7.25.2016

summer bummin'.


Last night I went to bed feeling all bluesy around the edges. I almost always find my new routine just in time to disrupt it again. I don't like changes. I want things to stay the way they are. on a good day. Also, I wanted to stay in bed 'til 6 am today.

That's just how I am sometimes. Wishing for the thing that isn't happening? (I know, really.)

It has me thinking about how infatuated I really am with predictability. I've been pondering the rhythms of my days and the way they treasure-map the path to my sanity. How I sackcloth-and-ashes grieve  about missing out by living near the ocean.

So this is my consolation prize, I'm scheming planning a beach vacation, and so help me Hannah I will find a way to make it happen.

and once a week I get together with my peeps here. we blow dry our hair and make it look nice. Pull on sun dresses and strappy sandals. put on make-up. and dangley earrings. paint our toenails. Classic summer bummin' around material.

And with that, we are off.

It's always amazing!!!


I think you see my point here, but I'll continue on anyway, because, as you know, I'm prosey to begin with. Send me off to the beach for a week, or let me spend an entire day with my peeps and you can imagine what it does to me.

And if you're wondering what sorts of things happen on these bummin' days, it's this ~ there are long drives with all eyeshadow-blue skies (the junior high school kind) and tiny flowers along the highway that glow like butterscotch candies in a sun that lazes down around the horizon. It's gorgeous and bright and serene, miles upon miles of lovely scenery. we drive along and take it all in. go wherever the moment takes us.  sometimes we have a picnic lunch. or stop at a roadside farm stand. we talk and giggle, a lot. sometimes we shop. It is always a good time, ya'lls. And I say "ya'lls" with extra authority, because I lived in the Souf for many years, baby. I mean, ya'lls.

It's always fun to do something a little wild with someone whose heart carries around many of the same things that mine does.

I feel like I could just stop right there and it would be enough.

Of all my favorite things I do, this one is right up there. It is brilliant in every way. And for the entire day, I am fancy-free to my core. I don't worry about water heaters or doctor's visits. I am inspired and reminded of some of the things I'm most thankful for.

I'm happy to report that all of our bummin' days are lovely. Better than we could ever hope for. The big bonus, we still have all of August ahead of us, because summer bummin' is the best! It's funny how just a few miles can carry me away and fling me so far from the lick-down bill envelopes and grocery lists of regular life that I almost forget their very existence.

So, here's to our days together! {clink, clink, clink!} I like you, summer bummin' days.



Even so, when the garage door lifts and the clutter and grit stands piled up around me, I am happy to see that it's still there, because it means I am home. On most days my thoughts still carry a twang, there are groceries in the fridge and clean laundry in the dryer. I bust out the famous garlicky hot pepper shrimp with chipotle mayonnaise and herb tossed corn for supper and it slaps me on the back like the old friend that it is. So maybe I don't have to choose between vacation happy and real life happy. Maybe they were besties all along.

Ask me again tomorrow when the temperature soars into the nineties with no ocean in sight. still, for today, home is kinda dreamy.

just sayin'.


 Garlicky Hot Pepper Shrimp with Chipotle Mayonnaise and Herb-Tossed Corn
serves 6

For the chipotle mayonnaise:
1/2 cup sour cream (I used low-fat)
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 ½ tablespoons chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, including sauce
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lime juice

For the grilled shrimp
2 lbs peeled and deveined large raw shrimp, preferably wild caught
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Ten 12” wooden skewers, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal, or use a gas grill or a stove-top grill as I did.

Whisk mayonnaise, chilies, and lemon juice together in a small bowl and chill, covered, until ready to serve. May be made several hours in advance.

Pat shrimp dry, then thread (through top to tail, leaving shrimp curled) onto each skewer, leaving no space between shrimp. Arrange skewers on a large baking sheet. Puree garlic with red pepper flakes, salt and oil in a blender. Transfer to a small bowl and brush shrimp on both sides with the spicy garlic oil. Lightly oil grill rack. Grill shrimp, covered only if using gas grill, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes total. Serve warm or at room temperature with chipotle mayonnaise, herb-tossed corn and if desired, sliced tomatoes.

