A Classic Fiddlehead Ferns Recipe

Growing up, fiddlehead ferns were a mysterious food that other people ate. People in Maine, for instance.

Then there were poets:

Fiddlehead Ferns

By Matthew Dickman

(excerpt)

Olive seashells

in the air

you can eat.

The very inner of the inner ear

in the breeze.

Last night my son dreamt

about falling

out of trees.

I had almost forgotten

that we were

simians.

The fiddlehead turns

on itself but only ever in love.

Green cinnamon roll,

a snake too small to hunt

anyone.

Curled in like my son’s

fingers, his fists.

More beautiful than

a spider fern,

spun-in island,

moldy tongue of a hippopotamus,

the eye of the forest.

 And then, there were people in books. (Usually books about people in Maine).

In one novel, a lost girl survived her hunger by munching the curled greenery as she hiked through an endless forest. In others, it was long-limbed, somewhat artsy women who knew the secrets of the river bottom and would bring clusters of the curled tops home to their charming cottages in the woods.

But like mushrooms, it’s not just any frond curled like a violin’s scroll from just any fern. Some are not edible. Some are toxic. However, unlike mushrooms, it seems when people make foraging mistakes with ferns, they tend to get sick rather than facing possible death like with mushrooms mistakes.

Still, not a blunder anyone wants to make.

Unless someone in the know can teach you what ferns you can eat look like–apparently a u-shaped groove in the ostrich fern, and which ones to avoid–perhaps stick to the experts at your local market. 

Here’s what Food and Wine Magazine  has to say:

Where: Fiddleheads can be found in much of the United States as well as Europe, Asia and Canada: In fact, Tide Head, New Brunswick, calls itself the Fiddlehead Capital of the World.

When: May.

What to look for: Small coils that are tightly wound up. Fiddleheads should be a vibrant bright green, unless they are still covered in their brown papery skin. The skin should come off easily when rubbed. Purchase or pick only ostrich fern fiddleheads, as they are the safest for consumption.

Flavor profile: Fiddleheads are sweet like asparagus, grassy and snappy like a great green bean, with a touch of broccoli stem.

Health benefits: Rich in potassium, iron, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, fiddleheads are fantastically healthy.

How to eat them: Because ostrich ferns contain a trace amount of a toxin, you should never eat them raw. (Not that you would want to—they are quite bitter when raw.) Cook them for at least 5 minutes. First, prep the fiddleheads by rinsing them and rubbing off any papery brown skin. Then they can be steamed, braised, sautéed, roasted or pickled (after blanching).

Basically, you want to treat fiddleheads like you do asparagus. But for our classic recipe, let’s add some eggs and goat cheese. In the words of writer Catherine Johnson:

Yes, ferns just love to celebrate

All things glorious, green and new.

Until they wind up on your plate

 In a frittata made for two.

Fiddlehead Frittata with Bacon and Chevre- adapted from Salt in My Coffee

Ingredients

  • 1 lb organic red potatoes, chopped
  • 12 ounces fiddleheads, cleaned
  • 4 shallots (or one medium onion)
  • 12 large eggs (or 10 duck eggs)
  • 4 slices thick-cut turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 8 ounces chopped or shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces crumbled chevre
  • olive oil, butter, or bacon fat for frying

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a deep cast iron pan, saute fiddleheads, chopped potatoes, and diced shallots, in a generous amount of butter, olive oil, or bacon fat. Cook over medium-low heat until fiddleheads are fiddleheads and potatoes are tender, and shallots are getting translucent – about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Whisk together eggs and cheese in a large bowl, then add to the pan with the fiddlehead mixture. If you’d like to skip dirtying a bowl, just add the cheese and eggs directly to the pan, mixing vigorously as you crack in each egg.
  4. Stir everything well so that it’s thoroughly mixed, then put the whole thing in the oven. Bake until the center is set, and the frittata is golden brown – about 35 minutes.
  5. Cool slightly, and serve.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to paint a landscape in my charming cottage and then go foraging for fiddleheads.

Happy eating!

How to: Keeping Linens Fresh

After a long day, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as slipping into your cozy bed with its fresh, clean sheets and a blanket that’s the perfect weight and density. 

Whether you choose a pillowy, cloudy comforter or a cozy cotton quilt, you should feel your bed is designed perfectly for you. A sacred space where you can lay down the burdens of the day and just rest. 

If your bed isn’t what it should be, perhaps it’s time to invest in some crisp, organic cotton sheets and find a covering that makes your heart happy.

You’ll want to make sure your guests’ experience is comfortable and luxurious. 

