A Family Easter

Older Daughter’s in-laws always so graciously invite husband JP and me toSpring desserts be part of their holidays. And, really, they make us feel part of the family. So we get all the love and support and good times of a big & boisterous family gathering (slightly dampened this year by the background strains of SEC‘s last Final Four hope, Florida, losing to lower-ranked Michigan). Plus, our family membership easter treemeans we get to enjoy, for example, delectable goodies such as melt-in-your-mouth fresh coconut layer cake, which I never would even consider trying to make myself because I am lazy like that don’t have enough cake pans. And I love being with folks who put up an Easter tree. So we ate and talked and hid & found eggs and learned the card game Three Thirteen, which I played much like Florida did. Luckily another piece of coconut cake made even defeat taste better.

Spring Decor

Spring is peeking out here in Alabama — especially at my friend Cheryl’s apartment. She  hosted our four-woman book club and, as always anytime we’re at her place, it’s a treat. We the other three book-club members cheerfully agree that Cheryl is the best hostess among us. No contest. She’s so creative and gracious and makes us feel special without that uncomfortable I-spent-three-days-getting-ready-for-y’all-so-you’d-better-appreciate-it sort of attitude. She makes it seem so easy! And joyful, like she’s so happy we came over. Her spring decor started at the front door, with planters of cheerful flowers and a welcoming doormat that set her springtime theme of birds’ nests with soft and pretty blue eggs. She continued her theme with her place settings, which I loved. The earth-toned dishes and linens featured birds’-nest details and the centerpiece was a pedestal of delicately colored eggs. Such a serene and grownup change from the usual pink and green Easter pastels that always are around this time of year. Cheryl bought most of her pieces at Pottery Barn — she knows that store like I know a Starbucks and keeps up with what’s new and cool. The birds’-nest napkins are sold out at http://www.potterybarn.com but some individual stores might still have them. And isn’t the hunt part of the fun?

Books and Spring

Happy spring! Saturday, March 20 marked the arrival of this much-anticipated season. Most years by now in my northwest-Alabama northeast-Mississippi southern-middle-Tennessee corner of the South, we’ve already had several gorgeous spring days. But 2010? Not so much. That’s why everybody who saw it loved this spring-like tablescape at a recent book-signing with author and columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson. It was a typical gray and cool and wet day, but the folks at ColdWater Books in Tuscumbia, Alabama, outdid themselves with these sweet and delightful touches of spring. I love the gentle pop of colors in the blue-and-white print tablecloth, the pink punch and the yellow flowers. And aren’t you impressed with that huge pottery bowl holding ice and water bottles? When I first saw it, I was thinking $300 or more handmade one-of-a-kind creation. But no. It’s a $30 planter from Lowe’s. Sweet! Just make sure the one you buy doesn’t have a hole for water drainage, and you’re good. And here’s another good idea: Buy Johnson’s new book, Enchanted Evening Barbie & the Second Coming: A Memoir. It’s Johnson at her best — funny, smart, insightful and a tad wistful. The book-signing was the first time I’d met her, and if you ever get the chance to meet her, too, take it. She was so gracious and friendly — a real delight.  And if you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy of Johnson’s previous book, Poor Man’s Provence. It’s about the second home she and her late husband, Don Grierson, created for themselves in Cajun Louisiana. But be warned: It will make you want to drive down there to see it for yourself. Spring-break road trip, anybody?

Consignment Stores

When you’ve got spring fever but the weather isn’t cooperating — we’re back to winter here in northwest Alabama — then the solution is to go shopping for a little warm-weather cheer. But if your budget isn’t cooperating, either, be smart and do your perk-me-up shopping at your favorite consignment store. You may get lucky and find such spring-like treasures as these light and airy wooden windows lightened up with bright and happy blooms. Or what about some light and breezy white wicker furniture with soft green and yellow accents? (Note the papasan ottoman transformed into a coffee table with the addition of a clear glass top. Clever!) I especially love the collection of pastel-colored vintage coffee mugs shown off in a pale-green wooden tote. See? For just a few dollars, you can add some spring details to your home decor and have money left over for a spring-break trip to the beach. You know that these photos are from my favorite consignment store — Upscale Resale in Sheffield, Alabama, owned by my friend Susan with display assistance by my Younger Daughter. It’s like walking through a magazine spread. C’mon over and see for yourself!