Friday, February 28, 2014

The blog lives another day

Towards the end of my DC existence, a friend asked what I will blog about once I move. I was quick to respond--

"What are you talking about? The only things I talk about are the kids and y'all."

I have finally hit that point-- my life was interesting. I did neat things. I had adventures. I was eager to get home, sit in front of my computer as the child napped, or rested, or colored on the wall. I was excited to sit down and spout my tales of motherhood or of friendship.

And then I moved home. That is not to say that my life has not been interesting, but I have been wondering around the annals of my simple mind contemplating what to write. What story do I want to regale you with? What wit or knowledge do I want to pass on to those out there who read about our little life.

Talk about pressure, too. Now that I am back in Hometown, I cannot go a single day without at least one person coming up to me with some sort of compliment or comment about this little section of the World Wide Web that I call mine. It feels so good. So Good.

It makes me beam. Truly. Just last week I ran into an old grade school friend and his family. His parents have retired and moved to North Carolina. They were driving through town on their way to Florida. After speaking to him for a few minutes, his mom came up to me.

I thought she would not remember me or even know my name. I went to school with her sons twenty years ago.

She walked up to me and put her hand on my arm, "Wife! How are you? And where are your children? I so love reading your blog. You have such an interesting perspective on things. It is fresh and witty."

Hand to God, you could not have slapped that grin off my face.

"I always knew you'd be a writer. I love seeing your updates."

We talked for a few more minutes like old friends, completely caught up in each other's worlds and laughed about the mundane things I have shared- like tags on rags or the oil spill of 2010.

It made me proud, but also made me think about what I put out here. I don't want to let her down. You take time out of your day to come here and visit with me, even if this conversation is one-sided. Over the last few months, I have been trying to have a mental challenge of writing with wit, hoping to make you laugh more than make you cry.

It's hard. It's not that I am not a funny person, but try conveying wit into prose.

Here I sit in my turquoise dining room, thinking about needing to finish the house so I can write more about our space. But that takes money- and did you hear we had an ice storm? Yeah- we had to clean our yard and that did not come cheap. Our gas bill has not come in yet, but our logs ran for days straight.

Or, I think about how we took LMC to Catholic Elementary the other day for her to tour where she will go to school next year. It's the same place I attended at her age. She was nervous. Would not let go of my hand and hid behind my leg, kind of nervous. She met both my kindergarten and my first grade teacher. She played the big xylophone in the music room and saw the girls with the big sequin bows- apparently the only place a girl can show her personality in those uniforms is with their hair accessories.

My aunt turned 70. I remember celebrating my grandmother's 70th birthday when I was... um... okay, I think it was about 25 years ago. Her daughter asked me to take pictures of everyone. The other night I finally got around to editing and uploading them. It shocked me-- shocked me-- to see how we have aged. My cousins have receding hairs lines and more salt in their hair since the last time I saw them. My female cousins look more like their mothers than I remember and my mom and her sisters look more like my great aunts. Our children- second cousins- play like we did and we enjoy ourselves as they did. We don't get together nearly as often, but there is no less love and no less enjoyment in each other's company. It seems that when we do get together, a large part of the time is spent talking about how much fun it is and that we should do it more often.

Several months ago, my last great aunt died.  My baby's namesake, Bennie. I told her daughter the other day that I loved my grandmother very much. But, the relationship I had with my Aunt Bennie and my Aunt Helen was amazing. It was so special to me and I am a better person for having had them in my life.

I was one of those lucky fools that did not have four grandparents. In truth, I only knew three grandparents- but in reality I had five grandmothers and one grandfather. His sisters loved me as their own. When my dad's mother died, I was six. He asked me if I wanted to go to the funeral and I said no. I had no idea what a funeral was, but I knew everyone was sad and the Christmas tree lights were not twinkling like they had been.

A few days later, my Aunt Helen came to the house to see me. She took me into the living room and talked to me about my grandmother. She did not skirt around the end. She did not make it amazing, nor did she make it horrible. She told it exactly like it is- you live. You live a wonderful life and then one day, God says it is time for you to come be with him. He sends for you. You attach your wings, grab your halo and leave everything behind- because everything you could ever want or need is up in Heaven. All the people you love and that love you are waiting for you.

It was the first and only time I remember crying about my grandmother attaching her wings and grabbing her halo. She held me in those soft arms of hers, the baubles on her ears pressed against my hair. She smoothed my curls and held my face in her hands.

"I knew your grandmother a very long time. Long before your parents married. She was a wonderful woman and she will always be your grandmother. But, I talked to her last night and she asked me to come over and talk to you because she was so worried about not being here for you. How about I step in and be your Augusta grandmother? Millie and Big Dad will be your grandparents, but if you ever need a stand-in, I am here?"

