Monday, September 27, 2010

Breaking Grandmother's Dishes

Once upon a time in the kitchen of a North Dakota farm house two little girls, one blonde and one red head, stood helping Grandmother dry and put away dishes.  "Be careful," their Grandmother would say, "to not fall or break a dish".  These Princesses-in-waiting knew all too well that following directions perfectly was the only option.  On this specific occasion, the little blonde broke a dish.  She looked at the little red head with tears in her eyes, "what should we do?"  The little girls decided to put the dish back, quietly, in the hopes that their Grandmother would not find the dish until they had gone home....or ever.

Needless to say, for these still Princesses-in-waiting, Grandma caught us and after she was done scolding, we were given one piece of advice:  Just because you shut a broken dish back into the cupboard it does not mean the dish did not break  You will have to face it sooner or later. So tell the truth, accept the punishment and move on.

In this modern day fairy tale, my ability to lie about broken dishes went away at age five.  One can read my face like an open book and truth be told I could not be happier. I say what I mean, even if it comes with conflict and although I would rather keep my mouth closed than hurt someone's feelings I have learned the graceful art of dancing around something someone may not want to hear.  Being a lady is not always easy.  Boys get away with it because, well, they are boys and they just don't know better (as my Momma reads this I can hear her saying, "oh but your little boys will know better" - which yes, they will).

Ladies, always remember that a pretty face is not a free card through life.  Being nice, genuine and honest will take you farther in life than you could ever imagine. My two amazing Grandmothers have not only taught me patience and given me the ability to cook a phenomenal meal but also a few important rules that I have come to live by at age 26:
  1. Never be afraid to say "hello" first.  You never know how much your smile and kind words will mean to someone.  Even a stranger.
  2. If what you have to say is not so nice but you need to say it, always remember to follow it with a compliment.
  3. The fastest way to a man's heart is with a compliment and telling him you like his shoes might just be the words he needed to hear to put a smile on that handsome face.  Coincidentally, the fastest way to a woman's heart is the same way.
  4. Always say "I love you".  These three words mean so much to those you actually do love and are three words not spoken nearly enough.  I love you. 
  5. Do not, under any circumstances, lie about breaking your Grandmother's dishes.  She is the one woman in your life who will always have authority to scold you, no matter how old you get. My Grandma still scolds me (even though I am the favorite granddaughter :)
  6. Be nice.  It is not hard.   
  7. Put some color on those kissers, suck in and stand up straight.
  8. Do not, under any circumstances let your mother set you up on a date (sorry Mom). 
  9. You are fabulous.  DO NOT ever let anyone tell you otherwise. 
  10. You are never too old to need your Mom or your Grandma.
  11. Call your Grandma.  I guarantee she is one person that will absolutely love to hear your voice more often.
Last Christmas, while setting the table for dinner in my Grandmother's dining room,  I broke another dish.  Not just "any dish".  I broke one of the dinner plates to a set (a set I someday want to serve my Christmas dinners on) of her favorite Christmas dishes.  She was in the kitchen.  All that came out of my mouth was "uh oh" (I held back the profanity I was wanting to throw out) and in the dining room she was, standing behind me with a dish towel in hand.  All that came out of her mouth was "did you break it?".  Tears almost came out of my eyes in that exact moment.  This was not just a plate, this was three generations of Christmas dinners served, this was that little blonde girl in her Christmas dress begging "Grandma please please may we eat with the Christmas dishes".  I found the plate, after harassing Macy's corporate headquarters for two months pleading and begging for just one dish to a set which was made way back when it was Dayton's.  We laugh about this day now...her laugh is one thing I will forever remember. 

This grown up little blonde girl learned one more thing from her Grandmother, "no" is not a word in my dictionary...simply a modified version of the word "yes". 

XOXO (from the little blonde dish-breaking girl),

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ability + Desire and Food.

Lack of skill didn't stop Cinderella from finding Prince Charming.

This modern day Princess believes that lack of ability never overpowers desire.  My modern day fairy tale is written by me and I believe that it takes no magic wand, spell or falling in love before midnight to master the kitchen.

