Tag: incredibly you

Take the Leap

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s a phrase I heard many years ago in a motivational speech and it has replayed in my head over and over again, countless times since.

I’ve now been working at the Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan, Ohio as a kitchen assistant for almost five months. (Is that even real?! How is that even real??). I’m still pinching myself and I probably will be for a long time. My glass is definitely more than half full but I’m still trying to find my confidence and footing in a professional kitchen. As they say, all good things take time and I know this journey is no different. However, until that confidence is gained, I’ve got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, with making mistakes, receiving honest feedback… and, truth be told, I’m starting to.

Anyone that has ever begun something new, knows the feeling I’m talking about. You want to be helpful but you’re not entirely sure what the next move is and you’re pretty sure you’re just getting in the way. Push through it. Much of the time, it’s just you overthinking anyway.

I listened to a podcast recently that resonated with me and I want to share a few snippets with you:

“Rejection… it’s just redirection… how often do we compare the behind the scenes crap to other people’s highlight reals and go, oh well, forget it then. You know, they had it and I don’t… [They’re probably] doing exactly what I’m doing and it just worked for them faster. No. You didn’t see the fifteen albums of garbage before they got signed. You don’t see all the work.

Ed Sheeran says, ‘Everybody looks at my work now and goes, Wow, every song you write is amazing. First of all, that’s not true. You don’t hear all the songs I write that don’t get released. When I started writing music it was like this brown sludgy water and I had to stomach how uncomfortable I was when the music wasn’t what I wanted it to be the first, second and forty second time. I had to sit through that feeling.’

Ira Glass says there’s a gap. You have good taste but then your ability to make the thing that you can identify as great is going to take a second. So really, if we could be way kinder to ourselves, maybe there is so much brilliance that we could uncover. Maybe the trick is to make mediocre things and keep making things, seeking out that feedback, and perhaps you’ll be that next brilliant maker. But you might need to give yourself five whole minutes. Maybe that’s okay.” – Cathy Heller, episode 215 on the Creative Pep Talk podcast by Andy J. Miller.

Pretty good stuff, huh?

I want to stress the importance of feedback for a minute. Feedback is integral to growth but it can be a scary thing. If I were to pick out one thing that holds me back and I’m consciously working to change, it’s not fear of feedback itself but more fear of the failure that feedback might reveal. No one wants to be wrong and no one wants to look stupid. I am by far my toughest critic.

I’m fortunate to be in an envrionment where a wrong answer or a mistake is not a condemnation (though not often, I’ve been in situations where it is… it makes true learning very difficult if not impossible). Instead, it’s viewed as a learning opportunity and something that paves the way for future growth. And yet, even with this, sometimes I still hold back… an answer that I’m not certain about, a question that I have but perhaps should know the answer to (or maybe not). Every so often I let the fear of being wrong, of potentially looking stupid slow me down and I shouldn’t. Neither should you.

(Also, if you happen to be in an environment where you spend 8-12 hours a day, 5-6 days a week with the same people, they’re bound to see plenty of your mistakes and listen to loads of your dumb questions anyway so you’ve got nothing to lose by giving it all you’ve got).

One night at work, not long ago, as we were finishing up for the day, almost through with our daily “break down” routine, I was talking about some of my recent mishaps and mistakes with the guys. I was a little down on myself and they knew it. As usual, their advice was spot on.

Keep in mind, they reminded me, that you’re comparing yourself with people who, combined, have over three decades of experience in the industry. They are great at what they do. That experience doesn’t come all at once and the knowledge is acquired over years and years of hard work and research. There are endless concepts to explore but first, you MUST learn how to hold the brush.

Spot on.

Last week I stepped down from my position at Wooden Horse Corporation to devote 100% of my time and energy to this new passion and way of life. It was hard because I loved what I did with the Equicizer and while I’ll still be involved from afar, I was at a crossroads and something had to give.

Summer is coming and things are really picking up at CVI. When you’re working 50-60+ hour weeks at one job and still trying to juggle another, they are both going to suffer. It’s not fair to your employers and it’s not fair to you. So, I made the leap. One down, so many more to go. Bring on the mistakes, the feedback, the opportunity for growth. I’m ready. I’m all in. Let’s do this.


Recent Recipes

In my last post I promised to share with you some of the things I’ve been cooking up recently. Cooking at home serves many purposes for me. It is, first and foremost, educational, but it is also therapeutic and FUN. It gives me the opportunity to work on kitchen skills, try new things and photograph them all… the good, the bad and the ugly. Yes, some of it turns out ugly. It is what it is.

It also supplies me with blog material. It works out well. I get to play around in the kitchen, practice my creative eye with the help of my Canon and then share it all with you on my blog. I love it when passions naturally meld together and perhaps you’ll be inspired to try a new recipe or two yourself!

