Archive for the ‘Editorial Thoughts’ Category

Empty Nested & Pet-less

Thursday, September 10th, 2020
The one and only, Gonzo the Gecko

For the past four years I have been living a semi-empty nester life. As my daughter, Sam, was away at college, it was just my husband and I at home for most of the year. With her senior year ending this spring, I knew that she would find a job, get her own place, and we’d be full-time empty nesters.

The good news is that even with the craziness of 2020, my daughter did get a job. She also got an apartment. Thus, we now are empty nesters, and while there’s a twinge of sadness for that part of my parenting life to end, it was expected.

What wasn’t expected was my sadness at becoming pet-less at the same time. Ever since my son went to college six years ago, I have been the keeper and caretaker of his New Caledonian gecko, Gonzo. He had a spot in my office. Then when we moved to Arkansas, he made the roadtrip (successfully sneaking him into hotels every night). Post-travel he’s had a spot in our living room.

Although he doesn’t really interact with people, I talked to him during the day. (No, I am not crazy.) Every morning, I would turn on his light and look to see where he was inside the tank. Some nights we would take him out and let him sit on one of our shoulders, which he seemed to like. When I went to bed, I turned his tank light off and said good night. He was this other presence in our home.

The plan always had been for Sam to take him once she got her own place. Because of my son’s job, it wasn’t an option to have Gonzo. As my husband and I will be spending time in different locations, trying to determine where our next home will be, it would be best for the gecko to have a permanent spot.

Thus, when my daughter left Arkansas in late July, heading to her new place in Phoenix, Gonzo was placed in the passenger seat to begin the journey as well. Re-entering our condo it felt odd. In the following days I had to stop myself from saying hi to Gonzo when I got up or checking on him during the day.

As I reflected, I haven’t been pet-less for more than a month or so. Ever. My parents always had dogs and cats when I was little. I got my first kitten when I was five, and since then I’ve had an assortment of cats, dogs, chickens, lizards, hamsters, and guinea pigs in my life. Now, I have a husband and two plants.

It’s now been six weeks since Gonzo headed to his new home. Like many things, my sadness has faded. Although I am looking forward to the future in which my husband and I choose a new location (or two). Once we are more settled, I am pretty sure there will be a dog there also. Then, once again I’ll be able to nurture a creature!

Monday Nights Are for Us

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

As our marriage was a second for both my husband and me, we didn’t start our relationship with just the two of us. Rather, it began with four children and a couple animals. Thus, a good amount of our time from the very beginning was spent with the usual family activities- sports, school, adventures, and more.

However, no matter the age of your children or the newness of your relationship, it’s important to have time for just the two of you. Without meaning to do so I created a tradition that gave us that one-on-one time in our home every week. Twelve years later that continues today as empty nesters. That tradition is Tapas Monday.

My husband played a small role in the creation of this tradition. In the fall of 2008, he had a weekly Monday call at 4:00 pm PT added to his work schedule. Living in New Hampshire, that meant he would be on the call until at least 8:00. With middle school-aged children, that was way too late for our regular family dinner. So, I hatched a plan.

The kids would have dinner at normal time, around 6:00, and then around 8:30, my husband and I would have dinner. Not one to settle for simple, I decided to make this late meal more than just a reheated version of the kids’ dinner. Rather every week while he was on the call, I would create a menu of tapas dishes and chill a bottle of sparkling wine.

With a format for the meal planned, I added other elements to the meal. It was always served by candlelight. Children were not allowed. In the earliest years, there were pauses in the meal to tuck children into bed. As the years progressed, a teen might pop his or her head into the dining room, arriving home after a sports practice. The majority of the meal was just the two of us, eating and talking about random subjects.

When I first created Tapas Monday it was a way for us to connect outside of our children without leaving the house. As years passed and the children began being busier on their own, giving us more alone time, we still held onto this tradition. Not only does it give us time to connect, it really is a highlight to look forward to on a Monday. No need to lament the start of the workweek when you know there’s a romantic dinner at the end of it.

