Welcome, 2011 — Come On In and Stay A While

Happy New Year’s Eve! Go forth and have fun tonight. With safety, please. And if you decide to stay home — whether you’re hosting a crowd or a romantic dinner for two — you’ll need something special and sparkly to drink. Several friends shared their favorite bubbly cocktail recipes in the food story I did this week for the TimesDaily. Check it out — it’s not too late to run to the store and stock up on beverage supplies. I did leave out one recipe from my friend Steve, who started off his list of ingredients with “Get some moonshine.” I love the South!

And then take a minute to read my weekly newspaper column for inspiration on making resolutions. Oh my goodness — I could fill pages and pages with promises to do things better. But then it would take me so long to sit down and write all my resolutions down that I wouldn’t have the time to actually, you know, do them. That’s my excuse, anyway. Like right now. I really should go out and walk before it starts raining. But it looks like it might rain any minute. And it’s windy. And cold, maybe. So I’ll just stay inside where it’s nice and warm and dry and THINK about going out to walk. I mean, that’s almost as good, right???

This past week I did get a headstart on one of my resolutions, which is to write more fiction. Of course, friends and family will argue that my newspaper columns already have touches of fiction but they’re all good sports and don’t mind that I might perhaps slightly edit things they say and/or do — for journalism’s sake, of course. Except for almost-3-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable, whose adorability is an absolute fact that needs no exaggeration whatsoever.

Press Releases and Peaches

Have I told y’all that I’ve got a new job? Well, I use the term “job” loosely because it’s really just fun that I get paid for. And I’m using the phrase “get paid for” loosely, too. I’m the new marketing director for a local arts association that oversees an art museum and a renovated historic theatre. It’s part-time — only a few hours a week — and of course  it’s non-profit, so you can see that this is not the path to great personal wealth and riches. Of the money kind, at least. Because in terms of great personal satisfaction, this job rocks. The staff offices are in the museum, so we’re surrounded by creativity, talent and general wonderfulness every day. And the folks on the staff are exactly the type of people you want to work with: Dedicated, enthusiastic, generous and fun. Plus, I get to do what I love doing: Write. My prime responsibility is writing press releases and public service announcements and getting the word out about our exhibits, theatrical productions, concerts, workshops, tours, openings, etc. I’ve been building a media-contact list, talking to artists and newspaper and magazine folks and generally learning my way around the art world — which, by the way, is a fascinating place. Fascinating. One thing I’ve been thrilled to discover is that my work clothes from two years ago when I “retired” from fulltime newspaper-newsroom room still fit — but only because all those low-waisted skirts I borrowed from my daughters now sort of hang out around my waist since there seems to be some sort of impediment in my middle zone. But it’s OK, since I now have some spare cash I can put toward a new wardrobe the electric bill. (Oh, hi, Dear Husband! I didn’t see you reading here.) Read more about tackling a new job in my latest newspaper column.  And Younger Daughter sent me off to my new job in style the other morning with broiled fresh peaches served with a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt. Oh, yum.

No Passport Required

I love writing about our 2-1/2-year-old grandson, Capt. Adorable. I mean, he’s the smartest, cutest, most adorable genius baby ever. E.V.E.R. So of course you want to read all about him, don’t you? In fact, I’d be remiss in my journalistic responsibility if I didn’t keep you posted about the Captain’s doings. Also: All my friends are starting to roll their eyes and think of things they suddenly have to do when I inevitably start conversations with, “Oh my gosh y’all will not believe what Capt. Adorable did the other day and I just have to tell you …” So thank goodness I have both a newspaper column AND a blog so that I can bore you share all the adorability. Such as this week’s column, which is a visit to the strange and wonderful place called Two-Year-Old Land. Although, in the interest of keeping things family-rated, I didn’t talk about the somewhat disturbing bathroom habits of the native population, and I also forgot to caution against drinking the water, especially if it’s in a Thomas the Train cup that’s leftover from lunch. You have been warned.

Books and Other Random Thoughts

You all are so sweet to wade through my jumbled and scattered thoughts here in Bloggy World. You have no idea how much I appreciate that. But you’ll be happy to know that I can manage to string together some coherent sentences and actually get them in print — really, I can!!! Here’s proof:

You know the economy has tanked and everybody’s scrimping and saving wherever they can, right? You know folks are cutting back and slashing expenses, right? And you know that the book-publishing industry — like music and movies — is suffering. Then you’ll be as surprised as I was when you find out that there’s one category of books that’s seen an incredible increase in sales. And it’s no wonder — I’ll bet you’re like me and cannot wander past that section in your local bookstore without stopping and checking it out.

And you know what they say when you first start trying to sell your house: Your No. 1 top-priority chore is to declutter. But be careful, because sometimes you end up with more stuff than when you started!

Speaking of family efficiency, how are you at packing? I thought I was pretty good. I had a system based on my method of household organization and it worked for years … until I out-organized myself.

Shameless Self-Promotion

I am not one to use my blogging space to shamelessly market and promote my other endeavors … I mean …. to try to convince you to read my things I actually get paid for … uh … I mean … to try to up readership of my other online articles … oh, what the heck … Here is a food story I did today for the TimesDaily on a cool and refreshing no-cook fresh-vegetable salad — http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100728/ARTICLES/307289999 — and my latest weekly newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100723/ARTICLES/307239995, which is about my 2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable and I learning how much fun it is to drop globs of Play-Doh on the floor and squish them flat with our feet. His mommy was not amused. Okay, the commercial is over. We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Football

Yup, it’s mid-July and supposed to hit 100 degrees today but around here we’re all already thinking fall — and football. Because with SEC coaches taking the podium during media days in Birmingham and doing their best to charm the press, this week marks the unofficial start of football season. It’s that giddy optimistic time when everybody’s smiling and anything can happen and championships are within every team’s grasp. Fans have made their hotel reservations. Brides and hostesses have checked the game schedule and know not to schedule anything on home weekends. Sports journalists — such as my newspaper-sports editor husband — have kissed their spouses “goodbye” and settled in for a good five months of all football all the time. And while I enjoy a good football game as much as anybody, it’s true that I also look forward to the start of the season because 1) It means college basketball is getting closer; 2) I love the game-day menu of chips, dips and anything fried and 3) Who can resist a “Peace, Love and Alabama” shirt? Not me.

Tunica

We went to Tunica and all I got was some chocolate cake. My husband was luckier, however — he picked up two first-place awards from the Mississippi Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest for headlines and sports columns. We were in Tunica recently for the MPA annual get-together and awards luncheon. It was my first glimpse of the famous gambling town and only my second time ever to go to a casino. And in fact we didn’t even go to the casino so my record still stands at once … and I don’t think I got the full experience even then since I only sat at a nickel machine for a few minutes and watched my dollar bill dribble away. Sigh. Anyway, our Tunica adventure was on a Saturday and my sports-editor husband could only take enough time out of a work day to drive over (Down? Up?) to the luncheon, so we only saw the inside of the Harrah’s conference-center room. I had a blast sitting with friends from my husband’s newspaper, and although we were all less than impressed with the food and the service — Seriously, no tea or water refills and only one carafe of coffee for 200 people? — our dessert of chocolate cake certainly looked intriguing. The cake itself was on the dry side, but the berry puree and the chocolate ganache were divine. I also can report that I saw beautifully landscaped grounds and a sign advertising the Paula Deen Buffet, but that’s about it for my Tunica Harrah’s experience. Husband and I agreed we needed to come back and stay longer. See for yourself at http://www.harrahstunica.com/casinos/grand-casino-resort-tunica/hotel-casino/property-home.shtml.