Standing Still (And Metaphorical Scones)


I’ve been a bit melancholy lately.   I blame it on the impending equinox. I feel restless.  I’ve made up my mind to quit this blog about five times.  Every morning I want an adventure but feel like staying home.  I want to wear sweaters and run through piles of leaves but am mourning the ending of our sunshine-filled days by the poolside.  I’ve gone through my closet three times already and have started a donation pile based on colors I don’t like anymore.

My solace is that the weather is also being moody.  Cool grey mornings followed by muggy afternoons with sunny rainstorms.  I have no need of mirrors anymore, I just look out the window.

Transitions are hard. As a child constant change was the norm, we moved every few years and sometimes to a completely different country – Germany.  Also inculde Texas in the category.  During my childhood, nomadic adventurism wrote itself into my genetic code.  Then one day I stopped moving, fell in love, and decided to call one place home.


I am grateful for this standstill, for the opportunity to lay down roots and nurture a life for my family.  It is a life I always imagined as a little girl, having a physical home, family and friends close enough for holidays and weekend gatherings.  However, as I begin to pull out boxes of sweaters and put away straw hats,  my brain and my heart begin colluding without my permission.  They start whispering, nagging “Shouldn’t we be going somewhere? Doing something life changing? Something spectacularly terrifying?”

I have no idea how to stand still while the world around me changes, how to be a constant amid fluctuation.  I am a novice in accepting small changes, such as the shift in seasons, without becoming impossibly capricious, dramatically introspective, and turning every detail into a miniature life-crisis.  Not all great things in life need to be significantly life-altering, although they often are.  The little things grow into monumental milestones and journeys cannot be had without thousands of individual footsteps.  I am learning how to embrace these little things, the simple and quiet things of my life, in a grandiose way.

I’m sure my funky mood will last for a few more weeks.  My restlessness will have me thinking about deleting my Facebook account once or twice, throwing out the couch because it takes up far too much room, and getting bangs, which I already tried this year and hated.  I think my best defense is to replace these these urges with positive action.  And so,  I am taking the recent advice of one of my dearest: to enjoy life, stop over thinking, and “cook your heart out.”

Storm Clouds


The kitchen is a calming place for me.  With every move, my mother always first unpacked the beds and then the kitchen.  Any place could begin feeling like home once you had a place to lay your head and fill your belly.  There is something grounding about cooking and baking, despite whatever significant or insignificant thing is on my mind, the kitchen is where I am again cohered.  All I have to do is follow a recipe, new or beloved, and I get a pleasurably predictable result.

I decided to make a favorite recipe: scones also caught in the cross-hairs of the seasonal transition.  (I always love  metaphorical food.)   Strawberry Rosemary Scones are a wonderful combination of summer-y sweet strawberry and autumnal herbaceous rosemary.  Unlike heartier scones – which I enjoy – that require some clotted cream and tea to balance out, these scones are tender and sweet; perfect for enjoying with a cup of hot tea or cold milk depending on what the weather calls for.  Moreover, they are perfect for diverting me from re-arranging our bedroom on my own.  Again.



Strawberry Rosemary Scones

2 cups Flour

½ cup Sugar

2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon Salt

6 tablespoons Cold Butter, cut into pieces

1 cup Heavy Cream

1/3 cup Strawberry Preserves

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, and salt to combine.  Add the butter pieces and pulse just until crumbly.  Transfer mixture to a bowl.  Slowly stir in the heavy cream to form a dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 10” circle about ½ “ thick.  Use a 3” cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out the scones.  Place the rounds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, an inch apart.  Gently bring together leftover dough, roll out again, and cut out more scones.  Discard any remaining dough.

Using the back of a teaspoon, press an indentation into the center of each scone.  Fill each indentation with a teaspoon of the strawberry preserves.  Bake in a 375°F oven for 18 to 20 minutes, the edges of the scones will be golden.  Cool on a wire rack before serving.

This makes about 14 scones.


Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis  (The original recipe has a glaze for the scones.  I prefer mine without.)






Photo Credit – The picture of LM smelling the flowers was taken by my friend, JB, at the Dale City Farmer’s Market.

