Monthly Archives: March 2013

Peep Show

It’s Easter weekend, although it doesn’t feel like it here in Atlanta.  Too cold.  But the Easter Bunny will come regardless of the weather and that means chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and Peeps.

Okay, so I don’t actually eat the Peeps.  Too sweet.  Besides, I’m not a big fan of sticky marshmallows.  But Peeps aren’t just for eating.  They’re for creating.

What’s that you say?  You haven’t seen any Peep artwork??  Well, you’ve been missing out because these little cavity seeds have a greater use.  Check it out.peep mobile 1

Pope mobile2Every year, the Washington Post runs a diorama contest where readers submit their best Peep Artwork.  My friend Julie and her daughter Katie turned me on to this a few years back when they submitted their creation:  The Peep Mobile.  Isn’t it cool?

The contest has taken off since then as you can see by this year’s contestants.  But Julie and Katie were ahead of their time because several of the 2013 entries featured the Pope, including this year’s winner and my personal favorite:  Peeps Mourn Their Peeps, Twinkie Rest In Peeps.death of twinkieFunny, huh?  Not to mention wildly creative.  Congress wasn’t spared either. Nor where some of this year’s best movies.  Jump on over to and look at all the entries.  You’ll be amazed!

So, what are you doing with your Peeps this spring?  Don’t say eating them!

Where I’m From…

This was an exercise from last year, done on my own blog and many others.  You may have seen it.  And while I’m not a huge proponent of recycling, this one has been on my mind again since Kim posted about her kids’ summer plans.  We all come from a story.

My parents old house across the street from me is for sale, and they’ve cut down the big swing tree in the backyard.  The one with the chains that grew into the tree.  It’s all in pieces at the street, and I’ve stared at them for the past two days.  The weeds are growing with little flowers everywhere and I keep thinking my mother would be so embarrassed to have her yard look so unkempt.

This is an amazing thing to do for yourself, and the template is at the bottom for you to give it a shot.  Here’s a little piece of me.


Where I’m From…

I am from Coca-Cola and orange soda straight from the bottle, and drinking from the garden hose on a hot day. I’m from leaving the house in the morning and staying gone till dusk, till Daddy’s voice called me home. From handlebar pumping, treehouses, double-daring, and carving my own rubberband gun from a stick. I’m from no cell phones, computers, VCR’s, or cable TV. From black rotary phones wired to the wall, Hee Haw and Disney on Sunday evenings, and three-cent green apple bubble gum.

I am from the only 2-story house on the block, that was really just a converted attic. I’m from duct work made from a Dentler’s Chip can and wires held together with duct tape. From the upstairs room with the shower that never was. From a carpenter’s house, where the smell of sawdust and grease will always make me close my eyes and see my father’s hands, and the sound of an arm saw makes me long for hot summers in a dusty garage.

I am from the magnolia and dogwood trees that flower the sky of Southeast Texas, and the pinks, purples and whites of azaleas. From deep green St Augustine grass and verbenia bushes with millions of red berries that will kill you if you eat them…or so we were told.

I am from homemade ice cream cranked in a bucket while someone sat on the lid, watermelon seed wars, camping on the Neches River bank in East Texas where the stars were many, waterskiing, and playing Chinese Checkers and Yahtzee in a homemade wooden and felt box made by my dad. I’m from Duchess, Prince, Duke, Honey, and Brandi, all beloved dogs buried in the backyard at a house I can only see from across the street now. I’m from unlocked doors and just walking in, and sitting on the front porch drinking coffee.

I’m from Lovelace eyebrows and Milburn smiles, Nanny’s drama and Maw Maw’s sweet silliness. From craziness everyone talks about, and skeletons no one talks about. From blue eyes and curly hair and two big brothers. From chain smokers and staying in a log cabin on vacation for me when Mom really wanted a hotel.

From y’all, fixin to, ice box, and because I said so. From pulling weeds at the roots and dusting every single nick-nack on weekends.

I am from Lutherans and Baptists, and sitting on the right side because no one had ever sat on the left.

I’m from Port Neches and Copperas Cove and Indian arrow heads on a hill. From lemon meringue pie and sand tarts at Christmas, homemade soup and shrimp gumbo, Steen’s Cane Syrup and Daddy’s special milk hash on toast to give Mom a break. I’m from ritz crackers with peanut butter, frozen bananas, and midnight snacks of sugar bread with hot milk.

I am from a homemade treasure trunk full of black and white pictures, a closet full of cards and letters and macaroni projects from children now grown, and the box of handmade Christmas ribbons used every year because giving them back was the rule. From overcoming economic hardship, union strikes, divorce, illness, and any adversity. I’m from June and Buddy, who I miss so much it aches.


