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Thursday, February 27, 2014

PCOS update

{Ammentorp Photography, iStock purchase}

I thought some of you might be interested in hearing how my stats have been since my polycystic ovarian syndrome diagnosis in December. Here are some stats - the body measurements have been since last January:
  • Weight - 19 lbs down {since I got my FitBit in Jan 2013}
  • Weight - 7.5 lbs down {since I started my medications on the day of my official PCOS diagnosis}
  • BMI - 1.8 down
  • Pudge - 2" down
  • Hips - 3" down
  • Chest - 3" down
  • Waist - 4" down (natural waist)
  • Thighs - 7" down
  • Forearms - 1.5" down
  • Bicep - 2" down
  • Calf - 2" down
  • Neck - 2" down
In all honesty, the neck thing probably surprised me the most.

How do I keep track of these items? Using the FitBit on the computer, I can just log measurements in as I do them - and I really do them sparingly, maybe once every 6 weeks, while the weight I log in every week at least once. I also use the FitBit app for iOS to track my water intake for the day. That is really important since one of my medications also works as a diuretic.

What else do I do for my personal health? Well, I have never been a bad eater. So the biggest thing for me was water consumption and going back to working out more intensely. That means I have brought back my kettlebell workout books and DVDs, as well as doing my ExhaleSpa CoreFusion workouts. I tried Tracey Anderson and that routine made me look like an idiot. I honestly was falling down and tripping over myself every minute. I attempted it for two weeks but I just could not pick up the steps. Win some, lose some. Working out with the kettlebell is great. It is hard for those of us busty ladies - like golf is hard, ahem - but well worth the cardio.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gluten-free slow-cooker beef stroganoff

This post includes my own photos and the hyperlinks are affiliate links.

Hey you guys! So a couple weeks ago we had predictions for 15+" in central Virginia, so I knew I had to cook something that would reheat on a camp stove or in a fondue pot AOK. When I was diagnosed with Celiac, I gradually learned that even my favorite stock-up pantry soups had gluten in them, often some sort of flour as a coagulant. Everyone loves when I prepare beef stroganoff for them - I use the Gourmet cookbook version, but this time I wanted to try to create a crockpot version. So here the below is my gluten-free slow-cooker beef stroganoff recipe!

The finished product

  • As much Dill as suits your personal tastes. Fresh dill is best, and I just tear it in my hands. I'd say about 3 Tablespoons.
  • Thyme is a great savory element. I added 1 chopped teaspoon
  • Like the dill, Mushrooms - cremini are a key element to this recipe and should be added to taste. I did two dry pints.
  • 2 pounds of beef (tenderloin is perfect for the traditional version, but a tougher meat like chuck works fine in the crockpot), chopped into bite-size chunks
  • Beef stock (I enjoy using Pacific's as it is low sodium and organic - I would add a cup and assess throughout the cooking period)
  • Dijon mustard is like the dill and mushrooms in terms of taste. I put 2 Tablespoons of Grey Poupon into the crockpot.
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 Shallots, diced
  • 2 Cream of mushroom soup gluten free (I really like the Pacific brand as it is BPA, gluten, and soy free as well as USDA certified organic)
These are the finishing ingredients:
  • Sour cream
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • Gluten free pasta

About 15 minutes in:

I put 1 container of the cream of mushroom soup in, added half of the Dijon, then the onion and shallots. Next, I added half of the dill and half of the thyme. I then added the mushrooms and the beef went on top. The remaining container of cream of mushroom and Dijon went over everything, and the dill and thyme. Some freshly-ground sea salt and pepper (very little of both) were the last two elements added in. I put it on Low and let it go for 8 hours.

When it was time to eat (and actually had not lost power!) I had about a foot of snow and a delicious dinner. I cooked the gluten free pasta (out of rotini, so I went with penne) which I then buttered. I rinsed and chopped about 2 Tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley. I took a wide soup bowl, gave myself a 1/2 cup or so of penne, and then added a couple ladles of the stroganoff. I then stirred in the sour cream (no curdling this way!) and topped it with the parsley.

