This Time of Year...

is wonderful for so many reasons. Families and friends congregate to participate in religious or social customs, whether recently established or recognized for generations. My Mother loved the Christmas season. Although she was fiercely independent, her childlike enthusiasm during Christmas made it truly special for everyone around her.
In the weeks separating Thanksgiving and Christmas, our family gathered around the television to watch Frank Capra's timeless tale, "It's a Wonderful Life," not just once, but several times. My Mother never tired of it.
As a child it was just a nice story we watched during the holidays. As I grew older and understood the beautiful concepts the movie conveyed, i.e., Heavenly Father is aware of us, He loves us and wants us to succeed, the power of forgiveness, as you lose yourself in service to others you find something greater, the importance of families and friends, the reality of an afterlife where you continue to grow and progress, and the divine nature of every individual, like my Mother, I found myself crying every time the movie concluded.
Despite my Mother's passing, I continue the tradition of watching "It's a Wonderful Life" every Christmas. Now, however, instead of crying at the movie's end, I cry all the time. Every time I remember something she said, I cry. Every time I remember her laughing about a scene, I cry. Every time I hear hymns sung in the movie, I cry. I can not help it. I just do and I probably will for the rest of my life.
I am so grateful for every holiday I spent with my Mother. I miss the Christmas traditions she started and we fail to keep without her. I miss how warm and beautiful she made our home. I miss the music that started in the living room but floated down the hall and into bedrooms until it penetrated every corner, making it impossible to escape. I miss the little decorations we put up each year like the Santa door knob covers, the nativity scene, the Santa boots she painted and hand crafted ornaments Joshie and I made in school. I miss snuggling up on the couch, lights out, hot chocolate in hand, discussing a myriad of subjects while looking at the Christmas tree.
With her, we really did have a wonderful life. Thanks Mom for giving us so many Christmas memories to cherish.
Love you forever-

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More for Modesty?

Do women, LDS or otherwise, have difficulty finding modest, fashionable nightgowns? I do. In fact, its a challenge I have come to dread. I often wear my nightgown until its thin or ratty, sometimes both, in order to postpone the search for a replacement.
Not only are modest, fashionable nightgowns almost impossible to find, they are significantly more expensive than other sleepwear.
I purchased the nightgown above from the website HerRoom. I have never purchased anything from this website before and hope to have a positive experience.
I am interested to know if anyone has information for vendors or boutiques that carry modest, fashionable nightgowns. If so, please share.

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Friday Nights

My new Friday night ritual. Curious? Catch it on the Travel Channel Friday nights 9PM EST/8PM CST. Then let me know what you think.

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On my flight from Atlanta to Gulfport this afternoon a female passenger, who I first noticed while waiting at the gate, had blond hair that strangely resembled Ramen noodles. It was so strange that it was difficult to divert my attention from her hair to the CNN headlines flashing across the television screen. Straight at the scalp, her hair formed these crispy blond waves similar to those of the Ramen noodles pictured above. I couldn't help but wonder if pressing down on her hair would produce the same crunchy sound that results when breaking Ramen noodles. I also wonder if anyone, other than myself, has made the same observation. Perhaps, the lady with Ramen noodle hair loves or hates this international staple because it reminds her of the gold waves that greet her every time she looks in the mirror. Strange.

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AP/Reno Gazette-Journal, Andy Barron

This morning, before going to work, an article on Yahoo caught my eye. You may seen it. It was about Stewie the new record holder for the world's longest cat. Stewie is a Maine Coon which, according to the article, is a breed often referred to as "gentle giants." Measuring forty-eight and a half inches Stewie snatched the title from a fellow feline, also a Maine Coon who measures just a half of an inch shorter than Stewie. Will Stewie's record be broken?
For those interested in reading the article, I included the link.

