Feeling Loved


I actually felt the need to text my mom yesterday to tell her I was ok.

I figured she already knew, since we had just gotten off FaceTime hours before I posted Wander. None of what I wrote on Thursday was a surprise to her. She’s been along every step of the way, hearing my disappointments and coaching me on how to approach helping all of the many others in need in my life without losing my mind. But I got a response from my post that made me realize what I was talking about was much more serious than I intended it to be.

I had just sat down to write because I felt I needed to write. Because this blog is something I am proud of and something I love to do, and I just freaking missed doing it. And I thought I’d get the biggest story off my chest first. I thought I’d address the monkey in the room before moving on to anything else. This year has been a struggle for myself and for so many other people I know. But I thought I’d written about it in a way that everyone understood that I am ok and I am healing and I am still heading in the right direction.

I was completely floored by the outpouring of love and support I woke up to Friday morning. Even some of those people who I talked about respecting and not feeling up to their standards – even some of those people reached out to me yesterday. I heard from old friends, people I haven’t seen since middle school, high school mentors, people I didn’t even know. It was overwhelming in the warmest way possible.

Everyone’s message was clear. Everybody goes through hard times. Everybody wonders if what they are doing is enough. If what they’re making is enough. If they’re living up to the expectations of the people who they admire and respect and want to make proud. If they’re living up to what they’re worth. If they’re proud themselves, of where they are and of where they are going.

I heard support from all angles for talking about mental health. Even more of my friends came out and told me they had suffered from anxiety, and assured me that I would find my own way to deal with and conquer it. I was once again reassured that I was not crazy, I was not alone, and I have met some of the greatest people the planet has to offer.

All the love, concern, and support made me feel like I needed to show the other side of my story. The awesome things I have done in 2015. Because there has been a lot of that, too. A hell of a lot of that. Through tears and anxiety and breathing into dirty paper pastry bags, there has been a lot of gold.

For instance – I celebrated my 31st birthday with a Brad & Kels staycation at the Ace Hotel in downtown LA. We felt very fancy. We had a terrace and I drank room service champagne. It was a grand, grand time.


I got a tomato tattoo!! It still catches me off guard from time to time and I am still so in love with it. (even though everyone thinks it’s a pumpkin)


Of course, I made lots and lots of blueberry muffins. Because blueberries going bad make me sad and muffins make me happy.


I guested on my girl Sydney’s podcast – and subsequently got hooked on podcasts of all kinds. I’m actually thinking of starting one… Any suggestions? Would you listen?


I attempted to curl my hair a few times. These baby curls were gone before my selfie photoshoot was over. Ugh.


I made a couple of amazing Key Lime Pies for a dear friend’s wedding. And I have to say, I’m pretty damn proud of THAT little curl. (it lasted much longer than it’s photoshoot. apparently I’m better at meringue than hair.)


I suppose I’m on to the sweets in my life… I participated in farmers’ markets all over Los Angeles with Pop Up Pastries. I checked that off the list of goals for the year in a huge way! Currently, you will find me with pop tarts and pies every Saturday at the Marina Del Rey Market, and some Sundays at Mar Vista.


I was invited to judge a pie contest in August. Just a FYI, I am free for pie contest-judging every Sunday if anyone ever needs a last minute pie-judge. There’s another life goal to check off the list. This is the best job ever.


Speaking of pie – I felt creative and made a sweet corn pie with salted whip. It was divine. I bought corn to make another one… Maybe this weekend?


I helped open a new wine bar and shop, Esters, here in Santa Monica. It is amazing and fun and I am so proud to be part of this wonderful family of restaurants! Come in to see me and drink lots of vino!!


And of course, we had friends over for dinner every chance we got. Brad is learning how to make arepas. I am learning all the different ways I like to eat arepas. We have a new patio with a new patio table that we sometimes have to use when we have invited over too many people for our tiny kitchen table. It’s pretty much the best back up plan ever.


So there. Things aren’t that bad. I just remember to breathe. I remember that a year from now, a month from now, maybe just a week from now, I’m going to look back and think – hell yea. I made it through all of that. But the photos I take, the memories I’ll keep, those are from the times where I was smiling.

Those other, harder, stress-ball times? I’ll be happy to kiss those times goodbye.



Love You, Mom!

I was fishing around for some photos for a post recently and I came across a few gems that I had somehow skipped over.

My favorite of the bunch was a group of pictures that I had taken when my parents were in town back in February.  I was lucky enough to get off from work most of the week they were here and we spent some good quality time together.  This is a rarity, as when we are together it is usually non-stop planning and visiting and eating and everything else…

Not this time.  We actually got to relax and take our time and sleep in and just sit around and cook a casual dinner together.  You might even remember, we cooked some pizzas and tasted some wine.

And although I found enough photos from the day to put together a post, doesn’t this picture just speak volumes?

mom making cheeseI know the exact feeling!  Your first mozzarella ball!  There’s nothing like it!

My mom stayed at home with us three kids for most of our childhoods, and made us a home cooked meal most every single night.  She is a wonderful cook and I owe my love of cooking and being in the kitchen mostly to her.  (The cookie making part is all my dad…)

She can usually be seen dancing to Motown or Bruce Springsteen while she’s stirring pots or checking on meats in the oven.  And the things she makes in her slow cookers – although she always says they are the easiest recipes ever – are the best comfort food a girl could ever ask for.  They make the whole house smell like roast-y heaven all. day. long.  So by the time dinner comes around you are literally ravenous for whatever is in that pot.


