Coconut Sweet Potato Bisque and the last vestiges of fall

Yes, I realize that fall isn't quite over, but I have to tell you. Fall = October. November/December = Christmas. And that's just plain fact.

My latest culinary obsession is the Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook and the Coconut Sweet Potato Bisque recipe found therein.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
4 cups and 4 1/2 teaspoons H2O
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (14oz can)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons REAL maple syrup (this ain't no place for Aunt Jemimah)
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (also known as a "dash")
Cutting knife
Vegetable peeler
Immersion blender
Large cast iron dutch oven
Tasting spoon

Wash, peel, thinly slice your potatoes.

Throw 'em in the pot with your 4 cups over water over high heat until they're boiling. Boil 20 minutes, or until you can easily break apart the potatoes with a spoon. Reduce heat to medium and if you have a potato masher, mash up the potatoes in the water. If not, a large spoon will do quite nicely. Add the coconut milk, sugar, syrup, honey, salt, pepper, and pumpkin pie spice. At this point, use your immersion blender to blend everything up together, being careful to keep the wand under the surface of the soup so you don't make a giant mess. If you do, it's ok though. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes and let it thicken.

In a bowl, combine the cornstarch and the 4 1/2 teaspoons of water to make a paste. Add to the soup along with the cayenne and blend again. This will thicken the soup even more to a deliciously creamy texture. Soup should coat the back of a spoon.

Permission to lose your mind granted. :)

Please note, if you do not have an immersion blender you can definitely use a food processor and work in batches transferring back and forth. I used to do that until I got an immersion blender and I can say with confidence it has changed my soup making life. This is the one I have.  Bon appetit!

PS, the Tupelo Honey Cafe is in Asheville, North Carolina, and if you ever have the chance to go, GO. Not an option.


I think I'm falling for you

To quote Colbie Caillat, and to jump on the trite fall sayings train, I'm falling for Fall. Since the first day of Fall, (September 23), after our impromptu Fall Festivous, our townhouse has been decked out. Not over the top, mind you, but simple things like mini pumpkins and a few wreaths just take us from blazing hot August right on to mild October.

[Sorry about the quality of the pics--iPhone will only get you so far.] Something I think is essential to winding your way from one season to the next...following your nose.

Please excuse the abrasive purple background. Yikes--but this candle smells amazing. It's definitely Fall, but with a hint of Christmas-around-the-corner. And now you know why I buy it year after year.
This one is a new one I picked up on a Target trip. Also known as a how-did-I-get-all-this-stuff-in-my-buggy trip to pick up "a few things". Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day soy candle in Orange Clove. AH-MAZING. I tell you, delicious.

[OK, this is more of an aside, but I have to tell you--Mrs. Meyer's countertop spray in Basil is likewise delightfully scented and will leave your kitchen smelling like you gave it a deep clean. Doesn't smell chemically, but light and refreshing.]

And, I know I'm biased, but how could you not love this sweet face?! I'm dying from the cuteness. 
[And, he's Fall colored. Win-win.]


Hold on to your hats, folks.

And, hello Fall! So nice to see you! I went a whole summer without blogging. And I'm sure my readers deleted me from many a bookmark. But just in case you didn't, I just wanted to drop in and say......I'm ba-aaaaack!!

So here are the highlights of my summer.

*moving day! Chapel Hill to Charleston [and a few trips to WalMart and Goodwill]
*went full time at work = [more dollars]

*Anniversary Numero Dos, [ice cream and cake and cake]
*Andrew started work at WaterMissions International as a Junior Engineer, [unfortunately, he does not drive trains]

*Andrew defended his thesis, [en garde]
*We got a Vizsla puppy and named him Diesel Leroy Chicken Wing Armstrong [love at first tinkle on my kitchen floor]

9,644 weddings [actually, three]
Barrett, my brother-in-law, moved in with us for a semester, [there's no such thing as leftovers]

*Nothing happened and it went by really fast [RULL fast]

Ah. Now you see? We are all caught up. And now it's mid-October. Practically Christmas, which you know just makes me all giddy with excitement.

