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.

20 Responses to “Ice Cream with Nella Cordelia”

  1. Alzbeta says:

    I love that the lovely ladies behind two of my favorite bloggers met. Both of your posts popped up right next to each other… it made my heart happy as I got ready to settle into sleep :).

    btw, getting ready to make your herbed potato chicken pop pie again this weekend… sigh. so yummy.

  2. tahnie says:

    i’m so thrilled kelle mentioned you so that i could find your blog! (no i don’t know what my problem is that i haven’t found it sooner. {wink} loved reading about your gorgeous time together!

    happy thursday!


  3. Wow ! Nice lovely pics. The girls are looking gorgeous. The pics are narrating that you all had loads of fun at the Picnic. Nice Share . :-)

  4. Rebecca says:

    Amazing. Someday over our “lemonade talks” you will have to tell me all about it. OK, I think it is time for you to get some kind of “assignment” and head over here to Germany.

  5. Claire says:

    How lovely! I’m so glad you guys got to meet!


  6. I followed your link to Nella’s birth story. OMG it gutted me. So moving. While I don’t have a child with Down’s, I think all mom’s have that fear. And to have it come true would be devastating. What a great writer, photographer and mom she is. Thanks for sharing her with us!

  7. Gina says:

    love your writing style…glad i stumbled across your blog


  8. Carly says:

    Aw, this is so cute. I got here from Kelle’s blog… your writing style is so pithy and humorous! Very interesting, indeed!

    Glad you met a kindred spirit :)


  9. DeeDee says:

    Hi Brooke! I’m a “creeper” when it comes to your blog…I rarely leave a comment…just love to look and drool! Heehee! But I had to say that I followed the link you gave us to Nella’s birth story and even though neither of my boys have DS, {my youngest does have Cerebral Palsy, its very mild and he’s very high functioning…we are blessed} I was moved by the story your sweet friend told. I just wanted to say thank you for leading me to her blog today! I needed that! HUGS! :)

  10. Stacey Lee Killpack says:

    Note to self: use the word “amazeballs” in a sentence at LEAST once a day….

  11. Tabitha Blue says:

    Amazing… your blog, your writing, your humor, your family!! Love it all. It is my first time quasi-meeting you ;) I’ll definitely be back for more, and look forward to getting lost in your trails of recipes and stories!


  12. Well now you made me cry. You tell it so beautifully and I am smiling and laughing and wishing it was longer than just a “one night stand.” Ha. Girl, you rock. So glad to know you. And so glad to know there is more in store.

  13. Lissa says:

    I had to do a double take when I opened your blog on my reader – Why is Nella in my “food blogs”?! I always wonder how so many of my favorite bloggers cross paths. GLad you all had fun and got to meet!

  14. Katrina says:

    Very cool! So jealous you got to meet!

  15. cole says:

    Long-time follower of Kelle and popped over to “meet” you! Lovely writing and can’t wait to puruse your blog. I heart recipes!

  16. kelly says:

    you are so lucky to have met adorable nella!!! and cool kelle!
    this blog world has created such an amazing network!

  17. Jen says:

    When I first saw Nella on your blog, I thought I went to the wrong site to get ideas for last night’s dinner. Nope. Just an affirmation that good, creative people attract good, creative people. Sure do admire you both!

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