November 30, 2010

A Holly Jolly Giveaway!

lenny resize{Leon’s Christmas Card pic from last year…yes, I send out pictures of my dog…just to a select few people}

I'm not really sure when the whole tradition of sending out a family picture with your Christmas cards started, but my family has always participated. When I was young, my mom would get my brother and I gussied up and take us to Deuel's, the local photography studio in my hometown, to have our Christmas card picture taken. I was responsible for smiling and sitting patiently while the friendly photog and staff attempted to coax a smile from my brother while he proceeded to scream bloody murder, pitch massive fits, pee himself, or barf on me (or any combination of those).

xmas11{don’t let this adorable face fool you…my bubbie could pitch one heck of a fit}

As we got older, the Christmas card picture evolved to feature our entire family. We've done every trendy pose under the sun....on a beach in all white and khaki, in front of a fireplace, in the front yard of our house in a pile of leaves, etc. Every year starting in about August, anytime a photo is being taken of us, it never fails that someone says "Let's try to look good...this could be the Christmas card!"

This year our picture was taken on a farm. It's a pretty decent shot (i.e. nobody's eyes are closed and all flies are zipped...I think). I was actually planning to participate in a promotion Shutterfly is doing for bloggers who post about its products in order to receive 50 free Holiday Cards. My mom and I were playing around on Shutterfly after Thanksgiving and we decided to go ahead and order the card we created on there. It was so easy to upload our image and complete our card that my mom didn't want to wait for the free promo code.

PHOTOCARD-103-4299-MERCHLARGE_FRONT-v1282092209000100959       PHOTOCARD-103-4284-MERCHLARGE_FRONT-v128209220700097390

Here are a couple of the cute options available to you on Shutterfly. Since we were so happy with the results of our card, I decided to post about it and share the love with one of you. All I have to do is upload a link from this post to Shutterfly and they will send me a promo code. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and I'll select one winner for the 50 free cards. Any takers? I’ll try to get the code asap so you can create and order your free cards! The turnaround is pretty quick so you should have plenty of time!

November 29, 2010

Only in the south: Small town laughs

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving and that you were able to spend some time doing something you enjoy (eating!). I wanted to take a break from the traditional holiday content and share a story that I found hilarious. I'm not sure if this falls under the "only in the south" category or maybe just "only in a small town," but either way, it cracked me up.


I spent several days in my hometown for the long weekend and each time I return there, I am reminded of all the sweet and simple things that are afforded by small town living. On the flip-side, I am also reminded of how life in a fishbowl has its pitfalls too. Early Friday morning the phone rang at my parents' house and I heard my mom having this conversation. "Well, I'm not really sure what kind of cologne he wears....I think Polo?" Then a pause..."Oh so you want to know exactly? Ok, hang on. Let me go look in the bathroom closet." Footsteps down the hall. "Yes, it's Polo, Double Black. In a black bottle. Yes, Double Black. Oh, ok well you can tell her that."


The person on the other end of the phone was my aunt. Apparently, her good friend works at the dry cleaners where my dad has always taken his shirts to be cleaned. The friend said that his shirts smell so good when they get dropped off that she just had to know what kind of cologne he wore so she could buy some for her husband.

Ralph Lauren Polo Double Black [L]-1

I'm not sure what I find funnier about all of this. The fact that someone smells my dad's dirty shirts or the fact that she was curious enough to ask about it, but tasked my aunt with the job of inquiring. Maybe the thing we should be most concerned about is the fact that my dad is spraying so much cologne on his shirts. But only in a small town in the south would this scenario play out. I bought him the cologne for his birthday so I guess I should feel good that it is such a hit with the ladies. Who thinks I should contact Polo's advertising department and tell them I just found their new ad strategy?

Happy Monday!

