Thursday, November 26, 2015

#2,165 Kidsgiving.

We had the huge Thanksgiving spread at Ben's parents' for lunch at breakneck speed... And I only got this one lousy picture of Jesse getting a cup of punch before we set the table:

Here's a picture from last year that's 90% the same as what happened today, so let's just pretend I took this today and Sam and his crew were still here:

We had to hustle in order to make the 4 hour drive home and get that food I made last week in the oven tonight in time for Kidsgiving, as in, the adult children on the Rasberry side of the family having their own little Thanksgiving gathering since our parents had planned to all go on vacation, but then our parents all backed out on said plans and the kids made the meal and the parents came and kicked their feet up (read: chased the babies around) and reaped the benefits.

It was honestly a ton of fun, each of us taking different responsibilities and bringing it all together to make a really dang good dinner. Jim deep fried the turkey and smoked a ham, Mallorie made turnip greens and tea, Amanda made dressing, fresh cranberry sauce and fruit salad, and I made sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and pecan pies.

Our parents were pleasantly surprised by how good it was, I think, and are probably ready to relinquish Thanksgiving duties permanently. We'll just have to see about that.

#2,164 Kitchen Floor.

Ben's parents' old kitchen floors have started to show their age and long-ago water damage by surprising us with soft spots in certain areas and over the last few days the guys managed to remove all the old subfloors down to the studs and replace it with new plywood. It was strenuous, incredibly messy work removing all that 1970s particle board that was lurking under 1970s linoleum, but today they finished the job...

And tonight Ben's daddy and I worked together putting down temporary vinyl tile flooring as a placeholder until he can get down to Laurel and pick up a truckload of wood flooring he bought. I did not take a photo of said temporary vinyl flooring because my phone was dead and now I am in bed as I write this, but I assure you it is shiny, slick and waterproof for now which is all you need a temporary kitchen floor to be. Mostly, it was fun to do a little project like that with Ben's daddy who always treats his daughters in law like delicate little girls who ought not have to lift a hammer. 

Also, what is the deal with the cotton candy skies this time of year? Could they get any prettier?

You've Got Mail was on TV tonight, and I still want to be Kathleen Kelly when I grow up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#2,163 Dress Drawing + Gun Shooting.

We're going to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art gala in a couple weeks and I'm stressing over the fact that I still don't have a dress to wear because I've imagined my dream dress and it simply does not exist on planet Earth. Tonight Ben's mama scoured the internet with me in search of a vintage 1930s dress pattern that she could use to make the dream dress, but we just don't have enough time to make it happen if we could find the pattern (which we have not, though I really like the illustrated versions of this, this and this). I sat down and sketched out my dream dress and it goes like this:

It would be deep dark emerald green and fit sort of like a Piko top with long, tight sleeves, a gathered drop waist, flat silk sash, backless, with layered silk for the skirt and a slit to the thigh. I would wear it with a jeweled necklace that reminds me of antique brooches and dark red lipstick.

Anyway, I'm having no luck at all so far and would love your recommendations if you know of someplace off the beaten path I should be looking! I won't be spending a ton of money on it, so I'm open minded!

While I was daydreaming about fancy dresses, Ben, Sam, Jesse and Jared were out in the field doing the Southern gentlemanly tradition around any cold-weather holiday—shooting guns. I love the chivalry about it, seeing good men who know how to use a gun. It feels very American in the best way.

Monday, November 23, 2015

#2,162 7th Anniversary Date in Oxford.

The drive into Oxford today was breathtaking. I forget the fiery red and golden hardwoods that proliferate north Mississippi far outnumber the pines, and it's a magical thing to see the leaves at their peak on that drive from Baldwyn to Oxford.

Our first stop on our anniversary date was a meeting with a new instagram friend, Nick Weaver from Blue Delta Jean Co., makers of bespoke jeans. He and Ben have hit it off via the Scotsman Co. posts and we wanted to meet up and discuss a future collaboration. He reminded us so much of Ben's college roommate, Chase, so we immediately felt good about him.

The story of their company and the work they do is fascinating. Every pair of jeans they make are from cotton grown in the South, the patterns are made, and the fabric cut and sewn to your specifications right here in Mississippi. How cool is that?

Afterward Ben and I went walking around the corner to Square Books, the place we spent date nights in college reading books we couldn't afford to buy, the place he proposed on his birthday in September 2007. It's such a dear place to me now and I can't bear to leave it without taking home at least 2 books.

By then we were hungry and couldn't decide on which highly reviewed new Oxford restaurant to try, so we settled on an old favorite‚ Italian at Old Venice where we shared tomato bisque that was divine, then creole pasta for Ben and eggplant parmesan with roasted vegetables for me.

