I recently decided that 1, I needed to start eating better. More homemade food without preservatives and lots of added salt and sugar, and 2, I needed to get back to cooking and baking on a regular basis. I used to cook and bake all the time, but these days I'm so busy and usually too tired to do it unless it's a special occasion. Well, I'm making time to cook some tasty and healthy food again, and although more time consuming, it feels great.
I've been making my own popsicles...
And bread (apple carrot walnut)
Quiche (spinach and feta)
And so far I've made: French onion chicken, herb and cheese savory scones, sheep cheese and fig panini on sunflower bread, corn cakes, and fresh baked sweet potato fries. I have a whole list of things to try next. (PS- I'm hoping that by taking some photos and posting about it, it will make me keep going with it.) Now if only I could get my ex-chef husband to join the club.
Oh oh oh, I sure have been havin' a time recently with this book thing. I'm going to be saving all the behind the scene details (both good and bad) until a later date, but I'll go ahead and share a few things that have been going on recently.
A few weeks ago I spent a morning in the Marietta Square setting up a sweet window display. The photo below is one I took of it in progress (I'll try to take a "final display" picture soon)... The other week I received a phone call that my display has apparently offended people. hhmmmm, really? While I'm not the easy-to-offend type, I surely pay attention to things that may offend others and can not for the life of me see anything offensive in my display, or in the project. There's nothing sexual, sexist, religious or anti-religious, political, racist, unpatriotic, or anything that I feel someone at any age shouldn't look at or would be offended by. Unless for some reason big plastic ice cream cones, croissants, or feather pins offend you. So, I asked for more details on what exactly was so bothersome, and the reply I got was "everything". The title of my book is offensive. The dress forms/mannequin torsos in the display are offensive. And the photo below, oh-my-goodness, it's SO terrible and offensive! Apparently the people who were offended didn't take the time to actually really look at all of the pictures, or read my statement. Because the words "pin down" are in the title, it must be about bondage. Um, sorry people, I'm not into that. To clarify, it's meant more in the scientific sense, like pinning down a specimen to examine. Then, the picture... she's in a "fetal position", so that's baadddd too. ::sigh::
Since I run BlondeShot Creative as an independent business, of course I don't want to offend anyone. As an artist however, I don't damn well care if any of my personal work offends anyone. I really don't see any of my work as controversial, and quite frankly can't understand why someone would take the time and energy to complain about something as minuscule as my little ol' photo display instead of caring about all the really terrible things going on in the world.
Anyways, enough on that. On to the good news...
Books are now available to purchase online! I have some in the Etsy shop, and I have both softcover and the limited edition hardcovers now available through Blurb. If you're out of the area, you can go ahead and purchase your copy now. If you're local, I'm hoping to see you at the release party (Saturday, August 28!) and will have some available there.
AND, I know it's a long ways away, BUT I have confirmed that I will have a solo photography exhibition and installation at Octane! Art Gallery in Nashville, TN in February 2011.
After the UCM Mystery House, we went to the Insta-Gator ranch and hatchery in Covington, LA. We went through a tour that taught us all about the wildlife population of alligators and the farming practices, as well as all about alligators themselves.
the gator pins
Then we had time to play with the baby gators!
These are almost a year old (alligators hatch in August).
(Skips pic of me and baby gator... we have the same smile)
Skip holding a baby gator
They were so much fun to hold and play with!
A caged Caiman (another species of crocodilia)
After the gator ranch, we headed back to New Orleans...
.. and went straight to the French Quarter to meet up with a few friends and enjoy some beignets and chicory coffee at the famous and original Cafe Du Monde.
sunset in the center of the French Quarter
And I had to grab a few pralines, another local favorite of mine.
We walked around for a bit, Skip ate some gator on a stick, and we grabbed some dinner on the street. We then headed back to our hotel for the night, The Bourbon Orleans. We took a little dip in the pool before going to bed for the night. Around 3:30 am we were awoken by the hotel fire alarm going off. A horrible loud sound with a voice-over to vacate the building. People poured out of the hotel and we all waited on the curb across the street. It was a big pain and annoying (especially since it took us forever to fall back asleep), but it was quite interesting to see the people out there on the curb. Some people got completely dressed and had their purses and stuff with them, while others walked straight out in their pjs carrying nothing. A fire engine came and after a little wait, we were allowed back in the building. We never found out what happened, but we think someone just pulled an alarm for whatever reason, and there was no fire.
The next morning we woke up and had breakfast at Clover Grill before packing up and heading home. It was once again super hot outside and our trip was pretty much over. We drove straight back to Atlanta without anymore "fun" stops.
(This was the coin we made at the UCM Mystery House, refer to the last post. It says "Jenn N Skip 1st Anniversary")
(Us in the mirror inside our room at Bourbon Orleans)
More observations from LA- lots of sugar cane files, huge grasshopper bugs, above ground graves, lots of alligator head souvenirs. Also, I remembered to put plenty of sunscreen on everyday, but where I didn't think to put sunscreen was on the tops of my knees and returned home with weird tanned spots on the tops of my knees where sun came through the car windows and sneakily got me.
