24 October 2016

Three for Sixty Three

Three for No. Sixty Three: The Oxford, Mississippi Edition

Last weekend I went to Oxford, Mississippi, home of the University of Mississippi and Miss Bunny.
It was the end of Greek Rush and my intent was to be there for the joyful reveal of Bunny's new Greek home.


Bunny, in the gray tank, waving and smiling, 
right before her hopes and dreams were shattered. 

Not how it turned out at all. Instead, Bunny was horribly horribly disappointed and heart broken (which in turn meant I was horribly horribly heart broken for my baby girl) and we ate our way through the remaining portion of my visit in order to soothe our shattered psyches.

But at least I got in three new restaurants. (Always a silver lining!)

Sunday night when we were totally in the depths of despair, we went to The Oxford Grillehouse. On the square in downtown Oxford, with cloth napkins, it was our fancy shmancy comfort meal.
I neglected to get pictures of my food but here's one from their website. Bunny and I both had the filet mignon. O. My. Goodness. Like buttah.

Pretend this was mine...soooooo yummy. 
Photo from Oxford Grillehouse website. 

I don't eat a lot of steak and I sure don't cook it anymore- mainly because it always ends up tough or under done for the "please burn it" crew or overdone for me. But this. This steak was to die for. Thick, perfectly cooked and tender as a newborn baby. (Not that I eat newborn babies, but, you know.)   Bunny was on a carb loading bender and had a baked potato PLUS French Fries with her dinner. I opted for a slightly healthier salad with asparagus as my side. Not a cheap meal...we came in right at $100 bucks for the two of us, but we had planned to celebrate and since there was nothing to celebrate, we commiserated instead. In style.

Monday morning, well, teenage morning which was closer to noon, found us at Big Bad Breakfast.
Tucked away in a strip center in an out of the way part of Oxford, this tiny place promised to start our day off right. And it did. Eggs Benedict for me (The Pel-Egg-Can Brief on the menu) and a Big Bad Breakfast Plate for Bunny.

Not my photo, but this was my breakfast.
Photo from Trip Advisor/BBB. 

 The Tabasco brown sugar bacon was sweet and spicy at the same time and sinfully thick cut.  Eggs were perfectly done. The orange juice was fresh squeezed. We were happy. So happy Bunny required a T-shirt to commemorate the meal.

Bunny and friends-
she is sporting her new T.

Monday evening, after a day spent in the dorm laundry room and then the Oxford laundromat, we had sufficiently recovered our appetites to head to South Depot Taco Shop. I know, I know. HOW could we eat anything more at this point? It was a challenge but we persevered. Also on the Square, it was set up like every other burrito/taco shop out there.  We got in line, specified our choice of flour or corn tortillas and then picked our ingredients for fillings. I had tacos, Bunny went for the burrito.  Of course I had to try the chips and queso AND the guacamole. The first two got my approval. I'm pretty picky about guac and this was a little bland for my taste. But FRESH! So brownie points for that.

Chicken taco with salsa verde.

I waddled onto the plane on Tuesday, easily a few pounds heavier.  The trip did not turn out as I had planned, but we did enjoy our meals.  And I must say, for a small town, Oxford does not disappoint in the restaurant department. Just don't expect anything diet.  THAT doesn't seem to exist there.

Not that I was complaining.

Plus I did get to add three more restaurants to No. 63: Try at least 12 new restaurants in 2016.

17 October 2016

Why not??


Why can't I do something?  What happens if I try and fail?  What's the worst that can happen?

That's the kind of thinking that I have tried to encourage since starting this blog.
•Try it and see.
•If you don't ask, the answer is always "no".
•Rules can be just "guidelines". (Sometimes there are arbitrary rules that I follow that seriously, are just guidelines.  I'm not talking about going out and killing people or driving the wrong way on a street. Those really are rules to follow.  I don't cut in line because that's rude.  I do have a moral code to follow, also. But...."Wait for help before opening this cabinet" in a store that has zero salespeople? You better bet if the cabinet opens, I'm going to open it if no one is around to help me. That kind of stuff.)
•Don't be afraid.

Which is how I got around to refinishing my dining room table. Remember we had the centerpiece cat? Max lived on the dining room table for 3 years.

