Category Archives: by Malia

The Magic of Potluck

I grew up going to church potlucks where dish after dish after dish were lined up on long tables. The aroma was enticing and the waiting was excruciating. The funny thing about potlucks is that none of those dishes really go together. It’s a mish mash of dozens of different meals plus the obligatory bucket of fried chicken. You wouldn’t necessarily pair those recipes when making dinner for your family. But when you get your plate and make your way down the table, taking a dab of this and a dollop of that so that you can try as many of the dishes as you possibly can, that’s when the magic happens. You sit down with your heaping plate of potluck fare, dig in and find that while each dish has a uniqueness of it own, they all inexplicably go together to create a delicious, comforting and satisfying meal.

On a beautiful spring night, a little over two years ago, a group of women bloggers came together for food and fellowship. We all brought a dish or two to share, your typical potluck meal. And again, the magic happened. The dishes ranged in variety from ethnic to vegan to garden fresh to grandmother’s old recipe. I think the only thing missing was a bucket of fried chicken! As I sat back in my chair and relished in the food and laughter and conversation, it occurred to me that we had our own blogger potluck sitting around that table.

If you were to take the blogs of each of the women there that night and place them on a table, you wouldn’t necessarily think that they “went together”. The flavors and aromas, textures and tastes would not, to the unaware palette, seem appealing. The world would want to put labels on us and tell us that we could not get along because of our differences in political views, religious beliefs  and so forth. On the surface, we should have clashed and been unable to even get along.

But we didn’t, because we know the magic of potluck. We’re a sisterhood of bloggers who are as seemingly different as macaroni & cheese and molded jello salads and PB&J sandwiches cut in halves with the crusts removed and a bucket of fried chicken. You wouldn’t think to put us all together around a table and expect there to be laughter and joy and harmony but it happened.

You know you’re a sister when you can come together in a potluck of acceptance and friendship found in the most unlikeliest of all circumstances. Sisterhood is a delicious, satisfying and comforting meal, shared together.

This is my entry for the ‘I Blog With the Sisterhood’ Type-A Mom Conference contest, hosted by The Sister Project.


Filed under by Malia, I blog they blog wouldn't you like to be a blogger too?, musings

Midpoint Check-In

Back in January, I talked about a choosing a word to be a theme for the year. The word is thrive.

Several weeks ago, I was anxiously awaiting June 1 so that I could write this midpoint check-in post and brag  (basically) about just how thriving this year has been. But June 1st came and to be quite honest, at that point I was having serious doubts regarding the word. If you had asked me June 1st if I was thriving I would have flat out said, “No.”

It’s funny, funny being ironic, how when you do something so bold as to proclaim, “I will thrive!”, Life hands you all sorts of situations and says, “There. Try thriving now.” And for awhile I thought I was. Some would like to interject with the oft used “pride goeth before the fall”. But that would be wrong because, as I’ve found, it’s all about perspective.

More naysayers would proclaim that perspective is  just a way of making excuses for something you can’t deny. In some situations that may be true, but for me, for us (DB and I) it really is all about perspective.

This year has brought about some of the most significant trials we have faced in our married, adulthood. Moving, having babies and buying a house (all things listed in the top ranks of life stressors) had nothing on what we’ve gone through in the last six months. Yet, when I look back over our life together and compare it with our life now it is quite obvious that had this happened at any other time, we may not have survived at all, let alone thrived.

And yes, yes I am (we are) thriving. Why? Because we’re pushing forward, trusting each other, trusting God. We’re not curled up in the fetal position, under the covers, not facing the world. This doesn’t mean I’m never anxious or scared. What it means is that I’m trying  not to let the anxiety and fear consume me. It means I’m taking stock of what is really important in life and knowing that no matter what happens, as long as I have my husband and children, we are just fine.

And we will continue to thrive.


Filed under by Malia, musings

Frozen in Time

Somewhere along the way he forgot to put it back on again. Maybe he was in a hurry one morning and even though the habit seemed so well ingrained, something slipped and it never made it onto his wrist. Maybe it was when he took it off to wash the dog, stuck it in his pocket, then in the dresser drawer as he undressed for his shower. But certainly it was not because of what it reminded him of. That’s why he wore it in the first place, right? To never forget? True, it had stopped working years before. Time, frozen at that exact moment. He had ceased to wear it as a timepiece, instead, it was a memorial. He didn’t need it and yet he did. And now as he held it in his hand, feeling the weight of it in his palm, he couldn’t help but wonder, was it time to let go? A glance at the clock on his bedside table was all the answer he needed.


