Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Try a New Food Tuesday: Death by Chocolate

The Air Force Posse (AKA The Sun Devil, Yaz, and Dane Cook's babydaddy) and I have been trying to gather once a week for scrapbooking, lunching, and general debauchery (or as much debauchery as the government will allow on federal property...which is, essentially, scrapbooking). A couple of weeks ago, we had just finished taste-testing The Sun Devil's scrumptious (and shockingly simple to make) array of Tastefully Simple dips and breads. As I reached into the fridge for a Diet Coke (because washing all of that down with pinot grigio would just be sinful. It was, after all, 2:30 in the afternoon), I noticed a rather large container with a slice of cake that was roughly the size of my head, including my Georgia fro. "There's cake in here!" I exclaimed. From the living room I heard, "Don't touch that, hooker! It's MINE!" Clearly, this cake was something special. Not blessed-by-the-pope special or even sneezed-on-by-Jon-Hamm special....but unique, nonetheless.

Me: Yaz? Why are you defending your cake's honor?
Yaz: Because it's from Maggiano's and The Sun Devil brought it to me when they went to Atlanta last weekend.
Me: OK...and?? I've had Maggiano's before. I'm not a total boob.
Yaz: It's Chocolate Zuccotto Cake and it's divine. *eyes rolling back into her head and I think, just for a second, I saw her orgasm face*
Me: So, can I have some?
Yaz: You don't understand. It's from Atlanta.
Me: So is Coke, but I don't have to beg for that around here.
Yaz: I will give you a small bite if you use it for New Food Tuesday.

And here we are....two weeks later and I finally have my shiznit together enough to talk about what an incredible experience it was. And for the record, the pictures really don't do it justice. This cake is such a rock star that it deserves its own head shots.

Getting up close and personal with that sambuca chocolate mousse and iced chocolate frosting.

I would also like to say that I could write a better, more accurate description of this sin in a bin if I could have had a bigger bite. That's all I had to work with...they wouldn't treat Paula Deen this way.

I know it's easy to be distracted by the hunk-a-scrapbooking-machinery behind me and the rainbow assortment of embossing powders...but please try to zoom in on eyes rolling back...

Well that was delightful and if it weren't for Weight Watchers and their bedeviled points system, I may have tried to make a run for it with the cake and the fork. I mean Yaz was sort of sandwiched between 2 card tables and yet another Cricut. I could have had at least a 20 yard head start. But alas...there are jeans with sizes in the low teens that must be squeezed into in the coming months.

Many thanks and chocolate breath to Yaz for "sharing"....although if it had been up to me, I would have taken the same size bite that Mama Virgo used to take of my McDonald's cheeseburgers when I was a weeAlly (which is about 1/2 of the serving size). I think I may be passing through Atlanta soon, though.

You heard it hear first: Maggiano's will make you fat and happy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mojito Monday: The Week in Pictures

...and because I missed Champagne Friday. And also because, according to Weight Watchers, margaritas are 5 points each while mojitos are only 3! Embrace the mint!

It's just another day at Queenie J's house when a dragon and a ninja burst into the kitchen, demanding peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Goodbye, big ole cheese wagon...hauling a ninja and a dragon to their first day of school.

Now what? Scrapbook? Make jewelry? Organize? Drink whatever is in that cup?

Soldiers in Neal's unit voluntarily jumping out of airplanes that are clearly not engulfed in flames.

And all manage to land safely, without incident. Neal was so inspired that he has requested to go to Jump School after the deployment. Greeeaaaattttt.....If I had known that would happen, I would have suggested IHOP instead of the drop zone.

Right after the battalion commander announced that Neal volunteered for this crazyass idea. I'm smiling because...y'know...that's what we do. Smile now, fret later.

Pickin' peaches at Lane's Packing. For $3, you get 6 wine tastings and the wine glass they came in. The tour is free, but good luck making it out of there without something peach-related. We came away with only peach BBQ sauce this time. Mama Virgo and Anna Banana weren't so lucky. Wine, pecans, and peaches, oh my!!

