Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Remembe(RED): I Would Be Excited, if I Weren't About to Pee My Pants

I had to say "cumulative" five times, which might not have been so bad, but I had to say it five times in front of 2,000 people. Give or take a few hundred. I would have been, should have been excited, but I couldn't really drum up the motivation to be...especially since I was pretty sure I was about to pee my pants.

Sitting there on the hard surface of the metal folding chair, feeling my insides turn to mush, I wasn't looking forward to my future. I wasn't even thinking about my future. The only coherent thought that seemed to be present in my normally over-active adolescent mind was that I had to say "cumulative" five times, and dammit, I wasn't sure that I could even say it once.

One of my fellow graduates was taking her turn at the podium. She was polished, eloquent. Everything that I was not. Her cap sat perfectly atop her head, tassle moving beautifully with the breeze. My cap sat slightly askew, flattening out my unflattering layered bob until it poked out in strange places and took on the appearance of a lady-mullet. Not my best haircut ever, I'll admit.

Miss Fellow Graduate made eye contact with the crowd, smiled a dazzlingly white smile. My own mouth full of teeth encased in metal taunted me. The sharp metallic taste was worse than usual, and I knew that the slight lisp the braces had given me would make my struggle with "cumulative" that much more difficult. I sighed, squirmed in my seat. Why couldn't this night just be over?

With each passing minute, my moment in the spotlight grew closer. Sweat beaded on my brow, I tried to steady my breathing. It wouldn't do to go up there and hyperventilate. I needed to get a grip. I was just an honor graduate; I was just reciting some statistics about our class. It wasn't like I needed to get up there and inspire everyone to immediately run off and become doctors and lawyers. And that was a good thing, too.

The girl at the podium was taking her seat. That meant it was my turn to go up there...in front of all those people. Would I pass out? Would I throw up? Would I, in fact, pee my pants? All would soon be revealed as I took my place in front of the crowd...

This memory was written for The Red Dress Club's RemembeRED prompt:

It's that time of year...graduation.

For this week's prompt we are asking you to remember a graduation.  It doesn't have to be yours and it doesn't have to be high school.

What amazing (or interesting) memory do you have of your high school graduation?


Monday, May 30, 2011

A Whole Mess of Greens

Over the holiday weekend, I challenged myself. As a burgeoning Southern cook, I like to do this from time to time. I like to break out of my comfort zone of microwaved pepperonis and instant Ramen and attempt something new and exciting. I'm complicated that way.

During my short and varied stint as a "cook," I've managed to prepare a variety of traditional Southern recipes and dishes. Buttermilk biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, homemade macaroni and cheese, cornbread, hashbrown casserole, cubed steak, the list goes on and on. But the one dish that has eluded me, the one dish that I have avoided preparing out of fear and intimidation has been turnip greens. Now, in the South, we have this thing. We like to eat. A lot. We like to eat all manner of things, especially fried things and yummy vegetable things (sometimes the yummy vegetable things are one and the same with the fried things, which only makes them better). Turnip greens fall into the yummy vegetables category. In fact, I would probably say that turnip greens take the cake as the yummiest of all the vegetables but that's only my opinion, and you can take it for what it's worth.

As a great lover of turnip greens, and other types of greens which I'll discuss in another post on another day, I have not deprived myself or my husband of them in the years since I left the nest and the comfort of my Mama's turnip greens. No, in fact, I prepare them quite frequently and shamelessly out of a can. I know. I should be horribly ashamed. To even refer to myself as a Southern cook is a gigantic lie, but for some reason, I haven't been able to work up the courage to make fresh greens. Something about the entire process is just a little frightening.

Out of the can. 
While I was grocery shopping on Saturday, I encountered my old nemesis on the vegetable aisle. It mocked me with its leafy goodness, taunted me with those long stems and its sheer bulk. Not to be outdone by a stinking vegetable, I snatched up two bunches of the offending stuff and wheeled around to my husband. "I'm cooking greens!" I declared, plopping the greens into the buggy.

Puzzled, he hazarded to reply with "sounds great" and wisely pushed the buggy on down the aisle.

When we got home, I chose to sit around for a couple of hours before starting dinner. I'm used to throwing something together in about an hour, so I didn't think anything of it when I started my meal of turnip greens and dried field peas at around 6:30pm. Needless to say, it was around 9:00pm before we ate.

A Whole Mess of Greens
After quick-soaking my field peas and washing and chopping my turnip greens, I finally got everything on the stove. The greens were a daunting task but not quite as daunting as I had anticipated. I was feeling pretty good about myself when we sat down at the table to my pretty little meal. Jeremy had done his part and grilled up some pork chops as well, so we had quite the feast before us.

I cut into the pork chop. Tender, juicy perfection. The husband fulfilled his role as grill master well. Next, I scooped up a fork full of those delicious smelling field peas. Not bad for my first time cooking dried peas. They weren't too dry or too tough. I turned to the greens next. My husband had already tried them and kept calling them the "feature" of the meal. I tried a tiny bite. Good flavor, the pork fat I'd cooked with them had done its job. Surprisingly, they were also very tender. But alas, the greens weren't perfect. Nope, I'd made a rookie mistake right out of the gate.

