"I've discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it."
- William Faulkner

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

twas the week after Christmas...

Long time, no post.

I trust everyone had a wonderful holiday. I did. Kell, and this should surprise no one, kept a log of the hours away from home and miles put on my little car. I can’t remember the exact numbers – I know someone who does – but I think it’s something like 550 miles in 77.5 hours. Those of us who aren’t teachers and have to use precious vacation days over the holidays have to make every moment count, so we did. Ridgeland to Greenville to Starkville to Batesville to Ridgeland. Even typing that took forever. Surprise favorite gifts of Christmas 08: Kell’s ShamWow, OPI Brand New Skates nail polish (it's twinkly!)and Mom’s Twilight t-shirt – just ask her about that one. PLEASE.

We got back home to spend our first Christmas in our new house and shared the stockings we filled for each other while the twins sacked out on the couch. (Unfortunately, the Benadryl we gave the little guy to help him sleep while away from home had no effect.) I was barely awake by the time we were taking down decorations and throwing away garland and my wreath (the picture is of neither my porch nor my tree - i have no idea whose, in fact). Our living room looks really empty now. Sniff.

We’re a little back to normal now, considering we’ll have yet another holiday this week, complete with bonus day (Thanks, Guv!). AND one of my favorite publications arrived today – the Mississippi Magazine Wedding Register issue. I’ve posted before how much I enjoy this particular issue, and I plan on devoting some serious time to it. That is, if the gift cards and Christmas $$$ I got don’t burn a hole in my pocket first.

And for the last Delicious Dish of 2008, here’s a little something I made for my family for Christmas. It makes a great breakfast treat. Or a great treat for any time of day, come to think of it.

Hunny Bun Cake (I realize I spelled “hunny” a little funny, but that’s how Winnie the Pooh spells it, and I like it that way)

Cake Mixture
1 box yellow butter cake mix
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 8oz cup sour cream

3 cups confectioner sugar
6 tablespoons milk

Cinnamon Sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar(purchased) OR
2 tablespoons cinnamon and 2 tablespoons white sugar mixed in a separate bowl

Mix cake mixture ingredients together in a bowl (I suppose you could just use whatever the cake mix box calls for and prepare as directed, but this is what the recipe I was given said, so I went with it). Pour half of your cake mixture in a 9x13 greased pan.

Then pour half (2 tablespoons) of your cinnamon sugar mixture on top of your batter. Next put the rest of you cake mixture on top of that. Then place the rest of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.

Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Pour icing on top of cake while it’s still warm. (I poked a bunch of holes in the cake with the fat end of a chopstick to get the icing to drip down into the cake for an extra flavorful detail.)

Sound good to you? Want more recipes? Any specific type recipe you’d like me to try out and report back? Let me know if you’d like the Delicious Dish feature to continue in 09 – I aim to please!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

holiday hits

I decided a while ago that I would update my Christmas CD that I made in 2002. Here’s what made the cut for 08 (in order of appearance)…

“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” (the one from the original and infinitely better cartoon, NOT from the ridiculous movie that did not do Dr. Seuss justice)
“The Christmas Song” by Stevie Wonder and India.Arie. It was on a Target commercial a long time ago, and it was one of the first songs I downloaded using shady Napster (before it got legit).
“What Christmas Means to Me” by Stevie Wonder. I usually take special care to keep singers from appearing back-to-back on my mix CDs, but this one slipped past me.
“Merry Christmas, Baby” by BB King. Who else would you trust to sing this one?
“Carol of the Bells” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And they sing the right words.
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Michael Buble. I think this is the best Christmas song he sings, and one of the best versions of this one out there.
“Ave Maria” by Jewel. I LOVE this composer’s version, and I think she does it really well. It was sung at my wedding (yes, I got married in May).
“Celebrate Me Home” by Kenny Loggins. Kell and I fought for a while over whether this was a Christmas song or not. Listen to the lyrics, and you be the judge. (I’m right.)
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Selah. Just one of many great numbers from their Rose of Bethlehem album.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by James Taylor. My fave Christmas song by one of my most favorite singers. What’s not to love?
“Little Drummer Boy” by Jars of Clay. This is my dad’s favorite Christmas song, and I especially love this version.
“Santa Claus” by Harry Connick, Jr. How much do we love this guy? I can just picture little Harry as the boy in this song.
“Step Into Christmas” by Elton John. It took me years to figure out what the name of this song was, but I loved it enough to keep investigating. Totally worth it.
“Where Are You, Christmas?” by Faith Hill. OK, so this song does come from the ridiculous Grinch movie, but it’s pretty much the only good thing that came out of it.
“O Holy Night” by Selah. I posted about this song yesterday, and I’m still not over it. I love it too much to get tired of it, so I won’t listen to it on repeat (which is what I really want to do).
“Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney. Cute song for a cute boy.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. These two are so great together – they make this song not cheesy.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra. I know this song is already on the CD, but how could I deny the Chairman of the Board?

Any songs you love that I left off?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas at The Office...sort of

Yesterday was my office Christmas Party, of which somehow I became in charge. Wow. It would be difficult for me to recount all the tiny insanities of the event, but I’ll say this – it was much like Christmas at The Office, just a hair less catastrophic. And it was SO not my fault.

Anywho, I brought Honey Hush Pie (you are probably beginning to think it’s the only thing I can make) and this week’s Delicious Dish:

Buckeye Bars (thanks for the recipe, Lacey)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
22 NILLA Wafers, crushed
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 of 8-oz. tub COOL WHIP Whipped Topping (Do not thaw.)
3 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate (I used ½ c. chocolate chips instead)

Line 8-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Beat butter and peanut butter with mixer until blended. Mix in wafer crumbs. Gradually add sugar, mixing well after each addition. Press onto bottom of pan.

Microwave Cool Whip and chocolate in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min.; stir. Microwave 15 to 30 sec. or until chocolate is melted; stir until blended. Spread over peanut butter layer.

Refrigerate 2 hours (I did overnight). Use foil handles to lift dessert from pan before cutting to serve.

I’ve never really been bothered that sometimes people substitute X-mas for Christmas. Read this, and see for yourself and find out why. It’s not about trying to take the “Christ” out – it’s all about keeping it in. I remember learning this somewhere along the road in my life, and we all know how my strangely good memory makes things stick to me. I love random trivia. Thanks to Angie (who I do not know, but I love) for the link and for this…

The single greatest version of O Holy Night I have ever heard. Bar none. I’ve always liked that song, but it’s never been my absolute favorite Christmas song of all time. That might all change. My friend-who-doesn't-know-she's-my-friend, Angie’s husband is in the group Selah that performs the song. SO worth the 99 cent download from iTunes. Come to think of it, all their stuff pretty much is.

Friday, December 12, 2008

dan the man

Why is it that every time a new coach comes to MSU, we force him into a hideous maroon blazer? Take it off, coach. It's ok - you got the job. Wait...that's our new tradition? Oops. Mea culpa. Go Dawgs anyway!

Welcome to God's Country, Coach Dan Mullen!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

in case you were wondering...

THIS is what Christmas is all about.

May all YOUR Christmas wishes come true. God Bless!

