ETT IN THE WOODS / ROSWELL, GA

ME:  (3.20.21) Good Morning, Jessamine, and Happy First Day of Spring! Somehow I stumbled onto your offer to eat alone by the creek and it spoke to my soul. I would like to put my name down for the random drawing and see what happens.

ETT Restaurant:  (3.21.21) Yay! Your name was picked for ett April 26th. Please just let me know if you have any dietary needs and I will email you more details when your date is closer. Thanks!

ME: OH MY GOODNESS – I’m so excited!!! Thank you Jessamine! I have no dietary restrictions whatsoever. :)

EMAIL (4.22.21) Welcome to ett. INFO for your visit this Monday, 04.26 (the last ett as it works now). You are welcome to come anytime after 3PM. Please wear comfortable walking shoes – it is a bit of a hike and quite steep in spots. You may also want bug spray and maybe a change of clothes if you want to get in the creek. Park in the turnaround to the left as you enter the driveway across from the basketball goal. Then walk back up the driveway towards the road. The trail begins on the left halfway between your car and the mailbox. Follow the blue arrows to ett. It is 1/3 of a mile, steep towards the end and lands you creekside at your table. You are welcome (encouraged) to stay as long as you want. Yes, there is a meal but this is just as much about you taking quiet time for you as it is about eating. You can do whatever you want. We do ask that you leave before dusk though so you can easily find your way back to your car. Text when you leave so I can clear the dishes. Payment is whatever you want, can afford, or want to trade.  <Jessamine Starr>

WELL, FRIENDS…on APRIL 26, 2021, I earned the title of the “last ett guest” and the furthest traveling person (Chicago – Atlanta) for this beautiful and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Ett, Swedish word for “one”,  is the brainchild of Jessamine Starr, who is the proprietor of the Good Food Truck in Georgia. May of 2020 (two months after the pandemic paralyzed the world), Jessamine created this one seat, five-course meal, contactless restaurant next to a creek on her fabulous property as a way for people “to experience intentional solitude instead of the daily aloneness of pandemic life.” It was a GIFT to the lucky few every month to experience solitude in a way that is beyond the imagination and highly restorative. I spent three hours eating, reading, crying, thinking, laughing, and playing in the creek. Looking back, I wish I had more time to swim in the refreshing water. :) I cannot thank Jessamine enough for such an extravagant gift where I felt so magically cared for. I didn’t see her but I felt her presence the whole time; the food she made for me was next level and I will never forget it. The whole experience sparked a new sense of adventure in me and it deeply reminded me to be ready for anything. I traded the gift of photography for my ett experience. I hope I can bless Jessamine’s heart by showing her the wonderful gift she gave the world during a super hard and grief-filled year, and to hopefully remind her if she ever forgets. After twelve months of ett in the woods, Jessamine made a decision to end the project and let all the goodness seep into the woods. I feel so completely honored to be the very last “one” but there is this weird unexplainable pain in my heart. I know all good things end, but this was quite special and I know was hand-picked just for me. Thank you, Jessamine, for the unintentional seeds you planted in my heart and soul of showing kindness whenever I can and to be SUPER EXTRAVAGANT about it. I love how you see me as your last ett guest – the documentarian – because that is precisely who I am. I appreciate you more than words can ever express, and I pray the photos you see here will speak the thousand words which I cannot. XOXO

P.S. Btw, this was such a great way to kick off my birthday week…Fifty-Six  IS LOOKING SO DANG GOOD!!! :)

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“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” – Anne Frank

Follow @GoodFoodTruck and @ettinthewoods on Instagram!

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPHY

V I E T NA M

Finally, VIETNAM. Out of all the trips I’ve made in 2018 and 2019, this one was the most significant…I went deeper and farther. Many surprises along the way and unexpected tears too. Looking back…going back to Vietnam after forty five years, without my mom, and to all new territories…was truly setting myself up for a lot of stress. But I’m proud of myself that I survived and a bunch of questions were answered. Most of all, God was with me and I felt HIs hand. I am so speechless every day for His provisions and how He guides my life. With God, ALL things are possible. I pray I continue to be a living example of His goodness and extravagant care.
Locations: Hoi An, Da Lat, and Da Nang.

