Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zoo Membership

I absolutely love going to the zoo.  Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia, SC is my favorite.  I’ve been going there since I was a little kid, and every year Nick and I go on or near my birthday.  The zoo is one of my happy places.

Last year we decided to become members.  We bought a fairly low-level membership since it’s just the two of us.  Basically our membership pass allows us both as many regular visits as we’d like, one visit to the holiday lights, access to any members only events, and six guest passes.  It also gives us a discount (usually half off) if we choose to visit other zoos.  It’s good for one year. 
We didn’t go as much as we’d hoped to last year since we had a lot of unusual things going on, but we did go for one Members Night Out event, and we were able to use one of our guest passes when my friend Crystal went with me. 
After much discussion we decided to renew our membership at the same level when it expired earlier this month.  We anticipate being able to go a few more times this year, and we really enjoyed the Members Night Out.   
I think it will be good since we both love the zoo so much, and it’s a great excuse to go since we don’t want to waste our visits.
So what about you?  Do you enjoy visiting the zoo?  Would you sign up for a zoo membership?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I have an ever-evolving relationship with yard work. As a child, I loved raking leaves. I think this was due in large part to my dad’s genius way of capitalizing on child labor. As a teenager and into my late 20s I hated yard work. I couldn’t understand why people would waste their hard-earned money, and their time, working in the yard. Then we bought our house and had a little yard of our very own.

That’s when my attitude toward yard work began to change. The first spring and summer we were here, I didn’t really do anything with the yard. Nick mostly kept up with cutting the grass. I made a few half-hearted attempts to maintain the flowerbeds that we here when we bought the house, but I’m pretty sure I did more harm than good.

The following year, Nick’s grandmother (GrandMommy) got involved. I think she pitied our poor yard. GrandMommy has a knack for growing things, and a very practical approach to yard work. If she’d even hinted at all of the things we’d eventually be doing in yard back then I’d probably have been tempted to go along with Nick’s idea of concreting everything and calling it a day. Fortunately she didn’t, and we started slow.

The first year GrandMommy got me set up with my first ever herb garden. I think that was brilliant on her part. It was small, and meant that one small part of the yard became something I enjoyed and actually wanted to take care of. It also helped that most of the herbs seemed very easy to grow, and that I love to cook.

After that, we began adding something else in every year. Some years we’ve added a few things. It seems to be a very practical approach; start small, learn as you go, and don’t start so many new things at once that you can’t manage them. We’ve cleaned up and added flower beds, as well as raised beds for growing vegetables. And we’re slowly taking out things that just don’t work for us

With GrandMommy’s help, I’m learning which flowers I like, and how to properly care for them. I find myself enjoying the yard and being proud of how it looks. I’ve come to enjoy the flowers, and now I think the effort involved in growing them is absolutely worth it. I’ve finally had the experience of walking into the backyard and picking fresh vegetables to make for dinner.

It’s still a little early in the season for quite a few things here, but there’s still plenty of color and beauty right now. The azaleas and some of the peonies are blooming. Some of the basil and tomato plants are in the raised beds (with more waiting to be planted), and it’s almost time to plant the squash and zucchini seeds. I’m hoping to do that this weekend.

The biggest change in the yard this year, though, is how much I want to be in it. I want to plant things and fill the yard with colorful flowers. I find myself wanting to plant things and pull weeds when I come home from work. In previous summers, my "reward" for cutting the grass was getting to go inside, the promise to myself that once it was done I didn’t have to do more yard work for a while. This year, even though cutting the grass is hard and sweaty work, I don’t mind it as much. And my "reward" for getting that job done? Planting flowers, pulling weeds, potting little flower arrangements for the porch. I never thought I’d feel that way.

The yard actually wasn’t my original plan for my Y post, but I’ve been spending so much time in lately that it just seemed like the perfect post. And I’m ridiculously pleased with the little potted arrangements on the porch. I love the colors of the pots and the color combinations of the flowers. This is the first time I’ve potted arrangements myself, and I have to say I’m very pleased with the outcome.

So what about you? Do you enjoy working in the yard? Do you have very many things in bloom right now?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I think it’s probably safe to say that X is one of the least looked forward to letters during the A to Z Challenge. Or is it just me? Were any of you looking forward to X? I certainly wasn’t.

