I can't believe that I waited two and a half years to get my baby's first cotton field photo. I should not be allowed back into the great state of Alabama. I didn't even have the right clothes with me. I'm really falling down on the job. My sister had told me that the proper southern baby girl needed to be in a pretty dress and cowboy boots. Heaven help me, she doesn't even own cowboy boots. So, yep, there she is in her fleece and sneakers and probably a shirt with a kitty cat on it, if I were guessing. I saw all my Facebook people with their appropriately dressed little ones prancing through the fields of white. Good for you. This is the equivalent of not getting a Santa picture, for my readers in other parts of the country and world. In my case, it as though I took her to get the Santa picture in an Easter bunny shirt. I hope I save some of you from the same embarrassment.
As you know, I am not the greatest cook. My proper southern baby girl has now decided that she needs to remind me of that fact. I make her favorite food, meatballs. She doesn't eat them. I ask, why? "Mommy, they are too bad." The chicken and dumplings. "Mommy, they are too bad." That is fine, but the expression of disgust on her face really hits home the fact that she hates my cooking. Luckily, I can't mess up spaghetti out of a box and sauce out of a can, or she might starve. If anyone can replicate the meatball recipe at Firehouse Subs, let me know. They get a rating of "I LOVE MEATBALLS!!!" Squeal of glee included.
Broasted Chicken beats regular fried chicken hands down. You can't make it at home, even though there are imitation recipes out there. Do not even think about frying in a pressure cooker pleeeeeaaasssseee. We recently went to Pat's Perfections in Centre, AL. I had forgotten how much I enjoy broasted chicken. The sides there were wonderful as well. Love my southern veggies. I will warn you that you little one may not appreciate the Mac & cheese. It's not dayglo orange. I do love any place that serves crowder peas and creamed corn (please take note Cracker Barrell that is 5 minutes from my house). Pat's caters and had some great smelling ribs on the smoker, which I will try next time.
The entire family decided it was time for the proper southern baby girl to make her first trip to Trade Day in Collinsville, AL. So after a hearty wonderful gas station breakfast (no sarcasm here; don't pass up gas station food in Alabama because you may miss out. I want Southern Living to feature gas station breakfast in the next issue.)
Yes, we gathered more people for this than the Iron Bowl. Why is it so important? When you grow up in a small town with very little to do, the Saturday morning trip to Trade Day was a highlight. There is something there for everyone. Lose your dog, they got one...might be the same one. Want wedding bands, corn dogs, ammo? They have it. Actually that might be a common wedding theme. Boy, I wish we had corn dogs at our wedding.
Anyway, the baby girl loved the fresh roasted peanuts. That smell is wondrous. She and my nephew wanted to adopt all of the forgotten Beanie Babies up for sale. Together, they could already fill a stuffed animal museum, which may be there plan. The nephew is quite the entrepreneur.
If you want to see a cross section of Alabama folks, just head to Trade Day. Style is optional, and pajamas are encouraged. I rejoice in the diversity that is Trade Day. It is a great place to be reminded that not everyone is just like you. You need that now and again. Well, after about an hour, baby girl and the nephew were ready to head to the house. Too much strangeness for her and not enough Pokemon for him. I left as I do each time, wishing I owned one of those money-making parking lots and regretting not getting a corn dog.
Answer: Camo bathing suits, SEC team beach towels, and bubbas screaming "watchis!!!!" as they take off parasailing.
Question: What will I see when I get to Panama City Beach?
It has been quite a while since I've visited the beaches of the Florida panhandle. The Proper Southern Baby Girl had never been to the beach and didn't have a single air brushed clothing item to her name. I was feeling a bit like a failure as a parent. Okay, she still doesn't have anything airbrushed, but at least she has been to the beach and saw the ocean from an extremely safe distance (by her choosing). My husband was a bit concerned about venturing so far south. The thought of traveling through L.A. (lower Alabama for my Northern followers) was a bit disconcerting for him. I will say that the restrooms stops were at times treacherous, but we managed to find the restrooms in the storage room of whichever forsaken Piggly Wiggly we visited.
We made it to PCB very late at night. We had gotten a slow start, because my husband and I contracted a horrific illness that our doctor says only children get and that there was no way we had it. Well, we did. I want my copay back. We stayed at Splash! I think the exclamation point is part of the name and is not a reflection of my excitement. Although, we did like our condo and enjoyed the lazy river very much. I will recommend that if you have small children, do not try to go out to eat in the evening. I had never seen such madness. How good is that food at Pineapple Willy's? I guess we will never know. We did make a visit to Thomas Donuts. Good donuts. I would like to go back and try other items on the menu. We also enjoyed our visit to St. Andrews State Park. If you want awesome family beach photos, head there close to sunset for that magic lighting that makes everyone look fantastic.
