Who else is Marie Kondo-ing their life? I just started watching the show after hearing about her book several years ago and seeing several posts about it recently. While I don’t think I have quite the problem as most of her clients, this has been so helpful to spark me into my annual purge. I usually try to clean out my closet each year, but this year I think the entire house needs a once over. Every drawer, cabinet, and closet will get reorganized. After finding all of those plastic bags at the beginning of the year, I decided that I can probably end up with an empty kitchen cabinet at the end of this.
I’ve always considered myself as someone who can clean out and throw away when it comes to cabinets, closets, and drawers. As I’ve been putting up Christmas, I’ve been creating a pile to be donated. I learned over the weekend that I do indeed hoard a good bit. When I was forced to clean up my kitchen cabinets, I found an unbelievable amount of plastic shopping bags crammed into the crevices of my kitchen eating up valuable storage. About a year ago, I did make the change to paper when faced with the question “paper or plastic.” I can recycle those each week, and they tend to stand up better when getting from my car to the house in one trip. However, one store in particular does not offer paper options. (Damn you, Wal-Mart.) So, to the trash they went; and I vowed to not keep a single bag this year.
What have you cleaned out in 2019 that shocked you?
I took a couple of quizzes over the weekend that gave me two words to use as my “word of the year.” One told me “delight” should by my word. I like the idea, but I needed something a little stronger. I took another, and it told me “ambitious” was supposed to be my word.
During 2018, I had a client tell me after we closed a contract that I had been very ambitious during the process. I think that makes a point that I need to use that same mind set throughout the entire year with all of my clients at work and then at home, too. So, I’ll be ambitious with my cleaning, ambitious with my baking, and we will see what else.
It’s time to get on my soap box for my top pet peeve — the gift of puppies at Christmas. I know. It is adorable. Those kids are thrilled. All is right in the world while that puppy plays in piles of discarded wrapping paper.
BUT. Think about a week later when you’ve been up all night and the kids are snug in their beds. Think about what happens when they go back to school and you’re back at work in January. Most people aren’t lucky like I am to have a built in doggie daycare in the form of MawMaw and PawPaw (also known as Paul and Suz). You’ll be tempted to make that post on Facebook to re-home that little ball of fur.
Don’t get me wrong. I always asked for puppies at Christmas, but we are a different breed of dog people (and my parents knew how to say no). When we were growing up, our dogs stayed outside; but we played with them. We would come home from school, get into the backyard, and spend hours running around the yard with the dogs. We didn’t play video games. We didn’t have the internet until I was in the 8th grade. Our dogs were our after-school activity. Now that I’m an adult and have 2 children, I mean, dogs of my own, nothing makes me madder than seeing those people who had to give in to their kids’ wishlists and get them a puppy post they are ready to regift a family member.
Now, here comes the warning. If you have the slightest thought of getting a puppy for Christmas for your kids this year, go ahead and unfriend me. Block me on Instagram. I’ll be watching you otherwise. And when you go back in mid February and make that post saying “free to a good home” or “we just don’t have time for him”, beware. I’ll call you out on that post because you are the worst of the worst. I won’t feel bad about it either. Your kids will eventually move on and forget, but that dog won’t. Dogs get attached. Dogs become a part of the family the moment you bring them home and begin to trust you. When you give them away or let them run off or don’t have time for them, that changes that dog.
So, you’ve been warned. Merry Christmas. Get them a stuffed animal instead.
As a Christmas present the first year that my parents were married, my grandmother gifted a custom-bound book to fill with her favorite recipes. I’ve seen this book come out of the cabinet all of my life and know that it is filled with recipes that I’ve grown up with and love. One particular recipe that I demand make it’s appearance each Christmas season is for my favorite cookie, Childhood Thumbprint Cookies. The dough is that of a buttery shortbread, and it is filled with a dark fudgey chocolate that I could eat by the spoonful (and maybe have over the years).
Childhood Thumbprint Cookies
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
To make the dough, cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour and salt. Mix well and chill. Roll into 1-inch balls and flatten with thumb. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
To make the frosting, cook sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Beat until the desired consistency (a thick, shiny fudge). Top each cookie thumbprint with a teaspoon full of chocolate and allow to harden. Keep in an airtight container (and hidden so no one else will eat them).
As most of you know, I am carrying on the Guido Christmas tradition of having a white, flocked tree each year as my Christmas centerpiece. My grandmother’s tree was epic each year. With her large bay window in the living room, she could afford to get the fattest tree on the lot. She went for short and fat, and she got it right every year. Mom and Dad were always on hand to help with the flocking process; so when I bought my house with a large window in the living room, we knew I would take up the tradition.
Now, over the years, I’ve traded her pastel and mauve ornaments for traditional reds and greens to stand out for the passersby. (Don’t worry. Those “Nannie” ornaments now live on my bedroom tree each year.) And this year was poised to be the best tree yet with the edition of those retro colored lights added to the white lights for a little pizzazz. However, the flocking gods had other plans this year.
