Thursday, December 31, 2009

home for the holidays

Whew! Where does the time go!? Christmas was wonderful, busy, and relaxing all at once and went by way too quickly. I already miss the twinkling lights, but the new year is coming on fast. I am trying to squeeze in some work this week and enjoy being in the office for a change.

My mom spent the day in the hospital with my grandfather today. Nothing too serious, but when you're 93 even little things can turn into big things. He lives in a pretty exceptional retirement home called Richland Place. All his friends are there. After my grandmother died last year, the women of Richland stepped in to help, offer support and sit with him at supper. Tonight a friend of moms called on behalf of her mother, who's at Richland, to find out how Dr. Cowden was doing. Apparently word was not getting back to the ladies fast enough and they were worried about him! My, there are some fine folks out there. I had lunch with him last Sunday and it's hard to explain just how many people dropped by to say hello, recall a story, or just tell me what a wonderful man he is. Like I said, it's a very special place.

I've been feeling mighty full these days. Full heart from being around family and home town for an extended stay, full belly from all the food baby + I have been consuming, and full mind from all the new projects on the horizon in the new year.

Our trip to Atlanta and Chattanooga went pretty smoothly. My only temper tantrum was when I found out hubs cd player wasn't working. I had all my little books on tape ready to go, but it had other plans. Harumph! So we were relinquished to listening to tunes and and old fashioned talkin. That worked out fine too. We made it safely to Georgia and visited with T's mother, Marilyn, and grandparents. They are truly some of the sweetest people ever. Plus, his momma sure knows how to cook! We had to hit the road early the next morning and this is what Pawpaw (his grandfather) had all set up for us...

breakfast for two

We did a little day trip to nearby Serenbe and had the best time. It's a master planned community outside of Atlanta. Amazing vision and attention to detail. I mean, everything down to the street signs and gutters and trash cans in the ground - they thought of it all. It's slow to grow but hopefully it will one day be a booming town full of folks. There is an adorable eatery called Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop where we stopped in for a warm bite.





wooden sign

Next, it was on to Chattanooga to spend some time with T's dads family. We sat down for a proper lunch of quiche and grapes and cheese slices - too funny! Oh, and wine for the others. We nibbled and visited and the boys squeezed in a little espn time. Typical. It was nice visit and his grandmomma was nice enough to send me away with a blanket she'd crotcheted. I'm afraid I didn't get the sewing gene, so this was a real treat.

And finally, it was back to Franklin to spend Christmas Eve with my family. The eating fest continued and it was nice to see cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and my grandfather. I was awfully tired, but we had a big time. Aunt Louise even made us sing the 12 Days of Christmas as a group - hilarious and off tune.

the whole fam

I awoke to the smell of breakfast casserole and beignets. It was heavenly and I was the last one up. I can't remember when we started the beignet tradition, but it's been around a while. Warm little puffy nuggets of dough, tossed in powdered sugar that you pop in your mouth. The mix is from Cafe Du Monde, in New Orleans. They're amazing really. A new addition this particular morning that I hope will return again next year… Tennessee Breakfast Casserole. I'll post the recipe later, because you will definitely be wanting to make this. After grabbing a cup of coffee, I headed into the living room to find my brother, father and husband watching Bad Santa. Really?! My brother insists on making this an annual event, even though my mother and I think it's atrocious. Men. What are ya gonna do.




After breakfast it was on to sharing gifts, stories and laughs. Carlos, who works on the farm, the jack russels and of course Mr Cooper joined in the festivities as well. Our afternoon consisted of lunging by the fire, napping and more nibbling on treats. I love when Will is home. He adds a zest to the house and we all love hearing his tales of adventure in New York. There is something so soothing about all being home. Will and Trev wanted to stay by the fire so me and the folks too the doggers for a walk about. We walked the entire farm, noticing old trees, hawks and discussing the history of what was here before. The cold air was whisking around and reminded me of how much I love this place.

dads gift



Monday, December 21, 2009

afternoon in the country

I sure love a good party. We didn't get invited to many soirees this year and the one I usually throw didn't happen either. Bummer. Work, babies and life just sort of got in the way this year I suppose. Oh well, it's still been a very cheery season and I'm looking forward to some good ole fashion family time this week.


We were lucky enough to get the nod on one fabulous party, Sunday. An afternoon in the country. Momma packed a picnic of cheese, crackers and mimosas for the road. It was an hour trip after all and we needed reinforcements. Dad stayed by the fire, sick with a cold, but hubs drove me, momma and Currier while we gabbed and gossiped away. We arrived as the sun finally came out and pulled into the drive, ready to stretch our legs. The hosts of the party restored an old house from the 1840s and call it Brookside. It's a federal style home in Giles County. Now, Giles Co. is where all the fox hunters ride so mom was pointing out all the various homes and trails. Beautiful countryside, but it's quite a haul.