This quotation from Nikos Kazantzakis is about perfect. “I knew that no matter what door you knock on in a Cretan village, it will be opened for you. A meal will be served in your honor, and you will sleep between the best sheets in the house. In Crete, the stranger is still the unknown god. Before him, all doors and all hearts are opened.”

Whatever linens create the ultimate sleeping spaces for you, your guest, and your family, they all need proper care to be at their lovely, fresh best.

Quilt on etsy

Baking Soda

Soak your linens with a sprinkling of baking soda before you start the wash cycle. You can also put a small box of slightly opened baking soda in the back of your linen closet to suck up offending odors. 

When you remove your sheets from the dryer or the clothesline, make sure they’re completely dry before you put them away. Any dampness at all can turn your linen closet into a mildewing mess.

Lavender Sachets by Belle River Boutique

Make Your Own Sachets

If you have lavender or rosemary on hand, you can make sachets to tuck in between sheets and blankets. 

These no-sewing-required ones from treehugger.com are a breeze to make:

“Cut thin white cotton fabric into a 4-inch square. Place dried lavender in the center of the square. Pick up the edges of the square and twist them. Tie a white ribbon tightly around the top to make a lavender sachet. Place the lavender sachet in with the blankets and comforters when storing them.”

You could also twist both ends and tie for a slimmer version of the sachet. Just make sure the twist ensures there is no gapping. 

Many people love lavender, but if it’s a little too flowery for you, use rosemary instead. Strip the greenery off its  branches and let dry before use. A nice combination would be to make sachets with cedar chips for blankets and rosemary for sheets.

Another alternative is to wrap a few bars of your favorite soap in fabric and tuck that in the closet with your linens. If you’ve discovered a divinely scented soap, this might be the best option for you.

Make sure to rotate your linens so each set gets equal use and is aired out properly, rather than being stuck in the back of the closet. 

Freshen Between Washes

Before you make your bed in the morning, spray the air over your sleeping area with a natural linen spray. Stick to scents that are light and fresh, and that both you and your partner enjoy. 

Some people prefer to use perfume for their personal space. If so, make sure to spray the air above your bed and let the micro drops disperse evenly over your linens. Don’t heavily spray, and avoid strong scents. One spray should do it for a refreshing touch-up. Warm scents with notes of ginger, citrus, and soft florals work particularly well.

Rest easy and sleep well, friends.

“The most luxurious item is a beautiful bed and beautiful, simple sheets.”  –Andre Leon Talley

3 Ways to Make Life More Beautiful in the New Year

There’s very little to be said about 2020 that hasn’t already been said. At its best, the year was a surprise and a challenge. At its worst, for those who’ve battled illness or lost loved ones, 2020  was absolutely devastating. 

In difficult times, choosing joy despite the challenges we face can be an act of bravery. 

Now, we have a new year before us. One we can fill however we like. We may not be able to control all the events in our lives, but we can choose how to respond. No doubt, the time ahead will bring its own challenges and joys, and we can choose to add as much light and beauty in the new year, come what may.

Make and Enjoy Good Art

In a stirring graduation speech, author Neil Gaiman said:

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.”

He didn’t say it had to be perfect or Mozart-level genius art. But we can channel our experiences into art and be better for it.

Swannannoa [Oil on Canvas] by Carrie Allen

For some reason, we don’t think we have to be professionals to play tennis or sing in the shower. We think there’s something shameful in writing a poem if we’re not Lorca or painting a landscape if we’re not Monet.

However, we are made up of how we spend our time. The act of creation shapes us into something better.

According to oilpixel.com, “Art in any form, whether while creating or observing, reduces the stress hormone called cortisol. It also releases the feel-good hormones called endorphins which helps you combat stress and pain. By letting you enjoy a sense of fulfillment, it transforms you into a more positive, well-rounded human being.”

To make your life more beautiful, consider adding more art to your life. Dust off those paintbrushes, get your piano tuned, take up the ukulele. Create, and you’ll reduce your stress and invite more happiness into your life. 

Sometimes people don’t realize that beautifying their home or making an exquisite dinner are forms of art too. But they are. A salad can be a poem. Especially if there are strawberries involved.

Artistry in nature can be breathtaking. Bring elegant, natural elements into your home to reflect the beauty and colors we find in the outdoors. Different textures are an essential detail to frame the smoother, softer palettes you have probably already chosen in your decorating. 

In the end, decorating, baking, writing, painting, sculpting, and all other forms of creation make life more glorious.

Besides, if you devote your time and effort, maybe you will make Beauty. Maybe you’ll get better at it.  Maybe you’ll find you’re even good at it.

Help Others

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: … the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” ― Albert Schweitzer

Over the years, we’ve learned that “Scientific research provides compelling data to support the anecdotal evidence that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness.” 