A little family time and a rare photo of the 3 of us. Neal, me, and Poppy (who is disguised as a sweater).

Lady Lulu declares, from her perch high above the kingdom, that it has been a good couple of weekends. Eating, drinking, and being merry with Queenie Jeaninie and her crew. Eating, drinking, and being merry with Mama Virgo and Anna Banana. And belly rubs for everyone!

Try a New Food Tuesday will return to its regularly scheduled time tomorrow. So many pictures of what I've been eating, so little time to describe the good, the bad, the ugly....

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Texting Has Made Us Stupid

I am taking a page out of Salt's book today with an Open Letter Thursday. I haven't done one since the Urban Active debacle. I think I'm due.

Dear CVS Advertising/Marketing Department,

Last Sunday, I was perusing the Jacksonville Sunday paper, enjoying the French Roast my sister has started brewing and wondering what sales you all would be offering up to the mostly unemployed public this week when I stumbled across this:

Let's get past the fact that 50 prints for $6 is a pretty good deal...at 12 cents per photo. Even Sam's Club has a difficult time competing with that. I would, instead, like to draw your attention to the small print, especially the part that says "(like 12 cents each)". I am more than just a little appalled that we are now accepting Valley Girl Speak in our marketing campaigns. I just did the math...it is not like 12 cents each...it is 12 cents each. And even if it was sometime thing like 12.43 cents per photo, there are roughly 27392 different ways to indicate that the price is just slightly over 12 cents. Like is really not an option for print advertising. Or it shouldn't be. I don't mind to see like littered around blog posts, Kindergarten assignments, and the screenplay for Clueless...I am, however, adverse to having it posted on the 1st page of a Big Box sales flyer. We are already fighting a losing battle with the invention of text language and spell check. Perhaps you should refrain from caving to the peer pressure, even if it does cost you your target audience. This is not a deal breaker for me. I will still buy my Chia Pets from you at Christmas and sometimes you do have the best deal on Halloween candy. I would just appreciate a little more care taken in the production of your newspaper ads...even if you think no one reads the newspapers anymore.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Queen Elizabeth!

...And no, her name is not actually Queen Elizabeth...or even Elizabeth, for that matter. But she has always felt like my big sister, even when we shared the most coveted room in the sorority house (corner room, second floor, with an air conditioning unit. One of the few perks of being the House Manager was getting to pick your room before anyone else. Well, and getting to pick your roommate. Queen E lobbied harder for that job than anyone else. I like to reward hard work.)

I was obnoxiously distant during my last two years in the sorority. I blame The Psychopath (AKA ex-fiance #2) for this noticeable absence. When he told me that if I got drunk on my 21st birthday, he would leave me, I should have taken it for the flashing red sign that it was. But I was young and in love and incredibly stupid. Queen E stuck by me on my 21st and for all the days following, even when I didn't come home for weeks on end and debt collectors were calling to hound me about bills unpaid. Today, that wouldn't be a problem for Queen E, but this was before cell phones, when the only number they had was our land line. And they liked to start calling around 7 AM.

We fell out of touch why my life fell apart, as hard as I tried to keep it all together. Note to any tweens or teens reading this: if you think a guy may be ruining your life or if you sense that you are not the woman you were before you met him, give back all the jewelry and the football jersey and run for the hills. He's not worth it. It's not worth it. The first sign will be when he asks you to cancel plans with your girlfriends so that the 2 of you can eat Donato's Pizza on his couch and watch The Matrix for the 15th time. But somehow, we found a way to connect back up, even before Facebook came along. I attended her wedding, visited her in Chicago, she came down to Kentucky, and the friendship that we should have had in college began to take root. Eventually, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding and we attended her daughter's christening.

Today, she turns 25. Again. It is a lady's prerogative to never tell how many times her BFF has celebrated 25, as long as she can still pass. And she absolutely can.

And because she's a Virgo, too, and we both love lists, here's one for you, Queen E!