Herb-Tossed Corn

Stir together 3 tablespoons melted butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne, and 3 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs, such as thyme leaves, basil and snipped chives. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently with corn cut from 6 cooked ears.

7.21.2016

it comes from inside.

So of course, I was always meant to live by the ocean.

I thought any town not within walking distance was off my radar.

All I wanted, all my life, was a small clapboard cottage, with a garden, on the beach.

 I thought it might go something like this,

I would mind my own business and I thought it'd be great if everyone else did the same.

I wanted surf and sand seven days out of seven. and when I say surf and sand, I meant mine.

I wanted it to be just me, just my people, my friends, just my own garden, my puppies, my own beach roses and my own clean fences (make them white picket please).

I wanted the simple life.

Imagine my surprise when I got all of those things and realized it was only part of the story.

I don't remember exactly what I thought moving back to my home town would be like, but I knew it would be a tight fit. I could do it, I could suffer for the cause (what exactly was the cause I had yet to find out) but I would do it happy. There'd be no more pictures to take. The ocean that surrounded me like a hug would be long gone.

Noise, yep, there'd be lots of noise. And people. Way too many people.

It wouldn't be pretty.
 
It turns out, I was right about the noise. Wrong about the people. I landed somewhere out in the deep end, and decided to stay. Because these are some of my people. They are newish additions and most of my youth. They shape me and encourage me.


We make floats together and don't bat an eye when we all dress like hippies. I love them. I hope they love me back. We get together and stay until the sun hikes down past the edges. We stay 'til talk of the past makes us mellow and nostalgic. we laugh together like we really mean it. We stay until the air is thick and hushed, until our shadows cast love on the walls. We stay while the music slows and the glasses are empty. We stay because all of us, every one of us, needs these times. We needed them then, and even more so now. Because as Summer 2016 moves on, this is another memory we'll carry with us. There will be a next time and it might involve sweatpants, a few more wrinkles and the everyday celebrations. We'll hold it just as fiercely as the fancy, seeing the wonder in the simple and abundant gift of friendship, the coming together of all of our different hearts to walk together through all our come-what-mays. old friends rock. they just do. they help to weave the past and present into a secure fabric for the future.

and the beauty. It turns out, the rumble of a train late at night is an excellent stand in for breaking waves. and a mid-west garden is just as beautiful as a quite line of palm trees or nights spent turned inward. But I'm a complicated girl, and in spite of all this wonder, my head is tilt-a-whirling and my heart is beating hard.

I still have the urge to retreat to the ocean, where the clock ticks slower and the cookies never burn. I framed the idea of peaceful solitude in my mind and nailed it to my heart. I equate stillness with rest and rest with the sea. I believe in my soul that I will find more peace between walks on a sandy beach, watching my beach towel flap in the breeze than on a city sidewalk.

I didn't know that I would also find it in the faces and the scars. right here.
I didn't know what I didn't know.
It seems pretty dang obvious now.

My heart at the moment is in this place, because this is where I am, right now. I feel it stronger here. I watch everyday turn from heartache. I turn away, knowing that I need a break. feel that old familiar pang of guilt, showing my messed up heart, but I keep on loving anyway. 

The truth was never hidden in the salt water or the pain, but in the life I lead. I see it all, but I can't trust it until I do it for myself.

What I know now is that beauty is everywhere. Coast lines and horizons don't own the rights. It is painted on the side of barns and abandoned buildings. It's etched in brick and sprayed on steel. You take it with you, it comes from inside.

So, I bask in it. I delight in it. I take thousands of photos, because there is more beauty than I can handle, and because the light keeps dancing around. My mind isn't enough for the memorizing. I don't have to look past the waves to find it. This life is the gift. Where blessings are multiplied, so is the love. And that's everything. This is the simple life, where I strive not to be immune to being impressed, where the hardest work required of me is the opening of a door. I find myself thinking a lot about what "home" really means. Only lately have I caught a glimpse of its truest heart.

Somewhere around the time we moved into our new home things got hectic and messy and before I knew it, I was hosting parties without having my crap together. I was answering the door with no mascara and putting my friends to work. It started to not matter so much if the floor was dusty or the burgers were burned. It was just the being together that mattered.

