Jun 29, 2010

Excuses, Grocery Store Feet, Cleaning, Liars, and Blowing Stuff Up

Dear Readers- have you abandoned me to to my terrible neglect?  I wouldn't blame you- it's been practically a week since I have posted a thing!

I could give you all the excuses in the world (work is insane, we close on the house on Friday, and I can't quit with social obligations, and have been going out on the boat instead of dealing with all of the above). . .but I think some random thoughts are far more in order.

1.  I can't stop munching on olives.  My fingers are horrendously swollen- in competition with the thousands of skeeter bites covering my white trash legs.  My trainer remarked on my flea market legs and enquired whether I had grocery store feet as a child.  Why yes, in fact I did.

2.  I am supposed to be cleaning the condo (a) in preparation for putting it on the market, (b) because it is so cluttery and messy that I can't stand it, (c) it's taking me an extra 15 minutes in the morning to get ready because my wardrobe is in such disarray, and (d)  Hubs comes home on Thursday and I like to lord it over him pretend that I am far neater and therefore genetically superior act like I am tidy.

3.  I had a pool party Saturday during the day, and then attended a different pool party Saturday night.  I wore this swimsuit and got tons of compliments from males and females alike.  As a Leo, I thrive on compliments.  Have y'all noticed much?  Hee.  Anyway, it was ideal because I made and partook in pool food (hot dogs, chicken fingers, fries, and watermelon) during the day party, and imbibed quite a number of white wine spritzers that night.  However, the pooch (y'all know what I'm talking about)  was covered by ruching- flattering and comfortable.

4.  Are y'all watching Pretty Little Liars?  It's my teeny bopper addiction which I am currently tuning into instead of hanging clothes and cleaning the kitchen.  For those watchers, is this teacher creepy or what?  Am I too old?

So- I am working on answering all your wonderful questions, packing and gearing up for my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE HOLIDAY IN THE WORLD!!!!

Yes, I love Fourth of July- lake, grilling out, drinking beers, and blowing stuff up.  Most American holiday ever, by damn.  Screw Thanksgiving, I'd take fireworks over turkey any day of the week.

So ladies (and my 2 male readers) fill me in!  What is going on-  4th of July plans?

Jun 24, 2010

Teddy Bear Picnic

So the early shower passed, and I proceeded to cautiously (there were still threatening clouds, and Hubs kept warning ominously of "THE RADAR"), to set out flowers, tables, linens (which were horribly wrinkled- I ignored this hoping the humidity would smooth them out, like dresses in a bathroom during a hot shower).
 We ate appetizer and had cocktails in the condo.  I frantically made a Jezebel sauce to dump over some cream cheese, as I was running super behind (unlike me- I am blaming spritzers on the porch the previous evening).  It did turn out tasty though- here's a basic recipe, but I added more horseradish. 

While I finished up in the kitchen, an early contingent headed down to the park.
Ipod portable player with extra batteries in hand.
The guys manned the grill- replete with the bacon wrapped pork tenderloins (recipe to follow tomorrow).
Us ladies set out silverware, plates, and the individual squash casseroles.

The ladies (and Brent) sans myself- I was photographer for the night due to an accident involving blackberry chutney and my dress immediately after I had removed my apron.
We sat in the park until after ten, jamming to some Motown, and generally having a big time.  Luckily, I didn't have to get everyone drunk so they wouldn't notice the heat, as the rain cooled things off to a manageable 85 degrees.

However, I did make a delightful beverage- a grown-up Arnold Palmer (which I could not get out of my mouth- much like the word Adirondack, that I simply cannot say properly much to Hubs' delight), so I called it "fun drink".  Adapted from this recipe, mine also included apple juice, an entire bottle of limoncello, and double of everything else.  Oh, and lemon flavored Perrier instead of club soda, and an extra bottle of it at that.  It was dangerously delicious- Limoncello might be my new beverage of choice- what is it exactly?

After it was too dark to see what was in front of us, we headed back to the condo for homemade ice cream sandwiches, which I have been eating leftovers of all week.  Not a bikini bod plan, but very delicious!  Y'all, this is a perfect summertime dessert "recipe"- refrigerated cookie dough (I prefer the organic kind, or Pillsbury "simply", because they taste more homemade), slap some ice cream between two cookies (melt in a little first so it's pliable), sprinkle chocolate jimmies or sprinkles all around the sides, wrap in saran wrap and stick int he freezer.  Gah- these things are too good! I am getting a roll around my middle entirely due to ice cream sammies.

