Papa Day

Today is the second annual “Papa Day”.

This will be the third October 10th that my grandfather hasn’t been with us…and we all miss him horribly. I would have had so many things to tell him this year. I would have told him all about my house and showed him pictures. I would have showed him pictures of my garden and told him all about what all we were growing, the success we were having, and the lessons we were learning. I would have picked his brain for gardening tips and tricks and asked him for gardening stories. I would have showed him the hat that my mom got for Trey that is just like the one he wore. I would have told him about my new job and how happy it makes me. He would have loved that I am able to be home at a reasonable hour and that I have weekends and holidays off. He would laugh sweetly at how long Trey’s beard has gotten.

I came up with the idea for Papa Day last year as a way to make his birthday into something joyful and comforting for my family. The idea is that on this day, you honor him and do something that brings you joy, but also helps you feel connected to him in some way. You might wake up before the sun and sit with a cup of coffee to ease into the day. You might make a large breakfast spread for someone you love with biscuits and chocolate gravy, preserves, honey, eggs, bacon, etc. You might spend time in the sunshine, working outside or just sitting outside. You might make a southern dinner of cornbread and “field foods”. Whatever you want to do, or can do, that will help you feel linked in some way. It feels like a little bit of a reset to devote time and energy to just remembering him, loving him, and finding this connection.

Last year, Papa Day held a lot more than this year’s did. I was working this year, and by the time I got home - I felt too tired for much of anything. So, I took a bath, combed my hair, put on my robe, and sat down to write this. I have vivid memories of my grandfather gathering his pajamas and a towel from upstairs and going downstairs to take a shower every single night. When he would come back upstairs, he would have on his robe and his plaid pajama-bottoms would be peeking out from beneath it. He’d have on cozy socks and his house shoes. His hair would be perfectly combed and he would sometimes say something about how squeaky clean he was. He wouldn’t stay awake for much longer. His shower was always at the very end of his night.

So, here I am. Squeaky clean and ready for bed. The second Papa Day is coming to a close, and somehow he feels farther away but so much closer at the same time.

"Life itself is the proper binge." - Julia Child

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This picnic spread will forever go down in my books as one of my all-time favorite meals. We sat on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower and had a luxurious spread of meats, cheeses, the best butter in the world, the sweetest strawberries and raspberries I’ve ever had, and a crispy baguette. It was chilly outside and it wasn’t extremely crowded, so it was just perfect in every way.

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I love this fella of mine. His patience and kindness blows me away. Paul Child once said to Julia, “You’re the butter to my bread, and the breath to my life.” I feel that.

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We stopped into E. Dehillerin to see where Julia Child used to purchase her cooking supplies. It was a beautiful little shop - but it would have been too hard to take anything home.

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One of the top three things that I had to do in Paris was to see where Julia Child lived when she and Paul first moved there. We walked waaaaaay out of the way, and though it was just her front door - I’m so glad that I got to see it. She doesn’t have a plaque or anything marking her time there. It’s just her door. Big and beautiful like she was.

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Paris was sweet and decadent and I’m thankful every bit of it.

Now - it’s October. It’s autumn. Winter is coming and I’m craving my mom’s hot chocolate which tastes suspiciously similar to the World Famous hot chocolate at Angelina’s. I’m happy to be home - and happy to feel so refreshed with an awakened hunger for MORE. More good times, more self-care, more pushing myself, more treating myself, more doing, and more living.

Paris, I love you.

Nous sommes à la maison! We’re home! I’ve decided that Paris is best when shared. And, the more people of your loved ones that you can share it with - the better! We went with Tess and Mac - two fantastic travel buddies. Traveling can be such a stressful experience, so it’s a special thing to find people that you are compatible to travel with. We also met up with two more friends at the very end of the trip, and we wish that we could have spent more time with them! Bonjour, Dianne and Pierce!

Tess and Mac go to Paris any chance they get and Tess is pretty much fluent in French, so everything always felt so easy. Next trip: Germany. None of us will be prepared.

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I couldn’t get over the French architecture. Every building just blew me away. The terraces, the chimneys, the doors, the windows, all of it. I forgot every art history lesson that I ever learned and just soaked it all in. I went to Paris when I was 18, and I remember taking pictures of everything because I couldn’t help myself. When I left, my memory card was full of a lot of unimpressive nothings with just a few photos that i felt any sort of connection to. I made sure to do it differently this time.

