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Amazon Prime Day aka Christmas In July!

Jul

11

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 | 0 comments

amazon-prime-dayToday is Amazon Prime Day. and I’m sneaking out from under my unofficial social media hiatus to urge you to try Amazon Prime today while it’s FREE (for 30 days). What exactly is Amazon Prime Day?, you ask. Think Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any ol’ retail bargainpalloosa.

Some deals are major, some, less spectacular, but with free shipping and additional incentives, there is no better time to try Amazon Prime. Check these out:

I’m already an Amazon Prime member, and it’s been fun scrolling through the deals (more of that to come, but for now, I wanted to put a little (Amazon) Fire (Tablet) under your behind to pull the trigger and sign up. I think you’ll be glad and get your money’s worth out of it in no time.

DO let me know if you snag a special deal! They ARE timed, so if there’s something you want, get it while you can!

If you happen to sign up for Prime through affiliate links on my post, it’ll be your way of supporting my blog at no added cost to you! The winning doesn’t stop, does it?

(Thank you!)

 


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Leigh’s (Almost) Famous Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Jun

18

Posted by on Jun 18, 2017 | 1 comment

Leighs_Shrimp_and_Grits_Casserole

 

One of my favorite things is tasting a dish that is so delicious, I must ask for the recipe; and, then every time I make it, I think of the person who now mingles her kitchen with mine. When I had my friend Leigh’s Shrimp and Grits Casserole, I knew it was one of those. It’s easy, a little bit fancy, and diverse enough to serve for brunch or dinner. It’s a turn on traditional shrimp and grits, and if you don’t care for either, well, a) try this and you might change your mind, or b) if you’re a hard-core hater, I feel for ya. (Unless you’re like my friend Holley, who has a worse-than-Will-Smith-in-Hitch reaction to shellfish. She can’t even look at ’em.)

Leigh’s Scrumptious, Easy
Southern Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Pre-heat oven to 350°F
Lightly grease a 9×12″ baking dish

  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup regular grits (not quick cooking)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack pepper cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ pound fresh (or frozen) shrimp, peeled and cooked
  • 1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained (Rotel)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  1. Bring 4 cups chicken broth and ½ teaspoon salt to boil in a saucepan; stir in grits.
  2. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir together grits, ¾ cup cheddar cheese, and Monterey jack cheese.
  4. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat; add green onions, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté until tender.
  5. Stir together green onion mixture, grits mixture, shrimp, and next 3 ingredients.
  6. Pour into a lightly-greased 2-quart baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle top with remaining ¼ cup cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 30-45 minutes.

Personal notes:

  • Leigh actually got the recipe from her friend Lisa; clearly good recipes keep goin’ and goin’, Energizer Bunnies of the culinary world.
  • Using half each of a red and green bell pepper make this dish especially festive at Christmas.
  • Depending on how much heat you like in a dish, you might want to use more cheddar and less jack cheese; or, if you want to add more heat, use Rotel’s spicier version of tomatoes. You can mix up the dish with your favorite cheeses, too.
  • This divides well into two smaller casseroles; keep one and give the other to someone who could use a meal!

 

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Dabo Swinney’s White House Speech Will Make You A Clemson Fan (Full Transcript)

Jun

12

Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 | 3 comments

Dabo Swinney quote from national champions White House visit - June 2017

Today Coach Dabo Swinney and the national champion Clemson Tigers visited The White House, and President Trump said a lot of nice words about the team, individual players, Clemson’s president James Clements, and head coach Dabo Swinney. But it was Coach Swinney’s heart-felt speech that made me proud to be a graduate; if I had a son who was competitive as a D1 player, I’d want him to play for Dabo.

 

Coach Swinney’s speech was so positive and affirming, I took time to listen to it seventy-eleven times so I could transcribe it in its entirety. I’m pretty sure at this point I could give it myself.