Reasons why Queen Elizabeth rocks my little Virgo world:
1. She can laugh about The Psychopath Years...now.
2. She is 199% honest. Even brutally. But I depend on that, especially when I'm making major life decisions.
3. I would have never been able to set a wedding date if it hadn't been for her.
4. She finds great deals on photo printing, jeans, make up, shoes, wine and everything in between. And she shares it with me so I can shop, too!
5. When I spend too much on our shopping trips in Chicago, she lets me blame it on her.
6. She is one of the few people who will wander aimlessly around The Container Store with me for hours....and then help me recreate it all from what we find at IKEA.
7. She loves a plan. And hates it when a plan changes. It's like we were separated at birth.
8. She introduced me to pinot grigio and Jen Lancaster. That alone is worth Lifetime BFF Status.
9. In the past few years we have had: amazing seats at a White Sox/Red Sox game (as in, a player's wife was seated directly in front of us), countless dinners at Maggiano's, tickets to my first ever hockey game (GO Blackhawks!), tickets to The House of Blues Gospel Brunch (totally worth every penny...but get there early for extra mimosas!), trips to the beach, trips to distilleries, and trips down memory lane. And that's just what springs to mind during my first cup of coffee...
10. Our birthdays are exactly 2 weeks apart and that means we are pretty much twins.

Happy Birthday, Queen Elizabeth! I hope you get all of the wine, chocolate, and Coach you wanted! I'm sorry you're there and I'm here, but I will make it up to you one of these days!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rollin' in the Prius

Hi, you've reached Magnolias & Mimosas! Sorry I can't post witty and insightful things or pop over and spread my sarcastic goodness all over your all's comments sections right now. I'm on my way to the Queen's house. Big Sister was being all melodramatic about her need to scrapbook and make fancy jewelry and drink mojitos and Little Princess felt every mile of that guilt trip. So, off I go. I will return on Sunday, after Neal finishes his last paper for this class and I'm properly pickled from sun and drink.

We are clearly elephants at the Jacksonville Zoo.

See ya on da flip side with stories, pictures, and fancy, handmade baubles.

PS For those of you looking to break into my house, it is still inhabited by a man who has had 25 years of weapons qualifications and 2 lionesses. I wouldn't, if I were you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pat Conroy Makes Me Wordy

Disclaimer: This is probably the longest book review you will ever read...if you do choose to read it. But if I didn't get these thoughts out of my head as soon as I placed South of Broad back on the bookshelf, they would roll around in there until they dripped out in the shower and I would never get them back.

Growing up as an only child can result in one of several ways...you are withdrawn, shy, and retain an alarming number of imaginary friends...or you can immerse yourself in the lives and loves of school friends...or you cling to the music, authors, and art of your parents' generation. You hold on to these aspects of your childhood because without a sibling to torment, shadow, and adore, you adhere to your parents and everything they bring with them. Unfortunately, Army Dad never really grasped that (despite his numerous attempts at fatherhood, unlike my mom) and saw his role in the family as The Discipline and The Lecturer. While some of his teachings and traits stuck (I am hyper-vigilant while traveling alone or at night, I always prepare for the worst while simultaneously hoping for the best, and I could watch The History Channel for hours), I don't fall back on his music or his books when my ship starts to rock. Instead, I download albums by James Taylor and Mary Chapin Carpenter. I put Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on repeat until the storm subsides. I'm sure these were all part of Dad's collection at some point (probably when he and Mom were still married and she brought with her the art that had fashioned her into the woman she had become), but he is not the one I think of when the music plays. It is Mom and her gardening gloves as she surveys a lonely spot of land...or driving with sunglasses on, sunroof open and Jimmy Buffett enticing us with cheeseburgers and margaritas...or playing Fur Elise on the piano in the dining room of the only house that could both heal us after an emotionless divorce and allow our relationship to almost completely disintegrate. The music and the authors that belong to my mother came to belong to me, as well. And that is how I fell in love with Anne Rivers Siddons and Pat Conroy.

