This past weekend we headed up to our favorite place, Leelanau County to spend a long weekend with some very close friends. Jenn and Anna and their husbands have been friends of our’s for years. I met Jenn through blogging at Alt Summit years ago and I met Anna through another blogging friend while hosting an event in NYC years back. Since then we have collaborated, held many dinner parties together, and become close confidants even though we live across the country from each other. Jenn and I have traveled for weeks in France together. Anna and I have partnered to help her self-publish her first cookbook. Jenn and Anna have partnered to do work on Anna’s cookbook. The list of ways we have been in and out of each other’s lives is immense from this Simple Evening that Jenn did with us to this Simple Evening Anna and I did together after our trip to South Africa. These two ladies have been amazing friends that came along only because of this space.
So what brought on the trip? Early Summer last year I got a text from Anna saying she was 12 weeks pregnant and I followed closely behind saying I was 4 weeks and we knew Jenn had just shared she was about half way. We realized quickly the uniqueness of being able to share this journey together. It wasn’t long after that that we began a group text. Weeks later in full hormonal pregnancy mode, we dreamed up the idea of meeting at this farmhouse we all love so much with our then unborn babies and growing families. It felt like some finish line in the process of becoming mothers and so we made it happen.
When you have a trip planned for over a year it tends to feel a little surreal when you roll up to the place you have been so excited to be with people you cannot wait to see. Have you ever had that experience? That was exactly how I felt the day we met everyone at the farmhouse.
Our focus for our week together was to relax, enjoy each other’s company, enjoy the farmhouse we had rented, cook from the garden and markets around us, enjoy the sunsets, and try to stay as rested as possible with a 6-month old,7-month old, and an 8-month old with us.
This farmhouse has been a favorite place in relation to my friendship with these girls. Thus, why we decided to rent it for this weekend together. We have never had the chance to stay here before, but our friend Kelly Sean owns the property and Anna has stayed many times. We also shot a Simple Evening at the farm many years ago with Anna. Needless to say, it felt amazing to be at the house to make more memories and this time with our little ones with us.
The days were early with our three little ones in a new place. We would wake up around 7 or so. We cooked breakfast, drank a lot of coffee, and commiserated over the terrible sleep that night and the wishes we had for a nap. We would cook up a wonderful breakfasts that somehow made up for the lack of sleep. Watching our littles steal each other’s pacifiers and giggle together made it all that much better and sweeter.
The rest of our days we would find a window of time to slip away to do some wine tasting, beach time, and touring of towns. We then came home for everyone’s last nap and would gather up everything we needed for dinner from the garden. The farmhouse had chickens and a full garden that was overflowing with tomatoes and fresh herbs. It was such a great addition to the experience.
While out there I was reminded of many things about why Leelanau County has been such a special place to me. Standing in the window late in the evening as the sunset and watching the wheat whip in the setting sun was pure magic. I was reminded of how our life when we lived here centered around the seasons, the gathering of the harvest, the eating what was available not just getting takeout. I was reminded of how intentional you had to be about life. At the time it felt hard, but now as I have become older, I am realizing the beauty to this kind of rhythm. It felt like I had come home during the days out in the farmhouse.
More than anything I was reminded of how much a garden brings me such joy. The last three years since moving to Raleigh, I have not been able to grow a garden for many reasons. This last weekend I found myself wandering out to this garden many times almost without realizing it. I wanted to take it all in. I wanted to see how the tomatoes had ripened just a little more or what butterflies were there that afternoon. Hayes and I would wander out there together and we would talk about everything. I showed him my favorite scents from the garden such as the smell of the tomatoes leaves and fresh basil or thyme. He giggled and he even tried a tomato off the vine for the first time. My soul felt so right wandering the gardens and making bouquets for dinner from herbs that had gone to seed and other blooms from the late summer season. I remembered all that my grandfather had taught me when I was little about how important the garden is to living. It was like rediscovering a part of me I had placed away in a box knowing I would remember it again one day.
The garden was one of the many things that reminded me of how in many ways there was some piece of me that had been forgotten the last few years. I had left a large part of my heart out here on the Leelanau Peninsula when we moved to Raleigh and being out here made me realize just how full to the brim I can feel out in this landscape.
The fullness of the weekend wasn’t just the reminders of how much I love it out in Leelanau, but it was very much the moments of amazing friendship, as well. Being among people who get you and support you is a greater gift that is hard to ever fully fathom until you are without it or really feel it for the first time. Anna and Jenn are women I don’t just feel I can be myself with, they are also women I deeply respect and would stand behind on nearly anything. They are women who will let you bare your soul and in the same breath make you feel that even in your raw and nakedness there is no judgment, only love. They are women who make me better and help me see the world clearer and simpler. It is everything I have needed in the last year as we have become parents and as I have entered motherhood.
Living across the country from each other (Jenn in Seattle and Anna in NYC) we don’t get many moments to be face-to-face to put an arm around the other and walk alongside each other, so it was an extra special thing to spend the weekend shoulder to shoulder with each other. We drank wine. We ate good food. We laughed. We reminisced about the tough times and good times of the last 8 or so months as new parents. We supported each other. We said F*** to all the expectations of being mothers, fathers, and entrepreneurs. We talked about dreams and we talked about our fears. It was all let out with tears and laughs.
It felt like a heavenly blur to be together in this magical farmhouse with our babies we had spent the last year telling each other detail and details about. In fact, it felt like some unreal moment that now is hard to believe happened. I keep wishing we could just go back. 3 days was not enough.
At night, we cheersed to the simplest things such as being able to enjoy a sunset and a glass of wine with babies asleep. We breathed in present moments in ways we hadn’t in months. To be able to share these beautiful moments with these two couples meant even more.
The night before we left. We held a special Simple Evening. The first one since I had Hayes. It may be our favorite yet, not because it was perfectly curated or our best photo work, but because it was truly simple. It was just a pure creative expression with people we love, the way the dinners were always intended to be.
After each couple had left and headed back home, Mike and I had one more day left by ourselves at the house. I cried. I cried multiple times. It was the happiest tears since the day I had Hayes. It felt like a new beginning. It felt like some kind of hallelujah at the end of some hard months. I felt so full of friendship, love, life, beauty, and great food it was almost too much to contain. There is no doubt this will become a regular thing with these ladies. We want our littles to grow up knowing each other. We want to be intentional about preserving community like this, not just for our sakes’ but for those three little ones’ sakes. After all these years we know that great friends are few and far between in this life and so when you find them you have to grab on and make it a point to keep them around. And these are two couples we plan to keep around us for years to come.
More from this trip coming over the next few weeks.