Archives for posts with tag: celebrate

I’ve explained just how rancidly Southern I am before.  If you missed it – here’s the Reader’s Digest Version:

  • One of my earliest ancestors disembarked from the first slave ship into the Colonies in early 16-somethings.
  • Her husband beat her here by a generation, and they both live on in infamy on a wall in Jamestown, not for being an interracial couple, but for having a child out of wedlock.  Pick your battles, I guess.
  • The rest of my family tree blew over with the wind shortly thereafter, landing in Virginia and South Carolina – nesting near the harbors, then migrating south. Never north, always south.
  • Here’s the kicker – the closer I get to the Mason-Dixon line, the more nosebleeds I get.  Living in North Carolina for a few years almost killed me.

Yep, I’m Southern through and through – and there ain’t nuthin I can do about it except accept the genes (graciously, of course) and move on.

So the genes release unbridled glee when  Garden & Gun arrives.  Don’t know Garden & Gun? Honey, you are missing a treat! The editorial content is always mesmerizing – no matter where you live.  Beautifully illustrated and scrumptuously written, there’s deep, dedicated love and understanding for all things Southern on every gorgeous page.

The latest edition boasts a feature that  makes me want drop right down and roll in pig slop – The Made in the South Awards 20 Craftsmen, Entrepreneurs and Artists who are making things right Amen, sistah!

 

Sharecroppers, Circuit Preachers, and Moonshiners – Oh My!

Yep, that’s my family line – so call me an expert on mastery of “makin sumpthin outta nuthin.”   A handmade quilt at Christmas, a lovely centerpiece crafted from dried grasses and the dried seed pods of a money plant found wild in the woods (yes, there is a money plant).

So thank you Garden and Gun, for unearthing the exquisite, natural craftsmanship of Low Country Originals, out of Bluffton, South Carolina.  OMG! Please don’t tell me you thought empty mussel shells were compost!  Low Country Originals crafts the lowly (and plentiful) bivalvia mollusca into awesome lighting accents for your home – just look!

Really – mussel shells step out of the shadows.  And when combined with rustic iron – artsy meets eco!  And if you’re thinking “yard art” here, try this on for size…

Celebrating genius from Low Country Originals today – so Southern, so unique, so personally perfect!

Please remember to celebrate something everyday (or in this case, celebrate when everyday steps it up a notch!)

Oh – and Garden & Gun c’monSubscribe.  🙂

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Every year around this time I get questions about how to cook asparagus.  Don’t know why, just happens.

So to go on record for posterity and eternity, here are my thoughts on asparagus (and if you’re one of those people who turns up a nose, I ask you to think again).

Firstly and formostly (yes- spell check and I both know that’s not a word), forget right now that canned asparagus even exists.  Even if you’re having a dry spell on the fresh stuff, never, ever, ever turn to the can.  I think there are support groups available if you’re having trouble with this.

Buying

It’s true what they say about studying the tippy-tops of asparagus.  Look for tight, perky tops (and get your mind out of the gutter).  Wilted, gushy tops are the signal to step away.  You want tight and perky tops. Check?

Big ‘n Fat vs. Lean ‘n Mean

Big and fat usually = tough and fibrous.  But there is hope, and we’ll discuss that in a minute.  If they have perky tops and you’re asparagus ravenous, go ahead and purchase.  Details shortly.

Lean and mean = tender, crisp and easy to prepare (as long as they have – you guessed it – perky tops).

Prep

Fill a sink or a big bowl with fresh, cold water and dump in the asparagus.  Let it languorously soak for a good five minutes.  Drain and rinse.

For lean and mean stalks, simply snap off the tough bottom portion by holding stalk in one hand, grasping the bottom end between thumb and index finger, and bend until it pops off.  Asparagus is real smart.  It knows where to snap off at the tough part.  Amazing!

For big and fat stalks, you’re going to need to grab a sharp paring knife and pare down the stalk to the more tender park.  Then cut off the fibrous ends.

Roast or steam?

Big and fat = best for roasting

Lean and mean = best for steaming

So how?

Here are my favorite ingredients for cooking asparagus.  Funny thing – you can mix and match any of the below to make great asparagus.

