Welcome to Local Milk! Or, rather, welcome back. I decided, unceremoniously, to take the summer off from blogging—in that time my husband and I moved to Paris (part time), traveled a lot, hosted retreats, and I, somewhere in the whirlwind, thought through a new direction for this space and finished my long over due cook book proposal. The snapshots in this post are from our summer—we’ve bounced everywhere from Tennessee to Paris to Venice to Marrakech to Greece to Formentera to Copenhagen since I was last “here”. It’s been an intense summer. And yes, I’m grateful. I’m also really tired. Good tired, mostly. But today is a day to recharge. I’m writing this from a terrace on Formentera, Spain, one of my favorite islands on earth. The sea is crashing into cliffs in front of me, and a very large cup of ginger lemon tea is next to my laptop. We just finished hosting our slow living retreat here yesterday. My daughter, Eulalie, just woke up. She’s almost 13 months old now, and this year has been her year. If I’ve accomplished nothing else, I’ve kept her alive and healthy. I just carried her upstairs from the bedroom, nursed her, and now she’s playing inside with dad and her “friends” (sundry stuffed animals, bits of trash, pots and pans). In this moment, life is all I ever dreamed it could be. It looks like the day will be sunny when clouds were forecast, and if I finish work in the morning there’ll be time enough for the beach and swimming in the afternoon. And perhaps a ham and tomato sandwich.
This post is the story of what this blog is today, what it will be, and where I hope to take it. To understand that, first a little background. So. The story so far (if you’re new here): I began Local Milk in 2012 as a seasonal recipe blog. I was divorced, had just moved back to my home town of Chattanooga, TN from California, and I was trying to find—at the age of 28—what I wanted to do with my life. And I did find it, right here. I’m now fortunate enough to do what I love for a living every single day. I began as a girl in Tennessee that woke up one morning with nothing (no degree, no job, no marriage, no past career unless cocktail waitress counts) and, over 5 years, built a life I loved, one where now that same girl, at 34 years old, is sitting on this terrace with a whole, real family. If you told me 6 years ago this would ever be my life, I would have laughed. Or cried. Either way, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Food was the reason I started this blog, and it will always be the heart. I am and have always been a cook, and I’m excited to be writing my first cook book this year, finally. But more on that in another post. In 2013, after about a year and a half of blogging, I started hosting small gatherings, and by the end of 2013 I’d planned and sold out my first food styling & photography workshop abroad in Portugal.
After that first workshop in Portugal, I was hooked. But I was hooked more to creating memorable food & travel experiences for guests than I was to hosting blogging workshops. And so I started calling my events “retreats” instead of “workshops” because I wanted them to be experience focused, not class focused, and I started my business L | M Retreats. I’ve since hosted countless workshops, gatherings, and retreats around the globe from Japan to France to Morocco and so many places in between. It is the business that allowed me my life long dream of travel as an integral part of my job. It also made travel an integral part of this blog. So, by 2014 this was no longer just a food blog. It was a food and travel blog. As my life expanded further, so did the blog again. I fell in love, got married, renovated my home, and had a baby. Interior design, slow fashion, and motherhood all made it into rotation as well. In short, I like to be able to write about whatever I feel like.
But there’s something else. Something of an umbrella under which all of my passions exists and are possible. Slow Living. But what does that mean? The Art of Slow Living? Isn’t that just your hashtag? It sounds like baking bread and cups of tea and long walks. But it’s so much more than that. For me slow living is about taking the time necessary to create something great. About taking 3 months off in a world that would have you believe you’ll be buried if you stop for one second. About working nonstop on a book proposal for weeks, sun up to sun down. Good things can’t be done fast. Sometimes, you need to work like crazy. Sometimes, you need to stare at a wall or the sea or someone’s face. All of those things take time.