November 24, 2010

Easy Delicious Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

In my house, the humble punkin’….er, pumpkin is a celebrated thing. Every year, I count the days until November when I can eat pumpkin pie for breakfast and feel justified in doing so. I always have canned pumpkin on hand because it works wonders for my pampered pooch’s delicate digestive system. This might be too much information, but it never fails to regulate him either when he can’t go or he can’t stop going. Pumpkin is a truly magical food. Last year, my family had a Thanksgiving celebration in the common room at my late-great-grandfather’s assisted living facility. We had the main part of the meal catered, but my aunt, from Nashville, brought the most delicious pumpkin pie I’d ever tasted. The next week, I emailed her husband to ask for his “sweet wife’s recipe.” He responded by saying that while she was indeed sweet, the recipe was to go to Sam’s and buy a pie. I’ll definitely be picking one up this year.
I’m no respecter of pumpkins….I’ll eat it any way. This past weekend I made “Pumpkin Pie French Toast” as well as “Apple Pumpkin Butter” and “Pumpkin Doughnuts.” I said I loved pumpkin, didn’t I? So without further delay…..The Recipes!!!!!
Pumpkin Pie French Toast
  • 5 or 6 slices thick challah (I used regular whole grain bread from the Kroger bakery)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup pure canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • maple syrup for serving
Slice and quarter the bread and assemble in a large greased baking dish. Layer it up and try to fit the pieces in as best as possible. Whisk together eggs, milk, syrup, pumpkin and spice. Pour the mixture over the bread and make sure it seeps into every nook and cranny. Let the bread soak up some of the liquid for about 45 minutes. Then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar/syrup to taste.
DSC01863{The finished product before slicing to serve}
Pumpkin Doughnuts
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
Blend first seven ingredients together well. Combine remaining ingredients and stir into the dry ingredients until moistened. Fry in hot oil (I used vegetable) dropped in by small spoonfuls (I used my Pampered Chef mini scoop that I also use for making perfectly round sausage balls….it worked great). Drain hot doughnuts on a paper towel and then transfer to a brown paper sack of powdered sugar. Shake the sack until the doughnuts are coated evenly. Try not to eat just one.
DSC01864 {I used my egg white separator to lift them out of the oil….such a handy device!}
DSC01865{these were delicious!…I can’t wait to make them again}
Apple Pumpkin Butter
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Chill, keep refrigerated. Makes 2 pints.
DSC01866{very yummy on pancakes or toast….or really anything!}
So this was my foray into the world of pumpkin….I hope you saw something you liked. I’m very thankful for pumpkin, but also thankful for low-calorie breakfast shakes….everything in moderation, right? Happy Wednesday!

November 23, 2010

An Apple of a Day

beyonce in a cute dress.bmp

I see all kinds of talented bloggers making money from their blogs, but I've never really had any plans to turn Southern Belle Simple into a source of revenue. I don't have any ads and until recently, had never received anything free to review. I know there are very specific rules about this sort of thing, but you need not worry because I wouldn't tell you something was awesome if it wasn't. A few weeks ago, I received my first bit of blogger swag and I have to say, I felt a little like a celebrity.

The southern beau and I attended a local art gallery prowl and stopped in the new shop of a local purse designer who has received tons of national attention lately. I had heard of JulieApple Handbags and seen them online, but wasn't aware of the retail flagship store in my area.

After browsing the shop, I introduced myself as a local blogger (I usually do) and said that I had heard great things about the bags. The helpful staffer introduced me to Julie herself and the next thing I knew I had a free purse wrapped up in a bag and was out the door.

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This is something like the conversation that followed between me and the southern beau:

sb: Did she just give you a free purse?

me: Yes….ohmygosh she just gave me a free purse! FREE PURSE!

sb: and all because you told her you have a blog?

me (my head a bit inflated): Well, a southern blog that features southern folks and things available in the south (like her awesome purses!)

sb: Did she even ask for credentials? Like do you have a blogger ID card or something?

me: No, but why would anybody lie about that? I mean she could have pulled up the address. I guess this is what Beyoncé feels like all the time. sigh.

Anyway, I did get a free JulieApple bag. But I'm allowed to say whatever I want about it (I'm assuming she doesn't want it back?) I'm happy to report the bag is wonderful! The one I chose is not really a purse, but a laptop bag in cute leopard print. I guess when you have a really good product, you can feel confident that other people will feel the same and help spread the word. And it just so happens that there is a "friends and family sale" going on now that allows all of you to take 30% off your order. (I didn’t even know about the sale until a few days ago, but I thought it seemed perfect to combine it with my review!)