Monday, December 8, 2008

simply having a wonderful christmastime

Yaya and I went to Birmingham this weekend to hang out with Claire, and although I never enjoy 3.5 hours of solitude in my car (thank heavens for XM radio), it was more than worth it. It’s been a long time since I’ve really laid eyes on these girls, and we had a great time. Claire was the perfect hostess and provided impeccable directions in and out of the Ham, while catering to our every shopping and dining whim. Not to mention we finally got to meet her mischievous adopted daughter Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Longstocking Hardin. For those of you that know Claire, this choice of name should come as absolutely no surprise. I’m just relieved she didn’t go with “Skillet.” Seriously, don’t ask.

Saturday night we attended Birmingham’s annual Black Tie White Christmas party at the Wine Loft in downtown, for which we all dressed to the nines. Claire even let me put purple eyeshadow on her. And yes, I am rocking a side pony. When you have massive hair like mine that gets lengthy at a moment’s notice, you have to be able to adapt. This weekend also marked my very first visit to a Forever 21 store – overwhelming to say the least.

This week’s Delicious Dish is a treat I made for Kell and Jen before Thanksgiving, and he asked me to make it again. They are REALLY good and look very wintry.

Chocolate Cakies (I made the name up – they’re sort of a delectable cross between a cookie and cake)

1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, room temperature*
1 stick butter, room temperature*
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18 oz.) box moist chocolate cake mix (I’ve used the standard chocolate and Devil’s Food – both are great)
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer,** cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls.*** Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon-sized balls and then roll them in confectioner’s sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and fluffy. Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioner’s sugar, if desired.

The yield varies depending on how big you roll the dough.

* If you need to make this sort of quickly, you can just put the cream cheese and butter (separately) in the microwave on defrost for a little while until they become “room temperature.” If not, it probably works better to leave the butter and cream cheese out until they reach room temp.
** The dough gets really thick and almost killed my old school hand mixer. A stand mixer would probably work better. If not, just stir with a wooden spoon by hand once the dough gets too much for the little mixer.
*** Put the dough in the freezer for at least an hour. The dough loses its chill quickly, so I used a smaller bowl and put it in a larger bowl filled with ice to keep the dough cold while I was rolling the balls.

Monday, December 1, 2008

feeling right this time of year

How great is this time of year?

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving break. Jen spent the night with us Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s big gathering of Kell’s family at Luckett Lodge in Brandon. Even though I still don’t know about half the people there, it was great to see and visit with those that I did know. I am certainly thankful for my husband’s wonderful family, even though I missed my own.

Those cute Alexander girls.

What's with the face, Coug?

After all the Thanksgiving festivities, we got a lot accomplished. I bought some knobs for my living room from our beautiful new Anthropologie store (I only went 3 times in a week) along with this year’s new ornament – appropriately, a little house. We also saw Four Christmases, picked out our tree, got it home and in the stand, adjusted it at least 3 times (still leaning), trimmed the leaning tower of Frasier Fir, finished a book (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - LOVED it), wrapped all the gifts and decorated my mantle (see below, obviously).

Marshall Ramsey’s question of the day today was about favorite Christmas TV specials, and it reminded me of how many I still enjoy today that were a part of my own childhood holidays. Here are mine…

1) Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated version, of course). This one takes the cake hands down. No competition.

2) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I love those little felt characters, and I can probably sing you all the songs. Seriously, an elf that wants to be a dentist? It doesn’t get better than that (exception: see #1).

3) A Charlie Brown Christmas. Leave it to Charlie to remind us of what Christmas is really about – complete with the Christmas story from the Bible. Do you think you could do that nowadays? I think not. And that sweet little tree…

4) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I’m embarrassed to say that I actually prefer the DVD version because of all the “color” TBS leaves out. “Eddie, if I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”

5) A Christmas Story. I absolutely love that TBS plays it for 24 hours straight on Christmas day. That lamp would add a lot to the décor in my living room.

On a sad note, farewell to Coach Croom. He resigned from his post as head coach of the Bulldogs on Friday after 5 years at the helm. Though the outcome of many of the games may not have been what we were looking for, no one can question his historic impact on our university nor his unwavering devotion to his team and staff. No matter the tallies in the W and L columns, I truly believe Mississippi State is a better institution because of him. Godspeed, Coach.

And now for another Delicious Dish! Kell had this dip at a friend’s house and bugged me for days to get the recipe. It would be great year-round, but we gathered around a bowl of it before Thanksgiving.

Mexican Corn Dip

2 cans mexican corn ,drained well
1 small can green chilis, drained
8 oz mayo
8 oz sour cream (1 small container)
2-cups shredded cheddar cheese
pinch of sugar
1 bunch green onions chopped

Mix all ingredients well. Chill. Serve with Fritos (or Scoops – Kell hates Fritos).

One last thing…I kind of want some Converse sneakers. Is that weird?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

let us give thanks

I wish it didn’t take an annual holiday to consider things that we should be thankful for each and every day, every hour and every minute, but once a year is better than never, I suppose. My friend, Anisa, recently posted her list and inspired me to do the same.

Things my serious self is thankful for:

God’s unending grace – I am a walking, talking, mistake-making mess.
My dear family – I know everyone thinks their family is the best, and that’s the way it should be. I just love mine.
The Twins – Even though they make us absolutely crazy sometimes, they can be so sweet. Plus, who would I buy clothes for if I didn’t have them?
My husband – I’m so fortunate to have Kell. Without him, I would always forget my cell phone or burn down the house because I left the curling iron on. Not to mention he’s really cute.
A warm home – Every time I feel cold at night, my thoughts immediately go to those less fortunate who aren’t spending these winter evenings in a house with four walls and a roof.
My friends – Good friends are truly special gifts. What more can you say?
A good job – In a time when so many are without one, I’m so thankful to have mine.

Things my silly self is thankful for:

Text Messaging
Curling Irons
Half-camis and half-shirts
Cute outfits
McDonald’s ice cream cones
Clorox wipes
InStyle magazine

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Gobble gobble!

Monday, November 24, 2008

happy doggone birthday

In honor of the twins' 2nd birthday (yes, we know the date), here are some pictures of our little monsters...

The day they moved in.



Haley's favorite picture.

Happy Birthday, Olive and Charlie!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

it's alright, 'cause I'm...

If you loved Saved by the Bell like I did (and still do), you'll love this great quiz from one of my favorite websites. I got a 9 out of 15 - can you beat that?

Embarrassingly enough, Kell only missed 2.

Monday, November 17, 2008

i've been tagged...

My girl, Katy, tagged me as one of her most Kreativ Bloggers! Thanks, Katy bug, but I don’t strike myself as interesting. I’ll try not to let you down. My instructions are as follows: list 6 interesting things about myself and tag 6 others to do the same.

1. I have a secret desire to be a singer. Sometimes I pretend to be making a music video in my car or home, and I often think about what I would wear onstage at one of my “gigs.” I want to be one of those great local singers with street cred that people look forward to hearing in piano bars or singing the National Anthem at a baseball game. I would also be ok with being a back-up singer for like Dave Matthews or John Mayer or Damien Rice or Justin Timberlake or James Taylor.

2. I carried around a Japanese canvas tote bag instead of a purse for over a month. Why? Well, since you asked, 1) I wanted a new fall purse and couldn’t afford it, 2) it was my carry-on bag from my last international trip, and I was too lazy to change it out, 3) it had lots of handy compartments and zippers (gotta love those Japanese) and 4) I liked telling people who asked about it that I got it in Tokyo. I just this weekend got a new purse from Libby Story, and my tote bag is now used for all the twins’ clothes.

