wedding wednesday: it's back

Do you remember all of these?

After August 6th, I took a long break from the wedding world. I didn't read the blogs. I stopped following all wedding boards on Pinterest. I gave away the Brides magazine tower. Consider it a little wedding planning brain cleanser. It was a smart move - I didn't want to continue to be fed all these great ideas and wish we had incorporated them. Our day was perfect to us, and that's how I always want to remember it. The moral of this story is, after your own wedding, rid yourself of the wedding business for a while.

And fill the void with pictures of dream homes and difficult recipes. That's healthy, right?

But the truth is, I have always loved weddings and always always will. Not too long ago, I got really excited about being involved in the wedding process again when Audrey gets married. Again, she's four. I've also collected a couple of pieces of advice that one can only learn by going through the [awesome] process of planning a wedding. So Wedding Wednesday is back for a few weeks. This time I'd like to share with you a few of my favorite DIY projects that we cranked out with some amazing friends and family.

Surprisingly, we didn't plan for too many do it yourself projects because the hand-crafted look [which I still love] was not what we were going for. Here are my three faves:

My very handy Father of the Bride crafted these letters out of two layers of heavy duty foam board. The kind from Lowes, not Hobby Lobby. I chose the font, and he printed them on a ginormous printer they have at his office to print maps. You could easily have it printed in a poster size at Kinkos, use a projector, or freehand it. I chose a matelasse fabric and began the ultimate brain teaser of wrapping these suckers. Just think of it as wrapping a present but with lots of nooks and crannies to keep smooth. The trick to getting the fabric to stay was straight pins! They worked like magic. No glue. No tape. Just straight pins to the rescue.

Our florist attached ribbon and the clusters of fresh flowers before hanging them on the front doors of the church. Hopefully, they were a very pleasant welcome to our guests!

Our program inspiration came completely from this photo. It ended up being six pages long. Yes, six. I downloaded the fonts I wanted to use from dafont.com and created the monogram on Wedding Chicks. I designed the layout using Publisher because I have a Photoshop phobia that I'm slowly overcoming. Maybe it's some scarring from my not-so-nice adviser during my yearbook editor days.

I ordered the cardstock from Sams who has free shipping [!!!] and had them professionally printed. The Kinkos man was thankfully super patient with me as checked and double checked and asked to see his computer screen about eighteen times.  They have a small fee for cutting the printed sheets in half which was absolutely worth it. I would have probably paid $1,000 to not have to cute over three hundred sets of programs in half.

I rallied the troops to cut corners, punch holes, stick reinforcers, cut and tie ribbon, and stuff and glue envelopes with tissues. I dug out a program from our stack of wedding memorabilia [which is in terrible need of organizing] to show you my very favorite page: For Happy Tears. Yes, my family and friends stuck millions of little hankies into envelopes before gluing them on a page all because of my bright idea. Yes, I owe them big time. But isn't it adorable?!

Last but not least - the photo wall. I loved having it. I almost died making it. A word to the wise: have a handy fiance [which I did] and stay calm when the wallpaper won't stick for the eighth time because of the humid July air [which I didn't]. Instructions can be found here.

More Wedding Wednesdays to come. I'm back on the bandwagon. And loving it!


if you want to have a great weekend...

...you should fly through two neighboring states in order to pick up your four-going-on-fourteen-year-old niece from her [beautiful] preschool.

Make sure you bring her some ever-so-pink fingernail polish so that you can have mani/pedi conversation where she begins her stories with "Well..." and uses shockingly large words. Oh, and sparkles in the polish are good too. 

Then it wouldn't be a bad idea to chalk up some serious sister points by working a fundraiser with her in the blistering cold. Don't worry, the [FREEZING] weather is worth the seven hours of sisterly talk time. And chapped lips.

For your Grown Up Girls Only day out, I'd suggest picking a sunny Saturday. And cool too. But mainly sunny. 

Pick a perfectly picturesque neighborhood with great shopping and even better eateries [Our pick: Homewood, AL. Favorite stops: AtHome and Three Sheets]. 

If you happen to be near a place that sells 2,000 pounds of your mutual favorite lunch food per week served with about thirty different kinds of fruit and the best limemade you've ever tasted, it's worth a try. 

