Independence

Independence

You learn a great deal about yourself while living alone. You find an inner strength you may not have known was there. You find reasons to smile when your better half is hundreds of miles away. You find ways to share your strength and love through the distance that is  temporarily separating you.

Twenty-five days ago a new chapter began for Jason and I. A chapter that brought him to Southwest Florida, while I remained here in NE Tennessee.

I have gone through a slew of emotions in that time period. Emotions that have ranged from happy to sad and everything in between. Those consuming emotions even led to a few break downs that I had to push myself through … which sometimes took too long to conquer.

The best part of those emotions is the love I have for this man has never wavered or been questioned. Jason’s love is what helps me through each and every day a part.

We have grown “heaps” in this time span. We have shown each other that the foundation we created cannot be rocked even in the trying times we are experiencing right now. Our communication has only strengthened. Yes, even through the countless hours we are both working to make ends meet to close this chapter.

The first night he was away I started something that I now look forward to doing every day. This new routine shows Jason that my spirits are soaring even through a couple hiccups. This new kind of sharing, I know helps him through his 15 hour days of work.

One of my favorite times of the day is at the end of Jason’s work day when my phone begins ringing. It’s his comforting tone, his reassurance that carries me through another day. It’s those simple, but yet powerful words “I love you” “I miss you” and “see you soon” that continue to give us both the strength we need.

The beauty of all of this is I have become extremely independent. A kind of independent I have never experienced before. An independence that is invigorating, empowering and incredibly satisfying.

I am proud to say that I have not been confined to my home while Jason is away. Independence.

I am proud to say my appetite that was pretty nonexistent at the beginning has resurfaced. I have dived into a new-found passion of finding new black bean recipes and making myself an incredibly delicious meal. Independence.

I have found the strength to carry on. To continue one of my found loves – running! Yes, although I bring Lucy with me, Independence.

Lucy and I have been venturing down to the Greenbelt quite often, which continues to help me sort through my thoughts, while keeping the positive energy flowing through every cell of my body.

Today we ran 3.78 miles. I’m proud of us for going this distance, especially since it was one of the hotter days since the awful cold winter months.

LUcy 2Whenever we are done with our run, I let Lucy explore and sniff an area on the Greenbelt. Often times it’s the same area.

Lucy 3She loves watching the ducks, which were quite active today. They were quacking, splashing and making all kinds of noises drawing Lucy in and keeping her attention.

Lucy 4 I have to admit the picture below is my favorite of today.

LucyThat oh so long tongue . . .

Signs of spring continue to surface all over Kingsport. It’s such a beautiful time of the year.

new life edit

flower editI know we are nearing the end of our time a part and a new countdown will begin soon. A countdown of when I can see Jason in person. A countdown when I can go running into his arms. A countdown of when we will be in the same space again.

I truly believe there is nothing we cannot accomplish as a couple, and as two separate individuals.

‘Satisfying that sweet tooth’

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Sweet Treats

Satisfying that sweet tooth in Cape Coral

Published in August/September Cape Coral Community Lifestyles

Everyone loves a sweet treat from time to time. Cape Coral offers a few sweet treat destinations where individuals have an opportunity to indulge themselves with some incredibly tasty artisan chocolates, fudge, cookies and cupcakes, which will satisfy their sweet cravings.

Rosie’s Gourmet Fudge

Rosie’s Gourmet Fudge has been a part of the Shell Factory for more than 38 years, offering sweet goodness to its customers at the 2787 N. Tamiami Trail location.

Fudge master Kim Corbett said they offer 30 different varieties of fudge, all hand-made at the shop. She said the 45-minute process begins by pouring ingredients into a copper pot and cooking it at 230 degrees.

After the fudge is done cooking, it’s poured onto a marble slab table and shaped into loaves of bread with a little spatula. Once shaped, the fudge is put onto trays that are then moved to the store’s display.

