July Lunch Date

July Lunch Date | pinchofyum.com

Sometimes I feel more connected to the blog, and sometimes less connected, and this week is one of those times where I feel less connected just because of the rhythms – ahem, summer pace – of life. House projects, workshops, fake-out Sage emergencies, summer living, prioritizing ice cream runs and sunset walks over long work days… I know, right? You’ve got it going on, too.

It’s that mellow summer beat that is both slow and crazy, and it’s great.

This is exactly why I thought a little lunch date might do us nicely. A touch point. A summer catch-up. A slower pace of things in all of our lives. Also, I never turn down the opportunity to (virtually) talk and (real life) eat and (definitely real life) sip a little summer rosé all at the same time.

Speaking of rosé…. Frosé? are you guys all over that? Um, hello. This is exactly why we need to check in.


July Lunch Date | pinchofyum.com

Besides the blog, the other love in my life during these last few weeks in July has been workshops. She’s been competing for my time and energy, and I have absolutely given in. I love workshops, and I love love LOVE all the wonderful people who come to them from all over the United States. Even Canada sometimes. I honestly believe that the people who come to Pinch of Yum workshops are some of the nicest human beings on planet earth. The amount of positivity we get to see during workshops is overwhelming in the best possible way.

That’s not to say that workshops don’t have their moments – namely, when wifi goes down 30 minutes before the workshop and I call Bjork in a panic (code for GROUCH MODE), or when we make the muffin batter in advance only to find that in fact THEY TASTE LIKE MUSH when the batter rests overnight and so we must borrow eggs from a neighbor in order to remake them in a frenzy, or when I realize I’ve been teaching for 45 minutes with my “cool new choker” turned completely backwards and the tail hanging down in front – but that is small potatoes. Normalcy in my life. Psh. No big deal. Look at me, cool as a cucumber.

(Fact: I have never in my life been described as “cool as a cucumber.” What does it feel like to have that much chill? I will never know.)

July Lunch Date | pinchofyum.com

So all that to say – workshops have been bomb.com. I am so grateful that this is a part of my job.

We will be launching fall workshops soon, so if you have a blog / want to have a blog / want to hang out and eat good food and take fun pictures, you should sign up to get notified when those open up.

House Projects

July Lunch Date | pinchofyum.com

Annnnd our house is still a disaster. I would say it’s turned into more of a moderately cute disaster, but still.

We’re past the phase of plastic hanging up all over the place and dust in every crevice that you never even knew existed, but we’re now onto the phase that I call GLAMPING INDOORS.

Because we’re still waiting on a back-ordered bed frame, we have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the last few months, and we have various odds and ends of furniture laying around in every single room of the house. Somehow what should have been contained to the upstairs has exploded into the rest of our home and now every time I look around I see a minimum of five boxes and 500 hours of work. Because that’s how long it takes me to make decisions about where things should go and how to put a room together: 500 Literal Hours.

A dog laying on a bed.

Thankfully we have friends like Bruno and Alicia (Curbly) and they are helping us put together a space that feels cohesive and cute and clean and not completely overwhelming from a decision-making perspective. We’re going shopping tomorrow together – all of us – four adults in the middle of the day on a Tuesday (WHY NOT) – because art is tiny bit scary for me. Hold my hand, please.


Feet outside of shoes on a carpet.

Two things that are noteworthy on the health front.

  1. At a recent eye doctor appointment – just a regularly scheduled checkup – it was determined that something is not right with the oil glands (apparently these are important?) in my eyes. Um, sorry, WHAT? I’m 31, as in still basically a teenager. My eyes are struggling, but in an invisible, unbeknownst-to-me kinda way. So that has been a thing. Lots of appointments, lots of pamphlets, lots of googling. Not awesome, other than the warm eye mask I get to wear at night, doctor’s orders. And yes, this is becoming one of those letters you get from your grandma with a list of every health ailment suffered over the last two years and all the accompanying details such as wearing warm eye masks at night. Goodbye.
  2. In the better, anti-aging department, I AM RUNNING A 10 MILE RACE! In October! There was a decent stretch of time after Afton died that I thought I might never run again because the sadness and exhaustion was buried so deep in my bones. I mean that literally; I physically ached all over. But my friend and I have decided to do this 10-mile race together and I’m feeling excited and proud that my I have enough fight left in me to make it happen. I might have elderly eyes, but I’m still kicking, guys. Still kicking.