3. I love British men. Minus the ones that look like Prince Charles or have Austin Powers teeth. What is it about the English accent that makes everything sound so smart and sophisticated? One of my Brit babe friends told me a story this summer about Spam (yes the faux meat) and vomit (he actually said “wretch!” Even cuter!), and I was still swooning (MK, I bet you know exactly who I’m talking about). And you all know how I feel about vomit talk. I still love Kell despite his NOT being British. Sorry for all those parentheses.

4. I really like to cook. I’m not great at it, but I’m not terrible either. Working in the Viking family for nearly 3 years taught me an appreciation for all things culinary, and I’m now fully content to watch the Food Network for 12-14 hours a day if Kell allows. I tend to hoard recipes with every intention of making them, but they end up just sitting in my over-stuffed recipe box until I think about them again. One of these days I’m going to have a recipe-testing party at my house.

5. When I put my makeup on in the mornings, I wipe the brushes on the t-shirt I slept in or the robe or pj pants I happen to be wearing. I know this sounds strange, but it’s makeup. It comes out. Plus, why dirty up a towel when I’ll be washing the t-shirt later anyway. And you can always tell the shirts I’ve slept in more than once because they usually have more than one color eyeshadow slathered on the shoulder. MK has also witnessed this phenomenon.

6. I am a HUGE hotel snob. I really only like to stay in hotels that have robes and bellmen – another taste I acquired working for Viking. I mean, when you spend 8+ hours a day working at one of the finest hotels in the South, you get accustomed to certain things. I make no apologies.

I hope you enjoyed this egocentric look into my life. I tag yaya, Claire, MK, KK, Jen Coug and Haley!

In writing this post, I realized it has been ages since I shared a Delicious Dish. Here’s one that I love and that I’m making for Thanksgiving this year. Sorry to ruin the surprise for any of the Luckett Lodgers. This recipe came from an issue of Mississippi Magazine though I can’t remember which one, and I think it’s from a restaurant somewhere in the state.

Honey Hush Pie (8 servings)

1 unbaked pie shell
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup margarine or butter
1 tablespoon white vinegar
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup coconut
½ cup pecans, chopped (I used halved)

Preheat oven at 300 degrees. Mix sugar, eggs, margarine or butter and vinegar with mixer until well blended. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Add chocolate chips, coconut and pecans. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

***Kell hates pecans, so I’ve made it without, and it’s good, too. And if you’re not a fan of coconut, you can’t really taste it anyway. Outstanding served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, November 14, 2008

home girl

I can do many things, believe it or not.

I can drive, say my ABCs backwards (thanks to yaya who taught me that trick), read, write the occasional phrase and even say a few things in Japanese. Yes, there are things I can do, and a few that I’m pretty good at, if I do say so myself. However, I am not a Jill of all Trades, shall we say.

I cannot decorate.

Don’t misunderstand me – I said I can’t decorate. I know stuff that’s cute from stuff that’s really tacky. I know what I like and what I don’t like, and I’ve even picked up just a few things from my mom and grandmother. But when it comes to gathering all these cute things and dispersing them over the course of a few rooms, I am at a total loss. I guess you could say I know just enough to know that I don’t know what I’m doing. And as my mom says, decorating mistakes are expensive.

How does one walk that fine line of cool and creative, even some DIY vs. cheap and looks-like-I-made-it-in-Bible-School? How do I decide what to do first? Where can I skimp and where should I splurge? I recently met with an interior designer, and she pulled swatch after swatch of fabric, tassels and bits of furniture from her wonderland of resources. And I’ll say I really like what she picked out – I really did. But how do I make sure a little of “me” shines through?

All that to ask you, my friends, for your tips, tricks, websites and shortcuts that I can use to make our new house our home. Is there anything that YOU learned the hard way from which you can save me? What’s that one great piece of advice? Or what’s your favorite thing you’ve ever done to your home? I need your help!

Don’t make me beg…

Monday, November 10, 2008

it's beginning to look a lot like you-know-what!

Hobby Lobby looks like the North Pole threw up inside. That can only mean one thing - the most wonderful time of the year is fastly approaching. Here's a fun Christmas Q and A, courtesy of yaya.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I am usually anti-gift bag unless a) absolutely necessary due to lack of prep time or shape/size of item or b) they are super cute.

2. Real tree or Artificial? This subject actually spawns some inner turmoil for me. I love the idea and aroma of a real tree, not to mention the fact that you just throw it away when the time comes. However, it is hard to beat the convenience of an artificial tree.

3. When do you put up the tree? Again determined by real or artificial tree. The longer you wait to put up a real tree, the longer the smell lasts. My parents used to have an artificial tree, and we (or should I say I) put it up the day after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? The day after Christmas. I think the tree actually loses some of its luster late afternoon on Christmas Day. And I like to throw away the lights with the tree. They are too cheap to fool with.

5. Do you like eggnog? No. sick. No one should be drinking anything with “egg” in the title.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Not sure, really. I bet that hurts Santa’s feelings. I guess my American Girl doll. I bet Harris’s fave gift was the Moon Shoes.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Kell I guess.

8. Easiest person to buy for? The twins.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, we got a lovely Fontanini one for a wedding gift. It’s one of my most favorite things.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail for sure. Email is just wrong. And if anyone needs Christmas Cards, call Kell – he’s selling them through the Phoenix Club (sorry for the shameless plug).

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I better not say.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Christmas Vacation probably. Kell started watching it this year in July, I think.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I bought my first Christmas gift in October this year. I’m almost finished.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don’t think so, but I’m sure I have for birthday or other happies.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Puppy chow. I agree, yaya.

16. Lights on the tree? Yes. You could land a 747 with all the lights I put on the tree. And as I mentioned in #4, I like to throw them out with the tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Secular: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. No contest. Religious: Carol of the Bells (not really religious, but you sing it in church. That counts.) Again, no contest. I also like O Come O Come Immanuel.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? As of now, we travel, alternating Smith and Karatassos homes.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Yes. I have plates with each one frolicking on them. And I believe the plural form of “reindeer” is “reindeer.” Even if that is not the case, an apostrophe is not necessary as the noun is not possessive, nor is it a contraction for “Reindeer is.” Forgive me; sometimes my proofreading side rears its ugly head.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A star, but I am not opposed to an angel.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Both.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? I agree with yaya – when people substitute “Holiday” for Christmas. Ridiculous. You don’t see a menorah being called Holiday Candlesticks do you? Oh, and the Dirty Santa game. Seriously people, that is just mean. Don’t steal my presents.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? No. I do have some favorite ornaments, though. The pickle, the wedding cake one that Kell gave me when he asked me to marry him (gag if you must, but I thought it was sweet and I love it) and the Eskimo one at my parents’ house. I also love the framed 5th grade picture of a certain friend of ours that hung on yaya’s tree. Sorry, had to mention it.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? We have breakfast for dinner on Christmas Eve, and I love it. Gave me the worst heartburn of my life one year, though.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? A TV armoire, curtains, a china cabinet, dining room table and chairs, new couch, rug, artwork, new knobs for the kitchen cabinets, 2 ottomans, furniture for the foyer, world peace and a headboard. That should about do it. For now.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

it's about time...

We finally did it! Homeowners are we! We were so scared to jinx ourselves that we didn't tell anybody about it. So, for those of you that feel out of the loop, you're in good company.

After months of searching and weeks of waiting, we pulled the trigger and signed are lives away. Is it wrong to be excited about decades of debt?

