Thursday, July 16, 2015

Country vs City

My mom was a city girl who grew up in a big house in Berkeley, CA. Her childhood was surrounded by the Civil Rights movement and Beatlemania. I loved hearing stories about my grandfather's auto shop in Oakland and how he fixed up cars for the Black Panthers and built hot rods from scratch.

My dad came from a small rural town where there was one street light between miles and miles of farmland. I loved visiting his home and grew up dreaming of one day owning a small home in some rural part of the world where walks in thick grass and sunsets unobscured by buildings were an every day thing.

Then there's me: a product of suburbia and Target.

I don't think anyone plans on ending up in suburbia, but I do believe it takes a special kind of grit to live in either the city or the country. Grit and personality. Extreme environments create a wonderful breeding ground for diverse thinking and thoughtful living.

I've been thinking a lot about where I want to end up. The city girl in me hates bugs, darkness, and planning ahead, but I love to think about living in utter quiet one day.

Maybe it's a generational thing. My generation is obsessed with rustic. We love things pretty and charming but not perfect. We've gone back to our pioneer roots of ball jars, floral aprons, and eating fruit in season. Farmhouse restaurants with big, wooden tables filled with hipster diners reign in even the biggest metropolitan areas.

It's an agrarian movement I fully support, although the face and purpose of it is quite different than what our parents knew. But maybe it's coming back for a reason- simplicity is needed once again.

I'll be honest, I'm not sure why I wrote this post, but I have this need to talk about my parents. They had such diverse, interesting backgrounds and I didn't appreciate that until now. I'm part city girl and part country and it wasn't until now I realized this duality came from them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Cherry Picking

Growing up, cherry picking was serious business in our family. We would head to Lodi, CA and spend an afternoon filling huge flats of cherries for our friends and family. On the way home, we perfected the art of spitting pits of the window without staining our hands and shirts. It was the mark of the beginning of Summer for us.

While visiting Sean and Steph in Indiana, we went cherry picking after a failed attempt at strawberry picking. We grabbed our buckets, headed into the orchard, and gloried in all the beautiful plump, red fruit surrounding us. The little ones were the perfect helpers and the older ones (me) ate much more than they picked. Sampling was encouraged, thank goodness.

The days after included cherry chocolate pies, cherry cakes, and chocolate dipped cherries. It was a wonderful way to begin a lovely Summer.

What marked the beginning of Summer for you?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Girl's Weekend by the Lake

Those who know me know there was a time I was addicted to Twitter. I met a huge network of people also addicted to Diana Gabaldon's books and I was suddenly thrown into a world of women (and some men) who loved to read, write, eat, and talk. 

Two women in particular came into my life and I finally got to meet them a few weeks ago at Klaudia's lake house in Michigan. People might think it's crazy to meet people for the first time by spending a weekend with them, but you really can't go wrong with good hearted people from Michigan. 

The three of us spent the weekend eating, talking, and, well... eating.

Klaudia made a s'mores buffet for us.

There was a bonfire in their backyard where people from the neighborhood gathered to talk, drink, and eat delicious coconut, caramel, chocolate, and strawberry marshmallows.

Klaudia showed me how to gather sea glass, which is a lot more tricky than I realized.

Klaudia set up the weekend perfectly. She greeted Jen and I with bed and breakfast quality sleeping arrangements and gift bags. Gift bags! Who does that? It was all above and beyond wonderful. She brought treats from her uncle's bakery that included freshly baked cronuts, muffins, brownies, and donuts. Her family is from Yugoslavia, so she cooked and bought us traditional Yugoslavian food, a beautiful blend of Mediterranean healthy and buttery cheese wrapped in phyllo dough.

The weather was horrible, so any plans on jet skiing or paddle boarding went out the window. But I honestly didn't mind. Simply being with these women and Klaudia's very generous three daughters and husband made the weekend exactly what it needed to be.

Thank you Klaudia, Jen, and Diana Gabaldon for a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Marie Antoinette Garden Party Baby Shower

My friend, Sarah, loves Marie Antoinette. In fact, she loves her so much, last year she celebrated her birthday in Versailles. Having a Marie Antoinette inspired baby shower just seemed like the right thing to do (her gender reveal party was Peter Rabbit). We wanted to recreate one of Marie Antoinette's famous garden parties, so we chose pink, green, and gold as our colors and everything French as our food.

Cydney is the queen of decor. She did this cake and the birdcage centerpiece. Amazing!

Sarah adores chocolate covered strawberries. They were quite easy to make and absolutely delicious.

It was a magical night of guests wearing floral halos dining, chatting, and sharing baby stories. Pregnancy is hard, so we wanted to bring some elegance, splendor, and je ne sais quois to a dear friend's life as a first time mother.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Well, I'm Charmed

It was my first Saturday off since who knows when. Cyd, the beautiful gal who knows all the ins and outs of charming Virginia, thought Middleburg was something my little heart needed to see. With rows of farm houses, white fences around green grass, and elegant antique shops ahead of us, we headed out to explore this adorable town and all its quaint glory.

We first went to Cyd's favorite antique store where each room had its own theme. My favorite was the French room. The antique stores in Middleburg are serious business, live doves and gilded crowns included. We then had a snack of bacon maple donuts and banana cake at Home Farm before going back out for more shopping and looking at beautiful churches. Lunch was at the Red Fox Inn, a hotel that reminds me of an old English inn Jane Austen might visit. The food was lovely with a date stuffed salad, macaroni and cheese, and the best sweet potato fries I've had.

Middleburg is a kind of place where they grow cabbage in the windowsills and the ivy wrapped around buildings never fade. You feel like you've stepped into a magical world of the place that invented charming. It was a Saturday, yet the town didn't feel crowded or busy. It was just sweet, calm, and picture perfect.