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Greek Fest

Every September, the local Greek Orthodox Church puts on a Greek Festival. It’s pretty small compared to other cities, I’m sure, but the one here in Knoxville holds a special place in my heart. One of my old friends from high school and his family is always involved with the traditional dances. And I’ve volunteered there myself doing the face painting. 


A few years ago, the church building itself burned, and they lost many of their relics and handcrafted mosaics – the ceiling was the most severe loss, the whole thing being a large mosaic piece done by hand. 

I’ve loved seeing the city come together to support this community, and as the years go on, the funds from this festival have helped support the repairs of this church building. 

Not to mention, it’s just a lot of fun. 

All of the dads and sons are out grilling lamb and chicken for the gyros, and all the grandmothers are insides selling their homemade treats (tha baklava is to die for).

 

My family has gone almost every single year, and since I missed last year, I was really looking forward to going again. And it definitely didn’t disappoint! 

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Baby and bread and bicycles 

Yesterday was a rare second day off in a row, and I had some big plans for the day that involved grabbing some coffee at my favorite place, researching some gyms and yoga studios around town, updating my blog, and then going home to clean and attempt a new bread recipe. 

My sister, however, couldn’t take my nephew to his day care yesterday because he had a 5th ear infection, and she couldn’t take off work, so my plans were rearranged and my nephew spent the day with me!

I don’t know how my sister manages to go about her life with baby in tow because boy is it tough. 


We started the day with some playtime and a big nap (during which I tried out a simple yeast-free bread recipe that turned out like an unsweetened muffin texture), made it out to Panera for some lunch, and then went on a grocery store run for some yeast (I was out, hence the first bread recipe). 

Later, my nephew got to try out his new water table on the back patio (this kid was born to be a swimmer, I swear. He’s like a fish in th water) before taking another quick nap during which I tried my hand at making baguettes. (They were divine.)

Then that evening, the boyfriend and I went on our usual run/bike ride as the sun went down. 

I know I say it a lot, but I am one lucky girl. 

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A portrait of my grandfather

I love to draw. I’ve been doodling as far back as I can remember. There’s something very soothing about the sound and feel of a pencil on paper, and I could sit for hours while I create a drawing from start to finish. It had been a while since I had drawn anything though because I let life get in the way, and I made excuses about how I had other things to do. But I was upset I had let it go for so long. 

However, I was reminded the other day that the things that are important to me are never a waste of time, and that in order to do those things, I just have to…do them. 

So I did. 

Here’s a portrait I made of my grandfather. 

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Recipe: Gnocchi Soup

Now that colder weather seems to be on its way, I am looking for some soup recipes to cycle into my routine. I just love a good, hearty soup on a cold day, don’t you? My favorite is my mom’s beer cheese potato soup, but since the boyfriend isn’t a fan of cheese, I’ve been looking for another version of potato soup that we’ll both eat. 

Gnocchi soup seemed like the perfect opportunity so I found a recipe online and tweaked it to suit both our tastes. I get the creaminess I love without the cheese he dislikes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs olive oil or butter
  • 1 c red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbs fresh basil
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 c chopped spinach
  • 1 16 oz package of gnocchi
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saut√© the onion and garlic until tender. Add the flour to create a roux and cook for another minute. 
  2. Slowly add cream and chicken broth until it starts to thicken. Add the thyme, basil, rosemary, spinach, and gnocchi. Simmer 5 minutes or until the gnocchi is cooked and the soup is thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. 

*If you want a thinner soup, add more chicken broth to taste. You can also add cooked chicken for a heartier soup. 

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Good food isn’t hard to find

If you’ve noticed a pattern on my blog lately through the last few posts, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been eating a lot of fresh local food, mostly from the weekly farmers market. This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought over the past few weeks or so. 


The boyfriend and I discussed our basic goals for the lives we want to lead, and they boiled down to:

  1. Eating well (healthy food, local food)
  2. Moving more (exercise, taking walks, bike rides)
  3. Being earth conscious

This has led to some very nice new habits like choosing the paper bags over plastic at the grocery store, sorting out recyclables from the garbage, turning off the a/c when we don’t need it (like when we leave the house), making our own bread, and buying fresh food for the day we need it and not overstocking the fridge with food that we’ll forget about and eventually have to throw out. 