  • Diced red and yellow bell peppers
  • Cavendar’s seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • butter
  • minced garlic
  • minced red onion

Roasting ideas for big and fat

  • Drizzle olive oil over the stalks and rub them around until entirely coated in a lite layer.  Place in a single layer in a Pyrex baking dish.  Sprinkle with Cavendars, roast 5-8 minutes at 350 degrees (please pre-heat the oven).  Test for fork tenderness.  Drizzle with lemon juice before serving.
  • Pour some olive oil in a big plastic bag.  Add minced garlic (the kind in the jar is fine), a pinch or two of Kosher salt, and some melted butter (that’s right – butter).  Dump in the asparagus – shake wildly – remove, layer in pan and proceed as above.

Steaming ideas for lean and mean

Lay asparagus spears in single layer of pyrex baking dish.  A cool way to do this is half and half – place half of the asparagus, cut end to the outside of the pan, and then meet on the other side with another row of asparagus, cut end out.  Seems to protect the tender young ends.

In a bottle (or something handy), mix 8 tbsp. of water with 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, pinch of kosher salt, and about 1/4 cup of minced red and yellow bell pepper.  When thoroughly mixed, pour over asparagus.  Seal dish with good quality plastic wrap.  Stick it in the microwave, and nuke for about 2.5 to 3 minutes on full power.  Allow to set for about 3 minutes, then carefully remove the wrap (there’s some mighty hot steam in there – don’t burn yourself).  Then serve either warm or at room temperature.

Leftovers?

Make a marinate of olive oil, cavendars, minced red onion and either some balsamic or red wine vinegar.  Marinate overnight and then chop up to use in a salad (yum!).

Celebrating Asparagus Aspirations today.

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

Hint/tip:  Looking for a neat-o and nifty dinner party favor?  Purchase some of these little cuties and mix about 1 tsp. Cavendars seasoning per favor into olive oil, fill and present – tasty and useful! 😉

huntcake

Whoa!  Last year I wrote a post marking the momentous occasion of my best-bud-from-egg-stage’s anniversary (yes, she married a hunter).  I had no idea how popular a topic that was, but man-o-blog-post has that article pulled the hits over the last year!

Which brings me to a lovely lady I’ve had the pleasure of meeting as a result of just that post – Mrs. JoAnne Schnepp – Intrepid Entrepreneur and the owner of White Lace and Promises and A Touch of Camo, LLC.  Yes, that’s right – the lady that makes camouflage wedding dresses, and she has a mighty compelling story.

JoAnne started helping her wedding photographer husband with his business in 1981.  As kind of a natural progression, this led her into the gown industry in 1998.  JoAnne takes a passionate personal interest in her clients, particularly brides getting ready for their weddings. She’s enjoyed working individually with brides to create custom or replica wedding gowns in the past.   JoAnne says, “I loved helping the bride develop and create her idea of the perfect gown on paper, then working with my excellent network of talented dressmakers and seamstresses to make her dream come true! “  Her custom gown business is on hold at the moment, because right now she’s looking for talented new seamstresses to work with her, so if any of you are interested, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to pass your information along.  So drop us a line!

hands

“But camouflage wedding dresses”, you might ask. “How the heck did that get started?”

Don’t laugh. I can understand your skepticism if you weren’t born into the same Southern “Hunting is Life” consortium that I was.  But look a little deeper and you’ll find that Southern hunters are part of a rich tradition, involving weekends at luxurious private retreats with hunt buffet dinners to rival anything you’ll find in a five-star restaurant.  Ever read Garden and Gun?  If not, here’s the link.  Get yourself educated (and get a subscription while you’re at it.  I want that magazine to be around for a loooong time).

Enough about me – back to JoAnne and her fascinating story.

In August of 2007, a bride from Texas contacted JoAnne through  her website, asking if she could add some satin camo to her already-purchased wedding  gown. The groom-to-be really wanted Mossy Oak camo incorporated into the wedding theme (which may seem odd for a groom to be so opinionated, but serious hunters are just surprising like that).  JoAnne, always up for another custom wedding dress challenge, said yes.