Although I embraced the Sweet Valley twins and Anne of Green Gables as fully as any tween in the early 90's, I was also reading about the tumultuous relationships that adults have and how geography can sometimes play an integral role in all of it...particularly in the south. Outer Banks, a novel about four women who become fast friends after joining a sorority at Randoph-Macon College in the 1960's, has haunted me since I first read it my freshman year in high school. Reading it several more times has done nothing to ease the restlessness I felt after the first read. Even though it has been many years since I've picked up my weathered and abused copy, I still often think about one of Ms. Siddons' unintentional themes...how music in the background of an experience can actually shape the memory of that experience. The soundtrack and library of my childhood were established by my mom. Until I read Outer Banks, I rallied against allowing music to define a period of my life. After, I realized there is really no way around it.

I read Beach Music by Pat Conroy next and found peace and escape in his lengthy descriptions of the south and the tides of the Atlantic Ocean. Together, he and Ms. Siddons replaced my blood with saltwater. Jimmy Buffett then blended it to a perfect, fruity concoction.

While I've read some of Ms. Siddons' later works, most recently Off Season, none of it comes close to invoking a passion for the characters that Outer Banks did. However, Pat Conroy's latest book, South of Broad, not only served as a love letter to the entire city of Charleston and its neighboring islands, it also transported me to a time in American history that I, unfortunately, missed. While some authors tend to draw out their stories, reaching for some set page goal, I absolutely believe Mr. Conroy needed all 512 pages to tell the story of Charleston and her evolution from the segregated and society-obsessed brat she was in the late 1960's to the diverse tourist destination she is today. He, like my parents, witnessed the 60's and 70's firsthand and paints, I think, an accurate portrait (even for a work of fiction) of what the deep south was like during those years. Meld that with the dramatic and tragic arrival of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco in the 1980's and you have the ingredients for an epic story, spanning several decades and encompassing entire lives of the main characters.

It is easy to look at the year 1968 or 1985 or 2010 and see it as a single moment in history, as if it arrived by virgin birth with no history and no future to influence it. But when you read a story, fiction or biographical, that spreads across 4 decades and recounts how events affected those who lived them, it is impossible to ignore that we are all a thread in the quilt of time. Maybe we become the thread spun of gold that illuminates all others around us or maybe we become frayed and tattered. Regardless, we cannot escape our place in the pattern. Our every thought, word, and action will change how the quilt is crafted but we will never see most of those changes. It's a butterfly who changes course in Brazil. It is removed from us, but that doesn't mean that it never happened or had consequences. South of Broad reminds me, in a way that very few books have before, that cause-and-effect is real and occurs every second of every day.

But South of Broad covers many of life's mysterious currents. From integration of the deep south to the harrowing realization that a disease can erase the lives of so many before anyone cares to the breath-taking resilience of the most violated and damaged individuals. To say this is a novel about a group of friends who met in high school, grew up to marry one another and survived Hurricane Hugo (which, as unjust as it may be, is absolutely comparable to Hurricane Katrina to the residents of South Carolina), is a gross oversimplification that should insult Mr. Conroy. Is it a novel worthy of awards and praise? Absolutely. Is it perfect? No. I quickly grew bored of the chapter that gave a play-by-play of high school football games and I was exhausted by the hot and cold relationship between Leo and Molly. But the integrated high school football team and their cheerleaders provided the backdrop for so many of the central relationships to develop, so I will forgive him. And Molly was proof that no matter how strong your love is for someone else, there are areas of the world where society will still dictate your spouse and your course in life.

Mama Virgo read this first and was lukewarm on it in general. The ending she thought was "weird"....which, as lame as it is, was the only way I could describe the ending to Ms. Siddons' Off Season. Weird. I didn't feel the same about South of Broad. I think some who are intrigued by this review will rush out, buy the book, read all 512 pages and think to themselves, "that was the most melodramatic piece of trash I've ever spent my time reading." But I've been on this earth long enough to know that the events in the book could all happen today. In a world where kidnapped children are found living in the backyard of and working for their kidnappers, where a handful of celebrities turn up dead by their own hand each year, where citizens in small towns everywhere find their big break on television reality shows...nothing in South of Broad is impossible...or even improbable. This book covers a society divided by race and class, the emergence of open homosexuality and the hatred that follows, child abuse, murder, acts of God, scandal in the Catholic church, the wrath of Alzheimer's, philandering, disease, and the inhumanity we show to others. It is only the most genius of writers that can make me feel inspired and hopeful after all of that.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Champagne Friday: Rah-Rah-Rah!

