Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saying Goodbye to 2009...

A few bloggers are posting their Top 9 of 2009 + 1. I thought I would join in.

Most Memorable Moment: Holding my nephew, Mark Grayson, for the first time. My brother Brian and his wife Jenni had a beautiful baby boy in May. I love being an aunt! There are many other wonderful moments this cute little guy has given to our family. Like taking a bottle and then a nap on Jenni's lap in the stadium during Ole Miss games. Or smiling his big smile and laughing when his daddy says "Go Rebels!" He's a doll!

#2. Biggest Discovery: My love of kayaking. And I love that Chip and I enjoy doing it together.

#3. Biggest Mistake: Wow - this is tough. I make so many mistakes daily, that it is hard to pick just one! I'll pick something easy - we dicked around and never had our friends over for a cookout and pool party. Now that was a mistake!

#4. Biggest Accomplishment: Backpacking with Chip. I've been wanting to take Chip backpacking for the longest time. This year, I actually convinced him to do it, and we had an amazing time.

#5. Best Movie: I didn't see many movies in 2009 that I thought were great. My favorite was probably 500 Days of Summer or The Hangover. I obviously need some better movie recommendations!

#6. Best Song: ummmm... Don't laugh. BEST I EVER HAD by Drake. I freaking love that song and listen to it over and over. Some of my other favorites of 2009?
This Tornado Loves You by Neko Case.
Oh No by Andrew Bird. I saw Andrew Bird live at The Lyric in Oxford in March and it was phenomenal. He is such a fantastic musician!
Laughing with a Mouth of Blood by St Vincent... I love her voice, the strings, and the trippy sound of this song! I saw her on Austin City Limits. She's just amazing. We actually had a chance to see her play in London when we were there in 2007, but after a day of sightseeing, we were too tired to catch the train to the venue in East London. I really regret that now.

#7. Best Meal: This one is easy. The French Laundry was hands down the best meal of 2009 and the decade and probably the next decade. It is hard to believe that we actually ate there. The salmon coronets were divine. And I'll never forget how melt-in-my-mouth delicious the confit veal heart was, and I never knew I would even eat veal heart.

#8. Best Book: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. A beautiful love story set in my favorite place in the world - the Appalachian Mountains. I can't believe it took me so long to discover this book.

#9. What Made Me Laugh: Mark Grayson, of course! He is so cute and funny.

+1 for 2010... My Biggest Wish for 2010... is that I put more effort into making friends in the Jackson area.

Happy New Year, everyone! We're off to Dallas in the morning for the Cotton Bowl and some Tex-Mex. Go Rebels!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

The weather outside is frightful! Heavy rains, strong winds, and a tornado watch. I love Christmas Eve. I got out of work early and started on my Christmas baking. I'm going to take a walk, then will get ready to head over to my brother-in-law's house for dinner and champagne.

Some scenes from my house this Christmas Eve.

The stockings are hung.

The tree is all lit up and topped with a pretty new angel.

I set out the gifts that I will be taking to Vicksburg tonight.

And I set out some homemade cookies for Santa Claus. Today I made Chocolate-Almond Macroons and Caramel Pretzel cookies.

Walle is dressed and ready for Santa to come.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Shopping

I love giving handmade and handcrafted gifts for Christmas. I have made a few of the gifts myself - mostly cross stitches - but I'm really not that talented when it comes to crafting. For the past few years, Chip and I have gone to the Chimneyville Crafts Festival in Jackson to purchase a majority the Christmas gifts for our families. Hundreds of artisans have their pottery, jewelry, stained glass, woodwork, quilts, knitting, and crocheting for sale.

The past two years, I've gotten my brother's wife a piece of Lil McKH jewelry. I love Lil's stuff, and my sister-in-law likes it, too. We've gotten jewelry for Chip's mom, stained glass crosses, and wooden spoons from some of my cousins.

I've been obsessed with McCartys Pottery Delta Bells and Mushrooms Chimes for a few years now, and I'd been dying to go to McCartys Pottery in Merigold to buy some of these handmade beauties. My friend Leah was up for a road trip to the Delta to visit McCartys and Peters Pottery, so we headed up there the weekend of December 5th.

We had lunch on Saturday at McCartys in their cute-as-a-button restaurant. The tables are set with McCartys Pottery and all the food was served in their pottery also.

Leah sitting down for lunch at McCartys Restaurant

We headed to McCartys then Peters after lunch. I loved McCartys gallery! It is tiny, but they display their pieces so beautifully. At McCartys I bought Mushroom Chimes for two of my sisters-in-law and a gorgeous bowl for Chip's mom. At Peters, I bought a sugar bowl and creamer and a tiny little kitten for myself.

On Saturday night, we stayed in the Pinetop shack at the Shack Up Inn. It was so much fun! The shack had central heat and air conditioning, but with its wood walls and floors and shabby furnishings, it still felt like an old shack.

Outside our shack... Pinetop Perkins.
Some photos from the grounds.

