"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, May 27, 2008

"s" is for...

In no particular order...

Ten reasons I love STRAT!

1) He can "walk with Kings and keep the common touch." (quote courtesy of Mrs. Sassafras)
2) I can't go anywhere without meeting someone who knows and loves him.
3) He instilled in me my love for Mississippi State.
4) He loves airplanes, is quite the scholar of World War II and watches "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" on the Food Network religiously.
5) All he ever wants is for his family to be in one room together.
6) He loves my mom more today than when he married her.
7) He is an award-winning miniature airplane builder.
8) He gets choked up every time he watches Field of Dreams or when State wins the Egg Bowl.
9) He's Greek!
10) He's the only one I want to talk to when I'm sick (Right, KK?).

I always feel a bit victorious when a friend bravely marches into the blog-o-sphere. Katy and I have been friends for years, thanks to our hubbies, and we always have fun together. So, here's a shout-out to my buddy and new fellow blogger! Welcome Agnews!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"r" is for...

Any loyal reader of this blog (you know who you are) know my admiration of one Robert St. John. I've mentioned many times what a treasure he is to Mississippi and the South, and it of course doesn't hurt that he's a Bulldog. Kell and I just got the newest installment in his ever-growing library of cookbooks, New South Grilling, and it's fantastic. We've tackled a few of the great recipes and plan to master a few more as the summer progresses. Although not necessarily a beginner's book, the dishes are most certainly do-able. And, it would make a great Fathers Day gift!

Friday, May 16, 2008

"q" is for...

I've never been one to really appreciate a challenge - some strive on them, others cower. And this blasted alphabet game has certainly been a challenge. The lady that so intuitively read my face back in February did point out that I enjoy starting a task but don't really like to finish. I guess she was right.

But, in an effort to prove her wrong, I'll press on. Seriously, what words start with "Q"? I mean, there's the standard quiet, quick or quality (Creed had a hard time with that one last night). My buddy Beth W just informed me of a makeshift quarantine going on in Greenwood in order to prevent the spread of the almighty stomach bug. I'd rather not spend a lot of time on something that horrifies me so. She also suggested Q-tip, which I used this morning, but I couldn't imagine an entire post dedicated to the name-brand cotton swab.

Instead, I decided to focus on something that plagues us all. They keep us up at night, they're peppered in every conversation we carry, and they're the reason we all go to school. We encounter them all day, every day, in every form of communication. They can be good, bad, stupid, short, long, intelligent or inappropriate. Whether silly or serious, we've all got questions that follow us around. Some get answered quickly, but many nag us from the back corners of our minds. Here are a few of mine...

Why do bad things happen to good people?
If I were famous in Hollywood, who would be my famous friends?
How come some people can eat anything they want all day and not gain and ounce, and others can't?
Can my dogs understand me?
Will 94.7 Jack FM EVER call me about the Jack Jackpot?
Is there something out there that I am a "natural" at that I haven't discovered yet?
What really happened to Natalie Holloway and Jon Benet Ramsey?
If I were a twin, which one would I be? (that one's for you, yaya)
What is Heaven like?
Do dreams really mean anything?
If I could change one thing about my looks, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about my past, what would it be?

What are you losing sleep over?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"p" is for...

I admit it - I was a skeptic. The idea of grown men enthusiastically attending midnight releases of the newest edition of a book about wizards was, to me, creepy at worst and pathetic at best. I fought it for years, book after book, movie after movie, quite pleased with myself that I had risen above its ability to have its devotees speaking the language the author conjured up herself.

But, I now have a confession to make: Hi, my name is Mary Straton, and I am a Muggle. Yes, you read that right, folks - with the encouragement of my friend and cousin-in-law Jennifer Cougle (who also loaned me the first two installments), I've taken to reading Harry Potter. And like a fish to water, might I add. All though my literal side is appalled by just the idea of a mystical school for kid wizards where they play a soccer-like game on flying broomsticks, my creative side couldn't love it more. Author J.K. Rowling has earned every penny she's made as a result of the truly fascinating world she has created.

