Thursday, August 7, 2014

Today Is the Day That My Future Therapist Will Say Started It All

It came. The day I had been dreading all summer. The first day of school.
Now normally I would be ok with the whole first day of school thing. Well, maybe not ok exactly. But accepting. Yes, accepting is a good word. Accepting.
I do not accept today. Today is an abomination. Today my sweet Peanut started High School. HIGH SCHOOL! And my baby boy, my Bubbo, started Middle School. It's just not right, I tell you. Peanut should be picking her favorite color from the giant box of Crayolas instead of decided what eyeliner goes best with her outfit. And Bubbo should be building something with his massive Lego collection instead of learning how to work his combination lock.
And I should have taken somebody to the Elementary School today. But instead, for the first time in 10 years, I just drove on by. My mom wagon sort of wanted to turn into the Elementary parking lot of its own accord and I had to be like, 'No, no, truck. We don't go to this school anymore.' Yes, I talk to my SUV. That's what happens when your kids go to the Middle School and the High School. Ugh, the HIGH SCHOOL! Just saying it makes me want to throw up a little bit.
The only thing that is keeping me together right now is that I realize that this is the way it's supposed to be. My babies are growing up. That's what babies do. And Peanut and Bubbo are growing into well-mannered, funny, smart young people. So I guess I'm doing something right. Just, why does it have to feel so bad?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Boyd's Big Day

Saturday is a big day in our family. Boyd is getting married. Boyd, as many of you know, is my brother.
My baby brother.
He's getting married.
Sorry if I keep repeating myself but my baby brother is GETTING MARRIED!!!
Boyd wears Cartman T shirts. And he's not a big fan of grooming his facial hair. And he tends to leave dead animals soaking in salt water in your sink. And he found a girl who not only puts up with all this, she actually is pretty crazy about him. I know how much he loves her but because I can see how much she loves him I love her.
The only thing I wish was that she were a bit shorter. Actually if we're wishing for things, I wanna be taller. Either way I'm still the shortest in the family. Well except for Peanut and Bubbo - for now.

Boyd and I didn't have the easiest childhood. Our parents divorced when I was 5 and he was just a baby. Between them and their subsequent spouses we've lived all over central and eastern Kentucky. Sometimes it seems to me that we moved around more than Army brats. But no matter where we moved or who we were living with at the time Boyd and I always were together.
Yes, there's five years between us. And yes, there were fights. Plenty of fights! Lots of decapitated Barbie dolls and thrown-away Ninja Turtles - you know, the usual stuff.
I think though that because of all the moves, and all the different families and step-families, and split-up holidays, we maybe looked to each other a bit more than other siblings. Every holiday, every family emergency, every disorganized vacation, Boyd was there.
Even after The Captain and I got married, Boyd was at our house as often as not. We're kind of like the Appalachian Ross and Monica. Except instead of dinosaurs that I don't understand it's computer stuff that I don't understand. And instead of used to be fat it's more like used to be thin.
So now (sticking with this metaphor) Boyd has found his Rachel, who forever hereafter will be known here on the interwebz as Ginger. And because I love Boyd and Ginger, and love them even more together, you can find me on Saturday in a dress; which in and of itself is quite lovely but which on me resembles nothing so much as a parade float. But I was promised Bourbon. And cake. So you know. . . Cake. And Bourbon.
So here's to Boyd and Ginger! I wish them a long life of fighting over the toilet seat, the remote control, and the temperature on the thermostat. A lifetime of, 'what do you want for supper?', 'I don't care.', 'How about XYZ?', 'Ugh, no!'. A lifetime of having someone to put your cold feet on in the bed. And a lifetime of knowing that you wouldn't ever want anything else. Congratulations guys! I love you both!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hushpuppies

They say that hushpuppies got their name from hunters frying up bits of dough and throwing it to the dogs to keep them quiet. I don't know about all of that. Anyone who's ever tried to train a dog will tell you that you don't reward troublesome barking with yummy treats. That's nothing but a good way to keep you constantly frying up little bits of dough. Just tell that hound to shut up and keep the hushpuppies to yourself.  Besides, a good dog would have earned a treat without having to bark for it.
Despite having a name of dubious origins, hushpuppies definitely seem to be a Southern Thing. Just think about it. What's a fish fry or a shrimp or crawdad boil without hushpuppies? A big ol' plate of fried catfish without hushpuppies - inconceivable!
In honor of the first day of summer we had our own crab boil up here in our house on the hill. Complete with corn, potatoes, and of course - hushpuppies. It was pretty ding-dang good, if I do say so myself.
Ahhh, summer! Crab legs, fresh corn on the cob, hushpuppies, and a cold one!


