Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Birthday Face

Evan is one great kid (and nephew).
He is FOUR today.
Happy birthday, Evan!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


It's FALL in NC...


cool days,


crisp nights,


lots of pumpkins,


and colorful, falling leaves.

Maybe tonight we'll have a fire outside...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reflections on a Word


I just finished typing out an email to an old friend...and, toward the end, I said something about her "grand stories." Then I stopped and reflected for a moment on just how much I love using the word, grand.

Maybe it strikes me as especially poignant today because Noah and I saw Where the Wild Things Are last night. That's a whole different matter, but grand seems to be the perfect word when describing certain wonderful and extraordinary things. Think, grand pumpkin (which to me, conjures up fabulous images of a giant thing, extra orange and extra rotund) or grand cup o' joe (which is what I'm getting ready to go grab...it's pretty much guaranteed to make my morning a little more, that's right, grand).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ellie the German Shorthaired Pointer

Dad's birthday was yesterday. Happy birthday, Dad!
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Mom got him the BEST gift ever:

I hear Dad and Mom are enjoying their bird dog.

I think Molly's ready for a pointing contest.

Watch out, Ellie.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer of Love

Noah and I talk a lot about our wedding. We're having a blast with all the planning and can't wait to celebrate on May 22, 2010.

Planning a wedding gives you interesting perspective on other people's weddings. I have to say, we've been lucky to be a part of so many beautiful, meaningful and FUN weddings this summer. Here's a little toast to all our newlywed friends.


Meredith and Duncan, May 2009, Charlotte, NC

Erin and Allen, August 2009, Wilmington, NC
*photo from Jenn...thanks!*

Emily and Pat, August 2009, Southern Pines, NC

How fun...Pat's Samoan so in good Samoan tradition, his grandmother serenaded the new couple while his mother performed a welcoming dance for them. Later, the men all danced circles around Emily, whooped and hollered, while the women tucked money into her dress. How's that for becoming part of the family!

Sarah and Ross, August 2009, Greensboro, NC

That look on Sarah's face means...yes...the cake went down her dress. Hopefully the slight mishap didn't lead to any sticky situations!

A celebration full of old friends and new made for a superb night.

*thanks for the photos, Katie!*

Congrats also to Tom and Meaghan who got married last weekend in Louisville. We're sorry we couldn't make it. We've heard it was a most stellar event! **Tillo, you best have enjoyed my chicken.

AND...Noah and I were thrilled to find out that our friends Lisa and John (bee and chicken keepers extraordinaire!) officially became wife and husband in July. They waited to share the news...now we just want to keep congratulating them. I thought about stealing a photo from their blog - instead I decided just to post some of our own from their upcoming wedding celebration. Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exciting News!!!

It's been awhile since my last post - mostly because Noah and I have been busy celebrating our engagement!!! That's right...Noah completely surprised me a few weeks ago. He popped the grand question at our *favorite* ice cream shop, Maple View Farms. Maple View is a very special spot - Noah and I had our first date there a little over four years ago. Plus, I think they have the very best ice cream. They also cater weddings - you might want to prepare yourself for ice cream instead of wedding cake.

Us...just moments after I said, "YES! Of COURSE!!"

Since that perfect afternoon we've been pretty busy. My childhood friend Erin got married at the beginning of August which brought us to Wilmington. We celebrated our engagement with Mom, Dad and Cara.

The Gregson fam, minus Jordan - who's just gotten home from Alaska!

Just after our trip to Wilmington, we were off to Southern Pines, NC to celebrate our friends, Pat and Emily's wedding. We came home to another celebration with Noah's sister and brother-in-law.

Celebrating with Jessica and Brian

Smack in the middle of all the weddings and visiting we were able to celebrate another great summer of Student Action with Farmworkers interns. It was quite a party...

We spent the evening hearing about the summer and catching up with old friends. It was good to be with people who were there for the beginning of us (props to SAF...we owe you!).

SAFistas!

This weekend we're off to another wedding...hooray Sarah and Ross! It's good to be surrounded by lots of love. We can't wait to celebrate with all our friends and family!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tomatoes!

