Time may have passed but my memory of this chilly day with “just another family”
in Louisiana will stay with me a long time.
I’m taking you all the way back to last February when I was fortunate enough to photograph
the beautiful and very talented Jessica Robertson at her home in
West Monroe for an article in Where Women Create.
You might just recognize Jessica, the wife of Jep Robertson, as seen on fabulous Duck Dynasty of A&E.
Had to wait till the issue came out (which was last Fall) and then Christmas sessions hit followed by the holidays…
But here I am and here’s the story.
We were lucky enough just to be able to get to Jep & Jessica’s home considering
the icy situation that was brewing since landing in Louisiana.
Just the day before – everything was fine– had a FANTASTIC time shooting
Come hell or high ice…I was determined to make it happen.
2 steps in The Robertsons’ cozy and love-filled home and the cold was no more.
First, I’ll give you a little tour.
Jessica’s kitchen…this AMAZING island made from doors!
Like an arrow straight threw to my junkin’ lovin heart!
It’s no wonder she’s a fan of Junky Gypsy.
Gotta love the hunters touches with the reindeer and Miss Kay’s Cookbooks in dead center.
They were so sweet to put on a spread for us (more on that in a few).
Not surprisingly — family games, books, art…for Jep & Jessica’s 4 super adorable kiddos.
I was surprised to see the many music instruments.
As if they aren’t talented enough on the show— add music to that list!
Very sweet photos and messages of love like any family.
Speaking of music…anyone who still has vinyl on the shelf
next to a record player is just good people to me.
Add some Jesus standing by and a saint and this girl is happy happy happy.!
Now onto the reason I was there…
Not only is Jessica a wonderful wife, mother, and reality TV star,
but she also has a profound talent for sewing.
And I do mean talent.
Ask anyone who’s ever even tried to make a quilt and they will tell you – it is NOT easy.
Here’s what I love…
Jessica had her sewing machine on the family dining table, quilts laid out to share,
piles of fabric scraps for potential projects, and a sweet little sewing box.
She even had the same scissors that I have in my craft room at home…. like “just another family”.
Like just another mom, Jessica has made countless projects for family members,
church friends, etc… She proudly showed some of her creations.
I adored the selection of the mixed patterns she used.
Every quilt I saw was sewn in such a pretty perfect way.
She definitely just has a “hand” for sewing as I like to say.
And why shouldn’t she?
With quilts that her Grandma made- it’s easy to see this is a rich family tradition
taken to heart.
Speaking of the heart…
Meet the Jep Robertson super adorable clan.
Such sweeeeeeeties! I felt like i was just over a friend’s house for a visit instead of
shooting a celebrity for a national magazine!
Both Jep and Jessica wer so gracious.
And for Pete’s sake…look at all of these quilts!! These were just a FEW of the quilts
Jessica has made.
And if this looks familiar…you might have seen some of this shoot in US WEEKLY’s
special edition on the Robertsons last summmer
which I was completely THRILLED to be a part of!
cozy hand-made quilts throughout the house.
Her talents do not stop at quilts….check out this dreamy baptismal gown she made that
several of the Robertson children have worn. What a treasure!
Beauty, southern hospitality, and sewing!
That’s a great package right there.
Seriously…the girl could not take a bad picture.
So after a fun afternoon visit with my new crafty, antique lovin, friend (ha in my mind at least)
I was treated to a DIVINE stew made by Jep himself.
Um it was FABULOUS and thankfully so on that chilly day.
AND he even made BACON CRUSTED CORNBREAD?!
Who does that?!
Mrs. Kay’s son — that’s who!
Although he did share that Phil is a wonderful cook as well.
All that you see on TV is real folks.
These people really are “just another family”.
They are REAL. They are wonderful people.
No different than you and I.
Ok so they’re celebrities so they’re a little different.
But they are doing their thing and what they’ve brought to a very messed up
time in history – well i find it remarkable.
To put yourself out there.
To share what you’re doing with the world…
and do all of this while staying TRUE to who you are?
Amazing and I’m grateful.
As you can tell, I’m a fan and I hope you are too.
And now a stark contrast to the “weirdness” we loved of Austin…
Fredericksburg with its rich German history and
love affair with the land, peaches, & wine.
The winding roads and gorgeous hills on the drive there
are enough in itself to make you wonder why you don’t live there.