It seemed like the best way to roll, at least on some days. I still harbor the propensity to over-fluff on occasion.

Friends and life are like salt and pepper, baby. They're locked at the elbows.

Life doesn't care about the details. Friends are happy to lend a hand. It isn't about impressing them, it's about opening the door into your world ~ the place where you live. It's all of it, whether it falls on one of the glitzy days or one of the yoga pants ones.

It's fully welcoming. Completely at ease. It's shoes on the carpet or feet on the coffee table. It's chips and salsa out of the bag. wine served in a juice glass.

Sometimes, red solo cups collide with the fine china.

And you feel the love down to your toes. 

just sayin'.



Avocado Caprese Wrap
serves 4

4 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup arugula leaves
12 ounces fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella (2 packaged balls), sliced
4 small tomatoes, sliced (I prefer home grown or Campari)
2 Avocados from Mexico, peeled, pitted and sliced
30 large basil leaves
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lay the tortillas on a flat surface and arrange ¼ cup of the arugula on the bottom ⅓ of the tortilla. Arrange 3-4 slices of mozzarella on top of the arugula, then a few tomato slices and then avocado slices. Top with 5-6 basil leaves and then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Starting at the bottom, roll each tortilla tightly tucking in the filling as you roll towards the top. Cut in half, seam side down, and serve.

7.09.2016

a firecracker life.

Life has been sort of a hodge-podge lately. then the wind starts blowing everything about. It kinda annoys me, yet I can't seem to muster the strength of mind to move it all to a more picturesque location. Apparently all that matters to me at the moment is that everything is present and accounted for. given that life still has a few surprises. A few years ago, I thought everything was settled in. I felt like I could move on. I had a plan! I wasn't ready for what happened. So, I am still here. Where it’s lovely and quiet. Not near the water, but kinda rural and quiet. Where it’s dark enough at night that stars crowd the sky. And it’s quiet. Did I mention that it’s quiet? Except for the crickets. And the occasional train. I hear them at night. when I am alone. those sounds, they soothe me. lull me to a land where dreams still come true. As for me, I'm working on it.



It scares me to say this, even as I can’t help myself, even as I think it a dozen times a day. Even as I daydream about the ocean, all the live-long day. Even as I hang pictures on freshly painted walls and feel what must be contentment rise up inside me. Even as I watch my life fill this space. as I feel myself become at ease here, and start to believe that I am home. for now. Yes, as happy as that all is, it’s scary too. Because what if it all goes away? What if I can’t hold on to this, for myself? For those I love? I’ve learned that fear. To wait, as I do, for the other shoe to drop. To reach out for something and not feel surprised when it’s yanked away just as I’m about to grab hold. Just when I feel the safest.



For years, I’ve been looking for a place to land. That place, the one I would never want to leave. A place where I could stay through enough seasons that memories would have time to take root. A place beside the sea.  There must be people who like to move, who like the change, but I am not one of them. not anymore. I used to be. I have moved many times. thousands of miles apart. I have loved my homes, built whole lives around them. I always seem to be able to see how it will look. how it will be. yet, I can walk away.


My life, it gets more misbehavin' all the time. I can feel some of the illusions slip away.  but trust me, I've still got plenty in my pocket. I can feel the heart stopping love. I've been practicing. Sometimes things even seem to make a bit of sense, making me believe I can fit the pieces together. But not always. I'm the girl who works an idea like a pop quiz. I'm scribbling and erasing just to do it all again. In the end, even if my ideas fit neatly into the little boxes, I'm sure they won't add up. And what I'm learning, amidst all the in between living and piles of laundry is that it's best to just live while I wonder. enjoy the gift. 



Let's be honest, we all pine for things. Sometimes, what I pine for most are French wines and cheeses, imported chocolates, a nap in the afternoon, the perfect peach pie, a fresh bag of Corn Tortilla Chips and homemade salsa ~ spicy ~ room temperature.

Unfortunately, today isn't one of those easy days.