As we mature, we realize that giving is more satisfying than receiving. Giving doesn’t have to be a financial gift. Volunteering our time to worthy causes boosts our happiness and leads to a better quality of life. Find something you’re passionate about and champion that cause.

In the spirit of giving, one great way to give back is to:

Support Artists

In a world that uses art to survive, but undervalues its artists, support those who make life more beautiful with their creations.

Buy books from Indie publishers so the author will get the standard royalty from the purchase. Go to local galleries and shows, and buy the artist’s work when a piece of art stirs something in you. Promote authors and their work on social media and invite your friends to their events.

Filling your life with beauty, and helping others, might be the best ways to increase your hope and happiness. 

You’ll find combining the two can be miraculous.

How to Create the Perfect Tablescape For Your Next Dinner Party

Throwing a dinner party is an art form all on its own. It’s an act of creation that can fill the hearts of your guests with warmth and memories for years to come. This kind of hosting takes finesse, taste and generosity.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult. 

In fact, if you’re at ease and comfortable during the party, your guests will also be relaxed. A few simple touches create a beautiful space that you and your guests can enjoy together. This kind of artistry promotes conversation and makes your delectable meal taste even better. 

The Lighting

The time and the season should greatly influence your dinner plans. If you’re throwing your get-together during the summer, there should be an abundance of natural lighting you can use to your advantage. If you’re inside, keep the curtains open and let the light pour in to reflect off the elements on the table. Consider using shimmering glassware or perhaps deeper, colored glass like cobalt blue or lemon yellow.

Have candles nearby that you can light when the sunlight fades to create an atmosphere of intimacy.

If your party is during colder months, adjust your lighting to suit the mood your striving for. You can use lower lighting from electrical sources and light candles, or keep the chandelier cheerfully blazing. 

For Starters: Food That Decorates

When your guests begin to gather, consider having a platter with fruit and cheese available while they wait for the rest of the guests or for dinner to be served. 

Nothing creates a more lovely tablescape than dusky grapes spilling over themselves, surrounded by pears, apples and berries. Leave the cheese in wedges with small knives so guests can cut their own portions. Small plates your guests can hold while mingling with each other is a necessity!

Even if it’s nothing more than water, make sure to have drinks available for thirsty guests. 

Linens

For Boho chic and charm, mix and match our hand block print linen tablecloths and napkins. You can achieve a softer, more subdued table with colors like pewter or sparrow, or use one of our more neutral tablecloths to mix with any of our napkins in more vivid colors.

A festive, vibrant look is easily achieved with a “Here Comes the Sun” tablecloth in cardinal red or tanager yellow. Match with napkins in a complementary color

Decorative Touches

Heaps of blossoms or an interesting arrangement of greenery is a lovely focal point. Think less centerpiece and more of a natural touch to bring out the beauty of your table. If you’re using the fruit platter as the decor idea, you can leave that front and center with a few blossoms tucked here and there for contrast. 

However, if the appetizer proved popular and was decimated by your hungry guests, remove the platter.

A runner of flowers or greenery that curves down the center of the table is a lovely style. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to achieve this look. You can also use accents from the seasons like pine, mini pumpkins, or small eucalyptus branches interwoven with simple white blooms. 

The benefit of a runner is you can easily place food around the decoration, or arrange the runners around serving dishes, and no one’s view is blocked from anyone they want to talk to—which is a common problem with tall centerpieces.

The Art of the Dinner Party

As life gets busier and we tend to be more isolated from each other, throwing a dinner party is an act of love. In addition to your beautiful tablescape, have some soft music playing that doesn’t interfere with the conversation but does promote a mood of friendship and serenity. 

Consider choosing a menu that can be made in advance as much as possible. This way you can mingle with your guests and make them feel welcome and relaxed. 

Be sure to find out any food allergies your guests may have or any expectations. They may think you know they’re vegan. They may be wrong.

Nothing spoils a dinner faster than not being able to serve one or more guests, so be prepared. If people can’t eat, the tablescape won’t make up the difference, no matter how elegant or charming. 

Best wishes for a fabulous party!

Seeing the Goodness

 

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Shutterstock is offering free backgrounds for your virtual calls!

How are you doing?  I can imagine your days are filled with highs and lows, anxiety, coupled with feelings of joy, love, fear and worry, perhaps with moments of boredom in the mix, as you adapt to a new and different normal.

Uncertainty is stressful.  The world is facing an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic is the deadliest threat to ordinary life that we have experienced in modern history.  BUT we are experiencing this adversity collectively. We cannot let fear consume us.  We will get through this.  We will beat the virus.  The economy will bounce back.  We need to shift our fear into hope, faith and courage.

