Archives for December 2009

Then & Now

There’s something awfully fun about anticipating Christmas with a six year-old in the house. For the last few days our little guy has been WIDE OPEN, and he has jumped non-stop. Jumped down the aisles at the grocery store. Jumped down the hallway. Jumped down the driveway. Jumped from couch to couch at his friend AC’s house.

You might say that he’s beside himself with excitement.

Earlier tonight I was watching Alex put a couple of presents under our Christmas tree, and I had a flashback to his first Christmas. I remember how hard he worked to get wrapping paper to cooperate.

I remember how sweet he was.

And how happy he was. OH, THE HAPPY.

He’s a few feet taller now, and unlike that first Christmas, he only sits still for five to eight seconds a day. He unwraps gifts at lightning speed. He also wouldn’t stand for his mama dressing him in a one-piece black corduroy ensemble with candy canes appliqued on the front.

But you know what?

Even though he’s a little more rough and tumble these days, he’s still so sweet.

And he’s still so happy. OH, THE HAPPY.

And there’s still nothing more fun than being his mama – Christmastime or anytime.

Merry Christmas, Boo!

In Which I Dish On China

A few days ago David helped Mother / Martha / “Martie” move into a garden home (oh, the stories. THE STORIES.), and when he made it back to our house Sunday afternoon, he walked in the front door with a special treat.

GIN!

Oh, I kid. Kiddy McKidderson Kid.

Because do you know what’s really inside that box?

CHINA!

I know that might not seem very exciting to a lot of people, but let me tell you: I am such a fan of pretty dishes. Apparently I inherited the loves-pretty-dishes gene from my mama, and I have been crazy about china since I was in high school. It makes me laugh that I can be so sentimental about, you know, PLATES, but I totally am. I remember all the dishes my mama has ever owned, and if I ever happen to run across a full set of the everyday pattern that she used when I was a little girl, I’ll probably cry just a little bit.

Now I feel like I should go hide. Perhaps I’ve overshared.

Anyway.

Since Martha’s new house doesn’t have quite as much storage space as her old one, she was very sweet to give me 12 place settings of a china pattern that David’s daddy bought when he was stationed overseas back in the 50s. I can’t even tell you how much I will treasure it. The pattern is Noritake LaSalle, and I LOVE IT. It’s so different than anything else I have – I think it’s delicate and retro and modern all at the same time.

By the way, I’m pretty sure that you’re officially a grown-up when you enthusiastically snap a picture of a covered vegetable bowl.

But DID YOU NOTICE THAT FUNKY HANDLE? ISN’T THAT THE GREATEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN?

It took me all of five minutes before I started trying to figure out how I could mix the new-to-me pattern with dishes I already have. My fine china is Lenox Eternal, and I love how it looks with the LaSalle salad plate. I think they’ll look sassy on top of some charger plates I bought a few years ago at Old Time Pottery – they were a whopping $1.50 a piece, I think.

Won’t they all be so purty together on Christmas day? Is it wrong that thinking about all the mix-and-match china makes me a smidge giddy? Do I need to go hide again?

Maybe I need to go hide again.

I love the cups and saucers, too – even if the cup will only hold about two tablespoons of coffee. Because those two tablespoons of coffee will look fab next to that kicky handle, now won’t they?

So what about y’all? Do you use your “good” dishes on Christmas day? Do you have a favorite Christmas pattern? Do you like to mix and match the dishes you have? Or do you save yourself the headache of having to wash a bunch of dishes and just break out the paper stuff instead?

I Have So Many Thoughts

So this past Friday night I went to a book club Christmas party at my friend Leigh’s house, and somehow we landed on the subject of pageants. Everybody in our book club is from Mississippi, and between the six of us we know a fairly freakish amount of Mississippi pageant trivia. IT’S OUR HERITAGE, PEOPLE.

Anyway, we had a blast talking about different Miss Mississippi talents throughout the years, and by the time my friend Gwen showed us how she walked in the poise and appearance preliminary of Mississippi’s Jr. Miss, we were laughing so hard that we weren’t making any noise. The whole night was just a treasure.

