I’ve been seeing images on Pinterest and Instagram lately that bring a smile to my face. Here’s just a few things to share…
Cats. I love cats. It does not matter where I am in the world, if I see a kitty cat, I must be its friend. My love affair with cats goes back to my early years when I lived on Meadowbrook Drive. I came home with this book from grade school — Orange Oliver: The kitten who wore glasses. I told my mother I wanted an orange kitten. She told Daddy. Daddy went to work the next day and gave his employee $20 and told him “I don’t care how long it takes today, but you go out and find Melissa an orange kitten.” That night, Daddy came home with an orange kitten. I named him….Oliver. The only problem with living on Meadowbrook Drive is that no one followed the speed limit and once the kitty cats stepped off the curb, I never saw them again. So, throughout my life I have collected quite the repertoire of feline fans. I still have a thing for orange…
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It doesn’t have to be a lavish spread, although this tablescape I saw on Instagram this morning would not disappoint. My go-to menu would be homemade granola, ripe fruit, a warm scone or muffin, oatmeal and piping hot French press coffee all served on beautiful china.
Lazy days by the pool. Since we put a pool in last summer, it has totally changed me. I love to sit outside and just look at it. I enjoy sitting on the patio sipping coffee and bird watching. I can’t wait to start a new book after dinner as the sun it setting. It’s just so quiet and peaceful. I find I do most of my thinking outdoors.
I remember Mother wearing a swim cap. I always thought she looked so chic.
“Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there is so much to smile about.” Marilyn Monroe
This week Mr. Bee and I celebrated 20 years of bliss. I thought it might be fun for you to know the story of how we met. It’s my version and someday soon I will let Mr. Bee give you his.
I was newly divorced and relocated back to my hometown of Fort Worth. It was the summer and I offered to help my sister set up her classroom for the first day of school. I met all her friends for lunch, in particular her friend Mandy, which will be the critical part of the story here.
Summer went, and fall arrived. Around October Mr. Bee was helping a friend work on his car (he’s very handy like that) and mentioned that his access to females suitable for dating was pretty slim, did his wife Mandy know of anyone? Mandy asks Sister Bee if I would be interested in meeting her husband’s friend. Sister Bee, with my permission, gives Mandy my name and phone number. Radio silence.
We are now into winter. It’s cold. Mr. Bee later said he sat on my number because his dad had surgery for an aneurysm, but I think it was because he didn’t want to do the whole Christmas gift exchange for a girl he just met.
Mr. Bee called. I was dating someone, and didn’t call him back. He called again. I didn’t call him back. Meanwhile, back to helping Alan with his car, Mr.Bee mentioned that he wasn’t having much luck getting me to call him back. This was reported back to my sister who promptly told me I was being rude and to call the guy back. That she and Mandy went to a lot of trouble to make a love connection and I was being inconsiderate. I always do what my sister tells me to do.
It’s January by now. I call Mr. Bee. I am still dating the same guy (although by this time I was finding him annoying), but offered to meet with Mr. Bee as a networking opportunity for him to meet maybe one of my friends. He picks me up on January 3 (see, it was after NYE so no party for him to worry about taking me to). I open the door. Since he says it wasn’t a “date” he didn’t bother dressing up. He looked like a lumberjack — jeans, a red flannel shirt, and hiking boots. I, on the other hand, had just arrived home from work. I was wearing a suit and rain coat and my three cats were standing next to me at the front door.
We get into his pristine Volvo and he turns on the classical radio. Snooze alert. This guy is either boring or a serial killer because there is absolutely no trash in the car. I wanted to go to Uncle Julio’s for a swirl. He said it was too loud and wanted to hear me talk so we went to The Original for Mexican food. I thought this means he’s either got hearing loss, he’s cheap, or both.
During dinner, I found myself thinking about my grocery list as he droned on about scuba diving. I gave him my life story and I am sure he thought I was delightful. The night came to an end. He took me back to my house, asked if we could see each other again, and I said yes (I didn’t mean it). We shook hands, said our goodbyes and he drove off. I realized I forgot to give him the gate code to exit the neighborhood. As I was walking toward the gate, he realized he couldn’t get out, started to back the car up to drive back to my house, didn’t see me and almost ran me over. Great, he can’t see either I thought.
He called me a few days later and I agreed to meet him for lunch. This time he showed up all shiny and clean in a suit because he was meeting me during his lunch hour. Hmmm.
Sister asked how things were going. I said they were okay. He’s nice.
Next meet up — still networking here — coffee at Starbucks. He was 20 minutes late and I was getting more steamed than my coffee. He finally arrives, apologizes profusely saying he got caught on the phone with a client. We laugh and linger over coffee. I forgive him for being late.
Sister asked how things were going. I said, you know he’s really nice.
Next scene — Kimbell Art Museum for dinner. We tour the exhibit, chat about art, enjoyed dinner. On the way to the car, I made a comment and he didn’t hear me (again with the hearing). He leaned down, put his hand on the small of my back and asked me again what I said. Suddenly, I was all warm and fuzzy inside.
Sister asked me how things were going. I said, I really like him. Alot. I think at this point she was probably cashing in her tickets thinking she’d scored big finding him.
From there, I dumped the weirdo and Mr. Bee and I never looked back. Since we both had been married before, and loved the idea of marriage but just didn’t marry the people right for us, we knew we wanted to be together forever. He asked my parents that fall for their blessing, and the next May we married. We toasted Sister Bee and Mandy at our wedding reception, and as far as I know they retired from matchmaking since their first go at it was a success.
Twenty years later we’ve loved each other through miscarriages, the death of our baby boy John, the birth of our beloved miracle child Miss Bee, the loss of Mr. Bee’s parents, sold our house so we could have my parents live with us, the death of my parents, and my brother’s suicide. We loved being married so much, we’ve renewed our vows twice — once after Miss Bee was born. We put her stroller between us and held our hands over her while we refreshed the vows we had said a few years previously. Then, we renewed our vows again as a new family with my mother and Miss Bee by our side after Daddy passed away.
It’s been the best 20 years of my life. It’s not always been easy, but it has not been hard. I think that’s when you know you are with the right person. There really aren’t any secrets to our success other than we work at keeping the lines of communication open, we apologize when we are wrong, we speak to each other with respect and most importantly, we’ve always made God present in our family. And he makes me laugh. Alot.
Here’s to another 20 years. As his dad said at our wedding reception, “May all your landings be smooth and your lights always green.” Amen.
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