Food

11 Things I Learned This Summer

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Being a lifelong learner is a good thing and one of my favorite things about being a grown-up. Think about it - we get to learn new things we actually choose and create the space to pursue things that interest us! I’m loving this quarterly practice inspired by Emily P. Freeman where I look back and reflect on things I learned in the season that just ended. So here’s my list of things I learned this summer - a final wave goodbye with gratitude to summer and welcoming of fall…

1) “Conflict is good news.”

This phrase hasn’t left my mind since I heard it this summer while listening to a podcast while watering seed trays in the greenhouse. It’s so utterly against how I operate that my ears perked up, I turned off the hose, and started quickly tapping notes into my phone. It’s from Roe Cummings’ interview on the Simple podcast, episode 203. This quote Roe shares is from a book by Diane Hamilton called Everything Is Workable. Roe says seeing conflict as “good news” helps us welcome conflict as an opportunity to expand and settle. She says the entire purpose is not to eliminate conflict with other people; the purpose is to transform it. “Instead of being reactive or resistant to it, we can ask a more powerful question - What is this moment calling me into? And what is this moment asking of our relationship? How does it want us to go deeper together?” So. Good. A really great episode all-around.

2) “Hard” doesn’t always mean “bad.”

This goes hand-in-hand with #1, but I had an epiphany moment this summer in an everyday conversation with a friend who is also a type 9 on the enneagram. Because I really dislike conflict, I tend to equate anything “hard” with “bad” and then immediately shift into the mode of running away from it or trying to fix it. The problem is, you can’t really “fix” other people. And life is just hard by default, so if I don’t stop doing this, I’ll be in a constant battle internally to fix and change everything around me. For example: my children are bouncing off the walls, bickering with each other all day, and turning their noses up at anything I ask them to do. My normal M.O. is to take it on as this huge burden and believe the lie that I’m failing as a mother, my family is falling apart, and my children are going to turn out badly. A much healthier perspective: realizing it’s just a hard day, these things are going to happen, and we all need extra heaps of grace and patience. I’m learning to lean into the hard, knowing it will pass, and learn what I can by being present in the moment rather than trying to quickly gloss over it and move on.

3) A two-day reset at the beach is LIFE.

Steven and I made a vow at the beginning of this year that we would take more breaks (unapologetically!) so we wouldn’t burn out come autumn, which is our most demanding time on the farm with so many dinners and events. As we enter autumn now, I have to say, I’m so proud of us. Because we did take more breaks, and they were restorative and multiplied our family time and united us so we could enter the fall together, stronger. In July, we were graciously given the opportunity to spend a few days at a friend’s beachfront condo in Rosemary Beach, FL. It was full of:

  • seashell hunting

  • wave riding

  • mermaid tail building

  • lounging in sculptured sand recliners

  • slow living

  • no dirt :)

  • bike rides at sunset

  • wine and iced lattés on the balcony

  • no sense of time

  • packing a whole suitcase and only wearing the same 2 things

  • Coconut La Croix

  • Hair drying into spiral salty curls

  • Being absolutely present with each other

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4) Body image struggles resonate with so many of us.

I wrote a pretty vulnerable post for Art of Simple this summer on my struggles with body image issues and also recorded a podcast episode with some really practical ways to foster a healthier body image. The feedback I got from these was staggering - all ages of women seem to be dealing with this on some level. Let’s cheer each other on in support of healthy bodies, remembering that being strong and healthy is more important than a certain weight or size. I know it’s hard, and our society doesn’t make it easier. But for me, this summer was much healthier and more positive than the last one since I decided to take some action to grow in this area. I’m with you in this, friend.

5) My 9-year-old is totally capable of handling more now.

It’s been freeing to realize we’re entering a slightly different stage of parenting, where it’s actually great to give my oldest daughter more responsibility, and she thrives in being able to manage some things on her own…like setting her watch alarm for 4pm everyday so she an go feed Rosy, our sourdough starter. Or putting her in complete control of setting up and managing the samples table every Saturday at our farm store. Or doing her own laundry and putting it away.

6) A lattice pie crust isn’t as hard as it looks.

Who knew? I for sure Googled a video on how to weave this lattice pie properly, but once I watched it, it was really easy - pinkie swear! This is the epitome of 4th of July food to me - a homemade peach pie with The Peach Truck peaches and a flaky crust from Steven’s pastry dough recipe. Side of vanilla ice cream, please, or whipped cream, or both!

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7) Apparently I do canning now.

