Yesterday I posted this photo of my siblings in honor of National Sibling Day. Taken on the front porch of the home I grew up – 4617 Meadowbrook Drive. Fifteen, twelve and eleven years old when I came along, I learned some important things from each of them.
From Sister Bee, I learned how to tie my shoes, count and do my multiplication tables. She was always my biggest cheerleader, still is, offering encouraging words. She was the most excited that I was on the way, and I feel like I received a double dose of love from her as a sister and a surrogate mother.
From my older brother, Jimbo, I learned to be comfortable quietly listening to music and reading. His room was upstairs on the end of the house nestled up in the trees. He would come and get me out of my bed at night and I would sleep in his bed while he studied. I think he just liked having me nearby. When Mother would do the final bed check before going to sleep herself, she’d find me in his bed and return me to my crib for the night. He read me the story of the Velveteen Rabbit and gave me a bunny after I lost my first tooth telling me how brave I was. I learned tenderness and gentleness from him. And his laugh was like no one else.
Then, there’s the younger brother. He’s always been a ball of fire. He pretended he wasn’t that interested in me and I think sometimes used me as a way to get out of doing chores. However, he was the only one who took action when I came in from the backyard one night looking like the character “Carrie” with blood dripping down my face from an accident I had on the swing. As my parents sat there looking at each other bewildered as to why I was covered in blood, brother was yelling, “come on people, get the first aid kit!” I learned from him loyalty, strength and courage. He can make me laugh like no one else. When we are together it’s comfortable like a warm blanket. (note: when I texted him this photo yesterday his reply — “what a stinky poo poo pants little brat, but I love you anyway.”)
The way they interacted with me just unfolded naturally. I don’t ever remember Mother asking them to spend time with me, they just genuinely wanted to. I grew up knowing I was loved and for that I am thankful. As my mother said, “the first few years of your life, your feet never touched the ground.”
First paying job: I can’t remember which happened first, but the two jobs I remember were working at the Ice Cream Palace at Six Flags Over Texas. I worked at the cash register ringing up customers. I hated it, because I can’t make change that fast. It was intense. And the uniforms we had to wear were horrid. So I quit, telling HR something dumb like my dad got a transfer to California and they didn’t tell us until that morning we were leaving town. Sketchy.
Or, it could have been the Shrimp Bucket. It was “the” place to eat for seafood. Casual, but a fun place to go on a date. I was the hostess. I liked my job, but it annoyed me that when I called the name to be seated, “Jones party” I’d get no response. Crickets. I’d have to go find them and I’d go up to tell them their table was ready and they’d go back to drinking and finally saunter over to their table. Annoying.
Southern Food Loves: I can’t tell you the last time I had any of these foods, because they are not on my healthy list, but if I am tired and want comfort food — here’s my dream dinner….chicken fried steak with cream gravy, corn and mashed potatoes (mixed together), yeast rolls with butter and honey, iced tea, and a slice of chocolate ice box pie. If chicken fried steak isn’t available then I’d substitute it with fried chicken.
Growing Up My Parents Had a Farm: It was in Cleburne, Texas. We had cows, pigs, goats and horses — not all at one time. It was such a fun place to go away to for the weekends and holidays. Daddy had a business in town, so the farm was mostly a weekend getaway place. Every Easter we’d dye eggs and have some serious egg hunts outside. We spent all our Thanksgivings at the farm, too. I spent many a sweaty summer four-wheeling on the open acres, driving the Willys Jeep (always in first gear because I had no idea how to drive a stick shift), picking wildflowers or fishing. Mother picked plums and mustang grapes and would make jams. Many a pet was laid to rest under the massive oak tree. My parents never really modernized the farmhouse, but it felt homey and comfortable, and Mother managed to cook some fantastic meals in that kitchen. It would be the perfect Chip and JoAnna flip today. It was a great place to grow up.
Something I’m bad at: Reading owner’s manuals. I hyperventilate especially if there’s a diagram with numbers and a small tool included. I have no patience for reading instructions and I always hand the job over to Mr. Bee who happens to be very handy. So, it’s a win-win.
Phobia: I am really afraid of lightening. Most fears are irrational, so this is redundant, but I have a significant irrational fear of being struck by lightening. If I am out for a walk and I hear thunder, it’s all I can do to sprint home and with each stroke of thunder I am convinced I am going to go down in flames. By the time I reach cover, I am seriously in a dither.
Let’s have a little fun today. It’s Friday and I just ate a goat cheese and strawberry muffin from Central Market. Here’s some fun Q&As about me.
Q. You’ll always find ______in my refrigerator…
A. Half and Half. Must have it for my morning coffee
Q. My favorite family recipe?
A. Elizabeth Doyle’s chocolate cake. We still don’t know who Mrs. Doyle is, but my mother and I have been making her cake for over 50 years.