Anywho, we closed on Halloween, and Kell's parents were waiting, brush in hand, to help us paint (thanks, guys!). When that was finished, Haley came to help pack (thank you, too!) even though she was miffed at my lack of progress in that department. 4 days and 3 bottles of deep cleaner later, we turned in our apartment keys and are finally home! If Kell and I don’t kill each other over unpacking boxes, setting up bed frames or how many huggies to keep, maybe we’ll have you over to show off our crib. Y’all come see us now, ya hear!

(NOT our house)

PS - I'm thinking about starting the Twilight books. Should I, or am I still not over Harry Potter being over?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

t minus 7 days...

It's countdown time! Our country is staring down the most important choice of our generation, perhaps even of our lifetime. Elections in nature are polarizing, becoming more and more so as time marches towards the first Tuesday in November. Mud has been slung from all directions, some warranted, more unwarranted. Things have been said, speeches have been made and commercials run. Hours and hours of news-watching has left cobwebs in certain quadrants of my brain while others are in overdrive. I don’t claim to be a political pundit, and I don’t think any one person on Earth has all the answers. But I am certain of one thing: Americans are born into a privilege many in the world will never experience or even be aware of. And with this great privilege brings about great responsibility.

I don’t necessarily believe that one vote can always make a difference, but I know there are men and women fighting all over the world so that the millions in our country can cast our one vote (and those casting multiple ballots are stealing from me the importance of my vote while making a mockery of the fight of the soldiers of today and yesteryear). In one week, we will have a new President-elect, and I’ll be the first to say that it’s time for one.

After years of complacency and an “it won’t happen to us” mentality, we have finally reached a fork in the road. One in which will dictate the course of our lives and maybe even the lives of our children and grandchildren. I emplore each of you to take your vote seriously. It’s the only one you get (legally). Vote for the candidate you honestly trust, not the one that just asks you to. Vote for the man who loves his country more than himself. Vote for the man you’d most like in charge of our brave men and women guarding our nation at home and overseas. Vote for the man who believes freedom is bought with hard work and valor and not handed out. Vote for the man that surrounds himself with people of character, transparent if even to a fault. And remember that supporting “Main Street America” not only means the small business workers, but the small business owners, too.

Red, blue, left, right, we’re all Americans, so cast your vote in 7 days! Godspeed to our leaders and God bless the USA!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

in the words of Martha...

..."It’s a good thing."

I’ve loved Martha for years. One of my most favorite Christmas gifts as a teen was my Martha Stewart cake decorating set. Of course I made myself melt down because I couldn’t get mine to look like the pristine one in the picture, but nonetheless, it inspired in me a love for cake décor, mainly the cupcake.

Who doesn’t love a cupcake? Every once in a while Kell will inform me that we are past due for cupcakes at our house, and I’ll make a batch. I rarely eat them (unless you count an occasional finger swipe of icing), but I love how they look, how great they smell and all the fun things you can do with them. Harris sent me a link this morning of a year of different cupcakes – and from Martha, too! I think I have to make these. They’re a good thing.

More time and space than necessary on this blog has been devoted to makeup. I’ve confessed that in the past I was strictly a Wal-Mart makeup wearer, but I have since seen the err of my ways and left the dark side. That said, I am always on the lookout for a great new product, and I’ve found 2! First, if you have oily skin, you know how sad it is when at 5:00 p.m. your friends look fresh as a daisy and your face is gleaming. Not that healthy gleam that all the starlets have, but the one where you can see every pore on your face. Greasy girls, fear no more! I’ve discovered Welcome Matte, a makeup primer that cuts oil significantly. And with the Bare Minerals Mineral Veil On-the-Go, you can be totally unstoppable. Both good things.

I love a bargain. LOVE one. And if it’s a super-cute bargain, I’m completely sold. Enter Libby Story and Company. I’ve been patronizing this store since the flagship location opened in Greenville, and it was a match made in heaven from the start. Then, the Starkville location came along (score!). She does a bang-up job of getting great, unique clothes and accessories that are really affordable. Not to mention that she is so creative that you just want to swim around in her brain for a while. So, it goes without saying that I practically stalked the Ridgeland storefront until I saw the doors open. I finally got to go in there yesterday for just a few minutes, and it was everything I dreamed and more (just wait until you see my yellow feather earrings). If you’re ever in Greenville, Starkville or Ridgeland, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not going. Yet again, a very good thing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

here they are...

Ok, the moment you’ve all been waiting for...My top ten. Dave Letterman, eat your heart out.

10. “What Is Life” – by George Harrison
Tell me, what is my life without your love/Tell me, who am I without you, by my side
You know a group is good when its individual members are successful on their own. My mom has said that Beatles music is so timeless mainly because so many songs are love songs. Clearly, George stuck to this winning strategy when branching off.

9. “Maybe I’m Amazed” – by Paul McCartney
Maybe I’m amazed by the way you love me all the time/Maybe I’m afraid of the way I really love you
Paul McCartney is endearing to me for many reasons, but one of the greatest is his love for Linda, his wife who died of cancer long ago. In fact, he loved her so much, he insisted she sing with his band, Wings, even though she couldn’t carry a tune. In my mind I make the distinction that he is singing this song to her and not Heather Mills.

8. “I’m Glad There Is You” – by Jamie Cullum (not sure who wrote it, but his version is my fave)
In this world of overrated pleasures/and underrated treasures/I’m glad there is you
The first time I heard this song was on The Cosby Show. Claire Huxtable took Cliff out to dinner for his birthday and had a singer perform this song for him (please don’t ask me why/how I remember these things). I’m not sure of the original singer/songwriter, but this Jamie Cullum version is my absolute favorite. I love it so much, I put it and others on a cd I gave to all my bridesmaids in their welcome basket.

7. “The Scientist” – by Coldplay
Questions of science/Science and progress/Do not speak as loud as my heart.
Sadly, I do not know Chris Martin personally, but I like to believe he is a truly sensitive artist. The lyrics of this song are mournful enough, but the music really makes it. I mean, how could Gwyneth Paltrow pick a dud? And if you’ve never seen the video, grab a Kleenex first.

6. “Something” – by The Beatles
Something in the way she knows/And all I have to do is think of her
Another great Beatles love song. The first line of this song actually inspired the James Taylor song, “Something in the Way She Moves.” What’s good enough for James Taylor is more than good enough for me.

5. “Danny’s Song” – by Kenny Loggins
Love the girl who holds the world in a paper cup, drink it up/Love her and she'll bring you luck.
I’ve taken it upon myself to make up the backstory for this song. Kenny Loggins wrote this for his wife when she found out she was going to have a baby boy, which they consequently named Daniel. In true Kenny Loggins form, the music is simple enough to let the words shine. I love this song so much that I specially requested it at my wedding reception.

4. “Christmas Song” – by Dave Matthews
The people He knew were/Less than golden-hearted/Gamblers and robbers/Drinkers and jokers, all soul searchers/Like you and me
We all know Dave Matthews puts out great music, but this song exposed a different side of him to me. I first heard it on the cd he made with Tim Reynolds (which I bought at midnight when it was released in 1999 – you know, the blue one). Come to find out, it actually first appeared on the Remember Two Things album, but I like the live version best.

3. “Moon River” – by Peter Mayer
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker/Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' your way
If I’m not mistaken, Henry Mancini wrote this song for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, performed by Audrey Hepburn’s famous Holly Golightly character. Sex and the City fans might remember Carrie and Mr. Big dancing to the Andy Williams version of this song in a season finale episode (Carrie’s a little like Holly, don’t ya think?). Though recorded by many, this Peter Mayer version is my favorite.