Basically Croque Monsieur

This classic French sandwich is SO cheesy and if you’re a cheese lover like me, this has your name all over it. This was the perfect compliment to my Saturday afternoon. You might, however, need a quick nap afterwards. You can find the recipe here: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/basically-croque-monsieur

Shepard’s Pie

While it’s nothing fancy, if you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal for the family, shepard’s pie fits the bill. Someone mentioned it not long ago and I was curious, so I tried it myself.

You could easily prepare the ingredients for this dish the night before or the morning of and have it ready to pop into the oven when you get home from work. This is a highly customizable dish. You likely already have the ingredients and if you’re missing something, don’t sweat it. A quick google search will provide a plethora of recipes to choose from, but this is the one I used: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/shepherds-pie-recipe2-1942900

Paleo Gluten-Free Apple Cake

I love dessert. This shouldn’t and likely doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. I’ve been baking for as long as I can remember. My first memories in the kitchen involve more than one something sweet. These days when I’m baking for myself, I try to put a healthy spin on it. This cake is a good compromise, it’s delicious and it’s not too bad for you.
https://joyfoodsunshine.com/paleo-apple-cake/

Vanilla Funfetti Birthday Cake with Buttercream Frosting

This cake is sugar. Pure and simple. Sugar, eggs and butter. So many eggs. But it’s also delicious. I made this for a special little girl’s 4th birthday party, hence the overwhelming amount of pink. I was a bit ambitious but I was determined to get my pink four layer funfetti cake. I doubled the recipe and had plenty of extra batter for cupcakes as well. Most of a day and a few mishaps later… voila. https://sugarspunrun.com/funfetti-cake-scratch/

The sprinkles can easily be omitted from this recipe if you prefer. Either way, this cake is addicting and so is the frosting… you’ve been warned.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake Cake

I love cheesecake. It’s one of my favorite desserts. I also love finding ways to incorporate a cheesecake element into other desserts. This carrot cake cheesecake is incredibly rich and so good. https://www.shugarysweets.com/carrot-cake-cheesecake-cake/

Word of caution: there are multiple steps and the cheesecake needs to be made in advance so read over the recipe a few times and game plan accordingly. (Also, don’t forget to refrigerate your cheesecake layer if baking ahead of time… yes, I forgot. Well, I slept through my alarm. And I had to run to the store the next morning so I could bake another one. It happens!)

I’m always game to try something new; send me some of your favorite recipes!

Cooking Up A Storm

Now that I’m pursing a career in the culinary field, I often get asked what my favorite thing to make is. The truth? I don’t have one! (No one is satisfied with that answer.) My favorite thing to make is the thing I haven’t yet made. Yeah, that’s definitely an oxymoron but it’s true.

We all have our go-to’s, those make up the majority of our weekday lunches and dinners. When we exhaust our list of staples, what do we do? We run through them again. My week is usually pretty packed and the meals I make reflect that. They don’t take long to make and they’re pretty simple (I think I’ve said it before, but leftovers are SO underrated).

Baking with Grandma and little sis, Emma (right), circa 2004

The kitchen has always been a therapeutic place for me. Whether I was baking with my grandma’s or concocting my own creations; I was constantly coming up with substitutions for ingredients (like eggs) because we were often short of something integral to a recipe (I write that with a smile on my face – love you, mom!). The kitchen is, in many ways, a safe haven for me. A place where creativity can shine and memories can be made.

Right now, I have the best of both worlds. Technically, thanks to my day job, I work in a kitchen all week long, and I love it, but it’s different than cooking in your own kitchen. It just is. The environment is faster paced and mistakes come at a higher cost. It’s where I go to learn, to push myself out of my comfort zone and to grow. It’s expanding my mind in so many ways, yet, I still crave that quiet time in my own kitchen.

My kitchen is where I go to clear my head and de-stress. From a professional standpoint I’m still very much in the stage where I don’t know what I don’t know and everyone knows it, which is something I am very aware of. I’ve been graced with such a patient, open minded learning environment but that fact also makes me want to try harder. It’s a total blessing to have people investing time and energy into teaching you but it makes me want to show up tenfold in return. At work, I take things very seriously, myself included.

When I have a day or two off sometimes other things take priority but I usually find time to cook up at least one or two new recipes. Those are my favorite ones. So many people get in the rut of making the same meals over and over and over again… year after year after year. If that works for you then keep on keeping on, but it just doesn’t jive with me. There’s so much potential, so many different kinds of food. I actually freak out a little when I think about all of the ingredients I pass in the grocery store that I’ll never notice or get a chance to try.

A few weeks back I took advantage of an extended weekend and immersed myself in the kitchen. I come across a lot of recipes online that I put aside for an opportunity when I can make them, or I’ll see one in Bon Appetit, the monthly magazine I’m subscribed to. More recently, as I continue to learn about different kinds of foods and various cuisines I’ll challenge myself to come up with something I would normally only get from a restaurant or buy from the store, then I’ll do some research and make it. Easy as pie, right? Not always, but it’s a learning experience and that alone makes it rewarding.

