Category: Just for Fun

i stole a wall of S’s

Truth be told, I didn’t actually steal the S’s in the strict sense of the word, rather just the IDEA of them.  This blog is supposed to be about The Mr and I traveling about, eating good food, drinking good beer, and learning how to use our fancy camera in the process.  However, the fact of the matter is that, for the time being The Mr will be the one traveling about, not I.  Don’t worry, he’s just going on work trips, not doing anything fun without me.  I am perturbed about said trips because they are keeping us from doing a couple fun things that I really like to do…like say the inaugural Oxford Craft Beer Festival… I’m more than a little annoyed by this.  But I digress…

Don’t worry, though, Charlotte has enough going on in the beer scene these days to keep this blog hopping (ha, ha get it.  Beer.  “Hopping.”  am I the only one that finds that amusing?) for a while.  Anyway, because we’re (mostly I will be) hanging out at the homestead for a bit, I thought I’d feature a couple little projects that we’re doing around the house.  Which leads me back to the “stolen” wall of S’s…

We’ve been in our townhouse for 4 1/2 yrs.  Most of the decorating is done, but it is definitely still a work in progress.  Our downstairs half-bath has been one of these unfinished projects that has plagued me since day one.  It was painted and crowned with moulding within two months of us moving in here but I’ve never been able to check that tiny little room off as “done” from the decorating “to-do” list because I’ve never had an idea about what to do with the wall behind the toilet.  This has irked me every single time I’ve gone into that room for 4 1/2 yrs. And when I say “every single time I’ve gone into that room for 4 1/2 yrs” I literally mean EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.

You might be thinking “Dude, it’s a bathroom wall.  Relax.” But, you see, because it’s the only water closet downstairs, someone goes in there every single time we have people over.  The toilet directly faces the sink which, like all bathrooms everywhere, has a mirror hanging over it.  So, whether it’s a female guest who sits or a male guest who stands while answering the call of nature in my home, what they stare at is a big blank green wall. See what I mean…




Call me crazy, but I like to look at something pretty when I potty.  I recently spruced up the back of the bowl with an orchid.  It helped, but it wasn’t enough.




That blank wall plagues me.  It simply won’t do.  It just bothers me.  It’s blah and boring.  Despite it’s constant mocking of me,  I didn’t want to just throw any old thing up there to fill the space.  So, 4 1/2 yrs go by while I remain uninspired about how to remedy the situation.  Enter Emily from Jones Design Company.  I’ve been one of her readers for a while, but had forgotten about this particular project until recently when I came across this post from March of last year while perusing her site in search of something else.  I didn’t even have to re-read the entire post to be inspired.  As soon as I caught a glimpse of the post title I knew – this was the solution to my bathroom dilemma bathroom WALL dilemma.

I took inspiration from Emily and decided to fill our half-bath wall with our monogram like she did with the L’s.




Emily said that she purchased only a couple of her L’s and that she made the rest from things that she had lying around the house.  Not being as much of a DIYer as Emily, I actually had to spend about $50 to gather the necessary supplies, but (for me at least) that’s a pretty low budget decorating project.  Also, I’m not nearly as creative as Emily, so I actually copied a couple of her monograms outright.

I stuck with neutral tones to keep it from looking too busy.  Here’s the individual breakdown (descriptions left to right):


KDT Wall of S's


1.  S sketched and painted onto a small canvas purchased from Michael’s.  I used the font from #6 as my guide.

2.  S printed on parchment paper and framed in a vintage frame purchased at the Habitat for Humanity Restore ($1).  Like, Emily, I drew in the “No. 2” at the bottom to add visual interest.  (It was the second S that I completed.)

3.   layered scrap linen with S cutout of scrapbook paper framed in an ugly frame purchased at the Habitat for Humanity Restore (also $1) that I repainted black.

4.  large S cut out of foam core board and decoupaged with scrapbook paper in vintage frame also purchased from Habitat ($2).

5.   printed/framed photo of an S I took as part of a photo project I’m working on.

6.  plain wooden S purchased from Michael’s and crackle finished using paints that I happened to have around the house.

