Stoked on life (and yams)

A few weeks ago, I had an intuitive reading with a dear friend of mine from Madison, named Laura. [A psychic? Really?] I prefer to call it an intuitive reading—but yes, really. There are no crystal balls, she doesn’t analyze coffee grounds … none of the hooplah you heard about in the cheesy movies. [Why would you do that? How do you know she’s for real?] How else do you expect me to find blogging material without doing something unexpected once and a while? And to the second question, I don’t know. I feel. Feelings are all you have to reference, and if she’s taught me anything it’s to trust my instincts.

Settle down… I’m not going off the deep end. Just hear me out, and as always, believe what you want about the whole situation—I’m just telling a story because THAT’S WHAT I DO.

I’ve been seeing Laura for readings on and off over the past few years. When I first met her, I was a confused 23-year-old who was writing a story about a hair salon owner. Laura—the owner of Onusara Salon—was my subject, and my boss had prepped me for the interview by confiding that Laura did readings and hair styling. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was nervous for the interview, and nervous about the fact she would tune into my shortcomings. I had just gotten my first job out of college at a women’s magazine, lost that job when the company went under, and then restarted the magazine with four other amazing women. The work was hard, the days were long, and I loved it. And yet, I was completely and utterly unhappy with all other aspects of my life. I had steadily gained weight since getting out of college; I wasn’t making time to go to the gym (even though I lived in the same building as the gym—you had to be pretty talented to avoid it). To make matters worse, I was looking for love around every corner and finding one disappointment after another. All I did was look for prince charming. Could that be him? Or that guy? Or THAT GUY? No, no, no.

One of the first things that Laura told me was that before that partner could come into my life, I had to learn to love myself. He was coming, and he would love me no matter what I looked like. She even told me it would all happen really fast. (Which was an understatement.) But before him, I had to be my first priority.

At first, I thought it was bogus. I had tons of friends and an amazing job! I was using my college degree! My closet was brimming with amazing clothes! And yet, those exclamation points masked what I knew deep down. I cringed every time I looked in the mirror… I longed for the days when I fit into ALL my clothes in my closet, and not just the most recent larger sizes I’d purchased… I wished I could be completely, 100% happy.

So, I set out to make a change. On January 1st of 2011, my roommate, Jenna, and I made resolutions to make 2011 about self-change. We each created lists and goals and I accepted my own challenge with a vengeance. The start to 2011 wasn’t about finding love or finding new clothes… it was about finding myself again, and loving myself no matter what weight I was.

I won’t go into what happened next, other than to say internal changed happened and wouldn’t you know… love came into my life like a whirlwind. Sure enough—even at my heaviest weight—Sean came into my life when I least expected it… and he loved me for exactly who I was. This “self-love” idea is still something I work on actively. Part of my discovery process after that New Year’s resolution was starting this blog—and now look at me… with regular readers! Who would have thought?

Over the past few years, Laura has taught me a great deal about how to get in touch with myself, my world, and my role in it. I wouldn’t say she has guided me on my path—but rather she has guided me in the right direction. Finding the path was all me.

Now, back to our reading a few weeks ago…

I’ve always known my Grandma Em has always been a driving force by my side since she passed away when I was young. She’s the instinct that tells me to sit up straight and mind my manners… and to not wear sweatpants to the grocery store (even if I really really want to). Laura mentioned to me during the reading that my Grandma was shaking her head and waving her finger at me about our eatings habits over the summer… with all the traveling, I admitted our diet hadn’t been stellar. Laura encouraged me to heed my Grandma’s warning and make a concerted effort to cook more and to eat better with Sean. So last week, I signed up for Bountiful Baskets—a food coop that you can register for weekly and get a big box of organic (or nonorganic) produce for anywhere from $15-$25. It forces you to be creative, to use your resources and to make the most of what you have. It feels good to be back on track food-wise!

For more information on Laura’s services, check out her website at If what I’ve said here resonates with you, take a chance and give her a call—she can do readings from anywhere in the world. If my story here does not resonate with you then not to worry—this post ends with a recipe that will DEFINITELY interest you! (Unless you don’t like yams. In that case, thanks for hangin’ in there.)

This week’s produce project? Ten yams. What does a girl do with TEN YAMS FOR TWO PEOPLE ? I freaked out for minute, and then Britt reminded me I could make baked sweet potato fries—with yams! This is quite possibly the easiest and most delicious (and nutritious) way to eat “french fries” and not feel horrible afterward. And you know who’s recipe it is? Paula Dean, herself. I made these the other night and I kid you not, Sean and I were moaning with each bite as if we’d never tasted more delicious sweet potato fries. Happy Wednesday!

Paula Deen’s Baked Sweet Potato Fries


  • Olive Oil, for tossing
  • 5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch long slices, then 1/4-wide inch strips, using a crinkle cut knife (I obviously didn’t have one of these—a plain knife works fine!)
  • 1 tablespoon House Seasoning (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Line a sheet tray with parchment. In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Sprinkle with House Seasoning and paprika. Spread sweet potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Per Serving: Calories: 273; Fat: 9.5g (Saturated Fat: 1g); Protein: 4g; Carbohydrates: 44g; Sugar: 9g; Fiber 7g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 1,670mg

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder


1 Comment. Leave new

Steven Shambeau
September 26, 2012 9:16 am

What do you suppose your Gramma Em would say about her son (your father)?


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