And now, pictures of the puppy! True story, my first iPhone done kicked out after approximately two weeks so I lost all of the pictures of going to get Diesel at the dog show [fluff the tail, fluff the tail!] and all of his tiny baby Diesel pictures. So sad. But anyway, here's the ones I do have:

We went on a long walk and Diesel boy just plopped down in the grass. 

It's the wrinkles, I tell you.
Baby Diesel in the car on the way to Hendersonville last weekend.

Digging in the dirt at Alhambra Hall.
I do apologize for my tardiness in posting this. But it's going to be a wonderful Fall!


I gotta get this off my chest

1. Transition is hard. and good. It's both. Complexity, folks.
2. Money is hard. All at once we have too much and not enough.
3. Some days, I feel like I'm in a time warp. Age and innocence wrapped up in one soul.
4. We don't have cable. We don't need cable. But, man, I miss the Kardashians. {See number 2.}
5. I'm  l o v i n g  living at the beach again. But. IT'S REALLY HOT. yowza.
6. I'm so proud of my friends and of what each of them is accomplishing and attempting and learning and doing. And I'm learning to accept and embrace that we aren't all in "the same place" anymore. And that, my dear friends, is how we learn from the experiences of others. If we were all in the same boat, we would lack the opportunity to marvel at what God is doing new and different in each other. {See number 3.}
7. Some days I love my job, and some days I'm just thankful I have a job. And there ain't nothin' wrong with that.
8. It has been  h e a v e n l y  living with my husband again. I love him. And I'm reminded of the reasons why every.single.day.
9. I think about Christmas daily. It gives me the cool fuzzies. {See number 5.}
10. Peace, love, America.


So. I'm sorry? I made some lists...

I haven't written in almost a MONTH. a month. Sheesh. (But I was kinda busy. Not an excuse, I know. But I'm going to try and parlay it for one. 'Kay? Good.)

Also, my camera is on the fritz. Circling the drain. Headed south. That is, I've no pictures of our new abode as of yet. And I don't think you would want to see anyway because there's still boxes everywhere and pictures leaning against walls and a general disarray that lends no beauty to photographs. Unless it's like hipster messy. You know, like when artists are featured on a blog and they are trying to come across as so cool they don't even care if their bed is unmade? Yeah. It's not even like that.

Since the earlier part of May, aka the alleged date of my last post, we've done a lot of things. Even things before then that I didn't blog about. Like go see Noah graduate and get commissioned as an officer in the Navy. That was at the end of April. I didn't even tell you! Shoot. It was awesome. I loved America before, but boy do I love her now. Brought a tear to my eye. And I'm so proud of my big brother. So proud.

And then we moved. A week-long logistical extravaganza, you might say, that ended in sunny Charleston, SC. Since that day, Andrew has set a date for his master's defense and his start date at WMI. I've started full time at the hospital. (Hooray!) We've joined and plugged in to St. Andrew's City Church (total awesomeness). I helped throw a supercute (if I do say so myself) baby shower for Summer in Hendersonville. We celebrated two years of marriage (woot!). We're on the waiting list for a puppy (be. still. my. heart.) We've been to the beach, grilled out, gone for long walks, watched movies, hung out with friends, and generally enjoyed summertime and togetherness. It's been so good. This is the life.  One evening after dinner we were just chatting and cleaning up and really came to the realization of how good we have it. We have it so good. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you and Amen.

So now. Here's the goal over the next few weeks.
1. Finish the house. Maybe not like tooootally finish, but hang the rest of the pictures and get organized. You know. A house that's a home is never really finished, right?
2. Go to the beach 100 million times. This one's priority.
3. Paint some furniture. Pretty excited about this one.
4. Rest and enjoy life with my love.

It's a pretty good list. Not too lofty, but a few goals that need motivation and motion behind them. I've got a few other goals for the summer though, including but not limited to:
1. Purchasing a beach cruiser.
2. Obtaining some new furniture. I've got a list. It's a long one. Probably won't get it all this summer, but maybe a few pieces.
3. Couch to 5k.
4. Fishing
5. Make one of the more complicated homemade ice cream recipes with our ice cream maker.
6. Sew new throw pillows with some leftover fabric. Recycling. Ah.
7. Read books that make me smarter. But also that I enjoy.
8. Write a new song. Haven't done this in a while, but I think I'd like to give it a shot.
9. Beg, borrow, steal or buy a new camera. Hopefully not steal. That would be trouble.
10. Make more trips to GoodWill. Simplify is a good word to think on.
11. Keep up with blogging! YES!

