Ice Cream with Nella Cordelia

No recipe today. Just a story. I’ll weave it slow and sweet, same as it unfolded.

A good long while ago, my sweet Rebecca Milliken sent me the link to a blog post. To this blog post to be exact.

By now, some number of you have already discovered Kelle Hampton, but reading that post was my first introduction to her. Immediately, she stole the breath from my gut. I’d never before read anything via blog so heart-rendingly honest and painful, yet optimistic, and hopeful, so full of celebration. This girl, I thought, is a good one. I’m going to keep my eye on her.

And so I did. Checking in from time to time. Marveling at her ability to pull the fiber from life and string it about her way, a path of confetti ever left in her wake.

As online connections often go, we were lucky enough to cross paths, then cross again. Each personal interaction with her made me like her all the more. She was a busy photographer, an epically devoted mama, a mid-afternoon dancer, little girls party-planner, a suck-the-marrow-out of lifer. Yet, she always found the time to respond to emails, to take on quasi-exciting side projects.  She just astonished in every way.

When our family hightailed it to Florida last week, Kelle and I arranged a real-life meeting. It seemed only right that we squish our bodies side-by-side on a picnic basket, nibble on grapes and chat about the finest wonders of life. This is phase two of internet friendships, you know. The meetup. It’s like internet dating, only significantly more successful, and you can eat jalapeno-speckled potato salad on your first date because, there’s no messy threat of kissing at the end of it all.

Someday very soon, I’ll tell you about what a gift Kelle has been to my husband and I. She has the uncommon ability to breathe life into everything around her. Whoosh. There’s a little more color. Whoosh. There’s a little more soul. Whoosh. Words and phrases become songs and fairy whispers, guiding you on a path you always hoped was there. And suddenly, you can see it a little more clearly because of the way Kelle sees it and shares it all. She’s totally amazeballs.

To prove my point, as we were travelling to Naples to meet up with the Hamptons, my children asked what the family looked like, so they could keep a look out as we pulled into the park. “The little girls have blonde hair,” I said,” and Kelle has long dark hair with bangs.”

“Ok. So, like Salt,” said Andrew, who was recently allowed to watch his first PG-13 movie and apparently found Angelina Jolie worth remembering.

“Sure, like Salt,” I half-attentively replied.

As the evening came to a close, we said our goodbyes and the children piled into our car. First topic of coversation, “Oh my gosh! She DOES look like Salt.”

Of which daughter Alyssa excitedly shouted, “Maybe she IS Salt!”

Then again, none of this could happen until we’d finished a proper picnic (Kelle has GOT to get me her potato salad recipe so I can snitch it to you, for reals.) and walked down a charming street of shops and landed ourselved in Kilwins Fudge and Ice Cream Shoppe.

Each of the kids ordered cones heaped high with ice cream. Kelle’s little Lainey opted for a sprinkle-smothered krispy treat.

But it was Nella who turned our rather magical stop into an all out hilar-fest. That darling bebe took hold of her raspberry sherbet and partied like it was 1999. My children proclaimed again and again how much they’d like to move to Florida so they could babysit Lainey and Nella. I’m trying to pretend like such an idea is a hard sell.

But, truthfully, I don’t have to be sold at all. Because colorful friends are what life is all about.

Perhaps one day we will move ourselves to Florida. I’ve been on the lookout for a new city since as long as I can remember. But, in the meantime, how blessed we are to have shared a single sunny afternoon on a picnic blanket with potato salad on plastic forks and sunkissed children floating in and out of a warm chat with Kelle Hampton and company.

To digital friends. To kindred spirits. To summer afternoons. To raspberry sherbet. XO.

Want to read more about our picnic in Naples? Kelle shares her side of things here.