Being a great cook doesn't entail baking from scratch or even being able to read a cookbook.  Some of the greatest chefs known to the world started with one thing:  desire.  Now let's face it, some of us just don't know that mixing flour with water will make a mushy paste or that sprinkling sliced apples with cinnamon + nutmeg + sugar and baking for 20 minutes will not only fill your whole house with mouth-watering aromas but also top vanilla ice cream with complete perfection. But, that doesn't mean Mac 'n' Cheese from a box cannot be gourmet and when made in the right setting with the perfect amount of sliced hot dogs mixed tummy is able to tell it wasn't homemade.  This modern day Cinderella believes that where there is a will, there is a way. 

In honor of my favorite male season, football, I am giving out my secret to the most requested (and I stress most) recipes I know:

Crockpot Queso
  • 1 package of Velveeta Cheese
  • 1 can of Rotel Tomatoes (whichever flavor floats your boat)
  • 1 small package of hamburger (or mild Italian sausage) browned and drained
  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1 small jar of black bean salsa
  1. Put all ingredients into a crockpot and cook on high.
  2. Stir occasionally until melted and mixed.
  3. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.
  4. Eat. Love and refrigerate your leftovers for late night snacking...
Be amazed and take full credit for this good-enough-to-eat-with-a-spoon piece of football watching heaven.  Even Prince Charming would push back slipping that glass slipper onto Cinderella's foot for a moment to taste.  

More to come....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Popovers + Patience

My Grandmother is the queen of making popovers and coincidentally after ten beautiful children she is most certainly the most patient woman I have had the pleasure of being around.  She has the ability to walk into a room and command the attention of every person without uttering a word. She is the definition of a true lady.  I get my sense of style from her and recently two hand-me-down dresses from the weddings of two of her children.  Her inner beauty glows so bright and each word she speaks is kind and gentle.  Our phone calls revolve around "Grandma remember when" or "tell me Danika, has Prince Charming found you" or "oh I miss you so much". 

She and I share a love for many things, among those are wearing dresses, hosting dinner parties, dancing and her popover recipe.  If you have never had a popover consider yourself to be missing out on one of the most simple food pleasures available.  These little pieces of mouth heaven are a staple for every meal at Dangerfield's (another one of the loves my Grandmother and I share) and one of the most requested at any dinner with my family (most often my Momma).

Although simple and few ingredients go into creating a popover, the time it takes to prepare and bake these little creations is extensive.  Popovers require patience.  If my Momma could give my future Prince Charming one piece of advice she would say "have patience please".

Simple Popovers
  • 1 cup flour (I love using Wondra)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs at room temperature (you can roll your eggs in warmer water 3-4 times if you do not have time to let them sit)
  • 1 cup of milk at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-2 Tbsp chilled butter diced into pieces
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450. 
  2. Spray your popover pan with nonstick butter (Pam or use shortening inside the cups)
  3. Place pan in center rack of oven and heat for 2 minutes.
  4. Blend flour, salt, milk, butter, eggs + sugar for 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are blended.  Use a hand mixer (my Grandmother swears it makes a difference) until your batter is resembling a heavy cream.
  5. Place diced butter into popover cups and fill the cups with batter evenly. 
  6. Sprinkle top of batter with sugar (just a little bit) or cinnamon or both if you are feeling it! 
  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 450.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 13-15 minutes.
  8. DO NOT under any circumstances open the oven - these little guys fill with steam to make them pop.  Thus the "popover" effect.
Your popovers will deflate so I recommend serving them straight out of your oven.  Throw into a basket with a colorful napkin or dishtowel and have perfection.  Get daring and mix up room temperature butter with honey (measure to taste) or use your favorite jam to spread!  

One of the most beautiful things about cooking is the patience it teaches you.  The older I get and the more life I am able to live, I begin to appreciate things such as patience and reliability and the ability of another person to be truly genuine and giving.  My Grandmother has instilled in me this phenomenal ability to find and appreciate these things in other people. 

If only I am able to age as beautifully as she has...

XOXO (all the way from Minnesota),

Monday, September 20, 2010

Perfect Pie Crust + Dating

It always begins as a fairy tale:  Cinderella meets a perfect pie recipe.

