H is for Hawaiian Food {A to Z Challenge 2018}


This morning instead of sitting down to blog as planned, I headed down to the kitchen to make myself some breakfast. It was going to be a simple meal, but before I fully thought through what I was doing, I had bacon frying, onions, celery, and garlic simmering, and a pile of purple cabbage, cauliflower, and ginger on the cutting board. I added in pink salt, a few more veggies, water, and coconut milk, and set the burner to low.

This type of soup has been my favorite ever since a trip our family went on five years ago….


Going to Hawaii was something I looked forward to for a long time. Since we were going to get to go to Pearl Harbor I spent months studying up on WW2, because there’s nothing like seeing places from history in real life to make the past come alive.

I also spent a lot of time imagining and studying the culture, history, and people of the islands. I couldn’t wait to explore the state for myself. Several of my family members had gone six years earlier on a business trip and I’d been invited along, but had declined. (Seriously folks, I used to hate traveling, and besides, I got to visit my new nephew instead.) But after hearing my sister tell tons of stories, I wanted to get to experience it for myself.

What I wasn’t greatly excited about was the food. I figured it’s an island, so seafood would be a staple, and since I’m allergic to seafood….

As it turns out, seafood was a staple. But in addition to the seafood (which my family assured me was delicious), there was also a gigantic amount of other foods that set my tastebuds to dancing and my eyes to grow large with delight.

From the whimsicalness of McDonald’s selling rice and spam (which was delicious, unlike the gross canned stuff you can get at the store), to gas stations selling sushi, to fresh-made smoothies in Sams Club, the whole trip was a delightful experience.

One of my favorite food experiences of all times (and I’ve had a LOT yo), was when we went to a special restaurant in Oahu. The passage of time has dimmed my recollection of exactly what nationality the restaurant represented, but I think it was Taiwanese. We all enjoyed it so, so much, that my family unanimously voted to go back a second time several days later. That’s where we had the mouth-watering soup that I recreated this morning.

Experiencing foods from other countries/cultures is so much fun (most of the time) and I’m thankful for all the wonderful foods we got to try in Hawaii.


What I Listened To While Blogging:
Where I Blogged:
In my office, watching the snow 
Fun Fact:
Hawaii didn’t become a state until 1959
Question of the Day: 
What ethnicity has your favorite food? 

F is for Fondue {A to Z Challenge 2018}

For newcomers: The A to Z Challenge is where a bunch of people blog throughout the month of April, choosing a certain theme and then posting with a corresponding letter for each day.


Every year we girl cousins try to have a few days where we get together and spend some good quality time connecting. My favorite thing to do during this special weekend is….


Fondues are perfect for a number of reasons, so let’s start out by naming a few of them:

-It’s out of the ordinary, so, therefore, it’s a memory-making event
-Fondue take a long time which means you get to sit back and really spend quality time with each other
-On a scale of one to deliciousness, fondue takes the cake (although, not really cause cake is crumbly)

So, what exactly is fondue? Great question, peeps! It’s where you have a community pot of something hot (like broth) or melted (like chocolate) and then you dip pieces of food into it with long, thin speared forks, then eat it. *cue the happiness*

When we have our cousins weekend we generally have three courses – the first one is cheese. Yes, a whole pot full of melted, yummy, mouth-watering goodness. For our dipping foods, we have a platter of toasted French bread squares, apple chunks, mushrooms, etc… Next, we move on to the second course – broth. With a pot of simmering goodness, we pretty much make soup, one bite at a time. With platters of raw meat and numerous veggies (carrots, potatoes, etc…) cut up into small chunks, we spear them and then have wonderful conversations while they sit there cooking. For the third and final course, we make (cue the trumpets) a chocolate fondue. Actually, we generally have two pots for this one – one of white chocolate and one of regular chocolate. (Are you beginning to see why this meal is so fun?) Pretty much anything can be dipped into this pot: bananas, strawberries, cookies, gram crackers, pretzels… yumminess abounds and it’s a fantastic way to end one of the best meals ever.

