A Year Between Friends: Crafts, recipes and best of all….friendship.


A Year Between Friends: 3191 Miles Apart is a lovely book filled with craft ideas, recipes, letters and best of all – friendship.

Molly Wizenberg wrote the forward and it’s a great beginning.  She explained how she discovered a blog called  Port2Port where Maria (MAV) was an author.  This was over 10 years ago.  Molly and Maria were fans of Stephanie Congdon (SCB) on Flickr.

The ladies began collaborating with photo projects and craft ideas. They have been corresponding for quite some time and the result was deep friendship between Maria and Stephanie.

This book is divided by the months of the year. They each take photos of their respective locales – Maria who goes by MAV is in Portland Maine and Stephanie (SCB) lives in Portland Oregon.  In addition to photos there are recipes and letters.


My dear friend Mary Margaret lives in Alaska and I live in Florida.  About as far away as friends can be and still be in the USA. This book reminded me of our deep friendship and how the miles didn’t matter a lick.  I can still call her and talk to her as if I’d seen her a day ago.  This has been going on since the late 1970’s. (Yes, I am a senior citizen 🙂

What a lovely display of friendship this book is.

From Amazon:  Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes share a love of art and design, handmade pleasures, and a well-lived domestic life. Almost a decade ago, they began their first year-long project together, posting a photo from each of their mornings on their blog, 3191 Miles Apart, named for the distance between their homes in Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon.

The inspired recipe from this book is soup. But we haven’t been eating much meat lately and so, while I planned on chicken soup….I diverted to a veggie chili.  Very different but one of the biggest components in this book features healthy eating.

I made a black bean chili with finely chopped zucchini, green onions,tomatoes, mushrooms and a little bit of water. Once everything started thickening up I added about 3/4 cup of brown rice.

The plus of our healthier eating (and additional walking) is the weight loss.  My husband has lost 22 pounds while I have lost 12 pounds. Yes, I keep up with him eating and drinking yet my weight loss has been considerably slower.  🙂  Oh well!

Good book with great recipes and craft ideas.  You will love flipping through it.

Linking up with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series. The linkup for this week may be found HERE.

Also linking with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series.



The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier has earned a place as one of my favorite authors. I very much enjoyed her previous books: The Girl with the Pearl Earring and Falling Angels. This one, however, fell short of my expectations. It’s written in a split narrative and goes between Ella Turner (present times) and Ella’s ancestor Isabelle du Moulin Tournier (16th century). As each story unfolds you wonder if Ella will discover her ancestor through her genealogical pursuits. But the real sympathies go to Ella’s ancestor Isabelle. In her story you feel bad, wish she had a better situation, a better husband and a life without so many hard times.

Present time: Ella’s husband Rick is transferred to southwestern France for work and this leaves Ella with lots of time on her hands. She was excited about living in France but the culture shock leads her to be more reclusive and disillusioned about the life she thought she would have there.

16th Century Shift: Isabelle (also known as La Rousse) and husband Etienne have a difficult relationship as his family is well-to-do and they do not like Isabelle’s family. They are part of the mass of villagers who shift to an anti-catholic stand and destroy the statue of the virgin Mary as well as place locks on the church door. Isabelle has red hair much like the portraits and the depictions of Mary and so they look upon her with suspicion. Suspect her of witchcraft at one point. Remember, this is the 16th century.

Back to Ella – she seeks the help of a handsome librarian to assist in her research, hoping to find out more of her Huguenot ancestors. It’s hard to have any sympathy for Ella with the way she treats her husband and her attitude in general. The end had some surprises and you are left to form your own conclusions about a few of the characters.

So….potatoes came to mind as a dish representing this book. For me it did but hey, I like potatoes and when Isabelle’s father gave her a sack of them so she wouldn’t starve…I thought right then….Tartiflette.

I am placing this review on Goodreads and Beth Fish Reads. Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor.

More info:
Tracy Chevalier