Intro

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This week was the first time I returned to the kitchen since Ivy was born. Today she is one month old. Before you call the authorities let me assure you that I did not let my family starve for the past month. Night after night we have been blessed with food from our dear family and friends.

For the past few weeks we have experienced the true gift of food and I am reminded of and humbled by the power of food and the many sets of gracious hands that prepared the meals for us.

I nursed a tiny baby girl while eating homemade macaroni and cheese laden with smoked Gruyere and topped with sauteed peas and bacon. My body rested and healed while I ate the most incredible Chili – all meat, no beans – with a hefty portion of sage cornbread on the side. While trying to wrap my head around the fact that in a matter of 4 1/2 years we have gone from a family of two to a family of five I ate Beef Bulgogi. And fighting to keep my weary eyes open after many nights of interrupted sleep I ate grilled Flank steak, smashed potatoes and Beet salad.

There was also Chicken pot pie, Roast Beef, Pumpkin Pie, Butternut squash Enchiladas, pizza and many more comforting meals that have been so incredibly satisfying but have drastically stalled the process of returning to my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.

With each bite I tasted and felt love. With each visit from the friends who delivered the meals I thanked God for their presence in our lives. I was humbled by their joy in giving and took mental Polaroids of their adoring faces as they held my sweet Ivy and petted her bountiful head of hair.

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In this season so wrecked with chaos and heightened emotions due to hormones, lack of sleep and the extreme changes that are occurring I have felt, at times, more peace and more love than ever before.

I have you all to thank for this as well.  While my blog remained silent I was still here. I’ve cherished your comments and encouraging words as I sat holding sister baby.

I’ve looked forward to my return to this space as I always have when I’ve let it lay still for awhile. This blog has been a food-based journal chronicling my life from a new mom and business owner to a mother of two trying to juggle business and family only to realize that for me it wasn’t working. And now I’m a mother of three overwhelmed with the changes, the noise but most of all the joy.

What once started as a way to promote my small cake and dessert catering business has now evolved into a community, an integral part of my life and a place I return to again and again to remind myself how far we’ve come and how cute my babies are. :)

With the birth of the blog I was a new mom – excited to have a baby but hesitant to embrace all that was involved with my new role. When number two arrived more than ever I saw how demanding my job as “mom” was. What time I did have to invest in the career I was passionate about was gone. I was resentful and lost. This blog, prayer, wise friends and God helped me through that time and continue to do so as I now adjust to being a mother of three.

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That path now finds me still passionate about food and more in love than ever with my role as mom. It also finds me surrounded by a community that loves us, supports us and feeds us when we are too tired to lift a pot and a spoon.  Thank you to those of you who come and read and a very special thank you to our family and friends who have supported us in various ways during this time of great change and little sleep.

As our recently expanded family tries to settle in to its new place as a family of five I’m comforted by the familiarity of my kitchen. Stepping into that space to create food that nourishes and sustains my family I feel a sense of normal the midst of a chaotic scene.  We all welcome the returning scent of yeast wafting through our home as dough steadily rises.

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Today I’ve returned to the kitchen to make pizza. I don’t bother with recipes instead I use a ratio -Rhulman’s ratio from his book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. (For bread dough 5 cups flour, 3 cups water – I add 2 teaspoons yeast, a touch of honey, salt and a glug of olive oil). I give the dough plenty of time to rise, overnight if I’ve planned ahead, as the flavor and texture that develops during that time is far superior to a dough that is rushed.

To top the pizza I caramelize red onions in butter and balsamic vinegar, brown spicy Italian sausage and saute wild mushrooms until deep golden in color. Mozzarella melts and bubbles in the open spaces while Rosemary from my garden gives a floral and woody scent. Parmesan rains over the top once removed from the oven.

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Dinner was served.

And while it wasn’t a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting – I quickly inhaled several pieces while a little girl cried for her own dinner and the boys chanted a familiar tune of “I don’t like it!” before they’ve seen what is being served – it still felt like a small step towards our new normal and that felt good.

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29 Responses to “A Return”

  1. sweetbittertart

    She is so beautiful! It seems like yesterday my little one was that size and now we are contemplating college. Your post was so warm and lovely – congratulations on your newest family member and your return to the kitchen. That pizza looks delicious!

    Reply
  2. Sis

    What a sweetie. I have 3 kids too, almost grown now (bittersweet…) and I remember the days going back to the kitchen after recuperating a bit from each c-section. It felt…complete. After a week of friend-meals, and then a week of hubby’s cycle of 3 (repeated) – spaghetti, pigs in a blanket, and sloppy joes – it was the last piece in the puzzle of settling in again.

