Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How a Southern Belle Does New Year's Day

I'm getting a little despondent because New Year's Day is approaching and that means getting ready to go back to work bright and early on the Monday morning after. I guess I should be thankful (actually I AM thankful) that I have a job but you know how it goes...nobody really looks forward to going back after a nice long relaxing holiday.

We don't do a lot on New Year's Eve. We've had a couple of invitations and will drop by to see a few friends but won't likely stay out until midnight. Legare is heading back to Chapel Hill to be with his pals and there's no telling what Lorelai will be doing. We haven't been able to keep up with her this holiday...since recovering from her wisdom teeth procedure she has been going going going like that little Energizer Bunny.

New Year's Day is another story. First of all, GO TIGERS BEAT THE STUFFING OUT OF NEBRASKA IN THE GATOR BOWL. We aren't traveling down to Jacksonville but have planned our day around the 1:00 PM game. Hank always has to work a few hours on the first day of the month for some odd reason that nobody but him and his staff understands....something to do with billing of the big industrial customers. He'll get home by noon and we'll have some game day tailgate food on hand and are hoping that our friend Ed will be joining us. After the BIG WIN, we'll sit down around 4:00 for a New Year's Day feast...

Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy
Hoppin John
Collard Greens
Broccoli Salad
Sweet Tea or Wine

Generally, we would have macaroni pie instead of dressing but since Legare won't be here we're going with the cornbread dressing...in consulting with Ed, I discovered that not a single one of us had any good dressing for Christmas so we're due!

If you aren't familiar with Hoppin John, it's a field pea and rice dish that, in combination with collard greens is supposed to bring good health, good luck, and wealth in the new year. We eat it every year and while I don't have any proof that we've had extra good fortune and we certainly don't have wealth, things could always be worse so we keep eating it just in case. Some folks find Hoppin John to be a bit disgusting but all I can say is that they haven't eaten MINE...I mix my peas with red onion, bacon, and a balsamic vinegar reduction before combining them with the rice. Likewise, my collards will melt in your mouth...don't knock 'em until you try 'em.

I interrupt this post to have a heart attack...Legare is upstairs in his room and just started hollering and jumping up and down and hollering some more. Lorelai is (was) still asleep and we both jumped up and went running...I thought he'd hurt himself or there was a wild animal in the house. It seems that his Civil Procedures exam grade was posted this morning and he made an "A".... I think we might have to give him a flying pill to calm him down.

Anyway...back to New Year's Day...that's our plan. I surely do hope that each and every one of my blogging friends and their families have a safe and happy celebration. Look for a Life of a Southern Belle Award on New Years Day. I'll also be catching up on some tags and awards that have been passed along to me the past several weeks just as soon as everything calms down.

You're all the GREATEST!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Our Family to Yours

From Our Family to Yours...A MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HANUKKAH!

This year has been full of milestones and wonderful fun. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope that it's a positive thing and a little bit inspirational but mostly, I hope it makes you LAUGH! We don't have enough laughter in this world and some people take themselves entirely too seriously. I try (most of the time) not to do that. Our Christmas Day schedule is starting to look like the episode of Will and Grace when the friends all crowded in the car and ran from place to place, setting a stopwatch to know when they had to jump back in the car. Look for a fun post in a day or so.

In the meantime...enjoy your family and friends and spread some joy and sunshine to those who need a little extra cheer. You, my blogging friends, are a blessing and I'm thankful for each and every one of you.

Remember my post about Lowcountry Kids?

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Party, Part Two

The party was a great success...food, fun, and fellowship. The kids have only been away at school since August but I declare, they just look all grown up and seem so much more mature. We're proud of them...NO question about it.

The Party

We're hosting a group of about 30 in our home tonight. If you recall, one family threw a "whine and cheese" party for parents who'd sent kids off to college in the fall. I decided to bring the same group back together for the holidays, including the kids since they're all at home.

We've been putting the finishing touches on our Christmas decorations this morning and I'm right pleased with the results. This is our living room.

