When I set out to cook 963 recipes in 365 days, I knew I could not do it alone. On every front, at every turn, I have needed and leaned heavily on a network of support. The exceptional group of individuals listed below represents the beauty of what happens when we work together, bringing our unique strengths to the table to work toward a common goal. My favorite memories from this project were not me in the kitchen cooking. They were of the time spent together with my partners in this project. I am humbled that each of these people chose to bring their talents to this project. I am deeply grateful to each of them.
You were there the day it happened. The day I looked at the stack of cookbooks and said out loud, “Wouldn’t it be cool to cook all of Ina’s recipes in one year?” I remember we were joking about the whole idea, because it was too crazy to consider, and then later that night I texted to tell you that I had mentioned the idea to Timm. Your response, which stuck with me, was indicative of how well we know each other.
You texted, “This is going to happen isn’t it?”
I texted back, “This is totally going to happen.”
Thank you for believing in this idea from day one, for selling it and explaining it, and for knowing it would need the right “look” in order to be successful. The graphics, the shirts, the website, the photographs, all of it has your stamp of elegance and excellence. Thank you for making this project beautiful.
Thank you for also stepping outside your comfort zone and diving right into the deep end of the spread sheet hell. Thank you for spending most of the summer of 2018 entering recipe titles and menus into endless miles upon miles of spread sheets.
Thank you for managing VIP events, sending out the invitations, wrapping gifts, and making sure every detail was just right. Thank you for helping me design sponsorship packages with perks that made sense.
Thank you for your real time descriptions of food, and for putting into words the flavors we were experiencing. I have quoted your takes on things many times over.
Thank you for helping me choose menus that sounded delicious. Thank you for laughing at all of my ridiculous Ina jokes and for bringing to life things like Ina Bingo and Guess That Vegetable.
Thank you for bringing all of your creative genius to the table, and making this project outstanding. I could not have asked for a better partner than you.
Thank you for being my Ina Fairy. You have always held space for new ideas, and this one was no different. You owned it. You became my partner in managing all the details of the lunches, sponsors, tickets, and events.
Thank you for knowing the importance of documenting this whole process, and for insisting on photos and videos. Thank you for painstakingly marking progress on our menu spreadsheets, keeping everything in chronological order. Thank you for knowing that we would want to keep certain things for posterity.
Thank you for spending endless hours uploading and cataloging all the photos and videos in an organized fashion. Thank you for keeping me on track, counting down every week, flipping the clip board, giving me a weekly dose of encouragement.
Thank you for being my co-host for the Ina lunches. Thank you for setting the table and arranging the flowers while I cooked. I was delighted to walk out from the kitchen every week and see the beauty you had created. I watched you blossom as a hostess, knowing what to consider in group dynamics, how to best make people feel welcome, creating place cards, place settings, and getting fantastically talented at making week-old flowers look brand new.
Thank you for designing and creating the art installation representing the scope of this project. You dipped spoons in paint, taking time to get the colors just right, the order of the spoons just right, and the scale just right. It’s more than I could have asked for. Thank you.
Thank you for ordering groceries, making lists, learning how to notate what I needed, expressing hospitality to me even in the way you anticipated my needs in the context of a grocery list. You organized ingredients, made trips to the liquor store, researched ingredients, gathered supplies, and made us a known entity at Central Market.
I could not have asked for a better side kick. You enjoyed every root vegetable, wagging your tail at every meal. I loved feeding you because the joy that washes over your face when you taste something delicious is a gift. I loved hearing how exercising hospitality has become second nature to you and has spilled over to the way you host others in your home.
I always knew your time at Hurley House would end. I cannot comprehend that Friday is your last day. Thank you for staying past your lease so that you could end this project with me. I could not have made it without you. I hate that you’re leaving, but I know it is time. You are a gift, and I will always remember you when I eat a roast chicken with my hands from the pan.
To Elizabeth and Treslyn together,
We became an Ina trio, thick as thieves, able to read each other’s thoughts with just a look, knowing what the other needed before a word was spoken. I have enjoyed this year for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of how closely we became through working together and how knitted together I feel with both of you. I will always hold you closely in my heart and in the fiber of each memory associated with this project. If I get to meet Ina, then you will get to meet Ina. If Jeffrey calls, you’re getting on the call with me. If I go to Paris, you’re coming along for the ride. My wins are your wins. I did not do this alone, and in the crowd of people who made this possible, your faces shine brightest. You stood next to me, with me, in it up to your eyeballs, supporting, laughing, organizing, and birthing something beautiful alongside of me. Thank you.
