Kitty Christmas

Having had such a nice Christmas ourselves, it would have been just plain rude not to get the cats a little something. Not that they really care.  They normally end up playing in the gift boxes anyway.  But I happened upon another fabulous fur find and couldn’t resist getting the little boogers a treat from Santa.

IMG_6455

I got them a big, soft bed and a new scratching/play toy combo gym thing.

IMG_6459

While Gus was immediately hypnotized by the carpeted ball tree, Scarlett gave me the “I asked for a Play Station 4″ look.

IMG_6460

Scarlett pouted for a minute as Gus executed his attack.

IMG_6466

It took a few minutes for them to declare the new bed habitable, but they eventually got in it.

IMG_6469

The bed is plenty big enough for both of them to relax in it comfortably.  This isn’t exactly the sleeping configuration I had imagined. From the looks of it, it wasn’t what Scarlett had in mind either.

photo 4

After a while, Scarlett settled into a position with a little more breathing more.  As for Gus, I decided to have a little fun with him and put one of those paper “ribbons” on him.   At first, he acted like it was some debilitatingly heavy back brace even though it couldn’t have weighed 1/8 of an ounce.  He went and sat in the bed with Scarlett to recover from his condition.

IMG_6472

Then he forgot he had a condition and a back brace and decided that hangy-ball needed catching.

IMG_6474

Mmmm, tastes like salmon.

IMG_6490

Time for a nap.

IMG_6471

Burst of energy!

IMG_6476

Time for another nap.

IMG_6504

He slowly overcame his condition, got up from the bed…

IMG_6505

and started to step out of his back brace to check out the carpet ball tree from another angle…

IMG_6506

Then he got distracted and had to sniff Eugene’s gift boxes…

IMG_6507

Nearly free of his shackles, he spotted Eugene’s egg-shaped lip gloss that was evidently much more entertaining than his gifts.  He and Scarlett then spent the next 30 minutes chasing it around the living room.

I should have just gotten them lip gloss.

And a Play Station 4.

Y’all keep it real,

Sugarlump

Hi, I’m Awkward.

I would like to start out by saying that I manage to function fairly well in society.  For the most part.  And then there are evenings like the one the day after Christmas that one might liken to an electrical short.

The night was off to a good start when my immediate family and my aunt, uncle and cousins agreed to meet up at the local Mexican joint in Burkesville called El Rey.  This happens to be one of my favorite Mexican spots, which might come as a surprise to most culinary connoisseurs considering the other dining choices in the one stoplight town are Subway, Annie Ruby’s, Jones Restaurant and Pizza Hut.   As far as I’m concerned, between my grandmothers’ cooking, Annie Ruby’s, and El Rey, my days would be full and bright.

I ordered a number 5 combo, which is two enchiladas any way you like ‘em and what else but rice and beans.  I went for chicken with verde sauce.  Excellent choice if I do say so myself.  My cousin Lauren got fajitas with shrimp and beef that looked like everything you could ever hope for in something hot and sizzling, my sister ordered fajitas nachos, which I think is a genius concept, and my cousin Kristen got chicken, cheese, and rice, a dish that has recently won me over.  I couldn’t see far enough down the table to drool over whatever my parents, aunt and uncle ordered, but I’m sure all of their dishes didn’t disappoint.

I had nearly eaten a basket of warm tortilla chips all by myself when my food arrived.  I don’t know what came over me, but I couldn’t get enough of that salsa.  Though I’m sure I was beyond full at that point, I wolfed down my enchiladas as if I were being timed.  I’m usually among the slowest of eaters.  I can offer no explanation for why I continued to consume Mexican food as if my stomach were a bottomless pit.  I sat back, thoroughly satisfied when our waiter came by to ask if I was finished.  In what can only be described as a state of delirium induced by my bulging stomach, I responded, “I’m funnnyeah.”

I casually looked around the table to see if my cousins and sister had heard what I just said.  Indeed, they had.  They promptly started laughing hysterically as soon as the waiter had cleared my plate.  I think the sound that came out of my mouth was the unfortunate, bigamous marriage of “finished,” “done” and “yes.”  This was funny for the next few hours.  I’m always happy to provide entertainment with the meal.

