Happy Mother’s Day and Weathervane in Chapel Hill

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I know that you all know how much I truly love my mother.  The things she and I have been through the last two years have made us stronger than ever.  She is indeed my best friend, confidant, and amazing beyond words.  She is my rock and the reason I go out everyday and try to be the best version of me that I can.  I owe that to her for all of her sacrifices, heart ache, and money spending that I have put her through.  I owe it to her to continually pay back in life what she has given to me.  I owe it to her to always treat others with kindness even though they may have hurt me.  I owe it to her to always take the high road and choose my battles, because she has taught me that I can choose how I react to situations for the best.  I owe it to her to be thankful of where I am in my life and recognize that life is always going to improve beyond where I am at in the present moment.  I owe it to her to hold my head high with confidence as a beautiful woman that she has created from her own beauty.  I owe it to her to be the best daughter she could possibly have prayed for all those years ago, because she has been that mother that God knew I was going to need.  She has shown up every single day for me, and I owe everything to her.

So when it came time to think of a Mother’s Day gift, it became difficult.  I knew she was missing her own mom, and I remembered that we didn’t make the traditional birthday cake at her birthday earlier this year.  It was time…yes time…to make Bishop Bread.  It seems almost sinful to be making it any other time than on her birthday.  I mean, it has been a time honored tradition for an incredible amount of years to be made only on her birthday (that’s me not telling you how young my mom is).  Sometimes life calls for throwing tradition out the window!  But wait, the recipe calls for candied cherries, which makes complete sense why this cake was only made around the holidays.  Grocery stores always had an abundance of candied cherries during Christmas.  If only for those god awful fruit cakes everyone seems to make.  I had to find them somewhere, right?  Very wrong.

After running out of time and places to hunt them down, there was only one option.  I had to make candied cherries myself.  One of my friends had suggested I make them out of Marschino Cherries.  Bleh.  Sorry, folks, I am not a fan of these artificially brightened treats.  However, I needed my candied cherries.  I took to Google, and Google came through with flying colors.  It landed me on ShaunaSever.com.  Thank goodness there was a recipe out there.

They were incredibly easy to make, and here is the link to her post… http://shaunasever.com/2010/12/how-to-make-candied-cherries.html.  Her recipe is below.

  

Candied Cherries

This is a full recipe that will yield about 8-9 ounces of candied cherries. It’s easily scaled up or down, even if you just need a tiny amount for a recipe.

  • 1 16-ounce jar maraschino cherries
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Drain the cherries, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice. Combine the reserved juice and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the cherries, and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour, until the cherries are slightly shriveled and firm to the touch. Remove from the heat, uncover the pan, and let cool completely.

When the cherries have cooled, remove them to paper toweling (leaving the syrup behind, your recipe doesn’t call for it) and pat dry. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six months.

  


Weathervane

We were originally headed to Fearrington Village for brunch, but considering the weather, Mom decided she would rather go to Chapel Hill and visit A Southern Season and Weathervane.  Love love love going to A Southern Season.  It should really be named A Southerner’s Food Heaven.  First, we ate!  

We lucked out and got a seat in the cafe area.  It’s really not that bad, but if you are more than two, you should ask for an extra chair when sitting at the booths. We were immediately advised that their regular menu was not available, and they were only offering a $34 Prix Fixe menu for Mother’s Day.  Which isn’t a bad thing.  I just missed their main menu.  Overall, it was a great experience because I was with my Mom/parents.  It is Mother’s Day afterall.   

They had a beautiful menu and a fresh daisy on each table.  It was set nicely, just as would be expected.

Mom ordered the baked baby brie, orange blossom honey, fig preserves, and toasted country bread for her starter.  I’m not the biggest brie fan, but this had a really nice flavor with all of the elements combined.

 I ordered the Grilled Summer Squash Soup as my starter with charred peppadew peppers, and a sweet corn crem fraiche –  No, I didn’t shake it up or stir it before taking the photo.  It was presented this way.  You eat with your eyes first, and although this ended up tasting decent, it certainly wasn’t plated well.  A little bit of a let down for as amazing as this place normally is. 

