Wednesday, November 30, 2016


I've had a weary couple of days back to reality but I have plans for a big bowl of spaghetti for dinner so I am feeling like I may make it through the week after all. Also, each day after work I can look forward to picking up my daughters and seeing their chub little faces, and then going back to our home together, which is feeling more and more like a cozy cove. That was part of the plan you know, in order to fortify myself and ensure survival through the winter, to make our home feel warm and filled with holiday cheer. This cheer has to last us through all of December and January. First, because my parents are coming in January and we've decided that we are going to celebrate Christmas together this year in January with 12 days of celebratory huzzah, and second, because it helps my mental state to divide up the winter this way. Two months of cozy holiday in December and January, and then I'll have to come up with something for February and March. Then all of April will be for hoping.

You know what really helped kick off this feeling of getting ready for the holidays? In large part it was the meal that my sister Eunice cooked for us when she came to visit last week. She declared hat she was going to cook us dinner one evening, an offer I gladly accepted and became very excited about when she said she was cooking two recipes from Mimi Thorisson's cookbook. If you don't know about Mimi Thorisson, you are welcome. My sister Eunice told me about her and she is a lovely lady who lives in the countryside of France, in a gorgeous farmhouse, with children and dogs running about, a garden from which she cooks and bakes seasonally, and her husband who happens to be an amazing photographer. Check out her website here if you want to see. Thanks to Eunice's cooking, I have had my belly and senses filled with Mimi's winter cocotte and potato pie, and I am all the better for it.

The meal took time, but I didn't mind as the kitchen filled with good smells and we hung around the kitchen island talking, drinking wine and watching the girls play. This sort of activity is one of my favorites so I was already in a good mood, and also very hungry by the time we sat down to eat. It was delicious; the meal felt like two arms welcoming me into the bosom of winter cozy, or hygge, as the Danish would say.

This winter cocotte dish had chestnuts, pumpkin, parsnip, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onion, bacon cooked in red wine and stock, topped with butter and parsley. I ate several bowls of it alongside white wine and numerous pieces of buttered baguette topped with olive spread.

                            The recipe for the winter cocotte & the recipe for the potato pie

We punctuated the end of Thanksgiving break by making these holiday themed sugar cookies. These are stained-glass cookies that are particularly dear to our hearts because we used to make them when we were young. We have the best memories of making and eating these cookies together. 

Sloane helped Eunice bake the cookies and they turned out beautifully. That evening, Sloane, Eunice, and I finished decorating the Christmas tree, and sat by its lights as we had tea with cookies, listened to Christmas music, and made paper snowflakes. It was the perfect way to be together and get ready for the season. 

Monday, November 28, 2016


I had a very relaxing past few days. Unexpected and very much needed. My sister was here, which always helps everything. And then for Thanksgiving, Ken prepped and cooked everything, friends brought dessert, and one of our guests did the dishes, allowing me to have moments to sit and relax, not worry about to-do lists and have time to sit on the floor with the girls. The pace of everything was slow and meandering, and it really helped that the people that came through and those who stayed with us seemed to be of the same mind. 

It felt very natural to embrace the holiday spirit with my sister here. We missed our cousins and our families, but thought of them while we maximized our time together. We ate and ate, played Christmas music constantly and the day after Thanksgiving, we went and got our Christmas tree. I had resisted Ken's plea for an artificial tree for the past few years, but this year I relented and we got a spindly little thing at Home Depot. It was all of $40 to last us for many years to come, and it looks to me to be filled with pluck. As if it saying, 'I can be good as any of them!' 

Sloane was beside herself with excitement, and begged to start decorating the tree by herself while I finished up in the kitchen. A few minutes later, I poked my head in to check in on her and saw her and Logan decorating with the utmost concentration and seriousness. She had almost finished putting up all of the ornaments, on the lower half of the tree of course, and Logan was enthusiastically "helping". I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and snapping these photos. 

Friday, November 25, 2016


This Thanksgiving will officially be known as the one where Ken prepped and cooked the entire meal all by himself....and it was hot pot! He has made plenty of meals before from start to finish, with great success, but this one felt significant because: 1) usually we go down to Virginia Beach and my mother-in-law puts the whole thing together, so this was his first Thanksgiving taking on the tradition, 2) the meal required a couple days of preparation. There isn't actual cooking involved (because you cook the food in the hot broth at the table!) but there is a ton of washing, chopping, cutting, etc. 3) he kept calling the meal a "show" and I thought it was hilarious because he's mostly joking, but he's also kind of serious and it's just another example of how he goes all in. I love it. 4) I felt utterly relaxed hosting people over at our house. Our guests washed the dishes, so I was truly hands off!

There was also a ton of vegetables but there wasn't enough room on the table. 

We loved having these friends, old and new (and my sister!), around our table. 

Ken giving a hot pot tutorial.

Kid's table.

Helllooooo pretzel crusted salted caramel pie...! Courtesy of Mignon.

Dessert time! 

Craft time! We also made Trader Joe's gingerbread turkey. Sloane happily nibbled on the turkey's head throughout the day. 

This was early Thanksgiving morning, when we were sort of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, looking through animal sticker books, and making necklace and bracelets with beads. 

I love this picture mostly because of Rusty. 

Don't Eunice and I look like pilgrims?! Happy thanksgiving all! 

Past Thanksgivings: 

2015: in Fredericksburg, in Virginia Beach
2014: in Richmond, Sloane on the ukelele
2013: in Richmond, Friendsgiving
2012: Part 1, Part 2

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


This past weekend, good friends gathered around a table, ate good food, watched our children play, and gave thanks. I went to high school here in the city and was lucky enough to find a wonderful group of friends, most of whom have ended up back here almost 15 years later. This group is very special to me. We recognized kindred spirits in each other during a time when those kinds of things can be hard to discern. As a testament to that, we have  kept in touch and stayed close through all these years.

One of those friends, Hilary, is back in town and I am so happy that it means I get to see her more often. The afternoon of getting ready for the dinner party together felt relaxed and leisurely, with Sloane and Logan playing underfoot, and Hilary and I working on the finishing touches. 

I found these brown paper Thanksgiving placemats at Target, 10 for three dollars! And Hilary got this amazing fall themed bouquet from Trader Joe's, which we deconstructed it down to monochromatic arrangements in small vases. A few simple things and all of a sudden it feels special!

We didn't go the route of traditional Thanksgiving food, but there was cranberry sauce to go with the Cabernet Sauvignon marinated pot roast (thank you TJ!). Ashley made a scrumptiously rich ham and onion quiche and also asparagus and bacon wrapped in a pastry, Caroline made Molly Yeh's butternut squash, apple, onion, bacon and biscuit hot dish, there were roasted vegetables on the side, Hilary supplied the delicious wine and baguettes, and Emily made dessert: an apple and berry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. I also had butternut squash macaroni and cheese out on the kids table for easy access and consumption, after they which they found their way to the adult table to get mouthfuls from their parent's plates.

It was a wonderful night. Happy Thanksgiving, friends!