joy :: day three :: personified

today was not what i planned. i was home alone supposed to be working on homework. i tried. it just was a mess in my craft/work room and that is where i needed to do work.

so my time was not wasteful but sometimes wayward.

i actually started the day at the coffee shop, but there was a young man who was insistent that we all hear whatever he was telling his date. i think i may be old. i have realized that i need silence to work or read or concentrate really. which is funny because normally i don’t like when it is too quiet.

but the reason it was not what i planned, was because i had to miss my favorite girl’s softball games, to work on my homework. which i did very little of. my viking told me she played fantastic.

so, it was a long day. i am super bummed i missed a chance to cheer her on. i cleaned and tried and was productive. but missed my favorites.

they came home exhausted and windburned and starving.

i had the blankets ready. i picked up the pizzas, and i waited on them.
just the act of taking care of them was the happiest part of my day for sure.

because sometimes joy is spoiling. sometimes good ranch and a recap of plays awesomely executed, and acknowledgment of a room well cleaned is exactly what you need (minus the stinky feet).

but mostly, when the plans of the day change, i wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in this world than sandwiched between these two snoozing beautiful people. because they are my joy, and i don’t know what i did to earn their love. but i am the luckiest girl in the world that this is my life with them.

they are my joy.

to me, they are joy personified.


joy :: day one :: at the table

photo (16)

are we not like the earth?

the green easing into the brown?

the blue jutting against the reds, the wet rejoicing loudly against the parched?

are our souls not like the earth serged together,

as a weird, ever-changing topography entrapped with unexplainables & iridescence?

we cannot allow the distance of miles or the threat of difference

escape our very beings

of barefoot & proud

laced up & weak

regal & broken into

we are something beautiful.

we are one of each other

& of us.

your brother’s keeper is you.

your sister’s protector is us.

do you realize that the sand you throw

in the fight against our neighbor gets in your eyes too?

do we care?

we cannot hold out on love any longer.

photo (15)

just as our sphere of weird & lovely, we create a masterpiece.

one of flavors, chock full of the unexpected & the radiant.

joy is realized together, as we congregate around:

a meal

chop, dice, sear – whatever.

let’s each bring our ingredient,

who doesn’t enjoy a table of stories?

who doesn’t long for recipes?

our ingredients count.

what traditions make (made) us

who we see (saw),

what we hear (heard).

we cannot blend enough.

because in the process of the boil,

of the stewing, we are one feast.

we are love.

everyone is different – on purpose.

differences to share.

our adobe oven accepts everyone the same.

photo (17)

we are naturally like the earth yes, all the mountains, valleys, flatlands, tundras.

we are the yolks, we all can be the sous chefs.

bring your bowls.

put on your appetites.

let us be quenched by the flavors of our harvest.

let our bellies rejoice in the wisdom & laughter we consume.

let us know what joy means.

joy means we.

joy means us.

joy is

sharing love at the same table.


i am writing as a 31 day challenge joining the nester¬†in her quest to write for 31 days straight. you will be encouraged to find her words & images if you’ve never heard of her. she’s an inspiration for sure. of course i was supposed to post yesterday, the 1st of october. would you allow some grace please? i am on board now, and i’m hungry for joy.



Confidence Can Cook :: are you ready for some footballlllll?



I am delighted to share another amazing recipe that my friend Ellen has gathered, tested, photographed (& hopefully enjoyed) with you all! Please, take it away Ellen!

During the Fall season, I always find myself craving yummy comfort food. I think it’s a combination of the cooler weather and football watching that happens in our house. While not all of these foods are always healthy, I do try my best to find some that are. ūüôā These turkey meatball subs are just that, healthy, but still full of excellent flavor. I think it’s the addition of the wine and balsamic vinegar to the sauce that really made these stand out. While eating them, we just kept saying how good they were! My two little ones loved the meatballs too, which is always a bonus in my book! If you are looking to skip out on the bread, these meatballs would also be great served with pasta or spaghetti squash. I think they would still bind together well without the bread mixed in, because of the egg white. Go ahead and give these a try, I promise you will love them!




