February 28, 2011

Anti-recipe: Baptist Champagne Punch

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This weekend I helped host a bridal shower for my cousin’s sweet fiancĂ©e and the punch we served was a huge hit. I’m not sure where the recipe originated, but both my mom and I have been making it for years. It’s a nice departure from the expected southern sherbet punch we grew up having at showers in the church basement. My mom jokingly calls it “Baptist Champagne” because it has just a bit of a bubbly taste, but no alcohol.

I’ve been known to keep the ingredients on hand at all times since you never know when you might want something a little special. It’s super easy and super good (my only requirements for any recipe). I have 2 variations depending on whether you want to serve it in a punch bowl or pitcher.

Baptist Champagne Punch

Punch bowl Version:

1 2-liter of Ginger Ale (chilled)

1 64-oz bottle of Welch’s White Grape Peach Juice (we used White Grape Peach Mango this time and it was wonderful)

Pour contents of both bottles into bowl and float frozen peach slices on the surface

Pitcher Version:

1 2-liter bottle of Ginger Ale (Chilled)

1 can Welch’s frozen White Grape Juice concentrate

Pour concentrate into pitcher and then pour Ginger Ale over it

 

I’m telling you…this stuff is so good. Almost every person at the shower asked for the recipe. Do you have an awesome punch recipe that you swear by? Do tell!

February 25, 2011

Have a Lovely Weekend Friends!

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and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Cor. 13:2

{image via}

February 23, 2011

Anti-recipe: Roasted Purple Potatoes

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Ever since Beth (a fellow foodie & Tennessee blogger) posted this yummy looking recipe, I’ve been wanting to try a purple potato. Before seeing her post, I’d never even heard of such a thing and feared that I might not get a chance to try them since I don’t have a Whole Foods nearby. Imagine my surprise when I saw a little sack of purple potatoes nestled in the produce shelves at my favorite grocer’s. I immediately snatched them up and brought them home with me.

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After giving the potatoes a good scrubbing, I quartered them and spread them out in a single layer on my baking stone (or any baking dish you prefer). Then I coated the potatoes with olive oil and tossed them in salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

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Roast at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes and you are left with crusty, crispy taters that are oh so delish!

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I will admit that for the first several bites, I couldn’t quite get past the idea of eating purple potatoes. I think I said something like “I can taste the purple,” but mainly it was just the idea of it. They are a bit more earthy than your average spuds, but tasty and very healthy. Chocked full of antioxidants, purple potatoes are cancer-fighters as well as immune system boosters. Have you ever seen them or even cooked with them? I’m interested to hear about your experience!

February 22, 2011

Get a little crafty: DIY Blue Canning Jars

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I’ll always remember the neat rows of canning jars that lined the shelves of my granny’s basement…and how I would sometimes sit and count how many of the jars contained beans, how many had tomatoes, and so on. Never would I (or my granny) have dreamed that these basic glass containers would become the coveted decorative item du jour for weddings and other special occasions.

The Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company started making glass jars in 1884 in Buffalo, New York. The shape and lettering of the jars, as well as the color, has evolved over the years. The famous “Ball blue” glass, which came about because of the minerals in the sand that came from the shores of Lake Michigan, was discontinued in 1937.

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You can buy the blue canning jars on sites such as etsy and ebay or you can even make your own with a special glass glaze. Since I always prefer projects that are as easy as possible, I decided to try my own method to make a blue jar for myself.

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I started with an clean, dry glass jar. Then I took a tube of blue acrylic paint and thinned it way down with water. I painted the inside of the jar with probably 4 layers over the course of an evening, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next.

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I would still like to find a couple of genuine antique blue canning jars, but for now my little knock-off makes me smile. Are you a collector of the lovely blue glass, or some other special glassware?

{Don’t forget to enter the Paula Deen Recipe Box Giveaway if you haven’t already!}

February 21, 2011

Paula Deen Recipe Box Giveaway!

Paula Deen Recipe Box

I ran across these adorable recipe boxes from that southern sister herself, Ms. Paula Deen and picked up three to give away. I like them because they are 4x6 (the only acceptable size for a recipe…in my humble opinion!) The entire line of goods is available at Michael’s, but if you’d like to win a box (plus 1 package of 20 coordinating recipe cards), just leave a comment on this post telling us the last great dish you made.