Men who know how to dine properly

Happy Champagne Friday, lovelies and lovers!

For the record, I have no idea who these 2 men are, but since today's post is U.K.-themed (University of Kentucky, not United Kingdom...*ahem Kiera*), served with a tall glass of champagne, I thought they were completely appropriate. And who doesn't love KFC? I know there's a nasty rumor going around that Colonel Sanders was an arrogant SOB who only cared about his chicken and his slaw...but if your chicken and slaw are that good, I won't judge you on your personality flaws.

As Salt mentioned yesterday, pre-season has started for the NFL and college football is right around the corner. As a marching member of the drum line for 3 years in high school, I lived and breathed Friday night football. And Game Day Saturdays in college meant washing down my egg and cheese bagel with a Bud Light. I can't help but get all giggly when September approaches, the weather cools, and Kroger runs out of brats.

Unlike our basketball team, University of Kentucky football has not always been a winning team. During my college days, we kind of knew we were going to lose days before the opening kick-off...it gave us an excuse to drink more. But now, holy pigskinbatman! We are actually good. And I actually watch games. Which means I have to dress for these games. And accessorize...because it is what separates us from the monkeys. So, when my friend, The Sun Devil (who is a die-hard Michigan fan, but I love her anyway because SEC has nothing to do with Big 10 until post-season) began making these flip-flops to help fund the adoption of a baby, I knew I would be hitting her up for a pair in U.K. blue and white.
They are bring-a-little-tear-to-my-eye cute and I've already been breaking them in for the first game. Granted, Georgia weather will allow me to wear them a little longer than if we were still in Kentucky, but I am not above making a trip to the UTC for frostbitten toes. As I always say to Neal: "it doesn't matter what your feet feel like, it's how cute the shoes are." But you just can't teach a man about self-mutilation for the purpose of adorable footwear.

And then I crafted these beauties for the Etsy store. I love them, but I have my own pieces so these will go up tonight. (click to enlarge)

Look familiar, Kelly?

And those are tiny diamond-like chips lining the bottom. They sparkle in the daylight, like vampires...but with far less chance of death.

If you are interested in The Sun Devil's (AKA Jen) flip-flops, you can find her on her blog, Flip Flops for You or on her Etsy store, ltmsjen.com. She has many NFL/NCAA team colors plus designs for holidays and children. All proceeds will help fund their wish of adopting a child. I have already put in my order for a pair of Army flippy floppies because, really, a girl can never have too many pairs of shoes. And they're comfortable! Neal is so happy.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Roadtrippin' (which is not wordless. At all.)

I sort of dragged in on Monday night, less from the sheer exhaustion of a 5-hour drive and more from the hangover that lasts longer now that I'm pushing 32. But mojitoes were made and had to be drank...and then there were the margaritas. And Carlos. And Carlos making googly eyes at Salt...

Ah..I digress. So, I had every intention of writing this yesterday but as I was driving home from Sam's Club, I started crying through every country song on the radio (yes, even "All My Exes Live in Texas") and then remembered how I had given the stink eye to that lady in the frozen food department and I realized....I have PMS. It's been awhile so I had sort of forgotten how much joy this brings to my life for 5-7 days. I took that as a sign to take to my bed and Facebook stalk under the covers. But now, after several cups of coffee and a handful of macadamia nut Hershey kisses (Brooke, my supply is running low! Darn you, Hawaii, for controlling supply), I am ready to face the world.

