Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just Horsin' Around

Doc had a conference in South Carolina last weekend so I caught a ride up I-55 to Senatobia with DeeDee and John Eric. It was so much more fun of a drive with them!

Friday night I went with Dad and some friends to Otha Turner's family picnic. It's a celebration of the life of Otha Turner, a fife master from Tate County who became well-known for an art form that originated with slaves and lead to the development of the Mississippi blues. Every year on his birthday, his family would through a two-day party full of fife and drum bands. I met him once shortly before he died about 10 years ago. He was so nice and out fixing the plumbing in his house in coveralls and tall rubber boots. He was so nice and friendly. After his death, his granddaughter Sharde picked up his musical tradition and continued the group - even though she was just 13!

This man opened the music after Sharde lead the fife and drum dance - not sure of his name but he is there every year and this year got to play. He was really good!

Goat sandwiches and pickled eggs are stables. There were also catfish and chicken sandwiches this year.

I told Elizabeth Magee on Saturday morning that Siggi and Granddaddy were holding out on her - all the good toys are in the attic. Aunt Sis to the rescue! I didn't find what I was looking for but did find all of my old toy horse collection - complete with the feed troughs and saddle stands that Papa Carrel built me - and the rocking horse Uncle Buford gave Sis and I when we turned 2. We practiced brushing the play horses and then moved on the real ones.

When we stopped by Net's for a visit we had to get out Granddaddy and Uncle Buford's rocking horse to compare. It was just a fun, but Net was a nervous wreck over it - he has springs and goes a little faster.

Mom and I took EM back to her parents Saturday afternoon and went to a baby shower for Sis' friend Rebecca who is having a little boy in October. Then we did a little shopping and headed home.

I took a long walk Sunday morning. There was a time where I never wanted to walk through my hold high school campus - now I feel more nostalgic about it! I guess that's what happens when you've been gone a decade!

Our poor Warrior - he still doesn't have a nose. One of my earliest memories is walking with Mom and Sis to see the Warrior when we lived in the little blue house next to the high school. One afternoon we were shocked and very sad when his nose had been busted by our county rivals. Thomas' class "restored" the Warrior but left his nose broken - I have no idea why???

After church on Sunday we drove to Oxford to take some beds to Mammy's and I made dad drive by the Tri Delt house so I could check out the water party. He thought it looked a little creepy for him to be hanging out the window of his truck taking pictures of freshmen girls!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Going All In

I ran across this great image on one of my sister's friends blogs and thought it perfectly describes some recent big changes in our household. As of this month, I'm freelance writing full-time! It's a big step and a little scary, but at the same time I'm very excited (and so appreciative of Doc) to be following my dream of being a writer. I'm also looking forward to having the time to be a better wife, daughter, granddadughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend.

And while I don't think anything like this is in my future, I'm hoping that some projects I've had "in the works" for about three years will come together!

Image from:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Witt's Camping Adventure - Est. 2005

Witt turned seven last week and had a camping themed birthday party this weekend. We were so sad to miss it but had lots of fun helping him get ready! When your mother is a wedding planner there is no such thing as an unthemed party and Witt's Camping Adventure took the cake!

Witt's birthday always reminds me of my last Rush workshop and leaving early after getting a text from Kristen that they were on their way to the hospital! It's been wonderful watching him grow from a tiny baby to a kind, fun-loving kid!

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Favorite Smoothie

I've been on the sofa with a nasty bacterial/viral infection for the last week and it's only reaffirmed my love for Naked Green Machine juice. It may look nasty but this is the best stuff. One jar has 2 3/4 apples, 1/2 banana, 1/3 kiwi, 1/3 mango and a hint of pineapple. Plus: spirulina, chorella, broccoli, spinach, blue green algae, garlic, barley grass, wheat grass, ginger and parsley. I don't think if I put all those things in a blender I could make myself drink this (and I probably would spend a lot more than $2.50!). Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Newsroom

Have you seen The Newsroom on HBO? I'd read reviews and just love Olivia Munn and Sam Waterston so I was excited to catch an episode recently. I just love it -- even if I agree with this review in The New Yorker about how it's filled with artificial intelligence. I don't think people really talk like that in newsrooms -- at least not in ones I've been in (which are way down the media food chain), but it's still very entertaining and educational for those who don't know anything about what goes on behind the scenes of media.

The show reminds me (in a way) of Back to You - the FOX sit-com that was on a few years ago starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton as co-anchors at a Pittsburgh news station. The show didn't make it - it was one of those shows hurt by the writer's strike - for a second season. Interestingly, Grammer and Heaton were both already shopping for their next shows -- Heaton for ABC's The Middle and the creators of the show, Lloyd & Levitan, went on to create Modern Family which includes Back to You star Ty Burrel as Phil. Phil's father, Willard, played sports anchor Marsh in Back to You.