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Some folks have had trouble leaving comments with the new program I’m using, so you can tweet me or post on Facebook to enter as well. Only one entry per person (open until midnight Thursday) and I’ll announce the winners on Friday (2-25-11). Good luck!

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If you have a preference as to which one you’d like to win, tell me that in your comment also!

Happy Monday!

February 16, 2011

I heart art: CitizenKG

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I’ve always believed that photographers make the best bloggers and since I’m not much of a photog myself, I decided to do the next best thing: befriend talented photographers and shamelessly use their gorgeous images in exchange for friendship and the occasional cupcake or two.

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This set of images is from the super-talented and oh-so-sweet Ms. CitizenKG, who I met at Blissdom last month. I think we recognized each other’s deer in headlights expression (being newbies and all) and by the time lunch was over, I felt like we were old friends.

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Ms. K is just a fountain of creativity, from her fabulous photography & her sweet etsy creations to all the yummy recipes & adventures that she catalogs on her blog. She just stitched an adorable stuffed pig that I’m totally in love with.

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These images are from a set called “the things we leave behind” and they were taken on an abandoned property in Arkansas. If a picture is worth a thousand words, these speak volumes. It’s definitely something to think about…the imprint that we leave on our surroundings after we are long gone away from them. Show Ms. K some love…just don’t start cozying up to her with the intention of stealing her photos…I already beat you to it!

Happy Hump Day Friends!

February 15, 2011

Anti-recipe: Chocolate-covered Marshmallows

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I know that Valentine’s Day is over, but I still wanted to share this easy and delicious treat that I made. I’m not a baker…chalk it up to my inability to follow recipes without tweaking them. This tendency is invaluable when it comes to cooking because it has led to some wonderful culinary discoveries. But when it comes to baking, my dashes and pinches and substitutions don’t end well. That’s why I knew I could tackle this recipe. It really isn’t a recipe at all, just a fun quick project that was a hit.

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These little babies are jumbo strawberry flavored marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate and then coated with baking sprinkles. So easy. So adorable. And my great-grandmother’s vintage pink melamine bowl doesn’t hurt either.

The recipe:

Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips (I used microwave…30 sec. intervals on high). Add a tiny bit of cooking oil to chocolate to keep things smooth. Dip a marshmallow in the chocolate, using a wooden skewer. Sprinkle to your heart’s content. Remove from skewer and put on a plate to set. Repeat until chocolate runs out or you eat all the marshmallows. After allowing them to cool for a bit, I stuck mine in the refrigerator so the chocolate would harden.

I’m already thinking of a St. Patty’s Day variation with plain mallows, mint chocolate and green sprinkles!

Were you feeling the love yesterday? It sure seemed to abound here in blogland! Happy Tuesday!

February 14, 2011

Happy Love Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you lovely SBS friends…whether you are southern by birth, southern by geography, southern by choice or not southern at all…your presence here is treasured!

{Pondering the fact that we are only able to love each other because He first loved us}

Have a great Monday!

February 11, 2011

Get a little crafty: Silhouette DIY

etsy card silhouette{via etsy}

Paper-cut silhouettes were once just a cheap way to create someone’s likeness, especially before photography was readily available. The practice gained popularity through the 18th century and was elevated to something of an art form, but as often happens became eclipsed by developing technology as the years went by.

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Silhouettes have now made something of a resurgence, especially in the world of design. From your adorable child to your pampered pooch, any profile can be made into a silhouette by a number of talented artists on Etsy and otherwise.

etsy shop ring{via etsy}

Not fond of the graphic contrast for your walls? Lovely silhouette-inspired items abound on jewelry, clothing and other accessories.

I decided to try my hand at a little silhouette project the other night…mostly because I have yet to buy a 2011 wall calendar for my bedroom and after staring at December’s image for 2 months, thought I could at least do something useful with it.

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I’m sure you’d never have guessed that my calendar happens to be GWTW. To make my silhouette of the happy couple, I traced the outline of Scarlett & Rhett onto some plain white paper, cut it out & taped it to a sheet of black cardstock. Then I carefully cut the shape out of the black paper and voila!

