...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.



Hanging them up after a crusty 15 years?  Not exactly.
It's a new week, nearly summer break, and the vegetable garden is in.  Change and growth are in the air!  Aside from the weekly and seasonal shifts, the LeForts are facing much change these days.  My husband is moving forward in his marketing career and taking on more responsibility in the workplace.  Our daughter will finish another year of public Montessori school and be a K-5 (going to school all day next year!)  And I've completed just short of seven years as the pastry chef at a local restaurant and boutique hotel, "retiring" from 15+ years in the restaurant world.  All of us are ready for the next great adventure.

I've been thinking critically about my next chapter for many months and with the aforementioned family changes there seemed like no better time than now to make the leap.  Change is never easy and often a bit scary, but in terms of my transition it's also very exciting.  I hope to continue shaping--even more than I've been in the last few years--the quality of life I want for myself and my family.  The stars are aligned and I'm ready to get started.

The first question I get is "what are you going to do now?" To be honest, it won't be incredibly different.  Many friends and colleagues and former co-workers have no idea that I've been teaching cooking and food preservation classes for the past decade or more (I guess that's why I need to spend more time on marketing!)  I'm continuing down that road, but expanding my offerings at different venues in metro-Milwaukee.  I'm also going to add more private preserving clients to my freelance gigs.  I'm hoping that you'll be able to find my preserves for sale in a local restaurant or two soon.

The second question I get is "how does it feel" or "does it feel weird?" [not to be in my restaurant job anymore].  I really won't know that answer until tomorrow morning when I don't have to wake up at 4  or 5 AM to "go make the donuts" for the first time in seven years. I purposely greatly decreased my hours at this job once I became a mother, but it'll still feel strange not to drive down the lakefront two mornings a week, watch the sunrise, go through my six-step morning opening routine in the kitchen (stove, hood, dishwasher, floor mats, silverware soak bucket, panini machine/toaster), push through afternoon exhaustion, then get to bed early the nights before a shift.  At least part of that time will, of course, be shifted into disciplining myself to promote my classes and events and working to prepare for them all.  But I'm also hoping to enjoy more personal time, gardening, and time creating new meals and edibles to keep my family healthy.

The thought of having time to breathe a bit and enjoy summer break with my daughter is very exciting.  But the thought of feeling listless brings some anxiety.  I've always thrived when busy; I'm kept on task when I have deadlines; I feel purpose in life when I have a job to do.  With my new "you get out of it what you put into it" setup I am anticipating some emotional ups and downs.

But I'm also looking forward to increased flexibility--to spend more time with my extended family, my child, my husband, my friends--and the potential for professional growth via travel and continuing education.  And I'm hoping to READ more!  I make it sound like I'm retiring.  (Ha!  If only!)  I'm merely shifting gears to work towards quality of life goals.  I'm constantly reminded that life's too short.  This change will be many trade-offs, but if I don't give this a try now, then when?

I hope I see many of you this summer, whether at one of my classes, at a concert in the park, at the farmers' market, or around the neighborhood.

Peace to you all and enjoy the remains of spring and the school year.