Bonus points if it's comfortably crowded with history-splashed walls and layers of mementos on top of serving dishes on top of produce. 

Even if you eat the best chicken salad you've ever had at one o'clock, it's good to go to dinner too. A dinner with high ceilings and clinking glasses and white napkins and wedge salads and rosemary flatbread. Oh, and handmade pasta. Handmade pasta is required [source: Brio].

Go early so that you can have plenty of time to talk about life and kids and spouses. Enough time to be reminded how beautifully linked your lives are even though you will soon be living in three separate states. Enough time for the serious and enough time for plenty of laughter. Enough time to offer much needed rest with two people who know you so deeply. And always will.

Then you will be glad you ate early because there is a Jimmy Buffet concert in the arena next to your concert hall. You wouldn't want to be late for your third viewing of the best Broadway show there ever was and probably ever will be. Awesome seats come highly suggested, as well. 

After three hours of laughter and tears and breath-stopping high notes, your cold walk back to the car won't be bad at all. You'll be on a Wickedly green high. And after the seat warmers make you forget how cold your legs were, ice cream makes for a great ride home. 

When you've dragged yourself home in the early hours of the morning, say goodnight with an unexpected group hug. There is no better way to end the night before you crash into bed. And I mean crash

If you want to officially lose all inhibition of the fact that you were eating light, go to brunch with your family and order apple cinnamon granola pancakes. They were whole wheat, OK?

Enjoy a Wicked-filled drive home to a hard working husband who you missed very very much. Be sure you tell him. 

Any questions?


shower inspiration

Some of my favorite memories of our entire engagement time will be our showers. I will always remember a phone call with Abs while we were both engaged when she, as she often does, took the words right out of my mouth. She told me how she was overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness and provision that she experienced through showers and parties and other ways friends and family provided for them as newlyweds. I couldn't have agreed more. It is as if those family and friends are standing beside you saying that they want you to survive and thrive, that they believe in this union, that they want you to be a part of this giant leap into a new phase of life. Knowing what a blessing that is, it makes shower-throwing much more than flowers and mini quiches punch bowls. Not that I don't love those things. I do. And pretty tea napkins, too.

So, with some betrothed as well as about-to-pop friends, I made myself baby and bridal shower inspirations boards. Enjoy - and feel free to leave more ideas below!

The excitement I feel when planning a shower or party is equal to this [prepare for a mix of my favorite SNL skit and some Jessie Spano]:

I'm not kidding. This is not an exaggeration. When we move to South Carolina, I've got to make some engaged and pregnant friends STAT.


make it yourself

I'm on this frugal and healthy high, y'all. I'd say I feel like a pioneer woman, in the generic sense, but that would make you think of Mrs. Ree herself. And never will I be on that level.

All I've done is make my own granola and Febreeze. But that's a start, right?!

I took an unplanned nap on Sunday afternoon which made it impossible to sleep the entirety of the following night. So, at 4:15 Monday morning, I decided I needed a project. The make-your-own Febreeze was the easiest process ever, so I needed another project by 4:22. But it was a success! Follow the link, make your own, and save you bundle.

[Next: tub scrub, laundry detergent, and dishwasher detergent]

As for the granola, I used this basic granola recipe to create my own. I am so very happy with how it turned out. The recipe is below, but feel free to half it if you don't need enough granola to survive the apocalypse.

MJ's Favorite Granola

8 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix every ingredient in the largest mixing bowl you've ever seen. Spread half the mixture on a cookie sheet [I used a silicone baking mat]. Bake for 25 minutes or longer if you want it a little more crunchy [but don't let it burn!] and stir every 7-10 minutes. And then do it again with the second batch. Enjoy it on nearly anything!

[What I'm Loving Wednesday]



My Valentine gifted me with Country Living's Restore. Recycle. Repurpose.: Create a Beautiful Home, and I'm already drooling over its great ideas and beautifully framed photos. Randy Florke has been pretty inspiring so far. I mean, I already saved a pickle jar. And since my hunt had proven to be quite unsuccessful, I made my own gold chain link bracelet. That would be called repurposing. You know - like the title says.

I know. It was an impulse buy. I think I wore it once. But after a little seam-ripping and link removal, it lives on as a bracelet.