Turkey Meatball Subs
  • Sub buns
  • 3 tablespoons¬†fat-free milk (I had to use a little more than this.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon¬†salt
  • 1 lb.¬†ground turkey breast
  • 1¬†large egg white
  • 4 teaspoons¬†olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup¬†chopped yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon¬†minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup¬†dry white wine
  • 1 3/4 cups¬†lower-sodium marinara sauce¬†(I happen to think Delallo is the best store bought brand.)
  • 1/4 cup¬†chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon¬†balsamic vinegar


  1. 1. Preheat broiler.
  2. 2. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell. Place torn bread from 2 of the buns in a large bowl. Add milk, stirring with a fork until smooth. Add oregano, salt, turkey, and egg white to bread mixture, stirring just until combined. Working with damp hands, shape turkey mixture into 12-16 meatballs.
  3. 3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add meatballs; cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove meatballs from pan. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in marinara, basil, and vinegar; bring to a boil. Return meatballs to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until meatballs are done.
  4. 4. Arrange rolls, cut sides up, on a baking sheet; broil 1 minute or until toasted. Top bottom half of each roll with 3 meatballs, about 1/3 cup sauce, and sliced cheese of your choice. We used mozzarella. I broiled the sub open faced after I put the meatballs and cheese on.

Source: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, Cooking Light


Thanks so much Ellen! I can’t wait to try these out with my meatball loving fam! ūüôā (I may sneak a few pre-meal taste tests too!)

If you loved this recipe, please show Ellen some love in the comments! I love when Ellen cooks, because it is always from her heart, and that is what this space is all about.

Happy Fall Comfort Food Eating!



i have HOPE because it was SPOKEN (part one)

View More: how do you explain a special gift of attending a women’s Christian conference & a travel plan that makes you anxious (switching planes & a big Hotlanta airport with an embarrassing story to boot), & the connections from a stranger-turned-friend are placed in just the right timing? & even perhaps, how you sit next to the people on airplanes that may make some Christians balk, & make me open up even more about how i know we are ALL loved, & how all of it¬†makes for one of the greatest weekends of my life? i will try with humor & truth. but is all of it just coincidence? nuh-uh. it isn’t. i am starting to believe in non-coincidence. if you think i’ve gone all crazy eight ball lady, you are wrong. i went to Hope Spoken, & the words, hugs, stories, shared meals, “coincidences” that i experienced are not fake. they did not happen on a reality t.v. show, or to someone’s aunt’s best friend. they happened to me. & i am going to be as brave as possible ¬†& share those stories, some bits of the conversations (privacy will be upheld completely), & down right COOL things that i experienced, & i will hopefully give you a sense of how this weekend & another weekend over a year & a half ago, have changed me forever. i went to the Influence Conference well over a year ago. that began the process of this weekend for me. click over here¬†to read that recap. so i kinda knew what a women’s Christian conference could be, or would maybe look like. & was i ever excited. but the BEST part of this experience, is that while that conference was my first, & i loved every second of it, Hope Spoken felt like it was a gift from God, JUST FOR ME. that may sound selfish or weird, or like i loved this conference more, but i believe that what God started at the Influence Conference, He finished at Hope Spoken. He is the Ultimate Storyteller. when i tell you some of the deets, you will *hopefully* know, why it has taken me so long to even process this conference, & while some of it, will remain in my heart as a private love letter from God, shared only for my hopes & dreams, & for my future.

my roomie: darling, sweet, HILARIOUS, open, warm. her name is kerith, & i love her. she’s from texas. a mama, a wife, & an all around great friend & sister. View More: kerith & i had not met in person before this weekend. by the time dinner rolled around a mere maybe two hours after we met, people at our table (hi beautiful ladies!) asked how long we knew each other, thinking we were long time friends. God knew that i would be shy to room with a “stranger”, that’s why i felt okay about letting some of my gunk out there prior to meeting her. we got to know each other online through emails & texts first. & i now cannot wait to stay in touch & become even better friends with this hilarious, sweet soul that lives in Texas. i’ve already asked if she’ll move her family to the mitten …. (please leave comments to coerce her to at least consider it, & leave out any details of said polar vor-anythings). ūüėČ

the town: dallas. i may be in love with you. i told every person i encountered that i was from michigan. i had a confidence i never knew i had, i talked to the hotel peeps, the taxi drivers, the waitress, & i was just SO excited to have my toes painted with my open toed sandals on. i’d love to visit you again, perhaps next year for the Hope Spoken conference again? it is on my prayer list to go. let’s make it happen Dallas!

the decor/overall feel: i cannot express enough how in love i am with every little detail. casey, danielle & emily were so lovely, so thoughtful in their planning, & it made my heart sing, especially because i am a graphic design student right now, & am falling more & more in love with everything visual.