In the kitchen of fairy tales, this modern day Cinderella occasionally lends her hand to a second date.  The fairy Godmother simply shakes her head and states, "but my Dear, how is it you will find Prince Charming and live happily ever after?"  Fairy Godmother, this Princess-in-waiting has news for you, Prince Charming will find me (for my Mother's sanity, let's hope).  After all, is it not the being found which led Cinderella to happily ever after? 

The idea of finding the "perfect date" or let alone a perfectly charming yet imperfectly perfect match to my imperfect self is daunting.  It is the idea which most often keeps me awake at night.  Will he find me?  For this modern day Cinderella, dating has taken a less-than-what-my-Mother-hoped-for back seat ride in and through most of my 20s.  Now this has not been by choice.  Mind you I have found the "almost" and "oh absolutely never" and "well maybe"(s) of Minnesota, Illinois, Florida, North Dakota and most recently, Georgia.  If you are reading this and we have been on a date, through a bet or simply shared a kiss, you have found your way into my heart.  Each of you has played a different part in helping me to find, or not quite yet to have found, my Prince Charming.

How is it that ALL of this nonsense begins to associate to pie making you ask? It all begins with a great foundation:  The Crust.

My belief is that a man is made not by what he does, nor by what he says, nor by what he wears, nor by how he articulates his sentences.  A great man is made by patience, strong morals + values, strong will, a weakness for the woman he loves and determination to always do what is right.  Much like the men in our lives, each woman's perfect pie crust is different: some women like to try new recipes each time and some women have the same recipe which they have used for generations and for those like my Grandmother, all you want is one which "washes windows and has all his parts working".  For this kitchen-loving girl, I am still finding the perfect recipe for my pie crust.  Most recently, I tried Cornmeal Pie Crust:  this buttery sweet crust, originating in the south (to my favorite southern young man, this one is for you), took on a Yankee-like twist when I added my personal touch. 

Cornmeal Crust Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plain yellow cornmeal
2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup cold butter (unsalted), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
10 Tbsp. chilled apple cider (I love to use fresh from the orchard apple cider)
Cinnamon + Nutmeg for sprinkling after the dough has been rolled out
  1. Stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar + salt in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter + shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture looks like small peas (my Momma guided me through this by telling me to "use my hands").
  2. Mound the flour mixture on 1 side of the bowl and drizzle the apple cider, Tbsp. by Tbsp., into the bowl, mixing with a fork until the flour mixture is moist.  This will form your dough! 
  3. Gather the dough into 2 flat disks, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour (NOTE:  this is a great recipe to make the night before).
The filling may be different for each of us but what I have learned is that although the ingredients are few, they must be measured and put together "just so" to create an aroma that, while baking, fills your kitchen and keeps you wanting another slice. 

Enjoy :)

XOXO (all the way from Minnesota),

    Cooking in Heels and Pearls.

    Cooking for me is therapy...along with bubble baths, red wine, running and morning coffee in bed. 

    If you have had the pleasure of watching me cook you know that my hair is always neatly tucked up, more often than not I am wearing a dress (heels off in my momma's house), there are pearls in my ears, country music (Randy Travis, George Strait and Alan Jackson) is playing in the background and my apron is the statement of my outfit.  I am "that girl" who dreams of the day she has her own home full of noise and children running through the house and a husband, cooking in a kitchen designed to her specifications, with a china pattern for each season, silver handed down from her grandmother and crystal from her mother.  I want family holidays and Sunday suppers and football games and showers all to be hosted in my home....someday.  As my Mother reads this post, imagine her saying "sweetie, you need to date first then the rest will follow". Yes Momma, I know I put the cart before the horse when it comes to dreaming of my future. 

    I began collecting recipes a few years ago.  Four to be exact.  After realizing that I didn't need to read a recipe to cook, I began to write my own.  Each time I am in the kitchen, the aroma and sounds and tastes all bring back memories of holidays, birthday parties, celebrations spent with my family.  Growing up, the kitchen was the center of gathering.  The stove was always hot and Grandma or my Mother were running around pulling dishes or tasting dressings or letting us lick the bowl after brownies had been made.  To this day, the kitchen still bustles on weekends.  Only this time, it is me pulling dishes and calling to my Mother to ask about a time or temperature or to taste my chicken to make sure it is all the way done.  She still tastes my flour before I fry the chicken.  Someday Mom, I will tell my grandchildren about this memory. 

