Kelli’s Law


You are familiar with Murphy’s law. And perhaps even my friend Adam’s law. (“Some people say, ‘You make your own luck.’ Most of those people are pretentious assbags.”) This weekend I finally figured out my very own.


Kelli’s law goes a bit something like this: over-think the task at hand, create lists and schedules and completely stress yourself out when these don’t fall into place as planned, reject all compliments given concerning the final project because in your mind it wasn’t 100%, and call the entire thing a failure. Regardless, the majority of those around you have no clue you are so upset — otherwise, you’d be adding that guilt to your plate too.  Instead, be the whiny martyr and smile through your aggravation only to blog about it later.

Homemade pesto


My parents are in town. I’ve been excited about their visit for weeks and invited some of our closest family friends over for dinner Friday night. Of course, my parents wanted to go out and I wouldn’t hear of it. So I took Friday off from work and spent the morning shopping, chopping, cooking, cleaning and planning. These are not chores in my mind; I am my happiest in the domestic habitat.

Chicken parm

The meal included pesto and olives on baguettes with wine for an appetizer, chicken parmigiana and creamy pumpkin pasta and spinach salad for the main course, and spicy mexican brownies for dessert.

Creamy Pumpkin pasta

We sat on the patio under the stars and ate by candlelight. Decanters of wine flowed and the conversation was plentiful. And while I wish I could relax a bit and admit I pulled this off, I can’t. I wish the food had been warmer, the linens on the table had matched and a few other things had gone the way I’d planned. I fully recognize I’m letting my perfectionist tendencies ruin what was otherwise considered a great night, but alas, that is why this is Kelli’s law.


Happy customers: my papi, Martha, my mami, Martha Jr., and Alberto.

Every drive yourself crazy with your own kooky behavior? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment and I’ll pick one for a Thanksgiving apron later this week.


30 Replies to “Kelli’s Law”

  1. I am a huuuuuge sweater of the small stuff. That book was written just for me. I keep it on my nightstand and occasionally open it to any page for a quick sanity check.

  2. I declare it a successful party for the appetizers alone! Wowee… it all looks fantastic, even if you did stress out over it. =)

    My own personal kookiness generally involves extremely unreasonable expectations of my time – basically I say yes to everything I am asked to help with, plus I think everything I do (gifts, food for potlucks, etc.) should be homemade and perfect. It is simply not possible, yet I back myself into the same corner again and again. Then I get grumpy (at people who did not create the problem and totally don’t deserve it) because I can’t do it all up to my exacting standards.

  3. Oh Kelli! That meal looks perfect … and no one cared, I’m sure, that the table linens didn’t match. Silly goose! But I know what you mean. Last night I cooked my favorite meal for my mom for her birthday … and it didn’t turn out the way it normally does — boo! So I know what you mean. 😉

  4. I’m always freaking out about school – I’ve gone through 8 years of “gifted” schooling, 4 years of the IB program, 4 years in the honors college, written a thesis, graduated with honors and yet I STILL feel like crawling in a hole and dying after handing in my tests and assignments. Which I inevitably get As and Bs on. I’m nuts.

  5. When I used to throw a lot more cocktail parties, I used to think I needed to make EVERYTHING from scratch. I would kill myself for days and days before and would usually be so exhausted by the time the party happened I did not really enjoy the party.

    Now….well, I actually purchase premade items, if I do make items, I only make things that can be prepped in advance and do not require any babysitting by me once the guests have arrived. My entertaining is now much more relaxed and everyone still has a very good time!

  6. One day I will try that pumpkin pasta. It looks soooo yummy!

    I have about 1000 kooky behaviors that get on my nerves, Kelli’s law definitely being one of them. I also stress a lot over how my home looks. I think it’s from going to all the clever crafting blogs where people have these amazing (and super clean) homes. Then reality hits that I have 3.5 kids 5 and under, so I know I’ll just have to wait to have one of those awesome houses on design sponge or some other great site. I guess a toy scattered living room and a kitchen table that has been drawn on isn’t so bad for now!

