Welcome to Gunnison

This sign greeted us as we drove into the town of Gunnison, Mississippi. So optimistic and full of hope....

We drove from Ruston, Louisisana to Clarksdale, Mississippi today, passing through Arkansas along the way. We didn’t see anything extraordinary today. I took a lot of pictures. What we did see made us feel like crying sometimes. Like this town of Gunnison, Mississippi.

Gunnison's elementary school. I sure hope they bus the kids to some other elementary school, because they sure aren't using this one anymore.

The back half of this trailer got smashed by an enormous tree, and there it stays. I sure hope nobody was sleeping in it when it happened.

Another shot of the same trailer.

Much of the town looked like this.

This house was in pretty good shape compared to some of the houses in town.

Is this a guest house?

A row of houses along the road.

Pulling into The Shack Up Inn a couple towns up in Clarksdale, we felt fortunate to be staying in our old sharecroper’s shack that actually had heat and hot water. It was almost dark when we got here, so I’ll take plenty of pictures tomorrow.

Our Cabin, The Legends, at The Shack Up Inn.

Hearne, TX to Ruston, LA • Day Three

I’m not sure If I’ve got all of the route exactly correct, but this is the approximate route we have taken so far; Sunday through Monday night. We’ve driven approximately 536 miles so far.

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It’s pretty late and I’ve got bad internet at the hotel we’re in, so I’m just going to post a quick update on the trip today. We drove from Hearne, Texas, to Ruston, Luoisiana, today. It was a really beautiful drive, although the weather continues to be rainy. It was a fairly persistent misting type of rain today, and varied constantly from barely raining at all to misting quite heavily. All in all though it didn’t interfere with anything, and actually provided a pretty light and atmosphere for the photos today. It would be nice to see the sun sometimes soon though.

We saw so many vultures today! This group was roosting in a dead tree by the side of the road.

We were on the road by 8:30 this morning, and although we did a lot of driving today, we saw a lot of beautiful things. The weather, again, did not cooperate, and you can see that in the photos they all seem to have a grey gloom hanging over them. But once again we didn’t let that stop us from enjoying the journey. The Texas countryside we drove today from Hearne to the border of Louisiana, was absolutely beautiful. Rolling green hills (thanks to the recent rains) and fall foliage-colored leaves.

Look at all the colors!

We saw plenty of cows today enjoying the fresh green grass.

And plenty of abandoned houses and barns.

Factory farms dotted the countryside.

Crossing the Toledo Bend Reservoir was breathtaking (see my Photo of the Day for more).

The town of Natchitoches, Louisiana was beautiful. A quaint main street and historic downtown area with beautiful southern homes in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Huge trees form a canopy over this street along the riverbank.

Tomorrow should be a great day. We only have 214 miles to drive tomorrow to get to Clarksdale, Mississippi; our final destination for the day. There we have reservations at The Shack Up Inn to stay in their luxurious Legends Shack. I’m so excited!

Shack Row at the Shack Up Inn

We have the Legends Shack reserved for tomorrow night.

Austin to Hearne, Texas • Day Two

I told you I’d find Beyonce. This one was HUGE. I didn’t find her at the place I’d been to in March as we didn’t end up going that route. It was the late afternoon and starting to get dark, and there she was, like a beacon of light on a dreary day.

Me & Beyonce.

I may have bought myself one that is slightly smaller. I’ll try to get a picture of her tomorrow to show you. And maybe a skinny pig too to keep her company on the drive. It’s possible that I may have to strap her to the roof, but so far she’s laying down in the back of the minivan.

It’s late and I’m tired, but I’ll try to summarize my day for you.

I think I have to move to Austin, or at least get Amanda to move there. It was possibly the coolest city I’ve ever been to. Friendly people, amazing neighborhoods, shopping, grocery stores, easy to get around, hip, progressive, and more words that I can’t think of right now. What’s striking is how many independently owned stores there are. I think we saw one McDonald’s in town, no Dunkin Donuts, just a lot of cute small stores with a town that clearly supports them. We’ve probably also gone into 5 grocery stores in one day. We can’t help it; we love grocery stores. There are big amazing ones, there are small independent ones that are great, and there’s a co-op. A foodie paradise.

We started the morning at Gourdough’s; Big. Fat. Donuts. Although we read it can get really crowded and the wait can be very long, because it was raining and pretty early on a Sunday morning we were thrilled to be only one of 2 people there. Right next to it was a Farm to Trailer food trailer. Really? I told you I have to move here.

Lisa got The Hangover (top) and I got the Mother Clucker. I said light on the sauce and he didn't give me any 🙁

We went to this store today called Treehouse. I believe I read something about it being the first of it’s kind, but it was a store entirely dedicated to green living and green construction.

