Our Cozy Farmette

It’s been seven months since Audley changed career paths and began working remotely which opened a world of possibility for us. It’s been only four months since we got a little wild, bought a house, packed and moved to our sweet, little farmette in North Alabama; settling down after 17 construction job related moves in our almost 27 years of marriage.

Somehow, between two photography trips to Texas, a trip to South Carolina to see grandbaby number one, two visits to Florida (one to spend time with grandbaby number two … I can’t wait to share with you!!!), a weekend in Nashville, driving cross-country from California with our new, honorably discharged Marine, and a week in North Carolina for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, we have managed to unpack, do a little decorating and grow a garden.

Also, during this time, I celebrated my 50th birthday, accepted a job teaching 3rd through 6th grade social studies and language arts at a private school, and now here I am thriving on chaos, loving every minute of it!

To say the last four months have been crazy is an understatement, and school starts in exactly two weeks!

While I would love to share all of our home with you, all of our new home projects have been outdoors as we really wanted to create a garden this year. I mean that was one of the reasons we picked this property to begin with! We also needed to build a chicken coop. We had little chicks living indoors for a lot longer than we anticipated … or maybe they just grow really fast!

I mean who buys chicks and puts them under heat lamps in the garage of your rental property when you haven’t even closed on your new home yet?!

They actually only stayed two weeks before going to my parents screened in porch.

No matter the case we have a lovely garden, and I am collecting fresh eggs daily, even if they are so very small as our hens are still quite young.

Audley was amazing creating our garden space and chicken coop. I’ve collected magazine and Pinterest ideas for absolutely ages so planning everything was fun, even if we had to move fast. I mentioned the chicks growing quickly, but we were also racing against getting seeds in the ground for summer picking.

Getting started. I was in Texas when Audley began so it was a wonderful surprise to arrive home!

Our ultimate goal was that our garden, and the coop actually flow together becoming a place we could enjoy as well as reap benefits. Our home does not sit facing the road, which creates a lovely sense of privacy, but it also means we have a huge side yard that is visible to everyone who passes. It was important to us that it look appealing as well as functional.

With the side yard also being our main area for outdoor entertaining, we really wanted it to be pretty. I wanted to put the “garden” into garden party.

We are not totally there yet, as we decided to do things in stages instead of overworking ourselves in the spring, but it’s looking really good.

For our chicken coop I ordered a child’s playhouse from a local manufacturer. They came out and set it up, then Audley painted it red to match the trim on our home and built a run. The playhouse had a ladder and a loft area that added roosting and play space for our sweet birds. It also included windows with screens so we can open them up for airflow and ventilation. This winter we can close them at night to help keep our girls warm.

We’ve had a lot of help of the four-legged variety.

We built four semi-raised beds for the summer. We didn’t put matting or anything under the beds, so our plants are actually in the ground. I’m a firm believer in creating a manageable garden which is why we chose this method of planting. Our plants are in the ground, but separated and easy to care for.

For our first summer we have grown red and green okra, several varieties of heirloom tomatoes, jalapeno, serrano, and poblano pepper, cucumbers, leeks, carrots, purple hull peas, crookneck squash, mini spaghetti and butternut squash, pumpkins, green, purple and yellow bell pepper, green beans and eggplant. Audley is experimenting with growing potatoes. In two separate spaces on either side of our chicken coop I have herbs growing. We have rosemary, sage, pineapple mint, orange mint, English thyme, Italian oregano (which is a bit milder than the Greek variety), parsley, cilantro, and lemon thyme. Lemon and lime shrubs are in pots in the garden corners.

I also have ginger growing in pots. In the yard we have planted two Southern Belle freestone peach trees, as well as two brown turkey fig bushes. I have six olive trees lining our driveway. These have been raised in pots over the last few years and were excited to have a place for their roots to grow. We will buy heaters to help protect them this winter. I have had success with olives in pots, so I can’t wait to see how they do with space to grow!

