Tales from the Garage Kitchen

We kicked off a kitchen remodel in January and have spent the last three months making food out of our cold, dark garage. Here are some key lessons I learned:

Don’t do it in the winter, it’s really cold in the garage. Even peanut butter gets frozen…

You can microwave nearly everything, and you can even try the things you shouldn’t. Not having used the microwave much, this was like a science experiment to the detriment of my children…

Washing dishes in the utility sink, in the cold, was not my favorite.

I figured this would force us to use the crockpot, Instant Pot, and more, but we’ve only used them a handful of times because the prep in a garage is not very exciting.

When we lost power for a week, and literally were in a dark garage with headlamps, we were fine not eating (much).

Put the peanut butter in the house.

It’s very enticing to order take out. How will we go back to cooking when the kitchen is back?

There are so many microwave meals out there. Like tons! It’s a whole marketplace…never fear (or do if you decide to partake).

We took a few trips to stay in a cabin at the Mt. Hood during the renovations, and found out what a special thing is was to get away in the winter to a winter wonderland. It’s something we hope to do next year, too!

You can also BBQ everything, even deep dish pizza. Pizza is a required part of the diet, so this was a necessary discovery.

You can cook an Easter meal using the Instant Pot, BBQ and microwave, on paper plates. It was one for the books.

Three months actually goes pretty quick at the end of it. But yeah, it was a cold, interesting few months of food…

What are you Reading?

It feels like December gets sooo busy, it’s nice to shake things up with a good book.

What’s caught your eye?

Take a look at these amazing free neighborhood libraries. I think we might need one….

Here’s your ticket to holiday survival…#read

No Tragedy in Finding Hope

I love the conversations happening around Selma Blair’s “Good Morning America” interview and her Vanity Fair piece on having MS. She is so courageous to show the raw, unpredictable and scary (generally not even medically understood) parts of the disease. And what comes after…the fear of its impact on your body, your career, and personal life.
As someone that struggled with these same questions when I was diagnosed, I was moved watching her, her struggles, and then to find hope.
Above all, it’s hard to feel lucky when you have a disease, but watching her had me in tears. I do feel lucky for what it’s worth, and I’ll take every one of these years in remission.
Throughout our lives it’ll be our job to decide which way to go at a cross road, sometimes this choice may come several times in our lives. There is opportunity in every new story, and just because it may not match the older version, doesn’t mean it isn’t brimming with hope, love and fulfillment.
It can be whatever you want it to be.

green wooden chair on white surface

Photo by Paula Schmidt on Pexels.com

I’m in it

The Writing Slump (verb): to fall or sink suddenly, to drop or slide down suddenly : COLLAPSE, to assume a drooping posture or carriage : SLOUCH

The writing process is so curious, when creativity decides to run rampant or it’s like nobody is home upstairs. Anyone seen the movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper?

“The next morning, I sent a little probe down into my brain. No surge of brilliance came up to greet me.”


That may have been an excuse to bring up Bradley Cooper…just sayin’.
The movie is great though…

Just like stretching, you have to work yourself to transition your mind into different places.

After getting a lot of interest in this second book from agents with very different and sometimes no feedback, I decided to try a different tactic “for learning sakes.”

I began working with an editor and am still going through the feedback and making edits, more edits. THIS is where I’m stuck. This is my fall, slide or slouch moment. Frankly, it’s harder than brain surgery to take a look at your work so differently. And of course, as a writer or just because it’s me, I strangely enjoy the torture. Don’t get me wrong though, it is torture.

So this is where I’m at…sometimes really stuck and it all these in between places of finding my brilliance. If you find yourself in this space sometimes, I think you can do it. We can do it.


Suck it Up

That’s what I had to tell myself recently, “Just suck it up and do it, Erin.”

I have this great idea for my third book and have been outlining it, building out characters and motivations. But I keep stalling. Part of the reason is because it deals with a heavy topic that we as women, all struggle with, but also because I’m trying to weave this theme through four characters’ lives.

