I‚Äôm old. Let me rephrase that. I feel old. Things hurt that shouldn‚Äôt, my hair is turning different colors, and my body has so many things popping when I get out of bed in the morning that it sounds like I‚Äôm walking on a bag of potato chips. More than the physical, I just have a hard time grasping just how fast life moves by. It doesn‚Äôt seem like that long ago when I went on my first date with Tiffany, but even that was almost 20 (!!!) years ago. As crazy as that sounds to me, nothing compares to how fast our daughter, Hannah Grace (HG), has grown up. You see, today is HG‚Äôs 7th birthday, and I find myself at an absolute loss to where the time has gone. It seems like it was just yesterday when we were standing in the delivery room. I can vividly remember each milestone in her life, from first steps, to first words, first recital, first day of school, first football game. I rolled my eyes when people told me how fast kids grow up. It‚Äôs something you don‚Äôt understand until you‚Äôre in the middle of it. I mean, in 6 months from now, she will be closer to sitting behind the wheel of a car than she will be to the day she was born and I. AM. NOT. OKAY. WITH. THAT. I‚Äôm reminded of the Gretchen Rubin quote ‚ÄúThe days are long, but the years are short.‚Äù Make no mistake, some days are a challenge. I‚Äôm still learning how to deal with the amount of tears shed on a daily basis. Coming from a house full of boys, there wasn‚Äôt much crying in my home growing up, but ‚Äúwe‚Äù cry daily in the Hinton household about everything from a stubbed toe, to a stranger‚Äôs missing dog, to not getting to watch a specific movie. But the years seem SO short. I am so excited and encouraged to see her character take shape, and at the same time, alarmed by some things I see. Parenthood is both my greatest joy in life and biggest fear. If I fail, I know Tiffany has the ability to pick up the slack. She can take care of herself if need be. HG can‚Äôt. Her success at this point in life is largely dependent on her parents, and that is a weight I wasn‚Äôt fully prepared to accept when she came into this world. It terrified me (still does really), but the Light in her seems like a daily reminder from God that He is in control. And yet, as much as I love Her, the Bible says that our Creator loves us more. Parenthood has taught me more about God‚Äôs love than anything else in my life. Psalm 86:15 says ‚ÄúBut you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.‚Äù This is a guiding verse in how I look at parenting. It teaches me to give grace. Bite my tongue. Be an encourager. Show mercy. Love deeply. Regardless of where you are in your parenting journey, I encourage you to do two things. First, never lose sight of your parental relationship with your Heavenly Father. He loves you as deeply as you love your own children. And two, don‚Äôt blink.
July 25th marks one of our favorite days of the year - National Wine and Cheese Day! If you follow Lance on Instagram, you'd see his obsession with dairy's best offering. He's putting cheese on everything - and appreciating each and every variety. There isn't an After Hours event that doesn't feature one of his charcuterie boards - and with good reason: we're all crazy about his cheesy selections. It seems like every combination makes the perfect bite! So, he's sharing his basic "recipe" for putting together the ultimate cheese board so you too can celebrate National Wine and Cheese Day in Cape House fashion. So, without further ado, from Lance himself: START WITH three to five cheeses. I like to use a semi-firm to firm cheese, usually with a little kick. Try a gruyere or cheddar - or one of my favorites: chipotle gouda! I also add in a soft, spreadable cheese, like a brie - I'd suggest trying Sweet Grass Dairy's Green Hill with it's buttery flavor and creamy texture. A mild cheese is also a great addition, like Sweet Grass Dairy's Thomasville Tomme (are you sensing a theme here? I LOVE Sweet Grass Dairy... ask me about the time I went to cheese school there!) NEXT, add the meat. Now, there's some controversy about adding meat to your cheeseboard, but if you've seen how much I love bacon and the like, you know I have no qualms about adding a little protein to mine! Prosciutto is always delicious, as is a spicy soppressata, or my favorite spicy candied bacon (I'll save that recipe for another day!) NOW, it's about balancing the rich flavors of each cheese and meat with accoutrements. I love marinated olives, peppers, or artichoke hearts for the briny, salty notes they add to your board. I'll include grapes, strawberries, or thinly-sliced apples or pears for a sweet or tart note to balance a creamy, rich soft cheese. A drizzle of honey or olive oil - or my current favorite from the store: Gullah Gourmet's raspberry mustard dip adds a sweet, tangy later of flavor to any of your cheese choices. Don't forget the bread and/or crackers (who are we kidding, I always include both)! DON'T FORGET to make it all look good. I take the time to roll up slices of meat, find the perfect cheese board and knives, and always garnish with a bit of green - like a few sprigs of rosemary, which really take the board to the next level. AND FINALLY, THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: create the perfect bite! Think about balancing all the flavors you've just built on your board. Start with a garlic thyme cracker, add a touch of Sweet Grass Green Hill, a small bit of prosciutto, and a drizzle of that raspberry mustard dip. Wash it down with your favorite vino, and you're in business! And everyone knows, wine and cheese are best enjoyed with those you love - so, follow these steps, and never cheese alone!