7.  a combination of two stolen from Emily’s wall… a S cut out of glittered scrapbook paper and glued to scrap linen with metal book plate and label with “est. 1999” handwritten on it.  (We got married in 1999.) The frame was also an ugly $1 purchase from Habitat that I crackle painted using supplies I already had.

8.  toile fabric swatch from Calico Corners (ordered years ago and never used) layered with a printed S framed in a vintage frame purchased at the Habitat for Humanity Restore (also $1).

9.  chalkboard painted piece of scrap wood from our garage with hand drawn S and border.  Stolen straight from Emily’s wall

10.  bronze metal S purchased on clearance at Restoration Hardware for $6.

11.  small S stenciled on a piece of frayed scrap linen, backed with a scrap fabric swatch from another project, and framed in a small frame purchased at Michael’s. MY FAVE!!


I spent an entire Saturday sprawled out on top of a drop cloth in the middle of my kitchen floor painting, cutting, crackling, gluing, and decoupaging then let everything dry overnight.  The next day I enlisted the help of The Mr to mount/hang them.  I then added the bright pink orchid back to the top of the toilet for a pop of color and…VOILA!




I ADORE how it turned out!  In fact, I now believe this to be the most interesting wall in our house.  And, I promise I haven’t been outright asking people that come over if they need to go to the bathroom and following them there to show off/talk about my S’s…I mean, that would be weird right?…honestly, who would do that?…

Moral of this story – crime DOES pay. 😉  Now, if I can just keep from murdering the orchid…



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Bravo, Luciano!

If you’ve paid attention to my Instagram feed in the side bar, you’ve noticed that I have a problem.  What started out as a “treat” one lazy Saturday morning has now be come an addiction.  At least one morning each weekend – sometimes Saturday, other times Sunday – I find myself driving to Sunflour Baking Company for a cheddar biscuit with bacon.  This weekend was no different, but I fear it’s getting worse.  Last week I also grabbed some Duck Rabbit Milk Stout cupcakes and a couple sandwiches while I was in there.  This has got to stop soon.  Otherwise, before I know it, I will be walking out with an entire case of Ham & Gruyere Croissants, all the while cramming yet another cheddar biscuit into my face.

Each week as I wait for my biscuit, I see this quote on the chalkboard style menu that hangs on the wall just inside the bakery door:

I think that’s lovely.  Don’t you? As much as I am an opera fan, I had never heard or seen this quote from Pavarotti before.  All I can say is – “Bravo, Luciano!  Bravo…

and I HAVE to stop coming here so often or otherwise I’m gonna start to look a little too much like you.”

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all…

Bet your thinking Christmas, right?  Well, my lovelies, you would be mistaken.  The most wonderful time of the year is, in fact, Fall.  More specifically, Fall and SEC Football Season!  IT’S GAMEDAY PEOPLE!!!  Aren’t you pumped?!?  I have been psyched about today for weeks.  In truth, I’ve been looking forward to this day since Bama put the smack down on LSU for their 14th National Championship last January.

The fact is, I’m the football fan in the family.  The Mr. and I have a running joke that when it comes to college football, I fulfill the stereotypical male role in our relationship.  Every Saturday from September through the BCS championship game in January, I can be found parked in the comfiest chair in the living room  (right in front of the flat screen), guzzling some sort of ale or stout, shouting at refs, and armchair quarterbacking.

Lest you be tempted to pity The Mr. because he didn’t know what he was getting into, I should tell you that he knew – from Day 1.  The Mr. and I actually met at the Ole Miss v. Alabama game in Oxford in 1997.  He had come up to visit his brother who introduced us.  Our first conversation went something like this (To set the scene, picture me absolutely engrossed in the game glancing back and forth at it and him while he grinned and attempted to chat up a cute redhead he just met…):

Him:  Hi, I’m Steve.
Me:  Uh-huh.  Nice to meet you.  GET HIM, GET HIM, GET HIIIIIMMMMM!!!!
Him: So, how do you know Robby (his brother who introduced us)?
Me:  Huh? Oh…um…we’re…we’re in the same choir and opera program.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? THAT’S INTENTIONAL GROUNDING!
Him:  I actually really enjoy classical music.  I’ve always enjoyed Wagner.