I used a glue stick to mount it to an oval canvas that I picked up at my local art supply store. Eventually I’ll probably cover it with Mod Podge for a layer of protection, but I’m still deciding whether I want to embellish the canvas at all or leave it plain.

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Maybe you’d rather pose for a picture like this with your sweetie and make a cut-out of that. You might even see an image in a magazine you’d like to translate into silhouette. For less than $8 you can have something similar, yet one-of-a-kind.

{Here are some more detailed instructions with pictures of supplies, via design*sponge.}

Have a wonderful weekend and let us know if you get a wild crafting hair!

Friday Funny

This isn’t what I was planning to post today, but a friend shared it with me and it just made me smile so much! From her southern charm to her frank way with words, Jeanne is a treat! I know it’s a bit long, but give it a watch if you can…you won’t regret it.

February 10, 2011

Lovey Dovey

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Love is definitely in the air…or at least in the aisles of my local drug store, grocery store and florist. It’s that time of year when everything is pink and red, hearted up, dusted with glitter or chocolate covered. Some people live for Valentine’s Day…proudly rubbing their love in the world’s face while others loathe its very existence. I’ve always kind of liked the holiday. Maybe it started in elementary school when everybody, regardless of “popularity,” got the same number of valentines stuffed into his or her shoebox mailbox. Maybe I just like to eat candy and it’s a good excuse.

candy hearts{image via}

No matter how you feel about February 14th, I hope that it is a day in which you feel loved.

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Finally, I just had to share this sweet image of snails, partly because it captures the “awww” factor so well, but also because it reminds me of my great-grandmother. Her famous (and often repeated) mantra in life was “the best way to go fast is to go slow.” I wish she were still alive so I could ask her exactly where & how this thought originated.

My parents say it to me now, especially when I complain that I’m not making progress in life as quickly as I’d like (i.e. checking things off some magical list of what I should have accomplished by now). I think it’s definitely fitting when it comes to matters of the heart too. Love is a marathon, not a sprint and I have a feeling that when we come to the end of it all, we’ll be glad we took our time getting there.

Happy Thursday you loveable thing you!

February 8, 2011

A Sweeter Shade of Blue

Of all the colors in the world, turquoise is one of my favorites…it always manages to cheer me up no matter what.
It might be snowing and blustery at your house, but knowing that the sun is shining on a gorgeous sea somewhere helps…doesn’t it?
In the south, we call it aqua.

As in, paint your house a lovely shade of aqua. I think it has a certain stateliness to it, don’t you?

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All these images of turquoise might have inspired me to buy some new shoes in a similar shade (ok they did).
Some people are violently opposed to Birkenstocks, but I say if they are good enough for supermodels, they are good enough for me. Plus I just like them and they are totally comfy. We might be wearing sweaters, but what are you doing to get your wardrobe ready for spring?

February 7, 2011

Spending some time

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“Do not squander time…for that is the stuff life is made of” – Ben Franklin

This quote, better known to me as John Wilkes’ edict from his sign at Twelve Oaks (it’s not SBS if there’s no GWTW reference!) has always been one that stuck in my mind. My dictionary defines squander as to spend or use extravagantly. I don’t know about you all, but sometimes I’d like to squander time a little more often. 

When was the last time you gave yourself an entire hour to do absolutely nothing? I know we are ultra-busy, over-scheduled and time-managed out the wazoo, but I worry this is to our detriment. Maybe if the idea of doing nothing isn’t your cup of tea, spend some time catching up with a dear friend. That always feels extravagant to me. The opposite of squander is to hoard, save or set aside. The truth is, while we can set aside some portion of our time…it’s actually quite impossible for us to hoard or save it. If time is truly just slipping through our fingers each day, shouldn’t we spend it like it’s going out of style? Something to think about.

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Growing up, I can remember spending Sunday afternoons at my great-grandparents’ house on the farm, and the hours seemed to last forever. Nobody was in a hurry. There was plenty to eat and plenty of space on the living room floor to curl up for a nap afterward. If that’s considered squandering, then we mastered the art of it for sure!

Hope you have a chance to squander some time this week, even if just a few minutes! Happy Monday!