Sure, I'd washed the greens. Ran them through nice cold water in a colander. I had been talking to my Mama on the phone when I was washing them. "Be sure to wash them good." She'd warned. My response? An impatient and flippant, "Yeah, Mama, I know." Well, I'll sure know next time that just running water over greens doesn't hardly "wash" them. Those bites of crunchy, gritty turnip greens were a testament to that fact.

The moral to this story? What you've heard is true. Mamas sometime, every so often, do know best.

Have you ever tried greens? If so, have you ever tried cooking them?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jar Full of Sorrow

Flicker of Inspiration Prompt #1: Lightning or a Lightning-Bug

Write a blog post that focuses on either lightning or a lightning-bug. This post can be fiction, memory, or poem. Let these words and images carry your post to its destination.

Word Limit: 800

"Jar Full of Sorrow" 
Genre: Fiction

At seven years old, she was a murderer. The thought kept repeating in her head like a bad song. She couldn't stand herself. She couldn't believe she had been so childish, so foolish. Looking down at her tiny hands, she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders.

She stood on the wide front porch of the house she loved, a slip of a child with an unkempt pony tail, dirty clothes, and scraped knees.The sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon, a new day approaching, the world spinning on in the face of her sadness and self-disgust. It was mocking her, casting its light and shadow over the life and death that surrounded her.

A tear snuck down her dirty face, exposing a trail of pale skin. She hated crying, but the overwhelming sorrow she felt was taking over. She crossed her skinny arms over her chest and hugged herself. The jar stood at her feet, its lid sitting askew atop it.

She heard the screen door open and shut behind her, its creak stretching out and breaking the silence of the summer morning. She felt the hand clamp down on her shoulder, a solemn reminder of the gravity of her deed. How could she bare to look up at him? How could she face anyone ever again?

"Livvy." His voice offered some comfort, but she refused to take it.

Her arms tightened around herself, and the tears flowed freely. At their onset, the hand pulled at her shoulder, and suddenly, she found herself in the warm embrace of her father. "You didn't mean to." He whispered, his hand clumsily rubbing her back. "It was just an accident."

An accident, yes, but a costly one. The price was down by her bare feet in the bottom of the jar, a jar that had been full of light and life only the night before, a jar that was now only full of sorrow. The memory of chasing the lightning-bugs across the yard, catching each of them in her carefully cupped hands, and dropping them into that pretty class jar, was eclipsed now by the enormous feeling of remorse.

She imagined the tiny light inside them blinking, fading, blinking, fading. Fading, fading, until it was finally gone. The sobs wracked her tiny body, and the morning sun rose higher and higher in the sky, while her father held her on that pretty white porch, with that pretty glass jar down by their feet.

She was seven years old, and this tragedy would be only her first taste of sorrow.

Author's Note: Surprisingly, I struggled with this prompt. It's surprising, because I have so many lovely childhood memories of catching lightning-bugs. I could have chosen any of them and put them into words, but somehow, that didn't seem to be quite enough of a challenge. I always associate lightning-bugs with happy feelings: perfect memories, the beginning of summer, long nights playing outside with my friends. I wanted to challenge myself and tease out some sadness and tragedy with the word lightning-bug. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Captchouli Round Four

Welcome to Round Four of Captchouli, the newest and fastest-growing internet sensation on the planet! Ha...we wish. Seriously though, you guys have helped make this a huge success so far, and we're so grateful that you're participating and enjoying this. We look forward to your entries each week, and you guys really just seem to be getting more and more clever.

This week's entries were harder to choose between than ever. What can we say? You guys are geniuses! Hilarious and wonderful geniuses. Bask in the brilliant glow from your huge brains, as you chew on this week's entries. Oh, and be sure to visit each of the blogs below and show them lots of love!

1) Dweej at House Unseen, Life Unscripted

Outici pronounced [ow-TEE-chee']
Definition: super, duper totally ouchie. The ouchiest ouch EVER.
Sentence: Remember how it was ouchie stub your toe on the wall? Well if you smash it with that hammer, it's gonna be outici. Trust me!

Outici {Owt-ise-ee} ; A product beloved by women of the North, Outici promotes the out-flowage of ice from area lakes during the frigid Winter months. Outici proves useful when husbands choose, weekend after weekend, to escape to the ice house trying, in subzero temps, to catch a fish through a hole in the iced-over lake. Outici raises the water's temperature enough to cause the ice to thin and disperse, which in turn prompts said husbands to venture home and spend time helping to entertain families suffering from winter-weather induced "cabin fever". Feeling like a single mom during deer season is bad enough... Outici makes the worry of being bored and alone during ice fishing season a thing of the past!
*Use with caution: All kinds of horrible things could happen when using this product, including men and fish houses floating away. Never use Outici in a lake already occupied by fishermen. If you prefer for your husband to be away ice fishing, do not use Outici.
Example Conversation:
Wife #1: I'm so sick of Butch spending every free minute fishing through that hole in the ice!
Wife #2: I had the same problem with Sven, until I found Outici...

And this week's winner? An entry that made us laugh out loud and believe that maybe Outici really is a word and that maybe Kelli really knows its meaning.