The original link is found here.

The WHERE I’M FROM Template

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.

I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)

I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).

From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).

I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).

From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).

I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).

Sweet Spring Onions

My sweet onions are ready for harvest!  Is there a better sign that spring is in the air?

Okay, so spring isn’t in the air everywhere at the moment and I should know–the family and I just flew home from Denver, CO where Old Man Winter is blowing hard and furious.  But the cold will make this recipe all the sweeter. 🙂  It’s sweet and savory and the aroma alone will delight your senses.

If you like French Onion Soup, you’re going to LOVE this dish.  While a sure-fire hit in the fall, this delicacy is welcome in my home any time of the year.   Taken from the magazine, Cuisine at Home, it’s simple and easy to make, much like homemade French Onion Soup.   And worth every minute.   Sliced onions cooked until they caramelize are a guaranteed winner in any household and when you add cheese, the whole world turns sweeter.   Especially when we’re talking Gruyère cheese.   (Is your mouth watering yet?)

Baked Sweet Onions

Onions au Gratin

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

8 cups sliced sweet onions

1/2 cup dry sherry or chicken broth (I used sherry)

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved (I skipped these)

Preheat oven to 400°F

Melt butter in a large cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, stirring until slightly softened to make room in the pan (I don’t know what this means—I just sautéed the correct amount of onions); cover and cook until completely softened, 10 minutes.

Add sherry, thyme, and bay leaves; increase heat to medium-high.  Sauté, uncovered, until the liquid evaporates and onions are browning, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes (mine may have been 20 minutes, but caramelizing onions is a fairly forgiving process).

Combine cheeses, then stir 1/2 cup of cheese mixture into onion mixture.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake until cheese is bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes.

Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves, then sprinkle with olives.  Let stand to cool slightly before serving.

Makes 4 servings.   Total time: approx. 50 minutes.

Cuisine at Home is a great publication.  Not only does it offer phenomenal recipes, but it includes color photographs of the cooking process.  Indispensable for novices like myself!



A long, hot summer

summertimeWhen I was growing up in Eastern Tennessee, summer was an endless stretch of nothingness. There were no reading lists or science camps or enrichment activities. There was only occasionally adult supervision.

My friends and I were like a pack of wild dogs tearing through the neighborhood, entertaining ourselves by running through the neighbor’s sprinkler or hanging upside-down from a tree or riding bikes until somebody broke something, usually a bone. We watched Phil Donahue and sucked on homemade popsicles and plucked fat, juicy ticks off our dog and squashed them with bricks. I know, disgusting. Boredom makes you do strange things, but that’s my point. We were bored to death

Fast-forward to 2013. My kids’ summers have already been planned and paid for, and it’s only March. Their summer will span multiple continents and garner them more than 20,000 Delta points. They will bike through Dutch fields and camp in the Appalachians and swim in the Atlantic. My daughter will spend a month at camp — a month!  She will have exactly three days at home.

Of course they won’t be bored. They won’t have time to be.

Summer sure has changed, but I’m not convinced it’s for the better. Sure, my kids get to travel to faraway, exotic places, but beyond that, am I doing them any favors? Will my children ever learn to entertain themselves without an AmEx and a passport? To find joy in a field of wild berries, or fun in a moss-filled creek? I sure hope so.

Remember when the first day of school was something to look forward to?

I do.

Journalin’ Janna



I’ve always adored a good journal. I’m drawn to displays of them, plain and colorful, hard-bound and paperback, whatever. I’m prone to buying them. There’s something about the feel of the things in my hands, and the promise of all those empty pages.

You’d think that, since I’m a writer, I’d be more successful and consistent with my journaling efforts. That of all the dozens I’ve started over the years, I’d have kept up with entries in a timely fashion, seen the topics therein through, come to some phase of completion, but I’m so sporadic about writing in them. My follow-through is piddly.

Anyway, a few nights ago I pulled out a violet-toned, butterfly-embossed journal I’d begun soon after my divorce. It was bittersweet to read through the passages. Bitter because they were full of my then-struggles. It’s not my favorite thing to relive some of that stuff. But sweet because what was just as clear on those pages was my optimism, and faith in better days. It made me proud of that gal, looking back on those steadfast times… and realizing, when compared with today, just how far I’ve come. It was fortifying.

And so it makes me think, that’s what journaling is about. It doesn’t have to be a regular commitment, and it’s certainly not the kind of thing that requires order or theme, like so many kinds of writing. It’s about recording passing moments, emotion, the process of living. It’s about revisiting those same records sometime later to gain perspective, and assurance of a path gone down.

Maybe my methods aren’t too shabby after all. And maybe that means I can keep buying journals.

Do you keep a diary of some sort?

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