cookies and other

It was another successful sugary night at the cookie exchange a week ago.  I got to host it at our home and there were cookies everywhere, but it was so much fun... SO many cookies..

Everyone really "brought it" this year with their cookies and packaging.  I have such creative friends!  Here are the results from this years cookie exchange/party/competition.

WINNER: Sara Midyett with her Lemon Cookie

The Runner-up this year for overall winner (Anne Nowlin asked for runner-up to be announced for each category):  Jamie Jerkins with her Momo's Molasses Cookies.

The Most Unique Cookie : Leslie Poe with her Cheese Date Tarts

The runner up for Most Unique : Leslie Jerkins with her Clementine Chip Cutie

The Best Packaging/Presentation : Leslie Jerkins with her Clementine Chip Cutie Box (this category was VERY close as there were so many great packages)

The Runner-up on Best Packaging/Presentation : Sara Midyett with her Lemon Cookies

Such a fun night, but so many cookies to taste.  It's so fun to take them all home so you can actually taste each cookie again by itself.

I loved all these winners, but my personal favorite was Mandi's Mocha Rounds... Chocolate cookie with coffee/kahlua flavored icing. :)  I've already made them (so easy) to give to neighbors for a little holiday treat.

Last week T and I enjoyed Monday off together getting our Christmas shopping done.  First year we started and finished on the same day.  We even squeezed in a nice lunch date at one of our favorite spots.. Las Delicias.  I tried something different this time, the torta, and it was delicious.  I highly recommend it!

This weekend we came to Oxford to spend time with his fam before Christmas.  He, of course, spent most of the time in the woods while I shopped with my MIL and enjoyed time with her.  Since their tree [unfortunately] fell over two times in a week, we helped put all the ornaments back up and it's now secured with a thick rope.  They also pulled out their life-size dancing Santa, and the dogs went crazy.  Gibson just looked at him very confused, but Weezy (Katy's dog) went nuts barking at him non-stop.  Gib finally just looked at her like, "chill out, girl, it's just good ol' St. Nick."

He's never phased when we come visit Oxford.. Makes himself right at home...

I snuck up to the square on my lunch break today and it was such a pretty day.  I'm so thankful for days like these...  I hope everyone is having a relaxing and memory-filled holiday season!


new (and old) holiday additions

Every year I love pulling out our Christmas boxes and remember all the special things that make our house festive during December.  We are building up our collection as the Carters and it's been so fun.

I've added a few new little things this year, and T man put his touch on the outside...

So much fun!  Something else he added this year is just so funny to me.  When he was a little guy he loved teddy bears, so we have lots of little bear christmas ornaments and lots of non-Christmas bear items, too.  Well there are these little stuffed animal bears dressed in Christmas costumes and we normally stick em under the tree... This year he has displayed them for all to see.  Hopefully little Gib won't think they are his toys.  

One of my most favorite things about decorating for Christmas is getting out the nativity.  My sweet MIL has given me a piece of this nativity every year since we've been married.  This year, the ox and goat join us, offering warmth and protection.  I can only imagine how special it'll be to show future kiddos the meaning of this special piece of Christmas (the meaning of it all) when we get this out year after year.  I remember my mom doing that with us and of course remember playing with my childhood nativity figurines.

While rummaging around in our back garage for items used in the antler project, I came across some old shutters among the old cabinet doors.  I remembered seeing this from pinterest... so now we have our very own...

I love Christmas card season and checking the mail daily awaiting the next one.  While we're on the topic, this year in honor of our big adventure to Italia, we say "Buon Natale" in bike helmets!  My sweet friend Laura drew the little designs for it.  Love.

Buon Natale everyone!


hallway update

After collecting and purchasing a big number of frames (and having some Italian art professionally framed) T and I hung up the hallway wall gallery.  I was going to do the whole cut out scrap paper and tape it up, but we didn't want to go into that much work... So we started and found the center of the gallery and worked our way out.  It wasn't too bad.  Hardest part was hanging that C because there are two holes to make it hang straight.