For me slow living isn’t just about slow pleasures—swims in the lake, pasta from scratch, a good book—they’re part of it, to be sure, if you want, but they aren’t the point. Not to me. Slow living is deciding what really matters to you and saying no to everything else. It’s about living simply so you can give your precious time to the things that matter to you: to yourself, to your family, to your passion projects and work. To home making, to cooking, to travel, to meditation. To whatever it is that makes your life rich. Slow living is being rich in time.
I am passionate about figuring out how to have abundant time for the things that matter. Money is a factor in that. If we spend too much, we spend time chasing it. If we don’t have enough, we spend time chasing it. And so we have two resources: time and money. My passion is managing those resources wisely because they are intimately intertwined. They are necessary to cook, to travel, to design a dream home, to practice yoga & meditation, to have a passionate relationship with my husband, to be an involved mother, and to have rich relationships with family and friends. These are my dreams. Some take money, some take time, some take both. Yours may be different. But we all have them, and we can all realize them.
So, yes, this blog is about home, travel, food, lifestyle, motherhood, and all of those things. But at it’s heart it’s about abundance. I think it’s actually through having less—less friends, less work commitments, less projects, less possessions, less obligations—that we live our best, abundant lives. It will look different for everyone; we’re all individuals and some people want more and some want less. But the principle remains the same: by saying no to the non-essential many we can say yes to the essential few and be rich in both time and money. By rich, I don’t mean millionaires—though there’s nothing wrong with striving for that goal in your personal finances!—by rich I simply mean that whatever security and luxury mean to you, you have. For some, luxury is feeding the chickens in the morning or brewing a cup of tea or going to the local coffee shop for the perfect cortado. For others, it’s a Birkin Bag and a private yacht. For me, luxury is sleeping late, long slow mornings, having big blocks of time to concentrate on work, being able to travel & support the work of chefs around the world, being able to support and buy the goods of artisans that make clothing & home goods sustainably, and being able to cook most meals at home when I’m home. To each their own. You have to define that for yourself. The same goes for security. You have to define that for yourself. Whatever your definition is, I believe that you can realize your dreams, enjoy both luxury and security, and be rich in time to devote to what really matters to you. So yes, food is the heart of this blog. But the idea of abundance, of finding sustenance of every kind is the soul of this blog as it exists today.
So? What should you expect if you subscribe to this blog? More rambling like this? Yes, sometimes. Expect recipes—fresh, simple, easy recipes. Travel guides, tips, and introductions to some of my favorite spots around the world. Thoughts and advice on abundance, slow living, and minimalism (as a life choice, not an aesthetic). My experiences with motherhood and what works for us. Interiors both our own and ones we discover in our travels. Introductions to the things I love, things that solve problems for me or make my life better whether it’s my favorite foundation (I’m kind of obsessed in a very unskilled way with the craft of make up) or the perfect pair of linen pants (I still have a thing for linen). My wellness journey—yoga, meditation, herbalism, and food as medicine. And the ways in which I totally fail on that journey. And that is, pretty simply, it. I’m going to share more here. Not just recipes. I decided over my 3 month break that if I wanted to share my top 10 apps for work on here, then I would. If I just want to share photos and a bit of writing about a day I will. I miss the old blogging days where a blog was a place where you posted freely, and not some hyper curated show of impossibly grand events & recipe photo shoots that ape old Kinfolk issues that they don’t even want to produce anymore. It’s tired, and I think a lot of us are tired of it. I’ve been there and done that, and I’m interested in something different now. I want fun. I want real. I want to share the things that make my life better whether it’s a book I discover, an app, a recipe, entrepreneurial advice, or a great ramen place in Tokyo. And sometimes I just, as someone who creates, want to share life. Raw life, perhaps nothing useful but an experience or an internal dialogue someone can relate to. Or not. I’m strange, no guarantees this will be relatable all the time. So to anyone new, welcome to Local Milk. And to the wonderful readers that have been with me through this journey, welcome back. I can’t wait to share this next chapter with you all.