Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Night Man-quet

Pardon to logo, I know it doesn't fit the artwork typically displayed here, but I've got a good explanation. Tonight, the gentlemen will be attending the Delta Waterfowl Banquet. I'm not 100 percent sure what the guys do at the banquet. I think there is a meal, maybe items for sale or an auction, and I know there's a cash bar. I only take note of the really important things.

This doesn't sound like much fun to me (Not that I was invited). I'm not big on hunting. I hate the weekends that Ty is gone. I tend to bake just to pass the time. It just seems like one of those things a woman is traditionally supposed to do while her beau is gone on a hunt. He brings back duck, I bake cupcakes. Fair trade.

Second, I don't really like banquets. The food is always mediocre. There's usually a speaker. It's too official sounding for a Friday night. Once again, not that I was invited. So, with the men attending their Man-quet, that leaves the girls with an open agenda. And I personally believe our night is going to be spicier than the guys.

Tonight, Nancy, Lauren and I will be having drinks and apps in the lounge at Ernest's. If the food and atmosphere weren't terrific enough, then factor in the tipsy old people dancing and you've got a home run. We have a few more months before duck season opens, but I'm wondering if we should go ahead and reserve a table for November through February. Crab claws and hot shrimp. Now, that's how you spend a Friday night.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

On the Court, You Can Call Me Stephie (Graf)

I would call my friend Nancy a tennis person. I always knew she loved the game. But when she got into a "discussion" with my dad on whether EastRidge membership funds should go to tennis or golf, I knew she really love the game.

Two things about that:
1. My dad isn't one of those people you have these "discussions" with. If he wasn't my father, even I would be intimidated by this man. But since I'm the only girl, it's no sweat.

2. He's the current club champ at EastRidge. He owns a golf course. He's been traveling about twice a month to play golf at other courses. He will never agree that money should go to any sport at EastRidge other than golf.

You've got to love Nancy for trying. So, this morning I get in to the office and there's an e-mail from Nancy titled "tennis????" Question mark is right.

"Want to play on our beginners tennis team? ... It would be really fun! Let me know if you are in!"

First of all, I'm not swayed by exclamation marks. Weak punctuation. But something happened between that first sentence and last, something very powerful. Nancy listed all the names of my friends who've already agreed to the beginner tennis team. Rats. No one likes to be left out. So, I thought of all the pros and cons.

Pros: cute skirts, exercise, hanging out with friends, maybe drinking wine with friends afterwords.

Cons: The only time I've hit a tennis ball was against the garage door, I don't have a racket, heck — I don't even know how to keep score.

While the cons are rather powerful, I've always wanted to wear cute tennis clothes. I may get a cute outfit, but my overall feeling is that this is going to be tragic. Fortunately, the league doesn't start until September, so I've got some time to practice. The only question that remains is who's willing to lend me a free lesson or two?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's Bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S

As I watched "Big Brother" last night, I couldn't help but laugh. Casey, one of the housemates, was ordered to wear a banana costume for a week. It was silly enough to make me laugh, but top that with one really great memory and I was a non-stop laugh-box.

This past October, I decided to host a birthday/Halloween bash at the house for my friend Kate's birthday. I always have a problem when it comes to Halloween. Throughout the year, I can think of excellent costumes, but come October I can't remember any of them. While my costume was rather specific and I ran the risk of many people not knowing who I was, those who got it loved it. Let's just say I was my favorite local gal reporter. Kate had a simpler approach that was equally successful. She was a banana. See for yourself:

You don't see a walking banana every day, so when you do, it's pretty funny stuff.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Ant Kidding

I once had a German Shepherd named Princess. I loved Princess. She was a little rough to play with considering she underestimated her strength. But I would play with Princess until I got scared of her and then I would go inside.

I specifically remember one play day with Princess. We were in the front yard when she charged toward me, jumped on me and knocked me over. She knocked the breath out of me and also knocked my head into a mound of ants. Why did it have to be my head? I have three times as much hair as the average human ... and it's curly. We must have washed my hair 10 times, and to this day I can't recall anything so painful and frustrating. Needless to say, we didn't keep Princess much longer. She was too rough around young kids. And needless to say, I have a deep-rooted hatred for ants.

All of this came back to me when I walked to my car yesterday. I needed to go home and let the pups out, however that wasn't going to happen. Somehow, my car had become a moving ant mound. There were ants on the bumper, under the hood, running along the inside foot board and just about everywhere else. It looked as if an entire family of ants had moved in and made my car their home.