After our Mexican feast, Eugene, Lauren and I went to Glasgow to see Anchorman II.  Now, every time I’ve ever been to this cinema, the approximately 50 seat theaters are about 1/7 full.  We were a few minutes late, but figured the previews would still be playing and we would have our choice of seats.  Wrong! We opened the door to the theater to find it packed full, with 2 open seats on the far left of the front row, which was approximately 4 feet behind the 25 foot screen.  This sent us into a fit of giggles as we shuffled to the front of the theater and I sat on the edge of Eugene’s seat with my head craned back so far that I was sure I would need a neck brace immediately following the movie.  Every minute for the first 5 minutes of this, one of us would get tickled over our movie-watching arrangement.  By the grace of God, not far into the movie, a few people in the far right front row of the theater decided seeing Anchorman II from 4 feet away wasn’t worth scoliosis and left. Instantly recognizing out moment of opportunity, Eugene, Lauren and I scurried across the front of the theater to the right side where we could each enjoy the movie from our own seat.  We were still so close that the screen was nearly out of focus, but I have to say, at such close range, every inch I could scoot back made a remarkable difference.  Due to our intimate range from the screen, however, there were times during the movie when it was unclear whether we were so close that the image was distorted or if the actors were truly making funny faces.

On the way home from the movie, Eugene and Lauren had a few more good laughs over my mangled attempt at English from dinner.  Miraculously, I had full range of motion in my neck the following morning.

I’m funnnyeah.

Bye,

Sugarlump

Christmas 2013

Christmas Eve morning, my immediate family had our Christmas here in Nashville.  It was a lovely, cold, sunny day and I saw a few snow flurries float by as I made my way from my bedroom to the coffee.  Now that Santa brings my sister’s and my gifts wrapped since there is no need for assembly, the morning commences with less urgency, though it is still a very special day.  This year was particularly special because we only have 2 chairs in the living room so my sister and I sat on the floor.  I don’t think we noticed.  We were just happy to be together.

IMG_6499

I have a little bit too much fun sometimes when it comes to gift giving and gift wrapping.  I gave Eugene a pair of slippers with stuffed animal puppies on them for when her “dogs are barkin.'” I got a real chuckle out of that one.  I think she did, too.  She may think it was a gag gift, but I will insist she wear them at all times when she’s here.

IMG_6493

We recently purchased a dehumidifier for the basement and I asked the installer to save the box for me.  I had a particular gift I needed to wrap in the large box.  My mom was eager to find out what required such a large box.

IMG_6497

A pair of earmuffs! My dad thought it was pretty funny, too.

IMG_6502

The best gift reaction, however, was my dad’s.  We got tickets for the 4 of us to go to the Kentucky vs. Louisville game this past Saturday.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kentucky basketball, this game is a very big deal.  Perhaps the biggest of deals.  And guess what? Kentucky won! Barry was one happy guy.

IMG_6509

Clearly, it was a successful Christmas.

We headed up the road to Cumberland County, where my grandparents live.  We started out at my dad’s parents’ house Christmas morning.  It must have been too early and I must have been under-caffeinated as I failed to document that leg of the journey.  My bad.  It was lovely, I promise.  I was wearing pajamas so it’s probably best there aren’t pictures.

IMG_6521

Lastly, we made the several mile trek down the road to Grandmother’s house where our wardrobes expanded.

Here, we had cleaned up a bit and were camera ready.  I love my dad’s face in this picture.  I think this is the most he’s been photographed since my sister and I were born as he is usually the one taking the pictures.

IMG_6522

For the first time ever, I was sitting in the other Wingback back like this one Grandfather is sitting in.  In 25 years, I had never sat in one of these chairs as we exchanged gifts.  I don’t know why, but it seemed like a big milestone for me. I had a whole new perspective from which to appreciate my Grandmother’s living room and our holiday tradition.

IMG_6524

I love these sofas.  They are so fabulous.  I can’t say no to velvet…

IMG_6512

…or animal print.  Eugene and I had a good laugh when we each pulled out leopard dresses to wear Christmas Day.  This was not planned.  Happy accident?