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World Equestrian Games 2010

Kentucky is currently hosting the World Equestrian BoldGames for the first time in history. The state has been planning this for years. I wanted to go so badly but last month had to make a decision between being home for the BoldGames which would have conflicted with Dad's trip for Cruisin' Italicthe BoldCoast, or flying home for Halloween. I decided to postpone my trip so I can be home for the holiday.
Fortunately, NBC is broadcasting a few events on Sunday afternoons. Watching the beautiful horses and their skilled riders makes my heart long for home. I have been in Mississippi far longer than I ever anticipated. It has been a great twenty-nine months but its not home.
I am so proud of my home state for hosting these games. I think they are doing a fine job of representing the United States to horse lovers around the world.

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Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

I enjoy shopping. A lot. I can devote hours to it each week. Grocery shopping, clothes shopping, shopping for kitchenware, groceries, you name it, I enjoy it. I even enjoy shopping for baby clothes. This trend began after I received a hope (currently referred to as the hopeless) chest from my Dad when I was in middle school. My Mom and I would occasionally peruse the baby clothes at department stores searching for bargain items I could store in my chest until the day I would need them. That day, as we all know, has yet to arrive. Nonetheless, I can still be spotted at Baby Gap or Gymboree looking at the tiny onesies with little duckies or boats embroidered on the chest.

With the recent discovery Josh and Lauren will be having a baby boy I decided to stop at Pippen Lane on Magazine Street in New Orleans to do a little shopping. I am so glad I did. Did you know Brad and Angelina have shopped at Pippen Lane? This did not influence my decision to shop at this particular establishment. It was a fact I learned this evening while doing an online search for the image above.

I included this photo because its one of the three onesies I purchased today for the baby. I think it will be perfect for hanging out on the farm. I also picked up two burp cloths. One is red with white polka dots and the other, which is my favorite, has airplanes and hot air balloons. If you are looking for cute and colorful baby clothes check out Zutano and Infantissima, labels available online and at retailers like Pippen Lane.
The Children's Cottage in Mobile, Alabama is also a great childrens' boutique. I found a few things there for Clara's baby boy, Anderson a few years ago. I liked the little sweater so much I would like to find something similar for Josh and Lauren's baby.
I anticipate many opportunities to shop for the new baby so, if anyone knows of other cute kiddie boutiques, especially in or around Lexington, Kentucky I would love to hear about them.

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"Book 'em Danno!"

NCIS is still my favorite show but I LOVE Hawaii 5-0. The cast is great, the scenery gorgeous and the storyline compelling. Kudos to CBS for resurrecting a classic television drama that rivals the original series.

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Viking Classic 2010

Italic On Friday, Dad and I headed to Madison, Mississippi for the second day of the Viking Classic. The tournament is played at Annandale, which is a lovely course located just outside Jackson. Parking near the 16th hole, Dad and I headed over to the Leaderboard to check out the players and their positions.
I was pleased to learn Bill Haas was in the lead at 14 under. Wanting to catch a glimpse of the leader, we decided to hang out at the 17th hole until he arrived. This was my first PGA event, and I have to admit, I was a little star struck. Bill Haas, pictured above, maintained the lead Saturday and Sunday to win the Viking Classic. Hooray!
The club house at Annandale is lovely. Although we did not have club house passes I was able to get a few shots of the exterior. I especially like this photo of the rear facade which overlooks the 18th hole.
Before leaving the tourney, Dad and I were able to watch David Duval and John Daly tee off at the 18th. John Daly, pictured in the photo above, wearing the yellow shirt, is an entertaining athlete to watch. After driving his ball into the water he proceeded to curse, as Dad said, "in front of God and everyone," right there at the tee box. Once he confirmed that his ball was indeed lost, he reacted by kicking his golf bag a few times. Although Daly was 1 under when we saw him, he finished the tourney at 5 over, which prevented him from making the cut and finishing the tournament.
Due to the distance that separates Jackson from Biloxi, Dad and I had to leave earlier than we wanted to. However, I am grateful for the opportunity I had to experience my first PGA event with my Dad who loves the game and has patiently encouraged and coached me since I was old enough to swing a club. A memory to cherish forever, I will never forget the Viking Classic.

