My Favorite Things About Fall

This Sunday, September 23, is the first day of Fall! While I’d love to spend more days by the pool (and I will when it’s sunny and warm), I love Fall for lots of reasons. I know what you’re thinking, and no…pumpkin spice latte did not make the list. Some of my favorites are obvious, but maybe some…not so obvious:

  • Football season. No surprise. I love high school football. I love college football, especially SEC, and I love professional football. Football is my family’s bonding experience. In fact, Dish TV made a commercial based on my life. You can see it here. OK, so it’s not really based on my life, but it could be…and frankly, I should be the star of that commercial. They totally missed an opportunity. I could totally pull it off…southern accent and all! Feel free to contact DirecTV here and tell them to offer me a spot in their football package commercial, which could compete with the Dish one.IMG_6142
  • Fall wardrobe. Oh, I love boots, sweaters, jackets, camouflage (yes, camo), and everything else in a fall wardrobe. In the south, September is a little warm for the full-on Fall wardrobe, but we can wear pieces here and there. I can hardly wait till it’s cold enough for my favorite pieces. Fall clothes hide a multitude of sins. Am I still wearing my white jeans right now? Yes…totally disobeying all the rules…living on the edge. Being over 50 presents some fashion challenges, but one place to get some fall wardrobe ideas is Hello Fashion blog…see it here.
  • Fewer pedicures. I know most people love pedicures. I don’t. I don’t love to sit around with someone touching my feet. Nope. Not for me. I do it out of necessity. I simply can’t have the ugliest feet in town. Come October, though, it becomes more infrequent once it’s too cold for sandals. I know…the shame! I have spring/summer feet, and then I have fall/winter feet. For early fall, though, when I’m definitely still wearing open-toed shoes, I pick a nail polish color that works with my football team…Essie’s Forever Yummy is my favorite.
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    Forever Yummy

     

 

  • Bourbon. Football season means it’s Bourbon season. As soon as football season starts, I think of Bourbon. When I was in college, I would sneak Bourbon into football games to drink from those giant stadium souvenir cups. Back then, all the girls wore dresses and pantyhose to the games, so sometimes, to sneak Bourbon into the game, I could tape the bottle or flask to my inner thigh (inside the pantyhose) where no gate person would see it or find it. My mother would not have been proud. It stayed till I got into the game and went to the bathroom to move it to my handbag. (It’s possible I sounded a little like the little old lady church organist from Sixteen Candles when I walked…you remember…you could hear her liquor sloshing in her handbag when she walked out of the wedding. Listen at 1:33 in the clip here.) No, I don’t ever plan to run for public office. That being said…I don’t like to mess up a good Bourbon with a mixer either…give it to me on the rocks. For those of you who like cocktail recipes, Maker’s Mark has some good ones on their website…Snow Cap, Bourbon Butter Pecan Milkshake, Kentucky Mulled Cider, and a whole array of Highball cocktails. You can see them here Knob Creek Bourbon has great cocktails on their site too…click here.

Yes, there are lots more reasons to be happy about Fall, and these are just a few of my favorites. My very favorite thing about fall is celebrating our daughter’s birthday. This year she will be 15! It’s hard to believe. Her birthday in October is, indeed, a celebration. First, I was happy to get her out of my body. I was induced on a Friday, and she didn’t arrive till 10pm Sunday…it seemed like forever. (And then I sent my husband to the hospital cafeteria to get me some fried chicken and mac & cheese.) Her arrival into the world changed our lives. We discovered true joy! Don’t get me wrong…that first year was hard. I wasn’t sure I would survive it. I had the baby who wasn’t a sleeper (still isn’t), and once she could move around at all, she never sat still. She was a bundle of energy…still is. I love that she’s energetic and strong-willed. I love that she’s social and athletic. I love re-living all the fun of youth with her…and sharing life with her.

Happy Fall!

**Coming soon: my favorite skincare/healthcare products to help me get through Fall.**

 

 

 

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Rookie Gardener

I’ve said before that I am no gardener. A few years ago, I had some pretty good luck with gardening in my backyard, but then I developed a fear of snakes and became afraid. Every time I thought about sticking my hands into or near the dirt, I was terrified I would pick up a copperhead.

In Mecklenburg County, the only venomous snake species we have is the copperhead, but it seems there are lots of them. Growing up in Alabama, we had six species of venomous snakes, including three different types of rattlesnakes, which are highly dangerous to humans. I’ve seen more than my fair share of rattlesnakes and copperheads. In fact, I came dangerously close to stepping on a big diamondback rattlesnake when I was 18. To learn more about the venomous snakes of Alabama, including the copperhead, click here. Be forewarned: just like Jaws made us all afraid to go back into the water, seeing the pictures of these snakes may make you afraid to go back outside altogether.

