Welcome to Southern Comfort!

Hi, I'm Elizabeth and I invite you to grab a glass of sweet tea and join me as I (along with my husband, John) renovate our love nest. We're both born and raised in the south and love to share with you some of our favorite recipes, stories and our life. We hope you'll come back often!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Thanksgiving We'll Never Forget

I know, I know, Thanksgiving was soo long ago with Christmas popping up everywhere, but I had to share this story with you. This year was a first for many things. Some good, some bad, some funny, and some things that just make you go "huh". And I swear, I can't make this stuff up.

It all started on Thanksgiving afternoon. John and I were to meet my family at my parents house for the most looked-forward-meal-of-the-year. And just to give you a little background of the evening, we were there along with: my sister, Annie, her hubby, there 2 dogs, and Annie's and classroom guinea pig. Then there was our Grandma (on Dad's side, who's not all "with it" these days if you know what I mean). And because mom is the most fabulous cook, and we love to have the house bursting at the seams with family, we also invited my Godparents, there 4 kids (whom are all grown now)  and their 2 grandchildren, ages 2 and 5, and their Grandma was along too. Just to help you with that math,in total we had 15 adults, 2 kids, 4 dogs and a guinea pig.
Shew. The house was FULL!

Not long before dinner, Grandma #2 said she wasn't feeling well and went to the back of the house to lie down. The day before, she'd been released from the hospital for congestive heart failure because she didn't take her heart meds. Once she was lying down, she told us she hadn't taken them today either. Awesome. We feared tonight we'd be back in the hospital. Luckily, we had 3 nurses in the house who helped look after her.

Meanwhile, dinner is being prepared, stirred, plated and the house is bustling with laughter and music. Out of no where, Scout, one of Annie's dogs, lets out a yelp. We figure she's just gotten under someone's feet or one of the kids played too hard with her and all will be fine in a minute. Sure enough, things calmed down long enough to say the blessing.

We sit down for dinner and conversation ensues. We are all animal lovers at this house, so we naturally turn to watch the dogs play, talk about their personalities etc. Michaela, who works for a vet, calmly says "you know, Chris' dog is going through a false pregnancy at the moment".
We all stop.
Look at her.
Do what?
"Yes, Lexi, who hasn't been fixed,for some reason her body feels it's pregnant even though she's not.
The boys find her facinating right now."

Interresting. What do you say to that?

Our evening continues, the pregnancy comment easily forgotten minutes after it's said. Shoe-less kids running about playing, dogs barking at one another over the last piece of turkey, dishes and silverware clanking together. The sounds of happy and full bellies all around.

Another yelp from Scout, the 2 year old sitting beside her.  Annie goes over to investigate.  Here was Henry, pulling on Scouts poor nipples. He said it was because he pulled on Lexi's the other day. I swear I can't make this stuff up. It amazes me what boys find to play with,  Poor dog was getting titty-twisted at Thanksgiving.

The evening winds down. Dessert is consumed with gusto. Mom's pecan and pumpkin pies are to die for, and didn't stand a chance. I expect Grandma #1 to want to head back to the nursing home at any minute. She typically doesn't want to stay for long after eating these days, and I'm more than happy to take her home. I begin getting my keys and purse together and sure enough the woman has disappeared. I go looking for her and find her in the back bedroom undressing herself to go to bed. She used to stay with Mom and Dad a couple of years ago before we got the nursing home things straightened out. I don't know if she was confused about where she was staying or what, but sure enough, she was determined to get nekkid and climb into bed. She reminds me a lot of the grandmaw on Raising Hope (if you haven't seen that show, you must. So funny!).
So we now have one Grandma laid up in the bed with a bad heart, a poor dog whose nipples are being twisted by a toddler, another confused Grandma trying to get nekkid, and a guinea pig who can't seem to catch a break from other dogs wanting to "sniff" her, all while trying to be thankful for this past year and our time spent together.

