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."
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.