We have some news!

we have some news! // a thousand threads
I’m so thrilled to finally share that it’s going to be a very exciting winter for the Heeley clan – this February, we’re expecting an addition to our crew!

Mark and I are just over the moon – and happy to report that Austin couldn’t be more excited. Lennon is still blissfully unaware of the chaos to come, but we’re sure he’ll be just as pleased as the rest of us when he realizes we’re about to go back to the days of dropped food.

At sixteen weeks, baby is happy, healthy, growing steadily, and letting me know it. I’ve gotten a crash course in intense morning (otherwise known as all the time) sickness these past few months… nausea, headaches, vertigo, and all of the things I now know can come along with the first (and into the second, so far…) trimester. But I hear that means good things for the baby’s development, so for now, I’m sleeping a whole lot more, working a whole lot less, and rolling with the punches.

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Homemade dill relish crostini with peaches and quark

homemade dill relish crostini with peaches and quark // a thousand threads
What’s the best thing a girl can do to a torn-to-pieces, totally pitiful construction zone of a house? How about boil a big pot of apple cider vinegar so it really smells like home…

Okay, I don’t want to hear it — the smell only lasted a few days, at most. And if all goes according to plan, this little stockpile of freshly-made relish will be with us for months.

Minus the flea beetles and, of course, what we’ll go ahead and call “the great squash scourge of 2015,” our first-real-garden adventure has been mostly successful. The blistering heat of late summer has us wishing, despite ourselves, that the rain would return… but the tomatoes are loving the sun. And we may even find ourselves with an eggplant or two by August’s end – having nursed them back to health in a post-beetle world.

… we won’t talk about the squash. They were so healthy… it all happened so fast.

Regardless, we’re still swimming in the stragglers… so I suppose if there was one thing we could spare… 

But the bounty — of tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and herbs — has allowed us to get a little more creative.

… and that creativity, thankfully, includes this big steaming pot of homemade relish and the sweet, sweet smell of apple cider vinegar in the air.

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Self portrait project // 001

self portrait project // a thousand threads
Patience might be the name of our game, but that’s not to say I’m holding off on a happy dance every time we complete a small step.

Cue the biggest happy dance of all time for these floors — which have been hanging out in boxes for weeks, just longing to replace that dirty, moldy old carpet.

We’ve only made it as far as the stairs (one whole bottom floor to go…) but oh the difference it’s made.

Suddenly I’m reminded why we bought this poor little house in the first place… the one I’ve been so hard on for so many months.

The thing is, when you walk through a place with a mind toward renovation, all you see is possibility. HGTV makes it all look so easy.

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Buttermilk waffles with sweet summer plums

buttermilk waffles with sweet summer plums // a thousand threads
August is a lesson in slowing down. The heat and humidity set in and, against our better judgement, we find ourselves sitting longer, stalling more… taking the time to savor each moment as the last few days of summer drip away.

Would I love to have that guest bathroom back up and running after a month of staring at an empty room? I would. Would I like to eat a well-balanced dinner instead of a sweet, crisp, melt-in-your-mouth pile of buttermilk waffles with summer fruit and sweet cream?

… well no, actually I’d much rather have the waffles.

As our renovation drags on, slow as they come, the lessons in patience are piling up. But with the onset of August, it feels almost right that they should. The summer days are few, and the time left to savor them is fading by the day.

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Newport

newport, rhode island // a thousand threads
Our trip to Newport Folk Fest has become an annual tradition — and this year its arrival was especially welcome.

As it stands now, the guest bathroom is stripped down to drywall and plaster, the floors are sometimes still carpeted, sometimes stripped to the subfloor… to say we’re living in a construction zone would be an understatement. And the weekends are short.

We watch those home renovation shows now with more than a little envy of the team of construction workers and designers somehow able to finish a whole home renovation in 6 weeks. Right now our little two-person team is shooting for something north of 6 months…

But it’s coming together, piece by piece. Our kitchen is organized, our garden is growing, we seem to have won at least the first few battles with the bugs, and the boxes are slowly beginning to disappear – replaced by newer, more exciting boxes filled with tile and vanities and the gosh darn prettiest wood floor I can’t wait to put down. So, we’ll get there.