  7. Oh I have a couple of things that I’m working on in order to be a more balanced person.
    The first is: Say what’s on your mind…even if it means saying no. You can’t please everyone, and sometimes you have to make a judgement call as to whether it’s even wise to want to please certain people. If they don’t really care about me then I probably shouldn’t worry about pleasing them in hopes that they’ll like me better. (ahh…the joys of growing up…trying to learn about life, lol).
    The second is: I am extremely critical of my own work while I have somewhat relaxed expectations of others. I constantly tell people to do their best and it will be enough. But if I’m the one who made the B instead of an A I feel like I’ve let everyone and myself down. And I find it hard to appreciate my own work. I mostly just look at what’s wrong with it instead. I’m trying to learn that I need to enjoy and love what I do or I won’t want to do it. Trying something new is a fun challenge, but don’t get so caught up with the small stuff…most often people won’t notice it anyway. And if they do you can probably laugh about it with them and hear about some small thing they messed up that turned out funny too.

    I think your meal looked lovely! I love how you cook so much food by scratch and with fresh, often home-grown ingredients. Very inspiring. I hope to be able to do that myself someday!
    Blessings to you!

  8. I also over-stress when people come over. My biggest personal kookiness is rearing its ugly head this week. I’m convinced the stuff in The Day After Tommorrow could happen, and after seeing 2012 yesterday I white-knuckled it through a flight last night and now I’m convinced LA is going to have an earthquake as I sit in my class in a high-rise building. And when swine flu happened? I filled the cabinet with canned goods, and piled bottled water in the guest bath tub. I have problems…

  9. That dinner looks so fabulous and excellent!

    My kookiness comes out just like yours where I feel like the actual dinner or presentation isn’t quite right therefore it isn’t a success. That is so me! When in all actuality, I have to keep reminding myself that the food and presentation are not the main thing. The people hanging out together are the main thing. The food and presentation are the supportive role and not the lead. I very often forget that MY dinner and all MY hard work is not the main thing even though I try so hard to give my best to everyone with something I love doing for them.

    I LOVE reading about your dinners!

  10. I have done the same thing over & over and it has taken me years to get over the needless worry that someone will focus on some imperfection about me, my meal or my house. Keep reminding yourself that your friends and family are happy just to spend time with you.

  11. It’s always astonishing to me to read some of your posts. I often find myself wanting to e-mail you and ask you how you do it, or get thru it. Recently, you shared a story about TDH and it not working out for whatever reason, and you putting your whole heart into it, and the resulting sadness.. I too, was dealing with a similiar situation, about a month behind you tho.. i did what you did and went on a road trip, alone, to my bff’s in seattle. I thought to my self, WWKD (what would kelli do) Truth be told, I live fairly close to your bff, finny.. and wanted to email her and ask her out to get sloppy drunk with me.. she seems like very cool people…

    Anyways.. i too, suffer from the similiar anxiety’s and often, like you, i find it more in my head and i drive myself nucking futs (as my daddy calls it). Thankfully, im surrounded by people that know this about me and are quick to walk in and settle my nerves right off. I make lists, about making lists. Its-that-bad. I’ll often lock myself up in a room,cry, and let it all out.. drink some wine and im good to go.. party on!

    Take care, have a great day!

  12. I think i’m going to compile all of Adam’s Laws and make it it’s own blog (or maybe try Tumblr?). I think i’m hilarious…

    I don’t know if i’ve ever told you this but my grandma Lois apologizes for literally everything she does. Food she cooks, gifts she gives…everything starts with “Oh, you probably won’t like this…” or “I’m sorry the potatoes didn’t come out exactly right…” Not sure if she’s fishing for compliments or has a big “Kelli’s Law” problem as well…

    My only “kook” that bothers me (i love all the other ones) is that when i don’t know how to do something, i get so anxious about not knowing where to start that i just don’t start at all. Drives me nuts.

  13. Oh gosh — we don’t have the time to go over all of my little “quirks”. Needless to say, they are myriad!

    OK, but I have come up with a rule that correlates to your Law, which has worked well for me so far: Make your initial plan/list, then start crossing things off one by one til you have something that won’t make you crazy. Lower the bar…and then lower it again. Sure, sometimes it’s fun just to go all out, but most of the time it only seems like it’s going to be fun. You know.

    You know.

  14. Picky? Perfectionistic??? Let’s just say that every time I knit a gift, I overthink it to the point where’s it’s just crazy. I just finished a scarf for my dad…with the 4th different yarn I’ve tried.

  15. Hi Kelli!!

    Just had to jump in on this one—I’m in the Perfectionist club too!! I drive myself crazy when shopping for clothes for myself, it has to be natural fiber, can’t be picky, can’t be stretchy, can’t be this, can’t be that….argghhhh…why do we do this to ourselves?

