"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 d├ęcor 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?

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