3) Kelli of Narragansett No. 7

OUTICI interjection /au/
An interjection expressing sudden pain, usually used by small 5th generation Italian-American children who have been inappropriately led to believe by their grandma from the Bronx, Angela Evangelina Sophia Isabella Martino, that this is actually an old Italian word. Much like the improper use of the word "gravy" by NYers of Italian descent when referring to spaghetti or "meat sauce", the "Family" will argue that the word arrived with great-great grandma Nonna who "was off the boat" from Italy, so if you don't know it, you must be an Irish idiot.
In a sentence: "Ma! Outici! The plastic on the sofa is too hot! What's da mattah wich you, huh?" or, "I really smooshed that broad from da club last night. Outici."
First known use: 1965 in the kitchen of someone's grandma from "The City".
(p.s. - can you tell that I grew up in NY?)


Yes, Kelli, we can tell, and we love it! Congratulations!!

And now for ROUND FOUR!

Here's the plan, Stan:
1. We give you an honest-to-Blog CAPTCHA "word" that we were forced to submit in order to leave a blog comment.
2. You define the word AND use it in a sentence, and EMAIL it, along with the name/link of your blog and HTML code for your button, to Katie at: katieross83@gmail.com
* Definitions left in the comments of either blog will be discarded*
3. We'll decide on a winning definition and post the winning response on both blogs next Saturday, along with next week's contest. In case multiple entries have the same definition, all who submit the definition will be awarded winners.
4. The winner will have his or her button posted on the sidebars of both Chicken Noodle Gravy and My 3 Little Birds for the following week. And this is big, because we both have, like, tens of followers.
5. The contest is open until 12:00 pm EST next Friday. Entries received after that time will be discarded.

We'll love you forever and ever, and ever and ever, amen if you'll grab a Captchouli button from down below!

So without further ado, your Captchouli Word of the Week is:

And now to take care of a little blog business. First of all, if you haven't already and you'd like to, please consider joining the new writing community The Lightning and the Lightning-Bug. It's a collaboration with two of the the best writers I know, Mary Lauren of My3LittleBirds and Kelli of Narragansett No. 7. Stop by and pay us a visit; we'd love to have you.

Also, I have been nominated for June's Blog of the Month over at For The Love of Blogs, alongside some of the bestest bloggers out there Dweej at House Unseen, Life Unscripted, Nina at The Adventures of Artsy Nina, and Mollie at OK in UK. Go vote and support the cause, man!

The Dish Featuring TexaGermaNadian

Good morning, my peeps! Guess what day it is? That's right. It's Day of The Dish at Chicken Noodle Gravy, but more importantly, it's also Frackin' Friday! Now, if you're familiar with Frackin' Friday, then consider yourself lucky already, and if you're not, then consider yourself about to become very lucky indeed, because today we're celebrating Frackin' Friday by celebrating the blog behind it, one of the funniest and most entertaining blogs I've had the pleasure of following. A worldly blog that manages to be many things all at once, as reflected in its worldly, multicultural title: TexaGermaNadian. I know, it's pretty much the coolest blog title ever. Almost as cool as the blogger behind it. Almost.
How can you resist clicking on that adorable button? And guess what? The blogger herself designed that cute-as-a-button button and will use her talents to design one (or a blog header) for you, too. For details, click here

A Storyteller

Lindsey, aka Texa (cute nickname, huh?), the creative and not-at-all sarcastic genius behind TexaGermaNadian, is one of the those people who is effortlessly funny. She can make you laugh about something as simple as a pair of truck testicles (be sure to stay updated on Nad Watch 2011...there are late and great developments) and just wait till you read about this... Point is, Texa is funny and manages to tell the stories of her daily life in a hilarious and fun way. Of course, her daily life is pretty darn interesting in its own right. The blog title TexaGermaNadian is actually derived from Texa's globe-trotting life with her hockey-playing husband. She recently returned to Texas after living in Germany for the last year or so (welcome home!). And the best thing about her living in Germany? The fact that she shares her awesome and unique experiences there with her readers. Just from reading her blog, I feel like I've visited Germany myself, and I love it there!

Simply put, Texa's a natural-born storyteller, which brings me to the next rockin' thing about TexaGermaNadian: The Storytellers Blog Hop. At the end of every month, Texa hosts this hop, which has quickly become one of my favorite blog hops. The only real rule of the hop? No blogs that specialize in ads, coupons, and giveaways. Those blogs get the spotlight enough; this is for the little blogs, the blogs with stories to tell. There are no follow rules or anything, just an opportunity to meet other bloggers and also to link up your own blog and "let it shine."

Frackin' Friday, Zombie Sunday, and Other Interesting Days of the Week

I love blogs that run weekly features and events. There's just something organized and cool about knowing you can return to a blog week after week for an awesome feature. Frackin' Friday at TexaGermaNadian is one of those awesome features. Every Friday, Texa or one of her guest bloggers, shares culturally significant and educational bits of wisdom, bits of wisdom that help readers expand their horizons and flirt with learning a new language. Specifically, Frackin' Friday teaches us all to cuss in a foreign language, which really can only help to make the world a better place. TexaGermaNadian, I salute you. :)

Oh, and lazy Sundays over at TGN are taken to a whole new level with Zombie Sundays. But Texa's "boring German Sundays" are usually anything but when she tells her tales. I'm telling you this girl could probably make paint drying sound funny and interesting. She rocks THAT much. 

Scrumptious Survey: Survey questions answered by blogger. 

What’s your favorite dish/food? 

Really, I would love to say cereal. I eat it out of the box everyday. There is something about the crunchiness, and the way it annoys the hubs as I crunch. 

