SOCIAL MEDIA

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Things I Love Thursday // 4.30.20


  • Sweets and Baking - There is no good reason to avoid copious amounts of sweets and baked goods during this emotionally trying time (or any time IMO, unless you're just not a fan of happiness). To ensure small delights around here, whenever we run out of homemade chocolate chip cookies, it's become Piper's "job" to remedy the situation and promptly bake 60+ more. She divides them into 3-4 portions, leaving one container on the counter while the rest live (briefly) in the freezer --until they're needed on the counter. As you know, I've also taken up the often disappointing hobby of baking sourdough bread. Even when loaves are less spectacular than a 24+ hour effort should produce, they always taste great toasted and smothered in butter. Additionally, we've been making cakes, banana breads, and homemade ice cream. THIS recipe for Lemon Yogurt Cake from Odette Williams was a home-run! She offers three toppings in the recipe and we chose Nana's Simple Glaze but the Berry Crumble or the Yogurt Whipped Cream would be phenomenal next time! What has been your best new dessert recipe?

    Odette Williams Lemon Yogurt Cake
  • Peonies (always) - Finding moments of joy inside our homes has become more important than ever. For me, this is easily achieved with (*whisper shouts, "baked SWEETS!"*) a simple vase of fresh-cut flowers. Peonies have long been my favorite and this not-so-little 3-stem bunch (added to my online order of local produce from Your Mom's Donuts) is doing the trick! With Mother's Day around the corner, I'm wondering: are you a fan of fresh flowers --or are you of the opinion that they're an actively-dying-visual-expamle of wasted money?


  • 20-Minute Carbonara - Perhaps the way to your heart (like mine, clearly) is through the stomach. If so, your kids (with some help from an adult who is not you, depending on their abilities) could put this on the menu for next Sunday: Half-Baked Harvest's 20-Minute Carbonara. This recipe is super easy and so delicious. We found it to be a lighter, "healthier" version of the typical, cream-heavy carbonara you find in many restaurants and recipes. This one calls for fresh spinach, subs baked prosciutto for the bacon, and can be made with your favorite cut of pasta. The finishing cheese is flexible too; you can use burrata, soft mozzarella, or creamy ricotta. This is an easy weeknight dinner that will be going into our regular rotation. 

    Half-Baked Harvest 20-Minute Carbonara
    Subbed for Burrata --So delicious!
  • Our Container Garden (again) - I hope you like hearing garden updates here on the blog. Our backyard gardening hobby has taken over a big part of our daily routine and we all delight in seeing the progress and (finally, this week) tasting some of our efforts. I think I've figured out that the birds are getting the strawberries. For the time being, the furry critters have stopped digging/burying things, and the radishes continue to abound. The squash and zucchini are blossoming, the beans are climbing, and the tomatoes seem to burst forth new fruit almost daily (all of them still quite green and firm). We have a small herb garden in a couple pots by the back door --but I'm reluctant to harvest any because I feel like one recipe that calls for "half a cup" of chopped basil is going to wipe out my crop. Haha! Are you attempting to grow food this spring? What's been your most successful crop?


    Fresh Radish with Sweet Cream Butter and Flaky Sea Salt
  • Ranch Water - Loving this lighter and less-sweet-than-a-margarita cocktail these days. Texans have long been familiar with Ranch Water. For the rest of us, here's a "new" and simple recipe that features tequila and fresh lime juice --just in time for Cinco de Mayo! 

    Ranch Water Fixins
    Ranch Water: A simple and light tequila cocktail
  • Target Outdoor Lantern - I bought this outdoor candle lantern from Target about a year ago and I still love it so much. I think it's super versatile, as it has always lived indoors at our house. It comes in two sizes (mine is the larger) and is currently on sale at 20% off (candle not included). I love the natural, textured elements and feel like the design is very on-trend for the moment. I'm tempted to pick up the smaller version for our outdoor dining table... 

    Candle Lantern, Plant Stand, and Wall Shelf --all from Target

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Things I Love Thursday // 4.23.20

  • Noticing the Quiet - It may not be the same for you, depending on where you live, but I can't help but notice and appreciate how much quieter the outside is these days. Instead of cars, delivery trucks, and construction vehicles, I hear tons of birds, children laughing (and squealing), and wind through the trees. In moments when you can isolate and separate the benefits from the (overwhelming) tragedies, life feels a little "Andy Griffith" and I am here for it.