We love how it turned out!

Here was the hallway before (mentioned in this post):

And here it is now!

It will be so easy to change out our little instagram photos, the other photos, and even add to the gallery as life goes on...  That empty frame you see is a place holder for a sweet photo of his granny ree and pawpaw, and when he finds a good photo of his dad's parents, we'll switch out something for them to be in our collection.  The two black and whites are my grandparents (two ladies I was named after), and that double matted center piece is a note from George W congratulating us on our marriage!

Love having these memories displayed in our home.  Maybe we'll just eventually add to the other side?


merry happy

Our favorite season has arrived.  And it has arrived quickly.  It is St. Jude marathon weekend here in Memphis, and it seems like just yesterday I was finishing up the marathon.  I can't believe it's been a year.  This year I'll be having some fun with Leslie doing the 5K.  Whoop whoop!  Good luck to all half-marathon and marathoners! 

I love this season for many reasons, but mostly for the celebration of the coming of Christ.  Celebrating the truth, love, and the hope of eternal life.  It just so happens that we give presents, bake & eat delicious cookies, build roaring fires, and smell a nice fluffy green tree.

We're still in the process of putting out all our fun Christmas decorations, but I finished up with the mantle last night and it's so cheerful!

I hope everyone is enjoying this busy season of celebrating.  We Carters have a bunch of fun things happening this month, and Gibson is so pumped his Santa toy is back.  He'll be busy carrying him around the house for the next month. :)

December desktop calendar for ya --->


thankful & rested

We have finally recouped from the travels over Thanksgiving, and are still in the process of decking the house with all our Christmas fun.  T man has always enjoyed the whole week of Thanksgiving off, so we enjoyed Monday and Tuesday of last week staying in our pajamas as long as possible (while I worked), and then I was off Wednesday to enjoy the day with him, too.  The sleeping in that occurred on Wednesday was much needed.

We headed to Oxford first for him to do some hunting before we headed to Columbus, MS for the Thanksgiving holidays with the whole Carter side of the family.  It is JUST NOW turning into perfect hunting weather, which is perfect Martha-stay-at-home weather. :)

Thursday we arrived in Columbus and were greeted by his sweet sweet Aunt Diann & Uncle Mike.  They hosted this HUGE gathering and we are so thankful for their hospitality and making our time there so wonderful and relaxed.  See what I mean, huge??  Look at all these cars...

In our 3 years of marriage (and ALL of T man's life), Thanksgiving was spent with the Dudley side of the family in Scooba, MS with the same [delicious] Granny Ree food and biscuits and pie and weenie roast.  T mentioned in the car how he wondered what food we will have.  It was kind of like an unknown, but boy was it ever another delicious Mississippi feast.

Turkey, ham, ribs, potato salad, broccoli salad, sweet potato casserole, dressing, cranberry, purple hull peas (that were AMAZING), and rolls.  That you see is T's plate, so not everything pictured.  Heavier on the meat, lighter on the sides... that's my guy!

We enjoyed the chatter and laughter all day Thursday, and I had so much fun laughing at the little girl cousins (his cousins kids).  They are just hilarious!  We braided hair, shook our booties, and did the walk-up-the-legs-flip trick.  Over. And over. And over. Loved it.

Friday was another amazing day of sleeping-in and I got to finally experience Aunt Diann's "white 'lasses" also known as white molasses also known as cooked sugar and water.  But it IS delicious on her biscuits, let me tell you.

T man had craving for fried pickles while we were sitting around Friday, so we whipped up a little batch and everyone raved about them.. Thanks T and Pioneer Woman!

T's mom brought the weenie roast to Columbus since it is one of their favorite traditions, and I think all the Columbus folks enjoyed it too.  Uncle Mike started a fire without a match and called the "fire spirits" (still trying to figure that one out) and we sat around it for hours roasted hot dogs and making s'mores while the girls ran around and drove around their barbie jeep.

