan, and laughing over spilt green beans almondine. I remember my most painful and bittersweet conversations happening over half-finished glasses of wine, with the candle at its last flicker and flame, while being held by someone who wished they could take my pain away from me, with all of their might.

All of my most deep, most intimate, most memorable moments in conversations involve gathering around the table.


So naturally, when my husband and I moved into our first place together, I made it my mission to find a large, oaky, worn, ready to be lived-in table.

It’s now at this very table that my husband and I shared our first meal together in our home as husband and wife. It’s at that oaky table that we made the decision for hubs to switch jobs and be closer to home. It’s at that distressed table that we gathered those closest to our hearts and filled them with nutrients and love. It’s at that very table that I sat and drank wine after my husband and I’s first argument as husband and wife, cherishing the fact that he has a true heart of forgiveness. It’s at our sacred table that we fold our hands in prayer and bow our heads in gratitude to our Maker and Redeemer.

And it will be at this very table where laughter, encouragement, heartbreak, compassion, and green beans almondine will be shared in abundance with one another.

I wish I could have each and every one of you have the ability to be seated at this table, to receive the food that’s prepped, and to have someone in eyeball-to-eyeball connection with you and speak compassion and authenticity to your heart. And to have your compassion and authenticity be received.


Until then, don’t underestimate the power of a table with four legs, pasta overflowing, aprons 6 sizes too big, and spinning and dancing in the kitchen. The simple joys in life.


Stay tuned,



Mystery Blogger Award-with appreciation!

Good morning, fellow morning go-ers! The sun is bright. The breeze is cool. Most importantly: the coffee is strong.


I am humbled to accept the nomination for The Mystery Blogger award! Kudos to Okoto Enigma for the creation of this particular award. Can I just say that I think it’s so neat that the blogging community has opportunities to “pay it forward” with recognition and gratitude? I am so appreciate of Sue over at “My Loud Bipolar Whispers” blog, where she bravely and authentically shares her journey, challenges, and triumphs. You can visit her here

So here are the rules of this award:

  • Name the creator of the award and link their blog.
  • Place the award logo or image within your blog post.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog in your post.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer your nominator’s questions.
  • Nominate 10-20 people.
  • Ask your nominees 5 original questions of your choice.
  • Share 5 links to your best blog posts.
  • Notify each of your nominees by commenting on their blog.

I think I can manage that 😉

Three things about myself:

  • Coffee shops are my FAVE scene (surprise surprise). I’d take this over a bar (while I love my cocktails!) or restaurant any day.
  • I struggle a great deal with using the word “no” (I know, I know, I’m the ONLY one 😉 ). Fostering this and feeling empowered through this is probably one of my largest goals in this season of life!
  • My first interaction with my (now) husband occurred when he generously held the door open for me, and I opened the door next to him and said “no thanks, I got this”. Bold, much?!

Alright Sue, here are the answers to your questions! 🙂

  1. What is your favorite sport? My fave sport to play is volleyball, while my favorite sport to follow and watch is Hockey. The fast-paced nature of the sport and physical intensity it requires is incredible to me!
  2.  What is your favorite NFL Football team and do you watch football every Sunday?  Ahhhhh, sorry! I’m actually not a football fan-NHL all the way for me!!! Chicago Blackhawks is my team of choice. 
  3. Why do you write and why did you decide to write a blog? This is an awesome question-In all honesty, writing is probably my most secret passion. Not many people who know me (even those that have known me for quite some time) are aware of the fact that I adore writing. I guess it’s always been something I did just for ME, and never felt the need to share that with anybody else. However, that wonderful hubby of mine encouraged me that I should more actively share my written voice, and I don’t regret it! Through writing, I desire to share real, raw truths that hopefully many others can relate it. It won’t always be pretty. It won’t always be smooth. But it will always be authentic. Connecting with others through the written word in this thing we call life is now more of a draw to me than I’ve ever given myself permission to feel before ❤
  4. What is your favorite television show? Goodness, this is a hard one! Thank you Netflix for making this question so challenging. Currently, I’m a tad bit obsessed with physical challenge shows, such as “American Ninja Warrior” and “Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge”. I’m also a sucker for decor reality TV such as “Fixer Upper” and “Flea Market Flip”. But what will you catch me binge-watching on a rainy day? “One Tree Hill”. Don’t judge. 
  5. Besides writing, what is your favorite hobby and/or talent? MUSIC! I’m a musician by hobby and by passion. I sing as well as play flute, piccolo, some piano, and some guitar. I’m also involved in a worship band that musically leads worship through my husband and I’s church. My dad said I was singing the words before I was actually speaking the words 🙂

My 5 questions for my nominees to answer:

  1. What do you identify as your greatest accomplishment?
  2. What fear are you hoping to tackle?
  3. What’s your favorite type of beer/wine?
  4. If your personality were an animal (oh, boy), what would it be?
  5. What are the main passions/interests that show through in your blogs and why?

