Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Visions of Southern Foods, Happy New Year!

Image from Living

Tomorrow is New Years Day and most people are planning their diets and how they’re going to get some of their extra weight off. For me I’m planning just the opposite, sort of. I know, I should be talking about diet food and recipes but after reading through the November issues of Garden & Gun, “The Best Southern Foods—100 things You Simply Must Eat before You Die”, I realized I had a ways to go. It appears most of these places and dishes I had never even heard of. Pigfat Cornbread from Skylight Inn—Ayden, North Carolina—where have I been?

I guess there were a few exceptions, such as the Watershed in Decatur, the Varsity in Atlanta, Fig and Hominy Grill in Charleston, South Carolina—Hominy Grill is one of my all time favorite restaurants! But all in all, I realized I had a ways to go with these dishes and restaurants, although ,the article did say Before You Die, so hopefully I have a little time but one really never knows now, do they? Being back in Atlanta, I figured we should start here and then take it to Macon Georgia, Josephine Alabama, Thibodaux Louisiana, Shreveport Louisiana (Hubby’s birthplace), Owensboro Kentucky, etc….

It’s New Years Eve and I need to go get ready for my date with the hubby—we’re off to the Atlanta Symphony which should be pretty fun –they’re doing showtunes. Oh, FYI—a small lesson that I’ve learned in life–to start keeping all three sizes of my skirts -small, medium, and large. I have no black skirt to wear: one’s to small and the other too big. Go figure!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rolle & Me!

For some reason, I’m a little reluctant to go see Marley & Me. I’m not quite sure exactly why this is! It may have to do with the fact that Hubby and I also have an aging dog, our thirteen- year-old basset hound, whom we had now for basically as long as we been married.

I did attempt to read Marley & Me and got through several chapters and then quickly set it aside. Even more, as we were picking Ellie up last January from the Humane Society, a nice gentleman from New Jersey pretty much told me how the book ended. Needless to say, I could not bring myself to ever finish reading the book. It’s not that I’m not a dog lover. Rolle was even in our will – don’t get me wrong it’s nothing like Oprah’s golden retrievers, but it’s enough money to get him to his Aunt Susan’s in Missouri or even maybe to his Uncle Watson’s hip downtown Denver loft. My best friend in Missouri is first in line for Rolle—after all, she is a mother of two German sheppards. Plus, Uncle Watson is single, in his early 40’s, and still has commitment issues –he’s wanted a border collie for years but is still dogless!

Rolle in Nashville

So for now, for the Hubby and me, Rolle has taught us, especially when we lose sight of things, that one of life’s little lessons is to take time and sniff the flowers during the cold, rain, or shine! Enough! It’s beautiful here in Georgia, and Ellie and Rolle are ready to go sniff their flowers.

For those of you who are off to see Marley & Me--you may want to take a box of tissues, so I’ve heard! Please report!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Almost Forgot--It's The Holidays!

Having moved just a week before Thanksgiving—one of my favorites, I finally realized on Christmas Day, while everyone was enjoying Christmas dinner, that it’s the holidays! Please note that being in a New Orleanean family, one cannot eat a meal while not preparing for one’s next meal or meals. So after discussing alligator cheesecake from Jackemo’s, and not really wanting to eat turkey plain for the next four days, I spoke out and said something about turkey gumbo, since turkey was our main course. What better way to use the leftovers then in a good delicious gumbo?

My own experience is that all men from New Orleans seem to think they can make the best gumbo. My list certainly includes my father-in-law, brother-in-law, as well as hubby’s uncles, cousins, etc., and of course Hubby himself–and he’s the worst one of them all! So during our Christmas dinner while my father-in-law, brother-in-law and hubby were discussing the correct way to make a roux and with all three wanting to make the turkey gumbo, guess who won—father-in-law!