Hope y’all had a Merry Christmas,

Sugarlump

J’adore Holiday Decor

I was glad to have a house to decorate this year for Christmas.  The only thing is that I forgot how much work is involved.  Not that I’m complaining! There is nothing that warms my heart more than a house adorned with greenery, poinsettias, candles and shiny things.  Top it off with a Frasier Fir or Holiday Bayberry candle, and I might just explode with joy!

IMG_5944

I took advantage of having family in town the weekend after Thanksgiving to get the tree put up.  We selected a mighty fine-looking (and smelling) Frasier Fir.  Thank goodness my dear sister Eugene has herculean strength and could lift the tree to an upright position as my dad secured it in the stand.

IMG_6427

The tree had a beautiful shape with impressive uniformity…

IMG_6424

…except for this one little branch here in the back that stuck out like a tail.  It cracked me up so I left it there.  Who wants a tree without a little bit of character?  If I had it my way (and by my way, I mean if I won the lottery and could justify spending 4 figures on live greenery), I would have one of those miniature, spindly, misshapen Charlie Brown trees in every room because I think they are hysterical and precious. Fortunately for anyone who comes to my house, my holiday decor fund has a limit.

IMG_6417

AFTER my dad and I had strung the lights on the tree, I realized that my transition from the LED lights purchased last year for my tree that was half the size of this one to the new incandescent lights that I purchased this year to bridge the gap was not so smooth.

IMG_6420

See the annoying blur of the white LED lights against the soft, warm glow of the smaller incandescent lights? I could not stand the sight of it so yours truly went out the next day to get some more of the 200 light strands of acceptable Christmas tree lights.  When I got to Walgreens, where they were running a 2 for 1 special, I noticed that this location had 300 light strands for the same price as the 200 light strands.  So instead of buying 2 more 200 lights strands, I bought 2 300 light strands, thinking I could get away with adding just 1 300 light strand to my existing 200 and then keep the “free” 300 light strand for another purpose.  Perhaps for an unsuspecting shrub.

I got home and took the wretched LEDs off the top 2/3 of the tree and began stringing the regular, lovely, perfect, warm lights from the top.  All was going swimmingly until I reached the point where I needed to connect the 300 light strand to the 200 light strand.  I would like to tell you that these are the EXACT SAME LIGHTS FROM THE EXACT SAME MANUFACTURER.  I held up the 3 prong connector of the 300 light strand ready to plug it into the receptacle of the 200 light strand only to discover that the 200 light strand’s receptacle had only 2 holes.  JOY TO THE WORLD!

After contemplating poking my eyes out with the 3 prong connector so I couldn’t see the darn lights on the tree anyway, I collected myself and began taking the 200 light strand off the BOTTOM 1/3 of the tree so that I could make unexpected use of that additional “free” 300 light strand.  I was concerned that my math wouldn’t work out and the lights would be too dense at the bottom of the tree, but the result was passable for my OCD self.

photo(1)

I was pleased with the end result, even though my camera doesn’t pick up the delicate glow of the lights very well in low-lighting.

As if that wasn’t enough light-enduced drama for one year, I decided to put electric candles in the windows.  All 44 of them.  I thought I might get crafty and use the battery operated LED lights (did I learn nothing from the tree episode?) to save (cause) myself some trouble.  I put one in the window and didn’t really like the looks of it.  It was too white and kind of dull.  To see if I was imagining this, I put a plug-in incandescent candle next to it in the window and went out in the yard to compare the two from a distance.  NO COMPARISON.  I really wanted to like the LEDs for their energy savings and convenience; however, there might as well have been no candle in the window if I had opted for this route.  It was pitiful, really, next to the arc of warm light radiating from the incandescent.  More work for me, but I knew it would be worth it.  4 hours, 2 trips to the hardware store, and 16 extension cords later, it was totally worth it.  I promise.  It’s really a crime that I couldn’t get a good picture of it for you.  I haven’t mastered night photography yet.  Or day photography.

After all of that electrical excitement, I moved on to a few more basic decorating assignments: the front hall, the front door, the porch, the mantle, and the kitchen island.

IMG_6436

The nice man at the farmers’ market gave us a good deal on this Frasier Fur wreath.  I found some of that wide, mesh-like ribbon at Hobby Lobby and finished it off with a big ol’ bow.