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“If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.” – Rumi

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Goult, France

I basically went all the way to South of France for this cooking class. It took three days to get here and there were times the thought did enter my mind that God might not want this for me and that I led Him instead of Him leading me. I was being tested to trust and not for a moment to think that God is not good and didn’t care about me. So when my feet landed in Aix-en-Provence the evening of June 19, 2019,  I knew that this cooking class was a GIFT straight from heaven. The experience with Giuseppina Mabilia was more wonderful than I imagined; Giuseppina is a woman of vision and passion. I loved being there with my good friend, Claire, and five other people from Hong Kong. The day was like a dream and it will be one of the highlights in my entire life. I am beyond thankful.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4France_20190620_MariaPeterson0013 France_20190620_MariaPeterson001120190627_untitled_0002 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0026France_20190620_MariaPeterson0023 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0045 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0075 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0029 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0110France_20190620_MariaPeterson0087 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0088 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0140 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0054 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0107 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0150France_20190620_MariaPeterson0168 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0170 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0187France_20190620_MariaPeterson0190 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0194 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0205 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0209 20190627_untitled_0001-2France_20190620_MariaPeterson0241 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0225 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0227France_20190620_MariaPeterson0237France_20190620_MariaPeterson0245France_20190620_MariaPeterson0255 France_20190620_MariaPeterson0252“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
- Harriet van Horne -

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPHY

 

M Y K H A

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!
I cried a lot today but it’s okay because not having you here on this earth to walk with me will forever leave a gaping hole in my heart. Thank you for giving life to me and being there for me in my happiest and darkest days. Thank you for giving everything when I didn’t deserve anything and showing me what it’s like to leave this world empty handed cuz you freakin’ gave everything away! Even in your death, you gave away your organs so others may live. Thank you for showing me how to live fully and boldly.

*Below are kind notes from some of you that I gathered days after my mom, Mykha Trinh, passed away on July 9th, 2017. Her death was sudden and I was unresponsive to so many that reached out. It’s hard to even apologize but I know the people who have gone through deep loss would know just how much it meant to my family and I that you were there for us and that you loved my mom so well. Some of you I’ve never met but it was the same that you comforted my heart and the hearts of my family. Taking me forever, but “THANK YOU” from the bottom of my heart!

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REBECCA GOLDMAN:
Dear Maria, I just heard. I love Mykha with all my heart, and I just want to say that I am sending you love and my heart is there with you and your family right now. Mykha felt to me like my grandmother too, as we grew up with her learning from her wisdom, strength, generosity and joy, and I miss her and will miss her every day. So much love to you.

KELLEY LOPER:
Peter told me about your mom and I just want to let you know how sorry I am. I’m thinking about all of you and sending my love. She was one of the most amazing, loving and wise women I ever met – in so many ways. I have such wonderful memories of spending time with her and how loving and generous she always was toward me and Zoe and Alex. We’re so sad and miss her terribly. Please pass on my thoughts to the whole family. And please take care.

NATE LARKIN:
It takes time to process the loss of someone you love without the standard archetype to place that person in your life – difficult to reconcile. Mykha was not my Grandma, she was not family, but her role in my life was profound. She showed me how to love life through Mykha’s lens – love was beauty, taste, intention, compassion, and it knew no bounds. At an early age she altered my perception of life, and I will forever be grateful for our relationship. It’s hard knowing I will never experience her love in a tangible way again, but she is apart of who I am and the way I interact with the world – which is the greatest gift she gave me.

CHRISTINE CAO HRYHORYSAK:
It makes me chuckle every time I see a picture of your mom in furs because I am reminded of the time I saw her at Jewel years ago. She was in her full length fur coat running about trying to get everything she needed before getting on the plane heading to Vietnam. I addressed her as “Bác” and she looked at me sideways and said to call her “Cô” instead because She did not want to feel old! Loved this funny lady!

