French Bread…

The other day I was sitting in a circle with a group of 3 year olds asking them their favorite food.  When they asked me mine, the first thing that popped into my head was French bread.

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Good, fresh French bread.  The kind that is soft and airy in the center, but crisp on the outside, so that it flakes apart into chunky crumbs when you try to tear it or take a bite.   Croissants and French bread both should be that way.  If it does not impart a mess while eating, it probably is not very good (or too old).

I have always loved it.  Since I was a little girl.  It doesn’t seem very elegant or sophisticated or gourmet.  I hate that it seems so basic (I have a reputation in my family for liking the most basic food).  But, I love it all the same.

And it is not just for the taste, it is also for the memories.  It reminds me of Ireland.  When I was so broke and could barely afford food.  I was living off one meal a day and the granola bars and prunes I had packed in my bag before the trip. But splurged on French bread and a little thing of butter.  It reminds me of France.  And the mystery of the missing ends.  (I finally asked someone why none of the baguettes had ends. It turned out that people would tear them off and eat them while walking home.)  It reminds me of Italy.  The mornings waking up to a fresh baguette my grandfather had gotten from the nearby bakery, eaten simply with butter and the best black currant jam I had ever tasted in my life.

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So, what is your favorite food?

 

 

Top 12 Coffee Shops (Right Now)

Most people who know me know that I tend to exaggerate when I talk about the things I love and hate.  With that said, my favorite thing in the world right now is a latte.  In the words of Dorcas Lane, they are “my one weakness”.  Seriously.  So much so, that I plan trips based going to my favorite coffee shops.  So, here is a list of my top 12 places to get a latte right now.

Chattanooga:

Velo Coffee Roasters –  a local roaster here in Chattanooga, TN and where I got truly addicted to drinking lattes.  This is where I was weaned off having any sugar added.

Copacetic Coffee –  Paired with The Farmer’s Daughter, this is a must visit in Chattanooga.  And my go to place to get a latte (as it is just right across the way from Addiah at 1307)!  I love how pure, simple, and straightforward their approach to coffee is.  Their passion is evident and you cannot help but get excited too.  Always delicious and delightful!  Eventually I will try their cappuccino.

Camphouse – great for doing work or for taking a break from work.  Love the atmosphere and location.  (It brings back memories as it is located where I took sculpting lessons/did an apprenticeship of sorts with Cessna Decosimo.)  Plus, it is a great place to see a show or go to an event.  They have a constant line up of events that are worth checking out.

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Knoxville:

Old City Java – a latte paired with their almond croissant and a good book or the latest Kinfolk – perfect!  And an awesome stop along the way on trips up North.

 

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Nashville:

Crema – my favorite place to bring work and sip a latte while spending the weekend in Nashville.  Plus, they roast their own coffee which makes it all that much better.

Barista Parlor – totally awesome design.  There is not much that needs to be said here.  You just have to visit for yourself if you have not; and if you have, you know why I love it.  I tend to leave with a smile on my face after coming here.

Atlanta:

Octane Coffee (and the Little Tart Bakery) – love, love, love sitting outside at a German beer table at the Grant Park location enjoying a treat from The Little Tart Bakery and sipping a coffee, or latte rather. Definite recommendation:  the Earl Gray Shortbread cookies.

Charleston:

City Lights Coffee – loved the people!  Seriously, I was sold.  Plus, my favorite latte while in Charleston.  Cannot wait for my next trip to Charleston and to swing by for a drink.

Washington D.C. area:

Patisserie Poupon – I will admit that I actually get a latte macchiato here.  But, oh, are they good!  Most everything is though!  A great stop for breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon treat.  Just be warned they are closed on Mondays.  If only my sisters and I could remember!

Baked and Wired – love their iced lattes!  They make them extra creamy and delicious.  I honestly go here just for lattes (but their quiche is pretty good too).  My sisters and I love to bike the Capital Crescent trail and then come here for a latte.  It makes the perfect afternoon.  The atmosphere is very trendy, and is not quite our kind of scene.  We are good with just getting drinks to go.  And be warned, their desserts are super, super sweet!  Definitely need a coffee if you get one!

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Modern Times Coffeehouse – old school type of coffeehouse.  It is housed downstairs in Politics and Prose (an awesome independent bookstore).  It definitely has that type of vibe going.  The food is good and worth a stop.  There is always an eclectic crowd, everything from students to families.

Philadelphia:

La Colombe – oh my goodness!  What a find!  While visiting Philadelphia months ago, my sisters and I stumbled upon this coffee shop.  Although they have locations all over, and are not based just in the Philadelphia area, I LOVE it.  The atmosphere was charming – I mean, literally – it charmed us with the simplicity and character of the place.  I felt transported back to Deruta while sipping my latte out of a mug and enjoying a most delicious biscotti at a tiled table.  They did not go over the top with their Italian design/influence, which I really appreciated.  Everything had a purpose, yet was beautiful and of obvious quality – I mean it was imported from Deruta.  We loved it so much that we could not wait to go back the next day!  We tried both locations while there and were not disappointed with either!  I am so looking forward to working Philadelphia into a trip this year just to go back and visit.

