Thursday, July 29, 2010

Salutations from Sunset Strip: Part 1

What an emotional fair it has been for us at cabin #245! I guess it's because I'm pregnant but I get so emotional these days, especially at the fair. First of all, my mom wasn't able to be there after Sunday because she had a bad reaction to some medication she was taking for a sinus infection and had to be admitted to the hospital early Sunday morning. She loves the fair and being with Reed and Luke out there makes her so so happy. I was glad she got to go to the rodeo with Rob and Reed and see him ride some rides on Saturday night. I know she was missing getting to watch them have fun out there (I tried to take lots of picutres!!). Then, I got emotional watching it rain during the horse races (what?!?!), I got emotional while Reed and Luke slept on top of me during the Luke Bryan concert (and let me just interject that he is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen and has made be a country music fan again--more on him later), I got emotional taking to my fair neighbor Rachel (who I mentioned in an earlier post) about our name for this baby if it's a girl because it's after my grandmother who was a fixture at our cabin for so so long!  Then as we were getting ready to load up and go home, I DID NOT want to go! The boys were having so much fun playing with their cousins, I was having so much fun visiting with my family and friends, and I hadn't gotten my fill. But, all good things must come to an end, and I am already looking forward to 2011 -- it is going to be another great fair with another great addition to our cabin!
Here is just a peak into all the fun we had:
 Reed, Ben, Charlie, Will, and Haley -- night #1
All smiles while riding the bumble bees
 Parents -- well rested and all smiles -- Night #1
 Friday -- Haley, wearing her fair shirt that I made!
Reed, sporting our "Lost and Found" stickers! Rob said we should have put his phone number on there b/c none of the people's whose numbers are on there (mine, Laura, and Lee's) ever have their phone which is true!
 Friday night: Reed and Luke L-O-V-I-N-G the Rodeo! 
Our precious cousin Robert Thomas helped with the view.
 Sunday afternoon: One of the many trips to the petting zoo (again, their fair shirts I made)! I had just gotten back from the ER with mama and boys had pictures made with Dianne...I can't wait to see how they turned out!
 Sweet Sally Ann in the most adorable outfit Laura got at the Flea Market!
 SA not so sure about holding that rabbit...
 Pigs are just to ugly they are cute!
 After the rodeo, Reed and Luke were obsessed with horses and cows so we had to go and find EVERY horse and cow on the fairgrounds and that was A LOT!
 Yes, I paid $5 for Luke to pick up 3 ducks and he won a 10 cent blow-up bat that had a hole in it and was deflated the next!
Popsicles make the BEST fair treat!
This picture was taken on Tuesday before it rained cats and dogs a little later--the sky was so beautiful, almost like it was fake! To me this picture doesn't even look real! More on the rains to come...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sneak Peak -- Fair Fun!

Just a glipmse of the fun we had in the red clay hills of Neshoba County -- more to come!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

LC's shower!!

Well, I have taken a little "blogging" hiatus becuase "The Fair" is in two days!!!!! But before we head down (with two excited who has bronchitis, so we may be enjoying our nights in our own beds), I wanted to share about our amazing weekend in Birmingham for BABY SHOWER'S. Our good friends Ryan and Laura Catherine Mason are expecting their 1st baby girl in a few weeks. Laura's best friend Amy is also expecting her 1st baby boy in September. Somehow, L and I didn't realize we were going to Birmingham the same weekend until last minute so we rearranged our plans to ride together on Friday which was wonderful "girl time" that we don't get very often without 4 (about to be 5) kids interrupting us!

Here we are just getting to Birmingham (note to self -- apply make-up pre-photo op)

After living in Birmingham for almost 5 years, I have lots of friends who still live there and LC and I go way back, so it was so so so much fun catching up with everyone. I dropped Laura off with her BFFs from h.s. (little re-cap of her weekend: they ate here, and here, and stayed here -- pretty swank, huh!)

Anyway, I stayed with my good friend (college roomate) Blair, and her sweet family and her house (which is adorable) is where we had the shower! I picked zinnias from our yard and was bound and determined to find "Mason" jars to put them in (we ran all over Birmingham Friday night looking for them -- they HAD to say Mason!) This is how our centerpiece turned out (I wish the pictures weren't so blurry):
We used ribbon and little key limes down in the jars

Sweet LC and her mom, Patti
Me and the "mama" to be
All the gifts (and the fabric flags I made for another event)!
ha, ha, ha...
I think all new grandmothers are overwhelmed with joy at the thought of a grandbaby and I KNOW this one is!
LC got some of the most precious things for Bailey Catherine!
LC and the hostesses from the shower!

