The moment I met Shannon, I wanted to be her friend. The moment I saw her house, I wanted to be her.

She and her husband have been working on this little house in the middle of a city, lovingly finishing each detail. From the trim, to the fireplace, to the transom windows, every little thing is perfect in its own right. Outside, they have a workshop, a garden, chickens, and a tree house. They have created this beautiful balance of city living and the simplicity of the country.


chicken hand pies


Apparently, these are really called pasties in England, so you can call them whatever you want.

I decided on these for the winter picnic because I wanted something that was warm and not messy.  I kept thinking of a calzone, but those can get tomato sauce everywhere if you aren’t careful.  Plus, I wanted to make something that was a little more around-the-campfire-ish feeling, and I couldn’t think of anything more homey and inviting than a stew.

All I did was make a chicken stew, or the insides of a chicken pot pie.  Then I cooked it inside a pie crust.  They were really tasty, and perfect for an outside meal in the cold.


raspberry jam bars


If you don’t mind, I think I’ll post the dessert to our late winter picnic first.

We just got back from a fencing tournament and our good friends’ house, and I am really tired, not to mention I know I’m losing an hour of sleep tonight because of Daylight Saving, and that makes me even more tired (Darn you, Benjamin Franklin!), so I didn’t feel like trying to remember what I did to make those chicken hand pies. At least not tonight.

a late winter picnic.


Several years ago, when my oldest son was a baby and we lived in Hawaii, I spent most of my free time drooling over the photographs in Martha Stewart Living. I knew once we moved back to the mainland, I would entertain people in a way that would make Martha proud.

When we got back, I got to work. I gathered pieces for baking and serving as I went along: cake pedestals, cookie cutters, a kitchen torch. As we hosted small dinner parties, I soon realized how expensive it was, and soon after that started to wonder what all the fuss was about. Though I loved trying to create something lovely, I knew most of my friends didn’t really care what I did; they just wanted to get together. Eventually, I was asking myself why I needed to impress anyone.

It’ll take a few hours of therapy to get to the bottom of that question. But I did come to one solution: I stopped worrying about entertaining friends and decided to turn to my own family and create something beautiful for them.

Sometimes it was dinner for two: fillet mignon with matchstick fries and shallot sauce. Other times it was something the kids would love on a snow day, like hot chocolate affogati. I liked to find ways to celebrate and show the people around me that I loved them.


In my head, of course, was this vision of once a week having the whole family dress for dinner and eating with the best china and silver. But I haven’t gotten around to that yet. If I ever get nice china and silver, I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Anyway, you know my story. Somewhere between the fillet mignon and the chocolate affogati, my marriage went to poop.

And things are still spinning around here. Sometimes I feel like everything is fine and forget for a few moments that someone in this world hates my guts, and other times I remember that fact and want to go to every matinee of Avatar and drown my sorrows in a huge bag of Almond Joy Pieces (Have you tried these yet? They’re like M&Ms with coconut in them. Sorry, Connie. Not for you).

While I wait for things to settle out, I have decided to get on with my dreams. I will be making a beautiful life for my family anyway. For we have plenty to celebrate.


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