An Unexpected Twist: A Fond Farewell, and New Beginnings

A Fond (And, Yes – a Teeny Bit Tearful) Farewell

~ from Gretchen

Happiest of New Years to all of you! Welcome, 2016!!

A new year always brings such hope, a renewed sense of purpose, and energy! And I’m sending all that and more to each of you!

G&S on the Square - Version 2

Often, a new year also brings change. And … there are some changes coming to Two Healthy Kitchens in 2016.

Over the past several years, I’ve been working in the schools a bit as a substitute aide, mainly working with students with special needs. I absolutely love it. I love working with the kiddos. (I also love getting to see my own little ones during the day if I’m working in their buildings!)

But also, I truly love everything about Two Healthy Kitchens … and my heart swells with pride every time I look at what Shelley and I have created.

We literally started with a big black hole in cyberspace and made a colorful, helpful, beautiful site that so many have come to (flocked to!) for sweet stories of our families and friends, and our fabulous recipes. Recipes that our families tested (and retested!) and tasted and enjoyed and tweaked. Recipes that I love and make in my own home on a regular basis.

And I have loved every single second of working with Shelley.

We’ve had many {MANY} challenges in creating a website when neither of us knew the first thing about HTML or website design. So many decisions that needed discussed and researched for hours. All those late night texts and even later night phone calls, when we’d talk in whispers because our families were sound asleep … but we just HAD to figure something out … or share a huge milestone that our THK baby hit! (Ummm … yes, we totally used to celebrate every 100, then 1,000 views!)

This entire experience has given me so much more than anyone could ever realize. I’ve been challenged and stretched and pushed. I’ve learned and taught and shared. I’ve cheered out loud and silently happy-danced. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the bloggers I admire the most, and even hang out for two hours with THE  blogger I look up to the more than any other (ahem … Lindsay.from.Pinch.of.Yum … ahem) (OMG!! I know, right?!?) while taste-testing amazing bites at a fantastically awesome conference.

I’m also really proud to say that I took every photo on the site (to this point!). Some bring me more pride than others … but I’ve learned a lot about photography in general and tons about food photography. I never imagined how much a sheer curtain, brown parchment, white poster board, and a simple white towel could solve pretty much any problem I was having behind the lens. But I learned, and took thousands of photos to practice, and – over the years – I improved. And that’s what it’s all about … tiny steps forward.

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As with life … we all just want to move forward. Even if it’s only a baby step. To make improvements over yesterday. It doesn’t have to mean big changes (it can … but doesn’t have to). It can be simply figuring out how to do something better, or faster, or smarter.

Lately though, I feel that I’ve been called to be in the schools. A calling that I can’t ignore. Like I’m being drawn there. I’ve spent a lot of time really thinking and praying and making sure I was making the best decision.

It definitely wasn’t an easy choice. I agonized. I talked about it from every angle. And talked in circles. And cried.

But ultimately, I can’t turn away from what I’m feeling. I’m excited to have the time to be in the schools more and work with the kids.

When I graduated from high school, a number of people told me I should have gone into teaching. No, no, I said … my parents were both teachers and I wanted to carve my own path. Turns out, I maybe should’ve listened. I really love being in the schools, so I’m going to do my best to work with those kids.

Which means … I won’t be here at THK. (Yeah … I’m kinda freaking out, too.)

Of course my desire to cook healthy meals for my family won’t change at all … it’s who I am. I just can’t let that go! 🙂

BUT I couldn’t be happier to share that Shelley is totally taking the reins and is going to rock this like you wouldn’t believe. She’s got recipes and ideas and excitement – and I’m super thrilled for her! If anyone can do this – it’s Shelley!

THK 1st10That’s been the roughest part about this transition and this process of moving forward (or rather, of me moving in a different direction). It’s Shelley. She’s my bestie.

She came into my life at the exact moment when I needed her. I met Shelley about 2 months before my mom passed away, and no matter which way you look at it, God placed her in my life then because He knew I’d need someone. And she has been that someone for me. She’s my person. And I can’t help but feel that this change for me means disappointment and more work for her. And that’s what’s been the toughest.