What a wonderful, fun, exciting weekend -- celebrating the birth of Bailey Catherine Mason and her sweet, sweet family and catching up with old friends (the kind that it's just like you talked to them it)!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Rob and I have turned this...

and this...

with the help of these...

into THIS!
...and these!!!!

Rob got the recipe for the pickles out of the Best of 2010 issue of Mississippi Magazine (which I couldn't find online) here is the recipe for the Plum Preserves:

Plum Preserves


  • 4  pounds  plums
  • 4  cups  sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  grated orange rind
  • 3/4  cup  fresh orange juice
  • 1/3  cup  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  (15-ounce) package raisins (I excluded these b/c I don't like raisins)


Cut plums in half. Remove and discard pits.
Bring 2 cups sugar, orange rind, and juices to a full rolling boil in a Dutch oven, stirring constantly, 4 to 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat, and add remaining 2 cups sugar, plum halves, and raisins; simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until thickened, skimming off any foam.
Pour hot mixture immediately into hot sterilized jars, filling to 1/4 inch from top. Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands.
Process in a boiling-water bath 20 minutes.
Note: Store unopened preserves in a cool, dry place up to one year.
Southern Living, JULY 2003

Happy Canning!!!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Neshoba County Fair makes me happy!

People who know me know I love this time of year. If they REALLY know me, they know why. Three simple words...Neshoba County Fair. Yes, it's that time again, and for some reason every year it sneaks up on me! IT's NEXT WEEK PEOPLE!! 
So much to do, to cook, to plan!
For 31 years (I missed the fair the summer I worked in MT...still a little bitter about it), during the last FULL week of July, I have gone out to rural Neshoba county and thoroughly enjoyed myself at Mississippi's Giant Houseparty. My mother would probably tell you that the first 3 or 4 of these years were not as enjoyable for her. BUT from then on, it has been one of the, if not THE highlight of my (and my children's) year. Rob is still on the fence with his "love, " but I think after almost 14 years of fairs, he's warming up (for three or four days at least). I know you don't understand it: it's hot, it's dusty, it's muddy, it's cramped (in a little cabin with 15 of your closest family). It's hard to understand the obsession (and people, it's an obsession) of it unless you have really lived it all of your life. It's reunion, it's friendship, it's family, it's fun, it's the definition of the statement "Life is Good."  
 Our Cabin -- 245 Sunset Strip

I could probably write a book about why I love the fair and funny stories that have happened over the years (b/c there are TONS of these). I will share one though that is very dear to my heart: Every year, without fail (and I LOVE this) our fair neighbor, Rachel Evans (sidenote: she writes the, "Just Among Friends" column in the Neshoba Democrat) tells a story about me. She is a dear, dear friend of our entire family (especially my Nana) and has watched my cousin Lee and I grow up since, well, I guess birth. As tradition has it (and still does), one of the first things we do when we get to the fair is walk over and give Rachel a big hug and catch her up on what is going on with us and talk about what a great fair it's going to be (b/c this one is always going to be the best one).  Well, as Rachel tells it, I was about 3 or 4 and Lee and I walked over as we always do (now with our children in tow), and Rachel said, "Lee!! Who do you have with you?! Is that Melanie? She was just a baby last year at the fair!" and without skipping a beat, I replied, "Well, Rachel, I have done growed UP!!"
 One of my favorite pictures from last year's fair: 
Haley, Reed, and Ben -- this is what the fair is all about!

Well, the fair has meant fun for me and my family on so many different levels, ways, and experiences. I think we are all glad (at least until these children are a little older) that the nights aren't quite as late as they used to be and early mornings have a new meaning -- early rising children! I think the most fun though, for me, is that I am getting to watch my little ones enjoy the fair -- because lets face it, it is pure-D fun at every age, but especially in the eyes of children. It does, however, make me sad to think that I am going to blink my eyes and they will "have done growed UP!!"

Oh, and one more thing, here is a sneak peak at my "Fair Happy" for the ladies of cabin #245 -- at least with these we won't mind being in the kitchen AND we will be looking adorable!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

4th of July weekend = F.U.N.

(WARNING -- LONG POST and even more PICS!)

Well, we have had a WONDERFUL 4th of July weekend. Most of the weekend involved friends, lots of good food, and water (slides, pools, and lakes). 

