The Chick-Fil-A One App…Winning!

Anybody who knows me knows I love to win. I don’t care about winning an argument. I don’t care about getting my way. But if there’s a competition of some kind, I like to win. A friend of mine has a dog in an online photo competition? I vote as many times as I can. Another friend has a child trying to get votes for soccer player of the year? I’m sharing it and voting every chance I get…even when I wake up in the middle of the night. And I do it, because I want to win…or at the very least, I want someone I know to win.

I have always loved Chick-Fil-A. The first one I ever visited one was in Eastdale Mall in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1977. The mall had just opened, and I was 10 years old. One of the employees was outside the store, in the mall corridor, holding a tray with tiny bite size pieces of a Chick-Fil-A chicken on them, so I took one…and I never looked back. I ate there every time I went to the mall, and that was pretty often. But back then, they didn’t have waffle fries. They had shoestring fries, and really…I liked those better, but when they changed them, it was OK…i got used to them. I think they changed them at about the same time I visited my first free-standing Chick-Fil-A on Windy Hill Road, in Marietta, Georgia, in 1990, but I could be wrong on the timing. That was the first place I had their waffle fries, and I didn’t love them, but I have developed a taste for them. They had yummy cole slaw then too. It has since been removed from their menu, but I tried their new mac and cheese last week, and it was pretty darn good. I’ll always miss the cole slaw, though.

And a couple of years ago, we got the Chick-Fil-A One app. Oh, it’s a total game changer. Download it to your phone and have it scanned every time you purchase food there…or better yet, load money into the app from your debit card, and you can even purchase food using the app. That’s where my winning comes in.

My goal is to have more Chick-Fil-A points than anybody else. OK, so I know I’m not really going to ever have the most Chick-Fil-A points. I have one child. We can only eat so much, and even if her friends are with us, there’s only so much they can all eat. But I’m giving it the old college try. I am the mom who refuses to part with any of my Chick-Fil-A points. I’m just letting them add up. My favorite Chick-Fil-A location was closed for a few months last year, because of a remodel, and that really cut into my points accumulation, but I have red status, meaning that I have accumulated enough points to get 12 points per purchase on the app…two points more than just a regular member.

And I really love sports season or parties, because if someone needs a volunteer to bring in a nugget tray, I’m your gal! Yes, I know…I’m spending lots of money to get those points, but it’s not like no one eats it. Every single time I’ve ever delivered a nugget tray to a team or group, no nugget has been left unturned. With a sports team, every nugget is usually gone within five to ten minutes…so it’s money well spent. Teens love Chick-Fil-A.

So without telling you how many points I have right now, I can tell you this: my plan is to accumulate enough points that our daughter can get free sandwiches all the way through college when she goes in three years. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how many that will be, and I have nowhere near enough points, but I’m on my way!

An added bonus? I don’t have to get out my credit or debit card every time I go through the drive thru! Before I had the app, I would hand them my card to pay, and then when they handed me back my card, I would get in a rush and just put it in the wrong pocket of my handbag or wallet, and the next time I wanted to use it, I would panic, thinking I had lost it. With the app, I just hold up my phone to pay, and they scan it right from there…no more fumbling for my debit or credit card, and no more panic later when I can’t find it.

But here’s more motivation for you to get enough points to become a red member on the Chick-Fil-A One app: when you reach red status, you get even more special stuff! Once you reach red status, you and five guests can get a “backstage tour” of the Chick-Fil-A home office in Atlanta…just give 30 days notice. And as if that’s not enough gratitude, you also get two free tickets to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta! If you are a football fan who has never visited, it’s a must-see. I took my daughter a few years ago, even before I had the Chick-Fil-A One app, and we both loved it!

So yes, I have a problem…I like to win. And even though I know it’s costing me money every time I get those points, I know I am accumulating points in the process…and I’m on my way to free sandwiches for our daughter when she will need them most. She won’t have to feel guilty one bit about going to Chick-Fil-A when she’s in college, because it will be FREE!

Winning!

Thanks, Chick-Fil-A!

 

 

 

 

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Share The South

Y’all might think I’m crazy, but when I travel, I make friends. It’s what I do. It’s my thing.

