April 30, 2012

Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil


Today is National Honesty Day and in honor of the occasion, I’m going to tell the truth…something I don’t always do. I wouldn’t call myself a liar, but there are definitely times when falsehoods slip from my lips.
I’d like to think this is less an issue of my character and more a result of my southern upbringing. Growing up, I witnessed adults lie all the time. Before you go thinking I was raised around a bunch of godless heathens, I’d better explain. In the south, there are just certain things we cannot or simply do not tell the truth about. We aren’t evil. In fact, most of the lies we tell are well-meaning and intended to do more good than harm.


I’ve attempted to compile a list of common lies we tell in the south (but I’m sure there are plenty of others). I’ve decided that all southern lies fall into two categories: lies to make other people feel better and lies to make yourself feel better. Within these categories are several sub-categories such as lies about food, lies about fashion, lies about other people’s children, and lies for self preservation.

Lies about food vary from telling someone her barely edible lemon icebox pie is the best you’ve ever eaten to saying a store-bought dessert is homemade or pretending to be allergic to a particular food item when really you just despise it.

Lies about fashion usually involve complimenting someone’s dress/hair/shoes when you don’t mean it. Same goes for lies about other people’s children. This might include saying someone’s child is the smartest/cutest/sweetest ever to walk the face of the earth. Any of these sound familiar?

We’ve all heard the old adage “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Instead, it’s become “if you can’t say something nice, lie and say something nice anyway.”

My fear in all of this is that by getting so comfortable telling lies, we stop recognizing the truth. This post was intended to be somewhat humorous, but maybe the issue needs addressing. I want my words to mean something. I want the people in my life to know they can count on me to tell the truth, even if it might be hard to hear. I believe there is a way to speak the truth in love. Wouldn’t doing so help us all in the long run? I’d love to hear your input on this subject!
{image 2 via flickriver}

April 27, 2012

My Style Adventure, part 2


I already shared that I’m on something of an adventure to better understand and express my personal style through fashion. I mentioned that I’m working with a friend of mine, Brianna Lamberson, who is a stylist among other things and we had our first consultation recently to discuss what I’m hoping to achieve through this process.

Before our meeting, Brianna had asked me to think about what inspires me so I could share some of those things with her to give her a better understanding of my style. This is what I came up with:

- Art (especially American art from the 1950s, including the colors and textures used by my favorite artist Jasper Johns...if you aren't familiar with his work, he painted lots of different images of the American flag.)

Copy of Louise Brooks 1926.Richie 300x375jpe

- History…such a broad category, I know, but this might mean anything from the 1920s prohibition-era to the 1960s a’ la Mad Men


- Women in my family especially my mom and grandmothers. Brianna was interested in this and asked me lots of great questions which got me thinking about their styles and how they expressed themselves through fashion.

I explained to her my biggest challenge is putting articles of clothing together in ways that aren’t boring. I can match things up pretty well, but I rarely (if ever) feel like what I’m wearing is “styled.” I asked Bri to help me construct some outfits with pieces I already have that I might not have thought about pairing together.

After talking a bit more about my style goals, we decided that I would create a Pinterest board of looks I was drawn to, as well as people whose style I identify with. Here’s my board if you’d like to take a look. Eventually Brianna will come over and spend some time with me in front of my closet, getting it better organized and weeding out things I don’t love. I trust her opinion because she has a great deal of experience helping women find fashions that flatter our unique bodies and shapes. I think she will tell me (in a kind way) if something just isn’t working for me.

Do you have similar struggles of putting together creative outfits? If so, I hope you can learn some things and gain confidence along with me. Glad you’re joining in this journey…please feel free to ask questions if you have any! Happy Friday friend.

April 26, 2012

Treasured Memories & Kenny Rogers

I just saw the news that Kenny Rogers has been added to the Bonnaroo Music Fest lineup. [side note: my mom and grandpa went to a past year’s Bonnaroo which just tickles me to me no end] But I digress. I would love to see Kenny in concert. There, I said it. This might come as a surprise to everyone except my college roommate who endured waking up to his music every day for the two years we lived together. Didn’t peg me as a Kenny Rogers fan? Let me explain.

When I was younger, we had a bunch of old home movies (8mm films maybe?) professionally dubbed over onto VHS. Footage includes my mom as a baby, my grandparents as teenagers and my great-grandparents long before their hair turned gray. The films are silent, so when given the option of a soundtrack, my mom requested ‘elevator music.’ I distinctly remember my aunt not liking that idea and somehow our movies ended up with the soundtrack of, you guessed it, Kenny Rogers.

pa & granny c. 1960s?

