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Being a mom can be a tough gig. Taking care of everyone, always putting yourself last, being on call 24/7... indefinitely.

No one works harder than Mom. As a working mom myself, I know the struggle day in and day out that working moms go through here in the 573, which is why I was so excited when I heard that we would be treating two hard working moms with a much deserved day of relaxation and pampering 573 style.

Meet Penny Brown, the first of two 573 Mommy Makeover winners and one hard working Mom.

I’m a working mother who manages complex project implementations of electronic medical record systems in hospitals all over the nation. I’m so proud of the work our company does to bring quality health care to people in all areas, and I find myself investing a lot of time into my work. However, I also have a three-year-old son who lights up my life and gives meaning to everything! Since I do work out of my home, I often get to the end of a day and realize I had zero time to shower or make myself feel and look great. How fun it would be to be refreshed and recharged as a beautiful feeling and looking momma and wife!!

I am all too familiar with the “homeless momma” look as I hurry to get my son, our two dogs, and my husband fed and dressed before going off to school or work each morning. I definitely want to make sure they are looking and feeling their best, so who cares if I look like the crazy lady in workout clothes and terrible hair each morning when I drop my son off?! Ha! I’m afraid I’ve gotten too comfortable with the “work-from-home” look. Who has time to actually shower and get dressed in something other than comfy clothes when you’re managing people, a job, a team, a toddler, two dogs, a husband, and a household!? This is me, though, and I’m proud of it all.

Between working full time, and being the mother of a four year old boy, Penny is a very busy woman. And we here at the 573 are more than happy to see her get this well deserved mini break.

Our first stop was Le Techniques Salon...

Our first stop was Le Techniques Salon at 73 North Main Street in Historic Downtown Ste. Genevieve. Le Techniques Salon offers personalized hair and spa treatments for men and women in a friendly and relaxing environment, including barber services, hair styling, facials, makeup, manicures, pedicures, tanning, waxing, massages, retail hair & skin care products, and a selection of other boutique items.

Owner and stylist, Amber Brown greeted us in that warm and welcoming 573 way that I’ve come to love so much about these little towns. Soon after, Penny and her husband Adam arrived and our guest of honor was escorted back to Amber’s station.

Penny told Adam he could run around and do something fun if he’d like, assuring him that it would be quite a while before she was done, but he smiled and said, “That’s okay honey, I don’t mind.” Like there was nowhere he’d rather be than right there with her. The way they look at each other is so romantic and inspiring.

“He really is a trooper.” Penny said about Adam. Good partners are scarce, but it makes the life of a hard working mom a little easier if she’s blessed enough to find one.

As we settled in, Amber began mixing up color for highlights and we got to do something that is pretty rare for most busy moms...have an actual adult conversation with each other.

We learned a lot about each other. For instance, Amber is also a busy working mother. She’s been a stylist for over 19 years and is the proud mama of four beautiful children ranging from 18 years to 20 months. She moved down here to settle away from the fast paced city life that St. Louis had to offer and opened up shop about 6 years ago.

Penny is an Integration Architect and Project Manager for a software development product company. Working long hours, and often bringing the job home with her, she doesn’t get much wiggle room when it comes to a social life.

“I live on a schedule. It’s my own schedule, but believe me, no one’s harder on me than me.” Penny laughed.

On top of her career obligations, Penny also runs her household in true working wife and mother fashion, with her head held high, her feet always moving, and her personal needs tucked away on the back burner. Without a lot of time for herself, she doesn’t get to do a lot of self indulging, pretty much just what she can fit into her lunch break. An issue many of us moms are all too familiar with.

"I’ve NEVER had a day of pampering!"

I asked her when the last time she went out and had a whole day of pampering.

“I’ve NEVER had a day of pampering! I mean, I’ve had my hair done a few times, and have been to get a massage before, but multiple things all in one day...never. Lol.”

Before long the conversation turned to the inevitable...talking about the kids. Penny told us about her little guy and how much he’s grown as a person already. “I feel like I have another little man in the house. There’s not really any baby left.” She told us. A feeling I know all too well.

As Penny enjoyed the rest of her afternoon of beautification, we headed on over to The Inn St. Gemme Beauvais to make sure her room was prepared.