Q. My Guilty Pleasure…
A. Naps. I take them daily, even if it’s for 30 minutes. I don’t feel guilty doing it, because my heart and mind need this rest everyday in order for me to function as Mrs. Twist.
Q. The last thing I bought on-line?
A. A vintage owl necklace from the 70s.
Q. Household chore I enjoy?
A. Laundry. I love to do it. Really.
Q. Household chore I don’t like?
A. Dusting. It’s boring. Although I do like to clean my plantation shutters with a Swiffer — I can’t believe the amount of dust it picks up! I’m thinking “no wonder I wheeze and sneeze!”
Q. Favorite Family Ritual
A. Sunday church and lunch afterward. Also we try to sit down for dinner most every night of the week and ask Miss about her day. Teens loves this…
Q. If there were an extra hour today I would…
A. Take a longer nap. I’m serious about my naps. I even have nap pjs.
Q. In my beauty bag?
A. Lipstick, Josie Maran Argan Oil, and handcream
Q. I drive…
A. A mom van and I don’t care who knows it. It hauls all my stuff.
Q. How did I ever live without…
A. I could say something like my husband, child, pets…but really it’s my phone.
Q. I stay fit by…
A. I ebb and flow with an exercise routine. My trainer (and great friend) Jess moved away and when she did I lost my interest in working out. But, since December I have found a new trainer, Matt, and I have discovered that I like Pilates (mainly because my butt feels good afterward and it’s only 45 minutes long…)
Today was my first day back at work having been afforded the last two and a half weeks off for vacation. It was so nice to spend time at home with my family in my cocoon of serenity. Miss Bee returns to school tomorrow. So, it will be back to early mornings, making breakfast and hurrying out the door. Christmas decor is, for the most part, put away but a pile of “other” stuff sits mocking me to make a decision as to its final resting place.
I am always conflicted the first part of January. A part of me is glad to put Christmas away for the next year and simplify. But, it’s also bittersweet because it’s time to stop listening to Christmas music (since it’s been on Pandora since November 1), the fun parties are over and the “spirit” of friendliness and cheer subsides. The unstructured vacation and relaxation is over, back to the routine.
But, there are a lot of things I look forward to…. like organizing, re-grouping, cleaning and getting back into a routine. See how that can be a positive, too?
One thing that never changes, is the love God has for me. His calming nature is all around me if I will just stop long enough to recognize and acknowledge it. I can choose to get worked up that my calendar is filling up again after a self imposed vacation, or I can take one day at a time and just roll with it. When I saw the quote from Ann Voskamp in my inbox this morning — “Today, I am going to be a prayer warrior, not a panicked worrier” it was a reminder that I can make many choices today. I can choose to remember the quiet I experienced during the last few weeks and keep it for the days and weeks to come. I can remember to be more gentle with my teen when she is cranky and moody. The quiet did her good this past few weeks. I saw her funny, relaxed, inclusive, childlike side return — which made me realize that her stressful demeanor is coming from how hard she works at school trying to make great grades and please her parents.
This week I will be sharing things I always do every January to jump start my new year and a few things I would like to try this year. And, of course, we will hear from Haute Holley later this week, along with a few good recipes I have tried out recently.
Have a blessed day my friends. I really do appreciate each and every one of you taking the time to visit my blog and share it with others.
Flashback Friday — November 11, 2015 I had the best day ever when Jane McGarry came to my house to make pie. Here’s the story!
This past Wednesday, I had a crazy, fun experience cooking Thanksgiving sides in my kitchen with Jane McGarry, co-host of WFAA’s Good Morning Texas. My bestie came up from Austin to capture it from the sidelines with Mr. Bee. It really was the best day ever! Here is the low down on how we taped the segment for Jane’s Skillet Pecan Pie – I will post part two on Jane’s Cranberry Sauce another day.
Jane posted this message on her FB page…This was my reply…I follow Jane on Instagram and I remembered she has beautiful cheetah print carpet in her house. Animal print is my best friend and I thought I should toss that fun fact we share in common into my response. I guess it worked…and the fact that this picture is on my FB page when they probably screened me to see if I had “party potential.” So, she could take a gamble that I was going to be fun, or a hot mess.
Got the message from Jane that I had been selected for their Kitchen Invasion segment featuring two of Jane’s “blast from the past” Thanksgiving recipes.
Producer calls me and says they will arrive on Wednesday morning to shoot live for the show. I wasn’t panicked at all, because Sunday night I had cleaned the house. I was more concerned about what I was going to wear…and it had to involve animal print. I called my fab friend Jess (who is also my personal trainer/life coach/stylist) and she ran over with her 3-month old for a look-see through my closet. We came up with animal print pants (nod to Jane), a black tunic, and shooties. Before I went to bed, I penned a fun message about what Jane was going to cook on my menu board. I thought it would be a nice, personal touch for her to see.
About 45 minutes before Jane’s arrival, I whipped up a batch of mulled apple cider so the house would smell like fall. Jane arrived at 8:15 a.m. all pretty and perfect in a red dress and heals, holding a trifle dish of cranberry sauce and a giant iron skillet of pecan pie. While we waited for the photographer, Jane went through what we were going to do and in what order…
Then the photographer, Laura, arrived. She wanted to photograph the pie and cranberry sauce Jane brought. I asked if they wanted me to put props on the table to stylize the food. “Sure, do you have anything?” Still thinking I was the party girl in the photo, they had no idea that I have a party pantry — now was my time to shine! I yelled at bestie to grab the pumpkins and candles, I got the flowers and chalkboard, a wooden bread board from the pantry, plates and cloth napkins from the cabinet and made a Pottery-Barn-ish set in 10 seconds flat…
At 9 a.m., the magic happened. It was the quickest 30 minutes of my life. We did the cranberry sauce first, then the next segment was the pie. Jane let me contribute a few of my tips on how to season a cast iron skillet and using Pillsbury pie crust for baking. I’m pretty sure I won’t win any Cowboy’s tickets since I admitted on camera I’m not a fan. The best part was Jane saying she followed my blog and had no idea I was the author of Home with a Twist!
This is us grating lemon zest. I impressed her with my knowledge of not zesting too hard so you don’t grate the white, bitter part of the peel. I may not know much, but zesting is one of my skill sets.
Then, we finished with a shot of us playing Scrabble. In this picture I look all composed and having fun.
In real life, this was how I was feeling…
I think they were filming this Scrabble scene for a teaser for another show. I asked if I could pour a few mugs of cider for the table shot to make it look all-homey. I cautioned Jane not to drink it because it was really a prop and I hadn’t strained the mulling spices. Next thing I know, Jane was drinking it! I calmly yelled “Jane, don’t drink the punch, you’ll choke on cloves.” She said it was delicious and she was fine. Then, we bonded over how to make it, what she’d be doing for Thanksgiving and I made sure to point out my animal print pants.
Before she left we snapped a few more pics…
We helped Jane and the photographer out to their cars, hugged good bye and promised to do it again. I ran in the house and jumped up and down with glee. It was so fun! Jane couldn’t have been nicer. She was elegant and calm and made me feel so at ease. It really was like cooking in the kitchen with a friend. Truly.
We finished the morning eating the pieces of pecan pie she left us to try and watched the show on DVR.
The pie was delicious. The pecans had caramelized and were crunchy and the pie crust was crispy. I liked it because the pecans weren’t chewy or overwhelming. We topped the slices with Bluebell vanilla ice cream.
As we were cleaning up the kitchen, we saw Jane’s cup of cider. Mr. Bee was about to wash it and bestie and I yelled “don’t touch it!” We read each other’s minds and snapped a pic of her lipstick on the rim.
I know it’s creepy and I don’t care! When are you going to have someone as special as Jane in your house again! If George Clooney kissed you, you wouldn’t wash your cheek for a year.
Be sure to check out the Skillet Pecan Pie recipe. It’s definitely worth making and I hope you add it to your Thanksgiving table.
This time every year, I get a little nostalgic thinking about what it was like to be in elementary school anticipating the first day of school. In fact, I still get that “butterflies in the stomach” feeling.
Here are the top things I remember…
Going shopping with my mother for back to school clothes. She always wanted me to have shoes to match every outfit. I think I mostly wore jumpers.
School supply shopping at Skillern’s. My siblings were so much older than me that when it was time for back to school shopping I think Mother was over it. She would give me money and I would walk down to the local drug store and make my purchase. Manilla paper, always a new wooden ruler (even though I had a drawer full of them at home), a yellow supply box, glue paste and newsprint type tablets with lines to practice our penmanship were the most memorable. In the 70’s the Trapper Keeper was the go-to for girls that were organized (of course with a cute kitten on the cover).
I think I always bought my lunch, because I don’t remember carrying a lunch box. Eating in the cafeteria is where I get my love of anything wrapped in waxed paper – grilled cheese (the cheese was only slightly melted) in a warming drawer, cold cartons of milk, and handing the lady 35 cents for my lunch.
P.E. Hated it. Coach Fletcher. Why would anyone have him as a gym teacher? He wasn’t motivational. He yelled. The President’s Physical Fitness Test. Who cared whether I did 900 sit ups, 45 push ups, 50 chin ups or could run a mile in 30 seconds? “Who is this guy and I want to give him a piece of my mind” I remember thinking. Sweating is not pretty especially when you are trying to re-dress in a wool jumper and tights.
Rainy mornings where we had to gather in the auditorium before the bell rang. The simple moments celebrating George Washington’s birthday by passing around sour cherries. Weekly readers like “See Jane Run.” Making Christmas ornaments with tin foil and cardboard stars. Walking home from school wondering what snack I was going to whip up in the kitchen. And the innocence of it all.
Here’s to all the children out there nervous about your first day of school, and the wonderful teachers greeting them…
“You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way!” Dr. Seuss
I am one of four children. My siblings were 15, 12 and 11 when I came along. According to Earnie, the folklore about how the announcement of my birth went down with the sibs…my sister Paulina (my pet name for her because all Reeves women, for some reason, add an “ina” to the end of our names — Ruth(ina), Helen(ina), and so on) cried because she was so happy and my brothers weren’t sure how this was going to affect their free time.
And so it went, the happy day of my birth was soon approaching. Earnie announced I would be named Mary Helen, after her beloved Aunt Helen. Aunt Helen’s personality was bigger than life. Two things Auntie was known for — cussing and her tater tot casserole.
Paulina gasped and said no one will speak to her if you name her Mary Helen (say it again trying to make each name drawn out into 3-4 syllables). So, Earnie said, “fine you name her.” Mother disputes this story, but sister says for the five days we were in the hospital the records clerk would come to Mother’s room asking what name they had selected for the birth record. Mother, knowing the siblings were home selecting the perfect name, told her to come back tomorrow. On the 5th day, the clerk told Mother a decision had to be made. My siblings went through a baby book and once they arrived at Melissa, they knew it was meant to “bee.” Hence, Melissa Kay (Kay, I guess because that was a popular Southern middle name at the time).
Melissa is Greek for honeybee — who has turned out to be one of my most favorite of God’s creatures. Some interesting tidbits on honeybees… Ever hear the phrase “busy as a bee”? As hive dwellers, bees work repetitively at the same task all day long. When a bee leaves the hive, it may fly as many as ten miles a day, gathering and foraging pollen and nectar to bring back to the hive, over and over again. According to the National Honey Board, a bee may visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just one pound of honey. Thus, bees are associated with hard work and diligence.
A single honey bee worker produces about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. For honey bees, there’s power in numbers. From spring to fall, the worker bees must produce about 60 lbs. of honey to sustain the entire colony during the winter. It takes tens of thousands of workers to get the job done. The Queen is very good at delegating this task. Wink.
Honey bees can fly at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. That might seem fast, but in the bug world, it’s actually rather slow. Honey bees are built for short trips from flower to flower, not for long distance travel. Their tiny wings must flap about 12,000 times per minute just to keep their pollen-laden bodies aloft for the flight home.
Here’s a downer — a typical foraging honey bee will work herself to death in about three weeks. Yikes.
I’d like to think my life resembles the characteristics of the honey bee. Hard working, diligent, never gives up. Loyal. Flitting hither and yon among the flowers. I love to garden and try to plant host plants for my little busy friends. But, I wonder…is the bee too busy to stop and enjoy the beauty of the flowers because they are focusing more on acquiring the pollen? Are they smelling the roses or just landing on them? We can all take our cue from the honeybee. Slow down to enjoy the journey that life takes us on, rather than the packing and to do list that has to be checked off to leave for that trip.
1. I have a fear of lightening when I am outside and I hear thunder. Seriously, I become immobilized with fear.
2. I do not like to do crafts, especially if it involves reading directions. Those cute little American Girl crafts at Michaels…I take one look at those and the “how to” manual and close it up and put it back in the drawer.
3. I don’t like coconut. It’s a texture thing. I like the smell, but I feel like I am eating grass.
4. My two celebrity crushes — Adele — I want to sing like her and learn how to apply her eyeliner; and Reese Witherspoon because I love her style and new clothing line.
5. My favorite outfit to wear — my pajamas. As soon as I get home from work I change into my pjs.
6. My favorite movie is “You’ve Got Mail.”
7. I have a slight obsession with the Hallmark Channel. I find myself pretending I’m not watching it when my family walks into the room because they make fun of me watching it. And HGTV.
8. My favorite drink at Sonic is a Route 44 Coke Zero with lime and vanilla.
9. I love the smell of Playdoh and church. Church smells like kool-aid.
10. I don’t like to blow dry my hair, which is one of the reasons I am growing out my hair. I can go almost 6 days without washing my hair thanks to dry shampoo. I do shower everyday, though. Wink.