Monthly Archives: August 2017

My Exciting First Trip To Laurel, Mississippi

August 15, 2017, posted by Gina – After months of trying to schedule a day trip to Laurel, Mississippi, home of Erin and Ben Napier of the HGTV Series Hometown, we were finally able to take to the road this past weekend.

The Mississippi landscape looked very familiar on our short trip until we arrived about 25 miles outside of Laurel. Suddenly, the land began to slightly roll, the trees somehow had a different look and there was more Kudzu than I think I have seen in a while. We drove right to downtown Laurel and at first sight you could see the rebirth of what was undoubtedly a wonderful, booming town. In many small Mississippi towns, the downtown area consists of one main strip that is cherished. Laurel is host to several brick laid streets and the famous criss-cross string lighting strung across the downtown buildings.

As we drove the streets looking for Lee’s Coffee and Tea, a few businesses caught our eye.  They looked so fresh, new and welcoming. We also loved the brick laid streets and lights as they seemed to bring so much life and charm to the area. 

Pretty soon we reached Lee’s Coffee and Tea where we were able to park right in front. The inset entrance seemed to bring you back years with the colorful tile right outside the door.

Inside Lee’s we initially thought the restaurant had been there for years but later found out they were the first to take a chance and locate in downtown which is said to have created a domino effect on the revitalization. I could not pass up the pimento cheese sandwich and in my mind white bread is the only choice for such. Mr. GDFC enjoyed a grilled chicken panini. We enjoyed every bite.

Turns out that Laurel Mercantile is right down the street from Lee’s, so we made our way there. We first saw the iconic building sign and the bright blue truck that we sometimes see Ben driving in the show. Mr. GDFC insisted I get in the photo with the truck. We turned the corner and were face to face with the store. Inside, we were given a proper Southern welcome and began perusing the goods.

Tew Pottery is located in Laurel and it seems to fit right in at the Mercantile. You know how I love anything blue and white!

I am sure it is not surprising that this section of table linens caught my eye.

This selection of quilts was so colorful and perfect. I have a love for anything that is hand made and wanted to take each one home with me.

This display of blue and white plates on the black background was so striking and creative. It goes to show that art comes in many forms. And speaking of paintings, this print from none other than Erin Napier made the trip back home with us. It as if it was done especially for my house that happens to be filled with blue and white.

Mr. GDFC spied this collection of family recipes from Laurel Mercantile. Many of the recipes have a short blurb about their origin or interesting facts. While some of these recipes are familiar, they have a bit of a different twist and sometimes that is all it takes to bring a recipe from so-so to fabulous!

Okra Magazine published its second edition and none other than Erin and Ben Napier were featured on the cover. The article that followed was very nice. I love Okra Magazine and will share more on it in another post.

The ladies working in the Mercantile quickly ascertained we were not locals which happens in small towns quite frequently. They were so nice to us and made sure to tell us all of the places we should visit. They gave us this cute list of things to see in Laurel.

We took to the streets, list in hand. This sign is evidence of the collaboration on the downtown area. It is a beacon of hope and progess.

We had seen Southern Antiques on the show and knew it was a must to see. It was filled with all types of treasures from home goods to artwork to clothing. It was a great store and we recommend you stop in if you find yourself in Laurel. Across the street from Southern Antiques was Patina and we could not stop to visit as time was working against us but it will be one of the first on our list on our return visit.

We wanted to see the neighborhoods that brought HGTV to the area or was it the Napiers? I can’t imagine anything prettier or more inviting than a tree lined street and they have their fair share of them. The streets were filled with large homes, cottage size homes and everything in between. They all seemed to blend beautifully. I suddenly could see why HGTV loved this town.
Even the local junior high school was beautiful.

Our time was short but we packed in as much as possible and loved every minute of it. Upon returning to our home we spoke with several friends who want to take the trip with us again and I am ready.

If you find yourself wanting to experience Laurel but don’t want to be rushed as we were, you might want to check out Wisteria Bed & Breakfast. I mean just based on the purple exterior, I want to stay there.

Manners on Monday: Cell Phone Etiquette

August 14, 2017, posted by Gina – When my oldest son left for college I was a nervous wreck. I stood vigil by my cell phone because I was a worried Mom. I clearly remember one day going to lunch with a friend and placing my cell phone purposely on the table in case he should call. At the time, I saw nothing wrong with this. I was not talking on it and did not intend to take a call unless it was my son.

Fast forward to a few months ago and I read about how my act of placing the cell phone on the table was a rude behavior. It turns out that this truly irritates some people and in fact proper etiquette requires you to put your phone away and keep it on silent or vibrate mode.
To this day, I want to keep my cell phone where I can see it in case one of my children calls me in need. I am better than I was when our oldest went to college but I still have this need to be ever vigilant.