You were, as always, the cheerleader I needed. So matter of fact with your confidence in me that I would use it as fuel to carry on when I wasn’t sure how to take the next step. It was never a matter of “if,” but “when.” You represented the Ina project to our clients, explaining it over and over to each new question, encouraging them to follow along, taking time to make sure they knew the details. You dreamed big with me, seeing the potential for what could happen. You laughed hard with me, reminding me how fun it can be to work with people who love big and choose to enter into the sacred spaces. You cried with me, let me vent, expressing horrible fears and insecurities, always pointing me back to the Savior with grace and kindness. You were my stability when I felt shaky. You were my backbone when I felt like quitting. You were and always will be my co-host in the imaginary world where we have a pair of microphones, a cocktail in hand, and an audience that will never laugh half as hard as we laugh at ourselves.
When I needed a lifeline, you appeared. I was drowning, and you rescued me, one list at a time. I was carrying too much, struggling hard under the weight of it all, and you jumped right in, taking loads from me and making it possible for me to keep going. You created freedom for me, brought order to chaos, and jumped in full force. You organized, planned, did the dirty work, mapped out my schedule in fifteen minute increments, and labeled containers of spices, onions, and cheese so that I could grab what I needed and cook as quickly as possible. You entered into the places where I needed help the most. I am so grateful this project brought you to Hurley House. Thank you for being my second brain, my second set of hands, my logic when I had none left, my sense when mine had disappeared, and my dose of reality when the dreams try to carry me away. I love planning with you, and figuring out how to make big things happen.
To my sponsors.
This project had a hefty price tag associated with it, and you made this project possible through your generosity and the tangible way you supported my dream. Thank you for taking ownership of my dream and giving it the resources to come to life. I have loved having you in this with me. Thank you for sitting at my table for lunch, for having me in your homes for dinners, for attending parties and making each occasion feel like a celebration. You have cheered and encouraged every step of the way, your excitement spilling over from your heart to mine. This has been the most fun because of you.
To my online community.
I knew there were other people out there who loved Ina as much as I did, but I didn’t realize how quickly we could become connected. To commiserate over a favorite recipe, or to be a resource on what has worked (or not worked) is a powerful bond. I love the beginning of something valuable here, and I hope to continue it. Thank you for showing up and cheering me on.
To my staff at Hurley House.
You kept the machine of Hurley House running. I could not have done this without you. My sweetest memories from this project are of the times we stood around the kitchen prep tables, tasting food together and sharing our thoughts. This is community. This is communion. This is the reason we cook in the first place. Thank you for your support, and for doing my dishes.
Thank you for knowing what I needed, even hundreds of miles away. Thank you for eating lamb seventeen times and not minding a bit. Thank you for seeing the humor in so many of the menus. Thank you for being the place that reflects home back to me, for reminding me of the powerful life-changing impact of hospitality, for understanding my challenges and my victories, for seeing the ache and knowing how to encourage me to stretch, and for being a safe place to say hard things.
To my children, Annie, Jake, Norah, and Lillian.
Thank you for your excitement, and for the light in your eyes. For wearing your Ina shirts to school, telling your friends, asking about the number of recipes left, for sharing with me your honest thoughts about the recipes we ate at home. I loved experiencing this project through your eyes and watching you learn with me that we can do hard things.
And, finally, to my husband, Timm.
Thank you for being my barometer for excellence. Thank you for reflecting back to me the life I needed when I wasn’t sure what I was doing. Thank you for always believing in me, for not allowing me to play small, for insisting that I follow where I feel led, for knowing the inconveniences first-hand and yet patiently abiding in the midst of the unusual set of circumstances I seem to continually create.
We were at the swimming pool one afternoon when I said the idea for this project out loud, telling you how I had written about it in a recent blog post I published. You stopped. Looked at me with a serious look on your face and said, “You put this idea out there already?” I knew from your reaction that my idea had weight. Your concern that someone else might claim it as their own fueled in me the fire to make it happen sooner rather than later. You told me I had to do it. I had to be the one to do it. And I started taking notes.
You called the challenges way before they happened, and I wrote them down. You helped me navigate the real-life at-home implications of this monstrous project, helping me set realistic boundaries on what we could and could not handle as a family. You allowed me the space to do this massive thing, without any personal or financial gain, encouraging me and sharing it with others. Thank you for allowing me to fully engage with this project despite the obvious and obtrusive inconveniences. I love you and always will.