Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Done Come and Gone

2011 was a banner year for us as we welcomed our sweet little gal, Charlotte. She has certainly made our lives have much more meaning and purpose, and hopefully her little watchful eyes and open ears will teach us to be better parents, friends, and people in general. This was by far the highlight of my/our year, but there are a few more local and not-so-local stories that also made me smile/cringe/shake my head in disbelief, etc.

In no particular order:

1.) The Harvey Updyke Scandal, aka The Toothless Redneck Bammer Fan Who Will Live in Infamy-This crazy dude is in my mind, the typical stereotype of a Bammer (Bama fan in case I have any out-of-state readers). Now I know that there are plenty of decent Alabama football fans out there. I may or may not even be married to one depending on what fall Saturday you ask me, but Updyke is just too ridiculous for this Auburn fan to pass up. First of all, what kind of moron names their kids Crimson Tide and Bear Bryan Updyke!?!?! That's like me naming my daughter Pinot Grigio or Chicken Fried Steak Carrigan. Secondly, how immature do you have to be to destroy not only someone else's property, but property of state historical significance that means SO much to SO many? Couldn't he just have keyed the team Greyhound and gotten the same satisfaction?

2.) The Kardashian Divorce-Let's face it, no one was surprised to see this one coming. Kim is a vapid, fame-hungry celebutante who is only famous because she made a dirty movie with Ray-J. Wait...who? Who the heck is Ray-J and why do we even care? It's sad that with all of her fame and fortune, the only thing she manages to raise awareness about is the downfalls of letting your significant other take dirty pictures or videos of you. Or maybe the benefits of an iron-clad prenup. Either way, I've seen enough of Kim Kardashian and her open-mouth-breathing ex-husband to last me until 3011.

3.) The Royal Wedding-Now this is something that totally makes me smile! (Although the fact that Will is officially off the market is more than a little heartbreaking because he would have made a fabulous second husband) I LOVE Kate Middleton and everything she is-philanthropic, down-to-earth, unassuming, beautiful, classy....all of the good things a future queen should be. Kate-are you sure you aren't a Southerner? Your demeanor (and teeth) would suggest you might have some redneck roots somewhere in that lineage.

4.) Boeing Blows-My little corner of the state was prepped to receive a pretty large government contract to build Air Force refueling jets. We all thought Northrop Grumman was going to be the big winner. Our city council had already put on their party clothes and hired the caterer (literally) when we all got the news that some little manufacturer called Boeing had won The Big One. Apparently some Yankees didn't believe Alabamians were competent enought to built planes, despite the fact we are currently building cars, ships, and spaceships in our dumb, backwards state. Next time I go to to Washington--oh wait. Who the heck wants to go to Washington where it's cold and rainy and those homely-looking folks only eat granola and drink Starbucks 24/7?!?! On second thought, keep your government contract Boeing! We will just stay here and enjoy the 70 degree New Year's Day and eat some cornbread in our trailer parks-our government won't have the money to pay you anyway!

5.)  Oprah Moves On-I can't believe The Oprah Winfrey Show is no more. Where else can we find heartwarming stories about war vets returning to their families? Or see celebrities lose their marbles and profess their undying love a little too excitedly? And let's not forget the "Everybody's getting a new ca-ar!" episode! I never really thought I would win a free car or trip from Oprah, but it was nice knowing the possibility was there. Now I will just have to settle for a free cookie with my next Lenny's sandwich purchase.

6.) Elizabeth Taylor Dies-The lady with the violet eyes passed away in March of 2011. As an equestrian myself, I have always loved National Velvet. I was later introduced to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  (and subsequently Paul Newman, swoon) and fell even more in love with Mrs. Taylor. She was beautiful, funny, and knew what she wanted out of life. Her love life might have been a bit troubled, but she taught me there is nothing a sparkly diamond can't fix. Kim Kardashian-TAKE NOTE! This is a true star in every sense of the word.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I never got a chance to post my Christmas decor during Kelly's Korner Show Us Your Life: Christmas Decorations, so I thought better late than never! I love decorating for Christmas, it makes the house so festive and cheery. And since we were hosting Christmas this year I figured it needed to be extra special!

Plus my parents did my serious cleaning so it was the perfect opportunity to show all of you our house! Rest assured it well never be this clean again! Ha!

This is the view as if you walked out of the kitchen and were looking into the living/dining room. I'm proud to admit that I don't spend much on my Christmas decor. I'm a BIG fan of stores like T.J Maxx, Marshall's, Old Time Pottery, and even the Dollar General. If you mix and match things it can look really nice without breaking the bank. For instance, I use a red tablecloth for my tree skirt. Easy, pretty and I can use it other times if needed! I also like to buy vases from OTP and pile them full of red ball ornaments from the Dollar General-it looks festive and is very inexpensive! I made my dining room centerpiece with vases (from OTP), green and red peppermints (Dollar General) and thick red candles from the Dollar Tree (everything's a $1-what, what!)

This is the view when you walk through the front door. Santa had already been by our house that morning, so it's a little bear under the tree at this point!

One of the designers on HGTV once said that if you use the same design elements in repetition, it can look very high-end and expensive. I try to do that as much as possible when it comes to my Christmas decorations. I stick with traditional colors-red, green, silver and white. There are a lot of candy cane stripes throughout all the decor. I personally love it and it's even relatively easy to set up and take down. Winning!

And since I didn't get a chance to actually print my Christmas cards, here is a little nugget of adorableness to hold you over 'til next year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Random Christmas-y Things

Things are super busy at our house here lately! We've had guests coming and going, a tree to decorate, a baby to tend, laundry to's a whirlwind of fun at my house, let me tell you. Because things are busy at home and work, here's a little list of random thoughts/activities/ nonsense that are in my mind now that Christmas is right around the corner.