The garden's chock full of these beauties. Such a summer treat.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Temperance in Ashe

This weekend, Noah's band, Irish Temperance, played two gigs in Ashe County, NC. The whole band stayed with some friends where we enjoyed this lovely view...
The New River snakes through Ashe. On Saturday morning, I found a great trail that meanders alongside the river. I couldn't have asked for a better running path. Noah made his way down a steep slope, fly rod in hand, to see what he could catch. What a great morning!
After my run I thought it would be nice to check on Noah. I hiked down the path to the river (which proved no easy feat!), searched up and down the bank but couldn't find him anywhere.
Then I spotted this little speck of a fisherman:
I think he only caught one little fish, but I know he had a great time. I enjoyed the trees...
The band played a neighborhood party at our host's house on Saturday afternoon, and then we all headed over to the Ashe County Arts Council for their evening gig. We'd heard ticket sales had been slow, but by the time the show started, the venue was packed. The stone building made for a most perfect music hall.
And I'm pretty sure the guys gleaned a good number of new fans.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thinking of Fields

I spent Summer 2005 working with Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) as an Into the Fields intern (Noah did too...the end of that summer was the beginning of US). I can't begin to share what this experience meant to me. SAF continues to be one of the organizations I admire most.

I'm getting ready to head to South Carolina for the weekend and already I'm thinking about the farmworker camps I'll pass. Driving down Interstate 40, I never used to notice the shabby worker housing tucked around the edges of vast fields. I never thought about how all the pesticides being sprayed on the fields affect the workers who pick those fields. I didn't value the food that comes to my table in quite the same way I do now...

Melchor Tomas - farmworkers turned farmer, Western NC
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I'll probably be sharing more of my thoughts on farmworkers - especially during these summer months. For now...please be thankful for those who harvest your food. And if you're looking to make a meaningful donation...SAF is my first recommendation!
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Also, Tony Macias, SAF's Assistant Director, put together this film upon returning from a delegation trip to Mexico.
Check it out.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Homemade Ricotta and Summer Tomato Salad

Making cheese has become one of my new favorite things. Homemade ricotta is almost too easy. My friend Katie makes her own ricotta and mozzarella for lasagna. She's inspired me - as soon as the nights turn chilly, cheesy lasagna will be in our oven.


Ricotta Cheese
  • 4 cups whole milk (Today I tried low fat milk, and it worked just fine.)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth, and set the strainer over a large bowl.

2. Combine milk, cream and salt, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce heat to low, and add the lemon juice. Gently stir for 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture should start to curdle.

4. Pour the mix into the strainer, and let the cheese drain for an hour or so. Use the cheese right away or refrigerate it in an airtight container. It should be good for a few days.

So far, my favorite way to use ricotta cheese is like this:

Summer Tomato Salad

  • 2 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks - various sized heirlooms work especially well
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • one 3-ounce chunk day-old country-style bread, ripped into small chunks
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • nice handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup ricotta

Mix everything together in a bowl. Serve it right away, or if you can stand to wait, refrigerate it for an hour or so. It definitely gets better with age!

Now if I only had my own cow...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Celebration

We just got back from a GREAT weekend in Madison County.
One highlight was the Fourth of July celebration. Noah's family friends have been throwing this get-together for thirty four years.

We chowed down on pizza from the mountainside brick oven (note to self: add one of these to your life)...


And toasted to a night of catching up with old friends.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rebuilding

The gristmill that sits next to my apartment started running in the 1830s. When my landlord, Ed, bought the property in the 1970s, he knew he'd always have a project at his fingertips.

This summer, Ed's working on rebuilding the mill foundation.

About a month ago, Noah helped Ed and his son pull the old mill stone out of the mill race.
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It was quite a project. After it was done, we took group pictures and then retreated to the porch for some sangria.
One of Ed's first projects after purchasing the property was to rebuild the dam. Thanks for your work, Ed. I feel lucky to sleep to the sound of falling water.

June 2009

Watching all the rebuilding makes me think of the history of this place. We talk about all the meals that were once cooked in our outdoor fireplace. The old rusty horseshoes scattered in the woods carry images of farmers lugging their corn to the mill. We wonder if weary soldiers camped out by the pond on their way to another battle.
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It's funny that we're a part of this place for such a small moment in time.
It'll be a part of us forever.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In Love with a Reader

Noah is an avid reader. It's one of my favorite things about him.

