For Sale

I tried to sell my $500 pottery barn bedding at the yard sale a few months ago…but no takers. I am sick of looking at it…it’s a reminder of money down the drain and a spur of the moment indulgent purchase. Just after C. and I were married, I just “had” to have new bedding. Out with the old…in with the new. I knew the minute I got home with it that it wasn’t what I was looking for. And yet…I was too lazy to take it back to the mall and trample in with a quilt, duvet and shams. So I kept it…only for about two months before it was washed and put back in its packaging…to be replaced with basic beige bedding. Our bedroom is just too small for a pattern.

So today, I placed the bedding on eBay! My first eBay listing. I’ve bought plenty but never listed. If this works then I have plenty of other items to add to the eBay store front.

Will work for peanuts

If you grew up in the south, chances are you love boiled peanuts. I have been savoring the delish salty flavor of boiled peanuts my whole life. As a little girl, my brother who is 11 years older than me, would wake me up late night on saturday nights when he came home so I could watch Saturday night live with him and eat boiled peanuts. He always stopped at a convenient store on the way home and purchased a couple of cans of boiled peanuts so we could have a little snack together (keep in mind he was 17 and I was 6!).

So yesterday C. informed me that he banned dry roasted peanuts from the boat because they are too messy…really? Fish guts are ok but a few peanut shells are ok? Male logic – go figure. He did say that we could stop and get some boiled peanuts…apparently they are acceptable because they don’t make a mess???

We headed to the lake and stopped at a convenient store just before the boat landing. My lucky day…there was an old dude selling boiled peanuts in the parking lot. $4.50 for  large container. As I strolled in the store…happy as could be, I asked the peanut man- “so are your peanuts ready?” He responded, “I sure as hell hope so. Why else would I be here?” Oh dear…a grouchy old man.

All I needed was a little cash. Luckily they had an ATM. Unluckily- it was out-of-order. What’s a girl to do? Beg her husband for cash? That would seem to be the logical thing to do…but C. doesn’t ever have cash.

Next- barter with the man. I NEEDED those peanuts. So I went over to explain the situation to Mr. Peanut Man who was smoking cigarets. Allow me to set the stage- Beat up pick up- a little rusty and several shades of gray. Small trailer with a wooden contraption holding a caldron of peanuts. Man is old. Not many teeth. Old fashioned overhauls and white undershirt, chain-smoking. Then there is me. Cute black dress, big wide-brimmed boat hat, tori burch flip flops and pearl earrings.

Ok folks- not my first rodeo here. I grew up showing horses and I know about these old-fashioned country men. Surely I can barter this one out. So I approach him and begin to explain the situation. I don’t think he cares (or understands). I offer to buy him several packs of cigs in exchange for the peanuts. His response – “the cigarettes cost too much in that store.” Then- “I don’t understand how you could buy cigarettes when you don’t have any money”. oh dear…this is a hard one. So I pull out my debit card and explain that I have money but I can’t get to it because the ATM is broken. Back to square one. We stand there staring at each other a few minutes. C. has made a b-line for the car. He is not going to be part of this transaction. There is nothing in the store this man wants- doesn’t want a coke, or nabs or a hotdog…nothing.

desperate times call for desperate measures. I must have some boiled peanuts. My aha moment…I have a check. Mr. Peanut Man agrees to take a check! SUCCESS.

These boiled peanuts were so worth the $10 I paid for them (yes- I gave Mr. Peanut Man a little tip for his trouble). And for the first time in my life…I had to really barter to purchase boiled peanuts.

Happy Birthday- a special cake for a special friend.

Despite having a Christmas Eve birthday, there hasn’t been a single birthday that I didn’t enjoy a special birthday cake- most years, a decadent ten layer chocolate cake from Sherry’s Bakery in Dunn. Some years a special message adorned the cake- Happy Birthday Alice Grey & Jesus! I always felt special- I mean really, how many people share a birthday party with Jesus? Birthdays are special. period.

I guess not everyone feels the same as I do about birthdays. Some would just as soon forget, some think of it as just another day and some are happy with a simple cupcake. But for me…birthdays call for a big ol SPECIAL cake. When I received an invitation to my dear friends30th birthday party, I knew right away a new thing to add to my list…baking a birthday cake from scratch for a special friend.