It did not register with me at the time to understand about "talking" to my deceased grandmother, but I nodded my head and agreed.

"She said she was going to take me to buy new panties this week. The dog ate mine."

Aunt Helen laughed, put her arm around me and said we had to get that taken care of.

Baby Bennie is starting to stir and I need to wrap up my ramblings about my writer's block. The blog lives another day.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Carnage

Before I forget... this is what our house looked like after the storm.







It was so cold outside, I opened my fridge and moved everything out to the patio.







family coming together... again! Dad helped Husband get the tree out of the pool.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Plated

I like to cook. This is shocking to the daily readers, I know. But, in all honesty- I like the whole experience of dinner. Planning, purchasing, preparing, setting the table, sitting down, and enjoying. The clean-up? That's my least favorite part and I try to tell Husband that since I cooked, he cleans.

He says that when the mess is this large- I should cook and clean. 

I remind him that only the best cooks make the best messes. 

Recently, Plated popped up in my Facebook feed and I gave it a click. With the offer of four free plates with the purchase of four plates, I thought it might be worth the investment to give it a try. A few days later, my first batch of plates arrived and I was hooked. Since I was unsure as to what I was receiving, I thought it might be nice of me to walk you through the process....

After running errands, I saw this on my front porch:


It was warm that day; the temperature alludes me. But, the box is so well packaged- the items were still frozen. Opening the box...


Was a friendly reminder of what I purchased.



I unpack all my ingredients and set the recipe cards aside. Realizing that Husband was on call and then we were heading out of town, I toss the shrimp and haddock in the freezer- they will be cooked in several days. 

Game day... my BIL is coming over for supper. I knew we would have more than enough with the two plates I was cooking, so I decided to show my mad skills and cook a Plated dinner all at once. 

I check out my recipe card:



And get to work.

I had some Publix shrimp in my fridge and thought that more shrimp is always better than less shrimp, so I added those to the mix. The quality of ingredients from Plated is far superior to what I would have purchased at the regular grocery store. For instance, the shrimp: 

Plated shrimp on top, Publix shrimp on the bottom

The directions and ingredients are all well written and well marked. In the words from "A Few Good Men" -- Crystal Clear.





After pouring the chef's glass, I set to work:


 I diced a shallot, garlic, chopped broccoli, and did everything on the card.


Everything was pre-measured for me, so if I was not chopping something, I was opening a container and pouring it in. Plated even provides things like butter and wine. As if this house would be out of either! Typically, all that is needed from my kitchen is salt, pepper, and olive oil.


After whipping up the shrimp scampi-- and making it look incredibly easy, I served our dinner for three with enough left overs for Husband and I to eat dinner again the next night. 



Plated gets me out of my box, out of the rut we all get into when we cook the same things over and over. I would never, in a million years, made Salmon Teriyaki with hoisin sauce and a homemade ginger salad dressing. But, I did. And it was good. (and let's be honest-- I had no idea what hoisin sauce was until Plated.)


Is it expensive? Yes. I'll be the first to say that. It is about $11 a plate. AND you have to prepare it yourself. That being said- there are leftovers, it's good, it's fresh, and it really makes you...


Give it a go! Impress your spouse or your BIL. You won't be disappointed. Scouts honor. Trust me, I worked for the Boy Scouts.

As Dorothy says, "Do write and speak of your mistakes."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Fraternity House

We have power.
We have Internet.
We have a fridge and freezer- both working.
We have lights.

It was when I was able to cut the lights on and looked around did I make the startling realization that our house looks like it should be on Milledge Ave with greek letters hanging over the door.

There were beds in rooms that were not bedrooms. Sheets hang over windows and blankets cover doors. Wine bottles intermingle with empty Capri Suns and meal remnants litter the counter.

There were dishes in the bathtub and the backyard is a mess. Our sole mode of communication and tether to the outside world were our smartphones, which had to be charged in the car.

All of our meals were cooked on the grill and sleeping on the couch is in preference to sleeping in a bed. Friends coming and going at all hours certainly did nothing to change the attitude that the fraternity house is coming back in style.

It was... interesting.

On Saturday, people started to slowly get power back. I looked at Husband and said, "We are going to church. NOW. WeneedsomeJesus."

When we finally came home did we discover that our power flicked on only seven minutes prior.

Seven glorious minutes.

