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!
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