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    Archive for April 2011

    Simply Southern Saturdays

    Saturday, April 30, 2011

    Good morning all!

    It is bright and beautiful in Tokyo this morning. Considering I've been up well before the chickens, I'm thankful for these two things. Care to guess who was up bright and early, chipper and giggly, grabbing my slippers and robe, calling out, "Mama, time to wake up!"?

    Sweet boy.

    I have a breathtaking view to look upon today. It helps ease the sleep from my mind...as does a hot cup of Cafe du Monde, and sweet snuggles and laughter from the scallywag.

    You have to love the little things.

    Thank you all for stopping by yesterday and taking a few moments to think of those who were in the paths of the tornadoes. Thank you for keeping them in your hearts and minds, thank you for praying for them.

    I know there was a little something going on in London yesterday that was understandably distracting, so thank you for taking time in the midst of that celebration to think of others.

    I won't lie, initially we weren't too caught up in the hullabaloo surrounding the Royal Wedding. There had been light talk of hosting a cupcake party. Cupcakes with "royal" icings, champagne, fruits, and cheeses. Simple dessert fare.

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    It didn't pan out, so we decided to wait for the highlights that would come after. But as we're in Tokyo~prime viewing time, in case you didn't know~we decided rather last minute to tune in. I am so glad we did!

    From beginning to end it was absolutely magical. The warmth, affection, and humor William and Catherine share was evident to all. It was positively electric! We were completely swept up once the broadcast began. It was impossible not to be.

    What thrilled us further were the live Tweets coming from fellow southern blogger, Lauren, of Aspiring Kennedy. Yes, I was all a-Twitter with thousands of others last night. But unlike the majority of we Tweeters, Lauren had front row seats as everyone arrived and you could feel her excitement.

    What's more, one of my middle school friends received a last minute invite to the luncheon afterwards! I don't know who she knows or how that happened, but wow! To be present during all the majesty and celebrations after the wedding ceremony...

    Oh, to be a fly on that wall.

    I hope she returns with great pictures and stories...and maybe Prince Harry's phone number. What? I can't plan ahead for Eldest?

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    When the royal festivities began, it was early evening for us, so there was no luncheon. Eldest and I celebrated with a simple tea instead. It's a time honored tradition in our family, and as Eldest is in the third generation to enjoy it, she knew exactly how she wanted it to be. Elegant and understated~much like Princess Catherine!

    Eldest thoughtfully adorned her plate with this pretty hand-embroidered handkerchief she received from Kathleen, of The Benefields.

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    Isn't it just perfect for a young lady?

    Usually Eldest keeps it in a very safe place (far away from the grabby hands of her much younger brother). Yesterday, she felt it was perfect for the occasion.

    I couldn't agree more! Eldest even donned a tiara for the occasion.

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    Yes, I nearly fell over in shock, too. This doesn't mean she's ready to go super-girly on me, but she was momentarily swept up by the fun as well.

    It's been a real treat to read how everyone celebrated, their observations, and of course, the wedding dress love.

    If you had to recall one moment that made your heart melt or your eyes tear, what would it be? What moment, or moments, from the Royal Wedding thrilled you to no end?

    This post was supposed to be shown yesterday, though for some reason it didn't! Sorry for any confusion.


    Please Pray

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Good morning everyone.

    I had intended to write about something else this morning, but my heart just wasn't in it. My mind continued to turn to thoughts of home. Like you, I have been stunned and heartbroken by the events of yesterday.

    My heart is so heavy for those in the South. Though we're thousands of miles away, we were watching it all unfold live on the Weather Channel, getting tweets from our friends in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Facebook kept us updated as well.

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    I know I mentioned this after the earthquake on March 11th, but more than ever I am thankful for social networking sites. It was the easiest way to put our minds at ease~knowing our friends and family members in those areas were safe.

    Sadly, not everyone can say that. Alabama has been devastated, and loss of life spans several of my beloved southern states. It has been a very rough start to 2011 for many of us, and to ask people to give of themselves can sometimes be a difficult thing.

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    I'm going to anyway.

    Pray. It costs you nothing, but can do so much for those in need. If you could please cover everyone in the South in your prayers, that would be wonderful. Lift them up, keep them in your thoughts.

    Images courtesy of Reuters

    Kmart...Really?

    I know I haven't been stateside in a while, and while I was I rarely~if ever~went to Kmart.

    Have these been there the whole time? Because I'm a little stumped at how no one is mentioning that there are cute clothes at Kmart.

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    Seriously. Who is in charge of their marketing and advertising?

    Kmart has cute clothes. Cute clothes that are also super cheap.

    They're probably cheaply made, too, but I don't know about y'all...I'd spend $29 dollars to wear any one of these dresses until they fell apart. I'd consider it money well spent and saved.

    Do you have places you love to shap for chic clothes at great prices? Tell me about it!

    PS~ If you'd like a chance to get some FREE clothes, you should hop over to Jackie's blog, Sweetie Pie Style! You could win a $100 gift card to Shopbob! Just go here to enter: http://www.sweetiepiepumpkinnoodle.com/2011/04/100-shopbop-gift-card-giveaway.html

    Easter

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Contrary to earlier weather reports for Tokyo, Easter Sunday dawned bright and crisp. It was glorious! The sunny morning roused not only our spirits, but the scallywag as well. At 5:30. That's AM, friends.

    It was a good thing, though. There was much to do before Brunch, and we wanted to have fun watching the children play with their Easter goodies before we turned our attention to those preparations.

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    As you can see, our little one ran around like crazy this year. Touched by the golden rays of early morning light, he went here and there, collecting the eggs the Easter Bunny had left around the apartment. He was so excited he forgot to take out his pacifier, and he would not wait for his sister to wake up.

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    When Eldest did finally emerge from her blanketed cocoon, there were only a handful of eggs left. She had to run like crazy to grab them before her brother.

    It was hilarious to watch! They dashed and dodged one another as they tried to get those last remaining eggs. It was so much fun to them, they played it over and over throughout the day.

    Once all the eggs were discovered, the scallywag would pop one open and with his sister's assistance, unwrap the foil and eat the chocolates hidden inside. It was the first time he'd tasted them and I had to capture his reactions!

    Care to guess how he felt about his chocolate treats?

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    Needless to say, he quickly figured out how to unwrap them by himself. There was no way he was going to wait for someone else to do the job for him.

    There was a small part of me that felt badly that the children's breakfast consisted of nothing more than Kisses and organic bunny sugar cookies, but Brunch made up for it in spades. Besides, isn't a small part of Easter supposed to be about the treats?

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    Eldest and the scallywag certainly thought so, and on a special day like Easter Sunday, it was good to let the children just be children and take in simple, sweet joys.

    We all took turns preparing for the day, fixing dishes in our teeny-tiny kitchen, with its teeny-tiny oven, and teeny-tiny cooking space. Somehow, we managed to get our drink station and brunch table prepared for friends and family.

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    That afternoon we would dine on many delicious dishes! Some prepared by our family, others were thoughtfully provided by friends. Fruit salad with mascarpone cheese, cheese grits, bacon, homemade biscuits, lemon curd tarts with whipped cream, potatoes au gratin, brownies with the most delicious icing. And who could forget the wonderful mimosas and macaroons provided by friends as well?

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    Brunch was wonderful and we kept one another in stitches for hours. We celebrated so much that morning!

    Eldest and the scallywag were, as expected, great while we had company. They charmed our guests and would run off to play with one another in their Easter clothes.

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    I think their favorite place to play was under the dining room table. With the extra long tablecloth and food on top, it made for an ideal fort. Filled with toys, the iPad, juice and water, they only came out when one of them had the urge to run around.

    And yes, that would be the scallywag I'm talking about.

    They also came out when it was time to say goodbye.

    Much as I don't like saying them, there is such a good feeling that stays with you after spending time with friends. Don't you just feel happier? Our family is very fortunate to have a terrific circle of friends. It's rare for us all to gather together at the same time, so to have days like Easter, when we're celebrating something so miraculous and joyous, there are no better people we'd rather spend that time with.

    Unless it's family, and hopefully, we'll see them very soon as well!

    A lovely week to you all! We're in the middle of many little things, and hopefully, I'll be able to share some of them with you very soon.

    Toodles!

    Simply Southern Saturdays

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    The cuisine in New Orleans is rich and flavorful. The city's colorful history touches the food, restaurants, and dining experience as a whole. I count my blessings that I was able to grow up in such a wonderful city, surrounded by local flavor both in the people and the food.

    It didn't hurt that my mother was, and still is, a phenomenal cook.

    Food and entertaining was a large part of our family life. My parents were gracious hosts, and loved opening our family home to friends. It was always the place to be~weekdays and weekends. Be they for gourmet gatherings, Mardi Gras feasts, birthdays, or just because, there was always something cooking in our home, and it was always ready to be shared with others.

    Meal time was important to our family as well. We sat each night with a homemade meal that was prepared with love. We held hands and said Grace. Our family of three would talk about our day and share the highs and lows. As I grew I didn't enjoy it quite as much~I was a rather prickly teenager. But I treasure the memories and tradition my parents gave to me.

    It imparted upon me the importance of gathering places for family. It taught me the value of neutral territory, a place everyone looked forward to gathering around. Meals were to be enjoyed as a family; savored, never rushed. Prayer and giving thanks were just as important at the table as they were both in and outside of the home.

    In our lives today, the reality is that we don't always have that luxury. Husband has late working hours. The scallywag isn't in the mood to eat what he's served. Eldest has a big test and needs to study. Sometimes the day is just so crazy I grab fast food from Tokyo Tower. Sometimes Grace is forgotten.

    Our intentions are good, though, and we haven't abandoned these traditions. We work hard to maintain them. As a child I didn't realize the effort it actually required at times. Eye opening, right?

    I find meal time is very special in my own family. We work hard at communicating, listening, relaxing when we know there are other things on the back burners of our day. We'll get to them in time. For however long our dinner is, that is our time and we do our best to keep the rest of the world at bay.

    Yes,it's hard work at times. But we're creating our own cherished memories and traditions for our children. It makes the effort completely worth it!

    I'm pretty sure the Big G, Gwyneth, would agree!

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    So let's get to it shall we?

    After placing everyone's name into a pretty little bowl,

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    I asked Eldest to pick,

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    and our very lucky winner is...

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    Lori Ellen from the food blog she co-writes with her hubby, Steve, "Kitchen Doesn't Travel"!

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    A little about their blog in Lori Ellen's own words: "...We are what my brother-in-law refers to as D.I.N.K.s – Double-Income-No-Kid yuppies. We are a couple of 30-somethings with healthy appetites who’ve been married for a while. We’ve lived in Charlotte for the last 5 yrs after doing a brief stint in San Diego. Although we are not polar opposites, we are different enough to keep life interesting. I’m a Mac, he’s a PC. I’m a planner, he’s more adventurous. I like structure, organization, predictability, and indoor fun. He’s truly a Boy Scout at heart who legitimately enjoys all things “outdoorsy”…as well as helping little old ladies across the street. He loves hiking, camping, biking, and all that jazz. Despite being raised in small-town Alabama, I am a city girl at heart and do not – I repeat DO NOT- share his outdoorsy inclinations. My idea of camping is staying in a hotel that does not offer room service. It didn’t take my hubby long to realize that if he wanted to share THOSE interests with his spouse, he had clearly married the wrong woman! One of the things we do have in common, however, is that we both love to eat and we appreciate good drink. We’ve joked for years that our only shared hobby is going out to dinner.

    We are tired of just going through the “work-go home-eat-sleep-work” rut we’ve let ourselves get into. We want to take “the joy of life” a little more seriously. We’re going to take our mutual interest in good food and drink, along with a relatively new mutual interest in photography (new for me at least), and have some new adventures – big and small, near and far
    ..."

    Y'all must check out their blog as they're serious foodies. As such, they share decadently prepared recipes, offer their thoughts on wine and beer, and share their trips to various eateries around the US. If the descriptions and well-written posts don't capture your attention, the pictures certainly will. Did I mention the uniqueness of this blog as it's written by a husband and wife team?

    Congratulations, Lori Ellen! I love reading about your food adventures with Beer Guy. Send your home address to my email and I'll have Gwyneth's cookbook sent straight away.

    Let me reiterate how delightful it was to read everyone's generous words about blogs around the blogosphere. I found so many new ones to be inspired by, that I knew I couldn't let things end where they were. Look for a special blog post next week where each and every one will be featured! Thank you all for taking part in this giveaway.

    I cannot wait for the next one!

    A very Happy Easter to you all. May you all be surrounded by good friends, loving family, and all the blessings this season brings.

    I'll see you next week!

    Our Spirits Are Bright

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Our hearts are heavy with what Good Friday brings, but Sunday brings His resurrection, and with it, the promise of our salvation. This makes our spirits bright!

    What else makes our spirits bright? This little monkey man!



    He is such a ham for the camera and loves doing silly things...like walking on his hands (with help from his trusty assistant Daddy).

    A good laugh can always make you feel so much lighter, don't you agree?

    Here's to feeling lighter spiritually, emotionally, and mentally during Holy Week.

    A Happy Easter to you all!

    Found

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

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    The simplest, most feminine warm weather dress at Forever 21. The draping folds, the classic tank, the delicatly belted waist, the vivid color...and all for under $20. I would like to wear it, please.

    Warmer days, where are you?

    A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That & Giveaway Reminder

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Good evening all!

    It's Holy Week in our home and we're preparing to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the new life both he and Easter bring. There may be an Easter Egg hunt somewhere in there, along with a church service and making bunny masks. We do like to keep busy!

    And since we have been so busy, I thought it best to share it through another edition of the "A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That" series.

    Enjoy!

    ~This weekend Husband and I were invited to have a fun night out with our expat friends. Everyone was ready for an evening in the city. And what better way to celebrate being back in Tokyo than with dinner and dancing? For the most part, our friends had returned and settling back into weekend fun was just what we needed. They're just as important as weekday routines, after all.

    But after a very long week at work, Husband told me to go on ahead. He wanted nothing more than a night in with the children. He'd missed seeing them.

    ~Husband and the children had a very fun time.

    ~So did I! We went to Yakiniku Yansando for dinner. It's a lovely restaurant where you have a 7 course meal and prepare your own meat and vegetables over small grills. The entire experience takes place within a private room enclosed by sliding doors. On occasion, the waitresses replace your grill top with a fresh one. It was fabulous (as was the company).

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    Everything from the salad, to the pancake, to the 5 types of beef were delicious. I even enjoyed a drink called a wild hibiscus sour. It was a pretty shade of pink with bits of the flower daintily floating around. If you can believe it, it even tasted pink: tart and sweet.

    Afterwards, we danced the night away at Wall Street. Goodness, let me tell you, there is nothing more fun than a night of fun dancing with friends. I think we're all feeling settled back in.

    ~Remember this Easter table by Eddie Ross?

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    I was serious when I said it inspired our own Easter Sunday table, and slowly (oh, so slowly) it is coming together.

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    ~This is terrific as we're hosting brunch for our friends this Easter. Brunch has to be one of my favorite meals to host. It's relaxed, it's in the comfort of your home, and if you have children, they can run about and have fun. Did I mention the champagne? There is nothing bad about brunch. Not a single thing.

    ~I was so excited to see some breathtaking early hydrangeas at Nissin the other day. They were within a reasonable price range and after searching for this particular shade for almost a year, it felt like they were the ones meant to come home with us.

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    I watched over a beautiful hydrangea last summer for our friends Cayce and John~and I joked that they may not get them back. They were such a unique blend of green and blue. They were well looked after, the children helped to water them, and we all agreed that we'd love to find some with that same pale shade of blue. A year later, and what do you know? All good things, friends.

    ~And speaking of good things, guess what two books are on the way to Tokyo right now?

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    Thanks so much, Mom and Daddy! I cannot wait to spend the evenings combing through the pages of these two books. Now did y'all know I actually had a reason for wanting these two books? It went beyond the pretty pictures and southern tales. It seems the author, chef, and storyteller, Martha Hall Foose, grew up in the Mississippi Delta! She learned to appreciate the South by growing up smack dab in the middle of it.

    In case you didn't know, she also opened Bottletree Bakery in Oxford. You maaaayyyy have heard me mention this place once or twice? Perhaps these pictures will refresh your memory:

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    We all owe Mrs. Foose a debt of gratitude for returning to her home in the south. A great, big cinnamon roll sized debt.

    Oh...and in case you were wondering, guess who else grew up in the Mississippi Delta? Husband! I'm willing to bet many parts of his life and some of the places in these books crossed paths with those of Mrs. Foose. Wouldn't that be neat?

    ~Picnic's are neat, too. On rainy days like today~when there seems to be no possibility of running around outdoors~I try to make being inside more fun. Take mealtimes for instance. Why sit at the table when you can spread a blanket on the floor, pretend it's the crisp, spring grass, and enjoy your lunch on top of it?

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    The scallywag and I did just that.

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    It was tons of fun! The little guy enjoyed doing the norm a little differently, and so did I.

    ~Before I head back to the cookbooks and decide on our Easter menu, I want to remind you all to sign up for the giveaway. If this is the first time you're reading about it, welcome! Here is what I'm offering:

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    Gwyneth's cookbook!

    If you haven't already, simply leave a comment on this entry and tell me who inspires you and why. If they happen to be a blogger, leave their address as well. It will give you a single entry for this special giveaway, which ends Friday, April 22nd, at midnight central US time. The winner will be announced on the 23rd.

    I've received quite a few entries already, and it has been so nice to see how kind hearted people can be. They've shared openly and honestly, revealing who they admire and why.

    Once the giveaway is over, I'm going to share with you all the blogs of note. Hopefully you'll be just as inspired as other readers have been!

    A lovely evening to you and yours...

    Simply Southern Saturdays

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Tokyo is starting to remain consistently warm~hitting the 70's even! I do declare, Spring may be settling in for good. And you know what that means? It means it's time for all little southern beaus and belles to break out the seersucker, the lightest of cottons, the smocked T's and sleeveless bishop dresses, and John-John's.

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    Yesterday was just beautiful. The scallywag was thrilled to head outdoors, and I was elated to be able to put him in one of his new smocked shirts and shorts ensembles. And why wouldn't I be?

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    In a nod to the warmer months ahead, his sweet little shirt had crawfish dancing across the front.

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    The scallywag was more excited to chatter with the owner of the shoe store behind him than to pose for the pictures. But he was a good sport!

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    It didn't hurt that he had his favorite toy with him: the MTR miniature we picked up in Hong Kong. It tickles me to no end to see the enjoyment he get from this little toy. Is it encoded in a boys DNA to love trains and cars? Because I'm starting to believe it is!

    Thanks to Mom and Daddy for sending several new spring outfits! They will be worn both happily and often.

    Don't y'all forget about the giveaway! It ends next Friday at Midnight US central time. Leave a comment about who inspires you and why to be entered. If they're a blogger, a link to their blog would be wonderful as well.

    A lovely weekend to you all!