I think I need to put these on a wall in Jackson. Wall Flats are modern embossed three-dimensional wall tile made from 100% bamboo pulp.

We went to Whole Earth Provisions, which I’d discovered in March. What a cool store. Shopping there is kind of like looking through the Whole Earth Catalog used to be like when I was a child. Something for everyone. By the time we got out of there (and checked out the grocery store next door), it was past 1:00 and we knew we had to get on the road. Off we went to have lunch at The Salt Lick. Rumored to be the best barbecue in Texas.

Then we headed towards the Hamilton Pool Preserve. Weren’t we disappointed to find this one the gate when we arrived.

Since they were closed, and I’d discovered that the store Red in Fredericksburg was closed on Sunday’s as well, we decided not to go over an hour off our route to Fredericksburg, and instead headed on the route that would get us closer to our next destination faster.

I am falling asleep here. You’ve got the basics of what we did today. We made it tonight to Hearne, Texas, and will be up bright and early tomorrow to continue the journey.

Southern Road Trip • Austin • Day 1

It’s been an extremely long day (I got one hour of sleep last night), and I am very tired, but I wanted to update you on the first day of my Southern Road Trip spent in Austin.

Actually, the bulk of the day was spent traveling. Having discovered last night that our flight to Austin, originally scheduled for 7:30 had been moved to 6:15, we left our house at 4:55 this morning for the airport. My sister has spent the night, and Cyrena, bless her heart, drove us to the airport.

We flew Delta, and I have just have to give them props here because not only were both flights on time in departure and arrival, but I haven’t been on a plane that empty in a long, long time. Everyone had an opportunity to grab themselves at least one, or even two, additional empty seats to spread out and try to get a little sleep. Except me of course — I can’t sleep on a plane very well.

We arrived in Austin around 12:15, picked up our spacious rental minivan, and headed for our hotel. We settled in briefly, freshened up, and headed out to the South Congress (SoCo) neighborhood to check it out.

Austin clearly has a thing for food trucks, particularly in restored travel trailers. They are in every neighborhood it seems. You can be sure I will be checking them out before our departure tomorrow.

A vintage travel trailer selling fried chicken in the SoCo neighborhood.

This trailer sold sweet and savory fried breads.

This trailer sold crepes.

There were some really cool and funky stores in this neighborhood. It was late afternoon/early evening by the time we got there, and the streets were alive with people walking, eating outside, and lots of dogs. People clearly love their dogs here in Austin.

This was a most peculiar and interesting store. Filled with antiques and oddities all beautifully displayed in scenes.

We ate dinner at a farm-to-table restaurant called Cipollina. We were both starving by that point, and the food was absolutely delicious. I had a cheese pate with honey, pistachios, arugula, pears for an appetizer. Everything on the plate was delicious, particularly the honey, which truly exploded with taste as soon as it hit your tongue. It came from a local company called Round Rock and I will be on the hunt for it tomorrow. My entree was tagliatelle with beef sausage, paprika, bacon, and grana padano. It was perfect. The pasta was cooked perfectly, the sauce wasn’t too creamy or too tomatoey, the beef sausage was a bit spicy and really firm and delicious and it had a delightful spice to it.

Cheese Plate shortly after arrival at the table.

Cheese plate after I was finished. I practically licked the plate to get every last bit of that delicious honey off .

Tagliatelle with beef sausage, paprika, bacon, grana padano.

Tagliatelle after I was done with it.

My sister came home from dinner and crashed, which is where I am headed now.

Tomorrow we spend some more time around Austin. Our goal is to be out of the city just after lunch, but we keep finding things we want to do or see. We will head up into the Hill Country towards Fredericksburg, and see where the road takes us or how far we get at the end of the day.

A Road Trip with Beyonce?

I’m not sure if you’ve read the blog post on The Bloggess about Beyonce the Metal Chicken, but if you haven’t, you can read it now by clicking the link here. You won’t be sorry; it’s hysterical.

I’ll wait while you read that….

I don’t even remember how I found this post on  Beyonce the Giant Metal Chicken, but I have a feeling it was Pinterest. I think it went viral in a blogging sort of way. I laughed for days over that post. I had actually seen that very same chicken at my local Home Goods this summer, but it wasn’t on clearance yet and I must have been thinking clearly that day for it not to have come home with me.

So my Southern Road Trip with my sister is right around the corner. We leave at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to fly to Austin, where we will rent a car and drive all the way home, via Atlanta. A Foodie, Photography, Antiquing, Search-For-Bizarre-Things, Road Trip. And the reason we are driving all the way home from Austin, Texas, is so we can bring all the shit we buy home. We are sick of traveling and finding great things that we can’t have because we’re flying home. In fact, the last time I was in Texas I fell in love with an old sign and ended having them ship it to me.