I've got to be careful - this makes me feel like I could be the next Bear Grylls or something. Bracelet? Grizzly? Same level, right? Three cheers for fashion survival!


the difference between saturdays

Last Saturday saw wide open spaces, cute puppies, chocolate cake, cute cows, and a cuter firewood-chopping husband.

This Saturday was different.

I think the guys who broke in were pretty disappointed to find out the wallet they thought they were snagging was actually my coupon book.

As wonderful as our weekend in Franklinton was, this Saturday will probably be more memorable. Memorable because it was unexpected to us [but planned by an always good God]. Memorable because the Baton Rouge Police, against the odds, caught the guy with our belongings. We are thankful for their service. Memorable because we shared in the experience of God's grace and comfort in the midst of a [somewhat] difficult situation. Memorable because we found comfort in the Lord's provision of a little emergency fund [with thanks to my Dave-Ramsey-loving husband]. And memorable because of the striking reminder of how much more fragile life is than a glass window. And how much more valuable than these fleeting possessions. I think I hugged Dustin extra tight that night when he came home.


a very louisiana weekend

In the spirit of Mardi Gras and because we're doing our best to soak up [and purchase] all things Louisiana before moving to the not-so-creole state of South Carolina, I bring you a few Bayou State favorites.

Mardi Gras circa 1900 [via]

Did you know about the slight changes in our flag over the years? Details, people. Details.

A mighty large boot, but I totally love it. I've entered to win it - fingers crossed!

A pillow cover to add to my mix-matched collection.

A print to hang on the wall next to my coveted L. Young canvas [I have the cotton one].

It's fascinating to me how star-studded Mardi Gras has become [check out number 12 - how hilarious is that?]

One day, our children must sport this, this, and this.

A trail I'd like to follow.

And tour I'd like to peddle through.

With a not-so-abundant supply in SC, I will have to master the king cake. And this too.

Laissez les bons temps rouler, y'all!


just some [exciting] links

Today, I'm guest blogging about some lessons from our first sixth months of marriage over at Fearless - a blog belonging to the wonderful Blake Bollinger. She's a fellow Spring 2011 LSU Sociology graduate. And we never had one class together - can you believe that? Go check it out!

Also, I've planned to post some ramblings on my big love of Pinterest and blogs and beautifully curated Tumblr pages and Etsy stores along with some not-so-serious concerns about my hope that they inspire creativity instead of lead to simply copying and a watered-down creative community. But then I read Ashley from Under the Sycamore's post and it took the words right out of my mouth. She shares with more gratitude and less fear, and I greatly respect that. Check it out too!


celebrating love

Happy Valentines Day to you!

I'll be heading to work soon to sit in my office where I'll try not to use my lunch break to buy myself one of those mini Russell Stover hearts or size-of-your-head Hershey kisses. I haven't fallen off of the wagon yet. What I will be doing is embracing a little red and a little pink for the day. Don't you love dressing the part?

As much as I don't make a huge deal out of Valentines Day, it is perfect for my overly cheesy, lover of lovey dovey junk self. Here are a few favorites of all things love.

My favorite love movie and favorite scene in that movie: Pride and Prejudice [2005] when Darcy and Elizabeth meet again at Pemberley. Its the moment when they share somewhat of an inside joke, and he smiles unlike any other time in the entire movie. I die a little bit every time.Yes, I'm realizing I sound like a big nerd.

And there is always this. This is the first time Dustin's family saw me cry like a big ol' baby:

My favorite love song: "Dancing in the Minefields" by Andrew Peterson. Everything is good about this.

A favorite love quote:


And, most importantly, a reminder of an often-cited scripture on love [in my favorite translation of this chapter]. Because scripture is where we read about a Perfect Love and when Love took human form to instill lessons like this:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

[1 Corinthians, Chapter 13, NKJV]

A very happy Valentines Day to you and to my wonderful husband. I love you Dustin Michael. 
Dear Lillie's Valentine's Link Party


for the love of food

I love food. All aspects. I love to cook. I love to try new things. I love the event of eating whether its clinking glasses and white linens or paper plates and picnic tables. I told you we've been thinking about this a lot lately.

