My Sunshine

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The world lost a wonderful, furry soul today.

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Little Gus was technically a cat, but somehow he was far more. Perhaps part dog and part human, he was his own breed. He always wanted to be with people and always had love to give.

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Gus didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was so sweet, I swear he was made of pure sugar. Such a friendly and innocent little fellow, he even made converts out of “non-cat people” and “cat haters.”

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Call me a crazy cat lady all you want, but Gus and I definitely had conversations.

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He would be looking for me, saying what surely sounded to me like “He-lloooo.” It was one short meow and then one long.

He would say, “Meow, meoooow.”

And I would say, “He-lloooo.”

And we would repeat this several times until he found me and came trotting around the corner, his little fur trousers swaying side to side.

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I was certainly as much a fool for Gus as he was for me. I would sing to him “Rock-a-bye Gussy” And “You Are My Sunshine.” As I cradled him like a baby with his paws in the air and rocking him side to side, he would look up at me with those big green eyes. I’m sure he was thinking something along the lines of “I have no idea what that sound is coming out of your mouth, but I think it comes from a good place and I love you. But please don’t quit your day job.”

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Oh how he loved shoes. He was a bit metro, I suppose. Particularly when I would return from being gone longer than usual, the moment I took off my shoes he was over snuggling up to them.

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We almost lost him three years ago to acute kidney failure when he was just four years old. The vet said his numbers were so low, she was amazed he was alive and that we would be lucky to have him through that weekend. He made it through the weekend, and the next week and the week after that, slowly but surely regaining his strength and cheerful attitude.   The past three years, he was on borrowed time, but it still seems far too soon to lose such a special little guy. He was a miracle in so many ways.

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I really believe that he stayed with us to make sure that my move south went well, that I was happy and settled. He knew I needed him and he was always there to keep me company.

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Thankfully, I took up blogging and got a new camera before I moved. That gave me the excuse to take a million pictures of my cats. I’m sure my blog readers got a little tired of the cat posts. But, hey, they were my willing (and only) subjects in my little apartment and now I have album upon album of Gus pictures. I will forever treasure the countless Gus expressions I was able to capture. He was such a character.

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Last night, he was curled up against my legs on the sofa as usual as we watched the news. He tucked me into bed, rubbing up against me and hugging my face with his tail. I pointed out to Eugene how loudly he was purring. He was so content to be there with us.

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We found him this morning laying like he always does on the kitchen floor where it’s nice and cool.   He looked so peaceful. The vet said it was likely a blood clot, sudden and unpreventable. I’m so thankful he didn’t suffer. I just can’t believe he’s gone.

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Gussy,

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,

You make me happy when skies are grey

You never know, dear, how much I love you,

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

Even though you’re not here anymore, I know your light will always be shining down on us.

Love you, little buddy.

The Sugarlump

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Crafty Cousins

Christmas Eve night, the Dyer girls got crafty.  My cousin Kristen had bought a gingerbread house kit at Sam’s club for $5 on a whim and asked us if we’d like to entertain ourselves by putting it together.  Of course we did!

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We sat around Granny and Papa’s table and giggled and cut up like old times as we took a stab at confectionery construction.  We’ve had some good times and crazy conversations at that table.  One thing is for sure: what happens at Granny and Papa’s table stays at Granny and Papa’s table.

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Though we were certainly enjoying ourselves, we took our craft very seriously, too.  We worked hard to get the walls and roof pieces to stick together.  We even enlisted the pepper and jam containers sitting on the table to hold the pieces in place as they set.  We soon discovered that our “mortar” (icing) wasn’t exactly of the highest quality.  I had the bright idea to use marshmallow creme as a binding agent because, as I recalled, it sticks to EVERYTHING.  It wasn’t exactly easy to control, unfortunately, so one side of the house looked like it had insulation bursting out between the roof and the walls.  Rookie mistake.  We kept that side concealed from our photographer.

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The kit also came with fondant (or fon-DANT! if you’re my enthusiastic cousin Kristen) to make the doors and windows.

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It was looking a little rough there for a while, but with the addition of the windows, bushes, random peppermints adornments, layer upon layer of frosting that tasted like joint compound but didn’t act like it, and dusted flour (an improvised touch) it really came together.  You could barely tell it was homemade.  Ha.

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Papa did say it was the prettiest house he’d ever seen.   It was charming in a very haphazard, out of plumb kind of way.

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This is where the $5 cost came into play.

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Not 5 minutes after we completed the house, disaster struck and it toppled to its death on the way to the dining room table from the kitchen table.  No one was sadder than Granny.  She almost cried for us.  We took it pretty well.

For next year, we’ve vowed to make our own superglue-infused icing and construct the house out of graham crackers instead of gingerbread so the walls and roof aren’t so heavy.  Just wait for it.  It will be epic.  And we’ll have Papa write us a State Farm homeowners’ policy just in case.

Y’all come back,

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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?

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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.

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

The table was beginning to look legitimate.

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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.

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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.

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This is my favorite angle.

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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

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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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

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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.”

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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I had a lot to add.

And that was only day one.

