My Favorite Holiday Gifts 2019, Part 4: Sparkly Gifts

Yep…sparkly, because I love sparkly, and I know lots of other people do too! But if you think I mean “sparkly” as in diamonds, I should set the record straight here. I don’t mean diamonds. I mean sparkly as in glitter, sequins, and foil. Sparkly as in fun!

If you have someone on your gift list who loves sparkly things, you might just find the perfect gift right here. And if you love sparkly things yourself, well, go ahead and buy it for yourself, wrap it up in some glittery wrapping paper, put it under the tree, and thank a surprised member of your family after you open it. I do that every year! When I look at him after opening a gift he doesn’t know he got me, my husband plays along when I say, “Thank you, Honey!”

It’s no secret that I love glitter and sequins, and I believe in wearing them all the time to brighten my own day and everyone else’s. It just makes me happy to look down and see glittery shoes on my feet or sequins on my shirt or jacket. I can’t help myself.

So without further ado…here are my suggestions for your sparkly friends…

Poo Pourri Pink Citron Glitter Bomb Toilet Spray. OK, so this is not a glitter you wear, but every time you use Poo Pourri Glitter Bomb before you “go,” it will make you a little happier. I can’t help myself. I love this idea. I’ve already ordered a bottle for myself and a few for friends. Priced at just $9.99, it’s a fun, sparkly gift! Order from Ulta here.IMG_5492

Ugg Glitter Boots. The first ones I came across are the Ugg Glitter Cosmos Classic Short boots, priced at $189.95 at Nordstrom. They come in two colors, and they have my favorite feature: glitter! Get them here. Nordstrom also has the Ugg Cosmos Classic Bow Mini Bootie for $159.95, and it is adorable! Get it from Nordstrom here., and I’m angling for the gold ones right now. And Dillard’s offers the same bootie in four colors! You can purchase through Dillard’s here! If anyone is wondering, I wear size 9.

 

Artland Ambrosia Champagne Glass Set. I fell in love with the champagne glass set as soon as I saw it, because it is definitely sparkly! I love champagne and prosecco, because they make me feel like I’m always celebrating, and I think they would be even better in these glasses! I’ll be ordering these for myself…it includes six champagne glasses and one holder. Get the set at Neiman Marcus for $90 here.NMHCMNS_ez

 

Bari Lynn Sequin Wine Bag. For your sparkly friend who always loves to have a bottle of wine handy, this is a great gift! Priced at $25 at Neiman Marcus, it’s priced right, and it’s darn cute too! Perfect for celebrating every single day! Get it at Neiman Marcus here.

Lauren Moshi Foil Shirts and Blankets. My sister-in-law, my daughter, and I have been big fans of Lauren Moshi for a few years. Their t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, and joggers are all supersoft and fashionable. We stumbled upon the store in LA several years ago…it’s right next door to The Ivy on Robertson, a restaurant often visited by celebrities. I’ve seen one of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in the store…with her tiny dog. The Lauren Moshi items with foil decor are shiny, beautiful, fun, and comfortable. I have a few of the foil pieces and love them. You can see all the Lauren Moshi foil items here. Prices start at $88. They’re not cheap, but they’re cool!

Gold Glitter Face Mask. The Swoozie’s website says, “Beauty doesn’t have to be serious…have a fun night with your besties with the Glitter Beauty Peel Off Face Mask.” It would make for some interesting selfies or pics with friends, and it leaves skin silky smooth. Priced at $4.95, you can buy several at one time! Get them at Swoozie’s here.239701-500

Zara Blue Collection Glitter Handbag. Priced at $49.90, this mini crossbody bag comes in three colors…blue, pink, and silver. It’s tiny, but it holds all the essentials while adding some sparkle to your ensemble! I’ll be carrying one of these to dinner soon! You can purchase here.8626004009_2_4_1

Glitter Duck Boots. Yes! It’s a thing! I saw these on the Belk website and ordered some for myself immediately! They came in last week, and I love them! They are so cute, and I can hardly wait for the perfect day to wear them. The best thing…they’re inexpensive! Priced at $59, but use code WINTERFEST at Belk.com and get them for under $45! See them here.Belk

Glitter flasks. For those friends or family members who like to take their own alcohol with them, Kitson’s offers two different glitter flasks. If I kept my bourbon in one of these, every time I took it out of my bag for a “nip,” I would smile…not just because of the bourbon, but also because of the sparkle! Priced at $19.95 and $28.00, these make great gifts. Get them here. Nordstrom has a cute one too, the Brumate Glitter Flask, priced at $22.95. You can find it here.

