July Lunch Date - Skillful Cook
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July Lunch Date

July Lunch Date | skillfulcook.us

Sometimes I feel more connected to the blog, and sometimes less connected, and this week is one of those times where I feel less connected just because of the rhythms - ahem, summer pace - of life. House projects, workshops, fake-out Sage emergencies, summer living, prioritizing ice cream runs and sunset walks over long work days... I know, right? You've got it going on, too.

It's that mellow summer beat that is both slow and crazy, and it's great.

This is exactly why I thought a little lunch date might do us nicely. A touch point. A summer catch-up. A slower pace of things in all of our lives. Also, I never turn down the opportunity to (virtually) talk and (real life) eat and (definitely real life) sip a little summer rosé all at the same time.

Speaking of rosé.... Frosé? are you guys all over that? Um, hello. This is exactly why we need to check in.


July Lunch Date | skillfulcook.us

Besides the blog, the other love in my life during these last few weeks in July has been workshops. She's been competing for my time and energy, and I have absolutely given in. I love workshops, and I love love LOVE all the wonderful people who come to them from all over the United States. Even Canada sometimes. I honestly believe that the people who come to Skillful Cook workshops are some of the nicest human beings on planet earth. The amount of positivity we get to see during workshops is overwhelming in the best possible way.

That's not to say that workshops don't have their moments - namely, when wifi goes down 30 minutes before the workshop and I call Bjork in a panic (code for GROUCH MODE), or when we make the muffin batter in advance only to find that in fact THEY TASTE LIKE MUSH when the batter rests overnight and so we must borrow eggs from a neighbor in order to remake them in a frenzy, or when I realize I've been teaching for 45 minutes with my “cool new choker” turned completely backwards and the tail hanging down in front - but that is small potatoes. Normalcy in my life. Psh. No big deal. Look at me, cool as a cucumber.

(Fact: I have never in my life been described as “cool as a cucumber.” What does it feel like to have that much chill? I will never know.)

July Lunch Date | skillfulcook.us

So all that to say - workshops have been bomb.com. I am so grateful that this is a part of my job.

We will be launching fall workshops soon, so if you have a blog / want to have a blog / want to hang out and eat good food and take fun pictures, you should sign up to get notified when those open up.

House Projects

July Lunch Date | skillfulcook.us

Annnnd our house is still a disaster. I would say it's turned into more of a moderately cute disaster, but still.

We're past the phase of plastic hanging up all over the place and dust in every crevice that you never even knew existed, but we're now onto the phase that I call GLAMPING INDOORS.

Because we're still waiting on a back-ordered bed frame, we have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the last few months, and we have various odds and ends of furniture laying around in every single room of the house. Somehow what should have been contained to the upstairs has exploded into the rest of our home and now every time I look around I see a minimum of five boxes and 500 hours of work. Because that's how long it takes me to make decisions about where things should go and how to put a room together: 500 Literal Hours.

A dog laying on a bed.

Thankfully we have friends like Bruno and Alicia (Curbly) and they are helping us put together a space that feels cohesive and cute and clean and not completely overwhelming from a decision-making perspective. We're going shopping tomorrow together - all of us - four adults in the middle of the day on a Tuesday (WHY NOT) - because art is tiny bit scary for me. Hold my hand, please.


Feet outside of shoes on a carpet.

Two things that are noteworthy on the health front.

  1. At a recent eye doctor appointment - just a regularly scheduled checkup - it was determined that something is not right with the oil glands (apparently these are important?) in my eyes. Um, sorry, WHAT? I'm 31, as in still basically a teenager. My eyes are struggling, but in an invisible, unbeknownst-to-me kinda way. So that has been a thing. Lots of appointments, lots of pamphlets, lots of googling. Not awesome, other than the warm eye mask I get to wear at night, doctor's orders. And yes, this is becoming one of those letters you get from your grandma with a list of every health ailment suffered over the last two years and all the accompanying details such as wearing warm eye masks at night. Goodbye.
  2. In the better, anti-aging department, I AM RUNNING A 10 MILE RACE! In October! There was a decent stretch of time after Afton died that I thought I might never run again because the sadness and exhaustion was buried so deep in my bones. I mean that literally; I physically ached all over. But my friend and I have decided to do this 10-mile race together and I'm feeling excited and proud that my I have enough fight left in me to make it happen. I might have elderly eyes, but I'm still kicking, guys. Still kicking.

Summer Living

Two vanilla ice creams in a cone

Bjork and I decided to put together a summer bucket list, and we have checked off exactly one of eight items on the list so far: Outdoor concert. Amos Lee. At the ZOO. It was awesome.

Still on the list:

  • Grilling out with friends
  • 1-day staycation
  • Brewery tour
  • St. Paul Saints game
  • Cheesecake soft serve from the ice cream place by our house (REPEAT: CHEESECAKE SOFT SERVE)
  • Weekend road trip
  • Minnesota State Fair

July Lunch Date | skillfulcook.us

Also on the list, honorary mention, is going to the cabin with my family. It's something we do every summer (see here, and here, and way way way back here) and it's the one time during the summer where I feel fully immersed in all the good Midwestern summer vibes: lakes, boating, mornings on the dock, mosquitos, binge-style book reading, campfires, games, and every possible variation of a s'more that you could ever imagine.