Boston, MA

Our New England adventure continues. (If you missed the post about Ender’s Island, be sure to read it here.)

We decided to end our road trip visiting Mr. H’s sister and fiancé in Boston.  My dad grew up in Massachusetts so it always comes as a surprise to people, including me, that I have never been to Boston.  Ah, that is the life of a military brat – never seeing the area your parents grew up but having seen Neuschwanstein twice before you were fourteen.

Old Meeting House

It was a one-day whirlwind tour with the intention of freely wandering Boston, just following the beat of the city and where it led us.  After breakfast, we found ourselves wondering where to wander and decided to follow a little red brick trail in the middle of the sidewalk.  We soon discovered it was the Freedom Trail and were led to the Irish Famine Memorial and Old Meeting House on School & Washington Streets and soon found Old City Hall where I paid homage to a statue of the first original Francophile, Benjamin Franklin.  Little Man loved the ABC Hopscotch outside of the First Latin Public School, threw a fit when we decided to move on, fell, scraped his knee, and had a Phineas & Ferb Band-Aid applied while leaning against a short brick wall.  (Semper Paratus – always travel with a little first aid kit.)  King’s Church we viewed from the outside exploring the crooked gravestones engraved with skulls and cherubs.  Then we marched down to Boston Commons, where Little Man stuck his hands into Brewer’s Fountain, rode a Carousel, and ran in circles as we viewed the grounds, Sailors & Soldier’s Memorial, and the Boston Massacre Memorial.  By early afternoon we met up with our lovely family and our officially unofficial city guides, who treated us to a ride in a swan boat and the revelation of Boston’s most important site: the tree under which he proposed.

We watched the ducks swim in the pond, walked through a beautiful little garden, and window shopped on Newbury Street.  I only took photos of Boston’s McKim Library building upon discovering it still was not open.  I was inspired by the two statues in the front of the building: Science is on the left staring to the right where Art sits staring back.  Knowledge requires both logic and creativity, fact and fiction, the tangible and the belief in all possibilities.   These statues are a beautiful reminder.


We were soon hungry and took the T to Kennmore Square.  (Little Man was quite undone by this combination of train and bus – I am certain this was the ultimate highlight of his trip.)  Lunch at Eastern Standard was spectacular.  It was one of those relaxing, leisurely lunches filled with laughter and absolute pleasure, both in the culinary and company aspect.  There was a long menu of specialty cocktails that was torture to choose from but we overcame.  I sipped on a chilly pink Velo made with lemon, Cognac, and elderflower and also stole a sips of Mr. H’s yellow Becherovka and lemon Metamorphosis.  For lunch I ordered Eggs In Purgatory, because with a name like that how could I not?  I also enjoyed my first raw oysters and efficiently checked a box off of my Life To Do List.  (I refuse to call it a Bucket List because these are not things to do before I die but things to do because I live.)  The oysters were such a pure and clean sensation that I fail to find it comparable to anything else I have eaten.  I look forward to enjoying many more in the future and discovering “how I take them.”


(“Why” you may ask “Are there no pictures of your lunch and drinks?  Don’t you mainly write about food?”  I will tell you.  This is an enormous pet peeve of mine: taking pictures when dining out.  When I’m in the privacy of my own kitchen, creating something scrumptious for this blog, I have the thought and time set aside for taking pictures.   It is intentionally for a post and not interrupting my dining/cooking process.  When I am dining, I dine.  I don’t want to stop to take a snapshot of my food because it disrupts “the moment.”  It is a bit like foreplay, a seductive instant between me and what I am about to, hopefully, enjoy.  The anticipation as the plate is lowered before me, the hushed excitement at the table as each person eyes their dish and then mine and then theirs again.  The aromas tantalizing my senses as I pick up my fork and delve into that moment unequivocal truth, of knowledge, good, and evil: will this be everything it has been built up to be?  Delicious or mediocre?  A meal I will remember or just sustenance until the gnawing hunger in my stomach returns?  To take a picture strips my meal down to only the visual characteristics and disrupts “the moment.”   I like that moment.   And this is why I hate taking pictures of food while I am dining out.)