 

My Stepdad ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes with a buttermilk cucumber, green tomato relish, and crispy greens.  He said the greens were so soaked in grease, it was hard to enjoy them.  However, they were indeed fried, and we came to the conclusion that maybe that’s the only way some people can eat healthy greens…fried.  The dish was perfect otherwise.

They both ordered the out of this world Weathervane Shrimp and Grits with heritage Andouille Sausage, redeye shrimp gravy, shitake mushrooms, and pimento grits.  Even though we never saw actual pimentos in the grits, this was the best dish of the entire meal at the table.  Very thankful this is on the regular menu!!!


I ordered the Tea Glazed Organic Salmon with heirloom pea succotash, preserved lemon, skinny bean salad, and a green tomato vinaigrette.  This was probably the best cooked piece of salmon that I have had in an extremely long time.  Delicious and buttery.

They copied each other again at first with both ordering the Salty Caramel Apple Cobbler with a brown sugar streusel and buttermilk ice cream.  However, contrary to what your brain tells you, this cobbler was served cold.  I asked the server if it was supposed to be served cold (we were kind of early in their lunch service so maybe they just hadn’t had time to warm it thoroughly), and after going to the back and returning, she informs us that it is supposed to be served cold.  Hmmmm…if this is a new trend, you can have it.  Ice cream (especially such tasty ice cream like the one on this dish) should be melting gently over the HOT apple cobbler.  Maybe next time put that it is served cold on the menu?


After the Cobbler debacle, Mom ended up with the same dessert I had chosen – 11 Layer Chocolate Cake with dark chocolate ganache, roasted strawberries, and a peanut butter mousse.  This was a win in the richness of the cake and the perfection of the peanut butter mousse.  I’ll take a pound of that to go, please!

The few little things that I wasn’t pleased with didn’t outweigh the stellar service, the ambience, or the overall enjoyment of being with my family at a nice restaurant.  It truly was a good experience.  I can’t wait to go back and order my own plate of Shrimp and Grits!

If you’ve made it to the bottom, I hope that you have all enjoyed your Mother’s Day.  If you’re like me, and have only been blessed with being a mother to a cat, then Happy MeowMa Day to you (as I refer to the day).  If you’re not able to be with your Mom, then I hope that she left you with wonderful memories that you can look back on today, and know that you are a better person because she was in your life.

With love to my own Mom,  J

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women in my life!

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Mom and I…2011
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Maw-Maw and I…2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess grief comes out differently for everyone.  It also seems to come out at different times for everyone as well.  It’s impacted a lot in my life lately, hence the absence (although I know you’re probably tired of hearing excuses, but I’m going to do better.  Promise.).  I did, however, want to share this with you…

I was asked this week to write a little something for my home church.  Well, I was asked to say something about Maw-Maw in relation to Mother’s Day.  The preacher thought it would be nice seeing as how she was a very loved woman in the congregation.  I knew that I surely couldn’t make it through reading anything as much as I wear my heart on my sleeve.  Nonetheless, I agreed, with the condition that I didn’t have to read what I wrote.  I thought all week about how to relate Maw-Maw to Mother’s Day when she was really my Grandmother.  It wasn’t Grandparent’s day.  It also seemed selfish to single her out on a day meant for mothers.  But, she was a mother, and still lives on as one in my own mother’s heart.

I began to relate it to how women were created by God to be a motherly presence and guide us all in the eyes of Christ.  I, myself, don’t have children, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t acted as a Mother at some point in time to someone.  I love everyone, and that in itself requires that motherly instinct.  I started thinking about all of the mothers in the church.  All of the wonderful memories they made for me growing up, and all of the protection they provided me at the same time.

This, my loyal friends, is what I ended up with today.  Happy Mother’s Day to you all, whether you have children or not.  Love your Mother today, and if she’s sadly physically gone from us, then have a talk with her today and know she is waiting for you with milk and cookies in Heaven.