Hope Spoken welcome

‚ô• we were welcomed with hope ‚ô•

Hope spoken treat table outside

‚ô• treat table; i spy a hard working host husband ‚ô•

every detail was lovely

every detail was lovely

this is the warm up post. i will finish the other half of this with stories to tell you… (oh the stories!) and hopefully explain a little of how this weekend was one of the best in my life! more coming soon! and if you think of it today, will you say a prayer, or shoot some positive energy my way tomorrow morning. whatever is your thing, i’d love some good stuff, as i start a new adventure on a new job, and i’m a bit nervous! thanks lovelies! ¬†toodlelooly for now! (my grandma kitchen used to say that every time you left her…miss her SO much).


i will conquer the west


about my fears, i wrote the following, knowing that only by conquering my fears of beginning, will i ever know if i can. the more i wonder, the braver i become.

i am not the west.
i am the north.
i breathe the south.
i embrace the east.
but the west.
it is scary, dry, unknown, desolate perhaps.
is it sacred >> does it bring about cracks that want to envelop me?
i know nothing of its culture.
i am an immigrant in its land.
the west of what i dream and rake my future from, those west – are more than what i think i could handle if i got there.
but, what i know, in the form of fingertips and frostbite, unprepared – i’m heading there anyway.
with my cart.
because of my very horse.
the wagon of my stuff exposed – laid bare upon those cracked and hardened canvases of truth.
the west.
it is an apocalypse of fear that i will destroy with my beginning.
the fear is something erupting into my drums.
and i must march on.

to your dreams, to your hopes, to your beginnings.

i am sending out the blessing of the new year to each and every one of you. may we seek the joy in all we do, and may we spread the kindness as a living, breathing seed of good.

happiest of happy to you and yours. what is your west? go & explore it. may we find love wherever we are brave enough to travel.




gooey s’mores

*source by clickable link*

i don’t know if it is the perfectly perfect little thumbnail picture that we choose.

which statuses we “like”.¬† who we “follow”.

or the idea that somehow beyond the visual pixels and colors and music, that these people, be it a blogger, or fellow “pinner”, or a coworker’s jealous-inducing status updates on facebook, that make us think, when we click on their space, their intimate, well cultivated place, that somehow they have not had tragedy.

they have not had uphill battles fought hard with the knowledge of nothing, but perched upon faith.

or struggled because they forgot about faith.

i don’t know if it is the well curated photos with red lips, and beautifully hilarious children, or the personification of their personalities over twitter and instagram that makes us forget that these are real people.

they have had lives that have been altered from the brink of disaster by God’s miracles.
they have triumphed over cancer, deaths, divorces, addictions, loss, pain that is unbearable, and yet, with help from their support systems and their faith, they did bear it.

and not only did they bear it, they LAID it bare.

for us to read about here, and to comment, and to open our wounds just so that somehow they may help

that is why i love bloggers. not just women bloggers, not just mommy bloggers, not just fashion bloggers.

but bloggers.  of all kinds, and all categories. as long as it is positive, or i learn, or am inspired.

it’s the same really with famous folk, and the infamous ones too.

they are all human beings with stories that no one knows if we just skim, and flip through, and don’t stop to listen to.

do you realize sometimes that you are skipping the best part?

you are eating a s’more without the marshmallow. ¬†it is not the part you want because it¬† oozes messiness all over your plans. ¬†your agenda.

don’t worry, i do it too. ¬†all the time.

while we are so intense on our focused task/schedule/life/next thing you must rush to do/accomplish/claim victory over –

there is someone in our path that needs a light.


they need our light.

the very one that we are trying to hold close, because we’re just too busy, and can’t find time.

forget the folding of the laundry for once.

give that elderly man the extra few seconds at the grocery store to tell you about his youth.

if you can, play princesses or trucks with a wee one, and get down on their level – literally play at their level.