  • Charlotte Is Creative - I came across this "challenge" on Instagram the other day and was inspired to play along. The task is to find a new "creative" (and local) account/business profile on Instagram to follow each day for 30 days. You share your "find" on your Instagram stories in an effort to acknowledge the artist/creator and encourage even more attention to the work they're contributing. Whether you live in Charlotte or not, you could certainly play along in your own version of this activity. It's not a contest and there are no prizes --except for the joy in discovering "new to you" and inspiring content. Maybe it's time to practice some Soji (a LOVE from last week) on your Instagram feed and brighten up your daily scrolling.
  • Leslie Jordan on Instagram - Speaking of Instagram, do you follow Leslie Jordan? He's hilarious. His commentary is sweet, funny, and totally entertaining. I think you might enjoy. Check it out.


  • Garlic Salt - I know I'm not the only one who has been doing way more cooking in quarantine than ever before. Here's little hack to up your flavor game on a simple plate of pasta with butter and lemon zest, a plate of scrambled eggs, a slice of avocado toast, or any kind of roasted vegetable: freshly ground garlic salt from Trader Joe's. The jar has a built-in grinder at the top and the difference between this seasoning and your standard sprinkle jar is pretty incredible. I'm sorry TJ's doesn't have an online shopping option, but if you or someone you know is heading there anytime soon --see if you can add this request to their shopping list. So worth it.


  • White Wine-Braised Chicken - On that "cooking so much more from home" note... I mentioned and blogged about this Half Baked Harvest recipe before. White Wine-Braised Chicken with Orzo is fantastic. So many of the HBH recipes we've tried have been big hits around here --but none so much as this. (Well... maybe the Crispy Salt & Vinegar Smashed Potatoes... but that's technically not a meal.) If you're a fan of Mediterranean flavors and love a "one-pot" meal, definitely put this chicken and orzo dish on your short list. This recipe is found in the Super Simple cookbook ($18). In case you don't own the cookbook yet, I've made a printable copy of the recipe that you can access here for ease of shopping and preparation.


  • Match Jar Craft - Almost 7 years ago, I blogged a tutorial for making little jar holders. I can tell you, all these years later, I still look at and appreciate this little horse jar full of matchsticks nearly every single day (mostly because it currently sits beside the kitchen sink). One of the small joys I've been celebrating in captivity *winces at the overstated dramatics* is burning a candle. If you're like me, then you know that once you find your magically-matched scent, the simple act of lighting a candle can be immediately relaxing and comforting in a small but measurable way. If you find a little time on your hands, maybe this would be a good way to spend an afternoon? Of course, you can fill the jar with anything that fits --so make it a kid or teen craft (candy, gum balls, coins, crayons...), if you please.
    Shiny and New
    Loved and Tarnished
  • Twisting open a fresh mascara - Did you know that you should be replacing your mascara every 2-4 months? Even if there's lots of product left in the tube, the health of your eyeballs should encourage you to use this rule of thumb religiously. Replacing designer mascara can be costly. This Maybelline Total Temptation happens to be my favorite drugstore mascara of the moment and it's affordable and easy to find. You can order or pick one up from Target, get it on Amazon, or find it in the beauty section of your grocery store on your next masked run.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Things I Love Thursday // 4.16.20


  • SourJones Facebook Page - I started a Facebook page for the blog a few weeks ago and finally decided it was time to ask my friends on that platform if they would "like and follow" along. Well, you all showed up and I'm feeling overwhelmed and grateful for the support.


  • Badminton - We started our Shelter-at-Home adventure with a LOT of driveway tennis until Piper got a severe case of poison ivy (from retrieving the ball from the ivy that runs along the entire length of our narrow concrete slab). Since then, we've all been hard-pressed to attempt any more games near the IvyOfDoom. So we packed away our tennis racquets and busted out the badminton ones. We bought this badminton set last summer and it's held up really well. You can set it up anywhere with ease. Because it packs up so neatly, it's also great to take along to the park, a bbq (when we return to normal), or even on a camping trip. You can order the one we bought or there are other choices like this one and this one. Has your family been entertained by any backyard games? We are considering a Pickleball set next...


  • Our Garden - The garden is coming along nicely! Nothing is ready for harvesting yet but everything appears to be happy and healthy (for the most part). We've conceded the strawberries to the critters. Every time we see even the hint of a new berry, it's gone by morning. That's ok. *sigh* As long as they stay away from my tomatoes, I'll grow them as many strawberries as they can eat. Our biggest tomato plant is going like gangbusters and we have dozens of little green globes getting ready to turn into sweet cherry tomatoes. We are also working on zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, pole beans, radish (radishes?), carrots, kale, and a little herb garden: mint, parsley, and basil.