While I don't count myself as one of the series's top fans, and you won't find me dressed up at a reading, I am enjoying the books. I was once on an airplane and after seeing the book on my lap, someone sitting near me wanted to talk about it the whole flight. Fortunately, he was more than happy to have me return to my reading, and I avoided a potentially awkward conversation. You may call me a nerd, but I'm nowhere near this extreme.

On another note, congratulations to President Bush's daughter, Jenna, on her recent wedding to Henry Hager. Hey, Jenna, I never got my invitation. I'm sure it just got lost in the mail or the zip code was wrong or something. God Bless the happy couple!

Also, I realize I have been lacking in the Delicious Dish department, but I've got a real winner this week. AND it starts with "P!"

Whitney's Puttin' on the Ritz

8 oz. Cream Cheese
4 chopped green onions (optional)
1 bag shredded swiss cheese (1 1/2 c.)
1/2 c. mayo

8 pieces cooked bacon
1 pkg. Ritz crackers crushed
1 stick butter melted completely

Mix all ingredients together place in small dish and bake at 350 for 15-20 min. Then remove the dish from oven top with ritz and bacon mixture, drizzle with melted butter and place back in oven for 5 min.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"n" and "o" are for...

I credit Haley for introducing me to the glittering world of "good" makeup. For years, everything that went on my face could be found at your local Walgreens. But those of you that know Haley know that she appreciates the finer things and firmly believes that a girl cannot have too many eyeshadows or lipsticks. I can remember distinctly sitting in the floor of her den and having her apply the "smoky eye" to my peepers one boring night in Greenwood.

Thus, I was introduced to one of my favorite brands of makeup through Miss Haley - NARS. Per her suggestion, I started with a classic color blush with a naughty name, and I have never been the same. Next was the bronzer in Casino - another fool-proof for those who like a "little color on the face." I've branched out on my own and recently purchased a blush in Mouina and later a eyeshadow duo, Habanera, that sort of pays homage to those disco-fancying Nordics, ABBA. Other make-up products that I like that don't start with "N": Bare Minerals foundation, MAC eyeshadow and eyeliner, Prescriptives Camouflage Cream concealer and the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick.

It's amazing to me that animals have different personalities. When Kell and I adopted The Twins from CARA last year, they were but teeny black furballs. As sweet and anxiety-ridden as Charlie is, Olive is the beef of the operation and the ultimate "alpha dog." She'll take a nap with you all day long, but move a millimeter and she'll let a bark rip that will rattle the walls. A full two pounds bigger than her little bro, she's the biggest fan of the electric blanket in the house. Her greatest loves: napping, Cheez-Its, ice cubes, licking up the noses of whomever sits still long enough and any crumb that falls from the table. Her greatest enemies: exercise, cats, strange noises on TV and that dog that's always lurking on the other side of the mirror.

Here are some pictures:

Olive the day she and Charlie moved in with us.

Are Olive and Iggy twins?

Olive and her legendary Yoda ears.

Haley also suggested another facet to the "O" post, and I'll indulge her as I think it's a great idea. The Office on NBC is, dare I say, a comedy of Seinfeld proportions. Though Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer roamed Thursday nights for 9 seasons and nearly 180 belly-laughter-inducing episodes, the misadventures of the colleagues in The Office give new meaning to "hostile work environment." For four seasons, the Dunder Mifflin Scranton Branch has been our work-away-from work and has made a hilarious mockery of corporate life while putting an American twist on the British new classic of the same name and genre. Though it seems impossible, I'd like to list what I think are the top 10 moments:

Oh my God. I have so much to tell you!
Jim Halpert: Really?
Kelly: Yes! Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, they had a baby and they named it Suri, and then Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, they had a baby too and they named it Shiloh, and both babies are amazing!
Jim Halpert: Great. What's new with you?
Kelly: I just told you.
Episode: The Merger, Season 3

In an attempt to woo Pam, Andy sings to her "The Rainbow Connection"...in pig latin.
The Convict, 3.

