Guest Blogger: Mitchell Walters

Summer in Mississippi is a wonderful time to enjoy locally grown fruits and vegetables. Farms around the state are yielding an abundance of fresh produce, and many Mississippians are taking advantage of a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.  A CSA is a locally-based model of food distribution, where consumers receive a weekly share of a farm's harvest. What a perfect way to support local farmers, and treat yourself to wholesome, delicious fare! 
I had the pleasure of speaking with Van Killen, owner of Two Dog Farms with his wife, Tori.  Named for their beloved blue heeler/lab mix, Sid, and English Springer Spaniel, Arlo, Two Dog Farms is an organic-inspired produce farm that sells shares of their harvest through a CSA, at local farmers markets, and in restaurants. Killen grew up on a farm in the delta and says, "the idea of growing fruits and vegetables in a sustaining way has been a passion of mine for a long time." 
Here, Killen describes his passion for us, and gives details on how to provide your family with fresh vegetables and fruit, grown right here in Mississippi:

{Where do you get your produce?   Is it all Mississippi grown?}
 The produce in our CSA comes from what we grow in the dirt. We supplement the weekly share with our partner and neighboring farm, Hydroponic Farm (on salad days). Everything is grown in Flora, MS.

{How can people sign up to receive your food?
}
 We have an application on our Facebook page (Two Dog Farms) or people can email me at twodogfarmsllc@gmail.com.
{How much does it cost to join the CSA?  Do you also sell at local farmers markets?}
The cost is $28 a week and people can pay for the full season in advance, or in 2 payments. The CSA has already started, but we are happy to prorate anyone who is interested in joining. The CSA will last until the end of August.
Also, we are selling at the High Street farmers market on Saturdays and the Madison farmers market on Tuesdays.

{Why do you think it is important for Mississippians to eat locally grown produce?
}
 We have some of the most fertile land in the country right under our feet. A great way to embrace what we have is to enjoy the bountiful seasonal food that can be grown here.
{What inspires you?}
I get inspired when someone tells me how great the produce is, how they prepared it, and that they can't wait to get more. That's what makes me want to keep doing what I'm doing and growing the farm to supply more people.

{What is your favorite thing about living and working in Mississippi?}
The people of Mississippi!

Thanks to Van and Tori Killen for sharing their business and these beautiful photos with us. We hope you are all inspired to fill your table with fresh, local produce this summer!

Photos courtesy of Two Dog Farms
 

Memorial Day

05/26/2014

 
"We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

-President Abraham Lincoln
As you gather with family and friends today we want to pause to remember why we celebrate this day.  We are ever grateful for the men and women who serve selflessly to defend our freedoms, and today we remember the ones who didn't return.  Today we remember them and their commitments to fight for our freedoms.  We pray for their families and comrades who miss them immensely.  May we never take these freedoms for granted, for they were secured with an ultimate sacrifice.  
Here is a list of Mississippi's Fallen Heroes and another list of Mississippians who fought and died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
Help us in remembering and honoring them today.  

As Heath Ferguson said, "Thank you God, for pouring courage into the hearts of so many.  May you now pour comfort into the hearts of the hurting.  Amen."
{Image Credit: Google}
 
 
 
 
Guest Blogger: Mitchell Walters
As we usher in spring in Mississippi, we often open our homes and hearts to celebrate our dearest friends with festive wedding and baby showers.  As Southerners, we Mississippians take pride in our warm hospitality and gracious hosting skills.  While we know you all throw a lovely event, it is always helpful to brush up on shower etiquette!  Today we turn to Amy Vanderbilt to guide us on hosting unforgettable {and perfectly proper} parties.    

Feting a blushing bride is a special moment for every Mrs.-to-be.  Brides should have at least one shower, in order to commemorate her last moments as a single woman with her dearest friends and family.  Here are several etiquette tips for playing the role as hostess at a wedding shower:
- A shower should never be given by a bride’s mother, sister or grandmother.  It is considered in poor taste, as guests might suspect that the bride’s family is begging for more gifts!

- One or several of the bride’s closest friends typically give a wedding shower.  If the bride has more than one shower, different friends should be invited to each shower!  Therefore, no one will have to buy more than one gift.