I wrote this an entry to contest being held by The Novel Doctor. If you’re intrigued, there’s still a few hours left to enter the contest (by tonight, midnight, Mountain time). The instructions are to:

… write a scene in which a wristwatch plays a key role. That’s all I’m gonna give you. The rest is up to you. Write in any genre you want. Be funny or serious, scary or romantic. Whatever. You have up to 200 words to create the most compelling scene possible. I’m not looking for a fully-fleshed-out short story. Just a single scene. Write something that will make your reader (me) hungry for more.

I immediately had about three ideas when I read this. I chose the one that seemed to have the best hook for, possibly, wanting to know more. It’s maybe, now that I’ve written that part, I can form it into a short story. We shall see.


Filed under by Malia, random

The Silly Kid Song That Reduces Me to Tears

pancakesWhy would a song about an inedible pancake make me cry?

It’s always breakfast for dinner Thursday nights at suppertime.
Orange juice, eggs & waffles served at five.
But once there was something I did not recognize.
It was harder than the table so I thought it was my plate.
I hit with a hammer and it didn’t even break.
It slipped upon some syrup and the butter ricocheted.
Then it rolled and it rolled and it rolled and it rolled, a disappointing pancake.

The song then goes on to describe how this inedible, disappointing pancake travels around the world becoming just the right item for people in need. A mitt for a catcher, a spare tire for bicyclist, a knee patch, a coaster, and so on.

The pancake made it’s way around the world, jumping in and helping where it could.

On the surface, it’s just a silly song about a world-traveling pancake. But when you look deeper, and really you should, it’s a song that describes so many of us, describes…me. I often feel like a disappointing pancake. I’m not what was expected. The role I was supposed to play is not the one I’ve found myself in. How do I reconcile this? Can I still be effective, useful, helpful?

The pancake disappointed me at breakfast, yes it’s true.
But there are many other things that this pancake can do.
I’d like to think the pancake is a bit like me and you.
We roll and we roll and we roll and we roll like a disappointing pancake.
We roll and we roll and we roll and we roll….not so disappointing pancake.

That last part always chokes me up. It’s all about perspective. The disappointing pancake found so many ways to redeem itself and so can I.


“The Disappointing Pancake” by Lisa Loeb from her album, Camp Lisa.

Written from the heart, not for personal gain.

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Filed under by Malia, musings

Messiest, Ugliest, Tastiest Cupcakes. Ever.

glamour MaliaDB’s favorite cake is a German Chocolate Cake. Just about every year since we’ve been married, with only a few exceptions, I’ve made him a cake for his birthday. It’s really a very tasty cake. I’m always pleased with the end results but it is kind of a pain to make. There are at least 10 steps in the cake part alone and then you have to make to frosting.

I asked DB a couple weeks ago if he wanted me to make him a cake again this year. I got a non-committal, if you want to kind of response. Then a day or so later, I happened to reading about a new cupcake place in Nashville and the thought occurred to me to make German Chocolate cupcakes for his birthday. So, I Googled it and read at least half dozen or so recipes. Most of them were just slight variations on the cake that I usually make but there was one that really stood out.

fearless-fridaysI wanted to try it but I was a bit afeared of venturing out with a new recipe like that. Then I remembered what Heather has been talking about at Home-Ec 101, being fearless in the kitchen. Determined to do this, I made my shopping list, headed to the store and proceeded to try this recipe. I’m going to skip ahead a bit and say, the cupcakes were amazing! So this post is a cross between Rachel’s Mouthwatering Mondays and Heather’s Fearless Fridays, which is why it’s appearing here on Wednesday!

Read the rest of my cupcake adventure, after the jump!

Continue reading


Filed under by Malia, life as a domestic goddess

Adventures in CSA-ing

glamour MaliaFirst, if you don’t know, CSA (community supported agriculture) is a local food program where you receive a weekly delivery of produce fresh off the farm for about 6 months out of the year. We joined the Long Hungry Creek Farm CSA this year. Long Hungry Creek Farm is in Red Boiling Springs, TN and is run by a guy named Jeff, better known as the Barefoot Farmer. You can buy single shares or family shares. We are sharing a family share with some friends of ours. It works out to be a bit cheaper that way.

The interesting thing about this is that it’s not like going to the grocery store or even the farmer’s market and picking and choosing what you want. You get what has been harvested that week. It comes to you freshly picked and unwashed. You either use it or lose it or possibly give it away. That’s the challenge of being in a CSA. We’ve had two pick-ups so far and already I’ve received quite an education! Also, my learning curve needs to get a bit steeper if we’re really going to make this worthwhile for us!

rhubarbMy first adventure was rhubarb. I knew we’d be getting rhubarb and I was very excited about it. I’ve had rhubarb only one time in my whole life. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by it and even though I knew all kinds of cakes and pies (and we all know how I feel about cakes and pies, right?) are make with it, I’ve just never ventured out to use it myself. Also, I was under the impression that rhubarb is red. So on the first pick-up when there’s these long, green stalks that look like celery, I’m a bit confused but I just go with it. When I go to chop it up for baking, it’s still green. Turns out, rhubarb is only red if it’s been grown in a hot house (thank you Google & Wikipedia!) Who knew? Well, now we both do!