Having the meat on top meant that it absorbed a lot of the moisture, tenderizing it and giving the meat a Sunday roast kind of texture. Which is perfect to complement the cream-based sauce. While I typically place the meat fully under the liquid, it really worked well this way. Of course, any stroganoff is better the second or third day as leftovers. Next time I might try browning the beef first, as that is traditional to the stroganoff recipe. However, it is hard to lose that flavor if you are then moving the meat to a slow-cooker and not returning ingredients to the pan to finish the recipe off as is typical.

Let me know if you had questions or if you think I may have forgotten something!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Virginia Bloggers February 2014 event in Richmond

Last Thursday I went to the Tobacco Company for a Virginia Bloggers happy hour. Anytime there is a blogger event within walking distance from my office and parking garage I just have to go! No excuse not to, right? It was a great evening - being around like-minded people in our city always seems to motivate me. I came home with a lot of energy and excited about writing more entries in advance. It seems to come so easily to me after events like this one. I have to be inspired, I guess. I ended up passing out my new calling card to some ladies I had not met previously and when I headed home I made sure to find them on Twitter / Facebook / Bloglovin' and added them to my follow lists.

The Tobacco Company is this gorgeous old four-story tobacco warehouse that was renovated into a dining and bar establishment. The whole place is magical after dark in the dim lighting. It has a wide range of the cast of characters who hang out there at night. From age 21 to retirees, and people dressed in every kind of style (or not dressed enough...!). Their catering had set up a gorgeous spread for us - I hope you all will check them out if you ever want to host an event in downtown RVA. I know I am now thinking about my 30th birthday next August... Funny how perspective changes as you grow up. When I was a little kid, this was that fancy place grownups go to after work with old school single-party closed-off dining rooms upstairs (not as fancy as those in Hello Dolly! but, y'know)...

Some of the blogger friends - old and new - that I spent the evening with last night. Photo credit is Sydney at Chic Stripes:

Also pictured:
Brian of Brian McDinosaur and Ledbury
Liz of I Heart Vegetables and Virginia Bloggers
Christina of Tiramisu for Breakfast
Judy of Anthrofashionist

Also present:
Shannon of Thirsty Richmond
Larissa of RVA Fashion Girl, RVA Fashion Bloggers, RVA Fashion Week
Valerie of Pursuit of Sweetness
Alex of The Zen Kat
Ashley of Attempts at Domestication

Are you all members of your local/state blog groups? It is a wonderful way to network and get some feedback from peers in your area! Their perspective makes all the difference.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

James Addison Jones I: years from 1914-1933

On February 14, 1914, a great blow struck this man and his large family of little children. The wife and mother died, leaving her twelfth baby, Helen, only twelve days old. In this time of great sorrow, as in all to come, Jim Jones turned to his Church and to his God for comfort--not to strong drink, not to an endless round of doctors for pains his emotions caused, not to his friends and relatives to burden them with his problems, but to his Church and to his Faith. Dr. Powell, in telling about my father's turning to the church in times of great sorrow in his life for comfort and counsel, said he often heard him tell this story:
"I was attending a revival service at the Trinity Methodist Church. My heart was very heavy, but while Bishop Kilgo preached, I was helped. During the singing of the invitational hymn Bishop Kilgo came to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Brother Jones, Jesus Christ loves you'. That was all he said, and that was enough, for from then on the burden was lifted."

{source: Duke Yearlook; portrait of JAJ I family friend Bishop John Carlisle Kilgo, former President of Trinity College/Duke University}

He threw himself into his work, planted his feet more firmly than ever, tried several practical nurses to rear his baby and little children, none of whom proved successful and one of whom even nearly cost the baby her life. Finally he secured a satisfactory housekeeper, who ran the home for more than a year.

In September, 1915, he married again, this time a woman from Greensboro, N.C., a teacher and of strong Methodist background, Emma Lockhart Renn. During the summer two other weddings had also taken place. Edwin married Annabel Lambeth and set up housekeeping in the little house on Caldwell Street, the first house Jim Jones had ever owned. The second wedding that summer was the marriage of Etta Jones to George Ray.

