Wednesday, December 31, 2008

another new beginning

As 2008 leaves us and 2009 offers 12 fresh months it is time for me to reflect on the past year.

Last new years eve I was celebrating one month of living without roommates and of clearing my life of un-needed baggage (in the form of so-called friends). It had been an awful couple of months but 2008 came to offer a fresh start.

Now, I am celebrating one year living alone and thriving happily this past year.

January and February passed quietly. In March I adopted Geoffrey who has since become the love of my life and the closest thing to a son I will probably have.

In April came my 23rd birthday which was celebrated quietly at work at the bed and breakfast. Shortly after that we hired Sidney at the BandB. She quickly became (and still is) an amazing friend and neighbor.

May was the month to look for a new job. I had been at the BandB for a year and needed to go somewhere to grow in my profession.

Around this same time my grandma fell and broke her hip. I returned home to see her for what would turn out to be the last time. This was the hardest weekend of my life. To say goodbye to my grandma - my best friend on Mothers Day.

In June I started my job at the signature room. I hated it for a couple weeks. But, things started to get better and I started a great relationship with a special guy I met there.

Late in June my grandma died. I was devastated, but prepared for the loss. It was decided the funeral would be held on Labor Day weekend - a weekend we always spent with family.

July was my month of mourning. I was having a hard time dealing with my grandmas death and every little thing made me cry. I spent 4th of July with 2 of my favorite people in the world. Andrew and Karla.

July was also when Lauren came to work at Signature. She has become a great friend and co-worker. And we have a hilarious story involving our first time hanging out...but I won't bust her out in public!

August I returned home once again. This time for my grandmas memorial. It was good to see my family. To reconnect with friends from high school and to hang out with my cousins that I don't see nearly enough. The weekend was emotionally draining and certainly not a vacation.

September brought the return of school. I was not ready to go back. I felt too old to be in school. To emotionally wrecked from the summer and in need of a vacation.

But, I reluctantly went back.,school,school,work. That's about it. The 29th would have been grandmas 87th birthday. A hard day for me.

Fall also brought the news that the chemical company Monsanto is trying to ruin my dads livelihood and steal all his money and hardwork.

Seeing my parents stressed is scary. They are usually two of the most happy go lucky people I know. I feel helpless here in chicago.

November...still lots of school and work. Free time spent with the guy I was beginning to fall for. November also brings what used to be my favorite holiday - thanksgiving- but lately I've been spending it at work with my kitchen "family." Its cool to get paid double time but no money in the world beats hanging out with my family.

Which brings us to this month. December. My quarter at school ends and christmas approaches quickly. My parents come to my house this holiday and a new tradition begins. It was so much fun to have them here. I love my parents so so much. My mom had her 4_th birthday (I'll leave that other number blank for her) the day after christmas and we ate drank played board games and were merry.

And now its time for the new year. Wow. Only a few short paragraphs summed up my year. I'm boring.

My year of great loss - grandma

My year of great gain-
Friends like sid, lauren & cardel

My year of realizing what really matters-
Great family, great friends, great memories, love, laughter, and living like everyday is my last.

I feel I have come so far in the last year. I find myself worrying less, letting go more, and just generally going with the flow.

I refuse to get caught up in the pettyness of everyday arguments. Life is too precious for that. And I don't want wrinkles and grey hair.

What I cannot control is in the hands of God and He is much better equip to handle sitautions that I am so I let Him have them.

Let me tell ya. Life is good this way. I used to be such a control freak but now that I've let go it feels amazing.

I smile more, stress less, and feel like a million bucks every morning when I wake up. (Ok sometimes I only feel like a hundred grand but still, I feel good)

I love my life. I love everyone in it. Even if you're only in it a little bit I still love you.

Even if you're confusing and challenging and make me want to poke you with a stick, I still love you.

Because you teach me, and you push me, and you make me a better me.

Goodbye 2008

Bring it on 2009

Saturday, December 20, 2008

what the world needs now...

Is love sweet love

Yeah, that and grocery stores made specifically for chefs.