Canning and preserving is something I once said “I don’t do.” Well, things change, honey. This season on the farm, we’ve been honing in more and more on “our lane,” what we’re truly best at that utilizes our passions and gifts successfully. We feel that bringing together the culinary with the farming is getting closer and closer to it. Growing produce in order to make unique artisan jams for our farm store has definitely been a success this season, so that’s good! We started with Strawberry Serrano and Strawberry Balsamic Thyme in the spring, moving on to Peach Chipotle and Peach Bourbon Vanilla, then mid-summer to Blueberry Basil and Blueberry Lavender, and finishing the summer season with three tomato jams: Sicilian Tomato, Tomato Bacon, and Heirloom Tomato Gochujang. We love bringing together our unique cultures to the flavors and opening people’s minds to new combinations. The Heirloom Tomato Gochujang was my favorite tomato jam - at the very last minute, Steven tasted it and said it needed some “umami.” He added some Korean red pepper paste (gochujang) and it was just the thing to take it over the edge from “a good tomato jam” to bombshell.

Peach Bourbon Vanilla Jam. Summer in a jar.

Peach Bourbon Vanilla Jam. Summer in a jar.

8) Sunflowers are my spirit flower.

Let’s be honest - we’ve known this since freshman year of college, haven’t we? Sunflower perfume, sunflower posters on the walls, sunflower comforter, sunflower sheets, sunflower necklace, sunflower everything (ya with me, all of you who started college in the 90s?!). But growing sunflowers is a whole other story. We planted two 100-foot rows of them this year, and I literally feel a spark fly within me when I harvest my own sunflowers at golden hour. Such a joy.

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9) Music can still move me to tears.

The absolutely brilliant songwriter Ryan O’Neal of the band Sleeping At Last has written an album called Atlas with a song for each Enneagram type. Each song is its own work of art, with every note and phrase carefully crafted to reflect the nuances of each Enneagram type. The Nine song brought tears, especially this lyric:

Choked up, I realize / I've been less than half myself / For more than half my life

Oh man.

If you know your type, definitely look up the lyrics and listen to the Sleeping At Last podcast episode about each number. Here’s something songwriter Ryan O’Neal said in the Nine episode that struck me: “There are times when the waters aren’t supposed to be calm. And that’s okay too.”

10) DUMBO is even better than I remembered.

Um, hello, this part of NYC has exploded! For those of you who don’t know, DUMBO is a section of Brooklyn right on the water - it stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. This summer, my girls and I (while Steven held down the fort back home) visited family in Queens, and we spent an entire morning and afternoon playing and exploring in DUMBO. The last time I visited this area, maybe 7 years ago, there were some little boutiques and coffee shops, but that’s all I really remember. Now, there are amazing play areas and gorgeous parks on the water (including the magical Jane’s Carousel!), art exhibits, so many artisan ice cream shops you can hardly choose, and the brand-new Time Out Market indoor food hall with everything from Michelin-star ramen to barbecue to an entire restaurant built around the avocado. It was the best day getting my city fix. I’m sold, DUMBO.

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11) Sometimes it takes being with old, faithful friends to find yourself again.

Some of our dearest friends, Chris and Julie Bennett, visited us for a few days last month, and it’s been over 7 years since we’ve all been together. Do you have friends like that who you’ve known for almost 25 years and have walked with you through so many struggles and different versions of yourself? With Julie, I feel like I came home to myself again, remembering who I am. I’m actually funny. I’m silly. I’m joyful. I wear unicorn glitter makeup to Target. I’m not bogged down by fearing the “what-ifs” of life and I’m reveling in the present and looking to the future with hope. The fact that they put aside a few days to come and be with us meant the world to me. It was utterly lifegiving. We also got to record an episode together of their weekly web series, AT HOME. Check it out!

Here’s me and the fearless Julie on the farm, and on my wedding day…

Baileys and Bennetts

Baileys and Bennetts

YOUR TURN! What are some things you learned this summer? I’d love to hear!

How To Nourish Your Body and Soul This Fall - For The Art of Simple

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All the seasonal farming metaphors are true. Perhaps cliché, but true. A seed is doing a lot of work underneath the soil before you actually see it sprouting. Weeds really should be pulled when they’re tiny sprouts and before they’re huge burdens that throw your back out. And the fresh canvas we get in the fall is an absolute necessity.

This week on Art of Simple, I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes, candles, shoes, clothes, and ideas for self-care to usher in the fall season. I’d love to know your thoughts and ideas of what means fall self-care to you!

>> How To Nourish Your Body and Soul This Fall

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Simple With Tsh Oxenreider Podcast Episode 211: Rhythms + Community

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In this episode, I share some rhythms Steven and I have created that help us gather people together more easily - I hope it inspires you and makes it more doable for you to have simple gatherings at home, no matter where you live!