- If hosting, you should hold the shower at least two weeks before the wedding.  She will be much too busy preparing for her nuptials if it falls too close to the wedding date.

- As a hostess, it is important to ask the bride when she would like the shower to take place.  Feel free to give her an idea of how many guests your venue can accommodate!  That way you will not be taken off guard when 98 of her closest friends show up for brunch in your tiny apartment!

- Ask for the bride’s input on colors, themes, etc.  She might be particular, and her happiness is of the upmost importance! At the end of the day the bride needs to remember that they are graciously hosting this for you, so don't have too many opinions!

-Guests can be invited by printed invitations, specifically designed for the occasion.  Or, if the shower will be an intimate affair, a hand-written invitation is considered a lovely gesture.

- Gifts should be fairly inexpensive, simple and practical.  The bride and groom will also receive wedding gifts from each guest, which is considered their true present. 

- As the bride, a small hostess gift is a sweet way to say thank you. 

-
It is always easiest to write thank you letters after the shower, so they don't pile up!  {don't forget to write one for each hostess}


The gorgeous floral arrangements are by Au Courant
 
 
 
 
Guest Post: Adam and Alli Hudson
There are so many reasons why people should have updated photos.   It is so easy to get caught up in the chaoticness of life that one may forget to make time to capture the moments.  Life is fleeting and those moments should be documented.  None of us are guaranteed any amount of time on this earth and putting off photos might mean that you run out of time.  We know that sounds morbid, but we are just keeping it real.  You will want to leave your family and friends with photos to go along with their memories of you.  Don't just take our word for it.  Here is a firsthand testimonial from one of our former brides, "It's important to get photos because you never know how short life can be. I took a silly photo of Matt, my husband, and his cousin Brian one day. A few months later Brian passed away in a car wreck. Everyone smiles when they see the photo remembering how silly they were. Our memories may fade over time, but pictures help us remember the details of the good times and great people that have been in our lives." (Valerie Fagan, 2014)
Most people have a list of excuses for putting off photos.  The excuses are different for everyone. Maybe you are waiting to lose weight, maybe you are waiting to get a darker tan, or maybe you are waiting until your kids are older.  Whatever the reason, you should ask yourself if those things will really matter if you aren't around any longer.  Will those excuses comfort your friends and family when they are wanting to see photos of you to go with their memories?  
Karl Lagerfeld said, “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”  While there is nothing wrong with simply capturing what someone looks like at a particular point in life for the sake of posterity, capturing WHO that person is in a singular moment is what truly differentiates a treasured keepsake from simple documentation.  Your family and friends will want treasured keepsakes of you. Think about whatever it is that is keeping you from photos and ask yourself if that will change the love you have for the people in your photos with you.  Will it change their love for you?  Hopefully the answer is no. Most people that look at your photos will just see their mom that has taken care of them their whole life, or their dad that taught them to play ball, or their best friend that they cherish. They won't be looking at how much you weigh, how dark your tan is, or anything else superficial.  The viewer just sees the person that they love.  
Another great reason for having updated photos is just to experience the actual session.  A photo session can be a really great reason just to spend time together.  You can block off a few hours to spend just enjoying each other’s company.  A photo session should be sweet and fun.  It should be a time to celebrate your love together.  That can be a couple’s session, a family session, or even a session for a special event.  All of the above should be filled with love and show the true personalities of the people in the photos.  You could have an activity to do together for your photos.  Think about your hobbies and interest together as a couple or as a family.  Incorporate those into your photo session and you will forget that there is even a camera present. Having an activity will take your mind off of the actual photos and allow you to relax.  Your photos should show your true personality so have activities that are genuine to who you are as a person or as a family.  If you like eating pizza at the park, go for it! If your family is normally goofy and playful, then don’t be afraid to show that in your photos!  Just be yourself and have a professional photographer capture those moments for you.
As a photographer, as a son, as a daughter, as a brother, as a sister, as a friend, one day as parents, and as a compassionate child of God, our goal is to continually strive to nurture the capacity to capture the fleeting moments, often hidden vulnerability, and the intensity of love between every person that steps in front of our camera.  As professional photographers it is this skill that matters beyond all else. Just like a child learns to crawl, stand, and eventually walk the budding shutter bug must first learn the necessary prerequisite technical and creative skills to simply take a good picture.  There is a skilled artistry needed to capture a truly lovely moment, a bond, tenderness, or fragility; just as the ability to capture love, requires a lifetime of persistent practice and a compassionate heart. Make sure that you choose a photographer that not only has the technical skills needed for a good photograph, but also the ability to bring out who you truly are as a couple or a family. 
We hope this short article has not only shown you the importance of having updated photos, but has also INSPIRED you to have a fun, creative session with the ones you love.  Go book your session and enjoy each other’s company! 
 