Never fear, we actually had a real conversation (one in which I fully participated) later that evening a party, when I wasn’t as distracted.  And the rest, as they say, is history…and get’s us back to me screaming at TV every Saturday in the Fall.  The only difference is that now he knows better than to attempt meaningful conversation with me during the game.  He’s also sweet enough to keep bringing me beer.

As much as I love college football in general, my heart belongs to Ole Miss.  This time of year there is no where I’d rather be than in the cool, crisp fall air in Oxford, Mississippi.  Let’s face, I’d rather be in Oxford any ol’ day of the year, but that desire is magnified by a GAZILLION during football season.

Unfortunately, this weekend we are not traveling and it doesn’t really feel like Fall outside.  But a girl and dream, can’t she?  I wish is was 30 degrees cooler outside…

I wish I was wearing this… (At Ole Miss, Gameday is a dress event)

(Credit BCBG)

I wish I was here…

sipping on one of these…


eating this…

(Credit Southern Living)

getting ready to head over here…

Instead, I’m at home, wearing this…

sipping on one of these…

while watching the game here…

It’ll do for now.  HOTTY TODDY!!

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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MY Independence Day

I woke up today with definitive plans.  We’ve done a lot of socializing in the last couple of weeks so, last weekend, I announced to The Mr.  that I would not be attending any July 4th Festivities this year.  You see, in my old age, I’ve come to realize that I am actually an introvert who has been masquerading as an extrovert her entire life.  If I’m too sociable and don’t get enough down/quiet/home time, then I start to get…well…let’s just say I start to get twitchy.  Knowing that I had a day off from work in the middle of the week, I preemptively declared my independence from social obligation.

Ever a slave to my to “To Do” list, I saw the free day in the middle of the week as an opportunity to get a few things done.  I awoke with plans to ride my bike, cook/prep dinners for the rest of the week, work on my Bible Study homework, write/outline blog posts for the next week or so, do a little midweek house keeping, start working on my “To Pack” list for my upcoming trip to Virginia and spend some time practicing my photography.

Instead, I sipped coffee in bed until about 8:45a while begrudgingly watching the Today Show (I’m still mad at NBC for what they did to Ann Curry, but can’t bare to watch GMA.  So, I’m still watching the Today Show, but I’m NOT happy about it.)  I eventually wandered downstairs where I mustered the energy to put some Trader Joe’s frozen waffles in the toaster oven and water the flowers in my kitchen window box.  After that…well…um….

You see…

I…well…I sort of…

It’s just that…

Ok, you got me!  The rest of the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

My subsequent activities basically boiled down to me tooling around on the internet.  As in ALL DAY.  Seriously.  ALL.  STINKING.  DAY.  Doing what, you ask? Do seriously important stuff – you know, reading blogs, reading about how to grow your blog (chief among the suggestions here are actually WRITING posts rather than just tooling around reading what other people have posted), looking for wallets (unfortunately, I’m currently in love with this one), reading more blogs, window shopping for organizational paraphernalia at See Jane Work, Franklin Covey, and The Container Store, and playing rousing games of Words With Friends with my sister and my mother-in-law.  Oh, and reading about 7 chapters of my book club selection…sometimes in the bed…sometimes on the loveseat.

I basically never made it out of my yoga pants.

I DID manage to do one lesson of my Bible Study homework for this week and prep some simple filets for The Mr. to grill.  In all honesty, I also whipped up some small salads and baked two sweet potatoes while The Mr. did the man cooking.  (But who’s counting?) Oh! AAAAAND I can scratch the accomplishment of drizzling melted herb butter over the grilled filets before plating them.

I grew the herbs myself.  That has to count for something, right?

It may not have been the Independence Day our forefathers intended, but today was apparently the day that I declared MY independence…from my “To Do” list, that is.

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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So, my birthday was a couple weeks ago.  And yes, that number in the title corresponds to the number of birthdays I’ve had.  And, no, I’m none to pleased about the proximity of the number that the aforementioned number rounds up too.  But, I guess it’s better than the alternative, right?