I bought this for my office we have yet to build. It will proudly hang in it someday.

On that same trip last year with Amanda and India, while driving from Austin to Fredericksburg we passed this strange store that sold every conceivable kind of metal outdoor sculpture. We stopped to check it out, but they were closed.

They had a lot of sculptures like the terrific pigs that Jim got me for mother’s day that guard the goat house for me now.

Well, for some reason I’ve got it in my head that my sister and I need to stop at this same place on our way from Austin to Fredericksburg and strap our Beyonce to the roof of the minivan as the mascot for The Crafty Farm Sisters Southern Road Trip I just know that place is going to have them.

It’s not that my husband tells me not to buy towels when I go out to the store. He doesn’t. In fact, I probably could use some new towels. But I do buy things that he finds questionable all the time, and that blog post was just so damned funny.

Then to take my level of crazy up one notch higher I got to thinking we needed Crafty Farm Sisters’ Southern Road Trip T-shirts.

So this is what happens to me when I don’t get enough sleep on a daily basis, haven’t had a real vacation in too long, yet know one is just days away. I go a little off the deep end.

So if you see a minivan driving down the road next week somewhere between Austin and Connecticut with a giant metal chicken strapped to the roof, give a wave!

Thanksgiving Dinner

Well, another Thanksgiving is over. My family is tucked safely in bed and I’m as done cleaning up and doing dishes as I’m going to be for tonight.

I decided to do a short video of Thanksgiving this year. I started with setting the table, and I ended with the piles of clean dishes ready to go back in the cabinets. If I’d been a little more familiar with the workings of iMovie, this could have come out a lot better, but it’s still cute. It was even better when I had it set to Adam Sandlers’ Thanksgiving Song, but apparently that was against copyright rules. Sorry about that for anyone who tried to watch it earlier.

When I stopped drinking a little over 8 years ago, my poor husband’s social life fell off a cliff. Where I used to have elaborate dinner parties every few months, I can count on one hand how many I’ve had in the last 8 years. However, when I do host a dinner, like today, I like to pull out all the things I’ve collected over the years. The beautiful antique silver luster china my mother gave me ages ago. The depression glass. The silver(plate) flatware I’ve pieces together a few items at a time. The antique damask napkins. Mixed with these are the pieces I find at Home Goods occasionally, like the individual butter dishes, or some of the water glasses that had a lace-like silver pattern on them that went great with the china. A lot of things, like the silverware and napkins have initials on them, and few of them are mine, but I love them anyway. Nothing matches, and I like it like that. But somehow, when it’s all put together it works.

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys

You could have knocked me over with a feather when my friend Lisa texted me a month or two ago and told me The Fabulous Beekman Boys were going to be coming to the Darien Library. To our small-town library? How convenient was that?

Me and The Beekman Boys, Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell

I’ve been a fan of theirs since their show first aired on Planet Green two years ago. Two gay guys moving to a farm in upstate New York; what’s not to love about that. I rarely watch TV. I probably haven’t watched more than 5 or 6 shows in the last 9 months. Most of those shows were probably The Fabulous Beekman Boys. With Planet Green going off the air, at least I now have The Incredible Dr. Pol to watch instead on the rare occasion when I just can’t blog, cook, photograph, or craft for another minute.

They were on tour promoting their new cookbook, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook. Even the folks at Country Living told me during the Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards Ceremonythat their new book was really good. Apparently The Beekman Boys had been down at the Country Living Fair in Atlanta, so they spoke from experience.

The book looks lovely and I can’t wait to try some of the recipes. I bought an extra copy for as a gift that they signed as well. If you really want a good read though read either of Josh’s other two books. The Bucolic Plague is about how they found their house in Sharon Springs and started the farm and business. I Am Not Myself These Days is an incredible memoir about Josh’s earlier life in New York as a drag queen. He went by the name of Aqua and ‘her’ claim to fame was real fish in fishbowl boobs. A book full of laughs, pain and heartache. I loved that book and when you meet him now it’s hard to imagine him as he was then. He’s a terrific writer.

You never know with these things how crowded they are going to be. I was meeting my friends Lisa and Cyrena there. We got there a half hour before it was scheduled to start, and we plopped ourselves right down front and center. They were charming and adorable and entertaining. They talked about how they found the farm and how the business started. They talked about the new cookbook of course. They had a question and answer session too and then they did book signings. I brought along my copy of The Bucolic Plague for them to sign as well. Unfortunately I Am Not Myself These Days appears to be in Wyoming.

