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Come to Your Senses

I’ve been learning more about the ways our senses can reduce anxiety and increase gratitude by grounding us in the present moment. I’ve realized it is a huge reason why cooking and eating feel therapeutic and calming to me, and I want to share this with you through Kenny’s Kitchen. I seek to encourage a full body and soulful experience to awaken your senses and bring yourself more fully into the here and now because it is all we truly have, and it is far too easy and common to let the present slip by unnoticed. 

As it gets safer to gather and we get to be together again, I hope we can all bring lessons from the pandemic forward with us and truly appreciate the time we get to spend with our extended family and friends. This has always been the goal of Kenny’s Kitchen, and for me, the isolation from my loved ones further illuminated my mission. 

👀 When you see our logo in your kitchen, I hope it is a visual reminder of the blessing of time together. I hope it makes you think of Kenny with a smile, and then put down your phone to be focused and truly see the people right next to you. 

👃 When you season your food and smell our delicious spice blends and recipes, I hope you’ll pause to appreciate the aroma and let it spark a moment to feel gratitude for the blessings in your life. 

🤲 When you begin to prepare your meals, I hope you’ll find the joy in combining ingredients with your own two hands to create tasty food to nourish yourself and your loved ones. I hope you’ll reflect with gratitude on all of the people who worked and collaborated to get those ingredients into your hands.

😋 When you sit down to eat together, I hope you’ll slowly savor each scrumptious bite, and take the time to experience the flavors as they engage your palate, nourish your body and fill your need for food.

👂 When your conversation begins, I hope you’ll let go of the past and present to tune into your companions’ voices and stories and give them your undivided attention. I believe it is the greatest gift we can give each other. I also hope you’ll open up and share what is on your heart and mind. Make your table a safe and sacred space to communicate and connect. I encourage you to say a prayer to God in appreciation of His blessings of your people, food and time. This is the prayer I most often recite around our table: “God bless the food before us, the family beside us, the love between us, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.” 

These are mealtime habits we can practice to become more aware and fully enjoy our time together. When we end up rushing through a meal unaware on autopilot, (because we definitely will!) we can just try again tomorrow. We can root our families and relationships in this mindful practice, and it will keep us connected and build the support system we all need to weather life’s pits, celebrate life’s peaks, and share all that comes in between.

I hope you give us a chance to add meaning to your meals in these ways in honor of Kenny. I miss these everyday moments with him most of all and that’s why I hope to inspire you to make the most of your precious time together. 💜🌈

Memories of Our Mom on Her Birthday

Our momma, Jane Ellen, made her earthly arrival 70 years ago today.
As a child, I kept her license tucked away in my drawer, my official proof that she did indeed once exist here when my young bereaved mind played tricks on me.


I didn’t give myself permission to honor her birthday until after I read Hope Edelman’s book, Motherless Daughters, in my mid-20s. Until then, thoughts of her always orbited the misery of her death. Hope’s work inspired me to widen my scope & begin to celebrate her life.


My Aunt D tells me I inherited her boisterous giggle, the sweetest words I’ve ever heard. My memories are few. I know our mom was hilarious & sweet. She rocked us & sang us You Are My Sunshine in her lovely accent. She was into the La Leche League & nutrition. She fed us sugar-free peanut butter before it was hip & forbade us to chew gum. She was the one to notice my missing chunk of hair & got me to confess I’d secretly cut a wad of Bubble Yum out of it. I remember dancing along to records on her feet & always think of her when Fleetwood Mac plays.


I’ll forever wish she was still here & remember with longing & gratitude the life she got to live in her 31 short years. We carry her with us, always. What we had & what we lost.

Good Food for Good Sweet & Sour Meatballs

{What You Need}

for meatballs:

1 lb. ground pork

1/4 cup almond flour

1 tsp Chill -n- Grill

avocado oil

for sweet & sour sauce:

1/2 cup Good Food For Good Ketchup

1/2 can of pineapple in juice, chopped

1 T rice vinegar

1/4 tsp ground ginger

chopped chives to top (optional)

{What You Do}

Combine almond flour and Chill -n- Grill in a bowl, add ground pork & mix together.

Scoop & roll into even meatballs.