I was able to make two desserts using the rhubarb we received. First, I made a recipe that was provided by the CSA. They send an e-mail newsletter the day before the pick-up telling us what we’ll be getting and it includes some recipes for some items from the week’s harvest. I made the Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert bars andthey were quite yummy. Since there was oatmeal used in the recipe, I deemed them appropriate for breakfast!

The only other time I’ve ever had rhubarb was back when we lived in Virginia. We had visited a coworker of DB’s who lived on some lovely land on the outskirts of town. She had encouraged DB to drop by sometime, so one Saturday afternoon we took advantage of the offer. After we arrived, she pointed out some things on their property (like an orchard!) that we go and look at. As we meandered around and took in the views, she was busy in her kitchen. When we returned to the house, she had baked a rhubarb upside down cake, had made coffee and had set out some really yummy cheeses and crackers. (This woman definitely has the gift of hospitality!) I was leery of the cake but to be polite, I tried it and was very pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was. All that to say, the second thing I made was rhubarb upside down cake*! And it was every bit as yummy as I remembered.

garlicscapeDid you know that garlic grows under the ground and has an edible stalk that can be harvested before harvesting the garlic (it just grows back)? It’s called scape and it’s delicious! It’s especially yummy when you sautee it in olive oil and then add chard or other greens (we got swiss chard on the first pick up and beet greens on the second) to it. There are lots of things you can do with scape. And it keeps nicely in the fridge.

We got a lot of lettuce. I learned, too late for the first week’s batch, that you can put lettuce in water, set it in the fridge and it will perk up again. I lost the lettuce from the first week because I didn’t know this. The lettuce we got this week has been so good! Quite flavorful and colorful. I hope we get it all eaten, we’re not big salad people so it’s been hard to get it all consumed.

I need to be more proactive about giving away things that we won’t eat, like the radishes we got the first week (which we also lost, see what I mean about learning curve?) I’m excited to see what each week’s harvest brings. Trying new foods has been very fun, at least for me. The kids are kind of unphased by it. They tend to be rather picky. They’re supposed to take a least one bite of whatever is on their plate. I made JBelle try the beet greens tonight. She didn’t care for them though it may have actually been the balsamic vinegar that was on them that turned her off!


 This post is my pick for this week’s “I Am Blissfully Domestic“.


Filed under by Malia, life as a domestic goddess

Diane Birch – Bible Belt

Edited: I was having some difficulty with the widget yesterday and didn’t realize this had posted without any content! Oops!

glamour MaliaI have two reasons for posting this.

1. I really, really, really, really, really, like this music. Really. I’m not exactly the most fluent music critic (obviously), I just know what I like. I can’t exactly describe to you what I like about this music and this artist, I just feel it in me. I feel good listening to her music. I get her songs stuck in my head and instead of it being annoying, it’s satisfying. I relate to her lyrics. I enjoy the mixture of styles she employs to create her own unique sound. It’s good music, plain and simple.

2. It’s for a good cause. If you like this music too and are compelled to add it to your collection, would you please consider clicking on that widget up there and buying it through that service? For every album purchased through one of those widgets, $1 will be donated to charity. As you can see, I picked the March of Dimes. You can purchase through either iTunes or Amazon.

To find out more about Diane and her debut album, go here.

Many thanks to good folks at One2One Network for the opportunity to share this with you!

disclaimer: A gratis copy of the album was provided to me. My review of it is from the heart, as is my participation in fundraising efforts.

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Filed under by Malia, link love, random

Koko Taylor – R.I.P.

koko taylorJust about thirteen months ago, I wrote a post about how the children’s show, Arthur, on PBS introduced me to Koko Taylor. I didn’t even realize she was still performing and then I saw her on The Kennedy Center Honors Morgan Freeman in February. She performed, I’m a Woman, and she could still rock the house!  Yesterday, the “Queen of the Blues”, Koko Taylor passed on to that great blues bar in the sky.

She was 80 years old. She’ll be missed. But her legend will live on. Here’s Koko performing my personal favorite, Wang Dang Doodle in 1967.

Now  you can Wang Dang Doodle for eterninty, dear woman.