 

More Kitson gifts. And while you’re looking at those flasks, you might as well check out their other sparkly gifts. One favorite is the Ombre Glitter Box Clutch, priced at $68, and available in two colors. See it here. Kitson also has a cute sequined pillow collection…perfect for the person on your list who likes a little bling in her house. One favorite is black and white sequined and says “Dogs are my kind of people.” See it here. For a more pricey blinged-out gift at Kitson, there are the Chiara Ferragni Silver Slip Ons, and they sure are cute…and like I said, they’re pricey at $365. See them here.

 

Shiny Shoes. And while we’re talking about shiny shoes, I’ll share a few more. All of these can be found at Nordstrom. First, there are some cute hi-top Converse Chuck Taylors for $65 here. They also have some Vans Glitter Slip-Ons, priced at $59.95 here. But my favorites are some Keds/Kate Spade Slip Ons priced at $90. I actually have two pairs of the keds for casual days, and I get compliments every single time I wear them. You can get them here.

Kate Spade Glitter Huggie Earrings. Priced at $34.80 at Nordstrom, these glittery earrings are a no-brainer for your fashion-forward friends. They come in five sparkling colors, and with a different shape, they’re not your average earrings. Get them at Nordstrom here. b89afc68-5f46-4629-ba3c-b34049a8a61a-2

Rebecca Minkoff Leo Envelope Clutch. Offered at Nordstrom in three colors, this envelope clutch is glitter-covered and thin, but it holds all your credit cards, essentials (ID, lipstick, etc) and even your phone. I love this glitter bag in the multicolor version or the black version, because I feel like they go with everything. Get it for $128 here.167d95df-be86-435b-ae94-8a718b713ff7.jpeg

Rose Gold Glitter Pool Raft. Sure, it’s not warm outside right now, but this is a great gift for any glittery person who loves the sunshine! They can use it when it gets warm. At $29.95, it’s inexpensive, and I can almost guarantee they’ll love it! Get it here.271702-500-2

Glittery makeup. There are lots of glittery options out there. Three I’ve found are from Estee Lauder, NARS, and Urban Decay. Nordstrom carries the Estee Lauder Glitter Pot for $26, and the website says it’s “a twinkly, microfine glitter that delivers glamour, fantasy, and mystery.” Use it over eyeshadow or on cheekbones and bare shoulders to create some glimmer. Get it here. They also carry the NARS quad eyeshadow, which has four shimmery, rich colors for $52. Get it here. And don’t forget the entire Urban Decay Naked Honey line…see the whole line here.

 

Shiny Accessories from Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus carries lots of beautiful, shiny accessories. Some of my favorites? The Ban.Do Glitter Bomb Water Bottle…priced at $30, it’s pretty, and anyone who sees it will immediately feel happier. Get it here. For something really different, check out the Aprons by Jem Sequined Dish Gloves. Yep…sequins for doing the dishes! They’re adorable, and they’re $45. And while you’re checking those out, check out the sequined apron from the same brand. Priced at $145, it’s super cute. See both items here. Want to add a little bling to your home? Neiman’s has the Giselle Sequin Elephants Pillow in blue for $40. See it here. And last but not least, they have my very favorite new earrings…from Sachin and Babi…they’re $145 and come in white, silver or gold…the fabulous Clara Fleurette Sequin Hoop Earrings. I’ll be wrapping some of the gold ones for myself this year. Get them here.

