Yesterday, T and I celebrated the six year anniversary of us dating. We transplanted all of the seedlings that have been taking over our kitchen for the last couple of months and spent the whole day working in the yard. He is still fascinating to me and I think that he is the most fun.
I’ve been researching recipes of all sorts because if all of the fruits and veggies that we’re planting actually take off…we’re going to be swimming in fresh produce. A few that I’m particularly excited for: this fig and prosciutto pizza (since we have a fig tree!), this Mediterranean recipe, and this recipe for chicken thighs in a creamy tomato sauce.
I’m also reading a lot about canning and how to do it properly and safely. I’m excited to be able to give away tomato sauces, jams, pickles, beans, salsas, etc. When I was growing up, my grandparents had a closet in the garage where they stored all of their canned foods. Everything looked so pretty in the jars, it seemed like every shelf was always full of corn, okra, tomatoes, beans, peas, green beans, squash, and so much more. Because Martha Stewart is just…a dream, I’ll use this article as a guide when I start canning.
I’ve been reading My Life in France by Julia Child, and it just solidifies my love for her. Click the photo at the very top or below for one of the many articles displaying photos that Julia’s husband took of her.
This year, our Hilton Head trip held no agendas of any kind. The only expectation we really had was that we expected it to be relaxing and refreshing. We brought books with us (that we never opened) and face masks (that we never did), because we were already relaxed enough. We watched Food Network Christmas specials and took naps when we were inside. We went to the beach and rode bikes when we were outside. It was warmer than we’ve ever experienced it - but that just meant that we spent even more time inside lounging and recharging.
We drive home tomorrow, and we are scared to look at our work schedules because we are scared that they won’t overlap as much as we’d like for them to. I’m beyond grateful for Trey and for the time together that these trips give us. I love him. I love him. I love him.
When we get home, it’s time for Christmas. We’ve talked about how if we get a live tree and decorate it, there’s a chance that we might be taking everything down and moving it if we are able to find a house before Christmas. We’ve also talked about how we have no idea what George is going to do when he’s locked in a teensy living room with a bright and shiny Christmas tree all day long. So, this has potential to be an eventful Christmas season, and I’m up for anything and everything. Let’s GET.IT.GOING.
I am aching to go to the beach. Living in Florida flipped a switch in me and I have since found a love for summer. I love gathering up the necessities to spend time outside in the sun: a blanket, sunscreen, light and tasty snacks, a good book, sunglasses, a nice hat, etc.. I love the feeling of laying beside the ocean, listening to the surf and the seagulls, knowing that I have a shady beach umbrella behind me that I can retreat to. I live for summer stripes and woven baskets, I love fighting ocean waves, and I love love love yacht rock and the way it sets the tone for some serious summer fun. Give me all the Jimmy Buffett and those happy songs like Brandy by Looking Glass, PLEASE!
SO, here I am. In the center of AL with no central AC, wishing that I could spend my days out in the sun, skipping along the sandy sea shore...but with no plans to do so in sight. So, I'll just keep daydreaming about it, and planning it all out so that when the opportunity comes, I can jump at it with my beach bag packed and ready to go.
"Brandy, you're a fine girl. (You're a fine girl) What a good wife you would be. (Such a fine girl) But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea."
We're back from Disney, and I love these travel buddies of mine. The three of us have been to Disney together countless times, but this time: it rained nearly the entire trip, Trey's Chaco's broke, we each had a turn trekking around in far-too-soggy shorts, we all had some wicked blisters, we took turns feeling under the weather, and it still ended up being my favorite Disney trip thus far. When one of us is low, the others are high and patient until the low one finds their way back up. There's empathy and kindness here, making them the very best travel companions.
1. I've been flipping through my Four & Twenty Blackbirds cookbook and pulling all of the pies that I want to make. More on that to come later. ;)
2. These paints by H.K. Holbein are on my wishlist at the moment. I just started experimenting with gouache, and I'm loving how flexible it is. It's been quite some time since I picked up a paintbrush - but I'm getting back in and it feels goooood!
3. My friend Hope had her baby boy the other day and he is as beautiful as we all imagined he would be. Hope has the cutest nose, and face, actually. So, it wasn't surprising that her baby boy would be as gorgeous as she is. His name is Glenn, and I cannot wait to buy them all of the baby things that I want for myself - but have no need for yet. LIKE THIS SHARK SWADDLE.
4. My order from Thrive Market came in yesterday, and it could not have come at a better time. The night before, Trey and I drove around Birmingham for nearly two hours trying to find something amazingly delicious, satisfying, and also Paleo compliant to have for dinner. We found zip. SO! Thrive came in and saved the day, delivering my order filled with all sorts of ingredients that Paleo dinners usually call for, as well as snacks and treats to keep me feeling excited. A couple of my favorites: Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips and Sejoya Coco-Roons. Thanks for the recommending those Tortilla Chips, Caley. They save the day almost every day.
5. I've found that a huge part of doing these extremely restrictive diets is finding a support group. I know of three girls in Birmingham that have autoimmune diseases, and while I only know two of them personally, (looking at you, Caley and Dianne) they have been such a huge help to me! I don't have an autoimmune disease (that I know of), but I am very sensitive to certain foods, and I'm lucky to know people that will stand behind me while I push myself to do what is right for my body.