    My first kitchen jobs were little.  Grandma would stand me up on a chair and as I cried "but Grandma I need an apron" she would pull a white, perfectly ironed, dish towel from the drawer, usually embroidered with something, fold it like a triangle and wrap it around my waist.  From there, we would begin.  My mixing skills quickened with age, my height increased and the chair was removed from the equation.  Now, in my kitchen, I have a drawer full of white, perfectly ironed dish towels, one for each day of the week and hand embroidered.  This past year, I became a young woman by homemaker standards:  Grandma sent me home with Great Grandma's crystal, my very own 3rd generation cookbook and my very first set of Christmas dishes. 

    As I began to write my recipes and collect the favorites my Grandma and Mother had created, I realized a story goes with each as does a most important part:  a life lesson. 

    I hope you enjoy the unpublished version of "Life in Heels and Pearls".  As my Grandma says "someday we can all say we saw you here first".

    XOXO (all the way from MN),

    Friday, September 17, 2010


    Beautiful.  What is beautiful?

    I read a quote this morning that got to me:  "you don't love a woman because she is beautiful, but she is beautiful because you love her".  I thought about the past few weeks of my life, my sisters, the amazing 57 women I was able to connect with and speak to on Wednesday night and of the woman I am becoming.  I realize I could throw out endless nouns and adjectives to describe what I think it means to be beautiful but that to each of us beautiful is something different. 

    This morning, as I lay in my bed with coffee and my lap top, I am celebrating beautiful and what it means to me.  Beautiful is:
    • Love.  The ability to love someone is beautiful beyond belief.
    • The smell of coffee. 
    • The first snowfall as it blankets the ground in untouched white.  
    • A first kiss....and second, third, fourth
    • The sound of the water as it laps the beach.
    • Fish.  (please laugh as you read this - these slippery little creatures make me smile)
    • The sun rising and setting. 
    • My grandmother.  This beautiful woman has raised 10 incredible children and lives to love each day like it is her last. 
    • My mother.  If I could write a book about an influential person in my life, this woman would be my story.  She has taught me to love unconditionally and without stipulation.  My heart exists because of her.
    • Ice cream. 
    • My best friend Allison. She is the most beautiful person I have been lucky to mesh  my life with.  This momma-to-be of Baby Jake is beautiful beyond measure.
    • Forgiveness. 
    • Midnight mass on Christmas Eve. 
    • Waking up on Christmas Day with my beautiful little sisters to see what Santa brought.
    • Smiling. 
    • The smell of breakfast.  Someday I want a house full of family that smells like pancakes and syrup on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
    • Airplane landings.  Nothing is more beautiful than knowing I survived the flight :)
    • Flowers. 
    • Random acts of kindness. 
    • The way it feels to be loved.  
    • Believing in something or someone.
    Beautiful.  Use the word at least once today to tell someone that they are beautiful and why.  I promise, it will make you smile.

    XOXO (all the way from MN),

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    One Shoe Can Change Your Life.

    One visit to my closet and you will not only find a rather extensive collection of dresses but also, tucked neatly in their boxes, a handpicked collection of shoes.

    This collection began shortly after I started 10th grade.  I came to the realization that I was not a jewelry girl (not to be mistaken with the fact that a 2 carat diamond engagement ring will someday be on this left hand and my ears are adorn daily in pearls) but I did need to accessorize my outfits.  Christian Louboutin found his calling as an apprentice at age 17, in the dressing room of Paris' most famous cabaret the Folies Bergere.  I hope my early fondness for shoes finds me the success this creatively brilliant man has reached. I have my favorite heels and very few flats and a story to put with each pair.  The blue suede heels which were an emergency purchase at 8:55 pm in Las Vegas due to a broken heel on my favorite pair of yellow heels and there are the Christian Louboutin black pumps which were a gift (and my first pair) from my boss.  OH, and let's not forget the gray suede pumps I wore the day I saw "him".  