Like I said, not limited to. And since I'm the editor of this list I can, of course, edit things out. Or in. :) I like being editor.

So there you have it. A small summary, but hopefully has y'all up to speed. Two things before I go:
1. I'm obsessed with Pinterest.
2. Congratulations and best wishes to Zach and Cristin on their engagement!!! Love you guys and can't wait to celebrate with y'all!



Wednesday, May Eleventh, Two Thousand and Nine

I'm still sweating and I haven't stopped. Between work, driving, the strange weather we're 'aving, mate, packing, laundry, errands--oh, the errands--I'm plumb wore out. And we haven't even moved in yet! Sheesh!

I feel like a horse at the Kentucky Derby, right before the gun, stuck behind the start gate. Not that I will ever know what that actually feels like, but this may be a tiny sliver of what it feels like. Holding pattern, I tell you. Holding pattern.

Thank goodness this is one of those times that, no matter how sloooow time is going, there will be a definite end to the waiting. Thank goodness.

I have so many ideas for crafty little home projects that I can't wait to get started on--but I have to move in first. And get organized. Organization is a must. After pretty much the opposite of organization for the last eight months, I think I would like organization to move in with us and become a permanent fixture around our house. Misery acquaints a man with strange bed-fellows, mmm? Yes. Do move in with us?

Here's the master plan:

Tomorrow after worksicle: UPS store, dry cleaners, then to the townhouse to CLEAN! I've debated this question for a handful of minutes here, and even though the place will indubitably get trashed by the very act of moving in, I would like to start out with my very own elbow grease rubbing the shine into the countertops, sinks, toilets, and at least to let my eyes rest on every little square inch of that place before I'm trying to shove things into the cupboards. (Out of sight out of mind? Not quite.) I want it to be spic 'n span. No, that is not product placement. But I do. Want it to be clean. Very clean.

Friday: Head 'em up, move 'em out. Lots and lots of boxes and thingssss at my parents' house will be loaded into Stella's spacious hind end (what? it's true) and unloaded in the New Place. These things mostly include kitchen stuffs and a random assortment of bedding, pictures, paintings, and otherthingsIstuckinboxes. My goal is to have everything land where it eventually will be living, as well as to totally unpack the kitchen and get rid of all of those boxes to make way for Prince Ali when he comes with the big furniture on Saturday. (Did you catch at Aladdin reference? Because I thought it was awesome.)

Saturdaze: Andrew + The Armstrongs-in-law will arrive at some point with a big ol' Pensky truck with the remainder of our worldly goods. We will unload said goods and start unpacking for REAL!

Sunday: Probably more unpacking. But I know one thing is for sure: my day will not include driving to or from anywhere. Unless it's to or from the beach.


Walk it out

A Springtime walk and some scenes from my favorite route in Chapel Hill.

A view up the road from our house.

Standing on the corner looking towards campus/UNC Hospitals. The cranes are helping build a new Dental school building. Gorgeous blue sky!

A house with heaps of potential, but coed residents keep it in a constant state of junkiness. Boo.

Another house with loads of potential.

Beautiful blooms!

From gloom to green in a few short weeks.

A little NC dogwood for you.

The Jimmy Dean Dome. (haha ;) )

Uphill. A.k.a. buns and thighs.

More potential.

The weirdest architectural design ever. It's scowling at me.


I have to tell you, it feels good to sit and take a breath! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind and the next few weeks are not looking to slow down either. We went to Rhode Island to see my brother, Noah, graduate from the Navy's Officer Candidate School (Delta Company ROOLZ.) And we went to Hendersonville for Easters. And then I got a horrible cold. And we worked and drove and packed and drove and packed some more. Our time of residence in Chapel Hill is coming to a close and just when we want to slow down and take it all in, everything goes to warp speed and it's over before we know it. Ain't that the truth? Pray for us in this time of transition, pleaseandthankyou.