{Source: The Tatler, 1903 edition of Greensboro College's yearbook. Emma L. Renn was in the class of 1904. She must be one of the young women here, wish I knew which one!}

{Annabel Lambeth, Edwin Lee Jones, Sr.'s bride-to-be and Duke University classmate of 1912}

Also in 1916, Raymond {WWJ note: my great-grandfather} graduated from Georgia Tech as a civil engineer and went into the construction business with Dad and Edwin. His work with the company was interrupted, however, by several years' service in the army-some of it overseas. World War I almost broke Jim Jones financially, because of rising prices and scarcity of labor, as well as scarcity of jobs. Although he tried as hard as he knew how, J. A. Jones, General Contractor, was unable to get any war work, except for the job of finishing the odds and ends left by the contractor at Camp Green.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Chicken with Peruvian chile sauce by Giada de Laurentiis

Recently for dinner I prepared this dish, from Giada de Laurentiis's cookbook Weeknights with Giada. The sauce is admittedly unusual in terms of its composition, but tastes very good. I think I would try to make it spicier next time. The texture of the processed walnuts and the unique green-yellow color from the aji amarillo and turmeric made me think I would not enjoy it, but I did. I believe next time I will use skinless and boneless chicken, as this time I used skin-on and bone-in thighs and it just made it a bit more trouble in the dish. As usual, just iPhone pics, so not the best quality, and I have the cookbook at the bottom which is an affiliate link.

Chicken with Peruvian chile sauce
Serves 4 to 6
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 slice whole wheat sandwich bread, crust removed, torn into 1/2-inch pieces (I used GF bread)
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 slice or 2 small shallots, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) crumbled queso fresco or mild feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves
  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400*F.
  2. Spray a heavy baking sheet with vegetable oil. Rub the chicken on all sides with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each piece of chicken registers 160*F. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put the bread and half-and-half in the bowl of a food processor. Allow the bread to soak up the liquid, about 10 minutes.
  4. In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until aromatic. Cool slightly and add to the food processor with the soaked bread. Add the broth, cheese, 1/2 cup walnuts, aji amarillo paste, and turmeric. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt.
  6. Spoon the sauce onto a platter and arrange the chicken on top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup cup walnuts and the cilantro and serve.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thirsty Thursday: rum sea breeze

Affiliate link at bottom of page for the cookbook. iPhone photos.

White rum & lime sea breezes
Serves 6
From The Beach House Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman
  • 3 cups cranberry juice
  • 2/3 cup grapefruit juice
  • juice of 1 lime (I actually added a second lime)
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 6 lime slices, for garnish

Pour the cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and rum into a large pitcher and stir well. Serve over ice in glasses, garnished with lime slices. If you want it foamy - pour ingredients into a shaker and shake for several moments before pouring into a glass.

I thought you all might enjoy checking out this take on the classic sea breeze, which is a vodka-based cocktail. A quality white rum makes it refreshing for warmer climes. I enjoyed drinking this drink at the beach, too.

Recipe source:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Roast pork with pineapple from Thai cookbook

Confession: I'm not a professional photographer or food blogger - so while I do have an affiliate link at the bottom of this post for the cookbook this recipe originated from, my iPhone pictures are all you guys are going to get. Yes, the quality of those are poor, but the food tastes awesome, I promise.

Roast pork with pineapple
Moo ob saparot
Serves 4
  • 12 oz/350 g pork tenderloin
  • 4 tbsp sweet chili dipping sauce
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 1 zucchini, cut into thin sticks
  • 4 oz/115 g canned water chestnuts, drained and sliced
  • 2 fresh pineapple rings, peeled, cored, and coarsley chopped
  • cooked rice, to serve
  1. Put the pork in a shallow dish. Mix half the chili sauce, the soy sauce, and sugar together in a small bowl and brush over the pork. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400*F/200*C. Heat a ridged grill pan or skillet until hot, then add the pork and cook over high heat for 1 minute on each side, or until browned. Transfer to a roasting pan and roast in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. Thinly slice the pork, then cut each slice into strips.
  3. Heat the oil in a preheated wok, then add the onion, carrot, and zucchini and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the water chestnuts, the remaining chili sauce, and the chopped pineapple rings and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the pork and stir-fry for 1 minute. Serve immediately with rice.

Sliced red onion, above, and water chestnuts, below:

I cooked the rice in some pork broth I had prepared and frozen several months ago. It really makes a huge difference to cook rice in a broth that coordinates with a dish (pork, beef, chicken, vegetable, fish).

