photo home-57.png photo meet-kelly.png photo press-16.png photo collaborate-3.png photo jane-recommends.png

Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Friday, Love

[The absolutely breathtaking view from the W Hotel's P.O.V. Terrace in Washington, DC]
This week is always bittersweet. Summer is coming to an end but Fall is just beginning. Here are some things I'm loving that are helping me savor the last days of Summer. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Picnic in the Park

[A view of Reed Square from the back patio of the Turner-Sinton House]

Last week The Church Hill Association held it's August Picnic in Reed Square, a memorial garden that  was once the backyard of The Turner-Sinton House. After the picnic we were also treated to a tour of the house which is currently undergoing a renovation. I'll be sure to post pictures once it's complete. Good food, cold drinks, and fabulous company!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tomato and Blue Cheese Tart

[Summer is winding down so I'm trying to use tomatoes while I can]

When August roles around I feel lazy. It's HOT. Everything feels like it takes more effort than normal. I made this Tomato and Blue Cheese Tart the other day and it met all of my lazy August requirements, simple and easy. Did I mention there's blue cheese in it? Enjoy.....

Monday, August 27, 2012

Trip to Chicago- Day 2

[A boat ride along the Chicago River]
Here are some pics from my second day in Chicago a few weeks ago. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Night Circus

[This month's book club selection]
"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not." 
                            The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I'm not sure how it happened but I am actually part of two book clubs. I'm an over-scheduler by nature and am certain I can accomplish more than I actually can. If I was a character in this book I would simply create extra versions of myself or stop time for everyone around me while I calmly finished my tasks with a waltz. Although I won't divulge Marco and Celia's fate, I will tell you that this was an amazing book and we all loved it. From the first page you absolutely feel transported. There is no other word for it. I would describe it as Water for Elephants meets Harry Potter. Do yourself a favor and pick up.....Le Cirque des Reves.

Monday, August 20, 2012

An Amusing Sunday

[A piece from the sculpture garden]

I made it to the last day of the Maharajah Exhibit at VMFA and it did not disappoint. I am currently trying to figure out how many soda cans I would have to recycle to have a few of those Cartier pieces delivered to my home. Unfortunately, there wasn't much I could take photos of specifically surrounding the exhibit so you'll have to content yourself with shots from around the Museum and Amuse Restaurant. There may have been a Can Can stop as well to top off the afternoon.

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Friday Love

[Beautiful wallpaper at The Art Institute of Chicago]

Every Friday I'll be sharing 5 things from the past week that I am currently in love with. It's Friday Love!

This weekend I'm staying close to home after a few weeks of back-to-back trips. After the mandatory yard work and cleaning have been completed, I'm hoping to catch the last weekend of the Maharajah exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA). Stay tuned for pics next week.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Veggie Train

[Artichoke and Pesto Soup]

"It's bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children's health than the pediatrician."
                                                    Meryl Streep

After I passed the 30 milestone (not far past for the record!) and realized I wasn't going to live forever I decided to go to the Doctor and get.....SHOCK......HORROR........A CHECKUP! I'm certainly not going anywhere tomorrow, but I do have a family history of heart disease. Insert frown. So I decided I needed to try and be healthier. As part of my new-found goals I have sought out restaurants with heathy/possibly vegetarian options. Don't get excited I don't mean pasta with cream sauce. I mean a chef who really knows what he's doing and cares about preparing delish options. The Mill on MacArthur always has a couple wonderful choices that make reaching my new goals easier.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trip to Chicago - Day 1

[The Art Institute of Chicago]

"That's Chicago."

            Billy Flynn, Chicago the Motion Picture 2002

I had the good fortune to spend last week in Chicago for work. Of course I brought my camera and have more pictures to sort through than I care to count. While I would never disagree with an upstanding gentleman like Billy Flynn, I captured My Chicago my way. Today is the first part in a three part series. I hope you enjoy Chicago- Day 1.


You can now officially follow Austen Hill on Bloglovin! Click on the icon on the right hand of your screen under the About Me section. Enjoy!

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mandy and Mike's Housewarming Party

[Having guests sign a framed family portrait is a wonderful way of making a memory]

"Home is where one starts from."
                                  T.S. Eliot

As you get older you realize "home" is not a structure or a place, it's people. This makes housewarming parties all the more important because as the name so aptly describes, it takes people to warm up a house and make it a home. My friends Mike and Mandy recently moved into a new house and had a fabulous housewarming party for family and friends. Below you'll find some great tips from the party to make yours special as well.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wandering Around Carytown

"Wandering around re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe."
                                                                                                                       Anatole France

A couple of weeks ago my mom and I had brunch at Can Can in Carytown. I blessedly had nothing to do after that so I seized the opportunity and wandered around Carytown for the afternoon. Here are some of my favorite finds.

