Life Lately

unplugIn this electronic world of computers and cell phones, I decided to buck the trend and “unplug” from posting on my web site for several months. After traveling extensively for work for the past nearly 10 years, I needed to recharge.

To catch you up, I’ll share a bit about various areas of my “life lately” by answering some questions.

Are you still working for Taste of Home Cooking Schools? 
I took the spring 2016 cooking school off. Several factors contributed to that decision. My Mom has been dealing with memory loss. I just felt I needed to be closer to home to help her and my Dad.

I will admit it was a transition for me. To go from traveling across the country and interacting with cheering Taste of Home fans, to being a homebody, was a challenge. There’s nothing like sitting at home in your sweatpants to give you time to think and put life into perspective!

The good news is that Taste of Home asked if I would consider coming back for a handful of Fall 2016 cooking schools. I was hesitant at first, but I am so thankful they are willing to offer a schedule that allows me to still be available to my parents.

Here is a photo of me with friend and Taste of Home field editor, Sue Gronholz, along with her mom and mother-in-law. Three wonderful ladies at the Jefferson, WI cooking school!


Where will you be doing fall 2016 cooking schools? 

Madison, SD – October 6, 2016

Clovis, NM – October 20, 2016

Fort Smith, AR – October 29-30, 2016

Grand Junction, CO – November 3, 2016

How is your mom doing? 

She’s doing pretty well, all things considered. She took a fall back at the beginning of March in a restaurant parking lot and broke several ribs. After a few days in the hospital and a month of rehab in a local nursing home, she was able to return home where she continues to live with my Dad.

This summer we celebrated her 80th birthday. It was a good day for her and she really seemed to enjoy our little family celebration. She is most comfortable spending time with her immediate family.

Somewhere along this journey, I realized that Mom is not remembering many of her day-to-day experiences. For instance, she may not be able to tell you what she did this morning. But, the thing is — I AM remembering these moments. So I’m trying to cherish these memories (no matter how minor they seem). Each day is a gift.

Here is a photo of Mom and Dad testing out the rocking chairs outside of Cracker Barrel.


What have you been doing during your “time off”? 

I haven’t completely taken time off, because, well, we do have to pay the bills. I have picked up some freelance food-related projects. I still write a cooking tips column for Our Iowa magazine, I am doing occasional projects for Meredith Corporation, some assistant food styling, and a few of my own local cooking classes.

Instead of doing a summer vacation, we have done several one-night road trips. We visited my cousin, Jill’s family, in the LeMars area (the Ice Cream Capital of the World), we hiked in the Loess Hills, we took a Mississippi River Boat cruise and stopped at Field of Dreams with our friends the Coffmans, and we enjoyed some of our favorite BBQ in Kansas City.

Here I am with my husband, Scott, enjoying our Mississippi River Boat cruise.

IMG_4197The view while hiking during a stop at the Loess Hills.


I met up with my friend, Kathleen, (pictured below) to celebrate our 49th birthdays this July (yes, 49 and holding)! And, I look forward to visiting my friend, Shelley, in the coming month.


Also, as I get closer to age 50, I realized my middle-aged waistline was expanding (with every food sample I eat while recipe testing). So, I decided to join a fitness center. Over the past year, I’ve gone from being winded walking up a hill, to running my first 5K race.

13315425_893975224062986_7508023348387967970_nNever in a million years did I think I would become a runner. But, thanks to my trainer, David Woiwood, I am proud to say it is actually true. If you live in the Des Moines area, I highly recommend David. I am not getting paid to endorse him, I’ve just had a really good experience learning from him. He is a trainer at Lifetime Fitness.


As I’ve told David, he challenges me and is tough, but he doesn’t make it feel like torture.

Here I am with my friend, Phaedra, and trainer, David, just prior to the Dam to Dam 5K race.

How is your garden this year? 

Our early crops of broccoli and cauliflower were great. Then, June turned hot and those cool weather vegetables suffered. Thankfully, our onions, green peppers, and tomatoes are coming on strong now. Time for some BLT’s and fresh garden salsa!


What are you cooking up in your kitchen? 

It’s sweet corn season here in Iowa, so I put some in the freezer this past week. It makes quite a mess in the kitchen, but I am always thankful to enjoy a taste of summer when the snow is flying this winter.

And, I also am preparing to do a cooking demonstration with my Aunt Cheryl at our family reunion this weekend. We were asked to show the process for making Norwegian lefse. My Aunt is the real expert (and my Grandma Kalsem), so we’re going to do our best to show the steps and keep the tradition alive.

Here I am with my Aunt Cheryl showing the lefse we’ve made for the reunion. It will be fun to share samples with those in attendance.


I look forward to keeping in touch with you in the coming months. Having a break was great, but I am also excited to be back in the swing of things again!

How is your summer going?