Finished product, so good and made wonderful leftovers.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kansas City BBQ chicken pizza from Pizza on the Grill

This post includes an affiliate link at the bottom and iPhone photos.

Today's post coincides with yesterday's drunken shrimp pizza post as we cooked this pizza on the same night. Today's post is the Kansas City BBQ Chicken pizza. This recipe comes from the Pizza on the Grill cookbook. This pizza came out perfectly, so even though it came from the same batch of dough as the shrimp pizza this one actually turned out much better.

Kansas City BBQ Chicken pizza
Serves 2 to 4

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 12 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup uncooked grits or polenta, for rolling the dough
  • 1 ball prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup grated smoked mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated colby Jack cheese
  • 1/3 medium red onion, cut 1/8 inch thick and separated into rings
  • 1/2 bell pepper (any color), halved, seeded, and cut into very thin rings
  • BBQ rub
  • Red pepper flakes
{Sorry this picture is not posting the way I rotated it... boo.}
  1. This pizza prepares well with gas or charcoal grills (and the oven).
  2. Brush the chicken breast with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the chicken on the cooking grate directly over the heat and grill until no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes, turning once halfway through. Set aside until just about ready to use, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
  4. Roll out and shape the dough, then grill the first side of the crust per the master instructions. Use tongs to transfer it from the grill to a peel or rimless baking sheet. Flip the crust to reveal the grilled side.
  5. Brush the entire surface with the BBQ sauce. Top with the chicken and sprinkle with the cheeses. Arrange the onion rings and all of the bell pepper over the cheese.
  6. Return to the heat/cooking source until the bottom is well browned and cheese is melted.
  7. Remove from the grill, sprinkle with the BBQ rub, and season with salt and pepper. Slice and serve immediately.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Drunken shrimp pizza from Pizza on the Grill

This post includes an affiliate link at the bottom and iPhone photos.

Today's post is an incredibly flavorful "drunken" shrimp pizza. This recipe comes from the Pizza on the Grill cookbook. It was from Williams-Sonoma. I am not sure if the store still sells it or not. I made this pizza while at the beach this fall and found it to be awesome.

Drunken Shrimp Pizza
Serves 2 to 4
  • 1 pound colossal shrimp, thawed if applicable, shelled, and deveined
  • 1 cup vodka plus Tabasco sauce (recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, I did 2 tsp)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup of uncooked grits or polenta, for rolling the dough
  • 1 ball prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 cup cooked tomato sauce
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 10 black olives, pitted
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated with a microplane or zester
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Pat the shrimp dry. Combine the vodka, garlic, and 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonreactive metal or glass bowl. Add the shrimp, cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the grill, whether you are cooking by gas or charcoal (or oven).
  3. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and season with salt. Place them on the cooking grate directly over the heat and grill until no longer translucent, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Reserve topping.
  4. Roll out and shape the dough, then grill the first side of the crust per the master instructions. Use tongs to transfer it from the grill to a peel or rimless baking sheet. Flip the crust to reveal the grilled side.
  5. Spread the entire surface with the sauce. Artfully arrange the mozzarella slices, then the shrimp and olives on top.
  6. Finish grilling/baking the pizza.
  7. Remove from the grill, sprinkle with the lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Slice and serve immediately.
Next time I make this pizza, I definitely plan to cook the pizza dough for longer. That is probably one of the hardest things to learn to do when mastering baking a pizza. If you are doing it on the grill like I do there is this awkward dance between undercooked and overcooked. The dough is so delicate when you are first figuring out how to make it that you just have to practice!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

James Addison Jones I: early married life, part II

Today's post is another from a family history written in December 1960 by Minnie B. Jones Ussery, about my great-great grandfather, James Addison Jones I. This section continues on from the one started yesterday, about his early married life. These posts will be broken up into several parts, as this section is one of the largest in the story.