Now add to that a bit of nostalgia and you’ll
understand why this trip was special to us.
In 2002, I was on Spring Break while still teaching.
The last vacation we’d have before we began our family.
We decided to stay a few days in Fredericksburg
in a quaint 150 year old cabin transplanted to there from Kentucky.
13 years later we opened that door once again.
A lot of things have changed.
Different sofa, decorations, tv…
some new decor
A couple things have stayed the same… copper sink and step-down galley kitchen I loved
and where we enjoyed some terrific coffee with a hint of cinnamon.
same bathroom with a dresser sink i loved.
oh then there’s this.
A whole new person to love it all with!
That and a darling puppy.
Being the sentimental boy he is — he loved coming to Baron’s Creekside as much as i did.
Lots of Big changes. Last time we were here – there was only 1 cabin.
Now there are 8 cabins! Talk about a shock!
a long winding creek and pond with ducks. very sweet
i don’t remember seeing this funny tree!
Meet Daniel, the owner who took over the property in 2006.
He’s from Switzerland and has an awesome story.
He was awesome enough to let us bring our very well-behaved puppy!
So after we got settled we went onto the Pioneer Museum on Main Street.
Got to see some cool living history in motion.
I’m happy to say that all of the guides were very friendly and knowledgable.
A couple of characters who you can swear stepped straight out of
the old west. Fun talking about John Wayne movies with him!
Cookie even made us some fresh biscuits!
They were FABULOUS!
They also served “cowboy coffee”.
Onto iron works at the blacksmith
even a performance! Sweet cowboys invited maceo to play. he did really well!
Onto the school house where we learned some common German phrases.
surely there’s a cub scout belt loop for this!?
We chose Otto’s as we were looking for German food.
THANKFULLY I was REDEEMED!
After that fiasco in Austin, I was a little pessimistic about trying a new place.
But ohhhh was i glad I did
b/c Otto’s was AHHHMAZING!
These dudes know exactly what they’re doing.
Meet Chef Adam Yoho- or as my husband would call– the KING OF ALL STEAK COOKERY!
Pretty neat they’re doing it all right in front of you in the dining area.
Being the foodie family we are– of course i had to snap a couple pics.
To begin we had a Otto’s Salad
greens, pickled red onion, roasted beet, honey doe feta, candied pecans, caraway vinaigrette.
Flavors complimented each other perfectly.
We all cleaned our plates!
Not kidding when i say this was the BEST margarita I can remember having.
I NEVER have more than 1 margarita but i had 2 this evening.
For my main course I had the German version of pizza — flammkuchen –
flatbread with crème fraiche, cambozola, gruyère, caramelized onions, bacon.
Maceo – the adventurous world traveler – had the
house-made sausage, served with kartoffelnsalat, sauerkraut, senfgurken, mustard.
It was also very good.
We always share our dishes to try new things
And for the steak – you’ll have to use your imagination.
Hubby dug into it pretty quick and then it wasn’t so pretty.
Strube Ribeye — wagyu ribeye, confit potato, roasted vegetables.
But you must know– it was the absolute BEST STEAK of our LIVES!
And we’ve had steak in some snazzy places.
It was perfection. Like you want to cry perfection!
Serious. Ok no crying but we raved and raved for sure.
For dessert we had creme brûlée and cheese cake.
We were stuffed and so cheesecake went home with us but
we had no choice but to have the creme brûlée there b/c of the caramelization and all.
So Chef Adam- thank you so much for giving us a perfectly delicious and memorable
dinner in Fredericksburg.
He was sweet enough to even come over to our table.
Good people that one!
So after a quick trip to local Walmart for a couple essentials like popcorn,
and where I may or may not have bumped
the cart into a couple of things b/c of that wonderful 2nd margarita,
we landed back at our cozy cabin.
Even though i wasn’t thrilled about the early Spring Break and colder weather–
the cozy fire made it worth it.
We all agreed this was one of the highlights of our trip…
a million stars in the sky
fire, game, dessert, popcorn,
sweet puppy, and 2 parents thrilled to be with their boy.
Next morning we were up early to Enchanted Rock.
Another trip down memory lane.
This was 2002– note the 1 megabyte Sony Mavica that took FLOPPY DISKS
hanging around hubby’s neck!
Hey – we were very hip at the time– cutting edge technology in 2002.