I gave them some of my linoleum print cards. I think I was the only one that brought them a gift. I guess I was used to Pioneer Woman — everyone brought her a gift when I went to her book signing a few years ago.

And you know how much I like to have my photo taken. Somehow Cyrena managed to get a decent one of me (top photo), but this is how I always feel when the camera is on me instead of in my hands.

I don’t think Lisa’s ever had a bad photo taken of her.

So it was a fun night and I was home by 8:30. Just getting out of the house at night these days is a thrill for me. To meet two girlfriends for a book lecture by people I read and admire was a real treat.

They wore their wellies!

Modern Art — Sometimes I Just Don’t Understand It

In September when Jim and I went into Manhattan to see The Book of Mormon, we also went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Generally I like lots of art; I like some modern art, I like some traditional art. My favorite art is primitive folk art, and I love sculptures. But art is a very personal thing and everybody has different tastes. Walking around the Met, some of the art was certainly impressive, and there were lots of incredible pieces that anyone that studies basic art would easily recognize.

Who can't appreciate the beauty of Van Gogh's Starry Night?

Of course I was partial to Picasso's Goat sculpture.

And I loved this Flag by Jasper Johns. You had to be very close to see that it was painted on strips of newspaper.

But some of it I simply don’t understand.

To me this looks like a broken window shade.

And these look like bloomers drying on a clothesline.

And I'm pretty confident my chickens could replicate this if I tied chalk to their feet.

It looks like Jim's had another bike wreck.

I enjoyed going to the museum and most of the works I loved, but some of it — I’m sorry, I just don’t understand it.

Oh No!!!

Today has just been one of those days that’s gone from bad to worse.

And just when I’d finally gotten everybody settled into bed, had finished up some things I needed to do, and was ready to work on a post or two for Crafty Farm Girl, Maia comes downstairs in tears with a stomach ache. I sent her back to bed with a heating pad, only to hear that dreaded retching noise a while later.

India went to bed claiming she felt awful and her stomach hurt too.

And my stomach is a little grumbly now.

Oh no….

Blogging Till I Drop

Country Living’s website is now featuring their own article on the Blue Ribbon Blogger Award’s ceremony. Be still my heart — my photo is on the same screen as Paula Deen’s. I told my daughter, Amanda, who could possibly be Paula Deen’s #1 fan, to take a screen shot and frame it.

Notice how everybody else has big, beautiful smiles and I’m the one looking like a deer in the headlights? Dang it all; everyone else looks great and I look terrible! I swear I need to take smiling lessons or something. Of course I’m old enough to be most of these girls’ mother. I don’t know what that has to do with me not smiling, but I thought I’d mention it.

I’ve got my amazing award (made by Cathe Holden of Just Something I Made) up on a shelf in our eating area. That seemed like an appropriate place for it, since our dining table is constantly covered in craft or cooking projects.

My Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Award.

And I also got this lovely bean pot and book in my goody bag as well. I’ve been wanting a bean pot! I love the shape of it.

My point about talking about winning the Blue Ribbon Blogger Award again is twofold.

First, I forgot to provide links to all of the other amazing category winners. You really should check them out if you haven’t yet.

Collecting: Parsimonia: Secondhand with Style

Crafts: Always a Project

Decorating: The Shabby Nest

Food: Crepes of Wrath

Gardening: Garden Betty

Lifestyle: Oh wait, this is me!

Pets: Tilly’s Nest

But winning an award like this is an honor, and not one that I’ve taken lightly. It’s recognition for something I started on a whim that bloomed out of control. I had so many things to say and do. Blogging was perfect for me. It gave me creative freedom and a voice. I worked my ass off on it, and I know my husband, children, and friends often wondered why. Was anybody really listening?

I guess they were. I still haven’t quite grasped what this award means, but I don’t plan on wasting one minute of the amazing opportunity it has offered me.

I’ve always been a frequent poster on my blog, but since being nominated I feel even more of a need to do so. To prove myself worthy. But posting in Photography, Cooking, Crafts, Farm, and Thoughts means trying to frequently write about 5 different topics. Three of those require significant work to create a post; Cooking, Crafts and Farm. I’m never short of ideas on any of these topics, but I am short of time.

This past week has been filled with broken bones, casts, concussions, multiple doctor visits, vet visits, parent teacher conferences, volleyball and soccer games. In between those events I try to get things done.

I suspect I’ll come up with some sort of a “schedule” over time that allows me more breathing room. I’ve worn myself out to the point of getting a cold.

But there it is, sitting on the shelf, taunting me.

I’ve got to get back to work.