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Effervescent storyteller.

Welcome to My Modern Diary, an electronic journal filled with tales of nostalgic cuisine, wistful wanderings & personal recollections by Sarah Orman.

Winter reflections

Winter reflections

Yesterday was officially the first day of Spring, although it sure didn't feel like it here in D.C. We've had a cold, grey, and wet weekend in the nation's capital, however, on this the second day of the season of new beginnings, the sun is shining and the temperature is slowly beginning to creep back up to normal. With that being said, it's time to formally say goodbye until next time to Winter.

Before I do, however, this Winter has been memorable for so many reasons, I couldn't simply say "see you later" without writing a word or two to acknowledge just how awesome it's been and to reflect on some of the season's milestones.

My first considerable landmark for reflection took place last November when I left my job of eighteen months. I have of course moved on from various positions throughout the 15+ years I've been a member of the working world, however, this time was different. I left my job at Holly Chapple Flowers with no future prospects lined up, which was beyond terrifying to say the least.

Image courtesy of Lauren Carnes Photography

Image courtesy of Lauren Carnes Photography

I began working for Holly as wedding season was starting to get underway in May of 2014. Leaving my comfortable corporate job was scary, however, I knew I wanted to be subjected to something more creative and I longed to ditch the routine of my mundane Sales role.

My time at Holly Chapple Flowers was far from mundane. From 5 AM flower deliveries to sourcing baby chicks and bunny rabbits for an Easter shoot, no two days were alike. I've been to the offices of Martha Stewart in New York and I've had the pleasure of getting to know tons of inspiring people, including Holly herself who became a close friend. At times I truly felt part of the Chapple family, from being invited to stay for dinner and enjoy Evan's wonderful home-cooked meals, to greeting the three youngest Chapple's off the school bus. I've had both bizarre, laugh out loud moments {wearing a tablecloth for a photo shoot that featured on Southern Weddings} and times of despair and heartache, most recently when Holly lost her father. It was a colorful eighteen months in so many ways.

Despite not having another job opportunity on the horizon when I left in November 2015, the timing was right for me to move on. A few days after I said my fond farewells, a dear friend from England came to stay with us and just a few short weeks later, hubby and I were on vacation for Christmas, which leads me to my second momentous winter reflection.

The week before Christmas, Erkan and I had a whirlwind stopover in Paris and Strasbourg, both of which were wonderful. My favorite part of our time in France, however, was the quiet rural village of Hunawihr in Alsace.

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From the beautiful Alsatian apartment we stayed in for three nights to the fairytale towns and villages we visited, Alsace was magical. The village of Hunawihr was made up of nothing more than a small stone church atop a hill surrounded by vineyards, a quaint shop for basic needs, and a modest home from home "winstub." I enjoyed two perfectly peaceful sunrises from the lanes and pathways that wound around the village, followed by a friendly visit to the shop for fresh baguette and farm eggs each morning. We relaxed, took our time, enjoyed one another's company and submersed ourselves in local living. It was divine.

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Following our serene time in Alsace, we crossed over the border into Germany to hop aboard a flight from Stuttgart to Manchester; we were headed home for Christmas. It goes without saying that this is my third unforgettable reflection.

Christmas is my favorite time of year to be with loved ones. I've had some amazing festive seasons at home {2014 was spectacular} however, Christmas 2015 was undoubtedly the best yet. Being all together in my parent's new home for the first time was really quite special. Home-cooked dinners around the kitchen table, warming-up by the Aga after long country walks, wine by the crackling fire followed by a little karaoke, lots of laughter and of course a whole host of fabulous memory making.

Despite being a little unnerved by cooking a Christmas feast on the Aga, Mam and I succeeded; our traditional roast beef served with red wine gravy and Yorkshire puddings was a huge hit and the panna cotta with red wine poached pears for dessert was delicious. Less successful ventures ensued later in the evening {pavlova became "meringue bites"} but as always in our household, it provided great entertainment : )

After a perfect week at home which also included cozy pub catch-ups with dear friends, tipsy antics involving a polar bear and a sheep onesie, and uncontrollable giggling after an authentic Thai feast, we were bound for the South of England to ring in 2016 with my sister.

New Year's Eve itself is a day I'll cherish forever. We set out early to head to Camber. The sun was shining and the brisk sea air whipped at our faces as we walked along the white sand beach. Dog walkers and horse riders were out in force to enjoy the cold but clear day and after spending some time taking pictures and enjoying the view, we were ready for a cup of coffee.

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A few minutes from the beach was the quaint, picturesque Rye, where we paused for some cake and caffeine before exploring the historic seaside town. After a delicious lunch of freshly caught fish {I opted for the Dover sole smothered in a rich shrimp beurre blanc} we navigated our way along the tiny British countryside roads to Kent's famed vineyard, Chapel Down. After tasting and purchasing a few of their wines we departed for home to enjoy a delicious spread of cheese and crackers accompanied by some chilled Chapel Down fizz.

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying one another's company at the inviting local pub where at midnight we were all a combination of happy tears and sadness as the inevitable goodbye loomed. My heart is usually too heavy to enjoy my final full day when I visit my family, our imminent departure ruining everything in its wake, but thankfully up until the bells chimed to ring in the New Year, this time was different.

The following morning my whole family came to the airport to send us off. Despite being a horribly gut wrenching goodbye there was something significant about all four of us {plus Erkan} being at the airport together. My dad has never waved me off from a port or station, it meant the world to me that on this occasion he was there to say "see you later dumpling."

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Back in D.C. it took me a little while to shake off the sadness. The hardest part was having no job to distract me, which brings me to my fourth Winter milestone deserved of a little reflection.

Just before leaving the States for vacation, I was thrilled to take part in my second food-themed photo shoot with my good friends Jodi and Kurt Baier of Jodi Miller Photography. My passion for all things food-related has never wavered, but actually creating my own dishes and having them professionally photographed was taking things to an exciting new level and I loved it! We dreamed-up the Christmas-themed shoot shortly after our first get-together in October and on returning to England in January I threw all my efforts into getting this blog up and running.

I am constantly learning and my blog is always evolving as I continue to follow the unknown path I am slowly constructing for myself. I am extremely grateful to have been exposed to the captivating world of creativity during my tenure at Holly Chapple Flowers and although I still don't know what might become of this endeavor, this Winter has been an incredible opportunity to slow down, enjoy life, and to think about what I would like my future to look like.

In addition to all of the above there have been epic snowstorms, incredible personal culinary discoveries, new relationship heights in New York City, and fun times with great friends. This Winter has been nothing short of amazing.

It's now time to look forward to Spring and beyond though, and so with that being said, thank you Winter. I am officially blowing out the candle until next time...

Image courtesy of Jodi & Kurt Photography

Image courtesy of Jodi & Kurt Photography

Coffee chat

Coffee chat

Homemade Ravioli

Homemade Ravioli