Now, to get this Fraternity house boxed back up and put away for another ice storm. That's the trick.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cue the locusts

I am trying to be witty and write a blog about the past four days, but the fact of the matter is- we have survived days without power, an ice storm, a pine tree in our pool, an earthquake, and debris... debris... and more debris. I am currently trying to find some sanity and electricity at the Chick-Fil-A where LMC can play with a friend and Bennie can catch a nap. Rounding into hour four and meal two sitting at my wobbly table... witty packed up and left yesterday with my pleasant attitude and positive outlook.

We have been promised that this will be the last night that we fall asleep without power. I'm not holding my breath.

Sigh.....

Let's leave it at this...

I'll post pictures and regale you with my wits when they return.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hot Yoga

I love yoga. It's fun... okay, so it's not really fun, but it is very relaxing. Okay, so it's not all that relaxing either- but it is a good workout. And the sweet reward of skinny jeans is on the horizon.

I have been practicing yoga for years and can do all the crazy breathing while ohm-ing in total Namaste-ness. My plank is intense and I can chat-ah-ranga from plank to up-dog to down-dog in the slow motion, deep breath that my instructors tell us to strive for.

However, my feathers and beak come out when it comes to venturing off the reservation from plain 'ole yoga. I go into a conniption when the sub-teacher puts Journey in the music mix instead of the chanting monks. Give me yoga pants for yoga and keep your hippie music for your car-ride home. We have breaths to breathe and ohms to chant along with the blind monks of Nova Scotia.

After years and years of hearing how amazing Hot Yoga is- I decided it was time to step up my yoga game. Yesterday, I ventured into the sauna class with my yoga pants... and, accidentally, made a new friend.

Rule 1 at Hot Yoga: Don't be friendly and try and make new friends. There are more granola eating hippies in attendance than plain Jane yoga. 

Hippie One comes over to ask me a question because this is her first hot yoga class. I, mistakenly, tell Hippie One that this, too, is my first Hot Yoga class.

Rule 2 at Hot Yoga: Don't tell anyone that this is your first time. 

"Oh, well-- since this is your first time, you're going to need plenty of water. Do you have plenty of water?" she asks.

Apparently, since this is her first time-- she's an expert.

"Yep- plenty of water."

"And towels. Where are your towels?" (please note the plural)

"I didn't get a towel, I didn't know I needed one."

Rule 3 at Hot Yoga: Do not admit that you do not know something. 

"What do you mean you didn't know that you needed towels? Of course you need towels- this is HOT  yoga."

Nice Non-Hippie Number Two turns to me and asks: "I heard you talking. I forgot to get one, would you like me to get your one?"

me: "Yes, please. Thank you."

Hippie One Kinobe: "TWO! She needs two towels and I need two towels. Thank you."
Hippie One Kinobe turns back to me and says: "You're going to need two towels. You're going to sweat a lot."

It is in this moment that I am ready for the class to start so Hippie One Ka-nippie could stop talking.

Quietly, I sit criss-cross-applecause (or half lotus... if you're talking yoga) and pretend to meditate.

The towels arrive. All four of them.

The hairy arm-pit instructor arrives with her braid trailing down her back.

My new BFF raises her hand and says, "Hi- we're both new to hot yoga," a gesture towards me as I clinch my fingers in meditative pause tighter, "Now, we both have plenty of water and two towels. Is there anything else we need before you begin?"

Deodorant? I think... but, keep my mouth and my eyes shut.

Class begins. I'm not going to lie- it was hot. It was about 70 degrees and rising with every breath and vinyasa. I sip my water and glide from position to pose and back to position, pretending that I am a professional.

A noise... an awkward sound, as if a cow is dying over my shoulder, catches my ear and I try my very best to ignore it. The cat wails of the monkey get louder and, without thinking, I glance over my shoulder to see what is causing the ruckus.

Rule 4 at Hot Yoga: Keep your eyes closed. Ain't nothing pretty about hot yoga and ain't nothing pretty about a naked man glistening as he finds his breath in downward facing dog.

Okay, let's be honest-- he wasn't naked. But, he might as well have been. He had on man-hot-yoga pants. What are those, you ask? Basically whitey-tighty-s that are made of spandex and probably cost about $75.

Attach "yoga" to any article of clothing and tack on $50.

As he pushes himself off the mat, I see his body glistening and his mouth grunting. It was so awful-- so amazingly awful-- I could not stop staring. As he pushed off, the sweat dripped and his chest hair clung in stickiness to his mat.

I fell from shock. Literally, my downward facing dog collapsed and I was on the floor.

A sip of water, a quick cough and I am back in the hot game.

But, like all good train wrecks-- you can't not watch. My eyes were glued on this body oil body of a sweating man... until I saw his partner.

She was clearly his partner because she-- just like he-- was scantily clad in her skivvies. Hot yoga pants (read: boy cut bikini bottom) and a sports bra were the only thing that separated me from her, ahem, privates.