Going to the grocery store with the general public makes me kookoo. Going to the grocery store with the general public when they are shopping for holiday meals drove me almost to the point of being the next face on america's most wanted.

I was at the store to purchase ingredients to make 3 types of biscotti. Pretty straightforward. I needed 2 kinds of dried fruit,3 kinds of nuts, almond and orange oils,and parchment paper. I also planned on picking up some extra flour, sugar, and eggs since I am doing more baking than usual right now.

Annoying person number 1)While I'm getting flour I can't help but notice a woman my age looking at boxed cookie mixes. She seems quite upset that she may have to add eggs or oil or basically any other item to the mix in order for it to become cookies. She finally decided to "screw it, let's get the break and bake kind"

Tears form in my eyes as I realize how truly lazy americans really are.

Then a smile emerges when I realize this means job security for me.

Annoying person 2) this lady really irritated me because she actually spoke to me. After inspecting my cart and deciding I "look like a baker" she asks if evaporated milk and condensed milk are the same thing. I explain that no they are incredibly different. She wants to know if she can subsitute condensed for evaporated because it seems this grocery store doesn't have it. I reach up, turn the can of condensed milk facing the proper direction and tell her the store has plenty the can was just turned around.

It doesn't end there...she then asks me if condensed milk comes FAT FREE or lower in sugar... I remind her that it is called "sweetened" condensed milk for a reason and reassure her that one can won't kill her.

She then asks if I can tell she's never baked before in her life.

No, really? I thought she was the pastry instructor at my culinary school...

Just another soccer mom keeping my job secure.

Annoying person 3) maybe this isn't entirely deserved but he still irritated me. I needed dried cherries for my biscotti and couldn't find any. When I asked a worker he proudly handed me dried cranberries with artificial cherry flavoring. Seriously?!?!

I settle for dried blueberries

Then, I need unsalted pistachios. No pistachios salted or unsalted in the nut aisle. Worker suggests I look in the produce section. Bingo-pistachios right next to the pineapples...all of them pre-salted.

I'll deal.

Now I need parchment paper. "Oh we've been out of that for weeks but we do have freezer paper" great plastic coated freezer paper in my oven. Perfect.

Had to go to Target...

So the moral of this story is: I hate grocery shopping with regular people. I hate wandering the grocery store for hours looking for 10 items. Things should be logical! I shouldn't have to look by the oatmeal and maple syrup for corn syrup.when is the last time someone put corn syrup on their damn pancakes???

As a worker in the food service industry I should have a grocery store for only me and my collegues. Well...not all my collegues cuz some of them are stupid too, but you get the idea.

And to my "regular" friends out there please please don't be those obnoxious people making other cooks lives hell at the grocery.


Thursday, July 17, 2008


The act of discovering something fortunate while one is looking for something entirely different.

A fortunate accident.

My entire life has been serendipitous. Call it fate, call it God's will, call it destiny. I call it serendipity because it sounds cool.

My entire life I've been searching for something - for success, for happiness, for a life with meaning. Searching for who I really am. I did this by trying to do the "right" thing. I went to college, I studied hard, I decided I wanted to help people.

I wasn't looking to be a chef or to go to culinary school. I wasn't searching for the life I have right now. But I found it - or it found me. Through a series of fortunate accidents, coincidences, and "right place @ the right time" moments I am here now. I found what I was never looking for. Thank God.

i am serendipity

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I love being a mom

Since I'm pretty much the only person I know who doesn't have a child to brag about via blog world I decided I would post up pictures of my cat baby and brag about how darn cute he is.

Yeah I'm turning into a creepy cat lady and ya know what folks.... I don't really care all that much :)

Anyway this is my kitty cat, Geoffrey

Well, thats his name unless I'm talking to my old roommmate and then his name is Andrew Scoggan haha.

Yes, okay I know usually people don't dress up their cats... but its just so hilarious to see a cat in a t-shirt!

