‘pressed to the sounds of my family…at play, at rest, happy + well in our blest nest

This time of year is the best. Better known as the actual eleventh hour of the year, November brings such plentiful opportunities to pause + reflect. A time to observe the dramatic, changing leaves; the fall folding into winter + the rather bizarre phenomenon of death for the sake of rebirth. You can’t ignore autumn’s mystique: the poetic fog that rolls in as the warm + cool weather patterns stumble + jive around one another; the soft leaves that manage to turn to every warm shade on the color wheel seemingly overnight, before falling to their ultimate crunch-scrunch fate in a week’s time. How can the beauty in all of that be so easily overlooked?

November hasn’t always been my favorite, but I think having four seasons in Atlanta has absolutely opened my heart to the potential of a time that I always felt was a kind of dreary + boring time of year. These days, it finds us with a handful of days still nice enough for some porch-sitting with our family of four + it is absolutely full of gratitude.

During the darkest months of each year, it’s good to find a light.

I’ve made a new habit around dusk, of lighting as many tea candles as I have holders to spread a little light + warmth around our meal times that so often feel like midnight. Between time change + a hurricane-induced 48 hour power outage on Halloween weekend, we have been talking a lot in recent days about sunlight, flashlights, electricity + foot-candles(!!) with the girls. In the same weekend as we did without power, we also had to prepare to say our toughest goodbyes to the sweetest of family members, our good-boy Chipper. We sure miss the comfort his presence brought to everyday.

This year has been full of surprises + that seems to be the nicest way I’ve heard it said. If I may ask though, aren’t you tired of complaining about all the things you have done without? Are you feeling heavy with the weight of the world + our country seemingly in our hands? Do you miss hugs + kisses + regular family gatherings? Of course you do, we do too– but I’ll tell you this, I’m even more grateful for each + every hug + kiss I can still share with my girls + my husband. I’m hoping you can relate, because the truth is, we all have much to be thankful for. In so many ways, we are not alone– the circumstances of this year have been enough to bring us all to our knees in some way or another. November is upon us + it’s right on time, offering us a timely opportunity to pour ourselves a big glass of gratitude. Like mom always told us when we were complaining, “count your blessings”!

How much time do you spend in a day/week thinking about if or where you will manage to get your food from, or how you will keep it all fresh? What about those clean clothes you’re wearing today, will you have the ability to wash them? Are all of your devices charged? Do you have reliable internet access? Nothing can remind us just how much we already have, like loss. We can all do better though. People do without the creature comforts we consider “needs” each day.

I feel it all so deeply — the way so many of us are richly blessed to be waking, breathing, walking on this Earth at such a time as this. How can we complain about the little inconveniences of this year, when we have SO MUCH to be thankful for? I’m not perfect at walking that walk, but I do try my best to say thanks for all I’ve got. It’s a start!

Every day the alarm goes off + your eyes open, there is a reason for that!! We each have something to bring to this party called life that we’ve been invited to. Wouldn’t you like to be using more of your energy to bring something to share to the table– maybe that “dish” you make better than anyone else you know? Maybe instead of a dish you can bring the decor, the dessert, perhaps a few good laughs, or just yourself.

“Soup’s on! All we need is you!”

Speaking of cooking, have you ever heard the saying, “soup’s on!”? I love when I’m having one of those effortless days when everything just seems to be falling into place (cue Van Morrison’s “Days Like This”) when I can send these words to Ryan on his way home from work.

Whether it’s soup or a meal that magically comes together in one pot, it’s a special time of day around here when supper is cooking. We like to get started as early as 4:30pm some days! First comes the ambiance: we like to turn on a little jazz, pour a glass of something cold (water, vino, beer) + light a few candles for the dinner hour. Next is the mise-en-place: gathering + measuring the ingredients + setting them aside before beginning the dish brings a kind of intention towards making the food items into a nurturing meal. Last of course is the fun part- making a mess in the kitchen! Though it doesn’t have to be, we encourage this behavior in our home. As we like to say, “making a mess, having fun!” which was inspired by another saying when the girls were teeny, “a messy baby is a learning baby”.

Everyone has their own way, some measure precisely, while others just wing it. If you’re looking for a new year’s resolution, this is it–I mean it. When you see how taking the time to put a little love + soul into a dish that will nourish those who gather at your table next can lift your spirits, you’ll be hooked. It doesn’t have to be gourmet, nor do you need to feed a multitude, but I am telling you, if you’re sincerely excited about the food you’re making– well, that’s contagious.

It could be Taco Tuesday, a homemade taco bar from a box — an impromptu smorgasbord of the simplest saltines, cheddar cheese, grapes + nuts gathered from your larder, or maybe even BFD (breakfast for dinner). In a pinch we go with charcuterie boards, grilled cheese, or cacio e pepe.

I think of you, readers, each time I’m standing at my stove cooking, because nothing can fully capture the euphoric feeling I get while in that space. What’s more, the feeling I get that everything will be okay; the pure gratitude for another day well spent; my family + the meal heading to our table. I want to share this happiness with each of you as often as possible! For a small moment, my life feels like a stroll through Williams-Sonoma, with a radiating warmth + good smells filling our home. That is the moment I love creating for Ryan when we walks through the door, a smell of supper, warm + delicious welcoming him back.

These intentionally crafted moments are what make our house a home,
+ I’m passionate about teaching others how to take every opportunity to create these same sacred moments. These are the scenes that create a life well spent. A life that doesn’t just look good on the outside, but one that feels good on the inside.

Am I a classically trained French chef? No! But I’m here to show that you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the daily ritual that cooking can bring to your life. Your efforts in the kitchen will lift your mood, yes, even if you end up ordering a pizza to recover from a botched recipe. Dare to try!

Let’s do this! Together we can be more grateful for each day no matter what circumstances try to wreck it; this is just one way to begin. I’d love to talk with -you- if you think your kitchen life needs a jump start. It’s time –right now– today, to start living every single ordinary day to the fullest. The only thing in your way is your openness to trying something new.

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