This isn’t my first go round with the A to Z Challenge. 2012 is the only year I’ve actually completed the challenge thus far (though I have to say this year is looking promising at this point), so it’s the only time I’ve made it to X. I actually kind of liked my X post that year, and it seemed to be fairly well received, so I thought I’d re-visit the topic this year.

I have to say that I haven’t been as diligent about visiting as many different blogs lately as I have been before, but most of the X-rated things from before still stand for me.

Too much personal information – yes, we’re all sharing a lot about ourselves with a lot of people, but for me there are limits. 

Language – yes, there are times when only a four letter word will do, and I’m no stranger to them, but when the post has more words I wouldn’t be comfortable using in front of my mom or my boss, I’m not inclined to keep reading.

Tone – this is a much more subtle one, but if a blog’s main intent seems to be to educate the illiterate masses (i.e. those of us who aren’t the author of said blog), or to preach a religious doctrine, or to promote a political ideal I tend not to come back.

The only things I can really add this year are blogs that are crammed full of affiliate links. The ones that sort of pose as reviews or just general blogs, but then go on to say how you can’t possibly live without this life-changing dinglehopper (points if you got the reference to The Little Mermaid!). It has improved their life in every way imaginable, and here’s the affiliate link so you can buy your very own with them receiving a small fee, but of course they’d never recommend it just for that reason.

So what is it that makes a blog X-rated for you? What has you clicking the X in the corner to make your exit as quickly as possible?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Welcome Cookie & Dot

We’re foster parents again. It’s only short term, while the cat room at the no-kill shelter is being renovated. There’s a lot of work being done, so all of the kitties had to move out for it, which means Cookie and Dot are our house guests for the next week or so.

Dot is very nervous and has decided to take up residence underneath the armoire for the time being. We’re sure she’ll be fine once she’s had a little more time to adjust and get used to being in a new place. And I’ll share a picture as soon as she’s ready for her photo shoot.

Cookie is very friendly and outgoing. She seems perfectly happy to be here, and doesn’t seem to be the least bit concerned about being in a new place. She has been exploring their room and looking out the window. Hopefully Dot will follow her example soon.

We’re looking forward to spending the next week with these lovely ladies and pampering them. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Very Cute!

I ended up changing my "day off" during this week of the A to Z Challenge from Sunday to Saturday. We were having some internet issues last night. Too bad it’s too late in the challenge for a post about AT&T, but at least I do have some pictures of very cute fur kids for you. At least they’re a good way to end the weekend.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Unbelievably Beautiful

This wasn’t my original plan for my U post, but a few friends posted this song on Facebook, and I think it’s too beautiful not to share. I’ve always loved the song "Stand by Me", and I think Tracy Chapman has a gorgeous voice.

It’s been a long week, so why not end it with something unbelievably beautiful.

So what about you? Are you a fan of Tracy Chapman? Do you like the song?

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Yes, I’m aware that it’s April, and that Thanksgiving is a long way off. I have no desire to speed things up, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and it just doesn’t get enough love, so I thought I’d make it my T post.

I absolutely love Thanksgiving. I think it’s really the perfect holiday. I love to cook, and I love spending time with family and friends, especially when I can cook for them. I also love the fact that Thanksgiving seems to come with no expectations, and it manages to bring out the best in people.

Thanksgiving feels magic. It’s at the beginning of the holiday season, when everyone still feels festive and cheerful. It’s a time to think about what’s good in our lives, and to be thankful for those things. It also seems to be a time when everyone is very conscious of including others, to invite people who may need a place to go to come share a meal and companionship.

Because of Nick’s crazy work schedule we sometimes have to get a little creative in celebrating Thanksgiving. We very rarely have our celebration on Thanksgiving Day, but we still manage to find a day to invite family and friends over for a Thanksgiving Dinner, even if it happens to be in March. It’s the people we spend it with who really matter. And it’s easier to send leftovers home with people at a different time of the year when they’re not already inundated with that kind of food. 