Can you tell I'm getting excited about fall TV shows?

Photo from VanityFair:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fun Week in Tobie

I had a wonderful visit in Senatobia last week and got to spend time with some of my favorite people and animals! Pool time with friends and family, water skiing with my parents at Lake Sardis and afternoons with Parker, Elizabeth Magee and Martin all made for a very fun time. Aunt Renie was in town for one evening and it was good to see her - I had to laugh that she and Net were dressed just alike!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Are We Having Fun Yet?

On my second day at home I crammed in too much "fun" and then have paid for it dearly on days three and and four. When will I learn?

The morning start bright and early with a ride on Pete and then I finished cleaning out the feed bin. Besides critter traps, rotten leather, old feed bags, old orange bags, old and half eaten saddle pads and blankets, rotten halters, hornets nests, wasps nests and spider nests plus a few large animal droppings from some wild rodents, there wasn't much to be found in the feed bin. The good news is it's the only building that things haven't been stolen from - mainly because of the tree that fell in front of the door about three years ago. Doc cut me enough space to get to the door last fall, but since then vines have grown through the door and basically created Fort Knox filled with huge bugs and bigger snakes.

I did find three generations of pitchforks though! I had to take apart three saddles to come up with enough working parts for one, but if we need to muck out imaginary stalls we are all set. Just for the record, mine is the red one.

There is a Givens family trait of, as Mom and Doc call it, "throwing away slowly." The feed bin and barn are like a family graveyard filled of items we are too emotionally attached to to chunk but have long lost there usefulness in our daily lives. And are probably a quick way of getting a new tetanus shot if you're not careful!

Then came lunch with Becca and Martin at Panera. Martin kept us entertained! He is all into Toy Story at the moment.

Becca said when she told him Kara had gone inside to get more drinks he said, "No, KK" - I love that he calls me that! We had a great lunch and then a visit at Sis' house (EM was napping though and missed meeting Martin) - it was too short as always!

When EM woke up from her nap (she was so tired from her first day of Mother's Morning Out) we played with bubbles, read books, rode in her cuzy coup and made a big mess. It was fun! Then Mom and I discovered she was supposed to sell $30 worth of Sally Foster wrapping paper so we went through it and picked out gifts for all her grandparents and great-grandparents.

It's hard work shopping for others! The paper bag says

 1st Day of School:
Left early with Siggi
Completed art project
Homework: Sell Sally Foster

We left Memphis at 5 p.m. and were skiing at Lake Sardis by 6:20 - it's my first time to ski ALL summer (I blame the Blackards' new neighborhood pool). We were the only ones on the water at the lower lake - just like old times to ski on Wednesday afternoon but I sure missed all my 15th-cousins!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pete's First Day of Fat Camp

Since Facebook is being over-run with first day of school pictures I thought I'd post the cutest one I've seen yet - Leigh Allyn and Wade's picture of Leon. Pete didn't look quite so cute as Leon this morning after his first day of "school" (a.k.a. fat camp). That's what I'm calling this week - the horse is about 200 pounds overweight and hasn't been ridden in over a year.

Leon sadly watching the school bus leave him behind, again. Maybe next year,buddy!

Pete and I were both rather surprised when the saddle fit him - of course we are using the girth designed for a horse about twice his height! He did perk up and head for the back gate to the corn field when I got on. There's not much this horse won't do for a taste of sweet feed or a carrot. And all rides end with one or both! That may be part of the weight problem.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

As I Lay Dying

James Franco is directing and starring in Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" and it's going to be filmed in Canton! I went last week to the open casting call to try out for an extra role. They originally wanted to shoot the movie in Oxford this fall, but because all the hotel rooms were already booked for football games there was no room for the cast and crew.

The movie is rumored to star Paul Dano, Michael Shannon, Joaquin Phoenix and Richard Jenkins with Franco directing and will tell Faulkner’s gloomy tale of a poor Mississippi family trying to move their mother’s corpse through rough terrain, on a wagon, according to On Location Vacations. I remember reading this in English class in high school and be totally grossed out and loving it at the same time.

I was number 149 and got there about 20 minutes before it started. Everyone was given a script to read but by the time they got to my number it was announced that the powers that be in Hollywood had called and were only looking for females that could pass for a "very young 16 or 40." I decided my self-esteem couldn't handle it if they told me I could pass for 40. So I just had my picture taken for an extra role and didn't read. Elise did give me an acting lesson while I was waiting in line though! 

