Without further or due, I’d like to welcome to my new Substack newsletter, The Supper Letters — a newsletter about this midwest-dweller’s exploration of cooking, living, loving, and eating well. The first issue launches in May 15th!
With the combination of the numerous photos I take of my food (see my Instagram story highlights 🙃) and my itch for writing about my experience in the kitchen… this newsletter was inevitable. (It’s just taken me a really long time to come up with a name!) If you enjoy my the little vignettes of food writing, “What’s on My Plate,” and “My Week in Meals” posts here, you’ll love what I have to share over on The Supper Letters. Come and join me on this journey!
I hope these letters can be a soothing, cozy addition to your inbox. I hope they can inspire you to eat well and love well. They are honest reflects of me figuring out life through cooking and sharing conversation around good food…
Of thoughts, enter and leave, begins to see them for what they are:
Jugglers, fire swallowers, acrobats,
Tossing their batons into the air.”
From our bodies to the tulips springing up from the ground, small victories are worth celebrating everywhere. For every painful moment that holds hands with a small victory, there is gratefulness. I am grateful that I am alive and that I am a human who makes mistakes. I am grateful to learning through uncomfortable growth.
What are your victories, the large ones down to the small, seemingly insignificant ones?
Here are a few of mine:
I made it through the first winter where I lived on my own. I made it through the high electric bills, the long dark nights where I had to shut the curtains at 4:55, the snowstorms, chapped hands, and navigating hard choices amid colds and runny noses.
I followed my gut and left an old job, even though it has resulted in a lower number in my bank account for the short term. Listening to my gut instincts instead of turning to others’ options has left me stronger.
The dirty dishes and crumbs are cleaned up after a couple longs weeks of a dirty kitchen.
Like Danusha, my eyesight has gotten better instead of worse over the past three years of odd, unruly inflammation.
I’m trying new things simultaneously as the tree branches that are beginning to show their red blossoms.
Noticing the full moon’s reflection in the dark evening river — present to the here and now for a moment, instead of being caught up in my own messy thoughts.
Although the life around me is painful and uncomfortable in so many areas, there are small victories that are worth celebrating — the victories that make life a little more tolerable. There are blue sky spring days at the end of every winter.
Today, I took the long way home. After leaving my mom’s house, I drove south. The city and the suburbs open up to vast country — to empty fields and hazy mid-winter sky. Though the weather is below 35 degrees, the heat is on in my car, and I’m driving fast towards the place I now call home, growing my wings and finding what suites me. The song playing on the radio is my jam, and I turn up the volume. The Sunday slowly rolls off my shoulders and into the following week. I am ready for cold mornings, for work, for volunteering, for whatever this week brings.
I’ve come to love winters in the midwest. The cold that nips at your nose, figure tips, and toes. This winter has been exceptionally beautiful. While we’ve seen a lot of hazy blue-gray sky days, my heart has felt more at peace and at home than it has in a long time.
I often feel hugely out of place. I often feel like an imposter, like I’m not good enough. But lately, I’ve found peace and calmness in doing my thing well in quiet and without much glamour or fuss. I’ve been enjoying slow evenings at home, maybe a candle lit with some soft music in the background. I have books littering my coffee table. Dishes linger in the sink from many good meals cooked. I like the process these evenings bring, the inviting warmth. Maybe I’m not supposed to be chasing a moment in the spotlight; I think my nerves would definitely testify that I freeze up and become accident prone when there are a ton of eyes on me. Maybe I just need a quiet corner to do my work well.
That is what this winter has been teaching me. While the outside world beckons us during spring and summer, it’s okay to draw into the warm, quiet, and gentle peace that occupies the winter.