 

Alice and Olivia tshirts. Alice and Olivia offers some fun sequined shirts in their line this year. In fact, they have sequins all through the line…dresses, skirts, jackets, shoes…but I love the t-shirts. Some of them are on sale right now, and they start at $117. Click here to see all the sequins in the line. Below are some of my favorite tees…

Socialite Sequin Bomber. While scrolling through the Nordstrom site the other day, I came across a sequined bomber jacket that is perfect for casual wear. No, I wouldn’t wear it to my daughter’s lacrosse game, but going out to dinner with friends? Yep. It’s likely aimed at a younger audience (and that’s great too!), but I think it would work for all ages. Priced at just $69.00, it’s silver with black bands…and would work well with jeans or dressed up. See it here.c35ed72c-8868-4499-a7f8-2c897c13f6e8

Joan Vass Lion Sweater. I like this one because it’s different. At Neiman Marcus, Joan Vass has a beautiful sequined lion sweater…black sweater with gold/silver sequin lion and red bands near the wrists. It’s scoop necked and looks cute alone or with a shirt underneath. Sale priced now at $202 (reduced from $270), it would make a lovely gift. You can see it here.NMTZ4VR_mz

 

You can see there are lots of options for the sparkly person on your list. Shoes? Yes. Sweater? Yes. T-shirts? Yes. Makeup? Yes. Accessories? Yes. And lots more! To find more, sit down with a glass of Champagne or Prosecco and go to different websites, entering “glitter” or “sequin” in the search bar to see what they have to offer. You’re guaranteed to find lots of “bling.”

*** Coming soon: Gifts for men! Stocking stuffers! Travel gifts! Southern gifts! And if you have a suggestion for another category…let me know!***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daddy’s Birthday

“Tough row to hoe.” I’ve heard it my whole life. My daddy loved idioms, and “tough row to hoe” was one of his favorites, and sometimes he would say it as “long row to hoe.” Either way, it means someone is facing a difficult situation. If you’ve never been on a farm, you might not get it, but to “hoe a row” on a farm means you’re turning the soil in a row for planting.

Someone might say, “They have a long/tough row to hoe cleaning up the Bahamas after the recent hurricane.” You get it.

I thought of that just now, because I’m watching a news show, and one of the commenters said “tough ROAD to hoe.” That would have driven Daddy crazy. Who ever heard of using a hoe (the farm implement) on a ROAD?!? It is clear that commenter hasn’t ever spent any time on a farm.

Daddy’s birthday is today…his 81st birthday, but he is no longer with us. He died 2 1/2 weeks after his 68th birthday….pancreatic cancer. I’ve written about him before, and I’ve written about the misery we all experienced as he suffered. I don’t like to dwell on that, though. I like to think about the things Daddy taught me and the things we all learned from his illness.

For many years, on his birthday, I remembered the illness, the suffering, the sadness, but I am finally at the point that I remember happy, healthy times. I remember how he laughed…something I couldn’t recall for a long time. He did love to laugh, and he loved to tell stories. Most of all, he loved to tell stories that made us laugh.

And that’s one thing we learned from Daddy during his illness: laughter can cure a lot of ills. It can’t cure cancer, but it sure can make it easier. He said it. He wanted us to keep laughing with him as much as we could. We talked about old times. We laughed about old stories. My brother told his usual crazy stories. Having my then-two-year-old daughter and my brother’s then-eight-year-old twins around helped too. They gave him something to smile about. He loved those grandchildren. When we were growing up, he had to travel for work a lot, so he wasn’t able to enjoy us as much, but after he retired, he got to spend time with his grandchildren…and that brought him great joy.

Incredibly, we have a lot of happy memories from his illness. He turned 68 a few weeks before he died. His brothers and sister came over to Alabama from Florida to be with him on his birthday. He didn’t know they were coming, and when we awoke from a nap to find them standing in his room, he looked around and said, “Well, this is a motley crew!” We have laughed about that for years. In fact, I recently visited his oldest brother in a rehab facility (he broke a hip) in Florida, and I reminded him of that moment…and we laughed again.

