September 20, 2017

Things to do on the First Day of Fall

Friday, September 22nd is the first official day of fall. Just yesterday, I was sweating in the muggy East Tennessee heat, but I'm willing temperatures to cool down now that the new season has finally arrived. I'll let you know how it goes.

I love the feeling that each new season brings. And maybe it makes me basic, but I love fall. It ushers in some of my favorite traditions. So with the first day of the season, let's celebrate with a big time.

Here are some of my suggestions for things to do on the first day of fall, or at least at some point during the next three months. Happy Fall, Y'all!

:: Make this variation of a fall Chex Mix 

:: Visit a local pumpkin patch and pick out a few pumpkins for your front porch 

:: Watch Dead Poets' Society, one of my favorite films that feels perfect for fall 

:: Read the poem To Autumn by Keats

:: Drink caramel apple cider floats

:: Rake the leaves for a neighbor who needs a bit of help

:: Get a little crafty with a can of orange glittery spray paint and whatever you can get your hands on. 

:: Listen to Eva Cassidy sing Autumn Leaves

:: Wear corduroy and flannel

:: Make my Hillbilly Apple Dumplings

You'll need: 
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • 1 can of refrigerated crescent rolls (8 oz)
  • 1 stick of butter (or less)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 can of Mountain Dew 
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
Wash, core and slice apple into 8 pieces. Wrap one triangle of crescent roll dough around each slice. Arrange these in a 9x13 baking dish. Melt butter in a saucepan and add sugar and vanilla. Stir until lumpy (sugar does not need to dissolve). Pour the mixture over the crescent-wrapped apples in the pan. Pour Mountain Dew over the crescent-wrapped apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

:: Plan a weekend adventure to small town festival where they celebrate things like apples, giant pumpkins, or scary stories

:: Turn plain brownies and candy pumpkins into mini pumpkin patch treats! 

:: Enjoy a Friday night high school football game in a small southern town 

:: Try pumpkin spice everything 

:: Make the most of this season that ushers in a time to reflect on gratitude, togetherness with ones we hold dear, and the chance to make new memories with your favorite people. 


September 18, 2017

Vintage Beauty Shops

“I think that the most important thing a woman can have- next to talent, of course- is her hairdresser.” ― Joan Crawford

“People always ask me how long it takes to do my hair. I don’t know, I’m never there.” ― Dolly Parton

“Beware of her fair hair, for she excels
All women in the magic of her locks; 
And when she winds them round a young man's neck, 
She will not ever set him free again.” 
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“She could hear her hair growing.” 
― Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

“Maybe the hairs on my head were numbered" she went on with a sudden serious sweetness "but nobody could ever count my love for you".” 
― O. Henry

“There will be those who love you for your hair and those who love the beauty of your mind and those who adore the warmth of your heart. but there will be those who will leave you for not conforming to their type of hair, mind and heart. And there will be those who will live/die to see your bad hair days, derailed mind, and broken heart. but what matters most is Who You Are” 
― Goitsemang Mvula

“Her hair was full of lights” 
― Ana├»s Nin

“she's got
tucked away
in her hair
poems swim
under her skin.”
― Sanober Khan, A Thousand Flamingos

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”
― Coco Chanel

September 15, 2017

The Best We Can Hope For | Life Lessons from Kenny Rogers

When I was in college, my roommate graciously agreed to let me use my Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits CD as our alarm clock music. Every morning we woke up to "Lucille," "Ruby," "Coward of the County," and arguably Rogers' most iconic tune, "The Gambler." While Rogers isn't responsible for writing "The Gambler," he brought it to life in a way that makes me feel like he believes every word of the song is true. 

Today, while driving home from work, "The Gambler" was playing on the radio and I felt overcome with emotions. Roll your eyes all you want, but that song kills me every time. 

This got me thinking. There are really only two kinds of people in the world. One is those who recognize "The Gambler" for the brilliant pearls of wisdom it imparts on so many levels, that are relevant across all cultures, across all demographics, and all eras of time. Then there are those people who think it's just a song. 

Lately, I've been doing some meditating. Don't laugh. After years of hearing about its positive effects on people who have difficulties juggling stress and anxiety, I finally decided I would give it a try. 

To be perfectly honest, I have always thought meditation was all a hoax. I mean, the idea of sitting quietly in the midst of a hectic day sounds heavenly, but what does it really do for you? 

Not knowing where to start on my own, I downloaded a meditation app on my smartphone called Headspace. The free version of the app gives you a short series of daily meditations and even though I'm only a few days in, I feel like some of it is working. 

