This is an origami star.

I first started folding origami when I was 9 or 10 and quickly became completely addicted.  My nimble fingers flew quickly over mountain and valley folds, inside reverse folds, and more.  Somewhere along the way, I picked up a pattern for this star. I folded dozens of them. Maybe hundreds.

And as these things tend to go, I found myself folding less and less as things like college, boys, jobs, pets, travel, law school, and all the other parts of this grown-up life I lead got in the way.  One day I realized I hadn’t made anything out of paper in a long time.  I bought a pack of origami paper at a craft store and promptly stuck it in a closet for a year.

A few weeks ago, I found the paper again.  Thinking it would give me something to do with my hands while I listen to conference calls, I tucked the little cellophane packet in my purse and brought it to my office. Upon unfurling the first sheet, a sickening realization sunk in: I couldn’t remember how to make anything.

origami stars

A bit of tinkering brought back some favorites - a crane, a box, a frog. Soon, my desk was littered with little paper creatures and containers.

I didn’t remember the star until about a week later. It was as though my memory of this piece of origami had completely vanished, only to return suddenly and take me by surprise. I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten all about it. It was my favorite design for years. Years. And here I was, staring at a piece of whisper thin paper without the faintest clue how to recreate it.

I struggled and stumbled. Over the course of another week or two I picked it up and set it aside a half dozen times with little success. Bits and bobs of the process would come to me in disjointed flashes, but never in the right order. Finally, I remembered a critical aspect of the way it needed to look before the final eight folds. An hour later, I threw a rough but complete star onto my desk and shouted HA! Somehow, through a winding abyss of folds and creases and guesses, I had done it. Unfolding the finished product, a glimpse of something less meandering method peeked out at me. A few more tries over the ensuing days brought me back, finally, to the original design.


At first, I couldn’t quite explain why this little star mattered to me so much.  It hit me when I opened a box my mom sent me, full of books from my childhood. This star was a part of my life that has been settling, slowly, into closets and storage bins. But that star was a part of me, of who I am. I left Salt Lake City when I was 16, and since then have lived in Montana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, and finally California. Every move marked a new phase, a major change, another step away from the chrysalis of youth and into full-fledged, dusty-winged adulthood.  I gathered so many skills and experiences and friends and qualities along that path that it shouldn’t have surprised me to find I dropped a few things along the way; my arms were full.

But they aren’t so full that I can’t make room for a beautiful little star.  Neither are yours. This month, let’s look back and see what else we dropped along the way.

Challenge 3 - Brainstorming

Before we dig into the third challenge, let’s recap where you should be at this point.  Last month, we worked with four different proteins.  In addition, we cooked an additional meal each week.  Both of these challenges remain cumulative for this month; you should be cooking a minimum of three times per week now, and you should be working with four different proteins.  More advanced? Find a minimum of three things per week that you would normally purchase and make it yourself (stock, tomato sauce, bread, vinaigrette, etc.), and cook your proteins two different ways.

This month, I want you to focus on making food you really want to eat.  It’s great to work with whatever you have on hand to piece together a meal, and in the coming months we’ll get to work stocking pantries and fridges to make that happen more efficiently. This month, however, I want to cultivate a process of thinking about things we really love to eat, finding a recipe, and making it.  This is satisfaction on a plate, literally.

At least once each week, find a quiet place and take a few moments to think about the food you love.  If possible, think specifically about food from another time in your life - your childhood, college, that breathless time when you were living in your first apartment.  Let your mind wander to holidays, special meals, long-forgotten restaurants.  Think about the food, and when a dish crystallizes in your mind, write it down.  Generate a list of a at least three or four things, then decide which one you’re going to make for yourself that week.

Stumped? Here’s a sample brainstorm of mine: the first time I met John’s extended family was at his cousin’s wedding. It was also my first trip to DC. After the reception, we joined the adults for dinner (the rest of our generation went camping with the bride and groom, but we had to pass due to an early flight the next day).  We went to The Capitol Grille, and it was one of the most wonderful dinners of my life. I felt so welcome, so warmly embraced by this family whom I had just met.  Their warmth was magnified by the rich heat of the French onion soup everyone ordered with their meal.  It was the first and best French onion soup I’ve ever had, and I want to make it for myself.  So, first on my list? French onion soup.

Need help finding recipes to match your brainstorm list? Leave me a note here in the comments or drop me an email and I’ll be more than happy to offer some suggestions. Let’s go!