Has anyone ever taken a class at The Attic in Portland, OR? I took a class with the fabulous Author Whitney Otto and it really jump started the seriousness of my writing. I happened to peruse an Attic newsletter and there’s a new class on character building with David Ciminello.

I found myself going back to the website to read the description, over and over again. It’s amazing how many excuses we’ll tell ourselves: Is this something I can commit to weekly for five weeks? What about the kids? But I won’t get home till 10:30 PM…

But at the end of the day, I need this. I just had to suck it up and sign up. So starting Tuesday, May 8th, you’ll find me at The Attic.

The Diagnosis

It’s amazing how much we try to control in life so we can achieve our dreams, like a career, music, art, or building up our family’s strengths. We are surrounded by distractions, but there is pure satisfaction from something going as planned, isn’t there? Seeing results for your hard work.

By nature, I’m type A and a really hard worker but also a deep thinker/dreamer. It’s important to me that people can count on me. Knowing that I can accomplish or help someone else, a shared goal or a personal dream is what makes my heart flutter.

So all of these things are also sometimes a negative, because life is rarely on track. I’m okay with the unexpected change of plan. Working in public relations, crises and communications requires you to be able to handle the chaos. But I wasn’t ready for what life had in store for me.

I had to learn the hard way that this wasn’t really my plan all along.

Six years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). This rocked my world. I grieved for my children and possibly not having the mother they so deserved. The tears continued to fall when I realized I might not be the woman I dreamed. My throat would close at the utter, complete, loss of control in my life. I basically mourned my life as I knew it. But, I’d be dammed if I let anyone feel sorry for me (a curse of the independent people out there).

My husband said I only had two days to cry. Those words were harsh, but I think he was equally confused and worried this would overtake me. Maybe in some way he feared that the person he loved so much would be lost forever. I was deeply scared too; the kind that makes your body shake. This was unchartered territory.

But I had to find a way forward, and to be honest, it took me a few years. I didn’t like the idea of being someone scared of the future. I had made some diet and supplement changes and after some time, reluctantly got on medication. I was extremely lucky, I only had some numbness and otherwise have not had any physical issues. It was the emotional ones that were really pushing on my heart, the future, and who I would be tomorrow. I had find a way to uncover my own peace and strength with this chronic, unpredictable diagnosis. I tried ignoring it, but that’s the funny thing about that strategy…it creeps around in all the places that matter.

Eventually I spoke with a therapist and started letting more friends and family know. I went to a few MS meetings and they scared the hell out of me and I vowed to never go back. [I have gone to a “People with MS for 40ish and Under Happy Hour” meeting a few times that were good…these things do actually exist.]

There’s still work to do. I still have to tell my kids about MS. I thought I might last summer but those that know my older daughter and her obsession with death thought she might think I was going to die. But as of today, I have been in remission for four years (!!) and am living for today, tomorrow and every day after. Remission is when you have no symptoms of the disease (via annual MRI scans) and I’ll take it…day by day, year by year as it comes.

Lately, I’ve been wondering how I can help others, maybe find peace with this total change in life. I’ve done such a disservice by trying to solve this myself instead of looking to others. Maybe I can save someone else the heartache. Let them know there is another side and that it is pretty amazing, just a slightly different story.

Here’s to finding peace with life’s limitations, strength in and gratitude for what you do have, and living every moment as though it matters.

Ps, I am completely open to talking about MS if you want to ask me casually or have a friend who needs help. Anytime.



“I hat mi self”

This is my seven-year-old daughter. Her version of I Hate Myself.

Do you hear that sound? The banging and vibration? That was my heart. My throat closed up in sadness because my very young, sweet girl was feeling something so deep.

We all know that it’s tough to be a girl and grow up with social pressures, fit in and learn confidence. Add social media here soon. The sad truth is, we exchange these feelings of inadequacies for other things as women…that we’re not doing enough, could be doing more, hence the be in 20 places at once attempt (nearly daily). It’s exhausting. We need to stop being our own worst critic and build each other up.

