Happy New Year!

Hope and anticipation

Each passing day brings us further from the holiday season and closer to the New Year.  2012 was a bear of a year with several life changes that built quite a bit of character.  There were the deaths of several dear friends, both people and dogs.  There were also weddings and babies and among all these trials and tribulations, there was Love.  

Dear Silhouette Cameo, I need you.

A Wish List for Santa

So it is my goal in life to win (yes, win, not buy) a Silhouette Cameo and starter pack.  I enter every contest that I find on Facebook and Twitter.  I stalk the Silhouette website.  I've even started stalking other brands of cutting machines' websites!  

But I want a Cameo.  

I pin pictures of it.  I read blogs about the amazing things it can do.  I drool over the free shape of the week.  

I've never actually used one, but I can only imagine the incredible crafts I could create if I had ten minutes with a Silhouette machine.  I've even started downloading fonts for the cuttings I would make.

So Dear Santa . . . all I want for Christmas (after world peace and no starving children and a every dog to have a loving home, of course) is a Silhouette Cameo.

I've been an angel all year!

Spooktacular Decoration

Fall festival fun

I love Halloween.  And Fall.  But mostly Halloween.  There are so many crafts and decorations and some of them carry you through to Thanksgiving.  I enjoy dressing my house up for each season and changing the place mats and settings on the dining room table to reflect the time of year.  This month, I somehow missed the window of Halloween decor, but my sweet mother in law brought over some mums and Fall-ish items to make our house more festive.

Leaf Peepers

The color of Fall

There's a chill in the air.  Most likely, it will only last today and then tomorrow will be sunny and 75 degrees.  But maybe Fall is here to stay.  Either way, the leaves are changing and the states have issued their Fall Foliage Reports.  Couples are planning weekend getaways up the Blue Ridge Parkway and here in the Sultry city we're unpacking sweaters.  With leaves of burnt sienna and chestnut, from bittersweet to scarlet, and sunglow and goldenrod, our Southern skyline and hilltops are turning to luscious colors right out of a Crayola crayon box.

Photo by James Demetrious

This Little Light of Mine

Chandeliers warm it up

It's been a long week with travel up north and work going crazy, but it's Monday night again and the world is waiting for a Sultry South update!  So we need to think happy, warm thoughts and I have just the beautiful thing: Chandeliers!

Who doesn't love a gorgeous, over the top, completely Southern light fixture?  You can hang a chandelier anywhere and it adds a touch of class.  

The Amazing Maize Maze

Get Lost in the Cornfield

In my quest to embrace the Fall, I found myself down a dirt road staring at a cornfield, preparing for battle.  Well, more like a race.  With hidden clues.  The cornfield was cut into a interlocking rows and we were going to compete with other teams in the seven acres of farmland.  In appreciation for the election year and a nod to our sultry city hosting the Democratic National Convention, this year's design was an elephant and a donkey and stars.

Who Wants S'more?!

The flavors of Fall

I mourn the loss of Summer.  I dread climbing out of my warm bed in the morning while it's still dark outside and at the end of the day, driving home as the sun sets behind the buildings in my sultry city.  I cringe when thinking about the coming time change.  

And then we have a day where the wind blows just right and the sun is not so hot as it shines on you.  And the night is crisp and someone pulls out the Hershey's chocolate and marshmallows and lights the grill or fire pit or, god willing, the campfire and all seems right with the world.  

Look Out Music City

cuz I'm here and I ain't never leavin'!

"Welcome to Nashville, ma'am!"  

This is how I was greeted, stepping on to my hotel shuttle.  While I often get a bit fussy at being called ma'am (I really am still a miss, right?) the way the word drawled off the bus drivers lips made me smile.  I might like this city.

Nashville, TN Nashville, TN Nashville, TN

Labor Day Weekend Wistfulness

Say goodbye to Summer

Today is the holiday that has us all mourning the end of Summer, the end of seersucker season and the shortening of days.  Although, as we lay by the pool or lake or ocean today, we look ahead to Fall.  To pumpkin spiced everything, to cute sweaters and knee high boots, to snuggling on the front porch swing as the air gets that crisp bite in it.  

