Friday, August 30, 2013

M4 Wives Party

A few weeks ago I helped host an M4 Wives Party at L'Occitane in the Renaissance - it's a skincare/fragrance store and everything is made in Provence, France. The store lets groups hold parties for free and provides snacks and something "fun" -- we choose to have mini-facials. Many thanks to my dad for sponsoring the wine!

We had a great time sampling the products and acting goofy. We couldn't quit talking about how thankful we were for it to be M4 year for our husbands/finances and how much we've enjoyed seeing them the last couple of weeks. Carol Anne (below) is the first M4 wife I met at family day orientation the week med school started. The past three years have seemed to crawl and go by quickly - somehow all at the same time.
Pharmacist Carol Ann reminded all of us it's time for flu shots - she gives the best shot in town!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

I absolutely love mashed potatoes. Any and all mashed potatoes. Last night I finally decided to use the two rosemary plants on my front porch that I've diligently watered all summer. Let me tell you, rosemary and potatoes melded together with cream and butter up potatoes to a whole new level. This recipe should serve 4. I say should because we both went back for seconds and there was still some leftover! Here's what I did:

Start by heating 3/4 cup cream, 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Simmer on low heat while the potatoes cook. Stir occasionally.

Cook your potatoes (I used 4 large red potatoes) in water to cover until tender. Drain and add about 2 tablespoons of butter, white pepper (or regular black pepper) and sea salt.

Then just pour in the creamy sauce and mash and voilà - you have amazing mashed potatoes!

I served them with minute steak and a salad. Bon appétite! 

Who wore it best?

Mom sent me this picture yesterday - I believe she is holding Sis and Dad is holding me. The picture is at Net's house in the living room. Oliver is holding Poppy and Sis is holding Mary Thorne. Elizabeth Magee is holding Lambie.


Monday, August 26, 2013

A Weekend of Celebrations

This weekend was spent celebrating some very special people - birthdays, new houses and baptisms all added up for a lot of fun.

Friday we had two birthday parties - Witt turned 8 and celebrated with a pool party. Let me tell you, there is nothing relaxing (or dry) about watching 30 second grade boys play with water guns at a pool party.

Here's a front view of his cake - it was a swim party and Kristen had everything decked out in beach/shark attack decor. We love watching Witt grow and am so impressed with the young man he is turning into!

After the rowdy pool party, we were ready for some adult beverages! Savannah turned 25 and we had a fabulous meal at Amerigo's with some of their classmates. Med students are much more fun during this fourth year!

On Saturday Ryan worked at Polk's and I headed to Alabama. First stop was Mama Jean and Papa Carrel's new place at Capstone Village on the Alabama campus. Papa Carrel gave me a tour and said the only issue was there were too many "old people." He also said Mama Jean keeps reminding him that they are old! But definitely young at heart. We joined MJ and Aunt Bonnye at their old house where they were finishing up a yard sale and we had lunch at Ruby Tuesday's. They've lived in their house since I was in sixth grade and we always look for the Ruby Tuesday's to turn off McFarland - in all these years it's the first time I've eaten there!

Then it was off to Birmingham to celebrate Mary Thorne and Poppy's baptism weekend. Sis and Oliver had a house full of company all weekend and got everyone to church on time - simply amazing!

These girls are growing, growing, growing. They are getting easier to tell apart but are equally sweet and precious! Poppy is on the left, Mary Thorne on the right. They both love to jump!

On their way to Birmingham, Dad picked up a box turtle for Elizabeth Magee. She named him "Frog" and even though she didn't really want to touch him, she loved looking at him. Here's a video we made for Uncle Thomas:

I cut the video off too soon because right after this she yelled, "Frog, come back. Come back, Frog!!!" She is just too cute (and sweet) for words!

On Sunday, the babies looked so pretty in their dresses! Poppy wore Sis' and Mary Thorne wore mine - making it extra special. Net's sister, Aunt Bubba, gave Mom and Dad an antique christening gown from Natchez when they were expecting. After we were born and everyone realized they would need two dresses Aunt Bubba, Net and Mammy made one to match.

Sis got some great pictures on her camera and I'm sure will be posting them soon!