We mingled and nibbled and I ordered a club soda + cranberry with a lime! That nog was mighty tempting though. Our host, Libby, had the most incredible spread and the country ham… well, it was simply the best I've ever tasted! Coconut cake, gingerbread men, pecan squares, fudge pie, sugar cookies, and peppermint petitfours - oh my! The men gathered by the TV in the kitchen to catch the end of the Titans game, while we took the tour. When I say this house was cool… I mean it was incredible. We all wanted to curl up and spend the night.


Our bellies were full of treats as we strolled around the garden. And this was no ordinary garden. The other half of the "hosts," Ben, is a landscape architect. He planted these mini boxwoods in scroll patterns, all just waiting to grow up when the weather warms. I can't wait to go back in a couple years and see how different it looks. That is, if we get invited back :)



Our crew rolled out with some pictures and big smiles. And Currier and I left the hosts with some little Tenn Hens "thank you" magnets (images from their birthday invitation this past summer). I think the ride home was even more wild thanks to my passengers. Somehow that just seems to happen after a few cocktails! We saw a donkey farm, deer, an owl, goats, draft horses and two mini ponies. Whew… it was like a funny farm.


Well, we're heading to Atlanta in the morning. Off to see the in laws and celebrate the season with them for a couple days. Trev's momma is quite the cook so we're in for a real treat. Then, we'll track back North to Chattanooga and see his dad's fam. It'll be a lot of driving, but we're so blessed to have all this family that want to see us! I've got a book on tape, some holiday tunes and my little gifts wrapped and ready too. I wish all of you friends a wonderful holiday and hope to return with lots of stories to share. xo

Friday, December 18, 2009

table for two

Ahh… the annual Tenn Hens Christmas party. It's quite the tradition around here ya know. Yes, I know there are only two of us here at Tenn Hens, but we can turn any ole lunch into a celebration. We tried really hard to think of somewhere new, but ended up at our old standard, Bricktops. It never disappoints. And Currier insisted we start going to late lunches… you never know what famous person will be out and about in this town and celebrities definitely don't go to lunch at noon with all the crowds. Unfortunately, we saw no one famous, but we had a great time none the less. I had myself a delicious spicy blood mary (non-spiked) and then noshed on some grilled artichokes dipped in remoulade. Merry Christmas to us!



Thursday, December 17, 2009

bright lights and bluegrass


The neon lights were shining and showed us the way to some good ole comfort food. Mmm, I love the Loveless. We were having ourselves a little double date night with friends, Tricia and Robbie. We had the best time catching up and laughing a lot. I'm always so grateful for our friends and being able to pick right back up like we see each other all the time. And since miss Carol Fay was there, I knew we'd be in for a treat with her delicious biscuits. So after filling up we headed next door to the barn. It's this incredible party and venue behind the restaurant and there was a little bluegrass party going on. WSM airs this live bluegrass program and last night included some amazing acts. The best part was this 5 foot little old man clogging away up front. And when I say clogging, I mean he was going fast and hard. He kind of resembled little Jimmy Dickins - adorable! and I was a tinge jealous of those moves.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

oh christmas tree

So I said I didn't do much last weekend, but one thing I did do is help momma decorate the tree. She used a delivery service last year and it was a huge success, so she figured why not do it again? Well when the boys showed up, the tree arrived tightly bound and frozen solid. They assured us it would open up and be the same size, but let's just say this one is on the wee side in our big hallway. Oh well, it's still pretty and smells divine. We turned on the tunes and unpacked the boxes of ornaments, stopping to remember each one and the memories they carry. I thing the best ones are the oldest and rattiest. The ones that were handmade by wee little hands and have dates scribbled on the back. Thought the "special" ornament brother Will and I used to fight is a delicate, glass Rudolph the reindeer. I can't remember why it was so important to be the one who hung it, but we sure fought tooth and nail over who's turn it was. So Wilbur, I did the honors this year and maybe that will bring me a little new years luck!


Last night I had the whole house to myself, so I finished up Christmas cards and sat by the fire watching Into The Wild. Whoa, that is one intense, but powerful movie. I dreamed all night about living in the woods and meeting hippies along the way!