I later realized that Maceo was standing in almost the exact spot I took the photo
of Hector in 2002 (look at the tree on the right of Hector’s right side)
AND it was 13 to the DAY!
What are the odds of that?
I didn’t look at the pics till we came back so it was completely coincidental.
Someone was too cold to climb so I stayed behind with that little SOMEONE.
She was very mad.
But it was fine…I climbed it before in 2002.
Plus, I loved that my guys could have a special moment together.
AND I got to have a special moment like THIS!
See those 2 tiny specks at the top of Enchanted Rock?
That is Hector and Maceo!
SO awesome to get a photo like this.
Maceo was to the moon about it!
I didn’t get to photo all i wanted to boooooo!!!!
In fact one of the best parts of Fredericksburg is Main Street.
SO SOO SOOO many amazing shops. notice i said SHOPS.
not stores — SHOPS. Very mom and pop.
I only had time to go to a couple shops and i chose wisely.
or as i know it– every-cooks-dream.
Hubby was very sweet and told me to take my time
even though we were really on our way out of town.
Picked up a couple of cute things including an amazing brass pepper mill from Greece.
SO impressed with this store.
Think Williams-Sonoma/Sur La Table and then even better!
The prices were very reasonable as well- which i found surprising considering
it’s in a small town.
So after all that crazy climbing, we were pretty hungry.
Maceo gladly reminded us that his favorite BBQ spot
Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX
was on the way back home (or at least just a little bit out of the way).
But hey – it’s spring break and adventures we must take home!
tried sneaking this little girl in in her carrier but she wouldn’t pipe down.
thankfully our food came soon after so she didn’t have to wait long in the car for us.
that and it was nice and chilly out still.
VERY happy carnivore.
So that was it.
We packed as much adventure as we could into 3 days
revisiting old memories and making a lot of new ones too.
I’d say that’s living a great story!
Live a great story…at least for a day.
Spring Break 2015 came much earlier than any year before.
And on a year that was colder than most, I was relieved I didn’t plan much outdoors.
One thing I try to do every year, is travel Texas.
Get to know towns and landmarks with some good grub along the way.
Ok who cares about the landmarks.
My son — obsessed with “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”.
Hubby — “Man vs. Food”
and b/c i love to cook – traveling is essential for inspiration.
Pretty lucky that my hubby doesn’t care where we go and
Maceo always up for any adventure.
So my job is usually pretty easy.
We decided on Austin & Fredericksburg.
Two days in two towns with completely different energies.
Even though we’ve been to Austin
we wanted to see a different side…the “KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD” side.
That and the food. I mean DA FOOD!
One of the first things i noticed was a sign that read,
What stellar advice.
I saw this sticker/sign several random times.
Maceo and I decided we loved it and would make this the theme of our trip.
Unfortunately, every time we saw it, we were in traffic and my camera wasn’t handy.
But you get the idea.
First stop on the foodie express
GORDOUGH’S PUBLIC HOUSE
on S. Lamar.
Basic principle here.
Everything they make is on a doughnut.
Tacos, chili, chicken, desserts, you name it.
ON A DOUGHNUT!
Hard concept to accept but you can see lots of the menu
from patrons on yelp.
Started with a frito pie “Ode to the trailer” as an appetizer.
Please try not to lick your screen as I can not be responsible for possible electricution.
HA! The names alone on the menu are good entertainment.
For me and Mace- “The Mother Plucker”.
Fried chicken on with maple-butter on a doughnut.
As if that’s not enough…
Jr. Foodie wanted bacon on top.
Kid’s getting raised right.
I should be given some kind of respect for taking the time to photograph
Ut was VERY VERY good.
Split a side of corn. carb love for sure.
This was hubby’s – The Nacho Libre.
No time for a proper pic b/c he was hungry.
He said it was awesome.
I had half (thank God b/c dinner didn’t go so well…more on that)
Food was good.
We took a dessert to go b/c we were in carb comas and that worked out just
perfectly for 10 pm.
Next….a nap of course.
Onto some site seeing.
This is the Hope Outdoor Gallery.
You must go.
You must take your kids. take your friends. take your neighbors. take a field trip.
Just so good.
3 stories of chaotic bliss artistically displayed for your critiquing pleasure.
Layers and layers of humanity one color at a time.
I mean they should charge a fee.
I could barely breathe taking it all in meanwhile be utterly jealous that
we don’t have this in Houston.