Sunday morning came early after a cookout with my Air Force friends on base, but I was eager to reach Savannah where Amanda of It's Blogworthy and her hubs, K, awaited me. Brunch at Goose Feathers was fantastic and I cannot recommend it enough. The line was long but moved swiftly and the owner was actually working the cash register! I am not sure if that speaks to her dedication or her obsession with control, but either way, I was wildly impressed.

Amanda and K are the most adorable couple, him fretting over the space between her babybelly and strangers, and her giggling about his Mama Hen Complex. I could have sat with them for hours, chatting about work, blogging, and travel. K is sort of a diamond in the rough. You know how hard it is to find a man who will have an enjoyable and two-way conversation with you about something other than field goals...kind of like trying to find size 7 thongs in Victoria's Secret. But K does it and does it well. He and Amanda are the perfect compliment to each other. Kind of like us..

Many thanks to K for snapping the photo of us in Ellis Square, Savannah and many thanks to Amanda for unknowingly letting me hijack it from your blog.

I could have stayed until the junk in the trunk went numb from unyielding cafe chairs...but Salt of Salt Says was drinking beer and Mama Salt was pouring mojitos and the first sign of alcoholism is drinking alone with your mom. We couldn't let that happen, could we?

So, it started with a beer on Sullivan's Island:
And then progressed to margaritas at a Mexican restaurant (where I accidentally used my outside voice to order fish tacos. I think I insisted that they be so good they would make me bellow sex noises.)
And then the drunken photography ensued.
But at least there was no drunk Facebooking or drunk texting (this time). Just 2 girls and Mama Salt on the balcony, discussing Prop 8 and where we will all be on Judgment Day (tequila makes me very philosophical).

The next morning was a dehydrated haze of pain, but one latte and an egg/brie sandwich later, we were on the road to normal.
Salt picked up a little Jasper lovin' with her frap and then we hit the bead store, Beaded Venus, which we immediately renamed Bedazzled Penis. I've managed to put up a couple creations from my finds at the bead store, but more are on their way. Glass pumpkin puppy heads anyone?

Finding King Street in downtown Charleston, using only street signs, proved to be a little more dangerous than scavenging bead stores in Mt. Pleasant. Let's just say that Salt has seen the less desirable neighborhoods of Charm City and this area ranked right up there with them. We dialed the Preppy White Girl Look down and the Totally-Fake-Unconcerned-Look up until the windows with bars disappeared and no one would mistake us for Narcs. At this point, there were several hysterical "incidences" and I just don't think I want to squeeze them all into one post. Suffice it to say, those of you who read Salt's blog know that she has completely ridiculous stories and it's tempting to believe they are born in her imagination. I'm here to tell you this crap really happens to her! And to me when I'm with her. So, more later on that. Sorry to be such a flapjacking tease.

Salt covered our trip to the city's creepiest cemeteries in her post today, so I will send you over here to check that out.

And I'm headed out to the rest of you, who I've been neglecting in favor of fruited wine, Budget Travel magazines, and Pat Conroy's latest novel, South of Broad. Love and butt-bumps to Amanda, K, Salt, and Mama Salt for a weekend of buffoonery. Let's do it again, shall we?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happy Champagne Friday, Zambia Style

Photo courtesy of my friend, the Parisian Contessa, who just returned from Paris and Amsterdam.
Lucky bitch.
And that's the butt-end of about a million bottles of French Champagne.
This cave has my name all over it.

Thank you, Contessa, for the use of a vacation photo. It is truly a significant snap and very apropos for today.

This Friday's toast goes to Mama Virgo and the Immanuel Baptist Church Mission Team for the work they continue to do this weekend in Zambia. On Wednesday, I posted pictures of the school they came upon that needs a roof in order to not only house the students, but to even survive the next rainy season. The school is not part of their original itinerary, which was jammed full as it was. But with a school mostly finished and only awaiting a roof to finally become useful, Mama Virgo and the team saw a need that could not be ignored. They agreed to collect the funds necessary to finish it. That is a $12,000 bill to completely finish a building that the students can use instead of a tent. Some people spend that on a vacation (not any I know of, personally, but some do).