Be present.  Dig Deep.  Make choices with love, practice kindness, to yourself and others.  Be grateful.  We owe so much to the healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, truck drivers, grocery store clerks and everyone on the front lines who are working on our behalf.

This global pandemic is shifting us, shifting our daily lives, shifting our priorities and shifting the way we work, live and interact.  This is an unprecedented time for us globally.  Focus on your health, both physical and mental.  If you are experiencing anxiety, address it.  Self-care is essential during this time. Everything is upside down with most of the world forced to stay home.

These are dark days indeed, but I am seeing the goodness that is rising up around us.  We may be forced to be apart but we are coming together as one in so many new ways.

When the school systems closed down, their first concern was to make sure the children that relied on school lunches for food did not go hungry. (If you are able, consider making a gift to #nokidhungry.)  Only after local school systems figured out how to bag breakfasts and lunches and disseminate them safely did they focus on the learning.  Once they did, they offered chrome books for loan to the families that did not have computers at home, and internet providers were offering free wifi.

I worked for a decade trying to make change in the education system with the ArtScience Prize and it’s difficult.  We did a lot of good but shifting schools and systems to make big changes is very, very hard.  Yet in a matter of weeks, across the globe, education systems quickly shifted to remote learning almost overnight.  This will no doubt help us conceive new ways to educate equitably going forward.

Across the US people of all ages are banding together to make face masks for our doctors, nurses, emergency care workers, truck drivers and grocery store workers.  People are gathering together in new ways both virtually and in person.  There are online social cocktail hours.  There are gatherings of neighborhoods from their balconies, windows and driveways in order to interact.

In Arlington, MA the community has launched 6 Feet at 6PM to connect as a community, visually and virtually, each evening at 6pm.  They are asking everyone to come out of their homes or look out their windows to wave to neighbors in an effort to check in with each other at a safe distance to make sure “we are all OK as a community.” #Arlington6At6

In Italy people are coming together for song from their windows and balconies, here is one hauntingly beautiful video.  One of the people who sang wrote “Imagine the whole world singing like this from their houses. No hate, no nothing. Just unified for once. Love this so much,”

Remember during this time filled with anxiety, it’s important to move your body, practice self care and eat healthy.   Yogaworks is offering free virtual yoga classes with teachers from across the US.  This morning I took a virtual class from an instructor in Atlanta and had others participating from India, Norway, Sweden, Texas and more.  86 people turned on their computers and practiced yoga at the same time.  Amazing.  You should try it.  If you are new to yoga, it’s ok there are classes for everyone.

This is also a time to try something new, alone or with your family.  Faer is painting every day and taking online piano lessons.  Ellie has taken up embroidery  and is creating beautiful things.  Alexander is learning new skateboard tricks.

Get creative.  Grab a book and read.  Listen to music.  Pull out your mixer and bake something.  Embrace this time with your immediate family and friends, whoever you are with during this time.  Connections are important.  Conversations are important, especially with our children to help them process this historic time with all of the ambiguity and unknowns.

It’s also important to get out in nature if you can safely do this.  Look at the clouds.  Watch the wind in the trees. Take a deep breath.  Listen to the birds.  Be happy that you are alive.

I’ll close with the same words the yoga instructor said this morning as she ended class:

May you be happy.  May you be healthy.  May you prosper in ways that bring you joy.  May we all be free.  I love you. Namaste.

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Reboot, Refresh

greensmoothies_nadiadamaso 

Green juices by Nadia Damaso

 

It’s been a minute since you’ve heard from me, for which I am very sorry; however, I made a conscious decision in late November to unplug over the holidays and spend quality time with the family.  We had a fun family vacation in Vermont, and amazing meals  rich with connections and conversations throughout the holiday season with loved ones from Vermont to Virginia, and many tables and cities in between.

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Photo by Jess Ann Kirby

 

The holidays quickly turned into 2020 and here we are in March already!  During February Krister and I participated in the NY Now Winter Show, our first ever trade show and I am delighted to share that our linens are now sold in boutiques across the US in 15 states.

NYNowbooth 

August Table at NY Now Winter Show 2020

 

But what’s this reboot, refresh about any way?  During the holidays I spent a lot of time journaling and creating vision books to help me get crystal clear on what I want for myself, for my family, for August Table and how I want to engage with you.

Ultimately, this blog is about passion with the intention of bringing more joy, more love and more laughter to you, my friends. You will find posts about mindfulness, healthy eating, my favorite recipes, food photography, paintings, design, coffee shops and more.  I will also be curating more content from friends and inspiring things that catch my eye, which can be on any topic.