Now that I have learned my behavior was rude, I have changed my ways and keep my phone in my purse. On the other side of this situation, I truly don’t mind if someone places their phone on the table in the event of a call they need to accept. The only time I would get irritated would be if the person carried on a conversation.

As wonderful as cell phones are, they have certainly created some unwanted behavior. How about you? Do you keep your cell phone with you at all times? Would you place it on the table in a restaurant? Would this drive you insane? Are there other cell phone practices that make your hair stand on end?

Fun Stuff on Friday: Natural Beauty

August 11, 2017, posted by Gina – Mother Nature is taking over the blog this week and sharing some of her marvels with you. Let’s take a look, shall we?

|   NO FEAR DEER    |
It’s not often you see deer without them scattering immediately. We took a drive out in the country and these two were unimpressed with our truck. They did not budge and even let us take their picture.



Take a look at this snooty woodpecker! These regular, everyday birds just love my home and visit me very often. For anyone new here….I tried for years to attract hummingbirds with no success. I changed to a regular bird feeder and all types of feathered friends visit me daily.
This feeder sits outside one of our windows and as you can see the birds do not detect my presence and so I am able to see them up close and personal. For anyone interested in placing a bird feeder in your yard, this feeder is a Squirrel Buster Birdfeeder. It is such a joy to be able to watch these little creatures.


Do you ever plant flowers or plants and think they really aren’t growing very much? Well, I think this quite frequently. Recently, we have had a lot of rain and our plants have loved every drop. Let’s look at a few before and after photos to see what a difference a few months makes in a garden.


These Sunpatiens were planted in early May. We had to “baby” these plants and even had the owner of the garden center look at them. He even called the grower. They just did not seem like they were going to make it. We had planted Sunpatiens the year before with none of this drama. Upon investigation, it was determined that I had the perfect growing environment for these plants. I was pretty sure I did but it never hurts for the experts to take a look. It was decided they just needed a little more time and some extra careful attention. I stood vigilant with these beauties and months later we are reaping the benefits. I am not sure I will have this kind of patience (ha ha) again but they sure are pretty.


You may remember that in April I decided I wanted a cutting flower garden in my yard. I mapped out a plan and decided to give it a try. Some things made it and some things did not. I really felt like I had not made much progress that is until I saw these before and after photos. The true test will be next Spring to see how many of these flowers return.


This confederate jasmine has taken much longer than I thought to crawl its way along this trellis. I feel as if time is standing still in this area of my yard. Alas, in these before and after photos you can see some thicker growth. I finally can see the light. For the record, this vine is 3 years old for any of you considering growing one for yourself. Patience is a virtue…. right?



A few weeks ago, Mr. GDFC and I visited a fabulous sunflower field in Memphis, TN. I shared one of the photos on Instagram (if you aren’t following us on Instagram, please start today! CLICK HERE to check us out). I thought it would be nice for you to get a feel for how large this field actually is. In the first photo, we see the whole field and honestly this photo does not do it justice. In the second photo, we see these gorgeous flowers up-close. And finally, we see how many people were at this field with cameras in hand. It was quite a site to see.

Enjoy your weekend and enjoy some nature of your own. We will see you next week!


What to Cook Wednesday: Peach Hand Pies

August 9, 2017, posted by Gina -At long last I have the Peach Hand Pie recipe to share! I think I mentioned that I am not that fond of fruit desserts but these little pies are delicious. This recipe came from a chef and I feel fortunate that it was shared with me. You could use just about any fruit in this recipe but peaches are in season right now so it seems we should enjoy their bounty while we can. Let’s get started.

3 ripe peaches, sliced very thin
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
½ cup orange juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine peaches and all remaining ingredients in saucepan and cook on low for 1 hour. Cool. Place in refrigerator until ready to prepare pies.

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. sugar
9 tbsp. frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup vodka
¼ cup cold water

Combine flour, salt and sugar in food processor and pulse 10 times. Add frozen butter and process until mixture resembles cornmeal. Combine water and vodka. With food processor on, let liquid stream into dough mixture until combined. Place food processor bowl in freezer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, divide dough into 12 equal portions. Shape each dough portion into a ball. Roll each portion to a 5-inch circle. Cut dough with a 3-inch biscuit cutter.

To assemble, top one of the 3-inch circles with the peach filling then top with another 3-inch circle of dough. Press edges together with a fork to seal. Place 3 – 4 slits in each pie.

1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk

Combine egg and milk and brush over tops of pies.

¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over each pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes or until lightly browned (this was at 12 minutes in my oven).