{porch swing image via}

 

February 3, 2011

The Southern Belle Literary Society

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My wonderful friend Bella Michelle over at Southern Somedays shared this article with me, and I just had to share it with you. These fabulous southern authors are showcased in the current issue of Vanity Fair. What I wouldn’t give to be part of this elite sisterhood. If Harper Lee had been among them, I might have died right on the spot.

They are, from left to right, Sheri Joseph, Susan Rebecca White, Karin Slaughter (reclining), Amanda Gable, Joshilyn Jackson, Natasha Trethewey, Emily Giffin, Jessica Handler, and Kathryn Stockett. The photo was taken at the Atlanta History Center's Swan House mansion, which was built in the 1920s.

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Susan Rebecca White wrote a book that I just love called Bound South. According to the article, she is close friends with Kathryn Stockett (The Help) as well as Emily Giffin, whose books I also enjoy. Her Something Borrowed has been adapted into a screen version coming out this year, starring Kate Hudson & Ginnifer Goodwin.

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Joshilyn Jackson is one of my most favorite writers, with her Gods in Alabama, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming & Between, Georgia being my favorites. I’m sad to say I hadn’t heard of some of the other authors pictured, but now I have something new to look for. Also, I still haven’t read The Help, but it’s definitely on my list!

Do you love any of these writers as much as I do?

February 2, 2011

Stylish Blooms a’ la Spud

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I definitely pretend to have a green thumb when it comes to plants, and sometimes my plants actually grow and thrive. However, I’ve never even once pretended to be able to do anything with flowers, although I did try here. Even with my lack of floral design skills, I can recognize awesome when I see it and these centerpieces are awesome!

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All of these giant floral centerpieces were used as decoration for one particular event at the recent conference I attended. The event was an afternoon snack break and the snack was French fries.

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Each arrangement includes food and/or products that follow the theme of that particular variety of fry. I know it’s a little over the top, but what a neat way to think outside the box when creating floral arrangements.

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The varieties of fry were “lemon pepper & parmesan waffle,” “barbecued sweet potato,” “Caribbean jerk,” and “chili lime.” I’ll let you match up the flavors with the flowers.

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After we all tasted each variety, everyone voted on his or her favorite and supposedly, the winning flavor will be available in stores (the brand is Alexia if you’re curious and want to try them out for yourself).

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One thing that I took away from last week and really from travel in general is that getting away from our normal routines helps us gain a bit of perspective on the vast amount of stuff that is out there. Using potatoes in a centerpiece certainly wasn’t on my radar before, but now I’m thinking of all sorts of neat things you could get creative with.

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And isn’t that the whole point? Broadening our creative horizons? Maybe I’ll do nothing more than put four pretty pears in a bowl on my counter, but then again that’s something too. How are you adding a little pretty to your life these days?

February 1, 2011

My Life as a Blogger

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My first foray into the world of online publishing was back in 2000. A high school friend with mad computer skillz had his own website and he gave me a message board which was housed on it, Kate’s Fabulous Fashion Forum. I remember how excited I would get each night as I wrote the next day’s post. Only a handful of people even knew about it and the site is not in service anymore.

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In 2009, I created a blogger account and titled my blog “Small Town, Big Dreams.” My big dreams never became reality and I didn’t write a single post. Finally, late in 2009, I arrived at the new name, Southern Belle Simple. This journey has been an adventure for me…full of learning and meeting wonderful new folks.

Last week I attended the blogger conference Blissdom and it was quite the experience. The best way I can describe it is “Sorority Rush: Grown-up Style.” Like sorority rush, it was hectic, stressful and overwhelming. Also like rush, it ended with some fabulous friendships being made and learning so much about myself and the world of blogging. I would definitely do it again, although next time I’ll know what to do differently.

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I want this blog to be amazing. It’s not about having a huge number of fans or followers, although I love you all. I just want SBS to be a bright spot in your day. And if you have ideas or thoughts on how to make it a little brighter, please share them! Your opinion matters here. I have already made a couple of small edits in the hope of improving this community, including adding a program called Disqus to the comment section so that you can reply to specific comments instead of just in a chronological line. I also updated the reader poll if you have a chance to take it.

I thank you for reading and look forward to our next adventure together!

P.S. Nashville’s Channel 4 did a story on Blissdom and here’s a link…you might just see a familiar face!