The wonderful and restful weekend came to a close with one last Saturday afternoon hunt in Oxford.  We grabbed up the little Gibby from the kennel (yes, we boarded the spoiled guy) and headed home.

This little guy was exhausted from his Thanksgiving trip

As I sit and reflect on the year, it's hard for me to even remember everything I'm thankful for, but I am so thankful for family and friends and the joy they bring to our lives.  I'm thankful for the abounding amount of blessings we have as a family.  I'm thankful for new life this year and what a joy that brings. I'm mostly thankful for my salvation and that I can live freely knowing Jesus and what he did for me on the cross.  Thankful.  Thankful. Thankful.


happy happy 3 years

Today, T man and I celebrate 3 years of marriage.  I can't believe how fast the years go by, as it seems we were here just yesterday.... oh what fun we had on this day in 2008!

T and I dated for 5 years before getting married, so we knew each other very well.  We are still continuing to get to know each other daily, and we are having so much fun living life and spoiling our dog-child.  We treasure this time being a couple because we know it will never be the same again (once little human-children come into the picture).  We celebrated year 3 together in Italy back in May (you can read about our trip here, here, and here), and tonight we're celebrating at this fancy restaurant here in Memphis (we've been hearing rave reviews)!

We also like to give simple "yearly" gifts (paper, cotton, this year leather), and I can't wait to see how T likes what I came up with for leather.

Here we are celebrating year 1.....

Celebrating year 2....

T man, I love you.  I can't wait to see what happiness and challenge our 3rd year will bring.... whatever it is, you are the best teammate this girl could ever dream of.... love to you now and always!


antlers in the house

To continue along with the deer theme we have going, I recently added some deer antlers to a wall in our house.  Big step for me, but I love how it looks.

I'll start by saying that T man has a nice sized 8pt mounted deer head that he has been wanting to hang in our house.  It is currently up in our "storage room" which will be the future man-room/play-room/computer/etc.  I did not grow up with taxidermy in our house, but I do feel lately taxidermy is acceptable when done correctly.  Aka, antler sheds with no animal marble eyes staring at you.  Maybe one day I'll feel differently and his prized trophy will hang down stairs, but until that day, he will live upstairs with his friend the bobcat (the other trophy he wants to hang).

The first thing relating to deer (and T's hobby) I ever put in our house was an antler lamp.  We had just purchased our benches to stack for a sideboard/shelf in the den... Did you ever see these stacked benches?

Anyway, we needed a skinny base lamp, but wanted it to be neat looking.  Leslie suggested an antler lamp, and T (of course) loved the idea.  So we found a handmade antler lamp on etsy, which I ended up loving.  It has since moved (I love moving lamps around for some reason) next to the couch.

T brought home a big box of antlers from his granny's house last winter, and they've been sitting out in our storage garage since.  I was rummaging around out there looking for some shutters (for another project) and I started rifling through the box of antlers.  Sidenote: there is a nice supply of old shutters (as mentioned), cabinet doors, doors, and wood all from the previous owner.  I looked over to find this cool looking cabinet door with some rusty hardware and thought it might make a perfect background for some antlers.  See?

After some paint and sanding T and I came up with this for our living room/future library/sitting room...

I like it!  And it satisfies his need for some deer around the house (for now).  I also put some other antlers around the house.  These here on our mantel are from a deer killed by me... it's true.  First time I ever shot a gun was at this 6 pt buck.  :)

Anyone else have a significant other who likes taxidermy or deer/wildlife art and wants it in the house?


guest post: a word from my deer hunter

T man sent me a message the other day that said, "I'm working on a guest post for your blog."  I said, "Oh are you?  What is the subject?"  He said, "Mississippi Primitive Weapon Season."  I thought to myself, is he kidding?  Why would anyone who visits hootenanny want to read about primitive weapons?  Well the nice wife that I am said "fine" and a few moments later I received this in my inbox.  Think he's excited about primitive weapons?  You guessed right.

