Skipping Christmas. Kinda.


Every year for Christmas, The Robinator and I say we're going to travel NEXT year for Christmas.  We claim it's because it is entirely too much work to say we don't have kids.  We decorate the house inside and out (I get ridiculous with like 4 trees), host a party, do beaucoup gifts, and make sure my nephew has a Christmas to remember.  (The kid gets TWO Christmases...I mean really...where they do that et?)

I cook a prime rib dinner, set a beautiful table and wear myself thin.

So you can see why we thought skipping Christmas would be okay today.

Well...when we started talking about it...our family started kirking out...

"No Christmas?"

"Wait, so yall not hosting a party?"

"What about gumbo?  You still gonna make some gumbo?"

"Wait...Christmas game night tho!"

"None of Robby's eggnog martinis?????????  YALL.FOOLS.TRIPPING."

The noise got so loud, even though we'd book the trip, we had to have Crunk Christmas early.  *sigh*  These people...

Everybody left Christmas Eve and we packed and were on the road to the airport for a 5:30am flight Christmas Day!

It was soooooooooooooooo nice.  We did EVERYTHANG!  LOL! We had amazing meals, tea, shopped, did the true tourist stuff, got jiggy at a fancy bash, and just had the most amazing time ever.

So much so...we think we're going to skip Christmas again next year.  LOL!  But don't tell our family.  They be tripping.


A Little Bit of Christmas!

I will ALWAYS love Christmas.

I hope.

Are you ready?

Holiday Menu Spreadsheet Download

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This is the spreadsheet I use every holiday meal to get ready.  I work on it a little at a time starting as soon as a cool breeze hit and I'm in a holiday mood.  You can download this to help you too.  It is a lifesaver when it comes to shopping!

Add sheets along the bottom with your recipes so you have everything where you need it to be and just prop up the iPad in the kitchen with "The Color Purple" on in the background and get your cooking on!


(You happy, Kristen?)

The Eating Holidays are Coming!!!!

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It's that time of year again when I want to completely redo everything to get ready for the holidays.  I just get into the thought process that people are coming so I need to be ready.  LOL!  Not like people aren't always visiting year 'round mind you.  Year 'round is okay for what it looks like...but when them SAME people come for the holidays it has to be mo'betta.  Don't ask for a rationale behind this way of thinking because there is none.  Seriously.  None.

But I know you probably feel me and are looking around your dining room to see what you need to do too.  LOL!  Cuz that's how we roll.

This starts with me bringing home this piece.  It was soooooooo heavy and we just loaded that sucker up any way we could.  Just slid it all cross the back of the truck.  We got it home and maneuvered it to the garage where it stayed while I worked on it.  It was a challenge because whenever I needed to move it, I couldn't without The Robinator and his schedule made that hard to be consistent.  But I finally finished it.

I stripped the top layer of the finish off and then lightly sanded it.  Then I put two coats of Minwax weathered grey stain on the top of it.  For the base, I painted it with Dixie Belle's Haint Blue.    It's the loveliest neutral color with just the tiniest bit of blue in it.  So much so that you only see it as blue in perfect lighting conditions.  LOL!  I'm talking blinds closed and ceiling light on.  Any other times it looks white.

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Because I'm going for a rustic farmhouse look in there, I distressed it lightly.  I only did that after we decided to keep it because it was too heavy to take it to my shop.  I mean...this thing is crazy heavy and we're just not built for moving stuff that can't get scratched up.  We're more of the college students you find on Craigslist kinda movers where we just pray for the best and get the worst possible outcome.  Who knew I needed so much additional storage though?  I certainly didn't and now, I have much more.  I have a whole drawer dedicated to linen napkins so I'm not scrambling looking for 8 that match and end up having to use two sets of 4.  *sigh*  And who knew I had enough small placecard holders and napkin rings to fill an entire drawer?  Not me that's for sure!  But I do.  LOL!  So thing is to find a rug I can live with, get some cushions made for those two barrel back chairs and some kinda window treatments which don't make the room feel stuffy and I'll be ready for the eating holidays!

Holiday Season 2016

This holiday season was so epically satisfying. Except for the was perfect. Kids, family, framily, friends, good eating, amazing gift giving and receiving, hugs, kisses, games, dancing, laughter, giggles and just being so super comfortable in your own skin.