SHAY HOLLAND:
Dear Maria, I heard about your mom’s passing from my mother. I wanted to let you know you’re in my prayers. I think I ate more of Mykha’s cooking over the years than I did of my own mother’s! Your mom was such a dynamic force and will be missed by so many. I pray your own heart will be filled with comfort and peace in the midst of your sorrow.

BREANNA PRICE:
My grandma, the most vibrant, loving, passionate, and sometimes sketchy person on the planet passed away and many many hearts are aching. It’s surreal. I thought she would outlive all of us because she was the strongest person I know. I can’t even begin to describe how much this hurts. To this day, she’s a staple in our community. She owned one of the most loved restaurants in Glen Ellyn for over 20 years. So many people adored her, even outside of the family. She was able to be at my wedding in December 2016, which brought all of us together with her for the last time, and for that I will never be more thankful. Her memorial will be held at the Danada Equestrian Center House in Wheaton, IL Wednesday, July 12th at 9AM for anymore that would like to pay their respects. I love you, Ngoai.

ALICIA MAE:
Feels appropriate that the sky would cry on the day we say goodbye to Mykha. Beautiful service. Beautiful memories. I will be forever thankful my life was one that intersected with hers. You will be so very missed Mykha!

CHLOE SAGUM:
I can’t believe you’re gone. Saying goodbye to you was a new pain that I had never felt before. The hardest part is knowing that my kids will never meet you. Ngoai, you brought life to everyone. You gave without thinking and loved without condition or expectation. You were so real with me. You were the strongest woman I know. I never knew the extent of what you went through for our family until the stories that were told yesterday… you lived your life so beautifully and had never once thought of yourself. The last time you spoke to me, in person, was at my wedding. I’m so grateful for that moment and will keep your words with me for the rest of my life. You loved all your grandchildren so much and it showed. “I love you more than the whole kingdom”, and I will always be your Toto.

LIZ CLARK SHAMBAUGH:
Hello my friend. Just checking in to see how you are doing. I had a dream last night and your mom brought me granny noodles and my favorite, egg rolls with shredded carrots and daikon, with a LOT of nuoc mam. Sounds like a dumb dream, but you know what I remember from it? That it made me happy. Your mom had a gift, that’s for sure, and it wasn’t just being an amazing chef. She had the gift of making people happy, and bringing them on culinary adventures (trust me, there would never have been a time in my life where I thought I would enjoy something with fish sauce…because no, just no!) Your mom is actually the only reason why I love Vietnamese food as much as I do. And not just the egg rolls, we go to the restaurant, and I would just tell her to surprise me, or I tell the waitress to tell Mykha to surprise me. And I was never disappointed. There are not many restaurants that I would trust the chef to do that. Anyway, sorry for the tangent, I hope you are doing okay, and if there’s anything you need at all please let me know. It’s a very hopeless time, you feel very lost, and maybe you feel like you should be doing things a different way or whatever, but just be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself, and accept help when it’s offered, if you need it. I really can’t stress that part enough. Sending prayers up for peace for you and your family, and I hope that the happy memories can carry you through this difficult time. It takes awhile, but the elephant sitting on your chest will get a little lighter week by week, month by month. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do, anything at all. Hugs, prayers, and love to you and yours. XO

SUE KRAL:
I met my friend, 37 years ago. She taught you life lessons every moment of her life. She was by far the greatest mother on this earth. My friend, my heart, I would not be half the person that I am today if not for you. You are forever part of me. It is obvious you are in so many people’s hearts.

ALLISON SANDBECK:
Mykha Trinh…you don’t realize the imprint someone has left till the hand has left your shoulder. You were a force, a mentor, a friend….love to you.JESSICA FITZER:
Sweet, dear, loving Mykha Trinh. You loved me when I was a wandering, lost 19 year old with grace and compassion. You made me (and everyone you met) feel deeply loved and cared for. And now, 21 years later, I am can hear your voice and feel your hand on my arm as clear as ever. You made us all better. I am grateful beyond what I could imagine to have spent time with you!

MICHELLE THERESE ZICK:
My heart is grieving for your family. I wish that I could have been there today and celebrate her life with you all. She planted so many amazing things in my heart and life and called for the the gold in every person she met with the love of God. I am forever grateful for the gift of friendship and the love we shared. In everything I do, there is a part of MyKha’s heart that goes with it.