I honor of this grand occasion, I’ve decided to take a cue from Xanthe. She’s a photographer in the UK.  I discovered her blog and photography through the Shutter Sisters blog.  On the 38th anniversary of her birth, Xanthe posted a list of things she like to do or accomplish in her 38th year – a.k.a her Birthday List.

That got me to thinking.  Maybe it’s just the beginnings of the midlife crisis I will inevitably have in 4 yrs, but there are things I want to do in life and I don’t want to put them off any longer.  So, without further adieu, in no particular order, here is My Birthday List.

My 36 Things:

  1. Learn to take really beautiful photographs.
  2. Actually complete a 365 Project…the daily photography practice should help achieve #1.
  3. Exercise regularly enough that it becomes part of my regular routine (like eating, going to work, brushing my teeth), not just be a project that I work on intently for a couple months and lose interest.
  4. Have more dinner parties.
  5. Enjoy my weekends, not just spend every Saturday simply running errands and cleaning my house.
  6. Hire a housekeeper. (Should help achieve #5).
  7. Plan a trip to the Oregon Wine Country/Willamette Valley.
  8. Make a budget and stick to it so as to boost general savings AND savings to pay for said Oregon trip.
  9. Call my grandmothers more often.
  10. Have intentional monthly dates with The Mr. …not just eating out because we didn’t have time or were too tired to cook at home.
  11. Explore Charlotte more.
  12. Explore NC more…I really wanna go to the Outer Banks.  We’ve been North Carolinians for 7 yrs. It’s time.
  13. Finish buying furniture for and decorating our bedroom.
  14. Decorate, organize, and actually use my guest room/office space for something other than storing things that have no designated home.
  15. Actually complete the Couch to 5K app I downloaded to my iPhone a couple years ago.  (I never seem to get past week 3…see #3).
  16. Make plans to stay at Blackberry Farm for some special occasion…or at least drop enough hints that The Mr.  surprises me and whisks me away to there.
  17. Learn to maximize the potential of my photo editing software.
  18. Participate in more local cooking classes, wine, and beer tastings.
  19. Make a habit of going to bed on time and at the same time every day.
  20. Make getting as much local food as I can from the famer’s market that is literally 1 mi from my house a priority.
  21. Stick with and grow this blog.
  22. Use my car less and my bike more.  (Should also help achieve #3)
  23. Live daily in the freedom of Grace, showing others the Grace that I’ve been shown.
  24. Have the guts to do something like this.
  25. Be intentional about cultivating my friendships.
  26. Go TO the movies more.  It’s so much more fun than watching Netflix on my couch.
  27. Get a primary care physician.  I have a couple specialists, but (ugh, as I get older) I need someone helping me look at the whole picture.
  28. Take more weekend trips.
  29. Sing more.
  30. Get a new haircut.  (I’ve had the same one for 5 yrs now.  It’s really cute…but I need something new).
  31. Memorize more Scripture.
  32. Make daily quiet time a priority and let that quiet time take many forms.
  33. Start going to the opera again.
  34. Start flossing daily.  (I got through spurts where I’m really good about it, then I won’t do it for weeks months on end.  Just keeping it real…)
  35. Eat at my dining room table daily, not just when we have people over.
  36. Stop being bothered by having just turned 36.

A lot of these things aren’t major world or life changing things.  Most of them aren’t sexy.  Many aren’t deep.  Some are.  On some level, most are unmet goals that show a pattern of non-completion in my life.  I want to be someone who finishes what I start, someone who sees things through to the end.   What do you say?  Wanna help keep me accountable?

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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A Month of Color

So, we bought our D90 just over two years ago.  We didn’t take it off “Auto” settings until I took an Intro to Photography class about 6 months later.  I took my second Intro to Photography class a year after that.  We just invested in our second lens a couple weeks ago. (By that I mean that The Mr. bought me a new lens for my birthday).  In this slow progression, I do feel my photography has improved, but it’s no where NEAR where I would like it to be.