Also, was the Royal Wedding not spectacular?! I loved it! AND my wonderful husband got up at 4am with me to watch it live so that I would not be oo-ing and ah-ing alone. What a peach. :)



It's official. We're headed South at the beginning of May. Well, South-er. To the Lowcountry, the glorious Lowcountry. Andrew accepted an engineering job at WaterMissions International where he will lend his hand and heart in saving thousands of lives annually by providing potable water to many of our great globe's poorest of poor and to those in the midst of disaster. I am so. incredibly. proud. I couldn't be prouder.

This weekend we made like Elmer Fudd and went "hunting wabbit", so to speak, only our wabbit has a door and four walls and a 12 month lease. We were quite successful, if I do say so myself, and ended our huntin' day with a sizable catch: a little brick row house in the Old Village. We are so excited! We can walk to the Pitt Street bridge, ride our bikes to Sullivan's Island, brunch at the Village Bakery...ah. I can't wait!

It's a funny thing, going home. Although I will be moving back to my hometown, my mind understands that it really will never be the home of my childhood, even if my heart is still lagging behind a bit. Because when you get dropped off at college, it doesn't really register that it's the end. The end of childhood, the end of things being as they once were. The end of free and easy as you know it. And it's a good thing. It really is. Children are supposed to grow up and become independent, mature adults. They are supposed to move out, get married, move away, and start families of their own. But sometimes, I wish I could close my eyes and go back. Back to Christmas morning with just the five of us and Muffin, too. Back to the sound of the clanging triangle signaling time to come home. Back to pizza toast and grape Kool-aid and a treat before choir practice. Back to Cove Creek and Red Eye, Manhunt, Dodgeball and Red Rover. Just for a second.

But. [And there is always a but.] I know that I can't. I can only reminisce and thank the Lord for my parents and siblings and what a fantastic childhood I had. I am in love with the man of my mother's prayers and thank goodness and praise the Lord he agreed to marry me. I went to an amazing university (Go Tigers!) and fulfilled my 14 year-old dream of becoming a nurse. I don't want to go back, because if I did, I would be missing all of this. The goodness of what is happening right now at this time, in this moment in my life. And it is good, so good. And who knows what comes next?! Only God knows, ain't that the Truth. So here's to the future--the exciting, scary, delicious, romantic, rocky, hilarious, hectic, wonderful, adventurous, unknown future--here's to it.

Here's to a brick-front townhouse off of Center Street, a new job, another season of life. Breathe in, breathe out, say a thankful prayer and move forward.


Shocking, I know.

Two posts a day apart??? Keep breathing, Reader. Boredom begets many a blog post.

Have I introduced you to this cat?

I didn't think I had....here he is, sunning on our stoop. He lives around our little duplex, and belongs to someone, but we don't know who. (I think he has an owner--Andrew thinks he's feral). But he loves me. I mean, seriously. Cat will be waiting in the driveway when I come home to Chapel Hill after a work week. (Andrew says he loves everyone, but I'm convinced. It's me.)

I don't know his name--sometimes I call him Basil, (with a short 'a', like the Brits), sometimes I call him Marbles. But mostly I just call him Buddy Boy or Sugar Pie or Honey Bear or Muffin Pants or some such endearment. I really don't even know if he is, in fact, a he. But what I do know is that this cat meows and meows and meows and rubs and rubs and rubs until you pet him and sit down and let him climb up and make himself comfortable in your lap. How could a cat this sweet be feral??? And how could he not want to run away and live with us for the rest of his nine lives? I think he wants to.

Now, before you go callin' me Cat Lady and buying me long denim jumpers for Christmas, let it be known that I love this cat because he is nice. Lots of felines are not nice. Not nice at all, i.e. you unwittingly reach out to pet them and subsequently pull back a bloody nub. But this kitty is a nice kitty.

So what if he faintly smells of dirt and dead animal. (It's true. Gross. I know. But hey, cat's gotta survive in the wild, right? King of the Jungle and all that. And vigorous hand washing after petting.)

I'm thinking he probably won't be coming with us when we move. Andrew already said I couldn't steal him. Durn.


