February 26, 2013

Southern Living and the Southern Coterie Summit

I've got something exciting to share. At least I think some of you will be excited about it. You may have heard me say my favorite thing about blogging is getting to meet and connect with all sorts of wonderful folks. May 1-3 is another opportunity for this, in the form of an event like none I've ever heard of before and I'm hoping you will consider attending.

The event is a conference, The Southern C Summit and it's being hosted by the fabulous ladies Cheri & Whitney who founded the southern social network, The Southern Coterie, for which I am a contributor.

It's being held in beautiful Jekyll Island, Georgia and offers attendees a chance to connect with southern bloggers, brands and businesses for a variety of learning and networking opportunities.

The schedule (which can be seen here) includes social events, educational sessions, panel discussions (one that I'm even speaking at), and keynote presentations from some amazing folks, including Erin Shaw Street of Southern Living, Carrie Morey of Callie's Charleston Biscuits and Haskell Harris, most recently at Garden & Gun! I'm still pinching myself to be included in this lineup.

This is the kind of event I've been waiting for ever since I started blogging. I've attended other blog conferences, but never quite found my niche. I'm not a mommy blogger. I'm not a fashion blogger. I'm not even really a food blogger. I'm a southern blogger and until now, there wasn't a specific event tailored just to me. And I couldn't be more excited!

And you should not miss it!

February 25, 2013

Anti-Recipes: How to Make Oatmeal Taste Better

For as long as I can remember I've loved oatmeal as a breakfast option. Although I gotta admit I've come a long way from the days of mixing the contents of a little paper packet with water and popping it in the microwave. If I'm going to eat oatmeal, I want the good stuff. I prefer steel cut oats made with almond milk and when I make them at home, I usually add raisins and cinnamon. 

Recently, I was staying in a hotel and ordered oatmeal for breakfast and y'all would laugh at how excited I got when it arrived. Also, I'm sure the waiter thought I was crazy when I started arranging the table to get the best possible photo.

I just couldn't not share this idea in the form of an adorable caddy holding the oatmeal add-ins. It included almonds, dried papaya, pistachios, brown sugar, banana chips and raisins in cute little jars. Wouldn't this make eating oatmeal at home even more fun? Plus, I've never thought to put pistachios or dried papaya in my oats...but it was amazing!

What's your favorite way to eat oatmeal? Are you a brown sugar & cinnamon person or do you prefer dried apples and maple syrup?

Oh and here's a similar jar caddy at World Market if you'd like to try this idea at home!

Happy Monday friend! I hope your week is off to a grand start!

February 22, 2013

Today You are You, That is Truer Than True

The above sentiment is such a simple truth, yet it contains truly profound wisdom. You might have seen the quote before as I did many times. You might have thought it didn't apply to you....I have. But every now and then, I'll find myself striving, struggling, trying so hard to make something happen and getting frustrated, exhausted, and fed up with what I'm doing. These are times when I inevitably end up taking a step back and realize I'm trying to force something that isn't coming from who I really am. 

You were created as an incredibly unique individual, and so was I. We were made with all sorts of beautiful imperfections that, combined with all the beautiful imperfections of everyone else, make up a really amazing community and world. 

Of course we are inspired by each other and often we can benefit from taking that proverbial page from someone else's book. But at the end of the day, you've gotta be you and I've gotta be me. The world needs all that we have to offer. Let's not cheat the world on the amazing things it has coming to it. 

And by the way, when I get a bit cloudy on who my true self really is, I always find that meditating on who God says I am gets me right back on track. It includes dearly loved , carefully and wonderfully made, chosen, and complete. 

Happy Friday my friend! I hope you have a wonderful day and a relaxing weekend. 

February 21, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture in East Tennessee

This morning I'm visiting my friends at Knoxville's WTNZ Fox43 for a segment about one of my favorite things...CSAs! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and if you're a regular reader of my blog, you might remember me waxing poetic about my CSA boxes of fruits and veggies in the past.

Participating in a CSA is a great way to get healthy while supporting a local farmer. You pay one amount of money at the beginning of the season and this acts as an investment for the farmer to do his planting.