JulieApple bags are made with recycled canvas, sailcloth, wooden hardware and leather tabs. Down to the last detail, they are just precious. I love the little apple tab with the logo. The bags are unique in that you choose the style first and then select which fabric you'd like your bag to be. I have toted my laptop around in mine, receiving many compliments. Here are a few other lovely designs from the collection. First, in the Tote style…



Then there’s the adorable makeup case…these are only $36 before the discount!



So that’s the story of my first taste of celebrity…Just promise you’ll take me down a notch or two if I start demanding Fiji water everywhere I go and insist on sitting in the front of restaurants. I don’t propose going around and asking for free stuff everywhere, but in this case, it was a win-win. Now what are you waiting for? The sale is only through November 30th, so don’t miss it!

November 22, 2010

A Celebration of My Grandpa


After a week-long break from blogging, I am so glad to be back. Without meaning any disrespect for my dearly departed grandfather, I just can’t justify the operation of a blog that celebrates “all things southern” and not at least devote one post about the anomaly that is the southern funeral.

I know that funeral traditions run deep and wide, depending on where you live or how you were raised. It is such a peculiar thing though when you really stop to think about it. In this case, probably even more unique because my grandfather was a) a retired minister and b) had a very specific idea about how things should be done.

He started planning his funeral something like 11 years ago. So that definitely takes some of the pressure off when all you have to do is just carry out the person’s wishes. Last Monday, my extended family gathered at our town’s largest funeral home to “view the body.” Once again, I mean no disrespect, but because I believe we go on to a much better place after death, the body left behind is such a shell of a thing. I’m not really a fan of open casket funerals, but this is what my grandpa wanted. After our family had a little time together, folks started arriving. We stood in a receiving line and greeted them (all 687 of them) for hours.

Since my grandpa was a preacher, he knew a LOT of people. It was so special to have complete strangers tell me how much he and my grandmother had meant to them. My feet hurt and I went through an entire box of mints, but to me, this felt very important. Greeting these folks, hugging their necks and letting them know their presence was appreciated was a way to honor my grandparents and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.


Tuesday was the funeral. Several of my family members spoke and that made it special. My grandpa had requested that 4 songs be sung because they had also been sung at his father’s funeral (When the Roll is Called up Yonder, In the Sweet By and By, Amazing Grace & Victory in Jesus). Afterward, we filed out and got into our cars for the funeral procession to the gravesite. All morning it had been pouring rain, but at this moment the sky just cleared right up and the sun burst forth from the clouds like nothing I’ve ever seen. That was pretty neat.

I don’t know if this is common in other parts of the country/world, but here in the south, when a funeral procession goes by, any other drivers on the road pull of to the shoulder with their lights on to show respect. Some even got out of their cars and stood with hands on heart. This touched me so much. Because the gravesite was at a family cemetery out in the country, the procession had to travel about 18 miles or so. I never saw one vehicle the whole time that wasn’t stopped on the shoulder. Just one more thing I love about the small town south.

Typically in these parts, a church where one of the surviving loved ones attends will offer to provide food for the family after everything is all over. In this case, several churches offered to host us because my grandpa had connections to them at one point or another when he was a pastor.

funeral food grandpa 2

Here’s a shot of the spread they prepared for us…including 4 different types of deviled eggs! Be still my southern heart. Even this part of the day felt like a celebration of my grandpa because he loved to eat good cooking and would have enjoyed this immensely.

Everybody thinks his or her grandparents are the best and they are. I cherish every memory I have of mine. I still want to call my grandpa and picture him sitting at his house waiting until the phone rang twice before he answered it (another eccentricity I can’t explain). He had actually moved to an assisted living facility near the end of his life, after my family could no longer provide the necessary in home care services that he required. But we have great memories of those times too -- taking over the dining hall with our whole family gathered around him on his birthday.