    Shoes are as much a part of an outfit as the need for a top and bottom to properly match.  All too often I will hear women say "oh well just pair black with that, no one will be looking at your shoes".  I have news ladies:  your shoes are noticed and the kicker is more men than women will notice the shoes you are wearing.  For all my single ladies out there now is a better time than ever to kick up your heels in a fabulous pair of soles.  If your pedicure from last week could speak, it would say "thank you for slipping me into something so fabulous".   

    The best part about shoes is that you do not have to be able to afford what a pair of killer black Christian Louboutins can do for your life or even put your tootsies into Cinderella's glass slipper (I assume to be made out of the finest crystal).  The reality is that beautiful, outfit accessorizing heels, flats and boots can be found at incredible prices.

    But where?  This is where I come in....see us at Peppermint Park during one of our Showroom Shopping days (Thursday, 3-8) and check out the designer shoes (for below designer prices) which we are collecting.   If the cold Minnesota winters do not work for you (which let's face it, who do they work for?) then I urge you to explore Nordstrom's seasonal shoe sale.  This girl has been known to spend hours in this shoe department and online.

    One shoe changed Cinderella's life...imagine what a fabulous pair will do for you. 

    Happy Sole Shopping :)

    XOXO (all the way from MN),

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Good Morning Sunshine.

    The makings of a really good morning are different for us all.  For some of us it is the peace and quiet which helps to roll into a beautiful day and for others it is the consistency of a morning routine.  Whatever your individual quirks may be, there is nothing like a new start to a brand new day.

    This weekend I was home.  A big change from my schedule lately.  On the weekends I get to spend at home, one of my favorite things to do is take off on early morning runs.  I live in a quiet area of Minneapolis and the scenery is that which one does not imagine when they think "big city".  The morning time is peaceful and untouched by noise.  There was a moment during my Saturday run which took my breath away.  I actually had to stop running and remind myself to breath.  In the hustle bustle and uncertainty of that which has been my life the past few weeks, I took a moment to breathe - outside of my blackberry, outside of my emails, outside of missing him, outside of arguing or being stressed out - and I realized all too often something as simple as the beauty of a 7:00 am run slips away from us and we forget these really important things that make us feel good. 

    The making of a really good morning for this girl is the 6:15-6:30 am wake up call I get from Georgia.  It is the voice which wakes me up with a smile and makes my morning a really good morning. The world could be falling apart and this voice would make me forget.  I got one this morning :)

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    For You I Will.

    I am that girl who changes her accent decorations by season and has summer/winter bedding.  My grandmother instilled this in me....right around the time she said "Danika, Grandma is going to teach you how to make a bed so someday when you have houseguests they will leave talking about your impeccable guest bedrooms". 

    I have recently swapped up the master bedroom (my room) in my condo to all white bedding.  I literally cleared out the room, less my king size bed, and have started from a blank canvas.  I would imagine Grandma would say "white! in winter!" and as much as I hate to disappoint her I kind of like the white.  On to the message behind this post...what to put on my walls. 

    Trying to decorate my condo, for the last two years, I have the terrible habit of putting the cart before the horse:  I am always thinking about the use of a decoration or piece of furniture after I am married with a home.  Will I use this?  What if I decide on a different color scheme?  As a matter of fact, I told my mother as we were leaving Home Goods this afternoon "Mom, I cannot wait to get married for another reason now", she replied with "and what's that", I simply stated "Momma, think of all the incredible things I can register for to decorate my house!"  She laughed, shook her head and kept walking. 

    I am a fan of the rooms of my home having themes, however, the one thing which follows through in each room is what I put on my walls.  This young lady has in each room, large picture frames which I fill with photos of the loved ones in my life.  Some women decorate with accent paintings (my mother and grandmother) and I feel that what adds the most character to my condo is not the bedding in my room or the dining room table which seats six but it is the story which my walls tell.  Each time I look at my walls I remember why I chose the photos and what each person means to me.  It is the sweet reminder that whispers "for you I will". 

    If you have made my walls, Lord knows we have a history together.

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Those I've Loved the Most.

    The last nine months of my life have been busy.  Busy being a general term I use to describe 110 hour work weeks, launching a website and traveling (for work).  I am a very social young woman therefore January brought about a change in my life.