It was a wonderful trip, and I really can't wait to go back because now I need some Delta Bells for myself!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sundance Catalog

Chip ordered wine tumblers from Sundance Catalog as a Christmas gift, and this is how we received the box.

They were individually wrapped in one sheet of bubble wrap, then thrown in the box with some inflatable fillers. How many of them were broken? Two out of eight were not just broken but completely shattered.

Sundance definitely has more money than sense.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10th

It was 29F when I woke up this morning. This weather is going to make me sick!

Clarksdale was lots of fun! I got lots of Christmas goodies at McCartys Pottery, Peters Pottery, and Cat Head Blues and Art. We didn't see Morgan Freeman, but we did meet the other owner, Bill Luckett, who is planning to run for Governor.

Leah has posted pics of our trip. I plan to post mine soon.

- Posted from my iPhone with BlogPress

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

And now...

It is 75F outside. That's Mississippi weather for you!

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Friday, December 04, 2009

It's Snowing!!!

I would take a photo, but it's cold out there!

- Posted from my iPhone with BlogPress

Chance of Snow

Snowy Skies. It is a cold, wintery day here in Central Mississippi. It is only 43F out there now, and the weather forecast says we could get snow showers this afternoon and evening. The cold weather seems to have come upon us all at once. I still have blooming shrubs and perennials all over the garden.

The leaf situation in the back yard is getting serious. Something needs to be done about this, but I don't know what because I am meeting Leah in the Delta tomorrow morning to go Christmas shopping at McCartys Pottery in Merigold, Mississippi.

We plan to go to Peter's Pottery, too, which is just down the road in Mound Bayou. After all of these fun outings, we will have dinner at Madidi in Clarksdale, some drinks at Ground Zero Blues Club, and will shack up for the night at the Shack Up Inn.

Madidi and Ground Zero are both Morgan Freeman's. Who knows if he'll be there, but if he is, I plan on getting my photo taken with him. As for the Shack Up Inn, I am a bit nervous about staying in a shack when it is supposed to be around 28F. I am bringing flannel pajamas and my 20F sleeping bag. And plenty of hot chocolate and Malibu coconut rum, too! A friend turned my on to that concoction on a camping trip in the Smokies. You really must try it!

Have a great weekend, everyone! Let the holiday shopping begin!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pyramid Trellis

My grandfather is a very skilled carpenter. He makes chairs, benches, and porch swings. On my front porch, I have two adirondack chairs that he made. On the back porch, I hung the pretty white swing that he made for me. I love my handmade furniture.

A while back, I was looking at Birds and Blooms magazine, and I saw instructions for a pyramid trellis. I really needed a focal point for the middle of my perennial bed, so I went to the website, printed out the instructions, and took them to my grandpa. He called me a few days later and told me it was ready. He and my brother loaded it into the truck and helped me position it in the perennial bed.

The trellis is perfect for this spot. Tall, but not too tall. It fits right in with my tall knockout roses, lantana, irises, and shasta daisy. The Birds and Blooms version was topped with a round finial. My grandpa topped mine with a wooden cross. You can find the plans here.

I have a vigirous Carolina Jessamine growing on it, and I am sure that it will take right off next spring. These photos are from August, when I'd just installed it in the flower bed. The jessamine is a fast growing vine. I think I will cover this trellis entirely in two seasons.

It dipped below freezing for the first time last night. November 26th is late for a first frost. My knockout roses are still blooming like crazy in the unseasonable warm temperatures.

Tonight I am headed to my grandparents house in Sallis, Mississippi. My aunts, uncles, cousins, and my brother are all there now. The men and boys will all come in from hunting. They'll eat squirrel, corn, and potato stew. Sometimes I eat it, too, but I am generally more partial to my grandma's chicken and cornbread dressing. After dinner we'll play dominoes, or we'll have a bonfire... And that's Thanksgiving at grandma's house.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Update

There was a lot of hoopla over nothing for the Ole Miss game on Saturday. Kinda like the entire football season this year...

Anyway. The band did play "Dixie" and they did play "I Saw the Light", they just didn't play them in the "From Dixie with Love" arrangement where one song flows into the other. Big whoop!?

And the game was awesome! The team played lights out. Dexter McCluster set team rushing and all-purpose yards records. I am really looking forward to the LSU match-up on Saturday!

Then on Sunday, I have a family Thanksgiving meal. I have no idea about what I am going to cook. In the Grove this weekend, I had a cheesecake topped with pumpkin pie topped with pecan pie. It was divine. I wonder if I could pull it off?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mid-Week Mish-mash

To begin, I'd like to say, "Congratulations!" to Susan and Daniel. Susan gave birth to a healthy baby boy early Sunday morning. I can't wait to see their sweet thing in person!