No I am not a baker. No I have never baked a cake from scratch. No I don’t have the tools. And how the heck do you ice a cake to make it look so smooth? Oh dear. I was in over my head with this one. First on the list- deciding what type of cake. Chocolate- too predictable. Vanilla- too plain. Strawberry- yuck, artificial flavoring. Pound Cake- too easy……RED VELVET- PEFECT!! 

Bet you didn’t know that red velevet cake actually got its name because of the chemical reaction between the chocolate and other ingredients…today we add red food coloring because we use a dutch process chocolate that does not cause the reaction…and really…I must admit, I had no idea that red velvet cake was really chocolate cake until I began to study recipes. Nothing says celebration better than red velvet. I searched the internet for the perfect recipe and looked to the boss…the cake boss that is… for the right recipe Buddy Valastro’s Red Velvet Cale with Cream Cheese Frosting (as seen in O mag May 2010).

Next- purchase and collect all the pieces needed to bake a cake….cake pans, flour sifter, long serrated knife, frosting spreader. Done. But how do I put it all together? There is something really intimidating about a layered cake…and add a little icing…and we are way way on another level of challenge. So I turned to YouTube. There are tons of videos on how to ice a cake. I also tried to find some interesting designs…but I felt like they were all a little cheesy. I’m just not a rose icing kinda girl nor is my friend JH.

I began the process early on Saturday morning (just in case of fiasco…more than 24 hours to get it right). First bake the layers. Cool. Cut layers. Build cake with icing between layers. Next- Crumb coating(this is when you put a light layer of frosting all over the cake to “set” the crumbs so that when you finish the icing, crumbs don’t get in the icing). Refrigerate to set. Finish icing. Decorate.

When you try a new recipe, you just never know how it might turn out. The pressure was on. JH was counting on me. Worst case scenerio…Publix was on standby. The unfortunate part about baking a cake is that you can’t sample to make sure it is tasty before serving. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best…but just in case…I assembled some brownie bites (a trick I learned from my m-i-l: purchase Brownie bites from costco- sprinkle powder sugar on top…a small dollop of chocolate syrup and top with a rasberry- a festive easy dessert)!


YEAH! The cake was beautiful. I did learn a few things for next time, but honestly, it was much easier and less intimidating than I thought it would be. And now that I have the tools, there may be quite a few cakes in the future. Any special request?

Just us two!

LOVED the new Sex and the City movie! From the opening scene where Carrie is wearing a fab white dress to the closing scene where she is cuddled on the sofa with Big, SaC2 is great. I really would like to see it again right away to take it all in.

There were some seriously TRAGIC fashionistas parading into the theater. If I could have snapped some photos to share with you I would have. CLEARLY we live in an unfashionable, unglam city. I can’t even believe these girls thought they looked chic- it was seriously lame- do they not get Lucky magazine- It even tells you where to buy the clothes. And why did they get so dolled up to go to a movie theater  filled with other girls?

So anyway- I am happy to say that we brought the only guy in the theater with us and we made quite the grand entrance just before the movie- he is clearly a popular man- the theater cheered his name as we came into the theater. How fun. I kinda felt like I was in a movie. To make the evening “an event” we brought in cosmos and champagne… what else would we drink spending an evening with Carrie?

As much as I love SAC and Carrie Bradshaw…it saddens me to report that they all looked OLD. I never thought of the girls as being old…but really this time, I felt like they looked a lot older than me. Sarah Jessica Parker is 10 years older than me and she does look FAB for 45. I guess I am just sad that we are all aging. On the flip side…please let me look that glam and be that FUN in ten years.

And BIG…oh how I love Big. He is dreamy and I love Carrie with Big. Whomever named him BIG was genius. What a perfect name. Carrie gave Big a Rolex engraved with “just us two” for their anniversary….that was FAB.  As a girl, who adores her husband, calls him my best friend and has no children nor are we planning to have children in the near future, I totally get it…Just Us Two. I think it’s my new favorite way to think about my own marriage.

Go see the movie…it’s FAB! Can I please be Carrie Bradshaw when I grow up? All I need is a newspaper column to get started.