If I could transfer my entire personhood into a season of the year, it would be summer in the Midwest. The cabin is my zone.

And we are headed to the cabin soon! Which means the blog will be quiet for a while. I've realized that it's not really a true vacation for me if I just have to work 10x harder to get everything scheduled in advance while we're gone, so... can we just embrace the real-time type of blogging? It makes me all the more excited to get back to recipes and blog comments and posting after I spend a week off the grid.

But How Are You Really Doing?

July Lunch Date | skillfulcook.us

That's what a lot of people ask me. And they mean because of Afton. Because he died, and because I am still living, and because that combo is the worst.

I'm doing okay - I think that's the most honest answer. Not really good, not really bad, just okay.

Some days I'm really sad. We went to a concert last night, and I spent a decent amount of time in the car on the way there just fighting back tears. For no reason. Well, other than THE ONE REALLY BIG REASON. But there was no sentimental, emotional connection or a clear reason why that particular night and that particular drive would have been sad. I mean, maybe because we drove by the hospital? Maybe because the music was feeling extra soulful? And maybe because grief has no rules. It just finds you wherever and whenever and takes over for a minute, or a day, or a week.

If I average out all the days, all the good and bad and up and down and all that other stuff, I would say I'm doing okay, and I'd define “okay” as surviving. Living. Finding good things in my life and loving those things, but never being “okay” with what happened.

I know acceptance is supposed to be the final stage of grief processing, and I can acknowledge the reality that it happened. My son died. I acknowledge that.

But acceptance? I don't know. I really don't think I'll ever accept that I held my baby as he died in my arms. How can you?

When you see Bjork and I on the internet, doing our things, looking and sounding happy, it's because we are happy. We really are. But we're also deeply sad. We will never not be sad about this. We're always going to be two things, forever.

July Lunch Date | skillfulcook.us

So I guess as far as acceptance goes, that's what I'm coming to accept - the duality of life moving forward.

I have found that doing things to honor Afton - and honor myself and my needs - have been really powerful in this season of my life. Examples: taking an actual vacation when we go to the cabin with my family. going to grief group and counseling. writing about Afton. walking or running or swimming or yoga every day (except I've only done yoga once - can that still count?). treating myself to ice cream cones.


This is a totally anti-climactic way to tell you this, but it's late and my overshare filters are gone so here's your reward for reading this far: I'm also going to start a podcast. Or, I'd like to. I'm working on it. It's in process. It's my new side project.

WHAT! What is going on. I don't know, it's not like it's a big announcement or anything - this is just me casually dropping it on our lunch date, like I would if you were sitting across from me with that glass of rosé.

TBD on all the details of the podcast - I mean, I have them, but they're pretty messy in my head and I'm still getting sorted. So for now I'm just mentioning it, lunch-date style, in telling you that yes, I'm doing okay, and in my grief, I'm slowing down on some normal things and picking up other new things that are more and more meaningful to me. 💙 More to come on that.

Dog sitting in a wooden fence.

So... what are you guys up to this summer? Anyone vacationing? Anyone reading anything binge-worthy? Anyone making awesome recipes that they want to tell me about so I can copy you when I cook for my family at the cabin?

Thanks for checking in. I love lunch dates and I love having the actual nicest blog readers in the world.


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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m so glad you are doing okay. I thought about you guys the other day and said a lil prayer. I am glad you are getting out there and doing you. Running is its own therapy if you know what I mean. I’m low-key excited about the podcast. Happy summer vacay:-)

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    So nice to hear that you are doing okay. And I think it’s awesome that you are thinking about starting a podcast. New projects are always exciting!

    BTW, loved seeing some coverage of the photography workshops in this post. My summer plans include a visit to Minnesota in August to attend one of them! I’ll be one of those Canadian participants 😉

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    what an odd concept to share something so deeply personal with so many strangers (who really really care about you!) You have a giant support network that you’ve never met, and we all love you.

    Also, I’m living in the Boulder Bubble apparently – what the heck is Frosé??? I feel like if its not craft beer or kombucha, they don’t allow it in Boulder haha.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Awww, I’m sorry about your eye situation! Never heard of that before! Ugh. But every single picture of your shoes is super cute as is your tattoo. Although the only tattoo I’ve ever had is a Frozen tattoo that comes off.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ooh, I’m thinking if you totally want to get lost, addicted, and consumed by a juicy, binge-worthy book on your vacay you should read Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinsborough. Definitely the best can’t-put-it-down twisty thrillers I’ve read all year!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    i love your lunch date posts!!! i’m really excited for the next round of workshops – hoping you do another branding/phase 2 workshop because i get such FOMO every time i see all the beautiful workshop pics on IG! i hope you ENJOY your cabin week – that’s on my summer bucket list as well, along with lake harriet bandshell concert because i find it slightly unacceptable that after 2 years of living in the hood, i’ve never done this!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay! I love reading these type of posts. Makes me feel like we are friends even though we never met IRL. I’m a teacher and simply just enjoying all of the summer things and loving it! I’m turning 31 in a few months, are we really adults now?! Just wanted to wish you well in everything💙

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    omg you are NOT ALONE with the EYE THING! I got the same news at my eye appt in January. And one of my best friends has the same issue! My guess is that years and years of contact lens use + computer-staring has something to do with it? (For me, anyway). I’ll be eyemask-ing and eyedrops-ing in solidarity. 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    What a fun post! Love the idea of a lunch date and catching up on all the things you have going on!

