Oxford: Food. Wine. My Happy Place.



Hello lovelies! I hope you are ready for some great pictures that will make your tummies rumble and want to hop on the first plane, train, or car heading to Oxford, MS- where the food is great, the wine is the perfect temp, and there is always something happening- be it literary or athletic, educational or musical- or a million other things!

A few weeks ago, Erin- the oh so adorable owner of Deep South Magazine (an online magazine that you must subscribe to like now!) let me know that she and Cerith Mathis (mockingbird media) would be traveling through Mississippi and would love to meet up in Oxford and possibly Jackson. Since both those towns are a hop, skip and jump from my hometown- and I love me some Erin and had been eager to meet Cerith ( us Southern Lit fans have to stick together!) I signed up to meet them for dinner and drinks one night as part of their #SouthernLitRoadtrip. Continue reading

Sweet Potato Queens, ZDD Weekend and Aunt Faye’s 100th birthday celebration!

Aunt Faye knows about having fun!

Aunt Faye knows about having fun!

From March 21-24, Jackson, MS was a sea of tiaras as women (and some men) came from all walks of life to celebrate the power of play, to raise money for Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital, to meet new friends and hang out with old friends.

Armed with tiaras, blingy jewelry , false eyelashes, wigs and more- we set out to make the long weekend even more fun than the previous year. This year was even more special because Aunt Faye was turning 100 in April- and she was going to be the Grandmaster of the Parade.

Friday- if you were in Fondren, you may have seen more big hats than you ever could imagine. At Sal and Mookie’s, the Big Hat Luncheon was happening- the food was good, the laughs and good times were contagious, and the creativity for big hats was something else. Give some of these women a simple hat, some tulle, hot glue, and other fancy add-ons- and they’ll give you a masterpiece that you can wear.

Friday night, The Bouffants were supposed to perform in Fondren, but due to inclement weather- they came to Hilton. And those ladies put on a show for the Queens. Great songs, fun times- The Bouffants were amazing. Friday was also PJ’s and Pearls- and yes, we really wear PJ’s and Pearls. As we listened to music, ate dinner, had drinks- seeing how cute and creative people could be in PJ’s and Pearls was fun!


cute guy

Saturday morning was Color Me Rad Run/Walk- it was Jackson’s first time to have CMR- and it was a sold out event. 8,000 people showed up to “get rad with color”! People walked and ran through clouds of color at designated places, and by the end- everyone looked tie-dyed!

Such a fun time!

Such a fun time!

Saturday night was the parade. The parade winds through the streets of Fondren (a neighborhood in Jackson). People came out to see the costumes, catch the beads, and the rain stayed away- until the last person was on the bus headed back to the Hilton for the after parade party!

Mermaids (plus a lady who wanted a pic)

Mermaids (plus a lady who wanted a pic)

A Mermaid and 2 Village Sweeties

A Mermaid and 2 Village Sweeties


Cynthia and Me at the photobooth! No, we don’t have any kind of fun together! lol


Thursday night: Village Sweeties, 2 Mermaids, and Divine Sisters = Fun times!


After a fun weekend of hanging with friends, raising money for Blair E. Batson and laughing – it was time for the Bathrobe Brunch- and for saying good-bye to everyone till next year. I can’t wait to see all the fabulous and fantastic ladies for the next ZDD weekend!

A day at the State Fair…

Over the past weekend, spent a day at the fair. The fair is a huge deal- it’s the beginning of fall to me. The food, the rides, seeing people having a good time, and oh my- the people watching. It’s a fun time always.

I’m not a fan of all the rides- the ones that twirl you around in the air are not for me. However, I love the pirate ship. I can’t explain it- and I’ll ride it at least twice. My brother hates it. But he agreed to ride it with me one time if I’d ride something he wanted to ride. That is how I got on the ride that takes you high up, then drops you down really fast. It’s not sooooo bad, but not one that I was like “Let’s do that again!”