Love, Jennifer

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This Mother’s Day won’t be like they have normally been in the past.  Our family is missing a very important Mother.  Things honestly haven’t been the same.  I guess things aren’t supposed to be the same when a Mother passes away though.  See, Maw-Maw was an integral part of our everyday lives.  From the like clockwork phone calls at 9am, Noon, and 10pm every night between Mom and Maw-Maw, and then me at night.  To the motherly advice that was always available when needed.  We’re missing all of that, everyday.  I, myself, am extremely fortunate to have my own Mother living, but I know she hurts today at the loss of her own.  And I know that no amount of love and Happy Mother’s Day cards or flowers to the best Mom in the World will take away that pain.

When I relate Maw-Maw to Mother’s Day, I’m reminded that Maw-Maw was an example of what God put women on Earth to do.  We are meant to be Mothers – to guide and encourage others in the name of Christ.  Take for instance this beautiful church I grew up in.  Whether someone had 5 children, or they had no children, they were all acting mothers at one point in time.  It could have been as simple as just keeping an eye out when a little one was getting a little too close to the edge of the stage in the Fellowship Hall.  No one knew you were keeping that eye out, but you know you did…and so did God.

Just as I know Maw-Maw was to most of you, I had many mothers at Shallowford, and I still have a place in my heart for all of you.  I remember Choir…lots of mothers in our Choir helping me to hit the right notes in life and on the pew each Sunday.  Mothers in Sunday School, especially my own, who I know was a mother to a lot of you out in the congregation today on Sunday mornings.  There were Youth groups, fantastic Vacation Bible Schools, covered dish lunches after church, Girl Scouts held here, and lots of laughs.  Church fellowship time was always my favorite where we were able to walk around and greet others before the Sermon began.  Towards the end of my childhood, I found it incredibly difficult to leap over Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw and make it to hug the neck of every single person in Shallowford.  If I didn’t make it to you every Sunday, well, the piano music just wasn’t ever long enough.  It sure did make a nice backdrop though while going around hugging all of the Mothers in our church that I love.

At Mother’s Day, and always, I want to make sure you realize that mothers are all around you.  Women are made special.  We are a special gift from God.  So whether we have children ourselves or not, it doesn’t mean we can’t be mothers in God’s eyes.  It is, in the end, about loving others.  And here at Shallowford, I have never felt a lack of love.  To my mother, to all of the mothers in the audience, and to the mothers that are waiting in heaven for us with milk and cookies, I wish you all a very special Mother’s Day.

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My lovely Mom
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Her lovely Mom, Maw-Maw.

 

Sundays with Friends: Happy Birthday! You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…..

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This one is from Mom for Sundays with Friends, in honor of my birthday. Love you, Mom!

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29 years ago today, I met the love of my life. Not the romantic love of my life, but the person that would become my life’s love: the person I would give my last breath for, the person I long to see happy, the person that brings joy to my soul when she turns and smiles that smile at me. The person that has been through so much with me, stood beside me, loved me, and was my friend. 29 years ago today, I met my beautiful daughter, Jennifer Nicole. I can still remember the trembling fear, the overwhelming love, the exhaustion of birth, and the way my heart skipped a beat, when she was placed in my arms. The child that God had entrusted to me. To me. The child that I would love with all my heart and do my best to raise to be a woman of this world. A woman that is kind, compassionate, loving, funny and my best friend. My Sweetie Pie.

One of my fondest memories is of my Easter Baskets every year...Mom says this is my first one. <3

I remember a childhood of little girl hugs and kisses, having tea parties on a blanket under the big tree in the backyard, a tiny green bikini splashing in a plastic kiddie pool, and love. I remember every year we would make and decorate a birthday cake with a little girl’s vision of perfection. Eating icing until little tummies ached. I remember bouquets of flowers so lovingly picked and presented with weeds and all. I can still see clearly the little girl full of wonder on her first day of kindergarten and feel my hot tears as I hurried to the car after leaving her there. I remember sitting through piano recitals and keeping beat, holding my breath, and knowing deep in my heart there was no need to worry. She would be fine.

School days flew by, friends came and went, and trips were taken. Chorus recitals were attended, always the proud Mom. I remember the day in church I turned to my little girl and realized she was taller than I was. It struck me at that moment; she was not a little girl anymore. She was growing and finding her own place in this world. I remember waiting up to know she was home and then hurrying home to see if she had called when she left home.