I’ve also been doing a lot of reading and listening to podcasts about the food habits of different cultures. Mostly the French actually. Their mentality of eating as a pleasurable activity, never depriving yourself but making compromises that suit your desires, and eating fresh, seasonal food makes a lot of sense to me. 


I also luckily live right behind a local used bookstore that has some truly amazing bargains if you’re willing to sort through everything they have. So I’ve gotten a few books that are relevant to what I’m interested in without breaking the bank. Seriously, none of these books cost me more than $3! I love good deals, especially when that means I can buy more than one book at a time. 


So here I am on this food journey, and I’ve been making a lot of new recipes that will be stored away for future use. And I’m happily eating fewer processed foods and more vegetables. I feel better, I’m sleeping better, and I feel like I have more energy than I used to. 

I’m hopefully going to be posting a recipe or two here every now and again because they’re just too good to keep to myself! 

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My Second Library Card

Since I failed to post something yesterday, I figured I would share about my Saturday with you all. 

As with most Saturdays, the boyfriend and I wandered downtown for the market. It’s been grey and drizzly all day, but the temperatures are feeling like autumn, so I am in my happy place. We invested in a small potted lavender plant, and I found a beautiful new coffee mug. 

Our next stop of the day was the public library. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a library other than the campus library at my university. The first library card I ever had, I got when I was 5 years old. My mom sewed a honeybee bag for me to carry all my library books in. I still have that actually. 

So the boyfriend and I signed up for our new cards and we wandered through all the sections. I found a few books to read. I’m deep into my French obsession right now my new reading list includes: Vegetables by Evelyne Bloch-Dano, The Vagabond by Collete, and French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guilano. The boyfriend found a couple movies to check out and a copy of The Atlantic to read. 

So now here we sit, watching the rain fall beyond of the ceiling-high windows, enjoying the vast bounties of the local library. 

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Market Day

Saturdays downtown are my favorite. As the farmers market season is coming to a close, we’re doing our best to show up as often as we can and invest in the local families who grow this beautiful food. Our favorite finds from last Saturday were some purple tomatoes (sweet and flavorful without being too sharp) and some okra (I haven’t tried them yet, but the boyfriend approves). I also found a big bouquet of flowers for myself, and the boyfriend purchased a small potted English thyme plant to add to our patio garden. 

We spent the rest of the day cleaning up the apartment, and then we went to Clinton with my mom to browse through their antique stores. Some are better (more relevant and less pretentious) than others, but if you look hard enough, there’s usually something for everybody. 

I walked away with a handful of old photographs, some from as early as 1912 and others from WWII. I love these things that I can hold in my hands, knowing they once belonged to someone else, knowing that they’ve found a home again. 

The last part of the day, the boyfriend and I drove into this old historic neighborhood here because they have a beautiful park down by the river that makes for a great evening walk. As we walked along the trails, we were greeted by lots of happy dogs and their owners, and we got to enjoy the sunset lowering over the calm of the water. At one point, we even saw a man take off on his parasail which was amazing. Once again, it was a Saturday well spent. 


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Constellations and Cocoa

In keeping with the celestial theme this week, the boyfriend and I went to a local nature center here the other day to attend a class called Constellations and Cocoa. It was just as sweet as it sounds. They handed out some star maps and we went through a small slideshow showing some of the more well-known constellations before heading outside with coffee and cocoa in hand.

They have this huge clearing that’s perfect for stargazing. And being just outside the reach of the city lights, it was a great spot to enjoy the night sky somewhere that felt both serene and far away from the city.

As our eyes adjusted, and as the sky grew darker, the stars became brighter, and we were able to find and identify 7 constellations from the star maps they gave us.

I feel so lucky to live somewhere with a place that offers such great programs. And I’m especially lucky I get to do all of these things with my person.