I'm not sure how something like this happens, but my only answer was a combination water hose/ant spray treatment. I was fortunate to have a team of co-workers pitching in, as well as a group of shocked on-lookers. One person tracked where the ants were coming from, someone else sprayed water and another person followed with the ant spray. By the end of the treatment, there wasn't much movement. It appeared as if we'd killed the swarm.

Occasionally, I'll see a straggler or two. I smacked one on the dash last night and another one on my door this morning. With all this rain, I haven't seen much movement. Hopefully, the problem is solved. I'm afraid that if they put their minds together, my car might turn up missing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

(Aussie)ome Chicken

It's Monday, which means menu planning day. As my routine would have it (and I love a good routine), this is the day I analyze my week and decide which nights I'll be cooking a scrumptious dinner for my man. How 1940s of me, I know.

This evening, I'll make my very organized grocery list and get all the goods I need to cook with this week. In a bit of a food funk, I commissioned the help of my dear sister-in-law last week. She came through with this delicious winner-winner chicken dinner recipe, and I thought perhaps it could help a gal or two with their menu planning.

Alice Springs Chicken is a longstanding favorite dish at Outback. What's not to love about a chicken breast topped with bacon, mushrooms and cheese — besides the calories, let's not think about those. So, Ashley had a simple recipe on how to make this at home and it turned out perfectly.

Here you go, try this for yourself. You'll need ...

For the marinade

1 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice

— Combine, stirring for about a minute.
— Pour half of mixture over chicken in a gallon Ziplock and marinate for 1 to 2 hours. (I use this time to get in a quick workout. Better to burn off in advance, right?)
— Chill remaining marinade to serve with chicken.

For the chicken

4 to 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 slice of bacon per chicken breast
3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

— Preheat oven to 375.
— Put oil in a frying pan. Heat and sear chicken on both sides.
— Transfer chicken to an oven-safe pan and brush with marinade.
— Meanwhile, in a frying pan add butter and saute mushrooms.
— Season chicken breast with salt, pepper and paprika.
— Stack bacon across each breast, spoon mushrooms on each and sprinkle with cheese.
— Cover pan with foil and bake 7 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Friday Funeral

We had a funeral service for my great aunt Beryl today. Just shy of 95, she was a remarkable lady. She taught for 38 years and spent much of her life living in New York and Washington, D.C. However, by the time I was growing up, she was living back in Shreveport and working with her brothers at Netherton Construction.

I loved Beryl. I loved that she spent holidays with us. I loved her elegance and gentle tone. She had such a sweet spirit. Each year for Christmas, she gave my brother, cousins and I subscriptions to Highlights Magazine. I was still getting a subscription to Highlights well into my teenage years.

In the later years of her life, Beryl suffered from Alzheimer's, which is a terrible disease to watch someone endure. Each day my grandfather would go visit her. He would take her to get her hair done or to the store. They did whatever Beryl wanted or needed to do. My grandfather and his brothers had a special relationship. They were always a tight knit group. They worked together, lived on the same street, even honeymooned together. But Beryl was the heart of the family.

My grandfather loved his sister deeply. It was evident by his tears today. It broke my heart to see him so sad, to see him mourn the loss of his only sister. I can't imagine life without my brothers. I don't know what it feels like to be the last of your siblings, but I know my grandfather's heart hurts.

There were quirky moments to today's funeral. I think my grandfather was wearing some of my grandmother's sunglasses (the big Jackie O kind). My dad's cousin Buster looked as if he were going to take over the podium. And my cousin Bryan Grisham talked until someone in the audience passed out from the heat. It was an abrupt end. We didn't get around to "Amazing Grace." But it was a great way to remember Beryl. After all, it wouldn't be a true Netherton function without a few bumps in the road.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wedding Dance

Speaking on behalf of the wedding party for my friends LJ and Marcus, I really think we should consider doing this.

What do you think?

Dinner (and a Movie) Impossible

I had been looking forward to last night all week. Ty and I were going to do dinner and a movie at the Robinson Film Center. We regularly have "date nights," but they're often spent with a group of other couples. It's always a lot of fun, but I was really looking forward to a night out with just Ty.

He had never been to the Robinson, so I was waiting on the perfect movie for us to go. I couldn't do a foreign film, documentary or old-timey black and white picture show. Not really Ty's thing and sometimes a stretch for me, too. "Weather Girl" was going to be perfect. Written, directed and produced by two Bossier City natives, everything I'd seen on the film looked fantastic. A romantic comedy but not nauseatingly girlie.