With full bellies and chattering teeth in the freezing cold, we walked to High Point to warm up with coffee for him and the absolute most delicious apple cider for me. It was really more like apple pie a la mode in a cup, a tangy, spiced apple cider with whipped cream and caramel that I'm mourning 2 hours since I finished the cup. I almost want to drive back to Oxford for more tomorrow!

Just a few steps away, we walked past the charming alley between city hall and Skipwith Cottage where, on my 20th birthday, Ben set up a little table and surprised me with a home-cooked steak dinner because he couldn't afford to take me out for dinner at one of the fancy restaurants on the Square. I loved him so so much in that moment, I remember. We found that the tiny little cottage has since been moved from the Square, but our spot is still there.

And then on our way out of town, I asked Ben if we could just drive past the chapel where we were married, for old times sake. He obliged, and we found a surprise...

The door was open.

We walked down to the altar and he gave me a kiss. I haven't been in that room since the day I became a wife, and it made me feel tears coming for just a second. I pulled out my phone and hit play on Scotland the Brave, our wedding recessional song that was played on real bagpipes by our friend Jessie, and we walked back out to head home.

No matter what, he always finds a way to make every occasion so special I wish I could put the night into a scrapbook. I guess that's what this blog is, really. The only way I know how to hold on to the most perfect moments of our life.

That's the stuff worth remembering.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

#2,161 Anniversary + Design Helper.

Seven years ago today Ben and I were married in Oxford, Mississippi on the coldest day ever. Today was an exact repeat of the weather that day, and while we are in north Mississippi, Ben's brothers were all coming into town together for the first time in a long time today so we're going to spend tomorrow celebrating in Oxford when the shops and restaurants will be open. It's eerie how similar this weekend is to 7 years ago, right down to the Ole Miss win over LSU.

I'm really excited about going back to the place where our life together officially started. You know I've got an awfully sentimental heart. This year, we spent time with his family and I even got help designing a new invitation suite from my best girl, Ellie Claire, who was fascinated watching me vectorize wreath drawings.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

#2,160 Beating LSU + Tupelo + Duluth.

As most days are that we spend at Ben's parents' house, it was a slow, quiet day on the farm with FRIGID winter weather all day. The wind was whistling around the eaves from beginning to end. We tried hanging out outside, Ben and Jesse shooting his bow for a while, but the cold wind beat us into the house eventually. The Ole Miss game was great since we beat the dress off of LSU, but the sunset stole the show for just a minute around half time:

After the game we decided to head into town for a little date night. Jesse wanted to get out of the house so he came along with us and we strolled around the mall (because when there are Christmas lights and smells and sounds, it's actually a fun thing to do):

Then we got dinner at Harvey's, which I've always heard was delicious but had never tried until tonight.

Tomorrow is our 7th wedding anniversary! I can't believe I've been a Napier for 2,555 days of my life. I'm not sure what we'll be getting into since it falls on Thanksgiving week and we're visiting family, but I just betcha we'll find some adventure.

And finally... Guess what? Ben won the Duluth Trading Co. Paul Bunyan search! He'll be getting some nice new clothes and gift cards, nothing too crazy, but man he's feeling cool right about now thanks to you for voting and getting their judge's attention. Y'all are the best, friends!
P.S.—Self-proclaimed mascot? Ask the City of Laurel about that!

Friday, November 20, 2015

#2,159 Day Trip.

It's been years since Ben and I got to spend a day with Tom and Allison doing something fun together (like, maybe this was the last time in 2011) and today we made a trip to Southaven, basically Memphis, because Chip and Joanna were doing a ribbon cutting for a new mall and they're big HGTV lovers so we thought it would be fun to introduce everybody.

The line just to get in the parking lot was so long and every overflow parking lot was so slammed, I started getting nervous we'd waited too late. We texted the Gaines and Emily who works with them, and Emily responded "they're already on stage!" 
We were the last stragglers to the stage area where we found Phil Bryant, the governor of Mississippi speaking, then Chip and Jo gave a little welcome and told everyone they'd be back in a couple hours to speak. Chip saw Big Ben hovering above the crowd in the very back and gave us a wave, and after the ribbon cutting was over we got a text telling us where to go and that security would let us in. Talk about feeling starstruck! That feeling doesn't go away, no matter how many times we visit them. Once we were inside their waiting room, all the famous-ness falls away and they're just regular, good, Texas folks. They have a way about them that makes you feel like you've known each other long before any of this happened, like it's perfectly normal for security to stand outside everyone's door.