Without further adieu, here's a word from my main man:

To those who don’t participate in deer huntin’ (you’re missing out), deer season is deer season. For those who do, deer season is the time of year we look forward to as soon as the previous year’s season closes. It’s a block of time divided into several distinct time periods with unique legal requirements related to acceptable weapons, bag limits, and type of deer taken. It’s not as simple as “alright fellers, (spit tobacco juice) load your guns and lay ‘em down.” It’s a refined, dignified, and quite complex event where variables such as wind direction, temperature, moon phase, barometric pressure, weather fronts, mast production, feeding/bedding patterns, and other crucial factors must be considered in order to be successful. The most recent block of time to open was the primitive weapon season. As my hunting activities primarily occur down in the ‘sip, the rest of this post relates to Mississippi regulations.

Primitive Weapon:

Nowadays, primitive weapons, for the most part, are not as ‘primitive’ as they once were. Back when
Chief Rocking Horse sharpened a rock and tied it to a twig using the whiskers of a rabbit or when ol’
Rupert Williamson had to pour the powder down the barrel of his 1700’s model musket and use his
ramrod to load in the pellets. Nope. Now most come equipped with multi-power scopes, the capability to quickly reload, and provide the opportunity to effectively take game at distances of 200+ yards. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) defines a primitive weapon as follows:

"Primitive firearms" for the purpose of hunting deer, are defined as single or double barreled muzzle-
loading rifles of at least .38 caliber; single shot, breech loading, cartridge rifles (.35 caliber or larger) and replicas, reproductions or reintroductions of those type rifles; and single or double-barreled muzzle-loading, shotguns with single ball or slug. All muzzle-loading Primitive Firearms must use black powder or a black powder substitute with either percussion caps or #209 shotgun primers or flintlock ignition. Breech loading single shot rifles must have exposed hammers and use metallic cartridges. Cartridges may be loaded either with black powder or modern smokeless powder. Scopes of any magnification are allowed on primitive weapons.
My choice of primitive weapon you ask? The Harrington & Richardson Superlite Handi-Rifle .45-70 Gov’t.

Harrington & Richardson describe this model as:

“… super-tough, high-density polymer stocks and fore-ends will persevere and help you make a deadly accurate shot through it all. And their smooth, simple break actions require very little maintenance and have minimal moving parts for the utmost in reliable function. For added versatility, these rifles can be factory fitted with your choice of accessory rifle and shotgun barrels. All models are equipped with our Transfer Bar System that makes ours one of the safest single-shot rifle platforms in the world today.

We're proud to offer a broad selection of hard-hitting calibers from the flat-shooting 223 Remington all the way up to two crushing big bores, the 45-70 Gov't. and 444 Marlin. Rough handling, wicked weather and any game animal in North America. The Synthetic Handi-Rifle® can handle it all.”

I have one of the two crushing big bores… and it kicks like a mule.

My choice of load? The Winchester Super-X 300 Grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)

This load is hot and creates a crater for an exit wound. This kind of knock down power will eat that ol' shoulder up. Ballistics for this particular load when zeroed @ 100 yards puts you +1 at 50 yds and -12.2 @ 200 yds. At 200 yds, you’ll have to put the cross-hairs on the top of the back and let it drop on in the kill zone.

The reason I bring up this topic and you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to read it (thanks to the beautiful MGC for letting me) is because of section 49-7-37(2), (3), & (4) from the Mississippi Code of 1972 which led to the public notice of rule number W163434. This referenced section states (paraphrased):

‘There’s too many dadgum deer down here in Missippi and were about open up a special primitive
weapon season two weeks earlier than usual so you bunch of rednecks can get all dressed up in that
tacky camo and paint your face and what not and put a dent in this here overpopulated deer herd.’

Translated: too many deer. This special season actually opened on Monday, November 7, but because I had to grow up and get a big boy job, I won’t be able to participate until this Saturday. So, to all the deer down there on the McCluskey Ranch, I’d recommend you sleeping in a little late come Saturday or you might just find out what a ‘primitive weapon’ feels like when it hits slams into the ol’ front shoulder.