We decided to do dinner at Abby Singer's Bistro on the second floor of the Robinson. I thought it would give Ty a full picture of all the place has to offer. We arrived in plenty of time, picked a seat on the balcony and waited for service. We waited and then waited some more and then Ty decided to make sure the staff knew we were there.

At this point, I already had a nagging feeling that this meal would not go so well, but I fought the feeling and ordered a glass of wine. We also ordered an appetizer and two entrees. Unfortunately, an hour and a half later we still hadn't seen the appetizer. With 10 minutes to showtime, we canceled our order and got in line for popcorn. It was a massive disappointment. Not to mention, the void left in my stomach from my dinner that wasn't.

The movie was excellent. It was well-written and filled with intelligent humor. The final showing is today at 7:45 p.m. — go see it. However, if you want to order dinner and actually eat it, opt for somewhere other than Abby Singer's. As we left the theater there were numerous people talking about being hungry. They too had to abandon their dinner orders.

What a shame. What's the point in having a restaurant at the movie theater if you can't get your patrons fed in time for their movie. I didn't want to eat a full meal at 10 p.m., but I had to do something — my stomach was tickling my backbone. No worries, Abby Singer's. With each bite of my Ham and Cheddar Lunchable, I thought about the pork tenderloin I intended to eat about three hours prior.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crack from Carrabba's

I don't typically enjoy dining at chain restaurants, but I will make the occasional exception — especially for Italian food. To explain my perspective, we have to take a look at the few local Italian spots.

Work lunch meetings require me to eat Monjuni's once a week. If you are forced to eat at any restaurant a minimum of once a week for roughly a year, you will begin to despise everything from the sweet marinara to the signature muffaletta. Considering there have been weeks where I've eaten Monjuni's four days in a row, let's just say my relationship with the restaurant is strained at best. I do not eat here in my spare time.

There are a few great spots in Bossier — Lil Italiano and Notini's — but they are nowhere near the vicinity in which most of my daily life takes place. Therefore, out of sight, out of mind. Then there's Olive Street Bistro. If not my all-time favorite restaurant, it is at least my favorite Italian restaurant. Love it, but it's mine and Ty's special occasion place. It's romantic and cozy and fun, so to keep that pizazzy feeling we don't eat there often. Hence, special occasion.

So, that leaves us with two chain options for Italian — Macaroni Grill and Carrabba's. Ty prefers Smack Grill, while I like Carrabba's. So, we negotiate. Sometimes we eat at my fave, and other times we eat at his. After all, isn't the secret to successful relationships compromise?

That brings me to the point of this blog. They are serving crack at Carrabba's. It's customary for guests to be greeted with a basket of warm bread and a dish of EVOO. Sometimes they put cracked pepper in the olive oil, other times it's balsamic vinegar or cheese. Carrabba's oil comes with a mixture of herbs and spices that we refer to as crack. Before you even get your Chicken Bryan, you've eaten four loaves of bread and sopped up enough seasoning to exhale a fire of garlic.

The last time we ate at Carrabba's, we bought some crack to take home from our drug dealer/waitress. It's safer to eat the crack at home because I usually don't get four loaves of bread at the grocery store. So once we finish eating, I don't feel as though I need to purge before the bread swells and makes me feel like death.

I made a cozy home-cooked Italian meal last night. Ty's favorite — cheese tortellini with marinara and homemade alfredo sauce (I'll share this easy recipe later). Once dinner was ready, I pulled out a hot loaf of bread from the oven and poured olive oil over the Carrabba's Crack. What a delicious addiction. I am officially a crackhead.

I found the recipe online. It's not official, but give it a whirl. Or, splurge on a $5 sample for yourself.

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blackmail is Such an Ugly Word

It has become common occurrence for Ty and I go to out to the lake or river at least once each weekend. Sometimes we're with Klint. Sometimes we're with Walt and Nancy. We always have a good time.

When we go to the lake, we're usually very active. Everyone (myself excluded) takes turns surfing and we cruise around the lake. But when we go to the river, we pretty much just sit in the water and hope nothing rubs up against our legs. Drinking beer makes me less paranoid about that happening. Those who know me well would consider it a miracle that I get in the murky waters of the Mighty Red at all. But like I said, we have a good time.