If you ever decide to make this meal yourself, then make sure you plan at the very least two hours for the eating process – three or four hours is even better. Have your guests come with a relaxed attitude, ready to just sit and visit and eat a very leisurely pace. It’s also tons of fun if you have a list of questions to go through. Another option is divvying up who does the prep work for each course, then letting that same person decide a (lowkey) talking game or topic to discuss as you eat.


What I Listened To While Blogging:
Movie soundtracks from Youtube
Where I Blogged:
My sister’s lovely house
Fun Fact:
I have 17 cousins, and I already have nearly as many nieces and nephews
Question of the Day:
Have you ever had fondue?

Efficiency in the Kitchen {A to Z Challenge 2018}


For newcomers: The A to Z Challenge is where a bunch of people blog throughout the month of April, choosing a certain theme and then posting with a corresponding letter for each day.

The letter for today is….


Tips for Working in the Kitchen

– Before you begin baking gather all the ingredients you need so you don’t get halfway through a baking project only to realize you don’t have a necessary item

– Start in a clean kitchen. Seriously, folks, there’s nothing like having to clean up your own mess on top of an old mess to make you lose momentum

– If you’re following a recipe, read the whole thing before starting. Making a cheesecake for dessert and realizing at the last moment that it needs to chill for three hours is rather disheartening

– Conserve the dishes you use – rinsing out mixing bowls and reusing them, or washing them as you go along helps the stack next to the sink not become overwhelming

– Keep your knives sharp. It cuts down on so much work and makes life a lot better when you don’t have to saw through everything

– Instead of having a lot of odds containers to store food in, go with a couple of key sizes and all the same kind. That way you won’t always be searching for the correct lid because you only have two or three different sizes of lids and two or three different sizes of containers

– I generally also wear an apron and carry around either a washcloth or towel in the pocket to clean up spills as I go along

That’s it for today, folks!

What I Listened To While Blogging:
Some DYI show on TV
Where I Blogged:
At my adopted parent’s house
Fun Fact:
I remember “helping” in the kitchen when I was as young three
Question of the Day:
What’s your favorite kitchen tip?

D is for Durian {A to Z Challenge 2018}

For newcomers: The A to Z Challenge is where a bunch of people blog throughout the month of April, choosing a certain theme and then posting with a corresponding letter for each day.


Growing up, “picky eater” was the perfect way to describe my culinary tastes. My parents were big into us kids having a well-rounded palate (for which I’m incredibly thankful) and we generally weren’t allowed up from the table until we’d eaten all the food on our plate. This led to me sitting at our table for long periods of time simply because I wasn’t inclined (to put it mildly) to put food I didn’t like into my mouth.

Somewhere in the passages of time, I kinda got over the pickiness and over the years might have overcompensated a bit. Worms, fossilized dinosaur teeth, Guinea pig (while in Peru), bark from a Redwood tree, crickets, and many other marginalized edibles have been consumed by me in the last decade.

Some of these foods have been weird, but if we want to talk about the most disgusting tasting food I’ve ever eaten? Well, we need look no longer. Today’s letter is….


I would say durian looks harmless enough, but in reality, it’s a heavy, spiky ball of fruit fully capable of killing someone – no joke.

It grows in Indonesia and is apparently delicious to some people and somewhat addictive. Back in 2014, I went to visit friends in Indonesia for a month and all throughout my visit heard about durian – half of the family I was with thought it was a heaven-sent treat and the other half detested it. I couldn’t wait to try it for myself and form my own opinions.

The smell alone is enough to bring quivers to my stomach – it smells like a mixture of rotting onions and roadkill and the scent is so strong that no one can sneak anywhere with the fruit. (And in some places it’s literally against the law to bring it with you.)

It tastes much like it smells, and the texture is somewhat on par with cream cheese. So, just imagine cream cheese that tastes like putrid onions and smells twice as strong, and you’ve got a good idea of what durian is really like.

I’m quite thankful for getting to taste durian and find it amazing that what one person craves another person can detest. Trying new foods from other countries is so much fun, no matter if you actually like it or not.


What I Listened To While Blogging:
The soundtrack for “The Prince of Egypt” (yes, yes, again. i might be slightly addicted)
Where I Blogged:
In my office
Fun Fact:
Indonesia has the most delicious fruit I’ve ever tasted
Question of the Day:
What’s the worst-tasting thing you’ve ever eaten?

C is for: Cream of Cauliflower Soup – Paleo Version! {A to Z Challenge 2018}


For newcomers: The A to Z Challenge is where a bunch of people blog throughout the month of April, choosing a certain theme and then posting with a corresponding letter for each day.

I’m a writer, but in addition to writing (because let’s face it, life happens to consist of more than words), I also cook. This month we’re getting to explore all things kitcheny. Today’s letter is…


Today it’s recipe time! I don’t have a ton of these written down because mostly I just cook by taste – meaning I add a little of this and a little of that until it seems right. But I had so many people ask me for this recipe that I finally measured the ingredients (gasp) and wrote it down.

Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies (I know, I’m that weird child who not only likes broccoli and cauliflower, but also thinks Brussels sprouts are nearly heaven-sent), and this is one of my favorite ways to eat it.

This is a Paleo recipe, created without any dairy. BUT! If you’re not dairy free, then you can go ahead and exchange the coconut milk for regular milk, and thereby cut the costs of the soup way down.



1 Pound Boneless Chicken Thighs
1 Medium Yellow Onion, peeled and diced
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and minced
5 cups Cauliflower Florets
3 cups Water
1 cup canned Unsweetened Coconut Milk
3 Bacon strips
1 Large Carrot
Coconut oil
Seasoning Salt
Garlic powder
Tuscan Garlic seasoning blend
Chicken Flavored soup base, Gluten and MSG free


1. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces, cook in coconut oil and season with seasoning salt, garlic powder, and Tuscan Garlic blend. After the chicken is cooked, set aside. Fry bacon, remove bacon from fat and crumble. (Optional: Save bacon fat and add to soup as it’s cooking for extra flavor)

2. Sauté onions and garlic in coconut oil

3. Add cut up cauliflower florets, water, unsweetened coconut milk, add seasonings to taste, simmer until tender.

4. Mash or blend about half of the cauliflower, then put back in the soup

5. Add chopped carrot and chicken

6. Serve and Enjoy!


What I Listened To While Blogging:
The soundtrack for “The Prince of Egypt” (yes, again!
Where I Blogged:
In my office on the mattress in the corner
Fun Fact:
I have always liked veggies – as a kid I preferred them over sweets sometimes 
Question of the Day: 
What’s your favorite veggie? 

B is for: Baking, Flames, and Smoked Pie {A to Z Challenge 2018}

The people have spoken! Y’all, I’m excited to announce the theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is:


And yes, we can all groan at the fact that I am actually making a lame pun with my last name.

For newcomers: The A to Z Challenge is where a bunch of people blog throughout the month of April, choosing a certain theme and then posting with a corresponding letter for each day. Today’s letter is…


Yes, I work in the kitchen at a coffee shop. And yes, I am in charge of the kitchen at a private retreat center. And yes, I have regularly cooked for my family since I was a wee mite. But, the truth of the matter is mishaps come in all shapes and sizes and delight to find me even now – so yo, folks! It’s story time with Lydia.

Once upon a time, unfortunately not so long ago and in a land quite close, there was a Retreat taking place. Like good little kitchen workers everywhere, I was up early, clipboard in hand, making sure everything was getting done on time. With a limited amount of oven space, we had to hurry to get the apple pies in before the roast needed to be cooked.

Thankfully, I have a fantastic co-worker who’s pie making skills are unmatched. We did the prep work, she whipped up an oven full of pies, set the timer, and left. Her pies are delicious – juicy, sweet, bubbling over, and quite often creating epic amounts of smoke as the sweetness runs out of the pie dish and drips onto the bottom of the oven where it sizzles and burns.

It wasn’t long until smoke was filling the kitchen, so like any brilliant leader would do who’s hands were knee-deep (or wrist deep?) in dough, I asked one of my co-workers to put some foil paper on the bottom of the oven to catch the drips so they wouldn’t take forever and a day to scrub off. (As I said, it was a pretty brilliant move.)