Pirate Ship- Fav Ride

After we rode those rides, we walked around some more- just seeing the sights and smelling the good food smells. My mom decided she wanted something to eat, so we found a place to eat. Then me and my brother mentioned the donut burger. My dad was instantly intrigued. So him and my brother went to go get one. Now, don’t get me wrong- I thought it’d be gross. Donut, meat, bacon and cheese? Together? Who in their right mind would this was good? I was wrong. Something about the flavors just worked. Now, it’s not something you want all the time. But, it is good.

Donut Burger

While they were getting the donut burger- my brother decided a deep-frien twinkie was in order, as well. Never had that before either- actually not a huge Twinkie fan. But, that was good as well.

Deep Fried Twinkie

Between the food and the fun of hanging out with my family at the fair- something that now only happens every once in a while as opposed to yearly (because of busy schedules, living in different places, etc, etc) Saturday was a day to remember.


Ferris Wheels…

Went to the state fair over the weekend. It was a fun time, hanging with my family. Cold weather, though. Later on that night, me and my brother were walking around after riding some rides and eating some fair food. I looked over at the Ferris Wheel, all brightly colored and lit up against the blackness of the night sky- and I felt happy- watching the colors change.

It’s the little moments like this that make me smile.


Peabody Ducks- Memphis, TN

Peabody Ducks

The Peabody Hotel- a super nice hotel in downtown Memphis- known for it’s rooftop parties; but mostly for the ducks. Twice a day the ducks walk (once from their home and once back to the home).  Between those times, they play and pose for pictures in the gorgeous fountain in the middle of the Peabody lobby.

This is a free attraction and definitely a must-see if you are in the Memphis area. Be advised to arrive at the lobby early- people arrive early to get good seats to see the ducks march!


Literary Friday ya’ll…

Friday- TGIF- TGIF! Ok now that I’ve gotten a little Katy Perry out of me, I can start in on Literary Friday!

1. If you missed out on seeing Kimberly Brock, The River Witch,  in both Jackson and Greenwood, MS- 2 things: 1. You missed a great book signing AND 2. Fear not because the ever-so-smart, Erin, from Deep South Magazine thought ahead, took notes, pictures and video- and made it possible for people to experience what we were seeing in real life. To learn more about Deep South Mag’s road-trip through Mississippi on The River Witch tour with Kimberly Brock- click HERE!

2. If you missed my blog entry on The River Witch and Anna Kline and the Grits and Soul band- click HERE for a recap.

3. Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of Elvis’s death- I hope you listened to at least 1 Elvis song or watched 1 Elvis movie- heck, even if you said “Thank you, Thank you very much” in an Elvis voice- you honored the King of Rock and Roll. If you happen to be passing through the Tupelo area- a new statue was unveiled last week of Elvis. Totally road-trip worthy, imo.

4. What are you reading this weekend? The summer season is winding down- will you put the beach books away or not?

Wherever you are, whatever the plan is for the weekend- have a great one & enjoy some great books!

Happy Reading!

Booktopia 2012- Oxford, MS

Utopia: an ideal community. So Booktopia is an ideal community of books and book-lovers, authors, great book stores,  and places that inspire writing or reading.

Actually Booktopia has different meanings to different people- but that is a good, basic definition. For a more involved scene/definition of my idea of Booktopia, read this What Booktopia Means to Me. I hope reading about Booktopia inspires others to think about their definition of Booktopia.

Back to the main point of this blog post, though- this past weekend, June 15-17, I spent the weekend in Oxford, MS (home of Square Books) and the site of 1 of 3 Books on Nightstand Booktopia retreats. First, it was a fantastic weekend- filled with book people, book lovers of all kinds (from classics to chick lit)- everyone had something bright and intelligent to say about books.

