Gifts are piling up under our Christmas tree in the spirit of giving and spreading joy this holiday season. But are they spreading as much joy as we think? After a 20-year study, Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, concluded that experiences provide more joy than things. Millennials already get this. According to a Harris study, millennials think "living a meaningful, happy life is about creating, sharing and capturing memories earned through experiences that span the spectrum of life's opportunities."
- Lisa Sipe
- Wendee Daniels believes in food from scratch, saying it's "worth every whisk of the wrist."
Marilen Rose noticed this trend when her friends started getting married. "One friend had a registry where you could gift scuba diving lessons, and I thought it was really cool." Rose continued, "It makes total sense to give experiences rather than dishes and a toaster." She looked for places online to gift experiences, but none of them were very good, or they solely focused on weddings. She saw an opportunity. She built My World Registry, a gift-experience exchange hub for anyone celebrating a life event.
I heard about Bend-based My World Registry through Sharon Balsamo, one of the experience providers. She had just posted her sacred breathwork, magic spells and transformational coaching sessions. I was inspired. I wanted to book an experience to relax during a farm-to-table facial that would heal my dry winter Central Oregon pores, conjure a modern house with lots of windows overlooking the Sisters using a magic spell, and fill my belly with Indian delights and Asian rolls by learning to cook new foods.
That's when I saw "cook-for-you, meals for the workweek by Wendee." It wasn't as romantic as learning practical magic, but I was working overtime and tired of the same sad refried bean burrito lunch. It was the experience I needed.
Wendee Daniels, known as the Queen of Veggies and the Spice Queen, followed up with me to schedule my in-home experience. I had the option of picking what Daniels would cook and I could even provide recipes, but that sounded exhausting.
I told her, "We love all cuisines. We're meat eaters but usually not at every meal. We love being surprised; just cook what you love. If you give us a grocery list, we're good." Daniels' list included vegetables, herbs, spices, chicken thighs and bacon. I shopped at the grocery store, but if I was tighter on time or sending this as a gift, I would use Instacart, a grocery delivery service that charges $5.99 per order over $10.
Daniels arrived with an apron, a binder of recipes, her own knife and calm energy. She told me her first cooking experience was in high school when she learned to make fresh pasta with a rolling pin, then made it often after school. In college she read, "Food is Your Best Medicine," by Henry G. Bieler, M.D. Its message: "Let Food be Thy Medicine and Medicine be Thy Food," a quote from Hippocrates, inspired her to read food labels and eat organic. That was in 1988 when organic food and reusable containers and bags were very niche. She earned a Chinese medicine degree and worked in Bend as an acupuncturist and herbalist for a while.
I left Daniels in the kitchen and went to my office to work. The aroma of sizzling bacon and roasted chicken made its way upstairs, and I couldn't wait to see what she'd made. Three hours later she presented meals I could use to supplement my cooking throughout the week: a savory cole slaw, chicken soup with lots of vegetables, paleo bacon and chive sweet potato biscuits and a pan of roasted root veggies.
Throughout the week those meals made my life easier. For breakfast I ate the roasted root veggies with fried eggs, for lunch, cole slaw and biscuits. The chicken soup found its way into both lunches and dinners. This experience would be a great gift for someone who just got home from the hospital, had a baby, or needed to shake up their meals at home.