The Inn St. Gemme Beauvais is the oldest continuously operated bed and breakfast in Missouri. The Inn has earned a Three Star Mobil rating, and it was a recipient of the Golden Star Award from Inn Style, Inc. It has even been featured in the magazines Country Inn and Midwest Living. The history of the Inn dates back to the 1700s when the daughter of Vital St. Gemme Beauvais farmed the property. The building was constructed in 1848 as a private residence for Felix Rozier and his growing family. The Roziers were prominent and successful merchants in Ste. Genevieve, and their family legacy is still observable today.

The Inn maintains the splendor of the past with period decor while adding contemporary luxuries in each room. Approaching the wide veranda leading to the front porch, one cannot help but have their eyes drawn toward the six tall pillars that grace the front of this three-story brick colonial mansion.

Upon entering the front door, the senses are inundated. The foyer’s four-armed brass chandelier dating back to the 1860s demands your immediate attention. Soft music plays gently in the background while the smell of fresh baked goods lingers in the air. As you turn, you see the elegant dining room with its nineteenth century crystal chandelier, which was imported from Florence. It hangs before the carved marble mantle of the fireplace.

During your candlelit breakfast, there is bound to be a small fire burning in the fireplace allowing you to bask in the warmth of its glow. There is a small common kitchenette and dining area on the second floor that provides guests with a stocked refrigerator, coffee maker, coffees, teas, and snacks, all available on an honor basis. Included in your stay is Tea Time at 2:00 PM, which serves teas, bread, cookies, wine, and hors d'oeuvres in the evening, and a full four-course breakfast.

After we spoke to Cathy at the Inn, we stopped back by Le Techniques to check on Penny (who had moved on to the make up chair) and give her the wooden nickels from Ste. Genevieve to spend on her boutique shopping spree.

Yes, you heard right...I said wooden nickels.

In Ste. Genevieve they have these little wooden tokens worth $5 each that can be used as currency in many of the downtown shops. The businesses that accept them can then exchange them for cash at the tour office. It’s a wonderfully clever way to encourage economic growth in Historic Downtown Ste. Genevieve. I love this town, they’re so involved and community oriented. It’s really wonderful to know that towns like this still exist. I’m blessed to live and work around so many of those places here in the 573.

While Penny finished up her makeover and her downtown shopping spree, we headed on over to our final stop, The Grape Vine Grill at Chaumette Vineyards & Winery. We were greeted at the front by Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Ryan Otto, who was an amazing host and did everything he could to make us feel comfortable and prepare a mini paradise for our deserving dinner guests.

As we waited for the courses to be served, we treated our eyes to the breathtaking view from the veranda. Surrounded by wine country, we gazed at the ocean of different shades of green that layered all over the hills and horizon, lined with rows and rows of the vineyard’s beautiful vines and dotted with rose bushes and the purple, white, and yellow blossoms of the fresh herbs that are grown on site. (90% of the herbs used in the kitchen were grown right here in the gardens and greenhouses of Chaumette!)

It was absolutely delish!

Our first course was the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp. Huge prawns of the biggest jumbo shrimp I’ve ever seen covered in a New Orleans style BBQ sauce that puddled in the bottom of the dish soaking into the slices of baguette that the shrimp topped and garnished with little diamond shaped slivers of green onion. It was absolutely delish! With a pleasant heat from the subtle chili that was balanced with the strong flavor of fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary, you could really taste the quality ingredients used. A glass of chilled Semi-Dry Chardonel with it’s sweet yet subtle hints of apricot perfectly complemented this amazing appetizer.

...this dish was made to satisfy and refresh!

Next up was the Korean BBQ Pork Tacos. Finely shredded Korean BBQ pork served in a flour tortilla topped with a delicious Napa cabbage & cucumber slaw and held together by small freshly made bamboo skewers. A complex and jubilant mix of flavors with subtle hints of sweet and heat throughout, this dish was made to satisfy and refresh! This dish went very well with Chaumette’s 2017 Reserve Chambourcin, a deep dark velvety smooth full bodied red with subtle hints of black cherry and oak.

...this pizza-like dish was a smash hit at the table!

Our third course was the Volpi Capicola. Hand tossed flatbread topped with roasted tomato sauce, shallots, pepperoncinis, and Fontina cheese, drizzled with an amazing arugula pesto. Crispy, fresh, and flavorful, this pizza-like dish was a smash hit at the table!

...nothing short of divine.