What would you like to see?  Do you want to share a story or a passion? Truly anything goes so please reach out or drop a comment below.

thyme_and_emerald_greens 

Maple Broccolini Salad with Cashew Cream by Thyme & Emerald

 

So let’s refresh.

Today you cannot go anywhere without hearing about the coronavirus, the flu and germs.  I think this is a great time for everyone to think about what’s on your plate, what are you putting in your bodies, as well as making sure you wash your hands as much as possible.  For most people, 55% of daily calories come from processed foods.  This is not healthy – the more calories that come from processed foods high in salt, preservatives, sugar and saturated fats the worse it is for your body.  Try to substitute processed foods for more fresh fruit and veggies.  Please.  It’s good for you.

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Green Smoothie by My Berry Forest

 

One way to do this is to make smoothies and juices as well as adding in more greens to each meal.  The more nutrition you put in your body the stronger your immune system will be to help you fight off viruses and germs.  I’ve pulled a few favorite recipes and photos to inspire you here.

thyme_and_emerald_giantradish 

Kale and Pink Beet Salad with Turmeric Tahini Recipe by Thyme and Emerald

 

Over the last few months I have been talking about the benefits of drinking celery juice to just about everyone who will listen.  We start our mornings with 16 oz of freshly juiced celery juice on an empty stomach – before coffee, I know…  The results have been transformative! Why not give it a try?  Celery juice helps clean out toxins, viruses and heavy metals from your body.

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The Medical Medium on the Virtues of Celery Juice by Anthony William on Goop

 

In addition to the celery juice I’ve focused on what’s on our plates, trying to ensure we have as many colors as possible on the plate and that our meals are loaded with nutrition.  One of my favorite go to any time meals is eggs with greens – not to be confused with green eggs and ham.  The recipe below of Turkish fried eggs coupled with garlicky greens and avocado is delish.

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Turkish Eggs with chile butter and whipped feta by Half Baked Harvest

 

I hear you – sometimes it feels like a lot of work to pull together a healthy meal.  I know what it feels like after a long day when you want to put your feet up and relax but have hungry faces looking at you.  The more you plan your weekly meals out and shop on the weekends the easier it is.  Also you need to simplify.  And guess what, if you get the rest of the house to help you prep it becomes a fun activity.   I look for things to have on hand that put a delicious meal on the table in less than 30 minutes, like the Saucy Garlic Butter Shrimp with Coconut and Rice Noodles below from Half Baked Harvest.

 

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Saucy garlic butter shrimp w/ coconut milk and rice noodles recipe

 

On the weekends I like to make big pots of soups, chilis and stews and put extra in the freezer to pull out on those extra hectic nights.  I’d love to hear what you have on your table.

Stay healthy and be well.

33D3287D-7494-4CBE-894B-A02DF7A5768D
Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

Autumn Ballad

Undoubtedly Autumn is one of my favorite times of year.  The air is cooler and crisp, the lighting stirs something inside me and then there are the colors… the magical golden hues of the leaves everywhere you turn.  Pulling on more layers before heading out for a walk, the crunch of leaves underfoot, the smell of wood burning in the air as folks start their nightly fires to warm the body and soul, pumpkins, cider, apples – just a few things  I love about Autumn.  During the fall I also find that I tend to look inward and crave mental stimulation with books, poetry and learning.  I thought it would be fun to share a few poems about Autumn here for you too.  Enjoy!

lukasz-_fallscene_farm

When I Am Among The Trees

Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”


chris-lawtoncolorfulleaves

Fall, Leaves, Fall

Emily Brontë

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

fall_water

To Autumn

John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

 Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

apples_picnic_basket

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Getting back into the Groove…

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You may find that after the slow, lazy days of summer it’s hard to get back into the fall groove of schedules, routines, meal planning, earlier bedtimes, homework and more.  With all of the transition, stress can sometimes creep in and you may feel like there is no extra time, especially for a fun, healthy meal around the dinner table.

I have a few tips here to help you move past stress and allow space for you and your loved ones.

First, it really helps to write everything down on your calendar or planner for weekly events, practices, appointments, meals and more. My friend Mia created a gorgeous planner called FLOW planner and I love it. (You should check it out!)  The Flow planner has sections for you to map out your daily events, work, weekly meals as well as special quiet time for you and fun times with the family.

With all the busyness it’s really important that you take care of yourself.  If you do not care for yourself, you cannot care for others or be fully present and live the life of your dreams. I often speak of mindfulness – I’m constantly striving to be more mindful in each moment myself.  Remember to pause and respond with intention when you are in a given moment – often our minds react to something in the present which raises our stress levels.  If you pause and take a deep breath and picture something you love, it will raise your vibration and push the stress away.