So the dinner party was a hit, I consider myself a genius, and it was the perfect goodbye to our condo.  Cleanup the next day of the park was not too bad, as everyone had chipped in the night before.  However, I had to take the 16 rented chairs back to the party rental place Monday morning.  Hubs had gone to Asheville for work, so  I did not have his monster SUV at my disposal.


SIXTEEN(!) chairs in the Barbie Dream Car!  It was impressive- the guys at the loading dock were dying laughing when they started pulling them all out.  An impressive feat, no?  Although, I did have to have my top down in 100 degree weather.  When that errand was through I figured I HAD to have a ice cream sammie.  Or two.

Dangerous, I tell you.

Jun 22, 2010

I'm A Country Girl

As part of my of my newly minted effort to not spend money, I did not purchase flowers for my dinner party.  It's unnecessary in the summer anyway, especially since I was going for a rustic look.  I threw on my apron, stuck my gardening shears and camera in its pockets, whistled for Dixie, and set off.
Dixie was much more interested in chasing deer and bunnies, but she tried to help nose out any flowers.  I knew I was in luck when I found this-
The hydrangea bush resides next to the tear down house on my property.  I need to figure out how to dig it up, and relocate it.  That might be a Mama project, as my green thumb skills are sorely lacking.
Then I headed over to snip some of Mama's profusion of Black Eyed Susans (which is one of my favorite flower names). 
Dixie was very helpful in picking out which were the prettiest.
Then we lucked out and found some of the prettiest Queen Anne's Lace growing on the side of the road.

I'm allergic to bees, so cutting these was a bit terrifying as it was like sticking my hand in a bee hive and stealing their lunch.  I made it out unscathed though, with a basket full of beautiful flowers, ready to be arranged.
Then it immediately started to downpour. However, I did not freak out, but instead started cooking the individual squash casseroles I was supposed to make the night before, but instead I had sat on the porch with Lou and AK drinking wine spritzers. Oops.

My whole morning in the woods reminded me of my childhood, when my trusty golden retriever companion, Hunter, and Brother and I would spend the day exploring the hundreds of acres of woods around our childhood home.

Wild little Appalachians swinging on grapevines.

Jun 21, 2010

Summer in a Bowl

So I completely forgot to take any pictures of my cookery on Saturday for y'all.  Luckily I made the same chopped salad Sunday night for a family Father's Day dinner, and took pictures then.  As evidenced by the fact I made it two days in a row, this salad is super delicious. The recipe comes from Scott Peacock, out of June's Better Homes and Gardens.
First, take 2-3 cloves of garlic, peel and split them.  Then remove the green sprout from the center of the clove- Scott says that if you leave that little guy in there your dressing might be bitter.
Sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt on your garlic, and get chopping.  Then mash the garlic and salt together with your knife to form a paste.
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the garlic paste, and let sit for about 10-15 minutes so the lemon can tame the garlic.  Then add an 8 ounce carton of creme fraiche, salt and pepper to taste and let sit for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Perfect opportunity for Brother and I to take our parents for a little Dad's Day cruise before dinner.

Post lake, Hubs put on the steaks (he rested in the AC while we swam and cruised- he had the cocktail flu I suspect, he had a tummy ache), and I chopped the veggies.

One cucumber, 2 ears of corn barely cooked- cut the kernels off the cub and nuke 'em for about 2 minutes), about a quarter of a pound of blanched haricots verts, and a carton of cherry tomatoes.

Add half a cup of chopped chives.
Oh y'all, just those veggies are making my  mouth water.  Add a couple of spoonfuls of your dressing to the veggies, coating them evenly.  Then add a head of romaine lettuce, washed, well-dried, and torn into bite size pieces.  Toss everything, to coat the lettuce with the dressing.  Add a couple more spoonfuls of dressing, salt and fresh ground pepper, as well as the remaining chives.

