hi and hello.

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It’s been so long since I’ve said hello.

So, hello!

Spring is really here it seems and with that I’ve been finding myself driving to work in the sunshine, blasting my country music as loud as it will go. Spring has a way of bringing pure joy with it, doesn’t it? Take today, for example. I was running later than usual to work, and there were no eggs left in the fridge, but bygonnit! It was sunny out! And about to be over 50 degrees! And so smiling was what I had to give and I gave it all I’ve got. I just love that.

We are ONE WEEK away from our west coast trip and I don’t think I could be more excited about it if I tried. Can you believe it’s here already? I can hardly. Give it to me, California. GIVE IT ALL TO ME. My list of things to do is longer than a ball of twine, and each day I add more and more. Whatever we do, whatever we see, I know I’ll just be thankful to be there experiencing it. I’ve been dreaming of this for SO SO long. When Zan and I were talking about it the other day, which we do most everyday, we realized that this is the first trip we’ve taken together in a long time. We went out to San Diego forever ago, and since then, only road trips here and there or family vacations. So, we’re excited about that! Traveling together is fun and I can’t wait to see the other side of the country with that guy by my side. He did warn me once not to take TOO MANY photos, but I told him I can’t promise anything like that. HELLO. :)

In other everyday news, tonight I’m eating tacos and adding clothes to my “vacation pile”, which also seems to be getting bigger by the minute. I’m planning to travel with just a carry-on, so I guess I have some work to do in that department. I ordered the weekender from Everlane, and hooray! I think it will be perfect. Also, the Sandlot’s on currently, so you can’t really beat that. ABC Family! It never lets me down.

// see above:

some favorite instas from the past few months.
We’re visiting my Gram again this weekend
{she’s back at home!} and I’m so looking
forward to giving her a hug. ♥

ribbon, Studio Carta
necklace + bracelet, The Jones Market
hand lettered print, Brim Papery

neptune oyster

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On the night of his 30th birthday {back in December}, I took Zan out to Neptune Oyster in the North End. I’d walked by it many times, the bold lettering and rows and bunches of the yellowest lemons always standing out to me. This night we took our first steps inside, into the coziest little Oyster Bar this city ever did see. We loved that night in the North End. We put our names in {the wait is never not a long one} headed down the street for some pre-dinner drinks and hurried back when they called us just under an hour later. We sat at the bar and had a feast for a king— oysters, and johnny cakes, and hot lobster rolls for the win. We left so full and so satisfied. The flavors were rich, and decadent, and delicious.

4 months later and I’m still thinking about the magic.

Neptune Oyster
63 Salem Street
North End, Boston

{I’ve also put it back on my “To Do in Boston” list, simply so I can visit again!}

top knot 12

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 “Top Knot 12″
gifted to me, by my dear friend Bailey ♥

by Elizabeth Mayville
on Etsy

I’ve been thinking about spring lately, in the simplest most nostalgic of ways. I’ve been thinking about flowers and summer fruit, and the way the sun feels on your skin when the wind is gentle and calm. I want to throw the windows wide and hear the birds singing, wear skirts and thin sweaters, no socks with my shoes. I’ve been thinking about the picnic table and walks in the city, while the sun shines strong, pink skies, pretty hues. I want to take a nap with my book in the hammock, feet strung over the edge and the night far away.

I want spring so badly,

To enjoy it and smile,

Hands in my pocket,

All the way to sweet June.

Strawberries, short sleeves, top knots, and beach days.

Oh, take me on a bike ride to June.

ratatouille, and other delicious food talk.

ratatouille

Life has been such a busy piece of work these past few weeks. Week days have been about hustling. Hustle here, hustle there, wake up early, make dinner late. GO GO GO all dang day. I feel like such a busy body day in and day out, and mostly this is good, but also, I can’t help but feel the need for a good solid break. Today I got such a day and so, finally, FINALLY, I can sit down to write a little bit down.

I am so excited that spring is officially here. No matter the forecast, the warmth WILL arrive soon and the cold will just be a memory. The beauty in winter is that spring will come. Spring will always come, and that is something that can keep me going for a lifetime.

These days I’ve been cooking and sleeping and swimming and teaching. Not in that exact order, but those are the things that occupy my days. Also, West Coast planning. I could do our West Coast planning ALL NIGHT LONG, and guess what? I do. We’ve got all our accommodations in order, and now we’re planning our adventures— what we’ll eat, where we’ll walk, what we’ll see, e v e r y t h i n g we’ll do. It’s so exciting! And certainly helping me get through this last bout of chilly weather.

