A Femme Fraîche Original: Free Mother’s Day Printable Image!

If you haven’t yet figured out that sentimental something to give your mom this Mother’s Day – Pssst! It’s this Sunday, May 12th! – I’ve got you covered! Download and print the lovely, little above image that I handmade in honor of the day and gift it however you choose. I’m giving this to my own mom as a framed piece; I printed it on some 5-inch by 7-inch matte photo paper, put it in a pretty little cherry wood frame, and sent it straight to New Jersey with my DIY garden markers for the occasion. But you could also turn this into a card or even your mom’s desktop wallpaper!

For me, the message of “Home is where your mom is,” is resoundingly true. I may have my own home, the one I’ve made for myself, the one I share with Bear, but my sense of “home” – what that feels like to me, what it is – has been cultivated almost single-handedly by my mom (also known as the gorgeous lady in the above photo holding onto a miniature me). So much so, in fact, that the concept of “home” and “mom” feel inextricably linked for me, even when my physical home doesn’t still include her. This message seemed the perfect way to articulate that the truest sense I have of what “home” is, always includes her influence and her presence. If I can’t be with her to celebrate the day, at least I can remind her of these things from afar.

On an end note, I also want to just say that Mother’s Day can be hard. I know that not everyone has a good relationship with their mom, or one at all, and that not everyone has a mom to begin with, or a mother who is living, or, frankly, feels better off without theirs. That’s real stuff and I get it; Father’s Day for me is intense for some of these same reasons. Holidays that focus on family, that reinstate specific gender roles, traditions, sets of “values,” and that favor heteronormative unions and familial structures make days like this Sunday sad and complicated for a lot of people. So, whether you’re celebrating this weekend or not, or if you’re a mom or not, I hope that, either way, your weekend is lovely and spent surrounded by sunshine, the people that make you feel best, and the beauty of spring having sprung.

Returning Home

HomeCollageAnd just like that, more than two weeks went by without a post! That’s what returning home will do – eat up all of your days, just lazily spending time, with nary a realization of just where it’s all going or how it’s been spent. Hours lost around the kitchen table over tea, on small walks in the sun that dared to stay out whole days at a time. It all flew right by in a blink despite the slowed pace of having nothing really required of me. Honestly, I was grateful for it. Because while all I have going right now is a Ph.D. and an unsuccessful job hunt, it feels heavier each week that goes by. It’s a process, I know; a transition. But it’s not for high-achieving Virgos who base self-worth on production. No, ma’am.

I’m back in Minneapolis now just a few days, invigorated as I can be met with the embrace of sub-freezing temperatures and a blizzard. Bear and the Meows make it all easier, of course; homey in a completely different, but still as lovely and filling kind of way. But as I send applications out into the ether and the days after crossing my fingers, it’s cooking and crafting and making something of this space that feeds me right now, that is fuel. Though I’m not happy about the weather, I’m looking forward to hunkering down for the next few days and making some yummy things, having creative femme time with my dear friend, Charlotte, and ultimately, sharing the outcomes with you.

My (freshly manicured!) nails are itching to get busy and since I’m back to my schedule, new posts are on their way. There’s coconut custard pie to be discussed and devoured, some key tips for making big scores as we approach garage/yard/flea market season, and some ruminations on creating small first gardens without digging your grave aside it out of frustration. Thanks for staying tuned, y’all.

A Visit Home & My Mom’s Strawberry Shortcake

3 of the 13 dozen eggs I dyed for a (flustered) family friend’s Easter event.

My blogging has been a bit lagging lately only because I had to make an unexpected trip home to my mother’s house, my childhood home. Everyone and everything is fine, so it’s been a good visit, filled, so far, with lots of laughter and food. Time spent home is generally happy, as I get to see some of my most favorite people – my mom, grandma, and bestie who comes in from the city to lounge around in the country with us. Here are some photos of what being home has looked like so far.

Love at First Sight: New-to-me vintage desk!

My mom and grandmother are my two best sources for being inspired to make my own home a space that nourishes and makes comfortable anyone who comes through the door. For as long as I can remember, they have both always gone above and beyond to demonstrate love, care, and friendship through their domestic prowess. People who have come for a meal at my mom’s house, or who have stayed the night for a visit or en route to another destination, have always commented on the warmth they felt at her table, at the comfort felt at slipping into a bed made fresh with sheets and blankets hung to dry in the sun.

I’m a work in progress (still trying to learn their love of cleaning), but by example, they’ve taught me how to build my own sense of “home” with the intention of making it as welcoming to others as it is for me. Oh, how this dream will only be further realized when I, someday, have a guest room of my own and don’t, instead, need to make up the couch for visitors. Apartment or house, no guestroom or 3 guestrooms, though, there will always be my mother’s strawberry shortcake to welcome in friends both old and new.

This isn’t strawberry shortcake in the traditional sense of the dryer, flakier, individual biscuit-like cakes, but a moist, vanilla, 13×9-inch cake with strawberries and cream layered on top. I love conventional shortcake, but since this is what I grew up calling “shortcake,” this is where my heart is.

My mother has always made this cake with a mixture of fresh and frozen strawberries; the former for the texture and the latter for the moistness they give the cake. I’ve made it on my own with entirely fresh and just sliced the strawberries 2 hours before serving with a little sugar, which produced a natural syrup that did the same job as the frozen berries. Depending on what you have access to and when you want to make it, this cake can be an any time of year stunner.

Mom’s Strawberry Shortcake
Yields one 13×9-inch cake, ~12 servings

For the cake:
1-1/4 cups of flour
1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 cups of white sugar
3/4 cups of milk
3 Tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

For the topping:
1lb. frozen, sliced strawberries, thawed
2lbs. fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of white sugar

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350°, grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch baking pan, and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs for 4 minutes with an electric mixer. Gradually add sugar and beat on medium speed for an additional 4-5 minutes until light and airy. Add the flour mixture slowly and beat on low speed until combined.

In a small saucepan, heat and stir milk and butter together until the latter melts. Drizzle into batter along with the vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake completely.

In a chilled bowl, add heavy cream and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy and soft peaks form. With the end of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the surface of the cake and pour frozen strawberries and juice over the top of the cake. Add the juice slowly, so that you can account for how much you want to use. Add the fresh strawberries to the top and then cover with the freshly whipped cream. This will last in the refrigerator, covered, for 5-7 days.