My heart has been broken and has been empty since Mama died this past November. At first we rejoiced that she was in Heaven and no longer suffering. Mama’s last few years were absolute torture for her and there was nothing we could do to help her. She is now at peace. My best friends, Dana and Andrea, came to her services and that meant the world to me.
Both girls have lost a parent. They get it. After the funeral and in between my sobs we agreed on a Girl’s Weekend in January. At Andrea’s house. Less than a mile from my house. This was a first. We’ve always gone to the Keys and Girl’s Weekend has always been in September. As the weeks following her death flew by; the holidays came and went; her absence, her permanent absence, hit me hard. I did my crying in the bathroom and in my car. Think I’m sitting in the car listening to music? Clearly, you didn’t look behind my RayBans. So when our weekend was just days away I really withdrew. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to try to laugh or have to be entertaining. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to see anyone. With a lump in my throat I explained to my little sister, Pamela, I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. She soothed me with words I didn’t want to hear. “I know you don’t want to go but once you get in the car you’ll feel better. Really. What’s the weather down there supposed to do this weekend?” I choked out the words, “We’re not doing it in the Keys. We’re having it at Andrea’s.” “Wait, what?”, she exclaimed, “You’re fine! If you want to go home you’re 5 minutes away. But trust me, you’re NOT going to want to go home.” Sure enough. Dana arrived at my house and wrapped me in her long, graceful arms. More tears. She understood and reassured me that she would return me home at any time, any hour if that was my wish. And it was more of the same when we arrived at Andrea’s. A few more tears on my part, sweet hugs and then, with her arm around my waist, she showed me to my room… the Bunny Room… the room she had picked out for me well-stocked with fresh flowers in silver and crystal vases, inviting Provencal pillows that had belonged to her mother and a breakfast tray filled with bottles of designer water, writing paper and sharp pencils tucked into a pocket. In a corner and behind the door were tall, white, ceramic bunnies. It was lovely! Girly, lovely and incredibly thoughtful. After unpacking we got down to “bizness”. Large drinks were poured and I put out some spiced pecans I had made specifically for us. As the alcohol worked its magic my tense and anxious shoulders dropped, our hair was loosened and tossed and our laughter echoed across the pool and off into the the sunshine of the afternoon. That’s when Andrea’s little sister, Alyson, dropped by. With hors d’oeuvre and bottles of wine. She just wanted us to be happy. We begged her to stay and stay she did. Dana’s little sister, Dawn, is Alyson’s best friend and she was expected down to spend the weekend with Alyson. It was heading in the direction of a stellar Girl’s Weekend…booze and laughter…laughter that makes you laugh so hard you tinkle in your pants. Which I did. Dawn arrived that evening and launched a magical weekend that I think maybe only girls would understand, embrace and truly appreciate. I’ve known these women since I was 4 or 5 years old and I was astonished and so grateful for the love and compassion they showed me. We never took that tired, old walk down memory lane. No. We laughed and howled, there was a bit of crying, then back to laughing and screaming but all in the NOW. None of that “remember when…?” nonsense. The empathy mixed with a large amount of humor was so welcome and fully appreciated. Andrea kept us entertained all weekend with proclamations such as “When the rave comes I’m going with my jewelry!” and “Sistah, yo glass is lookin’ mighty low theah, lemme get cha anothuh one”. Dana knows how important it is to me to take Dad out every Saturday morning. She offered to drive across town to pick up Dad, ferry us to a farmer’s market another town away and then stop at our Greek market to make Dad’s “outing” truly enjoyable for him. And let me tell you, when you’ve been driving all week and drinking all night the last thing you want to do is get up early and get behind the wheel! But she did…happily and with grace. Back at Andrea’s house, Dawn stayed 2 steps ahead of the bar and before we ran out of champagne she was walking back through the door with another case of bubbly plus “4 bottles of red and 3 bottles of white, just in case, and some snacks”. Her snacks consisted of crispy, warm French bread, pate, three or four cheeses, strawberries and red grapes. Oh, wait! And an olive tapenade. Her generosity is boundless. And then, what truly pushed me over the edge, I somewhat self-consciously asked Alyson if she would show me how to do my makeup. Alyson is gorgeous, a real stunner, and knows like no other how to apply makeup. Mama never was into makeup so none of us really were shown what to do or how to make the most of what we had. Al sprang into action. She said, “Sure! Go wash your face, brush your teeth and grab your makeup bag. I’LL go refill our glasses and meet you by the pool.” That girl spent the next hour, hour and a half, transforming me from a 58 soon-to-be 59 year old Sea Hag from Popeye to a drop-dead, gorgeous, stop-traffic woman who could not keep her eyes off her reflection in ANY mirror in the house! AND, let me add, she casually asked, “You wanna blow-out?” Do I want a blow-out?? Oh, hell yes! I came out of my makeover jaw-dropping. Not only did she teach me how to use the products I had but she also told me exactly which products I needed to buy in order to uphold and maintain this level of beauty. I felt loved. And valued. And appreciated. So I thank my Las Olas girls for wiping my tears, giving me a hug and gently making me pull up my “big girl pants”. To Girl’s Weekend!
I made Sweet Cinnamon Pecans for Girl’s Weekend but today I bring you Sweet Heat Sriracha Pecans straight from a wonderful little cookbook entitled “Pecans” by Kathleen Purvis. It’s a Savor the South cookbook put out by The University of North Carolina Press and is a jewel of a book. These are fabulous with cocktails, travel well and everyone seems to love them. Enjoy!
Sweet Heat Sriracha Pecans
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce (more if you want a bigger kick)
- 2 cups pecans halves
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Spread out a sheet of tin foil.
- Combine the honey and Sriracha in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until liquified and well mixed.
- Remove from the heat and add the pecans. Stir well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the pecans are lightly coated and the honey mixture is used up.
- Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
- While the pecans are baking, combine the sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl. When the pecans are done scrape them into the bowl with the sugar/salt mixture. Stir until the pecans are completely coated and the sugar mixture is used up.
- Spread on the tin foil and let cool.
- Stir in an airtight container for up to 5 days.