Therefore, when we return to places, I like to take regional gifts or gifts that represent something about me or where I’m from: the South. For example, when we visit Los Angeles, I have a few friends I like to see, and I try to take a little something for them, because some of them have never been here. It’s fun.

Sometimes, it’s something obvious that I take. If the person knows I went to The University of Alabama, I might take a Bama sweatshirt or t-shirt. But I can’t take the same thing every time. It’s fun, to me, to search for interesting places to purchase stuff that represents North Carolina, Alabama, or just the south in general.

Since it’s summertime, we try to make a few more trips than the rest of the year. During the rest of the year there’s that thing that messes up all our travel. It’s called school.

This summer, we have a few trips planned, and I’ve been looking for the perfect southern gifts to take with me on my trips. You know, lots of people all over the country still think we don’t have paved roads or shoes in the south. They think we still cook everything in lard. But with my gifts, I like to introduce them to the real south. Sometimes it’s funny stuff, and sometimes not. But here are a few of my favorite places to get southern gifts.

THE BUTTERCUP GIFTS AND STATIONERY: The Buttercup on Providence Road in Charlotte has great gifts for everyone, and a lot of them represent the south. They have college mascot gifts, personalized stationery and other gifts, jewelry and art by southern artists, and a lovely assortment of other unique gifts you’d be proud to present to that hotel concierge who fielded all your crazy questions before you traveled. Their website can be accessed here, but they have a much bigger assortment in the store.

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THE BITTER SOUTHERNER GENERAL STORE: A friend recently sent me a text and shared this fun website with me. It’s called The Bitter Southerner, and they offer lots of funny gifts with a southern theme. Some of my personal favorites are t-shirts listing the first names of well-known southern authors; sweatshirts featuring one of our favorite southern sayings, “Bless Your Heart;” t-shirts that simply say “Mayo and Tomato;” baseball caps; automobile license plates…you’ll have a great time perusing this site. They even have The Bitter Southerner Coffee Club, a membership plan through which they ship the recipient coffee from “some of the best coffee roasters in the South,” according to the website. Take a look at their offeringshere.byh-sweatshirt_1024x1024.

LOCALS ONLY CHATTANOOGA GIFT SHOP: Another friend told me about a gift shop she stumbled upon in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where they offer all sorts of Southern fun stuff and delicacies, including one of my favorites…Miss Shelley’s Southern Jam. They offer four flavors of her jam, and many of my friends could tell you they are fantastic jams, and they make great gifts. In addition to this, they offer all sorts of Chattanooga merchandise, Moon Pies, Southern seasoned grits, and See Rock City birdhouses. People who don’t live in the south might not be familiar with the iconic See Rock City rooftops on barns, but this is a fun way to introduce them. This is a fun website I highly recommend. See their website here.

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PAPER SKYSCRAPER, CHARLOTTE, NC: This store on East Boulevard in Charlotte is chock full of gifts that represent Charlotte and North Carolina. I’ve purchased all sorts of gifts there…lowball glasses with “704” (our zip code) on them, bourbon-infused honey, candles made in Charlotte, cans of Bertie County peanuts, books about Charlotte, and postcards galore. If you’re looking for gifts that represent Charlotte or North Carolina, this is a great place to shop. You can get information about the store from their website here, but to purchase from them, you’ll need to go in for a visit…and it will be fun when you do!

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CORNER COPIA GARDENS AND GIFT SHOP: I’ve written about this one before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Corner Copia Gardens and Gift Shop is located in charming Fairhope, Alabama, a lovely small town on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. It is owned and operated by a childhood friend of mine, Michelle Prouty Johns, who has had a lifelong love of plants and gardening. If you find yourself in the area, it’s worth a stop to see the lovely and sometimes rare plants she has in stock and purchase some fun stuff from the gift shop. She opened the gift shop to supplement the gardens in the off-season, and she has some great gifts, including “air plant jellies,” head-shaped planters, and lots more. If you stop in, please tell her Kelly sent you! She doesn’t have a website, but you can check out her Facebook page here.