2. “Sweet Baby James” – by James Taylor
Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep/But singing works just fine for me
I love lullabies. I can remember listening to some of them on an old yellow cassette as a little one – no doubt I would be brought to tears if I heard it again. I don’t necessarily think this is one of JT’s most famous songs, but the cowboy lullaby is definitely one of his best and one of my favorites. I remember going to a James Taylor concert with Alexa in junior high and waiting on him to play this one. Fortunately, he did as the encore.

1. “Hey Jude” – by The Beatles

Take a sad song and make it better./Remember to let her into your heart,/Then you can start to make it better.
Very few of you are probably surprised that a Beatles song perches atop my favorite song list. As with many great songs, myth and mystery surrounds the real meaning of “Hey Jude” and for whom Paul wrote it. My personal favorite anecdote is that Paul wrote this song for John Lennon’s son Julian during his parents’ divorce; he originally intended “Hey Jules,” but changed it to “Hey Jude” because it was easier to sing. Each verse is different, beginning with simple vocals and ending with a grand refrain. 7 minutes of music perfection. Cheers, Paul.

Well, there they are – my favorite songs of all time. Not sure what, if anything, you learned about me by reading this list, but hopefully it challenged you to come up with your own favorite songs or books or movies. Music isn’t something we can escape, so you might as well embrace the best.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

ask the candidates...

Look what I found on my new favorite website How About Orange!

Get your own fold-a-candidate for your home or office. Then you can talk to Sarah Palin all day about hunting, tell Cindy McCain to tone down the blonde, and ask Barack if 95% of American households really will receive a tax break and who will pay for all the programs he wants to start. Let me know what he says.

Monday, October 6, 2008

music...makes the people...come together...yeah...

Forgive me for what has no doubt been a noticeable absence from blogging. When I travel, I seem to get out of the swing of it, which is arguably the main time my fingers should be forever typing. Anyway, I’m back now, and that’s all that matters.

This post has been a long time coming in many ways. For years I’ve wanted to come up with this list but felt the task was too daunting to tackle.

Music has strange power. It can affect your mood for better or worse. It can teach you a hard lesson or make you feel dumber just for listening. And it’s no surprise that some music strikes us more than others. These songs can connect you to someone, something or somewhere or can allow you to escape – often both at the same time. It’s my belief that the love we have for music is the reason Apple scored with the iPod – people love to be surrounded by their favorite words, phrases, melodies and choruses at all times. And I mean all times – the subway, the airplane, while exercising (not that I know anything about that) and even while shopping.

So, for that reason, I’ve compiled a Favorite Songs of All Time list. I think you can learn a lot from someone by observing the songs he/she listens to again and again. Kind of like clothes – you’ll always get new things that you wear till they go out of style, but you always go back to the things you feel best in. Let me also say that I took this arrangement very seriously – I tried to weigh songs I “like” against those that speak to my soul. The closer to the bottom, the more unstable the position on the list; some will be there forever and some will come and go just to return again. Many I searched out, many just sort of appeared. Sometimes it’s the melody and other times it’s the words, but either way, here they are...

20. “Love Song for a Savior” by Third Day
I never swam the deepest ocean/But I walked upon the raging sea.
I couldn’t tell you the first time I heard this one, but I’m pretty sure it was in youth group at church at some point. The lyrics are written from Jesus’s perspective, essentially pleading to be with us. The finished product is a poignant monologue and mournful music that complement each other perfectly.

19. “Fool in the Rain” by Led Zeppelin
I got no reason to doubt you baby/It’s all a terrible mess.
The music in this song first attracted me, and it’s about as light-hearted as Led Zeppelin gets. As with other Led Zeppelin songs, I didn’t understand the words until years later. Trust me, they make this one even more endearing.

18. “Let Him Fly” by Patty Griffin
There’s no mercy in a live wire/No rest at all in freedom/Of the choices we are given, it’s no choice at all.
I first heard this on a Dixie Chicks cd, and I really liked it then. But it wasn’t until I heard Patty Griffin sing it that I was really hooked – and why shouldn’t I be? The words are her own, right? Jessica Simpson also has a version, sadly.

17. “Desire” by Ryan Adams
That you’ll find me, and that you’ll see me/That you’ll run and never tire.
I love when a TV show not only has great music but tells you what the music is. House is great about this, and it brought me this song. Maybe that’s a reason I love it so much – because I can see Hugh’s brooding eyes whenever I hear it.

16. “The Weight” – by The Band
My bag is sinkin’ low, and I do believe it’s time/To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she’s the only one
Kell introduced me to this song, as he did with much of the music on my iPod. The lyrics are really sad and lonely, and I don’t really understand much of their meaning. But who cares?

15. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – by The Proclaimers
And when I come home yes I know I'm gonna be/I'm going to be the man who comes back home to you
This is the very first song I purchased on iTunes. Random, perhaps, but I really love it. The music is really fun, and the words are really sweet without being too sappy. The singers themselves aren’t much to look at, but that kind of makes me feel like they really felt the words they wrote.

14. “The Wind Cries Mary” – by Jimi Hendrix
Will the wind ever remember/The names it has blown in the past/And with his crutch, it’s old age, and it's wisdom/It whispers no, this will be the last
It’s probably no secret why I like this song. There are lots of songs that feature my name, but this one is truly the best. Jimi Hendrix is an insane talent, and when the wind cries for you, what more could you want? John Mayer also has a good version of this one

13. “Say You Love Me” – by Fleetwood Mac
Then woo me until the sun comes up,/And you say that you love me.
How can you not love Fleetwood Mac? Sure Stevie Nicks dresses like a witch, but these guys have put out some great ditties. Seriously, have they ever put out a bad song? The lyrics of this song are totally desperate, but the music is upbeat enough to not seem so pathetic. I think we can all relate.

12. “When I’m Sixty-Four” – by The Beatles
Give me your answer fill in a form/mine forever more/Will you still need me/Will you still feed me/When I'm sixty-four
The first appearance of The Beatles on my countdown is certainly not the last. I absolutely love this happy song detailing out all the funny things about what it will be like growing old with your significant other. I read somewhere that Paul wrote this for his dad’s 64th birthday. How great to have your own personal Beatles song as a birthday gift?

11. “Elenore” – by The Turtles
Your looks intoxicate me/Even though your folks hate me
This is one of those songs that you may recognize the moment you hear it but just never knew what it was. The words are simple, and it’s the music that really makes it. It’s a secret why I adore this song.

There you have it - the first half of my favorite songs of all time. Stay tuned for the next group, including my number 1!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

i'm alive...

...just on another continent. Will post about my most recent Japanese voyage soon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

word up

Yaya says you can only answer with one word…

1. Where is your cell phone? desk
2. Where is your significant other? work
3. Your hair? wild
4. Your mother? Queen
5. Your father? genuine
6. Your favorite thing? snacks
7. Your dream last night? none
8. Your dream/goal? comfort
9. The room you're in? cubicle
10. Your hobby? shopping
11. Your fear? mistakes
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? house
13. Where were you last night? home
14. What you're not? tall
15. One of your wish list items? house
16. Where you grew up? Starkville
17. The last thing you did? snack
18. What are you wearing? dress
19. Your TV? on
20.Your pet? twins
21. Your computer? slow
22. Your mood? disappointed
23. Missing someone? yes
24. Your car? honda
25. Something you're not wearing? lipstick
26. Favorite store? anthropologie
27. Love someone? Kell
28. Your favorite color/shade? green
29. Last thing you ate? popcorn
30. When is the last time you laughed? today
31. Last time you cried? Yesterday

* Editor's Note: My hobby is not jogging, and I haven't set foot in a classroom since college.

