April 26, 2016


Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she's dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.

Every spring we spend the best $15 we'll ever spend on a little pool for the kids to splash in on the back patio. The cold of the winter is still fresh enough that the novelty of a 1 foot deep pool is enough to tide us over till May when the big pool opens. Our water bill is significantly higher from the hose running constantly in April but if you could hear those kids laughing and cackling from the kitchen window while you wash dishes, you would think it was completely worth it too.

The other night we had our first al fresco dinner on the same patio with the kiddy pool. It was chilly enough that I needed a sweater by the end of the meal but it felt like summer anyway. I made caprese bread with fresh mozzarella and snipped off bits of basil from our little herb garden and everything felt perfect in a the-baby-has-green-beans-stuck-in-his-thighs-kind-of-way.

My girls decided to make a night of it. They laid blankets out on the grass and watched a movie in their pajamas underneath of the stars. It had me itching for school's end when we don't have to worry about getting to bed early and we live by the light of the sun rising and the sun setting at the end of the day. Here's to summer coming and fresh everything! Especially basil. ;)


 1 loaf ciabatta bread, horizontally cut in half 
4 tablespoons salted butter 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
2 medium tomatoes, sliced 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil 

 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place both sides of the baguette on a large baking sheet with the cut side up. 2. In a small bowl, combine butter and garlic and spread evenly on bread halves. Place the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the bread, making sure the cheese covers the bread completely. Bake the bread for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 3. While the bread is in the oven, make the balsamic reduction. Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring the vinegar to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by about half. This should only take about 5-7 minutes. Set aside. 4. Remove the bread from oven. Top the bread with tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the fresh basil and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Cut into slices and serve.