To help you get back into your routine and ward off stress you should schedule time for yourself each week to unplug, exercise, drink loads of water, meditate and make good choices around snack time.  And of course, connect with loved ones as much as you can.

Sending you love and light during this fall transition.

33D3287D-7494-4CBE-894B-A02DF7A5768D

Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A love letter to Kyoto

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Kinkaku-ji Temple (The Golden Pavilion)

Kyoto, a place like no other, holds a special place in my heart with its many Buddhist temples, traditional wooden houses, imperial palaces, gardens and delightful food, but most of all for it’s beauty, history and peaceful quietness that allows space for reflection.

I first wrote about Kyoto on this blog three years ago after a visit where I stayed at a Buddhist temple for a weekend in order take a meditation class, and over the course of the few days found many unexpected surprises, met new friends, walked through a bamboo forest and hiked to the top of a mountain to see the monkeys.

This week I was fortunate to visit Kyoto again with some of my colleagues for a day of fun and exploration before we kicked off our work in Osaka with a corporate partner.

Yet today my heart is heavy that just a few days after our visit Kyoto saw an atrocious act of arson with a fire that caused so much harm and lost so many lives.  I share photos from our visit on Monday with reverence and respect to Kyoto and my heart goes out to the families of those lost.

Monday, July 15th, a day of exploration…

We were staying in Osaka so we got up early and took the train to Kyoto and immediately made our way to the bike rental company.   Once on our bikes, Kris and Kristin navigated us through the city to the bike path along the river so we could make our way north to the Philosopher’s Path.

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As we rode through the streets, crooked and small, and along the path, I felt exuberant and so free.  We were lucky in that it was not too hot; the day was cloudy, which kept us out of the sun, yet it did not rain.   The wind was on my face and rushed through my hair.  As we made our way the scents of the city filled my nostrils: wafts of fragrant flowers, bursts of incense seeping from the shrines and temples, and delicious smells of delicacies flowing out of the myriad of restaurants.

The Philosopher’s Path is a stone path lined with cherry trees that follows a little canal where one of Japan’s famous philosophers was said to have meditated during his daily walk to Kyoto University.

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After walking our bikes along the path, we stopped at Omen for lunch to have some of their famous udon noodles and experience local fare.

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After lunch we mounted our bikes again and made our way back to the banks of the Kamo River.

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We stopped for a minute so that we could walk across the stone path…

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The Kamo River stepping stones include large turtles crossing the river.

Our final destination was across the city again to The Golden Pavilion, dazzling architectural beauty surrounded by water and zen gardens.

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The Golden Pavilion

Before heading back to the train station we made sure to enjoy the refreshing green tea ice cream.

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

 

Our Climate Crisis and a Sustainability Journey

Yesterday hundreds of thousands of students from 1,600 cities around the globe walked out of school to protest the climate crisis.

The “School Strike for Climate” movement was started by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who, at 15, started her strike last August in Stockholm outside of the country’s Parliament.   Greta’s passion and singular action has sparked an international climate movement.  Yesterday’s strike was the most recent organized event following on the heels of a strike on March 15th which brought over 1.6 million folks out to demonstrate from 133 countries around the world.  It is expected that yesterday’s turnout surpassed those numbers…

In light of this, I thought today was a good day to share a recent conversation and interview I had with Charlie Szoradi, someone who has committed his entire life to sustainability.  His passion and interest in sustainability was first sparked in 1979 at 13 when he waited in the gas lines to fuel their family car, and he started thinking about alternative transportation. For his science fair project that year, Charlie, with two of his friends, built Omega Boat of the Future and won the Science Fair Popular Prize, which set him on the path that fueled his passion for a career in sustainability.

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Charlie is an architect, inventor, author, entrepreneur and CEO of independence LED Lighting.  He is committed to energy-saving solutions and global cost-effective sustainability.  Charlie’s book “Learn From Looking – how observation Inspires Innovation” was published in 2017 and it covers over 20 years of travel insights and drawings from around the world on 400 pages with 200 sketches.  The book focuses on actionable intelligence for innovation, sustainable design and critical thinking.  The drawings herewith are Charlie’s, taken from the book.  Charlie studied architecture at the University of Virginia where he first became friends with Krister over 30 years ago.   This is the first of several posts that I will share about Charlie and his work that focus on the ecosystem of sustainability.

I share snippets of our conversation below.

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CA: My blog August Ardor is about passion and sharing stories about people’s passions to inspire others.  I often encourage people in my writing to slow down and pursue things they love, to reflect on what’s important, and live in the moment.  I love how in your book “Learn from Looking – how observation Inspires Innovation” you talk about taking an “observational pause” – the change in tempo lets us look closer at certain things that we may otherwise take for granted and this can inspire innovation and learning.