Back to gardening. For years, I did nothing, till this year, and I’m not doing a lot, but I am doing a little. I have more than one inspiration. I want to have some sunflowers in memory of my parents this summer, and posts by my friend, Michelle, owner of Corner Copia Gardens and Gifts in Fairhope, Alabama, would make anyone want to try their hand at gardening. To see her Facebook page for inspiration, click here.

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Photo from Corner Copia Gardens in Fairhope, Alabama

While I want sunflowers in my backyard, I’m not planting any other types of flowers. We have some beautiful knockout roses that continue to bloom, so I don’t feel like I need to add much to those. I’m adding a few vegetables.

One thing I’ve always loved is a good homegrown vine-ripened tomato. When my friend, Wendy, lived here in Charlotte, she had a neighbor who grew some of the best tomatoes I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve had a lot of tomatoes. Growing up, I didn’t care for tomatoes. I think a lot of kids are turned off by the slightly acidic taste of tomatoes. When I was in college, I went to the lake with a friend, and her mother had some homegrown tomatoes for us. Not wanting to be rude, I ate the slices she gave me, and I never looked back.

If you are a tomato person, you know store-bought tomatoes are deceiving. Every year, I make the mistake of picking up some beautiful tomatoes in the grocery store with hopes they are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. Then, I get home and slice into them, only to find they are hard and ugly on the inside. A good, homegrown tomato is just as red on the inside as it is on the outside.

Throughout my life, I had seen my daddy eat tomato sandwiches. He loved a good tomato sandwich, and apparently, my mother knew the perfect way to make them. It’s not difficult, but if you don’t make them just right, you can mess them up. My daddy liked his tomatoes peeled. Weird, I know, but that’s what he liked. Sometimes, I peel mine too. But the main thing is to use white bread…not whole wheat, not whole grain, not pumpernickel or rye…white bread. On the white bread slices, slather your favorite mayonnaise. Daddy preferred Hellman’s, but I prefer Duke’s. Yes, you can use the reduced fat versions, but because good tomatoes are hard to find, I don’t want to mess them up with the reduced fat stuff. Add tomato slices to the mayo-slathered bread and top it with a little salt and pepper to taste. I can almost taste it now. ***It’s difficult to find Duke’s Mayonnaise in some parts of the country. If you’ve never had it, you should try it. You can order it from Amazon here.***

Obviously, I’m trying to grow my own tomatoes this summer. My husband and I picked up a few small plants, and he put them in the ground. We purchased Bonnie Plants brand Big Boy tomato plants and Better Boy tomato plants at a local store. To see the Bonnie Plants website for tomato information, click here. It’s not too late to do your own. I’ve been tending ours. That means I’ve been calling my brother to get tips on growing good tomatoes. I’ve also been checking online for information. So far, I haven’t killed them yet, and we even have a few small tomatoes showing up on our plants. I looked online to see how long it takes tomatoes to ripen on the vine, and on average, for the types we are growing, it takes about 75 days after germination. That seems like a long time. I’m counting down the days and hoping I don’t kill them before then.

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I’ve also planted a few other vegetables. We’ll see how that works out before I go into any detail.

My friend, Leah, in memory of my parents, gave me a Sunflower Grow Kit earlier this year, and I was so excited to get that started, and so far, they’re growing! The kit included potting soil, seeds, plant food, and a bag in which to grow them. You can see various grow kits here. I also planted some Burpee brand sunflower seeds, which you can find at your local home stores. I purchased mine at Home Depot, but they have them in Lowe’s too. If you live in or near Wetumpka, Alabama, you can visit the Lowe’s there and see my handsome nephew, Brennen.

My sunflowers have been a little slow-growing, but in the past few days they seem to be getting some traction. I have hope. Sunflowers aren’t difficult to grow, and I had huge success with them 16 years ago, growing some of the biggest, most beautiful sunflowers I’ve ever seen. I planted mine a little later than before, but with sunflowers, I think that’s OK.

For planting this year, since I still haven’t overcome my fear of snakes, I wore gardening gloves and used a gardening trowel. I don’t know how much protection that offers from snakes, but it made me feel better. I found myself scanning all around me while I dug, though. I won’t even walk out onto the patio without checking out the steps before opening the back door.

As the summer progresses, I’ll keep you posted on my gardening. Hoping for tall sunflowers with big heads and some juicy tomatoes soon.

Go play in the dirt!

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Favorite Gifts Your Valentine (and you) Will Love

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When I was a little girl, I thought Valentine’s Day was one of the best days of the year! We decorated boxes at school, and it was fun to fill out all those little Valentines for classmates. Occasionally, I’d get one that said, “To a special girl”…a big deal in third grade in Spanish Fort, Alabama!