In Tsh’s segment, she shares some rituals that are helping keep her sane during really busy days lately - so helpful.

Listen in on iTunes or at The Art of Simple, and let us know your thoughts!

You can also read my post, Finding Community In An Unexpected Place, which inspired this episode.

Finding Community In An Unexpected Place - For The Art of Simple

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If you’ve ever struggled to find community in a new place, or wondered how to build a deeper community where you live, I wrote this post for you! Today on Art of Simple, I’m sharing some fears I had about moving to the country, and how God showed me how much beauty there is on the other side of bravery. I also share some ways to connect more with your community, wherever you live.

We talked about having our own farm one day, and when it actually became a reality shortly after we moved to Tennessee, I resisted it wholeheartedly, fearing the potential remoteness of living in the country and its high contrast to city life. The one big thing I was worried about was feeling isolated. What would I do without sidewalks? Where would my kids learn to ride a bike? Would anyone ever come to our house? Would we have a close community again? Continue reading…

Summer Favorites

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I was inspired by this post to share some of my summer favorites with you. I love hearing what other people are into right now, so share yours too, pretty please!

Here are a few of my summer favorites:

  • Rainbow colored zinnias. Yes, I’ve taken approximately 8,000 photos of my zinnias this summer. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

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  • High rise button-front denim shorts from GAP. Yay for 40% off sales so I can replenish my jorts stash after my old ones were surrendered to “farm clothes” status. I got these button-front denim shorts in the vintage black color, and I’ve worn them almost every day. They’re perfect for tucking in shirts and are just the right length for me with the cuffs unrolled.

  • Birkenstock Gizeh EVA sandals. These pretty much haven’t left my feet since I got them in early spring. They cost less than regular Birkenstocks but are still great, thick quality. Mine are metallic bronze, and they’re waterproof but nice enough to wear with skirts. I slip them on to go swimming, or to check on things on the farm when I don’t need boots, or just whenever. They’re the only thing I wear besides my red Saltwater sandals.

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  • Harvesting calendula to make my own calendula salve. This is the one thing that helps my dry, cracked farmer hands. These bright orange blooms are currently bathing in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and will be made into salves at the end of summer.

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  • Against All Grain Almond Flour Zucchini Bread. For when you harvest zucchini as big as your leg (oops!). I added some Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, and everyone in our family loved it.

  • The perfect summer smoothie = bananas + peanut butter + almond or coconut milk + hemp seeds + stevia (or honey or maple syrup) + kale + 1 drop doTerra peppermint oil. The secret is making sure the frozen fruit sticks out a little above the liquid - this makes for the best consistency. I can’t think of anything that tastes more nourishing after I’ve been working outside all morning. My girls love it too, with a little twist…I sprinkle some Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips in the bottom of the glass for when they get to the bottom. :)

  • Blasting my “Top 40 Songs of All Time” playlist while singing at the top of my lungs and driving country roads. “Galileo” by Indigo Girls, “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips, and “Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay are a few on my list. Have you ever tried to whittle down your favorite songs into a Top 40? It’s so hard but so delightfully nostalgic.

  • Swimming in waterfalls + lakes + creeks more than pools. Rock Island State Park has been a favorite this summer with its multiple waterfalls, rock jumping, and magical swimming holes. P.S. It’s made our lives so much easier to have a swim bag packed at all times, for either pool or state park. It always has shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush, towels, clean swimsuits, bug spray, sunscreen, goggles, sunglasses, and a wet bag to store wet things until we get home. Gamechanger.

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There’s still so much summer left - let’s soak it up while we can without trying to look ahead too quickly to fall. What are some of your summer favorites?

I Love This Place: Columbia, Tennessee - For The Art of Simple

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Today on The Art of Simple I’m sharing all the things I love about Columbia, TN, our closest major town just 15 minutes down the road. Well, not all the things - I could have included about 50 more places and businesses I love, but I had to stop somewhere! I’m so thankful to be a part of this growing community full fo so many entrepreneurs, artists, creatives, artisans, and just generally kind people who care.

“I’m writing this from the square in downtown Columbia, Tennessee on a park bench that says above it: “Welcome to our beautiful downtown. Sit down and enjoy yourself.” To me, those two sentences accurately capture the endearing, welcoming, connective nature of this town, one I’ve grown to increasingly love over the last three years we’ve lived nearby.” Continue reading…

Have you been to Columbia? What are some of your favorite places?