Today, we are 100% empty nesters, and yet we still celebrate Tapas Monday. We start the meal earlier now, as there is no late meeting nor children in our house. Sometimes the menu is simple because the day has been crazy, but it’s always served in a fancy manner with a bottle of sparkling wine.

I would love to say that I appreciate this meal immensely, and I do, but I also take it for granted because it just is part of our weekly routine. Yet, every once in a while I tell someone about it, and I hear a sentiment of, “How romantic!” In that moment I realize it really is an amazing tradition we have.

So, here’s to Tapas Monday- an evening to dine, converse, and reconnect.

PeKu- What’s in a Name?

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020
carrot cake scones being topped with cream cheese icing

Sometimes it’s more than you imagine.

When I first launched this publishing company in July 2008 I named it Wasabi Media Group. I chose this name as I had been an entrepreneur in residence at Wasabi Ventures and thought it could be beneficial to be known as part of that family.

Over the next four-ish years, I made three discoveries. First, because I had an affiliation with Wasabi Ventures and shared their name, many people assumed my company was venture-related. Second, using the phrase media group, newcomers thought that my business involved music, entertainment, and more. From a purely business aspect, my company name was not a good choice.

My third discovery was personal and reflective. I was the key builder of this business; its name should be related to me. With that idea in hand, I decided to create the name PeKu, a blending of my two last names. Since that time, PeKu has become my persona on many levels. PeKu, the company, was my baby that I nurtured and grew. PeKu, the name, has become my social media handle and how I refer to myself at times.

However, this history lesson on my company’s name doesn’t stop here. Over the weekend I received a middle of the night email that seemed spam-like, but I read it nonetheless. The author let me know that peku means bake in Slovenian. Using an online translator, the meaning was confirmed, and I was astounded.

As I read the translation I was in awe. I initially built this publishing company after spending a year developing Think Tasty, my food blog. While it was never my intent to have a second meaning to PeKu, there had been one hidden there all the time. How crazy! To think, my passion for baking and cooking, which started this publishing company 13 years ago, was unknowingly wrapped in the meaning of its name.

Kismet, karma, mere happenstance, whatever you want to call it; this double meaning in PeKu is priceless.

Can I Do This?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Some people have an enormous base of confidence. Some people have very little. I am somewhere in between.

I once had a friend ask where I got all my confidence from. I laughed. I don’t ooze confidence, but what I do is fake it until my confidence levels rise.

At so many times in my life, when approaching a new task or a public event, I have sweating palms and butterflies doing somersaults in my stomach. As much I would love to avoid the whole scene, I put on my bravest face and begin. If it’s public speaking, I know that the first thirty seconds are the toughest. I may clear my throat more than necessary. I may clench my hands behind the podium. As I begin to speak, I am hesitant, but then I feel a sense of calm settle in, as confidence seeps into me. When I’m done, I have this amazing sense of euphoria. I almost want to shout, “I did it!”

I have experienced this in so many different settings. As a teacher, the first day with students, open house, and parent-teacher conferences would bring an initial sense of fear, followed by (usually) the feeling of success. Anytime I speak in public, I blush horribly in the first minute until I hit my stride. Most recently, I went through the same roller coaster of emotions when teaching my first online wine class.

Leading up to this class I prepared heartily. I created the course, made an outline of what I would teach, built a slidedeck, practiced it by myself, made my husband act a student in my second walk-through, and finally got myself situated and ready an hour before the class was to begin. Even with all of this preparation and practice, I was nervous when the students appeared online.

Then, as typically happens, I fell into the groove and leaned back on my knowledge. The class flowed smoothly, as I shared information and took questions from the class. When it was done, I felt incredibly pleased with myself.