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Neville Longbottom...

the shy, dumpy kid befriended by Harry Potter at Hogwarts was the inspiration for naming the newest member of the Cat Farm. Short, dumpy, with a long bottom, we felt the name was a perfect fit. Neville is also a nod to Joshie's first Cabbage Patch Kid who was named Berry Neville. Yes, my baby brother had a Cabbage Patch Kid before I did. No, he will never live it down.
According to Dad, Neville loves sliding down the incline in front of the house on his back, face first. He also loves for people to rub his belly. He'll roll over onto his back and whimper until he gets his way. At this point, Dad will say, "Cry for me Neville," and, of course, he does.

I am so excited that our little farm is growing. The cats will always be the foundation but there is plenty of room and I can't wait until the day cows, sheep, donkeys, and alpacas will roam the hills of the Cat Farm. Until then, I hope Neville parks his bottom on the farm for a long time.

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For Joy

Steph and I have this amazing friend named Joy. Joy is the kind of person that makes you feel so much cooler because you know her. She is always up on the latest news, books, fashion...everything. Today she posted the link to a website where Jane Austen Fight Club (JAFC) fans can order these clever t-shirts. Tonight I ordered the one pictured above. I can't wait to wear it! I'm not sure I will ever be able to think about Jane Austen without automatically adding the words "fight club" afterword. Either way, I think the ol' gal would be proud.

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Tonight, while on the phone with Steph, I noticed this article posted on Yahoo. In short, its a measure of Americans' knowledge regarding religion. I believe we had similar responses which echoes the title of this post; "Duh."
In case you're wondering, the poll shows Mormons ranked highest when quizzed about religion. Was anyone actually surprised by this finding? Duh!

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Don't Let This Picture...

fool you. They may seem like innocent felines but after dark they are serial killers. Ever since Little Bit made an appearance Zu has been on a killing spree. I don't know if she's taking her frustration out on the mice and other vermin or if she is feeling insecure and trying to assert her place at the Cat Farm. Either way, Zu is on a killing frenzy. Every day I was home she left a mouse on the deck outside Dad's bedroom door. We thought the killing may cease after I returned to Biloxi but it hasn't. Zu has become a serial mouse killer and I'm afraid there's no end in sight. Reports of Zu's macabre nature are a daily occurrence now. I almost feel sorry for the mouse who crosses paths with this sleeping giant. And don't get me started on Hunter Mary. Her tracking skills are legendary. No mouse is safe with this duo in their midst.
We are so lucky to have Mary and Zu with us at the Cat Farm. It wouldn't be the same without them. I love my girls and can't wait to see them again. Until then, I will have to be satisfied with Dad's stories of their prowess.

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Portland Does Preservation

Just in case you missed it, Portland's Hung Far Low restaurant sign has finally be re-erected and is making preservation news. For more information about the history of Hung Far Low restaurant and the sign's return to Portland's skyline click on the link included below.

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In the Beginning...

her name was Goliath. Dad, not realizing that he was actually a she, named this tiny undernourished orphaned kitten after the famous giant who terrified King Saul's armies. This changed however when I discovered Goliath was a girl. Thus began a brainstorm of female names fit for this kitten. Although I called her Chloe for most of the trip, by the time I left the Cat Farm our guest had already given her another name, Little Bit, which Dad seems to like because he has started using it.
It doesn't matter what you call her, half the time she's so busy playin' or messin' she doesn't hear you, which is amazing considering the size of her ears in relation to the rest of her body. She hasn't met a stranger yet. She loves everyone and shows her love by climbing all over them. I think if Mary and Zu would allow it she'd climb on them too.

Her presence at the Cat Farm has definitely changed things. Toys Mary and Zu no longer find interesting captivate the kitten. The first time I brought out "pink mouse" for the kitten to play with Zu immediately let her know the toy belonged to her. Mary and Zu swat at the kitten so often I joke that its Cat Farm fight club.
Although Dad groans about another cat, we only have three (not counting Black cat who comes and goes), I think our little addition is good for all of us. She reminds us how essential charity is. That when someone or something is in need we should be willing to reach out and share our resources to help them. She reminds us of the blessing of youth and how important it is to notice and appreciate little things. She also teaches us the importance of patience, forgiveness and perseverance. No matter how many times Mary and Zu swat at her, it never deters kitten from doing what she wants to do nor does she swat Mary and Zu in return. After their finished hissing and swatting, kitten just returns to what she was doing.
I miss Dad and the cats everyday but on Sundays when I am sitting alone, with little to do, I miss them even more. I can't wait to go back in October and see how Chloe, Little Bit, Itty Bitty, whatever you want to call her has grown. Even kitten can't stay little forever.