C. ate my new thing!

I didn’t set out to become a chocoate connoiseur…but trying new chocolates from different countries and artisans is really fun. I am learning out how the textures seem to effect the flavors and how the origin really impacts the taste.

I bought this really interesting German dark chocolate bar filled the mascarpone cheese. I am not sure how the cheese did not spoil..but anyway. It was not the best chocolate I have ever tasted but the creamy cheese with a little coconut was a nice complement. The chocolate shell had a really waxy taste. Not really tastey on its own.

After I tasted a small bite. I carefully placed it in plastic bag to save for later, photograph and share with you. Tonight I went to get it out of the cupboard…GONE. Nothing. Not a trace. C. ate my chocolate. I have no idea what the name of this chocolate was…oh well…I wouldn’t buy it again. So I guess it really doesn’t matter!

Smothered, Covered, Diced….

How do you prefer your hashbrowns? Smothered? Covered? Diced? Chunked? Peppered? Capped? Topped? Country? That’s right friends…today’s post is all about an American icon- Waffle House.

Let me begin by saying that I am embarrassed to admit that in college the midnight waitress at the Monteagle Waffle House knew my name and not because I came in for an occasional coffee. Too many late nights were spent sobering up to smothered, covered diced hash browns. I have the photos to prove it.

I love breakfast. And if I were retired, you’d find me at a breakfast spot meeting friends everyday for breakfast. I plan to be that old person.

Every morning on my way in to the office, I pass a Waffle House. And every morning as I am sipping my protein shake, I think about how tasty some hashbrowns and eggs would be. You guessed it- I couldn’t resist this morning. The thought of greasy potatoes (filled with good ol vitamen G) with red high fructose corn syrup (ketchup) were too strong the resist.

It’s been years since I have been to a WH- they all look the same and nothing has changed but the menu. I don’t remember the topped, peppered or country though C says they have been on there all along and they have added names to the menu like “Alice’s Tea”…isn’t that appropriate. I definitely think it was named after me.

It wasn’t very busy. I didn’t even feel weird going in by myself. I found a booth with a good view of the grill. Isn’t it fun to see the short order cook dice up the hash browns? And I find it funny the way the waitress calls out the order…even when there is only one person there. Two eggs sunny side up, hashbrowns, bacon and decaf coffee.a Enjoyed chatting with Clem, the cook, who I think may have been the manager too. He was really amused by the whole blog thing and even let me photograph him.

What a fun way to start my day! But I must admit that even though I only ate several bites of the breakfast, I felt a little sick and needed a good nap after all that grease! Now I know why I stick to protein shakes.

Emily Post would be pleased

Don’t you think the demise of a hand written note is tragic? Nothing, I mean nothing, replaces a hand written note. People rarely send notes these days. I get the occasional thank you note, but never a note out of the blue written by hand, stamped and mailed (with the exception of my dear friend RCR). Why pen something out when you can email, text, facebook or twitter? Instant gratification.

My grandmother wrote me almost every week when I was in college. She rarely had anything to say, but it was so fun to get her note in my SPO (mailbox). It did help that she stuck a $20 in there every now and then. I always thought it so amusing that she closed each- Isles of view- Mama. I can see her sharp-pointed penmanship…a little shaky as she aged. Oh and she sent the mini-page each week. Though I had long outgrown the minipage, she had saved it for me my whole life and I guess it was something she just didn’t want to give up (and I have to admit, I enjoyed reading it even in college…it reminded me of home).

So today, I wanted to extend words of encouragement to a couple of friends who were going through a hard time and words of happiness to friends who are soon to give birth. I started to pick up the phone to call one…and I started to send a quick email to another…and I even started to send a quick facebook message to a friend I haven’t seen in while…but then I remembered the joy of receiving something in my mailbox other than a credit card offer or a bill. So, I grabbed my pen and began to write. It only took a few minutes and a couple of stamps. Presto…a piece of sunshine in their mailbox. Today’s something new is a practice that I plan to continue. It made me feel great and I know the recipients would agree that the heartfelt message was much more meaningful than a quick 21st century communication.

Mad Men

Mad Men- Just the title of this TV series makes me smile. Have you checked out this show? It premiered in 2007, but I am just getting around to checking it out. Once Friends and Sex and the City ended…so ended my TV viewing. But a co-worker told me about this show and I need a good summer obsession, so I checked it out.

