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The Happy Peach

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September 2015

When an Old Place Meets a New Beginning

My husband and I recently attended the Ocmulgee Indian Celebration at the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Ga. It Continue reading “When an Old Place Meets a New Beginning”

“Grandmama, There’s a Cow in the Yard” and other Unconventional Truths of Childhood

As a young child, my maternal grandmother kept me every day while my parents were at work. I was the first grandbaby, and my heaven consisted of Grandmama’s house. My daily routine of homemade pancakes at the breakfast counter, make believe renditions of being locked in the castle of whatever Disney movie we had watched that day, and hours of exploration throughout their 17 acres of land made me very tired come naptime, much to my grandmother’s thanks. I will always cherish those memories of a time gone by, as well as the life lessons that were exchanged between the two of us.

One of these great lessons involved a cow, a 1990’s model Ford Expedition, and a small stuffed Barney chair. It was a hot summer morning and I was probably about four. My grandmother was waging a war with the overgrown bushes in her front garden, who had decided to grow threefold their typical size throughout the muggy spring that had drenched the Georgia red clay several weeks before. As she attempted her first volley into enemy territory, armed with her clipping shears, I stood guard while trying to climb a small sapling a few yards away. This tree was literally three feet tall, but that’s beside the point. It was my Mount Everest, and I was tickled to death to climb it. Both of us were so entranced in our respected activities neither of us noticed what had lumbered out of the woods and into my grandparent’s front yard.

I completed my ascent, and as I looked up to see if my grandmother had yet noticed how high I’d climbed, I saw it. It being a giant cow standing in the middle of the front lawn, pooping. I have never seen a cow this big since, however its size now in retrospect was even more gargantuan given my little proportions. I froze. I had not realized I was afraid of cows, but at that moment I realized it scared me more than spiders, bumble bees, and bath time combined. I glanced at my grandmother. She was still butchering wave after wave of bush combatants and was unaware of the greater fear in our midst. I whispered to her, but she did not hear. I dare not move from my perch so I said a little louder, “Grandmama, there’s a cow in the yard.” Wiping the sweat from her brow and dusting the mutilated remains from her foe off her forearms, she looked up at me and cocked her head. “What?” she said. Incredulously wondering I’m sure where I would get an idea like that from. “There’s a cow in the yard Grandmama.” That’s when the stern face of Grandmama came out. The one where she knew you were lying, even though you were certain a mole was living under your bed and that in turn was a valid reason for not having nap time. “Now Honey, don’t lie to Grandmama. We live in the middle of the woods. There isn’t a farmer around for ten miles.” We would have continued our conversation I’m certain, but at that point the cow decided to give me brownie points for trying and snorted.

My grandmother is the bravest woman I know. She has swatted bumble bees off of my flowery knitted shirts that otherwise would of equated to certain death, made swift work of snakes with a garden hoe, and taught me in no uncertain terms that homemade biscuits prove there is a God. However, on this day I learned my grandmother also had a fear of cows. A fear I came to realize far surpassed my own. In a span of about two seconds, the war of the bushes had come to an end. I was snatched like a rag doll from my place on high, and rushed like a football to the nearest indoor structure, their garage. I, along with my grandmother then took the new car, a tan Ford Expedition, and proceed to use it in a special ops endeavor entitled: Remove the Cow.

Remove the Cow had a simple tactical plan. Drive as close as possible to the cow. Honk the horn. Surely it was foolproof and had no possibility of failure. Upon its attack however, the cow succeeded in out maneuvering us, mostly because it refused to move at all. It just stood there, mocking us. Pooping, it pooped a lot. We were forced to retreat and reevaluate our foe, this formidable cow. Plan two according to the General that was my grandmother was to try and find the owner of the cow. By the curse of the universe my booster seat was not left for me, so instead I was sat in a small foam Barney chair that was a lovely shade of purple, placed as copilot in the Expedition and buckled in. This was serious business after all.

We drove to probably 10 farms that day. No one had yet to report or realize a cow was missing, but each farmer thanked my grandmother for alerting her and sent out the SOS to those around them. The cow stayed a day or so longer before it missed its barn, and eventually wandered its wayward pooping behind home. Moral of the story, watch out for phantom cows. Real moral of the story, cherish the memories. Even the crazy ones. Especially those.

I’m a Monet, Y’all

Inspirational, and much needed today.

I Might Need A Nap

Last week was my sweet neighborfriend’s birthday.  The past two Tuesdays we’ve had the opportunity to paint together in celebration.  It was something I never would have taken on by myself but when she agreed to go together, I was all for it.  Though for the record, this was a style of painting I’d never done before.