    There are very few people who have stuck with me through this.  Those who have accepted that a return call or message from me might take 7-10 business days and although I am not able to make "the party" or "the event" I do send my best and a gift will be in the mail.  It was said to me in the very beginning of this venture that I would quickly recognize who my real friends were (my boss and mentor gives the most fabulous advice) and that it is at times lonely at the top.  This has not rang more true than in the past few months.  I owe these people a lot for keeping me in touch with reality.  You all hold a very special place in my heart.

    To my mother.  Although you are required to love me no matter what, you have been the support in my life which has kept me most grounded and in touch with my beliefs and values.  You have kept an ever so watchful eye over my decisions and helped to guide me through very tough times.  I could never imagine having a more wonderful influence on my life and a more incredible woman to call mom.  Thank you.

    To my boss and mentor.  You have been the person in my life that has believed in me and what I am capable of.  Your guidance and go-get-it attitude has changed me in ways I never thought possible.  You have given me the incredible opportunity to believe in myself and use my abilities to help create this magnificent company and guide it to through growth.  I am a stronger, more independent young woman because of you.  Thank you.

    To my best friends Allison and Meghan.  We met as young women ready to take on the world and have found each other again in adulthood only to become better friends.  The two of you each possess such amazing character and strength.  I look to you both for wisdom and support and never have we let each other down.  You are the voices on the phone and the smiling faces which keep me looking forward to all of the memories we have to come.  I love you both so much.

    To the pilot in my life.  You are the message I know will never go unanswered.  We have become such great friends over the past year.  Your ability to put up with me has taught me that patience is sometimes required and giving up on someone is never an option.  Although I really like to do things my way, you have shown me that sometimes it is better to modify "my way".  You are the young man I never knew I needed in my life but always wanted and the voice of reason when it comes to the boys I fall for.  Thank you for always sending a reply message.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Falling for fall.

    One of my favorite seasons in Minnesota is fall.  Don't get me wrong, I love heat and humidity and would rather live down south.

    If you have never experienced the cool and brisk mornings, changing colors of the leaves or an apple orchard I highly recommend an October visit to this state.  My favorite things about fall include:
    1. Apple Orchard and Pumpkin Patch visits.
    2. Baking.  Nothing says fall quite like the smell of apple and pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven.
    3. My riding boots paired with tights. I love being able to break these out on weekends with a plaid skirt.
    4. Football.  Who doesn't love spending Sunday afternoons in an NFL jersey eating hot chili or stew with homemade cornbread.  
    5. Leaves.  I cannot begin to explain how beautiful it is to be at our lake home during the fall.  Mother Nature has straight up outdone Crayola on this one.  
    6. Morning runs.  There is no getting too warm on these hour long ventures.  
    This weekend marks the Sunday each year (for the past two years) that I make our first "Fall Family Dinner".  Each year I create a new menu which makes my momma's kitchen smell divine.  I joke that this is the time when my mother loves me the most and my future husband will decide he cannot live with out me (i.e. this girl can cook).  On the menu for Sunday:
    • Brunswick Stew:  this southern recipe I stole and revamped during my plane ride home from Atlanta this past weekend
    • Cornbread:  no chili or stew is complete without it for dipping.  This time I am making it two ways: (1) in the oven with my grandma's recipe and (2) pan frying to crisp perfection.
    • Vegetable:  undecided.  Suggestions welcome!
    • Apple Pear Pie with Cornbread Crust served with vanilla bean icecream (NOTE: my mouth is watering with delight as I type)
    • Blueberry Yum Yum:  Allison's grandmother created this recipe and with her blessing I took it back with me to share with my family. After all, what is a proper dinner without two desserts choices to serve your guests! 
    • Hot Apple Cider:  complete with cinnamon sticks to stir.
    • Sunflowers for a table centerpiece in blue vases.  
    Keep watch for photos from dinner!

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Sweet Tea.

    This post is dedicated to my very favorite southern young man (if one considers Atlanta southern).

    Sweet tea was never something I was fond of.  To be honest, it made me sick.  My stomach could not take all the sugar and I much preferred it to be unsweetened or just not drink it at all.  I met, well not really met but began falling for with without actually meeting (another post sometime in the future), my very favorite southern young man and he quickly tried to tell me that a Yankee could never make sweet tea and he would never come for a visit if sweet tea was not something he could get up here (in Minnesota).  I tried to explain that it just wasn't something we preferred up here.  His response, "all y'all are crazy....I could drink a gallon of sweet tea each day".