Heat avocado oil in a skillet and add the meatballs. Cook until starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Flip to cook on the other side.

Add ketchup, pineapple, rice vinegar and ground ginger in a bowl. Pour over meatballs & simmer until pork comes to temperature. Top with chives & enjoy every bite!

YES DAY

It’s hard to comprehend we have been staying home for over a year. Our daughter has handled being cooped up like a champ. She’s gotten quite creative and we manage to have all kinds of fun despite the circumstances. We talk about our feelings as they come up and practice working through the difficult emotions. It has been a challenge (understatement of the year!), but I’ve tried to make the most of the extra time we have together. What a bizarre experience to need to constantly say no to the outside world. 

When I listened to Jennifer Garner talk about her new movie, Yes Day, on the That Sounds Fun Podcast, I knew we had to watch it and plan our own (pandemic) Yes Day. 

We loved the movie and she immediately thought of a few fun ideas. At this point, she is accustomed to staying home, so I also helped her brainstorm some ideas that could work outside of our house. We decided to kick off spring break with our Yes Day.

We were super lucky the weather said YES with a beautiful, sunny spring day!

Here is what we were able to accomplish in our 24-hour Yes Fest:

Waffle pancake feast

Computer time

Start reading Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

Noodle battle

Adventure to explore Kent

Toy store

Bookstore

Taco Tonto’s picnic

Throw stones in the river

Teach us the 6 Octopi names

Epic pillow fight

Homemade pizza

Campfire

S’mores

Stargaze

Read Harry by candlelight at the campfire

Flamingo skit

Watch Harry Potter & Prisoner of Azkaban (for the first time!)

Stay up past midnight

I will cherish these memories forever. The day I got to say YES all day during a worldwide pandemic. A day full of laughs and giggles. Even the hangry moment when I waited too long to order our tacos. The day she got to call the shots and bring out the kid in Dan, Josh and me.  

We decided it will be our tradition to begin spring break with a Yes Day. I’m excited to see how it will evolve over the years and the options we will have when the pandemic is over!

Monkey Mind

In Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro’s words ring true. “The meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg speaks of catching the mind scampering off, like the little monkey that it is, into the past, the future, anywhere but here, and suggests that the real skill in meditation is simply noticing that the mind has wandered. So liberating, this idea that we can start over at any time, a thousand times a day if need be. I see many parallels between the practices of meditation and writing but none are more powerful than this. Writing is hard. We resist, we procrastinate, we veer off course. But we have this tool, this ability to begin again.” 

Our minds roll at an astonishing speed and it’s easy to feel so busy and consumed that we never check in on our inner chatter. My meditation practice has taught me how to become the observer of the endless parade of my thoughts.

It’s called a practice for a reason. I think people often misunderstand and assume they cannot meditate. It bums me out to hear people tell themselves they can’t do it. So let me just say, you can if you decide to try. 

I’ve been at it for years and I continue to experience my thoughts trailing off to run buck wild while I practice. The practice involves noticing when you drift off and bringing yourself back to the moment. Over and over and over again. Over time, your ability to catch your monkey mind rambling and bring it back to the present will improve.

Here’s one example from this week of the thoughts I noticed in savasana. As I relaxed into my mat, I thought: Breathe in love. Breathe out love. Breathe in love. Breathe out love. Breathe in love. Breathe out love. I wonder if my friend figured out her foot cramps? I wonder if she knows about LMNT packs? She mentioned her high heels. Carrie Bradshaw’s shoes. The episode when Big is leaving for California and Miranda’s water breaks on her new fancy pair. How do they walk around the city in stilettos? I’d fall on my face for sure! I’ve still never been to NYC. I think I’d get claustrophobic. I loved reading Ani’s stories about New York in her memoir. I can’t imagine living there when the pandemic hit. I wonder how many people left and aren’t coming back. I can’t believe we’ve been isolating for an entire year! How is that possible?! I’m so excited to start seeing everyone again soon!! Wait…what am I doing? Oh yeah, I’m meditating. Breathe in love. Breathe out love. Breath in love. Breathe out love. Oh I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer. What else do I have to cook? Maybe I’ll make Banza pasta. Oooo my marinated onions are ready. I’ll make a big salad . . . Hahaha breathe in love. Breathe out love.