  • Surprise & Thoughtful Deliveries - In this week's edition of "kind friends and neighbor surprises," I bring you this gorgeous and fragrant bouquet of fresh herbs from the Garden of Fran. As I mentioned we have started a little herb garden ourselves, but they're not quite ready for a big harvest yet so it's especially nice when you can count on a neighbor's more mature garden for those fresh herbs that have been a little hard to come by around these parts.


  • Little King Art - I just came across this delightful little Charlotte company on Instagram this week. Amber Bounds is the owner/creator and she offers kits, supplies, and video tutorials through her website. While I haven't made any orders yet, I have my eye on this little love. The pom pom earring kits look super cute and fun too! If you're in Charlotte, looking to support a local small business, and are feeling crafty, do check her out! For those of you elsewhere, are you carving out time for any new hobbies or projects?


  • Amazon Leggings - I've blogged about these leggings in a previous TILT post and now that many of us are spending even more time in our leggings (#truth), I thought it might be a good opportunity to mention them again. There are two pair I absolutely love --and you don't have to leave the house to get them. If the weather is a bit chillier where you are, I can't recommend this BALEAF pair any more enthusiastically. These are fleece-lined (but not too thick), have a nice amount of compression, and are true to size. The second pair that I love are these very popular Colorfulkoala high-waisted ones. They have less compression than the BALEAF pair, but are very soft and comfortable. The high waist is flattering and they are also TTS. Both leggings come in lots of different colors and patterns. Both pair have held up great to multiple washings/dryings.


  • Hair Color In-a-Box - Again, not the first time I've mentioned coloring my hair from a box --but SO timely, no? To be fair: I have dark hair; I don't have a ton of gray to cover; and I also don't have highlights. For those of you who do, this might be a bit trickier. My stylist, years ago in Portland, encouraged me to go ahead and use a box of semi-permanent, color rinse in my hair between visits to pump up the shine and add some richness to my locks. Having this "permission" really liberated me to just go for it and try something. For years, I was able to use Clairol Natural Instincts (lasts for 28 washes) and that was plenty of color. Now, with more stubborn grays, I've switched to Clairol Root Touch-Up which is a permanent color --and only applied at the roots. (The link is to Amazon --but that $13 price-tag is double what you'd pay if you were able to find your color at the grocery store or Target.) Obviously, I'm super happy with the results, as I've been doing this home routine and skipping the salon for years. Cheers to finding a product/solution that works for you. And if any of you Blondes have great advice, please SHARE.
  • Soji - I just started scheduling Soji into my morning routine and I find it to be an excellent addition to my day --especially, given our current situation and the effort I've been making to maintain a healthy schedule/routine. Soji is a Japanese tradition (practiced by many Buddhist monks) wherein one spends 20 minutes each morning in a "ritual" of cleaning and/or tidying that is practiced with "calm, silent intent." In Japanese Buddhism, the self and environment are connected. The idea is that through an intentional and literal "cleaning" of your space, you are working toward cleansing your spirit and expressing respect for your world. For example, some of my soji has been cleaning out a junk drawer, organizing our tea/coffee cabinet, and purging items from the linen closet. There are hundreds of other spaces in our house that will benefit from my new soji practice and along the way, I hope to strengthen my outlook and focus my heart and mind. Here's an interesting second article about it. And if you really want to get into it, here's a link to Shoukei Matsumotos' book: A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind.
  • Deviled Eggs - Still have a few hard boiled eggs left over from the holiday weekend? One of my absolute favorite foods on the planet is a deviled egg. If we're ever out to dinner (again, someday --I hope) and there are deviled eggs on the appetizer menu --we are ordering the eggs. Here's a link to my very favorite recipe to make at home. 
  • Cariuma OCA Sneakers - Ugh. This shopping hiatus has been great for me on so many levels... (FYI: My husband and I started a "challenge" on February 1st to not purchase any clothing or *household items for ourselves for SIX months.) But. These. Sneakers. Come on! 