For everything.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.:

a time to be born
and a time to die;

a time to plant
and a time to pluck up what was planted;

a time to kill
and a time to heal;

a time to break down
and a time to build up;

a time to weep
and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn
and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones 
and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace
and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek
and a time to lose;

a time to keep
and a time to cast away;

 a time to tear
and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence
and a time to speak;

a time to love
and a time to hate;

a time for war
and a time for peace.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3

O, that Wisdom would place her graceful garland on my head, that I may seek and understand this time.


What ha' happened was...

Andrew got me flowers for Valentine's Day. {Awwwwww!}

Dane asked Meghan to be his Lawfully Wedded Wife! {Awwwww, a second time!}

At some point I made Ree's Meatloaf for dinner.

And took pictures of it. All whilst my husband sat salivating by. How cruel.

Andrew and I went to "Science Day" at a local elementary school to help four classes of 3rd graders "swab" the environment and inoculate agar plates. Except you can't use words like "inoculate" and "agar". You have to say "smear the q-tip on the jello".

He wears his Toms every day of the week. And I like it.

Little bird, little bird--brush your gray wings on my head...{tweet, tweet!}


Since last time

12 days is too long since my last post. Sorries all around, folks. Life on the road just gets under the fingernails and it takes a little bit to scrape all the dirt out. Rinse and repeat and such.

Andrew and I are sitting al fresco at Foster's Market in Chapel Hill with the hum of the traffic, the chirping and tweeting birds and the rotund bumble-bees' buzzing as our backdrop to this glorious sun-streaked afternoon.  There is a ginormous genetically engineered Golden-doodle nearby, smiling and drooling while his owner sips her raspberry soda and thumbs through a magazine. The conversations of nearby tables float over our heads, snippets of deals struck and prices negotiated rhythmically bobbing in the atmosphere.

It's the middle of March, Lent has begun--the season of waiting for Easter to arrive. This Spring holds so much. So much transition. So much accomplishment. So much hope. A little bit of rest for the weary. A time to get to work in a different way this go around. Something different for all this sameness. Like a childhood vacation spot revisited, geographically the same but feeling a little looser than last time.

Daylight saving time started last night, (also known as summer time according to Wikipedia), which means church was a little thin this morning, even with the ubiquity of cell phones that automatically take care of the time change. Kind of a goofy thing we made up ourselves to make the summer days longer and the winter days shorter, but I'll take it. Grilling out for dinner is much less romantic in the dark.

I have a camera full of photos to dump and post, but I just haven't gotten around to it. For all of you who read for the pictures, I promise they are coming. I just have to find the chord... :)


Winding down

The best part of my {work} day, somewhere between seven and nine o'clock.

A broken off square of Ghirardelli Twilight Delight chocolate, (At 72% cacao, this heavenly morsel is sweet enough to satisfy, but bitter enough to stop you from eating the entire bar. And really. Could there be a more perfect name for this piece of nighttime quadratical loveliness?? I think not.)...

And a hot cup of Bigelow Sweet Dreams tea. In a pretty cup, of course. (For what is tea without it's teacup? Hot, dirty water.)

Happy March, lovelies.

(Hurry, Spring, hurry!)


Spring, come on down!

I know I have previously confessed to you my fatal flaw of willing the next season to hurry up and get here...well, let me just sheepishly raise my hand and mutter, "guuuiiiiiilty", because Spring has sprung, whether or not it's reflected in the calendar date or the weatherman's forecast. Spring officially begins March 20th. But who wants to wait for twenty.more.days? Not I, said the fly.

For some reason, with every first bloom of the Bradford Pear trees, I am compelled to paint my finger and toe nails a bright, sunny shade of something deliciously girly and happy. This year it's the old cheeky standby, Cajun Shrimp. My good man.

Of course, I have more selfish reasons to encourage the coming of Spring--only eight more weeks-ish of driving back and forth, back and forth. I am ready to be a full time wife again. I miss my hubby every day that I'm not with him. It's time to reunite for good. Period. End of story. Thanksverymuch. Take a bow. The End. Fin. I can hardly believe that we have been doing this for six months already. Time flies when you're on the highway two days a week. (That's not how the saying goes, but...still. Time flies.)