FYI, after dinner while sitting in my in-laws family room, I discovered a new southern magazine --Garden & Gun. In the December/January issue is a recipe for Duck & Oyster Gumbo—looks like we may be having duck here soon!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Moving 101!

Several weeks prior to putting our house on the market, I had called the moving company that originally moved us from Atlanta to Nashville three plus years ago. I had remembered that their rates were very reasonable for an out of state move and most importantly they did a good job and did not break anything! As it turned out, they gave us another great rate; however, wanting to cut costs and save several thousand additional dollars, the hubby and I decided to undertake this little task ourselves—hmmm! Our plan was simple, I was the packer, the hubby the driver and we would hire a couple of strong guys to help us move it out and load it up.

On Halloween, the hubby was off and had been assigned the task of fetching Halloween candy. Basically, he ended up popping into the U-haul store, and he called me at work to see if I wanted him to pick up a bundle of boxes for seventy dollars. “Seventy dollars on boxes? No way!” I said, “That’s outrageous!” I happened to be cruising around Martha’s website at the time and read all about her move from Turkey Hill to her new home (which I don’t think is that far away). However, unlike Martha, I did not have the option to make several small trips-- everything had to go at once! Hubby was very busy complaining about work after the U-haul incident, so I told him to relax and that I’d take care of the move. The only thing he had to do was drive the truck and not kill himself! After all, I had crammed tea sets, china, paper mache, etc. into suitcases from the London to Atlanta with no problems, not one crack– I can do this little move from Nashville.

I had waited until after the inspection to really start packing, for fear I would jinx the sale of the house. The Friday before we were to close, I ran out to get more boxes and some guy slammed into my Honda. Not good timing for my CRV to be totaled! I had plans for it to carry my breakables and my dogs. Anyway, like Martha, I bought several plastic tubs for my Mulberryware, transferware, and everything else that I did not want the hubby to smash into a million pieces. I had slowly started to remembered why I had fired the hubby from my antiquing business years ago, and I quickly decided that I would have Wednesday, the day we were to load up the truck, to be my last day at work. After all, we were going to hire nice strong guys to carry everything out, and they should all be very happy that I’m no longer mass producing cast iron! Then I remembered our latest intrastate. The guys from Two Men and a Truck miraculously moved a box of pillows, but ran out of room for the giant box of books.

During our closing, I mentioned to our real-estate agent, who is a big garden guru, that we had left a few things behind that she may want – a huge terracotta pot, a lot of dirt (which I had warned the hubby I wanted)! Earlier, I had given her several mums that I had bought for the house (I had no intention of planting them, but I knew she would). Talking to my agent later, she said she went over to the house immediately after our closing and the new cute couple helped her load up the huge terracotta pot and all the dirt—she was most happy!

The end result—we ended up spending way, way, way more than seventy dollars on boxes, an old piecrust table I bought last year and got at a great price is in three different pieces, a gate leg walnut table was dropped a few times the patina is ruined, an English mahogany table is also in a couple of pieces, my 1940’s crystal chandelier not a pretty site , we dumped several huge boxwoods that I’ve had for a awhile (should of given then to my agent too), and we ran out of space and left a few other things behind. I’ve not had a chance to open up the tubs yet! False economy? Probably!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Willcox!

Last Tuesday, the hubby I celebrated our #### wedding anniversary, I know, I didn’t say what year because we are getting up there, but if you know the age of my basset hound then you could probably figure it out. Being back in Atlanta already, and with really no plans for our anniversary I decided that we needed a day or two away—I would have preferred a week or two but we have to take what we can get. Early Tuesday morning, I woke up and thought hey let’s go to Aiken, South Carolina. I have always heard wonderful things about Aiken but never had the chance to visit myself. While living in Charleston I would always drive I-75 & I-16 through Macon and then take the low country route of SC17--which I loved! Anyway, it seemed the hubby would take the other route, I-20 east through Augusta to Highway 78, and, as it turned out, he had been to Aiken before--to the courthouse to be exact, to pay a speeding ticket! So before we left I had asked my mother-in-law where we could stay—most preferably with two dogs (she knows a lot about all the Southern towns). So she gave me some information and said good luck!

