the cheery chef

The Dojo


Is there are time that you are doing an activity and the time seems to move so quickly because you are really "in the zone?" You aren't thinking about other things or planning for tomorrow or next year or worrying about anything? That is called being "in flow." It is such a wonderful state and now that I am doing my cooking and baking at Murray's Coffee Bar I find that my little kitchen space there is like a "dojo" for my work. When I am there I am not distracted by other things I should be doing. I am concentrating on the rolling of the dough, the frosting of the cookies, the sauteing of the asparagus or onions. This is such a beautiful place to be in. I just love it! 

So many moments there I am truly "in the moment." Really observing how the icing swirls on the cookie or how good the quiche smells coming right out of the oven. This is my meditative, contemplative place. I never dreamed it could be like this. I absolutely love my home and consider it such a blessing to have such a nice home to live in, but I am so contented doing my daily, life's work in this coffeeshop kitchen. It can truly be my space to work in and be creative in and a space in which I create food for all to enjoy. 

Although I am "in the zone." so much I also really enjoy working with others, talking about ideas and serving customers slices of quiche or brunch dishes. This gives me great joy as well because I have discovered I feel the most joy when I am with people. I need a little bit of alone time each day as everyone does, but spending the major part of my day around people brings me a lot of positive energy. 

I'd love to hear of where your "dojo" is and what are the times that you are "in the flow" of things while doing work that you really, really enjoy and are passionate about. 

With lots of care,


Who is The Cheery Chef? 16 Things About Me

The Cheery Chef teaching a group how to make cinnamon rolls

Ok, here goes! Deep breath...I want to share with you 16 things you may not know about me for this special year of 2016. 

1. A question I have been asked various times in my life: 

Are you happy/positive all of the time? Do you ever get mad/sad/angry? 

The answer is- yes, I sure do. I have a good cry about ideas that don't work, get frustrated when things don't work out, get angry about things and throw stuffed animals and pillows at the wall, wonder why I am crazy enough to keep trying ideas, wonder what I should be doing. In short, I am just like everyone else when it comes to emotions. I do focus on the positive and that is my persona on the outside most of the time, although I may be thinking other things at the moment. I have faith that things will work out, although in some moments it doesn't seem like they will. I do love to problem solve, so when the emotional moment passes, I sit down, plan, and take action to solve it all over again. 

2. I am deathly afraid of heights. 

I have trouble driving over bridges, avoid most roller coasters and have trouble on ski lifts. Even on simulated rides where it only appears like I am flying over the ocean I have so much trouble! I really, really freak out! However, I have been to the Space Needle, the CN Tower, and some other high locations because it was worth the view and the photos! 

My best story about my fear of heights was when my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Singapore and we decided to go to an island and to get there we had to take a tram over the ocean. We decided to get the deluxe tram not knowing that meant that it had a glass bottom. The only things that kept me sane was taking pictures of the beautiful scenery. 

3. I can't swim. 

It's kind of like heights. I don't really like not being able to touch the bottom of the water. So, I can kind of dog-paddle my way through the water, but I wouldn't call it swimming. :) I remember a terrifying dream that I had one night when I was a child where I fell off a boat and couldn't swim to safety.  I do enjoy getting in the water and was proud that I actually tried a water slide at a water park late last year! 

4. I am obsessed by food. 

This one might seem obvious, but it is not an understatement. My daydreams are about recipes and food combinations and menus. The only non food-related magazine that I subscribe to is the Oprah magazine and I always look forward to the food sections in it. I read recipe books like novels and own so many that I have to store some in the kitchen and some in the office closet. I have more than 10 binders filled with recipes that are from my family or ones clipped out of magazines. One of our hobbies on the weekends is going out to new restaurants or food trucks. I eat, breathe, sleep- food! 

5. I love to iron. 

It is so crazy, I know. I somehow love to iron things because I love to see the transformation of the cloth and I love to use lots of combinations of tablecloths, napkins, table-runners. It is something that I enjoy doing while watching TV or listening to a podcast. I find it oddly relaxing. I am at peace when my ironing pile is done and all of the linens are hung up, waiting for the right moment to be picked out for the next party. 

6. I am OCD about being neat and tidy.

I find that I cannot start working on anything- a recipe, a video, a blog post unless everything in my house is neat and orderly. If there is something out of place that I remember in my mind it clutters my thinking. I am not sure why this is. So, I have evening routines and morning routines that put things at order so that I can focus on my work. Also, I now have my husband and son help out in the evenings with chore team where each person does two chores. That frees up my time during the week so that I can get on with recipe creation, blog posts and more. I have felt much more at ease since I did a very, very big decluttering of all of my extra things in the house. I didn't get rid of many cookbooks, but that is ok. 

7. I have a terrible sense of direction. 

Thank goodness for the GPS and the maps on my smart phone. Before those came along I would have to stop and look at maps several times along the way to figure out where I was going. I hated giving up though, so I would usually find my destination. Don't ask me which way is North. I never have any idea. 