As JoAnne recalls, “She shipped me the dress from Texas, and I worked with her to define just what kind of camo touches she wanted. I must admit I had to search quite a while to find Mossy Oak bridal satin, which at that time was not an easy thing to do.  But find it I did!  I packed the Mossy Oak satin up with the dress and shipped it to my Bulgarian dressmaker, who’d agreed to do the job.  Yes, the wedding dress and the Mossy Oak camouflage satin all made a side trip to Bulgaria!  In about a month we accepted delivery on a gown what was absolutely beautiful!   We were just amazed!”

heatherdress

The gown was so surprisingly lovely that we took some pictures and gave the gown a name – Heather – after the bride.  My husband and I put some of the pictures out on the Internet, just to see if there was any interest in camouflage-accented wedding gowns. It was a complete hit!  The pictures had been on the web site for only about two weeks when I got a second order.  And by November of that year, I had orders for two more, but NO DRESS MAKER!  I’d lost contact with my Bulgarian connection, and my one US seamstress then was busy with other work and could not help.  I was in a panic!”

JoAnne frantically started looking for a US factory or anyone to help fill the mounting orders. No luck, but then one day the phone rang.  The woman on the line had seen JoAnne’s website and wanted to sell her on an advertising deal.  The caller also recognized that JoAnne was onto something truly unique, and she asked for an interview, too.  “HA!” says JoAnne.  “I had to tell her we’d only made three gowns, and that I had a lot of orders now, but no one to sew for me.”

JoAnne truly believes that God is good when someone is on the right track.  And sure enough, the caller knew just the person in Louisiana who could handle the job.  She put JoAnne in touch with Judy, owner of not only three bridal salons, but also a factory!  They talked on the phone, carved out a deal straight away, and they’ve been Partners in Camouflage ever since.

As JoAnne tells it, “For the first 6 months, we asked brides to submit pictures of styles they liked, and then we made “custom” wedding gowns in camo – designing patterns on the computer.  Judy also had quite the inventory of existing patterns, so she would also check those to see which ones would best convert to styles made with Mossy Oak.  We’d present the drawings to the bride, she would make her decision, and the gown would then come to life down in our little Louisiana factory.”

In their first year working together, the duo sold 200 gowns.   During the 2008-2009 wedding season, they’ve sold over 600 camouflage  gowns to date!  Now they carry over 80 styles, plus lots of different options for customization, “…so a gal can create a gown very unique to her, and know that no one else will ever be seen wearing the same style!”

Wedding Cake Topper - Camo Turkey Hunting Funny Hunter Themed

You know I just had to ask, “JoAnne, what’s the most unique request you’ve ever had?”, thinking there had to be some doozies.  Here’s what she said:

“Would you believe that this happened just this very week?  I had a gentleman call up wanting to rent an all-camo gown to wear in a play!  Seems a group of guys lost a dare of some kind and, as a result, they were forced to create a play where they are all women characters!  He went to a lot of trouble to explain that they were all married men and this was not a scam.  Of course I was happy to help him, but I did ask for pictures from the play night.  He REFUSED!  I think I understand, as he said he didn’t want pictures of him wearing a woman’s dress showing up all over the Internet.  Little does he know that it might happen anyhow, if anyone takes a picture during the play?”

JoAnne doesn’t stop at just the camouflage wedding gown, either.  “Yes – I also enjoy helping brides plan out some of the details for their camo-themed weddings.  I’m not a professional wedding planner by any means, but I do get to see lots of details because brides share their wedding pictures with me. “

“A camo-themed wedding can be a totally informal, outdoor occasion or it can be very formal, elegant and traditional.  Or mix it up – have the formal wedding in the church, remove the detachable train and veil, and run off to an outdoor reception on a ranch or farm!”

9-6-08 ken & heather wedding 047

“Work the mossy oak pattern in your decorations with table runners, place mats and chair wraps.  Did you know there is mossy oak tulle available, too?  It looks lovely draped around the tables or weave some in around the centerpiece or down the center of a long table.”