And we need to stop it where it’s starting, with our little ones. I just had no idea it’d be so early.

After I got over the sadness and fear of what this would mean if she were older with such high suicide rates, we talked. We’ve been talking every night about this in different ways since then.

First of all, I sympathized with this deep, sadness. We’ve all been there (but we mostly remember that when we were older). She told me, “I just feel so alone sometimes. Like I don’t belong.” [Insert more tears. But I did wait until I was away from her for that.]

I let her in on the secret: EVERY girl and woman has these feelings. She is not alone in feeling this. And we talked about how to change the narrative in her mind. It’s too young to talk about confidence, or rather a little confusing, I tried. This is something that will need to develop with time and example. So we talked about what we’re thankful for. Every day since, we’ve highlighted the things that were funny or fun, and anything that bothered her. Something so little like an old friend has new friends on the playground, that’s a big deal. But it doesn’t mean that they are not friends anymore. She’s having issues with math (she’s in Spanish so can you imagine doing math is Spanish as well..) so we’re getting her help there so she can start to enjoy it again.

When I step back and look at this situation, I’m am astonished that she is able to vocalize these feelings so succinctly at such a young age. These are themes that adults even have trouble saying so definitively. There’s one thing for sure,  I wish someone would’ve told me about all these secrets and struggles that girls and women face.

But now she knows that these thoughts are a feeling that are so common, but they don’t belong to her. And most importantly, it’s not the truth. She doesn’t need to hold onto them and harbor that sadness, alone anymore.


The rain was pouring (shocker, it’s Portland). But then the force and heaviness of the drops hit even harder, making me flinch as it pelted my sunroof. I cursed my windshield wipers to catch up; this was their time to shine. On my drive downtown, first, I must a cross through Terwilliger Boulevard, bobbing and weaving through the sideline of trees hugging both sides of the road. They shake their branches overhead, forming an arch over the road, taunting all drivers with the dangers of the forest.

The car in front of me was slow. (They’re always slow because they probably learned to drive in Portland…) Slowby turned off and the open road lay ahead. The splash of warnings hitting the windshield was not enough to make me need for reduced speed. Swooping in and out, I hugged the curves and pushed for more.

But then a young deer sauntered in front of my car. Apparently it was her time to enter this part of the story, center stage.

In the middle of a busy and crazy world and a hectic day, the deer taunted me to slow down. But I needed to be downtown for a 12 PM meeting.

She walked off to the side of the road and a car in the opposing direction stopped as well. I swear we smiled at each other and turned back to watch the deer. The rain didn’t seem to hit her. I kind of wanted to see for myself how pillowy soft her untouched fur was in that moment.

The car and I were afraid to move. The deer walked off to the side and kept her one eye on me. She wasn’t sure about me. And I’m wasn’t so sure about her either. So we froze. Silence. And the chaos was still.

She walked away with a theatrically slow step, and I started a soft roll forward. She took a step back toward me so I immediately slowed to a stop. And again our eyes met.

With a quick jerk, she was gone. Her work was done there. Without looking back, she started slotting, running off perpendicularly into the forest.

I like her style.

It sure is beautiful for those few precious minutes, even when you’re forced to slow down.


What Keeps You Up at Night?


I’ve been brainstorming book #3 with some themes that I’m looking to explore and I keep getting hung up on this idea of letting go. Perhaps it’s something about being on the cusp of a new decade with many friends celebrating the big 4-0 that’s begging me to assess life and take control of, well, letting go.

So much about life is about making things work, carefully curating our own lives until you hit a big moment and you realize…we don’t really have that much control over these things. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely agree with the need to put ourselves out there and take risk to grow, learn and be, but sometimes we’re not necessarily the one driving those plans. And it’s not just us that may learn from our mistakes or growth.

This takes place in so many forms: family, illness, jobs, addiction, and more.

Tell me: What keeps you up at night? When you get together with some of your best friends, what are you coping with? And what stops you from making peace with it?

I’d love to hear from you privately or online!

Keep dreaming! xo