Happy New Year!

If my New Year’s resolutions were to watch football and stake out the coziest corner of the couch, then Jan. 1 was a success — although my beloved SEC took a hit as both LSU and Mississippi State LITERALLY dropped the ball(s), leaving Georgia and Vandy to represent so far. Now, since I am lazy lucky enough to work part-time in places that sensibly close during the holidays, it’s back to work for me after a two-weeks vacation. My family had a super Christmas. Hope yours did the same. I did discover that my children are sneaky — Older & Younger Daughter conspired to give me an iPad for Christmas and kept the secret (after bringing husband JP into the loop)  ever since Black Friday, when my son-in-law apparently was conscripted to stand in line for it after Older Daughter came down with the flu. And you know I try not to be materialistic and to believe in the simple things of love and laughter, but the iPad is THE BEST THING EVER. Ever. It only leaves my hands when it’s time to finish leftover Christmas cookies. Also, husband JP took note of my Amazon wish list and I now have a gorgeous Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired business-card holder and a lotion warmer that is the most luxurious thing ever and makes me think that perhaps a towel warmer is next. And then my mom gave us a monogrammed doormat, not knowing that JP only tolerates the open-scrollworked metal one we have now because although I think it’s the coolest doormat ever and totally says who we are as soon as you come to our front door, it does leave rust marks all over the porch’s concrete floor. So everybody was happy. And that’s a pretty good start to 2013.

New Year’s

Happy New Year! Hope it’s a fabulous one for you and your family. And if you’re taking a break from football today, go to http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100101/ARTICLES/1015000 to read my weekly newspaper column that includes resolutions folks sent me from all over. See if yours made it in, and thanks to everybody who helped me with this project. And here’s hoping your favorite teams win — as long as those teams are SEC, of course!

New Year’s Resolutions

Okay, y’all, here’s your chance to become famous — or infamous, maybe. When I was a staff writer at the TimesDaily newspaper in Florence, Alabama, I’d turn my New Year’s column over to readers every year and publish the funniest and most creative resolutions folks sent me. I didn’t do it this past year since I’m not working in the office anymore, but this year my dear husband pointed out that really that’s no excuse. So here you go: E-mail me at cathylwood@gmail.com with your best resolution for 2010 and you may see it in my Jan. 1 newspaper column. I need funny, witty, bright and creative — we all want to save the world and spend more time with our families and friends and adopt more stray puppies, so those don’t count. You can do better! And even though I need to know who you are and that you’re a real live legal non-scary person, you can have your name/location/identity published any way you want: “Mary Smith, Huntsville, Alabama” or “A gardener in San Diego” or “John Doe, writer and part-time cook in Seattle” or “Cathy’s friend and shopping co-conspirator” or whatever you want. So e-mail me your family-friendly G-rated resolution by Sunday, Dec. 27, include your true identity so I can reassure the paper that everybody’s cool and also include your identity the way you want it published. I may edit your resolution to fit the space but I promise not to drastically alter it. I cannot wait to see what you come up with!

New Year Countdown

christmas-2008-part-2-062Happy New Year! Hope everybody’s 2009 got off to a great start. It’s the seventh day of Cathy’s new-year-2009-004New Year Countdown and we’re going on to Jan. 6, or Twelfth Night, mainly because I have a real problem packing it all up and letting the holidays go. I mean, why not celebrate as long as possible? (Or at least, as long as your neighbors will tolerate your yard decor. ) My husband and I kept the party going with a rockin’ New Year’s Eve on Wednesday night. He’s a newspaper sports editor, and as usual, he was at the office until after midnight as the paper went to press, so like the good wife I am — no, really! — I hung out with him there. We watched the ball drop on the copy-desk TV and toasted each other and the New Year with sparkling grape juice. This was one of the first New Year’s Eve we didn’t go out or at least have a family party, but, strangely enough, our daughters (one married and a mom and the other a college senior) seemed to have better things to do than hang out with the old folks, so we were on our own. And I kind of liked it! Check back tomorrow for day no. 8 in Cathy’s New Year Countdown for a great tip on finding inspiration for 2009.