    My recent trip to Georgia allowed me to give sweet tea a second chance.

    During my 1st day in Georgia (this was Thursday) I consumed 10 glasses of sweet tea.  These 10 glasses were to wash down the extensive amount of southern food which I consumed.  Nonetheless, I was hooked.  Although I was sick to my stomach, literally, I gave sweet tea another shot Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  This little body most-likely consumed its entire weight in sweet tea, all during a 5-day trip to Georgia.  It was the first thing I drank when I landed and the last before boarding to go back to Minnesota - I even got upset when the ATL airport cafe I was at did NOT have sweet tea ready.

    He would be proud to know that sweet tea and I have rekindled our relationship and I have made my very first pitcher of sweet tea this evening.  With a southern Georgia recipe :)

    Southern Sweet Tea

    3 cups water
    2 family-size tea bags (I used 4 regular size bags)
    3/4 cup of Splenda (one may use 1/2-1 cup sugar as well as any sweetener)
    7 cups cold water
    1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a sauce pan; add tea bags. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat.  Cover and seep 10 minutes.
    2. Remove and discard tea bags. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Pour into a pitcher and add 7 cups cold water.  
    3. Serve over ice :)

    Southern Charm.

    I had the most incredible five days in Southern Georgia this past week(end).  Adel, Georgia to be exact.  I have spent quite a bit of time in the area but never did it consist of such an immersion into "southern charm".  My best friend (Allison) is as southern as they come.  This grits lovin' blonde is everything which best defines southern.  She and her husband Cleve have a beautiful home in the country a short way out of Adel.  They are expecting their first child this October (hopefully earlier).

    I learned quite a few things during my time in the Deep South.  Here are a few of my favorites:

    1. The correct pronounciation is:  "peecans" not "peecons".
    2. Grits, all different kinds, over power the oatmeal in the cereal isle at any grocery store.
    3. Speaking of grocery stores, y'all have created names which make me giggle.  (Piggly Wiggly)
    4. Dove hunting is HUGE.  And no, not the white colored kind (I asked).
    5. Rabbit can be eaten. 
    6. Corn on the cob is sensational deep friend.  I mean really sensational.
    7. Drinking too much sweet tea in one sitting will make you sick.  Literally. 
    8. Boston Butt is incredible.
    9. Southern women talk more than I do.  Even more when y'all get together in groups.  I had to take a breather!
    10. Southern men truly still exhibit chivalry.  I will marry a southern young man. 
    11. I can tell the difference between a cotton field and a peanut field.  
    12. Boiling peanuts smells so incredible. They must be boiled for at least 1 hour 15 minutes with plenty of salt and water to cover.  
    13. My blackberry gets no service in Cook County, GA.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Breaking down

    My life is as imperfect as the summer day is long.  But within the imperfection I have become the young woman I am today.  I fight daily with this perfection I strive to achieve.  The battle is sometimes exhausting.  There are days I would love nothing more than to hide away from the world and shut my mind off.  Days that I would like to eat an entire pizza and not feel like I have to run 10 miles.  Days that I would like to wake up and wear sweat pants all day, in public and not worry about my appearance.  Days that I would like someone to worry about me and not spend hours wondering if everyone else in my life is okay.

    Each of us has our own story.  Our imprint on life.  We have the experiences which have made us the women we are today and the lessons learned which keep us remembering that no matter how bad it gets and how much easier it would be to give up, the sun will rise and set tomorrow and that there are people who count on us to keep going for them. 

    As women, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, we must wear different hats and be able to juggle the inconsistency of this daily, hourly.  We are the shoulder to cry on.  We are the smile and gentle voice which slows the flow of tears.  We are the band aid for a cut up knee.  We are the chef in the kitchen.  We are the voice of reason and the words of strength which keep others in our lives going.  We are the sweet song that sings our children to sleep at night and the soft hands to welcome them back to the world each morning.

    Today, as I sit here with a million things going on around me....I am taking a moment.  A moment to breathe.