The first day of Booktopia began with a workshop discussion “What is Southern Writing”? The 3 person author panel was comprised of: Susan Greg Gilmore (The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove and Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen), Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter), and Kevin Brockmeier (The Illumination). When questioned about “What is Southern writing?” or “Were they Southern literary authors?” the responses varied. Tom Franklin, born in Alabama, really just wants to be known as a “writer” as opposed to being a “Southern writer”. He compares being a “Southern writer” to being a “left-handed pitcher”- no one really knows exactly what to do with you. He also says that at first he “did not want to write about the hicks he grew up with”- it wasn’t until he went to college in Arkansas that other classmates helped him realize that he had quite a background to help with stories.

Susan Greg Gilmore, though, is fiercely proud to be known as a “Southern writer”-in fact, she says that the more specialized the label for her as an author, the better. Susan Greg Gilmore “Hell yeah, I’m a Southern writer!” She speaks of using her cast iron skillet, going to her grandma’s old house, pulling over to look at a church- these are all Southern things. When asked in her writing whether the character or the place come to mind first for writing, she says they seem to come together immediately, as opposed to one or the other coming first.

Kevin Brockmeier spoke of writing, specifically The Illumination, as him having a “metaphor in mind” when starting a book. For The Illumination, it’s 6 paintings on a transparency- each can be revealed as it’s own image, but when you layer them on top of each other- it provides a different picture.  After hearing his description of writing The Illumination, I’m considering reading it again and trying to see the book through the eyes of his metaphor.

Late Friday afternoon/early evening- we all went to Rowan Oak (home of William Faulkner) where some of us explored Rowan Oak. We also had a Yankee Swap (also known as White Elephant or Dirty Santa) exchange- it was great fun. I brought a Sue Grafton book (U is for Undertow) to put in the exchange pile. After I picked a book, I traded mine in for  Miss Mississippi Cooks– which later was stolen from me. Not to worry, though, Susan Greg Gilmore and Ellen F. Brown were super-sweet- they bought me a copy! That night a group of us went to Boure for dinner and while we waited to have our name called we had drinks at City Grocery. Dinner and drinks was quite fun- our group had a fun time laughing and talking about books.

Saturday morning, some of us met at High Point Coffee for coffee and breakfast. Then we were off to the different author sessions. My first session was with Ellen F. Brown (Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood) and she was delightful. Full of interesting, behind the scenes information on Gone With the Wind and the Mitchell estate, Ellen F. Brown worked the author session like a pro- she teased us with bits and snippets of information. Ellen F. Brown wanted the book to be titled Minding Scarlett’s Business instead. She also said that Margaret Mitchell had a plan for her next book that she told to a friend, but she never got a chance to write the book. The book was to be about a poet from Georgia who claimed Edgar Allen Poe stole The Raven from him. If you think that would make an interesting book and curse the fact that Margaret Mitchell is no longer around to write it, fear not- Ellen F. Brown will be writing the book herself. While she has no way of knowing if take the book in the same direction as Margaret Mitchell planned to, she is looking forward to writing and gathering more information.

After the Ellen F. Brown author session, some of us met for lunch at City Grocery- shrimp and grits was quite yummy. After lunch, I went to Square Books to browse before the next author session with Tom Franklin. While in Square Books, I purchase Susan Greg Gilmore’s 2 books (Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen and The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove). Great news for me- because of Booktopia, Square Books was giving Booktopians 10% off their purchase!

My next author session was with Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter).  Listening to Tom talk about his book, he states that Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter was “slightly autobiographical”.  Again he says that he is “tired of being called a Southern writer, he just wants to be known as a writer”. When asked since he feels this way- why title his book Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (since it’s obviously a Mississippi title, therefore Southern)- he answers “because it’s never been used before”. He’s not afraid to use Southern terms, he just wants to be known as a writer, instead of neatly classified. Another tidbit- if the book had been set in Alabama, he would have titled it “Jurisdiction“.

My 3rd session was a podcast with Ann and Michael- creators of Books on the Nightstand. It was really interesting to see how they did a podcast, and our session will be used for a later podcast of BOTNS.