But seeing that I actually want people to take me more seriously than a 10 year old, I'll say a good shrimp boil. Fresh jumbo gulf shrimp, corn on the cob, red potatoes and sometimes sausage boiled in a spicy cajun seasoning. Mmmm, mmm. Always makes me think of home!

What’s your favorite type of cuisine (Italian, French, etc.)?

Hmmm, I think it might be a tie between Mexican food (uh, hello, we think it is 'our' national food down here in Texas) and Greek food. The time I spent working in Greece made me fall in love with all the savory flavors of the Aegean islands.

What is unique about the cuisine in your part of the world? 
Well, in Texas I would have to say TexMex or BBQ. Both are great down here! In Canada, they take pride in their Alberta beef, so I would say steak. And in Germany, everything seems to be 'unique' to us. But our favorites are the schnitzel and sauerkraut! So good!

Sweet or salty?

Salty, for sure. Sea salt, at least stay a little healthy with that one.

What food are you craving right now? 

Popcorn. I am a big popcorn fan. And none of that microwaveable bag crud. Air popped popcorn, tossed in olive oil, cayenne pepper and Parmesan cheese. Oh, so good and mouthwatering!

Do you like to cook? If so, do you ever share recipes on your blog?

I LOVE to cook. I actually look forward to making dinner every night. Weird, I know. I don't often share recipes on my blog, but only because I have a bad habit of not following recipes and/or making them up as I go. And then of course I tend to not remember what all I put into the dish, so therefore they are unable to recreate. Should really write those details down more often! Lol

Where do you get the recipes you use? From cookbooks, blogs, online directories, etc? 

Does google search count?? I usually look up a few different recipes and then mix and match to my taste (and to what I have in the pantry at that time). But there are some good go-to's from my grandmother's and mom's cookbooks. You just can't find anything like those old reliable recipes online.

What food-related word would you use to describe your blog? (i.e. salty, sweet, savory, delicious, yummy…) Get creative!

Ambrosial - fit for the gods :) 

Or maybe Piquant - agreeably biting and sharp.
(thanks 'words describing foods' google search! haha) 

So if you haven't already clicked all the links above, I suggest you do so now. Seriously, like right now. What are you waiting for? Spend the day getting to know Lindsey and TexaGermaNadian. You'll probably pick up some new German words, share in some Texas-sized fun, and who knows? You may even learn some Canadian trivia along the way. And just remember, Texa is anything but Lächerlich. In fast, she's just the opposite of Lächerlich...she's the German word for awesome, which I don't know because it's not a cuss word, and I only bother learning cuss words in foreign languages. But you get my point. Show Lindsey some love and enjoy her awesomeness.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Remembe(RED): Baby Card Sharks

What follows is a response to the Red Dress Club prompt:
Let's Play
This week, we want you to recall the games you played when you were young.
Did you love Monopoly, Yahtzee, or Uno? Or did you prefer backgammon, Trouble, or Scrabble?
Write a piece that explores one of your memories.
Let's have a 600 word limit.

Baby Card Sharks

The carpet pressed into the backs of my crossed legs, and when I got up I knew I would have tiny stress marks all over my pale skin, but I didn't care. I was in the throes of a serious competition, and I couldn't be bothered to move. He sat on the floor across from me, eyes intense on the stack of cards in his hands. Neither one of us was any good at shuffling, but we liked to pretend.

"We're playing five-card stud." He explained. "You remember how to play, right?"

No, I didn't, but I wasn't going to tell him that. As an adult, I learned that we were actually playing five card draw. As a child, I simply nodded and watched as his hands clumsily moved the cards around in a semblance of a shuffle. We had just finished playing War, which was always intense with the two of us. Losing simply wasn't an option, a little healthy competition between cousins. The stakes of this game were much higher though. They sat in the crystal candy dish on the floor beside us.

Having satisfactorily mixed up the cards, he dealt. "One for me, one for you. Two for me. Two for you." And so on. With each card dealt, I grabbed it up off the floor lightning-fast and held it close to my chest. There would be no peaking with me around. When he finished dealing, he carefully stacked the remaining cards in between us. "Who should go first?"

Of course, I thought I should. I told him so. This led to a complicated and very intense argument of which I will spare you the details. We were seven year-old cousins; we hadn't quite yet found our patience and understanding with one another. Nevertheless, the fight somehow resolved itself, and we were back to the serious matter at hand.

He grabbed the crystal candy dish, carefully opening the lid and revealing its delicious bounty. Dozens of gold wrappers met our hungry gazes, a virtual treasure trove of Werther's Originals candies. "We'll divide these up and use them as our money." 

All I wanted to do was start eating them. I managed to refrain as he carefully counted them out. To take my mind off the thought of the milky caramel melting away in my mouth, I looked down at my cards. I had a pair and three of a kind. If we were playing Rummy, I'd be in the money. 

"How many are you going to bet?" He asked, looking puzzled over his cards.

I diverted my gaze, twirled my hair, and hummed. Several moments passed. He made an annoyed sound. I twirled my hair some more. "I'll go all in." I said finally, pushing my candies in a pile between us. My feet were long past asleep; I wondered briefly if I'd ever be able to use them again. 

Not to be showed up by his younger-by-six-months girl cousin, he pushed his candies into the pile. I remember feeling defeated. He grinned, knowing he'd bested me. "Show me your cards."