Oh and I slathered my whole body in this lotion from the Cosmetic Market (hoping to prevent any "stretching") and it smells + feels incredible. Thick, but spreadable and my skin is so soft. Would be a great gift for a friend!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

decisions, decisions

Well I sure have been slacking this week, but it's only because I don't have much to report. I laid low over the weekend with a cold. Feeling so much better now, but the crud seems to making the rounds this time of year. Hubs is still sniffling after a full week now. And I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. My life is so very, very good, but there are many decisions to make and choices that lay ahead. I'm not a great decision maker and am feeling rather torn on what to do. Sorry to be vague, but I have to see what happens before sharing my big plans! I saw this quote somewhere recently though and it lifted me right up…

"what lies behind us and what lies before us
are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

Until I have some good stuff to report, check out these old modeling pics of Martha. Was she not gorgeous?!! I always thought she had a beautiful face, but wow, she is stunning here.


via tory burch

Friday, December 11, 2009

whiskey friday


Burr, it's mighty cold here and feels like it's only getting colder. I drove back to Nashville Wednesday and feel like I know that route like the back of my hand. Just cruising along trying not to get a ticket. When I got to the the office yesterday the outside was a total wreck. Currier had warned me, but they've torn the parking lot all up to add more spaces (which we may or may not be able to use). What a hassle, but it's good to be back to Tenn Hens. I'd sure missed our little nest. The Christmas carols are on and we are brainstorming away about the future. It's almost 2010 and we have some decisions to make. In the meantime though, it's Friday, so we hit the town for a little lunch at Whiskey Kitchen. Mmmm… it was delicious and caloric! Too bad we couldn't warm up with a little whiskey, but the place is very hip and I imagine packed at night with cute musician types. Cousin Lauren joined Currier and we had the most amazing chili cheese fries. Now, I wouldn't typically rave over chili + fries, but man these were delish and the presentation really helped. They were served in an iron skillet, topped with black beans, green onions and fresh jalpalenos. Next time I'll have to take daddyo, brother and husband - the whiskey list was two pages long!



Oh and I have to share this picture - Trevor and his friends waiting outside Horizon Records to see Govt. Mule play a free show last night. Cute bunch of boys I must say!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

hearts of green

So, ya know how I went to a gallery opening the other night called First Fridays? Well I picked up a few gifts, but I also couldn't leave without buying just one tiny, little thing for myself. It was this dove t-shirt by HOG - that stands for Hearts of Green. I know nothing about the business because a friend was filling in for the designer, but their logo is mighty cute. It's a little hedgehog with "prudent providers of the future" written underneath. The shirt is made of recycled fabric I think and is super soft. The best part was it came in this adorable muslin bag with a hedgehog stamped on the front. Now I'm only wishing I'd bought five!



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

green driveways


Since Coop dog and I do a lot of walking around the neighborhood, I'm always looking at other peoples homes. One of the cool things I've noticed are these unique driveways. I'm not even sure what they're called, but I love the idea of keeping a grass strip in the middle of the pavement. Not only is it much easier on the eye than a big slap of concrete (or "impervious surface" as hubs would say), it allows water to absorb into the ground, allowing less run off. Sweet - I'll take one please.

green driveways


and then I went looking online and found this… I mean, need I say more?
via La Dolce Vita

And I had to throw this house in here just because I really dig it too. It has blue-gray shingles all over and thick gray lacquer paint on the porch. Too bad I don't know the owners, I'd sure love a tour inside. Hmm… maybe I'll work on that.



Monday, December 7, 2009

weekend of nesting

Our big night out Friday, at the galleries over on Pendleton, was so much fun. We met some very friendly artists and did a bit of holiday shopping. The night ended early though and I almost crawled into bed at 8:30. Seriously. I stayed up a bit longer though enjoying my December issue of Vogue. I get lost in all the gorgeous frocks and feel immediately transported somewhere very chic and cool. Saturday, hubs was not feeling too hot so I escaped from the house while he rested and did a little more gift shopping. I really wanted to support the local shops this year - no malls for moi. I say that, but I'm sure I'll end up in one eventually before Christmas. I started at Emporium which is downtown and they have all sorts of funky gifts. Then walked over to Mayme Baker Studio. I'd seen her stuff before at antique mall, but her store is precious! You have to spend a little time just looking up, down and around, because there is so much stuff. I could have bought a pile of things just for myself. I scored something very cool for mums, but I couldn't leave with out a shiny new ornament for our house - three dangling glittery peace signs!


We haven't done much (any really) decorating at the bungalow since we won't be here, but we do have the stockings up. They are courtesy of Marilyn, my mother in law. Hubs has had his for a while of course, but mine is new - given to me last Christmas. They are seriously special and I love that they were hand sewn by Marilyn. In fact, she's probably already working on the next one for a little baby to be.