The above picture was taken at the Annual 4th of July parade in Louisville, where all the children bring their bikes, scooters, etc., and parade around town. This was the only picture where Luke wasn't crying and Reed wasn't complaining about not wanting to ride his bike {after Rob pushed it all the way to Main Street from our house}. We are contantly wondering WHY we continue to take our children to events in the public eye...ugh! 
 The weekend got better from here though...

The weekend started off by going to our lovely little town's Saturday morning Farmer's Market and I must say it would rival any market in the state. Laura and I were up bright and early to find the best looking peaches, blueberries, watermelons, tomatoes, corn ("kurn"), peas, peppers, okra, squash, cucumbers, and that was just the vegetables. Let's just say (I guess since we have our own garden) that the only veggies I left the farmer's market with were tomatoes (and they were goo-ood!), even though everything else looked wonderful. Our good friend Spring Woods and her mom Beverly have re-opened their family store as a restaurant and they were there with probably the best cinnamon rolls I have ever put in my mouth. I also bought some of Ms. Beverly's de-lish homemade bread (on which they serve their sandwiches at lunch). I was soooooo excited about the bread and ready to eat the whole loaf by myself, BUT I only got to enjoy 2 slices of it and our B.A.D. beagle enjoyed the rest of it for me. Needless to say I was M.A.D!!!! Anyway, Laura bought 2 huge jars of sweet pickles and we both bought homemade strawberry and blueberry jelly. When I got home with the cinnamon rolls, the boys ate them up. Of course, Reed wanted a pop-tart and Rob and I informed him he was missing out BIG TIME!
Here are the boys enjoying Ms. Beverly's cinnamon rolls (except Reed who had a pop-tart).

As Rob finished up mowing our almost 2 acre yard, we made a quick trip down to the Harris pool so I could see the brand spanking new swimming skills Reed learned at swimming lessons this week. And let me just say, WOW! He is a jumping and swimming MACHINE -- and NO FLOATIES!!!! YAY!!!
Luke, about to test the water
It was only about a week before this that Reed wouldn't dare be thrown up in the pool and look at him now!

 We then headed over to our friend Amanda's, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch and the children tumbled down their blow-up water slide. Amanda has been making a delicious vegetable tart and you can find the recipe here. Reed and Luke were worn out, but once we got home, our good friends and neighbors, The Hills, also had a giant blow-up slide so we had to give that a whirl before naps (which began at about 4 p.m. and ended around 7 p.m -- tired boys!). And a little side note: if you live in our area, Will is now in the jumper business. Rent this slide and/or a castle jumper from "Party Hoppin" jumpers!!! 

Such a sweet pic of Sally Ann

Brother Mike preached the most wonderful sermon Sunday morning on how extraordinary our country is because it was founded on the principles of Christianity. We don't need to forget that or we would lose the freedoms we take for granted. We enjoyed having Mimi and Charles up for lunch after church!

Sunday night we were privileged to be invited to "Lake Louise" for a 4th of July gathering at the Caperton's cabin. It was so so so much fun! A great time was had by all (children and adults) with some fabulous food (pot luck which is my favorite meal). The finale of the night was just about the best amateur fireworks display I have ever seen. It was wonderful. We sat on our blanket on the levee of the lake and took in the beauty of the night, the fireworks, and the sounds of children laughing (or crying, in Luke's case). It made me very thankful for our country, our little town, our wonderful families, and our great friends! 
Isn't this just beautiful -- and only minutes from our little town! 
Rob's goal in life is to have a little place just like this!! The catfish were huge and jumping up out of the water.

Now, all he needs is a boat -- more on his (and Reed's) obsession with boats in a future post)!

Watergun, what?

A gator ride before the show started!
Luke, pre-fireworks!!
Just waitin...

Oh -- and this is the dish I took to the 4th of July gathering at the Caperton's cabin!!! 
Light and refreshing...I've been craving it ever since! I told y'all I would share and here it is!!

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Tortilla Chips
2 kiwis, peeled and diced
2 Golden Delicious apples - peeled, cored
and diced
8 ounces raspberries (I excluded these)
1 pound strawberries
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor
10 (10 inch) flour tortillas
butter flavored cooking spray
2 cups cinnamon sugar
1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apples, raspberries , strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves . Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3. Coat one side of each flour tortilla with butter flavored cooking spray. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Spray again with cooking spray.
4. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.