Mary Thorne (R) and Poppy (L) were all smiles all day. The church service was beautiful and I loved seeing their new church home.

I think I'm looking down at something sticky EM is holding - but isn't Mary Thorne the most precious thing you've ever seen? We had a lovely lunch with lots of family - again, I'm amazed that Sis pulled off a luncheon for 12 and made it look easy!

And just for a look back, here's my blog post on Elizabeth Magee's baptism.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kathie Lee's House & Texts with a Stranger

I love any house with a red tile roof and last week I spied this one on the Today show. Hoda surprised Kathie Lee at her house for her 60th birthday with a mariachi band and wine. Guess who also lives in a white house with a red roof? Kathie Lee Gifford. I knew I liked her!

I love the color of her shutters - that may be in our future! Although I'm guessing she has a few more shutters than we do...

In other news, I had a funny string of text messages with a complete stranger earlier this week. Happy Birthday to Tim - whoever you may be!

Monday, August 19, 2013

MHS 2003 Reunion

This weekend we went to Senatobia for Ryan's 10 year high school reunion. We had a blast. I think its the most fun we've had in Senatobia since our wedding! We caught up with friends and it was so neat to met spouses and children. There were 40 people in their class and more than half were there - that has to be above average for reunions!

Friday night we all met at the Como Steakhouse - and we realized at the end of the night that no one took pictures. I think that means we were all having too much fun visiting!

We rented the Como Courtyard that night with Daniel and Rhetta - it was so nice and made us feel like we were on vacation!

We got a late start Saturday morning, but even though it was 10 a.m. before we went for a run it was still cool outside - definitely the kind of weekend that makes you ready for fall!

There was a lunch at Magnolia Heights and a tour afterwards. The food was excellent - BBQ, slaw, baked beans, potato casserole and banana pudding!

Ryan with Mrs. McKellar (aka Seno) - she taught him Spanish and it one of his all-time favorite people.

Ryan and Olivia - they each filled out cards in the 7th and 8th grade with what that wanted to be when they grew up, favorite food, subject, etc. Ryan put "a person" in 7th grade - what a smarty pants. Olivia put her favorite food was chicken and pepper. She's not really sure what that means!

Mrs. Still showing us her classroom - Mollie (in the middle) did a WONDERFUL job of organizing the weekend! It was my first time to really see the "inside" of Magnolia and I was really impressed. Mrs. Still's classroom was so cute - I wish I'd taken a picture of her bulletin board made out of old window frames and surrounded with Christmas lights.

Saturday night there was a joint party with the Senatobia Class of 2003 at Back Acres. It was really fun and once again I hardly took any pictures!


Whitney talked Carmen into trying on one of their old uniforms - we were all very impressed! It was so fun and I'm so glad we went. And hopefully the next 10 years won't go by as fast as the last 10 have gone by!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cheese Making Adventures

For my birthday, Ryan took me to BrewHaHa to pick out cheese-making supplies. I don't know how I missed this store - it's been open since December. Most of their stock has to do with beer and wine making but they have a whole section on cheese. The owner, Mac, told us he thinks he and I are going to become good friends!

So far, I've made two types - farmhouse cheddar and mozzarella. The milk came from a doctor at UMC - he has a cow that was producing extra milk. The cheese kit and wax came from BrewHaHa. I used the directions in the box and the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. The milk was unpasteurized so my first step was to pasteurize it. After that, I just followed the directions.

The supplies turned into this after much heating and straining
The cheese was then pressed overnight with 20 pounds (notice my make-do cheese press of Ryan's weights):

The cheese mold came in the kit. Next it had to "air" on a wooden board for about four days to develop a rind. Then, I waxed it.

After the second coat, I waxed in a label with the date. It'll be ready to sample in two months!

I've also tried making mozzarella cheese - it was a lot easier and took a lot less time. Plus, you can eat it right away!

This looks disgusting, but it turns out good in the end! I will say I do not like the way it smells. This is after the milk reaches a certain point - it starts to separate from the whey.