Centerpieces

“You can create candle centerpieces by buying inexpensive fat candles, then hot glue shotgun shells (empty ones!) Around the bottom, then toss some randomly around the table.  Buy silk fall leaves or better yet – save up some real ones and scatter those under the shells.  Put the same fall leaves in your flowers, and use cat tail, sunflowers, pheasant feathers, turkey feathers and wrap with mossy oak ribbon.”

2

“In our camo line, we’ve identified 15 colors that go well with the mossy oak pattern.  We mail out fabric swatches of all these at no charge to our brides, so they can coordinate flowers, table cloths, bridesmaids colors, etc.  We also carry a whole line of honeymoon lingerie, swimwear for guys and gals and other lounge wear in mossy oak.  Oh yes – and we have hot pink camo in that line too!”

Cranessa-wedding

Entrepreneur JoAnne has crafted a fascinating business out of a niche market pretty quickly, but she hasn’t lost her personal touch – the hallmark of her success.  I’ll end with a true “JoAnne quote” to better illustrate the dynamic, caring nature of this businesswoman:

“If anyone out there is considering a camo themed wedding, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I don’t need to make a sale to be helpful to anyone who’s interested!  I love working with brides to help create the day of their dreams – it’s my passion.  My contact info can be found at www.laceandpromises.com and there you can also see some of the designs.  By the first of next year, the new camo website will be live in all its glory at atouchofcamo.com. “

Celebrating camouflage wedding dresses and the sharp women who craft them today.

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

Just a few of the possibilities…


A traditional wedding gown with halter top and full mossy oak train

dress3

White snowfall satin camo over tulle.  Also available in the darker camo colors with ivory tulle underlay.

dress5

Detachable mossy oak train and beautiful lace-up back make this dress a true stand-out!

thx

Let’s go down this road!

It’s your turn to do Thanksgiving – your first time as a couple!  Set your own traditions, show your own style, make sure your guests experience something modern, contemporary, totally new and completely delightful!

You don’t need fine china!

Oh no!  Plain old white dinnerware, available on the cheap at Target or Walmart, sets the perfect backdrop for your culinary delights.  Add a little contemporary color and pick up some colorful salad plates , then nestle those inside your white plates and pop in a nifty napkin, folded and embellished, smack dab in the center.

ikea

Make your own placemats!

Not as hard as it seems, actually.  Ever been to Ikea ?  They sell the neatest, contemporary fabrics at super-great prices ($5.99 to $8.99/yd).  Click the pic above for their website.  Cut out the rectangles for your placemats and, if you want to embellish a bit more, buy some coordinating ribbon at your local craft store and wrap around the edges, securing with fabric glue.

pairfinal

Exquisite take-home memories!

You’re the Perfect Pair, you’ve crafted the Perfect Thanksgiving Atmosphere, so be  sure to add the Perfect Thanksgiving Favor – exquisitely small, practical and useful, and guaranteed to be the talk of your Contemporary Thanksgiving Table!  Find these favors online, and in stores like Party City and Michaels, and A.C. Moore, priced just right for your Thanksgiving budget!

Celebrating a Contemporary Thanksgiving Table, set by The Perfect Pair!

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

grill

If you’re trucking on down the road this Labor Day Weekend, consider this my wish for your safe travels.  If you’re sticking around the homestead – I wish you a peaceful and fun three days off.  If you don’t have three days off, well, you probably need to fuss at somebody.

Me?  I’m heading off to Lake Martin in Central Alabama and I plan to eat all of the following:

  • Grilled Hamburgers
  • Grilled Zuchini
  • Grilled Hotdogs
  • Faint-inducing ribs
  • Tomato Pie (recipe follows, because I know you don’t know what it is)

If you’re celebrating with a good, old fashioned barbecue – click the pic for your barbecue favors.  I, personally, slap-dab love a bottom-of-the-line Weber charcoal honey.  Love it!  Smoke, ashes, charcoal and all the grand and glorious foods that cook thereon.

Tomato Pie

(Warning:   Paula Dean, Princess of the Food Network, calls this “her” recipe.  Actually, it’s belongs to All Southern People, so there!)