Boston LibraryBoston Library - ScienceBoston Library - Art

After our stomachs were filled and limbs rested, we trekked to Harvard to fulfill another life-long desire of mine: to go to an Ivy League school.  Now I can say, truthfully, I went to Harvard.  I did not attend but I did go there.  Semantics, people.  Alas, another library visit was thwarted as only ID card-holding students could enter the Harvard Library.  We explored a small part of the campus, admiring the brick buildings and trees and thought them all to look very smart before going to the bookstore, where I bought a Harvard coffee cup with the intention drinking from it every morning and, also, feeling very smart.

Old Court House

By the time we arrived at the Harbor, walked through Faneuil Hall, and stopped to watch the sea lions swim near the aquarium, our feet ached and Little Man was falling asleep in his future uncle’s arms.  Our gracious city guides offered to become our gracious dinner hosts, to which we happily accepted.   And this was my favorite part of Boston.



We were greeted with glasses of wine and a comforting meal of steak, mashed potatoes, summer squashes and asparagus, and this avocado-olive salsa to go with our beef that was absolutely incredible.  I still crave it. I’ll find myself daydreaming about it while waiting at the butcher counter.  The decision not to go to a restaurant happened to be a brilliant one as Little Man’s gentlemanly-and-good-behavior levels dropped into the red, having been drained by the day’s previous activities.  Dinner consisted of picking up his fork from the ground multiple times, half conversations interrupted by whining, and the inevitable game of everyone taking a turn holding him while the others ate.  Somewhere between that all-too-usual urge to both laugh and cry when my child acts up,  I realized that this was my favorite part of our trip to Boston.

Because when we are with family we have the luxury of being our stripped-down and exhausted selves.  We can expose those dirty secrets of “our child isn’t always perfect” and “parenting is basically us having no idea what we are doing.” And family still loves us, and feeds us, and will more than likely be happy to see us again. This moment may not be a grand historical event or large monument but for me it was epic.  Because love always is.

We'll be back, Harvard.

We’ll be back, Harvard.


Ender’s Island, CT


A few weeks ago we found ourselves in New England. Our particular reason for being there wasn’t a very joyous one, as we paid tribute to my late grandmother.  However, she lived exuberantly and finding moments of pleasure and beauty during our trip was only appropriate and honorable.


We started with a short visit to one of my brothers (I am the ring leader of seven: four brothers and two sisters.) on Ender’s Island, near Mystic, Connecticut.  It is a small island.  Very small.  In fact if you stand over its heart you can look from side to side and see water.  (This observation halted my lull to sleep as I suddenly realized we were completely surrounded by water.  Then I thought it was curious and exciting, then proceeded to drift off.)  The island is home to a Catholic Retreat, a place of peace and solace for those who need it.  My brother works there whilst going to school and pursuing priesthood.  Watching my siblings become adults is delightfully riveting.  People with whom I used to create Playmobil worlds, steal sun-warmed berries from prickly bushes, and was forced to do things such as share my M&Ms are suddenly doing things like getting married, joining the military, or becoming a priest.  At times this makes me feel old.  Most of the time it makes me thankful I’m no longer in my twenties!


Enders2Enders9Purple Flowers

Back to the island.  Ender’s Island was exactly what my heart needed before such a sobering weekend.  Stone walls and buildings are scattered among green stretches of grass under large shady trees.  Everywhere you turned there were little gardens filled with bright flowers, blooming bushes, and statues of saints and deities.  A small sandy beach on one end and large slabs of rock going into Fisher’s Island Sound provided immediate access to the refreshing smells and breezes of the salty sea.  Mr. H, who loves all things calm and composed, proclaimed that he’d be content sitting in a chair and watching the ocean and sailboats for the rest of his days.  The Little Man, whose current passions and hobbies are anything but placid, had many things to explore plus doting Grandparents, uncles, and an auntie to give his tattered parents a break.

The tranquility of the island is mirrored in its people as the few I met were overwhelmingly sweet and generous.  From sharing Lindt Chocolates to casual conversations between meals or in the gardens, we were, and are, so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit this little haven.


Next up: Boston!


Summertime Peach Crostata

‘Miss Eliza Bennet,’ said Miss Bingley, ‘despises cards.  She is a great reader and has no pleasure in any thing else.’