Our nephew goes to a charter school and had more days off than normal public schools and, with working parents, daycare can be a challenge so he spent the two weeks before Christmas with us.  We had an absolute blast with him keeping Santa front and center.

We hosted Christmas dinner and had a holiday party the day after, which was a lot of fun playing games and just catching up with everyone.  

After Christmas, we headed to Houston to bring in the New Year with family and checked out Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Silos in Waco, Texas too!  A good time was had by all.

The house was deep cleaned before we traveled for New Years and when we returned it was great walking into a perfectly ordered home.

And now...we rest and regroup. Make plans, go over financial goals for this year and focus on being ready for any eventuality this year may bring.

I hope it's the same for you. Just be better cuz if I know were already good cuz I only know GOOD people. If all these GOOD people focus on being better? MAN...that will spread far and wide. BE.BETTER!

Happy New Year from The Robinator and I. We hope to see as many of you as possible in 2017 so we can hug your neck and remind you that we're in your tribe. Count on us for what you need from us be it support, encouragement, or just a good time chilling, relaxing and laughing.

LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Black Santa

This is my oldest bit of holiday decor.  I recently fixed the scratches and many of the missing pieces and put him out as I do every.single.Christmas.  There was such an uproar about Santa being Black in the mall recently that it made me scratch my head.  Santa isn't real so um...Santa can be whatever skin color we want him to be.  Santa has always been Black to me as he has always been representative of our family.  No biggie right?  Right.  Christmas is inclusive so make it as personal as possible.  All that good magic just floating around?  Put it to your own family magical use.  

Too many people out here showing their azz for no reason.  Don't be an azz showing dummy.

And be happy.


Giant Outdoor Wreath

I wanted a gigantic wreath to put on the window in the middle of the top floor but Robby wouldn't let me be great.  He decided that since our ladder didn't reach that far safely...I could only put it where I could reach with him holding the ladder.  For some odd reason, he had a problem with me climbing off the tippy top of the ladder over the rail with a gigantic wreath and, since I couldn't hold the ladder while he climbed off the tippy top of the ladder over the rail with a gigantic see how this ended.



I got a gigantic faux wreath, linked together sets of 3 unbreakable ornaments using green ornament hooks.  Added an outdoor bow and attached it NOT on the FABULOUS window where it would be perfect...but under it.  Safely.  



Me likey.  And it didn't cost a lot to make.  Which makes me likey it even moreso.  If only it was on the window...*sigh*


Sweet Potato and Pecan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Week before last I was sitting at a red light in a bit of traffic.  I looked to my right and caught the eye of the elderly gentleman on side of the road who was selling sweet potatoes.

Him:  You don't need no sweet potatoes?

I laughed and pulled over.  Apparently, I needed sweet potatoes.  

So I returned home with 20 pounds of sweet potatoes for $10 which is a REALLY good deal but um...there are  only two of us and sweet potatoes will probably go bad before sweet potato PIE time.  That said...I've been being uber creative with sweet potatoes and searching out all types of different recipes online.    

Today, I roasted cubes of sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil on a cookie sheet for thirty minutes at 425 degrees.  Then...I put two cups to the side and seasoned the rest for lunch.  

Have I mentioned we had 20lbs?  


I found a recipe for Sweet Potato Pecan cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting which looked promising so I swapped out the can of sweet potatoes for my smashed cubes of potatoes and they were soooooooooooooooooooooo delicious!  I'm not a big icing person so I put far less icing on them than it seems most folks do but they were so good.  Not too sweet and just perfect!  The Robinator had three in twenty minutes.  LOL!  Good thing the recipe made 24!  

I gave some to the neighbor using the awesome Dollar Store boxes I buy all of when I see them in NON-traditional Christmas print.  LOL!  They are $1 for 3 and they are super nice with a peek-a-boo top.  And they are way nicer than the ones at The Container Store that you pay $6 for.  

I feel safe telling yall that because I have like...a LARGE drawer full of them so I won't run out if there is a shortage.  LOL!

This is a 3 bowl recipe for the cake.  Use the biggest bowl for the creaming together the butter and the sugar.'ll need another bowl for the frosting.  LOL!