I must have watched the VHS tape at least 20 times. I loved seeing images of my tall, handsome great-grandfather standing around with his friends, smoking cigarettes and looking so dashing and debonair. I imagined the entire life he must have had before I was even born. I’d sit and watch, wondering what he was like, before he became a grandpa. And all that time, The Gambler or some other Kenny Rogers song would play in the background.

This speaks about the power of music to transport us. Ever since, I have always equated Kenny Rogers music to memories of family and my loved ones. Maybe this is why I insisted on waking up to it every morning during college…I was away from home and the songs helped me feel connected.

I’m sure you have some experience like this, right? Maybe your music isn’t Kenny, but I’m willing to bet there is some song or artist that takes you back to a different place and time. I’d love to hear your story! 

April 25, 2012

Wedded Bliss: Something Old, Something Sweet


Last Sunday I attended the loveliest garden wedding and while the entire event was so sweetly planned and orchestrated, there was one design element that stood out to me and I wanted to share. Believe it or not, the bride made all these gorgeous cupcakes. I can’t imagine dealing with all the potential stress of a wedding day plus making from-scratch sweets for hundreds of people.

I’m not really too surprised though…my friend, the bride, is a regular super woman. She gives Martha Stewart a run for her money, that’s for sure. Her wedding was a unique expression of her personality and faith.

The sweet part I wanted to share is this little doll-sized cabinet that was used to display her confectionary creations. The note says the cabinet has been in her family for three generations, previously belonging to her grandmother Margaret.


I love this so much! What a sweet way to add something nostalgic in an unexpected spot. Do you have any heirloom items like this that could be used as part of a tablescape? It’s all about seeing things in new ways.

Happy Wednesday friend!

April 23, 2012

Sorority Life: Zeta is Forever


Last week I went to a meeting of my college sorority alumnae group. Held at the home of one of my dearest college friends, the get-together was attended by members of Zeta Tau Alpha of all ages and stages of life. Some of us are newly graduated from the collegiate experience, some are young professionals, or engaged to be married, some mothers and wives and others grandmothers and retirees.

Our most senior member is in her mid-70s (I think) and while watching her win the trivia game we played, I thought about that could be me someday. I can’t imagine how different her college experience was from mine and I can’t imagine how different mine will be from the experiences of women who haven’t even been born yet, but will one day be part of our group.

zeta hearts

Sorority life isn’t about joining a group of people who are cookie cutter versions of yourself. It’s not about partying or living it up in college. It’s about being part of a sisterhood that binds us together across age, race, life stage and experience. I love being part of something with such a rich history that I know will continue on long after I’m gone. 

Do you belong to a sisterhood of some kind? It doesn’t have to be a sorority, that’s just my experience. I have other friendships that I liken to sisterhoods, without any formal membership. If you were in a sorority in college, was it something you’re glad you took part in?

April 21, 2012

My Style Adventure, part 1


This post is the first of what I’m hoping will be something of a series, though I’m not sure how many parts it will include. I’m sort of calling it ‘my style adventure’ as it is based around ideas of fashion and I hope you’ll join me for the duration.

From a young age, I loved clothes and dressing up. I believe we are all born with some kind of personal style even if everyone doesn’t share the same love of fashion.

Because of my lack of confidence in the area of fashion in more recent years (or possibly lack of effort), lately my clothing choices haven’t really been what I would call an expression of my personal style. I’m not even sure I’ve ever fully known how to express that style through fashion.

Part of my problem has been that I have gotten in a bad habit of buying whatever clothes I could find that happened to be a) my size and b) on sale ….not thinking at all about what they might express or how they would make me feel.

Then last summer I stumbled upon a new healthier way of eating and through that experience, have gained new confidence in the realm of fashion. My dilemma? I have a closet full of clothes that I can’t figure out how to wear in a way that really speaks about who I want to be. So I end up wearing the same three or four outfits all the time, “saving” other items for some special occasion down the road and feeling pretty much uninspired every day when it’s time to get dressed.

Instead of brushing this off as trivial or settling for a lifetime of boring outfits, I decided to call on a professional. My friend Brianna Lamberson is a fashion stylist extraordinaire as well as a health coach, artist, writer and champion encourager. I’ve seen enough of her stylings on display at the consignment boutique she manages to know she could help me.

