May 30, 2010

Summer, it turns me upside down. Summer, summer, summer. It's like a merry-go-round.

(I'm not sure what The Cars meant by those lyrics, but they seemed to fit, so just go with it, mmmkay?)

As I was sitting in Mark's truck last night, waiting on him to feed an out of town neighbor's dogs and listening to Riverwalk Jazz on NPR, I decided there is nothing more iconic or definitive than southern summers. On this drizzly, humid night in Georgia, a lightening bug lit up right outside the windshield, and somehow, that one little neon bug seemed to remind me of everything a southern summer is.

There are the tangible things, sure, that are iconic of southern summers. Popscicles, swimming pools, hundreds of lightening bugs littering the backyard, fresh vegatables straight from the garden, barbeques, Braves baseball, listening to pretty much any Kenny Chesney song ever written, the taste of ripe watermelon never quite leaving your mouth because you eat as much of it as you can get, sunny days and the inevitable early evening thunder shower. I can't think of a summer when all of these things were not present, day in and day out.

But there are also those intangibles that seem to be the underlying icons of southern summers. The pace slows. One may be more content to sit on a back porch and watch lightening bugs light up then fade out for hours upon end, not really worrying about the dishes in the sink or the work that didn't get done behind your desk earlier that day, or even what's on tv. No, watching those neon lights on a bug's butt is entertainment enough for you. Becoming less and less pretentious about your appearance, I would say, would be another one of those underlying icons. As the weather gets hotter and hotter, the sleeves keep getting shorter, the hems shrink, until you're somehow dying to tug on that bathing suit so you can jump into a relatively cool body of water. (And fixing your hair? Don't even think about it.) And is it just me, or does everyone become friendlier in the summer? Everyone's outdoors; neighbors stop by for a quick chat on their evening walk; block parties; boaters waving at each other; parks ripe with picnics; making friends at a Braves game; man, everyone is just friendlier, aren't they?

I am always so thankful for the months of May through September in Georgia because it means I can do all of things I love to do the most. And the top thing on that list is to be on a boat, on some relatively cool body of water, with a drink in my hand and a tuber trailing behind. That's where I'll be today and tomorrow, thank goodness. And if my boat passes yours, expect a wave - I'll expect one back! - and let's raise our light beers to summer. Cheers!

Everyone have a safe and happy Memorial Day!

May 19, 2010

BBB aka Bread Baking Bunch aka Bread Baking Bitches aka Drink and Bake

Nine months ago I was walking the cluttered aisles of TJMaxx and found a book that would change my life. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. I'll just say it added a lot more fun and friendship to my life. The book was a $2.99 bread baking book and as soon as I picked it up, still standing in that cluttered aisle of cheap treasures, I formulated the idea to begin a bread baking group.

Quite similar to how most of my ideas begin to take shape, I called the bff and asked her if she'd be interested. Her response, as usual, "you plan it, and I'll come." (She will be receiving an extra jewel on her crown in heaven for how many things she participates in that I drag her to.) So I went to work.

The first thing I needed to do was practice the basic bread recipe. I couldn't be teaching a group how to do this if I couldn't do it myself, right? So here's my first ever loaf of wheat bread...

So after I proved to myself that I could indeed bake a loaf of bread that actually tasted good, I called up a few friends and asked them if they'd be interested in getting together to learn. They were. So back in September 2009, we had the inaugural meeting of BBB - Bread Baking Bunch. I taught everyone how to make a loaf of bread, we drank a lot of wine (too much wine) and enjoyed each others company.

We began the night at 6:30 and ended it around midnight. It was so much fun and we all decided we wanted to do it again. So in October, we went to Jeannie's house for a tutorial on cranberry orange scones and buttermilk biscuits and to, again, drink too much wine.


Those were so delicious. November's group was held at Chandler's house where she taught us how to make a cream cheese braid, which better be served in heaven. Rachel, a new member at this meeting, suggested we rename our group "Bread Baking Bitches" and coined the phrase, "Drink & Bake", because that's essentially what we do.
Jeannie spreading the cream cheese
Chandler and me
Sara and Bea

In December, we decided we'd let the men in our life in on our new found talent. We had a cookout and cookie bake with the guys and named our party the "Drink & Bake." We made gingerbread men, peppermint bark, and cranberry white chocolate shortbread.

Our invitation:
Jeannie, Michelle, Leah, Erin, and Rachel
Haley, Jeannie, me
Our gingerbread men!
Busy decorating
Erin and Leah
Mark, Joel, Lance, and Wes...and their dixie cups
So much wine
Leah, Erin, me, Sara, Rachel

Whew! The Drink and Bake was awesome. In January, we deviated a bit from bread onto another carb - PASTA! Sara spent a summer in Europe taking cooking classes and learned how to make homemade pasta. It's soo simple and fun to make! We made ravioli with a homemade filling, homemade sauce, and homemade tomato chips! And, of course, we drank a lot of wine. This meeting really solidified our group, I think. The regular members are myself, Jeannie, Rachel, Chandler, Michelle, Sara, Erin Pringle, Leah, Lindsay, and Erin Prielozny.