Hushpuppies

3 Cups yellow corn meal
1/3 Cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 Cup finely minced onion
2 Eggs
1 Can cream-style corn
Couple Dashes hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
Milk

Measure meal, flour, salt, baking powder, and garlic powder into medium bowl. Stir to combine. Add onion, eggs, corn, and pepper sauce. Stir to loosely mix. Slowly add milk to make a stiff dough. (Depending on your cornmeal and the weather it usually takes about 1/2 Cup) Set aside for about 10 minutes.
Heat oil (vegetable or peanut) in heavy duty sauce pot or deep fryer to somewhere in between 350 and 375 degrees. Add dough by rounded tablespoonful carefully to hot oil, being careful not to crown the pan. I usually do about half a dozen at a time. Fry for about 2 minutes or until deep golden brown all the way around. Use a spider strainer or a slotted spoon to remove the hushpuppies to a heatproof dish lined with paper towels.
Allow to cool completely before eating.

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Life Monday: Extreme Makeover- Sibling Edition

So  my babies - yes, I still call them my babies -are getting older. And bigger. They are not little kids any more and their little kid rooms just aren't cutting it any more.
Not to mention the fact that Bubbo needs a bigger bed. He's all but grown out of his twin size and I can't imagine this is a trend that is likely to reverse itself. The bad news is that a bigger bed just really won't fit in his small little room. But he does boast a larger closet than his sister. And she, being in possession of a wardrobe to rival any teenage girl in America, decided that a slightly smaller room would not be the worst thing that ever happened to her.
So let the room switch begin. And if you're going to switch rooms, you might as well remodel. Which means you need new paint colors, and bedding, and accessories, and of course the aforementioned big ol' bed. We got all that. We managed to find bedding at Target which was deemed both cool enough for the teen/tween set and respectable enough to actually reside within my home. We've wagged lithographic prints home from Disney World and had them framed, stripped a high school gym floor for cool wall art, and scoured ebay for retro football photographs. We even managed to pick out paint colors.
And if you manage to live your whole life without having to pick out a single paint color then consider yourself lucky. Ever seen that commercial where the woman wants a paint that's purple but not puuuurrrrrple? Yeah, it's like that. But with a dusty turquoise color that was described to me by my 14-year-old as kind of blue, kind of green, but not too bright, kind of like that page in the Pottery Barn catalog - you know that one with that bed I liked - but not exactly like that. Seriously, that was an almost quote from her - kinda, but not exactly like that. I finally found the color at Sherwin Williams. It's called Aloe and I have to admit it's practically perfect in every way.
By the way, when asked what color he would like his room painted, Bubbo's reply was . . .wait for it . . . Blue. Not Navy, or Cadet, or Sky, or Royal, or any of the other million shades in between. Just blue. I made a judgement call at the paint store and went for a soft but intense blue/gray called Bracing Blue. He'll love it.
You see, we made all these preparations. Bought all the supplies. Arranged for all the furnishings and accessories that will be moving into the newly repainted rooms. But what we failed to realize was that everything would first have to be moved out of the old rooms. Our thinking was that we would just put it all in the playroom for the time being. And well, this is what happened. Updates to follow.
I swear we're not hoarders!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ale 8 Cupcakes

An homage to Kentucky's favorite soft drink. The drink that got me through college finals and early motherhood. That effervescent, gingery goodness that is Ale 8 One. Or simply just Ale 8. "For Bracing Pep"
Bottled in Winchester and distributed across the Bluegrass, Ale 8 has what you might call a cult following. Everybody knows that it's better out of the bottle - as long as that bottle is the original green glass one. And don't even think of drinking it from a can. That's not even right. Seriously, why do they even make it like that?
I like mine put in the freezer for about and hour so that it's tooth-cracking cold and the neck of the bottle gets just a little bit slushy. Mmmmmm! Not even gonna lie, I drooled a little bit just typing that.
As refreshing as a crisply cold Ale 8 is, I have found yet another way to enjoy Kentucky's favorite pop (Pop, not soda!) just in time for Derby.


Ale 8 Cupcakes
1 box Duncan Hines Butter Golden Cake mix
1/3 cup oil
1 Cup Ale 8 (that's 8oz from the bottle and 4 for you to drink!)
3 eggs
1 Tbs. fresh grated Ginger, optional (you can find this in the produce section of most grocery stores and if you keep it in the freezer it will last about a year.) Or you can use 1 tsp. powdered Ginger
Mix all ingredients and bake in cupcake liners according to package directions. Let cool completely before icing.

Icing
1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 Cups Powdered sugar
1 tsp. good quality vanilla extract
1 Tbs. grated ginger, or 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
candied ginger for garnish, optional (find this in the spice section)
Frost cupcakes. Sprinkle with candied ginger. Top with an Ale 8 top if you want to get fancy :)



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Extraordinary History of Ordinary Objects: My Dining Room Table

This is my dining room table. Nothing remarkable, really. Just an average small, square, oak table. It used to set in my Mamaw and Papaw's house. Mamaw cleaned it up and refinished it some 50 years ago after it was given to The Big A (Papaw) from his aunt.
The table is one of a kind, but you can find the chairs here.

