28 May 2012

What Flo Rida and I have in common

You have no idea how many songs inspire me when jamming. This last batch way created with hints of The Charlie Daniels Band, The Alman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but in the end it was Flo Rida who put the final touches on this year's first batch of strawberry jam which in all fairness will be labelled as preserves (someone has trouble measuring properly and it rhymes with jitney).

An undisclosed amount of strawberries that started as one gallon.

Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down and is the secret in all good jams. This is what 7 cups of sugar looks like

Chuck's first jamming experience.  He's got mad stirring skills

Jamming makes for a messy kitchen
Two pressure cookers later.....

Strawberry Preserves
In the words of Flo Rida, Oh hot d@m3 this is my jam.  Keep it partyin' 'til the AM...ya'll.  Let the jamming season begin.

23 April 2012

Houston landed in Charlotte

Last week Wednesday Chuck arrived on Fulton after two days of driving from Houston to Charlotte.  He had a trusty navigator in Ms. Midge (his mom).  My favorite story from the trip was the guy in bib overalls, no shirt walking up the interstate in Mississippi.  Seriously, stereotypes don't happen without reason.
A big truck does fit in my driveway
Let's be honest, working and helping with the unpacking did not go smoothly so I'm glad Chuck had his mom to help him.  Development is not dead, people.  The apartment was completely moved into (without pictures on the walls) by Friday.  I considered that an amazing feat, but remembered back to four years ago when Skippy, John, Mom Jim, and Stacey came to Charlotte and moved me from my house in Mooresville to Fulton.  After one weekend, I had a orderly house complete with pictures on the walls, an immaculately clean trash can and awesome fabric cabinets.

The week included a "Meeting of the Moms" at Midwood Smokehouse.  We walked there from Chuck's place which makes him feel like he hasn't left The Heights so much. 

With only hours left to Ms. Midge's visit, we whipped her around a few spots in Charlotte on our way to the Whitewater Center.  Because if it is a nice spring day, lunch at the WWC is the best! (Unfortunately, the frosty mug concept is foreign--but I guess that's hard when in plastic)  Below are a few touristy shots.
At Panther's Stadium (seriously, I love having people pose here...these monuments are fierce! Almost Ghostbuster-esque)
Just a little time to stop and smell the roses

Have a Safe Flight Mom.  He has no idea how he is going to start hating when I pose him in random places purely for my entertainment..muwahhh!

01 April 2012

That Apple Didn't Fall Far

I am in the process of a little spring cleaning and just finished going through the recipes I inherited from my Granny Lou (Dad's mom). There are some gems and I'll post a few in the upcoming weeks.  Granny Lou was well ahead of my sister in collecting family favorites. And, I noticed that I inherited her penache for keeping clips of recipes from magazines or scribbling them down on whatever notepad is lying around.

She died nearly 20 years ago and my food memories of her are sweet corn, succatash and grapenuts.  It has been a blast going through these browned pages and seeing her notes.   However, I wonder, if like me, she wanted to try them all, but maybe forgot she had them.

Cheers to hoping I remember to try a few!

16 March 2012

A Small Green Obsession

Clovers are near and dear to my heart.  From my childhood I remember my mother more often than my father on certain things and clover looking is one of them.When I went to college my mother gave me a clover that I have yet to kill.  She told me that it was from the clover she had when I was born.  When Cole was born I started a new one from my original one and let's just say it hasn't died yet, but it has tried.

I can't remember a time when I haven't looked for a four-leaf clover.    I am obsessed about looking for a four-leaf clover and when walking I'm often looking down trying to spot one of nature's "deformities".   I have a theory that mom knew I'd always want to find one and this activity kept me out of her hair for a good 20 minutes at a time.

Still to this day when I am at the park for a picnic or sitting in the yard, you'll catch me combing through (visually or literally) a patch of clover. I remember that the first four-leaf clover I found was  David Libscomb College in Nasheville in 1990-1991when Stacey was there for Odyssey of the Mind (I think).  All I remember was it was a warm spring day (not like the almost summer we are having today) and there was a large lawn.  Sometime the next year I learned that where there is one four-leaf clover there is usually two--genetics and all--in the same vein as how my sister ended up with blue eyes and I ended up with green.

Yesterday, I bent down for more clover looking and found this.  Most of you saw it on facebook.  Yes, there was a second one and no I didn't clip that one.  Just the one you see here.  No one should be greedy with luck.  There is enough to go around. 

I love the life lesson that what society sees as something unique (the four-leaf clover) is actually not the common rule in nature.  Clover to me is a really beautiful plant/weed.  I like to think that we should hold dear those things which makes us different.  At least for me, I plan on framing my little reminder of luck. (and I totally know where to find it again--thank you genetics).

UPDATED 3-19-12:
I asked the neighbor if I could dig up this little clover and they said yes so now I'm growing my own luck !(unless it voluntarily dies on its own, of course.)

