New Orleans

Summer is definitely in full swing and we’re out here trying to make the most of it. What have you been up to so far this summer? We’ve been in Mississippi the past few weeks visiting family and basically eating all the fried catfish I can find.

While in Mississippi, we decided to take a quick trip down to New Orleans for a night. New Orleans holds a special place in our hearts. We have family not too far from the city and we also took our first trip as a couple there when we were dating for her birthday!

When we arrived, it was lunch time, so we stopped at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen for pasta.

I got the gulf shrimp and crab pasta with roasted tomatoes and basil in a lemon butter sauce. Ashlynn had the Bolognese. Both were incredible!

After lunch, we walked down through the French Quarter to Cafe Du Monde for dessert. If you’ve never had a beignet from Cafe du Monde, it is an experience all in itself. Sitting in the French Quarter, covered just about head to toe in powdered sugar is pretty close to heaven in my opinion.

Next, we headed to our hotel. We stayed at The Eliza Jane, a boutique hotel on Magazine. If you ever want a centrally located hotel, we highly recommend.

The hotel is only a couple of years old. They have a restaurant on site, but it was closed due to COVID-19. We really enjoyed our stay here and will stay here again next time we’re in New Orleans.

We decided to stay in rather than going out to eat, so we ordered delivery from Oceana Grill. Ashlynn had a sampler of crawfish étouffée, gumbo, and red beans and rice, and I had the shrimp po-boy.

The next morning, before heading out, we stopped and had brunch at Stanley in the French Quarter.

I ate the crab cakes Benedict and Ashlynn had bacon, eggs, and grits. They also had incredible coffee!

This trip was so much fun and a much needed getaway! There were so many places friends recommended that we weren’t able to get to. One of the best guides I found is on Joy The Baker’s blog. If you’re planning a trip, it’s definitely worth taking a look!

What We’ve Been Up To This Week.

We’ve had a crazy week around here! Ashlynn is finishing up her school and I’m getting ready for our summer programs to start. I feel like my head has been spinning all week just trying to keep up, but it’s pretty amazing to see the product of your hard work in tangible ways. Here’s what we’ve been up to this week.

The Blue Angels flew over Nashville this week and it was so cool!

We cooked these perfect spaghetti and meatballs and they definitely live up to their name!

Like I said, Ashlynn has been closing out the school year this week and is moving grades. We’ve been packing up her room and I had no idea everything she’s accumulated over the past few years. I love how much intentionality she puts into what she does!

We also had Chicken Florentine and Hasselback Potatoes from the new Magnolia Table Cookbook.

I’ve been reading this book lately because I heard it was pretty amazing… and so far, the critics are right! It’s about a guy who moves back to his small town to take care of his family after his sister passes away.

Rainy Evening.

We had a pretty nice evening around the house tonight! We had our Zoom small group, which I’m loving more and more every week! Ashlynn also cooked me a home cooked dinner from my favorite restaurant in Mississippi, Porches! It was so good! She fixed poppy seed chicken and hot pineapple casserole, two dishes they are famous for. If you are ever anywhere near central Mississippi, you have to go check them out (once restaurants open back up anyway)!

And after small group was over, we decided we deserved a little treat from Tiff. The small things tend to turn into the big things in our life, don’t they?

Seasons.

One thing I’ve learned is that much isn’t certain, even when we think it is. Yesterday shook us up a little. We received confirmation about concerns I’ve had for the past several years. On top of that, we found out a lot will be changing for us come this fall and into next year. This morning, I got up to take Ryman out and saw this incredible sunrise. I feel as though life is composed of seasons blending into one another. I know this season is very temporary, but I feel blessed to be able to wake up, look out my window, and see this.

The future has been on my mind so much lately, even more than normal. I have no idea what God is up to, but as I’ve seen over and over and over in my life, it’s going to be good.

Mississippi in Me

Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home in Oxford, Mississippi.



With Shelter in Place going on, I’ve been reading more than I have in a long time, and if I’m honest, I’m loving every minute of it! It’s been a really nice change of pace for me. Since there’s no events for work, no baseball on TV, and no restaurants to go dine in, I’ve really settled into a slower pace of life. And interestingly enough, I really want to create a new normal when all of this is over. Don’t get me wrong, this is very hard for so many. I know friends who have had their lives turned upside down, and I’m really blessed to be able to do what I do. But, this whole experience has me wondering if this lifestyle is more of who we are created to be. Instead of going 100 mph, full steam ahead, what if life was more like this every day—more good books being read, more home cooked dinners on the porch, more time with the people we love? Anyway, I digress! That’s not what this post is about. This post is about Mississippi.

I’ve been reading Make Something Good Today by Erin and Ben Napier. It’s a book we’ve had since it was released when we picked up our signed copy at Square Books while visiting Oxford, but I’ve never said down to read it cover to cover, until now. And y’all, it’s making this dude remember what he loves most about his home state. Mississippi has a disputable reputation in many ways, but so many call it a hidden gem, and I’d have to agree with them! Reading through Erin and Ben’s book has reminded me of what Mississippi means to me.

To me, Mississippi is my MawMaw’s house, cooking hamburgers and French fries on a Friday night, or maybe club sandwiches and chips. It’s the way the house feels during a thunderstorm, warm and inviting, yet slightly drafty—cozy. It’s the way the smells from Sunday dinner permeate the entire house. It’s the Easter egg hunts and family get-togethers, and spending the night there on weekends growing up. It’s the forts I built behind the house, the hand-me-down treehouse that was first my uncles, and then became mine. It’s the pecan trees that surround the home and the azaleas that bloom in the spring.

To me, Mississippi is my Mom making homemade biscuits on Saturday morning. It’s waking up to the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen and enjoying a cup…or two with my Mom in the stillness of the morning. It’s the game nights my parents had with their friends. It’s watching Ole Miss on TV eating sausage dogs (from Wilson’s Meat House) and French fries.

Speaking of fried, to me, Mississippi is fried catfish and hush puppies on a Friday night. My parents owned a catfish and seafood restaurant years ago and while I didn’t always appreciate it then, I look back on it as some of my fondest memories!

To me, Mississippi is our community. It’s the pound cakes that show up on your door unexpectedly. It’s the church fundraisers to raise money for the youth group to go on summer mission trips. It’s the potlucks on Sundays after church. It’s the group of boys that are helping others clean up their yard for spring.

To me, Mississippi is Ole Miss! I love Ole Miss and Oxford so much, and to me, Ole Miss personifies all of it, every bit of what is best about Mississippi.

To me, Mississippi is perfectly located. I used to disagree completely, but if you think about it, New Orleans is just to the south, Memphis is just to the north, and the beach is only a few hours away depending on where you live.

To me, Mississippi is seeing the good. It’s choosing to see the good in people and places. It’s the desire to make things better for our friends and for generations to come.

To me, Mississippi is the day I met my wife. It’s also the day she showed up to my parents restaurant in her Nike tennis shoes, shorts and pullover, with that gorgeous hair falling on her shoulders. That was the day I knew I’d spend the rest of my life with her.

To me, Mississippi is our first date, in Natchez, where I took her to a Thai restaurant that she hated. Then we took a tour on a horse-drawn carriage, and I drove her home and held her hand for the first time.

Reading Erin and Ben’s book has made me realize that no matter where I end up, there will always be a little bit of Mississippi inside of me. And no matter where you’re from, I hope there’s a little inside of you too.