I know what you're thinking. This has got to be the end right? Nope. The blessings of the year continue into the next day.
The day after Thanksgiving is Chili day. For years our family has always fixed a HUGE pot of Chili for friends and family to come enjoy. It's casual, fun and a break from the turkey.
As I mentioned, we had a guinea pig along with us for the holiday weekend. I didn't get a chance to snuggle with him on Thanksgiving day with all the commotion, but Friday night I wanted my turn! Big mistake. Within 3 minutes of holding that little snuggler I broke out in the worst case of hives. My skin literally blistered as it spread. My eyes swelled shut, my lips grew to the size of plums and oh my goodness did I itch!
I ended up spending the rest of the evening at the urgent care clinic getting shot after shot of benadryl and steriods.

Today I'm feeling much better. The swelling has subsided completely, I do still itch a bit. I'm hopeful that will fade as the week progresses.

Thanksgiving this year was unforgetable, as John puts it. I am so Thankful for so many things this year. I am thankful to still have Grandmothers to celebrate life with, I am thankful for all the warm critters our family has been blessed with (even with allergic reactions). I am thankful for wonderful friends and family who, year after year, continue stay close and dear to us. I am thankful for our good health and a warm home. But I am most thankful for my husband. He is the most caring, thoughtful, wonderful caretaker of me when I'm feeling good, but even more so when I'm not. I don't know what I would do without him.

So from this crazy Thanksgiving to many, many more just like it. I am Thankful! 

I've been busy working on our Christmas decorations around the house the past couple days, and I can't wait to share with you. Squeeee! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preparing for Thanksgiving Guests

If you follow me on Facebook, you've known for a while I've been preparing for the crowd. Each year we celebrate Thanksgiving with John's family on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and make a weekend of family being in town. This is our third year hosting and just love having the house filled with family!

                                               photo source

Let's face it, there's a lot to do to prepare for guests coming. Over time I've learned what works and what doesn't for extra company. Here, I have my own set of "must-do's" to be prepared for extra company. I figured we can all use a little extra help this time of year, so I wanted to share with you my "To-Do List" to prepare for company.

  • Wash the sheets on the guest bed. No one wants to sleep in dusty sheets. I try and wash mine about a week before (if I know ahead of time they're coming).
  • Dust and vacuum the bedroom and get it clean. Same goes for the guest bathroom.  
  • Set out extra pillows. Everyone has their own taste for their pillows. I'm a soft 2 pillow person, John prefers a firm set. Allow your guests to be choosy, they may be away from home, but everyone wants a good night's sleep.
  • Place a water bottle by the bed. I try and keep extra water in the guest bedroom just in case of a sudden cough, or dry spell. There's nothing worse than having to tromp downstairs in the middle of the night for something so simple.
  • Make sure you have plenty of extra towels and blankets (in plain view, or let them know where they are) for guests. Make sure they know they're welcome to help themselves.

  • Check the lightbulbs in the lamps to be sure none are burnt out or flickering.
  • Stock up on toilet paper in the guest bath. There's nothing worse than not having extra when you need it! I keep mine in a small basket on the back of the toilet. That way there's no fumbling through cabinets and drawers trying to find it.
  •  Leave a book or stack of magazines on the dresser or nightstand for entertainment to wind down at night.

Those are my Must-Do's for guests. If you have time, here are some other ideas:  set out a bowl of chocolates for a little treat, change pictures in the frames of family/ friends visiting to make them feel more at home. Have travel bottles of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and floss in the bathroom in case they forgot anything.

So there you have it. My little list of things to make my guests feel a little more at-home and welcome when they come to visit.

Monday, November 22, 2010

November Love Continues

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned my love for November in this post? I asked you do tell me your favorite Novmber memories, fun mentions and facts and I was bombarded with comments and emails galore!