{Minnie Beatrice Jones Ussery's UNC-G 1927 yearbook photo}
One of these first jobs that he got was the brick work for the express office (referred to as a dining-car job, in some write-ups), an addition to the Southern Railway Station. He had two white workers and two African-American workers and no capital. They had the foundation walls up when suddenly a flash flood swooped down and flattened the walls. In those days construction work was a battle for survival. Facing financial ruin and of being wiped out of business, he did not give up nor admit defeat. He rallied his African-American helpers who pitched in with him and worked very hard to help him rebuild the walls, but his white workers were indifferent. To the end of his days, Dad always remembered the support given him by those African-American men then, and by others many times after that. He was always kind to them personally and his African-American workers showed love as well as respect for the "big boss" or "the capt'n", as they called him.

This first building built by Jim Jones, which he completed on 'less than a shoestring', still stands today - a monument to his philosophy of always building soundly and of never giving up {WWJ note: Demolished in 1962}. This proved a turning point in his career. The crisis, met head-on and overcome, helped to mold his philosophy that has guided the J. A. Jones Construction Company through the years, "Finish the Job". While working on this addition for the Southern Railway, Jim Jones attracted the attention of the officials. According to Edwin,
"They recognized his energy and ability and good judgment, and his ability to handle men even though he was actually a very young man. He was offered and took the job of Superintendent of Maintenance-of-Way for the Southern Railroad. His job actually consisted of travelling from Tocca, Georgia, to Monroe, Virginia, and repairing washouts, or wrecks, and in the main restoring traffic after wrecks. This meant living in a work train and going from almost one end of the main line of the Southern Railroad to the other constantly. Soon he saw the possibility of doing contract work for the Southern Railroad, gave up his salaried job, and took several contracts, building large culverts and bridges for the new double-tracking work of the Southern Railroad in the mountains of Georgia."
When he finished this work, about 1894, he returned to Charlotte and went into general construction work for himself. He was probably twenty-five, not over twenty-six years old, with a growing family to support; yet he had unbounded faith in himself, in his good judgment, and in his ability to secure a profitable contract and to carry it through successfully. In those first years he had no office and no permanent help. When he got a job he hired a crew and went to it. The construction business then was a continual gamble with the elements, competition, and rule-of-thumb methods. The weak fell by the wayside; the survivors grew strong. J.A. Jones, without any family or business connections of any sort, survived and his business grew. What he accomplished, he achieved with his own ability, character, and energy.

All was not smooth sailing for the young couple, by any means. Their second son, Bobby, died in infancy {WWJ note: his given name was Robert Jones, but they had wanted to call him Bobbie. He was born in 1893 and died when only several days old}. Money was always "tight" in that home and thrift necessary. Yet Jim Jones was always a generous contributor to the church, giving often more than some thought he could afford. Once he pledged $84 to be paid by the following Sunday, when he did not even have that much. The next day he got a small job and was able to realize during the week a profit of $85 and to pay his pledge when Sunday arrived.

As his business grew, his family grew, too, so much so that Jim Jones had a struggle to meet their needs. And many children made a larger home necessary. So he bought, about 1900, several vacant lots at 1011 South Tryon Street and there built a two-story, brick home consisting of ten rooms and a basement. A few years later, he added a third floor, to meet the needs of his expanding family. The names and years of birth of the twelve children born to James Addison Jones and Mary Jane Hooper Jones are as follows: Edwin Lee, 1891; Bobbie, died in infancy; Raymond Allen, 1894 {WWJ note: my great-grandfather}; Hannibal Berryman, 1897; Frances Elizabeth, 1900; James Addison Jr., 1902; Johnie Hooper, 1904; Minnie Beatrice, 1906; William Franklin, 1908; Dorothy May, 19!0; Paul Stewart, 1912; Helen Estelle, 1914.

{From L to R: Raymond Allen Jones (my great-grandfather), Frances Elizabeth Jones, Hannibal Berryman Jones, James Addison Jones, Jr.}

In addition to their own children, Jim and "Minnie" Jones took into their large family a niece, Etta Jones, a daughter of John Jones, my father's oldest brother. Etta joined the family when she was very young, having been orphaned by the death of her parents. She was accepted into this large family as one of them and lived with them through her high school years and two years as a day student in college, until she was married in 1915.

