Hello, friends!  I write you today on the heels of a slightly traumatic conversation with my mechanic.  He used the words, “trade her in” and “time to start looking.”  AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!  I have had my car since I was 20 years old.

She’s taken me all over these United States and up and down the East coast a number of times.  She’s seen festivals, campgrounds, mountains, and oceans.  Been to weddings, funerals, and events galore.  She’s lived in New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia.  She’s been dressed up real nice too.

This month marks her sixteenth birthday, and I do not take the mechanic’s words of advice lightly.  I guess we all get old- our cars too.  I just happen to be particularly attached to mine.  Looks like Adam Price and I are going to have to sit down and have a serious heart to heart about this matter.  Send good car survival vibes, please- along with car hunting skills.  Boo.

In food news…we scored VIP tickets to Taste of Atlanta last weekend and had ourselves a little ball.

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Wow!  What a week!  My sweet husband turned 33 last Thursday, and we celebrated all weekend long.  Witnessing the ear-to-ear grinning that took place was sheer joy for me.  Adam’s birthday dinner request was to relive the burger and loaded baked potato experience from Port of Call in New Orleans, where we commemorated his big 3-0.  Deliciousness ensued, I assure you.  We also enjoyed a little Happy Hour on Friday with about 20 of our closest friends- such an amazing crew of folks, full of good energy, showering Adam with love.  From there, we hosted a little a backyard soiree, complete with tiki torches, corn hole,

ladder ball, and a giant coconut cake that was served on a wooden pizza peel, aflame with 34 candles.  (Sadly, all of my nighttime pictures came out terrible.)  On Saturday night, we spent more time with friends exploring a new park and dancing happily at the Alabama Shakes show.  Lawd, that front woman is a star!  Sunday morning, this Praying Mantis, was hanging out on our deck.

A symbol of peace and calm, a call to still the chaos in our lives and allow tranquility to permeate, my last Praying Mantis sighting was on the morning of my Bubbie’s funeral.  There was a special tug at my heart when I walked out and spotted her on Sunday.  Maybe she was telling me to take the day to refocus and get centered, but we had a few more stops to make on the birthday train.

We did a speedy Farmers Market dash, taking in the fall offerings from Jackson Lowe Vegetable Farm:

vibrant radishes,
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Wondering what to do with all your apples?  Here’s an awesome recipe for apple pancakes that comes together quickly and delights the taste buds!  Tonight may be a perfect night for brinner!

Apple Pancakes

2 small or one large apple, peeled and diced small- about 1/4” cubes

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The first weekend of fall was spectacular and right on point with blue skies, perfectly mild temperatures, pumpkins,


and leaves falling off their branches, gliding on the breeze, making quick piles on the ground.

I was super thankful to be at the market and in the safety of the weekend.  The whole week prior, I felt like the Universe was playing some sort of evil trick on me.
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Hey, y’all.  This time of year feels like ocean living.  Cool in the morning and at night, but so warm you have to peel your layers off in the sunshine of midday.  The windows are open in our house, and there’s nothing like sleeping with a cool breeze flowing through the room.  Well, it’s better if you’re by the actual ocean and can smell the sea, but I’ll take what I can get.

This past Sunday was a perfect day for the market.

and here’s what Mother Nature, and her farmer cohorts, had to offer:

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This weekend was jam-packed in Atlanta.  Despite the lucky ducks who were able to get away to the beach or the mountains for Labor Day, there were many celebrations taking place in-town.  From the Decatur Book Festival, to Dragon*Con, to a Whiskey and Beer Festival, to Atlanta Black Pride, to Braves games, to opening day college football, our local transportation system was flooded with folks who were all decked out, in fantastical costumes or in their team’s colors, having a good ole time.  And plenty of entertainment-seekers ventured out just to people watch.  I love that our city provides such a wide variety of opportunities for fun and games for “kids” of all sizes.