Reluctantly, I flipped them over. Later that day, I learned that my hand was what was called a full house, which beat his pair of twos into the ground. I also learned that eating ten Werther's Originals in one afternoon would make you sick as a dog.

We should have been playing Life or Monopoly that afternoon. Pictionary or Scrabble. A normal game for normal kids. But instead, there we were, two baby card sharks, playing poker and losing all our candy to the habit. 


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Become a Lightning-Bug!

Well, another weekend's almost over. Tomorrow it's back to the real world and the real work. All the more reason to end your weekend with a bang! This weekend I, along with my fellow blogging buddies Mary Lauren and Kelli, launched a new Writing Community called The Lightning and the Lightning-Bug. This community will be a collaborative effort, featuring writing prompts, contests and challenges, and a platform for submissions. We welcome writers of all skill levels and types to join and become a part of a caring, supportive community of fellow writers and friends.

The first Flicker of Inspiration Prompt is up already! We plan to post a new prompt every Sunday and also to host a link-up on Sundays, so that you may share your work from the previous week's prompt.

Become a Lightning-Bug today, and be sure to grab a button!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Dearly Departed Diabetic Cat

I clapped my hands and jumped from foot to foot. The squeal that was building in my chest would burst out any moment but that wouldn't do; it might scare them away. I tried holding my breath to keep the sound stifled. PawPaw was down on his hands and knees, reaching through weeds and into the darkness below the blue utility building. He grunted, and I watched the spot where his hand had disappeared under the building, eyes wide with wonder and anticipation. "Gotcha." He said and moments later pulled out a tiny grey kitten.

He turned to me with his blazing grin and presented the tiny fluff of fur. From the moment he dropped her into my hands, I was in love. You see PawPaw had a thing for cats, and he'd passed on his thing for cats to me, his youngest granddaughter. Neither of my parents ever fully understood my connection with animals as a child, but PawPaw did. He loved them like I did, cats most of all.

Little Bit's newest litter resided under the blue utility building. It was PawPaw's intention to get them out so I could admire them up close-like. The first kitten he pulled out was enough for me though. I can remember sitting down in the cool grass and pressing her to my chest. She mewed softly at me and gazed up out of nervous green eyes. She was perfect. From that point on, every visit to MawMaw and PawPaw's was spent with the kittens and that perfect little grey kitten in particular. I wanted to take her home with me, but like most parents, mine weren't too keen on adding another member to the family, especially one that they assumed I would tire of within a few months.

But I wasn't to be deterred, and I enlisted the help of PawPaw in developing a plan. My parents had dropped me off at Kitten Haven while they went on a date night. While they were gone, PawPaw and I plotted and planned, thinking of various arguments and reasons why I needed that grey kitten. By the time my parents returned, we had our script perfected. They didn't stand a chance against us. That night, I rode home with the grey kitten in my lap.

The kitten never really got a proper name. We called her Kitten for awhile, and with our Southern drawls, her name eventually developed into Kidden. Because PawPaw gave her to me, she was more special than any pet I'd ever had and will probably ever have since. She would prove to be an inextricable tie to him even after he passed away from cancer only a few years later.

I loved that cat with a fierce passion that only a child can possess. I grew up with her, rarely can remember a time when she wasn't there.

When she was twelve-years old, she became sick. We took her to several veterinarians, desperately searching for what was causing her severe weight loss and dehydration. Eventually, she was diagnosed with diabetes. The vet advised that most owners of diabetic animals had to make the tough decision to euthanize their pet, simply because the time and money involved in caring for a diabetic pet was overwhelming. He explained that Kidden wouldn't live much longer anyway, no more than six to nine months.

By this time, PawPaw was no longer with us. Kidden reminded me of him and kept his love alive for me. I couldn't bear the thought of losing this last part of him. We decided to try the vet's recommendation of feeding Kidden a special diabetic food and giving her insulin shots twice a day. Have you ever given a cat a shot? Well, trust me when I say, it's not pretty.

Kidden went on to live for two more years. She died just a few months after Jeremy moved to Georgia. I think she was making sure I had someone else to love before she left. I still haven't quite gotten over her passing. When I think of her, I think of PawPaw and all the wonderful times we shared. I'm so grateful for the time I had with him and all the memories he gave me. I'm so grateful for that little grey kitten that would watch over me for him when he wasn't there to do it himself.

Do you have a special pet that still carries your heart?

Captchouli Round Three

Welcome to Round Three of Captchouli! Lots of great entries again for this week, and the Round Two winner was certainly hard to choose. We'd like to thank everyone again for their participation and fabulous entries. Now, on to the brilliance. Don't forget to visit these awesome blogs and give them some love for their awesome entries. The Round Two word was Scolla, and here's what our readers came up with: 

Definition: Scolla or S-colla noun pronounced [ES-colla'] - contraction of the letter "S" and the word colla' (you know, the thing that dogs wear around their necks?  Collas?) wherein "S" signifies the word "sparkly"
Sentence: “Hey, did you see Joey's new S-colla?  He got it at Hot Topic.  He is so sick.  Swoon!”

Definition:  A fictional place for bloggers with writers block.
Sentence 1:  Nina’s mind was blank. Her daily tasks too mundane; her thoughts uninspired.   She had entered the dreaded Scolla.
Sentence 2:  Q:Nina, where is your post today? A: Eh, I’m in Scolla land.