How'd we do it?? Well my first answer is I HAVE NO IDEA. But upon ruminatin' a little more, I would say, 1. iChat, 2. Free Audiobooks app on our iPod, 3. Prayer and compromise. (Number three's a two-fer, but four is just an awkward number for a list, don't y'all think?) iChat kept us sane--seeing someone while you're talking with them makes a huge difference. Free Audiobooks have improved my vocabulary and my education instead of allowing me to follow my compulsion to mash "scan" over and over again until I know the song on the radio. And prayer and compromise...well you can probably guess that being apart the majority of the time is tough cookies. Like old leather tough. You get selfish with your time--and when I say you, Reader, I mean I. All of those, and knowing it's not forever has helped me keep my head on straight. As opposed to it spinning off into orbit. We've come close, but--so far-- still attached.

Anyway, Happy Early Spring to you and yours. Regardless of the calendar, my attitude is of Springtime, my heart says it is so. So it must be. :)




Sadly, this is not a post about the deliciously flaky, buttery chocolateness that is my favorite Yogurt Pump topping.

I got home Thursday night to find that, sob, in the course of the afternoon as Andrew, my dear sweet husband, had precariously and gingerly perched the coffee pot in the drainboard atop a bit of other miscellany: it fell. It crashed. It shattered. No more coffee pot. No more automatic morning aroma of nutty goodness. No more pause and serve. No more. Through no fault of his own, Andrew had inadvertently perched our beloved carafe on the thin edge of it's demise, and it had tumbled to it's inauspicious end.

I tried not to be upset. But the bitterness, like cold coffee grounds, was ever-present in the back of my throat. To stifle my pain and relieve the burgeoning headache from the lack of caffeine, we French pressed our way to an overstimulated stupor.

In my grief the next day, I took to cleaning. Scrubbing, dusting, laundering. I deep cleaned every appliance in our tiny kitchen. I laundered our bedding, couch cover, towels--anything that could be removed and covered in a goopy layer of Shout. Toward the end of my disinfection rampage, I began to dry all of the wet dishes in the drainboard. There were trays and racks from the toaster oven and microwave, bowls, plates, etcetera--I picked up the glass turntable for the inside of the microwave. It was covered in water droplets. I swiped them away with my colorful dishtowel, and as I was moving toward the microwave to replace said item, it slipped. I lurched to recover the heavy glass, but it was awkward in my hands and still wet--it crashed to the floor. My eyes screwed shut, I didn't want to look at the fate I knew had befallen the appliance accessory. It was in a billion pieces. One. Billion. At least. I couldn't believe it. In the span of 24 hours two of our most used appliances were completely out of commission.

Today, we googled. We whipped out the debit card and purchased replacement parts. A small fortune later, we breathed a sigh of relief. In a few short days--coffee will be brewing and popcorn will be popping yet again in the Armstrong household.

Crisis averted.


Bonne Saint Valentin!

To my one and only Valentine,

I love you to the moon and back, forever and a day. You're the syrup to my waffles, the creamer to my coffee, the jelly to my toast.

You just make everything sweeter!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! On a day all about love, don't forget to tell the ones you love the most how much they mean to you. Hallmark may be making a killing, but Love wins in the end.


Keep Your Hands Off My Doritos.

What a perfect day to have the sniffles, if the sniffles must prevail. Chilly, windy and overcast, sprinkles of rain here and there.

I want to bake, but my hiney says, please. do not.

I want to read, but I just finished my latest novel, Little Bee.

So, here I sit in the bed: two sweaters, wool blanket, full box of Puffs [plus Lotion], mint tea. Playing on the computer. Do they still have Oregon Trail? I've got a hankerin' to play that game. To ford the river or take the long way around? Let's live on the edge: ford, we shall!

I found this the other day and made it my desktop, and methinks you should do the same. I stumbled across it through Poppytalk, gah--the cuteness. There's just a few blogs out there with cool stuff on them, hm?

Anyone excited about the Soooooper Bowl? or the commercials?? I wonder what gems the corporate marketing think tanks have come up with this year.

Anyhow, alls I'm hoping for is some good dip. None of that sissy Skoal stuff.