you will see their light.

you will feel their warmth.

just by giving of your YOU-NESS, you will have affected another in a way that you may never knows is exactly what they needed that exact moment.

so, please, let us stop the rush.  especially right now.  let us stop the hunker down pace that we have set for ourselves.

because I’m guessing, just like me, you actually like the taste of a s’more. ¬†all the gooey center.

or maybe you are the one that needs the flame? talk to someone about it.  open up just a bit.

perhaps you are craving someone to listen to your messiness?

let’s take caring out of the taboo/too little time bin, and place it right at the dinner table, the gas station, the bank, the homeless shelter.

well, my belly is grumbling. ¬†my match is ready, the light is here for you, oh, and my mess too. ūüėČ

maybe it is not changing the world, maybe it’s not solving all those peoples’ worries, hurts, pain, but…it starts with one graham cracker, with the messiness of goo, AND OBVIOUSLY CHOCOLATE, melted hearts, coming together with another graham cracker, in a sweet, messy, delicious hug.

let’s create a fire together, and enjoy some of life’s sweetness.

*this post not sponsored by anyone but the love i feel for humans and animals, and well, just life in general. be forever lovely my friends.*


blueprint :: the Kitchens

at the Kitchen table with our family treats.

at the Kitchen table with our family treats.

:: the idea man ::

my papa was a builder.  brick by brick he planned the great structures he would erect in the metro detroit area.  he and his brothers became known for their quality of workmanship.  they have a few local Detroit landmarks from their years with the DMKitchen Building Co.

but, in my eyes, their legacy, especially my papa’s, are their families –¬† their testament that faith in God, with love and hard work, yields joy, in every circumstance.

we had to say goodbye to the house that my papa built this past fall.  it was a very long, time-consuming process for my family. it was emotional.  it was dirty.  it was hard.  i helped moved a few things and kept a few things too.  but of all the things that i still have, it is without a doubt, not the things, but the feeling of home, of love and togetherness that i will take with me when i think of that beautiful peach house (complete with trap doors & various cool built-ins).

i remember hot july days playing water tag, and fishing for guppies with salty crackers and big nets at their lake.¬† my cousins, sisters and i would tuck the “caught” fish in our dug up sand ponds right on the shore of the lake.¬† my papa would sneak us Cheetos and Cheese Puffs from those bright blue canisters, while my grandma told him not to spoil us (full well knowing he probably was, that was my papa).

i remember taking trips in his pale yellow work truck, and him whistling an old tune about it being “hard to be humble”.¬† laughing, knowing that after he finished singing, we would share a giggle, and have some breath mints. ¬†The roll kind, with the shiny blue and white wrapper.

i remember the crisp hugs after church, followed by countless french toast breakfasts with watered down orange juice¬†at their house on sundays. ¬†sometimes, when we were lucky, we went out to eat instead, and he would order Moons over my Hammy from Denny’s.

every christmas eve we were at the house…loud, chaotic joy. ¬†all the grandkids. ¬†plenty of wrapping paper. ¬†one year, almost every one of my cousins and sisters received pearl jam’s Vitalogy cd. ¬†we have joked about it ever since.

:: the architect’s best friend ::


my grandma just passed away february 1st of this year, and her funeral was the following week.¬† i have never attended a more beautiful ceremony of someone’s life.¬† it was a celebration.¬† my mother (with help from some aunts and uncles) wrote and read a poem about my grandma’s life, especially with a few nods to her Don (my papa). my sister and cousin read our grandchildren memories aloud.¬† there were plenty of tears and laughs alike, and the jist of all the 90 years she lived the good life here on earth, was this:

each day is a gift, name your blessings one by one, cherish those family and friends whom you have, and never, ever try to do anything without “fuel for your tank”.

i will remember all of these nuggets of wisdom from my grandma, but i carry a part of her every single day.  i am named after her, and some other cool chicks named barbara from my family tree.

barbara is a name that i have always held with a bit of curiosity.¬† to quote one of my favorite bands: “could i have been anything other than this”, to which i wonder, if my name had been jessica, or betsy, or monica, would my life have turned out differently?¬† i think so.

my name is a part of me, it is stitched into my dna.  it is the scottish treasure of a grandma i just said goodbye to, and the feisty english opinions of my intelligent, independent mother.  i am the sixth.

i cherish it even more now.