In 1912, the oldest son, Edwin, graduated from Trinity College, now Duke University, and shortly afterwards entered the onstruction business with our father. Jim and "Minnie" Jones watched their son's graduation with pride, but also with a young baby, Paul, in their arms. {WWJ note: I previously shared a letter from JAJ I to Edwin Sr. on this event at this link. Note Edwin's Duke University/Trinity College yearbook photo above.}

Saturday, February 15, 2014

James Addison Jones I: early married life, part I

I am continuing on posts from a family history written in December 1960 by Minnie B. Jones Ussery, about my great-great grandfather, James Addison Jones I. In the previous posts (here and here), you learned how he grew up on a farm in Cotton Grove, North Carolina, but wanted to get experience and start a new life in 'the big city' of Lexington, North Carolina...

According to Edwin (WWJ note: my great-great uncle - my grandfather's uncle), Dad's first work as an eighteen year old country boy was making brick from clay for Mr. (David K) Cecil on the site of this cotton mill in Charlotte. He was paid twenty-five cents a day and allowed to stay in a rough cabin on the building site. He worked hard, learned all he could by watching, and was soon given the opportunity to work with the brickmasons. He made the mortar and carried it to them, earning fifty cents a day. From laborer he advanced soon to mason's apprentice, working from sun~up until sun-down, even during the longest hottest days. He had energy and a lot of ambition to get ahead, and he must have been quick to learn. By the time he was twenty years old, he was earning two dollars a day and had the reputation in Charlotte of being one of the best brickmasons anywhere around there. When only twenty-one he became a brickmason foreman and then superintendent, earning probably from three, to three dollars and fifty cents a day.

As he felt able to support a wife then, he persuaded Mary Jane Hooper to marry him. Berryman (WWJ note: another great-great uncle - my grandfather's uncle) described the courtship as follows: "Some few months after moving to Charlotte to find work, Dad met our mother, Mary Jane Hooper, and soon fell in love with her. At first she refused to date him, for she had other admirers. Dad's hair was naturally blonde; in fact, it was almost white. Mary Jane, better known as 'Minnie', made fun of Dad's blonde locks and told him emphatically she would never marry a blonde-haired man. Taking her at her word, he persuaded a barber friend to dye his hair black before attempting to see 'Minnie' again. (When I recalled hearing about this incident, I thought it referred to my father having only his mustache dyed. I can see him now, laughing as he told the story, enjoying how he must have looked with part of his hair dyed and the other part not.)

{source: Jones Family archives; note the typo of her name}

"Minnie" could not resist Dad's perseverance and persuasive manner; so she consented to marry him. They were married in the Hooper home on West Seventh Street, September 15, 1890. James Jones was twenty one years old then and Mary Jane or 'Minnie' was eighteen. (There is some discrepancy about his birthdate as he often said he was twenty-two years old when he married.)

Edwin supplied this information: "When winter weather arrived several months later, brick work stopped. So Papa and Mamma moved from their boarding house back to the home of her parents, the Hoopers, in the 400 block on West Seventh Street and stayed there until I was born on June 10, 1891, when they rented a small house around the corner from the Hoopers, on North Pine Street, just South of Seventh Street. They lived there several years; then he bought one of the first homes built in Dilworth {costing perhaps $1,500) and paid for it with small monthly payments. It was a small, four-room cottage, not even a bungalow, containing a hall down the middle with two rooms on either side. It had no running water, electricity, gas or telephone. It did have a well off the back porch with a wooden windlass.

This house on a street then called Commonwealth, but later changed to was South Caldwell Street. It was the second house South from the corner of South Caldwell and Lexington Avenue (then Oak Street), and was on the East side of the street. All the homes in the neighborhood were owned by street-car conductors, policemen, plumbers, or building-trade mechanics, such as was James Addison

{source: Piedmont and Western Railroad Club and Old Rock School Railway Museum}

Mary Jane Hooper's parents were English. Grandpa Hooper came to America from England first. Grandma Hooper, with the surname Berryman, arrived in America later, coming with a brother. The Hoopers were married in New Jersey, where Mary Jane was born. Soon after that, they moved South, first to Lincolnton, North Carolina, where Grandpa Hooper worked as Superintendent of the tin mine just opened by some English investors. Later, they moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Grandpa Hooper was foreman in several gold mines.