ELLIE HODKINSON:
Our hearts are heavy today, taking in this unexpected news of MyKha’s passing. My family was gifted with a wonderful friendship with MyKha starting in 1975, soon after she moved to the U.S. Deepest sympathies to her big, loving family and to everyone else who has known and loved this amazing lady. Also, wishes for many peaceful and comforting memories of MyKha’s generous and loving spirit, her easy and contagious laugh, her special love for little ones and her passion and talent for feeding people with food and with love. We will miss you so much MyKha!

DANIEL NEWGEN:Today I lost one of the most influential and most kind hearted person in my life. Mykha Trinh, you were the most loving and thoughtful person that I know thank you for giving me my name I will always love you Mykha more than the world.

BRENDA LANGSTRAAT-PALM:
A beautiful celebration of one of the brightest lights, Mykha Trinh. Through quick wit, constant action and the best cooking, she taught us that to empty ourselves for others is to truly love. She filled our bellies and souls. To open the door and walk up the ramp into Mykha’s…the smells and the love. It was MyKha AND the community that she brought us all into, she nurtured each of us as if we were family. One of the blessings of my life was to work at the restaurant. Of all the industry gigs I had, that was the best…to be a vehicle to deliver the best food from one of the finest artists. There was a rhythm to it. From the talks over ‘family’ dinner at the end of the night to the years after of walking in to catch up and then the love notes on Facebook, she was a source of joy and she was the definition of family. May we all love and work and create so generously and openly. Love you, sweet Mykha.

BLACKBERRY MARKET/GLEN ELLYN:
Sadly, we wanted to let those who didn’t know that the great Mykha Trinh passed away this week. Many of you will remember MyKha from her wonderful restaurant here in Glen Ellyn by the same name. What many of you may not know was that Mykha’s was our favorite place to dine in Glen Ellyn, not simply because of her creativity in the kitchen, but because of her care and attention she gave to us and anyone that walked through the door. As well, she was one of the trusted souls we consulted with before opening Blackberry and was certainly an inspiration for us opening here in town. We are thankful for her life and her contributions to this community. She was a generous and gracious woman that will certainly be missed.

KC/CEO GIFT OF HOPE:
It’s a real small world. We ate at Mykha’s all the time. I absolutely loved her duck. The veggies were incredible and always fresh. Every waiter you talked to had a great story and I always felt like we were sharing an intimate evening with friends when we’re there. I met her a few times but just as another impressed customer. She was an icon in Glen Ellyn. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize the name, but I don’t think I ever knew her last name. How cool she was a donor for us. Please tell her daughter that I’m so sorry for her loss and the world’s. They don’t make people like her mom too often.

M Y K H A   T R I N H
“Eat good food. Be happy. And smile.”
1946 – 2017
For a glimpse of what MYKHA stood for, CLICK HERE. Thanks endlessly to RULE29 for this INCREDIBLE GIFT!

Montreal {Canada}

This is my first blog post for 2018 and it’s a personal one. Not sure what my photography will look like this year, but I’m intending to slow down and shoot more for my pleasure and travel to as many places in the WORLD as the Lord would allow. :) Took my first trip ever to Montreal with my girls, Breanna and Chloe, and it was beyond great! It was bitterly cold but we walked miles and miles and found places for the best croissants, coffee, hot chocolate…and most importantly, we ate at DA EMMA! Best restaurant ever! The best part  was that my girls INVITED ME to join them on their little adventure before baby Duke Sagum enters the world mid May! What mother would not have their heart exploded when their adult kids want them around? Thanks for the love and generosity, Brea and Chloe…it meant the world to me and these memories will stay in my heart forever!
P.S. This is also my first international trip since Budapest, Hungary in 2016 and I brought my Canon 5d Mark II and shot all these images with the 40mm 2.8 lens for safety and simplicity since we were on A LOT of ice most of the time. I improvised and it was a smart move. :)

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“To travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Andersen

MARIA PETERSON PHOTOGRAPHY