In early November, I went to the same old site to get the same old flocking fiber refills that I get every year. I always start the year with five pounds of flock to make sure I have enough to get through the tree. I usually only need 3 or at most 4 pounds, but you just never know how the flocking will go once you get started. When the flock came in, the bags weren’t in the refill packages that I’m used to. They were just Ziploc bags of flock. So I had a slight panic wash over me while looking at this $100-worth box of alien flock. After some Googling and frantic emailing to Fowl Flocker, I found out that Peak Seasons no longer makes the refill packages of flock for my particular flocking apparatus/gun. Again, I panicked. I started looking for new flocking methods. Some said to use a sieve to “dust” the flock. (Yeah right.) Others suggested buying the industrial flocking machine. (Hell no to $1,000+.) Finally, I found a “snow blower” perfect for the amateur flocker. (What a sentence.) So, I was ready.
The morning after Turkey Day, we bought our pre-painted real Christmas tree, got it into the stand, and trimmed the excess limbs to create shape for the flock and the hundreds of lights and ornaments to decorate with. Now, time to flock. The new apparatus called for a spraying of water over the tree as the first step, then the flock was the go on with more water. Already, we’re adding more water than we usually do; and the process calls for a final spraying of water after the flock has been applied. The first pound of flock is poured into the bucket, on goes the shop vac, and bam. The pound of flock is gone. I think I went white lipped. We’ve only made one pass up and down the length of the tree and we’re a pound of my five pounds down. Shit. So we started to strategize this process. Dad handled the bucket. I worked the shop vac power switch. Within 5 more minutes, the flocking was finished. Now to add (more) water to activate the adhesive in the flock. Then the entire tree drooped. More panic. It just needed to dry. Yeah. Dry! Remember now, it was humid as all get out this weekend. That can’t be good for flocking with this much water. So, we decided to let it sit in the carport overnight and think about what it did.
The next morning, I noticed that a little more of the tree had sprung into shape; but for the most part, we were still drooping. So, inside the tree came. I trimmed some more limbs out to lighten the mood. And on went the decor.
Making the best of it.
It’s still pretty magical.
Bottoms up, tree.
It’s not my best tree; but from the road, it looks just fine. I will say that decorating it definitely helped. I gave it a vodka and water last night to help spur it along. However, Peak Seasons and I will be having some words later today about the flocking process. I mean. What the flock?
Well, today I start my 31st year and am excited to see what it brings. I have to say, thirty was a good one and will be hard to beat. Right before that big birthday, a friend told me she thought 30 would be my year. Was she right! A new job, which is what I’m thankful for this year. A crop of new friends, including a large-toothed nutria. New adventures that have brought me a little closer to home. Time was spent in New Orleans with Dad, Baton Rouge with Mom, and the Delta with my favorite kiddos. Top all that off with more weekends than I can count spent curled up with the Beagles. Thirty was welcomed and enjoyed.
So, tonight I’ll ring in 31 with the best of friends over dinner and a couple glasses of bubbly just in time for Turkey Day!
A tree devoted to all of the St. Mary’s pewter ornaments.
A kitchen tree. What’s cuter?
I mean, come on.
It’s no secret that I like Christmas. As soon as Hallmark starts running that marathon countdown and XM changes over to the jolliest of tunes, I’m instantly in the holiday spirit. Don’t misunderstand, though. I love all of fall. I love pumpkin spice like every other basic out there. I love seeing the leaves change and crisp fall days make their way into our lives. I love Halloween and dressing my Beagles into costumes that they absolutely hate. I even make room for Thanksgiving because, really, what’s better than a day solely devoted to eating, watching a Christmas parade, and then napping all afternoon? Plus, both my sister and I celebrate our birthdays in November, so we have an appreciation for the fall.
But what’s wrong with decking the halls early? What’s wrong with spreading a little Christmas cheer? I’ve already planned, ordered, and started addressing my Christmas cards. I’ve got 4 of my 6 trees up and decorated. Is there a Christmas wreath on my door? No. Do I have pumpkins on my porch? Yes. Have I already pulled out my Christmas PJs? Hell, yes. It’s cold outside. So, do us all a favor. Don’t judge those that decorate during the month of November and sing Fa-la-la-la-la under their breath at a moment’s notice. We’re just jolly, ok? It could be worse.
Every year brings back those same feelings from 2001 of anger, fear, and patriotism. In 2013, I had the honor to visit Ground Zero during a quick trip to the Big Apple. It may have been pouring rain but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to visit such a sacred American monument.
The Prentiss Club courtesy of the Historic Natchez Foundation
As featured in Southern Living, Buzz Harper shows off his glamorous home and dining room.
Our Queen Mum in the Prentiss Club’s ballroom
Aimee and I with our Queen Mum
Over the weekend, we witnessed the burning of one of Natchez’s finest landmarks, The Prentiss Club. Some remember it for the Cellar in its basement years ago and others remember it after Buzz Harper came to town and revitalized the building with grandeur and a golden touch. What I remember the Prentiss Club for was a cocktail luncheon given in my grandmother, Doris Guido’s, honor in the spring of 2007 when my sister was the reigning Natchez Garden Club Queen. Our Queen Mum enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in the grand ballroom and lavish dining room surrounded by friends, family, and guests of all ages. We wined from crystal, dined from fine China, and finished the event with a silver spoon filled with a strawberry trifle.
Now that my Nannie has passed away, the Prentiss Club has been the holder of the memories from that afternoon several moons ago. I hope that the future for the building and almost art gallery is bright. In Natchez, we restore our history for generations to come. The Prentiss Club still has many years to go.