{source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission}

This work ended for him when his health failed. The Hoopers then sold their home on West Seventh Street and bought a small cottage on South Tryon Street; with a small grocery store adjacent to it. For the rest of their lives, Grandpa and Grandma Hooper ran a small neighborhood grocery store, with Grandma Hooper doing most of the work, as Grandpa Hooper's health was bad. In later life he sold his store and bought a home on Euclid Avenue in Dilworth which he and Grandma Hooper occupied until their deaths.

The Hoopers were staunch Methodists and were members of the Tryon Street Methodist Church in Charlotte, later becoming charter members of Trinity Church at Second and South Tryon Streets. According to Edwin, Grandpa Hooper was a "licensed lay preacher" and an "exhorter" and a "Methodist Class Leader". From Berryman I learned that Dad had been raised as a boy in a church little known at that time, the "Hard-Shell" Baptist Church. Edwin added this: "I have often heard Papa say that on his first Sunday in Charlotte he went to the First Baptist Church. No one spoke to him or made him welcome. The next Sunday he went to Tryon Street Methodist Church, was welcomed warmly, and put his membership there." And there it was that he became acquainted with 'Minnie' Hooper and decided to marry her.

{source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission}

James and "Minnie" Jones first put their membership in the old Tryon Street Methodist Church but soon moved it to a newer church, The Trinity Methodist Church at the corner of South Tryon Street and Second Street where the Federal Reserve Bank is now located. Dad and all the family attended this church until it was merged about 1925 with Tryon Street Church to form First Methodist Church. Then he and the family went with the group that joined the Dilworth Methodist Church, which he supported wholeheartedly until his death.

{source: Dilworth UMC of Charlotte}

The Reverend Dr. Howard P. Powell, in paying tribute to my father after his death, said that he often related two personal experiences that caused his lifelong devotion to the Methodist Church. One of these was that he felt that the Methodist Church gave him the right-hand of fellowship that he failed to find elsewhere, and the other reason was that the Church gave him encouragement and companionship that he badly needed as a young man. From then on he began to feel a sense of indebtedness that made him in later life to become a large benefactor of the Methodist Church and related institutions.

{source: Dilworth UMC of Charlotte}

Jim Jones had to work hard, not only to support a wife and a growing family, but also to get ahead, to learn all he could from other workmen in the building trade. Berryman reported, "He found the opportunity as a young man to learn how to read blue-prints on the job he was working on. It wasn't long before he decided to get other workmen, brickmasons, and laborers to work for him. Then he got his first job as a brickmason contractor, bidding on brick work to be done in a particular job. He soon found he could make some money at this. So he decided he would no longer work for the other fellow on a day or hour basis, but would bid on what brick work he could get to do. As he was successful in this, his confidence increased and he soon decided to go into the general contracting work, bidding on small jobs that he could work on himself, along with a smal1 crew of workmen.

By consistently hard work, perseverance, initiative, vision of better days to come, a love for the kind of work he was doing, confidence in his own ability to make good in his chosen field of work, little by little Dad began to succeed as a general contractor and soon became known in his trade as J. A. Jones, General Contractor.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Spicy grilled chicken satay from The Beach House Cookbook

Affiliate link at bottom of page and where title of cookbook is named. iPhone pics (yes one is blurry).

This dish was yet another new dish I made for the first time while on vacation in October. The cookbook is The Beach House Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman, which I got in a blog cookbook swap years ago.

Spicy Grilled Chicken Satay
Serves 6, makes 18 skewers

  • 2 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 scallions, trimmed, for garnish
  • lime wedges for garnish
  1. Combine the peanut butter, yogurt, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, sugar, and red pepper flakes in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 6. Soak 18 bamboo skewers in cold water for at least 1 hour.
  2. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade, but do not pat dry. Reserve the marinade. Thread 2 pieces of chicken onto each skewer.
  4. When the fire is medium-hot, and the coals are covered with a light coating of ash and glow deep red, place the skewers around the outside of the grill so that the ends of the skewers are not exposed to direct heat. Grill the chicken, turning and basting with the marinade, until browned outside and white in the center, about 5 minutes.
  5. Place the skewers on a large platter and garnish with scallions and lime wedges. Serve at once.
I prepared the marinade in the AM and left it in the fridge while I was on the beach all day. Anytime anyone returned to the house to grab a drink or snack - they checked on the chicken and moved the thighs around in the bag. If you love peanut butter, you will love this recipe. I know it looks blah in the pics, but I'm not a plate dresser or food blogger so... whatever. Anyway, this recipe is great. Peanut butter is still apparent after it had been cooked, the grill's heat does not kill that flavor. The soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes make it have a slight spiciness, and I am sure you could punch it up a few notches more with the ginger and red pepper if you wanted to do so without impacting the marinade's composition as a whole.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thirsty Thursday: a vodka cooler