One of my favorite bloggers, Jane from jayayacee blog, posted her favorite things about November and I just had to share her post with y'all. Jane is such a treat to read. She's a girl after my own heart with her crafts. Her knitting skills have me green with envy at all her amazing creations, not to mention she's a fabulous cook! I love browsing her recipes getting ideas for entertaining, dinner, and treats. You must pay her a visit. She's an absolute treat. :)

Here's her post:
Thanksgiving Favorites

Elizabeth over at Southern Comfort has invited us all to share our Thanksgiving memories in her Thanksgiving Favorites post. Wait until you read hers ... I've been laughing for days!!!
I've been a big fan of Southern Comfort (the blog, not the whiskey) for a long time now. Elizabeth is fun to read, gives details on wonderful DIY home projects (the monogram in the picture frame is one I especially love), great recipes and stories about her sweetie pie Hubby and their adorable 4-legged children. As she says, "Pull up a chair and have a glass of sweet tea."

Here are my Thanksgiving Favorites ...
1. What does Thanksgiving mean to YOU this year?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays -- everyone gathers together to share the best meal of the year, it's the prelude to Christmas but there are no gifts involved =D and it's Fall so the temperatures have cooled off here in Phoenix. I think that moment when we all sit down at the table together and I realize we've made it another year is just so sweet for me ... pure happiness!
2. What are you THANKFUL for?
When I hear about people losing their jobs and their homes and dealing with illnesses, I am just so grateful that we have gone through the last year without these personal trials.
3. Do you have a favorite dish that you MUST have for the big Turkey dinner?
The turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy are a given. A few years ago, I found a recipe for Cranberry-Sour Cherry Chutney that has become one of the favorites at our table. Everyone seriously raves about this dish and I plan to make it every year forever.

4. Do you have a favorite family TRADITION you do each year for Thanksgiving (big or small)?
We like to go around the table and say what we're especially grateful for. It's always nice to hear the special good things everyone has to say.
5. What do you love most about NOVEMBER?
Living in Phoenix with our yard full of palm trees, we don't get the dramatic color changes that cooler parts of the country do, but it is still one of my favorite things when I see a tree with gold and orange leaves on it. I also look forward to the craft fairs that start popping up all over and the fragrance of cinnamon when you walk into the craft stores.

6. What is your FAVORITE family/silly/fun memory from Thanksgiving in years' past?

I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Give me a 25-pound turkey to stuff and I'm happy. But as much as I love to cook, several years ago, when we were still running our stationery store, I hadn't been cooking much at all and especially not during the craziness of our retail holiday season. On Thanksgiving morning, I started pulling pots and pans out of the cupboard to assemble my cooking tools on the kitchen island. Our Youngest Daughter was living at home and one of her cats jumped up on a barstool and peeked strangely over the edge of the counter at me. I said to Hubby, "Why do you suppose this cat is looking at me like this?" He replied, "Because she's never seen you in the kitchen before." Ha ha! Actually, it makes me laugh every time I think of it!

Thanks, Elizabeth, and happy early Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Jane, It's been a pleasure having you participate in the Sweet November fun! I've learned a lot from blogging, but one of my biggest lessons has been; you dont' have to see someone to be friends. I consider Jane to be one of my friends, even though we've never "met".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Front Porch Fail

I have this dream about our front porch. When we bought our house the outside colors didn't really reflect our style. The exterior of our house is a butter-yellow, which is fine. But our faded blue shutters and doors need a little cleaning up. I knew it would end up on our project list at some point.
Here's what I envision:
A red glass door, that lets you see the sparkle of indoor lights at night. Black shutters that will clean up the exterior of the house from the faded blue ones we have now.  A new, larger, black light fixture (as a nod to our shutters) with clear glass that sparkle at night. A bench with comfy pillows to sink into for a mug of hot cocoa and watch the kids play in the street. Swoon. It's my dream.

Well, so far this dream porch hasn't happened. I've tried. When my grandmother's house was cleaned out over the summer I found the perfect door. It was exactly the size we needed and it was 1/2 glass on top. Perfect. So my Dad dropped it off and it got some love. Primed, and painted the perfect color red. We were on our way. 3 coats of paint later it was time to hang. I literally jumped out of bed that Saturday morning, threw on my play clothes and grabbed my half-awake husband to help me. Poor guy. I didn't even let him eat first.