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Birthplace of Barq's

Ever wonder where Barq's root beer was first bottled? The answer is found on a historic marker located on the right front corner of the Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works building located on Lee Street in Biloxi, Mississippi. Edward C. Barq bottled his root beer in this building from the 1890's-1930's. During the thirties Barq moved his operation to Lemeuse Street located only a few streets away from Lee. Barq's operation was eventually purchased, according to the marker, by The Coca-Cola Company and is currently consumed by every LDS missionary that steps across the threshold of my condo for a dinner appointment each month. When I saw the building I immediately thought of them.
I wonder if the City of Biloxi has ever considered partnering with The Coca-Cola Company to convert the structure into a museum that interprets the bottling process. It could be a smaller satellite version of The World of Coke in Atlanta and would be a fantastic tourist destination for hundreds, perhaps even, thousands of Gulf Coast residents. It would also be a great opportunity for The Coca-Cola Company to exert more influence on the Coast by aiding in revitilizing Biloxi's cultural past post-Katrina. I can totally see it. What about you?

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Hurricane Earl

Photo Courtesy

Where will he go? What will he do? And men say women are a mystery.

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The Porches

Nestled on a gorgeous lot about.4 miles from the Copiah-Lincoln Community College campus is one of the best restaurants in the entire Magnolia state. The Porches is advertised as, "traditional southern dining with an imaginative flair." I couldn't agree more. Everything was incredible from the bignormous (borrowing from Amanda) yeast rolls to the bread pudding covered in a perfect almond sauce. I was in heaven.
Two and a half hours from the Coast, The Porches is about 45 mins southwest of Jackson and is undoubtedly the best restaurant within Copiah and Lincoln counties. A true Mississippi gem.

The highlight of our dining experience was meeting Ms. Sybil (0n left) and Ms. Celia (0n right). These sisters are the quintessential Southern hostesses. Sweet as can be, they make everyone feel at home, in their home. Actually, Ms. Celia lives in the lovely Queen Anne The Porches operates in, while Ms. Sybil lives in another Queen Anne across the drive. While Ms. Sybil and Ms. Celia manage the gift shop, Ms. Celia's husband and son do all the cooking.
Does it get any better ladies? I don't think so. Ms. Celia and Ms. Sybil totally defy the old adage, "a woman's place is in the kitchen." Whatever! If we're talking about Ms. Celia's husband and son then "a man's place is in the kitchen" making those amazing yeast rolls, fried catfish, baked potato casserole, field peas, fried green tomatoes and bread pudding.
I am already planning another trip north so I can stop in for more yeast rolls and bread pudding. Thanks Ms. Celia and Ms. Sybil for a memorable dining experience. I hope to see you again soon!

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is basically the New Orleans version of Georgetown's T. Sweet's. Infamous for their unique flavor combinations it's every ice cream lovers dream.
Two scoops is always a little much for me. So whenever possible I always ask if I can go halfsies. Not a problem at The Creole Creamery. I ordered a half scoop of their Cookie Monster flavor coupled with another half scoop of Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Pie. It was wonderful.
The staff is friendly and very helpful, always willing to offer samples of the numerous flavors. Before ordering, I sampled the Red Velvet ice cream which included substantial pieces of red velvet cake. Sooo good.
The only thing missing were my friends.

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For Steph

Hanging balls of light,
beaming in the night,
from the rooftop of Park Heights,
Tupelo, Mississippi.
You love it. You know you do.

