Shawna Atteberry

Baker, Writer, Teacher

7 Things Top Chef Taught Me

1. Don’t be mean. It makes you hard to work with, and is that how you really want to be remembered?

2. Don’t be afraid to experiment and explore. Yes, you might have the occasional mess, but you will also eat a lot of exquisite meals.

3. Live (and cook) from both the head and heart.

4. Be passionate and in love with what you do.

5. Taste your food before you serve it.

6. Admit when you’re wrong.

7. Chicago girls rule! (Yes, I was cheering for Stephanie!)

Where I have been

I haven’t been blogging much because I have been working on my novel. I finally have a plot, and it is starting to move along. I wrote 30 pages last week. Woot! And I’m hoping to get in the same this week.

One of my best friends also came up Friday for a visit (she lives in Bloomington, IL), and we had a great day. Jen and I saw the 5th Harry Potter movie on Friday the 13th, which we thought was cool. We also wore all black. When we worked together a group of us always wore black on Friday the 13th and called it Black Friday. Jeremy was very jealous we got to be together on Black Friday, but he dressed in black too, so we were together in spirit. We also went to Navy Pier. They still have the stained glass exhibit up, so we walked through that. It was up when my parents were here, and I was hoping it was still showing because I knew Jen would love it. Then we headed to Canady’s Le Choclatier for some gelato (yes the chocolatier in my building). In fact, this is the best gelato you will ever have, so if you are in Chicago head to Canady’s which is on Wabash between 8th and 9th Streets. Then we came up to the condo and had tea before Jen left. It was a great day. Because Jen was up on Friday, and I took the day off, I worked Saturday on the novel to meet my goal.

This morning found me back to work on the novel. I didn’t make much headway today. I’ve introduce a new character, and I’m still learning who she is. So the writing has been slow until she decides to let me know who she is and what she’s thinking. That’s okay because I think she is going to be a very important part of the story, and I want her to be well developed and three dimensional.

Now I need to figure out what I want to make for dinner. My stomach has been upset most of the day, so I’m thinking something that’s not too spicy and with biscuits. Biscuits just sound good. And I am not talking about those plastic hockey pucks out of a tube. Those are not biscuits. Oh no, I am talking homemade, light flaky biscuits that melt in your mouth. Uh oh–I need flour, white flour. Although I do have wheat flour, but normally I do half white and half wheat, so they are not too heavy. Well the grocery store is only two blocks away; I might have to make a quick trip.  And that means I need to sign off and get going. I hope everyone has a great week.

My chapel in the kitchen

I will be making dinner in a few minutes. Today in the prayer group I meet with we were talking about space and place and prayer. How place can make a difference in both corporate and private prayer, as well as, talking about the spaces in our life where we pray. The kitchen has always been one of those spaces for me. I remember my Mom in the kitchen, cooking and humming hymns. I knew she was praying while she was preparing to feed us. Spiritual and physical food have always gone hand-in-hand for me. When I moved out and established my own household, I noticed I did the same thing as Mom. I would hum songs and pray as I cooked. It seemed such a natural time to talk to God–the Creator of all–while I was creating a meal.

When Tracy and I decided to get married, I was ecstatic about having someone to cook for. I joke that I’m Italian–we cook for those we love; it’s in the blood. But to a large extent that is true. For me nothing says love like a home-cooked meal. I love deciding what I’m going to make and how I’m going to combine different flavors for each meal. I love the whole process of cutting, searing, slicing, boiling, and cooking. There is something very healing in the whole process. Being able to feed another person is sublime. Honestly, my husband is one of the least finicky eaters on the planet. I could cook the same thing every night, and he would be fine with that (that’s what he did before we married). But I cannot cook that way, much less eat that way.

Feeding the soul and feeding the body should always be two sides of the same coin. We need the reminder that people do not live by bread alone. But we also need the reminder that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That means we take care of ourselves and give our bodies what they need to be healthy. And if you’re Italian, nothing says “love your neighbor” like a good meal made with love and prayers.


A little over a year ago my bedroom became my sanctuary. I let my whimsy take over and designed the room to be my getaway. I painted it to look like twilight right after the sun had went down–my favorite time of day. My doll collection which included fairies were there as well as my icons. I called the motif “spiritual whimsy.” And when I wanted to shut the door on the world and lose myself in writing or a good book, I went in there and lit all the candles. Aaah sanctuary.

I was wondering if the bedroom would feel the same way since my marriage and move. Now I share the bedroom, which means I can’t paint it like twilight. But I do have my dolls out and my icons up. I love the view from the windows, both night and day. The lake is right there, and at night all the lights twinkling in windows make a wonderful mosaic. I put my rocking chair by one of the bedroom windows. Where I can read then look up and see the lake.

I am now on our bed. I decided the bedroom was the only place to be tonight. I needed sanctuary. I am overwhelmed by the violence and barbarism of the world. I have wanted to write on Lebanon and the Middle East, but the truth is I simply cannot. It’s too overwhelming. And I watched far too much news today. I have been careful in the last week to limit how much news I watch. Today I didn’t. Tomorrow I will. So here I sit on the bed, writing, with Bobby Flay’s Throwdown on in the background. (I love The Food Network).The Food Network has sparked another one of my sanctuaries: the kitchen. I love to cook. I love creating dishes and feeding people; my husband loves to eat, so we are well-paired. It renews me, and I can feel the stress from the day slipping away as I rinse, cut, and stir. I have just realized that I have planned a couple of time-intensive meals to make this weekend and in the coming week: time to unwind, to leave the world behind, and to create in contrast to all the tearing down.

I am hoping as I am in my sactuary, building up instead of tearing down, that God will show me ways of buidling up instead of tearing down out in the world. I am praying that I will create peace and be a peacemaker in the world as I receive peace in my sanctuaries. There are four articles that I found that I believe will help me to begin to know how to build up in regards to the Middle East. The links are below. They are very well balanced, and I loved that these two men are listening to each other, and their readers, and responding in Christlike love instead of diatribe. They give me hope that the Church can make a difference in our world instead of being polarized by political crap all the time. They give me a glimpse of what it looks like to be the body of Christ in this world and to act as Christ would act.

The Middle East’s Death Wish and Ours” by David P. Gushee.
Another Point of View: Evangelical Blindness on Lebanon by Martin Accad.
We Risk Not Just Suffering, But Annihilation by David P. Gushee.
“Who Is My Neighobor” in the Lebanon-Isreali Conflict? by Martin Accad.