 Is Sustainability your main passion and are your initiatives outgrowths of this – the book, founding the LED lighting company, Future Food films, the online resource Green and Save….?

CS: Yes, sustainability in the purest sense is to think beyond the immediate element that you might be impacting.  If you buy a water bottle from the vending machine you need to think about where the bottle will end up.  Thinking in this way impacts everything –  lighting, air conditioning, algorithms and architecture – how you design your home.  Thinking about the purchases you make is a vote – you vote with your dollars.  If your purchase can be functional for you and have an aesthetic that you like, but also fit into the context of the community, not just you personally, you can make the greatest impact.

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 CA: Can you tell me more about your passion for sustainability, what you do and why?

CS: Voltaire wrote in Candid (1759) that, “we must take care of our garden.” I am passionate about improving the world through micro actions that lead to macro change. You can lead by example in the decisions that you make to cultivate your own “garden,” and others will see those actions and perhaps emulate some aspect of them. I live in a solar house, ride my bike wherever possible, work for a company that focuses on energy-saving lighting, travel the world to continually learn more, and share insights on sustainability from my work and travels with anyone that may care to listen and engage.

 

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CA: How do you define “sustainability”?

CS: For me, sustainability is the concept of stewardship with an understanding of the actions and reactions that are part of an integrated eco-system. I don’t see sustainability as an obligation but as an opportunity to explore lifecycle costs and find lifecycle benefits. Sustainability is a wholistic approach to long-term thinking focused on the most cost-effective means to use resources and clean technology to achieve desirable results for the individual and the collective.

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CA: Who inspires you with their work in sustainability?

CS:  Two architects inspire me. Kinya Maruyama is a Japanese architect, who was one of my Master’s degree professors at the University of Pennsylvania. Kinya hired me to work with him in his Tokyo studio and served as my mentor. William McDonough is an American designer, advisor, author, and thought leader. Both of them have dedicated their careers to sustainability.

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CA: The term “sustainability” is being used more and more in the market place and investment community.  Any thoughts on this?

CS: The market has started to catch the “green” wave, and in many cases, corporations have increased their attention on sustainability initiatives. The positive eco-trend increases demand for cost-effective solutions, which in turn attract investment dollars and opportunities. The key to sustainability success is to look at the bottom line with ROI and clean-tech job growth as bookends to a myriad of performance metrics.

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CA: Please elaborate on what you do to support your work and ideas in your book, Learn From Looking?

CS: I pause to observe and think carefully about the impact of each of my actions. In my daily life, I think of my environmental carbon “footprint” as if it were the footprint of everyone else. This approach extends from what I eat to how I can meaningfully share information with others.

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CA: Please tell us about other trends you are seeing in sustainability – like Microgreens…

CS: Microgreens are a great example of a new generation of eco-friendly smart food. Direct Current (DC) microgrids along with light-emitting diodes and energy-smart houses are other examples of trends that will become increasingly part of the fabric of our clean-technology landscape.

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CA: What do you see as the biggest challenges or barriers to the ‘field of’ sustainability?

CS: One of the sustainability challenges is the perception that “green” is a politically liberal cause that requires subsidies rather than an economic driver that can create jobs. Sustainability and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive.

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CA: What would you tell the next generation about the field of study of sustainability and its integration into actions?

CS: I speak at many schools in addition to conferences and other events, and I tell people young and old that we are individual spokes on a wheel. The wheel rolls on because of our interconnectivity to each other and to the living fauna and flora. The word eco-system has “system” in it, and we should not forget that we are part of a greater system.

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CA: If you would have us leave here today with one core idea and one actionable step for us to take related to it, what would that be?

CS:  Think of each purchase of a product or service, no matter how large or small, as an “eco-smart vote.” A cheeseburger requires over 600 gallons of water to produce, given the water needed to grow the food for the cow. The cap on a single use plastic water bottle may end up adding to the massive plastic waste in our oceans. You can think about the lifecycle impact of what you do and vote with your wallet to embrace environmental stewardship from a salad to a re-usable drinking container. One action to retain: Pause before you purchase.

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Charlie Szoradi is an architect, inventor, and the CEO of Independence LED Lighting. He is passionate about cost-effective sustainability and is a sought after speaker. As an entrepreneur, Charlie has pioneered groundbreaking new energy intelligent products and services. He graduated from the University of Virginia and earned his master’s from the University of Pennsylvania. Charlie has authored numerous articles, op-eds and the biography of Leon Battista Alberti for the Encyclopedia of Architecture. He lives with his family in a solar home that he designed outside of Philadelphia.