3. Melody Mae of Melody-Mae

Definition: The word; scolla comes from the New York City Urban Vocabulary
meaning;1.  to be a person who has a higher education, 2.  a person holding a scholar
a. wow man, he is a pretty smart scolla
b. yeah, my kid received a nice scolla last night at graduation

4. Sarita from The Lone Tater

Defintion 1: (skol-ah): n. a person well versed in the ways of the 'hood.
Sentence 1: "Playah, you schooled him!  You showed him who was boss!  You are a scolla!" 
Definition 2:  someone from the streets who made it good and went to college and got a degree.
Sentence 2:  "Girl, I can't believe that you used to be out here with us!  Now you is a scolla!"

Drum roll, please. And our winner this week is:

5. Rachael of Non-Domestic Mama
Definition: Scolla  skoh-luh - A carbonated beverage believed to render the consumer more intellectual.  The advertising slogan was "Be a Scolla scholar."  It was mainly marketed to high school dropouts and enjoyed very limited success.  The same marketing campaign is believed to be the main cause of the product's inevitable failure, considering it's targeted consumers tended to lack the funds necessary to purchase the product.  
Sentence: Drink a Scolla before you play Captchouli.

Rachael's definition made us thirsty. It sounds like it could definitely be a real drink, and it sure would do a lot of us some good! Congratulations, Rachael, on a creative and fun entry!

And now for ROUND THREE!

Here's the dill, pickle:
1. We give you an honest-to-Blog CAPTCHA "word" that we were forced to submit in order to leave a blog comment.
2. You define the word AND use it in a sentence, and EMAIL it, along with the name/link of your blog and HTML code for your button, to Katie at: katieross83@gmail.com
* Definitions left in the comments of either blog will be discarded*
3. We'll decide on a winning definition and post the winning response on both blogs next Saturday, along with next week's contest. In case multiple entries have the same definition, all who submit the definition will be awarded winners.
4. The winner will have his or her button posted on the sidebars of both Chicken Noodle Gravy and My 3 Little Birds for the following week. And this is big, because we both have, like, tens of followers.
5. The contest is open until 12:00 pm EST next Friday. Entries received after that time will be discarded.
We'll love you even more than we love bad songs from the 90s that remind one of us of fraternity parties if you'll grab a Captchouli button from down below!
So without further ado, your Captchouli Word of the Week is:


Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dish Featuring The Adventures of Artsy Nina

Welcome to Friday and another edition of The Dish! I hope everyone had a fabulous week. This week's featured blog is sure to end it with a smile. When I first visited The Adventures of Artsy Nina, I knew it was going to be a favorite. I'm sure you all know blogs like that. That capture your attention from the moment you arrive. For me, I think it was the Artsy Nina banner. The retro wife smiling over her shoulder at the retro husband, who's drying the dishes. She looks like she's up to something, like she's got a funny secret she's just dying to tell, and I instantly wanted to know her secret. 

Turns out, the secret was that The Adventures of Artsy Nina rocks, no foolin'. Nina, our blogger hostess, shares her "adventures" as a "1950's housewife, complete with apron and cloth diapers," hence the retro housewife banner. You'll fall in love, as I have, with her fun stories, her vintage style, and her yummy recipes. Oh, and did I mention she makes me laugh? Yep, she has that sarcastic, dry sense of humor I can't help but love (see: her post on Blog Overload). Do I have you convinced to visit yet? Well, just wait, it only gets better.

The House

I admire people who take on huge projects. I admire them, and I want to be them, but I'm unapologetically lazy, so chances are I'm not going to be them. Nina is one of those people I'll never be. She and her husband bought the 1884 house and have been busy updating/remodeling it ever since. Jeremy and I felt very accomplished when we stained our deck, but this couple, well, let's just say they're truly accomplished. 

I love when Nina posts something about the house. I love pouring through the before and after pictures, admiring they're hard work and perseverance, feeling jealous of their interactions with actual, real-life Turdologists. But most of all, I love that Nina and her husband are taking something old and long-neglected and restoring it to its former glory. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of living in a house like Nina's and remodeling it to perfection. Nina's living that dream now, and it's sure a great time seeing her progress on this charming and unique house and its transformation into a home. 

Crafty Cook

One of my favorite things about reading blogs is discovering great new recipes from around the country and the world. The Adventures of Artsy Nina takes recipe hunting to an entirely new level with the recipes she shares from vintage cookbooks. Ever tried making Fresh Orange Chewies (which look delicious, by the way, click "vintage cookbooks" for the recipe and pics!)? What about Barbecued Spare Ribs? And then there are the recipes that Nina writes and embellishes herself: Potunas, anyone? 

To see all of her recipes in one place, visit her Recipe Box

Nina's not only a good cook, she also happens to be a good crafter. As a woman lacking a single crafting bone in her entire body, I find this particular characteristic to be outrageously awesome. Which would explain why I'm outrageously jealous of it. :) She does fun things like making recycled soap and creating adorable magnets and wreaths. You know, she does the things that I would do...if I were even a smidgen crafty. 

Scrumptious Survey: Answered by Blogger

What’s your favorite dish/food?
I don't like to be pigeonholed.   How can I pick just one item? If you saw my thighs, you would understand that no food is discriminated against in this house.  I eat it all, too much, and too often.