1.) We DVR'd National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I've watched it about five times already and quoted it about a million. Nothing puts me in the Christmas spirit like Cousin Eddie and a beautifully wrapped cat from Aunt Bethany.

2.) I am officially the worst mom in the world. I've been begging H to take a Christmas card photo with us two and our dogs for the past four years. His response has always been, "When we have kids, we'll do a Christmas card. Until then, it's just stupid." Now we have an adorable little girl to complete our family of five (because the two dogs are family, too)--and I totally dropped the ball on the Christmas card. I officially suck.

3.) The Elf on the Shelf stuff kind of ticks me off. Charlotte is still too young to understand about Santa and the importance of being nice rather than naughty, but I can just tell that the dang Elf is going to be just another way for this working mom to fall short of her uber-creative mommy peers. Why do I want the Elf to make a mess that I'm gonna have to clean up anyway? With this being said, I'm sure we will have the Elf on the Shelf one day. And then I can write about it on my blog and disclose how Charlotte's Elf stayed in the same place for three weeks and then miraculously jumped into the plastic bin where we store our Christmas decor.

4.) Pottery Barn Kids escaped my wrath by sending the correct stocking on the second try. Yay PBK! I would have hated to burn those magazines full of adorable stuff in protest because I've already got my eye on a wooden rocking horse and a lounge chair for next year!

5.)There are numerous presents under my tree and none of them are for me. :(

6.) Christmas parties are AWESOME-I'm two down with two to go and excitement is abound!

7.) I'm hosting 13 at Christmas this year! Scary and exciting all at once! On the menu is steaks, shrimp, asparagus, twice-baked potatoes, salad and bread as well as a plethora of desserts leftover from our Christmas Eve festivities. Time to put the 'ol leaf in the dining room table.

8.) My little dog Lois was hit by a car last Saturday-RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I almost had a heart attack. Thankfully she seems to be pulling through the ordeal pretty well. It's no divine conception, but let's just call it my Christmas Miracle.

9.) We watched Saturday Night Live's Christmas Special last night and it reminded me of how darn funny SNL used to be. "I wish it was Christmas to-day-ay!" and "The Hanukkah Song" are still stuck in my head. My dream job is to be a writer for SNL. I consider myself a blonde Tina Fey, in case you were wondering.

10.) I love Christmas. It's the most wonderful time of year. It's so easy to get caught up in the material aspect of this holiday though. I keep trying to remind myself that it's not about what we get or what we give, it's about the birth of Lord. What a great reason to celebrate!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope your days are merry and bright! Hug your loved ones, give a gift to your favorite charity, and don't forget the real reason for the season.

Oh....and remind me next August that I need to get started on my Christmas cards.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Progressive Dinner

I love the holiday season! For the past few years our street has had a Progressive Dinner around the first of December. This is the third annual event and I must say it gets better every year!

In case you aren't familiar, a Progressive Dinner is where each house will host a different course of the meal. Usually there will be 3 or 4 women who pitch in to help at each house so it's not so much money and hassle on one host. (Who am I kidding here with my political correctness/gender neutrality--we all know I mean hostess because honestly...what dude is gonna go through this kind of hassle to impress the neighbors?)

But anyway-our little party started with cocktails at the first home while we waited for everyone to get off work and get into "party mode". After about an hour of cocktails, all of the neighbors had arrived so we all strolled over to the next house for appetizers.

For the appetizer course we had delicious mini crawfish pies, brie cheese and crackers, a vegetable tray, and some bite-size sandwiches. Let me tell you-the crawfish pies were divine. As in, the Heavens opened and angels sang "Hallelujah!" in perfect unison.

We moved on to the Bullard home for our entree and of course, we were not disappointed there either. Shrimp and grits, salad, and french bread made the perfect meal on a cold December night. I love Shrimp. And grits. So when you put them together it is nothing but spectacular.

Side Note: This is also true for Champagne and Orange Juice.

After our entree, we stumbled (because by this point in the evening "stroll" doesn't seem to be the appropriate descriptive word to use) on down to the McCain residence for desserts.

This is where yours truly comes in! I contributed to the party by making Magic Bars. Normally I am not a baker. I love to cook, but my expertise is more in tune with the appetizer course. I have made enough dips and apps in my life to qualify as an expert, trust me! This year I was put on the dessert course, which is totally fine except that it took me until the day before the event to actually commit to what dessert I would make. Since I don't own a mixer and the other baking necessities, I was limited to what I could create.

I know, it's a travesty that a self-proclaimed Southern belle like myself doesn't own a mixer. But keep in mind that I am married to the man who once asked the Dauphin Island ice cream truck driver if he had any biscuits and gravy. There isn't much of a need for sweets in our household. Now I could just learn to make my own bacon...

Thankfully, the only real baking skill that Magic Bars require is the ability to crush a sleeve of graham crackers-and that I can do! And although my Magic Bars weren't the favorite, I did hear quite a few compliments on them. The winner of the dessert menu was Amy's delish Oreo Truffles. I did help her make them, though, so maybe I can claim a small victory in that.

If you live in a neighborhood, let me encourage you to start a Progressive Dinner each year around the holidays. It's such a wonderful way to bond with your neighbors! Being the Nosy Nelly that I am, I always enjoy getting a glimpse at the way other people decorate their historical homes. And of course, who doesn't like to see everyone's Christmas decor!?!?

The only problem is that it makes me realize how much work we still need to do on our little slice of historical relevance.

But oh well! In the words of Scarlet O'Hara, "I can't think about that today, I'll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day!"

Because even if I can't make a Red Velvet Cake from scratch, I can always quote Gone With the Wind.