It's been a while since I submitted a Delicious Dish. Harris just brought this one back to my attention - sure would be great for a Labor Day munchie!

Mississippi Caviar

1 can field peas w/ snaps
1 can shoepeg corn
1 can rotel tomatoes
1 can small green beans
Small bottle of Italian dressing
1 bell pepper, chopped
7 green onions, diced

Chop snaps and green beans. Drain each item and mix together. Delicious with Fritos or tortilla scoops.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On this day many moons ago, my dear friend Claire was born. We practically grew up together from the moment she moved to Starkville and began her first days in Mrs. Sassafras's class. We've spent so much time together over the years that it's hard to recall a hilarious memory of which she was not a part. Here are a few...

Claire A to Z

A Time to Kill banner
Beach trips
Colors of the Wind
European summer
Fishing worms
Gum, Cotton Candy-flavored, of course
It’s not your turn yet, is it, Sam?
Jar of “Money for California”
KC and JoJo
Libby Mae Brown
Matthew McConaughey
Numerous bridesmaids dresses
O’Donnell, Chris
Pippi Longstocking
Quite photogenic
Runner’s World
Shark! Fire! Penny!
Unleash the Monster
Without Limits: The Steve Prefontaine Story
EXcellent writer
Yellow Jacket
Zzzzzzz. (Claire will sleep anywhere)

Happy Birthday, Pippi!
I miss you more than Junior Mints!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

little irks...and a baby shower!

Hope you enjoyed my previous post about my can't-live-withouts. I actually found this one a little more difficult, but I persevered nonetheless for my devoted readers. Same rules apply - no biggies (we all hate terrorists and the Devil, right?) but just little irks that keep you from total superficial bliss.

You better believe I can live without...

Bathroom stall conversations. OK, people. Don't talk to me while you or I am in the bathroom stall. Basic rule of thumb - if the other party with whom you are conversing is in the bathroom stall, hold your questions or comments until he or she emerges and you can talk face-to-face. I don't think that is too much to ask. Oh, and DON'T talk on your cell phone in the stall either. Let's be civilized.

Vertigo. My dad has had this affliction for years, and I've always had little bouts of it here and there. But recently, it's been making me crazy, and I've found little to no relief. So if you happen to see me running into corners or stumbling around, I'm not drunk, just dizzy. Pity party at my house!

Iceberg lettuce. This one's for you, Beth! It has no nutritional value, no taste and no color. Other than rabbits, why would anyone want to eat it? Whenever I order a salad from a restaurant, I spend about 5 minutes picking out all the colorless chunks and throwing them away, leaving me to enjoy only the nutrient-rich leafy greens.

Shaggy. The "musician" (and I use that term loosely), not the Scooby Doo character. There's no way that guy really talks like he sings, so why have that ridiculous voice that sounds like he has phlegm in his throat? And I'm all for an artist having a sound all his own, but it doesn't count when all your songs sound alike.

Hiccups. Not only do I hate having them myself, but I cannot STAND it when someone else has them. Just ask Kell.

Know-it-alls. No one knows everything about everything. Even Einstein admitted he'd never understand women. If you don't know something, just admit it. There's no crime in ignorance - just learn something and move on. And don't monopolize conversations; sometimes other people have interesting comments to add. So, now you mean to tell me you're smarter than Einstein? Doubtful.

Captain D's. It will be a wonderful world when one day, if someone asks me what I'd like for lunch I won't have to say, "just not Captain D's." Another rule of thumb - seafood should not be ordered and picked up via a drive-through window. It's as simple as that.

Traffic. I am well aware that the traffic in Jackson is nothing compared to larger cities and that some people would kill for a 20-minute commute into work. But why do people seem to forget how to drive when it rains? And if you had a wreck on the interstate would you won't both lanes of traffic slowing down to survey the damage? Of course not.

Wrestling. So let me get this straight - it's a soap opera for boys? And some wrestlers are good and some are bad? And every week someone different is the Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion or whatever and carries around that stupid belt? And there are scantily-clad skanks that wrestle in terrible boots? And I'm supposed to believe that it's real? No, thank you.

Bad cell phone etiquette. Don't talk on your cell phone: in the bathroom stall (see my first gripe)...in an elevator - we can all hear you, and we don't care...while you're in the check-out line at the grocery store, bank, etc. - that's just rude. And before you make that purchase, ask yourself: "Do I REALLY need a blue tooth?"

Yikes. I promise I'm a nice person. Don't hate me for all of this bad blog energy.

To end on a pleasant note, spent some time in my former home of Greenwood this weekend helping to give a baby shower for my dear friend, Elizabeth Burgess. It was so nice to get to see everyone and to see E's cute belly! I can't wait to meet Baby Price! And thanks, Haley for letting me stay!

The cake looks like Henry!

The hostesses and Elizabeth (and yes, I have bad posture and one shoe off).

Friday, August 8, 2008

can't live...if living is without you...

Well, friends, it has been many moons since I last posted. Forgive me for my absence as I was again traveling for work. This time my destination was Dahlonega, Georgia for yet another installment of tourism camp with my buddy Mary-Kathryn among others. While listening intently (or not) to each and every word uttered by our wise presenters, MK shared a little activity with me that she also posted about. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to list 10 things that you can't live without, 10 thinks you CAN live without and 10 things you're really into right now. Forgetting the obvious (family, friends, etc.), your 10 things are to be the little luxuries that make your world go 'round. Here are mine in no particular order:

Can't live without...

The Precise V5 Rolling Ball pen. Mightier than the sword? Perhaps. But I've used these little beauties since high school. I even keep a black one in every box of stationery I have so I will never have to write a thank-you note without one. Fortunately, the office supply-orderers with whom I've come in contact in my lifetime must also appreciate the efficiency of the V5, and I've never had to work without them. Oh, and don't even mess with the Fine point ones - it's Extra Fine all the way, baby. Like me.

Text messaging. Harris told me it would change my life, and she was right. How did I ever get along without it? I don't have a nice phone (I've lost 2 in the Detroit airport), I can't get email or take pictures, but by golly, I can text until my hands rot.

Flip flops. If I was allowed to wear them all day every day, I would. And I don't need pricey ones or ones with sequins or polka-dot grosgrain ribbon. Just the plain Old Navy ones do me just fine. I've had to throw away 6 pairs this summer; not from wear-and-tear, oh no - the twins think flips are delicious.

iTunes. I was the first in my family to go straight with regards to free music downloads, and I must say, I've never regretted that move. I love that every month they have a new free download (most are terrible, but hey), and they'll suggest music based on what you've bought. I'm willing to shell out the $0.99 per song to get my music faster and to be legit and avoid federal prosecution.

Hair care products. You people have seen my hair. No explanation needed.

My HOBO wallet. Ok, I wasn't the first to get on this train, but I caught on eventually. If you're in the market for a new wallet, get a HOBO. They come in tons of colors, have lots of nice little compartments and pockets, and you can carry them as a clutch (my favorite feature). My only qualm - the coin pocket is a little small and kind of hard to search through. Still, worth every penny.

