I’m a store owner.

I purchased a square-shaped, spiral notebook when I was 14, maybe 15. It’s about 7 inches on each side, 1” thick with a faded navy cover that has designs on it similar to the ones created by an old toy I used to have that held a pen still while a paper turned below it on a little wonky, Lazy-Susan.

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I heart.

When the barn is quiet and most are asleep, holding a baby lamb is simply heavenly.

Admittedly, hard to share.  Instead, maybe you’ll enjoy a few other recent favorites:

–  If you haven’t already, I just read and adored Marianne Williamson‘s classic A Return to Love

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Mission accomplished.

This season at Apricot Lane, we planted Blocks D, F and M.  That means absolutely nothing to you!  But around here, it’s big news.  Over 30-acres of itty-bitty trees are soaking up their nutrients from our soils, and we’re happy to have them.

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On the move…

Since adopting Todd, our movements are very pack-like.  Here we are above, flying to Chicago.  If John goes, we all go.  We like it best that way.

Now, we are tucked into a condo that is literally across the street from my brother (Matt), sister-in-law (Megan) and niece (Sophie’s) house.  Can you believe the good fortune?  Matt & Megan had neighboring friends who needed to sublet at the exact time we were going to be living in Chicago for John’s work.  Thank you unseen weaver of amazing webs.

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Where my dreams lay calm and bright.

Happy New Year! How were the holidays for ya? John, Todd and I traveled to celebrate my new niece‘s first Christmas. I’m certain she didn’t have a clue, but we had a ball pulling her bright-red new sled around the snowy Chicago streets. The huge smile on her face made us all feel very successful. Honestly, it was one of the nicest Christmas’s I’ve ever had. Relaxing, no travel issues, lots of love and good food. I felt Christmas this year. I hope you did, too.

Due to John’s work, we thought we were going to have to extend our trip in Chicago to include New Year’s, but we didn’t. That last-minute change left us without plans for the holiday, but sometimes, no plans is a whole lot more fun than plans. Instead of lipstick, heels and a holiday party this year (also fun), I made Cumin Lamb Burgers, one of John’s favorite dinners, and we took in a movie (The Fighter – Excellent! Christian Bale is crazy good.) The night hit the spot.

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A leftover bottle of wine.

Doesn’t everyone already have their own Spaghetti & Meatballs recipe? It’s kinda the American version of India’s curry. Each family’s recipe is just a little different. But just in case, here’s mine.

Funny thing is, I never used to cook with wine, an ingredient in this recipe. But one normal Sunday night, I had decided on Spaghetti & Meatballs for dinner. The previous night, we had entertained and a leftover bottle of red sat next to me on the counter. On a whim, I added a bit to deglaze the pan, and like a steam-roller, I understood all the fuss about wine. Holy smokes… cooking with wine is awesome! It totally makes things taste deep and layered, rich and satisfying. That night, John declared it the best Spaghetti & Meatballs ever, so I took the time to write it down in order to share it with you!

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Loyal for a lifetime.

My relationship with these salmon cakes took a good bit of courting. Salmon doesn’t jump right into just any circular relationship. Not like ground beef, who shows up to every backyard bbq, tailgate and lonely weeknight pan-fry. No… You have to bat your eyes at salmon. The salmon cake requires the right balance of moisture and breading to strut it’s radiant beauty. But bored with beef, I gave salmon a call.

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Glistening white lights.

I totally lost my iPhone last week. Boo with an extra – ooooo. John and I went on a fantastic hike last Saturday, but with no packed lunch, we were famished driving home at 4:30pm. I barely remember our stop at Whole Foods until the first blueberry popped in my mouth. No excuse, but I think my starving stomach left my cell phone in the grocery basket. Being that it was a weekend, I didn’t even think to grab it until Sunday morning. So, John (who did not give me even one Molly!, during this whole process – god love him) got a spanking new iPhone. He cares more about the bells and whistles than me, and given that I lost dang thing in the first place, I happily took his old one. Well low and behold, the new iPhones take videos! John has a good bit of camera equipment, but nothing that he can whip out at the drop of a spatula. We have been talking about taking videos for a while now. At times, I want to show you how something works, and though I love the magic of word negotiation, certain techniques get lost in two-dimensionality. In our first stab at a video, I show you my growing tomato plants in a 44 second video called Meet My Porch Garden.

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Reminiscent of everyone’s childhood.

When I grew up (the processed food loving 80’s), tacos were made from factory-farmed ground beef and an MSG loaded seasoning packet. Re-fried beans directly from a can. Only Hal, the packaging manager at the local food canning plant, knew exactly what oil went into those beans. As a private chef, the ultimate challenge is finding kid-friendly meals that parents crave, too. Those rare meals that feed the whole table are treasures, saved for the time-sensitive evenings when I need to slip out for a movie-date with John.

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