“I make four to five batches a day,” Corbett said.

page 23Fudge is made daily except on the weekends – all without preservatives. Since the fudge is made without preservatives, it can be left out for two weeks or put into a freezer for up to a year. The fudge, however, cannot be placed in the refrigerator because it will harden.

“On Monday we make it again and start fresh,” she said. “I try to make up a good selection.”

On average, there are 20 different flavors of traditional and gourmet fudge.

Some of the varieties include maple pecan, plain maple, Butterfinger, Snickers, chocolate raspberry, mint chocolate chip, Health Bar, cookies and cream, chocolate walnut, vanilla with pecans, coconut, and peanut butter banana. Another favorite is penuche, which is old-fashioned brown sugar fudge, offered both plain and with walnuts.

Corbett said the fudge has nuts rippled throughout, as well as inside. The candy fudge is made the same way. Chocolate-covered Oreo cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels and chocolate-covered marshmallows are also offered to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.

Rosie’s also carries homemade ice cream, made in Sarasota from an Amish family. There are 28 flavors offered. Some of those include peanut butter cup, cotton candy, rocky road, pistachio, Oreo cookies, Superman, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and two sugar-free flavors.

Banana splits, sundaes, root beer floats, coke floats and milk shakes also grace the ever-tasty menu. Corbett said Rosie’s offers specialty waffle cones and a variety of toppings, as well.

For further information about Rosie’s Gourmet Fudge, visit Et sy.com/ shop/Ros iesGourmet Fudge or call 239-997-5555.

Miz Catherine’s Dessert Cafe

A business reopening their doors on Santa Barbara Boulevard is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth with its gourmet cupcakes, cookies and variety of cakes, at 3032 Santa Barbara Blvd., Unit 201.

Catherine Hoggs-Perez reopened her store, Miz Catherine’s Dessert Cafe, earlier this month after closing at the end of April. The cafe originally opened on Nov. 2011.

page 24“I’ve been baking since I was a young girl,” she said. “I always baked with my mom and grandmother. It is something we have always done in my family and we bake from scratch.”

Hoggs-Perez spent time taking classes in New York at a culinary school, primarily to acquire some new decorating skills.

Her bakery consists of cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, wedding cakes, custom cakes and birthday cakes.

“It’s just a sweet shop,” Hoggs- Perez laughed, which is all made from scratch.

She hopes to add cobblers, slices of pie and parfaits to the menu to provide a variety of desserts customers can choose from while enjoying a cup of coffee.

Hoggs-Perez said when creating and decorating cakes, she takes individual’s ideas, and adds her own sweet touch, making masterpieces.

“The bride sends me pictures and we chit chat of what their dreams are and come up with something special for them,” she said.

In order to make a wedding cake, Hoggs-Perez said she has to have at least six- to eight-week advance notice, unless the cake is less intricate, which can then be made in less time. With birthday and theme cakes, she needs at least two to three weeks advance notice.

“I just love doing them,” she said of making wedding cakes.

The cafe will also offer gluten-free and vegan cupcakes for customers, in addition to the 25 flavors that already grace the shop.

“On a daily basis, I do between seven and eight flavors,” Hoggs-Perez said of the cupcakes. “After two days I rotate to two new offerings.”

Some of the gourmet cupcake flavors include mint chocolate chip, classic red velvet, coconut chocolate chip, cherry pistachio, pink lemonade, classic tiramisu, lemon raspberry and blackberry delight.

The cafe also offers an assortment of cookies, which regularly rotates. The cake pops, which she said children really love, come in such flavors as key lime, chocolate, lemon, pumpkin and peanut butter.

For more information about Miz Catherine’s Dessert Cafe, visit MizCatherines.com, or find the cafe on Facebook by searching “MizCatherinesADessertCafe.”

Send It Sweetly

If artisan chocolates and gourmet popcorn is among your cravings, stop by Send It Sweetly in South Cape Coral to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Ande and Shane Grant opened Send It Sweetly a year ago on 47th Terrace after making sweets in the Phoenix area for a while. Ande said although her husband has played with chocolate his whole life, due to working in restaurants since he was 15 years old, he has been creating chocolate flavors for the past four years.