So what about you? Is Thanksgiving one of your favorite holidays? How do you celebrate it?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sweet Tea

It occurred to me recently that I do not have a recipe for sweet tea on my blog. It’s just unacceptable for Sweet Tea Reads not to have sweet tea, so I knew that had to be my S post.

For those of you not in the know, sweet tea means cold (iced) tea with lots of sugar, served in copious amounts, sometimes with lemon or mint. It needs to be strong, and it needs to be sweet. The sugar also has to be added while the tea is hot. Bringing a glass of unsweetened iced tea with a sugar bowl or packets when someone asks for sweet tea is a bit like a restaurant bringing you flour and yeast if you’ve asked for bread. It’s just not right.

Sweet tea is one of most delicious things you can possibly drink. It’s refreshing, and it goes well with any meal. It’s also the perfect beverage to offer guests. Nothing says hospitality like a big glass of sweet tea.

Making sweet tea is a slow process. It cannot be rushed; there is simply no way to make good sweet tea in a hurry. Some things in life are worth waiting for. We southerners take our sweet tea very seriously, and pretty much constantly have a batch prepared, and a batch in the works. Growing up in the south it’s ingrained in you that you always offer guests sweet tea. 

It took me a few years to come up with what I consider to be the perfect method for making sweet tea. I spent years watching my dad try and discard recipes and ask anyone, particularly older southern women, what their method for perfect sweet tea was. I didn’t realize it until fairly recently, but he was on a quest to duplicate the sweet tea his grandmother made.

I don’t actually remember what the sweet tea at her house tasted like. At least not consciously. I can remember drinking sweet tea out of big plastic cups there, and that it was the coldest, most refreshing thing. My dad swears that my sweet tea tastes exactly like hers did, and insisted that I come up with measurements and an exact method so he can make it at home. So here it is:

Sweet Tea

1 gallon of water, divided

3 family sized tea bags (I usually buy any whichever brand is on sale, but if forced to name a favorite, it’s the round Tetley ones)

1 ½ cups sugar (NOT artificial sweetener)

Place tea bags (with any tags or strings removed) and six cups of water in a medium sauce pan over high heat, and bring to a full boil. Boil for two minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 6 - 12 hours (the longer the better). Pour the sugar into a one gallon pitcher. Remove tea bags and pour into the pitcher. Stir well. Add hot water to fill the pitcher completely, stirring constantly. Stir for another minute. Cover and leave the pitcher out on the counter for 2 - 6 hours, at least until the tea has cooled back down to room temperature. Then refrigerate. Serve cold, over ice.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I love cooking, and I love collecting cookbooks and recipes.  You might even say I’m a little obsessed, but it makes me happy, and some of the recipes make other people really happy.  So no harm done, right?

It’s practically impossible for me to pick a favorite recipe.  So much depends on what I’m in the mood for, what else I have going on, and what I’m looking to accomplish with a recipe.  But there are definitely some recipes that are special because of where they came from or because of memories associated with them.  These are two of my special recipes:

Sausage GravyThis is my paternal grandmother’s recipe.  She doesn’t cook at all anymore, but she used to love cooking.  I have so many recipes from her, and she probably taught me more about cooking than any other person. 

This sausage gravy is absolutely delicious, and it was almost always what we had for breakfast when we’d visit them.  It’s also the very first breakfast I ever made for Nick when we were dating, and it’s the first breakfast we ever had using our new dishes that we received as wedding presents. 

Pumpkin PieThis is my maternal grandmother’s recipe.   She hated cooking for the most part, but this was one of the few things she enjoyed making.  It also helped that I was the first grandchild and it was my favorite dessert.

It’s an incredibly good pie, and it’s the only handwritten recipe I have from her.  It’s also the dessert we had the night that Nick and I announced our engagement to my side of the family.  My mom made dinner and Granny made pumpkin pie because we were coming and it was my favorite. 

So what about you?  Are there recipes that are special for you? 