With that slew activities happening in our area and so many people vacationing, it’s understandable that the market was a little quiet this Sunday.  But, I kinda like it that way.  It was a peaceful, beautiful morning in Grant Park.

That butterfly almost landed on me on my way down to the market!
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‘Tis the season for field peas.  They look harmless, right?  I like that the pods are different shades of greens and purples.  And I appreciate their Southern, late summer charm.  In theory.  But, in reality, my thumbs are aching!!!  I’ve been shelling peas an awful lot lately, since they’ve been a part of Jackson Lowe’s CSA bounty for the past several weeks.  Not only do I shell my own, but I have four clients from the CSA whose peas have needed shellin’ too!
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It’s a gorgeous day.  The sun is shining and wonderful breezes keep making the yellowy-green leaves on the trees dance.  It feels like- dare I say it?- the beginnings of fall.  And, while I will hang on to my sundresses, flip flops, and tomatoes

as long as humanly possible, I understand that time waits for no one.  This summer has flown by with a speed that I’ve never experienced before.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older.  I know more people, have more responsibilities, pack more into every 24 hours…  This past weekend, I had a date night with my honey, made a trip to the Shakespeare Tavern to see an amazing show with friends, dropped by my favorite Farmers Market to grab big boxes of CSA goodies, celebrated a close girlfriend’s’ birthday over a quaint brunch at a local French Cafe, and fell in love with a new band while inventing our most recent Sunday Supper.
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About two years ago, Plan to Plate was just getting revved up, and I was shooting entirely from the hip.  A sweet friend, who I had grown to love while we waited tables, introduced me to Charli, owner of local food business “Beyond the Measuring Cup”, with the hopes that she would be a mentor for me as I delved into a completely new arena.  Charli and I met over coffee and connected instantly, and I quickly learned that she is a Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades.  Not only does she cook for people who are ill, she gives sewing lessons, teaches music, and utilizes her nursing background to pursue avenues of natural healing.  She’s a calm, centered dynamo.  At the end of our first meeting, she invited me to her house to pick figs.  I’d never even thought about picking figs, but Charli has a gigantic fig tree in her front yard, and I was eager to learn everything I could about food.  When I arrived, we pulled out a ladder that would have made my acrophobic husband quake in his boots.  Intrigued, I began climbing and pulling sticky figs from the branches, following Charli’s advice about choosing the ones that were ripe and ready.

I filled several buckets with the sweet summer fruit and felt exhilarated by this new experience.
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It’s hard to believe it’s only Wednesday.  It feels like there’s been so much week to this week already.  And you know what happened?  I baked.

It’s true!  A cook friend of mine, who specializes in creating meals for those who are ill, had to tend to her father in Hospice care.  She asked me to substitute cook for her on Monday, and her client’s menu included 3 “bland diet” friendly meals, easy to digest by a woman undergoing serious chemotherapy, along with 2 custards and apple muffins.  My insides initially bristled at the idea of baking- measuring out ingredients and the science of baking are intimidating to me.  But, I’m always on board to help a friend, and I’d certainly do anything in my power to bring a little sunshine to someone battling Cancer.  So, I put on my big girl panties, and I tried to follow the recipe for the muffins.  All too quickly, I got ahead of myself.  Oh, I did it all kindsa’ wrong- mixing the sugar with the dry ingredients (sugar seems dry to me, but if you’re a baker, then you are aware of the “sugar goes with the wet ingredients” secret).  Then, I realized I had left out the vanilla too and added that later than I should have.  After that, like the cook that I am, I used my hands to incorporate the apples into the batter.  I’m sure that my grandmothers were chuckling from above, watching me bumble around…but every time I started to become frustrated and wrinkle my nose, I took a deep breath, and remembered that I wanted to infuse love and positive energy into every stitch of food I made.  I smiled, and did my best.  Adam shared my muffins with folks at his office who reported they were “the bomb” and “amazing”.  (WOW!)  Most importantly, I hope that the client felt and tasted the love in each bite.
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