If you ask any photographer he/she will tell you that the only way to get better at it is to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more.  Shoot CONSTANTLY.  So that’s what I’ve got to do if I truly want to build and learn to flex my photography muscle.  I’ve got to shoot daily.  I’ve pledged to complete a 365 project before, but unfortunately failed to see it through.  This time, though, I mean business.  As it’s early June, halfway through the year, it seems like as good a time as any to start project like this.  Sort of a Half-Year Resolution, if you will.  New Year’s Resolutions are SO CLICHE anyway.  😉

I’m a big fan of the Shutter Sisters.  Each month always have a monthly “Picture _____ ” project going.  The blank is usually filled with a word that allows for creative expression and interpretation in shooting.  You know “Picture Hope” or “Picture Summer” or “Picture Discovery.”  Well this month, thanks to Xanthe’s inspiration, the assignment is to shoot color.  Starting today each weekday has been assigned a different color.  Those who wish to participate are challenged to seek it out and shoot it.  Here’s the schedule.

Looks fun, doesn’t it?  Anyone want to join me?

I was first introduced to this concept by Nichole from Little Brown Pen.  She mastered it while shooting all over Paris and now has a book to show for it.  While I’m certainly not expecting a book deal from this project, I’m definitely going to use this opportunity to kick off my own little Project 365 – for real this time and see what I can do.  Check back and I’ll show you the finished color project at the end of the month!

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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Birthday Celebration

My birthday was last week.  I don’t know how you guys like to be awakened on your birthday but, personally, I enjoy being awakened with breakfast and presents in bed.  The menu – scones, raspberries, and itsy bitsy peanut butter cups.  (The Mr. knows that peanut butter and chocolate were my first love.)

He may have enlisted the help of Trader Joe’s for the “cooking,” but the presentation was all him.  I may have eaten a good bit of it before taking some pics…

After a sufficient amount of breakfast was consumed, there were presents.  I didn’t get any wrapped shots but, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything.  The Mr. prides himself on his bad wrapping jobs.  In fact, it’s a gift giving signature for him.  This year, they were wrapped in mismatched sale papers that you get in the mail.  The ends weren’t taped down despite the yardage of tape engulfing them but, hey, at least it was eco-friendly. 🙂

The wrapping isn’t the important part anyway.   What’s important is on the inside and, this, he did well with.  Being the techie guy he is, all of my presents were some sort of gadgetry, but all gadgetry that I needed and wanted.

In case you can’t make that all out, the goodie pile includes: 1) an external hard drive – pink, of course, because it’s a girl’s hard drive, 2) LED lights for my bike, both rear and front, so that I am well seen in not so great lighting, and 3) the piece de resistance – a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens for my camera!! Yeah for low f-stops!!  (I could previously only get down to a 3.5).

The only bad thing about my birthday was that I had to go to work.  This was the first birthday in probably 7-8 yrs that I haven’t taken it off. (Never again.)  Good news is that my last evaluation cancelled, allowing me to knock off just a little early…allowing for pre-birthday-dinner beers at World of Beer.  The Mr. was introduced to this place earlier in the week and desperately wanted me to see it too.  I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it later.

This month, our local World of Beer is highlighting brews from the Southern Tier Brewing Company, which we tasted and enjoyed before.  I wanted a Southern Tier Choklat Stout, but its keg had run dry. So, I tasted a Southern Tier Creme Brûlée Imperial Stout.

Wah-hah-hah…THAT was sweet!  My mouth is puckering now, just thinking about it…days later.  Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t taste bad at all.  In fact, it was quite good, just intense…and sweet.  I might have been able to ingest more of it if it had it been poured over my morning waffles.  For real drinking, I opted for a the Southern Tier Oat Imperial Stout  instead.

The Mr. had a Southern Tier Krampus, for reasons that appeal only to him and his odd sense of humor.

World of Beer doesn’t serve food, but it partners with several nearby restaurants who will bring food to you while you sip your brew.  As novel as that sounds, bar food is not exactly what I had in mind for my birthday dinner.  So, we polished off our beers and headed Uptown to Dandelion Market , a local Dublin pub-inspired tapas restaurant.

I ate there with girlfriends for another birthday celebration about a year and half ago, but The Mr. had never been.  I loved the atmosphere as well as the food.  Check out the lovely table water…

Another really cool thing about Dandelion Market is that it has a deal where for $230 you can order EVERYTHING ON THE MENU.  That sounds like a lot, but when you go with a party of 15-20 people, it’s kind-of a great deal.  We did this when I went for my girlfriend’s birthday celebration and, even with the 17 of us that were there, it was a ridiculous amount of food.  So good, but SO MUCH!  Needless to say, The Mr. and I did not attempt that on our own.