In love with: Ancian Rosa

I am TOTALLY in love and so excited to share!  This has been a long time in coming – longer than Addiah has even been in existence.  So, go make a cup of tea and get ready to hear a love story (it is not really that exciting and a glass of wine is probably more fitting).

It all started in college….

I was the type of girl to only have a couple of friends, but they were my dearest and my constant companions.  Lauren was one such friend.  We roomed together my last semester of college and did everything together, so much so that people even thought we were sisters.  During that time, we dreamed of traveling Europe together – specifically France, as Lauren had lived there.  I honestly thought they were mostly dreams and hopes, and did not imagine them coming to fruition.  The years passed and we talked about it, but life happened and we just talked and dreamed.  Until, one day we just decided to go for it.  With absolutely no money saved up and no plan, we headed to Europe for two months.  We hopped around Ireland, France, and Italy, visiting everyone we knew.  One such family, graciously hosted us for two weeks in the south of France.  During those two weeks, we walked the same streets and shopped in the same shops day after day as if expecting to stumble upon something new.  We were in a tiny little town, with not much to explore.  However, there was one sweet little shop.  All very French.  We would stop in whenever we passed by just to look (and because it was our favorite thing in town).  One day Lauren decided to buy some perfume.  Now, this was a big splurge at the time.  We had set budgets for food and travel and they were MINISCUAL.  We were just eating one real meal a day since that was all we could afford (except for when people would feed us).  One time we just had a cup of hot chocolate (or chocolat chaud) for lunch/dinner and another day a lunch consisted just of carrots.  (I think the lowest point was getting a can of spaghetti o’s in Ireland or maybe when we ate Subway because it was the only place you could get a meal for less than 5 euros.  Thankfully I had packed half my bag with granola bars.)  Don’t get me wrong – we did enjoy some delicious food – just not as much as we would have preferred.  So, back to the perfume…

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Lauren splurged and bought Durance’s Ancian Rosa Eau de Toilette.  I was not a rose fan.  Lavender was my scent of choice.  But everyday she would wear her new perfume and I would just think she smelled divine!  I just could not get over the scent.  I don’t think there has ever been a scent that has so captivated and enticed me as this did.  I could not afford to buy any for myself, but thought it would be a perfect gift to bring back to one of my sisters, so buy it I did.

Upon returning to the states, whenever I smelled my sister, I thought she smelled phenomenal and would ask her what she was wearing…it was always this same perfume.  I was in love!  And wanted to share it with everyone.  I tried to carry it, but they discontinued selling it to the US right after I placed an order.  From then on, whenever someone went to France I would have them bring me a bottle back.  However, this summer everything changed!  I finally was able to order the perfume and here it is for all to smell and enjoy!

Rose is a hate it or love it scent.  It seems everyone has a strong opinion about the scent.  This is what did it for me…I am a convert and proudly declare my love of the scent of roses!

In love with: the sun

I have never loved the heat of summer or laying out or Florida.  It is not that I don’t like them.  I just don’t love them.  They are good every now and then – but mostly in little doses.  However, I do love feeling my skin soak up the sun.  When I started thinking of the sun as a blessing due to its health benefits (Vitamin D, which is needed in absorbing other vitamins), I started to enjoy being in the sun and the heat.  I am not by any means recommending laying out all day, but a little sun each day can help to keep the doctor away (by building up essential vitamins)!  Just make sure to be responsible.

So, as I was falling in love with the sun for its healthy benefit to my body, I also fell in love with it for making tea!  Who knew!  It might not sound like a big revelation, but I felt like it was.  Not only is it amazing how much the water does warm up over the day and really steep the tea, but it is fun too!  I don’t know why, but it gives me immense pleasure to make sun tea.  Maybe how simple and natural it feels (and a little like a science experiment).  Nothing but a mason jar, water, some tea, and the sun.

Sun tea:

Step 1:  Fill a mason jar with fresh cold water.

Step 2:  Pick a tea.  (Today I decided to try a rosehip & honey tea my aunt brought from South America.)

Step 3:  Add the tea bags to the jar.

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Step 4:  Leave in the sun to brew all day, or until your liking.  It really depends on the weather.

Step 5:  Remove tea bags and enjoy!

Simplified version:  fill a jar with water, add tea bags, and leave it outside all day.

In love with: men’s plaid shirts

I have a thing for men’s plaid shirts.  I have three in my closet right now.  The more worn they are the better…it means they are softer and more cozy.  Whenever I stop by a thrift store or a yard sale, I make sure to check the selection to see if there is anything good.  One such visit, I found a great shirt with a red and green plaid.  It did not have a price so I went to ask.  The lady looked at it, and then asked whether I was aware of the holes and paint on the shirt.  I said I was.  I got it for 50 cents.  And I love it!