I’ve gone to classes where we painted an owl or a tree on the beach or something more concrete and I’ve sat with Mess Cat on the back porch and painted things we’ve seen on Pinterest or ideas we’ve come up with ourselves, but I’ve never done an impressionistic painting.

Until now.

Our teacher reminded us that the idea behind this was to be loose and free in our painting and covering the canvas.

I have OCD say what now?

Yeah, it was hard at first.  But when I started letting go of…

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I Have a Heart for Failure… and It’s Starting to Show

I went to dinner with an old friend today, and the conversation turned to the idea of failure and what it means. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it a divine thing that points us in the direction we are supposed to travel? Over cheesy garlic bread and calzones, we discussed examples of failure in our own lives, and ended up drowning our self-induced misery in a carb fest of delicious Italian food. But, I learned something from our conversation I had not realized about myself previously.

I have a heart for failure, and I think it’s starting to show. I have failed at a great many things. Being a good friend, a good sibling, a good spouse, I have even failed at taking out the trash a good many times. I have failed in the workplace, got my butt handed to me on the athletic field, and every time I take a shower I remember my failure for singing. I have failed at cooking a great many recipes, and in baking I am still hopelessly inept. It’s enough to make anyone crawl in a hole and refuse to come out again. I realized something though that until today had been nonexistent to me: I’m getting better.

Through this failure, I have continued to try. The world has kept spinning. I may forever be the clumsiest person in the room but I’m still standing (for now.) Culture has taught us that failure is bad, and avoiding this “essence” of failure is worth the multi-billion dollar industry that it has become. Failure of poverty, of weight gain, of unemployment, of failing in love… What if these things are not the true issue? Failure is in the strictest of terms, lacking a goal that someone else has placed importance in. Obviously we need our basic needs met: food, shelter, clothing, love. But what if failure is also a basic need? What if failure is something we need to experience in order to see the successes that we do have? Oftentimes the hardest working, most successful individuals are those that have failed the most. Why is that?

I believe it is this: They took off the glasses of the world for a moment, and decided that they would do better to not wear them at all. If you took cultural expectations, family expectations, friend expectations all off the table and only focused on what you see as expectations for yourself, how would you say you were doing? I think most of us would be pretty critical of ourselves. “I could be thinner, prettier, make more money, do more for my spouse and kids, be better in my faith, work harder.” The list goes on and on. Now take a step back and think of where you have come from. Keeping all those outside expectations aside, how do you feel you are doing now? Pretty good, right? You learned how to tie your shoes, you can breathe on your own (some aren’t so lucky.) Your reading this. You have enough want to better yourself that you got this far in the article. You may know how to speak two languages, or had to learn a new language in a foreign land and guess what, your reading it now. You may have lost the ability to walk and regained it, or took five months to do one push up, but hey you made it happen. You is smart, you is important… okay well I’m not going to go there.

Point is, failure is important. It is vital. It builds stamina and clears the air for the successes you will have. Screw the peanut gallery. They aren’t going anywhere, which is why they are in the peanut gallery to begin with. You aren’t, you are striving for greatness, and in that endeavor you are going to get a few bumps on the head. Or be like me and have a permanent goose egg. Either way, you are moving forward. Be proud of your failure, learn from it, and run ahead. Fast. I still suck at baking, but some of those dishes I burnt to a crisp I have requests for now. You are getting better, I promise. Keep failing, and ultimately you will keep succeeding. Have a heart for failure, and a willingness to persevere.

Wife Hacks: The Dreaded Flea and Death by Dish Soap

My dog had fleas. There, I said it. They say the first step to recovery is acknowledgement that you have a problem. My problem is I loathe the thoughts of bugs in my house, or on my dog. Extremely loathe. As in I cried for a straight hour when I found a small black speck on the back of my precious pooch several weeks ago. While I am anal about flea medication being routinely administered to my dog, recently getting married blinded my brain to the fact he was due for his medicine. That plus him flirting with the Pomeranian next to him at the groomers created the perfect storm for a brief case of fleas. One vet visit and a deep Dawn bath made for a healthy and flea free pooch, but the next task was far more monstrous to me: “How was I going to make sure there aren’t any in my home?” Fleas love to live in fabric and carpet, and have varying life stages that can make them hard to remove from a home.

A quick call to my southern mama gave me the answer, and it was such a good one I wanted to pass it on to share the secret. Everyone knows that giving a dog a bath in Dawn dish soap will get the fleas off of one’s precious puppy. For reasons unknown to me, the bugs despise the soap and it stops them in their tracks. What I did not know is this same soap is the perfect thing to get rid of fleas in your home as well. What you will need is this:

  • A dinner plate (paper is fine)
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Water
  • A candle that can stand up on its own

In each room that you feel fleas may have possible permeated, take one plate and place it in a centrally located place in the room. Fill almost to the brim with water, and add dawn dish soap enough to color water and mix with your fingers until soap is fully incorporated into the water. Then place a candle in the center of the plate, and light it. Allow to sit for several hours in darkness or in as low of light as is allowed. An electric tea light would also work if sat on a tin can in order for it to not get wet.

The reason it works is this: Fleas are attracted to the light source and will attempt to jump as close to it as they can. When they do jump, they will fall into the water and drown in the dish soap mixture. This is a great diy to not only get rid of fleas or make sure there are none in your home, but also to judge the severity of an infestation in order to see if professionals should be brought in. If done over several days throughout the home with no dead critters found in a watery grave, you should have decent assurance that your flea problem is no more. This worked beautifully for me, giving me piece of mind that my family was safe and that my poor dog would not have to deal with this again.

Intervention: Why am I Holding a Funeral for my Dreams at 23?

As someone still trying to cope in the adult world, I have realized like many of my fellow patriots in resume wielding arms that our dreams do not get seen to overnight. They require work and sacrifice, and many times consideration of selling ones soul to the economic gods just to get a decent paying job. Never mind bills, weddings, attempts at purchasing those big life things that we actually need, like cars, or figuring out which is the best to go with. We are given the keys to our hearts, told to manage them and use our “good sense” to handle decisions that we never dreamed existed – or pretended to have been trained for. Amongst all this angst our dreams sit, slowly dying in their sick beds as the demons of the real world infect them, draining them of life slowly day by day. In the worries and cares of daily living we forget that these dreams have a heartbeat, a pulse, and that at one point we gave them our attention. We were their best caregiver, and under our supervision they thrived.

I realized for some time now I am been planning a funeral for my dreams. I deemed it practical, as an adult, that the “childish dreams” I had of being a writer, a historian, or anything other than a mindless drone wouldn’t pay the bills – and so I went to push them off the cliff. I picked the music (it sounded similar to what they play in my office all day), the flowers (the crushed weeds in the yard that so desperately needed mowing), and the eulogy (the to do list of mine that when unfurled could reach from one end of my laundry pile to the other.) I planned this funeral subconsciously, my brain relaying messages back and forth across the ward where my little dreams sat, watching with haunted eyes as the plans were made. I condoned it thinking, “If I were going to have done anything about these dreams it would have been done by now. It’s time to move on.”

I attended a birthday party this afternoon, and a woman there heard of my time at my alma mater and asked what I studied. I expressed that I had received degrees in History and Communication, and she mentioned that she could hear the passion in my voice for the subjects. It had been some time since I had heard those words in reference to me: Passion. Dream. Drive. Longing. “How long had it been since I thought those things, or had them reflected in my daily life?”

My point is this: Just because you have not yet reached your dreams, do NOT murder them. Do not give up on them. Do not stop pursuing them. Do not let your dreams die because they have not grown swiftly, risen up from their beds, and set out into the world an established thing. As young people I feel that we are taught to think that the minute we do not have the object of our desire gained – by hard work or by gift, that it then must not be in the cards for us. Perseverance is a thing of beauty my friends, a thing until now I have not gazed upon in quite a while in regards to my dreams. Being grown does not mean putting to death those hopes that we cherish, it rather begins the process of building them. It will take time, effort, heartache, and a lot of work doing the thing you may not like most in order to get to the thing you do. You have not failed, young person. No your not president, nor have you bought the mansion on the hill. You’re the pizza guy with the sauce covered shirt that recites poetry at night to get practice in pronunciation for public speaking. The waitress who studies law on her 15 minute breaks that almost never happen. The mother who works three jobs while blogging at night in hopes that maybe one day she can quit one of them. Your dreams have value. You will get there, and when you do, drop me a line, because I can’t wait to celebrate it with you.

A fellow blogger once gave a talk that I attended. Author of The Baddest Mother Ever, she gave practical advice for those about to graduate from college and begin their dreams in the the wild “real world” we had heard so much about. To this day I have never forgotten her advice, and now I would like to pass it on to you. To gain your dreams, there is only one thing you must do: Do the next right thing. Simple enough, right? Opportunity is the gift that keeps on giving. When it is presented, one must jump at the chance even if it is dirty and looks a lot like work. Even if that opportunity seems to be going in the polar opposite direction of where you want to end up, take it. Take it and run with it. Always keep your eye on the ultimate prize, but understand that the path there will not be straight. Fear not, and push ahead. Hard, with a sledge hammer if you have to.

In conclusion, I’m no expert. If you think I am then you may want to get your head examined. But I do know this:

  • Don’t murder your dreams, nurture them. They are waiting for you, and would like you to hurry up please.
  • I see you, right now, sweaty on your lunch break praying something will divert your attention from the dismal normal that is your “right now.” Hang in there kid, I swear it’s going to get better – for both of us. Keep pushing.
  • Do the next right thing. Opportunity is a finicky thing, but always worth the extra effort… and sweat.

And finally, don’t plan a funeral; plan a birthday for your dreams. Presents of the future goals that will come to pass, a cake celebrating the point you are at right now at this moment (because it is worth celebrating), and streamers because well heck, every good party deserves them. Throw one and then plan many more. Your dreams are going to have long and excellent lives worth celebrating.

To be Sweet or Savory, That is the Question: A Tale of Fried Chicken

I love to cook. Those who know me would probably say that is even an understatement. I LOVE TO COOK! It is not unknown for me to randomly bring people dinner at the last minute because I made too much food (usually when trying out a new recipe) and delivering it to any warm body that would help eat it. I was the creeper outside my friend’s dorm room at 8pm awkwardly asking if anyone wanted chicken salad because the bowl I made was too big to fit in my mini fridge. It was no different when I was young. As a child I would pretend to be Rachel Ray in the kitchen, driving my less then interested sister mad and jacking up my parents grocery bill. I lived for Food Network, and asked my parents for chef’s knives for Christmas. Which brings me to today’s story (Ya’ll needed background for the crazy I am about to tell you.)

When I was in middle school, I would stay home alone during the summers and watch my younger sister. My dad would come home for lunch and check on us, just to make sure we had not murdered each other or burnt the house down, you know the typical stuff. As I sat in my room one particular morning watching Paula Dean, I watched in awe as she made fried chicken from scratch and talking about how easy it really was to do. The wheels in my young head started turning and I decided at 12, I was going to make fried chicken … from scratch with boiling hot oil… unsupervised. As a grown person this terrifies me, but then I thought Paula Dean was infallible (although since I have definitely learned otherwise.) and really how hard could it be?

This part gets a little hairy for me as I don’t remember much about the actual cooking process, only that I did it and had fried chicken waiting on my dad when he arrived home to the most floured covered kitchen he had ever seen. My only saving grace from getting grounded was that it actually tasted decent, that and neither my sister nor I were a walking grease burn. I was banned from cooking it alone again, but actually encouraged to cook the dish under the watchful eyes of extended family who had been told the story. Over time, I have tweaked and changed ol’ Paula’s recipe to a thing I could call my own, and now want to share with you my fried chicken and the (dangerous) tale of how it came to be. There’s pictures!

“Child Proof” Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

1 pk. (8 to 10 pieces) boneless skinless chicken tenders (you can also do this recipe with chicken breasts/dark meat, you would just need to make sure you have allotted for a varied cook time)

2 cups self rising flour

2 tablespoons of each:

garlic powder, pepper, paprika

1 tablespoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup of buttermilk

Vegetable/Peanut Oil (either works fabulously) 1 bottle

1 large deep sided skillet or a dutch oven

Cooking Instructions:

Combine salt, paprika, pepper, and garlic powder thoroughly and set aside.

Wash and pat dry chicken tenders, and lay out. Thoroughly coat chicken in seasoning blend, and allow chicken to come to room temp. (Chicken always ALWAYS cooks more thoroughly when at room temp)

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Combine egg and milk together in a secondary bowl and beat egg and milk mixture until yolks are thoroughly broken.

Place flour in a separate large open mouthed container, like a cookie sheet or plate. Any left over seasoning blend can be mixed in with the flour.

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Fill large skillet about 1/2 inch deep with cooking oil and set to med/high heat. The way to tell it is ready is to drop a teaspoon’s worth of water into the oil. If it hisses, then it is ready.

Dip chicken into egg mixture and then dredge in flour. Coat thoroughly but then gently shake off excess flour. Excess flour will float away from the chicken during frying and burn in the oil (not to mention it is a pain to get out of the hot oil!).

Once oil is ready place prepared chicken into hot oil, DO NOT OVERCROWD THE PAN! I cannot stress that enough, an overcrowded pan equals unhappy fried chicken!

Chicken should cook about 5-7 minutes on each side but it really depends on the thickness of the chicken. The best way to tell is to claim a piece for the “chef” and chop that bad boy in half to make sure he is cooked through. Never leave raw chicken as even a possibility. When in doubt, CHECK IT OUT! I would much rather be served a piece of delicious chicken that was cut in half, then a really pretty full piece of chicken that’s red raw.

Serve with some tasty sides and enjoy!

food

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