Max, the centerpiece cat. 

In that time he stepped in his water bowl more than once. The finish had already crazed from age before Max took up residence. The water stains just put the finish over the edge.

Isn't that a pretty white water stain?
Makes quite a statement when you walk in the house!

This table was my grandparents. I asked my mom if she remembered when they got it. 
"Sometime between the year I was born (1924) and the beginning of the Great Depression. (1929)"
Wow! That certainly puts it in perspective. 

So, old family heirloom plus pretty pretty wood underneath plus the fact that it is my only dining room table...not like I'm going to get to go out and buy a new one....made the idea of stripping the top a little unnerving. 

But I wanted it done. And no one else was stepping up to do it.  And...


I figured the worst that could happen is I make a mess of things and I have to put a table cloth over it until I could get it done professionally.  Hey! It had a table cloth on it anyway. Can't lose. 

A friend suggested lightly sanding the surface first as that MIGHT remove the water stained finish enough to make it presentable. Nope. Just uncovered more staining. 

Home Depot netted this stuff which promised to remove only the top finish but not the stain.

Sounds good. 
But will it deliver? 

Following instructions I rubbed the goo in with steel wool, wiping with a clean cloth and watched as the finish melted away. Then I realized that this was basically Acetone and while it was working wonderfully, doing this in the dining room was not a good idea. Even with open windows, Carlos and I were getting a little high.    Out to the garage with the table!


In the back is the area I sanded first. Not a good look.
The front is where the finish has been removed, but not the stain. 

Two days of rubbing with steel wool and the table looked like this:

Who knew there was such beautiful grain underneath?
Old growth mahogany.

So far so good. I admit to feeling pretty confident at this point. Hadn't done anything irreversible and the table top was looking mighty fine. 

Next step was to add a little color back in so that it better matched the rest of the table which was still in good shape. I've read about the wonderful benefits of using Pre-Stain but never tried it. And I confess, I was a little nervous since there was still stain on there...was this a good idea? 
It was.

Pre Stain. It does a table good. 

Feeling pretty invincible at this point I moved on to the final finish. General Finishes had been recommended as a wipe on sealer and it seemed it would blend well with the rest of the table finish. 
On a cool, dry (Read: Low humidity) day I applied the first coat. 

This sounds like what I need. 

Two days later I was still waiting for it to dry. The tabletop was tacky. Oops. Sand it off and try again. This time I practically buffed the finish in. Four coats. It dried beautifully. 

And look!

VoilĂ ! 
Beautiful, beautiful table top.
I even impressed myself!

So so happy with the end result. What an amazing difference. 

Nanny would be proud.

Me with my grandmother, Nanny. 
I had black hair when I was born. Belle was the same. 
Then we both turned blonde and have stayed that way in spite of nature.
My mother swears this is me but I'm not so sure they didn't just grab some little monkey off the street. 
I certainly had some sturdy little legs though!


10 October 2016

1-2-3 Go!

1-2-3 Go!  Evacuating as an art form. 

Last summer I looked out the cabin window and saw this:

That's smoke billowing up from a forest fire about 10 miles from the cabin.

I did what any sane person would do. Packed the car, booked the kennel for Carlos and left town.
About halfway to Denver, my friend that I was going to stay with called me. While I had asked her if I could come, I neglected to tell her I was actually on the way.
Fortunately she welcomed me with open arms.
I spent the night in Denver and had a lovely visit with my friend. The next morning I went to Colorado Springs and had lunch with another friend. Then I headed back to the cabin, after being reassured that the fire was being held at bay.

You know that saying "like mother, like daughter"?

Guess who got to evacuate last week?

Belle lives near West Palm Beach in Florida, which just happened to be where the weather prognosticators were betting on Hurricane Matthew to make landfall. (Well, one of the spots. I'd love to have the job security of a weather forecaster. Wrong half the time and still they keep their jobs.)

So basically she was looking out her window at this. Ok, looking at her TV....

The Grinch of Hurricanes

We had talked about evacuating over the previous weekend and, being a Texas girl experienced in hurricane hoopla, she had said "Nah! We're staying."  Her room mate however had other ideas. Being a Colorado girl, totally NOT experienced in the ways of hurricanes, she was a nervous wreck. 
Then the hurricane turned a bit, looking like it would actually hit Florida rather than the run up the side of it. 