    *plants and books, not included (because, happiness)

Monday, April 13, 2020

What I've Read Recently // March 2020

In order of how much I enjoyed them.
I'm finding lots and lots of extra time for reading --and I'm guessing you might also be finding some too. There are several great selections here that I would definitely recommend (and a couple ho-hums). Have you read any of these? If so, do you agree or disagree with my review? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Below is organized by the order in which I completed the books.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Adapted from Goodreads:
It's been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty's life out from under her. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don't dare wander outside the school's fence. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.
What I thought: 5/10
I definitely fell for the cover! I liked the writing most of the time. I found many passages to be both vivid and exciting; however, the characters and plot were all over the place. The relationships were not clearly established and the motivations of the protagonists were confusing. I didn't end up caring about anyone in this book. I was also turned off by the degree to which every single person had to suffer and experience extreme pain (both physical and emotional)... Like, we get it: the Tox is awful but can you get to the point? Obviously, it's been written as the beginning of a series because there are MANY unanswered questions throughout and we are left without any closure on the final page. Unfortunately, the author didn't do enough here to compel me to want to find out what happens next. 


A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
Adapted from Goodreads:
This debut novel by an Arab-American voice,takes us inside the lives of conservative Arab women living in America. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past.
What I thought: (Listened on Audible) 8/10
I mostly enjoyed listening to this book. I learned a lot about a culture (Palestinian Muslim) I knew very little about. "... no matter what any woman said, culture could not be escaped. Even if it meant tragedy. Even if it meant death." I am left to wonder how much of the story is hyperbole and how closely it relates to the average Arab woman's experience both in Palestine and in America. I find myself simultaneously worried that the book might inadvertently further unfair stereotypes and/or that the book really exposes the terrible reality of many women. Either of these worries are upsetting. The overall writing and story-telling was very good. However, I did not enjoy the Deya/Sera segments, as I found the older Sera character to be one-dimensional in a book filled with sound characters. This older Sera contradicted herself from sentence to sentence and (although acknowledged in the text) sounded like a stale self-help book and felt like lazy writing. Having said that, don't let this annoyance dissuade you from reading A Woman is No Man. In the end, the book is very good and wherever it actually sits on the scale from "absolutely illustrative of the realities of the majority" to "one family's tragic experience" --this is an important story that deserves your attention.


The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis
Adapted from Goodreads:
A richly textured coming-of-age story about fathers and sons, home and family, recalling classics by Thomas Wolfe and William Styron, by a powerful new voice in fiction. Mythic in its sweep and mesmeric in its prose, The Barrowfields is a breathtaking debut about the darker side of devotion, the limits of forgiveness, and the reparative power of shared pasts.
What I thought: 9/10
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. There was a lot of humor that felt fresh and light within a text/plot that was much heavier and serious. Lewis is a terrific writer. The characters came to life and the way they interacted, simultaneously loving and misunderstanding one another, was evident throughout. In the most flattering way, I would describe this book as an "adult" John Green novel. It should be clear in this comparison that I've loved everything I've read by John Green (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns...). The Barrowfields has all of the things I love about Green books: beautiful words, complicated relationships, angst, humor, love, and great dialogue --and it sits soundly outside of the "YA" catalogue.


The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine
Adapted from Goodreads:
Cathleen Schine has written a playful and joyful celebration of the interplay of language and life. A dazzling comedy of sisterly and linguistic manners, a revelation of the delights and stresses of intimacy, The Grammarians is the work of one of our great comic novelists at her very best.
What I thought: 6/10
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The wordplay, definitions, and sister relationship/connections to words was original and educational. The pace was good and kept me engaged. Uncle Don and cousin Brian were comical highlights! However, once the sisters began to grow up in years, they devolved in maturity. This aspect was disappointing. As a reader, I felt the animosity and childishness in refusing to try to see the other's point of view became silly and boring. In the end, I found the second half of the book to be tedious.


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Adapted from Goodreads:
Eleanor is the new girl in town. Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.
What I thought: 9/10
Finally. This book has been on my "to-read" list for SIX years. It's true. I just looked it up on Goodreads. That's bananas. I found Eleanor & Park to be an almost-perfect book. The setting (1980s) felt like an incredibly fitting setting from which to tell this story. I loved Eleanor and Park so so much. The tension was written so carefully. The parents were depicted with clarity and believability. The teenaged angst and brutal peer interactions of the 80s hit a tone that I felt was just right on the page. I found the story to be sweet, deep, and special: I got goosebumps; I felt angry; I was frustrated; I was all-in.