But I have lots of happy memories of Daddy in general. When we were little and living in Brewton, Alabama, he would take us to the “candy store” on Saturdays. It was really a locally owned convenience store called Murphy’s. In fact, now that I think about it, we only called it the “candy store” on Saturdays. The rest of the time, we called it “Murphy’s.”  Sometimes, he would take us to fly kites in a nearby pasture. I remember holding the kite string one time, and of course, I accidentally let it go. I can still see Daddy chasing it and catching it! He took us fishing at the pond in our neighborhood and cleaned the fish we caught. Mother would fry it up in the kitchen afterward. He helped us climb high up in the sycamore tree in our backyard. He rode a tandem bicycle with us. We had a lot of fun.

And when I was an adult, he helped me whenever I needed it. Heartbreak? Call Daddy. Bad day at work? Call Daddy. Stressed out about a test in college? Call Daddy. Sometimes, I just needed to talk. Sometimes, I needed him to “rescue” me when I had a flat tire or a car accident. And whenever I visited my parents, he always gave me WAM (walking around money) as I left. It was usually $20 or $40, but I was happy to have it, and he was happy to give it to me. In truth, we were always fortunate to know Daddy was our safety net…emotionally and financially.

Just like Mother, Daddy loved the happy faces of sunflowers. Most of my Mammoth Sunflowers have already bloomed this year, but there is one that’s holding out. Incredibly, one of my Evening Sun Sunflowers started opening today…the first of that variety to open. I’m in New York, but I called my husband in Charlotte and asked him to walk outside and see if it was opening, and it is…on Daddy’s Birthday. It made my day when he sent the picture of the bloom just beginning to open.

We have lots of great memories of Daddy. His laughter was contagious, and his sense of humor was awesome. His strength was unrivaled, and his love for his family was great.  I hope God lets him get little glimpses of his beautiful grandchildren. He would be so proud of them. And I remind them all the time that Big Ken (as they called him) would want them to enjoy life…sure, save for a rainy day, but enjoy today.

Happy 81st Birthday to Daddy in Heaven.

 

*****

Would You Eat This?

I have had a great time trying my hand at gardening for the past two summers. My husband helps me get everything started, and then, I tend the garden and harvest everything. This year, we have some beautiful sunflowers (three different types!), some zinnias, some delicious tomatoes, two varieties of sweet corn, and huitlacoche (also known as corn smut, a fungus on corn ears). While I’m proud of the flowers, tomatoes, and corn, I am just as excited about the huitlacoche (pronounced wheetlacochay).

For those who don’t know, in the US, huitlacoche, or corn smut, is considered a blight on a corn crop. It’s ugly…no doubt about it. And it certainly doesn’t look like something you should eat. The first time I saw it, in fact, I felt a little sick just from looking at it. But for centuries in Mexico, dating back to the Aztec culture, they have eaten it. Basically, it is a fungus that invades the corn plant, and as a result, the corn kernels grow into bulbous galls, which contain the spores of the fungus. It renders the corn useless, but if you know how to cook huitlacoche, it can be a delicious mistake in your garden!

Last year, I found a little on one ear, but this year, I found a lot on two ears, so I harvested it Monday, and yesterday, I cooked it. After finding it, I texted a friend from Mexico, who sent me several recipes for a few different ways to cook huitlacoche, and I opted to make tacos using a combination of some recipes…using onions, garlic, chilies, corn and cheese. You can learn more about huitlacoche here.

I know what you’re thinking. Is huitlacoche safe to eat? Trust me when I say I did a lot of reading before I cooked it. I talked extensively with a friend from Mexico, who assured me I would not die from eating the corn truffles, as they are sometimes called.