Little girl hugs and kisses grew into nurturing hugs and kisses when the child comforted the mother during dark days. We survived – the two of us together. We had our love. Shared times through tears and smiles, we were together and that was all that mattered. Life has changed in many ways since that day 29 years ago. I look at you and see a woman that is kind and loving. I see a woman that is caring and generous. I see a woman that I love. I see a woman that I am proud of. I see my friend. Always remember that you are strong, you will find that place that is so uniquely yours, and you will always be loved. Nourish the love you have in your life, always be kinder than necessary, and cherish every, single moment that God has blessed you with on this Earth. 29 years ago today, I met the love of my life.

You make me happy, when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you….I remember quiet lullabies sung in the dark to a baby, I have been so blessed to have the privilege of having in my life, my Sweetie Pie.

My recipe for today is a very simple one.

Ingredients:

One mother

One daughter

Love everlasting

Directions: Bring together in a home filled with love; sustain them through days of happiness and sadness. Throw in a swirl of laughter, a dash of hope, a smidge of dreams, and stir gently with life. Place in a world of opportunity and dreams that do come true, and let them settle into their own comfortable love and watch as they show everyone that love is true and can survive.

My darling, Jennifer,

May your day be filled with love, laughter, happiness, and dreams come true.

All my love today and always,

Momma

Maw-Maw and I. Love her dearly!
Paw-Paw and I. Miss him dearly everyday. <3

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A few snippets from my life……

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Apples for Strawberries

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There’s always those moments in life that you don’t want to repeat. Then there are the moments in life that you would repeat over and over again. This past Wednesday was one of those days. As you may have already realized, I went to pick Strawberries this past Wednesday. I don’t ever remember doing this growing up (although, Mom begs to differ on this one), and in reality found it quite enjoyable. Whether it was the fresh air, the beautiful scenery, the comfort of being on a farm, or just being with Mom, it was an awesome experience.

It began as we pulled into the dirt driveway of the Strawberry Farm. I chose a local place in my town, so I could support my local farms. We should all do this people! We got out of our car, approached the wood shed and with not many a word we were handed aluminum baskets to gather our Strawberries in. The direction given was to the left and as far back as we could make it down the dirt path. The trek began, and we decided to cut through the middle of the field – no worries, we weren’t trekking through plants, there were designated cross-over spots. Our feet wouldn’t land on one row until we were already looking ahead to the next row to pick on. So, onward we would go continuing to the next row and so forth. The Strawberries always seemed redder the further we went in. This went on for about 7 or 8 rows, until we decided that the next row would always look better, but we should stay where we are because this row was just as beautiful when you really took time to appreciate it – sound like life a bit???

The first Strawberry of our journey, picked by my wonderful Mom.

Back bending after back bending, strawberry after strawberry, filled quart after filled quart. Before too long we had picked 16 quarts. On a side note, we were trying to get done before these two older ladies to our right, but then we realized they were picking 32 quarts and were almost done once we got our 16 quarts done, so we had to concede. *smiles*

Mom and I made our way back across the rows, offering to help an elderly couple make it to the “next redder row” just as we had done. As we made the trek up the dirt path now to the cash register, we noticed there were so many other produce items they were growing here. There were greens galore, broccoli – confession, had never actually seen how broccoli grew, not sure I ever even had an idea how it did grow – tomatoes, lots of peppers, etc. This was truly a beautiful farm. We paid our money and were given flats to place our fresh-picked strawberries in. Mom purchased a cantaloupe and a beautiful head of cabbage for Maw-Maw, and we were on our way back to the car. The service was friendly, not over-bearing, and done with a smile. You really had the feeling like you belonged there.

This leads me to my title…Apples for Strawberries. The name of the farm was Apple Farm. The irony is absolute bliss. It’s here local, and comes highly recommended from The Onyx Plate. The best thing about this farm??? They don’t have a website…I love the simplicity.

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Never made from a mix, always from scratch…

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I do have to give my apologies first hand.  I will not be posting my grandmother’s recipe for Banana Pudding on here.  I am sure there are many that are like hers, but I am pulling the “It’s a secret” card on this one.  It’s the one thing I have of my grandmother’s (this isn’t Maw-Maw I’m talking about), and I truly hold it dear in my heart.