New Year Countdown

christmas-2008-part-2-0622Welcome to the sixth day of Cathy’s New Year Countdown —  New Year’s Eve. I’m going to admit to extreme nerdy geekiness and say that some of my favorite things are new calendars and planners. C’mon, admit it: You love them, too. It might be old-fashioned, but there’s something about those pristine blank pages. Blackberries are nice, laptops essential and iPhones are pretty cool, but they don’t hold a pixel to a brand-new calendar. With an unblemished year in front of you, enthusiasm and optimism seem quite warranted. Oh, the things we could do! I could be organized! I could be on time! I could go to fabulous places! I could remember all my friends’ birthdays! Who knows? It could happen. With a new calendar, all things are possible. If you didn’t get one for Christmas, don’t let 2009 sneak up on you without one. Go to your local bookstore or office-supply store or big-box discount store and find what you need. I always get a big wall calendar for the kitchen family-planning headquarters plus one of those 365-a-day-whatever tear-off calendars for my desk (featuring a daily handbag or puzzle or knitting pattern or wild-women quote of the day) and a cute and sleek planner for my purse that looks great for about 3 days and then I spill coffee on it or lotion/perfume/hand sanitizer leaks all over it or I tear out pages to use as hasty notepaper and then find myself skipping from the second week in January to the first week of May. But my intentions always are good. That’s the thing about a new calendar — good intentions are all that’s important. Check back tomorrow for more tips on making the most of 2009 with day no. 7 in Cathy’s New Year Countdown. Since it’s still a party at my house, let’s keep the holiday spirit going and stretch the New Year out to Twelfth Night, or Jan. 6. Happy New Year!

New Year Countdown

christmas-2008-part-2-0621Welcome to the fifth day of Cathy’s New Year Countdown. It’s  been nice to take a couple days off of shopping for/making/eating holiday goodies, but the break is over and it’s back to the kitchen for New Year’s. I know, I know — you were just there a few days ago. But listen. My friend Cheryl has the perfect and most delicious recipe for the remaining festivities, whether you’re going to a party and need to take something or hosting a party and need to feed the multitude. It’s good for football munching and open-house buffets. It’s even perfect to give as New Year’s gifts like you said you’d do instead of giving Christmas gifts. (Remember you said that?) Plus, you’ve probably got all the ingredients on hand already, especially if your friend’s civic club was selling pecans this fall and you mistakenly bought six bags and wondered what you’d ever do with them. Now you know. Here’s the recipe, and check back tomorrow for the sixth day in Cathy’s New Year Countdown.

                                                                                                       Spiced Nuts


2 large egg whites

2/3 c. sugar

2 ½ tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning

2 tsp. Worchestershire Sauce

1 tbsp. chili powder

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ tsp. salt

6 cups mixed nuts (any combination of untoasted walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios)

¼ c. butter, melted

1/3 c. finely grated parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with foil or parchment. Grease lightly and set aside. Position a rack in center of oven. In large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating to a loose, meringuelike texture. Beat in Old Bay Seasoning, Worchestershire sauce, chili powder, cayenne and salt. Add  nuts and butter and stir well to coat evenly. Add parmesan and mix again. Divide nuts between baking sheets, spreading evenly in a single layer. Roast 30-40 minutes to a golden brown (don’t let nuts darken too much), rotating sheets during cooking for even roasting. Line a work surface with foil or parchment. After removing the nuts from the oven immediately slide onto the foil or parchment. Cool completely. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three weeks. ( I never have put mine in refrigerator.)

Note: My friend Sherry says these are wonderful warmed up. Put them in the oven on 300 degrees for 10 minutes and then at 350 degrees for 5 more minutes.


New Year Countdown

christmas-2008-part-2-0642On the second day of Cathy’s New Year Countdown, it’s time to do your part for the economy: Get out there and spend your Christmas money. On yourself. Look, you were good all December. You got everybody everything on their lists and you did it within your budget while ignoring all temptation to treat yourself. You resisted the pull of those luxurious cashmere sweaters that felt so good, those fabulous high-heeled pumps that called out your name, that gorgeous jacket you accidentally tried on. But your job as a giver is done now! It’s over. You did good and everybody’s happy. Time to reward yourself. And, listen, all this talk about sales and bargains and slashed prices are true right now. Go shopping this weekend and I promise you can get about three times the value for your money. Really. I promise. If you don’t believe me, check out Web sites such as http://www.gap.com/ and http://www.victoriassecret.com/ and see for yourself. Actually, Gap’s Web site is one of the best for online shopping. You can bundle orders from Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic for one $7-shipping fee; you can return (most) items to the stores; and right now, with up to 80 percent off on online purchases, Gap and friends are practically giving their things away. Do not miss out. And check back tomorrow for Day No. 3 in Cathy’s New Year Countdown. (I know I was calling this the 12 Days of Christmas Countdown Part 2, but I’m ready to move on.)