Here are a couple of the dining room. We're very lucky to have an abundance of cedar, holly, magnolia, moss and pine right outside our door, as well as the palm fronds. I dried the hydrangeas last summer from the bushes in our backyard.

I'm not 100% satisfied with the family room and have a few more hours to piddle around in there. Something's just not clicking for me in there...take a look and let me know if you have any ideas. I just can't put my finger on it...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Memory Lane

I was looking at some photos this morning and got tickled by the one above. I think Christmas morning was the one and only time that Legare touched that guitar and look at Lorelai with the portable CD player. Just think...we didn't have any idea at that time that we even WANTED Ipods...didn't have a CLUE as to what the next wave of digital technology would bring. (It's kind of scary really)

This would have been Legare's second Christmas. We had a good friend who had a woodworking shop and he and Hank made their sons rocky horses. Legare is holding on for dear life...
I finally found a photo of our visit to the Home Ranch in Colorado...I did a post on it awhile ago. I look like the Michelin Man in all of those snow clothes.

I'd forgotten about this photo of Hank and me. We were getting ready to go to a Christmas party several years ago.

We're headed to the farm this afternoon...deer season is coming to a close and our little crowd has to get in at least one more good hunt before Christmas, then probably just one more before the season ends. I'll take good photos...no hunting for me!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The BAH HUMBUG starts to lift...

The candles are lit...as are both of the Christmas trees. The newest Windham Hill Christmas CD is playing and I've had a nice relaxing bath and a couple of motrin. I can hear my family in the kitchen and there is a very nice smell beginning to drift out here to the sunroom (but I'm NEVER going to like that forced socialization stuff!)

I know you expect better from me but BAH HUMBUG!

As of 4:00 PM, I am on a two week vacation until January 5. Actually, it isn't really a vacation...it's not like I'm getting paid but nevertheless, I so happy to have a period of time away from my office I can't BEGIN to tell you. I'm so sick and dadgummed tired of passive aggressive people and inefficient people that I could scream. That goes for people in my life outside of the workplace too.

Today at work we had the holiday lunch. I have this "thing" about what I'll call forced socialization. I'd much rather go out to lunch, order what I want, and enjoy time with the people I want to enjoy time with rather than march into the food service building with 200 other people (some dressed like elves) to eat things I don't care for. So THERE!! You know what would be nice right now? A massage...a hot rocks massage...or a martini...no wait...I don't like martinis. Maybe a flying pill...that'll work.

Speaking of relaxation...yesterday, my friend's daughter headed down to Fort Lauderdale to get on one of her friend's dad's 40 foot boat for an intracoastal jaunt down to Miami. Legare met friends who traveled with him on his three month trip to Europe last year downtown, then they all went out to the house of one of the kids on the beach at Kiawah for the afternoon and night. Lorelai and her friends got all gussied up and went downtown for dinner and to dance. My friend and I were talking about this...while our kids were out living large, we were in our respective homes washing clothes, wrapping gifts, paying bills, dusting, cooking, and so forth. There's something BAD wrong with this picture...I'm going to point it out to my kids but I already know their response, "But mama...you just don't KNOW how STRESSFUL our semesters have been?


Stay tuned...I'll be back to my old self soon...I promise!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lorelai is Fine

Bless her heart...she's got little chipmunk cheeks but the wisdom teeth weren't impacted so she should have an easy recovery. The dentist shared with Hank right after that she would probably cry a lot...for some reason the medicine they use to induce the "twilight" has the tendency to make girls cry as they're coming out of it. That was news to us...when Legare had his out a few years ago he thought that ALL was right with the world for a couple of hours.

And boy did she cry...all the way home...and after she got home for about an hour. It was pitiful...she wasn't in any pain but in no particular order she: wanted to talk to Nancy (her roommate), wanted to see Miss Ann (a family friend), wanted to go to Clemson, wanted to go home (she was home), didn't like it because she couldn't feel her face, was hungry (I know she had to be), wanted to talk to her grandmama, and never wanted to do this again (thank goodness she won't).

