Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stainless Steel Magnolias

Back in December, I found these little plates and bowls at my favorite local second hand store, and I had my heart all set to use them during  magnolia season. 

Unfortunately, magnolia season is also a busy season. For a variety of reasons, I found myself without a tablescaping team.  Since I don't fly well solo, I convinced the two daughters to help me out with a table before the bloom was off the magnolia.  Thanks, girls...

We set it up under the tree in our lawn. 

Besides the magnolia plates and bowls, we used some vintage Austrian china. The scalloped edges looked like petals to me.

 We borrowed this sheer tablecloth from the Duchess and used it over a dark green linen one. We're pretending that those are magnolia blossoms on there.

They'll probably be petunias next...

I found the magnolia napkins at another local store.
The napkin rings are actually shower curtain rings.
 I hoarded them from The Practical One's college bathroom just for this purpose.  

Because we're  steel magnolias.

Technically brushed nickel magnolias, but just go along, folks... 

Stainless steel magnolias.
(American Colonial by Oneida.)

These votive holders are kind of like that sheer tablecloth. 
They can be any flower I want them to be.
Today, I want them to be magnolias
so I set them in a blossom folded napkin. 

We've used this casual stemware before. 
It's a set called Claudia that I bought years ago at Waccamaw.

Set on magnolia coasters made from prints of my Mother's Day card this year.

The centerpiece is one simple magnolia

The fragrance was absolutely heavenly.
They smell like a quiet gardenia.

So there you have it, our magnolia table in the daytime.

And then with candles... the sun was going down.

and The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sandbagging and the Still Small Voice

Have you seen this video? 

If you’re the type who doesn’t like to click on videos, I’ll summarize.

It’s about a man who lives smack dab in the middle of the Mississippi floods.  Faced with two choices, fight or flight, he decided to stick around and take a stand for his house.  He did it by building a moat around his property and then sandbagging the moat.

Very cool.

I’m not really sure of the engineering of the whole thing. There’s never been a lot of activity on that left side of my brain, after all.  All I know is that as of the time of the filming, his house was standing, in the midst of all that flooding, on solid ground.

I saw that video on Saturday night, and I couldn’t get it off my mind. To say that I was impressed was an understatement. I was impressed with his courage. I was impressed with the folks working beside him.  More than anything, I was impressed with their tenacity.  Even as the video was being shot, boat loads of sandbags were arriving still.

It wasn’t enough to surround the house. They were determined to keep on sandbagging as long as absolutely necessary. 

Even though I live hundreds of miles from the mighty Mississippi, I relate to that man. My house is just standing in a flood path of a different sort. It’s a moral and cultural swell that looms all around me, threatening to sweep my house away in its snake- infested muddy waters.  

And just like that man, I have two choices, fight or flight.  

It probably won’t surprise you that I tend to gravitate toward the flight option. It’s my nature to rush off to some moral high ground and barricade my clan away from the world.  I sent my daughters to Christian school and obsessively monitored their friendships and pastimes.  I surrounded them with prayer breakfasts, and youth groups, and all sorts of churchiness.

But there’s one big difference between a cultural flood and a literal one. Cultural flood waters never recede. They just keep rising. The flight option doesn’t work so well.

You had better learn how to sandbag.

I was still thinking about this yesterday morning when our youth pastor stood to give his sermon, and in one of those Holy Coincidences, he finished what God had started.   Oh, he might not have used the term sandbagging, but he spoke of it nonetheless. He drew his sermon from  Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Hear, O Israel: 
The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
  Impress them on your children.
 Talk about them when you sit at home
 and when you walk along the road,
 when you lie down and when you get up. 
Tie them as symbols on your hands 
and bind them on your foreheads.
 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates...


I like to think that we’ve done a lot of sandbagging over the years. God knows that these energizer bunnies have tried. Honestly?  I 'd like to think all that yakking has left us sitting pretty behind a moat, beyond the sandbags.                                                                     
But we aren’t.