Sweet Potato and Pecan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (16-oz.) can mashed sweet potatoes OR two cups of mashed roasted sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour OR 3 cups of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Garnish: coarsely chopped pecans

1. Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan.

2. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring once after 4 minutes.

3. Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

4. Whisk together mashed sweet potatoes, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sweet potato mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Fold in toasted pecans. Place foil baking cups in muffin pans, and coat with vegetable cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full.

5. Bake at 350° for 28 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove immediately from pans, and cool 50 minutes to 1 hour or until completely cool. Spread cupcakes evenly with Cream Cheese Frosting. Add a pecan half to the top to make pretty.

The cream cheese frosting is the basic recipe.

1 package of cream cheese, softened

1 stick of butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together cream cheese and butter until fluffy, gradually add powdered sugar on low until all gone and then add vanilla.  Voila...cream cheese frosting!  

These are EXCELLENT fall cupcakes and will be great for the dessert station for Thanksgiving!  GO YOU!

How to Make Lovely Ceramic Coasters!

One day last week I was procrastinating.  STORY OF MY LIFE!  I went to sit down and focus with a drink in my hand.  I already had a mug on the only coaster on that table so then I started thinking that I need more coasters.  So, of course, I started online shopping for coasters.  You know...all the normal places, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, West Elm, etc.

I saw stuff I liked that was more than I wanted to pay and the stuff that I thought was reasonably priced was just BLAH.


So then I decided to make my own.  No...seriously...I picked up my keys and went to get supplies to make my own.

I bought white 4 x 4 tiles for .12 cents each at Lowes, a book of scrapbook paper for $5, some epoxy and some cork squares.

Prep your surface.

1.  Cut scrapbook paper 10cm x 10cm.

2.  Brush tile with Modge Podge.

3.  Put paper on tile.

4.  Let dry for 15 minutes. (A few of them, I did a bit of extra with some paint so I had to let those dry longer.)

5.  Brush tile with another layer of Modge Podge.

6.  Let completely dry overnight.


Prep your surface and turn a disposable plastic cup under each tile.

7.  Mix epoxy per directions.  (Don't mix more than a little less than half a cup of each bottle.)

8.  Pour in the center of each tile.

9.  Smooth with a spreader.  I use Bondo spreaders.  

10.  Use a foam brush or a folded index card to make sure the sides coated and there is none under the tile.

11.  Let dry for 24 hours.  (I actually let mine dry longer because I was waiting on the cork adhesive to arrive.)

12.  Add cork squares to bottoms.

13.  Tie something around 2 or 4 of them to give as gifts!  LOL!

So yeah...I think they are gorgeous!  Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas this year?  LOL!  Yup.  Just bought two boxes of 100 tiles for $12.00 per box.  GO ME!  Oh...and I made like 32 more Friday.  Crazy pants.

They are on my Etsy site if you decide to not make any but find you need a few extra coasters around your house too.  I put one on every nightstand and one per chair on or near every table.


1.  Line the bottom edges with clear tape that you can pull off when it dries so that the drips don't harden underneath.

2.  If you do get hardened drips, you can sand those off.

3.  Cut all of your paper first with an exacto knife.

4.  Don't let epoxy dry anywhere dust or bugs can light on them.  ( happened.  Damn daddy long leg mosquito!) 

No Mantle for Stockings?

I didn't consider how important a mantle is to my Christmas decorating until it was time to HANG THE STOCKINGS FROM THE CHIMNEY WITH CARE!


Why...use Command hooks and hang them along the staircase, of course!  

Do you hang stockings?  If you don't hang them from the mantle, where do you hang them?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 2015!!!!!!!!!!

Once again, I'm in love with my life.  Thank you God for all of your blessings.  And we already know that 2016 is going to be even better!  

We have hit our stride down South and recognize just how blessed we are.  We lost our sweet, sweet boy, Jaru, this year but have been blessed with two of the most wonderful French Bulldogs by our loving and lovely friends, Kenny and Booth.

I'm currently on the phone with ShellyBean and she just said, "I'm so glad you're in a better place this year than you were last year." and that coincides with what Sissy said to me this week when she teared up "I'm so glad I have my happy friend back!  I missed you!"

