My name is Mary Shrader and I’d like to welcome you to my kitchen…what I affectionately refer to as Mary’s Nest.
I’m blessed to live in the Texas Hill Country with my sweet husband, our wonderful son, and a lovable Texas-sized dog named Obi, where we’ve got tress, lakes, hills, bluebonnets…and great food.
I love to cook and I love being in my kitchen. As a matter of fact, as a family we cook, eat, talk, laugh, cry, and on occasion have even slept in our kitchen! But most important, when we’re in the kitchen, we’re happy.
But life wasn’t always like this for me. Once upon a time, I was a Washington attorney, single and in my thirties, who spent little time in the kitchen…until one day when I took a leap of faith and headed west. And that’s when everything changed.
With a sudden but wonderful turn of events I found myself married to a sweet Texas guy 10 years my junior, pregnant at 40, and a new homemaker living in a small town outside of Austin, Texas.
Here I share all the things I write in my Kitchen Journal. Yes, there’s lots of nuggets about recipes, meal planning, table settings, and more. But kitchen life – and what I write in my journal – reaches far beyond my daily fascination with food.
My Kitchen Journal is the place where I also record all the stories of my bumpy transformation from practicing law to perfecting homemaking, along with stories about my adventures inside and outside the kitchen with my family, friends, and our constant companion…our sweet dog…as we live, love…and eat…in the Texas Hill Country!
Welcome to our Nest!
I’m a transplanted New Yorker – by way of Washington, D.C. – now living…and loving…in the Texas Hill Country.
How’d I wind up here? Well, it all happened when, sitting on a curb in the pouring rain after having survived a terrible car crash, I decided there was more to life than working 80+ hours a week as a tax attorney. So I quit my job and left Washington, D.C. in search of an adventure. And boy did I find one when I met a real nice guy at the airport in Austin, Texas. He soon proposed marriage…and I said yes. Next thing I knew I was married to a sweet guy 10 years my junior, pregnant at 40, and a new homemaker living in a small town outside of Austin. I was so unprepared for this…
What I learned along the way
But my semi-obsessive-compulsive, this-must-be-done-right-away-self eventually threw everything I had into this new job (at least after the morning sickness passed!) I rose to the challenge…OK, maybe I wobbled to the challenge…and learned how to care, clean, and cook for my new family…every day…well almost everyday (every girl likes to be taken out to dinner now and again!) and in the process, I learned a few things along the way…
How to care for our newborn baby son (contrary to what the neonatal nurse thought…they did not teach this in law school!);
Cook three meals a day (not just 5 times a year…);
Clean the house (I had always had a maid…OK, I was spoiled. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…);
Do the wash (Did I mention the maid…);
Iron shirts (I thought that’s why God made dry cleaners.);
Did I mention that I was completely and utterly unprepared for this?
In a matter of months, my life changed
But in the midst of all my unpreparedness, I was SO happy. A year earlier, at 39, with no romantic prospects on the horizon, I thought I would always be single…and I certainly never imagined I would become a mother at 40! And then, in a matter of months – just shy of my fortieth birthday, my life changed completely. TJ proposed, we got married, I got pregnant…and 37 weeks later our sweet son was born!
I embraced it all…even the diapers…and did the best I could. All these years later, I’ve learned a lot. Things are not always pretty but they’re always done with love.
So what’s my life look like now?
So what’s my life look like now? Well, these days, I’m a full-time wife, mother (to a teenager!…how did that happen?), and a fervent defender of dogs. My husband, son, and I, along with our adorable yellow “lab-ish” rescued dog – “Obi” – all live together in an old, but much loved, home near the shores of the Highland Lakes in the Texas Hill Country. Life’s not always perfect but I love every minute of it. (…Well, maybe not the wash!)
The most charming place in the world
If you’re not familiar with the Texas Hill Country, it’s the most charming place in the world nestled between Austin and San Antonio. It’s a landscape of lush rolling hills covered in wildflowers and dotted with breathtaking lakes (yes in Texas!) And did I mention the people? Well, they’re the best…with a laid-back spirit that would rival Key West. And me? Well, I wouldn’t live anywhere else. But it’s not just me…everyone who visits the Hill Country wants to stay forever. (And the Texas Travel Bureau says so! )
Speaking sweetly, living slow…
And what do I like besides the Hill Country? Well, I enjoy cooking for my family and eating dinner together, teaching others how to cook healthy food on a thrifty budget, going grocery shopping…and talking with the butcher and the fish monger, reading old cookbooks (and new ones too!), snuggling up with my husband and watching old movies together…and Restaurant Impossible (one of our favorite shows!), gardening with my son, going on long family road trips, stopping at roadside farm stands, walking for enjoyment, spending lots of time outside in the fresh air and sunshine, drinking plenty of raw milk and cream, speaking sweetly, living slow, and just life in general.
I’ve come a long way. A shadow of my former self. And that’s a good thing.
And if you would like to learn more about my sweet son, you can visit his blog here. And if you haven’t guessed already – I think he’s pretty terrific!