Overall, we had a great trip with family. We were blessed that they could share this first for our little one.
What do you get when you cross excessive facial hair, explosives, and eatin' and prayin' together? You get 11.8 million viewers watching your Season Four premiere. I will admit that I was slow to the party on Duck Dynasty. My sister-in-law turned the television to the show while we were visiting over the 4th of July. I fell in love almost immediately. I was expecting to see what the rest of the world thinks of the South. Yes, they eat squirrel and various other animals that pass through the yard and swamp. But, these are smart, educated, focused business people. They revel in their Southerness. That is the difference. God, prayer, and church all play a big role in their lives. I just want to say thank you to the Robertsons for showing a more complete picture of the South. Yes, I imagine their antics are sometimes exaggerated, but you can tell that this is a loving family having a great time being together. And, if you don't think they are smart business people, just head on over to the Walmart and try not to trip over the Duck Dynasty throw rugs.
I've probably talked about nicknames previously, but I get reminded over and over just how much I love them. What I really like is when a person passes on...okay I don't really like that part, but I do like hearing this conversation "Did you know Bob Jones passed away?" "I don't know Bob Jones." "Sure you do....Tater Jones." "Oh, Tater Jones, why didn't you say that first. Bless their hearts." Yes, it is a sad time, but you smile a little when you read the obituaries listing taters, peanuts, mules, and various and asundry vegetables, animals, and cartoon characters that became beloved nicknames. I don't know about you, but I had an uncle who was determined to call everyone something other than their name. I was "punkin". My nephew was "peanut." That uncle recently passed away and didn't have a nickname listed in the newspaper. He had brothers who called him "britches" though. When you're a kid in the South, you will be called many loving names other than your own. You could be a bubba, but I went with buster for my nephew. My sister kept listing all the names she was considering as she got closer to giving birth. I told her that I didn't care what she named him, I was going to call him buAs he will tell you, he's not Western (what he calls talking with a southern accent). It has been reported to me that his dog calls him bubba. His dog is Western. It's not until you completely lose your real name that you have become the ultimate Southerner. I'm afraid that we will see this disappear over the years. I'm not ready to say good-bye to all the taters just yet.
Yes, I do wish everyone still had 19" television screens. I felt as though my head was balloonish. The people I talked with at The Chew were very nice and did have to clarify the name of our town a couple of times. I am married to a Yankee, and he seems to understand me. I think Carla Hall understood me. I will say that I talked too fast in the video and did bob my head like one of those bobbing birds (if you remember those). They bobbed their head into a container of red liquid, I believe. I was ready to bob my head into a mocha. Mochas are very comforting to me. Let me know what you think. I think my television career is dead. Discuss...
Set your DVR's, your Tivo's, your 25 year old VCR's, or just take Wednesday off!! I am about to get my 15 seconds of fame, y'all. I tweeted a response to something the great and wonderful Carla Hall put out there and now I get to appear by video on Wednesday's show. If I run into you on the street, I will sign autographs. I will not be in a picture with you , however, because I would need a makeup artist following me around town. Carla is going to update one of my momma's recipes, so we can't wait to see what happens. Make sure you tune in to ABC. The whole episode is for us Southerners, so show some support for Carla and The Chew!
If you haven't gone to pick strawberries and you live in the South, you have almost missed your opportunity. We took the proper Southern baby girl to a local farm, Payne Farm and Produce in Calhoun, GA, for their annual festival. The little one got a sticker at the ticket table, so her day was made. I really have to remember that stickers are her currency right now. They are better than a $50 bill. We walked out to the strawberry patch (I use that term loosely). Payne Farms planted what had to be a billion plants. They told us how many exactly, but I'll go with my estimate since my ADD kicked in and I didn't actually hear what they said. The baby girl was dressed in her strawberry outfit, which was eventually overwhelmed by her strawberry face. She ate quite a few and really didn't put any strawberries into the basket. She got to pet a rabbit and got freaked out by how pigs aren't as cute in person. We took the hay ride, which was very enjoyable. One of the family members was our guide, and he told us everything about the farm. I thought I would just be panicked about the baby girl jumping out of the wagon, but I really enjoyed the hayride. One of the most unusual activities they had was the big box full of feed corn. We had to ask why it was there. It was their version of a sandbox. Go figure. We truly enjoyed our morning there and want to encourage everyone to seek out local farms and participate in any events they offer. Support agritourism in your area!