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Pantry List

I liked to give people gifts.  Way more than getting them.  I remember one time telling my mom, "I wish I could be funded by a philanthropist to give gifts."  I forget her response, probably a chuckle and a raised eyebrow.
But I do.
It hovers right at the top.  Giving people gifts is me loving them...
Weird, because its not how I receive love.  I don't need gifts, I just need to give them.
I remember once having a good friend get married.  My whole plan was to get her all the things she needed for a fully stocked pantry.  You know the little things that make a meal come together.
The things we forget about.
Especially when you get married right out of college where you bought the most sparse ingredients possible like oatmeal and granola bars to power through your days.
I remember not having really a clue about what was needed to make a good meal.
I used to love pouring over cookbooks and making new things.  Until I was on my own and realized that most of the ingredients were not actually in my house.
If you ever look at a Southern Living recipe you realize that you are going to have to do a fair bit of grocery gymnastics to have it all before you can then proceed to try to execute the actual feat of the recipe. You know, you buy it all and unload it all and find yourself eating frozen pizza because you're now too tired to make it.
I thought a cute basket of all the odds and ends that most single people never consider would be a good spring board for cooking adventures.  Good olive oil, sea salt, good real non imitation extracts, etc.
I still think its a good idea.
Thirteen years after moving out of my parents house I still feel a bit of an amateur at having things on hand I need. I think its because when I get to the store all the decisions and "Please, don't put that into the cart" admonitions leave me a bit hazed.
I finished reading a cooking memoir the other day and in the appendix the author listed the staples that comprise her pantry.  The ingredients always replenished and resting inside the cupboards that provide the skeleton for a great meal.
She provided a weeknight pantry must have list as well as ideas for an entertaining pantry shelf.
I scanned through the ingredients and her directives and laughed at her normal.
Cannelini beans
Brown Rice
Feta cheese
Goat Cheese
Dried figs and cherries
Balsamic ....
The list went on.
The list sounded marvelous to me...
If it was just me....
I kind of marveled that her kids gobbled up bowls of roasted broccoli and quinoa.
That got me thinking about what I regularly reach for and place in my basket.
What gets me through the week.
It also reminded me of the necessary building blocks I leave out of my list and then find myself running back to the store to get.
For me things I always forget are sugar, oil, and salad dressing.
Lately I've been making other lists.
Lists for Hope.
I keep thinking about Hope.  The word.  What it means. How I haven't been living with it for a while. How to Hope again.
When I think about Hope certain words find themselves on my list.
My list keeps growing...
Ways to hope, ways to be healthy enough to hope, ways to allow for hope...etc.
But at the base of the list, at its root are a few staples that everything is being built upon.
Kind of like a pantry list to craft hope...
Heart...Who am I really? I mean really, Not who I want to be, think I should be, but really who did   God purpose me to be? Am I willing to take of masks and honestly say what I think? Am I willing to live from the heart of me?  Not the deceitful part but the personal to me part?  Authentic
Humble ... I know that being lifted up to hope involves being humble, pride accompanies a fall, and when you have fallen a humble spirit is key to being able to look up at Hope
Happiness... I do think we are made to be happy, I don't mean that we live to be happy but I think we can find happiness when we are looking for it and at the base of happiness really is thankfulness.  A thankful heart births happiness.  It's just true.  Happiness is elusive without it.
Honor... Seeking to honor people means I'm being hopeful about the best in them instead of hanging on to the worst
My list is long and some items that are on it are a bit different and not as frequently used, but kind of like that teaspoon of extract you must have to make a cake taste right or the baking powder and soda and yeast they are crucial.
Some pantry items are fun and more flashy like fragrant cardamom or salty kalamata olives but some are more boring and standard.
On my Hope list there lies Health...
Something I can honestly say that I have neglected.  My personal health.  For years.  Refusing to allow myself to rest and to ask people for help.  Not eating meals, thinking I don't deserve to be healthy. Where is my margin?  What do I do for just me that makes me healthy?  A counselor asked me that recently and I could barely even list anything. "Seeing you," I stammered out.  Then I swallowed.  No wonder I felt empty on the inside.  I didn't do things I loved and kind of just let myself diminish, deplete, drain.
Heal...Am I willing to let God heal me?  Heal me of all the hurt? Heal me from all of the past?  Heal me so I can hope again.  Heal me so I won't hurt others? ...
Here... Am I fully engaged here, to this moment, this season, this time?  I don't want the regret of the past, the hurt of the past, or wishing for the future to steal this moment.  This here and now. Here is very important.  Hope hinges on what I do here.

In my real life, in my buggy every week I always find myself buying...
Milk, Bread, Eggs, Nutella, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Apples,  Cheese, Almonds, Romaine, Pasta, Muffin mix, tortillas, chicken breast, etc.
*Not nearly as exciting as the aforementioned pantry list...but what works for me.
My mom's list has several all important others that I never haul across the store and slip inside my fridge door. Hers include Virginia Best Flour to pat out her biscuits and bags of lemons to fresh squeeze lemonade and lots of odds and ends things to roll out fruit pies and to whisk up soups of all kinds that are thick with items I don't own.
My friend Kristen's list is filled with everything to make on the whim pasta salad and lots of italian and sometimes dishes that nod to her Lebanese background.
Then theres Jenna that is always producing the cover cake on Southern Living.  She has an active pantry...

What items do you find necessary to build a weeknight of normal meals? To entertain with?
What words, ideas, and practices do you tap into to craft a beautiful life?
What word or idea are you trying to bring forth this year? To produce out of your heart?  At the end of this year, the day, the minutes what are you focusing on this year?  To pull out of the heart of you and enjoy when it's done?

* I so enjoyed reading Shauna Niequist's Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life around the Table with Recipes.  Highly recommend.


  1. Hi Somer,
    What a fabulous idea to stock someone's pantry as a wedding gift -- you are right -- you do love gifting and your gift ideas are amazing! But I had to laugh at what was really in your pantry and what makes into your cart every week. And of course I loved how you made your list of the important things in life -- like hope. I've tried to kill it, put it to sleep, and deny that I have it, but somehow it keeps emerging! Your words are beautiful here today and I'm so glad I get a little peek into your world when you share them here with us!

  2. Valerie,
    Yes I know. My actual shopping cart is not very grown up! Thanks to two out of four picky kids. I know you have had tried to do that with Hope. But I believe in you. Really. I think God is going to do something with those creative dreams you've tucked away. Totally.


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