Then add a chopped avocado (we used 2), and chopped bacon (I think four slices?).  I left the bacon out (gasp!), because I had a BL(EA)T for lunch, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin for dinner the night before, and a bbq pork sandwich for lunch the day before.  I have a pig problem.

Anyway, toss it all together, and try to get it to the table before picking it all away.  I meant to take a picture of the finished product, but by the time I remembered, this is what was left-
Which I promptly scooped up and finished off.  Yum.

Oh, in case y'all were worried, the dinner party went famously, and I will spend probably all week giving y'all the run-down and recipes.

Jun 18, 2010

I Am Either an Utter Genius or Complete Idiot

Time and weather will determine the above.  So I have been longing to have a dinner party, and try out some new recipes.  Now, saying farewell to the condo is a perfect reason for a bash, so it's time!  However, I have a tendency to um, overestimate the amount of people the condo will comfortably hold.  Ten at the dining table is fine.  The sixteen who are coming (including Hubs and I). . .not so much.

So frantic brainstorming ensued, and I came up with this-
The adorable gated park about .15 mile away from the condo!  I will really miss my fancy neighborhood with its profusion of parks, proximity to the lake/river and my ability to walk to church and the library.

So anyway, I'm setting up tables and chairs, a charcoal grill, coolers, and some tiki torches in the park. I reserved it- how neat is that? Before you answer that y'all, please remember I am a big ole nerd, and think the ability to "reserve"  parks is cool.

Well, you know, I'm imagining how fun a garden party will be, completely disregarding the logistical nightmare that I have thrust upon myself.  I swear y'all, I have expended more energy thinking about this darn dinner party than I have all the minutiae of buying a house (this is a complete and utter exaggeration- I just prefer to think about how food will get to point A to B, over ordering a survey and scraping carpet glue from the bathroom floor of the condo). 

We'll have apps and a fun cocktail as we congregate at the condo, (replete with to-go cups for the walk down- shhh!).

So the menu-
Bacon Wrapped Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Chutney
Chopped Salad
Blackberry Farm Squash Casserole

I made the squash for Mother's Day, and it is tooooo good.  Hubs was not the biggest fan because he is crazy because he likes his composed mainly of bread crumbs, condensed cream of whatever soup, and sour cream.  Not me!  I love super squashy squash casserole with the barest of binders, and only CHEESE competing for by taste-buds' attention.

If you are smart  sophisticated possess  an excellent palate, like me, please try this excellent recipe from the Blackberry Farm Cookbook

So, I'm a genius right?

Here's the problem.  A massive, yet brief rainstorm has been coming in every evening around 5 o'clock.  it passes in time for my guests, but how the hell am I supposed to set everything up?  Haven't figured that one out yet.

Another problem- no rain plan.  Hmmmm- this is all I've got-

There's two of them, so hopefully 16 will fit?  Hahaaha- not sure on that one.

Finally it's about three thousand degrees outside.  Solutions for that?  I told everyone to wear light weight clothes (seriously- we'll need some wicking action on this one), plan on serving lots of freezing and plentiful alcoholic beverages, and am serving homemade ice cream sammies for dessert.

We shall see. . .more recipes, reviews, and pictures to follow of course.  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Jun 17, 2010

Perusing Some Pages

I'm trying to look serious and read here- not so sure how that turned out . . .

So Question Time- starting, obviously, with books!

Kelly asked-
What are you reading right now? In the past you've mentioned you read a lot but I haven't seen you post anything recently.

Lately, I have been alternating between a lot of Georgette Heyer and Nelson DeMille.  If you know these authors you will realize this makes zero sense.  Georgette Heyer was a prolific writer of Regency novels (ala Jane Austen), and Nelson DeMille writes thrillers about wise-cracking New York law enforcement types.  However, they are both excellent page turners, and perfect summer reads.  I also recently finished Confessions of a Rebel Debutante by Anna Fields (check out this review), and Emily Giffin's new book.  I give both a solid- "eh".  I say get 'em from the library/used bookstore/paperback for a beach week.  Speaking of libraries, due to the upcoming two mortgages until the condo sells, mine is going to become my new bff.  Summer of frugality begins!

What else have I read lately?  I tore through the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy- so interesting to read something set in Sweden.  I love all the herring sandwiches, and prevalence of Volvos.  Seriously, I loved reading indirectly about a country about which I don't know much.  And the plots are fascinating- always a plus!