Today I'm pining straight from the heart for a big ticket item. A home by the sea. But this place? The life I have here looks peaceful, for now.  Settled. Rooted. My little town is all charm and history. The next closest town meets all my shopping needs and has a lovely historic downtown, too. There’s enough here to keep me entertained, with enough sillyness and beauty that I can find my own ways. and some of my favorite people live here. friends I can meet for coffee on a whim or a get together in the most perfect barn ever. ever! Still, I keep a jar on the kitchen counter for shells, and wishes ~ I call it my ocean jar. I still want that. It won’t be easy. truth be told, it just gets harder. Life is always messier than a postcard. There are practical concerns that keep me awake some nights, but that would be true anywhere. It’s all possible. Good things are possible. If I’m hard-wired with a certain amount of fear, I’m also an eternal optimist through and through. Any instinct I've ever had to move on has settled for the time being, like a sky full of stars coming to rest in the morning light. I’ll leave them to their task. to the wind. wings. and wanderings. I want those roots. But at heart I'm still that piece of sea glass that keeps getting tossed back in, allowing life to tumble me up a bit more. my sharp edges are many and sometimes I feel like I might drown. making this trip I'm on feel like a firecracker. Turns out, I've always wanted a firecracker life.
 
just sayin'.

 perfect peach pie
 
 Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup ice water

Filling
About 3 1/2 pounds peaches (approximately 6 large, 7 medium or 8 small)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, from about half a regular lemon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch 

To finish
1 tablespoon milk, cream or water
1 tablespoon coarse or granulated sugar

Make your pie dough: Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large, wide bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas. (I chop my butter into small bits.) Gently stir in the ice water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Get your hands in the bowl and knead it just two or three times to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days.

Meanwhile, prepare your filling: Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Prepare an ice bath. Make a small x at the bottom of each peach. Once water is boiling, lower peaches, as many as you can fit at once, into saucepan and poach for two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice bath for one minute to cool. Transfer peaches to cutting board and peel the skins. In most cases, the boiling-then-cold water will loosen the skins and they’ll slip right off. In the case of some stubborn peaches, they will stay intact and you can peel them with a paring knife or vegetable peeler.

Halve and pit the peaches, then into about 1/3-inch thick slices. You’ll want 6 cups; it’s okay if you go a little over. Add to a large bowl and toss with lemon juice. In a small dish, stir together sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch until evenly mixed. Add to peaches and toss to evenly coat. Preheat oven to 425*.

Assemble your pie: Flour the heck out of your counter, unwrap your first dough (if the two pieces look uneven, go for the smaller one) and put it in the middle and flour that too. Be generous, you’ll thank me later. Start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the pin and moving it from the center out. You’re not going to get it all flat in one roll or even twenty; be patient and it will crack less. Roll it a few times in one direction, lift it up and rotate it a quarter-turn. And that’s what you’re going to continue to do, roll a couple times, lift the dough and rotate it. Re-flour the counter and the top of the dough as needed–don’t skimp! You should be leaving no bits of dough on the counter and none should be stuck to your pin. If at any point, the dough starts to get sticky or soft, it’s warming up and will only become more difficult to work with. Transfer it back to the fridge for a few minutes (or even the freezer, but for just a minute) to let it cool, then resume your rolling process. Once your dough is a 12- to 13-inch circle, transfer pie dough to a standard pie dish by folding it gently into quarters (making no creases), arranging the folded corner into one quadrant of the bottom of your tin and gently unfolding it to fit over the base. Trim the overhang to one inch.

Scoop filling into bottom pie dough, including any accumulated juices (they contain the thickener too, also: tastiness). Roll out your top pie dough using the same procedure, until it is 12 to 13 inches in diameter. If you’d like to make a regular lidded pie, use it as is, cutting some decorative vents in the pie lid before baking. To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a pastry wheel, pizza wheel or knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction. Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim. Gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips and crimp decoratively.

To finish:Brush pie with milk, cream or water and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake pie: For about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is set and beginning to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake pie for another 30 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbling all over and the crust is a nice golden brown. If the pie lid browns too quickly at any point in the baking process, you can cover it with foil for the remaining baking time to prevent further browning.
Cool pie: For three hours at room temperature before serving, the pie filling does not fully thicken until it is fully cool. Pie can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge.       enjoy.