The flood waters are muddier than ever and even closer to the property line. I can see them from where I stand, and frankly, Satan has tried his best to give me a spirit of fear.

But God has given me a man in Arkansas.  

And then he gave me a wonderful young pastor to remind me that the book of Deuteronomy is not the telling of the law; it's the retelling. It 's the first of many reminders that  as long as we have breath, we have sand bags to fill.  

And that's what I heard from the still small voice this weekend.
How about you? 

Sharing this with Jen and the others at Finding Heaven

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Great Oreck Intervention

 I’m here today to report a miracle.

My vacuum cleaner worked.

This may seem like a small matter to you, but it’s obviously a big deal to me. You see, for months, my vacuum cleaner has sounded like a lawn mower sucking gravel from a concrete floor.

I had been living with it because it was still  working… somewhat.
Plus, I’m too cheap to buy a new one.
Plus, I was ashamed to confess to the husband that I might possibly have killed another electric appliance.

We bought this particular upright because of my back problems.  We wanted something powerful yet lightweight, something that I could use every day if I wanted to.  Not that I wanted to.  

The Oreck XL seemed to fit the bill.

And you know how Mr. Oreck man says
 that it’s powerful enough to lift a bowling ball?

It isn’t.

It is, however, powerful enough to suck the fringe off a rug, a cloth off a table, and a curtain off a rod. Don’t ask me how I know this. Let’s just say that little sucker is the reason we can’t have small pets.

This phenomenon makes it a poor choice for those of us who like to retreat to our happy spot while doing the household chores.  One careless pass too close to the window and happy thoughts are interrupted by a high pitched squeal and the smell of burning rubber.  

I’m sure someone can relate.

I don’t know how you handle this, but I usually scream for a minute before turning off the machine and extracting the offending object from around the beater bars. If you unwrap gently and slowly, no one is the wiser.

Angry little tugs, however, can make the belt slip a little.  Very angry tugs can snap it completely. I’m not exactly sure what putting both feet on the beater bar while yanking out an entire spool of pink satin ribbon does, but the result sounds like a lawn mower sucking gravel off a concrete floor.

You can see why I had been reluctant to mention this recent episode to the husband.  I just suffered in silence. Too bad I couldn’t say the same for the Oreck.

Until yesterday.

Because yesterday, after months of gravel grinding, I plugged him in, and he ran as quietly and efficiently as when he was brand new. I’m almost positive that I could push him around easier too. I was so delighted that I cleaned the entire house.

Now, clearly the man of the house didn’t fix the Oreck; he’s been out of town all week. Plus, I hadn’t told him that the Oreck was in need of fixing.  I certainly didn’t fix it. My specialty is breaking.

But fixed it is.

I’m putting this in the electronic miracle category and calling it an act of Divine Oreck Intervention. I had a little service of thanksgiving, too.

And then I started thinking about my Divine Oreck Intervention…
And about the whirly swirly gremlin living in my computer.

I’ve been living with Della the demon possessed laptop for just about as long as I’ve been living with the protesting Oreck, yet it was the Oreck who got the faith healing.

Maybe God is much more interested in my cleaning than my blogging.
Just sayin’…

Have you ever had a divine appliance intervention?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Simply Ghostly

In full disclosure, this week's simple pleasure is over a week old.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, I was late getting here last week. By the time I did, Blogger Man had closed the hatch, and my post was unable to fly.  Here I am this week, better late than never, to share the simple pleasure that I have named  Redbeard's Ghost. 

This is the oak grove at the end of my street. 

There's nothing at all unique about it. Spanish moss drips from nearly every oak tree south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Around here, it's as common as kudzu and cornbread, and most folks pass right on by without a second glance.

But I like it. I like the way it hangs from the trees like a scraggly grey beard.   It has a romantic look to it, in a spooky sort of way.

It wasn't the grey beards that gave me my simple pleasure this week, though. It was a beard of a different color.  The other evening, I was driving home at sunset, and I saw something that I had never noticed before.