DVR. The poor man's TiVo. You haven't really watched TV until you've zapped through the commercials. And forget living in fear of missing new episodes of House or The Office. I must admit that I don't know all the ins and outs like Kell does, but I can make darn sure I don't miss any of my shows.

goodsearch.com. Who doesn't love a search engine? And how many times a day do you use one? If you're like me, a lot. I stumbled upon goodsearch one day while perusing the CARA website and immediately switched from Google. All you do is choose from a list of charities, and every time you search for something (the same way you would with Google), the website donates money to the charity you selected. It's just a penny per search, but every little bit helps, right?

Makeup. What girl can live without it? OK, what Southern girl can live without it? I make no bones about spending money on good makeup, and if you ask me, it's the only way to go. I won't bore you with the stuff I like (as I've done before), but I just have to tell you what I got on my recent trip to Sephora. You ladies may not have a problem with feathering lipcolor, but I do. This TooFaced Anti-Feathering Lip Pencil is great. Just put it on before your lip liner, and you're in business. It's clear, so you can wear it with any color. Beauty crisis averted!

Hand sanitizer. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me knows my love of hand sanitizer. We all know what it does. Nothing beats a good washing of the hands, but this runs a close second, especially if you are terrified of raw meats as I am.

I hope this made you think about the simple things you can't live without. I'll be sharing another category with you next!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

good friends, good eats

My favorite pharmacists just joined the blogging community! Welcome, BJ and Jen Cougle to the wave of future. Prepare to be stalked.

Also, it's been many moons since I've shared a Delicious Dish - my deepest apologies.

I haven't always liked banana pudding, but I can remember my dear friend Ashley telling me how much she loved it. And as luck would have it, I married a lover of this dessert. So, though I'm not what I would call a connoisseur, I think this recipe is pretty good and SO very easy.

Easy Nanner Puddin'

1 large box vanilla instant pudding (I get the sugar free kind, and it's great in this recipe)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (again, I use the fat free)
1 tub Cool Whip, completely thawed (and again, fat free)
about 1/2 box Nilla Wafers (yes, the reduced fat kind)
about 3 bananas

Prepare pudding as directed. Stir in can of sweetened condensed milk (I don't use the whole can - only about 2/3 to 3/4; it makes it too runny for me) with pudding and put in fridge to continue to set.

Slice bananas. Crush some Nilla Wafers in a ziploc bag (I usually fill a small Ziploc bag to crush and leave the rest of the box whole for decorating or snacking) depending on how many you like. I like lots of Nillas.

Layer the Nillas , pudding mixture, banana slices and Cool Whip in whatever order you like (I prefer the one I just described), beginning and ending with whole Nillas and using the crushed ones in between. Also, I usually end up using more than one tub of Cool Whip, so it might not be a bad idea to have some extra handy. Chill and serve. Makes about 6-8 servings.

Ashley would probably say that this is not REAL banana pudding, but it's all I got.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

memories...like the corners of my mind...

I talked to someone this morning about growing tomatoes in a pot.

I've seen it done - I know it can happen. Dr. Dirt told me which ones worked and which ones didn't. I would love a fresh tomato every night with my dinner. I had some heirloom tomatoes at Haley's house this weekend, and they were wonderful (she of course did not grow them, but they were delish nonetheless). For those of you who that love a mater, these are worth searching for and spending a little money on. But I digress.

This post started out dedicated to tomato growth. I know nothing of the subject. I wasn't going to act as though I did, just share what I learned from Dr. Dirt. Instead, I felt led to tell my loyal following about my Mimi - something about tomatoes makes me think of her.

It is no secret that I have a black thumb. My grandmother, Fisher Hubbard, in her heyday was a renaissance woman - seamstress, master crafter, chef, do-it-herselfer, fisherwoman and gardener extraordinnaire. I can still remember looking out her back windows and seeing the rows of veggies and herbs she grew in her own backyard. That yard always looked so big to me, and a part of me is glad I may never see it again so I can keep my own image of it. She's not able to do a lot of the things she loved doing once, but I hope just a little of her lives on in me. I learned so much from her, and many of my fondest memories involve her.

We never wanted for anything at Mimi's house. There were always good snacks, she had Nickelodeon, and there was always something to do. She once bought us a few yards of stretchy pink lace fabric with little gold threading. I'm sure it didn't cost her much, but Harris and I thought it was beautiful. I can still remember us trying to decide what to make with it and Mimi patiently teaching us how to thread a needle and make our first simple stitches.

She always had tomatoes in the window in her kitchen. They sat among a Bluebird of Paradise above the clean dishes drying in the sink. Most of the time they came from her garden outside and I suppose were placed there to ripen in the sun. To this day, the smell of a fresh tomato reminds me of her. And it was in her garden that I learned what dill smells like. She doesn't live in that house anymore, but I could still describe nearly every inch of it to you.

Mimi's kitchen table is in my apartment right now. Some of the best meals I remember were eaten at that table - not that I prepared, mind you. She never was a complicated cook, never used fancy ingredients like truffle oil or saffron (that I know of), but her fried chicken was the real thing, and she was never afraid to make caramel icing, which she referred to as caramel candy when unaccompanied by cake. Leftovers were always stored in a Cool Whip container, labeled with masking tape bearing the contents and its date.

I can see now the sewing machine that sat in Mimi's bedroom, right in front of a couple of small drawers that always held Doublemint gum. The thought of making something wearable or useable out of a piece of fabric was always fascinating to me, and she made it happen all the time. She would sit on a stool with a cross-pointed seat and make everything from clothes for us and clothes for our dolls to exquisite quilts, which Harris and I will undoubtedly fight over one day. One such quilt was on my bed until I was about 12 years old.

I could go on and on about Mimi, and even the memories I've recounted today don't do her justice. Most everyone has grandmothers who were great cooks and sewed or quilted, but I can assure you none of them were like my Mimi. I'm not able to see her as much now as I'd like, and it wouldn't be the same anyway. I'll still ask my mom, as I always have, to re-tell stories of my grandmother and the crazy things she did, and we'll pass down her recipes, home remedies and creative shortcuts to family and friends alike from years to come.

Mimi will be 89 this August. I'd love to plant a tomato plant in her honor. I know she'll be proud.

Monday, July 7, 2008

america the beautiful

Happy (late) Independence Day!

232 years ago, our country fought for and won freedom from the oppressive Redcoats and founded the US on the privileges of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What more could you want?

Kell, the twins and I spent this weekend in Greenville knee-deep in homemade ice cream, ribs and mosquitoes and were hopelessly devoted to the Wimbledon finals. Watching those Williams sisters is always entertaining, but the real action was Sunday's men's championship match between Federer and Nadal. The longest ever in Wimbledon history, the nearly 5-hour match cemented the next great tennis rivalry. Move over Pete and Andre, yesterday's battle between the Federer Express and Rafa defined "bitter end."

Anxious to not only win a record-breaking 6th Wimbledon in a row but to also ease the sting of his French Open defeat, Roger gave the Spanish Rafael Nadal all he had, and it still wasn't enough. Instead another record was broken by Nadal - the first since Bjorn Borg to win on both the clay courts of the French Open and the grass of Wimbledon. Tiebreaker after tiebreaker drug the match out until 9:15 p.m., when the physically and emotionally exhausted players were gracious and humble in both victory and defeat. Congrats, Rafa...but my heart will always belong to Roger.