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Quirky Quartet

Since Saturday’s post about painting with them went over fairly well, I thought I’d take today to introduce (or re-introduce if you’ve been around for a while) you to our quirky quartet of cats.
Milo & Howard
Howard is our oldest and first adopted cat.  I had him when Nick and I met.  He came from the county shelter, and wasn’t the cat I thought I was looking for at all.   But when I saw Howard I knew he was the right little guy for me. 
Howard is by far our friendliest and most outgoing cat.  He loves people and always greets company.  He also loves other animals and seems to greet any new pet arrival by saying “Hi!  I’m Howard, your new friend!”
Milo is our second oldest and second adopted cat.  He’s also the first fur kid Nick and I adopted together.  We adopted him a little over a month after we were married because we decided Howard need a kitty buddy.
Milo is probably our most high maintenance cat.  He’s very loving and affectionate toward very few people and doesn’t have much use for the rest.  He can also be very impatient and doesn’t handle disruptions to his routine very well.  He absolutely loves Howard, though.  The two of them are best friends and spend a lot of time cuddling together.
Frankie is our youngest cat, but third adopted.  A friend posted on Facebook about her sister needing to find a home for a kitten.  The next thing we knew we were adopting Frankie.
Frankie is more cautious than Howard, but definitely more of an explorer than Milo.  He’s very interested in scents; he loves to check out and sniff the vegetables that come in the CSA box.  Frankie also adores hair products.  I don’t use very many, so my hair is always a disappointment to him, but he loves to smell my friend Crystal’s hair.
Tara & Frankie
Tara is our second youngest and last adopted (for the moment!) cat.  She’s a failed foster.  We housed Tara and one other cat while the no-kill shelter was being renovated.  She was so timid and scared at first that we couldn’t stand the thought of taking her back to the noisy hustle and bustle of the shelter once she started to warm up to us.
Tara is still very timid and not a very social cat, but she adores Frankie and loves spending time with him.  I think she feels safe with Frankie.  She also likes to play with little things that she can bat around on the floor.  She loves the little toy mice and little things like bottle caps. 
So that’s our quirky quartet.  They all have their own quirks, and together they’re quite a quartet, but they keep life fun and interesting for us. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Painting In A House With Cats

We painted our living room and hallway last year (thanks in large part to my friend Crystal’s help; she did a great job with the trim) and in the process developed a guide for painting in a house with cats in two dozen "easy" steps.

- Stash all blinds in car so strings are not eaten and to avoid emergency trip to the vet.

- Wonder where people without cats store their blinds while painting.

- Attempt to herd all four cats into the spare room.

- Wonder what made you think four was a reasonable number of cats to have.

- Capture the one cat who managed to avoid incarceration.

- Remind yourself that your cats are rescues, and that you love them. 

- Re-capture the escape artist cat.

- Remind yourself, again, that you really do love your cats.

- Clean and apply bandages to wounds you sustained during process of incarcerating cats.

- Threaten anyone who opens the spare room door before the painting is finished with death and dismemberment.

- Begin actual taping and painting.

- Dodge the paws coming out from under spare room door.

- Narrowly miss said paws knocking over paint.

- Remind yourself, yet again, that you Really. Do. Love. Your. Cats.

- Lose one piece of plastic sheeting to evil little paws.

- Hope that the cats don’t eat or otherwise injure themselves with the plastic sheeting.

- Re-think signing up for pet insurance.

- Wonder if pet insurance even covers your cats eating plastic.

- Ignore ominous crashes from spare room for fear of what will happen when you open the door.

- Consider lowering your home owner’s insurance deductible in light of ominous crashes.

- Lose several years from life span when paw touches you from under door at 2:30 am because you got a little too close in your exhausted state.

- Consider increasing the amount of life insurance coverage you have; it’s going to take A LOT for someone to take your cats.

- Try to think of ways to convince your spouse that they should open the door instead of you to release the cats.

- Consider raising the amount of life insurance coverage your spouse has.

Fellow cat people, did I miss any?  I'd love to hear your stories of painting with cats.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Orange isn’t a color I usually think of myself as being drawn to, except when it comes to cats. I’m a sucker for orange tabbies, always have been, always will be. Howard and Milo are clear evidence of this. (I’d not so secretly like to have an orange tabby sanctuary, but Nick seems to believe that two orange guys are plenty.)

I didn’t really think there was much orange in my life, other than Howard and Milo, until I started looking around for pictures and ideas for this post. I realized I have a little more orange in my life than I thought.