Or sometimes a lei...

welp thats all for now.

wow what a lame post

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Painter Song - Norah Jones

If I were a painter
I would paint my reverie
If that's the only way
For you to be with me

We'd be together
Just like we used to be
Underneath the swirling skies
For all to see

And I'm dreaming of a place
Where I could see your face
And I think my brush
Could take me there

But only....

If I were a painter
And could paint a memory
I'd climb inside the swirling skies
To be with you
I'd climb inside the skies
Just to be with you.

I am seeking closure somewhere in all this and am unsure where I will find it. God brings me comfort...nothing brings closure. Grandma loved Norah Jones....she's been playing on repeat constantly at my house. My mom's house too.

I feel so guilty. I'm not at home with my family. But I know grandma wants me here and I know she doesn't want me to cry but I'm just so sad.

I am lucky that at 23 I've never lost anyone close to me until now. But I'm also now an adult with no idea how to deal with death. I just wish I had been there with my mom and her at the hospital. I wish I weren't sitting alone in chicago trying to figure this all out.

I'm just so sad.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I lost my best friend today.

And the world lost and amazing woman.

God gained my grandma in heaven.

Leah Halene Boudreau

I'm gonna miss her so much but at least my heart was ready.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

w o w

How did I get here?? No seriously how did this happen? This moment in life seems unreal. Last summer at this time I was working at a summer camp, going to UIC about to enter my last semester - all while pondering if a bachelors degree in psychology would really make me happy.

Impulsively I decided it wouldn't.

I didn't register for classes, I didn't go back to uic, I decided to live my dream.

I started culinary school....

Now, less than a year later I've just landed a job in one of the most well known restaurants in chicago.

The Signature Room @ The 95th

Tomorrow is my first day and it absolutely feels like a dream. I never thought I'd really be here. Every time college used to get hard and stressful I'd say I was gonna drop out and open a restaurant. Well I dropped out alright...and no I don't own Signature Room but they own me so its close enough.

I've been trying to be calm about this. To keep telling myself its not that big of a deal. But its a Chicago icon and now I'm a part of it. Surreal.

I'm finally happy.

Today my mom told me she's proud of me.

That's the best part.

So, that's my news and I just want to say thanks to all my friends and family who've been so encouraging of my dream this last year. You all are my inspirations and the reasons I love cooking in the first place.

You all brought me here.

the good life

Can I just say I love naps? I took one today and it was lovely.

And I had chocolate soy milk - yummy

Ohh and I can't stop listening to shawn him. Soo chill. And his testimony is amazing. Wow.

Today was definitely a low blood pressure day. Yay.

Back to reality soon I'm sure. But for now I'm gonna sit here smiling over shawn and my choco milk before bed :-)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Road Ahead

I stress over evvverything. Seriously, I'm my own worst critic, especially when it comes to my art - food. I was up til 1am stressing over menus last night and got up at 430am to stress some more. I know every single flaw in the food I made today. Ugh.

I guess its a good thing in some ways. I definitely have no ego....a lot of chefs do....not cool.

But it leaves me exhausted....all that criticism swirling in my head. Hopefully it will just make me the best chef I can be.

Tomorrow is probably my last day as the breakfast chef @ a B&B I've been working at for about a year. Cool place, no pressure, tourists who base their "best breakfast experience" on the last time they were at Denny's...its fun. I get to use my creativity and play around with recipes and make up specials. But, I've outgrown it I guess. Gotta keep moving up and moving on and improving my skills.

I'll miss it.....sometimes......ok well I'll miss some parts/people a lot. Other parts I'm sooo relieved to be done with.

Maybe they'll let me come back as a "guest chef" occasionally?

I guess I should go have a sage ceremony....I'm about to embark on a big new journey.

Wish me luck

And success would me nice too :-)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Let's go fly a kite

Every year when I was a little girl my grandma would buy me a kite. We'd make a thermos of hot chocolate dig up a box of girl scout cookies and walk to the cemetery and fly it. My mom recalls that many times when she'd come to pick me up she'd find the house closed up and grandma's car in the garage. After a minute she'd look down the street and spy my little kite flapping in the breeze.