Mmmmkay. Enough sadness. We are ending on a happy note here, folks.

We’re excited for what 2016 will bring for me, for Shelley, and for you, too!

And I’m not totally disappearing … I’ve already photographed the next few recipes, and if it’s ok with Shelley, I’d love to come back every now and then and do a guest post when I have a recipe that’s too good to keep for myself!

But friends … I know that Shelley is feeling a tad overwhelmed. So please give her lots of love and encouragement. Let her know how awesomesauce she is. Because she is.

This isn’t goodbye – it’s until we meet again. And we shall.

THK by Gretchen

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New Beginnings: The New Faces of Two Healthy Kitchens

~ by Shelley

I didn’t read what Gretchen wrote above, until after I’d drafted my own part of this column. I had to approach my own words clear-headed, and without tears in my eyes. I’m not much of a crier. I try really hard to be more of a laugher, actually. But wow – finally reading Gretchen’s words really got me. I’m glad I’d sorted my own words out first, or I’d probably be giving you a pile of mixed-up, blubbering gibberish. (*SNIFF SNIFF*)

Gretchen and I had both said that we were going to try to keep this post upbeat – to find ways to be our usual, silly, slightly irreverent, let’s-just-make-this-fun, selves.

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That was maybe just a bit harder to accomplish than we’d thought, though.

This is such a day of mixed emotions for me.

Even as it’s terribly hard to watch Gretchen leave THK, I’m also really proud of her and the truly meaningful impact she’ll have in working with the special needs kiddos in our district. They need her so much, and she has so very much to give.

Just as THK was an adventure for the two of us in reaching out to help others, her new adventure will be doing that, too – in a different but very powerful, meaningful way. How can I not feel excited for her, for all that she can accomplish?

Of course, I do.

But what about the “Delicious Adventure” she and I started together, to inspire others to eat more healthfully, even in the midst of today’s hurry-up, busy lives?

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How would I go on without my bestie, my partner in crime? (Who also happens to be my photographer and my crack-of-dawn, first-thing-Monday-morning, let’s-get-to-work phone call.)

I’m going to be completely honest and admit that the answer wasn’t crystal clear.

There’ve been some tough discussions around my house lately. Some soul-searching.

Could I do this on my own?

Did I even want to?? Where would be the fun in that?!? In doing Two Healthy Kitchens alone?

But wait …

My husband was the one who finally helped me realize that I’m actually so not alone in this. (Honestly … he’s pretty much always right. I’ve gotten used to accepting that. 🙂 )

Thanks to him, I suddenly realized the obvious.

I’m surrounded by three people (truly the fun-fun-funnest people I know), who’ve been a part of this adventure, too, right from the very start.

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My family.

Right.

From there, the decisions started to fall into place and make a whole lot more sense.

Gretchen and I had started THK because of our kiddos, our families. Because we wanted to find ways to feed our own families more nutritiously in the midst of our busy, hectic, wonderfully adventure-packed days. And we wanted to help other families do that very same thing, too.

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Family.

That was the whole point.

My two kiddos have grown up eating my healthy concoctions and patiently listening as I rattled on about why what we eat matters so much. They’re truly the main reason I felt like I could write our series on picky eaters – because I’ve been there … with them!

We’ve grown gardens together summer after summer (and learned that our thumbs aren’t always green!), and gleefully scouted for new veggies at farmers’ markets.

Gardening kiddos

We’ve made family mealtimes a priority, even when it seemed nearly impossible to find a single spare moment to sit down around the table together.

We’ve laughed over food (ahem … and some of my most epic recipe failures), we’ve bonded over food … and we’ve learned how to use food to fuel ourselves for races (even a half marathon!), and all sorts of sports, and just life in general.

Family sports collage

My family has been quietly in the background of THK, ever since the first crazy day when Gretchen and I dreamed up the idea. They’ve been my fearless testing minions, my cheerleaders, my inspiration.