What we've been thinking about is what food we eat and why it matters. Through some conviction and some lazy feelings and some research and some extra [and exciting] reasoning, we have committed to a lifestyle of real, whole foods. I'm blasting this to the world wide web so that just in case you see one of us gripping a double quarter pounder with cheese or one of those microwavable mac and cheese cups, you can give us dirty looks and/or slap it out of our hand. We promise we will understand.

We know that, right now, we are feeding an addiction. An addiction to to hydrogenated oils and food coloring and fake flavors and MSGs and chemically altered foods. This is not a lifestyle that is honoring to the Lord, and our hope is, by the Lord's gracious sanctification, that all aspects of life will grow to be. So this one has got to go.

Right now, we are living with the knowledge that the Lord has created our bodies with beautiful intricacies and food to fill those intricacies. Real food. Not chemicals. We are living with the knowledge that our bodies are not our own, that we've been bought with a price. But we are living despite that knowledge and, essentially, saying that we'll do it our way instead. Now we want to eat to nourish these bodies for strength and longevity in hopes of being able to serve [if He wills] for a long, long time. And to celebrate the beauty of God's lush creation. If he wants broccoli to taste like broccoli and not preservatives, then that's how I want it too.

I have to admit, it really excites me. If I know that there is an opportunity to experience something, the desire totally bubbles up inside of me. It's as if the mystery of the possible combination of foods and flavors totally makes me wig out with excitement. Let's get to experimenting!

So we are throwing ourselves into a world of label-checking and fresh produce in the hopes of nourishing ourselves and our future family and anyone we get the opportunity to feed. Maybe all together we'll get to celebrate the beauty of our createdness and the seasons of food as well as the seasonings that the Lord has created for us to enjoy.

While talking about this, funds were definitely an issue. Sometimes the good stuff is expensive. One of D's last comments was encouraging us to save and shop smart where we can, but to not allow money dictate how we feel we should honor the Lord in this. I'm thankful for that. I'll be on the look out for healthy savings. And, if I'm fortunate enough to find some, I'll be sure to share.

Exercise, while necessary, is another whole story since I'd much rather [and plan to be] on the tennis court or in the dance studio instead of staring at Tony from P90X for one more second. I'm sorry, but he gives me the creeps.

So there it is - a new chapter, a new lifestyle. And, for your viewing pleasure, my new favorite commercial. It makes me feel all warm inside:


whimsy weekend

We're beginning our weekend with a get together consisting of Italian potluck and all the other young marrieds from our church and [usually] a whole lot of laughter. I'll be bringing this and this as well as attempting to recreate Gino's Laurence Bread. I can't explain it, but if you're in the area...Go. Get. Some. Now.

Then we'll  be jetting off [not really - just chugging along in our little Mazda 3] to D's parents house for some fam time and celebrating of my father-in-law's big 5-0 with a little cake that I'm planning to completely maul with buttercream after work in hopes that it'll remain upright until tomorrow.

“Garden Party” by Patrick Demarchelier for American Vogue, February 1992 [via]

For the weekend, I leave you with a little inspiration for all things Valentines and whimsy:

My big wish scarf.

A very wise pillow.

The holiday in a box.

Sweet nothings that cling to your wall.

Genius level chocolate mousse.

Beautiful must-DIY ribbons.

An adorable morning surprise.

And the cutest handmade cards.

Happy weekend, y'all. Stay warm!


my quote book

Those closest to me know that I am a lover of words. I believe it to be one of the reasons I keep this little blog up and running - to continue to challenge myself to squeeze more of the goodness out of the American language that is often forgotten in daily chatter. I have a dear friend named Tammie whom I served with on the Pine Cove Shores leadership team nearly two summers ago. She's this rock star English grad and now a teacher to classrooms full of very fortunate children. I will always remember how I hung on each of Tam's well placed and considered words and marveled at her gi-freaking-normous vocabulary. Its friends like Tammie, and many of my favorite authors, who inspire this challenge.

They also make me want to read the dictionary.

In high school, I bought a bunch of frames, did a terrible job spray painting them silver and white, and filled them with some of my favorite quotes which I had typed up with some really awesome fonts that were standard to Word 2003. I even switched it up with a little left and right justification. Impressive, I know. As terrible as it looked [actually, looks], it proves true to the fact that my love for quotes is a long-running one.