...T Dudley signing off.

Aren't you so glad you got to hear all about primitive weapons?  You're welcome!

Happy deer season, T man!


fall soups

I love soup.  We even served it at our fall wedding (3 yrs ago!), and that reminds me, I need to try and get that butternut squash soup recipe from our caterer.  It was delicious when we tried it, and everyone said it was sooo yummy (I didn't have any the day of).

This fall I've tried a few new soup recipes that T and I have loved.  The first one was crock pot Jambalaya.  I had some shrimp and chicken in the freezer that I wanted to use, so I just googled "crock pot jambalaya" and found this winner. See recipe ---> here.

Of course tweaking needs to take place when cooking for T, so this is what I did:

Crock Pot Jambalaya

Turkey Sausage
Diced tomatoes
Chicken Broth
All the spices listed in the recipe
Frozen Shrimp

Threw all these in the crock pot and cooked on high for 3 hours.  I threw in the shrimp after 3 hours and cooked for 30 more minutes.  Served it with some wild rice and it was delicious!

The next one was my favorite I think, and I saw it on pinterest.  Well I went back today to find the recipe and I can't exactly find the one I used online, so good thing I wrote it in my recipe book.

Lasagna Soup

2 T olive oil
1 lb turkey sausage
(1 green bell pepper) left this out because we don't like green peppers
1 onion, chopped
32 oz chicken broth
3 cloves garlic
15 oz can tomato sauce
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 t salt
1/4 t crushed red pepper
4 oz broken whole wheat lasagna (about 4 noodles)
1/2 c chopped basil
3 T parmesan cheese
1/2 c grated mozzarella cheese

Heat oil over medium-high heat in dutch oven.  Add sausage, onion, garlic and cook until sausage is browned and crumbled.

Add broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt & crushed red pepper.  Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat & simmer for 20 minutes.

Add noodles and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook until noodles are tender, about 15 minutes.  (Whole wheat noodles cook longer, so if using non-whole wheat, then about 10-12 mins.)

Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella, basil and parmesan.

Serve with your favorite bread!

 [photo courtesy T man]

T absolutely LOVED this recipe and talked about it for the next few days.  We froze the leftovers, so I'll get to bring that out when we get some chilly temps again!

We had our church class over on Sunday and again, I wanted some soup to go along with the fire we had out on the patio.  I pulled out our church cook book and made a taco soup recipe that everyone raved about, so I wanted to share this one, too.

Taco Soup

1 1/2 lb ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans black or chili hot beans (I used one can of black)
11 oz corn
1 can rotel
1 pkg. dry taco seasoning
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
8 oz tomato sauce
1 can hominy, drained

Brown beef (turkey) until done.  Drain well.  Add beans, corn, ro-tel, dry seasonings, tomato sauce, and hominy to meat mixture.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve over corn chips and top with grated cheese, sour cream and cilantro!

Gibson thinks soups are delicious too

don't we have the cutest dog you've ever seen?  I hope he looks like a puppy forever....


a guest is with us

I know the desktop calendar is a little tardy (it's already November 7th!), but I had the idea this month to see about getting a friend of ours to share her awesome designs with everyone.

Jennifer Ferguson, who lives in Oklahoma, is one of T's dear friends from Oxford.  Jennifer is a graphic designer and I've always loved everything she creates.  First thing I ever got to see were her wedding invites (which were amazing), and everything since then is just so fun and so different!  She has an etsy shop where she makes the cutest greeting cards, so I urge you to check it out here ---> squirrelintheattic.

Here is what she created for us!

I hope everyone enjoys Jennifer's cute November desktop!  Go visit her etsy shop and leave some comments below!

Thanks Jennifer!



I love photos... I love old photos... and I want more of them in our home.  I just feel like a home with lots of photos and memorabilia is so very cozy.