As they’ve grown older, my kids have also gravitated more and more toward the kitchen, themselves. No longer just waiting around for me to feed them, but excitedly grabbing mixing bowls and random ingredients and cooking up their own, wonderful, new concoctions.

Few things are more rewarding than standing shoulder-to-shoulder with your children in the kitchen, watching them apply everything you’ve worked so hard to teach them … the cooking skills, the nutrition knowledge, the joy in creating delicious food.

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They were ready. And they wanted to help … to keep THK rolling and add their own voices, their own ideas to the mix.

So … here we are. On the precipice of a whole new family adventure.

Together, we’ll continue our family’s own food journey, of making food that is simultaneously nutritious, delicious and fun! And we’re thrilled to be working together now, as a family, to inspire you and your family to do the same.

At first, I wasn’t sure how there could still be a TWO Healthy Kitchens – without my kitchen, and Gretchen’s. But then we realized that there really are still TWO Healthy Kitchens … OUR healthy kitchen … and YOURS!

As THK says a heavy-hearted farewell to Gretchen today, I want to reassure you that she won’t be far away. She’s still my dearest friend, and I intend to 100% hold her to her promise of sharing more of her own family-favorite recipes in the years to come.

But I’m also happy, in a way I wouldn’t have even imagined, to unveil the new faces behind THK – faces that have been here all along, unknowingly preparing for this day.

View More: http://susiemariephotography.pass.us/the-fulton-family

This is the new Two Healthy Kitchens family – my family. My husband, Scott, and kiddos, Ty and Amy.

We can’t wait to share OUR healthy kitchen with you! Ideas, inspiration and recipes – from OUR Healthy Kitchen … to YOURS!

You can learn more about us here, but most of all, we want to start off 2016 by learning about you!

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Help Us Shape the New Two Healthy Kitchens …

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As we reimagine all that Two Healthy Kitchens can be, we’d really like to know more about what you’d like to see from us, and what we can do to help you and your family most.

What kinds of articles and recipes would you like to see more frequently? How do you use our site, and how can it meet your needs even better?

Take just a few moments (seriously – we’re talking 5 minutes, tops!) and hop over to our First-Ever Reader Survey, to give us your opinions.

As a thank-you for taking those moments out of your busy day, we’ll enter you in a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card!

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It’s the perfect way to start this new adventure together ….

Two Healthy Kitchens: Our Healthy Kitchen … and Yours!

THK By Shelley

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Comments

An Unexpected Twist: A Fond Farewell, and New Beginnings — 32 Comments

  1. Awww. I feel your pain and excitement. Gretchen will be missed but I know Shelley and she can do it! Life is a journey and we never know where it will take us. I’m so glad you fund your passion Gretchen and I believe Shelley has found hers, too!Can’t wait to see the next chapter. I sure would like to know more about that towel and brown paper though!

  2. What surprising news! I’m sure this will be a great move for both of you.
    Good luck with everything Gretchen I’m sure you have made the right decision. Shelley I’m looking forward to continuing to follow Two Healthy Kitchens.
    All my love to you both
    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

    • Yeah, Julie … this isn’t quite what Gretchen and I had envisioned, either, but it suddenly was the clear and obvious choice. She just has so much to offer those kids! She’s there at the school, helping out right now, as a matter of fact. They’re so fortunate to have her kind, sweet, caring guidance. As much as I miss my blogging bud already, how can I not be just overjoyed to share her with people who need her so much? Thanks for your kind words and long-distance friendship – it all means a lot to us both! xoxo ~Shelley

  3. Awwww, girls … I wish you ALL the VERY best as you both take this leap forward onto something new … and something very good!
    As one door closes, another opens …
    Can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for you here, Shelley! 🙂

    • Yep – we’ve just got to focus on the doors that are opening, right?!? No use shedding more tears over the ones that have closed (no matter how much you’re going to miss your buddy when she’s in the classroom all day instead of blogging with you :D). So glad you popped by Helen – it’s wonderful to hear from you! ~Shelley

    • Hi there, Kelly! This was definitely a bit of a hard change, just because we’ll both miss working together so much. But it’s such a terrific step for Gretchen, such a wonderful opportunity for her to have a really meaningful impact on so many lives. Thank you for your good wishes – it truly means a lot! 😀 ~Shelley

  4. What an emotional post to read! I’m so glad that you’re going to keep the blog going, Shelley, because it’s so fun to read and has given my family several new favorite recipes! Congrats to Gretchen on going after her heart and passion. I can’t imagine how challenging this whole decision was for both of you, but I think you both made great decisions and I can’t wait to see more great recipes coming from Two Healthy Kitchens!