The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
Adapted from Goodreads:
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
What I thought: 8/10
The Grace Year is a mashup of The Hunger Games + The Handmaid's Tale + The Lord of the Flies (+ Magic). The story contains an interesting plot --that, while it felt like a combination of some other great works, it was original in its own right. It had good story-writing and I was definitely entertained. The Grace Year is successful in ways that Wilder Girls was not: the characters were developed, the plot unfolded in surprising and well-formulated ways, the story is one I'd like to read more of in future sequels (though, I'm not certain there are any planned). I did find myself fairly frustrated/annoyed with the main character's inability to figure out obvious "mysteries" in 2-3 specific instances. Despite that, the book as a whole was very good!


Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina Willner
Adapted from Goodreads:
In this illuminating and deeply moving memoir, a former American military intelligence officer goes beyond traditional Cold War espionage tales to tell the true story of her family—of five women separated by the Iron Curtain for more than forty years, and their miraculous reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
What I thought: 5/10
This is my book club's selection for March. So many people loved it. It's a memoir about a family separated by the Berlin wall and covers their major life events for forty years. The author is the granddaughter of the original family. Her mother is the only member of the family (the eldest daughter) who escapes East Germany (at the age of 20, if I remember correctly). She marries and American service man in West Germany and after a (decade?), ends up in the United States. The book offers a lot of anecdotal and historical information that gives the reader a sense of what it was like to be in Soviet-controlled East Germany during those years. I can think of a lot of my reader friends who would really enjoy this book. I was not among them. I thought it was stale and the writing was not nearly as dynamic as the story. I wanted to feel personally connected and emotionally moved by the events on the page but confess, I did not.

~ Pin for Later ~




Thursday, April 9, 2020

Things I Love Thursday // 4.9.20


  • Curbside Delivery - Supporting local businesses has never been more important. If you have an opportunity to give your retail dollars during these incredibly strange times, I encourage you to think about how and where to spend your money. I loved supporting one of our small nurseries last week and they are bending over backwards to ensure safe measures with each transaction. If you're in the Charlotte area, give Roundtree Plantation Garden Center a call and they will happily load up your trunk while you wait.


  • Cocktails and Mocktails with Liberate Syrups - These syrups have been a "theme" of our week. Mixed with spirits, fresh herbs, citrus, soda waters, and juices... we've enjoyed so many combinations. What can I say? We are finding entertainment, novelty, and joy in as many places as possible these days. ;)


  • Sourdough - I mentioned the sourdough starter gift I received in last week's TILT (Things I Love Thursday) post and this week we managed to turn some of it into this gorgeous loaf! It was a labor of love. This was our 3rd attempt at baking bread (the first two bricks ended up in the trash). My same sweet sourdough-baking friend also sent me this lovely blog post about the mental health of baking (sourdough, in particular) and I found it to be a great little read.

  • Social Distance Coffee - Have camp/sideline/lawn chair, will travel. I had a lovely little coffee with a neighbor the other morning. We kept AMPLE space between the two of us and got all caught up on gardening, summer plans (?), and the delight of homeschooling. HAHAHAHAHA. 


  • Easter Brunch - The bunny arrives on Sunday. We will celebrate in our traditional way with a simple and delicious brunch. I'll ask the girls to set a festive table and we will enjoy some of our holiday morning favorites: Eggs Benedict Casserole, Blueberry Buttermilk Cake, and fresh fruit. We don't really have a traditional "Easter Dinner" so I'm trying a new recipe, "Quick Filipino Adobo."


    Another sweet surprise delivery!
  • Half-Baked Harvest - I'm not sure about you, but this Shelter-in-Place order has me cooking a lot more than normal --which is good because food comforts me --but also not-so-good because food comforts me. LOL! Last week, I mentioned a fantastic group chat that some girlfriends started for us to share "what's for dinner" --through this conversation, I've become a HUGE fan of Half Baked Harvest. I've been following the account on Instagram for a long time now because her food photography is amazing. These past few weeks, I've discovered that the recipes are not only extremely tasty but also quite manageable. We've tried Carne Asada Tostadas, White Wine-Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Orzo, Sweet Thai Basil Chicken, and Baked Coconut Curry Meatballs. There are plenty of drool-inspiring recipes on the blog --or you can order one of her cookbooks to adorn your shelf --because again, those pictures are unreal. 
  • Insta-Dri Polish - I'm usually an Essie or OPI gal but found Sally Hansen's Insta-Dri polishes readily available at the grocery store on a recent and rare visit. I pulled the trigger on 193/Slick Slate and 233/Petal Pusher. Couldn't be happier with the quality! I applied one coat and skipped a top coat application the other day and am amazed at how well this polish is holding up --especially given all the extra hand washing, dishes, gardening, and card shuffling! Worth a try.