On the best Sunday mornings, we go into town and grab a New York Times. Thick and juicy, we take the day to devour the treat. Throughout the following week, we spend mornings with coffee and the remains of Sunday's paper. The crisp sheets become crinkled and smudged...tell tale signs that stories have been savored. What I really love are all the pauses we take to share what we're each reading. Sometimes one of us just agrees to read a whole article aloud. Of course, discussion follows. Many great conversations have started like this.

In the past year or so, my parents have also gotten into the Sunday Times. Their back porch is a great paper reading spot. We like joining them for this.

I'm not even making this up: as I type this Noah says to me, "Hey baby, can I read you something?"

I turn my head toward him, letting him know that I'm all ears. He shares with me a little blurb about Angkor from the National Geographic he's been pouring over (see photo above). In just a few seconds my mind has opened a bit more, and I'm back to blogging.

What a guy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Morning

This morning it was a real treat to be outside.

Molly found a turtle...

And we found blueberries.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Bird Dog

Molly is now 9 months old.
She loves birds.
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video

She also loves her KONG.
Maybe she thinks it's a rolling bird.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Squash Pickles

It's that time of year. The blossoms on our squash plants gave way to BIG, FATTY fruit and tender, smaller fruit - both perfect for packing into jars. Squash Pickles are a favorite addition to any sandwich. Most recently, Noah added a few to a BLT-A (yes...the A is for one of my favorites - avocado). He said that the pickles made for a most perfect taste combination.

We owe every bit of *thanks* to Noah's mom, Linda, for getting us hooked. She passed along her canning blue book (a must if you're interested in preserving your garden harvests) which holds the coveted recipe. In case you don't have your very own blue book the recipe will be the highlight of my very first blog.

Summer Squash Pickles

This recipe makes about 4 pints of pickles...

  • 2 pounds summer squash, sliced into 1/4" rounds
  • 1 1/3 cups sliced onions
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (responsible for that magic yellow)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar

Combine squash and onions, set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil. Add squash and onions; boil 10 minutes.

Pack hot squash and liquid into hot jars (As the pickles are doing their thing, I fill one side of my sink with really hot water and add the jars to it. I also put the cap pieces in hot water until I use them. Basically, you just don't want to put hot pickles in a cold jar.), leaving 1/4" headspace. Remove air bubbles, and wipe around the rim and sides of the jars. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

a few suggestions for eating squash pickles:

  • who thought a tomato sandwich could get any better? after slathering your bread with mayo (Duke's, of course), plop on your tomato and add a few squash pickles. delish!
  • same goes for grilled cheese - even better with a few of these babies.
  • as i mentioned earlier...Noah's new discovery - BLT-A with some added yellow.
  • our friend Zach just goes right into the jar and downs them one-by-one.
  • really, any sandwich can be perfected with the addition of squash pickles. maybe sandwhich will beg me for some jars.

So you want to know how to use a boiling water canner? Here's your very own step-by-step guide:

Before or during the pickling process, fill a large pot with water. The pot must be deep enough to cover the jars with 1 to 2 inches of water while the water is boiling rapidly. If you buy an actual "boiling water canner" it should come with a rack to set the jars in. I personally don't really like using the rack, BUT without a rack, you really have to have a jar lifter. **Sidenote: The first time I canned, I tried doing it without a rack and without a jar lifter. Bad idea. I had to be pretty creative to get the jars out of the boiling water - my fingers are just now forgiving me. This is a jar lifter. You should be able to find one at your local hardware store, kitchen store or online.

Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add the jars and let them sit for the amount of time indicated in the recipe. I normally add a few minutes just to make sure they've gone long enough. Pull the jars out of the water and let them sit. If everything's right, you should start hearing your jar lids pop just a few minutes after they've been out of the water. After a half-hour or so, check to make sure the jars have sealed by pressing the center "button" on the jar lid. If it still pops, it's not sealed. You'll want to throw unsealed jars in the fridge and use them first.

Only use this process for high acid foods (fruits, jams, tomatoes with added acid (like lemon juice), relishes, chutneys, vinegars and pickles!). Low acid foods need more heat to kill bacteria and can only be canned with a pressure canner.

Good luck with your canning! Let me know how it goes!