As I’ve become an adult, it’s been so exciting to share kitchen tips and dig up old recipes that she made for us when we were kids.  Her meatloaf recipe is still my number one (seriously, this recipe will make you love meatloaf), and she always puts out an amazing spread when entertaining people at the house.DSC_0174Love you to bits, Mom.  I am so very thankful to have you as an inspiration, a shoulder to lean on and – most importantly – one of my best friends.

Happy Mothers Day to all of the moms out there today, especially the ones who have loved and raised me. I wish you all a relaxing day full of love!



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March Madness Roundup

In like a lion, out like a lamb, right?

I feel like that March lamb is still on it’s way, but the lion that was this March sure kept us on the run.

I thought today I’d share a look back at all of the places I went in March and all of the things I did.  Because usually, it’s a line up of market photos and delicious dinners, but this month it’s from coast to coast (twice), with a lot of amazing events and people in between.

We kicked off the month with packing up all of our food for terminate extermination.  This was a low point… Like packing to move without the new improved apartment?

But then we were off to New York!IMG_2274Where it was freezing, but Sarah and I celebrated turning 30!IMG_2306And we ate an amazing meal prepared by the Fishing With Dynamite guys at the James Beard House.IMG_2383

And I played Cards Against Humanity for the first time.  This was one blog appropriate winner…IMG_2558

When I got back to the west coast, I made a quick batch of pickled onions… and just about ate them all.IMG_2663

I messed around with my blog.  Spring cleaning?  Did you notice?  (I didn’t go with this one…)IMG_2685

Then I flew back to Maryland for a memorial service for my grandfather.  It was a tough weekend, but being surrounded by family that hasn’t all come together in close to 20 years, there was also much to celebrate.


Plus, I got to hang out with these little guys…IMG_2798The last time I saw Miles he weighed just over 5 pounds and he was all hooked up in the NICU.  I’m so impressed and grateful for how healthy and awesome he’s turning out to be!IMG_2805

I mean, don’t you love his shirt?  I dig you, too, Miles.

And then Mr. Max.  Starting to talk, count, and know his alphabet.  No pants don’t care!IMG_2850Before I left town, I whipped up a batch of fudge to leave with the east coast crew.  I even used this crazy old candy thermometer of my Mom’s.  I don’t know why, but I was a little obsessed with this thermometer.


And ate entirely too much of the chocolatey fudge it produced… delicious. IMG_2843

I don’t have a story for this next picture, other than once I was back on the west coast, this is precisely how I felt.  And I love this picture of Brad and Gibson.

I fit in a little studio time somewhere in there, singing on a commercial for a kids toy that is coming out soon…IMG_2892

And my car broke down… again…IMG_2895

But then we cooked a delicious lunch at Coleman’s Farm, which went off without a hitch…IMG_3033 IMG_3110

Then, last night we had an unusual Sunday night off together.  So after a delicious dinner (where I almost killed a crab with an iPad.  seriously.), we headed to the Sprinkles cupcake ATM and treated ourselves.IMG_3199March, you were great, but I’m kind of glad you’re ending.  On to spring and weekends with a little bit of time to ourselves.

But the fudge was really great.  Thanks for that.



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Blood Orange Gin and Tonics

Blood Orange Gin and Tonics @thekeyofkels

My March has been a little bit insane.

As of the beginning of February, I wasn’t going to be on the east coast even once this month.  We were watching what we spent.  We had family coming in town and birthdays coming up, so we were being responsible.

And now, as I’m unpacking my suitcase from my second trip east in 3 weeks, I am realizing I should really stock my body up on Vitamins before I get super, super sick from all of the traveling.

So Emergen-C it is!

Speaking of Vitamin C, it is coming up on the end of citrus season here in California, so I brought some blood oranges from the market all the way to Maryland with me this weekend.  I figured, along with the strawberries, raisins, and trail mix I smuggled from coast to coast, the blood oranges would be something fun and different to play around with.

blood orange gin and tonicsAnd the juice is just so pretty!

So on Friday night, after we had finished most of the preparations for everyone to come over to my parents’ house after the services for my grandfather on Saturday, we decided it was time to relax and catch up.

My mom’s favorite Friday night happy hour cocktail is the classic Gin & Tonic, so I decided to dress it up a little bit.

blood orange gin and tonics blood orange gin and tonicsBy just adding a little bit of that fiery blood orange juice, the classic G&T took on a whole new persona.

And also left the place looking like a bit of a crime scene when not poured just so…

blood orange gin and tonics blood orange gin and tonics
The citrus added just a little bit of bright red cheer to a somber occasion, a little bit of sweet citrus to a classic cocktail, and a little bit of Cali sunshine to a chilly, rainy (super jet lagged) day.

blood orange gin and tonics


I wish this counted as enough Vitamin C to keep me healthy until the weather really warms up, but for now, I’m drinking tea and stocking up on Emergen-C packets.

Cheers to another busy, busy week!


Blood Orange Gin (or Vodka) & Tonics

1 part Gin (we used Bombay Sapphire, but it was also delicious with vodka!)

1 part fresh squeezed blood orange juice

1 part tonic water

Fill glass with ice.  Add equal parts gin(or vodka), blood orange juice and tonic water.  Stir and serve.  Cheers!

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