Then when the crops start coming in, you get a share of the bounty. Most CSAs allow you to pick up a box of veggies and/or fruits each week. Some are every other week. There are all vegetable shares, all fruit shares and a mixture of both. There are also cow shares and different types of dairy shares, honey shares, flower shares...really anything the farmer or producer can dream up!

One benefit of participating in a CSA is that it forces you to try new things. Lots of veggies came in my weekly box that I wouldn't have tried otherwise. Things like turnips, bok choy, and kale that I'd never eaten before. Now, I love these different veggies and I'm glad I was forced to try them.

Knoxville folks can attend a CSA fair this Saturday February 24 at Three Rivers Market. Several farmers and other vendors will be on hand to share their information and let you sign up. If you'd like to find CSA options in your area, check out this great resource.

I used to joke that each week felt like Christmas because I'd get all excited wondering what was going to be in the box. Then I experimented with some fun new recipes that incorporated the items.

I hope you'll consider participating in a CSA this year. If you can't find one in your area, at least scout out a farm stand or farmer's market. It's a great feeling knowing you are supporting the livelihood of a farmer and enjoying local foods as well! Sometimes it's an adventure (remember my Kerosene cucumbers?), but for the most part, it's a great experience!

February 20, 2013

Way Back Wednesday: Home Ec 101

Imagine yourself as a young woman in 1962 attending college at the University of Tennessee. You wake up early in the morning, remove your pin curls, put on your most stylish floral pillbox hat and head out to Home Economics class...where you'll watch attentively as your instructor demonstrates how to create the perfect triple-layer cake with 7 minute frosting. And we wonder what's wrong with young people today! 

{image via The Volunteer Yearbook

February 19, 2013

Remembering Carson McCullers

Today I'm remembering one of my very favorite authors Carson McCullers, who was born on this date 96 years ago in Columbus, Georgia. She's someone whose life must have had an element of deep, deep sadness about it for her to have written the way she did. She counted as friends the likes of Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and W.H. Auden.

Where some authors put their characters through the ringer for the sake of the story, I always get the feeling she was her characters' biggest advocate...cheering them on, even in the face of heartache and despair.

Her book "The Member of the Wedding" deals with feelings of belonging in such a delicate way and each time I read it, new things are revealed that I somehow missed the last time. If you haven't read any of her books, start with this one. You won't be disappointed.

I am drawn to anyone who has a way with words and McCullers certainly had that. I'm not sure that I completely agree with the following quote of hers, but it definitely makes me think about things in a new light.

“We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”

Happy Birthday Carson McCullers! You were one of a kind. 

Do you have a favorite southern author? There are too many good ones for me to pick a favorite, but Carson McCullers is way up on my list! 

February 16, 2013

TN Zeta Day 2013

Today is going to be filled with fun and sisterhood as Zeta Tau Alpha sisters from across the state of Tennessee convene in Knoxville for our annual Zeta Day event. Since I'm part of the Knoxville alumnae chapter and we're hosting it this year, I've been busy busy helping with planning and decor. I can't wait to share some pictures from the event! 

One of my favorite things about blogging has been connecting with other bloggers and finding out we share the same sorority letters. One of our symbols is a strawberry in case you were wondering why I used the above image. 

What fun things are you doing on this wintry Saturday? I hope your day is warm and cheery! 

February 15, 2013

Live like the rich & famous: Going glam in your house

{This post is a special guest submission by my friend Miss L., a talented writer and all around cool chick!} 

Thanks for the opportunity Miss SBS! 

Ah, to live the glamorous life of the rich and famous: luxurious homes, expensive jewels, fine cars and filthy, rich lifestyles. While we might not have the income and financial resources that Hollywood's elite enjoy, you can still remodel your home into a glamorous space with a few design tips and decor tricks.
Maria Favata's Glam living room via Apartment Therapy
Tiffany & Co.'s Robin Egg Blue
A Tiffany's blue-and-white room creates mood and sophistication. Follow in the shoes of interior designer Maria Favata featured on Apartment Therapy to design a striking vintage space beaming with originality. Her mix of bold colors, charming accessories and aesthetic details is stunning. 