Rule 5 at Hot Yoga: Less is not more... less is less.

As she grunted through her salutations, and made faces that should be saved for the bedroom, they got into a contest as to who could send their breath to the sky the loudest-- while still being the quietest.

"Ughhhhhhh" as she moved from one pose
"Grrrrrrrr" as he changed out of crouching dragon
"Ahhhhhhh" as she found ecstasy in hidden dog
"Ohhhhhh" as he moved into naked man running
"Errrrrrhhhhh" as she found herself again... and again.

It was all too much for me. Too, too much. Surely class had to almost over... I look at the clock and we have 45 minutes left.

Forget this. I pack my bag, namaste my new BFF- Hippie One Ka-nippie and peace out.

I'll keep my yoga at room temperature, thank you.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Ford Farm


Tucked between Lakeland and Willacoochie Georgia is this mystic place I had only heard about, woven in tales of hunters, lodgers, and bourbon drinkers. The Ford Farm is a place tucked way back on a dirt road engulfed in Spanish moss and thick with history. To be perfectly honest, it isn't more than about ten years old- but you would never know that driving down the windy dirt road, following the ancient signs to a place where even the rocking chairs slow down.



Husband, Wife, LMC, and Bennie packed our bags for a weekend away. Away from the internet, television, phones, and all those things that make us so busy-- that make us too busy for each other. FIL came from Smalltown and my parents meandered down, too. The seven of us took over the entire quail plantation, spilling from the main lodge into two log cabins and an additional bunking room. They opened up the mess hall for us-- long picnic tables in three rows running the length of the screened in room.




The Ford Farm is staffed with three full-time cooks (one chef for gourmet suppers and two southern cooks for a heavy, rib sticking breakfast and lunch), a hostess -- who's entire job is to get you anything you need, and a caretaker. There are also field guides and shooting assistants, among others, but you get the idea.

No details were missed- cowhide on the sofa, bear rugs on the floor, fireplaces at every opportunity, and the long-plank farm table set with the Woodlands china.



Arriving Friday afternoon, we stretched our legs and walked around the property, picking the cabin we wanted to call home for the next two nights. LMC desperately wanted bunk beds, so we picked a smaller cabin, but fully equipped with two sets of bunk beds and one king size bed. She would play on the top bunk and sleep in the tent I made for her out of excess blankets.



After skeet shooting over an open field, where I made excellent aim at the air around the skeet, Husband pulled out his pellet gun (or squirrel catcher, as I like to call it) and gave LMC a lesson in shooting. It was one of those moments where I could see the pride in Husband as he carefully and skillfully showed his daughter how to point and aim. He might have a house full of girls, but that doesn't mean he cannot teach them to enjoy such a sport.

LMC hit the tree on her first try. She missed the skeet hanging in the branch, but nailed the tree. These two parents were very proud.



Husband, Father, and FIL hunted all day Saturday while the girls entertained ourselves with watching the cooks work, getting recipes, and chasing LMC. The girls and I ran and crawled up and down the mess hall, under the tables and over the benches. We encouraged Bennie to walk- some think she took her first steps there, others... well, the jury is still out. We went into town to do some antique shopping and found our way back home.



Gloria taught me how to make biscuits- the same way her mother taught her. I feel like I confiscated a great family secret.



I asked the gourmet chef, Cory, (who trained at the Cordon Bleu in New Hampshire) question after question about cooking wild game, how he enhances his B├ęchamel sauce and the perks of cooking on a Viking stove. Mom and I let Bennie nap in any number of the rooms off the main lodge. That same gourmet chef took my daughter's dinner order both nights and created whatever she asked for with the greatest of ease.



This place even had bed warmers. I had never heard of such, but have already scoured the Internet trying to find them.

It was a quiet place to restore and reconnect. Husband and I were the last to leave the main lodge and I could not figure out if the gas was still on in the fireplace. As I walked outside, the chef was wrapping up some things and I said, "Hey- I don't know how to work the gas and didn't want to burn the place down. Would you mind checking it before you lock up?'



He responded, "No problem. We aren't locking up. You're home now- this is your place."

Indeed.


The Ford Farm holds all those things that people love about the south. It reminds me what is so lovely about being home. These farms, these plantations, these places and people, this food and this time-- it's all these little things rolled up into one burlap tied bow that made me fall in love with this wonderful place.

Tell Walter that I sent you and ask Gloria how she makes her biscuits or Cory how he cooked his sweet tater fries. Tell Mark that you shoot quadrants when you shoot skeet. Pour yourself an extra glass of ice cold milk with your breakfast and put your feet up. You're home.