What better place to spend a family Valentine’s weekend? Baby girl loved the canals, pointing out everywhere “wah wah” (water) and “boat” (of which there were many, haha). It was fun to have a little change of scenery from the dreary gray up here on the lake, try some delicious food (amarone risotto is an awesome idea by the way), and admire a gorgeous market filled with sea critters that even this New England gal had never set eyes upon before. Sometimes it’s just fun to get away for a couple days. As an added pleasant bonus, there was no precipitation nor wading through flooded streets this time like our last visit three years ago at Christmas. No, instead the sun came out in the afternoons, warming everyone up after a chilly morning.
So why don’t you relax, macchiato in hand, and come take a stroll with me through one of my favorite cities?
I always look forward to going back to the States for the holidays, especially for being able to reconnect with family and friends – we cook, we laugh, we watch our little ones with pride as we see them interact and grow – but really, it’s the coming together that is most important. One of the things I love is that when our family grows because someone gets married, their family becomes part of our family too.
Todd and Joyclyn are part of our extended family – an honest and down-to-earth couple with a cheery disposition, they pour their heart into their family-run business, Wright’s Orchard – and it shows in the quality of food that they grow. There’s a variety of all sorts of delicious and beautiful products from the height of summer and all throughout autumn. There is produce from apples to peaches to pumpkins, an exquisite selection of dried flowers and even Christmas trees during the end of the year, along several other delights. This New England orchard is simply a beautiful place, set in the rural hills of northeastern Connecticut.
I’m not normally one for resolutions. I usually find the structure of putting a personal habit onto a calendar makes it work rather than the soulful introspection it was intended to be. But even still, I’m always up for turning over a new leaf, looking back at where I’ve been, and seeing if/what I want to change.
So what did I really learn this year? I learned to take myself less seriously. To blog less, and live more. To take fewer photos, and make more of them count. I learned to commit only to what is really important. I learned to take risks, and that when I am presented with a challenge, if I relax and trust myself, I will rise up to it. I got to see how an amazing publication, Simply Gluten Free, has grown over the past year, and see what kind of food writer I am (yes, shameless link plug, I am a paid contributor to Simply Gluten Free mag and therefore of course think you all should subscribe). I’ve developed my artistic style more, and even when I couldn’t really see, I was still always thinking about light and shape – while I still have a long journey ahead of me, these will always be at the core of my being.
And with that in mind, I think it’s fun to reflect on my path over 2013 -
We hiked high up in the Alps:
And snowshoed with some photography friends in view of the stunning Matterhorn:
Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
I never know what to expect when we make these big trips back home to see family. How will the baby handle the 8+ hr plane ride over the ocean? Will she get into a normal-enough sleep schedule okay after a 6 hr time zone shift? Will she make the connection that even though she’d never met my father, sister, brother-in-law, or nephew before, that these were the very same people she’d chatted with through the computer (thanks, Skype) her entire life? Would this place I used to call home, that still makes my heart sing – would this place become special to her as well? And most importantly (ok, not really, ha) could Ryan and I ever enjoy enough Mexican and BBQ food during our short stay to make up for the depressing dearth of such cuisines in Europe?
It may have been quite a grand holiday out to the US, but we kept life simple. We hung out with family, enjoyed a couple Thanksgiving dinners even, went for walks out in the chilled morning mist, watched some much-missed American football, and spent as much time as I could with my sister and her family after not being able to see each other in person for over two years. Oh yes, and we had to go out to eat to order fajitas just a few times
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