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SOUTH GEORGIA PECAN COMPANY: My friend, Linda, who used to live in Valdosta, Georgia, introduced me to South Georgia Pecan Company a few years ago when she gifted me some Chocolate Amaretto Pecans that were absolutely heavenly. She even advised me to keep them in the freezer…it just enhances the flavor. Since then, I’ve gifted them to a few folks myself. The company also offers other types of pecans, gift baskets, and even Southern Pecan Pies, a treat indeed. While you’re at the website, check out their great t-shirts too. They would make great gifts for taking on a flight…easy to get through security. And if you’re not from the south, it’s pronounced puh-KAHN down here. You can order directly through their website here, but if you call them for any reason, please don’t say pee-can.

THREE GEORGES CANDY: Three Georges has been a staple in Mobile, Alabama, for a hundred years. According to a story on the WALA-TV website, the store was opened in 1918 by three Greek immigrants “who, you guessed it, shared the same name: George Pappalamporous, George Spero, and George Pope.” The store is located on Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile, and it should be on your list of places to visit if you find yourself on the Gulf Coast. If you want to try one of their old recipes, go for my favorite, the Heavenly Hash, made up of marshmallows and pecans smothered in milk chocolate. A little bit goes a long way, but everybody in Mobile knows about Heavenly Hash. You an order directly through their website here, but visit if you can.

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I also enjoy sharing books or magazines about the south (click on title for more info): Southern Living Magazine,Our State Magazinefrom North Carolina, Mobile Bay Monthly Magazine, Charlotte Magazine, Southern Home Magazine, and more. Earlier this year, I picked up a photo book about Charlotte from Paper Skyscraper and sent it to a friend who has never visited. Short stories are great too. For a book of short stories about the south, there is The Signet Classic Book of Southern Short Stories, which you can purchasehere.

So, there’s an assortment of places you can find trinkets, apparel, or foods that represent the South. Since I’m going on vacation soon, I plan to put in my orders this weekend. My friends, old and new, that I see on vacation this summer will receive a little piece of the south from us. To me, it’s fun to show them where we’re from, just like it’s fun for me to learn about their homes.

I need to get busy finding things to take, because if I don’t get things done early, I’ll be “as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” (I thank my Daddy for sharing that little saying with me.)

My Favorite Sports Website

It’s no secret that I love sports. I’m not a great athlete, but I’m a fantastic spectator. I love to watch lacrosse, field hockey, baseball (in person), soccer, football, basketball, tennis…I just love to watch sports.

My favorite sports are the ones in which my 14-yr-old daughter is participating. She plays middle school field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse.

However, my favorite non-daughter-participating sport is football. I love professional football, middle and high school football, but most of all, I love college football…specifically, Southeastern Conference Football.

I’ve been known to scare young children when yelling at the television during an SEC game. Unfortunately, I can’t watch all the SEC games, but I like to stay informed.

Lucky for me, there is a website, run by two young gentlemen, that caters to the SEC Football fan. It’s called Front Porch Football. To see their Facebook page (please like/follow it for updates and invite friends!), click here. You can go straight to the website by clicking here. Its creators, brothers Chris and Brendan Paschal, are the sons of my friend, Maureen, a school librarian who also has a website called Raising the Capable Student (click here…I’ll be telling you more about it in a future post).

The tagline for Front Porch Football is “We take SEC football as seriously as you do.” And they do.11825968_401491053378587_1538355822811269543_n

Chris and Brendan started Front Porch Football when they were both students at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Brendan is a senior there now, and Chris is finishing up his first year of law school at the University of South Carolina.

It all began in the summer of 2015. The idea came about while the brothers were sharing some BBQ at the Q Shack in Charlotte (see the Q Shack website here). According to the brothers, Chris was doing his usual complaining about “how the national pundits don’t know what they’re talking about” when discussing college football. Apparently, he believes pundits on radio shows should be able to answer callers’ questions. According to Chris, “Knowing who won the 1995 Iron Bowl or the latest on a 3-star prospect from Moultrie, Georgia, isn’t too much to ask.” Their mother (my friend, Maureen) suggested to Chris that they start their own website, and the rest is history.

They needed a name. Naming a website is tough. You want it to be catchy, but you want it to be relevant. Because their site is devoted mostly to SEC Football, Chris and Brendan wanted it to be authentic and Southern, but it needed to get attention. They thought, “How many Southerners out there sit on their front porch and talk SEC football?” A name was born. It seemed only natural to call it Front Porch Football.

