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Archive for Southern experiences

photo essay . Merry Christmas Main Street

We’ve been visiting my parents in Macon, Mississippi for the holidays. The place is full of holiday memories for me! As a child, I spent every two-week Christmas vacation at my grandparent’s house on the farm at Busy Bee. One of our Christmas Eve traditions was driving the ten minutes to “town” to see the Christmas lights. We would tour the small neighborhoods and recall who lived in each house and ooh and aah over the holiday decorations.

Now, my children and I also spend much of our holiday vacation in Macon as well, and I’ve tried to revive that practice of checking out the lights. We usually wander through downtown and Main Street to see the stars, angels and Christmas trees in white lights. We notice the white lights lining the tops of the Main Street buildings even though some are sagging now and it’s not hard to find a missing bulb or two. We drive to the end of Main Street to see the “Peace on Earth” lighted letters that serve as sort of a last call for the sentiments of the season as you leave town. There are not quite as many neighborhood lights as there once were. The town’s citizenry is getting older, and many of the antebellum homes stand empty. Like so many small Mississippi towns, the heart of Macon is changing with fewer businesses, fewer activity, and more people traveling out of town for what they would normally find at home. Still, it’s neat to share these sights with my little ones, and enjoy the peace of quiet lights. Here’s a glimpse…

go . Fairview Inn

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Earlier this year, I had the chance to visit the Fairview Inn in Downtown Jackson, and I thought I would share a few images of the historic hotel. I was in Jackson to speak at a conference, and the Mississippi School Public Relations Association treated us to a lovely dinner and stay for a night. The hotel and grounds are a beautiful view of the past, tucked into the bustle of an older part of the Capital City. They even have a hammock hanging from the boughs of a magnolia tree! I walked around for a few minutes at twilight and took these photos.

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My stay happened to be in the “English Room” which included these fun commemorative plates for the royal watchers! 🙂 Happy Thursday!

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go . Post Office on Jefferson Street

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Hundreds of little metal doors with tiny windows marked with hand-painted numbers in red and gold. I have to admit it’s why I love to walk in the post office in Macon, MS. I wander in there every now and then when I’m visiting my parents hometown because it’s filled with interesting shapes and textures. And those little decorative, but time-worn doors.  They are so fascinating to me for some reason.

The lobby is a tiny L-shaped space where folks still come to check their mail. I’m not sure when the structure was built, but it has the tall, chicken-wire laced windows and warm woodwork you don’t often see in more modern public buildings. Plus, the north wall contains a painting created by Douglass Crockwell through the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, dated 1944.

Mr. Crockwell became a fairly popular artist in the 1940s-50s creating advertisements and cover art for some notable companies as well as the Saturday Evening Post. The work was created more specifically under the jurisdiction of the US Treasury Department in its Treasury Section of Fine Arts designed to offer artists commission work to create paintings and sculptures for public spaces in the 30s and 40s. The painting depicts the “Signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.”

I imagine walking into the Post Office would be a lot like it was in the 1950s if it weren’t for the glossy posters touting first class mail and “forever” stamps. It still has hand-painted signs for the “office” part of the Post Office and the now-dissolved “Civil Service Commission”. The stained wood is still polished and pock-marked next to newer, more modern metal stands and the metal sliding door covering the postal counter.

Every time I wander in, I always wish for a tiny key to slip into box number 534 or some other sacred address to turn the lock and retrieve some treasured bit of correspondence.

[Macon Post Office, 201 Jefferson Street; Macon, MS]

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photo essay . At the Speed of Summer

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Is anyone else in shock that summer vacation is over? My kiddos begin school tomorrow, and this year, all three are in “big school.” Our lazy, hazy days of summer have been filled with fun activities, swimming, yard work, relaxed schedules and our own brand of daily celebrations. Never is there another time when relaxing activities move so fast!

One of those week-long celebrations was our second annual trip to Gulf Shores, AL for plenty of sun and waves. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to an amusement park, but we were actually able to spend a couple of evenings at one in Gulf Shores. I had almost forgotten how alive they are with sights and sounds and movement. In between bumper boat showers, go cart races and carnival rides, I took a few snaps. Most of them have some blurred elements, as I tried to capture what you couldn’t possibly grab hold of… Life at the speed of summer. Enjoy!

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photo essay 052413 . Translucence

I’m away from home with my children, and if you follow Plop much, you know that means you can expect several photo posts. I usually enjoy the companionship of my Canon and a few iPhone photo apps along with my kids when we’re out and about. I love to capture memories with them and also the scenes that inspire me.

