Yes. We’ve added another. It’s something that we don’t necessarily have an excuse for, and we’re not sorry about it for the naysayers that think we’re crazy. We just love dogs. They are more than “part” of the family — they are family. Each one has a unique personality that fits into the Guido family mold; and when we have to say goodbye to one, we are all lost.

I had been planning on writing a post about our 2 “black kids,” the Black Labrador twins — Mae and TJ. However, over the past week, another “black kid” has come to live with us (at my parents’ house for all you people that think she’s living with me and the Beagles).

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Mae & TJ – The Twins

Last Tuesday, Mom and Dad were on their way home from early morning laundry openings and a side visit to McDonald’s when they spotted this black lab looking puppy on the highway near Grace Methodist Church. Dad, being the softy he is, instantly thought of our sweet Mae at home, wheeled the Ram Charger around, and jumped out to grab her from our Natchez rush minute. Luckily, Mom still had her warm McDonald’s biscuit, pulled it from the wrapper, and waved it wildly for the dog to see. Quickly making her way from the traffic, that puppy belly crawled into our lives, and “Grace” became a Guido.

I have to say, she’s definitely someone’s pet. We looked for her owner, shared her on  Facebook, checked for a microchip — and nothing. She is very mild-mannered, loves a good cuddle, and sleeps in the kennel all night. She sits. She stays. She stops when you say “no”. For a “puppy” of about 6 months or so, she’s pretty perfect. Now, we don’t think she is full Labrador. There is something else lurking in those bat-like ears. (We did a Google search and worried she may have some Great Dane in her. Search Labradane. We were scared.) But, she’s fitting in nicely with all of the Guido pups. The Beagles quickly took to her, and Mama Jo is teaching her who is boss. The Twins think she’s their long lost sister and roll her around the yard like a rag doll.

So, yes. We’ve added another. We saved Grace.

It’s finally Friday, and it’s cocktail time. When we traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, last September for my cousin Kari’s bachelorette bash, we spent an afternoon atop The Vendue at its amazing rooftop bar. We all quickly fell victim to the deliciousness of Peach Moscow Mules (and even took them “to go”). Ever since, we have attempted to recreate that yummy concoction and gotten pretty close to the real thing.

 

Peach Moscow Mule

1 shot peach-flavored vodka

Can ginger beer

Fresh lime juice

Ice

Fill a copper mule mug with ice. Pour in the vodka and top with ginger beer. Squeeze the juice of half a lime and enjoy!

This past weekend was chock-full of events, which were all fueled by endless wine, delicious food, and fun people. With a Friday afternoon with my freshly returned-to-America bosses around Natchez, Friday night landed the entire Country Roads crew (minus a few) at Natchez Food & Wine Festival’s Tastings Along the River. We wined; we dined; and we learned about the wine hammock/sling/yoke. (Don’t worry; those will be coming to a Supper Club near you this Fall.)

The Man. The Myth. The Wine Hammock.

Saturday was spent a little more relaxed with cocktails and cookies at my house before a delicious spread presented by Esther Carpenter and guest chef, Adam Ozga, at The Elms —  gazpacho with an avocado creme, a deconstructed tuna salad, charred short-rib with vegetables-a-plenty, and finished with a trio of desserts that all washed down nicely with an array of wines.

Finally, we Guidos celebrated Jackie O’s birthday the best way we know how — with a puppy party completely with pancakes and candles. I think she was happy to be off her strict diet for the night.

It’s an exciting foodie-themed weekend here in Natchez — Natchez Food & Wine Festival kicks off tonight with “Tastings Along the River”. I’m excited to get the Country Roads team in town this afternoon and start the festivities of a scrumptious weekend of taste testing and dinners.

In the meantime, I’m also planning a special party for Sunday night. My Jackie O turns 6 on Sunday, and we will be celebrating with a pancake feast! A couple of weeks ago, I used Joanna Gaines’ recipe for pancakes from her cookbook, Magnolia Table, for waffles. Let me tell you, it’s the best recipe I’ve used yet. Sometimes other recipes come out of my waffle iron flat and sometimes chewy. These were tall and fluffy. You almost didn’t need syrup — almost, though. Scatter some blueberries over the batter before closing the iron, and Voila! you have blueberry waffles to die for.