 
{How did the two of you meet?}
After we RSVP’d for the same party on Facebook, Scott came up on the side of my page as “someone I should know.” We had one friend in common, a coworker of mine, who I jokingly asked him via office IM “who is Scott Wilson and does he love me?” Apparently he did ;) because a day later Scott friended me on Facebook, made a joke about Silence of the Lambs, and invited me to meet him and his (now all my) friends at Julep. I did, we talked all night, he asked me on a ‘real’ date the next night and though he surprised me with a rouge introduction to his mom on our first date, we’ve been together ever since.  

{What is your proposal story?}
I was coming back to Jackson from a weeklong work trip in Boise, ID.  When I walked passed security Scott was there holding a huge sign that said “Dana Rowzee” on it. I laughed because he looked like a chauffer and that’s something he would do.  When I walked closer to him he flipped the sign to read “Dana Wilson?” and got down on one knee in Jackson Medgar Evers. Queue the tears and me asking a million times if he was serious. He was! My coworker knew about it and filmed the whole thing.  You can even watch it here.
{What’s your favorite unique accessory?}
Two of my favorite accessories each came from my deceased grandfathers. The first was the wedding ring my mom’s dad gave my grandmother, he passed away in 1961, and she saved it ever since.  The second was a quilting tag from my dad’s father, my Big Daddy, which I had sewn into my dress and read “Handmade by the Rowzee’s.” 


{What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process?}
Writing all the checks…kidding. Honestly, my favorite part was working with the KPEP team, there is no way Scott and I would have been able to do it alone. Bouncing ideas off each other, keeping me on track, recommending awesome vendors, they were always there and I knew all the planning would lead to an amazing wedding. 
{What inspired your wedding and reception locations?}
Northminster is a very important church to Scott and his family.  His paternal grandfather, Dudley, became the first permanent pastor in 1967 and his family grew up there. Beyond the sentimental choice to marry at Nortminster, the church is absolutely beautiful.  I’m looking forward to raising the third generation of Wilsons there too.  We chose River Hills, because of the location and frankly our planner, Kendall Poole Ellis, showed me a picture of a wedding she planned there and when I physically gasped I knew I had to have that.

{What inspired your color scheme/theme/flowers?}
Time, and my favorite colors and flowers. I knew I wanted something classic, something that I would look back on in 50 years and still love, and I’m obsessed with white and gold. 
{How did you pick “the dress?”}
My fabulous friend, Caroline Eades, owns Carriage House Weddings in Birmingham so I knew immediately that’s where I would shop. In my everyday life I never wear strapless and knew that I wanted to have some sort of sleeve so she pulled every non-strapless dress she had.  Twelve dresses later I had my dress. I loved it, my mom and MOH loved it, and Caroline loved it especially with the belt…that I still wear around the house. 
{Besides the actual wedding, what was your favorite moment of the wedding day?}
I have so many! Our first look, getting ready with my girls, but I think my favorite was after the wedding, Scott and I ran down the isle, hopped in a car and went straight to the reception before anyone else. We got to eat, drink champagne, talk, and soak in our wedding before the craziness of the reception got started.  

{What was your favorite surprise detail/moment about your wedding day?|
Walking into the reception space before all the guests arrived and seeing everything we had planned come to life. We just soaked it all in and were blown away by everything. 
{Your favorite picture from the big day?}
My favorite picture is of an iPhone. My brother and I are extremely close and he was stationed overseas in Qatar during the wedding. He wasn’t able to physically be there with us but he set his alarm for 3:00 am and my MOH’s fiancé made sure he got to see the whole thing via FaceTime.  The first time I saw this picture I burst into tears, it means so much to me. 
 