Aunt Delphia was a sister to The Big A's father, Homer Rogers. Delphia married Chester Black and they moved to Lexington where they lived and worked on various horse farms before finally settling at Maine Chance Farm, just off Newtown Pike.
From all accounts Maine Chance seemed to suit the Blacks just fine with Chester working in the stables as a groom and a sort of man-of-all-work. Delphia worked in the house and became close with the farm's owner, one Elizabeth Arden.
Yes, that Elizabeth Arden.
Ms. Arden bought Maine Chance in the '40s after making her fortune in cosmetics and skin care, naming the farm after her first spa in Maine. Maine Chance produced such famous horses as Star Pilot, Beaugay, Ace Admiral, and the 1947 Kentucky Derby winner Jet Pilot.
Chester and Delphia lived in a little house on the farm that was part of their salary and occasionally Ms. Arden, being friendly with Delphia, would pass on bits of furniture and the such from the main hosuse to help furnish the Black's home. This dining room table was one such item. Given its small size it probably set in a kitchen or breakfast nook or sitting room inside Maine Chance Farm's main residence.
The Big A recounts that the table came to them in the early 1960's as a gift from Aunt Delphia. Presumably to help furnish the home they were building at around the same time.
Shortly thereafter in 1966 Ms. Arden passed away and Maine Chance Farm passed to the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture where it has become a center for the college's breeding program and research into equine diseases and disabilities.
The Big A wasn't sure what happened to Delphia and Chester after Ms. Arden's passing. He thought they stayed on at Maine Chance for a while as caretakers before moving on to another horse farm in the area.
The table lives on in my humble dining room. Mamaw had found and refinished some oak parsons-type chairs for use in her house. I chose instead to mix it up a bit with some Tolix bistro chairs. I find it somewhat reassuring, though, that no matter how the table has been accessorized it retains its sturdy integrity. The thing must be at tleast a hundred years old and looks like it could last a hundred more. But it will always be, at least in my family, the Maine Chance Table.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Extraordinary History of Ordinary Objects: Mamaw Nipper's Rocking Chair

Do you have objects in your home that aren't necessarily valuable, monetarily speaking, but that mean a great deal to you? The kind of stuff that gets passed down through families. Items that are sometimes honored, but more often than not forgotten. And even if the item in question is in use in your home, you may have forgotten its history. Where it came from. Who it belonged to originally. What was its original purpose?
I seem to have quite a bit of those kinds of objects lying around my little house up here on the hill. Most of them are ordinary things. Nothing special, really. But more often than not the story behind one of these objects is more valuable to me than the object itself.
I thought that I would start this story with my Mamaw Nipper's rocking chair. Mamaw Nipper was my great-grandmother. The mother of my beloved Mamaw Carolyn, my mom's mom. So I suppose you could say that this particular family heirloom is strictly maternal. The mother of my mother's mother.

The rocking chair itself isn't particularly valuable. In fact I'd say it's probably rather cheap. The construction is not of the highest quality - although the thing has held together for well over fifty years so I guess that's something. I couldn't begin to tell you what species of wood it may have been made of. The varnish is thick, shiny, and completely worn away in places. The gold accents and stenciling seem to me to be hallmarks of mass production.
And yet, it's that very finish, or lack thereof, that gives me such a fondness for the piece.
Mamaw Nipper died when I was about 5. I don't remember a whole lot about her. I can recall that she was a small woman. She lived in a small house in Morgan County. I think I can remember chickens in the yard and a wide front porch. I remember that you walked into the house right into the living room. The kitchen was off to the left and the bedroom was just behind the living room. It seems to me that there may have been more rooms to the house that were blocked off perhaps because they were unused, but I can't really recall. I think maybe that her kitchen chairs had sparkles in them. And I can definitely remember that she had a tiny television with rabbit ears that set in the living room where my Papaw Nipper would set and watch 'wrastling'. His favorite was Andre the Giant. How weird that I remember that.
I can't really remember where in the living room the rocking chair was placed but I can remember as clear as anything my Mamaw Nipper setting in that chair with her thin arms resting on the arms of the rocking chair and as she would rock she would rub her hands back and forth over the ends of the arms of the chair. Over and over. Back and forth, back and forth. I don't know how long this had been her habit, probably from time immortal. The varnish on the ends of the arms of this rocking chair has been worn away since before I can remember. Since before my mom can remember.
But I do remember. I remember my Mamaw setting in that chair, rubbing her hands back and forth. And that is exactly what I do, too. Every time I set there.