Sorry to those who were interested in things other than a Wimbledon recap. That seems like literally all I did this weekend.

Monday, June 30, 2008

london calling: vol. 2

I'm back, baby.

Not only from my blogging hiatus, but from Jolly Old England as well. And I would be remiss if I did not finish the alphabet game. I only have 2 letters left, and forgive me if they are ridiculously short and maybe sweet. Then, I promise to get this monkey off my back.

I'm saving my money for a David Yurman bracelet. Or a Lagos ring. I can't decide which one to get yet, but I know I want a new bauble. Those teeny, tiny Weight Watchers checks have come in handy, and I've got birthday money in the pool, too. Not much further, ladies and gents, and you can be sure once I get whatever it is I'm going to get, I'll let you all know.

I really like shoes. Not in a Carrie Bradshaw-skip the rent for the deliciously red-soled Louboutins-kind of way, but I'm not above building an outfit around shoes, not to mention buying an outfit to match new shoes. They don't have to be expensive, but they do have to be cute. And sure, it's best to actually try them on, but when that's not an option, I love to check out Zappos. You can search by color, brand, heel height, price and about a million other criteria to find exactly what you're looking for. AND, they ship to you for free, and if they don't fit, they get you exchanged or refunded lightening-fast. I was just visiting them today, actually. They're not a great deal cheaper than in the store, but they have hard-to-find styles and sizes.

Feels good to have that behind me. And I promise I'm not as shallow or materialistic as those paragraphs make me sound. Now on to bigger and better things.

Just flew back in from London, and man, are my wings tired...da-dum-dum-ching! Yes, back to the good, old U S of A from another visit across the pond promoting tourism to Mississippi. I went last summer for the first time, and had a blast. But this time was even better since I had an idea of what was ahead of me. I didn't vomit AmBien, I walked by myself all around Kensington (where our hotel was) one afternoon and I rode public transportation like a pro. I ate gelato 3 of the 5 days I was there and even pretended I was a local and listened to my iPod when I strolled the streets. I'm a natural, I tell you.

What did I do there? Sales calls, training on selling MS to travelers, etc. That's about all you need to know about the work side. Moving on.

We arrived in London at about 8 a.m., and due to the Great AmBien Incident of 2007, I didn't take any sleeping meds and therefore did not sleep on the plane. Meaning, a 8:00 a.m. arrival led to walking around London like Night of the Living Dead until bed time rolled around. And by the way, if anyone is traveling a long distance, I recommend Delta - the food is better (though still not what I would classify as gourmet), they serve Coca-Cola products and plenty of water, and each traveler has his own video screen with on-demand movies, TV, music and games. Too bad Delta doesn't pay me to say that. Plus, I racked up some killer SkyMiles.

We gave staying awake the old college try, but after taking a gander at the Crown Jewels, the Tower of London (I saw where Anne Boelyn was held until her unfortunate beheading) and the London Bridge, a nap was in order. But just a little one.

I loved walking around London. Whenever I travel to a big city, I always wonder if I sort of fit in as a local. As previously mentioned, I shopped wearing my iPod and pretended I was a regular on the Underground or the bus or the train. I'm sure it only took one syllable escaping from my mouth to give me away, but still.

Anywho, we had real fish and chips (it was kind of like Captain D's, honestly), saw some sights, and KM got to go to Wimbledon. A good time was had by all.

Here are some pictures from my journey. Cheerio!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

they say it's your birthday

For he's a jolly good fellow!
For he's a jolly good fellow!
For he's a jolly good fellow!
Which nobody can deny!

Happy Birthday, Kell!
I'm glad you were born!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"x" is for...

I'm so excited that my sister Harris has catapulted herself into the blog-o-sphere! Be sure to check out her blog for diva dialogue on nail polish, cats, Posh, jewelry, makeup, bargain shopping...

Monday, June 16, 2008

"w" is for...

Let me preface this post by saying in no way do I consider myself a fashion icon. I am no Kate Moss, Jennifer Anniston or Kate Hudson - in more ways than one. But, I do think I can spot a fashion disaster - ranging from the minutely messy to the horrifying - a mile away, or at least several yards. I'd be sadly disappointed if I quit my day job to pursue the dream to be a stylist to the stars, but I have found that I can vicariously revitalize the fashionably challenged through my dear friends, Stacy (I want to be her) and Clinton of TLC's What Not to Wear. I don't remember the first time I stumbled upon this program, but I do recall it being pre-Clinton, when the duo was Wayne and Stacy (you long-time fans out there might recall that Wayne was nothing much to look at himself). And if you've never seen the original What Not to Wear on BBC, you are in for quite a treat. These British babes make S and C look like kittens.

Haley and I have many times discussed developing a local What Not to Wear program. I envision us having a regular spot on WAPT or somewhere of that nature, taking people from their jobs, from the mall or anywhere a fashion criminal might lurk, and turning these ugly ducklings into beautiful, stylish swans. Many times have the words, "I could really help her," or, "Stacy and Clinton would have a ball with that one," left my lips. I'm not guaranteeing a 100% success rate, but if I change one life, it's all worth it, right? Anyone want to be our Nick or Carmindy?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"v" is for...

The prices of gas, groceries and everything in between are soaring, and America is feeling the sting. Families are cutting back on extras and luxuries great and small to make ends meet. One particular victim of this cost crisis is the family vacation. Reporters and fluffy morning shows have tried, with their rose-colored sunglasses, to make it seem okay and even fun to vacay in one's own backyard...literally. And as no other show can, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has gotten wind of this new trend and turned it on its not-so-tanned backside.

And is that the PC Guy from the Mac commercials?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"u" is for...

Uh-oh. As a fervent fan of the red fruit, I am most stressed about the current tomato situation. Restaurants and grocery stores across the country have removed several variations of maters from their shelves and menus due to a salmonella outbreak. And we all know how I feel about any kind of intestinal discomfort. Though the outbreak did not seem to reach grape tomatoes, which happen to be my favorite species, I think I'll steer clear for a while.

Friday, June 6, 2008

"t" is for...

I am really fortunate to have the opportunity to travel with my job. I've said many times that I lived 25 years without even knowing there was such a thing as the tourism industry, and here it is, taking me places I've never been and introducing me to people I'd never otherwise have met. Though it's often not an easy thing to pack a suitcase in anticipation of being away from home and familiar surroundings, it's always worth the experience. Without the opportunity to travel, I might never have...

Seen a real Harajuku girl
Gone to Disneyland
Strolled by Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace
Paid for meals in Pounds and Yen
Heard "Please Mind the Gap" in the Underground
Seen the musical Wicked

Walked beneath Japanese Cherry Blossom Trees
Shopped in the Mall of America

Figured out that Myrtle Beach, SC is no Charleston

Watched the Cirque du Soleil show, LOVE, in complete awe

No matter where I go, though I appreciate every mile and cab ride, I always look forward to coming home. There's nothing better than seeing Kell waiting for me and my luggage at the airport. And while I'm always begging him to come with me, it's even better when I don't have to miss him (and the twins) anymore.

So, how do you like my new banner? My friend, the fiercely talented graphic designer, Tracy McGarrh designed it for me (she also did the Save the Date cards for my wedding, too). Though Viking is her day job, she keeps the creative juices flowing by cranking out some fantastic freelance work, too. If you ever need a designer, she's your gal! Check out her website for examples of her work including websites, custom logos and Christmas cards. Thanks, Tracy!
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