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Next-door to our Airbnb was the most delicious boulangerie where honeybees flew freely all over the pastries. The smell of the pastries would waft through the walls in the morning and it was just heavenly. They didn’t sell baguettes, because they made their bread in the “traditional” way - with the end result being a gorgeous, rustic loaf.

One of our very first nights, we went to Le Refuge des Fondus, where wine is served in baby bottles (supposedly a tax-evasion trick?). When wine is served in baby bottles - you have a pretty accurate read for how much wine you’re drinking…but it doesn’t feel like you’ve really had that much. SO - the rest of the night ends up being a shiny, twinkly, giggly blur with memories of glorious cheesy fondue, Sacre Coeur, baguettes, public restrooms, Irish bars and singing happy birthday to a stranger, another bar, a Photo Booth (evidenced above), walking miles upon miles upon miles, then a lot of snacking on leftover Thai food and curry. The next day was mainly a day of recovery. Edith Piaf said “non, je ne regrette rien.” Well, Edith. je regrette des choses.

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I think that this will always be one of my favorite photographs that i’ve ever taken. October in Paris gave me all of the autumn feelings that i live for. Lines from Madeline, French Kiss, Amelie, Paris, je t’aime, and Julie and Julia played in my mind daily, and even when something was wrong - it was still right.

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I have more photos of Parisian doors than I’ll ever know what to do with and I love them all.

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In addition to the food, the great company, the beautiful sights, the sweet smells, the warm coffee, and the cool and breezy weather…it was nice to feel “unplugged”. Even with all of the walking and the going and moving and doing - it was still a relaxing vacation.

Part Deux Soon

September

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“May I a small house and large garden have;

And a few friends,

And many books, both true.”

- Abraham Cowley

September is here, and any other year I would have already had my Halloween decor strewn throughout the house. But, I’ll be holding off for a couple more weeks this year. We go to Paris at the end of the month, and I plan to do all of my decorating right before we leave - since we won’t be back until October.

On another note, I love my new job. I love the people that I work with, the culture, and the company as a whole. I am grateful beyond measure. Everything is different now, and different is so, unbelievably good.

In between life and work and gardening and everything else - I’ve been reading again. In the last three or four months, I’ve read eleven books. And, since I’m off work today - I’m about to begin the Little House series. First up: Little House in the Big Woods. I can’t think of many things better than welcoming the autumn months with books that paint the prettiest, coziest mental pictures.

Mood Board

It’s strange how much has changed over the last six months. Most of the changes aren’t visible, aside from a few home improvement jobs here and there. But when I think about where I was mentally in February compared to where I am now…it’s shocking and delightful.

After five years at the same company, I’m leaving! I’ve learned everything that I could from the opportunities that I’ve been given, and I’ve met so many incredible women, and have loved teaching them and watching them grow as people. I’ve made some of my most special friendships through this job, and i’m proud of the last five years. But, bring on the 8-5, normal American work week. Bring it on. I’m hungry for it and ready for it and ecstatic for what’s to come.

Jars

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This is a picture that my grandmother took ages and ages ago of their canning closet. My Papa was an expert gardener and could grow anything. If he ever struggled, it was only because the deer and rabbits liked his garden as much as he did. I remember sitting in their gazebo, shucking corn, snapping green beans in half and shelling peas with my brother. Once the peas were shelled, we had to spread them out onto a dish towel and comb through them looking for bad ones. We’d rake our hands through them, letting them fall from our hands like tiny pebbles.

I never got to see the canning process, but this photo is a treasure.

Our garden is literally overflowing. We have watermelons, banana peppers, pepperoncini peppers, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, Serrano peppers, Roma tomatoes, Heirloom tomatoes, Black Krim tomatoes, okra, pickle cucumbers, regular cucumbers, broccoli, basil, sage, and rosemary. I hope to plant some pumpkins before it gets much later in the summer, but it may not happen and that’s okay. We spend every morning in our garden, crawling over watermelon vines and hunting for hidden goodies. We lost all but one of our cabbages to caterpillars, and we may lose our broccoli, too. But, gosh I love this garden. I love listening to it and learning from it, and I can’t wait to see how we do next year.