Now that I’ve gotten all the formal stuff out of the way, I want to tell you what I LOVE about this site. First, it is informative. These guys know their stuff. Second, it is entertaining and oftentimes, downright hilarious.

They write about various SEC programs and do post-game wrap-ups, from which I garner valuable information and insight. They also started some podcasts that are usually under 15 minutes (I’m the guest in one…click here), and they’ve made videos analyzing matchups, picking winners with guest pickers, interviewing a middle-aged University of Alabama alumna (ahem!), and just talking football. I love their videos of weekly picks, because they do their homework. Usually, I have my own ideas about how a game will shake out, but often, they give me a different perspective. I only get mad if they pick against Alabama. They know not to look me in the eye if they pick against Bama. I’ll give them the wicked “stinkeye” my mother taught me.

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BUT what I find most entertaining are their original, hilarious videos. You may be familiar with their video that went viral on October 16, 2017. It is titled “Help a Tennessee Vol,” and it received over ONE MILLION views. In the video, with Sarah McLachlan singing “In the Arms of an Angel,” distraught Tennessee fans appear while a speaker asks viewers to be “an angel for a helpless Tennessee fan.” Of course, it’s a parody of all those ads we see all the time for helping orphaned animals. The University of Tennessee Volunteers have had a few rough years in their football program, and this past season wasn’t any better, resulting in the firing of their Head Coach, Butch Jones. Brendan saw an opportunity in the Vols’ misfortune; he created the video, and the public ran with it. (The University of Tennessee subsequently hired Jeremy Pruitt, the former defensive coordinator at The University of Alabama, and Butch Jones was hired as an off-field analyst at Alabama.)

The “Help a Tennessee Vol” video was shared on Saturday Down South and countless other SEC football sites. You can see it here.

Chris says the videos are Brendan’s “favorite thing to do regarding Front Porch Football, and he thoroughly enjoys poking fun at teams and fans.”

Other funny videos have featured “Burns the Backup,” in which the Paschals’ friend, Ryan Burns, portrays the life of a backup quarterback. I wouldn’t mind seeing him as a recurring character. You can see that video here. There are other videos featuring the brothers’ funny friends and classmates in contests naming all the SEC head coaches, complete with music from The Price is Right (click here); “The Battle of the Brothers” (in which the brothers display some really good “stinkeye” that rivals my own) before the Alabama/Georgia National Championship game (click here); and other hilarious scenarios. One of my personal favorites features the brothers in a parody of Home Alone’s “Angels with Filthy Souls,” retooled as “Playoffs with Filthy Bowls” (click here). Clearly, I enjoy the videos. They are good…really good. You can see ALL their videos by clicking here.

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And I can’t forget the polls they have on the site’s Facebook page. Recent polls have asked followers, “Which is the real Death Valley: Clemson or LSU?”(LSU won) and “Better Rivalry: Iron Bowl or UNC/Duke Basketball?” (That last one was a close one. Iron Bowl won, and I might or might not have had a hand in making sure the Iron Bowl won.)

I’ve known these gentlemen since long before Front Porch Football was even a thought. They are hardworking, clever, witty, and they come from a nice family…have to make sure you know that! In talking with them about the website recently, I asked them what their goals are for Front Porch Football.

They didn’t hesitate. They want to “establish a strong fan base that ranges from the hardcore fanatic to the casual fan to the Grandma/wife/brother who doesn’t know much about SEC football.” They know there are people who just watch the games and people who live for the games. There are fans who watch it because there’s nothing else to do, and then there are the fans who, on any given day, might be re-watching a game from the 1980s, with the late, great Keith Jackson (you remember him, “Whoa, Nellie!”) commentating. They want all these people to follow their page/site and contribute their opinions and comments. They want everyone to become engaged in the discussion.

They say they created Front Porch Football for the fans, so their other big goal is to provide fans with a platform to voice their thoughts about SEC Football. They say they will be making some exciting changes this summer to the site to get more fans involved. I can hardly wait!