    God bless you and your sweet family. And that pizza looks fantastic! I have my fav crust recipe and will be making note of these toppings to try on it. :)

    Reply
  3. Bekah

    That really was beautifully written. The 3rd baby was like a new beginning to motherhood for me. Such a good one to end on. :)
    I just had to comment to tell you how much I appreciated your mentioning the chorus from the boys. That’s the story of my kitchen life right now, which is difficult as my husband can not be home for dinner when he’s working. It is so encouraging to know that even an amazing cook like you has little boys that won’t eat the food she makes.

    Reply
  4. Dana

    I still owe you dinner! I look forward to being able to hold that sweet bundle when I drop it off. Sounds like things are going well for you and I have to give you a big fat bravo for that! Ivy is just beautiful.

    Reply
  5. molly

    Oh, Ashley, welcome back. Everyone is patient, more than you know. I wish I could send soup, but given the distance, blessings will have to suffice.

    Three is such a magnificent juggle, isn’t it? I have learned more from a third than any other, if only because one can no longer tag team! This is a beautiful and wonderful (and, okay, slightly chaotic!) experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I think you are spot-on in spending your energy, finding a new normal. It will come, and it won’t look precisely like what you expected, and it will be better, even than you could have imagined.

    And dinner will find its way, in due time. Until then, to good friends, generous and kind.

    Reply
  6. Aida

    Congratulations and happy baby moon. It was delightful to read this post as I just had my seventh baby four months ago and just recovering myself after a rocky and difficult start. Xxxxx

    Reply
  7. Amanda@easypeasyorganic.com

    Oh this is so beautiful! It reminds me of when my own little girl was first born, and how I felt, and what life was like. So incredibly precious, and tiring, and all that amazement. And feeling like – hey, I’m breastfeeding so I can eat all the chocolate I want!
    Lovely. Thank you for sharing.
    xx

    Reply
  8. Phoo-d

    Welcome back! Ivy is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I am about to embark on a similar one and it has been so helpful to hear how it went from your perspective. Congratulations!

    Reply
  9. Kamille

    beautifully & honestly written. motherhood..a tumultuous adventure, yet we keep coming back for more. food is such a great gap filler, esp after having a baby, and I’m glad you were on the receiving end. Reading this post makes me think, “two kids just doesn’t seem enough:)”

    Reply
  10. Mary Jo

    Thank you so much for that post. I felt like quite the failure when my desire to have my dessert catering business ended when I realized how encompassing being a mom is and that it was the job I wanted, being a mom. I still love to be in the kitchen but now it is mostly for my family :) Congrats again.

    Reply
  11. Kristen

    Such a sweet, sweet doll baby (or “sister baby”…love that!) Congrats to you and your family. You did have some lovely meals you were blessed with!
    Congrats :)

    Reply
  12. Amanda

    your baby is beautiful! I am right there with you in wonderful baby land! My little boy is now 7 weeks and I’m down right smitten! It’s such an amazing time, enjoy!!

    Reply
  13. mindy t

    First of all Ivy is so beautiful. My baby girl just turned one a couple of weeks ago. You are so incredibly lucky to have such great friends. I was making dinner for my family the day I came home from the hospital after a c-section. The food sounds amazing. I will be making the chili this week. Congrats on your little sweetie.

    Reply
  14. Miss Stovetop

    It might be the preggie hormones, but I keep coming back to this and the Sister Baby post and seeing photos of your baby girl, wondering how mine will look when she arrives next month (or, hopefully sooner!).

    Do you mind me asking what lens you’ve used for these shots? I’m planning to get a few lenses to take shots of the baby with my Canon 1000D, but have no idea what works for which shots. LOL.

    Reply
  15. Miss Mary Mack

    She is the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen. I love her name. It’s so beautiful, and it seems to fit her so well. :)

    Reply
  16. maia beltrame

    Dear Ashley, thank you for your blog. It is very in the same wavelenght with my work and life. I was an interior and food stylist and now I live in the mountains with dogs, cats, horses and goats cultivating my gardens and writing about food and earth product….maybe we will meet each other one day. For the moment you seem quite busy with 3 kids (very tender the photos of your last one) and me quite busy with my animals (my children are 25 and 28 years old)!! But I believe that there is always a way to create something together when one share the same point of view. All the best Maia

    Reply

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