All That’s Happened and the Healing Wonders of Sarah Addison Allen!

Sarah Addison Allen has done it again! I just finished reading her second most recent novel, “Lost Lake”. Most of you should know that my favorite author is Sarah Addison Allen, (i.e.: 50 facts about me post). But, I don’t believe you know just how much she’s meant to me and my journey through my recent years of life. I first discovered Sarah Addison Allen’s literary work in the summer of 2009. That was the summer I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, my official diagnosis was papillary carcinoma with follicular variant. That was one of the longest years of my life. From the FNA (that said I didn’t have cancer. What they didn’t know was they got a sample of a cystic nodule, that sat atop the cancer), the initial surgery, to the follow-up surgery (as they found out after the first surgery that I did in fact have cancer), radiation, a blood infection (due to a weakened immune system), going into a hypocalcemic episode and then justing to thyroid hormone replace therapy. It was a lot for me and my family to endure given my already complicated medical history. But honest to God, I can say one of the things that tied me back to myself was the wonderful stories told by Sarah Addison Allen. She gave me a unwavering sense of hope, faith in the extraordinarily ordinary everyday and reaffirmed my belief in the power of a great story!

I’ve read everything from “Garden Spells”, “Girl Who Chased the Moon”, “The Sugar Queen”, and “The Peach Keeper”. Each and every book unlocked a piece of myself I never knew I had or had neglected or had forgotten about. Ms. Allen has woven tale after tale of strong female characters, good and honorable men, the importance of friendship, a since of faith, community and beauty and magic that arises not only in nature but in the people that we encounter in life; who help us become who we are. I couldn’t be more grateful for Sarah Addison Allen or her talents as a storyteller. I honestly believe that she is a gift that I was given. And I know that many of her other fans will feel the same exact way!
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“Lost Lake”, was exactly what I needed, and I didn’t even know it. At the end of each of Sarah Addison Allen’s books I part with such bittersweet sorrow. The feeling of saying goodbye to those characters after she make you fall in love with them is like no other feeling. I’ve never been in love and so the characters that resonated with me the most were, Devin and Lisette. Devin reminded me so much of myself as a child. She was mature and intuitive enough to know what was going on in the worlds of the adults around her. But, still very much a unique, free spirited and silly little girl. As for Lisette, I found small instances when I realized that was something I had either done or would have responded quite simularly. She was stubborn, was a skilled chef and baker and she was guarded and reluctant to love. There was such peace as I turned to the next page and the page after that, until it was finshed.
I very vaguely mentioned to you all a couple months ago the new medical issues I was dealing with. But, I was reluctant to give full details. I am so grateful for this blog. A part of me is so willing to open up different facets of myself and share them with you all, knowing that you’ll appreciate or understand those things about me. But, I’ve had a very different upbringing than most with my extensive medical issues. It’s made me guarded, I didn’t know how to share with you all everything that I’ve been going through. So here it is, I have something called a thymoma. A thymoma is a mass that grows within  or surrounding your thymus gland. It was discovered back in August, after returning from a trip to California. And since I’m being more open I might as well tell you that was the worst trip of my life. During that trip to California, the day after arriving I was notified that one of my dearest friends had been murdered. It was during a string of shootings in Baltimore, involving innocent bystanders. His name was Devin Cook.
This is Devin (last year at the lacrosse “Final Four”)
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Devin was a wonderful, lively and passionate soul I met at school. He was only 20 years old. I only knew him a year and a half, but that was long enough to know 4 things for certain. 1. I loved him very much as a dear friend, 2. I will be forever grateful I ever had the chance to know him and call him my dear friend, 3. A part of me will miss him for the rest of my life and 4. His favorite song was “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. I decided to return home from California a week early, and I hadn’t been feeling well. I chalked it up to being depressed given what I just found out. But, upon my return I was experiencing sharp pains in my back that wouldn’t let up. My mom being the intuitive person and persistent nurse that she is decided I need to go to the hospital. They told me I had a kidney infection and that I needed to receive IV antibiotics. To diagnose the kidney infection they needed a CT scan and that’s how they discovered I had the mass in my chest. So, as heartbroken as I still am that I lost my dear friend Devin, every fiber of my being believes that it is because of him that I found out about my diagnosis. He saved me. These past months of receiving IVIG treatment to treat an associated illness called Mysthenia Gravis, that is commonly linked with thymoma have been tough and intense. At times I have felt lost and less than myself. But, I took time to rediscover everything that I had learned in the books of Sarah Addison Allen. I reread each that I own, so although I never lost faith, I found hope. I carried the books to doctors appointments, treatment sessions and fell asleep with them by my pillow. The meaning that I have gained from reading the books of Sarah Addison Allen stand at the apex of some of the greatest treasures of my life. I anxiously await the paperback release of her newest literary work, “First Frost”!! As I normally destroy a hardcover book…lol! I haven’t reached the end of the road on my newest journey, but I see it in sight! And I am going to reach it with grace, faith, hope and love from the support of family, friends and knowing I have the works of the Sarah Addison Allen to light my way!
Do yourself a favor and go purchase all of her literary works ASAP! Your heart, mind and soul will not only thank you for it but reward you in turn!
You can find info about the author herself and where you can find and purchase her books at: www.sarahaddisonallen.com
Here’s some quick high points to update you on:
1. My brother and his love of 10 years, Heidi and the mother of my nieces Mia and Emi, are getting married!!!
2. I am doing the wedding cake…eek! And I am a bridesmaid…one life goal down, check!
3. I will be having the surgery to remove my thymoma the first week of June at University of Maryland Medical Center.
4. I turn 25 on April 20th. I am officially a quarter of a century old, oh how exciting…no REALLY!!!
5. I couldn’t be happier for the beginning of spring and the summer to come! So, look forward to lots of blogging!
6. I too am writing a full length novel. And although I expect nothing to come from it, it’s been one of the most therapeutic and glorious endeavors I’ve ever pursued.
7. I have now added to my “Happen List” to meet Sarah Addison Allen!!
8. Here some pics of me in treatment from the past months…
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Be well loves!
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G !

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself…Getting Reaquainted!

Hey guys, how has everyone been?! I know I have been away for awhile, but now I am back and I hope to never lose touch with this blogamy (blog + family)…it that a thing or did I make that up? Anyway, if you all forgot, that is proof of just how weird I truly am. Admittedly, I hope my “weirdness” comes across in the most sincere and endearing fashion. Did I mention I have missed this…just sitting down, committing and connecting through my blog. Setting loose whatever new inspirations, FOOD and personal pieces I have to share, out into the blogesphere to each and everyone of my supporters! I could not be more grateful for this space to be my most authenic self, especially after the trials I have been through in the last 3mons. But, with conscience effort to play on the positive side, I just wanted to take this time to share a little more of silly and WAY oversharing tidbits about myself.

So, I guess here I go…

I am ambidextrous

I write poetry and have been since I was 9
I think it’s magical when the sun is out and it rains at the same time
I make wishes on the moon and daydream constantly
I own my own bakery…duh! WinniE’ Bakery specializes in traditional, edible floral infusion, glutenfree, diabetics and allergen sensitive baking. We do Weddings, Special Occasion, Birthdays, Holiday/Seaseonal and Corporate orders (all of which can be customized)
I know ASL and am currently obtaining my degree in it
I graduated high school a year early
My parent’s have been married for 2 yrs. short of 30yrs. Can you do the math, because it is utterly amazing! And are my greatest examples of “true and unconditional love”!
I have 2 brothers, the eldest Corey gave me my nephew Juel and next David gave me my niece Mia (+ a little one on the way!). I am the BABY + only girl
When I was a child I honestly thought my brother David was my third parent
I’m a shorty only 5’1″. 5’1 1/2″ on a good day!
I am a cancer survior…specifically papillary carcinoma with follicular variant. I wear my scar PROUD!
I wish I was a runner..alas I jog.
I have never been in love. And allthough I am optimistic about it potencial, I don’t focus on “it’s” absence.
I love reading and a good film with equal but separate passion
I decided (…we’ll see) to have a Youtube channel after being inspired by my fave british vloggers(Tanya Burr, Zoella, Jims Tweetings, Pointlessblog (Alfie), JacksGap (Jack and Finn) and Sprinkle of Glitter (Louise)

More YouTuber’s I enjoy: Shameless Maya, HeyFranHey, SunKissAlba, Tyler Oakley, Kandee Johnson, LEAFtv and Diabetic Danica!
I am a Type 1 diabetic I was diagnosed when I was 12 and I now wear an insulin pump (OneTouch Ping!…and it’s name is DK-aka. Dark Knight!!!)
I love the idea of makeup, but rarely wear it
I love meeting new people but large crowds of strangers make me nervous…except when I walk around in NYC!
I am a homebody, who loves to travel
I wash my feet every night before bed…MAJOR overshare
I was a springboard and platform diver for 5yrs
My room is filled with candles, just everywhere
I love disney movies
I thoroughly enjoy movie soundtracks and Hans Zimmer is my fave theatrical composer
Aside from my mom and dad I have had the same best friend since I was 12 (who I affectionatly refer to as my “chosen sister”
I have a “bonus sister” my sister-in-law Heidi, She is kind, lovely and the mother of my beautiful niece Mia (she’s David’s fiance)
I am double jointed
I have a dream of catering a small dinner for the “First Family”. The giving Sasha and Malia a baking lesson.
I read 50 shades!!! Scandalous
Scarfs make me feel safe and calm
Brunch is my favorite meal
I own over 30 different cook books, of which I have cooked almost everydish. I now am writing my own cook/lifestyle book
My father and I have a long standing Sunday morning coffee date…as you may know!
I am obsessed with perfume and sadly 1 of my fave scents has been discontinued 😦
I love wearing beanie hats year round
1 of my favorite possession is my Michael Kors leather jacket I got for  Christmas in 2011
Weird but no one has a softer face than my Mommy
From the time I was about 5-8 i asked Santa for a twin each year…so thanks for that influence Mary-Kate and Ashley.
I love both coffee and tea, both hot and cold
I love baths, but I always shower. When I do take a bath I always shower after…that was the “overshare” tipping point.
I had the same Golden Retriever since I was 7yrs old, her name was Zoe. But my beloved puppy of 17 yrs. passed and the whole family misses her
Nutella is #BOSSSAUCE, foreal! Oh, and CHEESE is the business!
I like teeth. I find a nice smile very attractive
My bedroom is moroccan/middle eastern decor inspired
Whenever I go to a beach, I enjoyed the ocean so much I usually get dehydrated
My shoes size is 6 1/2
I love maxi dresses in the summer
I LOVE JOSH GROBAN! And he always reminds me of autumn/winter. I have incredibly eclectic musical taste. I like jazz, cuban music, old rock like Led Zepplin, 90-00’s, Neo-Soul, folk/indie
I was a child ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network representative of DC Children’s National Medical Center
I am a FFK (former fat kid)
I love jewelry!!! I always wear 5 rings, a necklace, a watch, 4 braclets, an ankle bracelets, and 6 earrings
I have 7 piercings and 1 tattoo (as of now)
I wore my hair medium to long length my entire life. Then chopped it off on a whim and absolutely love it
My favorite time to read is Sunday mornings, during the rain or before bed
Williams-Sonoma is my weakness and a wonderland to me!
I love flat sandals I find them flattering and practical
I utterly love seafood, which brings me to my next fact. I am now (have been before) a lacto-ovo pescatarian
I write all my own recipes and cook and bake from scratch. I strive to buy local, sustainable and organic ingredients.
Just found out the flesh dip above your lips is called a cupids bow
I once bought a boy liked jewelry from a foreign country only to find out he liked my friend…note to my 13 year old self
Fell in LOVE with Kina Grannis’s music! And after writing a blog post about her performance at The Birchmere, thanks to this teenie, tiny, little blog she followed me on Twitter which made my life
My mom being the “most amazing” woman she is, started teaching me how to drive at 14. We’d practice in her 2000 “Midnight” blue Volkswagen Jetta, on the back lot of United Artist movie theatre.
And lastly, I am writing a series of children’s books and I would like to write 1 autobiography…one day.
So, there is a littlesomething…just kidding a WHOLE lot about me. I hope you have enjoyed my oversharing and if you’d feel take a minute to share something about yourself in the comment section below.
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

E

 

Wednesday’s with WinniE’s! (June 11th)

Hey guys, happy Wednesday!

This week in WinniE’s Bakery we decided to ‘TEST’ bake an “oldie but goodie”. I have a very BIG event coming up and I want to showcase this flavor as one of the “tasting cupcakes”. I have always loved my “Strawberry Champagne” cupcake, but with this event coming up I wanted to breathe new life into this cupcake recipe. I am all about evolving and trying new things, so I revamped the recipe, and I think I have found the perfect balance of complementing flavors! Or as my dad would say, “All the same players, just new positions!”…my dad and his sports metaphors. Anyway, for those of you who follow WinniE’s Bakery Instagram account @winniesbakery, you know that I said I would reveal my BIG news. Drum roll please…WE ARE THE JUNE FEATURED BAKERY FOR Williams-Sonoma Wedding Registry Event, AT COLUMBIA MALL, on June 24th 6-8pm!!! I could not be more grateful and ready for the new opportunities that this will bring to WinniE’s Bakery! I told you guys exciting things were happening with WinniE’s Bakery!

With that said, here is a look at what happened in WinniE’s kitchen today…

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A fresh start.

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Now for a little bubbly…

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Before…

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After.

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I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out! I feel like they are ready for the event!!!

I wanted to share with you guys a beautiful occurrence that I witnessed, while I was baking. One of my favortie things on earth is when it rains outside, while the sun is shining!!! It’s breath taking, rare and majestic. I couldn’t have been more excited and grateful to watch such natural beauty.

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Until next time. I’ll see you guys next week, for another ‘Wednesday with WinniE’s”!
P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G
E

Wednesday’s with WinniE’s! (May 28th)

Hey guys, happy WEDNESDAY!

So sorry I missed last weeks post, I had fallen ill. But, I am all better now (not really) but my spirits are high and some of my energy has returned…yay! Exciting things have been happening at WinniE’s Bakery. It’s graduation, barbeque/cookout and wedding season!!! And, everybody knows WinniE’s Bakery is “where you can always find your piece of sweet!” Each season I host a “Bite & Buy” party, to debut new and seasonal treats I have created. The party aims to premote our new additions to the menu, enocurage old customers to reorder and cultivate new clientelle. So far, over the spring I’ve created the “Jordy’s Triple B” cupcake, “David’s Strawberry Delight” cupcake, “Banana ‘Nana’ Infused” cupcake w/ Nutella buttercream and lastly, our “Lemon Coconut Creme” cupcake. I have been so fortunate that I’ve been and continue to be inspired by the undeniable multitude of things that life has to offer. I am currently developing new recipes for the bakery and they will be feautred on the menu and I couldn’t be more excited! Of course you guys will be the first to know, seeing as I share my ‘TEST’ baking sessions with you all each Wednesday…you guys are that special to me! Anyway, I wanted to share with you a glimps into my most recent “Bite & Buy” party.

Here is a look into what was the outcome…

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After the festivities were finished, we sent “to-go” boxes home with our guest!

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How cute!

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See you guys again next Wednesday, for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”. I hope you guys enjoyed this post!

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

E

A Night To Remember: The Sweet Serenades of Ms. Kina Grannis & Imaginary Future

Hey guys, happy Thursday!

I am incredibly excited to share this post with you all (although I have been nervous out of my mind to write it!) I had the unrivaled honor of attending the Kina Grannis concert, at “The Birchmere” in Alexandria, Va. The concert was last Monday and I remember being so excited, anxious and blissfully unaware of the stupid grin I had worn all day leading up to the concert! Through the entirty of the performance, until I went to sleep…quite honestly. I am a “new” fan of Ms. Grannis, I discovered her via Google+, while I was in the hospital. I could not be more grateful now looking back, that I clicked on that ‘recommended’ button! She is a natural, raw and powerful talent…a true artist! She’s a singer, songwriter, producer, performer, artist, songstress, a tiny songbird with a big voice! Her songs evoke such emotion, it’s all most as if it is palpable with each verse, each bridge, each chorus, she utters into the universe, dancing along on the meledies she strums with her guitar (PLUS: she and her band have great synchonicity!) Anyway, I don’t want to spend my entire post trying to describe what it is, means or feels like to be in the presences that is “Ms. Kina Grannis”, so I will just have to show you a little bit of my experience.

Here is a look…

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On the way!

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“The Birchmere”

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Ms. Colbie Caillat + Mr. B.B. King!

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Kina’s opening act was a talent by the name of Jesse Epstein aka: Imaginary Future (I LOVE that stage name). Imaginary Future is a strong lyrical, deeply moving, capitvating and stoic musician…which is probably why is music is so rich with the realities and the moments in life the heart endures. He was an absolute pleasure to watch and experience, as he serenaded the entire audience with his acoustic set, into dumb-founded ahhh! P.S.: He was also smart enough to “put a ring on it” and he is the other 1/2 to the lovely Ms. Kina! Next up, Ms. KINA GRANNIS!

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I had video snipits of both her and Imaginary Future’s performance, but for whatever reason I am unable to import them into this post. Anyway, she was gracious enough to indulge the audience and she played 3 or 4 encore songs, I do believe.

Here are some cheeky quotes she shared with us during her performance:

“I always struggled with the idea of impermanance.” ~ Kina Grannis (song: “Forever Blue”, inspired by her grandfather’s passing)

“There are your faces, nice to meet them.” ~ Kina Grannis (referring to having more lighting, abling her to see her audience)

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The line and well worth the wait!Image

Imaginary Future and I. He was so kind and very approachable. Is it weird, that I think I fell “in love” with both him and his wife, that night?! That was probably an overshare, but who cares…THIS IS MY BLOG! P.S.: Sorry the quality of these photos aren’t the best.

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That ENTIRE night, will FOREVER be burned into my brain as one of the loveliest experiences I have ever had!!! Kina was warm and incredibly easy to talk to! I told her about how I had wanted to bake her something, but ran out of time. So, I asked her about what kind of baked goods she enjoys and she told me, then I promised to bring her something original. I will create some kind of confection called the “Kina” and bring it to her, at her next show in the “dmv” area, in the fall. I look forward to that moment!!! She was so generous with herself and time for each and every fan who waited to see/meet her! I would like to say, “Thank you!”, to Kina Grannis, Imaginary Future and her band for an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience, that I will carry with me and cherish for the rest of my life! Gosh I am sappy!

Both Kina’s and Imaginary Future’s weblinks:

http://kinagrannis.com/

http://www.imaginaryfuture.com/

You can purchase both of their new albums on iTunes and you can follow + like their respective social media. Everythink from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I have!

Until next time you guys!

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

E

 

Wednesday’s with WinniE’s! (May 14th)

Hello everybody, happy Wednesday!!

How is eveyone doing?! I am well and feeling inspired. As you all you, I am incredibly close to my family (not just my immediate). My dad is 1 of 7 children and my mom 1 of 3. So, I can honestly say, my family doesn’t know what a “small get together is like”. I was fortunate enough to grow-up with my cousins. We were always at each others houses, playing “Power Rangers”, while climbing trees or reenacting our FAVORITE music video…The Notorious B.I.G.: Mo Money Mo Problems…ahhh good times! Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, my cousin Jordan (aka Jordy) was visiting and we started talking about the new recipes I have been developing for Spring. I told him about how I plan to create a new recipe for each family member. Of course, he was ready to tell me about what flavor elements he would want incorporated into his cupcake. Jordy said he wanted buttermilk, bacon, cinnamon and sugar. After, some thought I knew that this would be a phenomenal recipe, you see I come from a family of foodies + cooks. Plus, Jordy has plans of attending culinary arts school…so proud! I was so inspired to create this recipe, I wrote it in 5mins, but I have been so busy lately that it has taken me 2 weeks to tryout the recipe in the ‘TEST’ kitchen. But, today was the day…I baked what I tentatively call “Jordan’s BBB + Cinnamon cupcake”, it’s a buttermilk + bacon cupcake with a creme brulee top, and a cinnamon + Bourbon infused buttercream!

Here’s a look at what happened in the bakery today…

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And now a little music…I even have a playlist, just for cooking and baking!

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All set-up and ready…

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Fresh out of the oven!

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Stationed…now let’s do this!

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A little something sweet!

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All done!!! 

I am incredibly pleased with how this recipe turned out! I look forward to debuting it, this weekend at my “Bite + Buy” party! Have a spectacular rest of your week, until next time. See you next Wednesday, for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”!

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

E

 

Mother’s Day: A Dinner, Some Cake & Other Lovely Happenings!

Hey guys, happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, I know I did! I feel unfathomably and unimaginably grateful for the blessing that is my MOMMY!! She is my bestfriend and she never ceases to amaze me. She is undoubtably the strongest woman I know. My mom is loving, a fighter, a smart-ass, a medical encyclopedia and the best go-getter around. Now look, I adore Oprah as much as the next (let’s be honest…probably more than most), but my mom rivals her on a daily basis (and my mom doesn’t have multiple teams of people to help, assist or orchestrate her life and career!) She envisions, plans, works her ASS OFF, then makes her own damn dreams come true! I CAN’T hold back my tears as I write this post. She was nearly taken from my family and I, just 6 days before my 21st birthday. She had sustained fatal medical trauma, but by the grace of God, she is still here with us, being a blessing in our lives, day-in and day-out! Just months after leaving the hospital she completed her PhD and is now 1 semester away from finishing her 2nd. Master’s degree. She is a phenomenal WOMAN, mother, wife, daughter, friend, human and all the rest of the minutely significant attributes that amalgamate the person that I call Mommy! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! 
Here is a look at the day…
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My SPECIAL little helper!
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 This is one of the lovely Gluten-free flours WinniE’s Bakery uses!

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Round one done! Now on to round 2!

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So this is the unfinished result. I made my mother a Gluten-free “‘David’s’ Strawberry Delight cake w/ Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream”. I had planned on decorating it with floral accents and lettering saying, “You’re the best, Happy Mother’s Day”, but she couldn’t wait. So, unfortunately we ate the cake in it’s more rustic form…lol!

Dinner:

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Tonight’s players: a little garlic, thyme, wild spring mushroom, organic locally grown asparagus, locally sorced leeks and arborio rice. I decided to make Wild Spring Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto topped w/ Pan Seared Shrimp. Growing up my dad always cooked, especially for holiday’s, but as life got busier and I got older I started following in his footsteps. So now, I often cook the meals for special occasions or my dad and myself tag team the effort!

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Almost done.

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Dad working his culinary magic! He is making his famous “Bruschetta Tomatoes”, a lovely accompaniment to the risotto.

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Unfortunately, my brothers couldn’t make dinner because they have families of their own now, but that’s ok…since I am the ‘baby’ every now and again I like having my parents all to myself!

After dinner we went to visit my dad’s mom. Visiting her is always a blessing and a riot, being she is 90 years old and a firecracker, to boot! 

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My mom’s mother passed when I was 14. Even though it is rounding 10 years since her passing, times like this are really hard for my mom. She was as close to my Nana, as I am to her. I named my bakery after her. WinniE’s Bakery is done with love and completely in honor of her spirit and the passions she pursued during her time here on earth.

We ended the night with PRESENTS! We got her these new mosaic/art deco plates from Williams-Sonoma. And I think it’s safe to say she LOVED them. She was surprised too…which is amazing becuase she is really hard to buy for, which is why I tend to make things for her.

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Lol…I made her close her eyes!

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Make sure you guys celebrate the deserving mother’s, women or parents in your life! I hope you guys liked it, see you tomorrow for “Wednesday’s with WinniE’s”!

P E A C E + L O V E + B A K I N G

 

E