My best example of the good times is the Fourth of July. We had two boats filled with people and food. Chicken, pizza, sub sandwiches, ribs, fruit, chips, etc. The girls ended up having a dance party in the boat. The guys pretty much just laughed. And one person snapped pictures the entire time. Some are acceptable — and posted online — but the others have become a source for blackmail. There's nothing raunchy. But the fewer images of me and my friends dancing in our swimsuits, the better. I'm modest, remember!

I believe I have done enough pleading with my blackmailer to save myself for now. But for the time being, I live in fear — and my cover-up.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thomas Turns One

This weekend we celebrated the first birthday of Ty's godson, Thomas. I have to say, we love this little boy! Godparents aren't a normal thing in the Methodist church, but the Blanchers wanted Thomas to have godparents because they were a big part of Adam's (the dad) upbringing in the Catholic church.

Outside of blood relatives and other families with kids, Ty and I were the only couple there without children. Not only that, but this was my first one-year-old birthday party. I had no idea what to expect. To summarize, there were lots of babies wobbling around and lots of cupcakes and sno cones eaten. Let's just say, I peaked on sugar consumption for the weekend.

But having never been to a one-year-old party before, I also didn't know what sort of gift to bring. I can't very well remember what I enjoyed when I was one. I enlisted the help of LJ's sister and mother of three Crystal Wibben. She solved my problem and hand-delivered two monogrammed sippy cups. Adorable!!!

I still wanted to do something more. While I can't remember life at the age of one, I can remember that a great chunk of my childhood was spent reading any book I could get my hands on (I'm sure this comes as no surprise). Ty thought this was a great idea, so we got Thomas some of our favorite books growing up. "Hop on Pop," "Green Eggs and Ham," "The Giving Tree," "The Little Engine That Could," "Curious George." I could have kept going. I simply love children's books.

It will be a while before Thomas can read these books for himself, but I hope he will love them as much as we did growing up.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Exercise Talk While Eating Superior

Last night, Ty and I went to dinner at Superior Grill with friends — Pipkins, Duvalls, Johnsons, Smiths, to-be Taylors and Chandlers. A very good time was had by all. Perhaps out of guilt for eating about a basket of chips each, we began to discuss our exercise plan and routines.

With a November wedding on the horizon, LJ and Marcus announced last night that their P90X DVDs just arrived in the mail. The announcement brought on robust laughter from the table. Why? Because we're non-supportive? That's not it. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that most of the people at the table purchased the DVDs and gave up after about a month.

In fact, I only know one person who has completed the entire 90-day workout. Kudos to you, Mike Dirmann!

I wish Marcus and LJ the best, maybe they'll prove us all wrong. But as Nancy said, "Why didn't you just borrow some of our DVDs? None of us are using them!"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flashback Thursday: Are You Going to Chapel?

I've decided to participate in Flashback Thursday since the surfacing of several good pics from college. It all started with this pic on Facebook:

At first you may notice my super short hair and bulimia-looking skinniness, but allow me to further explain. This picture sums up how I spent most of my time in college. While other college students were enjoying their new found freedom — mostly at Rabb's or the Que Stick — I was at the BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries). We were dressed in camo for Survival Week. The week the freshman come to campus and move into dorms and so on. That also explains the name tags, however we did wear name tags to every BCM event.

The BCM held chapel every day (where Lilies of the Field had most if its gigs). I planned my class schedule around chapel. We also had these things called family groups. Because the BCM was so large, they divided us into smaller groups so the organization would be easier to digest. I was a family group mom and Kelly Clark was my husband. Parents dress up for the Family Group announcement parties and our theme that year was "Famous Couples." Of course, Kelly and I decided to be George and Weezie. Kelly was already bald, so we had to duct tape the hair to his head.

We did a lot of dressing up at the BCM. When you don't drink, a good costume always gets the party (aka. Foot Function since Baptists don't dance) started. The 80s Prom Foot Function remains my favorite. Second place goes to the Halloween Foot Function, where I made costumes for the entire cast of Winnie the Pooh.

My hunky prom date was Jay Whittington, who let me draw hair on his chest with an eyeliner pencil. (This pic was taken at the BCM House, R.I.P. It was later condemned and torn down.) I may not have done college like most people, but I have warm memories of those BCM days.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oh, (Big) Brother

Let me start this post by saying, I loathe Fantasy Football and things of that nature. Drafts, trades, injuries, touchdowns — I know several males obsessed with checking their stats and even participate in multiple leagues. If I remember correctly, my older brother is one of those people (Ashley, feel free to comment and verify). Chris even had a Dallas Cowboys groom's cake at his wedding. Let's just say his bride was being gracious, although the little football chocolate covered strawberries were adorable!