As Neal and I discussed it that evening, with the closing documents of the new house laying to one side of my computer and travel guides to Egypt and Amsterdam laying on the other, we agreed that we could not, in good conscience, book a European vacation or install wainscoting in the new house when there are children in Zambia without a roof on their school.

And last night, when Neal left a half-finished cob of corn on his plate, I echoed many generations of mothers and said "there are starving people in Africa who would want that corn."

To which he said, "no, they just want a roof on their school." True story. Although, they would probably take the corn, too.

After Wednesday's post, I got several responses back from those of you who wanted to give, but felt bad that it wouldn't be a large sum. To that I say, "Sally Struthers feeds and educates a child on $1.25/day. It doesn't take much. It just takes a lot of us." So, thank you to all of you who have sent checks in financial support of Mama Virgo and the IBC team of volunteers! And thank you to those of you who give in other ways, whether it be for breast cancer research, or the cure for AIDS, or an animal shelter. Thank you for giving from your wallet and your heart and your hands. It takes all of us to make this world great. If we each do one small thing, it adds up to many enormous things quickly.

And if it's not Zambia, Krysten over at After I Do has a charity spotlight each week. Read about the organization and if it calls to your heart, click on her "donate" button. It's easier than Sunday Morning.

I'll leave you this weekend with the latest pictures from Mama Virgo. Internet creeps and crawls at best so sending photos is tedious work, but she's eager to show their progress on the school and the children who await it. Cheers to you, IBC Team! You are doing God's work!

The students in their tentschool in Namapande.

Awaiting a roof, but at least the workers are back on the job!

The IBC Team (Mama Virgo takes a knee)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Would Drive 5 Hours For Salt

And by that, I mean....

Salt @ Salt Says! (Not to be confused with the little girl and the umbrella on the navy canister. I can see how you would be confused, though.)

I am still reeling in my jealousy over the epic meet-up of some of my favorite bloggers, Jessalyn @ Cape Cod Awesome, Surferwife @ A Day in the Life of a Surferwife, and Cher @ The Only Girl. I was shoving a chocolate chip cookie in my face, sippin' on some sparkling lemonade, and checking Twitter when I saw this:

T-Minus 24 hours until vacation! Charleston here I come!

Charleston? Charleston, South Carolina? (No offense, Charleston, WV...I would just rather not drive 12 hours to visit you.) I started choking on a chip as I rushed to pull up Google Maps just to see how far Warner Robins is from Charleston. 5 hours? With a very convenient little stop in Savannah 3 hours into the drive? I can so do this! And thus began the email marathon of whether we can bring Salt and Mimosas together.

As it turns out, we can! And Mama Salt will meet Mimosas (AKA Bubbles Friday AKA MagnoliaMimosa) and we, the three of us, shall sit under the stars and drink mojitos like the true southern belles we are. I guess we could drink mimosas, but that takes champagne and that shiz is expensive, yo. Even the $4.99
Barefoot variety. And driving home the next day with that hangover would be disastrous.

Salt and I have even located The Charleston Bead Company, where your two favorite jewelry designers will play to each other's creativity, thus inspiring delightful, whimsical pieces that sparkle in the sun.

Or maybe we'll just laugh at all of their fugly beads and snicker about how we could do
so much better.

Either way, it's going to be the stuff that legends are made of because, really, how could it not??

Tomorrow is Try a New Food...um...Thursday? I bought Dragon Fruit at the commissary yesterday. It's definitely a fruit with attitude. AND I have more pictures of the school in Zambia sent to me last night! So much to do! Focus!! Or...just dance about in your boxers and squeal about how much fun Sunday and Monday are going to be. Either way....