Friday, December 4, 2009

sipping slowly

My husband is so sweet. I mean seriously sweet and I sure love him. He brought home some sparkling cider and filled me up a champagne glass. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. I had just been drooling over a recipe for Milk Punch in my book, Southern Cocktails. Mmm… yummy like ice cream, but with a whole lotta bourbon to warm you up. I served it at a party in momma's crystal punch bowl and it was a huge hit. Well, this is nothing like sparkling cider, but since I won't be turning back the bourbon bottle any time soon - sparkling cider will have to do. Actually, it's not half bad and I'm just pretending it's bubbly.


So I am sipping away before we head out on a date. We're going by a gallery opening down the street and then somewhere fun for dinner. This is our night out because Hubs has exams next week and will be holed up, studying away the next few days. That's all I've got for now, but hopefully I'll have some pics to share on Monday. I've decided we're going to take a photo of us somewhere in Gville for our Christmas card. Not sure how it's going to happen actually, since I want us both in the shot, but wish me luck!

milk punch
1 ½ ounces good bourbon or brandy
2 ounces half-and-half
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
Drop of vanilla extract
Ice cubes
garnish : grated nutmeg

Combine the bourbon, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly until the mixture is cold and frothy. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with a grating of nutmeg. sip slowly

Thursday, December 3, 2009

cassoulet for the cold

Gosh, I didn't think the rain would ever stop. It seriously felt like the grizzly river rampage out there and poor Coop dog was very bored. He would groan a little, get up, stretch it out, circle around and lay back down. Sigh. He hasn't been feeling quite up to par the last few days. While we were back home last week he wasn't interested in his food. Well, that right there is a sure sign of something, because this buddy loves to eat. I mean really loves to eat. He's acting a little better though and we're starting him on some meds from the vet so we'll see. Honestly, I think some of it is just his age. He's stiffer and has more trouble getting up. Poor fella is feeling the aches and pains I suppose. Today is a new day though and he's chillin in the back yard while the sun comes back out!

I guess he thought me taking his pic was extremely boring

So let me tell you about this delicious dish I made the other night. It was perfect on a crummy, cold weather night. I recently discovered the epicurious app on my iphone and I'm obsessed with it. Actually, I'm just obsessed with my iphone in general, but I digress. So, what I choose for dinner was a Vegetable Cassoulet. You may be wondering what a cassoulet is exactly (I had no idea myself) and I would say it's part stew, part soup, part casserole. Anyway it's hearty, warm and hubs loved it too.

I served it with crusty bread the first night and then served it over rice the next night. Here is the recipe veggie cassoulet. And just fyi - I cooked it all in my le creuset pot and added 2 chopped carrots + red wine, but you could almost throw anything you have in there too.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

makes me proud

I don't think about it very often, but I had a mighty good college experience. I spent four years at Auburn University and the graphic design program taught me lifelong skills. Our teachers made us do a big percentage of work off of the computer and though it didn't make me any better a drawer, it was totally invaluable. So I felt pretty proud to see an Auburn story on Design Sponge today. It's about the Rural Studio program within the architecture school.

Picture 5

I'd heard about Samuel Mockabee, but didn't know much until I read an article and later purchased his book. He started a program for the architecture students to design and build houses in impoverished Hale Co., Alabama (the same Hale County made famous by Walker Evans striking photos in the 40s). They use materials like waste cardboard bales, old license plates, and salvaged lumber. Samuel Mockabee is no longer living, but the tradition continues in a big way. He called it "contemporary modernism grounded in Southern culture."

Picture 4

The idea is very inspiring - I just wish I'd known about it while I was there. I suppose I was too busy "socializing" to pay any attention!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

new additions

I've been waiting on this little number for months now. My grandmother was sweet enough to give me an old wing chair of theirs a few years ago. Only problem was it was pretty sad looking. The fabric was torn around the edges of the arms and let's just say it had "browned" over the years. I kept it in my bedroom for a couple years, with clothes piled on top to hide it's pitiful appearance.


Well, no more hiding. The chair got a face lift and it's so much happier. Now he just beams and kinda smiles back at me. Look how pretty he is! I found the fabric on sale in Nashville and had a little woman my mom knows, create a slip cover. I adore the sassy birds and sort of mexican style pattern. It suites my office just fine and has become a good spot to read and sip tea!



And another little nugget for my office : a hummingbird paper weight. My momma was in NY, so Christmas came a bit early for moi! Well this isn't just any ole paperweight. It's so cool and I find myself staring at it sometimes, like it's a crystal ball. That sounds weird, but I don't lie. It's by John Derian, who I now covet. I checked out their site and it is full of whimsical collages and ephemera. Kind of reminds me of some of our tenn hens designs in fact.


I especially love the petit fours wrapping paper + bird trays :