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2010 PGA Champ

German native Martin Kaymer defeated Bubba Watson in the PGA playoff. Initially it seemed the tie was three-way with Dustin Johnson in contention along with Watson and Kaymer. However, PGA officials decided to penalize Dustin Johnson with a two-stroke penalty for failing to recognize a bunker located outside an area-of-play where crowds were gathered to watch the tournament. Although Kaymer and Watson played excellent golf I believe many who watched today's tournament play will always wonder, "What if? What if Dustin Johnson had been allowed to contend in the play off? Who's name would have been added to the Wanamaker trophy?" A question for the ages to be sure. My hope is this experience will fuel Dustin Johnson's determination to become a smarter player who knows the game and how to play it with exactness. A fearless contender who will continue to "Wow" crowds and make history for years to come. Dustin Johnson, I look forward to watching your return next season and Mr. Kaymer congratulations for winning the 2010 PGA Championship!

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A Mississippi Gem

On our way to Oxford, Meg and I stopped and stretched our legs on the banks of Lake Grenada in Grenada, Mississippi. Lake Grenada is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers and is absolutely gorgeous. The beach is clean, the water is clear and the trees are beautiful. Pecans covered the ground everywhere we walked. Even the outdoor restrooms were cool. Definitely one of Mississippi's best kept secrets.
I would love to return for a weekend of camping when the weather turns a little cooler and the humidity dissipates. Although it was summer the beaches and lake were barely occupied. It was a little piece of heaven on earth.
Also located in Grenada is a funky little ice cream stand called Spencer's Dairy Kreme. They have creative shake flavors that may seem questionable but not only do they work, they are delicious. I had a small shake with peanut butter ice cream and peanuts mixed throughout. It may sound awful but it was really good. So, if you are considering a trip to northern Mississippi be sure to include Lake Grenada on your schedule. It truly is a Mississippi Gem.

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Although its difficult to read the sign above the metal hip roof it reads Boure. If you are ever in Oxford, please allow me to spare you the embarrassment of pronouncing the name of this local establishment incorrectly, which is exactly what I did. Although its spelled B-o-u-r-e the first part is pronounced Boo, instead of Bo, as I assumed, and the "re" is pronounced Ray. Put them together and you have Boo Ray. Although I've already told Rae about the restaurant, I promised I'd post a photo. It may not look like much from the outside but the filet minon and mashed potatoes were excellent. In addition, the atmosphere was warm and inviting. The place was packed on a Thursday night.
The location is perfect. It's located just of the historic square in downtown Oxford on North Lamar. The Downtown Oxford Inn, where we stayed, was a short walk, which was perfect because trying to find parking on the square is difficult. If you are ever in Oxford stop by Boure. Just remember its Boo Ray.

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Cinderella's Number One Fan

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No Bull

This cow, which is an oversized lawn ornament, was so cute I had to get a photo. I love how the proud owners have taken pains to landscape around the guy, and believe me, it is a dude.
It reminds me of the large bull we used to pass on Highway 25 every time we traveled to and from Richmond. Since graduating from high school Croucher's farm has been carved up and the bull removed from his lofty perch. Although the bull of my youth was not as cute as the one pictured above, I will never forget how I always looked forward to seeing what color the Croucher family had decided to paint the bull's balls. Most of the time they were just pink but sometimes they would be something funky like blue or orange. No matter their color I miss seeing that bull, balls and all, as I traveled from Richmond to Berea and back. Some things may improve with time, but the drive on US 25 from Berea to Richmond will never be the same sans the bull of Croucher's farm.

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Dear Dad-

I believe every serious cat farmer should have one of these by his side or under his feet. So, when would be a good time for us to get one? Because when Meg and I met this handsome fella we almost released him from bondage and piled him into the 300.
Isn't he adorable?
Dad, if we had a coon dog like this, I think we should name him Stonewall, Carter or maybe Happy after famous Kentuckian A.B. Happy Chandler. Something very Southern and noble-sounding. I also think Mary and Zu would love him and I have no doubt he would love the girls too. A dog like this would be a great companion; a worthy investment for a true agrarian.
You don't have to give me an answer today. Just think about it.
Love Your Devoted Daughter-

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My Current Read

After finishing Eat, Pray, Love I decided to try Rhoda Janzen's Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. Reading Janzen's memoir is like catching up with an old friend whom you haven't heard from in awhile. The conversation, although one-sided, still seems familiar and intimate. Although I was not raised in a Mennonite family, as a Mormon, I feel like I can relate to Janzen in unique and meaningful ways.
Entertainment Weekly's says it better than I can, "A hilarious collection of musings on Janzen's childhood, marriage, and eccentric family...Janzen mines Mennonite culture for comic effect, but she does so with love."
If you are searching for a memorable summer read, look no further than Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. You won't regret it.

