Creamy and Colorful Raw Kale Salad

creamy kale salad

The other night, when Tim and I ate this salad, we’d just come back from a few hours of driving through neighborhoods. Tim and I do a lot of driving through neighborhoods. You could say driving through neighborhoods is our thing. I guess that’s good—that there’s a thing we have, you know, together. When my friend Julie got married in 2006, I remember the pastor saying something in his homily about how every couple ought to share a hobby of some kind. “Tennis or cooking or sports,” he’d suggested, right there at the front of the church filled with people and flowers and music. I hadn’t yet met Tim that day, standing up there with three other girls in blue dresses with cap sleeves, but I still like to think about the hobbies we were already sharing, even so.

In 2006, for example, I was baking batch after batch of biscotti for favors at that friend’s sit-down wedding reception. Meanwhile, the Ohio man I would someday marry was rolling out and topping homemade pizza crusts to keep in the freezer on hand. “Like frozen pizzas, but better!” he still says to me, describing that long-ago process in step-by-step detail.

Indeed, since we’ve met, Tim and I have had plenty of things, from loving the kitchen to loving quiet nights on the sofa to getting excited about properties we could dream to call home. And so, the night we ate this creamy kale salad, we’d just returned from spotting one particular 1920s treasure of a foreclosure, with cedar shake details and original stained glass. (Too bad it’s already sold!) And when we came back home, to the work we’d abandoned and a house growing dark, big plates of this salad were the kind of thing both of us had in mind.

Read More

Chicken Waldorf Salad Wraps

chicken waldorf salad wraps

These wraps, which I’ve had for lunch for the last three days, illustrate one of the best parts of working from home. Because, are you ready? When you call your kitchen table your office, this is what happens: you pull open your Google Reader on a casual Tuesday afternoon, see a recipe you’d like to try and, instead of just bookmarking it for later, you walk to the kitchen right that moment, pull out ingredients and, in minutes, see exactly what it tastes like.

chicken waldorf salad

Like I said though, that’s just one of the best parts of working from home, and since a couple of you have been wanting an update on the self-employment situation anyway, it’s probably time I told you about some of the other benefits.

First of all: It’s been almost five months, can you believe that? Five months since I set my alarm for the same time every morning. Five months since I said, Oh, I can’t; I have to work. Five months of setting my own schedule and working fewer hours (and, admittedly, also making less money). People ask me all the time how it’s been going, and I’m sorry to say my standard answer is awful—something about how things are up and down, how I’m still learning what I’m doing, that I’ll reevaluate after six months. I’ve got to work on that because, really, the truth is: it’s been good.

chicken waldorf salad wraps

I went through my financial records last week, determining my average monthly income and budgeting time for upcoming projects, and you know what? It’s been really, really good. I’m not rich, I’m not all sunshine and roses all the time, but every one of my needs has been provided, I’ve gotten several new clients when I lost one, I have the free time like I’ve always wanted. So while I know myself and therefore realize things may seem very glass-half-empty come tomorrow morning, right now, this moment, I am thankful—thankful to sip homemade chai tea lattes at my computer, to run errands in daylight, to have time to work out or clean or, no kidding, take naps in the afternoon. I am thankful to not be making a lot but to always be making enough. And I want to remember this feeling.

holding a wrap

In a recent post at A Sweet Spoonful, Meg wrote about remembering forward to next November, imagining what you’d like to change about your life as if it will really happen. And ironically, it got me thinking about last November, when I never would have guessed I’d leave my job or, launch into something risky or, work for myself like I’d always wished I could. I’m so glad these changes came, for as long or as short as they end up lasting, and I’m so glad to find myself where I am right now—working in blue jeans while I eat homemade chicken salad wraps, counting my blessings.

Read More

here is what you do (whole wheat bread pudding)

winter

Listen to me: This is what you do next time you have leftover bread, the kind that’s sitting around on your counters, clogging up space, suddenly as rock-hard as a baseball bat, tempting you to throw it away. It’s what you do when you want to whip together dessert and do it as mindlessly as possible, using up things you already have. And, most importantly, it’s what you do when it’s the second week of January and there’s snow all around you, covering the roads and the trees and the people and freezing on your car and making you wish you lived in Florida—until you remember hearing they’re having bizarrely cold weather, too.

You make bread pudding.

bread pudding

Read More

the best things we do

apple cider doughnut

If fall is a reminder of gradual change, these doughnuts are a reminder of comforting tradition, of the way clouds and sun streaked across the horizon above the pumpkin patch in the late afternoon last fall, of rows of cornfields and bins of fresh-picked apples, of taking a hayride with friends.

We’re going back to Kuiper’s again this year, probably later than is best again, so the apples may already be in bins and we may need extra layers of clothing when we walk through the orchard, but I am going with a friend, and, I’m finding, those things I do with a friend are the best things I do, you know what I mean?

Like last weekend, which was a people-filled one, from Friday night bakery and Greek food with my brother, to Saturday in the country with a group of food-loving strangers and Alicia and then cake at my friend Michele’s, to a Sunday morning listening to Truth and singing with an auditorium filled with people, to lunch in the home of friends, where their two-year-old grabbed my finger and pulled me towards her toy bin to “play babies.” All of this followed a pretty solitary week, when, as you know, this happened—and while I know I haven’t explained formally, most of you already know from Flickr or Twitter or the comment I left here, so I’ll just briefly say last Wednesday night wasn’t hard because I didn’t get my birth certificate; it was hard because I felt helpless and reminded that I am alone, but looking back I am so glad I felt that way, and that I told you about it, because it made my joy so much fuller when the next day, I found my new passport in the mail.

I get to thinking sometimes that I’m alone in situations because I’m single, but I know everyone has days or weeks or dark nights that are similar. Life is a constant contrast of isolation and community, loneliness and fellowship—at least it seems to me. But maybe, like with my passport, it is through the loneliness that fellowship becomes so sweet, through the solitary nights that Friday dinners become so much richer, through a Wednesday night in tears that I’m given another evidence of love from The One Who Made Me.

Read More