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.

Yesterday.

Yesterday was pretty incredible from my perspective. The weather was amazing, the pace was slightly slower than the rest of the week (thank God!), and we spent most of the day with the windows open, letting the breeze (and pollen) blow in. It was good for the soul (but not so good for the allergies).

When I woke up, I turned on the coffee pot (fun fact—Ashlynn fixes the coffee pot for me every single night so all I have to do when I wake up is turn it on. She is my everything), and worked for a little while before I went for a long run. I was worried because I hadn’t done a long run in several days, so I thought it might be pretty difficult, but turns out, it was one of the best runs I’ve had in a while. It didn’t hurt that the temperature was around 60 degrees with a gentle breeze. It felt amazing! A buddy of mine is running his own half marathon this weekend. I’m thinking of doing the same… just to see if I’ve got what it takes.

For lunch, we ate outside because the weather was so nice. I had an uncrustable and French onion soup from Trader Joe’s (I know… what a combination). Ashlynn had a sandwich with some bbq chips.

After lunch, I had some work to do and Ashlynn had a meeting with her team. After I finished with work, I sat outside and read some. I really was craving a positive story and this has come through in ways I didn’t know it could! It’s been great reading through it.

When Ashlynn finished her meeting, we ate dinner outside again with fried chicken, Brussels sprouts (not pictured), mac n cheese, and rolls. We know—yesterday wasn’t the healthiest eating day, but it was special nonetheless.

After dinner, we took Ryman on a walk, and then went for a ride before the rain set in. When we got home, we left the windows open so we could listen to the rain. I (of course) fell asleep on the couch while Ashlynn worked on an assignment for school.

I loved yesterday. I need more days like that.

What We’ve Been Enjoying During Quarantine.

If I’m honest, I really believed quarantine would last a couple of weeks and we’d be done! I didn’t even fathom that it would be nearly two months at best! But, we’re making the best of it! We are both blessed in that we have the ability to work from home. While it’s inconvenient for some, we have to remember we’re choosing to stay safe and we are so much more blessed than some of our friends!

I feel like this blog has turned into a series of lists and more or less a pretend food blog without the good photography one comes to expect, but here we are and that’s what life is dealing us at the moment. So, I thought I’d share what we’ve actually been up to the past few weeks!

We’ve been playing lots of Spicy UNO. I grew up loving UNO and this is an awesome take on the classic game.

We’ve been enjoying this sourdough bread made with this sourdough starter.

I’ve literally gone down a rabbit hole thanks to Christine Tosi (the genius behind Milkbar). She does daily Baking Club videos on Instagram, and I’m also wanting to back my own spin on her signature Milkbar Birthday Cake. I’ve also made these, and I really want to make these!

Also, although I’ve done this before, one night, I’m going to make homemade tortillas and have a taco night!

Quarantine Bucket List


Here we are, friends! If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that 2020 has not turned out at all like we expected. Am I right? I’ve been debating this post for over a week now. I just feel like the last thing you (and I) need is another tip on what to do right now. If you get on instagram or open your browser, it’s fairly inevitable that you’re going to receive plenty of advice on how to survive these days, but that’s not what I want to offer. I just want to let you know we’re all in this together. And it’s times like these when we need each other the most!

Below is a list of what we’re hoping to accomplish over the next 14 days, and my hope is it will inspire you in your own space to create joy and happiness. The core of who I am requires creativity and fun, so I hope this sparks something inside of you!

During this time, we’re wanting to try new recipes, like Joanna Gaines’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, Julia Child’s Coq au Vin, and this sourdough bread recipe from A Beautiful Plate.

Read more—I’m hoping to finish Fathered by God by John Eldridge, catch up on The Bible Project, and read a few other books on my list for the year.

Movies we’re wanting to watch/rewatch—
Father of the Bride I and II
Back to the Future Trilogy
Remember the Titans
The Shawshank Redemption
…and ALL the movies on Disney+

We’re also cleaning out closets, organizing our pantry, exercising, dreaming about the future, and most importantly, staying connected however we can.

I hope that wherever you find yourself in all of this, that you know we’re going to be okay. We will be okay.

Recipes We’re Dying to Try.

Word on the street is your boy likes to cook, and the rumors are true! I love cooking for my wife, family, and friends. Attending a cooking class a couple of weeks ago has completely reenergized my love for cooking. So, I thought I’d share a growing list of recipes we’re itching to get into! Some are easy, others more complex, but either way, they all look incredible!

Soufflé Pancakes

Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp

French Onion Frittata

Artisan Sourdough Bread

Fried Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

Yeast Donuts

Shrimp Étouffée’ Risotto

Chicken Cacciatore

Seared Scallops in a White Wine Reduction

Layla Palmer’s Family Spaghetti