We split the Pan Seared Ahi Tuna,

the Ale Simmered Sausage Bites,

the Baked Potato Croquettes,

and the Market Mac and Cheese.

It was all fantastic but, I’m here to tell ya – that tuna was out of this world!!  I almost pulled a “it’s-my-birthday-I-don’t-have-to-share-if-I-don’t-want-to” line but, The Mr. really loves a seared tuna and I just couldn’t keep it from him.  What can I say?  I’m a giver.  Even if I had withheld the tuna, I have no doubt that he would have enjoyed himself.  You see, I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t really like for my food to touch.  Him, he’s a combiner…

We finished the evening off with a Guinness-based, ganache-filled birthday cupcake.  I was stuffed by that point.  But, a girl has got to have a little bit of cake on her birthday…especially if there is Guinness in the batter.

Despite the ever increasing number associated with the anniversary of my birth, it was a really good day!


Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

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Don’t ya just love fresh herbs?




German Thyme

Last summer, having gotten tired of paying $4 a pop at the grocery store for small plastic containers of herbs that I never fully use before they go bad, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I bought two of these lovely planters from Crate & Barrel, had The Mr. mount them on the railings of our back “porch,” and got my hands dirty.  I planted basil, parsley, and oregano in one and rosemary, mint, and thyme in the other.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  With daily watering and all that direct sunlight on my “porch,” I had spent less than I would on containers of those herbs at the grocery store and I was gonna keep myself in fresh herbs throughout the summer!  Those were my thoughts, anyway.  That is…until we went away to the beach.

I asked our pet sitter to please water the herbs for me daily.  Well, she did, and I came home to HERBS GONE WILD!!  They had tripled in size in 10 days time!!  (Unfortunately, I seem to have deleted this pics I took, so I can’t prove it.  But I promise it’s true!)  Horticulturally speaking, that was pretty awesome. But practically, I COULD NOT use them fast enough.  I put basil and parsley on anything that would stand still.  I made mojitos like they were going out of style.  I even infused olive oil with rosemary and mint and made a bath scrub out of it.  (I understand that all of those things would have made interesting blog posts, but who can write when you are worried about herbs taking over your home?) But the herbs just kept growing and growing.  I gave all my neighbors permission to just come up on my porch and snip off any amount of herb they wanted.  I tried to give them away to my friends.   And still they grew…and grew…and GREW!  By the fall, my “porch” railing planters no longer housed a lovely, demure little herb garden.  They had become monstrosities of the highest order, disproportionate in size to their containers, with yellowing leaves from disuse and snaking limbs.  They were huge and hideous and starting to choke each other.  So, I did what any self-respecting gardener would do – ripped them all out and planted pansies.

Despite this failed experiment, I still had a strong desire to grow my own herbs.  I mean, even though they are just herbs, it’s still nice to think that I’m eating something I grew myself.  Also, without having my own, I’m forced back into my original predicament - paying $4 a pop at the grocery store for small plastic containers of herbs that I never fully use before they go bad.  This year, though, I decided to take a different route – CONTAINMENT!

I was given this sweet little plant stand by a neighbor who moved and wasn’t going to be able to take it with her.

It had been sitting on my “porch” for a couple of months, as I was uncertain about what to do with it myself.  But then I thought, “Hey, what’s this in my living room?”

A HUGE window with excellent natural light, perfect for plant growing.   Plant stand, meet ginormous window.  You both love plants.  Discuss!!

Hmmm…but what to put in said plant stand?  If, I put some herbs in smaller pots, and grow them inside through filtered window light, I might just be able to grow the herbs I need without running the risk of them squeezing me out of house and home.  One problem, though – the orangey-color of terra cotta pots doesn’t exactly mesh with the look I’ve got going in my living room.