Needless to say, it was utter failure. The door didn't fit. You would have thought I'd lost my best friend. That was about a month ago. We are back at square one. I still need to find a new light fixture, paint the shutters (I already have the paint), find a new door, and buy more red paint (after I finished painting the door, I accidentally knocked the paint can off the banister and it spilled all over our bushes. Do you know how hard it is to get red paint off thorny bushes? Hard, I'll tell you. I still have scars). No laughing. I still get hell from John about it. He likes to tease me, in a nice way. A little jab at my attempt at my dream porch. I guess he's still upset I woke him up and made him help me without breakfast. Sigh.

So the door didn't work. It has been demoted to the back of the house. Where it will stay until I can find the time to donate it to Habitat for Humanity. So someone else can make their dream porch come true. Back to square one...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thanksgiving Favorites

Because November is such a sweet month, and in an effort to acknowledge it instead of getting so caught up in December happenings as I mentioned in this post,  I've decided to challenge each of you.

Here are some fun questions about November and Thanksgiving happenings that I encourage each of you to answer. Some are family oriented, some are favorites of your own, some are just for giggles. I will also be forwarding them to other blogg-y friends to challenge their readers as well.

I can't wait to see what you all have to say about November!

1. What does Thanksgiving mean toYOU this year?

Thanksgiving means fellowship. I look forward to seeing old friends, family from all over, and being able to cook and enjoy the season with everyone.  I am going to do my best not to get too caught up in whether the house is clean enough, or if we have enough food (which we always have leftovers), or stress over everything being perfect. I want to slow down enough to enjoy cooking with my family, eating with my family, and enjoying my family's company.

2. What are you THANKFUL for?

This year I am especially thankful for my family, my house and my job. Over the past several years we've all seen and heard of the devistation of the economy and most of us have been touched by it one way or another. This particular year, I am thankful for the love of friends and family, a dry (albiet messy at the moment) roof over my head, and a job to go to every day.

3. Do you have a favorite dish you MUST have for the big Turkey dinner?
I have to pick just one?!? Shoot. I should have thought this question through. Hmm. To me it wouldn't be Thanksgiving with the turkey, but I want everything with the turkey too (the dressing, rolls, cranberry sauce, broccoli casserole, corn pudding, sweet potatoes, oh, and pumpkin pie). Does that count? Sure it does. I made up the question. :)

4. Do you have a favorite family TRADITION you do each year for Thanksgiving (big or small)?

My favorite family tradition actually is the Friday after the turkey. My parents started this tradition when they were first married over (30 years ago). They were really close with their highschool/ college friends and since everyone is home for Thanksgiving, they decided each year tohave everyone over for "Chili Night". It was a great excuse for Mom to cook (something other than fixin's) and to have everyone over to enjoy the holiday for one last shebang. Everyone brings their favorite brew and a dessert or side to share. It has now become not only my parents tradition, but my siblings and our highschool and childhood friends tradition too. So each year, we see, catch up and enjoy not just family, but years worth of friends too!

5. What do you love most about NOVEMBER?

I love the transition from Fall to Winter. Today the weather is dreary, a steady cold rain. Leaves are falling from the trees and it's cold enough for a jacket.  A perfect day to be inside with a fire.

6. What is your FAVORITE family/ silly/ fun memory from Thanksgiving in years' past?

Oh my. We've had some Griswald years people. Sure I could tell you all about the sappy, loving stories of family and playing with cousins in Grandma's basement for hours on end, or the year the string beans fell all over the kitchen floor when my brother tripped over the dog, but that wouldn't be near as entertaining. So let me tell you a story that I still can't believe to this day.

