When it comes to the end of the year I’m just so excited to say good riddance to the current year and a big waving arms hello to a bright and shiny new year. So much so I’ll zip right on passed the reflection and jump immediately into how to make the next year the best one yet. With buzzy delight I make plans for what I hope to accomplish, think on huge bowls of salad, set lofty business goals, plan epic family adventures and figure out what YouTube exercise video I will sweat to for about a week or two.
This year, I think we might all agree, is one in which I am most eager to say a hearty GOODBYE!! But there is something missed when I jump right into planning and dream making and forget all about the check off goals, memories, delicious things, and even the humdrum of the everyday from the year past. This is the time of year in our family when the conversations around the dinner table and in the brief quiet moments in between activities are marked with some of our favorite days from the year.
Just moments ago I was sitting down with blank paper in hand getting ready to map out 2017 but before that I want to, with you by my side, look at 2016 and say thank you. Thank you for the memories, the lessons you taught us and the simple joys that marked our days. And to you all, thank you, seriously. From the very depths of my heart I say thank you – for being here, for adding to the conversation, for reading the words and adding your own, for inviting my food into your kitchen and for enabling me to do what I love. 2017 is going to be a great one but we’ll get there soon enough.
Travel. I think this is what I am perhaps the most grateful to this year for. It’s sort of ridiculous to look back over twelve short months and think on all the places I’ve been.
In March I made my first ever trip to Paris and as one does, I fell completely in love with the city. The more time I spend away from that stunning place the more I realize how much I indeed love it.
In May I returned to Italy (the birthplace of my love of food) for the first time since I lived there in college. Once again I found God in my Carbonara.
In June/July we took the kids on a three-week European adventure. The effects of the trip continue to overwhelm and delight me. I love that my children are already building on their own travel memories and have real tastes, sights, smells, and sounds to recall. I fulfilled a lifelong dream of wandering through Monet’s Garden and bought art supplies from the same shop that has been supplying artists for generations. We discovered how much we all love ham and butter on baguettes and experience the perfect rain escape – Chocolat Chaud at Les Deux Magots. With great fervor I had planned on sharing more of that trip and if you are okay with it I’d still like to do so even though we’ve now been home for quite awhile.
There was also New York, LA, Sonoma, North Carolina, and most recently Washington D.C. There I, oh you know, just decorated Bo and Sunny sugar cookies with the White House Pastry Chef, Susan Morrison (!!!) Molly, Joy, and I quickly became what I’ll consider experts on piping the perfect red collar out of royal icing. After our time in the kitchen we gawked at the stunning holiday decor that adorned every room and kept our eyes peeled for the possibility of a Michelle sighting.
Home. This year we celebrated a year in our new home. Another year of beach picnics, ignoring the lavish garden plans I made but enjoying the raspberries and what few blueberries we found on our bush, and inviting people to our table. We also added a little pup, Lily, to the family. She’s a sweet rescue dog that is currently enrolled in puppy kindergarten which, we’re hoping that perhaps this training will save our socks. Fingers crossed.
Birthdays make me smile real big.
We started collaborating with talented friends. Our first was a ceramic project with Natalia from Plus Plus Design Lab. She made some stunning salt cellars to hold our new salts.
This summer I catered three dinners for my friend, Erin’s incredible flower workshops. Her site, Floret Flowers is an incredible resource for anyone who appreciates flowers.
Food. We enjoyed some great food this year didn’t we? Here are a few of my favorites:
We don’t have to go back far to find this favorite. My friend recently made this Chanterelle Fondue for a small dinner party and I was reminded of how much I love this simple recipe. Particularly this time of year.
Blackberries. Chocolate. Caramel. Salt. Done.
This year you met Classy Ashley and her love for Frito Pie.
Thanks again for being here. Now, as I start filling that blank page with thoughts on the new year I would love to hear what you’d like to see around here. One of my goals for the new year is to make this place a better resource so that we can all find joy in the kitchen and come to the table more often. I would love to help make that happen for all of us.
Happy New Year Ashley! I love your Blog, it is WONDERFUL. I will be launching my Website & Blog in late January. The content focuses on the importance of Play, Discovery & Active Engagement & the Honoring & Sharing of Stories in Lifelong Learning. Your work & writing continue to inspire me. Namaste. Leslie
Delicious photos of Europe as well as food. Thanks for sharing. Gabe is an amazing photographer. Love the pics of your sweet children–especially the pouts…reminds me of mine when they were littles.
After I received the apron you recommended on your gift guide, I realized that I would love to pick you brain about tips, tricks, and tools you use in the kitchen! Maybe you could do some posts like that? Even if you don’t, I love your writing style. Honest, real, simple, and open.
Despite everything, you made 2016 look beautiful. Thanks for all the inspiration. Looking forward to all that you bring us in the new year!
And good luck with Lily’s puppy kindergarten. Too cute.
Hi Ashley, I have been reading your blog since nearly the beginning. Your blog has evolved and I have evolved but yours is one of the very few that I still follow after so many years. (It’s especially fun to read a blog by someone that lives in the same vicinity.) Love the photography and your easy going writing. I wouldn’t ask you to change a thing.
I love this post–first, your photography shines here. I admit to being lazy and spending too much time peering into worlds via instagram which is only a sliver of the story. Your work here blows me away, and particularly every single shot of your beautiful family. So much gorgeous emotion and life in them. They are a beautiful bunch. I’m also so inspired by how much you’re able to accomplish with three to care for; I know that more focused career days Re ahead again for me as my kids grow and become more self-sufficient. We’re still in these early, needing so much from mama days and I love them dearly, but still your world is a beacon of times ahead. Thank you. So hoping we get to meet and work together one day. One day. xx Sarah
Wonderful post! I just recently found your blog and bought your cookbook. Love them both!!! Keep up the great work and Happy New Year!!!
Your photos – especially the ones you shared of your family’s trip – are wonderful!!! It was like looking through the best gallery ever. I only recently discovered your blog, and have been enjoying it very much. Best of wishes to you in 2017!!
So happy to find you…. you made me think about so many things… so beautiful photos …Thank you and I wish you have a healthy and prosperous 2017.!
You are amazing. I don’t know where you find the time/energy to create such wonderful food/art with three young children but am grateful that you do.
I have had your cookbook for a little over a year and have made over 40 things from it in that time (counted the other day out of curiosity). And that does not even include the dishes (and cocktails) I have made multiple times. I have also given your book as a gift on multiple (four!) occasions.
I would like to see more soups and dishes that your children like to eat on weekdays.
Thank you for this incredibly kind comment. I’m blown away – 40?! That’s so amazing. Thank you! So happy to here you are enjoying it. And thanks for chiming in on how I can make NWS better for you. Are you subscribed to the newsletter by chance? I just sent a recipe for my favorite soup method. Works like a charm. Let me know if you didn’t get it and I will be sure to send it your way.
The photos that you’ve shared are absolutely gorgeous, as is your sweet family. I’m terribly curious what the rectangular tart that looks as if it’s covered in roses on your birthday table setting was made of? It’s stunning!
In this day and age (the era of “throw it away and buy a new one”), the gift of a bulletin board might seem inconsequential. In 1938, Americans still struggled with effects of the Great Depression. Like many small American towns across the country, Mt. Rainier, Maryland was on shaky financial footing and many of its citizens were in need.* As such, small gestures made a great impact.