    Your dinner party sounded wonderful, and yummy, hopefully all you will eventually remember is the fun that you had with your family and friends. We are all much harder on ourselves than our loved ones ever are. They love us warts and all. I’m sure yours do to and only will remember how you put yourself out for them.


  16. I’m like Elain, I totally stress about what my home looks like when I have people over. Mainly because I live in a “matchy matchy” neighborhood….and I’m not matchy matchy!!! But I love my house! I love my mixed match table linens, bright colors and thrifted plates and mugs. KOOKY. Anyway, I am sure I would love your linens Kelli. And lord knows I would love the dinner! When are you coming out with your Community Dinner cookbook!?? I think it’s a fab idea!

  17. I’m a whining martyr, too! Fortunately, people often find me entertaining instead of just plain irritating. I’m also consumed with guilt about almost everything. I also don’t try a lot of things that I would like to do because I assume I’ll fail. And on and on.

    I concur that your meal looks fab and I’m sure your guests enjoyed it thoroughly. But I do understand your frustration.

  18. LOL! Oh, I think we have all had moments of “Kelli’s Law”! 🙂

    That pumpkin pasta sounds heavenly. And I am so happy to leave a comment here again (lately I had been getting 505 errors when I tried). But I have been here, reading all along. 🙂

  19. My brain is jiggling from me emphatically nodding my head at Kelli’s post and everyone’s comments. Kelli dear, does your mom do those things you mentioned too? Because mine does. And so did my grandma, and so, I expect, did her mama. What is now, “Damn. I just KNOW this turkey is going to be like the Sahara,” probably went something like, “Fiddlesticks, the figgy pudding is going to be too figgy, methinks”, two hundred years ago. So you see? Kelli’s law is in fact an inherited behavior. At least that’s my hypothesis.

    Actually, I just have to say, I think all of us commenters and AMAZINGIRL Kelli should get together for what would probably be the most awesome potluck ever (even though we would all secretly be worrying about how much our meatballs/brownies/cookies/pumpkin pasta/chips & salsa/figgy pudding, etc. sucked. I think we’d have to make a “no suck” rule–or is that a “no thinking about sucking rule”?) And wine. Lots of yummy wine. And gin and tonics for Finny (and me–tee hee). Yes. This would be fun, I think.

  20. Mmmm, those olives, incredible!
    My kooky behavior? I’m the only person (perhaps in the world) who knows how to do it, so I accept no help whatsoever (cause they might ruin it), and end up exhausted, in a bad mood, and of course, with an incomplete task because no normal human can do everything by themselves! Whew!! An the worse part is I can’t seem to learn from experience.
    Ah, but that dinner of yours, beautiful!!!

  21. Ummm that looks so good! I’m completely the opposite, I hardly ever make lists, fly by the seat of my pants and usually say things are “good enough”. Yeah I’m definitly not a perfectionist lol.

  22. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments here because I always think I’m the only one with these kinds of quirks. I am comforted to know there are others like me out there.

    For me? I can’t relax when there is something to be done. Whether it’s sorting the mail or getting Thanksgiving dinner on the table, I can’t let it go undone. My husband is forever telling me to “sit down, take a break, that can wait.” And the more stressed I am, the more I spin like a top. Even when I’m sick, exhausted, and have hit the wall, I can be found ripping address labels off junk mail for shredding, or compulsively sorting this pile into that pile, or mindlessly sweeping up the kitty litter trail the cat left, all while muttering and weeping. It’s not pretty, and maybe one day I can let it go.

  23. This brought tears to my eyes. I drove myself to exhaustion for months for a work event. Working 14 hour days, working weekends. The task was absolutely monumental and a job for a crew, not just me. And I pulled it off.

    Yet I have yet to be happy with how well I did and what we accomplish because in my head I keep thinking of little things I could have done better. I go over every conversation thinking I was a dork.

    Why do we do this to ourselves? :sigh:

  24. I am right there with you, my dear. I plan too much, try to do it all (by myself, control freak tendencies appear), then get totally stressed when I don’t have enough time to make everything perfect! This has gotten so annoying that my Halloween-Birthday husband doesn’t want us to have parties (on his b-day) any more because I spend the whole day running around and getting everything READY that we don’t have time to enjoy the day.

    But oh, I like a nicely set table, finely displayed desserts & smiles on my guests faces….Dahlia’s birthday is right around the corner, let the stress begin!

Comments are closed.