Down the line, they’d like to expand their brand and product, “especially into the apparel market.” As students, they know money doesn’t grow on trees, so they’d like to bring some quality apparel to the market at an affordable price. Actually, Chris’s words were, “Of course, each school has their own swag, but it feels like you have to sell a kidney to buy a decent shirt.” The apparel is a longer range goal. Personally, I’d love to own some apparel from my favorite sports website. I’ve already told them I’m first in line when they get some t-shirts out there.

So here’s the skinny: if you love college football as much as I do, this is a great site for you. If you have no knowledge of football but would like to impress someone with your football “knowledge,” you can learn a lot at Front Porch Football. Even if you are just a very casual college football fan, these guys are wicked funny, making Front Porch Football worth your time.

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If websites could have cheerleaders, I’d cheer for this one.

***If you like the videos you watched through my links, please go to Front Porch Football on Facebook and like/follow their site. ALSO, please share this story in support of these guys and invite your friends to follow them as well!***

RTR!

Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Know What to Send? Tasty Ideas…

Last year, for my 50th birthday, my friend, Amy, sent me some Baked By Melissa mini cupcakes. It was quite an assortment of flavors, and I loved every single one. In fact, now that I’ve had them, just looking at the photos on their Instagram page makes my mouth water.

Because I love them so much, I now send Baked by Melissa treats to friends and family too. In fact, I’ve been known to send them to myself. These mini cupcakes are tiny but packed with flavor.

When ordering for my household, I love the “Pick your Flavors” pack, but I also love “The O.G.” (the original greats). When ordering for friends, I usually go with The O.G. or The O.G. Plus Seasonal. My very favorite cupcake offered is the Tie-Dye Cupcake, but there are still flavors I have yet to try.

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Baked By Melissa cupcakes

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Two Baked By Melissa PBJ cupcakes making a PBJ cupcake sandwich. This gives a good idea of the size of these minis.

To see the Baked by Melissa website, click here. Prices start at $25. And while I said the Tie-Dye is my favorite, looking at the PBJ makes me think it might be my favorite!

While this is my current favorite treat to send, I have others in my repertoire. There are so many opportunities to send special treats…birthdays, pick-me-up, graduation, retirement…or even no reason at all. Here are some treats I’ve sent in the past and will be sending again. Any of these would be perfect for Mother’s Day, which is coming up in May:

 CHERYL’S Years ago, I started ordering cookies and cakes from Mrs. Beasley’s online. The company eventually became a part of Cheryl’s Cookies, but the quality stayed the same through the merger. Over the years, I’ve ordered lots of gifts from Cheryl’s, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of their treats myself. My personal favorite is their powder sugar dusted chocolate truffle cookies…they are incredible. I’ve also enjoyed their frosted sugar cookies and various brownies…all delicious. Each cookie or brownie comes individually wrapped, so it’s easy to eat some now and save some for later. I highly recommend any of the Mrs. Beasley’s baskets. You can see their website here. Prices for sale items start at $9.99, but plan to spend at least $30-$40. They used to have their own website, but now it appears to be through the 1-800-FLOWERS link.

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Mother’s Day Ceramic Basket of cookies offered by Cheryl’s

SOUTH GEORGIA PECAN I was introduced to this company by my friend, Linda. Before she lived in Charlotte, she lived in Valdosta, Georgia, and I think she learned about this company then. One Christmas, she gifted me with some of their Chocolate Amaretto Pecans, a special treat indeed. Not only did she give them to me, but Linda also told me the best way to keep them fresh: in the freezer. And they are fantastic…very representative of southern flavors! I have since sent them to friends who live in other parts of the country, so they can get a taste of the south. That’s not all they offer at South Georgia Pecan, though. They offer candied nuts, plain nuts, praline pecans, pecan cheese straws, pecan pies…all kinds of goodies. You can order for your friends who love sweets and your friends who love salty…or both! See their website here. Prices start under $2 for single items, but plan to spend $30-$40 for a gift tin. As luck would have it, April is National Pecan Month, and you can register to win free pecans for a year.