    • Oh Kara, thank you! It’s been pretty emotional for both of us – such a mix of being happy for new opportunities, but so, so sad not to be doing this together anymore. Definitely not an easy post for either of us to write. It was terrific to hear from you – just when I needed your positive, cheerful voice the most! 😀 ~Shelley

  5. I’m so happy to hear you are staying on Shelley. You are one of the most energetic bloggers I have met and I cannot imagine you giving up – you have so much passion! Wish I could have met Gretchen but I wish her all the best!

    • Erin, you’re so sweet – thank you! (But let’s be honest, it’s pretty easy to seem energetic when you’re eating and photographing your way through North Market with like-minded, hilarious foodie friends 😀 )! Thanks for the words of encouragement! Can’t wait for the next opportunity to help you scout for never-before-seen root beer while we taste test everything we can get our hands on (oh – that really does sound great, actually – we should TOTALLY do that soon)! xoxo ~Shelley

  6. Was searching for a coleslaw recipe and you landed on my screen. Just made the slaw. It’s resting now. Can’t wait to try it. What a lovely blog. I’m in Brampton Ontario Canada and disclosing neat places I should visit, like NC and those beaches you mentioned. Next will be your pulled chicken recipe. PS. I need to adopt this family of yours of 22 fab folks. I don’t have family. All the best this new fab year and keep sharing your recipes. T

    • Haha – what a sweet comment, Terry! I’m so thrilled you found us (and that you’re trying the coleslaw 😀 )! And yes, you also definitely, definitely have to try the NC BBQ – I love that recipe! And while you’re at it, you should also definitely visit NC’s OBX (I love that, too)! I’m so excited you’ve “adopted” us – delighted to have you along on our adventure! 😀 ~Shelley

  7. THK has been such a terrific source of recipes and fun to read. I’m sure it will continue to be a great source of inspiration just like these these two amazing ladies. Best of luck to both of you!

    • Oh, Stacey – thank you for such sweet words! You’ve been such a wonderful source of support and guidance for us, and all of that (not to mention your treasured friendship) really means so much! Thank you for everything, really! Hugs … 😀 ~Shelley

  8. Just found your website and read your post. Good for both of you for trying new things and challenging yourselves. It will only lead to good, and remember no decision are set in stone!!

    • Hi, Cathy! Welcome to THK – we’re so glad that you found us, even if it is in the middle of a pretty big changeover! We hope you’ll stick with us through the transition and find lots to love here – both in the last three years of recipes, and in all that’s ahead for the future! And you are so very, very right … nothing is set in stone! (Ahem … did you notice how both Gretchen and I both left the door open for her to contribute recipes in the future?!?!? She just lives right across town, and as my bestie, I see her ALL THE TIME … so you know … 🙂 ) Anyway, it was so wonderful to hear your thoughts and encouragement – please pop by again soon and let us know what recipes you’re enjoying here! Welcome, welcome! ~Shelley

  9. Girls! I’ve got tears in my eyes, but, Gretchen, I so admire you following your heart and doing the work that you do. It’s no easy task and takes so much compassion and patience…wishing you all the best. Shelley, you’ve got this and you know how many of us are here if you need a hand. Sending you both lots of hugs! xo

    • So, Caroline, you pretty much brought tears to MY eyes all over again! I’ve missed you and your blog lately – you know you were one of our very first “blog friends” – and it really means so much to hear from you now, at this hugely emotional time. Thank you, truly, for your kind words and your huge vote of confidence. Just knowing you’re out there makes me feel better! xoxo ~Shelley

  10. Wow! Congrats! Change is hard, but also so good for us! Big, wonderful adventures on the horizon for both of you! No one I know will do it with more excitement, energy, love and positivity!