But I won’t lie — this little excursion provided a welcome escape.

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Squash blossom salad with blackberries and burrata

squash blossom salad with blackberries and burrata // a thousand threads
As a little girl, I remember sitting for hours in the grass, making flower crowns from wild daisies, and occasionally from my mother’s nasturtiums… the first time I realized that flowers could be food, it seemed almost too good to be true. Despite a propensity to climb trees and roll around in the dirt, the girly girl inside me knew that something truly special made it possible to put real rose petals on cake.

Flowers are such a simple solution in a time when everything seems complicated… no matter how many obstacles arise – and arise, they do – in our home improvements, the garden continues to grow.

Asbestos tiles? Have some squash. Warped walls? The tomatoes will be ready soon. Still battling bugs? Maybe they like all those vegetables on your counters. Hmm.

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Printable recipe book with HP Sprout

printable recipe book // a thousand threads
The rain has been relentless this year, but I still love this part of summer. Everything is in bloom — from the wildflowers on the side of the road to the herbs in our garden — and the fireflies have just begun to appear.

Our first Field + Foundry event took place around this time last year, and even in the middle of the warm summer rain, the evening was magical.

In anticipation of many more magical evenings to come, I’ve been playing with a few new place settings — and even a few fun new gifts using my HP Sprout. The Sprout makes it so easy to scan in a little bit of nature to use in a design — something I’d never be able to create on my own. And the possibilities are endless. Here, I used a little marjoram — one of my favorite herbs — to create a little take-home recipe book for guests.

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Sour cherry ice cream

sour cherry ice cream // a thousand threads
Lately it seems like our life is all new – new house, new job, new colony of bugs in our mailbox…

But there’s something exciting about the possibility of it all, so we’re rolling with it – and it’s forcing us to switch things up and try a few things we’ve been meaning to try for years.

Like, for example, making ice cream – maybe Mark’s favorite food on the earth. It’s practically a crime we haven’t tried it before.

For our very first attempt at the cold creamy stuff — ever (it’s just crazy) — we worked with Ford and their super-clever new series Switch it Up to use one of our very favorite summer ingredients – sour cherries. And I have to say, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Be sure to check out the latest episode of Switch it Up — where in which Food52’s Merrill Stubbs challenges Joanna Hawley of Jojotastic to a new task — right here!

And follow along for our sour cherry ice cream recipe below!

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San Francisco + Napa + Hail Hail 31

san francisco & napa // a thousand threads
I love to think of a birthday as the start of the next great year… one more chance for reflection and resolutions, and not necessarily the kind we might make at the turn of the calendar year. This time around, I feel like I have many and none… but I find myself marveling at how much can change in just a short time.

I don’t want to imply that I’m feeling entirely at peace… there’s always a restlessness inside me. Something that pushes me to tweak, pick, search my way to a better version of myself. But I feel much more at peace than I have.

And I’m working on feeling even more… trying to take some time to slow down, take care of myself, and enjoy a little more time with my guys.

Which is not to say I’m good at it. We’ve spent the last two weekends traveling and the weeks in between sewing napkins and delivering pies.

… add a fair amount of home renovation and a demanding new job to the mix and there’s barely a moment to breathe.

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Salt & vinegar roasted potatoes

salt & vinegar roasted potatoes // a thousand threads
I grew up on the coast, with a vast ocean just a few miles from my home. I felt strangled in my small town, and when I stared at the ocean in the clean, crisp, salt air, I saw nothing but possibility. I never even considered a school in my own state…

Instead, I moved to California… and I cried for months, missing my trees, until the desert sand and warm ocean waves etched a permanent place on my soul.

Still, I thought there must be more… my heart needed to wander. So I packed my car and moved to the east coast. Away from my ocean, away from my trees… and I’ve lived here in Maryland and worked in DC ever since.

Here, the beaches have boardwalks. The smell of Old Bay, malt vinegar, and sunscreen fills the air… and for Mark, that smell is every bit as nostalgic as my own.

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