New Blog (Link Works Now, Plus Follow Button!)

Hello all! I know it has been a long time, but I just wanted to redirect anyone who came to this site to a new blog, Messy Mapmaker. While it will still have family stories and gardening stories and recipes, it will be with a wider focus on making sense of life and planning for the future rather than just on food. Thanks for all your wonderful comments and support!

There is no “reader” follow button, but you can still follow the blog by entering your email address!


New Blog (Finally!)

Hello all! I know it has been a long time, but I just wanted to redirect anyone who came to this site to a new blog, Messy Mapmaker. While it will still have family stories and gardening stories and recipes, it will be with a wider focus on making sense of life and planning for the future rather than just on food. Thanks for all your wonderful comments and support!

Patience Training from Every Side


Life seems to be conspiring to teach me patience.

Sickness? Slows me down. Makes me wait. Makes me rest.

Scheduling Conflicts? Makes me not get what I want. Makes me feel useless.

Grief? Makes me emotional, not clear-headed. Makes me feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.

and now, today, Work. Long hours of work. A never-ending to-do list makes me work, but more importantly, makes me wait for others who I need to help me before I can complete tasks.

Sometimes, I need to learn a lesson, and life is teaching me now; since marriage began, I’ve noticed that I have some circumstances in which I’m patient and can adjust expectations, and others (especially in my home life) where I’m truly a child. It’s been getting better, but life has ramped it up to a new level lately. I’m having to understand that sometimes sickness, schedules, grief, and work are going to conspire to take away my feelings of control and strength.

And that is okay. It really is. It feels awful when it’s happening, but every single time I adjust, I look out from my new place of belief, and realize what I wanted all along was not so much better than this. They are roughly the same, this world and the one I wanted so badly.

I think of my parents’ turtle in moments like these. He does do a whole lot, mostly sitting and sunning himself all day, but when a cricket or a fish happen near him, his head can rear into action and snap them up. I want to be the person who can wait; this just happens to be a season when I’m having to learn and re-learn this patience every day.

Easy and Healthy – Spaghetti Squash


When I want to be healthy, as in not eat a pile of pasta, it’s wonderful to throw a spaghetti squash in to roast if I have the time. It is fun to put all the traditional pasta toppings on a pile of the loose squash strands, which I don’t enjoy quite as much as pasta, but honestly, the pasta is meant to carry the sauces for me! If you’d like to try it and don’t believe it can turn into spaghetti-like strands, try this recipe and be amazed.


Family Time Adventures


Because of a family funeral, I’ve been on the road for days now. One unexpected surprise, among many, was the visit to the Bob Evans Farm, which is in Ohio and is the original Bob Evans restaurant! We had a delicious meal after a long drive on a very overwhelming week, and I will remember for a long time how nice it was to sit down and be greeted and served here. The weather has been almost heartbreakingly pretty lately and I barely know what to do with February 70s, but I’m trying to take everything one moment at a time.

Little Changes and Bamboo Toothbrushes

A friend posted this article recently,, and it reminded me all over of how important it is to me that I not become complacent just because I don’t think that I need to be obsessive about every environmental thing. It’s such a small thing, grabbing the bamboo toothbrushes over the plastic ones, carrying reusable cutlery and tupperware that I always want to have handy anyway. I want these things to be habits, easy, not notable.

I think this is the way changes will be made, not by shaming or overwhelming people with the impact of trash but by noting the fact that a drink without a straw is less wasteful and, well, pretty much the same as a drink with a straw. I like that she doesn’t just tell people “these things are bad” but immediately says “and its so easy to avoid them in the future.” This is the approach that I need to keep caring about environmentalism, about not wasting and about recycling. I need to find habits that make a positive impact, and then carry them out over time, rather than having ardent pushes where all I talk about are environmental concerns, and then months of exhausted lack of concern after that.

What do you do to be less wasteful in little ways? I don’t necessarily mean in order to “save the Earth,” if that’s not your pet cause, but just ways that you find to be a good steward of what you’ve been given and not waste what you have?

