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Life Lessons from the Kitchen


When the Mr. and I were looking for a house to accommodate our blending families, I wanted there to be a gas stove. My last house had an electric one and I said, never again.

Of course when one is looking for a home in a leafy suburb that will accommodate five kids and three pets within a certain budget in a housing boom, one doesn’t always get everything one’s heart desires. So we ended up with a staircase to rival Alexis Carrington’s, a dated dark wood kitchen with Baltic brown counters, and an electric stove.

Six months after moving in, we went shopping for a new range. I love those fancy French ones with all of the pretty trim, but we’ll also need a new vehicle at some point, and the two things are similar in price. So we shifted to looking at 30 inch “pro” models because a steady diet of kitchen porn on Pinterest has ruined me for regular-looking ranges. Like a protagonist in a Nancy Meyers film, I wanted something with giant red knobs. I also wanted to know if these ranges are truly superior or if they’re simply expensive: I did not want the Yeezy of stoves. So I started to do some research.

The stove I covet is made in the US out of heavy pieces of bent steel. The sides are coated in an easy-to-clean porcelain with a lifetime guarantee, but the real beauty is its simplicity. There are no pizza ovens or internet connections or computer screens to break. There are knobs to control the gas, a fan, and a light. That’s it. When it comes to appliances, I’ve learned not to get distracted by bells and whistles and flash. I want something straightforward that won’t give me trouble and will work when I need it to work. Frankly, it’s the same thing I want in a partner, which is also a recent discovery. Perhaps the two are connected somehow.

We forked over the cash for this behemoth, and our new range arrived. The installer said we’d bought ourselves a beauty.

It was not all simple, of course. By now, I’ve learned to expect this. This workhorse of a stove requires a significantly more robust range hood, which calls for a slight modification of our kitchen. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, you’ll end up partially gutting your house. I think the official term for this is creeping normality, and I’ve learned to expect this, too.

Buying a stove can serve as a metaphor for life: You get what you pay for; simple is better; bells and whistles are simply things to break. It’s easy to get carried away with all of the new features, but at the end of the day, you need something that cooks your food and allows you to sit down, break bread with the people you love, and be thankful.

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With an MBA in Finance, JEN LAWRENCE worked in investment banking; was Executive Director of a Children’s Museum and is a pioneer mommy blogger. Jen writes and speaks about women in business, critical thinking, strategic planning and is the author of Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team. When your world’s been blown apart, Jen Lawrence can help you pull yourself together, and pinpoint those next steps that will help you find your new normal. She can also be found at

7 thoughts on “Life Lessons from the Kitchen”

  1. simple works! i’m guessing not one of those five kiddos is concerned about a stove’s bells or whistles. but i bet your bottom dollar they love what comes out of that oven when it’s time for dinner.
    xoxo beth

  2. That was my theory when I went to buy a washer, dryer and refrigerator a month ago. Just the basics. The salesperson didn’t get it when I said “I don’t want an appliance that’s smarter than I am. Just a regular refrigerator.” I could tell by her reaction she doesn’t get many people like me through the door. xoxox, Brenda

  3. So what kind was it? I will be needing a new one this summer to feed a family of 6 and hate anything with too many features.

  4. Simple is always best! And these days, I’m grateful to have a home, food and something to cook it with at all. One look at the news and I’m aware I’ve won the life lottery. Esther xx

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