For research, a friend went to lunch with me at a Charlotte restaurant called Bakersfield. See its website here. It’s located on the corner of East Boulevard and Kenilworth…right across from Berry Brook Farms. I wanted to see what it was supposed to look like and find out how it is supposed to taste before trying to cook it. After having a Huitlacoche Taco at Bakersfield, I was completely sold! I could hardly wait to make my own at home!

img_9869.jpg

Bakersfield’s Huitlacoche Taco

Many of my friends couldn’t believe I would cook it…and they really couldn’t believe I would eat it! They saw the “before” pictures of the corn smut and decided they would not be eating it. But I cooked it with some chilies, corn, garlic onions, a little oil, and some cheese, and I ate it!Huitlacoche tastes a little like smokey corn…like a mushroom and corn mixed, and cooked with the other ingredients in the recipe, the flavor is amazing. So I was excited to cook it myself! While I’m sure there are some who would not like it, I found it delicious…and I was so proud of myself for not only harvesting it, but also cooking something really good with it. That being said, the rest of my family would not eat it, but they aren’t very adventurous eaters anyway. I’m not sure they believed me when I told them it was safe. Maybe they thought they shouldn’t eat it in case I needed to go to the hospital. But their worries proved unfounded.

img_9996

Huitlacoche Taco at my home! Success!

And frankly, they missed out on a culinary adventure. I’m sure my friends from Mexico would know my version of huitlacoche tacos wasn’t perfect, but they’re impressed I tried. And I’ve impressed myself this time! My friend, Cesar, who grew up in Mexico City, said, “You’re the only American woman I know who can grow it!” Of course, it was purely accidental that I became a huitlacoche farmer, but I’m so glad I did!

If you would like to try huitlacoche but don’t want to do any corn farming, you can get huitlacoche tacos at Bakersfield.

Or maybe next year I will harvest my own huitlacoche again, and you can come over and help me cook them!

 

 

Eat Corn Fungus? You Bet!

I have had a great time trying my hand at gardening for the past two summers. My husband helps me get everything started, and then, I tend the garden and harvest everything. This year, we have some beautiful sunflowers (three different types!), some zinnias, some delicious tomatoes, two varieties of sweet corn, and huitlacoche (also known as corn smut, a fungus on corn ears). While I’m proud of the flowers, tomatoes, and corn, I am just as excited about the huitlacoche (pronounced wheetlacochay).

For those who don’t know, in the US, huitlacoche, or corn smut, is considered a blight on a corn crop. It’s ugly…no doubt about it. And it certainly doesn’t look like something you should eat. The first time I saw it, in fact, I felt a little sick just from looking at it. But for centuries in Mexico, dating back to the Aztec culture, they have eaten it. Basically, it is a fungus that invades the corn plant, and as a result, the corn kernels grow into bulbous galls, which contain the spores of the fungus. It renders the corn useless, but if you know how to cook huitlacoche, it can be a delicious mistake in your garden!

Last year, I found a little on one ear, but this year, I found a lot on two ears, so I harvested it Monday, and yesterday, I cooked it. After finding it, I texted a friend from Mexico, who sent me several recipes for a few different ways to cook huitlacoche, and I opted to make tacos using a combination of some recipes…using onions, garlic, chilies, corn and cheese. You can learn more about huitlacoche here.

I know what you’re thinking. Is huitlacoche safe to eat? Trust me when I say I did a lot of reading before I cooked it. I talked extensively with a friend from Mexico, who assured me I would not die from eating the corn truffles, as they are sometimes called.

For research, a friend went to lunch with me at a Charlotte restaurant called Bakersfield. See its website here. It’s located on the corner of East Boulevard and Kenilworth…right across from Berry Brook Farms. I wanted to see what it was supposed to look like and find out how it is supposed to taste before trying to cook it. After having a Huitlacoche Taco at Bakersfield, I was completely sold! I could hardly wait to make my own at home!

img_9869.jpg

Bakersfield’s Huitlacoche Taco

Many of my friends couldn’t believe I would cook it…and they really couldn’t believe I would eat it! They saw the “before” pictures of the corn smut and decided they would not be eating it. But I cooked it with some chilies, corn, garlic onions, a little oil, and some cheese, and I ate it!Huitlacoche tastes a little like smokey corn…like a mushroom and corn mixed, and cooked with the other ingredients in the recipe, the flavor is amazing. So I was excited to cook it myself! While I’m sure there are some who would not like it, I found it delicious…and I was so proud of myself for not only harvesting it, but also cooking something really good with it. That being said, the rest of my family would not eat it, but they aren’t very adventurous eaters anyway. I’m not sure they believed me when I told them it was safe. Maybe they thought they shouldn’t eat it in case I needed to go to the hospital. But their worries proved unfounded.

img_9996

Huitlacoche Taco at my home! Success!

