Summer Escape to the Hills

“Where are we going?” My husband, Luke, turned the wheel, absent-mindedly following the directions I was giving him, his tone a blend of curiosity, confusion, and the quite accurate assumption that I had no real answer.

I had found and saved a list of Scenic Roads on Explore Washington and was secretly determined to hit them all. The service on my cell phone was fading in and out, and without GPS in the car, my poor directions caused us to bounce around the area like a pinball; we zig-zagged all over the villages and across Route 202 several times before Luke asked that inevitable question.

The first of what would be many trips for us, it set the tone for those to come. There is a serenity in the unknown, in spontaneity and exploration; a peaceful thrill lies around every bend of never before trodden road, in being “lost.” 

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Turkey Chili & 90+ Cellars Muscadet

Full disclosure: we love chili. Like love love love it. So when the weather provides even a hint of coolness, we take out our favorite recipe and make a pot. The beauty of it is that even if the steamy summer temps return the next day, it freezes like a champ and stores well for a couple of months. (And by then… the weather will actually be chilly! Sounds like the perfect plan to me.)

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Summer Enchantment, Nantucket Style

Though often shrouded in mist and fog, the Grey Lady’s spirit is a far cry from its moniker. Humbly boasting a historic downtown with cobblestoned streets and overflowing with charm, the often nautically-themed shops and exquisite food alone could take you through a couple days. But Nantucket only begins there. Four nights and four full days didn’t do the island — or us — justice...with so much to offer from Steps Beach and Surfside, scenic drives to lighthouses, the Bluff Walk in ‘Sconset, and biking to home-envy, we’re already planning our return in the quiet of the off-season. (Speaking of homes, I could go back merely to walk Union, Orange, and Cliff roads — not to mention all of ‘Sconset — to take note of the charming door knockers and rose trellises alone.) Bustling but equally quiet, this New England island reeks of the salty fairytale-like charm you read about in novels, and gifted us a rather inimitable adventure.

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It's All in the {Wedding} Details

Six months ago we said “I do.” It’s been a joyous whirlwind, but if history is my guide, it’s only going to move faster. So it’s high time I sat down and shared some of our wedding day details: those things that added a touch of invisible sparkle, brought warmth to our hearts, and carried those we love with us. Barely noticeable yet cherished objects, fleeting moments, and glimses of the sun’s reflection fill me with emotion and it’s these things that create the story of our lives, whether we realize it at the time or not.

Details mean different things to different people, but for us, it was largely about having our day be just that — our day — and for me personally, it had a lot to do with finding ways for my late father be with me in spirit. We were swayed from an elopement to a celebration with family, but made sure everything we did was in keeping with our initial concept of peace, intimacy, and simplicity. We stripped the ceremony and celebration down to the root of our celebration: love.

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Eucalyptus & Holly Christmas Centerpiece

I bought a small bunch of fresh eucalyptus stems from the nursery with the intention to effortlessly lay them with sweeping grace across the top of each of the antique oars we have on the wall, adding a holly sprig here and there for an added touch of festivity.

The catch-22 of creativity is that ideas usually don’t come to fruition the way you expect them to. It is the single most frustrating and simultaneously wonderful part of creating things, and though I’m not sure which camp I find myself in more often, I was gladly in the latter in this case.

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It's December!

This weekend’s edition of Retreats… how we’re unwinding and recharging in 2.5 days flat.

We’ll be going full steam ahead this weekend as we get trees for both our home and my parents’, hang wreathes, and fill our tiny cottage with touches of cheer. We seem to be a little behind the times in the decorating department as so many people take care the weekend of Thanksgiving, but we like a transition out of fall, and I’m sure we can’t be the only folks to do so. In that spirit, and for those who still have some decorating to do or to help with, I’ve rounded up a couple of my favorite articles for DIY wreathes and bows. (Oh, and some sweet treats I’ll be trying in the next week…you knew that was coming!)

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Eyes on the Pies

When I think of fall flavors, the three that immediately pop into mind are pumpkin, apple, and maple. And when I think of delicious holidays, the clear winner for me is Thanksgiving. Combine the latter two and you have the best pie I’ve ever eaten.

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As American as Strawberry Shortcake

The days are long, the weather is hot, and the fireflies are aglow. It can only mean one thing: Independence Day has nearly arrived. The Fourth has always been one of my favorite holidays, if not just because of the summer magic I associate with it. Sundresses blow in the summer breeze, watermelon slices disappear from a plate, the smell of charcoal wafts through the air. Patriotic tunes enchant parks from sea to sea, striped blankets create a patchwork quilt over large swaths of grass, and bright bursts of colorful sparks fill the night sky. It's simply the best

But what would summer be with out fresh berries bedecking every meal? Berries and cream are a must during these warmth summer months, and what better version exists than the strawberry shortcake? 

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Divine Invitation Design

It's hard to believe (in the best way possible!) that Luke and I will be married at the end of July. In June, the summer is not yet ripe, the days are still at their longest, and the "end of July" usually sounds so distant, so far off. This year, however, with there being such a momentous occasion on the 21st, it feels more like a mere blink away. (And now that we're officially inside the one-month window, it's going to fly...)

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A Celebration 37 Years in the Making

The idea arrived on a warm spring Saturday. My parents were house-hunting for their second home in preparation for my arrival later that year, and decided to take a peek at an old farm home in New Canaan, the next just town next door. 

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Peanut Butter &... Ice Cream

It's National Peanut Butter Cookie Day today and I can think of no better way to celebrate it and these warm summer days than by making one of my all-time faves: the ice cream sandwich. (Eaten outside, picnic-style... What kind of frozen summer treat would it be if the ice cream weren't melting all over my fingers?)

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Roses Are Red Velvet

By the Way Bakery, a completely gluten- and dairy-free bakery recently opened its doors in Greenwich. (It turns out they already had three locations in New York, but I'm absolutely thrilled they ventured out to the 'burbs of Connecticut and opened up a local shop.) Though my diet is not dairy-free, the artisans here have definitely broadened their potential customer base as it's a common issue, especially among those who can't tolerate gluten. More importantly, I couldn't taste the difference...

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Prime Time

There is no shortage of great food purveyors around me as Fairfield County, Connecticut is endowed with access to the freshest ingredients, top-notch chefs, and knowledgeable and well-trained staff (a key component to the vulnerable food-intolerant guest). 

Washington Prime in South Norwalk (SoNo as it's fondly called) is one such gem. A new-American venue taking pride in steak, so there are consequently GF options available (at least if you're a beef-lover like me). They have a pretty substantial selection of gluten-free items, all clearly indicated by a nice red "GF" next to each, from apps to sides to main courses and desserts. This past weekend I was treated to a few of their tastiest GF offerings, and there was not one I wouldn't recommend.

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Prepping the Gluten-Free Pantry

I've already mentioned (maybe more than once...) that I'm quite unwilling to just give up every gluten-filled thing I previously ate simply because I'm now a gluten-free gal. Nor will I accept the notion that I must be relegated to whatever options are on the grocery store shelves. There are a ton of great options out there, but there is also a ton of room for improvement, and not as many reliable guides to steer you in the right direction (in particular, I've enjoyed America's Test Kitchen: How It Can Be Gluten Free). I still love baking (and actually being able to eat what I make), so the most surefire way to ingest those little goodies safely is by crafting them myself. Queue the necessity for a pantry full of staples I once wouldn't have given a second glance.

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