When I got home from the party I decided to do a little YouTube research, and sure enough, I found some great Mississippi pageant moments online. But what proved to be an even bigger treat were the clips from old Miss America pageants. David and Alex were out of town, so I’ll have you know that I took advantage of my Friday night freedom by sitting at my desk for two solid hours and CLAPPING MY HANDS while watching YouTube.

I mean, IS THIS NOT A WONDER?

It’s probably my favorite Miss America talent of all time, if for no other reason than how thoroughly she handles her “guns.” She takes them out, she uses them, she puts them away, she takes them out again, she uses them again, she blows off the gun powder, she puts them away again, she takes them out one more time, she uses them one more time, she blows off the gun powder one more time, she puts them away one more time, AND STILL SHE NEVER QUITS CLOGGING. I say bravo.

Somehow all my clicking around led me to the Parade of States from the 1974 Miss America pageant, and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I think it changed my life a little bit. I paused and rewound the clip more times than I can tell you, and I am so convinced that the entire world needs to bask in its brilliance that tonight before supper I made David watch it.

He just smiled and nodded and pretended to care. Clearly he doesn’t share my appreciation for fine American culture. Or bouffant hair.

I’ve been thinking for a couple of days about how I can possibly express the depth and breadth of my appreciation for this little nugget-o-70’s-gold, and I think it’s best to keep it simple. Which is why you’ll find a numbered list following the video.

1. I want to be friends with all of the dancers.

2. Dancer Kathy seems to have specialized in modern dance with a heavy concentration on the works of Bob Fosse. Well played.

3. Lisa, the former Miss Florida, likes to bust a move and isn’t afraid to break it down on national television. She also enjoys green.

4. Kevin Reynolds never figures out where he’s supposed to be looking. BUT HE KEEPS ON DANCIN’, BY DIGGITY.

5. About two minutes in, Lisa cranks up her moves again. It’s like watching Elaine Benes crossed with Ann-Margret in “Bye Bye Birdie.”

6. When Kevin decides he’s going to sing to the other camera, it’s still not the right one. But what he lacks in following stage directions, he makes up for with pure lip-synching effort.

7. Meanwhile the contestants continue to literally walk in circles. Over and over and over.

8. Around the 2:40 mark Lisa almost wipes out after a tricky spin, but thankfully she catches herself. That’s poise in action, my friends.

9. I can see somebody like Jessica Alba walking the red carpet in Miss Alabama’s complete ensemble. The hair, the earrings, the dress – the whole thing. Thirty-five years later, it’s all strangely modern.

10. Miss Georgia is DARLIN’ PLUS. I love her dress.

11. I bet Miss Idaho has wrestled with some profound regret about what she wore in the parade of contestants. It was an unfortunate choice.

12. Miss Kansas’ hair has some height and volume that frankly I find quite enviable.

13. Miss Michigan’s voice fascinates me. I’ve listened to her introduce herself at least seven times. It’s like some sort of golden harp.

14. Nobody has ever been less excited to be in Miss America than Miss New Hampshire. I want to hug her.

15. Ohio was fortunate to be represented by a very big bow. And also a cute girl with brown hair whose name I missed because OH MY WORD, THE BOW.

16. Miss Texas’ gown is divine. It looks like something Sue Ellen Ewing would have worn to a dinner at Southfork for the Cattlemen’s Association. Or maybe I’m projecting. But still: dreamy.

17. As Sister mentioned to me earlier today, this pageant was pre-implants, pre-Botox, pre-Restylane, pre-let-it-all-hang-out. And oh my goodness – these girls are absolutely beautiful. Natural. Unique. Real. And the clothes are FAB.

18. Reality television has taken the place of Miss America, hasn’t it? Girls don’t want to be Miss America; they want to be the next American Idol.

19. So before I start to overanalyze this whole thing, I think I’ll just watch the video again instead.

20. You can hardly blame me for wanting to practice some of those sah-weet dance moves.

Linky Interwebby Awesomeness 12.19.09

“Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad has been the subject of two different conversations with friends this week. It’s an absolutely beautiful Christmas song – and I don’t think I’ve listened to it once without immediately listening to it again.