    • Kristen, you have been one of our biggest cheerleaders from the very beginning, and your boundless enthusiasm and support has meant so much to both of us over the years! You’re not kidding about change being hard – at least sometimes, at least this particular change! But yes – we’re both also staring down new opportunities and new adventures because of it. There are so many ways – big and small – to contribute to making the world a better place, and maybe now Gretchen and I can accomplish even more by dividing our efforts in different directions. You know how much I’m going to miss her, though. 🙁 ~Shelley

    • Hallie, you are so wonderful in more ways than I can even begin to count! But, definitely, your unending enthusiasm and purely, genuinely positive energy top the list! Thank you for being awesome you. xoxo ~Shelley

  11. I was so sad at first when I read on Facebook and thought maybe THK would be ending…but then I realized it was just taking new form. I am sad that Gretchen is stepping away for now but I know how much it means to be happy in what you do and be passionate about something. You both will do great with your new adventures and have so much to give. You are both some of the nicest people I have met, and some of the first when I relocated to Ohio. I am always a couple of miles away Shelley if you need to connect or want to see another blogger in the flesh! Best of luck guys and I can’t wait to see what amazing thing THK transforms into next! Julia

    • Oh, Julia! Gretchen and I were both so thrilled when we found out you’d be moving to our town, and even though we see each other ridiculously infrequently, I love knowing that you’re really just around the corner. Every time we get together it’s such fun (as in … yeah, we should do that more! 🙂 ) … and I really appreciate your offer of support and fellowship. Nothing a good cup of coffee and a friend can’t solve, right?!?! Even if it’s NOT about blogging, you know G and I would love to get together with you again soon! <3 ~Shelley

  12. Hi, Shelley! I’m very happy for both you and Gretchen. You both are following your passion, always a vital ingredient of success. Your website just keeps getting better and better! I particularly enjoyed seeing the photos of your family, especially the ones of Amy and Ty when they were younger! Best wishes to you and Gretchen as you follow your dreams!

    • Awwwww … thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the pics – I have to admit, I really had fun digging up the old photos of the kiddos! I knew I wanted to include the one of them with those hilariously mammoth zucchinis, and I stumbled upon so many other forgotten gems in my search! I really appreciate your kind words about THK – this should be an exciting year, for all of us! Thanks for being such a dedicated reader – that means the world (especially now, more than ever)! ~Shelley

  13. I’m happy for you that you are doing something you love. I’m excited for your future. And, thank you for the fun post, I enjoyed reading it. Change is hard, and that you came to a decision is the most difficult part, I think. We are going through change in our house, and it’s scary. Even if you know in your heart that it’s right. All I can say is that things always work out. Good luck! I know you’ll go well!! And, I’m looking forward to the future!

    • Thank you so much, Debi! You’ve always been so supportive of us, and I feel like we’re really like-minded in so many of the ways that we approach both cooking and blogging! I truly appreciate your support now, more than ever! I’m worried for you, though, and what changes you may be facing. Please know that – over all the miles – I’m here if there’s some way I can help and support you in return. Cyberspace has a nifty way of making big physical distances really small – I’m just a click away, so please reach out any time! xoxo ~Shelley

  14. Wow! Well, first of all, I am SO HAPPY that THK isn’t going anywhere! I was scared for a minute! Secondly, congrats Gretchen for following your calling, and thank you making a difference in our kiddo’s lives. Thirdly, can’t wait to see what recipes will be showing up in my email next! 🙂

    • Hi Katie! Thanks so much for your sweet words and support! It really means so much. We knew this was happening (since we’ve been talking about it for several months now) but actually announcing it to the world sort of made it feel new again. Having awesome readers who are there for us is truly amazing! So THANK YOU for being so super fantastic and continuing to cheer us both on!

      ~Gretchen

      PS – I’ve tested several of Shelley’s upcoming recipes already … you’ll LOVE them!! 🙂

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