To mimic Favata's interior look, paint the top third of your walls and the ceiling in a Tiffany-blue color. Next, paint the wall's crown molding a pearl or white hue to offset the blue and create a dynamic appearance. For the lower two thirds of your walls, apply either bleach-white paint or use white medium-density fibreboard boards; this provides a "paneled" feel. Accent the room with snow-colored wooden blinds and simple, opaque curtains for a clean, chic look.

Lush & Suede Fabrics
Imagine a room accessorized with blue-suede chairs, silk silver curtains and a cream-colored desk adorned with faint stripes. Home offices and workspaces are no longer dull and dismal. First, find a set of lush, suede chairs in a rich indigo or violet. Add a few eggshell-colored suede furniture pieces to accent the suede chairs. 

Create aesthetic cohesiveness by painting a blue trim around furniture edges that match the bold chairs. Next, use a stylish office desk as your room's focal point. A sturdy, traditional desk creates a crisp and clean look. 
For alfresco flair, decorate the desk with fresh flowers in a large mason jar. Accent the room with silver hues by incorporating silky-smooth silver drapes, a contemporary silver lamp and silver picture frames. To bring your pieces to life, use an accent wall and paint the wall in metallic gray.

Gold & Champagne
Transform your bedroom into a girly-girl domain by focusing on glamorous golds, pure whites and champagne pinks. To make a bold statement, chose an accent wall and paint it a deep, rich, metallic gold. Next apply a wallpaper stencil featuring a trendy Damask print. Paint the wall pattern in a soft pink and remaining walls in a subtle pink color. 

For a total makeover, install dark hardwood flooring in your room; the dramatic flooring will add richness to the room. Then create that "wow" factor by buying an inexpensive floor-to-ceiling length mirror (or any large mirror) and paint it gold. Painting the room's crown molding gold will also look stunning. Attach the molding to the mirror and viola! You have a budget-friendly and glamorous mirror. Finishing touches include a crystal chandelier, wall scones and draped curtains.

What great tips! My home is still in transition mode, but I love the ideas you shared, especially of using blue (or another color) of trim around furniture. Reminds me of the fabulous Dorothy Draper!

I hope y'all enjoyed this lovely guest post! Happy weekend friends!

The Difference Between Belles & Beaux, part 2

My southern beau is a talented knife maker. That being said, he often works with all sorts of what I consider to be dangerous tools and he isn't always as careful as I think he should be. What makes me feel this way? The vast number of accidents he has had in the past few years with machinery that goes awry.

A few times he has taken himself to the emergency room instead of calling me to do so because he was afraid of the fuss I would make.

His latest casualty? Several (seriously, several!) layers of skin on his middle fingertip after an encounter with a high powered grinder. It looked awful and once I knew he was okay, I began my typical spiel about how he needs to be more careful, blah, blah, blah.

His nonchalant response after promising to be more careful in the future?

"They can totally reattach fingers nowadays anyway."

Oh, I see.

Well, in that case, just chop 'em all off!

Just one more difference between belles and beaux.

February 14, 2013

Some Valentine Love!

Love is in the air, but it's also in my heart and I want to share a few things that I'm loving these days...in no particular order.

1. the super easy heart garland I made for my TV segment this week...it was a last minute decoration I created from a red file folder. I cut as many hearts as I could get, punched two holes in each and ran a piece of twine through them. It's hanging across my kitchen and has cheered me up so much this week I'm considering leaving it up for awhile.

2. my new wall color...I'm slowly but surely tackling the job of painting and even though I just have one wall in my kitchen done, I'm loving the light airy color I chose. And that's NOT my kitchen, by the way...just an example of my color (Benjamin Moore soft chamois).

3. love stamps...I didn't send out many Valentine's this year but these Forever stamps will add a little love to my mail for awhile.

4. george strait's I'm carrying your love with me...picked up this cd at my local Goodwill for $1 and I've been playing it on repeat ever since. And by the way, why isn't Pure Country available to watch instantly on Netflix? Come on Netflix...it's a classic! 