And frankly, they missed out on a culinary adventure. I’m sure my friends from Mexico would know my version of huitlacoche tacos wasn’t perfect, but they’re impressed I tried. And I’ve impressed myself this time! My friend, Cesar, who grew up in Mexico City, said, “You’re the only American woman I know who can grow it!” Of course, it was purely accidental that I became a huitlacoche farmer, but I’m so glad I did!

If you would like to try huitlacoche but don’t want to do any corn farming, you can get huitlacoche tacos at Bakersfield.

Or maybe next year I will harvest my own huitlacoche again, and you can come over and help me cook them!

 

 

Game Day Snacks

It’s football season! Finally!

In North Carolina today, the sky is a little more clear, and the wind is a ever so slightly more dry. Maybe it’s a cold front moving in, or maybe I’m imagining it, but since today is National College Colors Day, I know it is officially football season.

I love all kinds of football…high school, college, professional…well, I don’t really like to watch bad, messy football (like that Florida/Miami game last week), but I will even take that over no football at all. I get it from my mother. The woman loved football. Interesting that the start of football season usually falls around her birthday. She is gone now, but I know she would be excited if she were here. In my house, you had to like football. You also had to like to watch baseball and basketball, or you were going to be watching television alone. We watched sports year round. I don’t watch baseball and basketball like I used to. I still like them, but I just don’t watch them much anymore. But football? Bring…it…on!

And with football, there are gatherings of friends and families. Where there are gatherings, there must be food. I’m not talking tailgating…that’s food on a whole different level. I’m talking football gatherings at home…like the one I’ll have this weekend when Alabama plays Duke in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game. I’d normally go to that game, but my teenage daughter has big plans for the weekend, and I didn’t really want to go without her.

So here are a few of my favorites to serve at football parties at home:

  • Cheeseburger Mini Meatloaves. This is a recipe from my very favorite source, Hungry Girl. I’m an avid follower of on Instagram, and I subscribe to the emails and check the website regularly. These Cheeseburger Mini Meatloaves are simple to make and require only a few ingredients. You won’t believe you didn’t think of these yourself. I’ve served them several times, and every time, they disappear quickly, so make a few batches. See the recipe at hungry-girl.com, here.

    retina_hungry-girl-cheeseburger-mini-meatloaves-20170220-1619-32204-3223

    Photo from hungry-girl.com

  • Toasted Pimento Cheese Rounds. Super easy to make. Purchase a sliced French loaf at your local grocery store. Spread your favorite pimento cheese spread over the rounds. Crumble a few pieces of cooked bacon over the top. Pop into the oven at 325 degrees, and remove when cheese is bubbling. You can add a small 1/4 slice of tomato to the top or not. I prefer Palmetto Cheese brand (see it here), and I like the jalapeño pimento cheese for an added kick.

    pimento-cheese-palmetto-cheese-wisconsin-dairy_02

    Photo from pimentocheese.com

  • Veggie Dip. I love the flavor of dill in a dip, and I’ve found a great recipe for a veggie dip. It contains onions and dill, and it’s fresh and tasty. It’s just a few ingredients and super easy…but super tasty. Get the recipe here. Serve with your favorite raw veggies. I prefer carrots, broccoli, and cucumber slices.
  • Herbed Parmesan Popcorn. Popcorn is always a good snack for game days, but sometimes it’s fun with a twist. I found a recipe for Herbed Parmesan Popcorn that’s easy to make…notice a theme here? I don’t do complicated recipes. I’ve served it twice, and both times, it was well-received. Get the recipe here.herbparmpopcorn_jimfranco1-2
  • Seasoned almonds. My friend, Mary Ann, introduced me to some gourmet, seasoned almonds recently, and I haven’t been able to stop eating them. I think they are great to have in bowls around the room for a ball game. Made by Blue Diamond, I find them in my local Target. My favorite flavors are the Pink Himalayan Salt and the Rosemary. I like the Garlic, Herb and Olive Oil ones, but I have a feeling I will love the Black Truffle flavor too! See the Blue Diamond website here. You can purchase them in grocery stores, or you can order directly from Blue Diamond via the website.