After several rounds of heating and straining, the cheese goes from this:
To this:

Then you just add a little cheese salt and it's ready to eat! I've used it on pizza and tomato and cheese sandwiches. If you get a kit, I really recommend getting a book as well - the kit came from the same company that does the book. Brewhaha has the book and everything you need to get started if you're in the Jackson area!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Flatbread Mozzarella Pizza, Bright Lights and Piano Moving

We had an action filled weekend that including moving a piano from my grandparents' house in Tuscaloosa, horseback riding, water skiing, Bright Lights Belhaven Nights, an overnight visit from some of our favorite people and a movie date night. It all ended with this flatbread mozzarella pizza.

Kristen gave me a fresh mozzarella cheese kit for my birthday so I tried it out on Sunday afternoon - it was much easier than the cheddar cheese I made last week. For the pizza, I made a thin crust from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I topped it with sauce (1 small can of tomato pasta, 1 can of water, oregano, fresh basil and parsley, pepper and garlic salt to taste), fresh mozzarella, red and yellow peppers, shredded chicken and tomatoes. I baked the crust for about 10 minutes on 425 and then added everything else and baked for another 15 minutes - that kept the crust nice and crispy. It was delicious!

Me with Landon and Papa Carrel - I think it's amazing that Landon has such a wonderful relationship with his great-grandparents! It was a short visit - Mama Jean and Papa Carrel are downsizing and moving to a new house - but it's always great to see them!

This is what we picked up - Mama Jean's piano - and I've already enjoyed it so much! Parker is the only person on earth who thinks I'm a pianist! He ran right to the piano, found the nursery song book and wanted me to "play." I will spare you the video of my singing that Rhetta took!
These pictures don't really do Bright Lights Belhaven Nights justice but it's so fun. There are bands, kids games, vendors selling handmade items, food and beer. Ryan and I worked one of the drink stands and it was crazy busy. But a great way of seeing a lot of people! Such a great representation of all that we love about our neighborhood!
One of the bands was on the front porch of this house - it and the house next to it are two of my favorite in the neighborhood. They were once one huge house and when it burned, two were built using the bricks.
And one last weekend photo - Katelyn and one of Witt's friends tubing on the Rez. Katelyn is the bravest child I've ever known - she knows no fear! Sunday evening we went to see We're the Millers - very funny (in a Hangover type way) and the previews didn't give everything away!

Friday, August 9, 2013

W.B. Givens New Video

My cousin Warren has just released this new music video - that's not him in the video but he's the one singing. He is so talented! And I loved that he used Net and Granddaddy's sailboat - The Baby Sister. He and his band are planning a show in Jackson in the near future - I can't wait to hear this in-person.

Here's an article written on American Songwriter about him:

A funny story on the sailboat: Net says it's the most spontaneous thing Granddaddy ever did. He went to Memphis, bought the boat, picked her up and they stopped at the library to get a how-to book on sailing before heading to the coast!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Buttercup at the Spa

My office - Imaginary Company - is organizing the promotion of an open house for a local medical grade spa and Buttercup, the office mascot, is hoping to get in on the action. I find this picture both fascinating and disturbing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Camping Adventure

This past Saturday Ryan took Witt on a camp-out and I'm not sure who had more fun. Witt was really excited about doing something his dad hasn't done - Chad said the fair was as close to camping as he was going to get. The two went to Lefleurs Bluff and had a blast - as you can see from their pictures!


Hard to believe Witt is almost eight and going into the second grade. I predict many more camping trips for these two!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Skinny Squash Casserole

I've been tweaking my squash casserole this summer and I think I've finally got it! I love squash casserole but something filled with butter, sour cream and cheese kind of neutralizes the benefits of eating a vegetable. This is my version of a skinny squash casserole - let me know what you think!

Skinny Squash Casserole
4 medium yellow squash
2 T butter
1/4 t salt
1/2 t Cavender's Greek seasoning
8 oz reduced fat sour cream
1/2 c Parmesan cheese - I used the can but fresh would be even better
1 c whole wheat bread crumbs (save the heels of your bread and crumble in the blender, freeze until ready to use)

Slice the squash and cook in salted water until tender - about 15 minutes - over medium high heat. You'll know it's ready when a fork easily pokes through it. Drain the water and add butter, salt, Greek seasoning, sour cream and Parmesan cheese. Pour into a greased 9x9 dish and top with bread crumbs. Dot the top with a little butter. Bake at 350 degrees until hot - about 20 minutes.