5. sally hansen complete salon manicure in kook a mango...If you're looking for a signature color, this should be in the running! I pared down my nail polish collection (purple glitter? what was I thinking?) and this my new go-to color. It's the perfect reddish-orange and the brush is shaped just so that it makes for smoother polish jobs. 

6. this new york times article + npr afternoon concerts = a more productive me! Seriously, stop what you're doing and read the article. You'll thank me. It's all about how we can accomplish more by doing (and stressing) less. It talks about breaking your workday down into 90 minute blocks with little short breaks in between. It even advocates naps IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. Love. It. 

Since I started my own biz and am working from my house every day, I've had trouble finding that sweet spot of productivity. I was just plugging away for hours on end, wearing myself out, getting headaches from staring at the computer screen. Yuck. 

But now I'm breaking my day into 90 minute blocks with little breaks in between for creativity/dog walking/daydreaming. Combine that with my listening to some soothing classical music on my local NPR station, and I'm getting more quality work done. I highly recommend this method!  

So that's my little list of what I'm loving...I hope you are having a wonderful week and that you feel truly loved (because you are!) Happy Valentine's Day sweet friend! 

February 12, 2013

A Heart Commitment to Health

Today's post features an interview with a friend of mine, Ms. Brianna Lamberson. You might remember her name because she's a fabulous stylist who helped me get my closet in order last year.

In addition to being a stylist, Bri is also a health coach with a deep love for people and a passion for helping them make simple lifestyle changes to improve the quality of their health and lives. She is doing a really cool thing for her birthday this year and I wanted to share it with y'all so you could participate.

On Sunday February 17 at 8 p.m. EST, Bri is going to host a conference coaching call where she'll share some of her insight as well as give callers the chance to make a new commitment to their bodies and health. I'm really excited about it because I've been on somewhat of a health journey myself these past couple of years (becoming vegan, losing 50 lbs, etc.) and I think it will be really great to connect with other folks dealing with the same stuff.

I sat down with Bri and asked her a few questions about the call and here's what she shared:

SBS: So why should I make a commitment to my body? How do my readers know if this is an event for them?

Bri: There is so much in the media these about health and fitness, disease prevention, and new health risks. It can be so overwhelming and in all honesty extremely frustrating. After a while you kinda stop trying new things and just stick to what you know, because who’s to say these things will even work for you? The laundry list of things to do and not do, to eat and not eat become a burden not a transformational formula to set you free. Folks might be thinking “Eating healthy is great, but how do I fit it into my life? Is it really for me?”  I’m here to tell you that it is for you. It’s for anyone and everyone because being healthy is not a goal. It’s not unattainable. It’s not a final destination where you ultimately end up or a task that you finally complete. It's about making a heart commitment to your body and that's what brings about results.

SBS: How is a commitment different from a resolution?

Bri: True health is an accumulative effect. It’s like a rain barrel. It rains a little some days...none on others, and then a downpour. Finally, the bucket overflows and that is health. But to start, you have to commit. With a resolution, you resolve to do something, but there's fear that if you don’t get it done, you’ve failed and you’re back where you started. With a commitment you can fail as many times as you need to, until you find that sweet spot of balance. It’s rife with grace. Think of it in terms of a relationship. “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Always ineffectiveness.”

SBS: Why are you so passionate about this stuff?

Bri: I like to call this story "Mess, turning point, success" aka a little snippet about me. When I was in high school, I suffered a major bought of depression and self-loathing. I gained 35 lbs in less than year and I was really on a crash course for disaster. I wanted so badly to be healthy but I just didn't know what “healthy” even was. What I really wanted was to be thin and accepted. It wasn’t until a close friend of mine exposed me to vegetarianism that things started to change for me. It was a heart issue and a moral issue more than anything else. But that was the first commitment I ever made to my health. It radically transformed the way I saw my body and my food. For me, it was about where my food came from and what was in it. I learned there were things I didn't want in my body. So that right there was the first real understanding I had of what it mean to me to honor my body. I actually valued it enough to say, I’m not putting that junk in it.

SBS: I know some folks think I'm weird for becoming vegan and I'm sure people probably feel the same way about vegetarians. I don't want anybody to be dissuaded from joining the call because he or she thinks it's about becoming vegan or giving up meat.