Next out was the Bone-in Berkshire Pork Chop. Perfectly seasoned & grilled, this chop was so wonderfully juicy, bursting with flavor and topped with a tasty and slightly spicy romesco sauce. It was served with a heavenly mix of sweet corn, grape tomatoes, baby spinach and fingerling potatoes that were nothing short of divine. The 2017 UnOaked Chardonel, Pinot Gris in style, added a nice touch to this dish with it’s light and refreshing hints of apple and grapefruit.

...the pièce de résistance...

Our last course and the pièce de résistance was the Bourbon Street Steak. A tower of creole, this meal consisted of 2 cuts of ribeye steak stacked on top of a potato cake made from goat cheese mashed potatoes, flecked with spicy chunks of crawfish, smothered in a Cajun asiago cream sauce and garnished with speared slivers of fresh green onion. The spicy creole inspired sauce reminded me of the crawfish etouffee I used to love as a girl, and the perfectly grilled medium rare steak was so juicy and tender it nearly fell apart when I began to cut into it. The Mosaic, a semi-dry red with sweet subtle hints of cherry completed this meal perfectly.

Executive Chef Rob Beasley created the menu that were fortunate enough to sample and we at the 573 are truly impressed, but his culinary talent was not the only thing that made us lifelong fans of this master of meals. Chef Rob has been sourcing ingredients locally for over fifteen years, getting much of his ingredients straight from the gardens at Chaumette and supporting other local farms and businesses. This farm-to-fork culinary experience is one of the region’s most delicious treats for both the palate and the local economy.

Chef Rob grew up in Louisiana where he was inspired by his mother and grandmothers. While one grandmother lived in the city and followed the latest cooking trends, his other grandmother owned a farm in Louisiana and specialized in Cajun and Creole cooking. He started out young around 3 or 4 years old by learning to fry eggs.

Classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park, Chef Rob has over twenty-five years of experience as an executive chef and proprietor in St. Louis and Des Moines. In St. Louis, he was an executive chef at Pairings Bistro and the Hilton at the Ballpark, as well as a corporate chef at Charlie Gitto's. He also worked for Proprietor and Chef Bill Cardwell at Cardwell's at the Plaza and for Executive Chef Rex Hale at LHM Hotel Properties. In Des Moines, he was executive chef and proprietor of Mojo's on 86th, Varsity Café, and Adam & Abby's.

“That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, I’ve literally never wanted to do anything else.” Chef Rob explained about his passion for food.

Always busy, Chef Rob graciously gave us time he didn’t have between the wedding they hosted and the Saturday night dinner rush. This is their 5th season doing weddings and they are growing at an exponential rate.

“Last year was a record year for us as far as weddings, and I’m sure this year will top it. We just keep growing!” - Chef Rob

Full to the brim, and confident that Penny and Adam would thoroughly enjoy the splendid dinner in store for them this evening, I leaned back in my chair and relaxed as I watched the wind flutter the countryside all around me making that already gorgeous view grow more and more breathtaking with each passing second.

...the view paled in comparison to the beauty and radiance of a newly made over Penny...

As splendid as it was, the view paled in comparison to the beauty and radiance of a newly made over Penny when she stepped out onto the terrace. Her proud husband escorted her out to the garden to sip some wine, enjoy the view, and just breathe each other in until their meal was served. She looked completely revitalized and finally relaxed as she gazed out over the horizon with the breeze fluttering around her beautiful new dress and playing through her long lovely locks.

We left our couple gazing into each others eyes awaiting the spectacular sunset that would soon begin. Pure joy and peace graced their expressions as we snuck out to leave them to enjoy their magical evening together.

I was so grateful to be a part of honoring this hard working 573 mom and to be able to share in her celebration of self. Until next time, be happy, be well, and don’t forget to call your mom and tell her how much you appreciate all of her hard work!

-Written by AJ Koehler

Letter to the editor from Penny -

I just wanted to send my sincerest appreciation for my Mommy Makeover over the weekend. I was truly spoiled and got to experience a day that was just all about me. It’s hard for me to receive or accept that kind of attention, but it left me feeling refreshed and beautified! Thank you for all the work that was put into the planning and execution of the weekend.

Everywhere we went, people were so kind and generous and our meal at Chaumette was one to be remembered. My husband said that he thinks it’s the best meal he’s ever had and that’s a HUGE compliment as he’s a picky eater!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

- Penny

Don't forget to check out our adventures with Becky, our other Mommy Makeover winner!


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