Anti-Inflammatory Foods


I’m well aware that running is hard on my body – it seems to constantly leave me with some form of ache or pain. I decided that a good thing to try might be eating more toward the anti-inflammatory end of the spectrum. According to Harvard Health, some of these foods include:

  • tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • leafy green vegetables
  • nuts
  • fatty fishes
  • berries

The more inflammatory foods, according to the same site, include:

  • refined carbs (white flour)
  • fried foods like french fries
  • soda
  • red meat
  • margarine/shortening

I have no idea if trying to eat more in the first category will help with my training soreness, but I like a lot of those foods anyway, so I’m going to try it – do any of you have experience eating to avoid inflammation?

Loneliness when Never Alone

I’ve clung to company lately – my carpool buddy C, my co-workers, even the many students I work with, and of course Husband. I cling to nearby friends and acquaintances, always trying to squeeze one more coffee date or meet-up in even when I’m exhausted and unhappy. I have long operated under the assumption that people even me out, make me less crazy, and make me happy. In large part, they do make me happy: I’m definitely extroverted and I started a whole blog about how the wonderful people in my life gave me recipes.

I’ve noticed, though, that when I don’t take time for myself, a measured version of time for myself that has room for reflection, I stay lonely and hungry for companionship. When I do take time for myself, and really relax without just zoning out with television, I often come to a place where I actually look forward to seeing other people, rather than needing them to come and fill my worried and anxious mind.

This evening, I could have stayed with a social gathering with Husband, who was enjoying himself a lot, but I was so tired and stressed and just done that I excused myself – I honestly did need to go home and pack for an upcoming trip. But more than that, I needed to cook a wholesome meal, make a cup of chamomile tea, take a hot bath, and listen to an episode of Gastropod podcast about the history of chocolate while I tidied the house and filled my suitcase. I also needed to write this blog post.

I’m realizing that just like there is high quality and low quality olive oil, there is high quality and low quality companionship. This doesn’t refer to the quality of the companions; it refers to the motives and mindsets that bring the two people together. I spend lots of high quality time with Husband, but too often he gets time with me that is low quality too because I think I’d prefer to be accompanied than to take a break and experience aloneness. I am never perfect, but I do know that after a restful night like this one, I am less of a jerk and more likely to be the wife and friend that I want to be for those I care about.

Making “Breakfast Food” Your Own


I love breakfast food – I mean, pancakes? Waffles? Bacon? All the fanciest and tastiest of breakfast foods are wonderful to me. When it comes to everyday, average breakfasts, though, I’m pretty weak: I’ll enjoy a bagel and cream cheese, or a big glass of fruit smoothie, but I have a hard time working up an appetite at 6AM and whatever I do manage doesn’t hold me till lunch.

When I learned on the Gastropod podcast that breakfast food is somewhat a modern invention, I felt pretty liberated; if in the past, most people just ate whatever they had lying around as leftovers for breakfast, I would do the same! Today I had leftover quinoa salad, filled with tomatoes and spinach and walnuts and feta, for breakfast, and it was wonderful: hit the spot and also was so full of protein that I didn’t get hungry!

It’s time to take breakfast to be another meal; one where, yes, we sometimes eat french toast because it is so delicious, but where most of the time we eat healthy veggies and proteins we need to get through our day, just like other meals! It is very comforting to realize that I’m not crazy for feeling a sugar-crash many mornings when I start off with a sweet-tooth breakfast. This is fine for a lazy Saturday morning, when I might actually enjoy a blissed-out morning reading and feeling calm, but at work, I want all systems go, and that means protein and nutrients aplenty. Quinoa, to the rescue!

I Don’t Call It Dieting, I Just Call It Attention, So Should YOU!

Interesting Thoughts!

Wilted Wisdom

I started counting calories again today.

Even the phrase ‘counting calories’ tends to elicit an extreme response from the general public, especially people who are not particularly health-conscious (no pressure, no judgement, just saying.) I remember in college I was sitting with a friend explaining how my old Wingstop order (ten piece boneless combo half Louisiana dry-rub and half Atomic with bleu cheese dressing and a root beer, mind you) had over 2,000 calories, which is more calories than one needs in an entire day.

The friend in question did say “Oh, wow…” but when I mentioned how I was counting my calories to actually understand in real time what I was consuming, she just shook her head and said, “You don’t have to do that.”

I understand the reaction of my friend. When you hear “counting calories” it tends to sound threatening and rather extreme because there are very…

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