The couple purchased the 6,000- foot building, 1309 SE 47th Terrace, and decided to give it a facelift by re- painting the exterior and putting up new signs, so customers know precisely where they are.

sweetsThe couple makes artisan chocolates, custom candy bars, more than 50 flavors of gourmet popcorn, half-pound jumbo cookies and half-pound Belgium brownies.

Boutique wines from small vineyards are also available.

“My stuff is the best that is bad for you,” Ande laughed about the ingredients they use for their Noela Chocolat.

She said they carry Belgium chocolates in dark, white and milk chocolate in close to 100 different varieties. Some of the flavors include pistachio, chipotle cinnamon, honey caramel, green apple, strawberry and raspberry.

The purees are pure and natural, and the business uses fair trade chocolate whenever possible.

“We try to use fair trade because they help the farmers; it is organic and kosher,” she mentioned.

Ande said the one thing she and her husband take pride in, is when customers bite into their chocolate, they know what the flavor is without looking at a cheat sheet.

“If you bite into orange (flavored chocolate), you are going to know exactly what you are eating,” she said. “We put a lot of product inside of them. We don’t skimp on them. That was how we started tweaking our chocolate so people know … there is no doubt in your mind.”

The couple also makes customized candy bars in bright colors like yellow, metallic, silver, purple, red, copper, green, gold and red. The copper, for example, includes a variation of honey, caramel and walnuts, while the green has pistachio and caramel and the silver candy bar includes gooey marshmallows and graham crackers.

“My husband I like to play with stuff,” she said of creating new flavors. “We are constantly trying new and different things.”

The gourmet popcorn includes such tasty flavors as orange cheese mixed with caramel corn, pretzel toffee crunch, green caramel apple and regular caramel drizzled with chocolate. Ande said she uses coconut oil to make the popcorn.

The Grants’ shop is geared toward gifts and personalization. The business’ specialty is personalizing the sweet gifts by using an engraving machine on the merchandise.

Customers can personalize their chocolates by placing a business logo on top, or if someone gets married, their wedding date can be added to the chocolate. Boxes and wine bottles can also be engraved with whatever the customer chooses, as the business offers many customized boxes of selected chocolates.

“It’s a personalized sweets factory,” Ande said. “If someone walks in, we can turn the logo-ed chocolates around in 48 hours.”

Shane has his own transfer sheets on premise, so nothing goes out, everything is made fresh and in house.

To see a collection of what the Grant’s offer, visit SendItSweetly.com, or call 239-793-3859.

Homemade

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Although my boyfriend typically spoils me with a wonderful meal every night when I get home from work, this past week the roles have changed.

Due to him taking on a second job and working about 70 hours a week, I decided to make sure he had a meal every night already prepared, so when he arrived home from working a double all he has to do is warm it up and enjoy. I figured that was the least I can do for this man who is working doubles almost every day just to give us an opportunity to achieve our goal.

I love and admire his determination to make things happen. He is a man who does not sit still, but rather takes action.

The appreciation I received last night as he was warming up the honey chicken I made from scratch and taking a bite of a corn muffin was incredible. His gesture only makes me want to continue to surprise him with a new meal every night.

It has been a ton of fun finding recipes every day and duplicating the meal for us to enjoy. The best part is tasting the creation I threw together and wanting seconds because it tasted good.

Tonight I made baked ziti with chicken, which was incredibly easy to throw together, put in the oven and forget about until the buzzer went off. Food that is made from scratch, instead of already prepared, always tastes a million times better. I always feel so much better once the meal is finished because I know every ingredient that is thrown into the recipe.

I think I may have found a new joy, which I’m sure my boyfriend will be thrilled about . . .

Maybe it is time for him to be spoiled for a while . . .