You start with a little Semolina flour and an egg
And then you get really messy
And you drink a little wine
And then you streeeetttcccchhh out the pasta to paper thin
I love this picture
Stuffing the ravioli
Yummy sauce
Perfect ravioli
Live, reporting from the scene of Hurricane Pasta
Jeannie, Erin, Leah, and Sara
Jeannie and Sara
And by the time it's all over, you've consumed an insane amount of alcohol. Yep, that's pretty much how each meeting goes!

In February, Erin and Leah taught us how to make homemade pretzels and homemade dipping sauces!

Michelle & Rachel
Mound of dough
Leah, Erin, Jeannie, me, Rachel, Michelle

In March, Rachel hosted and taught us how to make a Southern classic - cheese straws.

Michelle cranking out the straws
Erin and Michelle
Clockwise from top left: Lindsay, Erin Prielozny, me, Sara, Michelle, Rachel, Chandler, and Erin Pringle 
And of course, the aftermath

In April, we met at my house to learn how to make pizza dough. Turns out, the dough didn't rise. Thank goodness we had a back-up plan - Publix sells raw, already risen pizza dough for $2.50 in the bakery. Thank you Publix! We decided this would be our "Semi-homemade" night as we channeled our inner Sandra Lee's. We decided that even though we had this failure, we are still domestic goddesses.

My awesome toppings spread
Rachel and Chandler
You still have to roll out the Publix pizza dough so it still kinda felt authentic
Just your typical BBB table-scape
Mmmm so good!

So that's nine months of bread groups, nine months of lots and lots of wine, nine months of new friendships forming, and nine months of tons o' fun. This month, we're hosting a Mother/Daughter bread group in honor of Mother's Day. We'll be teaching our moms how to make a loaf of wheat bread. And then in June, we're taking a trip to Chateau Elan for a winery tour, cooking class, and spa time! It's going to be a blast!

May 18, 2010

I think when I get to heaven...

The first thing I ask God will not be what happened to the dinosaurs. No, instead, it will be, "What was your purpose in creating the sloth."

Enjoy a little slothy entertainment, will ya? (And try not to compare the subjects of the video too much to your significant other, what with all the scratching and stuff.)

Meet the sloths from Amphibian Avenger on Vimeo.

May 14, 2010

Ode to my crazy mom

Well since a few of my other blog buddies are talking about their moms, I guess I'll do it too, just a few days late. I touched on before how crazy my mom is and I'm afraid this post, too, only reveals the tiniest tip of the crazy iceberg that my mom is, but it's a good place to start.

Things said at the lunch table while sharing KFC original recipe with my family on Mothers Day:

Me: "Mom, can you hem some pants for me? I swear I wore them last year but now they're too long. Maybe I only wore them with heels last year."
Molly: "Yeah, or maybe you're shrinking."
Mom: "Oh no she's not. She's getting taller."

Ah, the age old, "You need to pray and ask God to make you taller" debate. My mom will not drop this. About a year ago she said this to me and I have repeatedly told her that I'm not going to pray for that because a) God has better things to do than to field questions from me about the body HE created, b) if I, in fact, do pray for this, and if, in fact, God does answer that prayer and makes me taller, then my pants, which my mother and just about every other seamstress in this town has hemmed and tailored to fit my stumpy legs, won't fit, and c) my mom is crazy. But I've mentioned that before.

Next came this:

Mom: "I looked and looked in the card section for a card from a mom to her son or daughter but just couldn't find any!" (And no, she's not talking about the ones you give if your daughter has had a child - because me nor my 3 other siblings have had children.)
Me: "Well, I'm not surprised by that at all. Moms don't give their children cards on Mothers Day. Children give their moms cards on Mothers Day."

Hello, crazy.

I'm serious folks, this only touches the tip of the crazy iceberg. I think I'll start carrying around a tape recorder when I'm with her. As crazy as she is, I must say that I try my hardest to look past the crazy and love her inspite of it. It's difficult sometimes, but I do try. And I do love her very much.

I'll leave you with this:

It's Christmas time and we're all digging into our stockings. I had dropped some Dove dark chocolate in everyone's stockings and my mom pulled one out: "Oh, I just love dark chocolate. It's so much better for you than milk chocolate. Peyton (the one who put the dark chocolate in the stocking) if you don't like dark chocolate, you should pray and ask God to make you like it."
Me: Speechless.

May 12, 2010

PeyPey, how does your garden grow?

Let's begin with the remnants of last years container garden, shall we?

Yes, yes, I was apparently growing twigs, grass, pinecones, pinestraw and weeds. And these sad little fellas just had no hope whatsoever.

I did manage to save the tulip bulbs from last year, yet, I have no idea what to do with them...

I have hope for this year though. I went with the mini pallet/greenhouse thingy to help me just start my seeds. I've never started with seeds before so we'll see how it goes. You pour water on the little pods until they're all expanded:

For herbs, I planted dill, basil, lavender, cilantro, and rosemary. For veggies I planted cherry tomatos, jalepeno, and spinach. For flowers I planted zinnia, achillea, and english daisies. I even made cute little markers for them:

Got the seeds planted, now it's a waiting game.

Well that didn't take long! About a week before the first little sprout sprouted. Now they're ready to be planted.

So I got to planting...

I used several different kinds of potting soil. (That's the reason for the different colored dirt.)

Say a little prayer for my garden and my green thumb, will ya?