Friday, January 29, 2010

Unwelcome reminder of the past

Crisis du jour:

Sewage backup!

I don't know what the average septic tank life is, but the one buried in my back yard has efficiently collected my household's wastewater for nearly 18 years with only occasional Rid-X® treatments. So when it recently began showing signs of age and wear, I wasn't all that surprised — but I was certainly disgusted by the filthy water that was seeping back into my tub and shower.

An inch of backed up wastewater in the shower floor

When the ignore-it-and-it'll-go-away approach stopped working after a couple weeks, a local sump pump service promptly drove out and did its duty. What a relief to put this unpleasant matter behind me!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hoytie Toytie

Presenting ...

Miss Hoyte Bounds

Cute little thing, ain't she?
circa 1912

This adorable baby girl eventually became my grandmother — and lots more.

  • The school librarian who handed down the district's unwanted Dick-and-Janes from which I learned to read
  • The farmer's wife who could out-shuck, out-can, out-freeze and out-cook any other
  • A green thumb extraordinaire who lovingly created and tended Tippah County's most glorious daylily garden
  • An outstanding seamstress that kept my kids' closets packed with everything from heirloom garments to playclothes
  • The dedicated quilter who lovingly handstitched dozens of patchwork quilts for her family, along with countless gifts for St. Jude patients with fellow members of her local quilting guild

More genteel Southern Belle in her poised pinky finger than I have in my whole bodycirca 1930'sUp to her elbows in dumplins
The Daylily DivaThe Christmas she made aprons for all her girlsSo many hand-stitched quilts I've lost countMy favorite was her Garden Tomato Soup

My daddy even published his mother's Cornbread Dressing recipe in his first cookbook, Wendell's Favorites. Takes several days to fix properly, and every bite's worth all the work! Click on the image below to discover its location on the World Wide Web:

Hoyte's Cornbread Dressing recipe

Monday, January 18, 2010

Power breakfast

The most important meal of the day in my household oftentimes includes scrambled eggs. One morning during a recent visit, Uncle Hugh honored this dish's distinctive mixing technique with an official name:

The trick to perfect Eggs Dewalt is choosing a reliable power drill. And since they're not limited to plain scrambled, this morning I added cheese and sausage to create the perfect omelet.

Power Drill Attach a single mixing device Omelet

Note: A pliable plastic bowl is recommended, since the vigorous mixing may damage glass or hard plastic.

After discovering that I'd used about half as much salt as needed, I decided my perfect omelet wasn't fit for human consumption and offered it to other hungry mouths to appreciate:

And real men do eat quiche after all ...

Remember this 1980's bestseller?Even the sissiest egg casserole can be made suitable for Real Man consumption by scooping a generous helping into a large flour tortilla, adding picante sauce (the more the manlier), then rolling up into a breakfast burrito.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My own piece of hydrangea heaven

In 1975, I was given a gift of a blue hydrangea. It was love at first sight. As I explored the genus, my passion grew. A few years later, I learned I was not alone; many gardeners share my addiction. By 1994, I was convinced that the world's perfect shrub deserved a plant society to celebrate and explore its versatility.

Penny McHenry · 1925-2006
Founder of the American Hydrangea Society

It is with deep respect and humility that I report my recent inheritance of an adolescent hydrangea shrub. It belonged to my mother-in-law, who has tended it carefully for at least a decade.

Hydrangea shrub

Nevermind all that overgrown Bermuda grass. The summer blooms that grow on this plant are stunning!

I'll admit that this isn't my first hydrangea. I've purchased several small ones over the past 20 years, but promptly killed them.

Pink hydrangea bloom -

And from what I've been told, I ended up with this precious hand-me-down ... because no one else wanted it?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Enough is enough!

Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.

Cicero · 106 BC - 43 BC

I've already begun Spring Cleaning, but not by choice. Instead, the pantry got cleaned up after I accidentally turned a Family Size box of cereal upside down and spilled its contents on the three lower shelves.

After emptying, sweeping, vacuuming and wiping, I faced the task of deciding how to fit all that stuff back in — until I began to realize that much of it was better suited to the local food pantry than my own.

FIVE open jars of peanut butter?
The overabundance of food was baffling. Specialty items purchased for recipes that were never made, stuff that no one in this household would dream of eating, and so many multiples you'd think we've been preparing for a global famine. The examples pictured here are a small taste of how many un-necessities we've been stockpiling.

Gee-Are-Oh-DoubleEss — canned blackeyed peasSarah finally decided she's outgrown this stuffAnyone for rice?Unrealized birthday plans?How many 1st Birthday parties does one family throw?
And the most ridiculous discovery of the day:
Expired 4/18/2008

Since I try to learn from my mistakes, I'm gonna go reorganize my pantry so that full cereal boxes are no longer placed on the top shelf. For more ideas, here's a good one to start with from the heart of Texas.