IMG_6438

I also stumbled upon some large faux wreaths at 50% off so I got 2 of those for the large windows on the porch.  They got bows, too.  Please disregard the expired mums that I had yet to remove as of the date this photo was taken.  Please do note the snow on the roof!  Too bad this wasn’t Christmas Day.

IMG_6148

My dad had to trim a low-hanging branch off the tree to fit it into the tree stand, so I used that to fill out the mantle.  My gold pears from Pier 1 a few years back gave the mantle a nice, rhythmic touch.  First, I prepped the mantle with some saran wrap to keep the sap from creating a hot mess on the woodwork.

IMG_6675

The final step was the stockings, which took a little bit of time and imagination.  You see, I had found the most perfect faux fur tree skirt and pair of stockings at Homegoods.  The only problem is that there are 4 people in my family, not 2.  I called all of the surrounding TJ Maxx/Homegoods locations and non of them had more of these treasures.  I had to get creative and settle on an eclectic look with the addition of another type of fur stocking and a fabulous sequined one, which I made my dad’s.  He was confused and probably a little disturbed by this.  It made me laugh.

photo

On the topic of confused and disturbed, for my holiday arrangements in the kitchen and foyer, I spray-painted some branches gold.  But not just any branches.  Branches that came from 12 foot tree limbs that fell during an intense wind storm we had here in Nashville on Halloween. I drug these branches out of the yard and into my garage.  I’m sure my neighbors thought I was crazy.  You’d be amazed by what a little metallic gold spray paint and a small hand saw can do.

IMG_6686

When it comes to holiday decorations, I think simple and natural is best…

IMG_6632

…until I have to take it all down.

Covered in pine needles,

Sugarlump

Thanksgiving Trials and Tribulations: The Meal

On Thanksgiving morning, I got up at 6 AM to get my 20lb turkey, Tyrone, into the oven.  He had been brining in the garage for the previous 24 hours to ensure his flavorful tenderness.  After several careful calculations, I heaved him up and out of his brining container and into the sink.

IMG_6337

There is just nothing appetizing about a raw turkey.  Especially a raw turkey taking a bath in your kitchen sink.  FYI that’s a lemon from the brine, not a rubber ducky.

IMG_6341

06:30: Judging by the mess, there was some serious cooking underway at this point.

IMG_6344

Here I am mentally preparing myself to lift Tyron and escort him to the tanning bed.

IMG_6347

A few last words. Bye bye, birdy.

IMG_6348

Next on the list was to make the desserts and eat my breakfast since it was likely only about 7:00 AM at this point.  Please note my “Oops! All Berries!”, the traditional thanksgiving breakfast cereal. As I noshed on my nutritious meal, I made brandy apple cake and derby pie.  Technically, it was bourbon apple cake because I didn’t have any brandy and bourbon seems to make most things taste better.  This wasn’t the last of the bourbon for the day, either.

IMG_6376

My mom had gotten me this beautiful cake pan that was featured on the cover of Southern Living a year or so ago.  I was anxious to see how cleanly the cake would come out of the pan and nervous that it might tear.

IMG_6382

But it slid right out and looked lovely!

IMG_6381

The pie looked good, but I overcooked it.  While the taste was alright, the pie was so sticky that it stuck to my teeth like tar.  This is why I make multiple desserts…with bourbon.

09:00: Princess Eugene arose around this time.

IMG_6378

Meanwhile, I continued to baste Tyrone every 30 minutes or so.  The previous owner of the home designed a lovely chef’s kitchen but only put in one oven.   Have you ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner in one oven and in one day?  Trying to juggle a 20lb turkey, a cake, a pie, dressing, sweet potatoes, roasted nuts, and popovers meant that Tyrone’s legs were a little underdone.

I promptly started measuring for an additional oven.

IMG_6391

Looking golden, Tyrone!

About this time, I was roasting some pecans for the salad.  Eugene walked in and asked if I was making popcorn.  I gave her a very confused look and then ran to the oven to pull out my nuts that were so far past roasted that they were as black as night and beginning to melt into the pan.  I took the pan outside and left it on the patio to get rid of the lovely smell.  When I went to get the pan the next day, the nuts had been left untouched.  They were even too far gone for the squirrels.

IMG_6410

Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

At this point we had used every piece of cutlery in the kitchen.  That is not an exaggeration.  Things got especially tight when it was time for dessert.