 

If you take a few minutes to read it (or click the video below to watch and listen), you’ll understand why I’m not just a Clemson fan, but also a Dabo Swinney fan. Even if you can’t stand Clemson (haters gonna hate), it’s hard to argue with Dabo’s results.

 

Thanks to The White House for broadcasting this moment for all Tigers fans to enjoy, and to the ACC Digital Network for posting it on You Tube.

 

Alright, I appreciate it. Uh, thank you so much, what a, what a special and unique opportunity this is to stand here and look at the Washington Monument and have a chance to also see this trophy, and have the opportunity to speak to all of you today.

 

It’s such an honor to be a part of such a special tradition, a special and unique tradition, where the White House and the President honor the champions. And that’s exactly what these guys are. They’re the champions. Lets give ’em a hand.

 

I really thought we were going to be here last year, I really did, but we came up a little short and I am so, so thankful and glad, that my players and my staff has had the opportunity to experience what I got a chance to experience as a player as a part of the Alabama National Championship team in 1992. I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to tour the White House and see all the great history and to just experience this great day.  So thank you so much.

 

I appreciate everyone involved. I know there’s a lot of logistics to make something like this happen. From the Secret Service to all of our folks at Clemson, to all the WH staff and what a special, special day it’s been. So thank you so much for the opportunity.

 

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians, “in a race everybody runs, but only one wins first prize. So run your race in such a way as to win.”

 

And that’s exactly what this team did. And that’s exactly what this team epitomized.

 

They did that with great leadership, belief, accountability, heart, genuine love and appreciation for one another, and they did it with great chemistry.

 

This was a team that bought in to one of our core values. I believe it was George Washington Carver who said, “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”

 

And eight-plus years ago I had a group of young men come together that bought into that very core value; it’s not the big things it’s the little things, we’re going to do the common things in an uncommon way. And when we do that, we will command the attention of the world.

 

And this group of young men behind me, that’s exactly what they did.

 

Yeah, we got good players and good coaches, but they did the little things better than everyone else. And to stand here and have the opportunity like we had today is a great credit to this team and what they did starting last year.

 

So it’s great to be back together and getting the chance to reminisce with some of these guys that I haven’t seen for a little while. I appreciate Mr. McNair for getting a couple of our players here. But it’s great to be back together one more time.

 

And I just, I wanna make a message really to our players. Because this is, this is a special moment. Ya know, back in January, that was an incredible moment. What a moment, January 9th, into the 10th actually, what an incredible moment that was.

 

And then I had a chance to see a lot of these guys put those caps and gowns on and become graduates of Clemson University.  What a special moment.

 

Some of ’em have already taken jobs, getting their first paycheck. Special moment.

 

Some of these guys have signed with NFL teams. What a special moment.

 

Being here at the White House as the nation’s champion? What a special moment.

 

But I want you players to know that there’s going to be other special moments. There’s going to be other special moments–when you get married, when you become a father, when you buy that first house. There’s going to be other special moments.

 

Ten years from now we’re going to have a special moment when we have a reunion. Some of you are going to be bald, some of you are going to have big bellies. But it’s goin’ be a special moment when we get back together.

 

But I want you all to know, all you players, and really everyone, life is not about those moments. Life is truly about how we live between the moments. That’s really what it comes down to. It’s all about how we live between the moment. It’s just doing the little things in a great way. It’s the daily focus and purpose and commitment and attitude that you choose to embrace every single day between those moments.

 

That’s what we’re all going to be defined by.

 

So I challenge you players and our team as we come together one last time, I challenge y’all, as we all move on with our lives to take those core values that we have at Clemson, take ’em with you. Take ’em with you. Continue to do the common things in your life in an uncommon way. Continue to be All In, continue to apply Best as the standard in everything you do.

 

Be a person of excellence in everything you do. As a worker, as a husband, as a father. Every thing that you choose to do, put your heart into it. If you don’t take anything else from this past year’s season, you saw what can happen when you see a group of people come together and really put their heart into something.

 

When you put your heart into something, you can make up that little extra, that little extra, because you go a little bit above and beyond, and that’s what this team has done.