What’s your favorite type of cuisine (Italian, French, etc.)?
  Mexican.  Hands down.   But not the Americanized Mexican restaurant type, with crappy margaritas and bland flavors.  I'm talking roadside stand, pork wrapped in soft corn tortillas, smothered in fresh cilantro and onions and lime, cooked in a dirty trailer Mexican.  And it's usually cheaper too!

What is unique about the cuisine in your part of the world? 
I think Minnesotans specialize in tatertot hotdish.  Or lutefisk and lefse.  Do I eat any of that? If it's around, ya sure you betchya!
Do I actually make any of that in my kitchen? HECK NO.

Sweet or salty?

I have been described as both.   Oh!   You're not asking about me.  Well, my palette usually prefers salty. And my husband says I use salt too much.   I have recently discovered the wonderfulness of sea salts and other fancy salts for seasoning. I won't be seeing that cute little Morton salt girl in my cupboard any more.

What food are you craving right now? 
I am in the mood for something really fresh and light.  Specifically a Greek salad.  Cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, feta and a vinaigrette (EVOO, oregano, red wine vinegar).  Best Salad Ever.  Sadly, I am out of olives and feta.  *weeping*

Do you like to cook? If so, do you ever share recipes on your blog?  
I am a Domestic Goddess, and as everyone knows, a well-rounded Domestic Goddess likes to cook!  It helps that my husband is a human garbage disposal and will eat (and like) everything I cook.  Except that one dish (Coq Au Vin), as he often reminds me.  It's been a few weeks since I have posted a recipe, but you can find them sprinkled throughout my posts.  I also have a page dedicated to recipe links.

Where do you get the recipes you use? From cookbooks, blogs, online directories, etc?
I love using allrecipes.com to plug in random ingredients and find inspiration.  Next, I consult my trusty stash of vintage cookbooks.  Most are the church or community group style with simple recipes written by housewives past.  I also have been referencing The Good Houskeeping Illustrated Cookbook since I first moved out of my parents house back in 1998.  And of course, I read blogs!

What food-related word would you use to describe your blog? (i.e. salty, sweet, savory, delicious, yummy…) Get creative!
“A delight to the readers palette, served with grace and finesse.”
A small intimate blog which oozes passion. The entries were served with an exquisite attention to detail.
The writer was friendly and intimate and each dish was commensurate with the care and passion with which it was prepared.
I highly recommend this and hope you enjoy it too. 
OK, so I altered a fancy restaurant review to make it blog appropriate.  I can only hope my readers feel somewhat like this.  HA! (Editor's Note: LOVE it! Way to be inspired, Nina :))

The Adventures of Artsy Nina is where to go if you're on the lookout for inspiration or motivation or a nice laugh. This blog has an "old soul" feel to it that I love, and I know you'll love it, too, with all of its vintage charm and artsy appeal.  Oh, and before I leave you to do your own surfing of Artsy Nina, visit THIS PAGE for a look at one of the most beautiful rings ever, and yes, it's vintage. Next time my hubby proposes he's getting me a ring like that! Unique, vintage, and with a beautiful story behind it...a lot like Artsy Nina.

Linking Up!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Owl Tell You What

I completely forgot about Owl Be Watching Wednesday until late last night (thanks for the reminder, Dweej!). I know, the horror, right? It's been one of those kind of weeks where I forget my own name. I blame it on the full moon. Or our cat Sushi, she's pretty evil that way. Speaking of Sushi, all three cats fought over who would get to model this week's owls, which happen to be gracing my favorite pair of PJs. Jeremy gave these to me for Christmas this year, and thanks to Blackberry Winter in the South, I had the chance to pull them back out and enjoy them again.

Here Poe stalks one of the owls. Notice her form. Natural predator in action. 

Kisa, our most model-like cat, sat still for the entire "photo shoot," while the others came and went. Note: unmade bed at 9:00 pm. At that point, why even bother making it up?

Sushi insisted on taking the spotlight. 

Just look at those cute little owls!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One Crazy Love Story

Disclaimer: This post has three beginnings, because sometimes I have too much to say for just one. I've numbered them for your reading convenience.

1) First of all, I'm guest-posting today over at Narragansett No. 7, which is easily one of my all-time favorite blogs. Go over and check it out, bu more importantly, check out No. 7's blog. She's a talented writer, and everything she posts is engaging and interesting. Love her! Okay, back to our regularly scheduled post...


2) I met my husband online. This is no secret to some of you, as I've made it no secret. When Jeremy and I first got together, I thought it was something to be ashamed of, something to hide from people. How desperate must I seem to people that I had to meet my future husband online? What I couldn't find someone in my own neck of the woods, so I had to search the world wide interwebs to find a man from the other side of the country? Well, yes and no. Because there simply wasn't a man in Georgia that was right for me, and I know this for certain and without a doubt, because Jeremy is the man for me. He's my soul mate and other half and all of those other awful cliches.He doesn't complete me, because I complete myself, but he certainly compliments me. And I compliment him. I guess you could say we were just meant to be.

And I think our's is a story worth sharing, so here goes nothing:

3) The insomnia wasn’t unusual for a twenty-something college student, nor was the vegging out in front of the television as a means to cure that insomnia. What was unusual was the fact that I was watching a Japanese animated movie dubbed into English and becoming so riveted by it that the mere coincidental channel-surfing stumble upon the movie would become a fuel to a very obsessive fire that would lead me to my future husband. 