At 5- all of us met back at Off Square Books for A Celebration of Authors. This is where we got to listen to each author speak for 10 minutes, which was nice, since we did not get to go to all author sessions. After everyone spoke, there was a chance to have books signed, as well. Another group of us went to Old Venice for dinner that night and then the Burgundy Room for drinks and hanging out. It was really fun hanging out with everyone and enjoying a beautiful night in Oxford. As we headed back to the hotel, some of us decided to take a picture with William Faulkner’s statue on the Square.

Sunday morning was breakfast at Big Bad Breakfast, which was really great (pancakes with whipped cream and strawberries and sausage). After breakfast, coffee and talking at High Point Coffeehouse- then the final Booktopia session at Off- Square Books. The session, The Many Forms of Storytelling, brought up many interesting topics- such as e-readers, books, audio, and an upcoming app from Richard Mason (History of a Pleasure Seeker) which looked very interesting.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend- filled with interesting people, great books, good food and many activities. I adored my time in Booktopia and happily look forward to a future event.

The Hollywood Cafe: Tunica, MS

Fried Pickles. Just looking at the words make me hungry. Actually getting to eat really good fried pickles is a treat. When I saw a place in Mississippi boasting “Home of the Best Fried Pickles” I thought to myself “Game on- let’s see how good these fried pickles are.” The Hollywood Cafe may be boasting some when they state they are “The Home to the Best Fried Pickles”, but they are not lying. Quite yummy and perfectly fried.

Now while the food at the Hollywood Cafe is something to rave about, the outside decor is not. It looks a bit run-down, but isn’t that the type of place where the food is usually pretty good? So park your car and walk in- order yourself the fried pickles and some other yummy foods.

The Hollywood Cafe is not only known for it’s fried pickles, it’s also known for the Marc Cohn “Walking in Memphis” song. Marc Cohn sings: Now Muriel plays the piano, every Friday at The Hollywood… If you’ve ever wondered where “The Hollywood” is, wonder no more. It’s in Tunica, MS. As you walk in, look to your right- there is a poster, some records, and other memorabilia on display.

The Hollywood Cafe

While in Tunica, after riding the riverboat, gambling and having a general grand ole time- go to the Hollywood Cafe. And get the fried pickles!

Hollywood Sign


Fried Pickles (Home of the Best Fried Pickles)


Marc Cohn "Walking In Memphis"

Tunica Queen- Day Cruise

I get the urge to go gambling about 3 or so times a year- the sound of slot machines, free drinks, live music, and a buffet all start to crowd my thoughts. I grab my players card and hit the road- in less than 2 hours, I can be at a casino.

Occasionally, though, the lure of something else calls me to a gambling town. Today’s post is about the Tunica Queen- a riverboat that you can ride for a moderate fee in Tunica on the Mississippi River. October 2010 was a month that I found myself wanting to be rolling, rolling on the river- so loaded up the car, found a friend to go with and hit the road for a nice road-trip.

First stop was the Tunica Riverpark Museum (currently closed for remodeling due to flooding in early 2011) which is where tickets can be purchased for the Tunica Queen. If a person is interested in the history of Mississippi (particularly the Delta) this is a good stop for history buffs. It’s a self-guided tour, with videos, pictures and artifacts.

After a tour of the museum- on to the Tunica Queen. Having never been on a riverboat, I was unsure of what to expect, but the trip was great. The weather was nice, the wind was blowing through my hair, and the sun was warm.

Going on the afternoon riverboat tour was a perfect way to spend the afternoon in Tunica, MS.  The staff and captain was quite nice, music was being played, and the captain was pointing out interesting things and giving facts about the Mississippi River and Tunica.

The Captain and I

Tunica Queen

All in all, a delightful way to spend a day in Tunica. Highly recommend. If interested in visiting Tunica, MS- whether it’s for gambling or other activities, follow @TunicaMS on Twitter or like TunicaMS on Facebook. It’s the best way to stay in contact with all events, activities, and promotions in Tunica.