Thinking back, its one of my fondest memories. A brightly colored kite against a dreary march sky, flying over the headstones of an old catholic cemetery. Hot chocolate and lemon cookies.

Maybe its not your average childhood memory, but its mine.

And for the record lemon is still my favorite flavor for dessert.

So now at 23 I find myself in this strange place between life and death. My grandma is almost 87. She's not the grandma who drove her car down country roads unfit for old ladies and little girls just to show me where she grew up, or the grandma who spanked me in the bathroom of a fastfood place because I flicked ketchup all over her. Now, she's the just shell of my grandma. When I look at the frail lady in the hospital bed I feel like she's already lost her life. The spry legs that took me on wild outings can no longer walk. The beautiful voice that taught me everything I need to know about life is almost silent now. The nimble hands that crotched me blankets and taught me to cook lay still in her lap.

Sure, she's still my grandma. She still makes me smile and she still loves me unconditionally, she still knows me better than I know myself. But she's not Leah anymore. Old age has taken away so much of what made her, her. And it kills me. There's nothing I wouldn't do to bring her back to "life" to bring back her happiness.

I went to see her about a month ago when the doctor said it was "time" I wasn't ready, I never prepared myself to be without my grandma. When I should have been comforting her, she was comforting me.

I felt like I was fighting to hold onto a kite that just wanted to be taken away by the breeze.

She held my hand and said you have to let me go.

I get it now, she's lived her life. I can't be selfish. Sometimes its better to let the kite go and pick up the pieces than to fight the wind.

Grandma didn't pass while I was home. Knowing her she might not pass for another 10 years. But my heart is ready now. It will happen when its time.

Grandma wants to be creamated. Because "why would I want all you people standing around staring at me like that?"

I hope to fly a kite at her memorial service.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Anyone who knows me knows I love to read. (Yeah, I'm a nerd) but seriously I will read anything you give me. So recently while perusing at Borders I picked up a book called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life"

This book follows a family who leaves Tucson, AZ to live on a farm in Appalachia - abandoning the industrial food world and vowing to buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or just go without it.

I figured if nothing else the book would be humorous....a regular family decides to become farmers. But as I read it became more than just a funny memoir. This book reinforced everything I feel about food, made me loathe the idea of stepping foot in Jewel (or Whole Foods for that matter), and once again made me realize my role as a chef has to be different than the norm.

I've always known I had a passion for food. I never realized how much until I went to culinary school and now even more since I read this book. Sure people say that their lives are changed by reading "Purpose Driven Life" or "A New Earth" or whatever self help book Oprah is touting this week. But here I sit, blogging via Blackberry to say that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle moved me, touched me, pushed me in more ways than I can tell you. Yes, a book about FOOD brought about more emotion in me than one of those infomercials about poor guatemalan kids at midnight. I laughed and cried and got angry all about the food culture of Americans.

One particularly moving part of the book brought about many memories from my childhood - moments that I credit with giving me my passion for food. The author says "Food turns events into celebrations. Its not just about the food, but the experience of creating and then consuming it."

Wow. Food does all that?


Honestly, I know a lot of people don't get it but there is nothing more satisfying than watching something go from invisible seed in the dirt to a delicious meal on your plate.

So, this summer (and every season) I encourage every one of you to REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT....go buy some local produce not some crap that was picked last week and then driven 2000 miles cross country in a truck running on $5 a gallon diesel. You'll save money buying direct from the grower and you'll save the planet. AND you'll be helping contribute to the livlihood of a LOCAL farmer.

And please please please do yourself a favor and read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Learn about where your food comes from!!! If you have kids, talk to them about where their food comes from. Do your part to become a member of a healthy food culture. For yourself and for future generations.

If you live in Chicago there are farmers markets in almost every neighborhood on almost everyday of the week. And if you don't I gurantee there's one near you! If you aren't sure where to start visit: or or (community supported agriculture)

So that's my food rant. Believe me, it matters more than you think. Go read more and visit for information and yummy recipes!

Peace & Love