The Inscription

IMG_2861 copy copy

Today, as my body was pulled from its heavy dose of slumber, I seemed to instantly wake with pancakes on my mind.  This is highly unusual for me.  I typically wake with thoughts about Mom.  I was saddened by the prospect that today may be the preface to that inevitable evolution in this process.  At any rate, pancakes were on my mind and I could tell it was going to be one of those cravings that just wasn’t going to evaporate into thin air.  Something concrete was required to help it dissipate.

Since I am not one to make pancakes very often, a cookbook was going to be necessary.  As I browsed through my treasured collection of recipe filled bibles, I found that I instantly went to my most recent additions in hopes of stumbling upon a new favorite concoction.  However, as I flipped through, peered at, and contemplated adjustments, it became clear that sometimes new isn’t best.  Sometimes, the old, tried and true is ultimately what one needs.  I finally reached in and carefully pulled out the very first cookbook I ever received.  It is not one that I go to often now, typically opting for the newer, more en vogue cookbooks, but I had high hopes and few other options to rely upon.

IMG_2871 copy copy

As I laid it carefully on the counter, I found my fingers gently running over it and memories of Mama coming to me.  Although the color was fading and the pages browned, spotted, wrinkled and torn, I felt certain what I was seeking was hidden inside.  I took my time in savoring this moment as I knew exactly what I would see when I opened the cover page.  In our family for years we have included an inscription in those cookbooks that we are offering to one another as gifts of celebration.  I knew that I would find that and as my anticipation lingered just under my emotions, I opened the book and found myself staring at exactly what I feel was destined for me today, “Happy Cooking, Love Mom and Dad, Christmas 1986.”  As I looked at the signatures, I realized that Dad had filled out the inscription.  I’m not sure why this affected me so much, but I found myself absolutely loving the fact that both of them had touched this gift and left their own mark to linger.

IMG_2866 copy copyIMG_2875 copy copy

So as I collected ingredients and supplies, measured amounts and blended to combine, I thought about how long it had actually been since I made traditional pancakes.  I truly couldn’t even remember.  It felt like old times.  It felt like being home with Mom in the kitchen and it felt nostalgic; but most of all, it felt like the mending of a broken heart and it soon filled me with love and happy moments with Mama.

IMG_2850 copy copy

Advertisements

Mmmm, Mmmmm, Good!!

D.W. Cookie Co Chocolate Chip

Yesterday, I visited a local cookie store in our area, The D.W. Cookie Co., and was instantly transported into one of my Mama memories.  As far back as I can remember, Mama always allowed us to help out in the kitchen.  At first it was in small ways, like stirring the batter, or handing her things she might need for a recipe.  Later, it transformed into a much more involved experience.  Our kitchen had an open door policy at all times.  That is not to imply that we were allowed to just waltz right in and grab anything we wanted.  We were raised knowing that there was a purpose for all things in our house and whatever food we may stumble upon might very well have an ultimate destination on a much grander scale.  All this really meant was that we needed to ask Mama before devouring it. In the overall scheme of things, alone the ingredient may be good; but, in one of Mama’s creations, it was bound to be phenomenal.

That brings me back to the memory that I stumbled upon yesterday.  As I stood in this little independently owned business, tempted by the assortment of delectable, chewy discs displayed in front of me, I recalled my first true experience in our kitchen as “Head Chef.”  I decided I wanted to try my hand at baking and what better way to start than with some ooey gooey chocolate chip goodness?

D.W. Cookie Co. Assortment

Now, Mom had a library of exceptionally tasty cookie treats; but being my new adviser, she decided a classic chocolate chip concoction would be an appropriate beginner challenge.  What I loved most about cooking with Mom was the ease with which she managed to do everything.  She allowed us to make mistakes without getting overly excited.  I think this is a true sign of not only an experienced cook, but one of an amazing teacher.  She never approached cooking as if there was only one certain way it could be done.  So as I journeyed through the process of making my first batch of cookies, I was coaxed, allowed to err, encouraged to ask questions, and ultimately guided with the compassion of someone who had a deep love of cooking and baking.

I remember those cookies were not as perfectly balanced as hers.  And as we nibbled on them, Mom explained what she thought might work better next time.  I love the fact that she allowed me to make mistakes, because that is ultimately how one learns to cook, through experimentation and an understanding that nothing is set in stone.

D.W. Cookie Co. Snickerdoodle

As the years passed, I became quite the little baker and making cookies has always remained one of my absolute favorite things to create.  So yesterday, as I stood in this amazing little store with chocolate dripping from my fingers and smudged on my face, taste buds dancing and angels singing,  I thanked Mama for helping me to develop a true appreciation of the artistry of making cookies.  Because of her, I was able to truly express to the owner and baker, Devar Ward, just how much his skill is admired and his Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookie a true work of art.

No worries if chocolate chip is not your favorite.  He’s got plenty of delicious combinations to choose from at his store, The D. W. Cookie Co. in Canyon Country, California.  What I will say is….you must go and try them!  It’s like all the delicious goodness of childhood rolled up in one round, delightful, sinfully good bite!

D.W. Cookie Co. Box of 6 -

Feeding a Little Hope and Peace

D-Photography

I have to admit, I have the best friends ever!!  They always know how to lift up my spirits and make me smile.  Most of the time, a good cup of tea, coffee, or champagne with idle chit chat and a little relaxation time is all we really need to rejuvenate our energy levels. I like to refer to them as my “just breath” moments.

Some of the time though, I’m lucky enough to be given the best little Happy Day Treats.  As an Easter gift, one of my sweet friends gave me this beautiful bird feeder, mentioning that it reminded her of me.  I have to admit, she’s was pretty spot on.  I even believe this bird feeder was specifically meant to find its way to me.

Now I’ve never owned a bird feeder before and this particular friend has never been to my parents’ house or been made privy to the fact that my mom loved bird feeders and had several of them placed throughout the absolutely gorgeous garden at their home.

So again I ask you….just coincidence?  By now, I think you know my answer to that.

Marcello’s Message

 D-Photography

Some things in life are much better than others!!  I’m lucky enough to have a full time job that allows for vacations throughout the year.  So this week, I’ve enjoyed my time off by doing a variety of different activities and projects.  By far though, my most favorite thing to do has been spending some good quality time with my spunky, silly pup, Marcello.  I will admit my shortcomings to most and one of them is definitely allowing Marcello to sleep in my bed, lick my finished dinner plate, and pretty much demand anything he wants.  I just can’t seem to say, “No” to him.

Don’t get me wrong!  He’s not ill mannered or even really demanding; except when guests arrive and he wants to be noticed or it’s dinner time and I’ve failed to fill his bowl.  In that case, he has become accustomed to hitting the Easy Button™ to receive his dinner.  Mind you, I did not train him to do this, but he’s connected it with treats and decided one day that it might just work to get his dinner as well.  I don’t mind.  It means I only need to fill his bowl when he’s ready.

marcello copy
He’s actually a pretty chill lil’ guy, extremely smart, and freakishly humanesque.  Like me, Marcello enjoys his meditation time.  At least that’s what I think he’s doing when he sits right next to me and appears to be almost asleep.  Okay…maybe that’s a stretch; but, I like to believe he is regardless.  He is the number one factor in keeping me on track with my exercise.  He LOVES to walk and can easily take on a hefty trek every day without even breaking a sweat.  For a little ten pound pup…that’s pretty impressive.  He’s apparently pretty famous too.  It’s not uncommon on our nightly walks to have people calling out to him.  Don’t ask me what he’s doing when I’m not around; but, it appears he’s making the rounds on a public campaign with quite a following.

By now, you may be questioning the purpose of this particular post.  Believe me, it does have a point.  One thing I learned from Mom was to enjoy the little pleasures in life.  Embrace that which is for you a simplistic luxury in your life, because for another it’s not even a glimmer of a possibility.  Show and express your heart to those you love as often as possible, because one day they will not be able to embrace you back or answer your sentiments.  Recognize the fact that those things most valuable cannot be bought, but can easily be lost.  Take time to notice the little details in life, the moments of pure bliss, and the heartache of lost loves.  Gratitude, my friends, is a powerful thing indeed!

IMG_3700_edited-1 copy IMG_3639_edited-1 copy D-Photography

 

 

Surprise Sighting

IMG_0201_edited-1

Don’t you love surprises?!  The kind that sneak up and take your breath away?  My heart swelled tonight when I happened to run into a dear friend that I haven’t seen in such a long time.  I truly could not hold back my excitement and flung my arms around him to hold tight to his hug.  You see, this friend is one of the select people I called when Mom went into the hospice facility, knowing the bond that the two of them had formed, stemming from a visit back home years before.  The thing I remember most about that visit was how appreciated Giovanni made Mom feel.  Which is why I called him during a time when we noticed how positively Mom was reacting to voices.  I knew that his jovial sound and laughter would make her smile.

We all loved G.  Every time I visited my parents, if Mom wasn’t askin’ about G, she was callin’ to play practical jokes on him.  They were two peas in a pod from the get go.  They had the same sense of humor, enjoyed the same things, could talk about anything and laughed until they managed to have everyone else laughing without any understanding as to why.  Being a chef, he and Mom were destined to have a Christmas throwdown on the bayou.  Then he’d just as easily shift gears and hunt with Dad, rock on the porch with Mom and go on photo shoots with me all over the ranch .  We hit New Orleans by storm, sipping hurricanes and singing until we lost our voices at Pat O’Briens.  It was one of the best vacations ever.  His thirst for adventure was what drew Mom to him.  She had a true appreciation for people who thrived on experiencing everything they possibly could because she was that way herself.  G had the ability to make us all laugh and that still remained true, even tonight.  This is the type of “good people” that we should all be lucky enough to submerge in our life and share our most treasured moments with.

IMG_0088_edited-2

There are certain people that you know alter the way you look at things.  My friends, like G, that brought out the best in Mom and know how unique she was, will always hold a special place in my heart.  Every time I see them I am overwhelmed with memories of our experiences shared with my parents and that warms my heart and brings a smile to my face to know that they too, called her Mom.  I love that Mama liked my friends so much she wanted to show them what true southern hospitality was all about.  I love even more that my friends made Mama feel appreciated and special.  She deserved that.  She deserved to feel the kind of genuine admiration these amazing people bestowed upon her.  That makes me so very proud to be her daughter and equally proud to call them my friends.

IMG_0216_edited-1

IMG_0040_edited-1

Cup of Joe

IMG_8369_edited-1 copy

No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to make a cup of coffee as comforting as the one Mama used to make.  Even using her coffee machine with her coffee grinds.  I simply do not have the knack for it that she did.  It’s easy to acknowledge, it remains the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. There was just something about it.  But alas, I continue on my quest to somehow master the skill of the perfect cup of coffee and I have to admit, I came pretty close to it today.

The sweetest of friends surprised me with a delightful collection of Hawaiian coffee this past week and I’ve been dying to try it out.  So today, I gave it a go and I must say, it left me desiring the sand between my toes, waves crashing on the shore, and a longing in my heart to move to Hawaii, as if there needs to be another reason to move to a gorgeous tropical island.  It was fabulous!  I’ve come to realize, as years go by, the little things in life, like the simple generosity of others, way overshadow the former necessity of needing so much more. This one little act of kindness absolutely made my day and reminded me of how blessed I am to be surrounded by the people I share my life with.

IMG_8365_edited-1 copy