Maceo was just as mesmerized as i was.
paint paint paint everywhere
Artist in action
being the cool ass mom I am
I brought along some markers
( i mean he’s only 10 so spray paint wouldn’t be very responsible).
He was ecstatic!
Of course police-man daddy had a nice convo about
graffiti only being a good thing if you have permission
cool people watching
art in action.
you gotta admit. that takes some guts.
And then there’s there climbing.
As if crazy nonsense art was not enough…there was climbing involved!
If you know a 10 year old boy- you know climbing is where it’s at.
that and visitors at the food trucks nearby.
Politically incorrect messages
don’t like what you see?
something will blow you away.
and if you’re STILL not happy
bring your own paint and make a story.
Live a great story.
Even hubby was inspired.
that’s his little contribution on the left. so sweet!
and more from Maceo…he could’ve stayed all night.
Next we made a mad dash to The Oasis on Lake Travis.
We were in a super hurry b/c my itinerary did not account for a super cloudy day
hence a very limited sunset.
We made it literally the last minute before the sun set.
An incredible view that makes you feel you’re on vacation in a foreign country.
BUT that’s about it.
Sorry but you won’t see any “foodie” pics from me here.
Service, food, margaritas, everything, SUCKVILLE.
I don’t usually do this but it was bad. it was really really bad.
I read a few Yelp reviews and thought…well, how could it be THAT bad?
The view sold me so I i said what the heck.
UGH! lost all kinds of respect from the family on this one.
Food took over an hour and was like it was microwaved.
I hate to complain this much but I’m telling you it was that bad.
The manager said he was sorry and that was it.
What a waste.
Thankfully, we had dessert and leftovers from lunch in the fridge at our hotel so we were fine.
But what a big disappointment.
The grounds are lush and beautiful at the Oasis but that’s just not enough
if you’re there for dinner!
Ok new day with a fresh attitude.
Onto the Austin Postcard at Roadhouse Relics.
Totally worth a stop.
Plan your stop with breakfast in mind.
Next door you’ll find the cutest little bakery with yummy goodies
and a chic farm feel at La Patisserie .
Got some macaroons for a mid-day dessert.
We weren’t doing much site seeing this day b/c we were on our way to Fredericksburg.
Mama’s got an itinerary and we stay on the itinerary! or at least we try.
Went to the original Torchy’s Tacos (Maceo’s request) on South 1st St.
That was a good decision. A very good decision.
Food was even better than the awesome tacos we usually get at our local Torchy’s
First street soooooo awesome!
How can eating at a food truck be better than a fancy restaurant on a lake?
crazy concept but true.
We got there about 11:30 and line was formed soon after.
Food was quick, hot, delish.
Especially good for the ride to Fredericksburg which is where we
headed next for living our great story.
This is the son of one of the sweetest people I know.
My friend, Cindy Sullivan.
Cindy has and will always have a special place in my heart b/c
she was my son’s kindergarten teacher.
Amazing how life comes full circle.
She was there the first day my son began his formal education
and here I am photographing her son at the end of his.
And not just any teacher.
I mean sure what choice did I have – when the time comes and you send
your child to school you pretty much get who you get.
But like everything else….God has a plan.
And what a plan he had.
Little did I know that not only would i get the greatest kindergarten teacher ever,
but i’d also be getting a best friend….what Cindy would call a “happy”.
Over the past 5 years, we’ve talked often about how ridiculously
fast time is racing past us.
The changes, the ups, the downs, the seasons just keep coming.
I consider my friend to be a wonderful mentor as
she has given me much support and guidance.
It’s so great to have a friend who’s traveled the road you’re on a couple miles ahead.
And not just traveled it…traveled it well!
As she enters this new season with transition in the near future
I still find myself taking notes.
Meet class of 2015 senior,
Dashing, handsome, and clean cut.
I’m so proud for my friend and her family.
All-American background for this fine young man.
A young man who is confident and respectful.
Someone who knows exactly who he is and what he’s about.
A young man with incredible blue eyes!
A young man with good musical talent.
A good man with good taste.
a young man who looks like he could’ve walked off the set of Dead Poet’s Society.
A young man who loves his mama.
So excited for the journey you are both on
and thrilled to still be taking notes.
Congratulations on finishing up this chapter of your life
and on the new one ahead Drew!