IMG_6413

My collection of serving utensils is lacking.  And by lacking I mean nearly nonexistent.

As my mom finished up the gravy, she asked what I would like to put it in.  In my imaginary gravy boat, of course!  I scrambled for something suitable and came up with this silver nut bowl that was Aunt Anna’s.  I think the soup ladle 4 times its size really completed the look.

IMG_6416

Though we had a few challenges along the way, we managed to produce a nice meal.  It was tasty, but not as spectacular as we had wanted so we started to make a plan for next year.  Here’s a sneak peak at the menu:  (If you’d like to come, please bring your own tailgating equipment.)

  • Fried corn! How did we forget this!!??? This is a thanksgiving staple
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Dressing patties
  • Root vegetable gratin
  • Bourbon bread pudding
  • Maybe just a turkey leg?

We’ll try to have the additional oven installed by then.  Maybe we’ll have a proper table and chairs, maybe not.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Y’all keep it tasty,

Sugarlump

Thanksgiving Trials and Tribulations: The Table

So I decided to have Thanksgiving in the new house, but the funny thing is that I have absolutely no dining room furniture.  Not a stitch.

IMG_5923

I did have these pine cones adorning the mantle across the room.  I found them at a yard sale a few months back.  Too bad you can’t sit on or eat off of them.

With less than a week before Thanksgiving, I had to put on my thinking cap.

My solution was not unlike glamping.

Actually glamping might be more glamorous.

IMG_6319

Thank you to Costco and Ikea, I am the proud owner of a “dining set” for under $100.  Coincidentally, I am now equipped for tailgating.  I’m loving this versatile furniture.

IMG_6323

Because I planned to serve slightly more elegant food than hotdogs and chips, I figured I might want to dress (hide) the table.

IMG_6326

I found just the thing at Wal-mart: tone-on-tone ticking stripe fabric by the yard that I would transform into a tablecloth.  Minor detail: Did I mention that I don’t sew?

6330

Ta-da!  With some creative cutting and folding, I successfully hid the evidence that my table was anything but solid mahogany.

I advised my guests not to lean too hard on my “delicate” table and explained that I was going for a more eclectic look with my “retro” chairs.

A little metallic never hurt anyone, so I started the tabletop with gold chargers and an actual vintage piece, a candelabra that my grandmother had given my great Aunt Anna before she passed.  It was nice to have a reminder of her at the table.  She was a great cook and an elegant lady.  I think she would have been proud of my efforts.

IMG_6331

Glassware and plates instantly made the table look fuller and shinier.

The table was beginning to look legitimate.

pretty table

Then came some tinted glass bowls to add color and continue with the vintage theme.  My mom and I made a last minute dash to Pier 1 for some golden yellow cloth napkins.   I put together two low floral arrangements with my flowers from Costco.  I love a show-stopping floral centerpiece, but I actually wanted to be able to see the other people at the table so I divided and conquered. I also added some burlap ribbon to my fancy chairs to complete my unique look.

pretty table angle

I was pretty pleased with myself, especially since this set-up cost me less than the groceries for the meal.

Consider this my submission for the design on a dime challenge.

pretty

This is my favorite angle.

eugene insta photo

Eugene took this fab picture with her phone.  I think it’s worthy of Martha Stewart Living.

This certainly wasn’t a traditional Thanksgiving set-up, but we all got to sit together around the table and have a good laugh.  I’ll give thanks for that.

Stay tuned for the meal.  It was not without its challenges.

Y’all keep it classy,

Sugarlump

Southern Charm

Hey there darlin’,

I’ve been in the south long enough now that I’ve become accustomed to the hospitality and general kindness shown by strangers that drew me here in the first place.  Just the other day, I was at the deli counter at Kroger ordering honey maple turkey and Swiss cheese and the lovely elderly worker behind the counter engaged me in conversation the entire time she sliced my deli items with motherly care.  We talked about the weather because that’s what you do in the south.  She asked me what was going on out there because we were due for some inclement weather.  I told her it was cold and raw and rainy and she informed me that we were to get snow later in the evening and maybe some ice. This was just one day after it was a lovely 70 degrees and sunny.  We chatted about how we’d like to be somewhere tropical when the weather turns sour.  As she handed me my food, she looked me in the eye with genuine concern and said, “Now, you be real careful out there.  Alright, honey?”  I replied, “Yes, ma’am.  You do the same.”  It’s nice when strangers care about your well-being.