So what about you? Do you like the color orange? What’s orange in your life? Are you a sucker for orange tabbies?
Howard & Milo - my favorite orange!

Violas in the garden

Pumpkin!  It's not just for Thanksgiving!

Yummy Carrots!

My favorite scent from the multipack.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Naked Mole Rats

We saw these little guys for the first time on a recent trip to the zoo. I think they’re very unusual and pretty cute. What do you think of them?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I think meerkats are adorable; their exhibit is one we always spend a lot of time at when we visit the zoo. So here’s some mid-week meerkat cuteness for you.  Aren't they adorable?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Love Languages

This is one of my favorite songs from Fiddler on the Roof. At first, it seems terribly unromantic. When Tevye asks Golde if she loves him she begins to explain that for 25 years she has washed his clothes, cleaned his house, milked his cows, etc. To some it might sound like the romance is dead. But then she goes on to say that if that’s not love she doesn’t know what is, and that she loves him.

It speaks to me because my love language is Acts of Service. I’m far more likely to do things like laundry and cooking than to say that I love someone. I’m an actions speak (MUCH) louder than words kind of person. 

Nick’s love language is Words of Affirmation. He’s a you need to tell the people that you love how much they mean to you kind of person. This song doesn’t really do it for him.

It’s interesting to read about the different love languages, and it’s very helpful as a couple to know which one your partner is speaking, and how to speak theirs. Different things really do mean very different things and hold different value to different people. 

So what about you? What is your love language? Is it the same as your partner’s?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kitten Season

It’s the beginning of Kitten Season here at our local shelters. Kitten Season usually begins with the warmer weather and often lasts through the early fall. It’s when shelters and rescues are inundated with kittens due to so many cats who haven’t been spayed having litters.

During Kitten Season, the shelters and rescues need a lot of extra help to take care of so many new babies all at once. Here are some of the ways you can help:

1. Spay and Neuter: This is huge! Eliminating litters of unwanted kittens keeps them out of shelters in the first place.

2. Adopt a cat or kitten from your local shelter or rescue. If you’re looking to add a feline companion of any age to your family, the shelter is the best place to go. You can help save two lives, the one you adopt and the one who gets the space freed up by the one you adopted.

3. Short term foster during Kitten Season: We did this last year with two adorable little kittens named Chandler and Pansy. Sometimes no-kill shelters or rescues have to turn away animals simply because they don’t have enough room. Short term fostering helps to free up some space at the shelter until they’re able to accommodate more animals.

4. Donate: An inundation of kittens means the shelters and rescues are going through a lot more supplies than usual. Cash donations are always appreciated as they can use that for whatever their current needs are. Kitten food (wet and dry), cat litter, blankets, heating pads, laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies are also very much needed during Kitten Season. Even just a few cans of cat food really helps.

Every little bit helps the shelters and rescues during Kitten Season. And it’s a great feeling to look at these sweet little faces and know that you’ve helped.

So what about you? Is it Kitten Season in your area?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Juggling Letters

For those of you participating, you know the A to Z Challenge is in full swing. For those not participating, the A to Z Challenge is a challenge for the month of April that involves blogging every day except Sunday and following the alphabet (A on the 1st, B on the 2nd, and so on). Some letters are easy, and you’re forced to choose between a few, even several, really good topics. Some letters are not so easy. And some letters are just plain hard.

There seems to be a lot of general agreement that letters toward the end of the alphabet are hard. Vowels also seem to be somewhat troublesome overall. Other than that it seems to be based on the individual blogger and possibly their theme (if they have one) as to which letters are hard. Here’s looking at you I, N, R, and U.

I found myself doing a lot of juggling letters around when I was planning posts (they’re not all written yet, so I’ll just say planning) and trying to find ways to make different posts work for different letters. It was helpful to write everything out and think of different titles and different angles for approaching the same subject.

I managed to juggle it around and turn what was going to be my B post into my U post and what was going to be my F post into my K post.

So what about you? Are you participating in the A to Z Challenge? Which letters were hard for you? Did you juggle anything around to suit a different letter?

Friday, April 10, 2015

“I Just Wanted A Treat!”