Any day that includes a cheese board is a good day. When it‚Äôs National Wine & Cheese Day, well, giddy up! I was excited for an excuse to put together some cheeses, and more enthusiastic about sampling them. In the end, the perfect pairing was less about the wine and cheese and more about the people I was able to enjoy it with. My Monday started in typical fashion with a long list to get done, but it ended with a photo shoot featuring a cheese board to post for National Wine & Cheese Day (July 25th). I welcomed the interruption from the ‚Äúbusyness‚Äù and styled with a variety of cheeses, charcuterie, fruit, artichoke lemon pesto, olives, bread, and pastry tarts with key lime and Meyer lemon filling. By the time I made it to the Hinton‚Äôs though, the board looked a little less appetizing. There were a few missing pieces (due to quality control), and I may have taken a couple turns faster than I should have. After I set the board on the counter, we quickly realized there wasn‚Äôt going to be enough food for six adults and two children for dinner. So, we did what anyone would do at 6:45pm on a Monday when Moon River isn‚Äôt open - we ordered Townie‚Äôs. While we waited, we snacked, opened a bottle of Pacheca sparkling Pinot Noir from Portugal, took some more candid photos for the blog post, a few boomerangs for Instagram, and had a few laughs. When the pizza arrived, everyone shifted their attention. No plates, no silverware, just open boxes of cheesy goodness topped with meat. When we finished eating, we sat around the table, talking and laughing some more in between the ever-so entertaining performances by Hannah Grace and Addi Grace. At the end of a long Monday, this was exactly what I needed! Let‚Äôs face it, life is busy. We can get caught up in the things that grab our attention in the moment, or we can be intentional about focusing our attention on the moments that matter. This was a good reminder why we have invested so much time and effort into Cape House. We are inspired by moments that capture our senses and compel us to savor our surroundings. We‚Äôre passionate about creating environments that bring people together, inviting them in to make life‚Äôs moments memorable. The ‚Äúsurrounding‚Äù was simply a dining room table with a stack of pizza boxes. Nothing fancy, but it was an opportunity to invite people in and share a moment together. I remember growing up, my parents reiterated (frequently), ‚Äúyour friends will shape your future.‚Äù You may have heard, ‚Äúshow me your friends and I‚Äôll show you your future.‚Äù Or, you might be familiar with renowned businessman, Jim Rohn‚Äôs quote, ‚Äúyou‚Äôre the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.‚Äù Regardless, people are important and the people you surround yourself with matters. Too often as things get busy, I get caught up in the tendency to work harder and grind longer. I allow myself to focus on what‚Äôs urgent rather than what‚Äôs most important. In the end, there is nothing more important than the people in our lives and the relationships we have. Today, in my opinion, is THE perfect day to find a friend, some cheese, and cheers to National Wine & Cheese Day.
‚ÄúBecome wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.‚Äù Proverbs 13:20 (MSG)HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL WINE & CHEESE DAY National Wine and Cheese Day encourages us to try wines and cheese in combinations we‚Äôve never tried before; we can step away from the ordinary and learn something new. Sampling the complexities in sweetness and acidity and comparing them makes for an enjoyable experience. When we add friends to the adventure, National Wine and Cheese Day becomes a celebration, too!
