cooking novice.

I was fortunate enough to grow up with a mom who was a great cook. And she was fortunate enough to grow up with a mother who was a really great cook. And I think I’m correct in assuming that for many generations and centuries and eons and wow… for a really long, long time, there were great cooks in my family passing down their secrets. — I’m starting to crave chicken and dumplings right now…

Then there was me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a horrible cook. At least I’ve been told that I’m not a time or two. I make a mean meat loaf and I think I have finally perfected the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the toll house semi-sweet chocolate chip bag because my husband LOVES them and I like to make him happy. But I’m certainly not a great cook like my mother and grandmother who can whip up corn bread, fried okra, crab legs, beef stew, pork chops, apple pie, whatever you want, whenever you want, without sweating and it’s always amazing.

Well, when Andy and I started dating, I started cooking. I had a few tricks up my sleeve before then, but it wasn’t until I started falling for him that I knew I better start learning to cook more than meat loaf or Kraft mac ‘n cheese if I wanted to keep him around. Not that he particularly required this of me, but for some reason my domestication switch was flipped at that point and I was determined that I was going to be a good cook like my mom. (By the way, mom since we weren’t able to spend Thanksgiving together, I made gravy for our Crum Family Thanksgiving dinner this year the way you told me to and it turned out great!) So, I started cooking things like this:

2 chicken breasts cooked and cubed, mixed greens, strawberries, almonds, and mandarin oranges

It’s a salad. Down there in the bottom right hand corner. It was a good salad, but it’s just a salad.  I wanted to do better than that. No one has ever inspired me to cook other than Andy. I needed to do better than that. I had to.

So I started reading books and asking for recipes and researching how to put together meal plans. (I’m still working on that last one.) And I now have spurts of kitchen joy and kitchen frustration. Kitchen joy for those times where I am just really really excited about cooking and grocery shopping and meal planning and when I’ve found a great recipe that I like and that Andy asks me to make again. And kitchen frustrations like the time Andy asked me to make jerk chicken and coconut rice for him like we ate in Jamaica on our honeymoon and it turned out like dry, dark, pasty, mystery meat on a mountain of too sweet to eat undercooked rice. It was that bad, I promise. Andy ate it…. I couldn’t make myself do it. Makes me want to just throw in the towel. (sometimes it’s more appetizing)

But I keep cooking because well… we have to eat and I can’t consume the volume of frozen corn dogs that my husband is okay with consuming on a weekly basis. Frozen pizza… that is a different story, but I wouldn’t dare make Andy eat it as much as I want to… which is usually about once a day.

So, in all of this research and asking around for recipes and trying to cook new food I came across this really delicious recipe for pulled BBQ chicken that is just yum yum yummy. It’s made in a crock pot, one of the seven wonders of the world, where you just toss everything in on your lunch break and turn it on and it’s ready to eat at 6 when you come home from work! It’s a miracle.

So, I would like to share the recipe with you because I think you will love it. If you don’t eat meat or something I apologize… but only a little because I think you would really like this BBQ chicken if you ate it and pretended it was just tofu.

4.5 lbs. chicken breast halves
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 (18 oz.) bottle honey barbecue sauce
-being born and raised in Cincinnati, OH I prefer Montgomery Inn barbecue sauce to any other-
1 c. italian salad dressing
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/4 c. worcestershire sauce (we called it worshiper sauce growing up because we didn’t know how to pronounce it)

Place chicken in a greased 5-6 qt. slow cooker (that’s fancy talk for crock pot) and sprinkle with garlic powder. Combine the barbecue sauce, salad dressing, vinegar, worcestershire sauce; pour over chicken. The first time I made this, I just dumped it all in the crock pot without messing around because I was in a hurry and I didn’t want to dirty another bowl and it turned out just fine.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is tender. When cool enough to handle, remove chicken, shred meat, and return to slow cooker; cook through.

(This is modified from a recipe found in Taste of Home August/September 2010 issue where they suggest serving the chicken over baked potatoes with bleu cheese and green onions… sounds good if you like bleu cheese and green onions, but I don’t)

Here’s what it looks like. Pure deliciousness:

served on slices of wheat bread because we didn't have buns...

Try it out and tell me what you think! Just don’t use too much cider vinegar… I did that once and it was awful.

Feed someone who’s hungry just to see the smile on their face


Let me tell you about number two on the list, while number three is in the oven. (Chicken Tetrazzini a la cleaning out the fridge.)

So yes, I was that kid whose friends started asking, “do we have to do a craft project at your Birthday party this year?” I don’t know what it was about puff-paint t-shirts, shrinky dinks, and friendship bracelets that were more fun to me pin the tail on the donkey and eating cake and ice cream. (And that’s saying a lot because I absolutely LOVE ice cream and not in that selfless putting others’ interests in front of my own kind of love, but the rather gaudy tub-at-a-time-til-you’re-sick kind of love.) But there was just something inside of me that would rather paint on t-shirts or melt crayons on my mom’s hot plate when she wasn’t home, than do anything else in the world.