After the crying hours, she: sat up, ate pudding, took a pain pill, and started texting her friends, and began posting her woes on Facebook. Currently, she's lying on the sofa in the den being entertained by Adam, a young man that she's been friends with for several years. Legare is in charge of her welfare tomorrow while Hank and I are at work...she should be out and about again by Wednesday afternoon or Thursday.

Thanks for all of your good wishes...check back in tomorrow as we conclude the Funerals in the South series, interrupted today by Lorelai's wisdom teeth.

Happy Thoughts for Lorelai

Please send up happy thoughts for Lorelai. She is having all four of her wisdom teeth pulled this morning around 10:00 a.m. and she is nervous. She gets it honest. One of my many quirks is an aversion to the dentist’s office, including but not limited dentist office smells, sounds and needles…and blood…and gauze with blood. It is important to note, just in case my dentists are reading this post, that I really do like THEM just fine…they’re two of my favorite people OUTSIDE of their office. I can tolerate them pretty well IN the office as long as they greet me at the door with the laughing gas whenever a needle, drill or pliers is going to be involved. I really really enjoy the gas!

Hank is going to be in charge of the “ick factor” just like he was when Legare got his wisdom teeth out several years ago. I’ll go sit in the waiting room with them until she goes back and he’ll take it from there. He’ll be handling the gauze changing and I'll snuggle up with her on the sofa and fix her yummy soup and pudding and ice cream while we watch our favorite movies. Yes, Hank is a wonderful husband and father, but before you give him all the credit for being brave and me none of the credit, you need to know that HE has always been unable to handle the fallout (or up, as the case may be) from any of the children’s stomach viruses…that “ick factor” was/is mine all mine to deal with. What can I say, we’re each other’s better half.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Picking Up the Pieces After the Office Party...Just Call Me Grace

Last night was the second annual holiday party thrown by the Deputy Superintendent and Supervisors for the building level administrators and district office staff. Several of us helped them with the decorating and food preparation and manned (or womanned as the case may be) the kitchen so that they could enjoy the party with their guests. I love doing things like that and actually toyed around once, many years ago, with becoming a caterer. It only took a couple of experimental jobs for me to realize what a HARD job it is and decided to stick with my day job.

There were about 125 folks at last night's shindig and it was perfectly lovely. Smoked ham and turkey, boiled shrimp with three sauces, meatballs, barbecued pork, smoked salmon tarts, spinach artichoke dip, bacon cheese pinwheels, shrimp aspic, cheese ring with strawberry jam, cheese biscuits, bacon wrapped scallops, and assorted sweets rounded out the menu.

As we began to clean up after the last guest left, we quickly found ourselves overwhelmed with so many dishes to clear, wash, dry, and pack up. In an effort to gain additional space, I lifted up the partition separating the kitchen from the party area, not realizing that a number of glass items...a cake plate, punch bowl, and glass platter were somehow wedged up against the partition.

You guessed it....bamalamacrash....glass dishes HITTING THE TILE FLOOR IN THE KITCHEN AREA. Yep, I was just a tad embarrassed. The punch bowl belonged to my boss, who was exceedingly gracious...he's a great guy. It was reported that the cake plate was "just an old plate, don't worry about it one bit" and the glass platter was "nothing special...it's FINE." Nevertheless, I'll be replacing those items otherwise I'll worry about it FOREVER.

I love the people I work with...and they love me (no matter how klutzy I am). Just call me "grace."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Old...REALLY Old...Christmas Photos

I marvel sometimes at the minimalist approach my mother took when decorating for the Christmas holidays. These photos would be from the Christmas when I was two years old. Of course, I didn't think a thing about it when I was growing up because my aunts and grandmother and our neighbors pretty much decorated the same way. The tree in the living room and a wreath on the front door...that was about it. Perhaps it's a generational thing.