Last week, while attending STEM Camp, Hannah Grace and Addi Grace found themselves in a little bit of trouble. For those of you who haven‚Äôt had the pleasure of meeting these two, Hannah Grace is our almost-7-going-on-17 year old daughter and Addi is Lance & Lauren‚Äôs 4 year old. They are both only children, but with the amount of time the Hintons and Jones spend together, they act a little more like sisters. One day at camp, the girls partnered up to build a marshmallow tower. It‚Äôs hard to get the full picture of what went down, but putting the pieces of the puzzle together, we know this: The goal was to build a tower out of marshmallows. Addi wanted to eat the marshmallows (who wouldn‚Äôt?) Hannah Grace (in typical type A manner) wanted to build the best and tallest tower. You can imagine where this is headed. After losing a few marshmallows to her snacking friend, Hannah Grace held all of the marshmallows over her head where Addi couldn‚Äôt reach them, and from what I can imagine (not so politely) told Addi to stop. So naturally, Addi gives HG a little kick in the leg. Things probably escalated at this point because HG is known to be a little (ahem) dramatic and Addi ended up in time out. That evening, Lauren and I sat in a hotel room in Atlanta trying to get all of the information we could via FaceTime because we both felt we had a lesson to teach. From Hannah Grace‚Äôs point of view, Addi kicked her. She was not acknowledging her part of the story. She saw what Addi did as the ‚Äúbad thing‚Äù. I tried to explain to her what she did wrong and how she could have avoided the situation, but all she could say was ‚Äúbut Addi did‚Äù. She saw Addi‚Äôs offense as worse than her‚Äôs, so surely her‚Äôs didn‚Äôt count. God reveals so much to me through Hannah Grace and parenting. I wanted so badly for her to accept her part in this and apologize - to repent. This reminds me of Adam and Eve in the garden after they have done what they know they shouldn‚Äôt have done. God asks them ‚ÄúHave you eaten the fruit from the of the tree I commanded you not to eat?‚Äù Gen. 3:11 Adams first response? It was her, not me! She gave it to me, it‚Äôs her fault. Then when the Lord asks Eve, ‚ÄúWhat have you done?‚Äù Gen. 3:13 Her response? It was the serpent - he tricked me. In the end, God held them ALL accountable: man, woman, and serpent. You see this is not a 4 and 6 year old issue, this is a human issue. We‚Äôre all accountable for our own sin. It‚Äôs easy to look around and claim ‚ÄúLook what they did!‚Äù, but the reality is that in any disagreement, there is usually shared responsibility. My encouragement is when faced with a disagreement, don‚Äôt place blame, but examine your own responsibility in the situation and extend grace - because we all need a little grace...
This summer, we've spent a lot of family time at the beach. Addi Grace loves catching fish, sand ‚Äúflees‚Äù, and periwinkles (she seriously can do it for hours) - and Lance decided it was finally time to upgrade his 2001 Acura to a Jeep with 4-Wheel Drive! Needless to say, we've had lots of time to watch the waves and reflect on Gods beautiful creation. It‚Äôs been amazing - and a stark contrast to last summer thanks to some amazing additions to our Cape House team! A few weekends ago, we saw several pools of dolphins swim by (my favorite!) Soon after, Hannah Grace (HG) and I were about waist deep in the ocean cooling off when I noticed a lot of fish jumping around us - more than usual. They seemed to be everywhere! I realized that could only mean one thing... there must be a really BIG fish chasing them. Instead of freaking out and scaring HG, I casually (but cautiously) recommended we head back to the shore to find some more periwinkles. (Inside, I was flipping out!) When I got back to my beach chair, I recalled the situation, God reminded me that warnings are meant to protect us not punish us. We have to be aware enough to recognize them and to pay attention to them. Just like the jumping fish, there are warning signs that something more is brewing under the surface. Sometimes what we see at first glance or in a rush may not be all we need to make the best decision (John 7:24). There is more to the story! But HG didn‚Äôt see the warning signs. When we are distracted or having fun, we can ignore the signs - or maybe we don‚Äôt even know what signs to look for (especially if you are 6). Or if we do, we push them off as unimportant because we would rather stay and enjoy in the moment. We can be the same way - especially when life is going great. We tend to ignore warnings that we need to turn around or change our ways. All throughout history God provided ‚Äúsigns‚Äù to show people the way to live, but they kept going on their own path. In Luke Jesus Himself says ‚ÄúAs Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. ‚ÄîLuke 11:30.‚Äù Even then, the religious leaders and people did not pay much attention to His warnings. Life seemed fine and dandy. They didn‚Äôt want to be told they were wrong (vs 45). We have to pay attention and be alert. There are warning signs all around if we will just take the time to notice them and then make the necessary changes they call for. God wants only what is best for us, but there is a real enemy who is out to steal, kill and destroy us in every way he can. His most common tools: lies and busyness. If he can keep us distracted long enough or fill our head with lies about our self worth and happiness, we will ignore the signs all day long! ‚ÄúStay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.‚Äù 1 Peter‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠5:8‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠NLT‚Ä¨‚Ä¨. I also love the wording in The Message version: ‚ÄúKeep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up."¬†1 Peter‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠5:8-11‚Ä¨ ‚Ä≠MSG‚Ä¨‚Ä¨. Whether it‚Äôs simply getting out of the ocean when there‚Äôs a scare, or more seriously, your health is deteriorating because you don‚Äôt take the time for rest and self-care, it‚Äôs time to be set apart! As Christians we need to be people on guard and aware of our surroundings - constantly praying, listening, and asking the Holy Spirit to lead us and help us discern the signs. Willing and ready to make the right move when the fish start jumping!