My Year in Review – 2013

2013
Hard to believe another year has come and gone. As many of you know, I decided to move back to my little island to heal: my heart, my head, my soul. It is often said that women come to Nantucket to heal and thus I guess I’m in good company.

An amazing thing happened over the holidays. I ran into an island friend I met right before returning to the island (we actually met in Boston at a mutual friend’s birthday party) and he said, “I notice a change in you. Whatever you came here to do, I think you have done it.” Couldn’t imagine a better note to end this year on with. Thanks, S.

I know there is still work to do, there always is. But I end this year feeling more confident in myself than ever before. This past year I said goodbye to those I have hung onto for far too long, hoping they would finally realize what they had right in front of them. I said goodbye to pain that has weighed on me for years. I realized it was time to let it go.

And I said hello to wonderful new beginnings. To new friends. To taking a chance and asking for what I want. Surely I will encounter bumps in the road again but my perspective has certainly changed a bit. And so I end this year with a few numbers:

502… miles traveled on the California coast
412… times listened to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”
200 (or so)… number of green juices and/or kombuchas consumed
103… published posts (thanks for reading)
47… weeks spent 30 miles out to sea
34… years celebrated
16… pounds of my first Thanksgiving turkey
6… restaurants checked off my bucket list (Reynard in Brooklyn, Garces Trading Company in Philly, Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica, Woodbury Kitchen in Baltimore, flour+ water in San Francisco, Gjelina in Venice Beach)
5… TV series devoured on Netflix (Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Parenthood, Scandal, Gossip Girl)
4… new pieces of art added to my collection
3… amazing first kisses
1… text that I hope will change my life!
0… stamps in my passport (need to remedy ASAP)

Thank you, thank you for being part of my 2013. Sending light and love to you always and wishes for a glorious New Year!

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To H

Letter H

My sweet little H,

Are you beyond excited for the man in the red suit to come down your chimney next week? It’s crazy how the holidays just sneak up on us out of nowhere. I feel like just yesterday we were hanging at Children’s Beach. Oh wait… that was over a year ago! You are going to get tired of me saying this to you over the years, but time really does fly by.

I know it might be hard to believe, but Christmas isn’t all about the presents. Now don’t get me wrong, the presents are wonderful and fun to open but the true meaning of Christmas, I believe, is showing acts of love. Not only to our family and friends but to those who sometimes need it most. The ones in-fact we may not even know.

My parents started a wonderful tradition years ago. Each year, they make a donation in our honor to a charity that is near and dear to our hearts. In several instances, these organizations are ones that we have volunteered at throughout the year. And you know what these gifts have taught me… sometimes the best gifts are not those that we receive but rather those we give away.

It’s so easy to want more. We all do but at this time of year, please remember those who have far less than you and me, my dear. As Janie Maeditere said “Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.”

I will leave you with this thought. Christmas is not a date on the calendar, but rather a state of mind and one, I believe, that should be celebrated throughout the year.

Wishing you the merriest of days, little H. Having you in my life is one of the greatest gifts!

Hugs and kisses,
Auntie May

Winter Bucket List

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Although the weather as of late feels like winter is upon us, the first official day isn’t till this Saturday. Gosh, I hope it goes by fast. To help pass these cold days by, I wanted to continue with my tradition of putting together a seasonal bucket list. Should any of you want to join me for any of these, you just let me know!

1. Ice skating on Frog Pond. It’s true. I lived in Boston for 11 years and never, ever went skating in the common. This needs to be remedied immediately, I know!

2. Catch up on the Classics. Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Some Like It Hot… I can’t believe how many of AMC’s Top 100 Classic Movies I haven’t seen.

3. Explore a New City. Atlanta is on the docket for early January. I have been twice but never really ventured beyond the convention site. Recommendations welcomed!

4. Host Ladies Night(s). Downton Abbey, Girls, a New Year. There are plenty of reason to get the ladies together. Just need to make it happen!

5. Send the Love. Send at least four care packages over the next three months to brighten someone’s day.

6. Build a Gingerbread House. Again, something I have never done. Since the holidays are going to be a bit quiet this year, perhaps I shall spend the 25th being an architect for the day.

Any winter activities that you love that I may have forgotten? Should note, I’m not a skier!

Movie Monday

stuck in love
Thought it was about time to bring back one of my favorite columns… Movie Monday. And I have my dear friend JohnJohn (and this weekend’s storm) to thank for today’s movie pick. Stuck in Love.

I will be honest. Judging on title alone, I would have passed on this one but I am so grateful I didn’t. This delightful little film traces the story of a family : John and Erika Borgens (played by Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connolly) who have separated but still seem to love one another; Sam, the promiscuous daughter (played by Lily Collins) who has just received news that her manuscript will be published and Rusty, the loving son (played by Nat Wolff) who is a bit awkward and looking for self and love himself.

Greg Kinnear’s character is an accomplished novelist and thus his dialogue weaves in excerpts from some of his favorite works. The one that stuck with me most is the following: “I’m not sure what it is that compels a person to continue to play make-believe even after they are an adult. My favorite book is a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver, called “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.” And in the closing line of the title story, Carver says, “I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making. Not one of us moved. Not even when the room went dark.” And I think, that is what writing is. It’s listening for that beating heart and when we heard it. It’s your job to decipher it to the best of our abilities.”