All that said, I hope you're having the loveliest of holiday seasons too.  I hope all of your good wishes come true and I hope you recognize your blessings and ALL your favors.  

I love you.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our home to yours.  Be a great American.  Be loving family, framily and friend.  Just be fucking AWESOME!


Monnie, Robby, Marie Laveau & Zulu

Thanksgiving Recipe Time!!!!!!

Here is a template for your grocery shopping:  Thanksgiving Planning Worksheet

If you're hosting, go ahead and decide on your centerpiece now so you can build your tablescape around it.  Here is a way to add some color to your table without spending a lot of money:

Easy and Cheap Fabric Tablecloth (Topper)

Things that will make your cleanup life easier?  

1.  Bake as much as you can in aluminum pans that you can throw away after.

2.  Line baking sheets with Reynolds Wrap.  You can use a knock off brand if you'd like...I Reynolds Wrap hell.  It's seriously the best.  You'll thank me later.

I normally have my tablescape done the night before or do it right after I put the turkey in the oven early in the morning so it's done.  

Okay...I have a lot to do!  WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!  Headed off to do all my grocery shopping!  So, so, so excited!  Thanksgiving is seriously my most favorite holiday EVER!!!!!!!!!

Thanksgiving Dinner Family Survival Tips


Mother's Day 2015: One Lantern Against a Dark, Vast Sky

For years I've tried to focus on the indomitable strength of my parents.  The people that brought me into this world and who made a conscious decision to be the all and everything to and for my brothers and I for a lifetime.  I made a consolidated effort to try and steer my thoughts whenever they strayed to the darkness and really focused on spreading light forcefully into anything that attempted to seep into my spirit and crumble my resolve.

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes it doesn't.

When I think of all a parent has to be, I am humbled by the sheer weight of the job.  Of dedicated fealty.  And honestly, sometimes, I'm thankful it's a job I never had to undertake.  I think of my mother, beaten and broken, getting up, no matter what, to get us ready for our day.  I think of her soft hands, smiles and kisses as she made our breakfast, placing our plates gingerly on the table in front of us wincing slightly at the weight of balancing the plate as she holds one of her wings close to her side to balance out her pain from her bruises, her abuse, her choice to keep her children in a two-parent home which all the Elders and society lead her to believe she needed to have so that we could grow, and soar and fly while she watched protectively from her nest.

With a broken wing.

So we had to learn early on to not depend on her always, not because she didn't WANT to take care of us the way she wanted to but because her choices might hinder her from being able to.  Her wing might be broken.  Or her jaw.  Or her collarbone.  Or four fucking ribs and her wrist.

And she'd arrange her long hair artfully.  A long spiral curl falling softly in her face hoping you wouldn't look closer into her eyes and see the bruise there fading or pay attention to how one half of her face slumped from the stroke she'd had and wasn't afforded with the luxury of recovery properly because he demanded that things get back to normal as soon as possible because the longer things weren't "normal" the longer he was faced with what he'd done.  Again, and again and again.  And how watching her hurt hurt him and he saw it in our eyes and he knew he'd done it but he didn't want to but dammit he did it.  FUCK HE DID IT.  HE HURT HER REPEATEDLY.

And always with remorse.  Always with gifts.  Always followed by something pretty when she was the most beautiful thing he could ever touch.

By age 12, I was put in charge of her Mother's Day gifts.  My father would give me a wad a cash or a credit card and he'd take my brother and I to the mall to pick something out.  He'd sit on a bench and wait no matter how long it took.  He didn't rush us, he wanted to make sure that she got something she'd love.  I'd go store to store looking for the perfect something for her.  Something I'd seen her linger on before but wouldn't buy for herself because she didn't want to spend the money on herself because she had four growing children running out of yesterday's clothes.  I'd touch the fabrics as I'd watched her do a million times.  Rub it against my cheek to see it if was a pleasing feel.  I'd imagine how she'd look dressed in it.  How'd she'd walk if she wore it while free and happy with the wind blowing in her hair and with her dress up jewelry and shoes.  I'd always get it gift wrapped there and take my time choosing the paper and ribbon in the back of the store or at Gaudchaux's up the elevator that smelled of ammonia and something sweet in the middle of it.  I'd be proud and my little brother would be quiet knowing that this was the most important thing we were tasked yearly because it was her day.  HER day.  The one who did so much and took so much yet  received so little in the form of hugs and kisses.  Not knowing then...that it's what she truly valued the most.