This post of Jon’s got an “amen” out of me this morning. Before I’d had any coffee, even.

This post of Beth’s is just chock full of wisdom and perspective.

– A couple of years ago Shannon recommended The Jesus Storybook Bible. I didn’t order it at the time – thinking I’d get it when Alex was a little older – and then I promptly forgot about it. Because I’m organized like that.

Well, this past Monday night Andrew Peterson read from that very book at the beginning of his concert, and my friend Keely mentioned how great it is. So I ordered it the next day. And yesterday, when the box from Amazon arrived, I sat down in the middle of my living room floor so I could read it. By page three my eyes were all watery. It’s incredible.

Butter. It Is Our Friend.

As much as I love to cook, I have never really been one for baking. It’s way too exact for me. I’d much rather make something where I can throw in a dollop of this and a dash of that and a heap of something else and then stick it in the oven until it smells like it’s done.

Plus, baking sometimes requires special equipment like candy thermometers and double boilers. And also baking doesn’t involve nearly enough cheese.

But.

There’s something about Christmastime.

And for the last couple of weeks, I have been baking up a storm. At least by my standards. Compared to your standards, I’ve probably just been baking up a light shower. Nonetheless, I thought I’d share a few bake-y recipes that I love.

Note: you will not see any homemade candy on this list. I draw the line at having to use a candy thermometer. It’s bad enough that baking requires me to do all sorts of math.

Mama’s Pound Cake – It’s a classic.

Hummingbird Cake – This is one of the first layer cakes that I ever made, and it’s still one of my favorites. The pineapple in the layers makes me so happy.

The Bar – I made this recipe for the first time tonight, and OH. MY. WORD. I don’t know when I’ve ever tasted something and thought, Well, this is just butter in all its glory. I’m taking these to a Christmas party tomorrow night, and then I’m going to make another batch next week because my mama WILL. LOVE. THEM. Three sticks of butter makes everything better, you know.

Coconut Cake – I’m not usually a fan of coconut. But these cake layers are so delicious that they totally won me over.

Peanut Butter Blossoms – Peanut butter. Chocolate. Sugar. Butter. What’s not to love?

Lucy’s Chocolate Pie – My grandmother’s chocolate pudding recipe is the best. THE BEST. And in a baked pie shell? With some homemade meringue on top? Perfection.

(Just FYI: for my meringue, I whip four egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. When the egg whites make stiff peaks, I spread the meringue on top of a cooled chocolate pie, then put the whole thing in the oven until the peaks start to get some color on them.)

Apple Dumplings – These are so good that I talked about them for two days after I made them. Could not get over how something so simple could be so delicious. I’m planning to make them this Christmas Eve, in fact.

Chocolate Citrus Cake with Candied Oranges – I made this cake last week. I skipped the candied oranges step because it was after 10 at night when I iced the cake and MAMA NEEDED SOME SLEEP. My cake didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as the picture next to the recipe, but let me tell you what: the layers of this cake – and the chocolate ganache in between – are ABSOLUTELY DIVINE. I think when I make this cake again I’ll probably just do the cake with some whipped cream and candied oranges on top. No icing. The layers are THAT good.

So those are my favorites – what are some of yours?

I Have Only Myself To Blame

Let me be clear: this is just MY laundry basket.

Please note that YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE THE BASKET.

I have no choice but to tackle it. What with my preference for wearing clothes that are, you know, clean.

So I guess we all know what I’ll be doing this afternoon. My goal is to finish (wash, dry, fold, PUT AWAY) everything in the basket. And to not get sidetracked by the sheets that need to be changed. And the towels. And the dishcloths. And the this. And the that. And the other.

(By the way, does anybody else see the look of condemnation on Ally’s face in the background? She’s all, I never let my laundry pile get that big. You wouldn’t find yourself in this situation if you’d do a couple of small loads every day.)

(I think she may even be rolling her eyes.)

(SOMETIMES SHE’S JUST SO CRITICAL.)

Anyway, I hope y’all are having a great day. I’ll be elbow-deep in Gain if you need me.

But the good news is that my Gain-covered elbows, they will smell DELICIOUS.

The end.