Lately I’ve been reading Molly Wizenburg’s A Homemade Life, partly because I love her writing, and partly because a night at Delancey is on the agenda for Seattle. If you haven’t read her blog or her book before, I highly encourage it. She’s got that smooth-like-butter way of story-telling that’s just my favorite– an instant friend, cozy, thoughtful and full of wisdom. Many of her recipes are filled with flour and butter and sugar, which I have plans to try here and there in the future, but yesterday I decided to go for her Ratatouille– a pot full of vegetables that TASTES LIKE HEAVEN.

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Ratatouille, inspired by Molly Wizenburg/Orangette:

For the stew:

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggplant {see photo above for size}
1 zucchini
I medium onion {chopped}
1 red bell pepper
5 tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
Salt and Pepper
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Fresh basil {I left this out because I didn’t have any unfortunately, but I bet it’s top notch when you put it in.}

How to make:

{Molly likes to cook all the veggies in her ratatouille separately, so I followed her advice the entire recipe through. I just feel like she’s one of those people you can trust, you know?}

1. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch think rounds and roast them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. I brushed olive oil over them, and flipped them half-way through.

2. While the eggplant was cooking, you cook the zucchini {in cubes} in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. I used my 3 and 1/2 QT le crueset, which worked out perfectly.

3. Remove the zucchini and set aside, then cook the onions in the same pot, about 15 more minutes, before adding the bell pepper.

4. Add the tomatoes {I cut mine as best I could into cubes– Molly says to remove the seeds, but I just chopped them up {messily} as best I could, threw them in, and said a prayer. All turned out FINE.

5. Next, I minced in the 3 cloves of garlic, added 3/4 teaspoons of salt, the thyme, and the bayleaf. I let those cook in the pot while I chopped up the cooled eggplant into largish cubes, then tossed those in with the cooked zucchini and let it simmer all together for about 20 more minutes– until it was all soft and stew-like.

The finished product was perfect. I removed the bay leaf, had a bowl for dinner, then tucked the pot away in the fridge, excited for my next tasting, as Molly says it’s best on day 2!

{You can find the original recipe in this book– such a wonderful documentation of memories and recipes, I can’t help but smile through each and every page.}

//

Do you have any other favorite veggie-filled recipes? I’m really cooking more than ever lately and I’d love to try some new meals out if you’ve got them for me. Preferably Paleo, but I’m open. Also, do any of you grow your own veggies? We’ve been talking about making a garden out back this year, and I’m wondering what are some easy/favorite vegetables to grow?

If you’re thinking to yourself WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU DO WITH ANNA, don’t worry, I’ve been wondering the exact same thing. It’s just, cooking is actually really kind of easy, and lately I’ve been all, wow! gosh! Who knew?

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Other food-related things that have been on my mind lately:

// I’m excited to share my Ratatouille at a dinner with friends tonight. I made it especially because my friend Edith is in the thiiiiiiiick of Whole30 right now {her words!} and so I wanted to bring something that everyone would enjoy. I hope it’s a hit.

// Yesterday morning, my sister and I had breakfast at Rifrullo Cafe in Brookline and I got the most delicious frittata of all time. It had sweet potato and mushrooms and whatever the seasoning was, it was SO GOOD! Seriously love that place. YUM.

// Because a Monday night is a good a night as any to have dinner out with your blog friends, we’re checking out Alden and Harlow in Harvard Square and I am SO excited. The menu looks divine and I am looking forward to my first drink since February. {MMMMhmmmm.}

// As for the blog agenda this week, I am FINALLY! going to share about Zan and my dinner at Neptune Oyster.  That place deserves it’s own post and I’ve been meaning to share some photos I took there {IN DECEMBER, whoops} for awhile now. THE BEST. Must visit again soon. :)

// And since I have no plans to turn this into a food blog {though it may seem that way} and we’re on the topic of food already, I think I’ll use this here post to compile all the places recommended to me from that time I told you I was going to the West Coast. So many gems! I must write them all down in one place.

Places on my San Francisco TO EAT LIST:

Tartine Bakery
Pizzaria Delfina
Bri-Rite Creamery
Tacolicious
Marlowe
And, obviously, In and Out {I have been dreaming of my return there FOR YEARS.}

And Big Sur:

Deetjan’s {this is where we’re staying, too!}
Nepenthe

AND! Seattle:

Delancey + Essex !
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Ocho
Pike Place Chowder
Dick’s Drive-In
Umi Sake House

All completely indulgent, and beyond amazing, I’m sure.

Ahhh. Delicious food is the spice of life, isn’t it?