That sealed the deal. I told her if she was evacuating, to do it early. I've seen hurricane gridlock and it is neither pretty nor fun. Wednesday evening about 10:30pm she called me. Should we go? Um. I thought you were already on the road. Yes, go. If it isn't raining, go now. 

The good thing about being a bartender is you tend to be a night owl. Those girls loaded up the car and headed out, driving all night. They called about 4:30am on Thursday from Tallahassee. After checking online and getting nowhere they did what any kid would do...call mom. I also checked online and then started calling the hotel 800 numbers. Florida is sold out. Georgia is sold out. All the coastal people are moving inland. How about Mobile, Alabama? 

They decided on Montgomery, Alabama. It was only another 3 or 4 more hours. Even better, it was only about 4 more hours from the little sister. 

I spoke to the nicest, nicest hotel reservation agent at the Hilton. Booked the Hilton Garden Inn in Montgomery at a discounted rate for the girls and the little dog. No dogs allowed at the hotel but because it was a special circumstance, they were making exceptions for the evacuees. 

Friday morning they headed to Oxford, Mississippi to see Bunny at Ole Miss.  It was a surprise. And thank goodness there was not a football game. Hotel rooms are hard to come by on a game weekend there. The Marriott accepted dogs but they were full. The Hampton had rooms but were not as agreeable about the dog. I guess two states away is a bit far to use the "evacuation" excuse for a break. 

BUT!  Someone suggested I call the Graduate Hotel in downtown Oxford as they accept dogs. It's also a darling little boutique hotel and I knew it was going to be more money than any of us wanted to spend. A few minutes on the phone with their front desk and I cannot say enough wonderful things. She was so understanding and gave the girls a discounted rate and waived the pet fee. Hallelujah!

So the sister was VERY surprised to have Belle, the room mate AND Dakota waiting for her in her dorm room. 

Happy girls!

They all stayed at the hotel for the night.  The Graduate was declared adorable and so cute and everyone was so sweet. Everyone loved Dakota. There's just something about a tiny three legged dog....

One leg in front works. 
He's a Tri-Pawed.

By Saturday morning Matthew had moved on out of Florida leaving relatively little damage. Girls and dog headed home. They made a stop in Orlando to visit with a friend and have dinner, then on to the house. 1:30am arrival.  Belle's room mate drove the whole way back - she's a beast. 

900 miles. Each way.
1800 miles in 72 hours. 
O! To be young. 

And their house? Nothing. No damage. No trees down. No alligators waiting in their beds. The electricity had gone out for a bit, nothing more. 

This evacuation thing is getting to be a trend. 


And just my two cents but here's two words....Global Warming. 

I've lived sixty years without ever having to evacuate from any place. Now in less than six months two of the five people in this family have had to leave home.   The forest fire was the result of a lightning strike and then fueled by dry weather and high winds. Hurricane Matthew was a Category 5 hurricane. That's as big as they get. Weather extremes are becoming more and more common.
What to do? I don't know. 
But I think this is a trend. 
Practice your packing. 


What to pack if you need to evacuate:

Anything you can't bear to lose. (Belle was in a panic because she realized she left her prom dress. That dress has followed her everywhere. It hangs on display in her room. She would have been crushed if some alligator was wearing it now.)

Computers, chargers, laptops. 


Clothes. The immediate stuff and the hard to replace stuff. 

Prescription medications. Contact lenses and glasses.

Files. At the cabin I have a plastic file case with bills, insurance papers, bank stuff. That came with me. 


Address book if it isn't in your phone. Or if, like mine, it has info that you don't keep in your phone.

THE PETS! Pet shot records. Pet food. Make sure pets are wearing collars with tags and phone numbers. Put your cell phone number on the tag, not the home number. You aren't going to be at home, remember?  Microchip your animals. 

Money. A little cash on hand can come in very handy. 

Photos.   Sentimental items. 

For a more complete list, click here.

And probably the best bit of advice is to stop and think NOW what you would need/want to take if you had to leave your  house tomorrow and possibly never return. You just never know when you might have to leave suddenly, so be a Boy Scout and Be Prepared!