11 March 2012

An afternoon of beauty making

Today, I spent the afternoon with Sydney, my 7-yr old friend. We had a lotion playdate, which also included an imoromptu trip to CVS for nail polish. She made a new smell out of coconut and vanilla that we called "white chocolate".

She made her own labels and her "private" label is Blue Sparkle. She also helped make a sugar salt scrub that I have wanted to try that I used in Key West. Below is the picture. You use equal parts cane sugar, sea salt and grapeseed oil. We both loved it. Now, to perfect that hand salve.

06 March 2012

Back in the 80's, They Would Have Called That Cheap

That was a comment from my boss last year when Catherine and I started carpooling to work.  He's right. In the Eighties our environmentalism would have been as foreign as grocery store sushi or doggie daycares. (Hey, it's not our fault carpooling is good on the budget too.)

We manage to carpool at least once a week, most of the time twice and three times if we are lucky. We've been carpooling a year now and it is in this 25 minute commute (one-way--a total of 50 minutes a day) that I get some great advice or learn some new helpful tip. (This carpooling thing may also have therapy benefits. Wonder if I can use my health care flex card on gas?)

I would love to take credit, but it is Catherine who told me about this one. Who needs to buy a boot tree when one is a wine drinker?

If you have any other wine drinking leftover ideas, feel free to share them in the comment section.   I'm not scared of a bottle of wine or a glue gun craft.

12 February 2012

The Keys to Relaxation

Every year I have gotten better about over committing in November and December. I'm not perfect yet, but I am a lot better at it each year.  This year I was so proud that my panic attacks were limited to one.  Most of January, I spend in silence and withdraw from most human contact.  Thus, it has taken me a while to get around to writing about the Sister trip to Key West.  Liddy obviously need a lot of help translating and typing a post (she is always complaining about her lack of thumbs---evolution and all).

For the third year in a row, Stacey and I have spent Christmas in a tropical location. This year we tried out Key West.  When I mentioned that we were going to Key West this summer to my friend, Charlie, he immediately runs upstairs to pull out a folder with Cayo Hueso Resort written on it and began to gush (as much as a boy can gush about something other than cars) about how awesome the resort was and how helpful Joyce was. A couple of clicks and a few phone calls we had direct flights from Charlotte and a place with a heated pool.

Once we landed we found lunch and began working on transportation. I don't know who was more excited for a bike only weekend.  Odd, that I was excited considering I love getting around on a bike until I actually have to do it.  I traded my bike for private yoga lessons the week prior to vacation.  I think the success of the week could be traced back to the fact we did not have to drive and our normal personality clashes did not have a chance to surface because we were not navigating in a foreign language in a car.
Our trusty steads

For the first few days we did not move from the pool.  Some how I have an obsession with a pool and it is a decadent delight just to leisure by a pool.
A heated bliss
It was during our first day that we had a few hours of overcast and really our only bought of rain. We decided to move from the pool and scope out our general surroundings when it started to rain and we ducked into a little bar called the French Quarter.  Immediately, I realized we were in a gay club (not that there is anything wrong with their liquor), but I was more amused how long it took Stacey to figure that out (another 15 minutes).  She wasn't convinced until after she noticed a poster for amateur stripper night and it was a young, very buff, man.  In all things gay and fun, it was at the French Quarter that we were reminded of the goodness called HAPPY HOUR.  For those of you not from North Carolina, this is not going to be anything new to you.  North Carolinians--> other states have drink specials for certain hours of the afternoon/night were you can score a great deal.  It isn't just for food.  We eventually learned where we liked to happy hour and planned our beach/pool time around it.  Our favorite was the upstairs porch of nine one five.

One happy hour we went to the tallest building on the island--La Concha Hotel for the view at sunset.  The bar actually didn't have specials but did have a very generous bartender.

Cell Towers are on my mind and yes they are every where

The sunset

Where we went to Christmass and then there is an ocean.

The view from the street below

Our Christmas tradition is for me to stick  my feet in the sand and Stacey to do a cannonball into the pool.

A little stormy, but totally worth it
 We grilled our Christmas dinner and attempted to go on a ghost tour.  As it turns out all the people we asked said that the company would do a tour and we even left a message to confirm our reservation (no message back and I'm still waiting on that phone call) but we found a closed door. We were upset to put it lightly.  I often tell people that Stacey and I have opposite traits, but together we make one awesome person.  Stacey is better at certain confrontations than I am and thanks  to her skills we got two free tickets for a different night.  The guide was a great story teller and looked like he would also enjoy participating in the Renaissance Festival, but let's just say my favorite part was the discounted cocktail we took on the tour.  If you ever decide to do the ghost tour.  Don' expect to be scared, but you will be entertained.

Key West does not lack for some fun photo opportunities....

Sharing a drink with a friend

Don't bug me

Tourist shot one

Tourist shot two

Butterfly or moth...You'll have to go to the museum to find out.

or roosters....

This year's vacation was definitely one of my favorites and I have already started to lobby Chuck that Christmas is better in tropical climates