Gathering From Scratch, a Creative Workshop in the Shenandoah Valley | Part 1

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

After my unexpected blogging hiatuses over the past two years (ever since I first found out I was expecting Zoe), I find it harder and harder to get into the blogging groove. I'll sit at my computer, editing photos for a while (the easiest part), then upload them into blogger, preview my wordless post a few times, and then try to start writing. Baby wakes up, mama's blogging time is over. Dinner needs to be made, emails written, and blogging gets pushed to tomorrow's already packed schedule. Sometimes a post will sit for a few days, sometimes it never gets published.

Of course, because I have piles and piles of the most gorgeous images (by some of the most generous and talented friends in the whole wide world - Lauren and Rachel from Sweet Root Village) from the first ever A Daily Gathering 2-day weekend retreat (with Beth Kirby), I'm having lots of difficulty when it comes to summarizing and typing my thoughts. My words are always insufficient and will never adequately convey the beauty, friendship, conversation, food, and creativity that were shared two weekends ago in a charming farmhouse - Oldeststone Farm (built in 1734) - deep in the Shenandoah Valley of West Virginia.

I'm going to break my posts up so I can share more images, and for now, I'm going to focus on our Thursday evening summer supper. We prepared dinner for 30 folks, 10 of whom would remain on the farm for the weekend retreat. Beth, my co-host for the weekend, planned our menu, which was simple, southern, country, and so good. For starters, we served pimento cheese atop Knead & Know baguette to make the yummiest little crostinis, dilly beans and quick pickled okra, and charcuterie. Then we served truffled deviled eggs, roast free-range chicken with fig, shallot + olives in a mint chimichurri, charred potato fennel salad with leeks and lemon aioli, heirloom summer salad with chèvre, polly foster yeast rolls with cultured sel gris & raw honey butter. For dessert, we had rose, cardamom, peach buttermilk & cornmeal clafoutis. I've never served such a well thought out and carefully prepared menu. It was a pure joy to work with Beth.

And oh, the help we had in the kitchen! This dinner (read: the entire retreat) would not have happened had it not been for many helping hands - my mom and mother-in-law, Anna, Bekah (my darling interns), Melinda (a precious friend and owner of Knead & Know), Isaiah (brother-in-law, who helped Joe with all the manly work), Joe (my servant-hearted husband), Lauren & Rachel (right hand ladies from Sweet Root Village), Abigail (sister-in-law and babysitter), etc.

When Beth arrived at my home earlier in the week, we had a wonderful time with our final preparations. We stayed up into the wee hours of the morning (probably not our most productive hours), planning our menu, making shopping lists, selecting props, chatting about everything, and then making what food could be prepped ahead of time. All of our ingredients were organic and sourced locally, primarily from the Leesburg Farmers Market, Natural Mercantile of Hamilton, and Stoneybrook Farm Market. We had so much fun, hopping around in the rain from market to market, sourcing local flowers and greenery from Fields of Flowers, and taking leisurely lunch breaks at Purcellville's Market Burger.

I really, really miss all those preparations. Preparing for a gathering months in advance, watching everything unfold the day-of, the laying of the table, and then the forming of new, meaningful relationships around the shared table. Oh, how I love what I do.

To close out the evening, Krystal and Paul from The Great American Canyon Band serenaded us over a crackling campfire. It was the perfect ending to our end-of-summer supper, and I could have sat in that grass listening to their harmonies all night long. What a blessing it is to be able to bring people together, those who are yearning for community and a sense of belonging, to break bread, to learn, to give something of themselves.

My new friends (and latest couple-crush) at Our Terrain (a West Virginia-based video production company) put together a beautiful video featuring A Daily Gathering. They camped out at Oldeststone Farm for the weekend and captured some beautiful footage and then put it all together in a simply gorgeous film, with music by The Great American Canyon Band. I am so very grateful for all the hours that Andrew and Tiffany put into making this video, something I will cherish forever!

Retreat photos coming next! And standby for some exciting A Daily Gathering announcements (and upcoming workshop dates) in the next few weeks!

Recipe | Peach Lavender Compote

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hello friends! After taking almost two months (unplanned) off from blogging, I'm baaaack! With the launch of A Daily Gathering (and hosting our first weekend retreat), my sister's wedding, other work projects, and just being a wife and mom, I had to let something go for a bit, and it was the blog. I have so much to share with you (if you've been following along on instagram, you've seen bits and pieces), it's hard to know where to start. The summer has been really wonderful, with lots of new projects and workshops and dinners completed and heaps of planning for what's going to be a busy next few months! I'll be giving some more detailed recaps and updates over the next few blog posts. For now, I'm sharing a recipe I've been wanting to share with you for a while......with lovely photos by my talented intern, Anna Clair.