This post includes an affiliate link at the bottom and where I mention Simply Lemonade. As usual, an iPhone photo is included here, sorry for the quality!

This cocktail is incredibly simple and perfect when you want to pull something together in bulk for a group of people. I made this cooler to enjoy at the beach and pool when on the Banks in October. It kept well in the fridge and was perfect for since I just walked to the beach from the house. Just keep in a big pitcher!

Vodka, lemonade & mint coolers
Serves 6
  • 4 cups lemonade
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 6 lemon slices for garnish
  • mint leaves for garnish
  • fresh raspberries for garnish
Pour the lemonade and vodka into a large pitcher, slap the mint in your hand and add the mint to the pitcher. Stir well. To serve, fill tall glasses with ice and pour in mixture. Garnish with lemon slices, mint leaves and raspberries.
This cocktail is great with a strong, not watery lemonade. Something like Simply Lemonade® or a sparkling lemonade is best here. I like the raspberries in both the mixture (when you add the mint to the pitcher stir some raspberries in so they float throughout) and in the glasses when served to add a bit more color. I guess if you wanted to play Martha Stewart you could freeze some raspberries in ice cubes to float in this drink... This cocktail is clearly a no-brainer, but when you are faced with too many options (like a fully-stocked bar on a vacation) it helps to think of different things other than your old standbys (like several Cuba Libres or Dark N' Stormys).

Recipe source:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thai barbecued chicken by Barbara Scott-Goodman

This post has affiliate links for the cookbook source (the name in text and the picture at the bottom). Sorry for the iPhone photos.

This dish is another dish I made for the first time while on at the beach. While it was listed in the appetizer & finger foods section, we doubled this recipe and made it an entree. The cookbook is The Beach House Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman, which I got in a fun cookbook swap with Natalie from Two Preps in a Pod!)

This recipe is great if you are craving something savory:

Thai Barbecued Chicken
Serves 6

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup Nam Pla (fish sauce)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 chicken thighs (bones in)
  • 6 scallions, trimmed and minced, for garnish

  1. Combine the coconut milk, nam pla, lime juice, garlic, shallots, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, cilantro, and salt and pepper (to taste) in a blender and blend until smooth. Put the chicken in a large nonreactive bowl or baking dish (I used a Pyrex bowl). Pour the mixture over the chicken and marinate for 4 hours in the refrigerator, turning the chicken occasionally.Instead of pouring the mixture over the chicken, we ended up putting the mixture in a gallon-size Ziploc, then placing the chicken in the bag for a half-hour to make sure it was as coated as possible. Then we moved the chicken and liquid blend into the Pyrex bowl for the long marinating process.
  2. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill. When the fire is medium-hot, and the coals are covered with a light coating of ash and glow deep red, put the chicken on the grill, bone side down. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Turn and cook, skin side down, covered, until the juices run clear, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a platter, garnish with the scallions, and serve at once.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mango salsa from Simply Sarasota

This post has an affiliate link at the bottom for the cookbook source. This recipe is by a member of the Junior League of Sarasota. Sorry the picture is from my iPhone.

This recipe is yet another that I made when I was at the beach for two weeks this past fall! It was a great trip. I had fun trying new recipes almost everyday that we were there.

Mango Salsa
Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

  • 2 cups rinsed, drained canned black beans
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups chopped ripe mango (honestly, I'd make it be 2 cups or more of mango. Otherwise it gets lost in the peppers and beans!)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon light olive oil (make sure it is olive oil you'd put in a salad
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the beans, mango, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with chips!

Recipe adapted from: