Goodbye 2016

London //

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Travel Portland //

Birthdays make me smile real big.

Holiday Table

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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.

img_8214 img_8222 Floret Workshop Dinners

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:

Flourless Chocolate Cake + Peppermint Meringue Grace's Sweet Potatoes Pepita Butter Bites Rhubarb Fritters // Chanterelle Fondue

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.

Chocolate Blackberry Cupcake //

Blackberries. Chocolate. Caramel. Salt. Done.

Frito Pie //

This year you met Classy Ashley and her love for Frito Pie. 

Almond Cake with Rhubarb //

We made roses out of rhubarb. 


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.


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Red Wine Poached Pear and Chocolate Tart


Poached Pear Tart

*This post is the third in our Date Night In series with Chateau St. Jean. They (and we) believe wine and date nights are a great pair. This month we’re cozying up with their Cabernet Sauvignon with rich berry and soft spice notes that pair beautifully with my recipe for a Chocolate Tart with Poached Pears.

Poached Pear Tart Poached Pear Tart

Recently I gave an interview in which I was asked something to the effect of “How do you avoid the stress of the holidays?” I understand that question, absolutely. There are so many extra things that make their way onto the already packed to do list and then there are all the things I feel like I ‘should’ be doing. Making crafts with the kids, bringing homemade treats to all the neighbors, buying the perfect gifts, saying a resounding YES! to all the parties, and decorating my home to rival that of a December West Elm catalogue. But mostly what I felt as I read that question was a pang of sadness.

The holidays and stress shouldn’t go hand in hand. I know, wishful thinking right? And completely naive perhaps. Money can be tight, family can be a burden to some and others may just not be particular into the holidays. I can empathize with that but what I love about the holidays, when they are freed up from expectations and ‘shoulds’, is that their purpose is to bring hope, joy and peace. What if we actively sought out those moments during this busy time? I wonder what I would say yes to and what would get a resounding NO! And can we all agree that we need to stop ‘should-ing’ on ourselves?

Poached Pear Tart Poached Pear Tart Poached Pear Tart

In seasons of great busyness our date nights are often the first to go. They quickly fall off the calendar to make way for another task we’ve deemed somehow more important than our own connection. This season I’m fighting valiantly to put joy above tasks, peace above stress, and a quiet date night with my husband above yet another trip to Target.

Now I realize this season is already a bit indulgent but I firmly believe that a quiet evening alone with your partner deserves a bit of fanfare in the form of deeply blushed pears and bittersweet chocolate. The enviable pears bath in a mixture of wine, cinnamon, star anise and sugar while hot cream turns a flurry of chopped chocolate into what Gabe deems “the best chocolate pudding ever”. The wine that dressed the pears in a stunning holiday frock reduces to a syrupy sauce for serving. Save any leftover sauce for vanilla ice cream.

Poached Pear Tart Poached Pear Tart

Chocolate Tart with Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Poached Pears

Serves 6 to 8 (makes one 9 or 10-inch tart)

Pair with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot


1 recipe pie or tart dough

2 cups Chateau Ste. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot

1 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2 star anise

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate


2 to 3 firm pears, peeled

Whipped cream, for serving


Chef 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch tart pan with the pie dough and bake until golden and crisp, about 20 – 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

Chef 2: In a small saucepan combine the wine, sugar, cinnamon stick and star anise. Add the pears then bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are tender when poked with a knife, about 30 minutes. As the pears simmer gently spoon over the wine and rotate them every now and again so they poach evenly.

Chef 1: In another small saucepan warm the cream just to a simmer then pour over the chocolate. Let this sit for a minute, add a pinch of salt then stir well to combine. Carefully pour this into the tart. Let this sit until the chocolate is mostly firm.

Chef 2: Remove the pears from the wine and let cool slightly before cutting them in half. Carefully lay the pear halves on the tart. Drizzle the tops of the pears with the wine syrup.

Chef 1: Pour a couple of glasses of wine.

Chef 2: Serve the tart with a nice dollop of lightly sweetened cream.

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