Her babies.

And when the box was complete, when I'd passed over the money and the gift was placed directly in front of me, he'd stand on his toes to take it off the counter so he could carry it gently.  Wearing his clean and pressed shorts, his tube socks with the coordinating stripes.  His afro picked out to perfection because she plaited his hair every night before bed so it didn't get tangled.  And he'd carry it reverently and I'd follow behind him, small chest poked out.  I got it right.  I know I did.  I know she'll love it.  Not that pretend mommy love either.  The for real kind.

She'd love it.

He'd see us coming and ask if we were good?

You good?

Big grins.

We're good, daddy, we're good.

Your mama gonna like it?

She's going to love it daddy.  

My brother silent, looking at him with eyes that were always cloaked hiding what I now know he never really hid.  He simply kept it at bay from this one.

From him.

And we'd keep the gift hidden.  A secret.  Until Sunday morning and we'd be so excited.  And she'd sit on the furniture we never sat on and she'd exclaim over how beautiful the wrapping paper was and she'd take it off gently so as to not tear it and we'd be giddy with excitement, jumping beans in pajamas with bed plaited hair and sleep crust on the corners or our eyes.  A runny nose from the air conditioning and ashy knees and elbows.  And she'd open it and lift it from the tissue paper, her eyes glazed over with happiness.  She'd place the box gently to the side and hold her gift and she'd look directly at me with softness in her eyes, girl-to-girl, and smile KNOWING IT WAS ME WHO KNEW HER SO WELL.

I so loved that feeling of being able to do for her something she'd never do for herself in a way she'd taught me how.  Paying attention to the details.  

I don't know if I would have been able to be her.  I doubt I could ever bend the way she did.  I doubt putting the lives of four other people always above her own is something I would have ever been able to do the right way.  The bar of motherhood she set would have been a struggle for me to lift myself over.  I don't have the dexterity it would have taken under the conditions she did it all under.  I doubt if my anger, always right below the surface, would have been able to be pushed out of the way by light as she did.  I doubt having my wing broken would have ended with my making breakfast.

All the mothers I know have this.  That all consuming power they use to cover their children and keep going. Bullshit at work with a smile because they can't pop off in an explosion of words and angry emails taking down fools with them and rolling out in a blaze of glory.


I am in awe of what children do to women.  How it polishes them into such rare and beautiful sparkling gems.  How it preens them into powerful all knowing beings.

For the past month I've been on top of the world doing what I love.  Last night I dressed up like a girl and danced with true happiness.  Nearing the end of the night...someone release a lantern into the sky.  Just one.  As I watched it fly away my mind exploded with thoughts and images and sensations of her and my heart cracked open yet again.  A wound nothing will ever truly heal.  

I drove home in pain.  In silence.  With tears streaming down my face missing her so fucking much even as she'd been gone more years now than I had her.  

But I remember her.

And I miss her.

And God knows how very, very much I fall back on the strength of her.  Of needing her.

I walked into my cool, clean and quiet home dodging frogs at the door and went straight to him.  My love.  And he enveloped me, kissing me asking if I'd had a good time immediately up out of his sleep with a light on.  For me.  When I didn't answer...he knew the cracks in my interior were open and hugged me tighter.  

I miss my mommy.  I'd give practically anything for that to be something I never, ever felt.

Happy Mother's Day to you and yours.  It's a bond so will never be able to shatter.  And the power it gives you is a light we all see and admire.  Have an amazing day.  Be the Queen.




Super Moist Lemon Pound Cake - Gluten Free!!!!!

I hadn't decided on the cake I was going to make today yet and then my boy, Tali 2, helped me out.  See...his mother bought a lemon pound cake for Easter and set the poor, sweet dear child up by putting it where he could see it a full two days before he'd be able to have a slice.  Straight up entrapment.  The cake got the best of him and well...he started nibbling around the edges.  It was SO good...the poor sweetheart ate all the edges off the cake.  

I imagined that poor child's pain at having such a delicious looking cake so near...and yet so far and decided right then and there that my Easter dessert was going to be lemon pound cake.

