FOR NONNY

My nonny (my mom’s mom) is the oldest of 14.

A first generation Italian-American, she was born into a lively immigrant family with little money but plenty of mouths to feed.

I grew up next door to my grandparents and, though I loved them both dearly, I could never identify with their traditional lifestyle. I robotically helped shell beans and fetched canned vegetables from the cellar. I barely noticed her fresh baked Easter breads, shaped like small dolls with a hard boiled egg for a face, or how she effortlessly minced garlic — between her thumb and a blunt steak knife.

As a young girl, I dispassionately told my grandmother that I didn’t need to learn “woman’s work” because someday I’d have an important job and the business of making a home was, quite frankly, irrelevant and boring.


I was convinced that a world lacking proper feminists or modern gadgets could never be interesting or important. 

(You see where this is going, don’t you?)


Today I live hundreds of miles away as nonny approaches her mid-90s. A glimmer of her former self, she’s no longer lucid enough to remember the names of her own siblings or recall which are still living. 

Yet, as the years pull me away from my time with her, my respect for all things made simple, fresh and by loving hands only grows stronger.

In keeping with our journey of making small batch chocolate and such from scratch — and enchanted by stories of nonny’s handmade dough lining crisp white bed sheets — making fresh pasta has become my attempt to reconnect with her. 

This year, Zan and I have decided to learn a new pasta each month. Pictured is our attempt at Ricotta Caramelle Elle Erbe Emilia-Romagna.

Without any equipment, we mixed, formed and rolled the dough into transluscent sheets by hand. We then cut the paper thin sheets into strips, dolloped a cheesy herb mixture and proceeded to wet, fold, press, score and twist.

Who said this was boring?

As I spent the morning rolling and folding mounds of gorgeous dough, warm memories of watching nonny at work flooded back.

If she was here to see me, I know that she would barely understand the making of our fancy, modern lifestyle. But, as we gently tossed our rustic creation into a fragrant herb-butter sauce, I just knew that she’d be proud.

BATCH BODY

We are total suckers for quality handcrafted, artisanal goods.

But, while we can sometimes be entranced by provenance, it’s as honest a fascination as it is practical. Should Zan have his way and we live forever, I figure it’s only smart to know not only what goes into our bodies but on them as well. (You know, to remain well preserved until we upgrade to our bionic parts.)

BatchCraft-16.jpg

If you’re a label reader, you already know that too much of what we trust on our bodies is questionable at best. Lucky for us, we love to make things.

Whether it’s with a camera, a canvas or chocolate, we’re most engaged when we’re cracking cacao beans or melting wax. Maybe making things as healthy as possible can help us eek the most out of our time together?

Without further adieu, we’re excited to introduce you to our latest adventure — our personal sweet spot where craft chocolate meets limited batches of healthy, delicious body lotions and potions. Stay tuned for all things small batch and craft and, of course, chocolate.

(And who knows, maybe one day, some bionic parts too?)

THE TRAVEL MYTH

“Don’t you have somewhere you’re supposed to be — like a job?” or...

“How is it possible for you to go away so often / for so long? You must be rich?” or...

“It’s a trip of a lifetime — you must really deserve it / really be lucky...”
 

Even though our recent travels have been more varied than ever, we’re invariably asked these same few questions by the people we know and meet along the way. After returning home to more of the same, it appears as though there’s a certain mythology surrounding the life we lead. 

Perhaps we should stoke these fires to boost our cool factor but we’d much rather open up a dialog with those of you in search of your own utopia. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that getting out from under our work and finding the money to travel seemed like a far off dream. Yet here we are, bags freshly unpacked, still awash in the glow of our most recent adventure

However you’ve found yourself here, consider this our attempt to pull back the curtain...


Myth #1: We don’t work

For folks that operate in a more traditional realm, we recognize the confusion regarding our work. We eat a lot of donuts and throw confetti on one another while we’re in the office so how can we possibly be trusted to be productive while we’re away?