Lucky for us, the first place that I noticed that took dogs and that looked somewhat clean and interesting was The Wilcox. When I called and asked for availability the desk clerk told me about their holiday special and this was just what I wanted to hear--$185 a night with complimentary tea, breakfast and a bottle of Champaign for your room. I started calculating all that in my head and thought that’s a good special! Then I confirmed about the dog—oops—dogs, and he said fifty dollars–perfect!

We arrived at The Wilcox and parked the Element under a magnolia tree. We got out with Rolle and Ellie and a couple of bags and walked through the warm and inviting lobby and went to our room. Rolle and Ellie went straight for their basket of goodies that included biscuits, toys, a leash, a collar and bottle water—perfect, they were happy!

The special goes until they end of Jan. I highly recommend it!

P.S. arrive early so you can enjoy the tea and have time for a walk by all the wonderful old clapboard mansions before you drink your Champaign!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Goodbye Nashville!

One evening just this past October I came home and found my Southern Accents Nov- Dec issue. This particular issue stood out a little more, and it was a little ironic that Nashville was one of the Southern destinations that was featured. While reading through the article, I recognized several of the places that were mentioned, and even a few of the restaurants were located in my very own neighborhood. The reason I say ironic is that the hubby and I had placed our 1930’s cottage house on the market Labor Day weekend – I know, perfect timing, right?! In August you may recall I was complaining about several things, and one of them was my neighbor Sandy’s Hackberry tree. Her tree arrived in our yard just in time for our first open house! Anyway, for two months the hubby and I played minutemen, with ready-to-conquer –“I’m going to sell this house” attitudes! The phone call we would get from our real estate agency was like trumpets blowing, and once we answered, up and off we went into full cleaning mode. The showings were very sporadic during the week and on the weekends. With each one, I would run home no matter where I was-- antique stores, hairdresser, work etc... I would even call the hubby and have him leave work too. Basically we would gather up the dogs, sweep, mop, turn on every light in the house, fluff the pillows, make sure the closets (especially mine) were neat & tidy, make sure fresh flowers were not dead, and clean the deck (don’t ever paint a deck white). I’ll talk more about the details later!

Anyway, the good news is the hubby and I closed on our house November 20th. It took us sixty-five days to get a contract where everyone, including the agents, was happy. The hubby and I did exactly what we set out to do when we bought the dilapidated house, and, given the state of the economy, we are very grateful, because in the end, all of our hard work paid off. Thinking back to the article, it had been a year since I started my blog and wrote about a few of the very same places it mentioned. All the restaurants and museums are wonderful, but what we’ll miss the most about Nashville is our old neighborhood—one gentleman compared it to Mayberry and I couldn’t agree more!

Our neighborhood is one where parents walk their children to school, oaks, hackberry, and magnolia trees line the streets. The houses date back to the late 1800’s, and even the few new ones are built to look like the old ones. But the most important part is that it is a neighborhood where it’s very easy to get to know you neighbors. Sandy—our bohemian transplant from San Francisco who studied for years and years at Stanford, Frank and Eula—our elderly retired neighbors who made me remember homemade peanut brittle and fudge again, Gary--our single fifty-something neighbor who still lives with his mother and always lent a hand (and lots of tools) to the hubby, Miss Judy—who walked by each evening this summer while we were sitting on our porch, and would always have to stop to dote on Rolle our Bassett hound so his head would get even bigger than it already is, Raymond—who always took off for his summer house in Florida when the first freeze would hit the Nashville air, and yes even the crazy Italian Lucilla!

Amazingly enough it had always been a dream of mine to own an old home in a Southern town and to have neighbors whom I enjoy spending time with and talking to.

Goodbye Nashville! We’ve enjoyed our journey.