8. I lived for a year in Mexico.

During the school year of 1991-1992 I lived in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico as a Rotary exchange student. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. My best friend who I talk to every day is from Leon. She is an amazing person and I feel so lucky to know her. I got to really know myself during that year away. I lived with two different host families, learned to take the bus downtown and to school every day, took a crazy 24 hour bus ride with fellow exchange students down to Cancun, Mexico and more. A life changing experience for sure! And, I feel fortunate to be able to speak Spanish too. 

9. I am a morning person.

Yes! I am crazy! Can I tell you how much I love 4:30 am? That is when I get up most weekday mornings. It wasn't always this way. I have always loved mornings, but it has only been in the past few weeks that I have started to get up at 4:30 am. Ever since I read the book "The Miracle Morning" I knew that taking time each day to: meditate, do affirmations, visualize, read, write in a journal and exercise would be so helpful for me as a person and as a business owner. This is my personal "quiet time" and all I can hear is the clock ticking. I love that time of the morning. It is my time. 

10. I have owned 2 baking businesses.

Before starting The Cheery Chef I owned 2 other baking businesses: Farmer' Tea and Cheery Pies. The first business I ran with my mom and sister in law for 4 years. For about 6 months out of the year we baked together every Friday, all day (from about 7am to 5pm) and sold our baked goods at a farmer's market on Saturdays. Our treats were: cinnamon rolls, scones, cookies, biscotti, cakes, pies and more! It was so much fun and we really enjoyed our customers. However, the money we made with that venture was minimal. Later on, for about 2 years I went out on my own and created Cheery Pies. I did that business by myself and learned quite a bit from it, however in the end I learned that I missed working with people, so I started The Cheery Chef so I could combine my love of cooking, baking and teaching others at the same time. 

11. I have degrees in Graphic Design and Spanish and a Master's Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. 

I grew up in a very creative family. My dad built weaving looms from beautiful woods and had his own business. My mom helped him with the business and taught weaving classes at home. For this reason I studied graphic design. It always seemed very interesting to me and I loved creating designs. I really enjoyed all of the art classes that I took for my degree, especially calligraphy and sculpture. I also pursued a major in Spanish because of my time in Mexico. After college I took a job as a Spanish instructor at a school that was Kindergarten through 8th grade. Soon after, I decided I should go back to school so I could teach adults.  

12. I got married at a history museum. 

My husband and I got married back in 2004 at a history museum. It was so much fun because after the ceremony the guests could go check out the museum exhibits. I remember thinking it was so funny when we reserved the space for our wedding that they asked us whether we wanted "the mountain man" or not. Apparently one of the museum volunteers dressed up as a mountain man and was able to educate visitors about the history of the area. We of course said "yes" to the mountain man. Good choice. 

13. I was an English as a Second Language Instructor at a community college for 10 years. 

After I got my master's in TESOL I did some student teaching at a local community college which led to some tutoring and finally a position as an ESL instructor there. I worked part time, teaching mostly in the evenings but often taught at 2-3 different locations. It was a really fun job in that the students were wonderful. I got to meet people from many different countries and they were highly motivated students. They often came to class at night after a very long day at work but they really were focused and ready to learn. I enjoyed my time there but found that there was a longing to strike out on my own a start a business. I did run Farmer's Tea and sell at the farmer's market during 4 of those 10 years but when I decided to go out on my own to start Cheery Pies I knew it was time to take a leap of faith and go out and try my luck at my own business and work at it full time. 

14. I love playing Legos with my son. 

I love that my 7 year old son still asks me to play Legos with him. To him, it is all about creating a highly imaginative story. It is so interesting to see what he will come up with next. He likes to create different characters out of the Lego figures that he already has. He often changes their outfits and hair to match  who he wants that character to be. Usually the story's main theme is good against evil. I loved that in the last story the criminal learned to be helpful and built houses for the less fortunate in many countries. He is a great story teller and also likes to write down his stories. I can see him doing many creative things in the future. 

15. I get scared before I teach or give a presentation. 

I remember before the start of each new school term getting so nervous about my new class of students. I would always prepare a lot and have everything in order, but I was still nervous every single time. The same thing happens when  I am about to do a cooking demo, before I went on a local tv show or before I teach a cooking class. However, once I am with my students, with a crowd or in front of the camera, the nervous feelings start to go away. When I am presenting about something that I love, the pressure goes away and I feel alive. 

16. I grew up in the country. 

I grew up in a very small town. It still doesn't have a high school or its own zip code. The only things in town are: a general store, grange, gas station, church, cafe/bar. It was a great place to grow up though because we could do lots of exploring on the land where we grew up. Most of our free time was spent outside pretending lots of things. I remember the days before preschool where I would go out in the morning, pretend lots of things (including owning a restaurant) and then just come in for lunch later on. Those were amazing days. Lots of creative ideas were born. Later on, when my  brother was old enough to come out and play we would make up even more fun stories and make-believe worlds. 

I hope you had fun learning a bit more about me. I sure feel thankful that I shared some of my life's journey with you. What are 16 things about you that you'd like to share?