Set in the 1960’s, this series centers around Madison Avenue ad execs. Historically it depicts both the advertising giants who shaped the way we think about certain products and how we approached advertising for 40+ years (until today…social media has created a major paradign shift). Blah blah blah. That aspect is somewhat interesting. As are the affairs and scandles. What is really interesting to me is the role of women.

I honestly can’t believe how much the role of women in society has dramatically changed since the 1960’s. Let’s just say I wouldn’t have been a very good 60’s woman. One lady is experiencing serious neurological problems causing her to shake terribly at times. They attribute it to stress and her husband sends her to a shrink to talk it through (he, of course, drives her into the city for her appointments and meets his lover for a quicky while she is seeing the shrink…and I found it interesting that he keeps freshly pressed shirts in his desk drawer so he can frequently have quickies and erase the trace of a lover). The women are depicted as stupid, childlike and clueless. Even the women in the workplace- there are a few copy writers, but most of the women are secretaries who the men prey on for lunch and afterwork fun. The men behave like children as well. The workday seems more like a frat party- shots before meetings, everyone smokes and cocktails for breakfast.

I am really intrigued by this way of life. It’s so foreign. I honestly can’t believe how hard the women before me had to work to open the doors for me. Thank you to all for paving the way for my success and thank God men have grown up!

Bocce Ball Tournament

Have you ever spent an afternoon on the beach playing bocce ball? I never dreamed that it could be a competitive sport. On Saturday morning, 168 people gathered for a bocce ball tournament as a benefit for the Special Olympics. My first bocce ball tournament!

We started at 8:30 am. Let’s just say by 10:00 C. was asking where the beer was.

The perfect balance...Beer in one hand. Ball in the other.

His game was a little off balanced without a beer in hand.

We played at a really beautiful park– people came out with their families, dogs, coolers and beach blankets. It was a really cool concept. Our team was off to a shaky start losing our first match…but as I mentioned as soon as the beers started flowing…it was GAME ON.

And believe it or not…our team made it to the final four!  What a fun little competition. We’ll be back next year to bring home the championship!

Team SP Bocce Ballers

Another Day…Another Cheese

Thank God this week is over. A little yoga and some QT with C. A perfect ending to a not so perfect week. Completely exhausted. But there must be something new I can find to blog about at the 11th hour. I’ll turn to one of my ol’ faithful subjects and a newyears resolution: cheese!

Though the fresh market doesn’t have the cheese selection of Whole Foods, they usually have some really great seasonal cheeses and its on my way home. So I wheel in after yoga. I knew we had a really good bottle of wine- a cab- so now to find the perfect cheese.  There weren’t too many choices that I have never tried before. But I managed to find a hard cheese and a soft cheese.

First selection was a white cheddar with cranberries and chipotle peppers. (made CarrValley Cheese Company in WI). I love a good white cheddar cheese…mix in a little sweet and a little spicy- one would think heaven…but I think that the cheese dude forgot to put the cranberries into the mix. It was HOT so really it was a hot, dry cheese that made me thirsty. I think that maybe I should have pairded it with a little cranberry chutney. It definitely needed something creamy and sweet to pair down the dry, hot flavors of cheddar and chipotle. Not to worry…all will not be wasted and I will try again with a little something sweet. I give it an A+ for appearance- nice light yellow color with red marbling. Oh and I do like to retro look of the label.

Next- Fromager d’affinois, a French double cream soft cheese made from cow’s milk. I liken it to a cross between camembert and brie. I don’t have a lot to say about this cheese. Very rich. Very delish. I really love creamy French cheese. Haven’t met one that I didn’t enjoy. It helps that is paired with bread (a baguette) and because of my carb addiction, I was not satisfied until half of the baguette was finis avant diner! Oh well.

I am sad to report that since enjoying this tasty cheese, I have learned more about it and I probably won’t be enjoying the remainder of the wedge…Basically it goes through a process that removes much of the water making it ultra concentrated, super rich in nutrients and you guesses it, a high fat content of nearly 60%. I’ll put this cheese in the category of “special occasions”.