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Inspiration: France

A couple of years ago, my family took our first trip overseas together.  We have all traveled many a times before but never all 6 of us together out of the country at once.  My sisters and I had given my parents a trip to France for their 25th anniversary and they decided that we should go as a whole family.  Of course my sisters and I readily agreed.  It took a couple of years to actually go but finally we made our way to the south of France, outside of Toulouse.  My mother found a home for us to rent and we settled in for a wonderful French filled week.  Words cannot even begin to describe the amazing beauty of the home and the setting.  Seriously.  It was perfect!

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Set gently on top of a hill, it was surrounded with fields that blew gently in the breeze.  There was a cheese farm up the road where we bought fresh cheese from the owner.  Part of the Roman Road ran through the area and was perfect for walking.  We did do some exploring, but the majority of the day was spent going to market to buy food and then cooking it.

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As there are four girls plus my mom, we have plenty of cooks in the family.  We decided that we would each take one night and be in charge of the food preparations.  (I guess technically the nights we ate out were my father’s nights.)  Now, when given an assignment like that, we all wanted to create a feast, so our days quickly became about planning menus, sourcing food, and cooking.  And boy, did we cook.  Sometimes we did not end up eating until 10pm, but that was part of the experience.  There was an amazing concrete table right outside the kitchen that was perfect for feasting.  Even though the home was beautiful, it is hard to eat inside when you are in France, or anywhere for that matter, when nature and your surroundings are so beautiful.

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Now, I will clarify that Italy has my heart.  It is my first love and will always be my true love.  I had been able to travel to France at least four other times and had loved each trip.  This trip was different.  It resonated with me in a way that France never before had.  I fell in love with not just France, but living French.  Things that I have incorporated into my life now.

I think that is part of traveling – being exposed to new and different things, or seeing things in a new way.  I don’t think I ever come back totally the same person.  It might be little things, but they change my life.  So, here is a list of some of what I discovered and fell in love with…

Citrus Press

Who knew that squeezing lemons could be so easy.  The kitchen had the most amazing old press.  It looked like it was an antique and worked so well.  It got every drop out of the lemons.  Totally sold!  I bought one when coming home.  I still have my eye out for one that has a little more age and charm and is straight up solid metal.

Canopy Bed

Okay, so I would never have thought I would want a canopy bed.  I never liked the looks as they seemed a bit Victorian and I prefer more of a rustic/minimalist look when it comes to design.  I guess that is because I never slept in one.  That sold me.

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My sisters and I all shared a room (not that we had too as there were plenty of rooms and beds, but we like to be together).  We were traveling in May so the nights got chilly even though the days were warm.  We thought it only fair that we would rotate who got the floor and who slept in the bed.  My younger sister and I started out in the bed and my older sisters slept on the floor.  Every night they would tuck us in and wrap the curtains tight around the bed so that we had a warm little cocoon.  It was so unbelievably cozy.  The coziest bed I have ever experienced.  So much so that my older sisters let us two younger ones sleep there the whole time we were so in love with it.  I desperately want a canopy bed!

Steak

I really prefer vegetables over meat.  Up to this point I did not really care for steak at all.  (Meaning I did not like it.)  At the end of the trip we spent a couple of days in Toulouse.  There was a little steak restaurant down the street from our hotel that we decided to go to one night.  As I was in France at a steak restaurant, I figured I would eat a steak with gorgonzola.  I don’t know why I ordered it when I did not care for it typically.  Oh my goodness!  It was absolutely delicious.  The best steak I have ever had.  Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what the name of the restaurant is.  But I am forever thankful for such a delicious meal and wonderful experience.

Fennel & My French Kitchen

In the kitchen of the house we stayed at, they had a selection of cookbooks that we used as resources for our meals.  (Thankfully the home owners were British and most of the cookbooks were in English.)  One such cookbook was “My French Kitchen” by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde.  This is a must-have in my opinion.  The Baked Red Pepper recipe is what made me fall in love with fennel.  In addition to the baked red peppers, we also made the White Bean & Tomato Salad, the Warm Tuna & Potato Salad, the Artichokes with Vinaigrette, the Onion Tart, and the Gratin Dauphinois.

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Gotan Project

One night, at the local restaurant, there was this beautiful, emotionally stirring music playing.  The whole meal we were memorized by how fabulous it was.  We asked if they knew who it was…Gotan Project.  Love their music!

For anyone traveling to France and looking for a vacation rental, I would highly recommend Pure France!

Camp News from Little Auggie

I don’t know about you, but I went to camp when I was a little girl.  Not every summer, but enough to have gotten my fill.  One of my favorite things was writing and getting mail.  Amazing that of all the things to experience, that is what I remember liking most.  Well, my mother bought me these super fun little form letters – the general letter was written for me – I just filled them out.  I LOVED them and thought they were so cool and fun to send.

I was delighted to find just that in my inbox this week.  Designed by a mother with her daughter in mind, these are the perfect thing to send with your child to camp!  Super cute.  And so is Little Auggie.  If you are in need of some wonderful bedding for your child, make sure to check out their selection.

campnews3*Used with permission from Little Auggie.  Thanks!