I haven't made it in a while and started searching for gluten free recipes.  I didn't see one that made sense to me so I just made the recipe of one that did sound right and simply substituted the all purpose flour with Bob's Red Mill all purpose gluten-free flour.

When looking for a pound cake recipe, don't be fooled by any of the recipes you see that use words like, 'quick' and 'easy' or any recipe that doesn't have one ingredient on the list with the word 'cream' in it.  GOOD pound cake cooks slow and low and includes sour cream or cream cheese.  If the recipe doesn't have one of those in it...keep it moving.


Oh...and a glaze is a must.

The recipe I settled on was this one:  Lemon Pound Cake Recipe


For the Lemon Pound Cake
3 sticks butter (1½ cups)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
6 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon
3 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

For the Lemon Buttermilk Glaze
1½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon buttermilk


For the Lemon Pound Cake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare bundt or tube pan by coating with shortening or butter and flouring light. Set aside.
Let butter, cream cheese, and eggs come to room temperature.
Cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar til fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add lemon juice and zest and combine well. Add flour and salt and vanilla.
Mix until just well-combined but do not over mix.
Pour into prepared bundt or tube pan.
Bake until golden brown and skewer inserted into middle of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 - 30 minutes.

For the Lemon Buttermilk Glaze
As the cake is cooling, whisk together ingredients confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and buttermilk to make the glaze. Allow to sit until cake has fully cooled, then drizzle over top of lemon pound cake.

Now...please read the recipe first.  Note that this cake should not be on your list of things you bake regularly.  Why?  It's probably a gamillion calories per slice.  LOL!  The most difficult part of this cake is making the lemon zest.  As always.  I'd seriously pay for lemon zest.  Can you buy it?  I've never thought about buying it but sheesh...I would.  There have probably only been two times in my life when I was getting the zest off a lemon and didn't scrape my dang knuckles. 


Hate that!  I must be getting better though because I didn't do it this time.  LOL!  Don't try and skip steps like add all the eggs at once.  Do it the way the recipe tells you to do it and your cake will be guaranteed to be super moist.  Soooooooooooo good!

HAPPY EASTER!!!!!!!!!  What cake did you end up baking?

Easter Dinner Menu!

I'm currently finalizing my menu.  WHOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What's on your menu this year?  Are you hosting or being hosted?

Got your tablescape planned?  What colors are you using this year?

A Love Note to My Best Girlfriend

I haven't been in a good place for a while now even though I've been trying to power through it.  Those who truly love me know this and have been being patient with me and my shit.  I can't explain what it's like being around me when I'm not me you know?  See...being me is this powerful ball of energy and light.  I can always find the best of it all and have a good time no matter what.  When you have access to me regularly you kinda get used to that so being around the absolute opposite spectrum of that for months on end can take a toll on you.  You can start forgetting the good bits of me because they are so far from the surface.  When I'm quiet it can be a struggle to find words to fill in the gaps and, those I love love me for all the right reasons.  Not because of what I have done or can do for them.  Not because of people I know or places I go.  Not for anything other than the feelings they get being around me.  The love they know I willingly share and can sometimes cloak them with.

Christmas Eve arrived with my not having purchased a single thing for anyone or even food for the dinner party we were hosting.  I kept meaning to start.  I kept picking up my keys, my wallet...I kept being inactive.  Robby decided that he'd go with me to help make it all happen and we did so even after having a family emergency health scare.  

I'd made lists of what I wanted to do and of what I had every intention of doing but lists mean nothing on Christmas Eve when the lines are long the shopping scare because of location and because the rest of the world has completed their lists and have their fabulous gifts wrapped under the trees waiting to exchange their thoughtfulness with those who deserve their thoughtfulness.

Me?  I did what I could knowing that we had guests arriving at 6:30pm and my menu consisted of standing prime rib roast, a natural ham and all the trimmings and fixings and Lord...all I truly wanted was my mommy and my daddy and my brothers and tree with trimmings and blue and silver decorations and noise and noise and noise and hustling, bustling and noise, noise, sweet glorious noise of happy and excited children and parents.

I craved noise in the silence of our life.  In a life without chaos.  With complete order around me at all times.