All of this brings me to one point, I can't imagine being that into something. I love to cook, read, go to the lake and socialize, but it's really the meshing of all those things that makes me who I am. With Fantasy Football — or football in general — men become one-track minded for several months. It makes me wonder, is their anything I enjoy so much that it could become my solitary focus?

However, I am a woman, like most, of contradictions. Enter, Big Brother 11 Fantasy League. Allow me to explain. It's far less complicated than fantasy sports. You simply pick three players, watch the show and check your stats (OK, that sounds a lot like fantasy sports). But it's really rather simple — and more entertaining. Ordinary stats are replaced with a point system based on whether or not someone kisses, gets in the hot tub, gets drunk, wins a competition and so forth.

This wouldn't be worth mentioning if it weren't for the fact that I adore Big Brother, while Ty hates it. We recorded Sunday's show, and I begged him to watch it last night. It didn't take much. After all, he owed me for sitting through all those episodes of "Ice Road Truckers." He sat patiently watching as I interjected my opinions about the players' strategies and slip-ups. About halfway through the show, I thought, "My behavior is probably annoying right now."

Could it be that I've become the thing I loathe the most? A Fantasy Freak?

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Verdict

This week has been unlike any other for me. Truthfully, I'm glad it's almost over because I've never needed down time so badly. My jury duty started Monday and ended last night. I had no idea it would be so exhausting. Even after leaving the courthouse each day, I felt the weight of the situation. I woke up most nights with bad dreams about the trial. I had no idea it would be so haunting. 

It's over now, but it's still all I can think about. I'm sure that will pass with a little down time, but for now, I'm shaken and exhausted.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Serenity Now

I've found a place that fits into my perfect idea of a relaxing vacation. Is it the beach? No. Although I'm a big fan of week-long stints as a beach bum. Is it the big city? No. Although I could shop and enjoy museums and live theater any day of the week.

In the midst of a chaotic and vacationless year, I found a place where I feel I could truly relax. Have you heard of Butterfly Gap? Click on the link to indulge yourself. In the middle of the Smoky Mountains sits about nine contemporary cabins (adorable, I must say). It's scenic seclusion, where you spend you days reading on the front porch, shopping in the nearby town and simply enjoying your natural surroundings.

If that doesn't make your bones feel like Jell-o, shall I mention the sleeping porches, soaking tubs and the gourmet breakfast delivered to your doorstep each morning.

As "30 Rock" Tina Fey would say, "I want to go there."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


As Ty and I were watching the Food Network the other night (yes, I have suckered him into this), we began to discuss my long-shot desire to own a truly innovative restaurant. The idea is to take simple, delicious home-cooked comfort foods and put a new spin on those dishes.

We have a lot of really great places to eat comfort food — Southfield Grill being my favorite — but is there really anything innovative about it?

So, the conversation inspired me to take a traditional recipe from Southern Living and mix in a dash of my own innovation. It wasn't too risky, but I decided to use the magazine's recipe for fried green tomatoes and amp it up for a delicious, hot BLT. The FGT BLT, if you will.

We made them last night and the FGT BLT was d-lish! After Ty ate two of the sandwiches, he said "See, this could be the first item on your menu." I thought it was such a sweet thing to say. Because whether or not the restaurant idea is realistic, he believes I could do it.

For now, we'll keep the innovation in my home kitchen. And I'll pass on the kick-starter recipe from the gods at Southern Living.

Fried Green Tomatoes


  • 4 large green tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup plain white cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • Vegetable or peanut oil
  • Bread and Butter Pickle Remoulade (scroll down for recipe)


1. Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle both sides of tomatoes evenly with salt and pepper.

2. Pour buttermilk into a shallow dish or pie plate. Stir together cornmeal, Creole seasoning and 1 cup flour in another shallow dish or pie plate.

3. Dredge tomatoes in remaining 1 cup flour. Dip tomatoes in buttermilk, and dredge in cornmeal mixture.

4. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a large cast-iron skillet; heat over medium heat to 350°. Fry tomatoes, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

Bread-and-Butter Pickle Remoulade

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Creole mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped bread-and-butter pickles
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon filĂ© powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Once again, the sauce made this dish. It really brought together all the flavors — and makes a jazzy substitute for plain mayo.