Sunday, December 21, 2014

#1,830 Wrap It Up.

It was Christmas Sunday at church, which means a full house and lots and lots of hugs. Services like this one make me particularly thankful to live in a small town.

And now, enjoy an awkward photo of us and the church Chrismon tree:

In other news, I've been putting off gift wrapping our families' presents for a couple weeks now. And I really don't know why—I just am terrible at gift wrapping and it feels like a chore similar to folding laundry. Necessary... But it's just gonna get unfolded and dirty again. But after a short nap this afternoon we went over to the shop and got everything all wrapped up in record time. It wasn't bad at all with Big helping me (read: doing most of it)—he's actually quite good at wrapping presents, thankfully.

And now, it feels like Christmas is very soon!

HUGE shout out to Ross who thought of a brilliant solution to a tricky printing situation we've been dealing with at the shop. Youmaboy, Blue!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

#1,829 Super Mercado + Clark Christmas + Lucy Sitting.

I woke up this morning with my mind set on figuring out how in the world to make those amazing La Esquina plantains. I've been Googling, trying to find a good recipe, and they all resoundingly said it requires very ripe black plantains for the sweetness and for the banana to caramelize and I knew I've only ever seen the greeny/yellow ones at Winn Dixie. And I remembered, just a few blocks down 5th Avenue is the Super Mercado—a Mexican specialty grocery. We headed down and found, not only the black plantains, but a taqueria selling tortas and fresh baked pastries. Tons of them! It was this jewel right at my back door that I never knew about until today. It was fun!

We came home with a fresh steak torta hot off the griddle, slathered in homemade guacamole, red bell peppers, pico de gallo and lettuce. I couldn't believe how delicious it was. It definitely was comparable to our NYC Mexican lunch.

Later, as we do every year the Saturday before Christmas, Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Charles came down from Jackson to have mama's side of the family's Christmas party. There was talk of Elvis, carrot salad, ancestors, and The Free State of Jones. Somehow, we only got pictures of us women folk.

And once everyone had gone home, Jim dropped Lucy by at mama's so we could watch her while they went to a Christmas party. She had a Big time.

Get it? Uncle Big... Anyway.

Merry last Saturday before Christmas, y'all!

Friday, December 19, 2014

#1,828 Rainy Day + Everything In Its Place.

It rained all day long. A slow, quiet, steady rain. It was cold out there. And you know me. I loved that. The 'tap tap tap' on the tin awning below our studio windows.

And after work, and after the Laurel Main Street Christmas party, and after the Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas concert at the Arabian, we came home and finally unpacked our bags from the trip. It always takes me a while to get around to that particular task. It's tiring, and it means vacation is over until next time and Ben totes the suitcases upstairs to the guest room closet.

But once it's done, it does feel so good to see everything in its place, the laundry rolling and clinking in the dryer, the socks paired in the baskets atop the washer.

It means "I'm home."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

#1,827 Back to Real Life.

After a week in what felt more like a dream, less like real life, this morning we got up and had decadent homemade cinnamon rolls that Annalee was so so sweet to bring by our house as a little Christmas happy this morning. She's superwoman—and makes me feel like quite the deadbeat. We don't ever even send out Christmas cards, and she manages to do that AND make from scratch cinnamon rolls for her friends and family.

After breakfast we walked our dogs and went to the shop and had the most regular, awesomely productive day. It wasn't Monday, but it felt like it. Because we've felt so detached from home and all things southern for the week, Ben made a George Jones channel on Pandora and I SO enjoyed every song. I don't often feel in the mood for classic country, but today. Every word was funny to me. Or touching. It was a nice change from our normal routine.
Alexis told me about Sylvan Esso, whose music I'm also loving today. This, on the exact opposite end of the spectrum from George Jones, sounds the way New York looks and feels. But the experience of listening to it here, in Mississippi, as the soundtrack to my small and slow days—changes the context. And then changes the song. And isn't that interesting? If I attach this kind of music to New York it sounds sad to me, but when I instead attach it to life here, the way I know it, it sounds like contentment, chugging along, remembering things.

Anyway, besides music... We got a new super-mega duty Canon large format printer (for a steal on eBay!) and got it all set up late this afternoon... And I was pure giddy over printing envelopes and how good they looked. I've never had a printer in our shop that could actually print envelopes. Seems silly, I know.

And then we went home to a crockpot of ranch stew and I made a pan of cornbread for the crew since we've not gotten to see Josh, Em and Samuel since we left. After dinner we went over to Homewood to see the house since they've officially moved in and are spending their first night! How amazing are these blueprints they discovered tucked away in a laundry room cabinet?!

Vast empty rooms and expanses of hardwood floors won't last much longer. It's starting to look like folks live there.

Speaking of which, if any of you local readers are interested in living in downtown Laurel, their swanky loft apartment is now available for rent.

If you want to feel like you live in a big city, here's your chance.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#1,826 NYC Family Vacation Trip Home.

We said goodbye to the snow and the fireplaces and apple cider and the mistletoe and the precious Main Street bookstores this morning.

And drove back through the beautiful Hudson Valley...

To hop a plane in NYC bound for New Orleans.

Along the way, we got a phone call.
That I can tell you about later. Unfortunately, much later.

DANGIT why does everything have to be a secret, right? I know. But this one is juicy. The juiciest. More to come on that a later date. It'll be worth the wait. Promise.

For now, we're home. I'm in my old chair at my old desk in our old house and life is very very good.

It's good to be home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#1,825 NYC Family Vacation + Berkshire Exploring.

We got an early start this morning and I found our bunch sipping coffee by the fire in the lobby when I came downstairs ready to explore the Berkshires.

We started with breakfast at Martin's, our favorite in Great Barrington. Their pancakes hit the spot every single time.

And the crayons at the table entertained me.

We kept driving around, past the old home they used as the orphanage in The Cider House Rules.

Through Lenox and Pittsfield, past the homes that remind me of The Family Stone.

And because Mallorie found a coupon in the tourist rack at the inn... We found the Pine Cone Hill /Dash & Albert wholesale headquarters... Where everything, even their fancy schmancy pajamas, are something like 70% off retail.

And they had the VERY quilt that was used to stage our house in the Flea Market Style story that I didn't get to keep because it belonged to the antique mall. It was, ironically, outrageously expensive then. And now it's a discontinued pattern, and still my favorite, and I left with the quilt and shams for a fraction of the price they were back then. I also got some shams, a gift for mama, some pajamas for me, and a Euro pillow. Mallorie only spent $90 and got 2 pairs of pajamas, 2 shams, 2 sheets, and an area rug. It felt like we were stealing when we gave them our 20% coupons from the inn. They laughed at how excited we were.

We kept driving along until we found the Shaker village nearby, closed for the season. There were these snowy fields and a tiny little cemetery for folks who passed away before the Civil War.

It was peculiar to find it tucked away in this nook beside these fields. And before I knew it...

The boys had started a war and were running into the field full tilt with icy snowballs in each hand.

While Mallorie was over there like "Hmmm... Look at these deer tracks."

Then another war started up.

We're such Southerners. I know. A little snow, and we become 5 years old. It's magic for us. After a while, we headed back to the inn to warm up with cider by the fire, then drove back into Great Barrington to shop downtown and look for dinner.

Then I found Jim and Ben eating pastries at a French bakery. The manliest thing all day.

In the morning, we'll be boarding a plane back home to the land of bacon grease and friendly neighbors. And as much as I love the big city and picturesque New England villages, there really isn't any place on earth I'd rather be than south of the Mason Dixon.
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