What to do?  Several months ago I saw Martha decorate up some cute little terra cotta pots on her show and loved them.  I refreshed my memory with an archived video from her website, ordered up some Old Fashioned Milk Paint, and headed to Michael’s for a hot glue gun and some twine.  I’m usually not the crafty type, but this little project was just calling my name.   I know I’m no Martha but, they didn’t turn out half bad, huh?

I love the dusty, weathered look from the milk paint and the “Driftwood” color blends perfectly with the color palate of my living room.  Now I’ve got a window full of sweet little herb pots. They’re fresh and demure, just like I like ’em!

‘Cuz, let’s face it, nobody likes a haughty herb!

Cheers, ya’ll!

The Mrs. Signature

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The Hints

I have a confession to make. My big 3-5 is looming. That’s right. In less than a week I will be 35 yrs old. How did THAT happen? Wasn’t I just in college? I’m not really bothered about officially being in my mid-thirties. I’m just not all that excited about the fact that I will soon round up to 40.  Again…how did that happen? Didn’t I just get married? How is that I’m now within arms length of my 40’s? Seriously? WOW!!

This thought process is spurning a lot of self-reflection…you’ll probably hear more about that as I process it.

So, while I’m not all that excited about the fact that my pending birthday will be my 35th birthday, I am excited that it is my birthday in general. I’ve always loved my birthday. My mom always made such a fuss over my birthday and I guess it’s always stuck with me. So, despite the ever increasing number associated with my birthday, I generally start getting giddy at the thought of it weeks ahead of time.

In an effort to ease the blow of this milestone year, BG has decided to whisk me away for a birthday weekend getaway. Much to my delight AND chagrin, he refuses to tell me where he’s taking me. I love surprises, but at the same time I’m dying to know. I beg and plead with him to tell me, then he’ll say “Ok. Do you really want to know? If you do, I’ll tell you right now.” In response to which I take a deep breath, squeal and say “No! It’s not my birthday. It’s not time!!”

BG finds this little dance very amusing. I’m pretty sure that if I actually said yes he’d refuse anyway. He just likes teasing me. So, to either appease my excruciating curiosity or just confuse me more, he’s been giving me hints. See if you can help me figure it out…

Hint# 1 – It’s in the valley of  “sportiness” and “loveliness.”

From this I’ve gotten him to admit that we will be taking the bikes with us.

Hint# 2 – It’s north of Georgia, east of Nashville, south of Ohio, and it’s not a beach.

Umm…there’s like a million places that fit that description.

Hint #3 – It’s about a 3.5-4 hr trip from Charlotte.

He won’t specify whether that is by plane or by car.  Although, I doubt he’d torture me by making me fly on my birthday, and I think that since we are taking the bikes it’s probably a road trip.

Hint #4 – Masterful!

And…what am I supposed to glean from that exactly?

He’s been on a business trip for the last three days and promises me a great hint upon his return.  In his absence, though, I’ve been scouring the internet trying to figure it out.  Here are some options I’ve come across.

The Grove Park Inn and Spa in Asheville –

(Image courtesy of

Well it sort of goes with Hint #1 in that I hear the inn is just beautiful and there are tons of places to go biking around Asheville.  But…I think this would be considered more of a mountain getaway versus a “valley.”  It’s certainly “north of Georgia, east of Nashville, south of Ohio, and not a beach.”  As far as Hint #4 is concerned, it supposedly has one of the best spas in the U.S.  I’d think that fulfills the “masterful” requirement.  But…it might be too close to Charlotte to meet the 3.5-4 hr commute.  Plus, we’re going to spend a weekend in Asheville in August.  So, I’m not sure he’d repeat cities that rapidly. Hmm…

What about the Inn at Westwood Farm in Orange, Virginia?

(Image courtesy of

The best I can tell, this seems to be in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  The Inn looks to be quite lovely…especially as it is within driving distance of Barboursville Vineyards (Oh how I love visiting a vineyard!).  Plus with all that surrounding beautiful Virginia nature there’s lots of places to bike about and be sporty.  Location requirements?  Check!  According to my iPhone GPS, though, it’s a 5-hr drive from Charlotte.  This may be too far away to be it.

Speaking of Barboursville Vineyards, looks like there’s an inn on site there.