EmmyLou asked-
Hmm well...since you like to read. What is your favorite book? xo

My favorite book is a tough one, because there are so many.  As a child, I loved anything by L.M. Montgomery, and read and read all of her books.  (Gilbert Blythe, be still my beating heart!).  A book I come back to time and time again is Beach Music by Pat Conroy.  I'm from a close knit group of friends who have all been close since we were rocking Trapper-Keepers, so I identify with that aspect.  It's sometimes criticized for being melodramatic, but ladies, I love me some Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins. Obviously, I do not fear melodrama!

Nelle Somerville asked-
What was your favorite Bible Study Book? And yes, more books, I've loved all of your recommendations and am reading South of Broad now. Adore!

I really have fun and enjoy the Bad Girls of the Bible series, which is light veers toward silly, but also helps me get on track.  I have recently started "Breaking Free" by Beth Moore, which I think will be wonderful.  However, it has sadly been left forlorn on my nightstand too much lately.  Time to get back into it!

Hmmm, book recommendations. . .
For some local East Tennessee and Appalachian authors I like:

Bloodroot by Amy Greene
Harvest by Catherine Landis
Lee Smith- On Agate Hill, and Fair and Tender Ladies are two of my favorites.

Have y'all read any of Kate Morton's books?
The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton are both excellent.

Okay, I am going to keep thinking, because I have so many more recs for y'all, but my brain is processing slowly this morning, and I can't bring them to mind.  I'll update as soon as another favorite comes to mind. 

Now, give me some ideas please, and also let me know what genres y'all like to read!

Jun 16, 2010

Digging on My New Digs

So, I forgot to tell y'all about our benefit for the Blount Mansion!  Peg and I were a twinge apprehensive as it was the first benefit we have ever thrown, and we didn't want to bankrupt Knoxville's oldest home (also the home of the Tennessee constitution). 

Everything went wonderfully, except for the fact that it was about a hundred degrees, with a thousand percent humidity.  Do you see how wilted I look?  One of those times when you cringe every time someone hugs you or touches your back.  Gross.  I should have used an old trick from UGA football games, and filled my bra, and dusted my back with baby powder.  It's a great temporary solution until you undress to find a sodden mess of clumped baby powder sticking to you.  Too graphic?

However, I have news of far more import.

Hubs and I are buying a house! It's an adorable little rancher on a great street about seven minutes from where we live now.  It was very sudden, as I looked it at first with my mom early last week, Hubs and Dad looked at it Thursday, and the agreement was signed on Sunday.  We close July 2- so soon!

It's in great shape, but of course, it needs some love and charm added to it.  This will be a slow and steady process, because with two mortgages until we sell the condo, I am now a frugalista!  This means no more shopping (sad), but shopping my closet instead.  I'm having a dinner party for 16 Saturday, so it will be interesting to see how my tight budget works with that.  I might be chasing wild pigs and butchering them myself. . .

Anyway, I'm so excited to hear your ideas and inspiration as I start this new journey of a house.  Oh, and for those dedicated readers who will ask- we still are going to build, but it will likely be in five years or so.  I wanted a yard (at least one not controlled by my cantankerous neighbor) and a dog before then.

Jun 15, 2010

One of My Favorite Meals

Keep the questions coming ladies!  I am loving picking my own brain to figure out my answers to your fun and insightful questions.  Can't wait to hear more!

Someone asked me what my favorite meal is, which is tres difficult to answer.  I mean, I have favorite meals for a Sunday night, favorite meals for the beach, favorite meals for the cocktail flu, favorite meals for a late fall night, et al.  So, without further introduction, one of my top five favorite meals ever (category: summer, genre: perfect for when you don't care that you are swollen as a tick the next day).
Mmmmmm, it's kind of hard to see the bacon under all that lettuce, but it's there and plentiful.  I love a good BLT- probably due to my love of all things pork, but it really is the perfect combination of juicy from the maters, salty from the bacon, and crunchy lettuce.  Then you gotta add a touch of mayo to make everything stick just right (I know there are mayonnaise-haters out there.  I am simply going to state that you are wrong, and a smidge of mayo is integral to a BLT.  Please feel free to battle is out in the comments section with me.)

