Last year around this time I did not feel like being grateful. Even worse, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt, as I had plenty to be thankful for. Still, I had just lost my grandmother and her Celebration of Life was on Thanksgiving Day. This event should have helped put just about everything in perspective. Instead, my mortality felt heavy. All I could do was focus on what I hadn’t done, things I had or had not said, and stupid resentments I just could not let go. I was so angry at my business. It was the thing that kept me from seeing my family, had isolated me from my girlfriend, and had cost me a number of friendships for various reasons.
Three hundred and sixty-five days later and boy did the universe show me. I wish 2017 me knew what 2018 me had in store. To help all the future me’s appreciate the good years, I purchased this amazing journal from Penny Post with a commitment to document all of the events of the year. That way, if during 2019 Thanksgiving I’m feeling more grumpy and less grateful, I can refer back to it.
So, in lieu of a food post, as the majority of you out there reading this have unbuttoned your top button by now (or at least I hope you have), here, for public consumption, is my gratitude list for 2018. My hope that if you are struggling to feel thankful this year, which is absolutely okay, you might be encouraged that next year everything could be different.
My girlfriend, Lindsay.
I cannot remember what life was like before her, and I don’t even want to think about my future without her.
While not always perfect, we always show up for one another in one way or another. And even though it is not always perfect, I’m grateful to have them to complain about. Just kidding, family. Or am I?
The amazing female business owners, executives, and managers in Alexandria.
This tribe of women has held me up, cheered me on, patroned my business, given recommendations for vendors,
and sent their families to us. They work so hard to make sure our City is thriving.
They sacrifice all of it and I am humbled to be their peer.
The Stomping Ground Team…
who after three years, continue to deliver day after day, week after week in a challenging building
not cut out for the restaurant we are. I am in awe.
for the meaningful connections that these relationships bring and for the calling of the bullsh-t they offer (without invitation).
Matte red lipstick, the hair-drying turban from Bellacara, and fake lashes.
The kids’ section at Penny Post.
Megan Brown’s Pilates Boot Camp, Mind the Mat yoga, and SoulCycle.
For the folks who come into our shop to give us a try, and for those we see everyday.
I cannot find the words to thank you for your support. I’m floored that you come in, I’m floored that you pour support into us, I’m floored that you care so, so much. I am grateful to you. Every. Single. Day. You make the sacrifice easier.
A community that has wrapped its arms around me.
Sparkling water, coffee, Sparrow Lane Vinegar, brown butter, Duke’s mayo, cranberry in a can.
For the humble biscuit. It has power.
Life is a one-lap race. Some years we are grateful, some years we aren’t. For those of you struggling this year, thank you for your honesty. The hard years put all the future blessing in perspective.
Nicole’s cooking style is rooted in, but not limited to, her love of southern biscuits and her diverse culinary upbringing. A military brat, she spent her childhood in the Chicago suburbs enjoying her great-grandmother Mae’s Lithuanian cooking. As a tween, she moved to Paulding County, Ga. where she begrudgingly fell in love with the charmingly perplex small towns of the Deep South. She fondly remembers grubbing on Martin’s biscuits, late-night Waffle House debauchery and cooking with her family.
After graduating from the University of Georgia, Nicole started a marketing career at an art nonprofit in Atlanta. At 25 years old, she became the youngest executive at the local Atlanta NPR affiliate.
Chasing her dreams, she moved to Alexandria, Va. where she took a short post in the Whole Foods marketing department. Realizing that cooking had been her true love all along, she began night courses at L’Academie de Cuisine. She completed her apprenticeship at Blue Duck Tavern where she was promoted to a line cook after graduation. From there, Nicole worked as a private chef for busy Washington D.C. executives and their families.
As grown-ups tend to do, Nicole realized something about her childhood — the best parts were enjoying small town communities, cooking with her great-grandmother and sharing meals with family and friends. She opened Stomping Ground to build a safe and welcoming community around yummy, handmade food from local sources. As her first foray running her own kitchen, she has shamelessly hired better, smarter cooks to fill her kitchen and your bellies. Her great-grandmother’s recipes often appear on the Stomping Ground menu without advertisement and, no, she won’t tell you the secret ingredients.
Nicole lives in Del Ray and won’t shut up about how much she loves living there.
If you wander down Del Ray’s, “The Avenue,” you won’t miss the farm-red building with a rustic fence bordering the patio. Stomping Ground opened two years ago and quickly became popular for its made-from-scratch biscuits and its neighborhood vibe. On weekends, excited guests line up before Stomping Ground opens hoping to be the first to get a just-out-of-the-oven biscuit or a fresh salad. Stomping Ground is mostly known for its fast casual breakfast and lunch but on Thursdays and Fridays they provide a full dinner service after 5:00pm. All meals are built from local, seasonal food that is organic whenever possible.