 

So, my prayer is that you guys will take this with you.

 

And most of all, that you keep that windshield mentality that you’ve seen every single day that you’ve been at Clemson. I hope you’ll take that windshield mentality with you ’cause no matter what’s behind us, good or bad, in the rearview mirror, it’s always about what’s next. It’s always about what’s next, and the best truly is yet to come.

 

And the last thing I want to say is I love all of you.

 

It’s something that we dreamed about, this is something that we all dreamed about. But we all understand that the goals that we’ve had, they pale in comparison to the daily commitment that it took to get here.

 

So I hope that y’all will take this with you.

 

And President Trump, I want to thank you for giving us this special time. I know you’re a busy man. Thank you for giving us this special time, and this opportunity for us to come together as a team and celebrate an incredible moment in all of our lives; something we’ll take with us for the rest of our lives.

 

And we are truly excited about having a great day in Washington, DC. The food was excellent. We’re gonna head over to the Capital here in a little bit. I’m sure there’s plenty of orange over there. Look forward to just hanging out here in DC for a while  and then getting back to business tomorrow. So Thank you President Trump, I know it is your birthday on Wednesday, so happy early birthday to you.

 

So on behalf of our team, on behalf of our staff, our board, President Clements and our AD Dan Radakovich, I want to present to you a jersey from the National Champions, a jersey to you and your son, Barron, as well. So I’ll hand that off to you here.

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Storied Dishes || ~ a Grace Table feature ~

May

03

Posted by on May 3, 2017 |

GraceTable_StoriedDishes

After we got engaged I couldn’t wait to finally get to choose an everyday china pattern and register for our dishes and gifts. (How in the world was that almost 30 years ago?) I didn’t need to choose fine china; I had inherited my mother’s Malden by Oxford, simple, rimmed in gold, and stunning.

I’m one of those who believes kitchen art begins with pretty dishes.

A spectacularly set table doesn’t necessarily have to be fancy and expensive, but with a little thought and intention – flowers and greenery plucked from your yard, handwritten place cards, a centerpiece created with found objects from your home – you can design a masterpiece. I couldn’t wait to begin our life together, to open our home, and experiment with new-to-me recipes. We didn’t have Pinterest or the internet to mine ideas, but we had magazines and the traditions of our own families, plenty to get us started.

I’ve always been drawn to color, and my first choice for everyday dishes was Villeroy & Boch’s Fruit Basket; predominately green and yellow, it was just so doggone happy. But it was also pricey for an everyday, and sensitive to gift-givers’ budgets, I ended up choosing Poppies on Blue, a popular-in-the-80s Lenox pattern.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 10.41.42 AM

 

We received all the place settings we registered for in addition to serving bowls and platters, the cream and sugar, and I think even the salt and pepper shakers. These were the dishes of our newlywed years, a part of countless meals shared with friends and family, and eventually with our own children.

Right around the time the poppies began fading, my tastes began changing. With a move from South Carolina to Tennessee, I decided timing was perfect for buying new dishes; this time around, I went with a neutral. When I wanted a splash of color, I’d pick up festive placemats. My once-beloved Poppies on Blue was relegated to a box in the attic, waiting for my children to grow up and move into their own home, or the bigger dream, a heart-secret I’ve held close for all these years.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Recently, I enjoyed a girls weekend out of town, and we decided an Airbnb rental would accommodate the space and flexibility we wanted. With many options to choose from, we decided a small, three-bedroom near downtown was best.

Our first night there we planned a simple dinner–wine, cheese, fruit and the like, and we began rummaging through cabinets for the dishes we’d need.

And then God winked. Twice.

 

Do pop over to Grace Table to see why I can’t help but think God is especially fond of me :).
Sometimes He’s kind enough to assure you you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be….

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The Philadelphia Flower Show ~ A Botanical Paradise

Apr

03

Posted by on Apr 3, 2017 |

As soon as I learned about an opportunity to represent DaySpring at the Philadelphia Flower Show, I knew I had to go. In a sweet, odd sort of way, my going paid homage to my grandmother.

 

Philadelphia Flower Show

But first, the background:

DaySpring® Gratitude & Grace Thank You BouquetAbout a year ago, DaySpring became a licensing partner with FTD, meaning, if you’d like to send flowers with a faith-based message included, you now have some beautiful options in the DaySpring store (also found at ftd.com). DaySpring and FTD go together like peas and carrots, and the partnership means thoughtful gift-givers can choose from gorgeous, professionally designed arrangements with meaningful, inspirational sentiments.

As a major sponsor of the Philly Flower Show, FTD hosted a Designer’s Studio daily throughout the event. Together with FTD lead floral designer Andrea Ancel, talented designers and creatives joined her on stage for beautiful demonstrations and conversation all week long. Because of DaySpring’s partnership with FTD, an {in}courage writer was invited to join Andrea at the Designer’s Studio for a chat about inspiration and how it fuels creativity.

When asked if I was interested, I knew immediately I wanted to go; thankfully, I was able to work out my schedule to attend.

While most of the on-stage guests worked with flowers or as designers, my floral knowledge is limited to sticking flowers in a vase; clearly, there was no intention of me coming to talk floral design. Instead, to mix things up a bit, FTD planned for Andrea Ancel to create an arrangement while she and I spoke to the things that inspire us, the kinds of things that fuel the creative process, and how ALL of us need to exercise the gifts we have. What we – all of us – have to offer is unique and special and beautiful.

There’s only one you in this world, and the world needs what only you were created to give.

Theres only one you quote - Robin Dance

Anyway, our Designer’s Studio was Facebook live-streamed, at least until the convention center’s wifi dropped the connection. It would tickle me pink for you to watch and thumb’s up, and if you’re feeling generous, please share it on your Facebook page or share your thoughts in comments. FTD (or I, as appropriate) will still make sure to answer questions and we’re all paying attention to engagement :).

 

 

If being surrounded by colorful, inspiring, creative floral beauty is your jam, DO ink in a spot on your Bucket List to the Philadelphia Flower Show. It is amazing what can be done with flowers.

 

Friends at Philly Flower Show

(L-r) Robin & Andrea Ancel; Cassidy and Jamie, incredible FTD Staff; me and Carol, a fabulous PFS Volunteer; Designer’s Studio selfie; DS Stage; #ILookToHer backdrop

All last month, FTD celebrated women through their #ILookToHer campaign. Social sharers were invited to snap a picture of women they look to for inspiration, and then share online using the hashtag #ILookToHer. It’s had me thinking of the women who have shaped, encouraged, and inspired me, and if you watch the video above, you’ll hear about some of them (SO fun that special people in my life were shocked to hear a personal shout out during my Designer’s Studio clip :) ).

Flowers-Philadelphia Flower Show-Holland

 

 

 

Peace Lily - DaySpring-FTDWhether it’s a time of celebration and great joy, or mourning the loss of one you love, flowers can speak for you when it’s hard to find the words. DaySpring®’s Happy Birthday bouquet is practically on fire, and with gerberas and snapdragons, the Gratitude and Grace bouquet is one I want to give myself. There are options for more lasting gifts, too–a mini rose, azalea, and beautiful orchid. A group of friends and I recently sent a DaySpring bouquet to a friend we knew was down, and those flowers let her know how deeply we cared.

I’m grateful to FTD and DaySpring for sponsoring my first – hopefully not my last! – trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show!

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To Dambarr, With Love || #ILookToHer

Mar

20

Posted by on Mar 20, 2017 | 7 comments

My much-beloved grandmother died when I was ten.

 

I was at camp when it happened, and I didn’t even know she was ill. The camp director brought me and my sister into an office space behind the camp store to tell us, and I remember her saying, “You can cry or scream or whatever you need to do.”

I don’t remember my response, her funeral, or anything else about it. I suppose I built a mighty fortress around my little girl heart for protection; Dambarr died the year after my mother. Two heartbreaking losses in a year’s time, early lessons in “life isn’t fair.”

That’s why the memories I hold of her are treasure. I write at a secretary that once sat in her living room, an antique thing with dulled brass accents and pulls I’ve been warned not to polish. “It will lose its value,” I’m told, and what I know that a furniture dealer discounts is that Dambarr’s secretary will never lose value because it was hers.

DambarrI remember only a few things about her, but they are good things, and lasting. She gave us after-bath alcohol rubs, wintergreen, and we’d lay face down on our towels on the bed, naked and squirmy and loved (and I suppose, disinfected). She made fairy sandwiches out of Pepperidge Farm dinner rolls or Callie biscuits and whatever meat we had the night before. She’d slather butter top and bottom and broil our tiny sandwiches in a 70s green toaster oven that sat on a rolling metal cart in her galley kitchen.

She’d let us jiggle the fat on her arms and she’d sketch bowls of fruit for us to copy. She’d sit on the floor and build houses made of cards, this stately, well-to-do woman, a competition bridge player who traveled the world. She sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Please, Mr. Judge Where’s My Daddy?” old, melancholy songs but nighttime rituals we couldn’t do without. We’d “blum-blum” before lying down to sleep, her feet on the floor with soft arms wrapped around our tiny bodies, us, standing at the foot of our beds, tiny arms cupped around her neck, swaying side to side and sing-songing those words until we settled. Blum…blum…blum…blum. It was our thing, flesh on flesh, heart to heart.

Her house, “the house at Woodlawn,” is over 100 years old and my brother owns it now. A fraternity house sits right in front of it, so he rents it to college students today; but when Dambarr owned it, it was a grand home, plaster walls and radiator heat, and wallpaper actually made of paper. Birds and botanical if my mind’s eye remembers well. A fancy crystal chandelier in her dining room. A loud but wonderful attic fan in the basement that sucked air with a big whoosh (calling it “attic” never made sense to me since it’s in the basement).

Dambarr was a master gardener, and her back yard was magical.

 

 

It was gated in manicured boxwoods, an even hedge with an always-invitation. Its center was grassy and square, perfect for a child and her imagination to run wild, free. Camellias, hydrangeas, and azaleas lined the edges and back. The right corner, pathed with a rocky edge, was reserved for annuals and perennials–roses in every shade, worth the prick of rude thorns; primrose and pansies, daffodils, snowbells, narcissus, and tulips. Snapdragons. Marigolds. Star-of-Bethlehem. Those are all the names I can remember right now but maybe there were more? A little herb garden and veggie spot in the back right of that–spearmint and peppermint and parsley, tomatoes–cherry and the big kind, the name of which escapes me. She had a scuppernong vine, but that always seemed weird to me.

We’d jump off her detached garage roof into the compost pile, clueless as to what was in it, or more likely, we didn’t care. We got to jump off a roof!

She taught us to make tiny dolls out of a flowering shrub; unopened buds for a head, and opened flowers as ball gowns. I can’t call it by name, but I recognize it when I see it…and I always want to steal a bud and a flower to make a little fairy doll.

Dambarr died too soon to teach me anything about gardening, but she seeded in me a deep love and appreciation for flowers.

 

And this is precisely why when DaySpring invited me to join FTD Flowers onstage at the Designer’s Studio at the Philadelphia Flower Show, I said Yes! with no hesitation.

And then I learned about FTD’s #ILookToHer campaign, an initiative celebrating women and how they inspire us. I knew before I shared about my experience in Philadelphia, however, I had to introduce you to my grandmother, the reason it made sense for me to go, the woman who has continued to inspire me over 40 years after her death.

I can’t wait to share images from the Philly Flower Show, and my Designer’s Studio segment with the incredibly talented Andrea Ancel, lead floral designer for FTD. It was a blast and an honor, and I’m very thankful to FTD for sponsoring my visit.

Stay tuned….

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