We're a week into September and peaches are still going strong at the Purcellville Community Market. So, before I give into the temptation to embrace all things fall (especially since it's still in the 90s and not feeling at all like autumn) and dive into pumpkin and squash recipes, I'm going to share my family's favorite waffle and pancake topping: peach lavender compote. It's such a simple recipe, and recently I've paired it with a new, easy-to-remember hotcake recipe a friend shared with me while on vacation last week. This hotcake recipe is perfect: a thin, milky batter that turns into not-too-thin, eggy pancake goodness.

Peach Lavender Compote
- peaches (I usually use at least 4 for our breakfast)
- real maple syrup (new favorite is from Blue Ridge Maple Farm, available at Leesburg Farmer's Market)
- water (about 1/2 cup if peaches are not very juicy)
- 1/8 tsp dried lavender flowers
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Warm water and syrup in small saucepan on medium heat. Add chopped peaches (I prefer them peeled, but Joe prefers them it's up to you). Simmer until peaches are tender. Use potato masher to break peaches up a bit. Add lavender flowers and lemon juice and allow to simmer for another minute or two. Pour over waffles or hotcakes and enjoy!!

New Mexico Hotcakes 
- 1/3 cup oil or butter
- 2 cups milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in medium mixing bowl and stir to combine (you can mix dry ingredients separately if you like). Make pancakes or waffles on skillet, using plenty of butter on medium heat. Add peach lavender compote. Eat & enjoy. (Makes about 5 medium sized pancakes.)

I like to keep my recipes simple and delicious. I promise these two are both. We just had these for lunch  today, with fresh peaches from Charlottesville, VA. It was yum.

Pop Up Vacay with El Camino Travel x A Daily Something

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm so excited to be working with Katalina of El Camino Travel (and a host of other fantastic partners - Mornings Like These, Cava Mezze Grill, District Doughnuts, DJ Ayescold, Emma McAlary Photography, Running Byrd Tea, and Urban Stems) on a crazy cool new idea: A Pop-Up Vacay!

Basically, 45 of us are going to escape for 6 hours to a fresh water quarry about 1.5 hours from Washington, DC to take a mini vacation, relax, and enjoy each other's company in the middle of the week. The quarry-turned-swimming-hole is on the outskirts of Baltimore and it has a rope swing, diving board, floating docks. It's magical. You'll most likely find me setting our lunch table and trying to gather the courage to let go of the rope swing.

When: August 6th, from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Price: $85 if you sign up before 7/28 and $95 thereafter. El Camino Travel is graciously offering A Daily Something readers $10 off the ticket price (so, your total will be $75), if you sign up before 7/28. Just enter the code 'elcaminoADS'. HURRY because it's only open to 45 people!

Includes: Oversized inflatable swans and inflatable half eaten donuts, the sweet sounds of DJ Ayescold (the official El Camino Music Curator), creative photographer extraordinaire Emma McAlary (you will get access to these photos soon after the event), delicious food, table settings that you might freak out about, trasnportation there and back, a copy of the beautifully designed wanderlust filled Boat Mag, and a special appearance by #yolo and #vacay. You can sign up HERE!

El Camino Travel is a company for those who desire something more profound during their experiences abroad. They provide highly curated and authentic group trips to unique places around the world. Each group is accompanied by a creative photographer with an eye for the extraordinary. 10% of profits go to a local social entrepreneur who is radically changing the destination of choice. BE A TRAVELER, NOT A TOURIST.

 Hope to see you there!

Floral Experiments | Local Blooms in early July

Friday, July 11, 2014

 I simply love summer's floral bounty. Every time I'm in the car, I'm tempted to pull over on the side of the road and just start picking (but usually refrain since Zoe's in the car and it'd be unsafe). I've been trying to keep fresh flowers in the house all summer long, and I really want to take a workshop, or at least read some books on floral arranging, so that I know more about the art and the flowers that are available locally (any recs?).

Our flower beds aren't producing very much yet, so I've been driving over to Fields of Flowers, just on the other side of Purcellville, for my weekly flower fix. (If you're in Northern VA, I really recommend taking a day to visit Fields of Flowers). Then I pretend to be Sweet Root Village and make (or try, in my case) them look pretty in a vase or pitcher or whatever. A few days ago, my interns (to be introduced next week!!!) and I went to Fields of Flowers for a little flower picking adventure. Anna snapped these pretty photos, and documented one of my first arranging attempts. It was so satisfying to know that I had chosen each type of flower or green, and then see how they all came together for the final look! If only I knew the names of each plant....(please feel free to shout out names of any you recognize!)

Since I usually dream of ranunculus, peonies, and Juliet roses, it was fun to play around with a more wild, freshly picked look. I really love my first attempt at arranging freshly picked blooms, and cannot wait to learn more!! 

This weekend, I'm going on a little STAYCATION with Joy! So excited to explore Georgetown with this dear friend and have some much-needed girlfriend bonding/relaxing/brainstorming time. Our itinerary is prettttty full, but if you have any MUSTS for Georgetown, please shout them out. We'll be posting lots about our adventures, so follow along on instagram (#WestinWeekend).

Photos by Anna Clair Photography.

a daily something All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger