autumnal feast: lake forest farms | part two

Here are some more images of the beautiful dinner put on by Lake Forest Farm. Still reeling from the beauty of the evening, and the delicious treats that were served by Chef Joey Dawkins of Wodafood.

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Q: While we were talking, you mentioned that this was the first Farm to Table dinner you have been a part of. As a chef, what does it mean to you have this kind of “fresh + local” movement in our area?

JD: Right now local is coming on strong in many cities across America. People are tired of being fed food that is shipped across the nation just to save a penny. They’re quickly realizing that the same produce in the store is actually being grown down the street from them. Educating people about this fact and showing them where to find it is priceless. People actually being able to eat the food from the farm they just took a tour of helps connect them with the land and the farm who grew. It means the world to me to be able to be the chef that helped bring it all together.

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Q: What was the reasoning behind the dishes you chose to showcase for the dinner?

JD: I chose classical French cuisine because everything was being served with French wine. I was also classically trained in French culinary as well.  I think the main reason though was because French cuisine was made to warm the bones in the fall and winter.

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Q: What is your absolute favorite fall dish to make?

JD: I would say my all time favorite fall dish would actually be a very simple one. Tomato basil soup with heavy cream and a three cheese grilled cheese. I make it every year for my family when the leaves begin to change. It’s actually a tradition in our family now.

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 You can learn more about Chef Joey Dawkins and Wodafood here.

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being okay with being alone

Alone time. As I grow older I notice more and more that people don’t have much of this, and don’t desire much of this. The concept of not taking time for oneself baffles me. Time set aside to reflect, relax, and breathe is one of my most cherished activities and something I would miss terribly if it wasn’t within reach. I’m always reminded of the benefits long after my alone time is complete. I feel more rested, yet productive, effective and thoughtful. Sometimes I even feel more tolerant towards others, a desire to be kinder, more compassionate. In a society that’s ridden with codependency and the fear of alienation, there’s a bevy of bona fide reasons to give yourself the gift of being alone, psychological and otherwise.  As you finish out this week, take an hour, three hours, or however many you can allot and enjoy the comfort of being with you. You owe it to yourself.

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My alone time was spent…

repeating: peasants by houses

snacking: brie + pear + mustard seed panini (recipe soon!)

admiring: the art of alison cooley. swoon.

watching: the great gatsby! for the fourth time.

napping: often.

wishing: this cool weather would stick around for a while.

desperately seeking solitude: or how love found me

I think we’re all jaded in one way or another. Aren’t we?

For a while I had a string of unhealthy relationships that depleted my confidence and gave me a completely incorrect impression of what real love looks and feels like. I settled (and settled bad) because I couldn’t find what I wanted in a man. I defended flaws in my partners that I shouldn’t have, and allowed myself to be talked to in ways that were inexcusable. I stifled the parts of my personality that weren’t appreciated and pleaded guilty in most arguments just to avoid a bigger fight. I even had to defend the way I dressed because my personal motto of “modest is hottest” didn’t fly with one guy. I cried myself to sleep most nights and stayed at work later and later just to have less time around the person I grew to fear. I compromised, I kept quiet, I slowly lost my identity and hope. I felt stuck. (Oh! How wrong I was!)

When I discovered photography all the sudden my world lit up with endless possibilities. I used the hobby to spend time alone after work, driving my Volvo station wagon up and down back roads finding abandoned farm homes and gorgeous landscapes that swept me away from reality for just a bit. It was therapeutic to my heart, and gave me the fresh air and clarity I’d been lacking. The guy hated my hobby. Thought it was a waste of time. Didn’t like the community of photographers I was becoming friends with.  But photography instilled a sense of pride in me and gave me purpose. Slowly it began to bring back the parts of me I hid for so long. Happiness was a merely a breakup and shutter click away.

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one of my first + favorite photos

I tried to break it off nicely, got my own place and moved on, swearing to only cohabitate with kittens and polaroids for at least 5 years. I filled my home with beautiful music, collected furniture, took up baking and dived further into the craft that gave me hope. I purged unhealthy friendships, mended strained relationships with certain family members and began to feel life fall into exactly what it was supposed to be. It was all wonderful. I wanted to do things right and give myself time to heal. I didn’t want to date anyone. I was learning to be happy.

They say you find love when you’re not looking, and in early November love showed up in an English pub wearing a disarming smile and basketball shorts exactly when I didn’t want him to. A mutual friend had been telling me about this dreamy dude, “you two would be so perfect together it’s sick” she said “just meet him once” she said. I avoided meeting for a month, but one night she insisted on going out. Soon she was at my door, approved of a navy button-down dress and crochet tights, and we were out. I had no idea until we got to the pub that she invited him and he would be on his way soon. Trying my best not to be completely disinterested in this matchmaking, I got a basket of fries and a tall glass of Stella. We laughed, people watched, and then he walked in.

My cavalier attitude melted away immediately. All three of us sat at the bar and conversation flowed easily. He had 3 brothers. (I had three sisters, plus three more I was about to meet next week) He went to Oklahoma State. (I went there too) He lived in Plano. (Right across the street from where I played and coached volleyball for years) He liked to laugh. (So did I) We got along effortlessly. I could tell he had a good heart and kind intentions. The next week he asked me to lunch, where he then asked me to go on a QUADRUPLE date with his brothers and their respective ladies (talk about pressure on a first date!) at the Baylor vs. Texas Tech game and we’ve been nearly inseparable since.

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our anniversary at the baylor vs. texas tech game 2012

There isn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that I made the right decision to date him before I was fully mended. It wasn’t how I planned my transition to go, but when do plans ever work out how you want? He quickly became my best friend and my hearts protector. He’s shown me every single day what true and unselfish love looks like: completely void of dishonest intention and jealousy.

So I guess this is actually more of a thank you to the bad egg(s) I had to throw out. You taught me so much about what WASN’T right in a relationship, and as a result I’ve been able to develop and maintain a healthy partnership with someone who not only values me for exactly who I am and encourages me to pursue whatever I want, but also loves my family like his own. My heart has healed in it’s own way and I have hope for a continuing future of this incredible, radical love.

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love you j, always.

(thanks veronica for the photo)