PS: Blogger,
I hate you when you won't UN-ITALICIZE. Why must you pee on my parade? THBT!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

An Ammendment to the Last Blog Post

Hey guys,
I'm already getting a phenomenal response. I just received this email from Anna Banana and wanted to pass it along:

I needed to make a correction on the previous info I sent you about donations for the school project. I now know that I will be sending the money through Immanuel Baptist Church to Partners in Development which is a legit non-profit organization. Therefore, anyone wanting to contribute but needing the tax record for contribution purposes should send their contributions to Immanuel Baptist Church, 1075 Collins Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601. Make out the check to Immanuel Baptist Church and in the memo line, put either "Partners in Development" or "Namapanda school project".
Jane says the "school is two thirds finished and they ran out of money. It has walls and window frames, but if the roof is not on by the rainey season in late October, it will crumble. They have almost all the materials but they are locked up and they cannot get them because the workers were not paid." The money the mission team is putting together ($12,000 in all) will finish it all.
I'm not pushing for donations here - just needed to clarify how any donations should be made for tax deduction purposes. Thanks to all for your patience. Will send any further updates as I receive them.

Thank you from me, to0!

An Open Call For Help

I realize it's kind of tacky for me to abandon you for over a week and then pop back over to ask for a favor...a big favor...a solid, but you should know me well enough to know that I'm not above that sort of thing. Besides, Life got in the way. Pesky Life. We closed on the townhouse in Kentucky on Friday, moved on Saturday, drove back to Georgia on Sunday. And then there's that bottomless pit of laundry.

However, I promise to return full-time this week. In the meantime, I am going to be tacky and ask for your help.

You all remember my mother, the infamous Mama Virgo:

We know that she bleeds U.K. blue and would prefer to breathe sea air than Kentucky air...but she's also committed to selfless-service, and has been for quite some time.

Mama Virgo left for Zambia last Wednesday. She and a small team of volunteers from my hometown church in Frankfort, KY were going to construct a building or two, conduct camps, and just try to improve the quality of life in general. They have had limited Internet and no cell phone service, but this afternoon, I received the following progress report:

Hi All!
Here's the latest on Jane and crew! I just missed a call from her but she left the following information on the machine. On their day trip yesterday they encountered a situation in one of the villages where there has been a school built - except for the roof. The area is holding school for a bunch of kids in a tent and the building is just setting there unfinished. It won't make it through another rainy season and the work that has been done so far will be lost, so she and Steve (Mission Team Leader) have committed the $12,000 that it will take to get a roof on the building. The mission team is pooling their funds for $1000. She asked me to spread the word at church and among friends for anyone willing to pitch in to help out. Anyone else willing to pony up should send the money to Jane at home. She says a lot of kids will benefit from the school and it's okay if she doesn't get the money back, so no pressure here - just help out if you feel moved to do so.

I am simultaneously inspired by the mission team and appalled that the government would allow the school to remain 2% uncompleted and totally unprotected. According to some opinions back home, the Zambian government is unconcerned about how the children are educated and what conditions they must endure to receive that education. I cannot imagine settling for a tent when an actual school is within sight. Mama Virgo and her band of dedicated workers are reaching out for financial assistance so that they can provide the physical assistance. Mama Virgo has agreed to supplement the gathered funds so the roof can be built. She understands that she may not get reimbursed, but wouldn't it be great if she was?

Rarely am I so inspired to share a story and encourage others to participate like I am right now. This is first-hand assistance. I wrote my check to the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina and I texted my money after Haiti, but this is my mom in Zambia, asking for money so they can build a roof. Mom has always taught me that while our lives here seem ordinary and middle-class, we are indulgent compared to many cultures. And if the people in those cultures are lacking, it is our duty as a member of the human race to try to help. Mama Virgo has already fronted her own money to travel to Zambia and work for 2 weeks, and she understands that she could be writing a large check for a small roof. It would certainly not be pocket change, but she's prepared to do that. I just want to make it a little easier for her.

If you would like to help, please email me at gymwildcat@yahoo.com. I do not have a Paypal account set up or any donation sites prepared. You would just be sending her a check in the mail to her house and she will be sending you pictures of the work you helped make possible. It's a very simple process with a huge impact.

And here is what they've seen and done so far:

I echo Anna Banana's sentiments...please do not feel pressured to do anything. People give or don't give for a variety of reasons. I just think I would be doing Mom a huge disservice by not putting the information out there. As her daughter, it's the least I can do.