Bri: Well, nothing about my program requires bold changes. Everyone is biologically individual so for some, that means eating meat, and for some it means being vegetarian or vegan. Even after I gave up meat, I still ate fast food and drank a ton of soda, but at least I had started the journey of becoming mindful. And as a side note, between the ages of 15 and 28 I have gone in and out of vegetarianism. I like to experiment and believe that everyone is uniquely different and has bio individuality. What works for you will not work anyone else. Switching it up and trying different approaches is vital to your health.

SBS: Would you say that people can start your program from right where they are?

Bri: OF COURSE!!! That’s why I decided to create this Commitment Ceremony call. I want people to set aside the time and make a decision once and for all that they can start today, no matter what has happened up to this point. I want people to finally get a sense of how important their body is.

SBS: Okay, so what is a coaching call? How do I participate?

Bri: This coaching call is like any other call you would normally have. It’s like a conference call where, once you register, you receive a confirmation email with the call in number and access pin. As you said above, it's taking place on February 17th. When 8 p.m. EST rolls around you just pick up the phone, dial the number, and then enter the pin. You’ll be connected to me and all the other people on the line who will be joining you in making a commitment to your body, health, and future. It is completely anonymous so you can be as transparent as you want to be. There are only 150 seats so please sign up as soon as possible. And if you know someone who needs this, invite them to sign up as well.

I know how hard making goals and plans can be so I wanted this event to be as easy as possible. No fear, no judgment, just a safe space to acknowledge your body and begin your journey. You cannot do it alone, I can’t do it alone. And sometimes the pressure can be so great that we feel we have nowhere else to turn. That’s why I also wanted to give people the chance to work with me one on one. If you sign up for the call you’ll also be eligible to receive a paid in full scholarship for my 3-Day Emergency Tool Kit program.

SBS: What is the Emergency Tool Kit Program?

Bri: Reaching out for help (especially when you feel like it’s not an emergency) can be nearly impossible. If you feel like you’re alone, tapped out, overworked, emotionally burdened, rolling in self-doubt, and giving into unhealthy eating then this program is for you. It’s like a big pause button or the chance for a fresh start. That’s what the 3-Day Emergency Tool Kit is. But I’ll be giving away 5 paid in full scholarships. I normally charge $595 for the program but decided to make it way more accessible, because everyone needs a reset at some point.

SBS: So how can folks get in the running for one of the scholarships?

1. Register for the call and attend. Register here.
2. Email me before Feb.17th with “Scholarship” in the subject line and tell me why you need this scholarship. Email me at brianna.lamberson@gmail.com.

Once, you’ve done both, I will announce the recipients of the scholarships are on the call.

SBS: Wow! Lots of great info and the chance to have a really amazing opportunity here. Thank you so much Brianna for sharing this with me and my readers! I hope folks will consider joining the call if they are even the least bit interested. It sounds like they won't be disappointed!

Happy Tuesday y'all!

February 11, 2013

Easy Valentine Ideas to Spread the Love!

Happy Monday friends! Today I'm joining those fabulous folks over at Knoxville's WTNZ Fox43 for a segment I think you'll l-o-v-e, love! Okay, excuse the cheesy puns...but love is in the air with St. Valentine's Day coming up later this week. Maybe you've already got your Valentines in order, but if not this post might give you that extra inspiration to finish the task.

Anybody can go the expected route with roses, expensive chocolates and those little hearts with messages on them. I'm sharing some fun, easy Valentine's Day treats that you can make without spending a lot of money. 

First, some sweets for your sweetie. All of these candies/treats can be found at most grocery stores and I've included links to the printables as well. Easy, breezy, huh?

1. I've got a Crush on you
Grab a couple bottles or cans of your favorite flavor of Crush soda and add these adorable printables for a unique liquid Valentine treat. 

2. I'm Bananas for you, Valentine!

I had originally seen the idea of the cute paper monkey faces attached to small bags of banana Runts candy, but does anybody really like those? While perusing the aisles of the grocery store, my southern beau and I simultaneously looked at each other and shouted "banana MoonPies!" I'm sure the other shoppers thought we were nuts, but I'm so glad we thought of this. Add the cute monkey faces and tags that say "I'm bananas for you Valentine!" 