Did you know? {Groundhog's Day Edition}

Tomorrow, (February 2nd), will be Punxsutawney Phil's 125th prognostication. Which basically means Phil's got some serious longevity in his genome.

Phil lives in a burrow on Gobbler's Knob. Just say that out loud. Gobbler's Knob.

Before being dubbed "Phil" he was called Br'er Groundhog.

A groundhog is also known as a woodchuck. However, "how much wood could a groundhog chuck" doesn't really present the same challenge.

Let us have a moment of silence and pray that Br'er Groundhog does not see his shadow, henceforth cursing us with six more weeks of winter.

{Dear Springtime, please hurry! Love, MaryGene}


The list goes on.

1. Guilty pleasure: Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

2. January, February, and March are useless to me. And cold.

3. When my hair is long, I want it to be short. When it's short, I want it to be long again. And I can't.stand.it. when it's in the in-between stage. #shudder

4. I'm afraid of my bathroom scale right now. #doubleshudder

5. In a few months, I will face the annual battle and recurring question: to tan or not to tan?

6. I really shouldn't tan.

7. Valentine's Day is coming up. Do you have your doilies at the ready?

8. I love hotdogs.

9. I really shouldn't love hotdogs.

10. Whenever I say wikileaks, I have to concentrate not to say winkileaks, or wikilinks. Not that I say wikileaks that much. I'm just sayin'.

11. See? This is what kinds of posts you get in January. Boooo-rinnnng.

12. My apologies. Let's hope for a more stimulating February.



 1. The pies have it. {Williams-Sonoma}

2. One-piece of cake. {Anthropologie}

 3. Two toned kicks. {Gap}

4. The fluff factor. {House of Turquoise}

5. Statement studs. {Stella & Dot}


Better late?



It's 2011?

What just happened?

Last I checked I was squaring up a rotund, homegrown pumpkin on my front stoop, craning my neck to see if the October issue of Martha was in my postman's hot little hand.

And there it came and there it went. And ThanksgivingChristmasandNewYear's rolled by right along with it.

I wouldn't say that 2010 was a bad year, either. It was fraught with good times and tough times, elation and despair, frustration and epiphany. January through August, which seem like eons ago, were spent grasping for a nursing job, whilst the summer was whiled away making-over the greater Southpoint area at the nations most user-friendly cosmetic store. [Would you like to sign up for two free issues of InStyle magazine?] And then came the job offer that was both impossible and incredible in the same breath. Scrubs, stethoscope, and a full tank of gas, I headed south for the winter. Well, three days a week at least.

One thing I've learned in my sage 24 years of life is that things rarely go as planned. Plans are for the birds. Plans are unmet expectations waiting to happen. Disappointment in the flesh. Do I sound jaded? I don't mean to be. I'm declaring the folly of plans, not the futility of hope, mind you. Hopes are altogether different than plans. Hopes are born of God, plans are ferreted out my me, myself, and I. To hope is to trust. To plan is to control. And to contrive to control is to cater to that niggling little part of me that doesn't hope, trust, or persevere. To give over to the bully who mutters in a huff, "if you want it done right, do it yourself!" is to deny the sovereignty of my Maker. Do I really think I know better? Sheesh.

And so 2011, I relinquish my resolutions, my plans, my deadlines.

But I will keep tight hold of Hope, tucked in my heart and held by a string.


Scraaaaappy New Year, e'er'body!

Here's the shakedown of our Christmas and New Year's goings on. Not really, it's just some photos. So, it's more like a mini shakedown.

PW's French Onion Soup for Andrew's and my Christmas dinner. Sacré bleu, is all I have to say about that.

Presents under the Christmas tree. Yippy skippy!

Now, I can't take the credit for this idear, because as you might've guessed it's from the January issue of Martha Stewart Living. It's obviously very easy and it's a nice way to let your tree live on for a few weeks into January without having to feel like a lazy bones for having the full regalia of Christmas decorations up until Valentine's Day.

A bunch of tulips, a coupla carnations, some branches from the ol' Fraser fur and you've got yourself a soothing, simple January bouquet. I threw in the snowflake ornament just for kicks. And because it was still attached to the branch I cut off.

For auld lang syne!

Happy New Year,