While it has been a lot of work battling the extreme heat, crazy pop-up storms, weeds, June bugs, vine borers, and tomato eating chickens, we have enjoyed all of the truly organic, fresh veggies at our fingertips instead of eating imported food from the grocery store. I have even canned a few things including blackberries from the wild vines in the woods beside our house, squash, okra, and pickles. I’ll make salsa in the next week or so, put away green beans, peas, dry herbs and preserve Audley’s potatoes for use this winter as well.

My seeds should arrive this weekend for our fall garden. Audley is planning on adding two more raised beds that will be deeper and possibly building a cold frame for some winter planting. We will build a fence around the garden area so my chickens can free-range and stay out of the tomatoes. Beside the raised beds, I have English roses and blueberries planted in the area. Audley is also wanting to experiment with growing espalier apple trees. President George Washington did this at Mt Vernon, but you can also find examples of this done well at George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate.

Audley is also wanting to add beehives in the spring next year. He is becoming quite the gentleman farmer and we are having so much fun making our dreams a reality!

Til Next Time,

Cheesy Pound Cake for Mother’s Day

After 5 1/2 weeks of many hours and lots of labor, our sweet new home is coming together into our forever dream.

Of course, when you have twenty-seven years of magazine articles in a notebook and Pinterest boards detailing home and garden plans it does come together rather quickly, much to Audley’s chagrin.

Even though we have been crazy busy around here, we have still managed to welcome spring and celebrate all the little things from Easter to birthdays and tomorrow, we will be hosting Mother’s Day here at our new home.

When deciding what I should prepare, I went way back into my archive of hand-written recipes that I began back in college and pulled out one of my favorites; a cheesy poundcake from Southern Living around 1994.

It’s probably one of my favorite pound cake recipes as well as one that is so versitle. With ingredients like sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, all the butter and real vanilla this pairs well with coffee, berries, a chocolate sauce, a lemon cream, or cranberries soaked in a sweet red wine.

My favorite way to enjoy this cake though, is still warm from the oven, with fresh plain strawberries and slightly sweetened homemade whipped cream. The flavors pair so well together and with all the sugar in the cake (it IS a pound cake after all), you don’t need to add any more.

So let’s gather some ingredients.

You’ll need 1 1/2 cups of butter, 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, 3 cups of sugar, 6 large eggs, 3 cups all-purpose flour, salt, 2 cups finely shredded cheese (this recipe is SO much better if you shred it yourself. Trust me), and 1 Tablespoon high quality vanilla.

{I never said this recipe was healthy.}

While baking this recipe in a Bundt pan is perfectly fine and definitely less work in the kitchen, I used a flower cakelet pan from Williams Sonoma for my pound cakes just for aesthetics and a cuteness factor.

After baking, I trimmed the bottoms so that the cakes would set flat. That is Audley’s favorite part of baking, because he is a crust kinda guy. As I said my favorite way to enjoy this cake is with strawberries, so that is definitely the way we’ll be serving it up!

I’ll add the entire recipe in just a sec., but I would love to hear your Mother’s Day plans!

Check out this rich and scrumptious recipe below and have a fabulous weekend!

LUZIA: A Cirque du Soleil Show

I remember as a little girl attending the Ringling Brothers Circus at the Omni in Atlanta each year.  As we would leave the show we always stopped somewhere totally child-friendly for dinner (a playground was usually involved in this stop) where my siblings and I would proceed to play on the playground as if it were our 3-ring circus.  We would create a tightrope of the thin bars making up the equipment, swing from monkey  bars as if they were trapeze bars, and flip around as if we were stars of the show.

I thought those days of imagination were far behind me, but Cirque du Soleil has carried me back in time, bringing back that little girl staring in amazement and wonder at the acts happening before me.  Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA is enchanting, captivating, thrilling, and so much more than the trapeze artists of my childhood ever were.  Cirque completely takes me back to those  days of wonder from my childhood, except I would NEVER attempt many of the astonishing acts these performers did!

All I could do was sit wide-eyed and clap with childlike excitement and joy as each act was complete!


Due to popular demand, Cirque du Soleil is extending performances two weeks so that the show will now conclude on November 19, 2017, to the previously announced Atlanta engagement.

You must attend this show if you can manage! 


