Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer Weekend

Summer Weekends are some of the best times of the year. 
There is something magical about waking up with the birds, and going to sleep with the breeze of the evening air. Evenings out under the fading sun and days spent outdoors for as long as possible. 

Friends and I were joking that the new vacation was the staycation. A week or less at home, to reconnect with family and friends and enjoy the place you live through the eyes of someone who does not get to experience the everyday. Lingering for coffee at a local cafe, taking a walk or riding a bike around town and connecting with the patterns of the day. With no clock or sense of doing, there is so much that presents itself. 

So, this week, a staycation. A few days over the long holiday weekend to be and to experience all that I miss in the everyday routine.  Some plans, and a lot of free time. Hikes in the hills, coffee at the local spot instead of Peet's or Starbucks to go...A trip to the market and the joy of cooking ( it started tonight....) time with friends, kayaking in Santa Cruz, A yoga class I have been wanting to fit into my schedule...planting in the garden, reading in the park..and on and on I go. The fear is the list I already have in my mind. Less of a list actually, and more of a picture. 

After a glorious weekend, the perfect time to enjoy everything summer brings!
And when it is over, a reconnection to the community and friends and myself and a commitment to doing this every season

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Art of the Table

" I was 32 when I began cooking, before that I just ate" 
Julia Child

My exploration begins...More and more, I find myself drawn to people who appreciate the joy of living and have a clear sense of self. A spirit and a joy for living that is so apparent and at times, contagious to all around.  I had the chance to spend time with an old friend last week, her husband and teenage daughters. It was such a nice and casual evening. As we spent time together it was so clear that she enjoyed cooking and loved to bring people together and allow everyone to truly enjoy each others company.  

As she casually mentioned the menu in the morning, I kept thinking about what a wonderful, simple summer meal it would be. Later, as we gathered in the kitchen, I realized that in part the menu was about allowing us all to come together in the kitchen, enjoy a glass of wine, and participate in preparing the evenings food.  A goat cheese salad, grilled veggies and corn, a delicious cheeseburger and finally fresh fruit and coconut sorbet.  All enjoyed outdoors under a summer sky.  By the time we sat for dinner, we had all had the chance to reconnect, catch up and spend time over dinner in a group conversation. Her daughters and husband enjoying the evening ( I think ) as much as old friends..

As I return home, I continue to think about the joy of cooking and feel a strong pull to explore this more.  It truly is a labor of love, the notion of connection and sharing with family and friends. I think about the Farmers Market on Saturday morning, and how much fun it is to go with the kids..Preparing meals with foods found here are far more pleasurable and connect us with the community as well. I think about a dinner with friends on Saturday night, and the fun of making the desert we are planning to bring. And finally, I think about the quality of these choices, and when I make conscious choices how good it feels. 

As I explore, I found some amazing resources...

Julie and Julia, A Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell-A Treasure of a a book that will  help to show you that anything is possible once you 

101 Cookbooks-A Fantastic blog by Heidi Swanson who then went on to author the books below. Her attention to quality, natural ingredients and the true appreciation of whole foods makes cooking a joy on so many levels. In addition, as you will see in the books below, she is an amazing photographer which brings an additional element of beauty to every posting. 

Super Natural Cooking and Cook 1.0-These two books from Heidi Swanson are an inspiration. 
To pausing and enjoying the experience of food, and to begin to develop a different sense of what quality choices can look like. When you read through the first chapter of Super Natural Cooking you begin to think about  food in a totally different light. 

Optimum Wellness by Kathy Freston-Just out, her thoughts on living thoughtfully are explored. Mindful eating, and really understanding the process of finding, preparing and appreciating food gave me pause. Her thoughts on mindfulness in other areas help to give me perspective on the impact of small lifestyle choices. 

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle-This book and now website from Barbara Kingsolver is on my nightstand and a planned summer read. I long for a garden in which we can all plant, cultivate and grow some of our own vegetables..This will give me much to think about as I plan this wonderful place. 

To culinary appreciation, learning and adventure. 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Going Home Again

I have been in New York for the last week...Meetings for our company Peek...Aren't You Curious.
Not sure that I have talked about our business venture yet, but it is something that amazes me every day. While I was still in the corporate world ( at Lucky Brand Jeans ) Scott and I would take these great walks ( hikes? ) in LA and Northern California and talk about what we wanted our life to be about...The central theme was love, parenting, children, creativity, being able to work with people that were talented and that we could support in some way, challenging ourselves to do something that we have never done before, and on and on we go....As we talked more, and started to put together the pieces of our dream it was clear that a move to the Bay Area and the pursuit of this concept was key. More on this and all the talented people we get to work with later. 

Over the last two years, we have been really fortunate to reconnect with old friends, keep working with amazingly talented people and partner with new people that touch and inspire us every day. 
Our baby is starting to develop.

All of this, which brings me back to this past week. In New York for meetings..We are so lucky to have the support of a few amazing and talented people who are on our Board. 
On our second evening in NYC, we were driving out to Westchester to have dinner with old friends, and drove into the town where so many memories came to mind...The agency from which I was adopted on April 2, 1968. The first job I had that led me into a career of 23 plus years. The cool pub that our cool English nanny would visit on  her weekends off. As we drove through the town, and some of the neighboring areas later in the week, All I could think about was how fortunate I was. How all of these experiences have shaped my family and I  and were deep within my mind. So many of the people that I had the opportunity to spend time with, were old friends and mentors from years ago. To see them now, as the same people that they had always been, living a true life was the greatest gift of the week. 