As you can see from the photo below, taken 11 years later, she added some silver garland and green ornaments but otherwise it's just the same, aside from more gifts underneath.

When Hank and I started decorating for our first married Christmas, he insisted on a live tree. I had to be persuaded as we'd never ever had a real live tree when I was growing up. I wish I had a photo of that first tree. We'd just bought a house and didn't have much money for decorations so I used silver garland (a la my mother), and made bunches of little red velvet bows to put all over it. I made a decision at that very moment that I'd buy an ornament every year for my future children so that when they got married they wouldn't have to have a practically bare Christmas tree.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Winter Adventure

I read something the other day that caused me to recall one of our best family vacations ever. About ten years ago, I was looking at a copy of Southern Living and saw an advertisement for a resort in Colorado...The Home Ranch. We were in serious need of a getaway at the time and decided to take a trip out during spring break that year. Lorelai was about seven and Legare around eleven and neither of them had ever seen any snow to speak of...actually, Hank and I, having been raised in the SC lowcountry hadn't seen much of it either. We stayed in a cozy little cabin and had more fun than should be allowed by law.

Our snowshoeing adventure to a good sledding hill was made laughable by the fact that I let another guest borrow my snowshoes and she didn't come back with them. I had to crawl on my hands and knees back to the lodge to keep from sinking in the snow. I'd crawl a little and collapse in a fit of laughter. Legare was SO embarrassed. He'd say, "Mama, stop it...get up...stop laughing...Mama...STOP IT!"

Lorelai had the most fun...she's always been petite and therefore light on her feet. By the time I made it back to the lodge, one of the great staff members had helped Lor get her boots and socks off and had her little toesies warming up in front of the fire with the big St. Bernard, Bear, and a cup of hot chocolate.

When we set out to do a little cross country skiing...the first time for all of us...one staff member took the children down an easier trail while another guide went with Hank and me. We'd see them through the trees every so often and by the time we met up at the end of the trail, Legare was traveling along pretty well and Lorelai, charmer that she was (and still is) had talked her guide into pulling her along by her ski poles. She was living the good life and exerting VERY little effort. As you can tell, the staff assigned to work with the kids was exceptional.

The food was abundant and incredible (I appear to be talking myself into planning another winter vacation) and though the ownership has changed since our visit, the Relais and Chateaux stamp of approval ensures that the property and service are still top notch. If you're in the market for a great getaway...check out The Home Ranch.

I'll try to scan some of the photos and post them this weekend...how did we every get along without our digital cameras?? Have a great weekend everybody...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Southern Belle Christmas Decorations

Hank helped me get most of the Christmas decorations out on Sunday afternoon. We did two trees this year. One is the children's tree. I've purchased each of our kids a special ornament every year since they were born. I used to put the ornaments all together in a hodgepodge on one tree but decided last year that I wanted a lowcountry-themed tree, hence the new two tree system.

I put the smaller artificial kid's tree in Legare's old wooden-sided radio flyer wagon in the den. Lorelai painted the snowman picture hanging on the side. You'll notice the little embroidered pillow ornament that says, Merry Christmas. When Legare was little, we told him that it said, Don't Touch That Tree. Whenever we had guests who happened to admire the tree, he would run over, point to the ornament and say, DON'T TOUCH THAT TREE! DON'T TOUCH THAT TREE!!! It was pretty cute.

The live tree usually goes in the den but I rearranged furniture recently so we decided to put it in the adjoining sunroom which opens on the other side into the living room. Now that it is decorated, I think that it might be a little overwhelming for the sunroom. Live and learn. I like the lowcountry theme with the little sweetgrass baskets and palmetto roses...the seashell and lowcountry themed ornaments...the blue ribbon for a garland and the seashell star topper. It makes me happy.

I put leftover ornaments on display in a big sweetgrass basket, my carolers on another table in the den, a few nutcrackers on the piano in the living room, and a wreath and another basket of ornaments in the foyer. The stockings are hung but the mantle not "greened" up yet so I'll save those photos for later.