I was able to take in this delightfully-imaginative and visually-stunning production LUZIA, a waking dream of Mexico on Thursday and was completely mesmerized from beginning to end of the show.


LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light (“luz” in Spanish) quenches the spirit and rain (“lluvia”) soothes the soul. With a surrealistic series of grand visual surprises and breathtaking acrobatic performances, LUZIA cleverly brings to the stage multiple places, faces and sounds of Mexico taken from both tradition and modernity.


Luzia uses water, multiple settings, fantasy, colorful costuming, music and of course acrobatics to tell the story.  This artistic journey will take you from an old movie set to the desert to a smokey dance hall using imagery representing the culture, history and mythology of Mexico from the past to the present.


To add to the beauty of this production, LUZIA incorporates the element of rain into its performance, a first for a Cirque du Soleil production.  There are 17 different acts, and many of them involve the use of water, from a pool in the specially made stage to falling rain.


As performers acted out the story I am sure that I held my breath and stayed on the edge of my seat. I have never seen anything like it!



After the show I was able to take a backstage tour and learned several interesting things. First, the music is live, performed by six musicians playing a variety of instruments.  Sometimes you would see them on-stage, but they also played from backstage.  There is also one beautiful soloist singing in Spanish.


1,585 gallons of water used during the performance are recycled for the entire duration of a stay in a given city.  This water is filtered and disinfected for the health and well-being of the performers throughout and after the show. The stage floor has 94,657 holes through which the water drains into a 3,500-litre basin hidden underneath.  It is coated with a special textured surface to protect the performers in the dry acts.


There are over 800 colorful costumes involved in this production.  Each piece is custom made for each performer personally and they also have a spare for everyone, meaning that this production travels with over 1,600 costumes!  Every costume is cleaned after the performance and readied for the next show.


The puppets are made from a special foam, then painted its realistic appearance.  They take multiple people both inside and out to operate.


The artists perform in 8-10 shows a week, which means they must be in top condition.  They have physical therapists that travel with them as well as gym equipment for training.  Performers are on a year contract, but may extend for many years as long as they feel they are physically able to perform.

Many are involved in making the show spectacular and memorable.  A total 115 people from 25 countries are part of the touring cast and crew of LUZIA.


The 44 artists alone come from 19 different nationalities: Belarus, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Guinea, Italy, Israel, Mexico, The Netherlands, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia and Venezuela.

There are more than 40 different job titles on site, including Electrician, Head of Tents, IT Specialist, Sales & Customer Experience Supervisor, Publicist and Plumber.

LUZIA travels via 65 trailer trucks carrying close to 2,000 tons of equipment.

You can find Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA under the Big Top at Atlanta’s Atlantic Station until November 19th!  It’s completely worth checking out for a local date night, one-day trip or making it an overnight get-away!


Have You Forgotten?


It’s not something that we talk about daily, but I do know that not one day passes that I don’t think about the events of September 11, 2001.  My husband was working out of town, Samantha had just been dropped off at school.  I was watching the Today Show getting getting MacKenzie ready for prek when on live television the second plane hit the towers.

So many lives were changed forever as was our ideal world.


The fears, grief, complete helplessness, prayerfulness, closeness with friends and family, love, pride and unity; all emotions that were experienced within hours of these horrific events.  We were nation that turned to God and leaned on each other.  Our nation had not been this united since World War II.
Wow, so much as changed in eleven years.  As elections are approaching, sometimes I can’t help but wonder if most of our country even remember those dark days, weeks, and even those who are still hurting now.  We are not a country who turns to God or even a country united.
It is good to remember these dark hours.  We need to be reminded how fragile life is, how our time is only a gift.  We need to appreciate those in our lives and care for strangers around us.  We need to carry the spirit of the heroes from 9/11 in our own lives as we live them; A spirit of relying on God, giving, hope, love for our brothers, and lack of fear because we are no longer serving ourselves, but serving those we come into contact everyday.



My younger children don’t really remember that day, but we talk about it.  I want them to know that there are real fears in this world and heroes much more worthy of our worship than the Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo.  I want them to know that God needs to be apart of their daily lives, and I want them to know that there are evil people in this world.
 Have you forgotten?
I will NEVER forget.