December 15, 2015

Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she's dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.

I traveled to Seattle earlier in the fall for a glorious 3 days to be by myself and take a food photography/styling class in the heart of Pike Place Market. It's amazing how clear-headed you become about life when you leave the normal routine and observe your own documentary from a distance. On the second and last day of the class we were asked to jot down what we felt our purpose was in creating and how we wanted to tell our story. I realized so many things about myself and my past on that trip and I knew the wind was beginning to carry me down a different path than the ones I'd been accustomed to before. There were deep moments of clarity on that trip that I will never forget.

Being a class on food, we ate well. The second morning was particularly rainy and we were served hot chocolate with bits of cinnamon and froth on top. It was divine and I made a mental note to never go back to powdered packets again.

Upon returning home I started seeing a change in myself and the things I said yes to. I grew more intentional and less apologetic about the decisions I made and I started cooking again. Just for the fun of it. A few nights ago I made myself a proper cup of hot chocolate with real, grown-up, ghirardelli, dark chocolate chips and sat myself on the back patio to watch the sunset. It was alllllmost as cozy as the PNW and I felt like a real woman with a tea cup and new pajamas I'd always said I'd buy but never did. We are never done growing up. And I promise you, the journey to get there is worth it.
Cheers to a new year around the corner!


1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon + 2 tbsp sugar
4 ounces bittersweet (preferably 60% cocoa) chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 gingerbread cookie into crumbles
Heavy whipping cream

For the whipped cream:
In a chilled bowl, beat 1/2 cup cream and 1 teaspoon sugar in bowl until soft peaks form. Cover; chill.

For the hot chocolate:
Whisk 1/2 cup cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, gingerbread spice, and milk in medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to boil. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until smooth. Divide chocolate among mugs. Top with cream and garnish with crushed gingerbread cookies.