(Image courtesy of

The 1804 Inn to be exact.  Of course, if BG took me there, I might think that I died and went to heaven rather than celebrated yet another year of life.

Maybe I’m looking too far north. What about Charleston?

The term “lovely” doesn’t even begin to do this gem of city justice.  We’ve been there before, but it’s been a while, and we’ve been talking about wanting to go back. There’s not much about Charleston that I would consider to be sporty, though.  It certainly fits the regional and commute hints. Although, while not technically consider a beach town, it may be too coastal to be a match.  And, I’m not sure how the “valley” terminology would fit here.  Best to keep looking…

Dare I hope and pray?  Could it possibly be Blackberry Farm?

(Image courtesy of

This place meets nearly all the hint requirements…except the valley bit.  Word of warning, BG.  If this is it, I may refuse to leave!!

Where ever it is, I know I’ll love it and I’ll be thrilled to spend a long weekend, just hanging with my guy!  In the meantime, if anybody else has any thoughts or interpretations of the clues, hook a girl up!  I’M ABOUT TO BURST!!!!!!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

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You’re Going to a What?

Crawfish Boil.  And to you Yankee readers that second word is pronounced BAW-IHL.  I was born and raised in the Deep South, but have moved around enough that I now say I’m going to get the oil (o-ee-ul) changed in my car.  But when you are cooking up crawfish, it’s just sacrilege to “boil” (bo-ee-ul).  You just have to say “boil” (baw-ihl).  There’s just no way around it.

This Saturday we went to the Charlotte Ole Miss Alumni Association’s annual Crawfish Boil.  For we expat Mississippians this is a MUCH anticipated event.  But my Carolina friends…well, they just don’t seem to get it.  This is the 4th Annual Crawfish Boil for our alumni club and every year I have to explain this event to my friends.  It always goes a little something like this:

Them:  “So what are you doing this weekend?”
Me:  “Going to an Ole Miss Alumni Crawfish Boil!  Woo-hoo!”
Them: “A what?”
Me: “A crawfish boil.”
Them: “Huh?  A what?”
Me:  (You must hear me saying this sarcastically slow and loud, taking care to sound out each syllable) “A C-R-A-W-F-I-S-H B-O-I-L…”
Them: “What does that mean?”
Me: (again, sarcastically) “Well…you take some crawfish…and you boil ‘em…then you eat ‘em…and you drink a few beers along the way.  You know, a CRAWFISH BOIL.”
Them:  “What’s a crawfish?”
Me: “Excuse me…Crawfish, crayfish, crawdads, mud bugs, Cajun caviar…none of this rings a bell?”
Them: “Nope.  Never heard of it.  What exactly is a crawfish?”
Me:  “Well, they look like miniature lobsters….”

The concept is quite simple, really.  You take a whole bunch of crawfish (if you live anywhere outside of MS or LA, you FebEx them in from New Orleans the night before your event)…

You put them in a big ol’ pot with potatoes, onions, sausage, corn and mushrooms

with the appropriate seasoning, of course,

and boil them until they turn bright red and all their little tails curl.  Then you dump them all out in the middle of a big table

and get cracking!  Cracking open the tails, that is…

And if you are really Cajun, you suck the head.  Personally, that’s part of the crawfish boil experience that I’ve never been able to psyche myself up for.  But, to each his own, right?

Our club dumps the onto a long table with a hole cut in each end, underneath which there are garbage cans.  Everybody stands around the table pinching off the heads, cracking open the tails, and chunking the shells and left overs into the garbage cans.

Of course, you have to rinse all this spicy goodness down with an ice cold beer.  I’ll let BG tell you about our chosen brews later.

We all stand around the big tables pinching, cracking, sucking, chunking, and rinsing until the table looks like this

Now I know to the outsider this may seem to be…well, what is the word I’m looking for here…DISGUSTING.   Sure, pulling something’s head and exoskeleton off before you eat it may be a little unsettling to some.  But I’m telling you, people. That’s good eating!  It’s a Deep South delicacy. They don’t call it Cajun Caviar for nothing!  And you haven’t tried it, you are missing out.

One word of advice, though.  Don’t bother getting a manicure before you go!

Hotty Toddy, y’all!

Wine Girl

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