Don't those scraggly beards kind of look like they're on fire?  

They did to me.
I was completely jazzed by the sight.
The whole grove was bursting with flaming beards.

I pulled Ebenzer to the side of the road to get pictures. I think I sat  there for about 30 minutes just watching the show. Unfortunately,  I couldn't quite capture the beauty of it all. I was still using that borrowed camera, and I couldn't figure out how to work the thing.

I'm so glad to have a new shiny red Kodak...  

I have spent the past week trying to recapture the sight with no success. I guess just like any good simple pleasure, I was supposed to stop and appreciate the moment.  

I'm so glad that I did. 

Watching the sun set on the Spanish Moss is this week's simple pleasure.

Joining Dayle at
for her weekly Simple Pleasures party.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fried Green Field Trip

Last Friday, Miss Whimsy and I ventured about 20 minutes from our hotel for a little lunchtime adventure.


It's the fictional town of Whistle Stop, located in the tiny little town of Juliette, Georgia. You might recognize it as the set for this movie.

Even though Fried Green Tomatoes is not one of my favorite movies,  Adventure tripping is one of my favorite things. So when I discovered that we could have lunch at the Whistle Stop Cafe,  I jumped at the chance and dragged that adventurous daughter along with me.

We loved it.

It really is a quaint place, and they do a wonderful job
 of keeping it authentic without being cheesey.

Trains continually pass, and they whistle even though they don't stop. 
I love stuff like that.

They serve at southern speed.

Which gives you enough time to enjoy the atmosphere
and figure out how many different ways you can use the word towanda in a sentence.

The menu is full of southern favorites.
We got Bennett's BBQ..

...the secret's in the sauce.
The portion was enormous, but  I managed to eat it all
plus the side of
fried green tomatoes to go along with it.

Now, even though I live in Georgia, I had never eaten fried green tomatoes.  I'm pleased to report that they were delicious and served so hot that I burned the roof of my mouth and the tip of my tongue.

I wanted to (attempt to) make a batch myself this week. The glitch is that  we're just not a fried food family.  A little googling found a healthier version of Paula Dean's recipe by the Dean brothers.  Miss Whimsy and I made it, and I'm here to report that we gave ourselves the thumb's up.

Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 egg white
10 drops hot sauce (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 cup cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
       (divided... because you can't do them all at once)
3 large green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices 

Preheat Oven 450 and spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
Easy Peasy. Just mix the buttermilk, egg white, and hot sauce.  Dip the tomato slices and dredge them the cornmeal and salt.  Brown tomatoes on one side only in the oil for a few minutes. Place them browned side up   on cookie sheet and spray the top with cooking spray. Bake until both sides are brown (about 8 minutes) 

These are ours.
 Yes, I know they're not nearly as attractive as the original, 
but that's probably not the fault of the recipe because, 
well,  you know...

And that's all I have for now. The day is too pretty to stay inside, and there's an overgrown holly bush by the corner of the porch that has been ticking me off.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Wearing the funny hat

It wasn't the first time she's worn the funny hat,
 and it won't be the last...

 But I'm pretty sure it will be the one dearest to her heart.

It has been four wonderful years...

But it's time for the Practical One to put on the funny outfit.

We spent a long weekend in Macon leading up to the festivities on Saturday afternoon.

And then, far too soon,
the music began
and the names were called...

The conferring of degree to the College of Liberal Arts

And then to the Stetson School of Business...

Because this was a family affair, you see. We had two graduates,
The Practical One and The Professional Princess.

They are first cousins

And you know that term best friend for life?
They invented it.

Someday I'll yak all about that.

A kiss for the Duchess...

And hugs for dear friends.

Don't let the smiles fool you...

It was a tearful weekend.

Because no matter how they try to camouflage it with words like

 It still feels an awful lot like good-bye.


