Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's here, it's here!

My new site is finally up and live! My blog, recipes and other random pieces of information are all present and accounted for...I hope.

Please visit me over at Lena M. Hanson for more!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Getting back to my basics...

With everything else going on right now, the one thing I've been able to take advantage of is the opportunity to be able to really think about where I came from, family that raised me, where I've been so far, the friends I've made, along with some of the places I still want to go and people I still want to meet.

When I think about how I grew up, one of the things I keep going back to is food. The growing of it, supplying it, cooking with it, discussing it, sharing it, and simply enjoying it. Growing up on a farm outside of Chicago, the one thing that always brought our family together was food:

  • Daily lunches with my dad and grandpa, listening to Paul Harvey and the commodity commentary while eating whatever my 5-year old hands could make - those were the days of a lot of macaroni & cheese and canned green beans
  • The treat of fresh asparagus picked from our ditches the same day
  • Those 3 - 4 sweet weeks each summer that I was able to spend picking and gorging myself on the most delicious black raspberries that grew wild all over our barnyard
  • Getting in the crop of sweet corn that my grandpa planted each year just for me to sell to earn my spending money for the Sandwich Fair
  • Joining my grandpa and dad on the trips to butcher/meat locker in Earlville to take in that season's pork bellies, the product of which either stocked our deep freeze or was traded for a side of beef from the neighbor down the road
  • That unbelievable smell of dried corn cobs on the grill - to this day, I've never found a better burger than those grilled up over those cobs
  • Climbing up into the fort my grandpa built in our main apple tree, or hiding out under our giant weeping mulberry bush, to read and daydream
  • Sitting with my great-grandmother for our daily afternoon coffee and cookies
  • Waiting in anticipation to see what treats my great-uncle would bring out from the city for our holiday dinners - the biggest shrimp I'd ever seen and fresh shark steaks were my favorites
  • The jars of homemade black raspberry jam my grandpa hid under the Christmas tree every year from the time Smuckers started the "seedless only" crap (that's another soapbox, please stay tuned) up until the year he passed away

I could go on forever listing memories that somehow connect my family and food. So I am starting to understand why, when everything else around seems to be up in the air, I always go back to food for comfort and to help put some pieces in place. 

As I read through the list above, there are other key themes that stick out: family farms, locally grown, seasonal/fresh produce, self-supporting community and education. All of which help to explain why new recipes and food finds are a part of every phone call with my dad, going to the farmer's market always makes me giddy, the idea of a community food swap inspires me, and supporting local farmers and business simply makes sense. 

Because it's how I was raised and an inherent part of who I am today. 

So going forward, please don't be surprised by the amount of recipes and cooking stories, drooling over restaurants and menus, and other random food-related excitement that I will be sharing. It's just how us "Chicago[land] Fat Kids" roll and it's about time I owned it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I took off for what was supposed to just be a standard weekend in New York (well, Jersey City to be exact) for a housewarming for two of my girlfriends. Over two weeks later, I finally arrived home. Or at least, back to Boston.

Up until this trip, I hadn't really considered going back to NYC. I've only been in Boston a little over a year, and things have mostly been good. I haven't really had any reason or motivation to even consider leaving.

While I was down there, the Groupon gods smiled upon me and offered up a 50% discount to the BlogWorld & New Media Expo the following week. So with my friends' blessing to reserve their couch, I bought a 1-day pass in order to get to the only two sessions that happened to be touching on the use of social media in financial services, which is kind of my white whale. The pass also included entry to all Keynote sessions, BWENY parties and the exhibit hall. I was in heaven.

The people I crossed paths with and the lessons I learned - and am still processing - were priceless. The extra time in the city also allowed me to do something I haven't let myself do in years. I let myself get absorbed back into the city itself. I walked around aimlessly, visited some of my favorite shops and restaurants, walked past my old apartment and just let myself remember the way it felt when I was there in the beginning.

And thus opened Pandora's box. By the end of every other trip I've made back, I'm usually chomping at the bit to get back to Boston. But not this time. Each day I spent down there just made me feel a little bit more unsure and lost. Maybe that's because of everything else going on in my change, grad school, family. But what I'm starting to realize is that for the first time in years, I'm not on an "full speed ahead" track. I'm stuck in the slow lane and being forced to take in everything that's around me. I can't afford to work with blinders on right now and not knowing what is coming down the road is scarier than anything else right now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Back on Board?

Or at least back to #Fitblog? I think it's been at least 6 months (yikes, maybe even a year) since my last attendance.

Over the past year, I haven't posted a thing here. Not one meaningful post. Not here. However, that doesn't mean I haven't had thoughts and ideas and opinions - please, I have more than enough of those to go around. Just ask anyone who's spent more than five minutes with me.

So considering all of the projects and "to-dos" I have flying around in my head, calendar, my Evernote and iProcrastinate apps, and any one of the 7 notebooks I have laying around my desk, kitchen table, living room coffee table, etc. (getting an idea of my insanity yet?) - I figured what better way to give myself a jolt than sharing my Tuesday night with the other Fitbloggers out there.

And, oh, were they out there. Rumor has it there were almost 180 in attendance last night. Almost 180 individual sources of inspiration, ideas and motivation. If that didn't jump start SOMETHING, I'm a lost cause.

Last night's discussion was titled "Insane Satisfaction or Simply Insane?"and centered on some of the underlying nuts and bolts of blogging, including how we manage (or in my case recently - not manage) the time commitment and the ups and downs. What better topic set for my first night back?!

With all of the other projects and commitments I have going on, where does my blog fit in? And then, what fits into my blog?

I can't possibly be the same person I was a year ago. I'm in a whole new city, with more opportunities ahead of me than I can keep track of and that recurring feeling like I have a reserved seat on the corner of "I'm in SO over my head" and "WAIT! I think I get it!".

Maybe if I just keep making lists and checking things off said list, somehow I'll figure it all out?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Really? It's been that long?

I know I'm overdue for an update. The last year or so has been a bit hectic from the move to Boston (yeah - I got and took that job) to leaving said job to pursue my dream career and juggling everything in between.

There's been laughs and tears, bumps and bruises (literally), 3 laptops, 4 iPhones and a lot of other fun along the way. So in an effort to continue to look and move forward, I am in the midst of revamping this blog and will be incorporating it into a brand new site.

I'm a big girl now, it's time to act like it.