A big thank you to Artifact Uprising for sponsoring this passion project of mine. Watching this come to life has been a true pleasure!
Fair warning, we have a different kind of post today.
I rarely get too emotional about personal matters on my blog or instagram feed but today we’re talking about something that hits my little family (Jared, myself and Rascal) pretty hard each year on Mother’s Day.
Back in the Summer of 2014, Jared’s Mom passed away from cancer. What started in her appendix rapidly grew over the next few years.
Jared and I were in extremely early days of dating then. It was our second year working at summer camp together (we met and dated the year before for a small amount of time) and we decided to take a stab at our chemistry for another season. Little did I know we would still be together over 4 years later and have built a nice little life for ourselves.
That June, I was fortunate enough to meet Jared’s mom, Felicia, before she passed away the next month in July. Jared grew up just a 100 miles outside the of the camp grounds in Philadelphia. I couldn’t tell you a whole lot about Felicia from just those few interactions, but I knew she had a kind soul. She was the type of mom that was always there for you in every way. As the next few years went by I felt like I got to know her little by little even thought she wasn’t there. I saw quirks that would come out from Jared and his brother, Nate. I heard funny stories about her from Jared’s dad, John. This December I felt like I got to know her the most.
We flew to the East Coast to spend Christmas with Jared’s brother Nate, his girlfriend Alyssa and Jared’s Dad, John. Jared and I aren’t married but I’ve gotten closer with his family over the years and their happiness has grown to be important to me. I volunteered to cook Christmas Dinner and all the cookies because I knew it was what I could contribute to the weekend.
When I was cooking Christmas Dinner for everyone it felt like Felicia was there with me. It felt like I could turn around and ask her to pass me the flour or she was there to tell me not to put too many nuts in the cookies because it would flare up John’s diverticulitis. Jared’s dad was kind enough to let me wear her apron and I felt for those few days I brought back a little big of magic in their family kitchen. We dug out a basket of her old recipes and Jared and Nate pulled out their favorites.
On Christmas Eve I made peanut butter and chocolate macadamia nut cookies. When they came out of the oven I anxiously called Jared into the kitchen to try a fresh peanut butter cookie. I made these cookies with crisco which is an ingredient that I don’t think I had ever even bought before! But this was the recipe that could potentially transport these guys back to their child hood and into the kitchen with their mom. Making these cookies was the one thing that I knew how to do that could really make them feel at ‘home’. Jared took one bite and said ‘they taste just like mom’s’. He didn’t cry or anything but, it was an emotional moment. It was as if she was standing behind us just pulling freshly baked cookies out of the oven. I get chills just thinking about it.
I knew at that moment that I wasn’t going to leave the trip without scanning all of Felicia’s recipes. One day I wanted to use my food styling skills to make this small passion project come to life. I teamed up with the amazing group of people behind Artifact Uprising to do Felicia’s recipes justice. Their book designs are a dream to work with and I was so happy with how the project turned out. We blended pages of family photos and recipes to create a book that would embody what her dishes meant to the boys. Just like old photos, these old recipes are so important.
I was worried that they would live in a cupboard in their home in Pennsylvania forever.
I was worried that the small, but exciting amount of joy every time Jared ate these cookies wouldn’t happen as often as it should.
But I was mostly worried that these small heirlooms and traditions wouldn’t be carried on.
I hope that Jared, his brother Nate and his father John will crank this book out as a coping mechanism. If they are feeling sad on Mother’s Day or want to remember Felicia on her birthday that they will scan through this book and make something to celebrate her. I hope that making these recipes transports them to a time when she wasn’t ill and happily doing her thing in the kitchen. I also hope that this will help encourage Jared to learn how to cook more recipes than chili but I’m not a miracle worker, okay?!
To me, crafted books like this are the best gifts for holidays like mothers day, fathers day, etc. They are nice enough to sit on your coffee table but also have enough sentimental value that will leave you remembering them far after the holiday.
To make your own book head on over to Artifact Uprising and use the code CH15 to get 15% off of your order!
May 3rd is the last day to order a hardcover book with Fed Ex Ground Shipping in time for Mother’s Day so be sure to get on it!