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Assorted Pecan tin from South Georgia Pecans

COOKIES BY DESIGN Recently, some sweet family members sent us an adorable cookie bouquet from this company. Cookies on sticks and arranged beautifully! Not only did they look pretty coming out of the box, but the cookies were buttery and delicious! They’re colorful and cheerful, and each cookie is individually wrapped, so you don’t have to eat them all at once, even though you’ll want to do just that! A couple of days, I stuck one in my daughter’s school lunch, and she was thrilled. To see their website, click here. Their bestselling cookie bouquets are priced around $70 to $80. Here is a picture of the bouquet we received earlier this year:

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Cookies by Design cookie bouquet

BERTIE COUNTY PEANUTS Sometimes, you just want to send a taste of your home state. My home for the last 17 years has been North Carolina, and one North Carolina product is Bertie County Peanuts. Interestingly, my ancestors owned a large farm in Bertie County in the 1800s. I think it was a cotton farm, but knowing I had family there makes me feel connected to the county and the peanuts. Bertie County Peanuts are known and loved far and wide. Bertie County Peanuts Brand offers lots of different flavors, from sweet to spicy, and even fried. And peanut brittle…can’t forget the peanut brittle. You can order nuts in tins, bags, jars, and even gift baskets. These would be a welcome gift at my house anytime! You can check out their selection at their website here. Prices start under $10 for a 2-lb bag of peanuts.

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Sensational Sampler from Bertie County Peanuts

CAROLINE’S CAKES You’ve seen Caroline’s Cakes on Oprah’s Favorite Things. My friend sent us one for Christmas a couple years ago. It didn’t last long in our house. It was as delicious as it was beautiful. The first one we had was a Christmas-decorated caramel cake, and it was incredible. In fact, they call themselves “the home of the world’s best seven-layer caramel cake,” and they might just be right! Since then, I’ve also had their strawberry cake, and next, I plan to try the lemon-raspberry. Order this for a friend or family member, or order it for your own family. Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to try one, and that’s coming up in May. All their cakes have at least four layers, and some have lots more. You can check out their website here. You can get a great cake shipped for $70 plus the cost of shipping. Order early for Mother’s Day!

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Christmas Caramel Cake from Caroline’s Cakes

 

NEIMAN MARCUS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES These things are legendary. In fact, there’s an urban legend about a woman asking for the recipe after having them with her lunch at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. As the story has it, she asked for the recipe, and the waiter told her he couldn’t give it to her, so she asked if she could buy it. He said “yes,” and when she asked how much it was, he said “two fifty.” According to the legend, when she got her Visa bill, she was shocked to see she had been charged $250 for it. She was so angry, she got revenge by sharing the recipe. The story, of course, is false. But the cookies are truly that good! Priced at $28, they’re worth every penny. You can get the recipe on their website here, or avoid the work and order the real thing here.

 

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Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

Any one of these treats would be great for Mother’s Day, birthdays, get well gifts, or just to brighten someone’s day.

If you need my address for shipping, let me know…

***If you enjoy Kelly Mattei’s Favorite Things, please share this post and invite friends to follow the page.***

XOXO,

Kelly

 

Sunflowers

Sunflowers look like happy faces. The young ones all face the same direction…toward the sun (to read why, click here). It’s not sunflower season, but pictures of them can sure brighten a dreary, winter day. They were my daddy’s favorite flower and by default, they became my mother’s favorite too. Bees love them too. Big fields of them cause people to stop on the sides of highways for photos. Because they were my parents’ favorite, they became my favorite too.

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This month is my parents’ 57th wedding anniversary (February 18), but they aren’t here to celebrate. That’s why sunflowers are featured in the Facebook cover photo. I took that picture last summer when my friend, Meg, and I drove up to Flat Rock to see our friend, Linda, perform the role of Ursula in The Little Mermaid. We stopped right on the side of the highway and took a bunch of photos.IMG_8684

Mother died December 30. It wasn’t really expected, but not entirely unexpected either. She had been in failing health for some time, but I didn’t see it coming. We talked every day, and even before Thanksgiving, she started saying, “Always remember I love you.” I thought she was just being sentimental, but in reality, she knew she was dying. Denial was strong for me. Looking back, I should have known, but I didn’t.  She mothered me for 50 years, and she was “Mama” to anyone who needed her. Fortunately, I was with her when she passed. There was no doubt she knew I loved her, and I knew she loved me. That’s all that matters.