Y’all be good,

Sugarlump

 

 

I’m baaaaaaaaaaack!

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Miss me?

Well, I missed you all, internet friends!

Sorry for not posting for, like, ever.  In the past few months I’ve moved, changed jobs, learned how to dye my hair myself, had a lot of family and friends visiting, discovered a new breakfast delight, replaced the brakes on my car and it’s been just crazy.

Just a little recap:

I’m Emily

I’m five.

Plus twenty.

But really I’m five at heart.

And stomach.

(what?)

A short time ago, I decided to start eating cereal again.  I had given it up on my gluten-free kick but decided that gluten was not my enemy, but that, in fact, diary is.  Unfortunate for a girl who grew up drinking milk almost exclusively, would choose cheese over almost anything (love me some savory), and thinks sour cream is a good addition to almost everything.  Except cereal.

Anyway, I was perusing the cereal aisle (I always forget that word has an A in it – thank you spell check!) at Kroger in search of a long lost childhood favorite, Berry Berry Kix. This was the closest I came to “sugary” cereal as a child and it holds a dear place in my heart, unlike Raisin Bran and Chex.  I would savor the opportunity to eat Lucky Charms or Trix when sleeping over friends’ houses, but I don’t recall ever being granted permission to put any of these delicacies into the shopping cart during my formative years.

Eager to hug a box of Berry Berry Kix, I searched up and down the aisle (I remembered the A this time!) probably 13-17 times, convinced I had somehow missed it among the hundreds of cereals.  I could picture the box as clear as day.  Purple.  An image of the cereal, mostly regular kix with bunches of “berries” scattered throughout in purple and maroon.  To my horror, it appeared that Berry Berry Kix had been taken off the market.  It was a sad moment.

Until I came across a new specimen of cereal: Oops! All Berries.

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Let me assure you, this was no oops.

Some brilliant mind took the best part of the cereal from Captain Crunch, which tastes much like the berries in Berry Berry Kix because, after all, they’re all berries (well, “berries”), and made a cereal out of them. Genius! I can’t tell you how many times I used to eat all of the regular kix out of Berry Berry kix, saving the berries for last.  I did the same with lucky charms, leaving all of the marshmallows for a few bites of pure sugary heaven.  Someone should invent Oops! All Charms because, let’s be honest, who likes those funky, somewhat sweet cheerio-ish things in Lucky Charms anyway?

No one.

The plain kix weren’t as bad, but this new cereal requires much less legwork with my spoon at 7:30 AM and provides a much more satisfying breakfast experience as each bite is just as enjoyable and indulgent as the last.

My life is forever changed.

There are, however, a few side effects: acute ADD and hunger in less than an hour.

And I think my teeth are going to rot and fall out of my mouth.

I have dreams that my teeth fall out all of the time.  It’s horrifying.

My Mom might have been on to something with that whole” no sugary cereal” bit.

I want some cheese.

I think eating salt after sugar cancels it out, right?

Oh, how I’ve missed you all.

Y’all hurry back and I will, too,

Sugarlump

Here to Stay

Somehow, I have lived in Tennessee for a year.  How did that happen?

This past Saturday marked the anniversary of completely uncharacteristic move 1100 miles south.  In a way, it seems this year flew by, and yet living in Boston seems a long way back.  I didn’t know a soul when I moved here, but of course I received a warm welcome.  It is the south after all.

I’ve made many wonderful friends in the last 12 months.  I’ve gotten to see my grandparents and extended family more than ever.  I’ve discovered I like bluegrass.  I’ve put 17,000 miles on my car. I’ve experienced a tornado warning.  I’ve taken thousands of pictures of the sky.  I haven’t done yoga once.

Words like “you’re fine” and “y’all” have become fixtures in my vocabulary.  My style has become more eclectic and less preppy.   Though it would be a serious stretch to call me an extrovert, I’m more outgoing and chatty than I used to be.  I like to get out more.

I don’t have a TV in my room and I don’t miss it. I still haven’t bought bar stools so I don’t have a proper place to eat a meal.  I cook maybe once or twice a week.

I’ve decided I’m not over the city living as much as I thought. I’ve stopped drinking soda. I like dogs more than I used to.  I’ve been to the movie theater 3 times.  I’ve canned jam.

I’ve learned more about what’s important to me and what’s not.

It feels like home here.

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I think it’s time to take down this wreath.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

One Year Sweeter

Today is the one year anniversary of the Sugarlump, which means I have lived in Nashville for almost one year.  Man, does time fly.  I have a few reflections to share on this momentous day:

While I started this blog mainly to capture moments of my life that I never want to forget, it has proven to be so much more.  It eased me through the transition to my new home.  It has kept me connected to my family and friends who regularly read the Sugarlump and comment.  In turn, it assures them that I am alive and well.  Some of my extended family members and family friends have probably learned more about me through reading my blog this past year than they had learned about me in all the years they’ve known me combined.  Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know.  I’m just putting it all out there.

Most surprisingly, The Sugarlump has connected me to new friends who I know only because they have found my blog or I have found theirs.  Who knew complete strangers would take the time to leave a kind note or helpful tips?  This blog regularly reassures me that this world is indeed full of good people.