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Furry Family

This morning while doing a site visit in Moss Point, Mandy and I spotted a momma raccoon with her three babies. Thinking it may be a great photo opp I put the car in park and tried to sneak up on them. I have to admit, I got pretty close before they noticed me and bolted. What surprised me was the mother raccoon totally abandoned her babies at the first sign of danger, or at least that is the way it seemed. While Momma took off one way, diving into a small creek to hide in the culvert, the babies darted to the opposite side of the road. In the photo above you can see there was a small creek on that side as well.
I decided to follow the babies and snapped this photo of them scurrying up the bank. As they were climbing to safety I could hear them whimpering. I didn't know raccoons did that. They almost sounded like puppies.

Before retreating further into the woods, one of the babies gave me this look. I think his/her expression says it all. I only hope the mother was reunited with her babies shortly after my departure. I am also very glad the mother raccoon didn't attack me while I was snapping photos of her offspring. That would have made for a very bad afternoon indeed.

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Office Tradition

Lisa, my coworker, started a tradition long before I arrived in Biloxi. For each persons' birthday in our section she decorates their cubicle or work area before we arrive that morning for work. This year she asked Amanda and Hugh to help her out. I think they did a fantastic job!

I especially enjoyed their attention to detail. This hula girl was on the Diamondhead cake Amanda made for me last year. I loved it! Tomorrow she is bringing my favorite cupcakes to work. I can almost taste them now. I am a very lucky girl.

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Turning Thirty-Two

After work Thursday, I had a wonderful dinner at Houston's. Even more enjoyable was the yummy brownie I had afterward. Imagine a soft, warm brownie sprinkled with cashews, walnuts and pecans, then topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. Is your mouth watering? Mine is.
From Houston's I drove directly to Oak Alley to enjoy an evening in Cabin #3. A lovely historic side- gable cabin with clapboard siding, 6/6 wood double-hung windows and a brick pier foundation that was so cozy. I loved it and wish I could have spent more time there. It had an amazing garden tub with these jets that made you feel a little closer to heaven. I would spend another night there in a heartbeat but in the Spring or Fall. The humidity in the summer is brutal. How I managed to forget that about southern Louisiana is beyond me.

There are fourteen oaks that line the allee from Oak Alley to the Mississippi River. Historically, the levee seen in the distance was not present and the second story balcony provided an amazing view of the river and boats that navigated its waters.

Oak Alley. Need I say more?
Spending my thirty-second birthday on the grounds of such a lovely home was dreamy. I hope my thirty-second year brings many more visits to beautiful historic homes like Oak Alley.

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Birthday Flowers & Birthday Showers

While the northeast is experiencing a heat wave, the Gulf Coast has been enduring winds and rain from tropical storm Alex. From Wednesday, June 30th to present we have had heavy rains daily. Although the forecast predicts the rain will end this weekend, I am not convinced.
I received a phone call at work Thursday afternoon from the OC saying I had flowers waiting for me at home. I could hardly wait to see them. Walking through the door after a long day at the office and seeing the colorful arrangement of cheery (sounds cheezy but its the only adjective I could think of) flowers was a welcome sight. Thanks Daddy! I love you!
Saturday, I received another beautiful bouquet from Steph and Rae Rae. After sleeping in Saturday morning I got another phone call from the Flower Basket (they delivered my first arrangement) saying they had a delivery for me downstairs. I rushed to meet them (I love getting flowers) and was surprised when the florist handed me this lovely arrangement complete with three Happy Birthday balloons. Thank you Steph and Baby Rae for thinking of me. If my birthday is any indication of how the rest of the year will be, I will welcome it with open arms.

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