We awoke on the morning of 7/11 and it was our one year anniversary! Skip insisted on the tradition of keeping the top of our wedding cake, and it had been in our freezer for the past year. When we set out on the trip, we took a little cooler and kept filling it with ice everyday to keep it cold. The icing was a little runny compared to when we wrapped it up, but the cake tasted much better then we expected. The cake was still moist and actually kind of good. We both ate a piece and tossed the rest. (You can see the way the cake originally looked HERE)
After a horrendous morning trying to check out of the hotel and wait for our car, we headed out of New Orleans on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. The bridge was 24 miles long!
We started the day off with lunch at Mammy's Cupboard in Natchez, MS. The building is 28 feet tall and the restaurant is housed in the skirt and in a small area behind the woman's figure. I had a PB & J made on homemade bread, with homemade wild plum jelly. We then headed towards Baton Rouge. Unfortunately it started raining super hard so we didn't get to experience anything in the town, but on our way out we stopped and had a root beer at the Frostop.
It was the best root beer I've ever tasted!
After our brief visit in Baton Rouge, we deiced to head towards Gibson, LA where we had planned on staying the night. We had reservations at a cabin on the swamp at a place called Wildlife Gardens. A sweet southern lady named Betty owned the place. Her bayou housed a few cabins as well as her own home. When we arrived, she had a bunch of peacocks running loose and of course they all flocked towards us and wanted to be too close for comfort for me. We decided it wasn't going to be the relaxing evening we had hoped, and decided to head to New Orleans a night early.
More observations from MS- Lots of: junk yards, above ground pools, kudzu, abandoned buildings, and Dollar General stores seemed to be the establishment of choice. There were very few speed limit signs, and the GPS system liked to take us on strange paths and back roads. One of my favorite things Skip said was " I like towns where people drive tractors on the road."
Afternoon and hoping the rain was going to hold off for us, we visited The Windsor Ruins outside of Port Gibson. The Windsor plantation at one time covered 2,600 acres. Owner Smith Coffee Daniel II had the home built for his family and died only weeks after its completion in 1861 at the age of 34. The home contained over 25 rooms and stood 4 stories high (plus a roof-top observatory). The mansion survived the Civil War only to be burned down by a fire in 1890. The only remnants are 23 of the 29 original columns, and a set of wrought-iron stairs (currently being housed by a nearby college). Since all of the mansion plans and family pictures were also burned in the fire, the houses original appearance is mainly conjecture. In 1991 a drawing was found by a soldier who had stayed on the grounds during the war. The below drawing was made based on the soldier's drawing and known facts about the mansion. Descendants of the family donated the ruins to the state of Mississippi in the 1970s.
(can you see a small Skip in between the columns?)
The ruins were gorgeous and definitely a site to see!
Next, we went on a wild goose chase for a "ghost town" called Rodney, Mississippi. And when I say, "wild goose chase", I really mean it. It took us hours to find this town that once was. We had read about it on a few sites before we left for our trip and not one of the sites gave an actual address or said how to get there. They had one highway listed and that it was X miles from Port Gibson and Natchez. I guess because nobody gave directions we thought it would be obvious and easy to find. Very wrong, very, very wrong. The GPS system didn't recognize Rodney as a city. When we left the Windsor Ruins we headed on a road that we thought took us there. After traveling on that road, we found Rodney road and knew that had to take us to the town of Rodney. We kept driving, and driving, and there was nothing, anywhere. We were on weird back roads with no other cars, no other people, no buildings, they were narrow, they were a little creepy, and we became very, very lost. After an extremely strange encounter with a police officer we spotted on the road (a totally different long story for another day), he told us where Rodney was and we made our way back, back, back. Searched some more, no Rodney. Asked someone else, got new directions, no Rodney. We started to think people were messing with us and this place didn't even exist. Every time we asked someone for directions, we got a strange look, a raised eyebrow, and a different direction to head in. Finally, somehow, we ended up on some road, somewhere and asked the only passing motorist we had seen if he knew where Rodney was. He informed us we were very close, gave us directions, told us to watch for snakes, and said "I hope you're not expectin' much". We finally made it. There were no signs, it was very much off any normal road or beaten path, how any other road trip travelers found it is completely beyond me.
Rodney is now referred to as a "ghost town" by travelers (but you won't hear MS locals refer to it that way). Almost all of the buildings are abandoned and falling apart. The town has a lot of history, so if you're interested I suggest reading about it.
(Skips photo- he was taking pictures of the iron work and thought it was a nice addition to my post) On our way out of Rodney I almost had a heart attack when we came within a fraction of a hair from hitting a large turkey vulture. Then, Skip almost had a heart attack when we had to cross the scariest bridge we'd ever seen in our lives. It was small, but looked like it was about to fall apart at any moment. After regaining our composers, we headed to Natchez for the night.