FullSizeRender-25One of the best Valentine’s Days I had before meeting my husband was in the early 90s. I was living in Atlanta. I had gone out once with a guy who seemed nice, and he asked me out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. After dinner, he gave me a box of conversation hearts (with our names in the to/from spaces on the back!) he purchased at Disco Kroger (near the old Rupert’s and former Limelight, two now-closed Atlanta hotspots)! I thought it was a funny, sweet gesture, since we weren’t really dating. We went out for a couple months after that before parting ways. Years later, I married my  husband, but those conversation hearts are a sweet memory.

Of course, if you’ve been together longer than two weeks, those conversation hearts won’t cut it. The pressure is on, so here are a few favorite things for Valentine’s Day. Find something for your significant other, or if there isn’t one right now, purchase a treat for yourself! I’ve picked places/websites and am suggesting something from each. Listed in alphabetical order, these offer something for everyone. Each is worthy of an entire post, so I will revisit some later.

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1818 Farms specializes in natural bath/beauty products for men and women, all of which are “handmade, hand-packaged, and include all-natural ingredients.” It’s a real farm with chickens, goats, and more, and they grow herbs for use in their wide range of products, from soaps to coffee…the list goes IMG_8612on and on. Their shea creme comes highly recommended; some favorite scents are Lavender and Wedding Cake. They come in 4 oz. jars for $10, 8 oz for $20, and a gift set is $28 (see photo right). Specially for men, they offer several products, one of which is the Man of the Farm Grooming Can for $32, a great gift (see photo above). This place is something special! You’ll hear more from me about 1818 Farms. In fact, I’d love to visit (road trip!). Follow their Instagram page to see farm pics/videos here. To see their products, click here: 1818farms.com. Order now with code 1818Love and get 20% off your purchase!

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Fatboy Hair  Developed by a hairdresser who “became frustrated with the lack of styling products that really did the business,” according to their website.  I use the Fatboy Daily Hydrating Shampoo ($26 for 10 oz) and Daily Hydrating Conditioner ($26), and they definitely “do the business,” even on curly/frizzy hair! The scents are invigorating and fresh, not feminine, so anyone can enjoy them. I use their soap ($10.50), which has a mild scent and lathers nicely. They also offer hair putty, styling creme, water wax, and pomade. I love every product I’ve tried! The Fatboy Essential Collection ($55 for several products) makes a great gift, or purchase a la carte and bundle items you want. To view the entire line, visit their website: fatboyhair.com. Enter your email address for 10% off your first purchase. Subscribe to repeat purchases, and get 10% off. See their Instagram here: instagram.com/fatboyhair/

FullSizeRender-24Goldbely Time Magazine calls Goldbely “one of the 50 best websites in America.” A marketplace, they offer access to food from restaurants all over the country. You know how certain foods or restaurants can trigger memories? College days at Alabama meant road trips with friends to New Orleans…oh, the memories. Late nights…nothing some Cafe du Monde beignets couldn’t cure, but we didn’t wear black, because powdered sugar gets everywhere! Order from Goldbely. You click on any state and order from popular restaurants. The list of offerings is fascinating and nostalgic.  Check Goldbely by clicking here: goldbely.com.

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Sweet Girl Cookies Made in Charlotte, they are perfect for anyone. Someone recently gave me the Mixed Bag (see photo), containing one of each of their cookies: Chocolate Chip, Lemon Blueberry White Chocolate Chip, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, White Chocolate Cherry, and Oatmeal Raisin…all giant and delicious! (I hid them from the rest of my family!) My favorite is the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, but I loved them all. Purchase here, starting at $12.50.

 

FullSizeRender-20Topgolf  Its website says it’s a “premier golf entertainment complex where the competition of sport meets your favorite local hangout.” My friends have been and give glowing reviews! It’s great for all ages and very popular. With locations all over the country, they have quite a following, so I’m including Topgolf on my list of favorite things for Valentine’s Day.  Go to their website and purchase a gift card almost anyone would love. Receive it via email, so you know you’ll have it on time! Click here to get started.

henry-fournier-68573Vinebox “The wine by the glass club”, their website says, “You won’t find anything mass produced here.” My favorite is their Personalized Wine Flight, priced at $81 for three months.  Answer a series of questions about the recipient, and Vinebox personalizes the selections. It’s perfect for anyone who enjoys wine. You can check it out here.

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So there you have it. Not your average Valentines…little something for everyone: natural bath/beauty products from a working farm, hair care products that actually work, a food site with all your favorites from around the country, cookies made by a Charlotte family, a popular experience, and wine flights! ORDER NOW!

And if it’s just your second date with someone, those conversation hearts are still a sweet gesture.

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Hugs and Kisses,

Kelly