  • Playing poker with the family - Speaking of all that card shuffling, we have had so much fun reminding the girls how to play poker (they learned a couple years ago how to play Hold 'Em for candy). There's been a lot of "Who's Annie?" (because we're raising comedians) and "One more hand?" --especially when they're up. Love it! 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Things I Love Thursday // 4.2.20

  • April Jones Day - Today is April Jones Day. I'm sure some of you already knew that. For those of you who didn't: April 2nd is my husband's birthday and many moons ago, his friends dubbed the day "April Jones Day." It stuck. Quarantine birthdays are new to all of us but some traditions are easy to execute. We all wore our felt crowns this morning (as we do for any celebration). The girls are baking him a yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting. We will enjoy it with his favorite ice cream, chocolate chip. We usually have tacos for his birthday dinner but with all the at-home dining these days, a takeout order from one of his favorite restaurants felt more celebratory --so that's the plan for later. His gifts are small and (I'd argue) more thoughtful this year. There are a few material surprises wrapped among our homemade cards; however, the big gift from the girls and I are individually made coupon books that we filled with offers --specific to the things he most enjoys and can be accomplished/cashed-in during this time of sheltering-in-place. A surprise for all of us and a highlight today was definitely the giant sign in our front lawn that had been planned and ordered by his team at work. Hilarious and much appreciated!


  • Homemade Ice Cream - Let me tell you... now is the perfect time to bust out that ice cream maker that you registered for all those years ago and put it to good use! Find a recipe that requires eggs and cooking --because you'll enjoy the process and the product so much more. Piper did just that over the weekend and made an outstanding batch of coffee ice cream that went far too quickly around here. We are all looking forward to her next creation!


  • Thoughtful Deliveries - In times of crisis and strife, generosity, love, friendship, and thoughtfulness certainly abound! Over the last week alone, I have had been moved by stories of neighborly/community love and support from cities and towns all across the country --and have been on the receiving end of the most thoughtful and unexpected gestures of friendship and caring. Last week, I wrote about a surprise delivery of fresh cut flowers and this week has brought a gorgeous sourdough starter kit, fresh biscotti & gently used puzzle, and a perfectly-timed supply of disinfectant spray and wipes! I continue to feel as though we've won the love lottery. I'm sure I'm not alone in this... What are some of the ways your friends and neighbors are showing up for one another?



  • Liberate Your Palate - I've written about this amazing, interactive, fun, and educational mixology platform before. If you're in Charlotte (or nearby) you have got to check out Liberate Your Palate! I've had the pleasure of a public class, a private-in-home class (to celebrate a friend's birthday), and now I get to enjoy these hand-crafted syrups (delivered to my door) over the next couple weeks in both cocktails and homemade sodas. While we are unable, at this time, to attend a class in-person with the ever charming and lovely owner/operator, Tamu Curtis, we CAN and should treat ourselves to a virtual class with her via her Instagram platform. This first batch of syrups sold out; however, I have it on good authority that she's planning another offering soon. Follow her feed and don't miss out! 


  • Dinner that I did not have to make - Inspired in part by my girlfriend, Laura, and also due to some extenuating circumstances, I decided this week to hand the dinner reigns over to our teenagers (13 and 14). Laura was definitely braver and more imaginative than I was --in that she let her kids (4 of them!) plan the menu, write the shopping list, and then execute on the meal. In our case, I had a meal planned already (pasta and a salad) but realized that both husband and I were "booked" during the early evening so I gave the girls the recipe, walked them through a few of the instructions, and then abandoned them. Wow! Not only did they love doing it, they also made an excellent meal --one that we will add to the rotation, for sure: Bon App├ętit Pasta with Brown Butter, Whole Lemon, and Parmesan. "Dinner by the Girls" is going to become a regular feature in our family. Do your kids help cook? When did you first start making complete meals?


  • Picnicking - It's a simple idea that feels much bigger than you'd think. Even if it's just in the backyard --I must recommend an outdoor picnic! With a lunch or snack in-tow, grab a blanket and a family member or two and head outside. Bring a book, magazine, dice game, or napping pillow and soak up some vitamin D and relish in a change of scenery.