So some famous Benton's bacon-

Dixie was very interested in that skillet, and promised to be very good, never ever naughty again, if she could pretty please have a piece of bacon!
Henry and I weren't buying it.

Some home grown tomatoes (also known as reason #517 why I love summer)-

Homemade bread from the Farmer's Market-
Slightly toasted, with said smidge of Duke's, and I was ready to go.  It took all of my measly willpower to put this on a plate, instead of eating it over the sink.

Oh, that is pure heaven. . .

Jun 11, 2010

Riddle Me This, Readers!

So dear readers, due to a busy schedule and a bit of writer's block, I am opening myself up to doing a genre of post I have avoided in the past. . . Ask Me Anything!

This avoidance is not based on privacy issues, or deep dark secrets which I am hiding from you.  Instead, I am fearful that none of you will come out of the woodwork and ask me questions.  Then I will feel like a self-absorbed fool (my normal state is self-absorbed smart-ass).  So don't hurt my fragile ego, and let 'em rip!

Oh, and you can make anonymous comments if you want.  If you are asking ugly questions, I just won't respond (not that anyone would).

Jun 10, 2010

Worry is the Worst Misuse of Your Imagination

So look what I came home to yesterday-
Peg left me a gorgeous pot full of flowers and a sweet note to let me know she's thinking of me. 

Last week, my daddy was in the hospital. He was discharged Sunday evening, but it was a stressful and terrifying time.  Between all my social activities last weekend, I was at the hospital- lending a bit of a frantic air to my celebration of birthdays, babies, and marriage. 

So Sunday afternoon, I was stocking up at the grocery for my parents in preparation for Daddy's return home.  As I drove home, I started thinking about what was going to happen if he didn't listen to the doctor (as men in their early sixties are apt to do), how I was going to handle it, and what would be next.  These thoughts may have been realistic, but believe me, they were not my usual Pollyanna rays of sunshine.

Then I passed a sign which read, "WORRY IS THE WORST MISUSE OF THE IMAGINATION" .

"Huh." I thought, "That's so true, and what I need to do right now is STOP worrying!" 

I love when God speaks to us through signs out front of mini storage places.

In other news, I am now using my imagination to decorate a house I want to buy (which Hubs has not even seen yet).  He sees it tonight, so fingers crossed.  House decoration is an excellent use of the imagination I think. . .

Jun 9, 2010

Fundraisers, Houses, and Pretty Frocks

I am running around quite a bit this week, getting ready for a fundraiser Peg and I are throwing for Knoxville's oldest home. We started preparing a few months ago, when the dogwoods and spring flowers were sprouting their early blooms.
Now that it's summer, everything will be a full fledged party of blooms and color!  Hopefully, the fundraiser will also be a full fledged party with tons of guests (my fingers are involuntarily crossing as I type this).  To ensure success, we have tasked ourselves with calling friends and cajoling ticket purchases.  Brutal.

The event's dress is "garden party', and I of course, want to buy a new dress.  Shocking, no?  However, my dress purchase craving is (somewhat) curbed by my house craving.  I toured a house today which I really could see Hubs and I in for few years before we build. . .now we just need to find out what kind of loan we can get approved for, prepare the condo for sale, make an offer on this house, sell the condo, and buy the house!  Not terrifying or exhausting at all. . .although losing proximity to Pouffy Tummy man is a huge encouragement. 

I just love all the pretty summer dresses, and bright colors- after all, shouldn't the event planner match natural outdoor decor?  I want to wear something with a print, although lately I have been loving some yellow!  At Sunday School, CM and I were delighted when one of our favorite little students coordinated so nicely with our outfits.
And yellow was in abundance at the shower Saturday-

Kate has discussed this, but blondes can wear yellow!  A tan helps, but even without one, stick to warmer, sunny, marigold type shades, and avoid lemons at all cost!  Love 'em in my iced tea, but that color is absolutely deadly next to my rosy skin.

I was going to shop my closet, and re-purpose a couple of old dresses with the help of my seamstress (if only I could sew!), but time has gotten away from me this and last week. . .so maybe to Stein Mart and TJMaxx I go tonight?  We shall see. .

So have a rambled enough for y'all?  What would you wear to a garden party?  Links if you got them sisters!