The Best-Ever Fluffy Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) vegetable oil

2 large eggs

Butter and syrup, for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and eggs. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and stir together until well combined. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes. The batter will begin to get fluffy. (This is an important step.) Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until hot. Generously oil the skillet. Carefully pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake into the pan, far enough apart that they won’t touch. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom and the top is bubbly, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until lightly browned on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the rest of the batter, adding oil to the skillet as needed. Serve hot.

(I would double this because the batter is thick and you’re going to want to stuff yourself with these.)

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This may be a bit of a spoiler post, but I’ll try not to give anything away. To be honest, it’s not as if there is much to give away this season.

I’ve been an avid follower of all things Netflix, including almost all of its original series, since the beginning. However, this season of Orange is the New Black was plain disappointing. You would think a group of misfit prisoners would lead to some really good story lines in gen. pop. in Max. No, we were just given regular old Piper complaining, Red worrying herself to death, and some drug addictions. What’s new, Litchfield? I miss several of the characters that didn’t follow to Max and that died last season. It’s just not the same. I will more than likely stick around for the next one since the finale was so so. You’ll see when you get there.

 

Luckily, we have friend with blueberry bushes (thank you, Greer family); and they don’t mind sharing.

One recipe that is our family go-to with fresh blueberries and usually on the Fourth of July is a scrumptious dessert called “Blueberry Yum Yum,” which was shared with MOM years ago by our neighbor, Lori Gaudet. Mom said that she can remember the first time she had it. It was at least 20 years ago on the Fourth of July, and she just couldn’t get enough of it!

Blueberry Yum Yum

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 cups sugar, divided

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup cornstarch

3 tablespoons water

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup margarine, softened

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

1 8-ounce cream cheese, softened

1 9-ounce frozen whipped topping, thawed

Combine blueberries, 1 cup of sugar, and 1/4 cup of water in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat until berries are soft (about 15 minutes). Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water in small mixing bowl. Stir well and add cornstarch mixture to berry     mixture. Continue cooking and stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Set aside to cool.

Combine flour, margarine, and pecans in a small bowl and mix well. Press mixture into a  greased 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool.

Combine cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar. Beat until smooth. Fold in the whipped topping. Spread over the crust, then pour the blueberries on top. Refrigerate before serving.

Ok. It’s just been me and Netflix binging the past couple of weekends; and I found 2 crime shows that (one) I’d never heard of, strangely enough, and (two) they are both based on real events. Now, they kind of help each other out a little in my opinion, so be sure to watch them in this order.

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Mindhunter

First things first, this is based on the finding of the term “serial killer” by a special division of the FBI. What I like about this show is that it really shows a difference in the FBI before and after this division formed and started working. It also makes you think differently about crime. Just give it a watch.

Plus, David Fincher is connected to this project, which for all of you out there that took Dr. Hays’ film class in college (I took it in both undergrad and graduate school) you’ll see the style connections.

Bonus. Season 2 is in the works right now.

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Manhunt: Unabomber

Again, this should be watched after Mindhunter because they roughly reference that division of the FBI with no explanation. So knowing that background helps develop the plot and show a little bit.

Now, this show was perfect for me for 2 major reasons. One, I like learning about true crime events that happened in my lifetime but was too young to be aware of. I find that interesting, and I usually spend hours Googling the offender or crime long after I’ve watched whatever documentary has sparked my interest. Second, it studies the English language. This was like sitting in a strange version of Dr. Sarcone’s History of the English Language course, and I. Loved. Every. Minute. Of. It.

I had no idea what or who the Unabomber was. I was familiar with the name, but that’s about it. So coming across this series was exactly what I needed to learn more. I kind of wish that the series would develop more into other seasons that dive into the “manhunt” of other true crime criminals. I would be on the edge of my seat waiting for those to be bingeable.