These times in the kitchen, by myself, with the music blaring – no where to go and nothing pressing to do – will always be some of my very favorite. On my own, I love to experiment and lost in my own thoughts, I’m free to do just that. The recipes, for now, provide an often needed guide but liberty is always taken and so are lots of photos (because nothing’s better than the chance to combine two of your passions).

I just bought my first chef’s knife and it is SO SHARP. (I’m told – repeatedly – that fingers grow back so there’s not much to worry about.) Honestly, I can’t wait to put it to use. My knife skills are sorely lacking and I’m more than ready to remedy that situation. I look forward to continuing to share my journey and my food, with you, the reader. I regularly share posts and story updates on my adventures in the kitchen (at work and at home) via my Instagram and Facebook pages. Follow along and send me a photo of your latest creation! Check back soon for some of the things I’ve been cooking up recently.


Busy is a state of mind.

Yes, but you are busy, I get it. Just hear me out. Someone I have a lot of respect for recently asked me about my blog. They were curious why I hadn’t posted an update in a while. I kind of brushed it off with the usual “I’ve just been really busy.” (That’s a cope out, by the way). Without missing a beat they replied matter of factly, “Busy is a state of mind.” I didn’t know what to say and I thought about that statement for hours afterwards. I’m still thinking about it. Busy is a state of mind. Is it really? I mean, I am busy… I think…

If it weren’t for the fact that the person who said this to me is one of the busiest people I’ve ever met, I might not have thought much more of it. My mind has replayed my own current daily agenda over and over as I’ve analyzed that statement for days on end and tried to figure out how I could sneak some more time in to my days.

Photo Creds: Michelle Demuth-Bibb of
http://www.michelledemuthbibb.com/

On a weekly basis, between my two jobs, I work on average 4 days that range from 10-14 hours each and an additional 1-2 days with a more typical 8 hour window. On days or evenings that I’m not working I try to catch up on life, spend some time with my horse, cook up some things in the kitchen, work on my blog, do some culinary related studying and relax my brain. I’m busy. Aren’t I? Aren’t you? Aren’t we all??

Busy is a state of mind. The more I thought about that statement the more I came to understand it, in my own way. Let’s stop for a second and think about what “being busy” really means. When someone says they’re “busy” the connotation is usually a negative one.

Don’t agree? How often do you hear someone exclaim how “busy” they are with a pep in their step and a smile on their face? Never. It doesn’t happen. Busy is usually followed by “I can’t” – “I don’t have time” – “I’m just too busy right now”. At one time or another, we’ve all used “busy” as an excuse. Valid or not. The negative association is strong and as such cultivates feelings of anxiousness and stress; a ball and chain type of mentality. It is indeed a state of mind.

How many of us spend a majority of the day thinking about how much we have to do and how little time we have to do it? I bet it’s more than most of us care to admit. From a mental standpoint, we’ve already set ourselves up to fail. Busy is a word that we need to retrain our brains to think about. On top of everything, some are busy just for the sake of busyness (we all know this person). Others feel like they’re living their life on a hamster wheel, in which case perhaps a step back for a moment of re-evaluation is necessary. You have the power to change your life if you’re truly unhappy with it.

Shortly after, I was discussing the subject with a friend. He agreed. Most of us have a lot on our plate, and I’m not taking that fact away from anyone, but the manner in which you approach that fact can really dictate how you live – and how much enjoyment you get out of – your life. How many of us go into a frenzy when we have a list of things that need to be done?

By most standards, yes, I am busy. You are busy. We’re all busy. But maybe it’s not about cramming more hours into the day – that’s impossible, by the way – or cutting corners – which, for me, isn’t and hasn’t ever been an option I can live with anyway.

If we really stop to think, a lot of us can probably come up with at least one way we can make our productive hours, well, more productive. I’m not saying you should always be in the “go gear”; I strongly believe in the importance of giving our bodies and minds a chance to recharge, ideally, on a daily basis… even if it’s just a couple of minutes at the end of a long day. We should, however, make sure that the times we are “on” are put to the best uses possible.

When faced with the dilemma of what to tackle next out of a list of options, I’ve started mentally rating them on a scale of one to five, with one being the most important and five the least. Sometimes laundry takes precedent, other times a book (or bed) does. It’s helped me prioritize and realize what’s the most important in that moment (point in case: sometimes it’s clean clothes, other times it’s a well rested mind). To be fair, that’s dumbing it down a bit but I’ve started using this strategy for almost everything and I’ve found that sometimes, the most trivial things are the ones I need the most help deciding between.

Don’t get me wrong, life is undeniably overwhelming but we all have a choice to make it more or less so. If you can re-wire your brain to think about your life and the responsibilities there-in differently, I really believe it will make a huge difference. You might find that you’re more productive and that you do indeed have some extra time to spend on things you feel you don’t currently have the time for or maybe you’re already at 100% efficiency and you don’t see any changes at all on that front (I think you will).

If nothing else, with time and persistence, a little conscious re-wiring will most certainly improve your mental and emotional well-being. The trickle down impact of which can not be overstated.