I want to do a gallery wall in our hallway, but I have questions before pulling the trigger and nailing everything up...

1.  If you do a gallery wall in a hallway, does it need to be on every wall in said hallway?
2.  It's ok to mix all textures and colors and shapes of frames and sizes, right?
3.  It's ok to mix art and photos and other items in said gallery, right?

Here is our hallway now (with awesome doorbell and alarm)...

And I'm picturing gallery on the left empty wall.  So to expand on my first question, if I do it on this one wall, will the right wall (which is actually a shorter open space than the left) look off-balance?

Here are some images I've seen that I like...

via pottery barn

I've also seen some floor to ceiling ones that are awesome.  We will use the ole-cut-out-paper-the-size-of-your-stuff trick and tape it up to see the best layout.

Anyone have any thoughts?


on the go + craft + pouf

Since the beginning of October we have been in Oxford every weekend, and while we do love it, we are glad to finally enjoy a weekend at home (this weekend).  The weather has finally turned chilly in Memphis, and while I was ready for it now that it's here I'm freeezzinggg.... And Gibson is shivering too. But I love sweaters and scarves and boots and wool socks and fires, so here we go!

I've done a few crafty projects around the ole house lately, and I never want to feel all braggy on this here blog, but one of them T absolutely loves, so I thought I'd share.  My inspiration for this came from pinterest... this yarn wreath below:

Leslie had just made a yarn wreath for Juliette's door, and I guess I hadn't remembered how she told me that it takes SO LONG to make a yarn wreath... Well it does.  And I only did 2 layers (you're "supposed" to do 3).  I just loved the colors of this so I found some pumpkin colored yarn at Hobby Lobby on sale and already had the off-white felt.  My MIL had just given me this huge bunch of decorative sticks, so I new I could use those for the accent brown.  I hung it on our bedroom door...

Another new item I've been enjoying is our new pouf!  I spotted it while we were in Oxford shopping around the square with Margie, and I just had to go back to get it.  In our den we have 2 chairs, an ottoman, couch and coffee table, but there actually isn't room to have the ottoman in front of the chair.  Plus, Gibson would be depressed if we took away his perch...

So I this awesome kilim pouf and T and I went back to grab it up--good thing too because it was the very last one.  He mocked me for a little while that we bought a "pouf" but then he realized how awesome it actually is.  A sturdy stool that is just the right size and easily mobile.  Here it is on the way back...

Future possibilities for this little pouf are endless.

--> UPDATE of pouf in our den (per request):


opening day

October 1 brought opening day for a few things around our house...

Most importantly fall and fall weather!  We woke up on Saturday morning to low temps, and then enjoyed a beautiful sunny fall afternoon.

Secondly it was opening day of bow season for T.  He washed his gear in no scent detergent and loaded up his pack with the necessities.  I didn't venture down to Oxford with him this time as Gibson had a morning at the "spa" and I was going to frame our Italian prints at the frame corner.  I did receive a few photos of T in his element.

He his a "real hunter" and using face paint this year for the first time... eye black included.  Watch out deer, he's hiding from y'all!

When he returned from his weekend in the woods, we went to the pumpkin patch to pick out our pumpkins this year.  Twas a fun time.  We did have to find a new pumpkin patch this year because our usual one at Schnucks (now Kroger) was no longer.  We found this patch at an Ike's (thanks Audrey for the affirmative here).  I grabbed up an awesome green one for our mantel plus some others for elsewhere.

I put out some fall decoration around the house and made a new wreath for the front door this year.  The inspiration is via pinterest.

While working on October desktop today, I received a little message from the cutest baby on the block. Look at this smiley little owl... She's ready for fall, too!

Juliette (my perfect and precious niece) is growing so much and she is smiling all the time.  I love snuggling her and usually can't go a day without visiting.

(remember, just click this to open in a new window.. then right click to set as desktop background)

Has everyone decorated for fall?  Have you gotten a pumpkin spiced latte yet?