I know I’ll see him again and that helps. His funeral truly was a celebration of his life, probably the first like it I’ve ever attended. Thank you all for your kind words while I was away.

{grandpa & me 2009}

November 16, 2010

My Absence

I don't usually share sad things on this blog, but since I feel like you loyal readers are truly friends, I wanted to let you know that the reason for my absence these last few days is that my dearly beloved great-grandfather passed away and I've been with family, receiving visitors and attending his funeral services. He was 96 years old and was ready to go home. We lost his dear wife (my great-grandmother) seven years ago and I know he had been looking forward to being reunited with her. I was fortunate to speak at his funeral and I might share that here in a few days. Thank you for your friendship, your sweet comments and your presence here. You are loved.

November 11, 2010

Get a little crafty: Crayon meltdown


I saw this project over at Edie’s blog and really wanted to try it. I’m not much of a crafter, but I enjoy little (read: easy) projects from time to time. I’ve decided if I could train my dog to do crafts, my life would be complete. Until then, I’ll have to settle for his encouraging looks…or maybe that’s his way of saying “peanut butter? yes, please!” You can buy lots of these crayon re-melts on Etsy, but I thought I’d attempt to make some of my own.


The mold is a Pampered Chef silicon muffin pan that I’ve only used once or twice. I broke a few crayons (this was hard for me!) and placed them in the wells. Then I popped them into a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes. They melted down nicely and after a couple of hours to cool them in the pan, slid right out.


The finished product! These are mixtures of a couple of colors from the red family (carnation & salmon pink; red-violet, magenta, and carnation pink; and red, magenta & fuschia). I think little fingers could hold them quite easily for coloring and it’s definitely something I would have squealed over as a little child. What do you think? Cute or eh?


When I tried them out in my Hello Kitty coloring book, the daisy shape worked the best…I think the roses are too thin. But it was a fun little craft and I already had the crayons so there was no money spent. Might this be a project you will try? Let us know what shapes you use!

November 10, 2010

New Traditions for an Old Favorite


Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. It’s the one I want to really celebrate and enjoy…and yet it somehow always gets swept up in the madness of Christmas. I want to add some extra little traditions to Thanksgiving this year, things that we can enjoy and look forward to again and again. What about giving your special somebodies a little Thanksgiving gift?


The artwork above is available from Bluebird Goods for $15 (Facebook fans get a discount too!). I’m thinking of ordering it as a possible hostess gift. Another fun way to enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving is by sending out “I’m thankful for you” cards. They could be bought or some that you make yourself. Even an email if it was personalized…just to say thanks to someone who makes your life better.

 not too shabby candle votives

If you are a fan of SBS on Facebook, you might have heard me raving about these darling little votive candles that came in the mail the other day. I bought them with the intent to give them away, but I think I’ll have to place another order. The hand-poured soy votives are from Not Too Shabby, a lovely gift shop in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My favorite fragrance is “marine” and Lisa (the shop’s owner) sold me on it when she likened the scent to “the best smelling man you’ve ever smelled.” Coincidence that the southern beau was, in fact, a U.S. Marine? I think not.

I know this stuff might seem trivial, but how special does it feel when somebody shows up out of the blue with a little happy present for you? If nobody has ever done that for you, send me your address! Life is short and it doesn’t take much to brighten someone’s day. I’m trying to get as much out of this season as possible…and looking forward to celebrating with you along the way!

November 9, 2010

Easy Breezy Bread

thanksgiving pic

When my aunt called me the other day to ask what food dish I’d like to bring for Thanksgiving, I didn’t answer right away. Why is it that when southern cooks get together, it sort of feels like a big competition to see whose dish is best? This is all in fun of course, I just think that southerners take our food very seriously, especially when it comes to the Big 3 (Easter, T-giving, and Christmas).

Since of most of the main dishes were already spoken for, I said I’d bring bread. Lest anyone think that I’m a slacker and plan on grabbing anything store bought (with the exception of Sister Schubert….forgive me Sister!), I wanted to share the recipe that I plan on making.