The next morning I fatefully hopped online and googled the word “anime.” Thousands of websites were the answer to my query, websites that I, cool college student that I was, would have laughed at only a day ago. In high school the kids who liked the phenomenon known as anime would have been on the fringe of my friends list. A level down from the book-worm/loner/nerd that I was, these kids would have probably been my friends if they hadn’t been quite so obsessed with this foreign (in more ways than one) medium. And now I was one of those kids. 

To narrow my search, I decided that I would feed my hopeless and passionate soul and add the word “romance” to the google bar; after all, a good portion of anime movies and television shows are über violent or center around a “mecha” theme. Neither genre was my cup of tea.

The website that I finally settled on wasn’t on the first few pages of the search results. No, a less popular result, it was nestled among hundreds of contrived “fan” sites and broken links. In fact, I was almost to the point where my futile and tiring research was going to put out that obsessive fire that had spread so quickly.

The title “Cult of the Romance Junkies” was different, refreshing. Cult? Yeah, I could probably get behind a cult. Junkie? With my addictive personality, it was almost like calling a spade a spade. The “Cult” was actually a community which shared reviews, commentary, and just basic conversation on a group of well-organized message boards. The community consisted mainly of females, although there were a few guys present. Guys, which I initially assumed, were either gay or perverts considering the medium of the forums. Nevertheless, his name seemed to strike out at me immediately. His posts were thought-provoking, intelligently-written, and witty

I joined the forum and, awkwardly, began trying to join in on conversations, especially the ones in which he took interest. I tried to use my own wit and intellect to gain his attention. It didn’t take long for me to become a part of the community. Within a week, I was an active member of the Cult. I participated as much as possible on the message boards, and by and by, he and I started interacting a little. It was usually in passing. He would respond to one of my comments, or vice versa. My attraction and like for him only grew.

One night, a couple of weeks after I’d joined the forum, I was invited to participate in the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) that was the main means of interaction for die-hard Cult members. He was among those die-hard members. The first night that I logged in was the first time we talked privately. The chat room had a private chat, and he private messaged me to help me learn how to use the chat. I like to say now that it was love at first type. As the days passed, we talked privately more and more. I learned that we were more alike than I could have ever imagined. We loved the same books, the same movies, had the same thoughts about the future. We began to talk on the phone as well. Our conversations lasted long into the night for me…and the early evening for him. Thus, the conflict of our relationship arose. We lived on opposite sides of the country. 

At first this was only a minor inconvenience. Our friendship would never leave the bounds of the internet or telephone. So what? I was just glad to have met a person with whom I could truly be myself. This frame of mind didn’t last long. Our connection was obviously more than just an intellectual or an emotional connection; it became obvious that this guy was the guy. He was my guy. The clichéd “one” I had always read and heard so much about, dreamed of, but never imagined that I’d meet…especially over the internet.

We hadn’t sought each other out. We hadn’t logged into a dating site, sharing our profiles, hoping that an advertisement would effectively share who we were and would just as effectively attract who we were supposed to be with. No, I never had the guts to put myself out there like that. And yet, here I was falling in love with a person I’d never properly met, never even seen face-to-face, just as if I had tried to find him. There he was.

The barrier of the distance between us was easy to overcome in his eyes. He would just move to Georgia. From his tiny town in Northern California, he would pack up all of his belongings, kiss his mom goodbye, and be on his merry way. This wasn’t as easy of a decision for me. I was a sheltered young woman. Not in the traditional sense, I mean I knew the ways of the world, but I had rarely ever traveled out of state. I was a homebody who had rarely dated; I preferred the company of my family and of my horses and cats to that of friends and people outside of my nice little comfort zone. I had been a joy to my parents, worrying them very little and always being a “good” daughter. And now I was going to move in with a guy whom I’d never met? Now I was going to shack up with a virtual stranger? This wasn’t easy for anyone in my peripheral to come to terms with, least of all me.

Yet, despite my online relationship being so out-of-character and conflicting, nothing had ever felt quite so right. I’m still not quite sure how the logistics worked out. Time passed so quickly during those few months. We maintained our online relationship and talked every day, using every medium available to us: chat rooms, instant messaging, text messaging, email, and of course, the telephone. Looking back on it now, I wish I had saved some of those conversations. That’s what’s so great about the internet you can always save your memories, copy and paste them into a digital scrap book and keep them forever. At the time, however, I had no idea what those words we shared so early on in our relationship would mean to me now.

I met my husband online in September 2006. He moved across the country, driving 2,829 miles to reach me—a girl he’d never laid eyes on—in December 2006. We married less than a year later in October. A socially-awkward Southern girl and a sensitive, smart Northern California boy. Somehow we were perfect for each other, and yet, if we had been born in any other era, we may have never found each other. We have the internet to thank for that. A technology that we take for granted in these high-speed times but one that can help cross continents and bring soul mates together.

Me and Jeremy in Spring 2007
Hope you enjoyed our crazy little love story. Speaking of Jeremy, he loves to write nearly as much as I do and has his own blog called Unexcused Absence. It's about writing, or the lack thereof. Be sure to check him out. He's a pretty clever guy...at least I think so :)

How did you meet your significant other? 

For more great love stories, check out The Lightning and the Lightning Bug:

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