I am heading to Oxford tomorrow morning and will be there for a while. I'm sure I'll need to mow the yard, and I have perennials to divide. Fun stuff. I have to work before the 11:00 AM kickoff of the Tennessee game this weekend. I'll probably miss the pre-game and the kickoff, and I'm not thrilled about it. If you haven't heard, just yesterday, the new Chancellor, Dan Jones, asked the Ole Miss band to stop playing the school's unofficial fight song "From Dixie with Love" because there are folks who chant "the South will rise again" at one point duing that song. I have been going to Ole Miss games for twelve years, and I had no idea until last year that people chant that crap. Some are defending the phrase, saying that it no longer has racist, segregationist undertones; that is it just of a way to express pride and love for our region. I’m not convinced. Couldn't we find another phrase to express those feelings instead of reviving an old Civil War chant? For me, I say good riddance. Maybe my alma mater can finally move on from all of these offensive Old South relics and can learn to be proud of more than our flawed past. How about building our academic future?

Moving on!

Tonight, we are hosting Chip's parents for dinner. I am making Ina's Chicken Stew with Biscuits. It looks delicious. Last night I roasted and diced the chicken and chopped the veggies so that I can throw everything together after work today. I also baked an Almond-Crusted Pound Cake. It is Chip's mom's birthday, and she adores almond desserts. I am a little worried about the cake because it seems dry and crumbly instead of moist and delicious. There are two things I could have done wrong. 1) I didn't sift the cake flour before I measured, so it is possible that I just added too much flour. 2) I overbaked it. The middle wasn't done after 1 hour of baking, so I turned down the oven to 325F and baked for another 10 minutes. Maybe too long? I guess I'll find out tonight. I hope I am nervous over nothing and the cake turns out to be delicious.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Fall Flowers

We've been blessed with beautiful weather this week. Sunny, cloudless skies and highs in the lower 70s. Unfortunately, I've been so busy at work that I haven't had a chance to get out and enjoy it. Today I hope things slow down enough so I can take a lunch break and maybe take a stroll around the neighborhood.

I love having more sunlight in the morning lately. This morning I went outside and snapped some photos of some of my favorite fall blooms: my pink hydrangea and my "all-purple" Mexican bush sage.

And, I got a good photo of the neighbor's cat. We call him Meowmers. He's gorgeous, and he loves stalking the birds and butterflies that frequent my front porch.

We have a black tom cat that visits the porch, too, and we've named him Franklin. There are two more tom cats that visit sometimes, but we haven't named them. We keep Walle inside; he doesn't "cat around" with the neighborhood kitties. Walle gets excited when I open the windows so that he gets to experience the front porch, too.
The leaves are falling, and I have my work cut out for me this weekend, raking and chopping leaves for my compost. The weather is still supposed to be gorgeous, so I don't really mind the chores. I am actually looking forward to it!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Kayaking Ross Barnett Reservoir - 11/1/09

Sunday morning was pretty boring. I woke up early, early because of the time change. Then, I spent the morning putting away summer clothes and unpacking sweaters. By mid-morning I was ready to get out into the day, breathe some fresh lake air, and move my muscles! On Sunday afternoon, Chip and I loaded up the kayaks and drove up the Natchez Trace to Brown's Landing on the Ross Barnett Reservoir. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day in the sun. On the drive to Brown's Landing, we saw three white-tail deer having their lunch and a flock of five wild turkeys. I just knew it was going to be a good day for spotting wildlife. The animals were all out enjoying the cool, dry day!

We put in at Brown's Landing around 1:45 PM and hung a right (to the south) to paddle the bank that runs along the Natchez Trace. For the first mile, we were paddling along a forested bank. The trees are turning down here, and they were gorgeous. We saw snapping turtles sunning out on logs. We scared a few into the water, and every once in a while we'd see a turtle pop its head up to take a look around.

The cypress knees are poking out of the water along the bank. The elephant ears are thick along the sunny edges.

Not far into our paddle we spotted this beautiful red fox taking a drink of water. I SLOWLY took my camera out of the dry hatch and snapped this photo of the critter. Man, oh man, I wish I'd had time for a close up! He was checking us out, and shortly after I got a photo of him, he decided I was too close to him for comfort and scampered off into the woods. Seeing that fox was the highlight of my week! He was that pretty.

After the first mile the water really started to hug the road, so instead of listening to traffic, we decided to turn around and head towards an island in the middle of the lake. Right around Highway 43 the reservoir narrows back into the Pearl River and gets more swamplike. We turned our boats that way and paddled about two miles across the open water. The island wasn't nearly as cool as we thought it would be. The water was barely a foot deep even 20 feet away from the shore, so we couldn't get close enough to explore the bank. It was 3:00 PM by then, so we decided to head back and call it a day. We did 5+ miles in 90 minutes. Definitely not fast, but a good paddle for a Sunday afternoon.

It was about 68F outside during our paddle and we had very little wind. The water was cold, but I think we could handle at least 10 degrees cooler, maybe 15 degrees cooler with no wind. Even at 68F I was a little warm in short-sleeves, rolled-up pants, and my PFD.

I would love to visit this area again to see if we could spot the fox, but I really doubt we'll be back. There just wasn't enough to see from Brown's Landing. Next time I think we are going to put in at Ratliff Ferry or Fanning Landing. I can't wait to report on our next trip!