The pace I set for myself on Christmas Eve was crazy and only a crazy person would do it but I didn't want to let anyone down so I made it all happen and it was good.  It was a good thing.  We ate, we drank, we were merry.  I snuck away to wrap gifts for those in attendance.  Gifts my depression forced me to make do with and they all smiled politely and oohed and ahhed properly because that's what people who love you do.  They look at you knowing the truth of who you want to be.  Who you would be if you could just push past it all.  All the demons and disappointments you've allowed to heap on you and beat you down into a tiny bit of the tiniest of all you are and you smile with them knowing that this is the greatest gift they could ever give you.  That they could see through it down into the heart of who you are and not judge  you solely on today and not take it personally and not make your shit about them.

Because it's your shit.  It's my shit.

And it's only about me.

And you use that to do things that would be humiliating to some with your stats because you know it will always be a struggle to do what you love.  But you do it with a smile and a pleasant attitude so you're unthreatening.  So you can have access to those you need to have access to in order to get to that next step.

Depression can fuck up so much and sometimes I wonder if it's really the thing that gets you it the circumstances of it all that brings the depression to you.  And that makes me think too deeply about the cause of it all.

My best girlfriend is one of God's most precious gifts to me.  For Christmas, she gave me the most awesome of the awesome things.  A box of them really.  A box of awesome that seemed to never stop.  Everything was magical.  One thing after the other.  Thoughtful things that she hoped, wish and probably prayed would get me back to being me.  The kind of stuff others would never get me because well...they don't GET me.  

A box filled with relaxation, good sleep, warm feelings and guilty pleasures.  

Her gifts are always so amazing and why I will always buy her things for no reason...just because I saw it and thought of her.

Last night, after a long four days, I used one of the gifts and took a hot bath.  I got into bed with the television on a thirty minute timer and I snuggled up next to my Robinator.  I was asleep within 5 minutes.  A deep, relaxing almost comatose sleep.  Satisfying.

When I got up this morning, I stretched languorously and felt the power I often feel flowing through my body as I'm planning out my next steps and moves.  As I'm shaking off that doubt that shows up sometimes even though I know perfectly well what I'm capable of.  I laughed at the things that happened this week.  The nail in my tire.  My husband in the driveway at 5:00am in the morning changing the tire.  My pumping gas in the dark standing there with cold rain sliding down my face making the cold colder.  The makeup I don't wear breaking me out.  My hair being damaged by someone who doesn't know how or care how to be gentle with my hair.  The noise, the noise, the noise.  The constant back-and-forth reaching out for something I know I can see.  The lines when I DON'T.DO.LINES.

On this day I'm so grateful for my best girlfriend.  That she GETS me even when the knowledge of who I am at that exact moment makes her want to strangle the shit out of me.  I'm grateful she knows that when I'm lost...I haven't forgotten who I am...I'm just struggling to get back there.

I'm grateful that I have no ego about many things others would have.

I'm grateful that I know how to use my resources, even the simple one of being a cute girl, properly.

I'm grateful for my husband, the perfection that is truly him as he props me up, no matter what, with his strong shoulders and pushes me outside my comfort zone so he can watch me, once again, fly.

I'm grateful for all those who love me.  The ones who aren't put off by the unanswered phone calls, texts and emails.  The ones who don't take it personally.  The ones who don't try to make my shit...about them.

Because it's not.

I love you.

I love yall.

Sometimes, however...I have to tuck in and rebuild and that's hard to do.  So very, very hard.

Merry Christmas from the Gulf Coast!

From our home to yours, we hope you're having a magical time with family, framily and friends!  Eat, drink and be merry, merry, MERRY!

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!

Christmas Grief...Does it ever get better?

The other day I was in Target picking up a few things for stocking stuffers.  I was thinking about our dinner guests and considering putting together stockings for each of them if I could find the right size stockings.  The stocking couldn't be traditional stocking size because it would take too much to fill up for that many people and the only other size I could find were stockings to fit gift cards which were way too small.

So then I started thinking about maybe just doing stockings for the kids and I was roaming around Target slowly with a basket trying to figure out what would be the best options.  I was trying to think of what I knew about each kid specifically so I could put something personal just for them in their stockings.

I stopped at the nail polish section and saw several gift sets of polish and grabbed the Essie Holiday Mini Gift Set and then picked up a few emery boards making my way down the aisle.  I saw some other stuff too and kept moving down the store aisles until I got to the stocking stuffer section and my eyes fell on a Slinky.  I smiled and grabbed a couple and then, of course, some new Pez dispensers because Christmas stockings are never complete without a Pez dispenser according to my mommy.

And that lump that always starts in my heart started it's slow ascent up to the top of my chest right under my throat and I started trying to swallow it back and swallowing and swallowing and swallowing.  I didn't want it to rise in Target because I knew what would happen if it did.

My phone rang and I answered it.  It was one of my dearest framily members.  She asked me what I was doing and, still swallowing, I told her I was shopping for stocking stuffers.  Then she started talking and I was so grateful that she called right at that moment because listening to her and swallowing...pushed that lump back down to where it lives.  Constantly.

When she finished talking I thanked for calling when she did and told her she stopped me from completely losing it in Target.  She understood because she has the gift of empathy and understanding.  

She's a good egg.

We talked about how my mommy loved putting together our stockings and how she always seemed to find just the right little trinkets to put in it no matter what.  I'm talking little things no more than $1 or so that just really brought you joy because it was just for you.  I try to do the same and take my time picking out things I put in the stockings I make for people I love.

Because it's the way my mommy did it.

My framily and I continued talking until I was well out of the store and, even though my sadness didn't leave, I felt a bit better.

Later that night, The Robinator and I were talking and I told him about it.  He then asked me does it ever get "better" and I told him never does.  The passing of time dulls the ache for extended periods but that sometimes the suddenness of that lump rising is outside of your control.

No matter what.

It's never NOT hit me during the holidays.  I suspect that will remain true for a lifetime.

What about you?  Those of you who've been left behind by someone you loved with all of you...has it ever NOT hit you during the holidays?  Have you learned how to push through it?  What are your coping mechanisms?  


Southern Comfort Cake Recipe!

18-1/2 oz. yellow cake mix
3-1/4 oz. package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup Southern Comfort
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I prefer walnuts.)

4 T. Butter 
1/8 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup Southern Comfort

This is a super easy one bowl cake recipe that I've been making since I was tall enough to use the hand mixer and see into the bowl.  LOL!  It's truly delicious.  I've used both regular yellow cake mix and gluten-free yellow cake mix and it's delicious either way.  

Combine cake ingredients in a large bowl and beat at a medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch tube or 12-cup bundt pan. Bake at 325ºF for 1 hour. Carefully invert on rack and cool for about 30 minutes.  Place a plate under cake and cooling rack and prick top repeatedly with toothpick.  

To make glaze, melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in Southern Comfort.

Brush with glaze.  If you lose a lot of glaze and it drips to the plate, remove that plate and add another plate.  Use the glaze from the first plate to continue coating the cake. 

IF YOU WANT TO...sift 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar over cake.  For Christmas time it's really pretty.  You can use cookie cutters to make snowflake designs if you'd like.  Just set the cutter on the cake lightly and hit the sifter once or twice over cutter and repeat.

I send these to Robby's office in Plain Cake Boxes which I buy from Michael's (Remember...never, ever, EVER go to Michael's without visiting their website first for a coupon.  They usually have one of those FABULOUS 40% off coupons and you can just show it to them on your phone!).  I also buy the 10 inch cake rounds to put the cake on before putting it in the box.  I think I get 10 in a pack for like $4.  I also print recipe cards with the recipe printed on them for him to put next to the cake in the event anyone wants to make it at home.  It's usually a MAJOR hit! 

Fire Cider

4 oz Apple Cider

2 oz Fireball whiskey

1 apple slice sprinkled with cinnamon

Warm apple cider and whiskey. (I did it in microwave.)  Add apple slice.  Fancy people add a cinnamon stick for presentation.  I didn't need all that.  *HICCUP*

Call me in the morning to discuss cuz we won't discuss anything productive tonight.  Blame my friends.  They are lushes who make me try stuff I've never tried before and it's always, ALWAYS delicious!  GO ME!

I'm perfecting it so I can impress my brother when he gets here next week.  LOL!  Yup...this is simply RESEARCH!  *HICCUP*