We stayed a while until it was time for them to go out and speak, and while we couldn't get close enough to hear them because of the INSANE crowds, we hung back with some of the Magnolia crew and snapped a picture before they jetted off back home to Waco as soon as it ended. Chip and Jo are endlessly gracious with us and our families and I wish I knew how to repay them. I just don't think we ever could.

Afterward we grabbed a late lunch on Beale Street before heading back to Ben's parents'.

It was a heck of a day trip adventure to share with our family. I just wish everybody we love could've come, too!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

#2,158 Northbound.

We somehow managed to get all our work done and bags packed in time to drive north and pick up a shipment of 100 more Lucky Luxe candles before the Christmas season gets ramped up, and I caught the loveliest sunshine in the office this morning after the many rainy days we've been having.

Someone was super excited to see his family tonight and had his bag waiting when I woke up. Tomorrow we've got a fun day planned with Allison and Tom, which we haven't done since college probably. Yay, holidays!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

#2,157 11 Hours + Church Thanksgiving.

When I blogged last night, it was from my phone, in bed, half asleep at TEN O'CLOCK PM. It's been junior high since I went to bed at 10, but I had a sick headache all day that sort of took the wind out of my sails and I just couldn't stay awake. We had very stormy weather all through the night and next thing I knew, it was 9 am and I had slept 11 hours.

Mama told me I seemed tired and just needed to rest, so I reckon she was right. I'm used to 7 hours a night, so this was super decadent!

Then tonight after work was the annual Thanksgiving dinner and dessert auction at church where Ben helps our choir director, Joey, do the auctioneering.

There's always plenty of good cheesy jokes and fake fast auctioneer number yelling—"45,50,50,45,dowehave50?" (what the heck do you call that?) and really good dressing. How is it the holidays already, y'all?!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#2,156 Rudy.

It used to be a family tradition with my parents to watch Rudy every year around Thanksgiving, but somehow we got too busy and the tradition fell to the wayside. Tonight we brought it back, on the sofa at their house with a wicked storm headed our way, but we forgot that for a little while and spent 2 hours in South Bend with our old friend. 
I don't know when you last watched Rudy but it wasn't recently enough. Time for a re-watch!

Monday, November 16, 2015

#2,155 Craftsmanship.

Tonight, as I watched Ben working late into the night on a piece he's donating to our art museum's 'His and Hers' themed silent auction in a few weeks, I felt so inspired by the making, the doing. In our digital world, it's easy to forget about the makers in the world, the craftsmen, who are doing the most analog things with wood, metal, hands and tools.

He works very slowly and intentionally. You'll find when the Scotsman shop opens in a couple weeks that there won't be many furniture pieces, but the ones there were built carefully by his two hands, and with much pride and love. It made me feel like the work I do behind a computer monitor is dull and lacking in a way, like it's not quite tangible enough to satisfy me. I asked him if I could come work for him and listen to old Christmas music all day, and he said, "I would love that, but the pay ain't great." He's been working steadily to have a few good pieces in his first online shop, rejecting offers from folks who want to buy them so that there'll be something to show for it when the site launches. It's been fruitless work in that way, but I know it won't be for long.

When he did the final buffing after he finished the humidor, I felt like I could cry, holding that heavy, cold box that still smells a little bit of shellack and cedar and feels as smooth as glass. He's quick to tell people he's no artist, that he leaves that to me. But I disagree.

He's a maker. He always was.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

#2,154 Thanksgiving Prep.

Y'all, how can Thanksgiving be upon us already? I JUST finished writing my 2014 year in review yesterday, didn't I?! Somehow, it's mid-November and we'll be traveling the week leading up and us kids (me, Clark, Jim and our spouses) are stepping up to see if we can fill mama's shoes and cook the big dinner since she has declared she wants a break from the cooking duties for once. Ben and I are responsible for 2 sides and dessert so I made Pioneer Woman's Soul Sweet Taters (but I'm adding marshmallows of course, because WHY WOULDN'T YOU?) and preparing it all for the freezer.

It's nerdy, but man I LOVE the way it feels to write on tin foil with a fresh fine point Sharpie. It made a letterpress-ish impression in the foil that's very satisfying.

2 of mama's famous pecan pies:

And a green bean casserole that I've heard you should and should not make ahead and freeze, but I'm gonna take my chances because it's the easiest of them all to make another one at the last minute and I mean heck, it's green bean casserole. Can it go that wrong?

Also, for those who may not be aware, the finest holiday treat you can give yourself just may be buttered, salted, roasted pecans and a glass of apple cranberry sparkling cider.
I can't stop.
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