Pam and Jim convince Dwight that Thursday is actually Friday.
Performance Review, 2.

Jim and Dwight form an alliance - with Dwight ending up in a cardboard box in the warehouse.
The Alliance, 1.

Dwight receives faxes from "Future Dwight" (Jim). "Someone has poisoned the coffee. Do NOT drink the coffee. Sincerely, Future Dwight."
Gay Witch Hunt, 3.

"That's what she said." - Michael Scott

Jim "steals" Dwight's identity...with an outfit that cost a total of $11. "Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica."
Product Recall, 3.

Michael grills his foot on a George Foreman and Dwight gets a concussion on his way to pick Michael up. Dwight exclaims on his way to the hospital, "You can't fire me - I don't work in this van!"
The Injury, 2.

Jim and Pam share their first kiss!
Casino Night, 2.

Jim Halpert:
This came out really well. There you go. [hands Dwight his new ID]
Dwight Schrute: This is humongous. I am not a security threat. And my middle name is Kurt, not Fart.
Conflict Resolution, 2

Disagree? Air your grievances in a comment!

Friday, May 2, 2008

"m" is for...

Through my job, I've had the priceless opportunity to be educated and to educate others about the great state in which I was born and have lived ever since. I'm proud to say I hail from the same state as Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Sundance producers, rough, tough and talented athletes, world-class chefs and gifted, yet often eccentric, artists. We are a state of extraordinary pride and unfathomable humility, of brilliant teachers and eager students and of unmatched givers. It's easy to be proud of a state like mine.

The home of the Viking Range and the Peavey guitar is one that I am thrilled to call my own and share with others. Having the chance to change the opinions of some of the dissenters of Mississippi and of the South is one of the most shining facets of each job I've had. You all know how much I love the jack-of-all-trades orator, writer and fellow Mississippian Chef Robert St. John, and here is his "essay that started it all," composed to be a clear example of what being a Southerner really means. I agree with every word.

I am always amused by Hollywood’s interpretation of the South. We are still, on occasion, depicted as a collective group of sweaty, stupid, backwards-minded and racist rednecks. The South of movies and TV, the Hollywood South, is not my South.

My South is full of honest, hard-working people.
My South is colorblind. In my South, we don’t put a premium on pigment. No one cares
whether you are black, white, red or green with orange polka dots.
My South is the birthplace of blues and jazz, and rock-and-roll. It has banjo pickers and fiddle players, but it is also has B.B. King, Muddy Waters, the Allman Brothers, Emmylou Harris and Elvis.
My South is hot.
My South smells of newly mown grass.
My South was the South of The Partridge Family, Hawaii 5-0 and kick the can.
My South was creek swimming, cane-pole fishing and bird hunting.
In my South, football is king, and the Southeastern Conference is the kingdom.
My South is home to the most beautiful women on the planet.
In my South, soul food and country cooking are the same thing.
My South is full of fig preserves, cornbread, butter beans, fried chicken, grits and catfish.
In my South we eat foie gras, caviar and truffles.
In my South, our transistor radios introduced us to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones at the same time they were introduced to the rest of the country.
In my South, grandmothers cook a big lunch every Sunday.
In my South, family matters, deeply.
My South is boiled shrimp, blackberry cobbler, peach ice cream, banana pudding and oatmeal cream pies.
In my South people put peanuts in bottles of Coca Cola and hot sauce on almost everything.
In my South the tea is iced, and almost as sweet as the women.
My South has air-conditioning.
My South is camellias, azaleas, wisteria and hydrangeas.
My South is humid.
In my South, the only person that has to sit on the back of the bus is the last person that got on the bus.
In my South, people still say “yes, ma’am”, “no, ma’am”, “please” and “thank you.”
In my South, we all wear shoes… most of the time.

My south is the best-kept secret in the country. Keep the secret… it keeps the jerks out.
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