Congratulations to our college graduates.
Look out, world...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Unwrapped

If you're expecting a Great Mother's Day Adventure, you won't find one here. Yesterday wasn't that much different than any given Sunday.  That's because around here, every Sunday is Mother's Day. As I explained in THIS post, The Duchess reigns supreme over the family table on a weekly basis.  

Plus, the graduating seniors aren't home yet.
Plus, the newlywed niece had a wedding out of town.

Since geography is the only way to keep the Duchess away from an oven, we gathered at The Sister's farm instead.  She had a beautiful table set with her Italian Countyside dishes and a bouquet of roses from her equally  beautiful gardens.

Would you like to see some pictures?
Yeah. So would I.

Unfortunately my borrowed camera decided at that moment to take a Sunday snooze and recharge his batteries.  I would have used the Sister's camera, but that would have required her to email pictures. Simple task for you, maybe, but the woman with the degree in Management Information Systems has yet to get the hang of emailing pictures.

Or so she says.

Apparently, she got all of her computer savvy way back in the last century, which makes her a floppy disc in a laptop world. In the years since she stepped away from the business world, she has basked in the glory of willful ignorance. You know how old people can be...

Have I mentioned lately that she's 50...
and I'm not?

And so, I find myself picture poor this morning.

Not to worry,though, that status is about to change. When I opened my Mother's Day gift, I found a little gift receipt. Apparently, my two conspirators, with a lot of help from Super Dad, had been unable to find the gift that they wanted in the stores.  They did find it online, though, and they ordered it.

It will be here this week.
Want to guess what I'm getting?
I'll give you two hints.
It's shiny...
and it's red. 
So... what did you get for Mother's Day?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Oh, my aching...

Somehow, I managed to give birth to The Odd Couple.

The Practical One is Felix. She can’t deal with clutter or filth. To deal with stress, she likes to clean. She generally requests that bins be sent her way the week before finals and de-stresses her way to a perfectly organized farewell.

 Meet Oscar

Musta been da debil…

That was then...

This is now.

I was assured that those were not the same flowers, and I believe her. I had some doubt, however, when I discovered remnants of a piƱata whacked in October abiding under the bed.  

Obviously, we had to clean as well as pack.

We bagged and boxed in bins and baskets. Dad deconstructed shelves in the hallway while Whimsy cleaned surfaces and I pushed dirt across the room and fluffed up dust bunnies with a Dirt Devil which lived up to its name.  I had considered giving those little gadgets as graduation gifts this year.

I’ve reconsidered.

We finally borrowed a Bissel 3-in-1 which did the job sufficiently and returned the room to its original glory.  Just consider that a product endorsement.

All the while, we loaded.

Up and down the hall
Up and down the steps

I felt the need to photograph each set because I woke up that morning determined to be annoying. That’s what the husband said, anyway, when he asked if I had come to load or to blog. Since marriage is all about compromise, I told him that he could load, and I would blog. I’m cooperative like that.

He took away the camera.

We loaded in silence since fellow dorm dwellers were still in the midst of finals and a gag order was in place in the hallways.  This made the work all the more tedious. Personally, I find a little yakkity yak makes any job go faster. Don't you?

Instead, I entertained my brain by counting footsteps.  I counted 178 steps between the door of the room and the door of the car, 44 of which were stair steps. Times twenty.

And I figured that any 49er who lugged a freshman year 3, 560 steps and 880 stairs deserved some pralines and cream ice cream.

And that’s exactly what he got.

Then the mover, the blogger, and the sophomore headed home again, Super Dad in one car, and mother/daughter in the other.  Just in case you’re wondering, it is entirely possible to rehash a royal wedding for two and a half hours and still have more to say.

We pulled the cars across the front lawn and unloaded them into the living room because that was my plan.  Plus, her bedroom is on the second floor.  

I’m calling that pile Bad Bart.

Come Monday morning, I'm giving that varmint 24 hours to get out of town.
Or there will be a showdown. 

Until then, we'll just rest our legs and enjoy.

What about you?
Are you more of a Felix or an Oscar?


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