I love how these documented words make you stop and think and feel and relate. I love how they bring a person or place or experience instantly to mind, rekindling that unseen connection. I love how they can give you new perspective. I love how they make me want to be considerate instead of flippant.

A few years ago, I took this Quotable journal to a Christmas party as a Dirty Santa gift. I thought it was perfect - a journal and a good quote? People are going to fight over this baby. Wrong. One girl opened it, looked disappointed, and pleaded for others to steal it from her when it was their turn to open a gift. So, when it was my turn, I did. And I went home with what I thought was the best gift in the house. Booyah, girlfriend. Enjoy your Bath and Body Works bubble bath.

So then that little journal sat on my shelf for a good two years until I had this idea. After a little dusting, it became my ever beloved Quote Book.

Obviously, I began it in October 2009. I'm certainly glad that I was a big dork and documented that, or I wouldn't have even been able to tell you what year it was. And, sometime along the way, I fell enough in love with this little book to include my phone number in it just in case I lost it. Oh my gosh.

I became a little bit of a nazi with what I include and how I go about writing them down. I am so not like this about anything else in my life, but I try to write only with black Sharpie pens, to mix up the shapes of each quote to make it a little more aesthetically pleasing, and to never use quotation marks since it can be assumed that each quote is indeed a quote in the quote book. I sound like a complete lunatic.

I also don't normally include anything just because its funny or cheeky. I'll just use Pinterest for that. There have been times when Dustin or Audrey or Hannah have said something really hilarious, and I've wanted to include it. But haven't. Because I'm a quote book nazi.

My main aim was to document, to have it as a reference, and to have something to pass on one day. I have big hopes of filling up these pages over the next however many years I'm on this Earth. Hopefully at least some of our kiddos will appreciate it one day even though they'll secretly wonder why they couldn't just have some jewelry or furniture or something.

My apologies for an extraordinarily long post for a very simple subject. Maybe you'll just look at the pictures and read a few of my favorite book additions that I'll leave for you below:

"Grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God by giving sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God." - John Piper

"...feeding the people I love is a hands-on way of loving them. When you nourish and sustain someone, essentially, you're saying that you want them to thrive, to be happy and healthy and able to live well." - from Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

"Friendship is unnecessary - like philosophy like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." - C.S. Lewis

"She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future." - Psalm 31:25

"I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations." - George Bernard Shaw

"Your heart understood mine. In the depth of the fragrant night, I listed with ravished soul t your beloved voice. Your heart understood mine." Friederich Bhaer in Little Women translating the French opera, "Les pĂȘcheurs de perles"


clean sweep

I've never been very tidy.

Some friends and family would consider it an understatement. I like to blame it on being a little bit of a free spirit. I'll admit that, in the past few years, I've come to truly appreciate a clean and organized room. If she's reading this, I'm not positive that my mom is still breathing at this point. Even more lately, this whole being [read: trying to be] adult-ish and a newlywedded wife has squeezed out some responsibility in the form of tidiness.

On Sunday, we watched the Giants [and Madonna] win with Mallory, Brandon, and Nicholas [D's two brothers and our sister-in-law]. We had the best time catching up on our very different jobs and their recent vacation and every one's big dreams for the future all while loving on some puppies and eating a whole lot of guacamole. But after Eli got the keys to his shiny new convertible, I felt like we needed to go. Lurking in the back of my mind was the fact that I somehow managed to get avocado on every surface of our kitchen before rushing out the door, and it was now slowly turning into a permanent greenish brown crust on our counters. Too much detail?

I'm not OK with that feeling being a recurring experience. The feeling that we should go home and clean and have everything nice and tidy to start another busy week. I don't want those needs to hold precedent over time spent with family or friends or our church community or neighbors or one another. I want to rid myself of those worries when I have the opportunities like last night - to have precious back-to-back one-on-one time with dear friends on a Monday evening [love you Bec Griggs and Meg Hope].

So. In the spirit of not eating the bread of idleness and not letting this new [and good] habit of tidiness interfere with fleeting minutes of face time all while actually keeping the apartment enjoyably organized and guest-ready, I made a list. Surprised? I didn't think so. I love a list. Hopefully this one will balance responsibility and community [with a heavy lean to the latter].