And if you’re not up for preparing your own game day snacks, I recommend picking up from these two places:

  • Chick-Fil-A. I wrote recently about the Chick-Fil-A One app…don’t forget to use it if you pick up a tray of nuggets, chicken strips, cool wraps, mac and cheese, or cookies. And you must order in advance! I do all my ordering through the app, and I get those valuable points too! My person favorite for game day? A nugget tray with Chick-Fil-A sauce, a fruit tray, and some chocolate chip cookies. They’re always a hit. See the Chick-Fil-A website here.
  • Zoe’s Kitchen. I love Zoe’s. I discovered it when we moved our little family to Alabama for a couple of months in 2006, when my daddy was sick. Everything they offer is delicious. Their hummus tray is great for gatherings, and I love their pita trays too…a different kind of sandwich tray with a Mediterranean flavor. And if you just need some side items, I highly recommend their slaw and potato salad. See their website here.

There you have it…my recommendations for game day snacks. Let’s get this football season started! I can hardly wait for lots of games to be on every weekend.

Are you ready for some football???

I Don’t Want Summer To End

There are lots of moms out there who can hardly wait for school to start. Maybe they want their house to stay clean. Maybe they need to get more done. Maybe they’re tired of dealing with childcare. Maybe they want the routine.

I’m not one of those moms. I love summer, and I love having my child home.

We love our daughter’s school. She will be a sophomore in high school this year, and she has been there since transitional kindergarten (pre-k). We wouldn’t have kept her there if we didn’t love it.

But I’m not ready for school to start.

Aside from the fact that I’m really not ready (I haven’t purchased her books or any other supplies), I’m not emotionally ready.

I won’t be one of those moms making dancing videos in the front yard on the first day of school. I won’t be jumping for joy.I’m more likely to be making crying, sad videos, because I’m sad summer is over. I will be sad school is back in session.

School starts for our daughter on August 21st, but she started field hockey practice last week, so she can’t go on any more trips this summer. She loves field hockey, so it’s fine with her, but it makes me sad. I love looking for trips for us to take, and now I will have to plan them for weekends. Add in the athletics schedule and school event schedule we have to plan around once school starts, and there’s very little opportunity for us to go anywhere.

There are so many reasons I love summer. I like not having a routine! I like flying by the seat of my pants. I like the spontaneity of summer. Some would say that’s exactly why I’m not a CEO…because I can’t (won’t) make a long-range, detailed plan for my life. And they’re exactly right. That sounds absolutely terrible to me! I like to take opportunities as they arise. If a friend or family member calls me and says he/she has an extra ticket to something, I’m in! A last minute trip? Call me! You won a cruise but have to leave tomorrow and need someone to go with you? My passport’s ready! Drinks on your patio one evening with no notice? I’m there! In fact, I’ll ask my husband to drive me over, so I don’t have to drive home. And if you’re my neighbor, it’s even easier!

And that’s the kind of spontaneity I love about summer. I love the possibility of a last-minute trip. I love when our daughter asks me on a Wednesday afternoon if she can have a few friends sleep over. I love staying up late talking with her and sleeping in the next morning. I love having a cocktail on the patio with my husband in the evenings, watching planes pass over and looking for satellites after dark. I love that our daughter has no homework in summer…her time is her own. I love that she’s relaxed in summer, which makes us all more relaxed. I love spending time outdoors, even if it’s hot. I love gardening. I love that we don’t have to rush home after a dinner out so our daughter can finish homework. I love having her home during the day, even though she is usually on the go.