Today was Mother’s Day, and I know how much my beautiful Mom loves Banana Pudding.  Not just any, but my grandmother’s recipe.  I could go all into my Mom on here again, but you guys that have been reading know how much I love my Mom, and how much I cherish every moment with her. 

So, today I am going to just mention my grandmother really quick.  Her name was Margaret, and she died very very shortly after my birth.  I never got to know her, and frankly I didn’t get to know my grandfather extremely well until a few years before his death.  These are the parents of my father, and we didn’t see them as much as we probably could have while I was growing up, by choice of my father.  I honestly wish I would have gotten the privilege of knowing my grandmother.  I wonder what I would have called her?  What was she like?  What did she think about my parents marrying?  What were her hopes and dreams for her own future while she was growing up?  There are so many questions I am sure I missed out on, but those are just a few.  I’m sure she was beautiful, and kind just like my Maw-Maw.  I was very fortunate growing up to have my Maw-Maw (Mom’s Mom).  She did the job of two grandmas, and I am forever grateful for her love.

Therefore, as an ode to the grandmother I never knew, I never make Banana Pudding from a pudding mix, etc.  It is ALWAYS from scratch…just the way Grandma made it.  *smiles*

You know a recipe is special when you have the words “Use this one” written above the title of the recipe in your own cookbook in your own handwriting….Yum!

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Caking with Mom: The Final Touch of Love

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In the end, just like in life, it’s the little added touches that make everything worthwhile.  Whether it is something as simple as a kind smile added to your day from a stranger, or a special delivery coming in the mail.  It’s all about the special touches of life you and others add daily.

Here, Mom is putting on little edible “pearls”.  They are hand-rolled out of fondant and then dusted with an edible pearl dust.  Every little girls outfit needs a touch of love and pearls…

 

 

The final product, a little baby girl sweater with booties to match, made with love.

 

 

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I hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I did.  May God continually bless your life with love and happiness all the days ahead. 

It’s time now to return to our regularly scheduled program…at least until another series opportunity presents itself.  *smiles*

Caking with Mom: Tying up some booties…

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With every beautiful sweater cake, you need to make sure all details are done.  Right down to the seam on the front and down to the tie on the ribbon of the booties.  Yes, I said booties.  *smiles*  Super cute booties to match the super cute baby sweater.

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Sadly, only one post left for this beautiful cake and experience….

 

Caking with Mom: Design Time!

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Ok, folks.  This is the first of the last three Caking with Mom postings.  I am so thankful for everyone that has read every single one of these in the series.  Your support is truly appreciated.  And, I can honestly say this experience has left me with a better understanding of how much work goes into the cake process, along with how much respect people like my dear Mom deserve for their craft.

Now that we have the crumbcoat perfected….on with the design!  It always amazes me how Mom can keep her hands so steady and make perfectly beautiful designs.  My hat goes off to all of our talented bakers and cake makers out there…you guys truly light up our world!  My sweet tooth never goes away, so never stop doing what you do best!

Enjoy these pictures.  I sure did enjoy taking them and spending time with Mom.

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Caking with Mom: Prepping the Cake for Perfection

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Sooooooooooooo, I didn’t mean to, but I did tell a slight fib….icing is coming.  But, we have to prep the cake first.  Mom had to first cut the cake to specifications before icing it.

You can use many tools you have around the house to trim your cake.  A plastic cup makes a great edge of a circle.  You can also use miscellaneous hardware tools.  Just make sure the tools you use on your cakes always have and always will be used solely in the kitchen, folks. 

To make your cakeboard fun and beautiful…wrap it in an appropriate wrapping paper for the event, and then cover the paper with Press n’ Seal.  You get a grease proof coating on your board, and it’s easily cleanable and can be reused.  Make multiple boards to be prepared for different events.

Just like in life, it’s all about MacGyvering things.  Make it work for you.  There is not a wrong or right way to do something, there is only the way you feel most comfortable with.  Get creative with it, and summons the power of MacGyver!

Can you tell what we created yet?

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