11 Things I Learned This Spring

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Have you tried to actually sit down and reflect on what you’ve been learning? It’s not that easy. We go through life so much on autopilot without taking time to reflect. So I’m loving this new practice, joining in with author Emily P. Freeman to look back on each season and notice and name some of the things I’ve learned. Join me - I’d love to know what you’ve been learning too…

1) How to slow down time.

Oh, don’t we all wish we actually could? But I’ve learned a little secret while writing this post for Art of Simple that’s become my new daily motto: Today, I will log more moments in the present so time feels longer. The more moments we log in the present, time actually does feel slower - and more full of the good stuff. I still look at my two growing daughters (5 and almost 9) and see that “the little years” are mostly behind us (lump in throat), but I honestly don’t feel time slipping out of my hands. While we’re entering a new stage, I know I squeezed every drop of life I could out of the previous one.

2) “God will not let you miss your own future.”

HUGE exhale. This line is from Emily P. Freeman’s The Next Right Thing podcast (episode 76), and it’s one of the best things I heard this spring. It really is such a relief to know I’m not responsible for it all. I say I believe that, but to live like it’s true is another thing entirely. I’m working on doing more of that.

3) I prolly shoulda started farming at age 25 instead of 39. #ohmyachingbones

But seriously, I’ve learned this spring that it’s just gonna hurt and be uncomfortable, and the more I have that expectation, it’s a wee bit less hard. My husband Steven always says, “High expectations lead to much frustration.” So I’m setting the expectation: there’s gonna be mud caked under my nails. I’m going to feel gross and need to take like 10 showers a week. And to save myself some frustration later, listen to my gut next time and always add at least 2 irrigation drip lines to a new row, no matter what anyone says. There were some definite choice words involved in pulling up those rows and re-doing them. Oy.

4) It’s important to keep a childlike wonder, no matter my age.

Every single time a new seed sprouts, I have the same feeling of awe: it actually worked!

And a new discovery: apparently birds really like to nest in ferns. This may be old news to many of you, but this was my first time seeing it when I took down my hanging fern to water it, and I literally gasped.

The other evening, I was walking back to the produce washing station after feeding the chickens, and this sight of our barn with the almost-full moon stopped me in my tracks (look closely for my oldest daughter in the rye grass). The best part is that I texted it to my husband, and he said he didn’t even know where that was at first - sometimes we see our own surroundings with fresh eyes.

5) It’s good to accept others’ help.

A few weeks ago, on an ordinary weekday, my girls ended up staying the night at my close friend’s house. It was totally impromptu, and Steven and I found ourselves kid-free for the night at our own house, which we’ve actually never done. He finished his chef work in the barn kitchen, and at 8:30pm, we went on a random but much-needed date to one of our favorite local restaurants, Vanh Dy’s, in our little nearby downtown of Columbia, TN. It’s shocking how hard it was at first to accept that help, that another mom was willingly watching my kids all night while we got to have a date, but I realized how freeing it is to accept people’s help when they offer. It actually blesses others to let them help you - it’s done the same for me when I’ve been on the other end.

6) Sometimes God removes the storm, and sometimes He’s with us in the midst of it.

Photo by KT Sura

Photo by KT Sura

On the day of our spring Kindred Dinner for 150 people, it was predicting storms all evening. This was our 5th farm dinner, and we’ve never had to go with our rain plan. I was so worried, y’all. These people bought tickets and were expecting an amazing, memorable experience. In my shallow vision, I thought our best-case scenario was that it wouldn’t rain, but instead God wanted to show me - and so many others - how beautiful and intimate and nourishing breaking bread together can be in the very midst of a storm. I’ll hold this experience close for a long time.

More thoughts and photos on our Kindred Farm Instagram. My favorite part of this photo is all the umbrellas leaned against the side of the greenhouse!

7) Intermittent fasting is how I should eat most of the time.

I started the practice of intermittent fasting in January, thinking it would be temporary. It feels so good and freeing that I think this is a new longterm pattern in my life. I wrote all about it here.

8) But feasting is just as important.

I’ve learned that feasting is so much more meaningful when you’re not doing it all the time. We were made for both feasting and fasting - there’s a time to reign things in and go without, and there’s a time to let go and enjoy. One of the best things about a collaborative feast is that each person gets to bring something - so be sure and let others help even if you’re hosting. Here are some amazing feasts we’ve had this spring:

Easter Sunday with dear friends and alllll the colorful spring goodness...

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Then, a heavenly little outdoor charcuterie board feast with friends on a Saturday evening, where we just cut up a bunch of pretty things and put them on cutting boards (no cooking!). Add some wine and sparkling water, and you have what feels like a very fancy dinner with no cooking. Bonus for fun patterned tablecloths I got over a decade ago in India, twinkle lights overhead and fireflies all around.