  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced (preferably from your backyard or the corner food stand – grocery stores just don’t get it)
  • 10 chopped fresh basil leaves (preferably from your own kitchen garden)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 (9-inch) pre-baked deep dish pie shell (or pie pastry – two boxes so you can make a top and a bottom – the top is the best part – don’t pre-bake it, tho.)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella (fresh is good, if you can get it)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise (but you can make it all better and use “lite” mayo)
  • Salt and pepper (I prefer Kosher salt and freshly ground black peppercorns – so-so much better!)

You’ll need a 350 oven, so fire it up before you start to fixin.  Put your sliced maters in a colander, sprinkle with a little salt, and let drain (10 minutes or so).  Otherwise you have a sloppy pie.  Put a layer of tomato slices in the bottom of the pie shell.  Then a layer of basil.  Then a little of green onion.  Repeat until you don’t have any more room.  Mix the grated cheese and the mayo together, then spread over the top of your beautiful layers.  Slap the pie shell pastry top on, trim the edges so it looks kinda nice but leave a little hanging over the edge.  Pinch that to the bottom crust to seal.  Cut four lovely slits in the top of the pie crust for breathing room.  Insert pie pan into a broiler pan (to catch potential drips – you just never know – and the oven stinks mightily when you turn on that ghastly self clean cycle, now doesn’t it?).  Then slip that pan into the oven for 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned.

Let set a bit.  Serve warm.  Can be refrigerated and warmed again later (actually, the taste keeps getting better for the next few refrigerated days.  After about 3 days, though – toe-main poisoning – so be sure to eat within the FDA-approved time frame, ok?).

Celebrating Labor Day today (and grillin).

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

Hello all!  My it’s bright out here! 

I’m coming out of blog hibernation today with a 2009 plan!  Lots of fascinating things going on – lots of interesting stuff to celebrate – lots of tips and new ideas and guess what?   Two of my co-workers are Getting Married in June, so we’ll be following their exciting preparations and plans leading up to The Big Day!

Stay tuned!

Laura

I don’t know about you but I’m damned tired of listening to all the gloom and doom about job layoffs and Multi-Million Dollar Auto Execs asking for Our Tax Dollars to fund their Bad Business Decisions and Bankers who have been Bleeding Us Dry for Years walking away from their Failing Institutions flush with cash and, well, as you can see, I’m fed up.

I did find the recent shoe throwing incident rather funny and human.  I mean, after all, here’s this journalist in a group of people right there in Iraq watching the Big Bush Photo Op, right there up close and personal in the midst of death and destruction, all in the name of GWB-defined freedom (which I think translates into Big Business Dollars for his cronies), listening to this Man who has rained all this mess down uponst his country, his family, his life – and the guy didn’t strap on a bomb.  He didn’t blow up innocents – he Threw His Shoes in exasperation.  Good for him!  Freedom of speech – and freedom to throw shoes!  Now there’s a patriotic thought! (oh lord, am I on some list now?)

So I ran across an article in my hometown local paper and it just made me happy.  I actually met this woman eons ago in the grocery store in Montgomery, handing out her rolls. 

Oh my they were good, and oh yes I bought some, and throughout the years and the moves and the children and the job changes, I still find myself rummaging through the frozen food cases in various grocery stores looking for her sausage rolls or her orange-glazed sweet rolls.  And if  I don’t find them, I’m annoyed and I leave with the firm belief that the frozen foods buyer at that particular store is just plain stupid.  How on earth could they not know?

The Sister Shubert Story

Sister Schubert is my little Christmas Ornament for your Mind.  Her story is plain and simple.  Yes, perhaps it’s been polished a bit since she sold her shares to a big corporation, but I’ve followed her all these years and I’m here to tell you it’s not polished much – this is basically just the way it happened. 

I’m happy to see that she’s still cooking, but for the grandchildren now, and that she and her husband are giving back.  You’ll find inspiration in this website if you choose to take a leisurely stroll through the pages.  She’s a sharp woman.  She found herself a single Mom, and she found her mind in the midst of all of that, and she found a way to share the love she grew up with, and it made her successful.  Exquisite!

Please enjoy my little Christmas Ornament for your mind … http://www.sisterschuberts.com/home/my-story.dT

Celebrating inspiration today.

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

love  A Scoop of Love Thank You Favor for Sister Schubert!

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