Thoughts on Pumpkin Beer
Pumpkin Spice Latte

The Holy Trinity of Southern Food

Cukes, tomatoes, and vinegar

Last night on Top Chef Masters, Art Smith, who I am now hopelessly devoted to, says that "Cucumbers, tomatoes and vinegar are the Southern Holy Trinity."  This caused me to take a breath and I realized he was right.  In the South, we'll pickle about anything (pickled pigs feet, ahem).  So naturally, we love cucumbers.  That and the fact that cukes and tomatoes grow like weeds in our summer gardens and vinegar is the miracle ingredient for all things Southern.

For the Love of Sun Tea

On the 8th day God made Sweet Tea

It's been hot here in my sultry city.  Gorgeous bake at the pool hot, but also fry an egg on the sidewalk hot.  So I decided to put some of that natural heat to work.  I remember while growing up how my mother would make us a special treat when it was warm, so I used her recipe to make my own delicious sun tea.  Funny thing is, I went over to my mama's house and she had a pitcher of her own brewing on the porch!

Darling Dahlonega, GA

Rowing, Wine-ing, and Relaxing

Every summer for the past three years, I have taken a work trip that has brought me down to Dahlonega, GA.  The first year, I was skeptical.  A ride as long as it takes to get the beach, but I was heading toward the mountains, to a tiny town I had never heard of.  My first week in Dahlonega, I fell in love.  The mountain views were breath taking, the air was humid and there were wineries and waterfalls.  

Airlie Gardens

A Century of Gardens by the Sea

In the South we love our gardens.  Especially 200 year old gardens with 500 year old live oak trees.  Airlie Gardens, in Wilmington, NC is one of my favorite gardens.  Growing up in Wilmington I used to imagine being Mrs. Pembroke Jones and having the entire garden to myself and my garden club.  The love and care (and waterfront location) make these acres of azaleas a Southern spot of heaven.  

Catch of the Day

Sittin' on the dock of the bay

Every time I drive towards the coast, my stomach begins talking to me.  At first, it whispers of shrimp, hauled off the boats, deveined and broiled, dunked in salted butter so rich it drips down my wrist.  The my stomach growls about the fresh catch, cleaned while you wait, with the fish purveyor's suggestion on the perfect sauce to whip up.  As I drive over the bridge to the island and roll back my sunroof to breathe in the salt air, my stomach roars about oysters, plucked and shucked, so fresh you can grab an oyster knife, pop the shell open and sip the meat.  

I dream of months with an R in them.  I plot oysters roasts in my dreams.  And whenever I am near the coast, I visit the local seafood shop.  

Bike Share Kickoff

Share my bike?

My sultry city has just launched a bike share!  We're the first city in the state to kick off this initiative and the hornets nest is buzzing!  How will it work?  How much does it cost?  How much does it make?  You want me to share my bike?  Oh bless.  

Suntanned Toes

Drive until the map turns blue

With the Fourth of July holiday falling on a Wednesday this year, I just couldn't wrap my head around being stranded in the sweltering city on one of the three major beach weekends of the year.  I put in for vacation, crammed the car full of books, bathing suits and dog paraphernalia, loaded up the fur-babies and the hubby and off we went to Holden Beach, NC.  

Craft Beer with a Southern Flair

Tasting the taps

I have recently rediscovered my love for beer.  In college, it was a love based on discount malted barley consumed in quantities large enough to float a small row boat.  This new found love is mature and honest.  It's based on taste and aesthetics and a joy of sliding up to a makeshift bar where the beer is born.

Belle Acres Golf and Country Club

How about we hit a few in

Loving all things Southern, my very first post couldn't be more perfect and it just fell into my lap!  Today I had a social at the very Old Charlotte establishment, the Belle Acres Golf and Country Club.  Now, golf widows, keep your britches on.  This is the one and only par 2 putt putt golf course and country club within two miles of Uptown Charlotte.  And they have phenomenal burgers.  And cold beer.