My lovely nominees are….(drum roll please…!)…….

Links to my 5 best (?) blog postings (I’m new to the blogging world, so here are 5 that I think are worth reading to learn a bit more about me and one of my themes!)

Happy blogging. Grateful living. Hopefully striving.

Stay tuned,



The First Things to Go (Ironically)

Yesterday evening, I was sitting in the pews getting ready to lead worship with the worship band that I sing for. One of our pastors (who is such a down to earth, wonderful man) sits behind me and casually states, “Hey! Haven’t seen you in a couple weeks. Give me the update: what’s new?”

It was a completely unassuming question, but I felt so convicted by it.

It was true, our pastor had not seen us in a few weeks, which was odd because my husband and I are very musically active in our church (I previously held a musical leadership position at our congregation before stepping into my new career role 2 years back). But at this point in time, everything seemed to be so inconsistent:

  • Getting married-a wonderful blessing, but still completely uncharted territory affecting living together, learning each other’s rhythms and routines, and trying to run a household together
  • Adopting a rescue dog-which we’ve been having some behavioral challenges with. She’s such a loving and giving animal, but I’d lying if I said this hasn’t turned our lives upside down a bit
  • Navigating a new pace at work-coming from a season of “way TOO much” to trying to find which balance is right at this time
  • Financial whirlwinds-combining money, trying to come to a balanced place on budgeting now for 2, being from 2 different worlds financially, unforseen expenses and the like.
  • Finally being more at peace with my anxiety, but noticing that the changes in life have in small ways led it to rear it’s head in instances that I don’t feel it warrants
  • Running on very little sleep due to some of these changes-which is something I have learned that I merely cannot become lax on.

Why is it that the most essential things are the first things to go in times of overwhelm or inconsistency?

I’m talking even baseline functions-or at least that’s how it is for me. The first things that tend to suffer (or even completely go) in times of overwhelm or topsy-turvey-ness (???) for me are:

  • Eating patterns
  • Sleep or relaxation/self-care patterns
  • Intentional time with my Savior
  • Investing in loved ones

Which is almost comical to me, as these are the building blocks for all other needs in my life. But when I’m overwhelmed (and overwhelmed isn’t even the more accurate term right now, but off-kilter“), they are the first things to slip.


It is at times like these that “getting back to the basics” is essential. And quite honestly, very empowering to invest in, because they fuel so many other elements of life.

I feel like I have recognized this and have tried to take some meaningful steps toward that in this season in small ways. For example, meal planning and making a list before going to the grocery store so I can make sure my body is nourished with what it needs vs. what might be most convenient or thrown together, as well as devoting Saturday to having eyeball to eyeball quality time with individuals that my husband and I truly value. But there are still basics that need more attention at this time-and part of this post was (selfishly!) for my own recognition in this. Maybe you can relate, however!

It’s important to be aware of what are the first things that tend to “slip” for us when we are in a season of overwhelm, and this might look differently depending on who you are. But without this recognition, how can we recognize that we are “off-kilter” and in need of re-focus? Even more importantly, how can we recognize what we need to fuel us through this season of inconsistency?

Maybe you’re looking for more input and guidance on how to refocus when you find yourself falling into this pattern, and I promise that will come at a later post. This is merely to raise the awareness that has been slipping from my gaze for the past couple weeks, and to own to myself the need to “get back to basics”.


What tend to be the first things to “slip” in your life when life throws curveballs your way? I’d love to hear your experiences and share in that with you-as well as include some of these in a follow-up post that will hopefully provide some light on how to get back on track in the essentials. As always, we all struggle in this more than we might realize ;). But that means there’s community, support, and hopefulness.

Stay tuned,



A Staple Recipe in our Home

On a dreary day like today, I LOVE to cook.  Here’s one of my fave recipes that I’ve modified in order to add a boost of healthy into a spin on a traditional dish. It’s quick, easy, and cheap! Plus, the hubs loves it 🙂

AF’s Fiesta Taco Chili (makes about 4 servings, but sometimes I just double this recipe if I want to bulk prep):

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (either 93% or 99% lean)
  • 2 small cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1/2 small can green chilies
  • 1 can black beans; drained
  • 1 can kidney beans; drained
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder


  1. Brown the turkey in a skillet; drain any fat
  2. Chop onion; drain and rinse beans
  3. Combine onion, beans, and ground turkey into crockpot (I spray the crockpot with nonstick spray or use a liner)
  4. Mix in tomato sauce, green chilies, taco seasoning, and chili powder.
  5. Cook in the crockpot on low for 6-7 hours
  6. Top with sour cream and green onion


Plus, it’s very Weight Watcher friendly (more on my continued journey through this later!)

Stay tuned fellow chili-lovers,