 

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Carrie Allen – Transitions

I love the cool, crisp Fall in New England.  The cooler days, the changing leaves, the dark evenings, all make me want to curl up around a fire and have meaningful conversations with my friends and loved ones.  This season always makes me pause and think about the year ahead – as it feels like a beginning with the kids back to school, and I start planning out the festive holidays to come.

The fall has so much bounty that inspires me: gorgeous dahlias, zinnias, cosmos, leaves turning their golden hues, apples heavy on the limb – ready for picking, pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes.

All of this quietly stirs up anticipation within in me… thinking about what is to come, what I can create and make, bringing friends together.

As the season quietly transitions from Summer to Fall with the days getting shorter and cooler, this site is also quietly transitioning.  August Ardor remains all about passion.  I still welcome guest posts, written by my insanely talented friends, whenever they feel moved to share anything about their passions; however, I want to bring some focus to my efforts, which can be wrapped up around a table.

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I have always loved gathering people together, planning delicious meals, flipping through cookbooks (another deep passion of mine) and setting a fun and inspiring table.  I know my love for this grew out of spending summers with my Grandmother Corinne Earle every summer in the country, down on the Chesapeake Bay in Lancaster County, Virginia.  She was the ultimate southern hostess and taught me to garden, make jam, set a table, make biscuits, steam crabs, plan a party and more.

Beautiful design, in every form from architecture, to interiors, to painting, to setting a table all inspire me.  I want to focus on these topics – entertaining tips and tricks, recipes, inspirational thoughts, mindfulness, healthy living, and beautiful design.  Krister will share his passions and architecture.

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Today as the blog takes it’s new focus, Krister and I are launching my long-time dream of August Table, an online store with handmade block print linens that we have designed and had made in India, along with curated products that we love –  to help inspire you to be the baker, the cook, the entertainer, the designer and the gardener.  All things that I am deeply passionate about.

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Helping inspire others around the table is a passion project.  If you gather in the kitchen, around the table, on a picnic blanket, you are hopefully with people you love and care about and have healthy delicious food, which can be very simple and fresh – not a huge ordeal.  The main goal is to make connections.  Slow down.  Savor each moment and every bite. Relax and Enjoy.  A common thread I always talk about is slowing down and unplugging.  Perhaps it’s because I too get easily caught up in email, busy life, my wonderful job in corporate innovation, trying to pack in too much all the time.

I long for quiet days filled with beauty and slowness, which can take many forms.  Making time for creation, things that inspire me, including writing this blog, help me find my quiet days of beauty.

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I’ll close with this quote by author and poet Victoria Erickson:

If you inherently long for something, become it first.  If you want gardens, become the gardener.  If you want love, embody love.  If you want mental stimulation, change the conversation.  If you want peace, exude calmness.  If you want to fill your world with artists, begin to paint.  If you want to be valued, respect your own time.  If you want to live ecstatically, find the ecstasy within yourself.

This is how to draw it in, day by day, inch by inch.

 

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Carrie Allen – Connections…

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Today I have spent the better part of the day reflecting, reflecting on my family, my friends, my unconditional love for my children, my deep love for my husband (my soul mate and best friend), reflecting on nature, relationships, on stillness… on quiet…. and on connections.

As I slowed my mind down, attempting to transcend the clutter of my racing thoughts, I realized how beautiful the friendships I have are, and how we all must disconnect in order to fully connect with others.  Disconnect the cell phones, the emails, the screens and all the other daily inputs consuming our focus and thoughts.

Today I stood outside in the wilderness of Vermont, alone, and listened to the stillness.  At first I only heard quiet…but as my mind adjusted to this slower rhythm I started to hear the cadence and patter of the snow falling off the trees from last night’s dusting, the rustle of leaves in the soft breeze, a far off call of a bird.  I took many deep breaths and filled my lungs with the cold, crisp air and closed my eyes. I felt joy in being alive.

Life goes by in the blink of an eye.  Our busy lives and full schedules make it slip by even faster.  It’s too short to not slow down and find connections.  Connect with nature. Connect with your children. Connect with your family.  Connect as a family.  There is a difference there.

Connect with yourself. Think about what makes you happy.  What fills you with excitement and passion. What do you like?  Spend less time worrying and more time being grateful for those who love you and all of life’s goodness.  Look at what is right in front of you with fresh eyes as if you are seeing them for the first time.

So again…get off the devices.  Slow down and look your children, friends, loved ones in the eye and listen.  Ask them how their day was and really listen.  Nothing is more important and precious in life than loving and being loved.  Without connections life is hollow, lonely and empty.  Don’t waste what you have.  Choose to be happy, to be at peace.  If you look for the good, you’ll find it.

 

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here.