surprises when you least expect them

I grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago. I didn’t really have any idea what farm life was like until I met Nate. Literally, I went to a farm in kindergarten and remember liking the chicks. Little did I know one day I would call a farm home!

I didn’t really think about where my food came from either. Farmers markets weren’t as popular as they are now. I loved going to the grocery store with my mom, and we ate on the healthier side, but I just didn’t think about it.

As a teenager, when my parents would go to buy flowers and plants and bushes in the late spring, I would ask to pick out one flower plant and would try to keep it alive. I always failed, and deemed myself the opposite of a green thumb.

Fast forward to meeting Nate. I remember one of the first times I went to Walnut Grove Farm, I posed for a photo with a cow; I was just so in awe. The spring and summers would come and go, and we would eat fresh veggies and fruits from the garden, something that was really foreign to me in the best way possible. 


As the years passed (we’ve been together for almost 15!), I’ve grown to appreciate respect the farm, and love the production gardens. We were married there almost six years ago, featuring mostly local vendors and the majority of the flowers were from the farm.

Fast forward even more to last weekend, when I pulled up probably 30 radishes and some green onions, picked fresh greens, and planted watermelons and squash to enjoy later this year.


There is something so gratifying about harvesting from a garden. It’s difficult for me to describe. I find such peace in it. And excitement. It just feels right.

Radishes, in particular, are super fun (I realize what a nerd I sound like right now, and I’m completely okay with it) because it’s like a surprise with each radish. Is it mature enough? What color is it? Long and thin or short and plump? Will it be really sharp or mild in flavor? Not to mention they are beautiful.


Radishes now signify the beginning of the growing season (other than another new favorite–rhubarb!). It means a summer filled with fresh foods that my mother-in-law planted and hopefully I can harvest. Gardening is something I’m not sure I’ll be good at on my own, but I really hope one day Nate and I will have the land to have our own garden.


Teaching Eloise about the farm, the gardens, and about the foods she eats; getting her to eat a lot of fruits and veggies; and trying new foods are very important to us. 

Today, Ellie wanted blueberries instead of a bakery cookie. That to me was a small, simple parenting win. And I’ll take them however they come!

I’m so grateful she has the farm as her home away from home, and that’s all that she knows. It gives her balance from the hustle and bustle of the city, the ability to run and be free, and spend quality time with her family with home-cooked, home-grown meals. What could be better than that?

mom’s night out: girl & the goat

Hope is one of my best friends at work. We work really closely together, we talk just about every day, and she makes me laugh harder than many people can. The only problem? She lives 2,120 miles away in Portland, Oregon, and I only get to see her a few times a year. 

She was in town this week for work, and it was the best to be able to say “good morning” and razz her in person. She also kept spoiling me with Mindy’s Hot Chocolate pastries from the Revival Food Hall. Diet starts after the Super Bowl?

On Thursday we planned to go to dinner, with Au Cheval in mind. Upon arrival (around 5:20 pm), frozen from the frigid temperature, the wait was an hour to an hour and twenty minutes (the cheeseburger IS one of a kind, I can vouch for it). But we decided to hustle across Randolph to Girl & the Goat. Immediate seating at the bar was perfect; Hope was excited because she’d been wanting to dine here!

It was my third time at Girl & the Goat (post-wedding and pre-baby, I loved to live it up), and it was exactly how I remembered it. The beautiful decor with exotic details and textures, the hustle of a good wait staff, the delicious smells of high-quality and innovative dishes, the beautiful craft cocktails waiting to be sipped…should I keep going?

I asked for a dairy-free menu (Stephanie Izard is very accommodating to those of us with food allergies and intolerances at all of her restaurants, much appreciated), to balance out my meal and make sure I didn’t overdo it. It’s hard for me to show restraint to gouda bread with smoked lard butter and romesco. So I didn’t.

I also had the Boondock Saints cocktail (a tasty chilled Hot Toddy), a glass of still rosé, braised beef tongue, grilled cuddlefish, the famous sautéed green beans, and the most decadent and fantastic crumpets I’ve ever tasted in my life (served with goat liver mousse, rosemary pickles, grapefruit preserves, and persimmon marmalade, of course). 

This meal was out…of…this…world. It is so hard for me to justify a meal like this now, but I can’t tell you the last time I had a foodie dinner. It felt nice to enjoy a well-cooked (understatement) meal with Hope, and have time outside of work to catch up and be silly. Those meals and moments are priceless. Xo

Spotlight: Nice, France

Well, talk about a throw back! It’s about time (almost 5 months) I share some pictures with you from my time in Nice, don’t you think?!?

Back in January, I made my second trip in Nice; my first time was for two days when I was 18 years old (needless to say, it’s been awhile) while on a European getaway with my friend Ali. 

Although I was there for work this time around (I know, my job IS awesome!), I was able to enjoy lots of good food and see the city, and even visited Cannes and Monaco. 

I was also 14 weeks pregnant at the time, so no tartare, soft cheese, or wine for me! Well, I had one sip…guess I’ll just have to go back!!!

I am not really sure how to share a week in paradise with you, but I’ll share some of my favorites moments, meals, and memories (through photos) with you! 

Nicoise cuisine is a mix of French and Mediterranean, including lots of fresh fish and seafood, olives, veggies, cheeses, and don’t forget the rosé wine! Here’s a good article on 5 things to eat and drink from Nice.

Some of my favorite meals and snacks included:

  • Farcis: a classic Nicoise dish made from vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini, hollowed out and stuffed with ground meat, garlic, and bread crumbs.
  • Fresh clementines I bought from a local grocer (they sell them with the leaves and stems still on)
  • Red mullet fish and greens 
  • Artisan apple tart
  • Coq au vin 
  • And lots of croissants! 

Take a look:
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Want more? Check out this video I made for work: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TNJBzXIlN_k 

Au revoir for now!