This movie reminded me of what it takes to make any relationship, whether parent/child, sibling, or lover, work. If you are looking for an easy, not-too-complicated plot line, I’d highly recommend Stuck in Love. Will restore your faith in relationships too, I promise!

May’s Wish List

My Wish List

Friends… only 20 days till Christmas Eve! As I sit here wrapping gifts for those nearest and dearest to me I realize I should probably shed a little light on what this island girl is hoping for this year. I have been told I am quite difficult to shop for so hopefully this list will help.

– I am in desperate need of this closet staple.

– Because I really can never have too many bags. I love this one, this one, and this one too.

– I have a few more spots to fill on my bedroom gallery wall. Think this piece would be just perfect.

– I hope to entertain lots in the new year so a few new Jill Rosenwald pieces would be a lovely gift under the tree. I like this cocktail tray, this sugar and creamer set and I would die to open up this yellow caviar tray!

– You might be shocked to know that will all my cooking and baking, I don’t own an apron. Think this one from Anthropologie should be my first.

– I finally had to retire my favorite cozy black sweater this year after many good years. When I saw this one from Emerson Fry, I knew I found the perfect replacement.

– I think the best gifts to receive are those that help others. Love the gifts of compassions from ABC Home.

But if I’m really honest, all I really want this holiday season is to spend time with my dear family and friends and perhaps a certain someone special. Here’s hoping!

An Island Holiday

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I know I am biased but there is no better place to celebrate Thanksgiving than Nantucket and you know what, the Vice President thinks so too! I have only missed two in my entire life. This year, with my parents being out in California, my sister and I decided to host our very first Thanksgiving dinner at our family home and what a day it was. The prep started Wednesday with Michelle mastering the art of baking a pie. After getting home from the shop, I took to the kitchen to make my Aunt’s delicious cranberry mousse and apple butter for my sister Marie’s Thanksgiving brunch (and checked another two items off the fall bucket list). Check out the recipes below.

While waiting for the apple butter to bake, I turned to our tablescape. I knew I wanted to incorporate the collection of beautiful gourds in yellows and greens I purchased at Bartlett’s Farm so decided on a purple, yellow and celdaon green color palette. I placed my favorite John Robshaw table-cloth on the table with our Simon Pearce belmont dinning plates and my “only for special occasion” Kim Seybert napkins. I have these fantastic yellow bud vases for Bodega that I turned into candle holders for our green tapers. Feeling a bit DIY, I made place cards and the menu from old Rifle Paper pieces I had on hand. We made little wreaths from rosemary and Michelle added a personal touch by writing each of our guests a little note letting them know we were thankful for them. I just loved the way it all came together.

I was a bit hesitant to handle the actual bird… 16 pounds and all. I guess I know why I call myself a selectarian (raw meat totally squimishes me out). Luckily I had some help and got the bird cleaned, filled the cavity with oranges, lemons, garlic, thyme and onions and put her in the oven. I used Ina’s recipe as a guide cause really, the Barefoot Contessa has never failed me.

My absolute favorite sides with my Thanksgiving meal have always been stuffing and butternut squash so I knew I wanted to try something different. I had seen a picture on Pinterest for a butternut squash bread pudding with leeks and prosciutto and I knew that was the winner. Absolutely sinful (2 1/2 cups of half and half) but well worth it. For the stuffing, the verdict was in that sausage is a must so once again I turned to Smitten Kitchen to be my guide. Add in some roasted carrots and brussels sprouts, mashed new potatoes and a kale salad with roasted acorn squash, pomegranate seeds and a Dijon cider vinaigrette and we had ourselves a feast.

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Hope you all enjoyed a lovely day with your friends and family. And now for those recipes!

Auntie Deb’s Cranberry Mousse
– 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
– 2 3 oz. packages of raspberry gelatin
– 1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries (Nantucket has one of the largest bogs on the east coast)
– 1 large navel orange
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 cup sour cream

Directions
1. Open pineapple and drain liquid. Reserve 1 cup of juice.
2. Bring pineapple juice to a boil and stir in gelatin until dissolved.
3. In food processor, chop cranberries, sliced unpeeled orange and sugar to make a relish.
4. Combine relish and pineapple with gelatin in large bowl. Chill 1/2 hour, or until slightly thick.
5. Fold in sour cream and pour into a 2 quart mold. Chill until firm.
6. Unmold onto a serving plate.

* I should note I couldn’t find a mold so just poured into a large serving dish. Not as pretty as my aunt does but let me tell you, this cranberry mousse brings a leftover turkey sandwich to a whole new level.

Apple Butter
– 4 pounds assorted apples, peeled and chopped
– 2 cups apple cider
– 1 cup packed light brown sugar
– pinch of salt
– 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– pinch of ground clove

Directions
1. Preheat over to 250 degrees.
2. Combines the apples, apple cider, brown sugar and salt in a dutch oven (I’m obsessed with my Le Creuset) over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until apples are soft, about 20 minutes.
3. Remove apples from the heat and stir in lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla extract and cloves.
4. Puree the mixture in a blender in batches until smooth.
5. Return the mixture to dutch over and bake uncovered, stirring every 30 minutes. The total cook time is about 3 hours. The mixture will become thick and a deep amber color.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer to n airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

* My sister Michelle used the remaining apple butter on Saturday night when she hosted friends for turkey soup. She spread it over brie, wrapped it in her pie crust and baked. Absolutely delicious!