I would like to think if it had been ME doing the actual task that I would have paid attention and read the words written on the bottom of the oven that very clearly state that you are NOT supposed to put foil on it. But, in reality, I probably would have been in such a hurry I wouldn’t have noticed the warning, either.

Before long the smoke cleared away, but instead of relief filling us, we saw bright orange flames hopping around inside the stove. Panic ensued. Pandemonium broke out. The world stilled for about three seconds. We peered transfixed at the oven. Then someone grabbed a fire extinguisher, and we looked at each other in horror, knowing that as soon as the door was open more oxygen would rush in, creating even bigger flames (which we so did not need).

My one actual smart move of the day was to tell them to put the fire extinguisher away as I grabbed for a ten-pound bag of baking soda instead – that way we’d still be able to serve the pie without poisoning everyone.

With a lot of nervous giggles (the kitchen staff was all girls at the moment), we worked it out so that one of my co-workers would open the door while I tossed handfuls of baking soda on the flames. Our support team danced around in the background, cheering us on with squeals.

It took several times of the door being jerked open, me throwing handfuls of baking soda at the fire while trying desperately to miss the actual pies, and then the door being slammed shut as the flames jumped out at us before we were successful.

That day the kitchen was full of laughter, our hearts were racing, and we served everyone “Campfire Apple Pie” – playing off the fact that every piece had a strange smokey flavor, with a slight baking soda aftertaste.


What I Listened To While Blogging:
The soundtrack for “The Prince of Egypt
Where I Blogged:
At my desk while drinking coffee with slightly curdled milk
Fun Fact:
My brother bought me lovely tulips last week, simply because he’s amazing 

A to Z Challenge – YOU CHOOSE


Y’all! It has arrived!

I’m really not sure how April snuck up so fast, but it’s time to pull out that dusty folder of A to Z Challenge ideas and choose one I really want to do this year. What is the A to Z Challenge you might ask? Good question. It’s where a huge group of bloggers choose each choose a theme to focus on in April and then write a post corresponding with a letter of the alphabet for each day. (Read more here.)

Last year I blogged Behind the Scenes for my work in progress Echoes. (Perhaps my favorite theme ever.)
The year before I wrote ideas of how to be more creative. (Which included doing things like tying my hands together for a whole day to see how I’d have to be more creative in life when I couldn’t move my hands more than a foot apart from each other.)
Before that, I wrote faux “back cover blurbs.” (Which was gobs of fun and pretty stretching.)
The year before (which, shhh, was my least favorite), I wrote about various ideas regarding success and goals.
And the first year I blogged about Lyme disease, which was actually rather life changing for me.


Idea # 1: Letter-Form Book Review
I’ve seen it before where people write book reviews in letter form, and that’s a pretty intriguing idea to me. They’d all be kept nice and short (which is the name of the game when it comes to the A to Z Challenge), and it would be a great way for y’all to get a different look at 26 cool books. Some of the letters would be addressed to you, the reader, some would be addressed to the author, and some would be addressed to younger me. 😉

Idea #2: Book or Character or Author Spot Light
A tea party with an author, taking a character from the 1800s on a plane ride out west, or just discussing a book that has changed my life. This is the theme to find it all! If you choose this idea we’ll get an out-of-the-box look at a bunch of bookish happiness.

Idea #3: Book Related Short Vlogs
Rapid-fire challenges, 60-second book reviews, bookshelf trivia, fun various author facts, and the list goes on. These vlogs would be one to two minutes long and share my enthusiasm for all things bookish to the world.

Idea #4: Writing Tips
Let’s be real: I’ve already shared SO MANY writing tips with y’all, but if we went with this theme it would be a place where I could gather them all together, tweak them, and share them with a new twist.

Idea #5: Kitchen Hacks/Recipes
Okay y’all. My other passion besides writing happens to be cooking/all things kitcheny. I would have such a delightful time getting to inundate y’all with gobs of food-ish posts. (So eloquent, right?)

Idea #6: Why do the A to Z Challenge? Let’s just skip it this year.
I think that’s pretty self explanatory. 😉

And now! You choose! Which theme do you think I should go with this year?