[Shop for a cause at Ashby, a consignment boutique with a vintage vibe.]

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kitchen Sink Fish

Kitchen Sink Fish

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."

                                                                                                   Henry David Thoreau

I've never been a huge Thoreau fan but in this instance I couldn't agree more. It's not what you're doing that's important, but how you feel while you're doing it. It's not fishing that's so attractive. It's the quite, calm, and peace you feel that makes you love the act of doing it. As a disclaimer, I've never been fishing, so I'm hypothesizing here so as to appear intellectual and edgy. Is it working?

Cooking happens to be my fishing. Do I love grocery shopping? Do I love doing dishes? Absolutely not! I find these acts barbaric:). But I do love eating. And I love opening a bottle of wine, finding a new Pandora station, and making something yummy. The day seems to drift away as I dance around the kitchen while my dog Miss Austen looks on. I can only imagine what she's thinking. I assume it has a lot to do with Arthur Murray and how quickly we can enroll me in classes.

If I'm cooking for just me I often make what I call Kitchen Sink Fish. Trust me, it's more appetizing than it sounds. I adapted it from this recipe at Self Magazine.

I generally buy a fresh fillet of whatever fish tickles my fancy that evening, in this case it was flounder. Ellwood Thompson's Local Organic Food Market in Richmond has individually packaged fillets which make this super easy and it's on my way home from work. Pick a side such as quinoa, baked potatoes, or sweet potatoes (which I used). Then I literally raid my fridge for vegetables and other fun toppings and literally "throw the kitchen sink" on it. Place it all in some parchment paper, seal, and bake for about 20 minutes. My recipe is below but I encourage you to add whatever vegetables and toppings you like. Simple, healthy and delicious. Enjoy!

Step One: Open a bottle of wine! Best first step ever! 

Recipe for Kitchen Sink Fish


1 Fillet fresh fish (Flounder, Halibut, Salmon, Tilapia)
4 Thinly sliced pieces of sweet potato
1/4 Cup chopped tomatoes
A lot of Basil! As much as you like, which in my case is a lot!
Teaspoon of capers
A few olives (I used Kalamatas that were on hand)
Teaspoon of olive oil
Drizzle of white wine
Salt and Pepper to taste

How To:

Pre-heat your oven to about 350 degrees. Lay the sweet potato slices in a parchment paper package. Season both sides of the flounder and place on top of the sweet potatoes. Place your veggies and other toppings on the fish. Drizzle in the olive oil and white wine. Seal the parchment package and place it on a baking tray. Cook for about 20 minutes to taste. I like to serve it with even more basil from my garden.

Sweet Potatoes
Can I rest here a while? What a long strange trip it's been.
Ready to go in the oven!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Embracing Sadness

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."

                                      Oscar WildeAn Ideal Husband, 1893, Act I
                                      Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 - 1900) 

I haven't been feeling very good for the past two weeks. A cloud of melancholy descended and I had no umbrella. Sure there might have been causes; stress, self-doubt, some stubborn egg whites that just wouldn't cooperate. But no matter the cause, the sadness I've felt is not something I run from anymore. I've learned to embrace it and not beat myself up because I'm having a bad week. 

If I walked out of the house every morning feeling amazingly perky, it would probably signal that I didn't lead a very interesting life. Taking chances, making mistakes, and dealing with things that are outside of your control are all parts of life. Sadness is a part of that too as it sometimes rears it's ugly head as a by-product. But I can learn from an emotion like sadness because it forces me to pause. It forces me to learn if I have the courage to feel it. 

A few well-timed distractions can help you get through a bad week. Here are some of my favorites from last week.

Looking at pictures from our recent beach vacation. 

Going through my closet and finding some pieces I haven't worn in a while. There is nothing like a new outfit to put a little spring in your step. This is a bracelet from Banana Republic that is obviously worn (from love and wear) but still packs a punch and adds an unexpected touch to an outfit. 

Chowing down on some homemade chocolate chip cookies from my neighbor Kristin. 

More beach pics of my nephew Jack. The kid is adorable!

Playing with Miss Austen. You can't see her very well in this picture but I love the way the late afternoon light illuminates our living room. 

What are some things that help you when you're having a bad week?