FullSizeRender-27When my daddy died in October 2006, we had time to prepare and time to have those long, meaningful conversations. He had been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in February of that year, so we knew. We spent lots of time reminiscing with him and making jokes, because if we didn’t laugh, we would cry. He helped us get out of jams our whole lives, but we couldn’t get him out of this jam. Since our daughter was not quite three, she wasn’t enrolled in real school yet, so our little family moved down to our little condo on the bay near my parents’ house in Alabama for the last couple months of his life. We are grateful for that time together.

My husband and I got married in August of 2000, and the next spring, I planted sunflowers all over our backyard, half expecting them to survive. Surprisingly, those sunflowers grew to be the biggest I’ve ever seen! The blooms were way bigger than my head, and I have a big head. Some of the stalks were thicker than my arm, and lots of them grew to be ten feet tall…or more! When it was time, I stood on a step stool and still had trouble reaching some of the blooms to cut them.

Mother and Daddy were proud. Sunflowers are pretty easy to grow, but I had worked hard fertilizing them, staking them, and watering them. Unfortunately, we didn’t have cell phone cameras then. I did take some pictures, and they’re in the house somewhere, but I have no idea where. After that year, I never planted sunflowers again; I developed a fear that I would stick my hands in the soil and pull out a snake.

This spring, however, I plan to honor my parents by planting OUR favorites, sunflowers, in my backyard again. I’m going to overcome my fear of snakes and plant those flowers so Mother and Daddy can look down and smile.

If you want to grow your own, they’re pretty hardy flowers. You can order seeds here. There are probably more varieties than you know. The year I had all my sunflowers, I planted the seeds in trays and transferred them when they were a few inches tall, but I’ve heard people say it’s just as easy to grow them straight from the soil.

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I think the sunflowers Meg and I ran across were just west of Shelby on the south side of Highway 74. Another friend, Carolyn, tells me there is a big field of sunflowers on Hallsboro Road near Hallsboro, NC.

***Read about other sunflower fields at the bottom of the page.***

So this summer, when you see a field of sunflowers on the side of the road, I hope you’ll stop and take pictures. I’ll stop at every sunflower field I see, and I’ll be thinking of Mother and Daddy.

If you know of any sunflower fields anywhere in the US, please share the location in the comments. And please remember to invite your friends to follow Kelly Mattei’s Favorite Things on Facebook.

In the meantime, keep facing the sun…

 

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Sunflower field locations 

ALABAMA

*According to Country Living’s website, there has been a sunflower field in Autauga County, Alabama, in 2016, at the intersection of Highway 14 and Highway 33. Click here to go to their website and see an aerial video (by Alabama Aerial Photography) of the field. It’s incredible! I’m hoping it’s an annual planting.

*In Summerdale, Alabama, Alligator Alley has had a field in years past. This is located in Baldwin County, about 30 miles north of Gulf Shores, AL. It’s a small field, but easily accessible to visitors of Alligator Alley. Learn more about Alligator Alley here.

*I’ve seen photos of a sunflower field at Cornfield County Farms, just north of Montgomery, Alabama, in Elmore County. See more about that here.

GEORGIA

*The Anderson’s Sunflowers are located on Shiloh Road, in Cumming, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. You can see their Facebook page here.

NORTH CAROLINA:

*The previously mentioned flowers on Highway 74, west of Shelby; and the field in Hallsboro.

*Visit The Biltmore in Asheville between July and September, and you can see their sunflowers by the road to Antler Hill Village. See more about that here.

PENNSYLVANIA

*According to Heraldmailmedia.com, there has been an annual field in Marion, Pennsylvania, at Lesher’s Poultry Farm. Read more about that here.

SOUTH CAROLINA

*The Draper Wildlife Management area in Western York County, SC. Click here for more info. I visited this one with my friend, Jenn, and our girls a few years ago. When we went, they were smaller sunflowers, but beautiful, nonetheless.

VIRGINIA

*Burnside Farms in Haymarket, Virginia, hosts the Summer of Sunflowers. You can find out more about that here.

SUNFLOWER FESTIVALS

*There are sunflower festivals all over the world! Maybe my friend, Mary Ann, will road trip with me to a Sunflower Festival this summer. To find more info about those, click here. 

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