This blog has given me the motivation to learn more about photography as it provides a great outlet through which to share the thousands of photographs I have taken since moving to Nashville.  I apologize to my readers who don’t care for cats or weather reporting.   I hope to get out more this summer.

Though I am generally journaling-averse, writing posts has been a kind of therapy for me.   It helps me to find joy in the little things as I reflect on my day.  It puts things into perspective.  It keeps me connected in a more meaningful way.  I never would have thought I’d call myself a blogger, but a blogger I have become.

And even though I have slacked off on the blogging as my life has become busier in Nashville, I hope to continue celebrating blog anniversaries.

Thanks to my faithful readers for all of your “likes” and comments.  You make my day.

Love y’all,

Sugarlump

Christmas Traditions

This year marked a big transition in tradition for the Dyer household.   Instead of having our family Christmas at my parents’ house as we have always done, I hosted here in my new hometown of Nashville.

In my one bedroom apartment.

I didn’t foresee an issue as I have a large sectional that can sleep two people so I knew all four of us would have a comfortable place to sleep.

What I didn’t foresee was the blanket shortage.  I wound up sleeping under my robe.

It’s ok though.  Santa still showed up and we had our family Christmas.

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I may need a bigger place if I plan on hosting regularly.

After our family Christmas on Christmas Eve morning with just me, Eugene and my mom and dad, we headed to Kentucky for Christmas on Christmas Day with the extended family.

Got that straight?

We always sleep at my dad’s parents’ house on Christmas Eve.  My aunt, uncle and cousins live just down the road so they do their family Christmas early in the morning and then head to my grandparents for the big family Christmas on Christmas Day.

Christmas morning, Granny made sausage gravy and biscuits.  Man that stuff is good.  I certainly couldn’t eat it every day but then again my great grandparents did and they lived into their 90’s so maybe there’s something to that.  I’ll have to ponder that at a later time when I’m feeling less full.

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Per tradition, we started with our stockings.  Among other lovely items, there was a Starbucks gift card, which it looks like I could have used that morning if the nearest Starbucks weren’t over 70 miles away.

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After the stockings, we moved into the living room and the youngins passed out the gifts.  Eugene found a tagless gift, which was cause for great concern.

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My mom and Aunt Vickie received some money in shot glasses from Santa (Papa).  I found this hilarious.  I’m glad Aunt Vickie thought so, too.

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Granny got her box of tide with a dollar bill from Papa.  He’s been doing this for decades and I’m still not really sure how it started.  Maybe someday I’ll get to the bottom of it.

After Christmas at my dad’s parents’ house, we headed down the road (literally) for Christmas with my mom’s parents.

I went straight for a bourbon ball….or two.   I have a wicked sweet tooth and there’s no telling when it will strike.

We settled into the living room and opened our gifts.  It wasn’t the same without my aunt, uncle and cousin on my mom’s side, but we were certainly thinking of them and wishing they could have been with us.

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After seeing the photo that my parents sent out unsupervised in the family Christmas card this year where I look possessed, Eugene and I insisted that we supply suitable photographs for next year’s card.  We had my dad take about 437 photos and this was one of the better ones.

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With cameras retired for the day, we ate the delicious Christmas dinner that Grandmother had prepared for us.

Then I had a few more bourbon balls and a piece of rum cake.

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We played a game of Scrabble, one of our favorites.  I wasn’t on top of my game.  There’s only so much you can do when dealt X, B, J, H, L, L, T.  That, and most of the blood in my body was likely trying to aid in the digestion of the forty pounds of food I had eaten in the past few hours instead of pumping through my brain for a stroke of vocabulary genius.

And then I might have had another bourbon ball.

And then some leftover dressing from Christmas Eve dinner back at Granny and Papa’s.

And a piece of the jam cake cousin Lauren and I made on Thanksgiving and let ripen for Christmas.  It was scrumptious.

I think I’ll be full until next year.

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These things are the devil.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

Christmases Past

I stumbled across a few gems from Christmases in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s.

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Evidently, I used to be a Christmas angel.

(My mother just informed me that this was not a good day.

Apparently, I did not want to have my picture taken.

Can you blame me?

Two words, Mom: white tights.)

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While sitting to have my picture made was not high on my list, I certainly got my money’s worth out of my toys.  Never was a child more content to play with her dollhouse for hours on end.

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I enjoyed commanding the attention of many a den full of family members.

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I was happy to pitch in and help document the family Christmas.

(Thankfully, Fashion Police hasn’t gotten wind of these pants.  I was a very skinny toddler and all I can say about these pants is that my mother must have had high hopes that I would expand drastically and require pant legs large enough to store my toys in.  No such luck.  I bet even now I wouldn’t have an issue getting those things over my thighs.)

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Christmases were going swimmingly.

(Aside from the fashion.)

And then suddenly I wasn’t the only grandchild anymore….

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By 1993, there were four.

Oh how Christmases have changed over the last couple of decades…

Merry Christmas, y’all,

Sugarlump