Mind you, I don’t want to copy her style (or anyone else’s). I just want some help in the form of a fresh perspective and Brianna is someone who can offer that. We had our initial consultation to discuss things last week (more on that in a coming post) and I’m so excited already. Who knows what this style adventure of mine will bring!

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a style rut? If fashion isn’t your thing, what other ways do you express the beautiful person God made you to be? Have you ever sought the help of a professional when you didn’t think you could make any progress on your own? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

April 19, 2012

Grow Your Own Garlic

Botanical - Garlic

When I first started living on my own and cooking for myself, I was slow to experiment with different spices and flavors. Over the years I’ve gotten some good practice which has made me a whole lot braver in my flavoring, but a staple in my house is and always will be garlic.

When I read that it was fairly easy to grow your own, I decided to plant a crop of garlic in my patio container garden and since today is National Garlic Day, I wanted to share the progress with you.


Much of what I read advised fall as the best time for planting garlic, but I decided to try a spring planting. After buying a bulb of organic garlic at the grocery store, I separated it into cloves and planted about seven of them in a large pot.

If you decide to grow your own garlic, make sure to plant your cloves with the pointy end facing up. Garlic likes full sun and moist, well-drained soil.

My cloves have already started sprouting little stalks or scapes which will need to be removed before they bloom. This will help the cloves be bigger come harvest time.  Truth be told, I only planted garlic for the scapes so we’ll see how they turn out.

When the leaves turn yellow and die back, I’ll know my garlic is just about ready for harvest. I can’t wait to see how things progress. Are you growing anything yummy this season?

April 18, 2012

April Showers

southern garden trad home

“When the clouds shake their hyssops, and the rain
Like holy water falls upon the plain,
'Tis sweet to gaze upon the springing grain
And see your harvest born.”

{image via Traditional Home, excerpt from Ledwidge’s A Rainy Day in April}

April 13, 2012

Remembering Eudora Welty on her 103rd Birthday


Have you ever come across a work of writing, or perhaps music that spoke so directly to something inside you that it stirred feelings as if it must have been brought to life just for you? This is how I felt the first time I listened to an audio recording of Eudora Welty reading her short story Why I Live at the P.O.

There’s something about the narrator, Sister, her lively family (including Papa-Daddy, Stella Rondo and Uncle Rondo), and the predicament they find themselves in that entertains me to no end each time I give it a listen. Now it’s impossible for me to read it without hearing the words in Ms. Welty’s Mississippi drawl. If you haven’t read the story, you must do so at once.


Maybe I relate to Eudora Welty because she once described herself as a natural-born observer. I, too, find myself quietly observing much of the time, often at the annoyance of my dinner companions when I am distractedly listening to other diners’ conversations or wondering what their stories are. I like to think this points to the fact that I’m meant to be a writer…or it could be I’m just terribly nosy. 

Today would be Eudora Welty’s 103rd birthday. As it were, she enjoyed a long, rich life and lived to a ripe young age of  92. More than most, Ms. Welty connected with people on a deeper level and had an innate gift for bearing witness to the intricacies of the human spirit, illustrating different aspects of life through both her writing and her photography. To see examples of her photos, visit the Mississippi Museum of Art website.

I shouldn’t speculate, but I like to think Ms. Eudora Welty is having a wonderful birthday today, complete with a giant slab of chess pie and an angel choir. And if you’d like to drink to her memory, that rascal himself Mr. John T. Edge shared a wonderful sounding concoction with a sweet story attached, all of which I think Ms. Welty would approve.

Happy Birthday Eudora Welty & Happy Friday friends!

April 11, 2012

Just Say Thank You

take a compliment

I’ve encountered something a lot lately and it’s really been bugging me. I feel like many of us (myself included) fail miserably at receiving compliments. So many times recently I’ve witnessed someone be complimented, only to refute the other person’s kind words. I think it must stem from the idea that we are supposed to exhibit modesty, but so often, I can tell the person (or myself) is just being falsely modest…almost as an attempt to get more compliments?

A compliment is no different than a gift. If someone came to your birthday party with a lovely wrapped present for you, would you tell them to take it away? I think we really must start viewing compliments in the same way. A simple “thank you” is a good start. I’ll admit this can be a challenge, especially when someone pays you a compliment you truly don’t feel you deserve. The trick is just accepting it without argument. Maybe eventually you’ll begin to believe it.

Think of the last compliment you were given. Did you receive it or toss it aside? Often it gets to be such a habit, I don’t think we even realize we are doing it. I challenge all of us to be a little more conscious of this and the next time someone pays us a compliment, instead of arguing the case for why it isn’t true, just smile and say thank you.