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And here’s something different…we put a little propane tabletop grill in the middle of our dining room table and had some friends over for a Korean ssam (lettuce wraps) feast where everyone got to grill their own meat and assemble unique, colorful lettuce wraps to their heart’s desire. All the lettuce, cabbage, Asian greens, and radishes were harvested from our farm a few minutes before. And I’m pretty sure we used every plate, bowl, and pair of chopsticks in the house.

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9. I still know every word to all the classic NKOTB songs.

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My 11-year-old self would have completely passed out to be this close to Joe McIntyre and New Kids on the Block, but 30 years later it was just a lighthearted blast of a night with my best college gals (and New Kids on the Block, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Salt N Pepa and Naughty By Nature!). We sang every word to all the classic NKOTB songs like “Please Don’t Go, Girl” (this was played at every middle school sleepover), “Tonight”, and of course, “Hangin’ Tough.” I reminisced about recording mixtapes from the radio, Aqua Net hairspray, claw bangs, BOP Magazine, posters in my locker and plastered on my bedroom wall, and Electric Youth Perfume.


10. It’s best to relax a little and give my girls space to learn some things on their own - this works better than pushing.

After playing Monopoly on and off for several days, my oldest daughter is a master at mental math and being the banker, and my 5-year-old just learned how to ride on two wheels on her own at my friend’s house in her gravel driveway. I so often try to control and feel like everything is my responsibility. Letting go - and seeing that everything is okay - helps me grow so much in this area. I’m also learning to let them help more, even if it’s not how I would have done that particular thing. Plus, I don’t want to miss out on hilarious sights like these:

Well, that’s ONE way to seed a new row of beets…

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11. My husband is an incredible podcast host.

I knew he would be. This man is one of the most compelling communicators I know, with an ability to cast a vision and share stories like none other. Check out Steven’s brand new The Korean Farmer podcast here or on iTunes, where he shares meaningful conversations about life, business, food, and everything in between. We record right here on Kindred Farm in our barn studio…and maybe we’ll be doing an episode together in the near future! :)

Photo: KT Sura

Photo: KT Sura

YOUR TURN! What are some things you learned this spring? I’d love to hear!

Simple With Tsh Oxenreider Podcast Episode 192: Fasting, Feasting & Intuitive Eating

In this episode of Simple, I’m sharing about what it means to feast and how moments of fasting can make the feasting more meaningful. I also share 3 of my favorite feasts and some ideas for you to recreate them!

Tsh shares some really great ideas on intuitive eating, which I think goes so well with intermittent fasting. It’s all about balance and a healthy view of food and our bodies. I loved this conversation! Listen in and let me know your thoughts!

You can also read my post on Intermittent Fasting, Feasting, and The Perfect Pesto, which inspired this podcast episode.

Intermittent Fasting, Feasting, and The Perfect Pesto - For The Art of Simple

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Today on the Art of Simple, I’m sharing my thoughts about intermittent fasting, the beauty of feasting, and a spring pesto recipe! Writing this piece helped me appreciate all over again how much this practice has been healthy for me in so many ways. Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? I’d love to know your thoughts!

“As we sat down to eat and I held the hands of my family as we blessed this very-special-for-no-particular-reason meal, I realized something important: feasting is so much more meaningful when you’re not doing it all the time…” Continue reading

Perfect Pesto Recipe

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My amazing chef husband gave me permission to share this recipe in celebration of spring - yay! Now, you can wow your guests with this gorgeous sauce. Oh man, I can’t wait for all of my basil plants to grow so we can make loads of pesto this summer. Fresh basil = absolutely one of the best smells ever.

Perfect Pesto

courtesy of The Korean Farmer

2 cups fresh basil, packed

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano (this is authentic parmesan cheese made in Italy, found at all normal grocery stores)

1/4 cup neutral-tasting oil, such as grapeseed oil

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted (in a pinch, you can use regular almonds, but blanched is best)

Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor and process. Add a little water if you need to make it smoother. Remove from food processor and stir in olive oil.

To toss with pasta (even better, with fresh pasta!), add pesto an empty bowl, then the pasta. Add a couple ounces of leftover pasta cooking water. Toss until glossy.

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And that photo above that I took a few years ago on our back patio in Dallas? It stirs something deep in me. Maybe it's the beauty of simple food - Texas-grown produce made into salad in the Polish pottery bowl given to me by Steven’s Gran on our first North Carolina road trip. Or the fresh green of that pungent pesto that I can smell through the photo. Or that it was all eaten outside that spring evening with friends and wine atop the tablecloth I scored at an outdoor market in India 15 years ago.  So many favorite things, all in one little square.