food and friends.

Last night we began our cooking/dinner party get-togethers again. Last year, four of us girls would get together once a month, cook something new and share the ingredient costs. When all the work is done, the husbands join us and we eat everything up.

Almost 10 months had passed since our last dinner, so we’re all really excited to start this up again! Last night was fondue! It was our turn to host and for the first time ever, we held a party in our backyard. It was done purely out of necessity as our kitchen doesn’t comfortably seat eight. But it was lovely! Definitely something we’ll repeat!

decorations from the kitchen.

With the addition of a dog (+ crate) to our house this year, we no longer have room for a full-size Christmas tree. [So we can postpone the real vs. fake tree dilemma for another year.] In lieu of a full-size Christmas tree, I purchased a small rosemary tree, which I thought was brilliant (in spite of the fact that the only surviving herb in our garden is rosemary). But I do love that we can plant it when we’re done using it indoors. I used a pretty screenprinted tea towel as a tree skirt.

The bay leaf wreath lives in the kitchen, instead of on the front door

After a few weeks of having it in the house, I have to say it’s not quite as brilliant as it initially sounded. I was excited to avoid the wastefulness and expense of either kind of tree, and especially the mess of a real tree, but this rosemary plant has actually been more messy than the real tree we had last year! Granted, it could be my knack for killing plants, but it also doesn’t look nearly as good now as it did when this photo was taken a week ago. The upside is, with rosemary leaves falling everywhere, all the presents smell lovely!

Regular ornaments were too heavy and clunky to hang on our tiny tree, but a wooden star we bought in Germany this past summer makes a really great tree topper.

A few other decorations live here and there in our house, but overall, it’s pretty simple this year. At first, we weren’t going to have a tree at all, but I’m glad I went with this stand-in rosemary tree. Whether our house smells like pine or not, it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without a tree.

holiday kickoff.

Thanksgiving is quickly becoming my favorite holiday. Heading to the mountains the last few years with (the local part of) my family instead of staying in Greenville has given the entire holiday new life.

This years Thanksgiving was:
pie made from pumpkins
a heritage turkey (brined!)
games on the iPad
an amazing view
never needing to know the time
a steady supply of food
magazines and books
Dutch Blitz
a giant puzzle
hiking to see a waterfall
naps and general laziness
taking photos
quality conversation

It was not:
a fireplace
Black Friday shopping
cell phone service

I’m so grateful for a relaxing start to the holidays this year. The next few weeks will fly by I’m sure, but it was wonderful to have a couple days to relax and take a deep breath.

sugar cookies

If you’re on a quest to find the best sugar cookie recipe ever, look no further. These cookies literally melt in your mouth! I think it’s the combination of powdered sugar and regular sugar, but they are like no other sugar cookie I’ve ever tasted!

Also, just a note: they are pretty crumbly, so they’re probably not the kind to decorate.

A simple comparison.

I bought a flat of these white eggs at our farmer’s market this morning. These are local eggs, and a flat (20 eggs) was only $3. The last time I bought these, it seemed like over half had double yolks — something I had never even come across once with store-bought eggs!

Alone, they don’t seem extra large…until you set one side-by-side with a ‘regular’ egg. If you don’t already go there, make sure you check out your farmer’s market for local eggs and produce. You might be surprised at what you find!

Roast Beef With Slow-Cooked Tomatoes and Garlic

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about food, so I’ll share a new recipe we tried last night. We’re not big red meat eaters, but I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while and it seemed like the perfect way to use the cherry tomatoes that are everywhere this time of year. I used a sirloin tip roast we bought at the Saturday Morning Market from Native Meats.

It looked and smelled amazing before I even put it in the oven!

You’ll have to take my word for it when I say this photo doesn’t do it justice! I’m not a food photographer, but here’s the finished product!

Look at that roasted garlic! Mmmmm!

We were anxious to eat, so I didn’t take any photos after we sliced it, but I was really happy with the tender, ever-so-slightly-pink inside. Since I never know how long to cook things like this, and I get nervous about over- or under-cooking meat, I bought an instant-read thermometer the other day, and this was the first recipe I used it on. In the end, this 2-pound roast was in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes, and it came out a very nice medium-well. 

The verdict: It was exceptional! I’m sure that it has more to do with the quality of the meat than the cook, but I don’t mind at all! I’ll definitely be making this one again!

What a weekend!

Saturday started out with a visit to the Downtown Greenville Farmer’s Market. We brought home a bag of these yummy peaches from Bellews Market.

We also went to see Greenville’s newest claim to fame: Our very own Apple Store! The line to get in was way too long for us to wait, but I’m sure we’ll be back soon.

Sunday afternoon we headed to The Big Crafty in Asheville with friends. These photos are of the Ragamuffin Press booth, where we bought this letterpressed print. It was great to meet some of the artists that will be at Indie Craft Parade this fall (including Ragamuffin) and find out that everyone’s work is even more wonderful in person!

Afterward, we ate breakfast for dinner at the acclaimed Early Girl Eatery. Just look at this list of local farms they get their food from! Needless to say, my omelet and fresh-squeezed orange juice were phenomenal!

Bakeshop Branding

I love to see a shop (no matter how large or small) that has good branding. Of course, the most important factor is the quality of the product they’re selling, but in my book, great branding is a sign that the owner really cares about what they’re doing. Everything is considered, down to the small details.

Whether you’re design savvy or not, it’s important to acknowledge that design plays a part in any experience. I wanted to share these photos we took of a nicely branded bakery we visited in Prague. I’m happy to report that the products they were selling lived up to the expectations the brand gave us!

Tried  this  new recipe for Sunday lunch the other day and it turned out pretty well! I didn’t have almonds, but we decided they’d probably add a nice texture, so I’ll have to include them next time. My favorite part was being able to use all homemade chicken and vegetable stock!

Tried this new recipe for Sunday lunch the other day and it turned out pretty well! I didn’t have almonds, but we decided they’d probably add a nice texture, so I’ll have to include them next time. My favorite part was being able to use all homemade chicken and vegetable stock!