"I just wanted a treat!"
This pretty little treat thief is Tara, one of the members of our quirky quartet of cats. She’s the only female cat, and usually the good cat. I think her good behavior is due at least in part to the fact that she’s very timid and shy.

The boys get into everything and do lots of things they’re not really supposed to. Tara very rarely gets into things or messes with anything. So I was very surprised when I caught her with the giant treat container knocked over and opened like this. She really loves her treats.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Happy Places

The Lodge @ Table Rock
I think most of us have a place (or maybe more than one if we’re lucky) that just makes us happy. Maybe it’s a place that’s soothing or comforting, or a place where nothing but good things have happened, or maybe it’s a place that for some reason just speaks to our soul.

We need happy places. Everyone needs at least one place to go that will put a smile on their face, make them feel at peace, or just make them happy.

These are my happy places:

Folly Beach, SC

Table Rock State Park: I’ve always liked Table Rock, but it’s also where Nick and I got married, and that made me love it. It’s beautiful there, the lodge has a really neat history (built by the Civilian Conservation Corps), and I loved our wedding. I know it sounds a little cliche, but it really was a perfect day. We like to go back, around our anniversary if possible, and take the dogs hiking. I love that the place we got married is a place we can return to over and over again. 

 Folly Beach, South Carolina: This is possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Standing on the shore, it just feels like all is right with the world. It’s also just a short drive away from Charleston. I love the laid back atmosphere of Folly Beach and the fact that the beach isn’t crowded. And it’s dog friendly!
Meerkat @ Riverbanks

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden: My earliest memory of going to Riverbanks is when I was five years old. My grandparents lived in Columbia, so we went to the zoo sometimes when we went to see them. They loved being grandparents, so we were incredibly spoiled by them, and they just seemed to take it up a level at the zoo. It’s also where we went on the last visit we had with them before they died, and it was one of those days that you can look back on as being one of the perfect days in life. Now, going to the zoo is something that I get to share with Nick, and I still love it as much as I did when I was a little girl.
Garden @ Riverbanks

Our House: Our house isn’t big or fancy (if we have a style it’s probably best described as informal), but I love it. It’s where we’ve chosen to build our life together, focusing on the people, ideals, and things that matter to us. I’d like to think (hope) that our house is welcoming. Entertaining family and friends at home is something that’s really important to me, and I always want anyone we invite to be comfortable and happy. Our house is also very pet friendly, and we wouldn’t have it any other way since the fur kids are such an important part of our lives. Coming home just feels right and safe; it’s where I want to be at the end of a long day. 

So what about you? What are your happy places?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I love garlic, in fact, it’s probably my favorite spice to cook with.  And I recently learned that April 19th is National Garlic Day.  So garlic had to be my G post during the A to Z Challenge.  I tend to buy garlic in bulk because we use so much of it, and the garlic press is one of the most used tools in my kitchen. 
I love garlic because not only is it delicious, it’s so versatile and works in so many different dishes and types of cuisines.  There also seem to be quite a few studies confirming some pretty impressive health benefits of garlic.  So it’s delicious, versatile, and good for you. 
I know we’ll be eating garlic on the 19th in celebration of National Garlic Day.  Here are a couple of garlic recipes for you in case you’re looking for a way to enjoy garlic too:
So what about you?  Do you enjoy garlic? 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fizzy Lemonberry Pansies

Two weeks ago we made our first trip of the season to the specialty garden store. We went with Nick’s grandparents (a.k.a. The Grands or GrandMommy and GrandDaddy). GrandMommy and I went because we love the flowers. It was a fairly warm day and we needed to be outside and see the plants and flowers. We needed something that felt like spring. Nick went because he loves us, and possibly because of the lunch plans for later. GrandDaddy went because we were all going, and possibly because of the lunch plans for later.

I love going to the garden stores, and I love going outside and seeing all of the flowers they have. This particular store does a great job of displaying the flowers in the most attractive way possible. It’s just beautiful there. They also tend to have more special plants; types, colors, and varieties that you just don’t see at other places. You always find something a little special there.

This time it was these Fizzy Lemonberry Pansies. I think that’s just the name of the color, but I think they’re really pretty. I really like the color combination, and I love how the petals are a little bit curly. And, in all honesty, I really love saying Fizzy Lemonberry. Give it a try. It just feels good in your mouth doesn’t it?

