Valentine’s Changes (or, Colin Firth forever and ever, amen.)


Looking through the archives, I see that Valentine’s Day has been one of my consistent occasions for posting something here, for some reason. The feast day to remember a saint who loved God and loved others, enough to die for that love, now serves as the calendar notch on which we hang our ever-changing notions and expectations about love.

In past years I’ve posted about:

This year, my love for MT, and her little friends at school, has manifested itself through Pinterest-inspired activities: heart braid, heart crayons, the best oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies.

 photo D664B00E-AFE8-49FC-B00E-3E315BC2319D_zpsfw9obj9y.jpg

So the holiday has evolved quite a bit. In six words,

2007: Went line dancing, found latin lover.
2015: Heidi braids. Heart, please don’t explode.

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This week Kitty’s post (How To Host a Simple Gal-entine’s Party) reminded me of a couple instances when Captain Papa came through in grand style for his baby girl (i.e. me) before marriage and kids. In particular, one year in high school he joined me down in our basement playroom as I watched the six-hour BBC Pride and Prejudice on Valentine’s Day. (FYI, he’s not necessarily a big Austen fan.)

Funnier was the year when he sent me flowers in college. I put the two sweet planters of mini-roses on the window ledge in our sorority house kitchen. The note with the delivery read something like “Love Forever” and it sparked a srat house mystery. Because, although it wasn’t surprising that Dad would send flowers, he didn’t put his name on the note, and when I talked with Mom that day she hadn’t received her flowers yet and told me Dad didn’t send them. The romantic mystery bloomed like the delicate pink roses . . . my friends and I spent many minutes (at least) wondering who my secret admirer was. We even called the flower company to see if they could release the sender’s information. They could not! [Drama!] I can only imagine how pathetic that operator thought we were, especially since she could see that the sender and recipient shared a last name.

Whatever Valentine’s Day looks like on a given year, the bottom line question we want answered is . . . Am I loved? Am I worth it? Is there someone willing to sacrifice for me, willing to watch six-hour Pride and Prejudice with me—whether it’s my dad, my boyfriend, my girlfriends, my cat (not to mention my infant who has no choice). Watching Pride and Prejudice may or may not be a big sacrifice depending on the person who makes it, but it points to sacrifices even greater. Is there someone willing to give up everything, for me? I think the answer is Yes. And when those affectionate husbands, or cats, fail us—maybe you saw it coming—we can go back to the Love who inspired the original Valentine.

Whatever’s going on with you, I wish you much Colin Firth (or maybe Stanley Tucci) this Valentine’s Day.

P.S. To be fair, it’s also about considering whether I’ll give up my sense of taste to watch something I consider ridiculous. What’s the male equivalent of P&P?

P.P.S. I do like the new Keira Knightley P&P, but I officially endorse the 1995 BBC version. My only contention with the BBC P&P is that Lizzy is prettier than Jane, which is inaccurate.

P.P.P.S. Who wore it better?

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Derby Pie + Spring Snapshots

I’m pausing the travel posts to bring you the not-so-secret recipe for the tastiest and easiest pie in the world: Derby Pie. I do feel reluctant to share, as this is pretty much the only thing in my dessert arsenal, since it’s so yummy and dadgum easy. It’s my favorite and has become my signature dessert, but I feel guilty hiding it. And I feel guilty when people get the impression that I’m a culinary wizard . . . shhhh! Golly, it’s so easy. Now that you have the recipe, you can simply have the ingredients waiting in your pantry and freezer. Dinner party, housewarming, work or church event? You’ve got dessert covered. You have such southern charm and grace! Please, don’t brag; you’ll ruin it.

Give it a try in honor of Saturday’s big race.

Derby Pie
2 eggs
1 stick melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cake flour (Regular flour is fine—I use that.)
1 cup sugar
a splash of bourbon (Optional, but you should definitely do it if you’re making this for the Derby.)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 oz chocolate chips
pre-made pie crust (From the refrigerated section.)

Mix first six ingredients together.
Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
Pour into pie crust in round baking dish.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

And while we’re in a celebratory mood, here are some snapshots of our spring so far (only the good stuff, of course!):

 photo d9f9cb5f-4df5-49ab-ad69-58edfec1fce1_zpsdf3f9ad8.jpgThe satisfaction of an egg well hunted.

 photo E303E0AC-D91D-4B29-8D86-F27DD69EF33A-17767-0000105B7C7AA7DF_zpsd595e613.jpgIsrael is beyond thrilled that Mary Tobin is old enough to keep her wayfarers on now.

 photo 62B0E1B4-97B0-4152-B037-0EA3C5D62103-17477-000010EBBEA92147_zpsa227a80b-1.jpgWomen’s dinner centerpieces using Costco roses (!) and Cup of Jo’s flower arranging tutorial.

 photo D4F3D12B-9D60-4DA1-B56C-597C548AF762-17767-0000105BD7E27FB5_zps290f8d42.jpgWaiting with Tia Raquel after the zoo for brunch at Open City, a yummy spot which brilliantly provided chalk for their young antsy patrons. (Here, Mary Tobin is staring at little boys off camera.)

[Pro tip for taking kids to the National Zoo: If you’re using the Metro, go one stop past the Woodley Park/Zoo stop to Cleveland Park. From there it’s the same distance, and you can walk downhill instead of huffing uphill with strollers and the rest of your combat gear. When leaving you can walk downhill to Woodley Park (and Open City!).]

 photo 9425FE31-C09E-497B-950C-1FBF634E0F90-17477-000010ED88841BEA_zps8eddc433.jpgWhite House Spring Garden Tour.

 photo FA7F5AE0-77C2-4915-BC0E-771A882040D1-17477-000010EF2616EEE2_zps253aa70e.jpgEmbracing her Tennessee roots.

 photo 4C7C0384-807C-420A-B445-C8C3EE435678-17477-000010EE97C595E8_zps8cbf52bc.jpg photo CC9B5A71-2F46-47E5-AF1F-9DC58C28C26B-17477-000010EEA5200B4C_zpsea41841e.jpgAnd, of course, pulling out the summer clothes!

Happy Derby! Happy Spring!