6. On that topic, I'm going to Disney World in two weeks! Paleo is pretty hard to maintain at Disney, but we will see how it goes. It's not always easy for me to pipe up and ask someone for something that they'll have to go out of their way to accommodate. So, we shall see. Things I'm most excited about eating, paleo or not: those massive turkey legs, macarons, and a crepe in Epcot's Paris.
7. I'm going to Florence for the day next week to help my mom with a kitchen renovation! I have vivid memories of helping her paint the kitchen the first time. It was right around the time that Uncle Kracker's song Follow Me came out (18 years ago?!), and the radio stations played it at least once every single hour. So, we spent the sunny summer days painting the kitchen and singing along to early 00's radio. I can't wait to go home even just for the day, to relive this with her!
8. I've been stuck on Lino Lago's pieces lately (one is featured above), and I think about them all the time. He uses oil on linen paintings, and they remind me of that sweet moment when you're baking brownies, and you swipe some brownie batter from the sides of the bowl for a taste, leaving that clean line of crystal clear glass. Satisfying.
9. I imagine Everlane's Day Glove to be everything I've ever wanted in a flat. I love everything about this brand, and can't wait to get my hands on some of these one day.
10. I'm genuinely wondering how creative introverts balance a 40 hour work week with their drive to create, while also having down time to recharge. If anyone has found the answer to this question, please enlighten me. Do I need to wake up at 5am? Do I need to buy a certain planner? What do I need to do, to be able to do everything that I want to do?
I went to Florence last weekend for a visit that lifted me up and left me feeling a million times better. It's always hard to go home, because I know that I won't want to leave when my visit is over - especially during the holidays. I've always been a homebody, meaning that so much of my years were spent right at home. My mom and I would have "spa nights" together while all of my friends were at the movies or out getting ice cream. She and I would order our favorite salads, put on face masks, and curl up on the couch with movies that are now woven into every fiber of my being. This is why I can quote Notting Hill, You've Got Mail, Chocolat, Sabrina, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, One Fine Day, Two Weeks Notice, Pretty Woman, French Kiss, and many other 80's and 90's chick flicks backwards and forwards. We would bake together, and she and I would decorate for holidays as a team. At the very beginning of October, she would let me bring out the Halloween decorations, and I'd string faux spiderwebs down the banister. I'd bring out her vintage Santa collection, and arrange them just so for Christmas. We never missed decorating the Christmas tree together as a family. But, time passed, college happened, I moved away, my brother moved out, he traveled the world, and things slipped through the cracks. Now, she gets a tree whenever she has a chance, and we hope we are able to come help her decorate it. These are the bitter things about being home. I remember all of the things that I miss out on, and I know that I'm never around for things to be like they were.
But, the sweet things about being home are the new memories that we make. My dad moved into a new, beautiful house that is perfect for them. My mom and I make lists of everything we want to accomplish, and are doing a pretty good job so far of checking things off of it. My brother bought a house that I know is going to be a perfect home base for all of his travels to come to an end.
I've found that I'm making new, sweet memories every time I drive through the city of Florence and remember this parking lot where all of my friends piled in the back of Hope's SUV. I pass the spot where I had my first kiss, and the park where I would take Jon to throw rocks in the river. I take the back roads that I would drive in high school, just for fun. I pass the church that used to be the movie theater where I met my first boyfriend. I pass the coffee shop that I've been going to since before it was Rivertown, near the park where I once saw a stranger wait with a red rose for someone who never showed up. I pass the cemetery where I attended a policeman's funeral. I pass the park where I rode a tandem bicycle with my friend Samantha. I pass County Rd. 42, where I said something funny, which resulted in Hope making me a cd of songs, with my quote written in Sharpie as the album art. I pass the store where my mom used to buy soy milk for Jon, because all other milk made him sick. I pass the fairgrounds where I first saw my Wybie - my pup that my dad and stepmother have made their pup *grumble grumble*. I pass the clothing shop where my mom and I would get those little mini cheesecake bites during the Christmas parade. I remember feeling so fancy next to her, with her lipstick, and her wool coat, and her perfume floating along with her. I pass the ballpark where we would watch Andy play little league baseball. I pass the gas station where my dad met me after I walked up on my mom's house after someone had just broken in. I was panicking and I couldn't find my mom, but my dad rushed over to save the day. Oh, and my mom was at ballroom dance lessons the whole time *grumble grumble*. I pass Stagg's, where my dad and I would get hamburgers when I worked in the chemical plant with him that summer. I pass the place where he and I bought my steel-toed boots, and I remember thinking that I felt so badass, and that the old men in the shop couldn't handle my badassery. I pass the Indian Mound, that I visited once, and the restaurant that used to be Tourway, that I went to countless times. I pass Trowbridges, the ice-cream shop that I would walk to with my grandmother when I was very small, and then later as an adult with all of my friends. I still remember the pansies that were planted all around her apartment complex, and pansies always make me think of her. I have memories tied into every inch of my lovely hometown, and when I go home, they flood my heart and send me swimming.
Seeing things through a new, matured lens makes me want to hug my younger self, even if I'm sometimes embarrassed for her. I want to hug all of these memories close and never let them go.