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This is a story about birth. And food.

This is not a story about eating your placenta.  If you’re disappointed that I’m not going to discuss that in detail, I urge you to hop on over to this link. And by the way, does that make Kim Kardashian a cannibal? I love Hollywood trends. They make me feel so grounded.

I’ve never been good at giving birth.  Pregnancy, no problem, but birth, not my forte. After 3 pregnancies and 3 healthy kids, I’ve thrown in the towel because I don’t think I could take another delivery.

Lauren was my first, her due date in early December. But the date soon passed, then a full week, then two. Finally, a few days before Christmas, my water broke in the most dramatic fashion.  Think Niagara Falls but with slightly more water. 24 hours later, Lauren was delivered by C-section as I lay in bed, feverish, developing a case of pneumonia that would keep me in the hospital for 8 days.  But we made the best of it. Rodney and my family hauled the whole Christmas setup into my hospital room – the lights, the gifts, the “Baby’s first Christmas” PJs, the holiday tunes. There was barbeque delivery and champagne in plastic glasses. Although not our finest Christmas, it was easily the most memorable.

Sam’s birth 22 months later was a little easier.  A scheduled C-section, seamless, quick, except for the mounting anxiety that I’d be able to feel the surgery taking place.

“Do you feel this?” the doctor asked, poking around with a pointy instrument.


(Ten minutes went by as they continued to prep me)

“Do you feel this now?”


“OK, we’re going to give you a little more medicine.”

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Anthony_Bourdain_bwI’ve heard so many people say to me “I’d love to cook, but honestly I’d set fire to my kitchen.”  And I wanted to respond because there seems to be such shame in making kitchen mistakes. 

And why? They happen to all of us, but they make us better chefs.  Although this post is similar to the one I posted a few weeks ago about salvaging a meal gone wrong, it’s got a slightly different message.  This is about pushing your limits, seeing where your cooking can take you, and not being afraid.  If you’re sitting there puzzled, just picture Sheryl Sandberg, Julia Child, and Anthony Bourdain huddling in your kitchen, giving you a pep talk, and then stepping back to cheer you on from the bleachers as you take the field.

Years ago I heard a famous chef say that the difference between a mediocre home cook, and a really good chef, is that chefs are always pushing themselves in the kitchen.  They sear the meat just a bit longer…they salt the food a little more aggressively.  We, mere home cooks, are often criticized for taking the pan off the heat a smidge too early.  We get nervous about unusual flavor combinations.  We often under season because we’re afraid of the small mountain of salt that’s often required to make food taste really good.  I know that sounds horrible, but trust me, in some cases it’s required.

Kitchen risks_FeedMeDearly

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bubblesToday marks a day for new beginnings.  It’s about closing the door on one chapter, and opening the door to the next.  The old closing/opening door analogy rears its simple-minded head.  Couldn’t I have thought of something more exciting?  No.  Because truthfully, I’m a little wiped out after the last few weeks.

As some of you may know, today is my last day with my current employer, the brand strategy and design firm Lippincott.  I’ve spent an emotional two weeks saying goodbye to the people who have been like a second family to me.

I’ve worked here for the better part of a decade.  It’s been my home away from home.  Well, here, or Cincinnati, OH, Milwaukee, WI, Bentonville, AK, and all of the conference rooms around this great nation that have welcomed me with open arms. And a frightening display of extension cords and projection screens.  Those, I will happily leave behind.

The life of a consultant is akin to the life of a traveling sales(wo)man, which isn’t the best arrangement for a mother of three young kids.  The time felt right to steer this ship on my own, to venture out and explore the world as an entrepreneur.  Over the summer I’ll be building a business that uses the branding lessons I’ve learned in the field, applied to the blogs, startups and small businesses who often need this advice the most.  Given the number of bloggers who visit this site, some of this information may find its way here.  So stay tuned, lots of exciting things to come.

But what is a celebration without a fabulous new dress?  Well, my dress in this case, is an updated blog design that has much of the same look and feel as its predecessor, but is cleaner, easier to navigate, and just a little bit more fun. 

After all, I couldn’t be preachy about good design when I still had some gripes with the existing look and feel.  That’s the problem with working in a design firm – you ask for an honest opinion, and you get “weeeeelll, it does have mismatching colors, and I can see the repeat in your background which drives me a little crazy, and that menu bar is really the focal point when it shouldn’t be, and those social media icons are just too big….”

And unfortunately, or fortunately, I agreed with all of it.  So here is the first branding lesson of many to come: Know your limits, and know when and where to get the help you need.  It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, and in one of my upcoming posts, I’ll show you how.

So, here’s to fabulous new dresses.  And fabulous new beginnings.



Photo credit: Creative Commons “Fir0002/Flagstaffotos”


PinItToWinItOK, everyone, now that you have a sense for what we’re doing over here in Challenge land, it’s time for you to step up your game.  The challenge is serious business, it’s not all about salt and mustaches.  No idea what I’m talking about?  Clearly you’re missing some critical blog posts that have the ability to change your life. Until your kids go to college, at which point, I’m of no use to you anymore.

I still get emails from you that you (aghast) still have picky eaters at home and can’t get them to eat dinner.  You’re still making multiple meals.  And you’re still scared to try new foods with your little rascals (I mean angels).  Nonsense.  We’re nixing the bad habits and we’re going to work on this together.  

It’s time for you to join me on the challenge.  You heard me right – the 52-week challenge is now opening its doors for you to participate and tell the rest of the world how fantastically amazing your kids are.  Before you know it, they’ll be even better eaters than you are.  They’ll be ripping open sea urchin shells with their bare hands, and slurping the contents raw while banging their plastic Princess/Buzz Lightyear utensils on the table wanting “more mommy more!” 

OK, we’re getting carried away here.  But I think we’d all be happy if they ate some melon and asked for seconds.  And don’t you want to have a place to brag about it?

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MarshmallowsThis past weekend I had the privilege of breaking out of jail, I mean, taking a class, with a group of adults with whom I have something in common: we all share a passion for photographing food.

For three whole days, while Rodney stayed at home and chased after 3 kids 5 and under, I got to style and photograph my way through a 3-day workshop at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) in NYC. 

We learned many of the industry’s most helpful (and often scary) tips and tricks to make food look so good you want to bury your face in it.  Until you realize that the ice cream is really Crisco and powdered sugar, and the freshly-poured black coffee is food coloring and soap bubbles.  Thankfully the emphasis on fake food was minimized, and we spent the majority of our time making our natural, 100% edible food look beautiful (e.g. the raspberry marshmallows you see pictured).

It was a strange feeling to be in that room for three days, surrounded by people who were just as excited to photograph a turnip as I was. Like overzealous paparazzi, we huddled together to snap pictures of grapes, angling our cameras to capture them in the best possible light.  By the end of the workshop I felt like a pro, throwing around terms like ISOs and F-stops (not F-words, apparently I save those for when the kids are within earshot, and no, they don’t let me forget it.)

It was a weekend to remember, and I wanted to throw a shout out to our teachers: James Peterson, Jamie Tiampo and Jennifer Jung.  They made the class fun and challenging, and I hope to cross paths with them again. 


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