Now I shall climb down from my soap box and let y’all get on with the day. Happy Wednesday friend!

{image via}

April 10, 2012

Spring in the South: Dining al Fresco

outdoor dining table

Since the weather in East Tennessee has gotten nicer, I’ve been bitten by the outdoor bug. Well, sort of. I’m not what you’d call an outdoorsy type, but lately I’ve wanted to eat as many meals as possible outside. Maybe it’s because it feels luxurious or a bit like vacation. None of the food I eat is particularly fancy, but even a plain Jane peanut butter sandwich feels a little more special when enjoyed with the breeze in your hair and the sun on your back.

I’ve noticed myself choosing restaurants based on whether they have a patio option…last night the beau and I dined at Panera for a simple salad, but munching on the patio made it feel sort of like a treat. I’m sure everybody doesn’t love dining al fresco as much as I do, but I’m curious how you feel about it!

Do you have a spacious patio or porch at your home that allows for outdoor dining? This is my dream, so if you do I’m totally jealous!

{image via flickr creative commons}

April 5, 2012

A Time to Bloom

This post is actually from a little over a year ago, but the sentiment behind it is not time sensitive and for some reason, I wanted to share it again.


The weather is warming up here in the south and we all can’t wait for the coming of spring. I’m always amazed at how plants undergo such transformations as the seasons change. The above image might not look like much of anything, but would you believe that the picture above and the one below are the exact same shrub?


Everything necessary for these gorgeous blooms (Viburnum if you’re curious) to form is present inside the small brown buds pictured above. The only thing not present is the right conditions. If these bushes had a brain, they could desire to bloom with all their might, but until the conditions are right…nothing more than twigs are going to be growing here.


That’s another thing about the brown twigs above…while it looks like not much is going on with them, they are growing and living, preparing for the time when the blooms will burst forth.


I don’t know about you, but this encourages me so much. I’ve definitely experienced periods in my life where it felt like no growth was taking place. Not growth in the physical sense, but other types…spiritual, creative, emotional. I believe that, like these plants, I already have everything I need inside to be something beautiful. And when the conditions are right, that beauty will become more evident. If you are going through a period where it feels like you aren’t growing, take heart. Your time to bloom might be just around the corner!
Happy Thursday friend!

April 4, 2012

A New Home for My Ironstone Collection


For several years now I’ve been collecting English ironstone china. I think it’s one of those types of collections that looks better when displayed all in one place, but without a hutch or cabinet, my pieces have been scattered around with no home of their own. That is, until this past weekend, when my ironstone collection got a new place to live.


I stopped by an estate sale that was sort of a bust except for this wonderful wooden shelf/hutch/cabinet. It’s all solid wood (none of that pressed board) and perfect for my growing ironstone collection. I was going to stain it a darker color (and still might) but for now, I’m happy with it. Did I mention it was $15? This belle loves a bargain.

So what do y’all think? Should I go with a dark stain, keep it as is or paint it a color? The image below (from Country Living) is sort of the look I’m going for, but I’ll need a few more years to add to my collection. Of course that is the fun of collecting, isn’t it?

Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

April 3, 2012

Anti-Recipe: Easy Vegan Arugula Pesto


I’ve mentioned that cooking is a stress reliever for me and one of my favorite things to whip up when I’m feeling spread a little too thin is pesto. I’ve actually been making my pesto vegan for some time, not even really meaning to. We just happen to like it fine without cheese. Today’s anti-recipe is for easy vegan arugula pesto.

Arugula is great for pesto because of its strong, peppery flavor. As usual, I don’t have any exact measurements.

Pack a few handfuls of rinsed arugula into your food processor (or blender). Pour in olive oil while blending until the greens are chopped finely. At this point, I dump in several teaspoons of minced garlic, salt, pepper and a few handfuls of pecans. The pecans (or any nuts) are what give the pesto its creamy texture. You can add cheese, but I promise it’s really tasty without it.


Depending on your preference, you can add more or less oil to change the consistency. I pack my pesto in clean glass jars and freeze it for up to a year. It’s wonderful over pasta, spread on fish, in bean salads, or atop bread like a bruschetta.

I also made a batch of cilantro pesto (shown below) using the same process with really great results.


I’m even attempting to grow my own arugula this year in a container garden, but we’ll see how that goes. Do you make pesto or sauces and freeze them to enjoy later? Got any tricks up your sleeve that make this process smoother? We’d love to hear from you!