While there is at times pain, there is so much to be grateful for, and that a life worth living is a life explored,  full of love, adventure, challenge and personal grace. 

For all of that, I am grateful

photo from

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day...
How to celebrate and honor the Father's in our lives. 
Scott, an open and emotionally present father. His love, understanding, quest for knowledge and growth, sense of adventure, enthusiasm for life and capacity for unconditional and unending love is to be treasured. As I watch him with the kids, and in the moments that they are not together there is one thing in his heart. A deep and real desire to provide a consistent and loving place where the kids know no end to the love he feels, the comfort to experience and express any emotion, to love with no limits, to explore, to fail, to be. Keep on this path and journey, your gifts are endless. 
To my own Dad, through our years of sadness and heartache there is only one thing that I am sure of. The love that I feel for him is deep. It is this that allows me to keep trying to understand, to seek a moment of pause and reflection and to give voice to what we have and what we likely lost. There is much in the past that makes me seek, at times more then most, the approval, recognition and love from him. I can say this, I know underneath it all, that he truly loves me and my brother. From his own childhood, and years of taking care of others, he learned how to hold in his own emotions and hopes and look to make others happy. When he is with family, he lights up and his desire is to truly connect. For that love and for all of the difficult times he experienced, I am grateful. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Big Thanks

One of my favorite things in the world is beautiful photography. 
I am constantly collecting books, images, and names of photographers and trying to improve my own casual photography style. 

One of our dearest friends Jo Manolis gave us the most amazing wedding gift. She photographed the week in Hawaii leading up to our wedding, the rehersal dinner and finally the wedding itself. 
With only fleeting memories of the amazing week we shared with the kids, family and friends, I find myself going back to the album she created for us, and experiencing the same flood of emotions.  For her gift and her friendship, I am eternally grateful. 

Check out her work and blog-it is simple and elegant. If you live in the Bay Area or Southern California she is a dream to work with...

What's In a Name?

What's in a name I asked myself a all day yesterday. 
Let me explain. 
Scott and I were married in October. From the moment we met, truly, I wanted to marry him. 
There was a journey of discovery over the months and years. A desire to truly understand each other and develop , create and build a full life  as a couple and family and  learn how to truly support each other during every day and during challenging times. Each day, I hold in my heart the love story and the desire for learning and growth. ( Some days are easier then others! )
As our wedding day got closer, I knew I was finally living the life that I really wanted. 
With love, honesty, struggle, personal and professional challenges and an amazing family to celebrate. All of the decisions that I made, and we then built together were about a whole and connected life. For the first time, stepping back and thinking about how to enjoy life and celebrate all that matter to me. A wonderful marriage, children, a business that would allow us to spend time with family and use our creative minds, a place we could work with talented people and support them as they rebalanced priorities, reconnecting with my own family and creating time for friends that I had lost touch with over the years. 
In this world I am Amy Williams. 
As we build our business, and reach out to the community-professionally and personally, I find myself at times, retreating to the comfort of my old name..In this world, I expect there may be recognition, acceptance and an understanding of what we are trying to do.  I don't know if that is truly the case. 
As a woman of 40, leaving behind the securities that I developed, basically work, work, work and now looking forward to a life less known, more challenging and a lot richer, I realize something important. 
Anyone I know, would be happy to know that I have gotten married and have different priorities. After a really thoughtful conversation with my husband a better understanding that the struggle is my own. How to reconcile the desire and the vision of this life, and the insecurities and fears that go with it. By embracing it, and saying out loud, this is who I am and what I want. 

This weekend, notes, calls and emails with an update. 
I am thrilled to let you know, that in October at a beautiful wedding in Hawaii, Scott and I were married. I am now a step mother of three, Jackson, Sophie and Ben and a  partner in a new business...Peek...Arent You Curious. Living in the Bay Area, our office is in SF. Would love to reconnect. 

All the best, 
Amy Williams

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Picture Perfect

From one of my favorite blogs-absolutely beautiful things..An amazing interior designer from Australia. It seems there is nothing that I don't love on her site. 
Here is one of her post that I keep going back to...a perfect, well designed home and amazing outdoor space. The beauty of the ceader shingles and huge french doors...I can only imagine the inside.
As we think about our next home ( when we started a business, renting was the only option! )
I will go back to this beautiful home and hope to create the same simple elegance. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blogs that I love

A perfect opportunity to honor blogs that I love.

Absolutely Beautiful Things-Amazing Interiors and Inspiration for the home
Mahar Dry Goods-Beautiful Arts and Crafts for Kids
Snippet and Ink-Inspirational Site for Weddings and truthfully any party you dream of
Simply Photo-Lovely Photography
Bells on their Toes-Musings of a Mom
Brown Turtleneck Sweater-Interior Ideas and Elegance
Athena Says-Spectacular and Elegant Photos
Garden Rooms-Outdoor space at its best
At last, starting the blog. Where and why to begin. 
As some one who is always planning the perfect vacation, elements of my dream home, looking at photography and design that inspires,  finding new things or places to go, meeting incredibly talented people and finally just appreciating the simple and elegant.  It is all of the above that I want to share here. 
In the last three years I have, moved to a new city, married an amazing man, become a step mother, turned 40 and started a company. 
Now, it is time to appreciate all that I have, and all that is beautiful in the world. 

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