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Filed under by Malia, musings

The Song in My Soul

glamour MaliaThis morning I’m in a bit of a rage. I’m profoundly disappointed and upset over…something…that suffice it to say has me feeling out of sorts. (Sorry, this just isn’t the time or place to discuss it.) I want scream and yell and stomp my foot and cry, “Foul!” My brain keeps re-hashing the situation, engaging in dialogue that will probably never come to fruition but that my mind, nonetheless, keeps rolling around in. It’s constant  turmoil and has me reacting with much anger and impatience as I go about my day.

But behind it all, there’s a refrain from a song that we sang in church yesterday that’s playing in a constant loop.

I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing.

This is a phenomenon I’ve experienced hundreds, if not thousands of times in my life. In times of trouble and times of temptation, a song, usually one I’ve recently heard or sung, will come into my soul, nudging me towards peace and reconciliation and love. I have no control over which song gets played. It’s like my soul is an iPod Shuffle and the right one always plays next.

I admit sometimes it’s rather annoying. Sometimes it’s a song I don’t even like. Sometimes I actively choose to ignore what the song is saying to me.

But not today. Today, my heart needs to sing, not rage. So I’ll try to listen to it instead of the other stuff.


Filed under by Malia, musings

Adult Swim

glamour MaliaA couple weeks ago I asked, on Facebook, for some writing topic suggestions. That’s how I ended up with the Neglected Conversations post. There was another suggestion that I have been intending to write about, it came from my friend “C” and was phrased like so:

We have celebrated our 15th anniversary and Mother’s Day and {my husband}’s 41st birthday over the last week. How do YOU, Ms. Malia juggle family time and hubby time? As our kids get older I find myself craving more time alone with {my husband}. Finding the time to do so is frustrating.

Dude, I hear ya! So, here I’ve come to save the day! Or…not. But I’ll give it a shot.

When the kids are younger, fatigue is our biggest nemesis. Most nights, once the kids are in bed, all I want to do is veg out. Sometimes vegging out together (i.e. hanging out in the same room on our respective computers) is sufficient, sometimes it’s not.  When it’s not, I have to be proactive and suggest something other than vegging out. And I don’t just mean, you know, relations, though that certainly can be part of it! Cuddling on the couch together to watch a movie or television program or actually having a face to face conversation are good things, too.

Now, that’s all fine and good and not exactly a creative solution to alone time but I just had to throw it out there. There are, of course, date nights. Again, a bit of a no brainer but you can get creative with them.

First you need is a sitter. We are fortunate to have family nearby and we use (and abuse) their free babysitting as often as we can! Yet, there are times when family members are either not available or we’ve abused used them too often in a short period of time to venture begging asking them again. This is when we call in the reinforcements – friends with children similar in age to ours! We have some friends with whom we have taken to swapping sitting responsibilities. This has worked out fabulously for all involved. Our kids like each other and like being together. We parents get the opportunity to get out without having to pay a sitter. With these particular friends, we usually have the kids spend the night. Double bonus! Now, if you have younger children, you’ll want to limit  your sitting swapping to a few hours at a time. But once they get older, can entertain themselves, and don’t require copious amount of personal care (i.e. bathroom duty) spending the night is a wonderful option.

Next you need a plan. Sometimes you truly have a reason to get out of the house but if you can finagle taking your kids to family or friends houses to be watched over, then consider heading back home yourselves. We do this quite often on the nights when our singles ministry at church hosts Parent’s Night Out.  Our favorite thing to do is drop the kiddos off, grab some take-out and head back home for uninterrupted movie watching (and….) If your budget prohibits take-out, consider cooking something that the two of you like to eat but your kids turn their noses up at.

If you’re really itching to get out of the house, find something that you both enjoy. For DB and I, it’s live music. Specifically we both very much enjoy going to the symphony. For the past couple of years, we’ve been season ticket holders for the Pops Symphony series here in Nashville. For a few reasons we did not renew our membership for next season but living in “Music City, U.S.A.” has it’s perks! On any given night you can find live music being played somewhere! And personally, I’m itching to get down to Arrington Vineyards in Triune. They have free wine tastings and live music on the weekends!

There’s one other thing I can suggest, this will not work for everyone but if it can work for you, I really think that you should try it! Of course with it being summertime and kids out of school it may not even be possible but come fall…  I’m talking about “nooners”, “afternoon delight” if you will. If you can finagle taking lunch breaks together, it can be as simple has meeting at Subway to share a sandwich or it can mean meeting at home to….  Ever since DB has been working from home, we’ve taken advantage of that arrangement. Daytime “dates” are great because you’re not as tired as you are in the evenings, the kids are under the care of guidance of their teachers and the limited time period ensures that you don’t waste precious time with other tasks, instead you focus on each other.

Does anyone else have creative ways of finding time to spend with your spouse, especially if you have children in your home?


Filed under by Malia, love & marriage