I just love summer. And when school starts back on August 21, all the joy of summer will be gone. All the spontaneity will be replaced by routines. The relaxing evenings will be replaced by homework (for her) and volunteer meetings (for me).

And then I remember that in three short years, she will be heading off to college. That will be a whole new level of dread. I will be happy and excited for her, but wow…life will change. She will go off to college and will likely never live under our roof on a permanent basis again. I will really dread the end of summer in 2022. Even though I know college is one of the very best times of life, and I will be excited for her to experience it, I will dread it for me.

For now, we have two more weeks before school starts back. I’m already watching Facebook for the videos of happy moms all over the country pushing their kids out the door on the first day of school. Not me. I’ll be the mom who looks down and out. I’ll be the mom who keeps reviewing the school calendar, double-checking for long weekends and days off. I’ll be sad. And on the last day of school in 2020 (May 29!), I’ll be more excited than the kids!

But there is a silver lining. The start of school means the start of football season!

Mama Loves A Bellini

Yep, Mama loves a Bellini. Just so you know…sometimes, when I’m being silly or trying to give something more emphasis, I refer to myself as “Mama.” So yes, I love a Bellini.

I’m a big fan of champagne-type cocktails. When I was younger (way back in my 20s) and living in Mobile, Alabama, it was always fun to drive over to New Orleans (two hours away) for a weekend and enjoy a Mimosa with brunch at Commander’s Palace. I’ve loved Mimosas since then, and every time I have one, I think of Joe Simon’s Jazz Trio at Commander’s Palace…back when Joe Simon actually played with the trio. You’ve seen him in movies and on Zatarain’s commercials…he retired in 2014, but his trio still plays at Commander’s Palace. Back then, long before I referred to myself as “Mama,” every time I was there, he would play Baby Face at my table, and every time, I was overjoyed…I was much younger, obviously.

And then, many years later, I had my first Bellini. Of course, I had heard about them for years, but I never tried one till 2011, and I tried it at the right place…Mr. C Hotel in Beverly Hills. Mr. C is owned by the Cipriani family…the same family that owns Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, birthplace of the Bellini.

I knew Bellinis were made of one part Prosecco and one part peach purée, but I had no idea peach purée varied. They do. It’s difficult to have a Bellini elsewhere when you’ve had the original.

For a few years, I regularly ordered Cipriani’s Bellini Mix online from their website to make my own Bellinis at home, but frankly, it was expensive, and sometimes I didn’t drink it all before it went bad. Therefore, I started making Bellinis with Simply Peach from my local grocer, and I also tried Looza Brand peach juice from The Fresh Market after a friend suggested it. And it was good…but it wasn’t Cipriani’s.

A few days ago, I joined some friends for lunch at Bistro La Bon in Charlotte (website here), and afterward, I wandered into World Market nearby. I hadn’t been into World Market in years…had completely forgotten about it, in fact…so I had a great time wandering around checking out their outdoor furniture, wine glasses, and candies before I came upon a blue bottle with a familiar logo.

There it was…on a shelf in the wine area…Cipriani Bellini in a lovely blue bottle! I couldn’t believe it! It wasn’t just the mix…it was pre-made Cipriani Bellini in a bottle! Of course, I put eight bottles in my cart and made my way to the checkout. Yes, I bought eight bottles before even trying it, because I knew it would be good. Cipriani would not put their name on it if it weren’t good.

And I was not disappointed.

I drove home and put a bottle in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours, and when I opened it, I was absolutely thrilled. It was perfect. Even better…I found I can re-cork it if I don’t finish the bottle! It has the perfect peachy flavor with just the right bubbly essence. And I don’t have to travel to LA, New York, or Venice for the perfect Cipriani Bellini!

So, if you like Bellinis, come on over in the afternoon or early evening, and we can sit by the pool drinking the perfect Cipriani Bellinis. Or you can buy your own at World Market…but evenings at our house out by the pool are incredibly relaxing. Come on over!

Hello Bubbles! Goodbye Troubles!