3. Valentine, we were 'mint' to be!

After dinner mints aren't necessarily Valentine candy, but they sure are good! I stashed a few in a small jar and added this cute printed tag to the lid. This idea would also work for a wedding favor.

4. Valentine, You Are My Lucky Charm
Ahh, Lucky Charms...my favorite childhood cereal. I thought this was a cute idea and for nostalgia's sake, I included it. I put a cup of the cereal in a clear plastic container and attached the tag to the lid, but you could always just wrap up the whole box. 

5. Happy Valentine's Day Love Bug!
Sour gummy worms are a well-loved candy treat, but only do this one if you can get away with calling your sweetheart a bug. Probably would work better for the younger folks...since it's not the most romantic of Valentine sentiments. 

While candy and sweet treats are the most obvious choice for Valentine's Day, I wanted to share some savory options as well! Again, these are just items I picked up at the grocery store so don't feel like you have to go all out to do something a little unexpected!

6. We Go Together Like Peas & Carrots
Forrest Gump said it best when he referenced peas and carrots as they relate to love. I wanted to capture the sentiment with a savory treat. Carrot chips and dried peas mixed together in a baggie and tied up with the above message make a fun Valentine snack. 

7. The Only Fish in The Sea for Me
Another snack favorite is goldfish crackers. I found the above artwork and turned it into a small card, which I attached to a bag of goldfish. Simple and to the point works best with some folks, especially where emotions are concerned. 

8. Heart Shaped Tomatoes 
Finally, I took some grape tomatoes and sliced them at a certain angle to make a cute heart. This would also be great on longer skewers with mozzarella bites in between. Yum! 

If you'd rather create some non-edible Valentine's Day treats, I've got a couple ideas for you as well. There's a great site that allows you to create your own personalized puzzles and games. What better way to show your Valentine how much you care than with a fun interactive game to get their creative juices flowing! 


I hope some of these ideas inspired you to think outside the box this Valentine's Day! We put so much pressure on ourselves to buy the perfect gift and make the most romantic gesture, but love has more to do with what you feel in your heart than how much money you spend! 

Have a wonderful week! 

Southern Belle Simple is brought to you by Kate Spears

February 4, 2013

SBS Celebrates Great American Pie Month

February is here and since it's Great American Pie Month (who thinks these things up?), I wanted to share some of the most glorious pies I've ever seen. These mile-high meringue pies were made from scratch at Dotson's Restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee. My mom and I were treated to a tasty lunch there during the holiday season with my sweet aunt and cousin. Yes, they tasted as good as they look! I'm only sorry I didn't get a photo of one of the slices. 

I've made lots of different types of pies, but never meringue. It seems like it requires more baking skills than I possess. Many folks won't touch the stuff. Are you in the meringue-loving camp or not a fan? My great uncle used to call it cow slobbers.Yuck! 

Dotson's is a wonderful meat & three if you're in the area looking for a place to grab a bite. I remember the pinto beans and cornbread being especially good. 

I'll leave you with another gorgeous pie and a link to the recipe. Isn't it just adorable? 
This delicious-looking pie from my pal Heather (known by the blogging world as Sprinkle Bakes!) is a deep dish chocolate banana toffee pie that looks heavenly [image via Sprinkle Bakes]. Heather is a talented baker and she's incredible sweet too! You'll get lost in the lovely images on her blog, so don't say I didn't warn you. 

And have a Happy Great American Pie Month! If you have a favorite pie recipe, please share it! 

February 1, 2013

Happy Birthday Clark Gable

Today would have been Clark Gable's 112th birthday. As a child, I thought he was Rhett Butler. I remember how shocked I was to find out Clark Gable was a totally separate person who'd made lots of other films and had a life outside of Gone with the Wind.

He died so young...at just 59. His films have allowed him to live on in the minds and hearts of fans everywhere. I bet he'd get a kick out a little girl born in the 1980's having him as her first real crush.

Happy Friday my friend! I hope you enjoy the weekend and if you feel like giving someone a little attitude, just say it was in honor of Mr. Gable!