So what about you? Is there a special flower that you like the name of?

Monday, April 6, 2015

English Breakfast Tea Latte

I love tea, and lately I’ve really started enjoying English Breakfast Tea. I also really like lattes, though sometimes they’re a little too strong for me. I’m just not much of a coffee drinker. I only like the coffee or espresso drinks made with lots of sugar and milk, and even then they can sometimes be just a little too strong or bitter. So I decided to experiment with making a tea latte at home.

I decided on English Breakfast Tea since it’s currently my favorite hot tea, and I already like it with milk added to it. I like my tea pretty sweet (just in case you missed that from the name of my blog), so you may want to reduce the sugar if you like your tea a little less sweet. I think it’s delicious exactly like this:

English Breakfast Tea Latte:

1 English Tea Bag

1 cup water

1/3 cup milk

2 and 1/4 tsp sugar

Put sugar in the bottom of a large mug. Pour water and tea bag into a small sauce pan; bring to a boil over High heat. Boil for 90 seconds. Pour tea, with the bag, into the mug (over the sugar), cover and allow to steep for 1 - 4 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea (I steep mine for four minutes). Meanwhile, pour milk in sauce pan over Medium heat; whisk the milk just until it begins to boil. Remove tea bag from mug and pour in milk. Stir well.


Saturday, April 4, 2015


Daises are one of the flowers for the month of April. I really, really like daisies. They just seem like such a happy flower, and there are so many different kinds that there really seems to be a daisy for everyone’s taste. My favorite daisies are these purple ones.

I’m still pretty new to gardening (I wanted nothing to do with it until a few years ago), but my grandmother-in-law (GrandMommy) is an incredible gardener. She knows all of the good places to go, and helps steer me toward things I can actually keep alive. Last year we went to a specialty garden store and I fell in love with these purple daises.

They were just so pretty and looked so happy. I bought them (a GrandMommy approved purchase) and they did really well. Now I can’t wait to go back and get purple daisies to plant this year. I like them so much that I think they’re going to be part of the garden every year.

So what about you? Do you like daisies? Do you have a favorite type or color?

Friday, April 3, 2015


That’s a pretty broad title for one word isn’t it? But, it’s one of my favorite things. I absolutely love to cook. I have enjoyed cooking for as long as I can remember, and based on the pictures on Facebook and stored on the laptop, it’s still something I do quite a lot of. If you’ve visited much before you’ve probably noticed that pictures of food feature pretty heavily here in the land of sweet tea.

Cooking for me is necessary (you’ve got to eat, right?), fun (I love trying new recipes and ideas in the kitchen), a way to say I care (my Love Language is Acts of Service, so I cook for people I care about when they’re having trouble), and stress relief (a bad day probably means I’m going to come home and do a lot of chopping and dicing!). So between all of those things I do A LOT of cooking.

Last summer a local Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant started offering some cooking classes, and I’ve really enjoyed those. I’ve learned a lot about spices and techniques that I wasn’t at all familiar with before, and the food is absolutely delicious. It’s also really fun to invite friends and family over to try something new.

I really enjoy exploring other culture’s style of cooking and use of spices. I think I learned this from my paternal grandmother. My grandfather was in the Air Force, so they lived all over the place, and she always embraced local cooking techniques and flavors. I learned a lot about cooking from her, so it’s very natural for me to experiment with different things. 

Being a good southerner, southern comfort food features heavily into my cooking repertoire as well. There’s nothing quite like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens. And of course sweet tea. Lots of sweet tea.

I also love creating my own recipes; sometimes with major southern flavor, sometimes with other influences, and sometimes an unusual combination. I’ve been working, off and on, on writing a cookbook for a few years now, and I’d really like to finish it. I’m always trying new things, scribbling notes on various papers in the kitchen, and recruiting people to taste things. (My husband Nick and my best friend are Crystal are very tolerant when it comes to letting me try out new recipes on them.) I love the feeling that comes with getting a new recipe just right and watching people enjoy it.

So what about you? Do you enjoy cooking? What are your favorite cooking styles?