Monday, December 29, 2008

We Made It, Mama

We made it, Mama. Our first Thanksgiving and Christmas without you. It was quiet and might not have happened at all if not for the shining, hopeful faces of your four beautiful granddaughters. We carried on as usual for the girls. I know you would have wanted it that way but I won't deny that it didn't feel like Christmas without your laugh, your Victorian-decorated Christmas tree, your Rotel dip and the joy of finding the perfect gift for you. There was an empty spot in all our hearts on Christmas Eve as we looked around and it became more obvious of the horrible loss we had to endure. A loss we can only endure because we must. I put last year's Christmas card from you in a safe place for me to treasure always. It is the last one and I can't bear to part with it. Every night I end my prayers with the same request, "Please Heavenly Father, just let Mama be happy." I know you are, sweet Mama.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Birthday Wishes

Today is my birthday. I'm thirty-six years old. It seems hard to believe that I'm not in my twenties any longer. It has been a good day. Last night Clay and Mia took me to Macaroni Grill for dinner and it was fabulous. It has become a tradition in our little family to celebrate the night before the specific day. They gave me my gifts which were things that I wanted. I received the new Nora Roberts book Tribute as well as the newest book by my beloved Rita Mae Brown The Sand Castle

Today at work, a group of friends took me to the Olive Garden for lunch and it was delicious. They had the waitstaff sing to me which was fun. Then we went to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. I broke with tradition and didn't get a scoop of Peanut Butter and Chocolate for the first time in years. Instead I got a scoop of Cherries Jubilee. It is currently in the freezer in the break room as I am far too full to eat it right now.

I have a hard time asking for specific gifts even when people ask me, "What do you want for your birthday?" I thought I would post a few random objects that I absolutely admire, adore and let's face it, covet.

Wyatt Water's watercolor "A Step Up".

Alicia Paulson's "Kit" Tanglewood bag.

McCarty pottery Alligator Casserole.

Seafoam Filigree Dragonfly Antique Brass Earrings.

All of these things are so beautiful. Even if I never own any of them, that's okay. Dreaming and wishing are the best parts of it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Delta Tamales

On the Fourth of July my family had a Mexican-themed dinner instead of a more traditional cookout. Our menu included Chicken Enchiladas, Steak Ranchera, beef tacos, guacamole, white cheese dip, cheese dip with sausage, taco soup and the piece de resistance- tamales. My aunt and I have wanted to make tamales for a long time and never made the time to do it. I love tamales and living so close to the Delta, have sampled truly wonderful tamales many times. Memphis is home to a growing Hispanic community and the tamales offered at local Mexican restaurants are varied and unique. I am partial to the tamales that you buy from little dives all over Highway 61 in Clarksdale, Mississippi and surrounding areas. The following website offers a wealth of information about Delta Tamales The Thursday night before Independence Day, we gathered our ingredients and embarked on our tamale adventure. This is the recipe we used although I reduced it by 65%

You begin by carefully washing the corn husks and soaking them until pliable.

Take the cooked pork and chop the meat. I prefer it to be chopped very fine.

Mia and I heated the chopped pork in a little vegetable oil with spices and pork broth until nice and seasoned.

Spread about 1/4 cup of the masa mixture on the corn husk and then top with a spoonful of the meat filling.

Roll the tamale nice and tight making sure that the masa completely encases and covers the pork filling.

We chose to steam our tamales because we only rolled twenty-seven. We froze the remaining pork mixture for a later date.

Here is the finished product. They were delicious. There are a few adjustments that I will make next time. Even though the recipe only calls for salt, I will definitely season the masa mixture more aggresively next time. I think I will boil the tamales instead of steaming to get some of that good, seasoned sauce to drizzle on top. For a first effort the tamales were delicious and everyone enjoyed them.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Independence Day this year.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My Favorite Breakfast (Lately)

Lately I have been craving something savory in the mornings for breakfast instead of my usual fruit and yogurt or oatmeal. What I can't get enough of is Pepperidge Farm mini bagels spread with a layer of Laughing Cow Original Swiss flavor cheese and topped with slices of small, seedless cucumbers and pepper. It is delicious.

A full size bagel is just too much for me in the mornings. Yes, I can eat a whole one but it sits there like lead for hours and I feel terrible. A mini bagel is very satisfying without overwhelming me. Laughing Cow cheese is incredible. Where have you been all my life!? I am a cheese freak from the very beginning of my life and I just discovered this stuff right before my 36th birthday. The 50% reduced fat (Light) version tastes just as good to me as the regular flavor. I split one little triangle of cheese in half between the bagel top and bottom. I peel and slice my little seedless cucumber on the diagonal in very thin slices and arrange them on the bagel and cheese. Top with black pepper and we're in business. It is light and refreshing and very filling. It makes me feel good to eat vegetables first thing in the morning instead of something sweet. I have noticed that I have more energy throughout the morning when I eat this kind of breakfast. Try this and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


These are just a few random shots of the hydrangeas that I took one day after work. I pulled my car in front of the house and happened to glance over at the hydrangeas. They were so beautiful and mysterious-looking. Little bobs of French blue and petal pink combining to a dignified lavender. I grabbed my camera from my purse and proceeded to photograph.

Mia came outside and found me in the garden. She asked me, "Mama, do you always have to take pictures?"
"Of course I do. Look how the light is shining on the hydrangeas," I replied.

To me the hydrangea epitomizes the Southern flower. As a child I often pretended that the big, snowy blossoms were Southern belles in their fluffy crimolines and hoopskirts. It withstands our blistering heat, long summer droughts, hard relentless rainstorms and it blooms from spring to autumn. It disapears only when the frost comes and stays and retreats underground to sleep in preparation for next year.
If there were such a thing as a regional flower for the South, I would hereby nominate the hydrangea.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Watermelon Heaven

Memphis has been experiencing summerlike temperatures in the nineties even though summer is still over two weeks away. When that happens the only thing to do is crank down the air conditioning, pour yourself a nice glass of sweet tea and fix a nice plate of chilled watermelon. Some people like their watermelon sprinkled with a little salt. Not me. I like it sweet exactly as it should taste. So the next time it's a hot day and you don't feel like heating your kitchen up, slice up some nice, cool watermelon. Enjoy!