Summer Living

Two vanilla ice creams in a cone

Bjork and I decided to put together a summer bucket list, and we have checked off exactly one of eight items on the list so far: Outdoor concert. Amos Lee. At the ZOO. It was awesome.

Still on the list:

  • Grilling out with friends
  • 1-day staycation
  • Brewery tour
  • St. Paul Saints game
  • Cheesecake soft serve from the ice cream place by our house (REPEAT: CHEESECAKE SOFT SERVE)
  • Weekend road trip
  • Minnesota State Fair

July Lunch Date | pinchofyum.com

Also on the list, honorary mention, is going to the cabin with my family. It’s something we do every summer (see here, and here, and way way way back here) and it’s the one time during the summer where I feel fully immersed in all the good Midwestern summer vibes: lakes, boating, mornings on the dock, mosquitos, binge-style book reading, campfires, games, and every possible variation of a s’more that you could ever imagine.

If I could transfer my entire personhood into a season of the year, it would be summer in the Midwest. The cabin is my zone.

And we are headed to the cabin soon! Which means the blog will be quiet for a while. I’ve realized that it’s not really a true vacation for me if I just have to work 10x harder to get everything scheduled in advance while we’re gone, so… can we just embrace the real-time type of blogging? It makes me all the more excited to get back to recipes and blog comments and posting after I spend a week off the grid.

But How Are You Really Doing?

July Lunch Date | pinchofyum.com

That’s what a lot of people ask me. And they mean because of Afton. Because he died, and because I am still living, and because that combo is the worst.

I’m doing okay – I think that’s the most honest answer. Not really good, not really bad, just okay.

Some days I’m really sad. We went to a concert last night, and I spent a decent amount of time in the car on the way there just fighting back tears. For no reason. Well, other than THE ONE REALLY BIG REASON. But there was no sentimental, emotional connection or a clear reason why that particular night and that particular drive would have been sad. I mean, maybe because we drove by the hospital? Maybe because the music was feeling extra soulful? And maybe because grief has no rules. It just finds you wherever and whenever and takes over for a minute, or a day, or a week.

If I average out all the days, all the good and bad and up and down and all that other stuff, I would say I’m doing okay, and I’d define “okay” as surviving. Living. Finding good things in my life and loving those things, but never being “okay” with what happened.

I know acceptance is supposed to be the final stage of grief processing, and I can acknowledge the reality that it happened. My son died. I acknowledge that.

But acceptance? I don’t know. I really don’t think I’ll ever accept that I held my baby as he died in my arms. How can you?

When you see Bjork and I on the internet, doing our things, looking and sounding happy, it’s because we are happy. We really are. But we’re also deeply sad. We will never not be sad about this. We’re always going to be two things, forever.

July Lunch Date | pinchofyum.com

So I guess as far as acceptance goes, that’s what I’m coming to accept – the duality of life moving forward.

I have found that doing things to honor Afton – and honor myself and my needs – have been really powerful in this season of my life. Examples: taking an actual vacation when we go to the cabin with my family. going to grief group and counseling. writing about Afton. walking or running or swimming or yoga every day (except I’ve only done yoga once – can that still count?). treating myself to ice cream cones.


This is a totally anti-climactic way to tell you this, but it’s late and my overshare filters are gone so here’s your reward for reading this far: I’m also going to start a podcast. Or, I’d like to. I’m working on it. It’s in process. It’s my new side project.

WHAT! What is going on. I don’t know, it’s not like it’s a big announcement or anything – this is just me casually dropping it on our lunch date, like I would if you were sitting across from me with that glass of rosé.

TBD on all the details of the podcast – I mean, I have them, but they’re pretty messy in my head and I’m still getting sorted. So for now I’m just mentioning it, lunch-date style, in telling you that yes, I’m doing okay, and in my grief, I’m slowing down on some normal things and picking up other new things that are more and more meaningful to me.  More to come on that.

Dog sitting in a wooden fence.

So… what are you guys up to this summer? Anyone vacationing? Anyone reading anything binge-worthy? Anyone making awesome recipes that they want to tell me about so I can copy you when I cook for my family at the cabin?

Thanks for checking in. I love lunch dates and I love having the actual nicest blog readers in the world.


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