Friday, August 28, 2015

How I Learned to Cook

Recently, Grace was reading one of the blog books and came across the story of our wedding rings.  I"m sure we've told her before but this was the first time that it resonated with her and she had lots of questions.  It made me realize how important it is to tell stories of your past to your children and how they relish learning little bits and bobs about the you there was before them.  So I'm going to work on telling more stories (I hope I can remember them, my brain is like a sieve it seems!).  

I didn't grow up cooking.  In fact, if you ask my Mom she would tell you that I was hopeless and that I even insisted that she make me sandwiches because she made them better than I did.  So perhaps I was just lazy, but it all translated to the same thing.  I didn't cook.

I can trace my interest in cooking, and subsequently my learning to cook, back to a single vacation to Destin, Florida.  We were vacationing with my sister and my Mom, and I believe I had just graduated from UGA or was about to.  We were waiting for dinner (you know how long the waits are at the beach) and had wandered to a gift shop where I spotted the most charming cookbook I'd ever seen.  It was hand illustrated and it made me want to make every single dish in the book.  I bought it, made a recipe, Bryce hailed me as an amazing cook, as only true and new love would do, and the rest is history.

a (small) sampling

There is a big joke within our family about how long it used to take me to make a meal.  I would plan an elaborately themed meal that would take hours and hours to cook.  It wasn't unusual to not sit down to eat until 11:00 at night.  Looking back, I can't believe my family put up with it, they must have been starving!

To this day, I am drawn to beautiful cookbooks.  I read them like novels and can't seem to get enough.  From that first cookbook, Just a Matter of Thyme, I went on to discover Susan Branch, whose cookbooks have provided me with hours in the kitchen all while enjoying her darling stories and illustrations.

(this is the earliest dated notation and it's my Mom's handwriting)

The funny thing is that I consider myself pretty sufficient in the kitchen.  I make dinner almost every single night, but I still almost always follow a recipe.  I just don't seem to have the inherent skill to make my own creations, but that's ok, as long as I always have a beautiful cookbook to follow along with.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Flowers Make You Feel Better

The past couple of days I've been a bit blue.  For the past year I've been sure that a farmhouse we've had our eyes on would eventually be ours.  But it's become more and more apparent that I was wrong. In my head I've made all sorts of plans for that house and property, and folks, I've been dreaming big!  So now I've got to filter those thoughts out and it's a disappointment.  It feels like a lose but I'm not sure why because it was never mine to lose!  So today, since flowers always make one feel better, I'm just going to post pictures of my dahlias!  I hope you enjoy as I have!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Philly and The Beach

My children love going on adventures, especially when it involves my friend, Gretchen, and family as something often goes hilariously wrong!  Last week, we had two adventures with two different families that I thought I'd share...

We took a trip to Philly to explore the city a bit (Grace's friend, Kathleen, was with us).  Our first stop was a pointe shoe shop, The Rosin Box, to get  new pointe shoes for Grace.  You guys, this is as close as we might ever get to a real life Ollivanders!  From the charming store front, to the witch lady who fits the shoes, to the stacks and stacks of pointe shoes, this place is where the shoes pick the dancer!

We ate lunch in the park and then went to the Franklin Museum.  The Lego Art exhibit there is really wonderful.  What the artist has done with legos is sort of mind blowing.

From there we tried to go get "the best pizza in America" but we arrived thirty minutes after they opened (at 6:00) and were told that we could get the last two pizzas of the night... to be picked up at 10:00 and 10:15!  Needless to say, we sadly passed on the pizza and ended up getting pizza somewhere else (that was still very tasty!).

Later in the weekend, we met Kathleen's family at the beach for a day in the sun!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


This year, in the back of the garden, we grew gigantic sunflowers!  Once these sunflowers took off they just didn't stop!  It's been fun watching them grow ever taller and observing them swivel their heads to face the sun as it moves across the sky!

In the past, I've had trouble with the birds eating the sunflower seeds before they ever even get to sprout.  My solution was to cover the seeds with a small garden cloche until they sprouted.  It worked!

I decided to cut down a few so that we could enjoy them in a vase but after doing so decided they were best viewed from a distance.  They were incredibly heavy and so, so large that they look a bit silly in a vase (at least the vases I have!).

To celebrate these beauties we made sunflower cupcakes.  Originally, I intended to have chocolate coated sunflowers for the middle, but I couldn't find them anywhere.  Oh well, they were still tasty!

Monday, August 17, 2015

New York Botanical Garden

When the children were younger, and we still lived in Atlanta, I took them to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens all the time.  It was one of our favorite places to go! I've wanted to take the children to the New York Botanical Gardens for 10 years and we finally made it happen last week.

In Atlanta, we spent most of our time in the children's garden (which is wonderful!) and so we went to the children's garden first thing once we finally arrived (we took an accidental detour!).   However, a combination of the children being much older and, truth be told, not finding the children's garden as interactive and engaging as the Atlanta one, we quickly learned that we were better off exploring the rest of the gardens instead of the children's area.  It was just as well as there was plenty to see and do in the rest of the garden!

The garden had an exhibit of Frida Kahlo's work and this theme was spread throughout the garden. We were delighted to discover that they even added her eyebrows to one of the fun topiary caterpillars.

We also very much enjoyed the Family Vegetable Garden.  It was huge and had vegetables growing everywhere one looked!  It was fantastic inspiration.

Of course, we had to check out the rose garden!

I've found that the children are great company when doing this sort of thing and we all find something to enjoy when we explore new places.  I was so happy to spend this day together!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Weekend Away

Last weekend, we headed to a state park that's not too far away from home for a quick camping weekend.  What I love about camping (it's more like glamping with the airstream!) is the family time that it gives us.  At home, it's easy to spread out to our respective rooms or corners and do our own thing.  You can't really do that while camping and you don't want to!  Without the distractions of devices, phones, friends, and work we actually talk, laugh and enjoy each others company.  It fills us up and I always leave wanting to do it more.  This weekend was all about relaxed time together.  We biked and hiked some but we also did a lot of relaxing!  Here's some shots...

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