Download your own here.

Here's to no more Saturdays spent cleaning all day because we ignored it all week. Here's to no "dirty house" anxiety while trying to enjoy real, breathing, loving people. And here's to good ol' grown up responsibility. Where did you come from?

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to call my mother and make sure she's still conscious.


tri-birthday weekend

Yesterday I promised this would happen soon. Told you. 

I'm happy to report that we found a place for everyone to sleep comfortably. Or at least they said they were comfortable. And I'm pretty sure the cookies and waffles-the-size-of-our-heads were a hit.

Louisiana weather gave us a break from our lovely thick and warm Winter days with a totally gorgeous sunny and cool Saturday. With the weather drawing us outdoors, we loaded up and headed to Global Wildlife. Aka - The Happiest Place on Earth. I think that was their slogan first. Yes, that's a fact.

We spent the afternoon feeding all kinds of animals and admiring our little four-year-old for her bravery. Oh, and remaining terrified of the zebras. Poor zebras - but we just wanted to keep our fingers.

I got to touch and feed a giraffe this time. Life. Complete. We had a serious connection. He looked at me, chose my feed cup, ate a little from my hand, and said, "thank you very much" afterward. Ok maybe not that last part. But in my mind, he said it. I've had too much Muppets in my short lifetime.

The rest of the weekend was filled with a reunion of the in-laws for the first time since the wedding [which was great], a whole lot of good food from Bistro Byronz and Coyote Blues, more lying around, really great cake, a disappointing estate sale, and a laughing. Lots of laughing.

We were also reminded how much Audrey loves Uncle D.

And Mr. Perry, too. Someone get this man a grandchild.

Ok everyone, it's the weekend again. You can come back now!


this has to do with feta grits, y'all

I've got to share with y'all a quick recap from our cozy family weekend - mainly because Audrey makes a freaking cute picture [I promise it's coming, Madre]. The week's lack of blogging can be blamed on a somewhat busy week at the office. I even brought a little work home this evening. Where the heck did my I'm-in-college-but-I-don't-do-too-much-homework life go?

Regardless of weekday to-do lists, it's important to me to cook and for our little family of two to eat together when at all possible. We've also had lots of discussions about our desperate need for healthier eating and exercise [more to come on that]. Our newly wedded and in-office sedentary lifestyles have certainly taken their toll since August. Yes, we've heard this post-wedding stage referred to as "fat and happy." We get it, thanks.

So after some slightly painful exercise and serious out-of-shape realizations, we whipped up a dinner of grilled chicken, a whole lot of roasted broccoli, and feta and basil grits. I know. Feta grits doesn't scream, "Eat this and say goodbye to those love handles!" But we didn't eat much. It was really mainly a dinner of broccoli. Really.

I used my parents' easy and awesome go-to chicken marinade [below], that roasted broccoli recipe that is very popular in the blogosphere, and my own little experiment for the feta grits since I have this incredibly beautiful vat of feta cheese [thank you thank you, Sams].

Feta Cheese and Basil Grits
[Note - feel free to add more feta. My husband doesn't like a really strong feta-y taste. Yes, this does put a strain on our marriage.]
1/3 cup instant grits
1 1/3 cup water
Cracked pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons dried, crushed basil leaves [or half the amount of fresh]
1/2 cup feta cheese [or more]

Prepare grits with water according to the package. I microwaved the grits and water on high for five minutes. After they are prepared, immediately mix in pepper, salt, olive oil, basil, and feta cheese. Stir until your feta it is fully mix in to the grits. That way, those you are feeding are totally floored by the flavor of what they thought were just plain ol' grits. Totally floored. I mean, if they share my love for this cheese.

Chicken Marinade
1 part Zesty Italian salad dressing
1 part soy sauce

Salt and pepper the chicken to your tastes. Combine the salad dressing and soy sauce in a baking dish [be sure there is enough to almost cover the chicken]. Add chicken. Flop the chicken around so it's covered in the mixture [excuse all the technical lingo]. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Eight is better. We grill on the George because we're newlyweds with a little apartment that doesn't allow you to use a grill on tiny porches.

You're welcome, taste buds. You too, inner thighs.