This is just one of many instances of southern civility that occur on a daily basis in my life.  I was talking to one of my clients a little while back as we were completing an install at her condo here in Nashville.   She is from the Northeast and lives in New Jersey so we have a lot in common and often talk about the differences between the North and South.  She said although she loves the variety and all the Northeast has to offer, she is always struck by the warmth of southern people.  We were talking about going to the drugstore or grocery and how people hold doors, smile and actually talk to you, not at you.  I mentioned how I had been at T.J. Maxx the other day and instead of a surly “Here’s your receipt,” as I checked out, I got a cheerful, “Thank you. Come back and see us!” My client smiled and said she hears that a lot here, too.  We both paused for a moment, looked back at each other, and at the same time said, “And they actually mean it!”

I think non-southerners are catching on to this and flocking to the south.  The secret is out!  I stumbled upon this article one of my friends shared on facebook.  I’m glad to know that other people appreciate the ways of the south like I do!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzy-strutner/tk-things-i-learned-in-th_b_4394289.html

Y’all come back! (I mean it!)

Sugarlump

Faux Fur Fabulousness

Anyone who knows me or who has seen me dressed for the chillier months, knows that I LOVE faux fur.  I have several faux fur vests and coats.  I plan on upholstering a small stool in my sister’s bedroom with some faux fur because she is in desperate need of a foo foo bench.  Who isn’t, really?

I recently purchased a faux fur pillow to be featured on the formal living room sofa.  Our bond is so deep that I named her Priscilla the Pet Pillow.

I’m also a fan of alliteration.

Maybe I’ll write a book about her one day like those dogs that live at hotels.  Priscilla the Pet Pillow Goes to Paris.

I like it. File that one for retirement.

While there are only so many appropriate applications for faux fur as it doesn’t lend itself to bathing suits, table cloths, or car exteriors, I was ecstatic/overjoyed/borderline mental when I came across Restoration Hardware’s new line of faux fur accents in their catalog.  More specifically, their faux fur wine holders.

faux fur fabulousness

http://www.restorationhardware.com/catalog/product/product.jsp?productId=prod2320311&categoryId=search

How fabulous are these?!?!  AND they are 25% off at just $9!! They come in 6 different kinds of faux fur! I wanted them badly.  I called up the local restoration hardware and the conversation went something like this:

RH lady: “Restoration Hardware.  How can I help you?”

Me: “DO YOU HAVE THE FAUX FUR WINE HOLDERS SHOWN IN YOUR CATALOG AT YOUR STORE??!!?”

RH lady: “Yes, we do.”

Me: “ARE THEY 25% OFF LIKE THEY ARE SHOWN IN THE CATALOG AND ONLINE?!?!?!?!”

RH lady: “Yes, they are.”

Me: “DO YOU HAVE GOOD STOCK?!??!”

RH lady: “We do.”

Me: “I’LL BE RIGHT OVER!!!”

I literally jumped in the car and drove to the mall.  In less than 30 minutes, I was walking out of Restoration Hardware with my bag fabulous faux fur wine holders in tow.

Victory!

Y’all try to stay calm,

Sugarlump

P.S. There is a faux fur laptop case.  I need it.  In Mink.  Does Santa read blogs?

Chicken Pot Pie

I’m back on a food network kick and it seems everyone is making chicken pot pie these days.  This dish has never held much appeal for me but the more I watched Barefoot Contessa, The Pioneer Woman and Trisha Yearwood prepare it, the more I wanted to make it.  It just seems like a hug in a dish.  A highly-caloric hug.

I reviewed a couple of recipes and made up a hybrid of sorts.  I pulled out some chicken breasts from the freezer, an onion, the remaining celery from some lentils I had made early in the week, white wine, half and half, and some butter.  I needed only a couple of things from the store: fresh thyme, carrots, chicken bouillon cubes and refrigerated pie dough.  I didn’t make my own crust because I couldn’t stand to think about all of the shortening and butter atop this already cream-based dish and I didn’t feel like pulling out and cleaning my 49lb food processor.   If I don’t have to measure out the fat, it doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned.