 
{Guest Blogger: Lindsay Martin - Nez}

It's that time of year.  Festivals every weekend, patios awaiting conversation, peonies in full bloom and the day that Americans love to celebrate, Cinco de Mayo.  We love the bright colors that go along with the day, and of course the Margaritas!

While I am a big believer that you can find a reason to enjoy an ice cold margarita any day of the week, many people wait until holidays or big events roll around.  Certainly Cinco de Mayo qualifies as the perfect excuse to load up on some delicious chips, guacamole and Margaritas!  But where is the best place in Jackson to celebrate this delicious holiday?  Why not try out one of these fabulous local joints and find out for yourself?

{Jaco’s Tacos}

With two fantastic locations now (one downtown and one in Ridgeland), Jaco’s Tacos has double the deliciousness to offer!  Not to mention, their Wednesday happy hour features 2-for-1 margaritas, which if you ask me, is the absolute perfect way to finish off a Wednesday workday. 

The first option I just had to try was the Gold Margarita. This tasty blend of Jose Cuervo, Grand Marnier, and a splash of orange juice was every bit as delicious as it sounds. With a side order of chips and guacamole, my taste buds were definitely satisfied.

One of the more popular options on the menu, Jaco’s Margarita is made with 1800 Tequila, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and fresh squeezed limes. Delicious to the last drop, it definitely would satisfy any margarita-lover’s craving.
Another happy hour special at Jaco’s Tacos that rocks my socks is Saturday’s all-you-can-drink Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s for just $10 (with the purchase of an entree)! I’ll definitely be back to enjoy that awesome deal another time!

Long story short: If you’re downtown or in Ridgeland, be sure to hit up Jaco’s Tacos for a margarita sometime – especially on a Wednesday during Happy Hour! You won’t be disappointed.

{Georgia Blue}

With awesome locations in Madison and Flowood, Georgia Blue is my “sleeper” margarita pick.  After all, who would expect a restaurant with such great blue plate specials to also have delicious margaritas on the menu?

First up: The Georgia Blue Margarita. A “Camarena Margarita with blue Curaçao that takes your blues away!” This drink sure was pretty, but boy was there a lot of salt on it! If you don’t love salt with your margaritas, then be sure to ask for yours with no salt.
The next margarita I ordered was definitely my favorite of the two. The Blueberry Pomegranate Margarita features Camarena Tequila, Triple Sec, sweet & sour, blueberry & pomegranate juices, splash of simple syrup & a squeeze of lime.

Long story short: Next time you’re at Georgia Blue and you’re not sure what drink to order, give the Blueberry Pomegranate Margarita a try. It won’t let you down! (Especially during half-priced happy hour, available from 4-6 pm every day!)

{Sombra Mexican Kitchen}

There are five (5) standard margaritas on Sombra’s menu. The first choice, the House Margarita is their least expensive option. With just a $7 price tag (or an awesome $5 during happy hour!), this drink won’t kill your budget. However, it is just a little bit tart for me. If you like a margarita that’s extra tart, this one’s for you! However, if you want something that goes down a little more smoothly, try stepping it up a notch and ordering the Sombra or the Township.

The Township Margarita has been my go-to margarita at Sombra since the restaurant opened. Featuring Exotico Reposado tequila, agave nectar, lime and Brazilian orange liqueur, this drink offers the freshness I crave in a good margarita, with a unique flavoring.

But what is my favorite of the margaritas offered at Sombra Mexican Kitchen? Without a doubt, it would have to be the St. Rita. Featuring Cazadores Anejo tequila, St-Germain, agave nectar and lime, it’s hard to tell you are even drinking a margarita! In fact, I don’t know if I have EVER tried a margarita that was so smooth. 
Oh – and I almost forgot to mention they squeeze their own lime juice in house and their agave nectar is 100% organic, gluten and allergen free and made without any artificial sweeteners?! Bonus points for Sombra!