I’ve taken time off of Instagram this month. I’m trying to read through as many books as possible while taking this time off from online socialization. Ideally, I’m trying to read through the entire stack of books on my bedside table before officially downloading the app again. Although I love the window Instagram and other social media gives into other’s perspectives and pieces of lives people are willing to share, I found myself addicted to the scrolling, the watching, the disconnecting it led to in my own life. Since stepping away, I’ve noticed that I have more time to read words in books, write my own words, or just sit quietly while waiting for my coffee while in line at Starbucks or in the mornings when I’m sipping coffee. I’ve noticed that I can hear my own thoughts rather than constantly listen to others’. While I fully love hearing others’ revelations and ideas, sometimes it would seem like they knew me better than I knew myself. I needed this time for my thoughts to surface, to know myself better and my feelings deeper. I need this quiet time to think and to breathe.
Regardless though, I love sharing photos, and I miss sharing the small beautiful moments I find myself in — like swing dancing on a Friday night and being downtown late at night, as the coffee shop closes and I’m in the corner with my Love sipping on warm drinks. Or like the other day, when I found myself in the middle of the country, my man is driving, and I’m in the passenger’s seat looking out at the horizon. The earth getting darker and darker, the sun sunk below twenty minutes ago and the clouds are tucking into bed the northern part of the world.
Here are a few moments I found myself in these past 16 days. The beautiful and the messy. I lay them out here for the sake of sharing stories and documenting this small, beautiful life I find myself in. The life I’m starting to pay more attention to, this winter, where I’m starting to feel more alive and more at home.
I woke up to the coldest morning of the winter thus far. The freeze started last night. I came home late while it was snowing — a beautiful image of white glitter gracefully falling under an amber streetlight. All was quiet. It felt as though all the comosion and chattiness of the world was put on hold and all that mattered was that moment, the stars and clouds blanketing the earth and lulling it to sleep.
This morning the flakes cling to the windows of the cars and frost freezes to the tips of the grass. It’s in the single digits but the sky is clear blue. The tree limbs bare. Everything is frozen in place. Inside my tiny apartment, the air has a tinge of coldness to it even though I have the heat on. I make pour over coffee and peel a clementine. The quiet from the night before still lingers as the world stretches and wakes. My feet are cold against the kitchen tile, sleepy eyes and dreams reside. I’m ready to start the day.
The daylight floods my kitchen. The sun sends yellows rays through my blinds that streak across my cabinets, counters, and walls. Coffee is keeping warm in a Chemex on the stove. A pan of gluten-free cake that I made last night sits on the counter. It’s enticing me to come eat it all in one big gulp. The sink is clean with no dishes and only a little bit of soap residue. The dishwasher has a little blue light indicating that the contents are washed and dried, ready to be put away. Poetry magnets are stuck to the side of my fridge and on the front cling photos of the past year — portraits of my brother, my pup saydee, and my Love, a poem, some post cards. There is also a running grocery list, so I don’t forget what I need the next time I make a trip to the store. Succulents sit in the window seal, basking in the glow and thriving even though it’s 32 degrees outside. My pantry is full, stocked with almost all the necessary ingredients to make anything on the fly: bags of flour, sugar (both cane and brown), baking soda, chocolate chips, honey, canned tomatoes, chicken stock, bread, onions and garlic, a handful of different dried pastas, oils and vinegar, chips for snacking, Cheerios for breakfast, peanut butter and jam, marshmallows, an assortment of teas, and a tub of hot cocoa powder. My fridge is fairly stocked with the necessities, too: milk and creamer, orange juice, butter (tons of butter), eggs, carrots and celery, navel oranges, heavy whipping cream, lettuce and baby tomatoes, condiments (ketchup, mustard, and mayo), yogurt, lemon juice, the remnants of a bottle of sauvignon blanc, leftover soup from last night.
I sit here, writing this at my kitchen island. Fresh purple flowers sit in the middle, bringing color and life to my kitchen in mid-winter. A small piece of paper that says “Strong convictions precede great actions” props itself against the base of the vase. It came from the fortune cookie I had on the second day of the new year.
I’m writing in this space where I cook food to feed my family and myself. I’m writing this at the beginning of the new year. My life isn’t perfect, and I am deeply flawed. I learned a lot in the past year, and there is a lot to know ahead of me. Yet I’m here in this space that is somewhat tidy, somewhat lived in, somewhat peaceful — I feel at home.