My parents called us last month as we settled into six weeks of working from Turks & Caicos. My mom immediately apologized for bothering us (on a Tuesday night, no less), certain that we had one foot out the door to embark on a night of drinking and dancing!

Let bubbles everywhere burst in disbelief but, believe it or not, we don’t stay up to all hours of the night partying like rock stars when we’re remote. Social has taken more than a decade to build and we owe it to our clients and amazing team to be sharp and focused when we’re on the clock, regardless of our GPS coordinates.

And while being self-employed lowers the barrier to this kind of arrangement, creating a system for our company, partner, employees, clients and ourselves took planning, dedication and time. 

The lesson here? Just because it may not currently be your situation doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate a remote working arrangement with your employer.

If working poolside, trailside or bedside is your idea of a good time, read up on the tons of companies embracing this model and prepare to plead your case.


Myth #2: We’re rich

This idea of our perceived wealth is a tricky one that even our own families grapple with. During the aforementioned call, my dad commented that everyone he told about our trip was shocked and certain that we must be rich. Apparently, he agreed with them — we must be rich, right?

I gently explained to him that, while we make a good living, we are not rich (not in a way that’s measured in dollars anyway.) Fact is that much of it comes down to minimizing our daily expenses and planning our lives around travel — instead of hoping for a life that magically includes it.

To make it a reality, here are some of the rules we follow when plotting our excursions:

  • Live Lean — Planning our time and money while we’re away starts with managing it at home. We share a car, a cell phone, eat in most days, workout at home, blah, blah, blah... And we’re always rethinking our spending habits, looking for creative ways to divert money from avoidable expenditures toward travel.
     
  • Avoid Purchasing Plane Tickets Like the Plague
    We purchase and pay bills on an airways mileage credit card (paying off our balance in full every month of course, don’t be silly) which we then cash in for plane tickets when it’s time to travel.
     
  • Opt for Extended Stays
    Airline tickets are one of the largest travel expenses — a cost that barely changes whether we stay for 3 nights or 3 weeks — so we instantly add value to our adventures by extending our stays as long as possible.
     
  • Dont Dwell on Hotels
    While we’re suckers for a good boutique hotel, we mostly book our stays using airbnb.com and we’re not shy about asking for a deal on extended stays. Bonus: We engage with interesting hosts who generally go out of their way to make our stay more meaningful by sharing priceless insider tips.
     
  • Rely on Human-Power
    Whenever possible, we pass on exorbitant vehicle rental fees and explore our new homes away from home by foot, bike or public transportation. Slowing down also allows us to fully immerse in our new space and meet locals more freely.
     
  • Trade Tourist Traps for Home Cooking & Hobbies
    On this past trip, we diverted time and money from overpriced eateries and gimmicky tours to early morning drawing sessions and evening experiments with artisan bread and homemade pasta recipes. Things we never seem to get enough time for at home take top priority when we move away from daily distractions in a way that no amount of parasailing could ever compare with.

Myth #3: We’re Lucky / We Deserve It

While the sentiment leaves us with a warm fuzzy whenever someone is genuinely happy for us, we do nothing special that grants us exclusive access to this type of lifestyle.

In combination with the tips above, we simply talk about what kind of experience we want to have, where we want it to be and what we want to do. Next, we make an actionable plan to make it happen. Combined with the support of family and friends checking in on us and our home, everything finds it’s place. Boom. (This isn’t Lewis and Clark folks, stop making it seem so impossible.)

Are we lucky? Of course.

Do we deserve it? Sure, we’re good peeps. 

But, the fact is, most of us live a charmed life if we’re willing to stop long enough to recognize it. Frankly — whatever it is that brings us joy, and wherever we go to we find it — we all deserve it.

RAISING THE BAR

RAISING THE BAR

We first proclaimed our infatuation with small batch craft chocolate almost 6 months ago to the day. Since then, we've traveled far and wide tasting our brains out.

From hopping on every chocolate factory tour we could find, to soldiering through bitter test batches in our own kitchen, craft chocolate has proved to be a worthy seductress.