On Friday, we were preparing to leave home for a week, and it was also the official first day of summer vacation. Summer vacation!! We’ve been anticipating it with a lot of fervor in the last few weeks, and the trip to the farm we’re enjoying has been dubbed the official kick-off of summer around the Montgomery parts. So, when we also noticed some of the first few magnolia blooms of the season appearing on the lower branches of our tree in the front yard, I took it as a signal and added confirmation that this year’s summer vacation would indeed be sublime. Much needed this year.

I decided to get a few quick photographs of the magnolias with my Hipstamatic iPhone app to remember the first blooms. It was around 9:00 a.m. and not a cloud in the sky — yes, perfect conditions for the kick-off of summer vacation. Conditions for a great photo — not necessarily. The morning light in May on a cloudless day can be so strong that it bleaches the wonder right out of images. BUT, I decided to try letting the magnolia bloom offer me it’s own shade and took a shot (actually, multiple shots) from the underside. Given that the sun also prevented me from really seeing the iPhone screen, it was kind of a leap of faith.

The images turned out to be a really neat reminder to me of why I love Mississippi’s signature bloom, and why I love the summer. I love the translucence of the velvety white petals, how they reveal the light behind them and the delicate stamens they are holding. And I love the translucence of the summer season where everything seems overlapped with strong light, strong scents, long days, hard play, relaxed schedules and the satisfaction of days completely absorbed. I know these days will be fleeting, just like the delicate bloom I photographed — this one will likely be withered to multiple shades of brown by the time we return home. But, I’ve been looking forward to this summer vacation more than in other years, and I intend to enjoy each moment of it with my three little partners in crime.

I hope you enjoy the photos too. And the long days of summer we kick off this Memorial Day weekend. May you relish every bloom.

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taste . Sweeteeth for my Sweet Tooth

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I bought these for the drawings. I’ll just get that little confession out there right away. I mean, it’s just chocolate bars, right? And I’m a little bit of a packaging nut, so my online purchase wasn’t that much of a stretch.

Holy Wow, was I wrong in the “just chocolate bars” department! I learned about Sweeteeth, the Charleston confectioner shop that made these goodies in an article on Southern chocolatiers in Garden & Gun magazine. Now, I AM a pretty avid chocolate lover, so I decided I would give myself the little assignment of taste-testing all the featured shops in the article (good idea, huh?). The illustrations on the Sweeteeth bars convinced the designer in me that these should be first on my list.

I ordered the Sweeteeth gift pack you saw above from their website, where I learned that chocolatier Johnny Battles prides himself on “hand crafted chocolatey goodness with a twist.” It’s the twist part that makes my “Holy Wow” an understatement. Here’s a glimpse at the chocolate and some of the surprising flavors that will definitely get your mouth watering…

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THE A’CHOCOLYPSE
Dark chocolate, plus candied ginger for a snap and chocolatey popping sugar! Yes, if you’re thinking “pop rocks” you’re right on track, only more sinful. I think this one is actually my favorite combination of flavors and fun in your mouth!

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SEA IS FOR CARAMEL
This one was the first to go — in one sitting, which is saying a lot considering how very decadent the whole package is. It’s dark chocolate filled with Sweeteeth caramel and dusted with sea salt. Great sweet + salty gooey-ness — and kind of rich!

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PB&C
“Two great tastes that taste great together” gets a jolt in this version, where the “C” equals chipotle peppers. Yes, you read that right. It’s such an unexpected flavor blended with the peanut butter, and gives the bar a really smokey, savory flavor with just a tiny bit of spicy bite. The perfect pairing with dark chocolate and another touch of sea salt.

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CINNAPSIS
This bar is almost like a whole dessert. It pairs dark milk chocolate with dried cinnamon apples and candied pecans. Sweet, fruity flavor layered with that velvety milk chocolate taste make for a very nice chewy + crunchy combination.

I have to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my Sweeteeth sample pack, and it’s gotten me through several harried days of design deadlines — another true test of great chocolate. If I’m ever in the Charleston area, I hope I can stop in to see what other wonderful-ness they might come up with for the day to day chocolate cravings!

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WHAT MADE IT INSPIRING:
The packaging — Seriously. I think I saw a duckbill platypus in there!
The service — My online ordering experience went off without a hitch. Since then, I’ve also ordered a gift pack shipped for a friend’s birthday, and the Sweeteeth team happily fulfilled my request for gift wrapping and a personal message attached. Nice!
The creativity — It’s great to see how the creative spirit comes in all sorts of flavors down South.
The chocolate — Do I need to repeat my Holy Wow?!

Thanks for sharing a taste with me!

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