One of the things that has stuck out to me so far is how the guided meditation tells you to let go of your thoughts. It actually gave the illustration of sitting on the side of a road and watching the traffic go by. Seeing each passing car as a thought, coming into frame and then moving along on its way. 

This feels like a new approach because I guess we're prone to want to jump in there and take control. I know I am. But apparently what's really better for us is if we can sit back and let the flow happen. 

In some ways this flies in the face of what I was taught to believe as a child. I remember reading the Bible verse that said you should take every thought captive. That paints quite a picture doesn't it? This idea that your thoughts are all running around on the loose and it's your job to hunt them down and capture them and somehow keep them all in your possession. 

But this illustration from the meditation app sort of makes it seem like your thoughts are flowing and it's not your job to capture's your job to let them pass by. 

The irony is Kenny Rogers in all his wrinkle-free glory is probably somewhere at a meditation retreat right now. He gets it. Why can't we? 

You've got to know when to hold 'em. 

What does that mean to you? First, I think you have to consider what you're holding. I've held onto some things which have served me well over the years. Certain beliefs I can draw strength from in times of trouble. Feeling like I'm part of something much bigger than myself. People who will stand by me, who love me no matter what. 

Know when to fold 'em. 

Folding in a card game means you've looked at your cards and you've assessed the situation and decided it's not worth going forward with the hand. You haven't yet left the table but you're out for now. 

Some folks might say we don't fold nearly enough...taking on too many things that aren't really suited for us. Others might believe we need to take more risks with our little cushy lives. You get to decide for yourself what's right for you. 

Know when to walk away. 

Then there's walking away. Walking away is a peaceful way of ending something. Things didn't get so bad but it's not working for you. Thus, it was time for you to go in a different direction. 

If you have found yourself in a situation like this at present, I give you permission to walk away. Seriously. 

Know when to run. 

And what about when to run? What things in your life have you run from? I know for me there have been plenty. What's more, there were plenty of other things I should have run from and I didn't. We always pay for those dearly. 

When Kenny says you never count your money while you're sitting at the table, I take this to mean the table is where the work is happening and counting the money is sort of like celebrating prematurely. The work's not done so it isn't time to count the money just yet.You'll get to count up your spoils and celebrate but maybe now isn't the best time.

He goes on to say that the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep. This could apply to so many things in our lives. In my case lately, it applies to my thoughts. In reference to that idea of meditation as allowing your thoughts to flow by, I've been trying to figure out what to throw away and what to keep.

Negative, harmful thoughts about myself that keep me stuck in a mindset that doesn't serve me...I'm pitching those straight into the garbage.

Hopeful thoughts, ones that feel light as air, with the soft fragrance of possibility surrounding them...those are the ones I'm working to keep.

The only part of the song I don't actually agree with is the part about dying in your sleep. That's not the best we can hope for. I believe we can hope for so much more than that. 

September 7, 2017

Super Simple Tailgating Tips for Fall

It's football time in Tennessee and we're getting ready for the first home game of the season at Neyland Stadium. I've got a few fun and simple tailgating ideas you might want to try this fall as you celebrate the joys of college football with a hundred thousand of your closest friends.

We know tailgating is all about the grub! These ideas are not only easy, but they taste great! Hope this inspires you to think outside your typical tailgating box, so to speak.

Big Orange Popcorn! 

Who doesn't love popcorn, in all different forms? Serve up your favorite brand of cheesy popcorn in cute white cups for individual servings. Your party guests will keep coming back for more!

Chilly Weather Chili in Stuffed Peppers 

Chilly weather calls for chili, the perfect tailgate food! Make up a batch of your favorite recipe or opt for store-bought. Trader Joe's as an awesome vegetarian option in a can. Spoon your chili into bell peppers (mine are UT orange of course, but any variety will do). You can cook the chili ahead of time and then reheat your stuffed peppers in the oven or a crock pot. Let your guests dress it up with various toppings. Yum! 

Orange & White Caprese Salad Stacks

Caprese salads are one of my favorites and making them as a stack means they are easy to transport for game day. I snagged some great orange tomatoes and layered slices of tomatoes with sliced mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with some olive oil and maybe a splash of balsamic vinegar. 

Some other things you might want to grab for your next tailgate: 

Orange & White pumpkins (perfect decor for Big Orange Football!); a galvanized tub to hold your drinks; Assorted orange sodas (or whatever flavor fits your team); brown Solo cups (they even have laces!)