My mom is a nurse. She worked Labor and Delivery for 30 years. Shifts are sporadic and long hours are expected. This particular year, she had off. Thank goodness. But one of our dear friends didn't. Libby has a family of 4 children of her own, all grown now, and 2 sets of in-laws. Because Libby had to work that day, we all decided to have a huge family Thanksgiving with both families to take the stress off Libby having to cook/ clean and prepare for family after working and being on her feet for 12 + hours. It was going to be awesome. 

Across the street from my parents live this couple. We'll call them Steve and Maria. They have 2 teenage children, but don't have a good marriage. They are both stubborn and have tempers. Maria tends to drink to "get away" from her troubles. She is loud and opinionated. He is quiet and reserved. They rarely have people over and I have yet to see Maria cook.  You can see this is all adding up to be one big, happy family right?

So Thanksgiving day comes, we eat, we enjoy company, we eat some more. Dessert comes. Out of know-where Maria comes in the door. Holding a beer. Nothing new here (the beer that is, not the coming through the door unannounced). Followed quickly by her husband Steve. Apparently they had gotten in a arguement. Awesome. Both are drunk. Have I mentioned Libby's family is Mormon? No? Well they are. 
They continue their argument in our living room. I can't even recall what they were arguing about. I think we were all still so stunned by their entrance we really weren't paying attention to the yelling. After about 20 minutes of trying to enterject ourselves to calm them both down Steve disappears. He returns a few minutes later with a bottle of Champagne he apparently found in my parents spare refrigerator from who-knows-when, and is swigging from it. Good Lord I can't make this stuff up.
Now that the yelling has stopped, we've separated the two and are trying to resemble what was a peaceful Thanksgiving. Libby's family stays for about another 20- 30 minutes to help clean up and such. Once they begin their goodbye's for the evening we figure Maria and Steve would get the hint.
To make a really long story short, we all end up going to bed and saying goodnight to them while they are still in our living room. Steve has passed out in the recliner with the bottle of champagne and Maria is sitting on the couch with her 6-pack (she did leave long enough to go grab more booze) reading gardening books.
We're not really sure what time they left. When we got up the next morning they were gone. They haven't mentioned that evening since. That was 6 years ago.
They are still Mom and Dad's neighbors.

What about you? Answer the questions (or just one or two) in the comments section. I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet November

Poor November. I really feel sorry for this particular month. Sure, there's Thanksgiving and lots of food to look forward to, but for the most part, November is overlooked by it's fellow sidekicks. Let's delve further into this thought for a quick minute.

By the start of school in late August (or early September if you're lucky) all retailers have already started pulling out the pumpkins, goblins and fake spider rings. Gearing all of us up for all things spooky. For the most part, we overlook it until the weather *finally* makes a turn for the cooler. Which can seem like forever if you live in the south like us. But by the time we are ready for Fall and all the fun it brings, other holiday decor is slyly being brought into our favorite dollar spot and seasonal sections of stores. With it brings a certain anxiety and overwhelming feeling to us all. Seeing it forces us to think about a certain chubby, toy hauling, reindeer guiding, chimney sliding man. Makes us think about all the present wrapping (and buying), cooking, tree trimming, family get-togethers, decorating, church services, cleaning, baking and all the joys of the holidays.
With such a early reminder, it really doesn't leave a whole heck of a lot of time to think about one of the most spectacular Fall months. November.

I wish it wasn't so. I love this month of the year. I love the sweet smell of the leaves as they fall. I love the cloudy, cold weather. I love how I can ENJOY cooking and making our house smell like an oooey-gooey cinnamon bun without having to worry about who's coming over when, or if the bathroom is clean (and John really appreciates this, because if we're having company, I'm cooking, and he's cleaning.. it's how we work).

So for the next few weeks, you can just imagine that I'll be outside playing in the leaves with Maggie, baking pies, cookies and yummies to my little heart's content, and enjoying all that is November. At least until the family comes for Thanksgiving dinner, because right after they leave, you bet I'll be pulling all the Christmas bins from the attic and all hell will break loose.
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