Joie de vivre

Sea of flowers at the Farmers Market.

Joie de vivre; joy of living, a French phrase used to describe a hearty and cheerful enjoyment of life. One writer stated that “it can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do…And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life.” James reminds us of this very idea. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” To lack in nothing. Isn’t that the mindset we all want to attain? As I allow that comprehensive joy to saturate my thoughts more each day, I grow closer to the place where my heart lacks in nothing.

I want to introduce a series that features this very idea, joie de vivre, the little things that bring joy to my life each day. My hope is that you can find your own joie de vivre, whether it’s at home with your family, meeting and showing kindness to a stranger, in quiet with your own thoughts, living in the present and taking notice of your surroundings, or simply at the kitchen table sharing a cup of coffee and an afternoon goûter with a friend.

Wallpaper turned art for Nora’s room.

July 4th at the Pacific Ocean.

Friday afternoon rituals at our neighborhood Farmers Market.

Every Friday we look forward to meeting Adam at the Farmers Market after he gets off from work. Nora and I walk about a half mile in anticipation of seeing our main guy and then slowly peruse the local fare. Our habit lately has been to grab what looks the most appetizing and come home to prepare a simple dinner and soak up our Friday evening with each other. Stay out of the kitchen, steal more kisses from your people and let this juicy bruschetta fill your hearts and bellies!

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
Bon Appétit!

Love & Baseball

Summer was our best season…it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape.

-Harper Lee

Seattle is known for being drizzly, cloudy and gloomy, and I expect those days will come sooner than I would like. But for now we are enjoying plenty of sunshine, crisp air, and long days which translate to late dinners on the patio, open windows, quality time, meaningful conversation and doing our best to live each day simply and with intent. I read this week that simple is not a synonym for easy. Living simply requires thought and meditation on how we should be spending our time and weeding out the unnecessary distractions that so many times get in the way of what is important. Do I need this lesson everyday? Yes. Did I mention the hydrangeas have made their debut?

What else do people do when the weather is perfect in Seattle? They go to a Mariners vs. Astros baseball game at Safeco Field. Adam and I fell hard and fast for each other in 2008, but it was at an Astros game sitting in the Diamond Club that we knew we wanted to love the other person for life. Covered in peanut dust and our faces sore from smiling and laughing we had found home with each other. We plan to bring Nora to her first baseball game soon but this weekend we enjoyed a game just the two of us and it felt like old times. Nine years later our love is so much greater and deeper than it was that day in the Diamond Club and we have this love bug to show for it.

Seattle is situated beautifully on the Puget Sound and as a result we enjoy an abundance of fresh seafood and local fruits and vegetables. Over the past few days the temperature has crept up into the 90’s and everyone is at the beaches, eating al fresco and flooding the parks. I truly feel like I live in a magical place, one that boasts the bluest skies I’ve ever seen and water that glistens below it. Most homes here are without AC so on these rare warm days we spend little time in the kitchen. This effortless dish features sweet Manila clams in a savory broth, is on the table in less than 10 minutes and begs to be enjoyed outdoors with someone you love. Serve with a hunk of grilled sourdough bread.

Bon Appétit!

Smitten Kitchen Garlic, Wine, and Butter Steamed Clams


Home is Wherever I’m With You

After our 3,000 mile plus journey in Ruby, a 1968 Volkswagen Westfalia bus, we landed in Seattle a little over a month ago. Ruby stayed strong the entire trip and protected us from the elements as we camped and explored new cities, national parks and off the path wonders. She is a gem and quickly became our home and safe haven. When we left Austin I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle the trip or arriving in a new place that would now be our home. The time we took to drive and see the beauty of this country unexpectedly prepared me for a new city with new faces. Once we reached Seattle it instantly felt like we had come home.

I was chatting with my mother one day and she asked “what does it smell like in Seattle?”, to which I replied damp, clean, and like evergreen trees. We are big on how places smell and would always talk of how Austin smelled as the seasons changed. Nora and I often walk to the Washington Park Arboretum which consists of 230 acres of forest blanketed with evergreens and speckled with azaleas, magnolia trees, cherry blossoms, camellias, and much more for the eyes to gaze upon. We love going there to be immersed in nature and for the sights, air, and smells.

There is much to say about the food in Seattle, but I will start with something from our kitchen. Our home was built in 1915 and it is my favorite place that I’ve ever lived, probably because of its age and the abundance of natural light. Even on a cloudy, misty day it stays so bright that we rarely turn any lights on. The kitchen has quickly become the room I spend the majority of my time in cooking, reading, writing, reflecting, and visiting.  The kitchen is where I have the fondest memories of my childhood. I feel a renewed sense of my love and relationship with food and what it brings to our family table.

So it is only fitting that I share with you a lovely, simple cherry clafoutis recipe for my first post. It is cherry season in Washington and it takes major self control not to buy 4 pounds of market cherries. Yikes. I chose this recipe for my darling husband on his first Father’s Day because he loves cherries and anything French. A clafoutis is a classic French country dessert and is a perfect way to enjoy summer fruits. Keep in mind that this can be enjoyed throughout the year, just substitute fruit based on season. It is as simple as whipping together a sweet batter, pouring it over fresh cherries, waiting patiently while it bakes, then admiring and devouring the airy, eggy, custard-like perfection of a clafoutis.

Bon Appétit!

Smitten Kitchen Cherry Clafoutis
I chose to leave the pits in the cherries while baking to get that extra almond flavor. Serve with dusted powdered sugar or as we did with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.