The casting director (guy in the red shorts) was mostly looking for "country boys" ages 8 to 10 and one of my neighbors tried out - you can see the back of his head in the picture above. I hope he gets it!

Monday, August 13, 2012

D.I.Y. Italian Marinated Fresh Cheese

After I made this cheese for the first I told Doc we just needed a milk cow, and then we can be totally self-sufficient! I guess we'd also need a coffee bean plant. The recipe comes from Vanessa Barrington's D.I.Y. Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch - currently my favorite cookbook. The cheese takes about an hour but most of that time is just keeping a watchful eye.

For cheese: 1 gallon whole milk, 1/3 cup white or apple cider vinegar, non-iodized salt (I used normal).

Pour the milk into a large nonreactive pot (stainless steel, ceramic, or enameled). Bring to 185 degrees F, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat so you don't scorch the milk. I used a liquid thermometer but it never got to 185 - takes about 45 minutes.

The milk should be just short of boiling and you'll see tiny bubbles on the sides of the pan along with shimmering, vibrating surface. It will start clumping on your spoon.

Turn the heat off and pour in the vinegar and stir. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for about eight minutes - curds will begin to form and separate from the whey.

Use a slotted spoon or a small strainer and separate the cheese curds from the whey - it looks like wet biscuit dough. Transfer the cheese to a bowl and season with salt.

Now you have ricotta!

I seasoned my basic ricotta with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh parsley, garlic, fresh thyme, red pepper flakes, salt and ground pepper. I used a Laughing Cow cheese container as a mold and lined it with wax paper. I then proceeded to eat all of it at once.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Since it's been so hot this summer Net and I decided to add a challenge to our daily e-mail exchanges and do them in French! It's really  been fun - and a great way to refresh something I haven't really used since college.

It's obvious that we took French about 60 years apart - her French is much more formal. She tends to quote her high school teacher Madame Yerger who called her "Janice" and who was fond of saying, "make no mistake, all men are not created equal." I tend to quote Google Translate and French for Dummies.

Our most recent discussion has been her grandmother name.

Mémé – literally means old age

Mamie – means “mon amie” for “my love” but this is what we called her mother so it would get confusing

Grand Mére – Grandma

Grand-Maman – Grandmamma

Maminou – older way of saying grandmother

Oma – a less formal way of saying grandmother – indicates you are very close but I think it is actually German

Bonne-maman – grandmamma, grandma

Which one do you like? Feel free to make a suggestion!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Wrong Side of the Fence

You must be ready to teach and exercise a Catahoula.
If not, he will eat your house.
The Catahoula will not let you forget that you own a dog."
                                                                  -- Don Abney

Since the neighborhood college is being unfriendly towards the local dog population, we've had to alter our walk to include free play at the park instead of the pond. I'd rather the dogs get wet than muddy but at least we are learning to play well with others! This morning we met a nice black lab from Tate County. His person is from Jackson and we ended up having a lot of mutual friends - such a small world.

Top left: This is us starting out - it takes all their combined self-will power to actually sit still. Peps is excited to go for a walk for the joy of walking. Scout is looking forward to Pepe being tied to him for an hour. It's the only time of the day poor Scout gets any attention from Pepe. He really is a pest (see top right).

My wild blue-eyed dog. This is what I love about Catahoula Leopard dogs - you can't train the wild streak. It's best to just harness it into something usefully like catching rats. Scout almost died last fall when he jumped off a 30 foot ravine and since then I've been a little more careful about where he is allowed to run free. This picture demonstrates why - he just runs and doesn't really look where he is going. I think it's resulted in some tramatic brain injury.

Catahoula history lesson! Catahoula's hail from South Louisiana (Catahoula Parish) where they are direct descendests of Native American mixed-breed dogs. Cajuns use them to hunt wild boars in the swamps and more recently have breed them with hound dogs (mostly Curs) to make hunting dogs that will chase and eat just about anything that moves.

There are two main theories about their origin: One is that the Catahoula is the result of Native Americans breeding their dogs with molossers and greyhounds brought to Louisiana by Hernando de Soto in the 16th century. Some believe the Indians dogs were bred with or from red wolves. Recent studies examining prehistoric dog remains found that genetically the dogs are more genetically similar to European and Asian domestic dogs rather than wild New World canids. These studies indicate that the dogs travelled with their owners from Asia to North America.

Another theory suggests that the breed originated some time in the 19th century when French settlers introduced the Beauceron to the North American continent. Appartently, the French told of strange looking dogs with haunting glass eyes that were used by the Indians to hunt game in the swamps. When the French  Beauceron and the native Red Wolf/war dog were interbred a Catahoula was the product.