I was that kid. I was that kid that did her older sister’s school projects for her whenever they required a visual aide, not because she begged me to do it or bribed me — okay well maybe sometimes she bribed me, but because I WANTED to do her projects. (Sorry to rat you out on this one, sis!)

And yes, I was that kid that everyone else hated because I had working lights and miniature bookshelves in my ‘Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm’ diarama in the 6th grade and they just had poster boards with print-out pictures from the computer.

I was that kid… well, I AM that kid. Still. Only difference now is I have a degree to prove it. Literally.

So now, instead of melting crayons and playing with shrinky-dinks… though now that I’m thinking about it those two activities are starting to sound really enticing… I spend my time painting, sewing, drawing, and working on little things like this:

6"x6" wood block, image transfers, acrylic, gouache

Bird block.

Harness your inner artist and make a handmade card for someone.


So, I guess you noticed the tagline list at the top of the page — for those of you who didn’t or don’t know what a tagline list is (I’m not really sure if that’s a real thing anyway, but it’s the way I can think of to describe it) it says: wife… artist… cooking novice… redhead… follower of Christ…

Well, I’d like to talk about that first one. wife. See, all those other things have been a part of me for quite some time now, but this “wife” thing is relatively new. Okay, who am I kidding… it’s REALLY new. We’re talking barely over two months, new. And in the grand scheme of things, that is newborn baby crying through the night wearing tiny diapers kind of new. But, it’s a beautiful new thing and I like it.

Here’s the thing, I’m in love with one of the most hilarious, intelligent, wonderful, man I have ever laid eyes on. It doesn’t hurt that he is tall, dark-haired, and handsome with the most adorable dimples on the planet. Just have a look for yourself…

this is us. me and andy. sept. 25, 2010

I remember the first time I laid eyes on him. I remember what shirt I was wearing that day. I remember where I was and what he was doing and I remember that I was pretty sure he would never remember who I was. And that’s a lot of remembering for a person who doesn’t have the greatest memory.

Turns out he remembered me! And he liked me so much that he started to love me and asked me to marry him, so that’s what we did; we got married. September 25, 2010.
(More on the proposal story and wedding day details later.)

So, here I sit, just over two months into being a wife, daily encountering the biggest life transition I’ve ever been through, and loving it. How couldn’t I? I mean, I have the privilege of doing life with my best friend, laughing every day, and knowing that when I take off my makeup and put on old sweatpants and a too-big t-shirt, he still loves me. And I can’t do anything to change that.

Okay, so I love Andy, that’s a given, but I didn’t know what it meant to love someone REALLY love someone selflessly until Andy and I got married. You see, I never had to plan meals before or do someone else’s laundry or rub someone else’s feet without expecting the same in return. See, here’s the thing I’m learning; marriage is about two people loving each other the way Christ loves us.  This is what I’m talking about:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:4-8

So, in the most basic sense, we are supposed to put others’ interests ahead of our own and model our lives after Christ, who even though he was God, lived life like a servant. Simply stated, I’m going to love Andy by putting his needs before mine and not because he deserves it or has done something to earn it, but because I choose to. (It doesn’t always work out that way… but hey, this marriage thing is new, remember?)

Okay, okay so I know that I’m only now beginning to experience this kind of selfless love with Andy, but with only two months under our belts as married folks and with Andy being a lot better about remembering this selfless love stuff than I am, I can’t wait to see what is to come years down the road!

Love someone selflessly,

an introduction.

So, I’m acutely aware of the fact that this first post is supposed to be epic. As I’ve heard, starting a new blog is always supposed to begin with some amazing biographical introduction that will draw in readers from all walks of life and from every corner of the earth. Unfortunately, if that’s the kind of awe-inducing epicness you were hoping for, I apologize in advance for your tears of disappointment and am happy to take a moment to pause while you grab yourself a tissue — or a few squares of toilet paper if you’re too cheap to buy kleenex like I am.

Now that you’ve had a chance to compose yourself, let me tell you a few things about myself and what I’m doing here out in the wide open blogosphere.

I’m a twenty-four year old, redheaded newlywed with a BFA in painting, unraveling the joys of adulthood. After nearly a quarter of a century’s worth of living and breathing on this earth, I feel like I’m just now beginning to understand the beautiful aroma of contentedness. And I’m having a blast living in it.

I’m learning that life is full of mystery and joy and blessings and disappointment and beauty and love and many colorful things and that’s what I’m here to write about. My life: the mystery, the joys, the blessings and disappointment, beauty, love, and colorful things that have brought me to where I am today. Along the way hopefully I’ll remember to share current and past art projects I’m working on, recipes I’ve indulged upon,  stories about the people I love and the blessings I encounter each day.

Most importantly, I’ve come to realize that life is much fuller, funnier, and livelier when we build relationships with the people around us and learn from the experiences we have with those folks. That being said, I’d love it if you’d let me know your thoughts about my artwork, or if you try a recipe and you think it needs a touch more cinnamon, or if a story about the people or blessings in my life encourage you in some small way… because I’ll tell you the same.

Enjoy yourself and smile at a stranger today.


yep this is me... smirking for a quick self-portrait against a green painted wall.