Although I could wonder why it is that I doubt myself before starting a new endeavor, I won’t waste the time on that. I have been this way since I was a little kid. While it may seem odd, the exhilaration I experience once I am successful is worth all of the nerves leading up to it. In fact, for me, those nerves are what make me work harder and prepare more, which in turn is what makes that event a success.

Maybe my thinking “Can I do this?” is really just a sort of self-motivation. While not fully doubting myself, I am challenging myself. Am I up to doing the best that I can?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes.”

So, This Is Fifty

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020
Birthday cake with daisies

Last month I turned fifty.

It seems like a surreal sort of statement. Fifty? Me? Some days it feels like I have fifty years of experience in this world, and others I wonder how that much time has passed.

The arrival of my fiftieth birthday felt highly anticipated. It’s not that I was expecting fireworks or that I purposely zeroed in on it. Rather, in the year leading up to this birthday, on an almost subconscious level, I became quite reflective. What had I done thus far? What will I want to do in the coming years?

I can answer the first question quite easily. I have earned a few degrees and certifications. I’ve been a teacher, a stay at home mom, a food blogger, a CEO, a program manager, and more. I’ve been married, divorced, and married again. I have raised two children and also gotten to be the stepmom of two more. I’ve made my share of mistakes and had a number of successes, and I wouldn’t change almost any of it.

The second question is more perplexing. I enjoy everything I am doing career-wise: Editor-in-Chief of PeKu and Think Tasty; Director of Aftercare and Community at WV Stables; wine educator. Yet, I wonder: should I be trying something else, making one of these roles a large part of my day, building something more?

Outside of career aspirations, I considered other pieces of my life. Are there other goals I need to set, challenges I should embrace? What are the things that should fill my days? Maybe, rather than considering how to fill my days, I need to think about how I define myself.

What I’ve learned in this past year is that although fifty is a milestone, it isn’t a defining moment in and of itself. This year of reflection didn’t provide me with clear answers as to what I should do with my future, but it did (and still does) make me think more creatively about my prospects.

I guess what it comes down to is that at fifty I’m still figuring out what I want to be and do when I grow up.

So, world, get ready. Fifty year old me is ready to conquer adventures both seen and yet to be determined!

My Adoration of Data

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

As I took a walk the other evening, I contemplated both my love of data and the writing of this post. You see, this post was a tricky one for me to write. I must have written at least five drafts before I was semi-satisfied with my work. I had written, rewritten, and procrastinated for long enough; I wanted a workable draft that I could edit. So, I typed and deleted until I got to that point.

When I had written enough, I headed out for a walk, intending to listen to music and unwind at the end of the day. Instead I debated what it is that I like so much about data. About a mile or so from my home, I suddenly had words for it. Data for me is the science-y part of my role. It’s the reason I respect the rules of baking and accept that you need certain ratios to make a recipe work.

However, I also adore writing and words. My husband teasingly calls me Word Girl. Words are so different than data; they’re the artistic part of my role. This is the creative side that contemplates topping a pizza with ricotta and rhubarb. It’s the part of me that will debate what word to use in a sentence to make sure I fully express the way that I feel.

In my roles at both Think Tasty and WV Stables, I am fortunate that I get to embrace both of these interests. More often than not, my artsy side is seen via articles I write, recipes I create, and the passion I exude for food and horses.

However, my science side is very much a part of how I like to think and who I am, albeit less visible. I track visitor trends and update user engagement numbers. I study purchasing numbers looking for ways to increase sales. I complete these tasks for both my roles, as they each need data monitoring to be successful.

Although these tasks that I complete aren’t seen my by readers or club members, they do impact the experiences of both groups. For me, they’re not simply tasks that must be done, they’re tasks that I enjoy doing. I love spending hours digging deeper into data and creating spreadsheets. I thoroughly enjoy reviewing data, looking for trends, and determining what all those numbers mean.

Yes, I’m a recipe creating, article writing, community organizing, aftercare promoting woman who also loves working with data.