The coat comes from the mother and is the true sign of the Catahoula. Most (like Scout) have eyes that are almost white they are so blue. The dogs are named after Catahoula Parish which also has two meanings. In Choctaw 'okhata' means lake and 'hullo' means beloved. It's also the name Choctaw word for their own nation 'Couthaougoula' pronounced 'Coot-ha-oo-goo-la'.

Famous owners of Catahoulas include Jim Bowie and his brother Rezin Bowie, who spent much of their youth in Catahoula Parish are reported to have owned a pair of Catahoulas who slept at their feet. There's also some Hollywood people who have adopted Catahoulas after Katrina - I guess they didn't want to go all Bradangelia and adopt a person from NOLA.

Wild-child dog will always choose the wrong side of the fence. A few weeks ago he was chasing something and got his neck caught in our fence. He then hid behind the grill to wait it out in the shade - on 100 degree concrete. Pepe, of course, chose the right side of the fence and then kept looking from me to Scout like he was saying: Aren't you going to tie him up now? He is such a D.O.G.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Eudora Welty's Onion Pie

Eudora Welty's Onion Pie

Mom came last week for a conference for the state's community colleges. I went to the lunch with her last year and enjoyed it so much I went again this year! Did you know Mississippi has more community colleges than any other state? There are 15 colleges across the state - making it possible for anyone who wants to pursue a higher education to be able to go to college. Many of them (like NWCC) started out as agricultural high schools for farming communities. Now they are that and so much more!

Anyway, while Mom was here we cooked (of course!). I had a sack full of onions and we made one of our favorites: Eudora Welty's Onion Pie from the Junior League of Jackson's first cookbook Southern Sideboards. The book is no longer in print but you can usually find one at any good estate sale or on Amazon (please use box to the right to search!).

Crust: Lump of butter size of an egg
Rounded teaspoon lard (Crisco)
Heaping teaspoon baking powder
Fairly heaping cup of flour (sift before measuring)
Cold sweet milk
1 egg yolk (optional)

Work together the softened butter, lard, baking powder, salt and flour. Add enough cold sweet milk to make a good firm dough. Well-beaten yolk of an egg may be added if desired. Line an 8-inch pie plate with rolled pastry.

3 large sweet Spanish onions (I used regular white onions)
1 large Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon flour
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 cup whipping cream (I used skim milk)

We used another pastry recipe from the same cookbook:

No-Roll Pastry Shell
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Wesson oil
2 Tablespoons cold milk

Sift dry ingredients into a 9-inch pie pan. Combine oil and milk and beat with a fork. Pour over flour mixture. Mix with fork until flour is dampened. With fingers press pastry evenly and firmly against bottom and sides of pan. Partly cover rim and flute edge, pinching lightly with fingers. Prick entire surface with fork. Bake at 425 F for 12-15 minutes or until brown. Yields 1 (9 inch) crust. 
Mrs. Cecil F. Heidelberg, III

Monday, August 6, 2012

Getaway to Anchuca

A couple of weekend ago we took a short get-away to Vicksburg. It was a divine two nights and three days! It's less than an hour away but it feels like a different world.

We stayed at an amazing B&B called Anchuca - a Choctaw word meaning "happy home"  - and the site of one of President Jefferson Davis' last public addresses to the people of Vicksburg after The War Between the States. Built in 1830 the Greek Revival mansion was the first columned home built in Vicksburg. It was used as a hospital during the Siege of 1863.

The history nerd in me had a very fulfilling weekend, and Doc had a great time learning all about canon and riverboats during the Siege of Vicksburg at the Vicksburg National Military Park. The military park is 16 miles of monuments, canon, graves, etc. and we didn't miss a thing on Saturday. In 1900 soldiers from both sides came back and marked where they stood during the battle. Blue signs are North and Red signs are South - it's an easy way to see the battle lines.

The Shirley House is the only surviving wartime structure in the park and it served as headquarters for the 45th Illinois Infantry. It was beautiful!

We caught a re-enactment of the firing of a cannon - it was very, very loud.

This is the USS Cairo and Museum is a restored Yankee gunboat. It became the first ship in history to be sunk by an electrically detonated torpedo when on December 12, 1862 it tried to go up the Yazoo River just north of Vicksburg to destroy Confederate batteries and to clear the channel of underwater mines. It sank in twelve minutes in 36 feet of water - all on board survived.

The food was fabulous - we ate at Rusty's for dinner Friday night and had alligator bites, redfish and a shrimp po-boy, The Biscuit Company for lunch on Saturday and Cedar Grove Restaurant for supper on Saturday night. We also checked out one of the casinos and I won $25 at my first game of crabs. It was fun!