:: the imprint ::

yet, a name means nothing if your heart is not attached to your attitude, your gratitude, and most importantly your love.  barbara to me, means living my passion, just as my ancestors did, just as my grandma would have wanted me to.

what i noticed about her funeral and wake, was that people did not attend to remind us that she was the great builder Don’s wife.¬† they did not visit the church because her name was Barbara Kitchen, or was the first woman deacon at the Kirk, or because she faithfully volunteered at Beaumont every Wednesday for nearly 3 decades. (*that is me just mentioning it to brag on her.¬† she was a gem, whom i was privileged enough to care for a few times a week for the last couple years before she entered into a memory care facility).

DC_BI _early (1)

:: leaving their cornerstone ::

they came, because no matter what she did, she enjoyed life so fully, and loved her family, friends, church goers and hospital visitors so well, that they felt it important to tell us what a wonderful, happy, loving woman she was.  that she was kind.  that she prayed for their well-being, and they wanted to say thanks to us, and mainly, to celebrate her love for God that was so clear in her day-to-day life.

there were several blueprints that we retrieved before we left the peach house on Lakewood back in the fall, tucked away in musty boxes and briefcases.  the winding circle driveway encapsulated with trees will always remind me of the intelligent and thoughtful way that my grandparents built their home.

but none were as profound as the blueprints the Kitchens left for all of us:  every day is a gift, name your blessings one by one, and know, that home is more than your name, or your address, it is in your passion.  their passion was love, God, family.

i plan on building my life according to their blueprints.


please… enjoy it!


the thing about life is, it can be stressful.  it can be downright unfair.  it can be sickish, and dirty, and grumpy, and disgusting, and mean.

BUT…sometimes it can be fun.¬† it can be light.¬† it can be hilarious, and lovely, and comforting, right down to the joy at getting some new awesome mittens.

take it from this viking with a HUGE heart … today, take a moment to find something small, something great, something lovely, and enjoy it!


tomato hope

sometimes i just want you to listen to your kids, and not just nod like you are listening.  (sorry a.r.)
sometimes i want you to put down that cell phone and really tell me how you are.  ( i should listen more)
sometimes i wish we could get a day off of work for a national or better yet international literature day, and truly help those who cannot read, for it is one of life’s greatest gifts.¬† (this speaks to me on so MANY levels)

anything is possible

sometimes i just want to be a black-nail polished, multiple earring wearing, eyeliner-is-still-on-from-last-night kinda gal, strumming a mean bass guitar. (for reals)

sometimes i want to have an ocd personality, type a, neat, buttoned-up corporate juggernaut attitude. (don’t think this one is gonna happen)

sometimes i want to sell my stuff and move to a commune on acreage in montana or better yet, alaska. (dreamy)

sometimes i just wanna be a hairdresser. (i love how a haircut can change how you carry yourself)

purple passion

sometimes i want to be a marathon runner. (working on this one, small walking steps are already accomplished)

sometimes i want to go back in time and tell my youth which mistakes to make a big deal about, and which to laugh about. (laugh at most)

sometimes i wonder what a cool type of “job” it would be to just have wanderlust and tour the world only trying to spread good, help folks & see critters of afar. (holy dream job right there)

sometimes i just want to wake up a morning person. (uh……)


sometimes i am content to just be. (other times like now, something pushes me to be a better version of me)

sometimes my dreams & goals seem so so far away. (other times, i make them happen)

sometimes i am happy, sometimes wrought with the blues.

sometimes i watch MSU football – go GREEN!, sometimes deep indie movies that make you think.

sometimes i know exactly what i feel, others my tears or laughter explode from within.

sometimes, well, all the time, i want to know that i am an artist, & a writer.  even if it is just for me.  for i feel a freedom when i create that nothing else in this world even touches.  when i create, i am able to be  perfect in my own eyes Рwhich is never the truth any other time.  because there is no judgement or timetable, nor rules.  i am unrestricted.  & it is the oxygen, the fire, the water to my soul.

some-no ALWAYS, i am trying to do this life the way in which i leave no stone unturned, & have no regrets.  even if that means that sometimes, i may just not know how to do that quite yet.

all my wandering love,