    My husband and I paid off all our debt (student loans bleh) in the spring and were very happy to take a 10 day vacation at the beginning of July. I had never seen the ocean so we flew into San Francisco and took a rental car on a road trip down highway 1! I definitely creeped on your highway 1 trip post from 2015 for a little inspo! We ended our trip on Catalina Island and the whole trip was a perfect mix of adventure and rest.

    I hope your time at the cabin is refreshing, rejuvenating, and restful.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for the updates–sending lots of love to you and Bjork. Excited to hear more about the podcast!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    So enjoy lunch dates! I just heard of a place called Cherry Point Farm and Market in Shelby,MI-they have a LAVENDER LABYRINTH. It made me think of you and Afton. How great to be able to walk surrounded by fresh lavender!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for sharing, Lindsay. I’m glad you are doing okay. I’ve been thinking of you and your family. Way to go–running and a new podcast! I’m excited to be along for the ride.

    I had a lake weekend recently and made Marion Cunningham’s lemon pancakes (via the NY Times), and they were a big hit! In terms of summer reads, I’ve loved The Golem and the Jinni, The Hopefuls, bonjour kale, and Far from the Tree.

    I’m off to Finland next week to attend a dear friend’s wedding. I hope you have a wonderful time at the cabin!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    sending hugs 🙂 this was the most legit virtual lunch date possible <3. your podcast is already tied for first as my favorite podcast-next to fbp, of course. I find that grief shows up when I allow quiet in my life…aka car ride…laying in bed…taking a shower. no rules for sure. you two are still in my prayers.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Praying that every day, week, month, etc leaves you guys feeling just a little more okay. So glad to see you prioritizing self-care and what helps over anything (ice cream cones > everything).

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi, where are you shopping to decorate your beautiful house?! I love how you are decorating it, from the linens, to the wall art, to the furniture, to the accents!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ugh, I have a weird eye/oil gland thing too. It took me 3 different eye doctors to figure out my pores are too small and they get really inflamed sometimes. For instance, the day before my wedding…hah. I, too, enjoy the warm eye compress 🙂

    Looking forward to hearing your new podcast and also seeing the dates for the next set of workshops!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Doing okay is a good thing – part of the process of healing. I understand how you can be happy and sad at the same time. Happy is you and Bjork together, and all the things you do. Sadness is a backdrop. You’ve made me think about my summer, and the way I would describe it is taking a vacation from travel, which is a good thing, because there’s been a lot of stress this year. That will pass, but not soon. Hope you have a wonderful time with your family at the cabin.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    a podcast!?! I always listen and re-listen to the episodes you’re on of the food blogger pro podcast because they are so inspiring! cannot wait to listen!!!!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Lindsay,

    This little update warms my soul. I attended one of your workshops in April 2016 and had a GREAT time, so I’m glad that the feeling was mutual. 🙂 You are a workshop teaching pro (I mean, you’re obviously a pro because you do it for a living, but I mean you’re like way way awesome at it).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about sweet Afton. My heart breaks a little each time I read about him and I can’t imagine what that is like. It feels really special to be on the receiving end of all these thoughts.

    I’m leaving for our annual two week stay at my family’s Ontario cabin tomorrow, so I totally understand your connection to that yearly summer ritual and I hope you have THE BEST time.

    Laura C.

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    glad to hear you’re doing OK. Your posts have gotten more positive as you take up a project or do something physical – all good things. My recommendation for a summer read would be “Since We Fell” by Dennis LeHane and/or The Woman in Cabin 10 (forgot the author). Keep on keepin’ on by keeping Afton in your heart as you branch out to live.

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love this post. Thanks for being real. And I think it’s awesome that you have mustered up the fight to run that 10-miler. Although it’s pretty obvi to me that you’ve had that fight and strength in you all along in a number of different ways beyond just putting those long-distance running shoes back on. If you ever come out to the Portland, OR area I’d love to have a real lunch date with you (as I’m sure many others would), but a real two-way lunch-date would just be the bees knees.

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have been reading your blog for several years now and want to let you know how much I enjoy and am inspired by it. My heart broke when I read about the death of your son. I know that grief becomes the canvas on which everything else is painted. I hope to attend one of your workshops one day, maybe when our own remodel and building project is finished. Meanwhile, congrats on the run and have a wonderful and well earned vacation.