If you’ve never heard of the famous Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle, Georgia, you’ve been missing out! My dear friend Terry gave me this cookbook as a gift several Christmases ago, and it’s definitely one that I use again and again. The Blue Willow Inn is a charming restaurant that gained much recognition after columnist Lewis Grizzard ate there in 1992 and wrote about the delicious food he enjoyed during his visit. The particular bread recipe I’ll be making for my family’s Thanksgiving is the Blue Willow Inn’s Buttery Biscuit Rolls. They are everything that I look for in a recipe…easy, few ingredients and utterly scrumptious!

Buttery Biscuit Rolls

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 cup sour cream
2 cups self-rising flour
Herbs, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat, whisking until completely melted. Add the sour cream and flour, and mix lightly. Spoon the batter into miniature muffin cups (do not grease), filling each one to the top. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes about 2 dozen.

Note: Adding a tablespoon of dried herbs such as basil or rosemary or 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs to the batter makes a tasty addition to your meal.

To freeze: Remove the rolls from the oven several minutes early. Cool completely before freezing. To serve, thaw the rolls and bake at 350 degrees for only a few minutes until golden brown.

**I have made these with plain Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream and they turned out very good. A bit less fat if that’s what you’re going for. I’ve also added bacon crumbles…and the fat’s back!

What are YOU making for Thanksgiving?

November 8, 2010

a Vintage Southern Wedding

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I know I promised y’all awhile back that I had another sweet southern wedding to share and I’m sorry to keep you waiting. When one of my bffs, who is a much sought-after artist & wedding floral designer told me about this wedding, I couldn’t wait to see the pictures! I stalked obsessively checked the photographer’s blog every day until they were posted! She sweetly agreed to let me post some of the images here. Check out her site for more of her work (it’s all incredible!). All images courtesy Red Letter Days Photography.

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Kelly, the photographer, is actually the bride’s cousin and the wedding was held outdoors on her property. Much work went into building a dance floor, hanging lights, and constructing a doorway for the couple to walk through. It sounds like the planning of this event was such a fun time, running around to antique stores and rounding up things to use as props. Each little vignette is so sweet and really shows the personality of the bride (and groom!).

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My friend Mitchell White did the flowers, a mixture of southern favorites and just picked wildflowers. I love that he used those purple irises…our state flower.

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This is such a neat idea with the old tins as floral containers. Who says you have to use crystal vases or that everything must be uniform?! This style of wedding really lends itself to “anything goes” and I love how they incorporated lots of unique items in a beautiful way.

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I could look at pictures like these all day. As an unmarried gal, I’m always looking for inspiration and collecting ideas for my own wedding (not that there are any plans in the works…a girl can still dream!). Wishing this happy couple the best of luck! And to all my lovely readers, hope Monday has been kind to you.

November 5, 2010

le fete de l’imagination: Vivian Leigh


I’ve been looking forward to today’s “party of the imagination” for a looooong time. As a child, I thought Vivian Leigh was Scarlett O’Hara. In my mind, she was everything a southern belle should be, and it wasn’t until a little later in my life did I learn she was a) not southern, and b) not actually Scarlett O. The story her real life makes me sad because it was one which contained loneliness, heartache, and mental illness. But I believe she’s in a much better place now…so let’s celebrate her birthday in style! She’d be 97 years young today.


For the place, I’ve chosen the Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria property in that lovely eternal city. Doesn’t this enclosed room make for a lovely setting…melons adorning the table for a distinctly southern feel. In addition to the yummy melons, we’ll be serving smoked salmon blinis with crème fraiche among other yummy things.

smoked salmon blinis



















To give us all an idea about party attire, I chose a couple of looks from Carolina Herrera’s Resort Collection. Both seem perfect for a luncheon in the enclosed portico. Maybe with an oversized piece of jewelry and an elegant wrap draped around the shoulders?


For Ms. Leigh’s gift, I would select a 12 place settings of English bone china in a pattern that is reminiscent of the south, but also playful and modern.


I hope you will all join us for the party. Isn’t imagining fun?



Hope you all have a fabulous weekend and take some time to sip a julep in honor of our favorite “southern belle.”