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, Sombra is also featuring an exciting Four Wheeler Giveaway!  Hopefully you’ve already purchased your ticket at Sombra, Anjou, Char or Amerigo by now, but if not – you still have time!  Proceeds benefit the Mississippi Burn Foundation and the Four Wheeler winner will be drawn on Monday, May 5th at 7:00 PM!  What a fun way to celebrate the holiday!  FOUR WHEELER GIVEAWAY at 7 pm! Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at Amerigo, CHAR, Sombra or Anjou! Proceeds benefit The Mississippi Burn Foundation. Y101 will be LIVE onsite! Outside patio opens at 4!FOUR WHEELER GIVEAWAY at 7 pm! Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at Amerigo, CHAR, Sombra or Anjou! Proceeds benefit The Mississippi Burn Foundation. Y101 will be LIVE onsite! Outside patio opens at 4!

{Babalu Tacos & Tapas}

I’ve always been a fan of Babalu. From the great atmosphere (I mean who doesn’t love the I Love Lucy reruns that are projected on the wall?) to the delicious food (the Mexican street corn is heavenly), Babalu stole my heart the day that it opened.  Not to mention, their margarita options are glorious!

The Baba-Rita is by far my favorite margarita option and Babalu and it features the following ingredients: Patron Silver, Agave nectar, Patron Citronge, fresh sour mix, and pomegranate. Served with a salted rim and lime, the presentation is fantastic!
I’ve had Baba-Ritas countless times before at Babalu, but I had never tried the Martinez before. But when a drink is that similar to your own last name, you’ve got to give it a try, right?! The Martinez features Patron Reposado, fresh squeezed lime juice, Cointreau, and salt foam. As gorgeous as the presentation was, it definitely had the freshness to match! Delicious.

Next up: The Tamarind Margarita. A sweeter margarita than the others, this drink features Cazadores Blanco, fresh citrus juices, and tamarind extract. It’s good, but definitely not my favorite option. 

While Babalu’s daily happy hour specials don’t feature any of their beloved margaritas, they do feature $5 margaritas all day on Monday. So next time you’ve got a case of the Mondays, head over to Babalu for a tasty pick-me-up!

With so many delicious margarita options in the Jackson area, I’m sure you’ll find somewhere fun to spend your Cinco de Mayo this year.  Enjoy!

Florals by Au Courant  |  Jaco's Tacos  |  Georgia Blue  |  Sombra  |  Babalu
 
 
Guest Blogger: Mitchell Walters

Tomorrow marks “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” – the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky.  As the thoroughbreds race 1.25 miles around the Churchill Downs track, gather friends and family for a viewing party!  You will surely impress when you serve them the signature drink of the Derby: the Mint Julep!  This fine cocktail originated in the south during the 18th century, and is typically served in silver or pewter cups.  It has been associated with the Derby since 1938!

We turned to Aven Whittington, Caterer for Mangia Bene Catering, to share his recipes for perfectly refreshing mint juleps.  Aven says the mint julep is a “classic drink for a classic race on a hot southern day!”  We couldn’t agree more.

{Traditional Mint Julep}
·      Place a large sprig of spearmint in your glass, and muddle with simple syrup
·      Add crushed ice
·      Pour your favorite bourbon
·      Garnish with fresh mint
**If you feel inspired to try something different, Aven suggests garnishing your cocktail with cinnamon spiced                       oranges!

For a sweet twist on the traditional mint julep, Aven also shares his recipe for a delicious mint julep tea you and your friends are sure to love.

{Mississippi Mint Julep Tea}
·      First, make an easy mint tea.  The mint tea is simply iced tea sweetened with minted simple syrup. 
·      To create the  simple syrup, boil simple syrup (sugar water) with mint springs!
·      Based on your glass size, add 1 part Bourbon to 3 parts Mint Tea. 
·      Add crushed ice
·      Garnish with fresh mint or cinnamon spiced oranges!

We hope you love your mint juleps as much as we do!  Aven advises that you use your imagination and get inspired!  He even created the perfect menu to pair with your mint juleps:

Hot Brown “Sliders”
Grilled Asparagus Spears with Pickled Lemon
Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
Minted Fruit Skewers
Smoked Ribs
Your Favorite Cheese
Petite Kentucky Bourbon Pies

What a way to celebrate.  As the winner of the Derby is draped in a beautiful blanket of roses, toast your friends and family with a refreshing mint julep!  And don’t forget to wear your finest hat.  Cheers!

Photo courtesy of Mangia Bene Catering.  For great party ideas, please visit www.bestjacksoncatering.com