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Community is not just a concept at The Gathering Place, but the way we do business every day.
Michelle Fonte

The first.

The first.

People all around me have been telling me that I "need" to blog, for years now. I've resisted. I've refused. Honestly, blogging has always seemed a bit narcissistic to me- a little presumptuous to think people are interested in my daily musings? I sort of think so. Also, I am an introvert. I don't really care for my life being on display and I mostly like to be the observer; keeping my thoughts for myself or the handful of people closest to me. The last several years have provided me with more than ample opportunities to live most of my life far outside of that comfort zone and so "in public" that I have definitively NOT been seeking more opportunities, like blogging, to take a chance or challenge my sensibilities. I am actually likely to lose my entire mind if I see one more Facebook meme posted, directing me to dare to live outside of my comfort zone because that's where 'the magic happens' or to do something that scares me every day. Clearly those posters aren't familiar with what's been going on in my world for the last four to five years: separating from my husband of more than 20 years, joint custody, co-parenting from separate households, completely redefining and reinventing myself as a mom in this new context, parenting tweens and teenagers, four new businesses in four years including a desperately needed birth center that nearly killed me, public speaking almost every day, "on-call" for....more years straight than I can even remember.... So, ya. I can't even find the comfort zone on any map with any compass or navigation app. I'd rejoice in a day devoid of challenges and things that scare me. I'm good. Blogging wasn't on any list of mine.

But I started thinking about other truths about myself. I really love words and I love to write (what seems like lifetimes ago I actually spent some time as a free lance writer). I remembered that I can be a pretty decent teller of stories, when I want. Maybe if I tried thinking of blogging more like simply writing or journaling rather than another work related task, and if I forgot about the people who would be reading my private thoughts (See! There's the narcissism! Who knows if there will even be readers!?) and focused solely on the solitude of me alone writing stream of consciousness with my computer...it was perhaps possible that this could be.... enjoyable and good for me. gasp.

So here goes. Blog #1. 

For most of my adult life cooking, baking, creating meals and the kitchen have been the sun around which my universe revolves. The kitchen has been my everything. The place I can be creative in the midst of a million mundane daily tasks. It is where I can always find ground under my feet whenever it feels like it's slipping away. There exists simultaneously solitude and intimacy and community for me there. When it's quiet, I can hear my thoughts. I've fallen in love there. I've cried and wiped other's tears there. I've raised and talked with and marveled at my own six babies there. I've held and bounced and soothed client's and friends' new babies there. I've been shown the unrelenting strength and power of my closest women friends there. I've hatched schemes and ideas there. I've served countless meals, grown a family and a community. All from the kitchen. Somehow. Some way. We always end up in the kitchen. I'm sure that over time this blog will explore all the topics most relevant to The Gathering Place: pregnancy, birth, parenting, doulas, hospitals, midwives, birth centers... Maybe it won't make sense to some, but it makes perfect sense to me in this moment, that this first blog for The Gathering Place also ends up starting in the kitchen.


Today's cookie recipe: Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Blueberries and Cardamom

In a KitchenAid or with a hand mixer cream together:

- 2 sticks of butter (softened but not runny)
- 3/4 cup cane sugar3/4 cup brown sugar

Add:
- 2 large eggs1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Mix until creamy.

Stir in until thoroughly mixed (by hand, not with mixer)
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose unbleached flour
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2teaspoon cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon ground clove

Add:
- 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
- 1 cup milk or semi sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup dried blueberries

Drop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough per cookie) onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 13 minutes or until cookies start to look golden brown around the edges.

Cool on a wire baking rack and serve!

Perfectly sweet, warm chewy cookies. Since there's oatmeal in there we can just call them lactation cookies. Practically medicinal. 😉

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I'm sure that over time this blog will explore all the topics most relevant to The Gathering Place: pregnancy, birth, parenting, doulas, hospitals, midwives, birth centers... Maybe it won't make sense to some, but it makes perfect sense to me in this moment, that this first blog for The Gathering Place also ends up starting in the kitchen. Today it's mostly about cookies: Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Blueberry and Cardamom. But it's also about a quiet morning spent inventing a recipe while talking with two of my daughters: one nearly grown and getting ready to move out... The other who just thinks she is. It's about the center filling today with mamas and babies for Footsteps and doulas for interviews and pregnant mamas for prenatals with the midwife, while the smell of baking cookies drifts out from the kitchen, helping welcome everyone who enters. It's about creating an atmosphere where people feel comfortable and safe, wanted and cared for. It's all about the kitchen. And all about everything we hoped The Gathering Place would be when we dreamed her up. 

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