‘I deserve neither such praise nor such censure,’ cried Elizabeth; ‘I am not a great reader, and I have pleasure in many things.’

– –

“Then,’ observed Elizabeth, ‘you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished woman.’

“Oh! certainly,’ cried his faithful assistant, ‘no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with.  A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’

“All this she most possess,’ added Darcy, ‘and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.’

‘I am no longer surprised at you knowing only six accomplished women.  I rather wonder now at your knowing any.’

Orchard - MtVernon


This is my seventh time reading Pride & Prejudice.  The exact same copy.  Dover Edition published in 1995 with the cream cover embellished with flowers and a peach and turquoise peacock.  The pages have begun to yellow and each turn emits the smell of dust and vanilla.  Memories are evoked:  Being thirteen, falling in love with Darcy and finding a kindred spirit in Elizabeth; staying up late on summer nights, reading with anticipation despite already knowing the ending; placing it on the windowsill-cum-bookshelf of my first place altering my shabby surroundings into something of a home…

This is why I could never own a Kindle or get Botox.  I’m too attached to my passing of time, the memories and talismans that create my history. The old books, faded photographs, a movie ticket stub from a first date that turned into a first love, or the increased lines around my eyes reflecting the joy and terror of parenthood.  These small measures remind me where I’ve been, where I’m going, and most importantly, to fully invest in where I am.

And where I am right now is in the middle of summer.  I take advantage of the long days filled with sunlight perfect for small adventures and excursions.   I delight in the bountiful farmers’ markets filled with red berries, bright verdant zucchinis, and fuzzy peaches bursting with sweet juices that run down to my elbows.  It is the summer evenings I take pleasure in the most, with its seductively warm breezes carrying the mellow sound of the serenading cicadas as the stars appear on their stage.  These are the nights perfect for curling up next to someone comfortable, with a good book, and perhaps a piece of something tantalizing to share.  One plate, two forks.


Summertime Peach Crostata

For The Pastry

2 3/4 C. All-Purpose Flour

1/2 C. Granulated Sugar

1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

Freshly grated Zest of 1 Lemon

3/4 C. Unsalted Butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1 Large Egg + 1 Large Egg Yolk

1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

For The Filling

2 C. Peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced

1/2 C. Granulated Sugar

2 TB. All-Purpose Flour

For The Topping

1 Large Egg

Demerara, Turbinado, or Other Coarse Sugar, for sprinkling

To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl.  Stir to mix.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture.  Using a pastry cutter, fork, or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of peas.  (You can also use your hands, which is what I usually do.)

In a small bowl, whisk together the whole egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until well blended.  Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is evenly moist and begins to come together.  If the mixture seems dry, add a teaspoon or so of cold water.  Transfer the dough to a work surface, divide with one piece sightly larger than the other, and form into two disks.  Wrap separately with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375°F.  To make the filling, in a bowl, toss together the peach slices, granulated sugar, and flour.  Set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the larger dough disk into a 12″ round.  Carefully roll the dough around the pin and position pin over a 10″ tart pan with a removable bottom.  Unroll dough onto the tart pan and press gently, yet firmly, into the bottom and sides of the pan.  Trim edges of the dough, leaving a 1/2″ overhang.  Fold the overhang over against the inside of the rim of the pan.  Pour the peaches into the pastry-lined tart pan, spreading them into an even layer.

Roll out the second dough disk into a 10″ round.  Using a pastry wheel or knife, cut the dough into 10 strips, each 1/2″ wide.  Arrange half of the strips across the top of the tart, spacing them evenly.  Give the pan a quarter turn and place the remaining dough strips across the top to form a lattice pattern.  If the strips break, patch them together with a drop of water.  Press the ends of the strips against the sides of the tart shell to seal.

To make the topping, in a bowl, whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the dough strips with the egg mixture.  Sprinkle the strips generously with the coarse sugar.  Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack, let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the outer ring and cool until warm or room temperature.  Cut into wedges to serve.

– From Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian


Elizabeth’s mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view.  They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberly House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound.  It was large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; – and in front, a stream of some natural important was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance.  Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned.  Elizabeth was delighted.  She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste.  They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt, that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!

Excerpts from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen.