March Wish List

Welcome to another round of the monthly wish list. I’m going to try to start doing an early and later in the month, just for fun and inspiration. I hope you find something that speaks to you! I’ve continued some of our simple southern decor themes. I’ve really enjoyed finding the beauty in items of nature that are generally overlooked, like an Oyster shell or a Palmetto frond. So you’ll continue to see a bit of that. There are a few new books, and I’ve worked in some fashion and food items this time around as well! Enjoy!

Oyster Print by ArtByAlexandraNicole on Etsy

I told you I like the Oyster decor! I love the vibrant colors that Alexandra uses to bring out the color variations that can be seen on the inside of oyster shells once they are clean. The contrast against the black background makes this image really pop! I keep envisioning this in a southern restaurant, or a home entertaining area! This print is available in varous sizes from 8×19 to 30×45. Prices vary based on the size. You can find this print here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/671234511/oyster-print-stunning-print-of-three

Cross Creek – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings has long stood as a monumental Southern writer, with her novel “The Yearling” taking forefront in her works. Many people don’t realize that her early cracker homestead still stands, untouched by time, in Cross Creek. “Cross Creek” is another popular work of her’s and one that I have started several times but haven’t finished. She has several other novels and also wrote “The Cross Creek Cookery” Which I have and plan to explore with you all. If you should venture to Cross Creek, you’ll find The Yearling restaurant, which has delicious frog legs, fried catfish and some excellent burgers. There are tours of Kinnan Rawling’s homestead, which boasts citrus orchards, a flock of chickens free ranging through the yards, and cooking demonstrations periodically. It neighbors a local boat ramp where you’ll see kayakers, airboats and bass fishermen heading out onto Orange Lake, Cross Creek and Lochloosa for fishing and bird watching. It is also one of my favorite places to watch birds, and also see alligators and Eagles. You can find this book here: https://www.amazon.com/Cross-Creek-Marjorie-Kinnan-Rawlings/dp/0684818795/ref=sr_1_26?qid=1551710617&s=books&sr=1-26

Flower Branch Wrap Skirt – LOFT

I absolutely love the crisp spring green in this wrap skirt. This is perfect for Easter, or just going out on a nice spring day! You can find it here: https://www.loft.com/flower-branch-wrap-skirt/486922?skuId=27132289&defaultColor=9770&catid=catl000017

Grandma’s Biscuit & Pancake Mix – Nora Mill Granary

I visited Nora Mill Granary in 2016 on a trip to Helen. Nora Mill is a rustic little mill on the border of town, sitting against the river. I loved walking through the mill and seeing the traditional way our grains have been made. The shop boasts their own products, jams, jellies and a plethora of cookbooks and cast iron. I really enjoy their biscuit and pancake mix, as well as their Crispy Mountain Batter Mix. They have an online shop, which makes replenishing easy! You can find this mix here: https://shop.noramill.com/Grandmas-Biscuit-Pancake-Mix-5-lb-plastic-bag-GBPM-5.htm

Custom Alligator Painting – CaseyLangteauArt

I found CaseyLangteauArt’s Alligator Painting while perusing Etsy a few weeks back and fell in love. Casey does such an amazing job of capturing the textures of the Alligator skin even in light paint tones. I love the alligator’s eye as well, fiercely watching the viewer. The background almost feels like cypress and grasses, which I also love! Casey customizes to your order, including variations of background and the sizing. This painting can be found at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/665890422/custom-alligator-painting-southern-art?ref=hp_rv&frs=1

Thank You For Smoking – Paula Disbrowe

Smoking is one of the longest standing methods of cooking in the south, and I cannot wait to read this book. Those of us who cook are always looking for new ways to add flavor, texture, a deep experience to our cuisine. The description for this book includes items like Ginger, Coffee, Whiskey, Wild Mushrooms and Smoked Peppercorns. It also appears to look further than meat, considering those who have a plant based diet and the desire to implement smoked foods into their diets. This book can be found on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0399582134/ref=s9_acsd_simh_hd_bw_b6_c_x_1_w?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-11&pf_rd_r=PJFPA9J7D71E788YCNEH&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=445db5c4-edab-5a2e-855a-8e89f103fbfe&pf_rd_i=6

Marnie Pot – Anthropologie

How pretty are these terracotta planters! These could lend a subtle Southwestern feel to any sunroom. I am a blue fan so the royal blue is of course a favorite, but I also am really loving the blue, pink and yellow accented pot. These vary in price based on size and style. They can be found at: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/marnie-pot?category=new-home&color=102&quantity=1&type=REGULAR

Syrup Gift Crate from Blackberry Patch

Blackberry Patch was featured not too long ago by Garden and Gun Magazine. They have several three ingredient options including their premium syrups. I am dying to get my hands on these to try on baked goods and breakfast items. This crate includes all three flavors. They are Non GMO as well! Make sure to explore all of their other options too. This gift crate can be found at: https://www.blackberrypatch.com/collections/3-simple-ingredients/products/premium-syrup-gift-crate 

Artemis Wallpaper – Anthropologie

I’m quickly losing my heart to beautiful wallpapers. I keep seeing beautiful floral walls featured in my favorite books and magazines and I need them all! Imagine the beautiful Artemis wallpaper in a quiet room with couches and blankets and books. I keep envisioning bathrooms, living rooms, even closets with different wallpapers. You can find Artemis here: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/artemis-wallpaper?category=wallpaper&color=011

Nine Lives – Dan Baum

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a little bit. New Orleans holds an enigma that many of us can’t quite penetrate. I love learning about the history of this multi-cultural and beautiful city. You can purchase it here: https://www.amazon.com/Nine-Lives-Mystery-Magic-Orleans/dp/0385523203/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=Nine+lives&qid=1551721592&s=gateway&sr=8-4

Keegan Droop Earrings – Anthropologie

While these earrings come in five different colors, I find these to be so calming and almost cooling. This color blue resonates with one of my favorite groups of blue colors, and they are great for dressing up an outfit or even wearing for a casual outing. They can be purchased here: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/keegan-drop-earrings?category=all-gifts&color=102&quantity=1&size=One%20Size&type=REGULAR

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Southern Library Required Reading: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Recently I started participating in the Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine Book Club reads, and my second read was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I had not picked this book up yet, mostly because I had had such an extensive to read pile, and because I wasn’t sure whether it would turn out to be a fluff novel, which I don’t generally enjoy reading. Boy was I overwhelmingly surprised and delighted when I read this book. Before I summarize and offer my personal thoughts, I’ll just take a moment to say that you NEED to purchase this book if you haven’t done so already. It is available in hardback, Kindle, and Audio formats. I’ll offer links at the end of this post.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a beautiful coming of age story about a young girl who grows up in the salt marshes of North Carolina. Facing abandonment, lack of education and terror of social exposure, Kya (the young girl) learns to survive almost entirely on her own. She navigates learning to find food, puberty, finding ways to earn a small living and preserving her remote lifestyle and home. Along the way she discovers friendship, love, heartbreak and abuse as she blossoms into an enigmatic woman. Woven into her story is the mystery of a local death that may or may not be related back to her, creating a fear driven struggle for Kya to remain hidden away. At the same time, she faces the ever encroaching fingers of society as developers move to encroach upon the salt marshes, creating a reflection of the wild and unruly land itself needing to remain hidden from the world that would aim to tame it.

Kya’s story resonated with me in so many ways as I read this book. I actually recently had read The Gulf, which I’ll be writing about later, but the setting of the salt marshes really rang back to some of the greater issues presented in The Gulf about trying to retain the wilderness of the salt marshes. Anyone who has grown up in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida or Louisiana is instantly familiar with the environment that is meant when I say salt marshes. Kya’s home is a small cracker cabin tucked away in the scrubby underbrush that borders salt marsh tidal flats. I was able to quickly paint in my mind the scene of palmettos, scrub brush, old hanging oaks and and pines, and their gentle recession as characters approached the shell dense shorelines followed by creeks winding in and out of grasses and islands of dense foliage. Kya becomes very deeply fascinated with the bird life that surrounds her and this is also easily pictured by anyone familiar with tidal flats. Herons, Cranes, Songbirds, Raptors, Pelicans, Ducks and Grebes can all be seen in the salt marshes of the Southeast. The Gulf spends a lot of time tracing the history of the Gulf Coast Salt Marshes and their interruption caused by human greed. Kya’s salt marshes face some of this same greed, while she herself faces the relentless need of society to force conformity on both people and places. I felt myself wanting to fight with her for her freedom, as well as the freedom of where she lives.

The love stories that Kya lives are also very profound, and heartbreaking. Her first loves are her parents, both of whom abandon her at a very young age. She is left with one semi-friend who later becomes one of her romances, and the gracious generosity of a black couple who run a fishing camp. Later Kya discovers romantic love, the desolation of heartbreak, the confusion and despair that can be found in abuse, and the search for trust in a companion after so much loss. Her story is incredibly moving, and I foresee a beautiful movie in the future. You absolutely have to read the book first though.

This book is Delia Owens’ debut. Can you imagine what is to come from her? I do hope that we continue to see such beautiful southern novels, not just from her, but from other authors in the future. I felt like I was living in the environments that I grew up in. The book can be purchased on Amazon. Below, you can read a brief intro of the book, and follow the links to purchase from Amazon. I know you will love it!

February Wish List

Welcome to this month’s edition of the wish list! Each month I’m going to try to make a list of things I think any Southerner should enjoy! I hope you can find things that resonate with you!

The Poems of Johnny Cash

I think we all know that I love Johnny Cash. This is on my to be read ASAP list! Obviously, music is poetry in sound. This book explores Johnny as a written poet, and everyone should read it! It can be purchased here https://www.amazon.com/dp/0399575138/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_U_x_LsyyCbT23W10H

Pioneer Woman Serving Platters

I absolutely love the Pioneer Woman’s Floral pattern kitchen items! These are currently my absolute favorites. This is a three piece set, and they are perfect for spring garden parties! Just look at those vibrant yellows and reds in the flowers, and the soft blues. I can’t wait to get these for serving scones and tea cakes! They can be found here. https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Pioneer-Woman-Floral-Medley-3-Piece-Serving-Platters/842952303

Hanging Planter

There has been a growing movement back to including house plants in home decorating and I just adore hanging planters. This lovely wood basket has such subtle coloring, it will flow in any room. I really like the natural materials of the chains that hold it up. Find your favorite indoor plant and hang it near a window for an elegant accent that will help your home’s air quality. It can be found here. https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/shop/yumi-hanging-basket-planter?color=111&quantity=1&size=ONE%20SIZE&type=REGULAR&utm_campaign=PDP_SHARE&utm_content=2019-01-08&utm_medium=SOCIAL&utm_source=pinterest

Palmetto Cushion Case

Recently I read an article that featured a coastal home, and the owners would use single palmetto fronds as feature flora in their home. Ever since, I have loved images and art that feature the single palmetto frond. This case actually is part of a series, and is so incredibly affordable. It would look great in any living room, or as part of a breezy front porch ensemble. It can be found on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BTTSGF1/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_U_x_c8teCbZKCN8VN

air plant oyster by SoulFullGrows

Another new favorite of mine is the use of oyster shells in home decor. Air plants have been a recent favorite and again, the inclusion of plants in your home can help create cleaner air for your family. I just love how dainty these are, and the air plants look beautiful on their oyster shells! These bring a little bit of the coast right into your home. I want one in every room!! SoulFullGrows is an Etsy shop that makes these, as well as air plant terrariums. They are well worth visiting to add plant life to your home. These air plant oysters can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/637554910/louisiana-style-air-plant-oyster

Where the Crawdads Sing

I actually have this book and have already read it. I am telling you now, this is hands down one of the best books I have ever read. If you haven’t picked up a copy, do so now. It is available in hard back, as a Kindle read or via Audible (which I have to try). I am sitting on pins and needles waiting for some producer to snatch this up and make it into the fabulous movie I know it would be. I cried, I laughed, and I will be featuring it in the next few weeks as its own post. So go get your copy right now! https://www.amazon.com/Where-Crawdads-Sing-Delia-Owens/dp/0735219095/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1IE5AM0OACQHV&keywords=where+the+crawdads+sing&qid=1550174529&s=gateway&sprefix=Where+the+crawdads%2Caps%2C423&sr=8-1

Wander Inn Home and Body Spray

I’ve seen the Wander Inn featured a few times from different people now. First was in a magazine, and most recently I found this on the Junk Gypsy page. So you know I am going to have to try this spray that they collaborated on with Junk Gypsy, and learn more about the Wander Inn itself. Vanilla and Sandalwood are two of my favorite scents, so this is sure to be pleasing! It can be purchased here: https://gypsyville.com/what-s-new/wander-inn-body-home-spray.html

Oyster Crab by TheArcticPines

As I mentioned earlier, I love Oysters featured in art and home decorations. This beautiful crab was made by TheArcticPines Etsy shop! She makes several other pieces. I love that these add such a pretty, but simple coastal feel in any home.  Find this crab here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/672453721/crab-oyster-crab-southern-decor-oyster

Three Sisters Springs

This past weekend I got to go visit Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, FL. I had visited in the past as a swimmer from the river itself. Three Sisters is actually a newer park that was developed to preserve the spring itself while giving the public the chance to see an environmental wonder. I am so glad that they’ve closed the springs now to swimmers and only allow the wildlife to swim their way in. It preserves the natural beauty of the springs. For years, manatees have been piling into Three Sisters during the winter to socialize and keep warm in the spring heads, which maintain a consistent temperature in the 70’s despite cold snaps that occur from November through March. The park has a really fantastic boardwalk that winds around the springs, with multiple viewing platforms and informative signs. There are trams available for transport from the Three Sisters Springs Center which is located in the middle of Crystal River. The trams drop you at the head of the boardwalk and return every thirty minutes to pick up visitors who are ready to head back.

Manatees have long visited the springs and rivers in the heart of Florida, where they keep warm, raise their calves and can find freshwater foliage to feed on. They are quiet and relaxed normally, and can be observed peacefully gliding along just below the water’s surface. Three Springs has a small crystal clear creek that leads from the river canal into the spring itself and the manatees were steadily meandering their way into the spring while we visited. The springs could be housing anywhere from 20 to 200 manatees at any given time. When we arrived this weekend, there were 75 in the spring before our tram got there and another 150 in the canal outside. There were well over 100 manatee in the springs when we left. The manatees rest and munch on small vegetation in the spring, and there is a consistent spouting sound as they come up for air periodically. This is such a great way to show our children these beautiful and peaceful creatures.




There is also a nice nature trail along the canal that runs outside of the spring where viewers can see turtles, birds, insects, and a great variation of Florida native foliage. The property features a mixture of dense underbrush with pine, oak and cypress along the river itself and an open area of low scrub including palmettos, grasses and berry bushes where the birds can be seen flitting about eating. The day was rather cloudy, so it was hard to really capture the different colors in the scrub areas, but it was very beautiful.

Songbirds and woodpeckers are common here, as well as herons, but there are also raptors. Osprey can be observed over the rivers as they scout for fish. This beautiful red shouldered hawk landed in front of us on one of the many bird houses that are installed along the walking trail. We were also lucky enough to see a small garter snake, though he was too camouflaged for good pictures.

I absolutely recommend making a trip if you get to the Crystal River area of Florida around this time of year. Crystal River also has many different restaurants, which I plan to explore and share with you more. Charlie’s is an old favorite for fresh seafood. There are several BBQ restaurants as well which I’ve not visited yet. Or you can take a short drive north and visit Cedar Key when you are done at the springs. More on all of these later. I hope you get to visit Three Sisters Springs!

January’s Wish List: A Guide to Current Must Haves

Currently, Florida has freezing temps outdoors, though mildly higher than the rest of the nation. We southern natives are hunkered down under blankets, with space heaters blowing full blast because we might just get frostbite. Not really, but we are cold for the South, and we are dreaming of spring and warmth and items that will bring color and energy into our lives. I hope to do a monthly wish list for you based on my own personal wish list that I keep. January’s wish list is meant to inspire energy, warmth and spring filled vibes. I hope you find something you enjoy!

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“Gardenshire Pitcher” – Anthropologie

I’ve been eyeing this pitcher for a few weeks now. I absolutely love blue, which it contains quite a bit of. I also love love how subtle the warm pinks and corals are. The pitcher screams spring without being overly bold and it makes me think of garden parties and brunch on a patio. It can be found here: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/gardenshire-pitcher?color=049&quantity=1&size=Pitcher&type=REGULAR&utm_campaign=PDP_SHARE&utm_content=2018-05-30&utm_medium=SOCIAL&utm_source=pinterest

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Let’s face it. We all need this book. We need it because we want the Cash and Carter family secrets, both food and otherwise. We want it because we want to know what June fixed Johnny for dinner. We need it because Johnny Cash goes with southern people just like Rhett Butler. This book can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077CV9B73/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_U_x_mGU7BbMF00E3F

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Mini Claw Foot Planter

I am in love with this little planter for so many reasons. First and foremost, it has my favorite ocean green color. I’ll take any variation of ocean green and mint. Second I love stoneware because it gives back to the plant over a longer period of time by holding essential moisture that can be drawn from by the roots. Just imagine a coral or red tinged succulent in this little beauty, warming on your kitchen windowsill. Get yours here! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M4S0RZH/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_U_x_ASteCb68YBQRX

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I think everyone should read at least one character building book each year to boost confidence and build energy for their goals. This one is my top pick for the start of the year. YOU ARE a Badass!!! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B3M3VWS/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_U_x_3dDrCbCFJPJCM

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Himalayan Salt Lamps

Listen. If you don’t have a salt lamp yet, do yourself a giant favor and get one. I sleep so much better when I’ve had one on in the room for a bit. The soft glow is so relaxing before bed. Studies have shown that they help purify the air, and they also diffuse essential oils. I have both lamps like this one and tealight holders. You need ALL the salt lamps! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001892AX2/ref=strm_sub_nad_1_3

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Finchberry Shampoo Bar

I’ve been reading of the benefits of shampoo bars for some time now. I have a relatively sensitive scalp, and am hoping this might help solve some of my reaction problems. Shampoo bars are also notably long lived, saving you some money. That’s always a giant plus. This bar is from Finchberry, a current favorite of mine as well as many many others. It is affordable and an extra bonus is it has all natural ingredients and is gluten free! https://www.finchberry.com/collections/speciality-soap/products/solid-shampoo-bar-peppermint-tea-tree?variant=7304688205859

Spirit Horse Print

AmyLyn Bihrle has become one of my favorite (if not my absolute favorite) Equine artists. I already have two of her prints, and this guy is also on my list. I chose this one for January because the wind and white background capture the cold that we are still feeling, but the look in his eyes is fiery and full of confidence. AmyLyn does an amazing job of capturing the regal bearing in stallions. https://www.etsy.com/listing/158999970/majestic-horses-black-spirit-horse

Lauren Groff’s “Florida”: A Book We Should Opt to Listen to.

I started out the year with a goal to participate in the Read Harder Challenge that is put out by BookRiot. I’ll include a link to the Read Harder Challenge at the end of this post. One of the options was to read a book by a woman or author of color that won an award in 2018. Groff’s collection of stories has been on my list since it came out, so it became an easy choice for this part of the challenge. I was interested in it not just because the stories are set in Florida, but because Groff herself resides in my hometown. I had not realized that she is a fairly seasoned author, with several other books published prior to this one. I had wondered several times, and still do, how often I may have passed her in the street, or in a store. I opted for the Audible version of this book because she narrates it herself, and I generally feel that an author can lend much more conviction to their own stories, since only they truly know the emotion they wanted to instill as they crafted their stories.

Let me start by saying that Lauren Groff could read me a telephone book and I would probably enjoy it. She has a beautiful lilting voice, at times soothing, and many times seductive even when reading mundane parts of her stories. I thoroughly enjoyed the Audio of the book. What’s more, her stories are convincing, emotive and beautiful. Her characters in “Florida” face daunting and realistic inner battles as they also face the realities of life in Florida. The worries of a parent, of death, of facing possible assaults, of failing marriages and overlooked extramarital affairs that women live through every day are prominent in her writing while still embracing the state in its rawness. Panthers, snakes, sinkholes and heat brought me home to my state. Her descriptions of baking heat, reading with fans on, the scrub outside of cabins, sudden storms that rival hurricanes are all something that become everyday for people who live here. Groff brings them to life to create a muggy palmetto and city scene that few have managed to pull off. Meanwhile, characters faced possible death, homelessness, the challenges of marriages or failed ones. Groff subtly displays many of the actual life altering events that we all experience and somehow captures the very emotions that surround each issue without laying them out in blatantly obvious text. I almost felt like her words were a water flow, with these issues laying as rocks underneath, visible but not completely obvious. It was such a beautiful way of letting the reader know that they are understood.

I feel that Groff’s collection is an essential read both as a Floridian, but also as a woman who overthinks and fears in ways portrayed in the book. It is a great look into the inner workings of fraught minds of mothers, wives, young women and even children in many ways. I’ll be adding a paper copy to my collection, but seriously, do yourself a truly huge favor and listen to her read it one time.

The Read Harder Challenge is put out by BookRiot every year. It is a fantastic way to reach beyond your normal reading boundaries and find new worlds and authors. Here is the link to this year’s read harder challenge. https://bookriot.com/2018/12/12/2019-read-harder-challenge/

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Have you ever found a cake that you just can’t get enough of? I made this cake not too long ago and now I have to resist making it once a week, because I would seriously sit and eat it all. This cake is perfect when it is warm and served with a glass of milk. I love a good, simple chocolate cake because you can make it appropriate for any occasion. It can be a casual cake, a birthday cake, the perfect cake when you want a decadent treat to give someone and even a holiday cake (and let’s face it, we need to serve one of these at every holiday)! I love this recipe because it really is easy to make, but the coffee adds just a touch of complexity that makes me feel like I’m doing something to make myself an accomplished baker. The coffee infused chocolate drizzle really makes this over the top delicious, and I love to add just a dash of confectioner’s sugar after it’s cooled for a little pop.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Coffee Infused Chocolate Drizzle:

For the Cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 7 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup mayonnaise – no substitutes
  • 3/4 cup cold coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Drizzle

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cold coffee
  • 1 cup semi-chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, coffee and the vanilla, with the mixer set on low. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mayonnaise mixture and mix until they are combined. Pour the batter in two prepared layer pans (this can also be made in a bunt pan though). Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the bake is baking , bring a sauce pan to medium heat and combine the heavy cream, coffee, butter and chocolate chips. Stir consistently until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. You can either leave this on the low setting to keep warm or set it aside and warm it back up later.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely on a cooling rack. Once the cake is completely cool, set one layer onto a cake stand. Spoon part of the warmed drizzle over the first layer, and top with the second layer. Once you have the layers even and balanced, top the second layer with the rest of the drizzle. I opt to add confectioner’s sugar once the drizzle has cooled, but this is totally optional. I would also recommend sliced almonds, berries or even rose petals!

A Book You Need to Read!

I have to start this post by saying that my best friend is seriously one of the most amazing people on this planet. I saw this book in an online magazine blurb and shared it and she immediately had it sent to me. Seriously, one of the most amazing people on this earth and I can’t wait for her to get to read this too.

You could speak to almost any person in the United States about their musical influences, or the music they have grown up hearing, and it is almost certain that Johnny Cash will either come up in the conversation, or has had a role to play in the growth of artists that they mention. From the written words of his songs, to his fashion statements, to his dedication to embracing the underdog, Johnny Cash touched the entire world and left a legacy that is almost incomparable. Undeniably, songs like “I Walk the Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Ring of Fire” and “Get Rhythm” are some of the most played and sung songs on this planet, whether it be in the back seat of a car with the windows down, or on the stage of a bar in Nashville by an up an coming artist looking for their star to start shining. And his later songs like “Hurt” reintroduced him to a younger generation, fueling his legacy to remain steadfast over time.

In 2005, Joaquin Phoenix gave the world a glimpse into the inside world of Johnny and his struggles with drugs and alcohol during his career, as well as his love for June. The movie was phenomenal, and once again, the world fell in love with Johnny Cash. Yet for many, including myself, there has not been a deeper glance into how Johnny creatively functioned. While I have yet to read his autobiography, I had not found the answers to what made him tick musically until this book.

Alan Light gave me a glimpse into how Johnny wrote and the things that inspired him. Even more, he fully illustrated how Johnny took a firm stance for the things he wanted in his career. The back end of music and record labels is not a world that everyone sees, or even takes a great interest in. So many artists today sing the songs that are handed to them, to the tune they are told to sing to. While that of course displays their vocal talent, some of the artistry gets lost and the general public as a whole misses out on the beauty that artists create when they write and play instruments themselves as well. The development of a song from start to finish is such a huge path, filled with the smallest of details like the nuance of a word, or how a key can have an effect on the entire song. Johnny Cash was the type of artist who wanted to give his listeners more than a tune to whistle to on the radio, and this book was the first book to really capture that attitude. I loved learning that he developed entire themes for his albums, from trains to religion to the awakening of his mind and soul as he aged. He chose how his albums would be developed and released, and he didn’t back down to the pressures of record label demands. The author took such a deeper focus on this, and it was inspiring to be introduced to the depths of Cash’s writing and artistry.

Even more, this book was my first look into Johnny Cash’s humanitarian outreaches. I had never read nor heard mention of his support for Native Americans. This shed a whole new light on him for me as a person. I feel that I can embrace him as even more of a role model to introduce to my son, or to budding artists, because of course we love him for having taken the underdogs under his wing, and many of us know that he himself presented the perfect story of the average man who loved God and religion but who had his own short comings. But to know that I can look at my son and point to paragraphs in this book and say, “this man was known as one of THE Southern Outlaw musicians and HE embraced every person, no matter what type of person they were and he pursued his dreams on his own agenda, without compromise,” lends an entirely new and greater attitude towards The Man In Black.

If you haven’t picked this book up yet, please do yourself a favor and grab it on your next book shopping spree. I’m including the Amazon link below, should you be more of an online shopper. Trust me, it is worth owning. I am so glad to have this book on my shelves and I hope I can re-read it for more inspiration in my own writing and processes of developing my ideas.

https://www.amazon.com/Johnny-Cash-Life-Legacy-Black/dp/1588346390/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=johnny+cash&qid=1548095632&rnid=2941120011&s=Books&sr=1-1

The Journey Begins

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.— Ernest Hemingway

So. Here we are. It’s taken me some time to decide how this would come to fruition, and to lay out what it was that I wanted for this blog. I’ve done a few in the past and not really gotten very far, but I think like many things in my life, it has taken me those few times and some growth to understand that I need a map, a guiding light and some personal organization on my own part. So, I hope you’ll hear me out and that we can take this journey together.

Last fall, I sat in at the UF Small Business Women’s Business and Leadership Conference, and we talked about personal brands and personal wow factors. I thought some on that, and the same night I had this light bulb moment like you see in comic strips or children’s cartoons, where the little light bulb sits over someone’s head and lights up as their eyes get wider. Suddenly the character has a need to run and do this inspired thing right then, right there, now now now. That was me. That ah-hah moment was a coming together of so many of the things I have seen, heard, wanted to write about, wanted to cook, wanted to share. In these last few months, I’ve taken some drawn out time to mold and shape the dough, if you will. This blog is the ah-hah and the wow factors. It is also meant to be much much more.

You’re probably now wondering what my rambling is all for. Pour yourself a glass of sweet tea and I’ll share. The night of my ah-hah moment, I happened to be sitting and reading a magazine that I am subscribed to that has a Southern focus, but in a very elegant and sophisticated form. I’ve always loved it because of that air of Southern aristocracy hidden in the pages. It occurred to me though, that many magazines and blogs are missing things. We all love recipes, that is a fact. We all love to see the beautiful places that we want to travel to as well. We enjoy elegant decorating and crafts. You’ll get tastes of those here as well, trust me. But, the south has an entire world that many people never get even a small glimpse into. First and foremost, it has a mixture of ecological diversity that is little seen anywhere else in the world. From the salt marshes and swamps of Florida and Louisiana, to the ancient tree covered tops of the Blue Ridge Mountains, right out to the tumbleweed covered ranches of Texas, there is a uniqueness to the land that you will not find elsewhere. The people are just as unique. The South has shaped the culture of this nation with its musical influences, rich history of cuisine, coal mining families providing fuel and artists in every nook and cranny. The articles you see most miss a lot of things though. The south is responsible for a huge portion of our agricultural output in this nation, and the families that farm here stretch back generation upon generation. The south houses the Appalachian culture, little changed over time, creaking and whispering like ancient trees along the small roads through the mountains. The South’s fishing villages are another group little changed by time and technology.

I’d like to be able to share those things with you. I want you, dear reader, to get to see the parts of this land that don’t get spotlights and beautiful articles with rich colored pictures tucked into the magazines that line your grocery shelves. The South offers endlessly, and all we have to do is look and listen. So I hope we can enjoy that journey together. We will eat, drink, read, listen to music, meet farmers and craftsmen and artists together. We will travel together, sit at home together, and find so many beautiful things together. I hope that it will be a rich and bountiful experience for you.

Without further adieu, let’s begin.