From guest blogger Kristin Witt:

It was 1908, in the dead of a Minnesota winter, when my grandfather woke to their house on fire.  Just fifteen at the time, his parents away from home, he grabbed his baby sister and escaped the engulfing flames, running in sub-zero temperatures, barefoot, to the neighbors’ house that was just over a mile down the road.  The fire completed the devastation leaving their home a pile of ash and lost treasures.  But when grandpa spoke of the incident in later years he made the statement that they hadn’t lost anything important.


In defining “home” I have come to this conclusion.  Home is what we carry in our hearts.  When my husband and I were first married we lived in a tiny, dark apartment that had metallic wallpaper in the dining area, and wildly patterned carpet in the kitchen.  Yes, the kitchen.  The look was completed by a disfigured blotch that sat directly in front of the oven where someone had dropped a hot pan and melted the nylon floor covering.  I bragged about the fact that I could plug the vacuum cleaner into the living room outlet and clean the entire apartment without ever moving the plug.  The mirror in the bathroom was big enough for just one face, but thankfully Kevin is taller than I am so he was able to shave by looking over the top of my head.  Our television was all of thirteen inches with a manual dial that had broken, requiring us to use a pair of pliers to change channels.

We were unbelievably young, but not naïve enough to think that we were living in luxury.  We knew we were existing at a level just barely above college dorm life, but for one year that tiny, dark apartment was home, and for only one reason. It was home because we were there.  We brought home with us when we moved in.  I have often heard people say that those simple days of hauling groceries up a steep flight of outdoor stairs, and killing house plants on a weekly basis due to lack of natural light, were the good old days.  In honesty I would never go back to them, but I also have to admit that I have brought those days with me.

Wherever we have lived, regardless of location and in spite of the flaws, it has been home, because truth be told, home is the place you are enveloped in safety, where you are consistently given the assurance that you belong.  My house doesn’t have to be the one where people slow down as they pass to take pictures; it just has to be the one where I slow down, not for pictures but for a long, refreshing breath of air.

Grandpa, though only a teenager, had it right all those years ago. He saw the only place he had ever called home crumbling around him so he grabbed the only thing that mattered and ran for safety.  In the end he didn’t lose his home, he lost his shelter, and a shelter is something that can be rebuilt, which is exactly what they did.  Grandpa understood something that I remind myself of every day.  If there is a hand to hold, laughter to share, and a quiet place to rest my head – I am home.


Snowdrops are often the first flowers you will see here in the Colorado spring, blooming around the same time as crocuses. They usually appear in late winter and are the true harbingers of spring. Snowdrops are small white flowers, and although the blooms are delicate, the plants are hardy and do best where the weather is the coldest. Once established, snowdrops multiply and spread each season.



Snowdrops symbolize new beginnings and hope because they bloom at the end of winter and announce the approach of spring. Growing close to the ground, they also represent death. Picking snowdrops and bringing them inside is considered unlucky, but they certainly are beautiful.

The snowdrops are already growing underground, reaching their green shoots up toward the warmth of the sun. We’ll see them soon, and then we’ll know … spring is upon us.


French Onion Soupvolunteer firefighters in Colorado

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence  from the Food Network


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 1/2 pound grated Gruyere


Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.

Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

Tomato soup

Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello from The Food Networkmetaphysical


  • 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted chopped canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add basil and cream, if using. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth.


Sonnets from the Portuguese No. 14 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If thou must love me, let it be for noughtmetaphysical
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say
‘I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day’—
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.

Some comfort food for a cold winter’s day.

Leek Potato Soupvolunteer firefighters in Colorado

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2005 – From The Food Network



  • 1 pound leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed, approximately 4 to 5 medium
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Heavy pinch kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 14 ounces, approximately 3 small, Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon snipped chives


Chop the leeks into small pieces.

In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes and the vegetable broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk, and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, or chill and serve cold.