Now, as I was thinking about making this dish, I realized that I didn’t have any ramekins or personal-sized soufflé dishes.  I decided to swing by the home section at Marshalls to see if they had anything inexpensive.  All they had were miniature Le Crueset square baking dishes in red.  While they were reasonably priced, I have mustard-colored Le Crueset and my OCD self would not let me purchase a non-matching color.

I headed over to Big Lots.  On my way into the store, I caught a renegade shopping cart that started careening down the parking lot and towards an unassuming parked vehicle.  I stopped the cart about a foot shy of a big old dent in the side of this car.  As I neared the door to the store, a man waiting in a truck rolled down his window and yelled, “Nice save!”  For my good Samaritan efforts, I thought maybe the baking dish gods would reward me by having the right ramekins in this store.  Nope.  At least I worked off a few calories in the high-speed cart chase.

I recalled Kroger had a nice selection of well-priced baking pans and dishes so I ran in there quickly.  Sold out in the size I needed.  Of course!  I was about to bite the bullet and hit up William Sonoma when I remembered Pier 1.  They had just the thing at just the right price.  Success!

photo(8)

I primarily used The Pioneer Woman’s recipe from her first cookbook, substituting half and half for heavy cream and fresh thyme for dried.  I also added in peas because they’re cute and tasty and a little cayenne pepper for a kick.  I was pleased with the result but I might consider adding a little bit of dry mustard next time or perhaps some curry powder.  I might also consider a smaller ramekin next time because I feel like I just ate a rock.  Back to Pier 1!

photo(9)

I did use some smaller disposable pans so I could stick the rest of the recipe in the freezer. Aren’t they precious?

photo(11)

Y’all eat up,

Sugarlump

photo(10)

P.S. I sprinkled these dough scraps with cinnamon and sugar and put them in the oven to bake with my pot pie.  It was a sweet little snack!

Gold Mine

I recently made a trip up to Boston to help my parents clean out closets and storage spaces that contain the relics of my childhood.  In an effort to purge the no longer needed, my parents nominated me to make the call on what was too precious and dear to part with and what needed to find a new home in a hurry.

The major area that needed addressing was my sister’s and my old playroom that had become a resting place for furniture no longer allowed in the main part of the house.

IMG_5293

Things only got worse before they got better.

But, boy, did they get good.

I found some real treasures among 3 carloads, 2 truckloads, and dozens of 55 gallon trash bags by the curb of rejected items.

IMG_5323

This here is one of the Hanson brothers, also known as my little sister Eugene.

IMG_5324

I found an entire box of cards that my sister’s classmates had made her when she had her tonsils removed in the first or second grade.  By the volume of cards and the concern in her classmates’ scribbles, you would have thought she was having high-risk, open-heart surgery.  She had many a reminder to eat popsicles, which had some very creative spellings.  My favorite though, was this card from a young man who I deduce was named Harrison.  He seemed to have some top secret information for Eugene on the inside of the card as she was to “plees opon alone.”

IMG_5297

I found my Chapel signs from my senior year of high school.  Man were those a trip.

IMG_5317

This is me in 8th grade with my kindergarten buddy.  I think she’s applying to colleges now.  I feel old.

IMG_5365

Hard to believe since it was just yesterday that I was sporting pig tails and cat appliques.

IMG_5371

Who remembers Lisa Frank?! I used to love to buy this stuff at the school store in elementary school!

IMG_5282

I was unsure about this creature that belonged to Eugene.  I sent her this picture to inquire about its nature.

Me: “What is this here creature?”

Eugene: “A horse in a kimono, naturally.”

Right.  He was for sure a keeper.

IMG_5352

Cards congratulating my parents on my birth.  I’m not sure if it was a common thing to say back then (let’s hope), but a lot of the cards said, “take good care of her,” as if my parents were questionable guardians.   This kind of made me laugh/worry.

IMG_5354

This is a realtor packet from 1992 when my parents sold their first home in Maryland, where Eugene and I were born.

IMG_5355

Apparently I took interest in homes and real estate at a young age as it appears I added my own notes to the list of house features.

IMG_5356

I had a lot to add.

And that was only day one.

Y’all be good,

Sugarlump