Happy Halloween!!  While the kids are trick-or-treating tonight, whip up a delicious cocktail for you and your friends!  We reached out to one of our favorite restaurants, County Seat, for a perfectly ghoulish toddy!   They graciously shared their recipe with us today! 

County Seat Fall Apple Smash Cocktail
~ Made with grilled green and red apples, peychauds bitters, mint, simple syrup, and Four Roses Bourbon. 
~ Muddle grilled apple, mint, bitters, simple syrup. Pour bourbon in shaker with that, shake! Double strain into rocks glass with one big cube, drink!

For more information on County Seat, please visit their website here.  
 
 
Mississippi is home to one of the most talented duck call makers in the country.  Perhaps I am a bit biased because the craftsman is my dad, but I assure you his products are extraordinary!  Clifford Ammons, owner of Half Moon Duck Calls, creates handsome, functional duck calls that are truly a piece of art.  

His love for hunting was sparked as a teenager in Mississippi. "I started duck hunting when I was fifteen-years-old with one of my best friends, Greg Heblon.  We were shooting wood ducks right outside of Meridian," says Ammons.  "We both got the fever."  

Neither Ammons nor Heblon knew a thing about hunting.  "That first day we went through six boxes of shells and only killed four wood ducks.  It was terrible," he laughs.  "But we both decided that we really liked it and needed to pursue it."  In the beginning of their love affair with hunting, it was Heblon who called the ducks.  "He bought a duck call and started calling.  I wanted to try it as well, but he didn't want me to do the calling.  He wanted to do it," Ammons laughs.

As Ammons perfected his duck hunting skills, he met a famous call maker in Mississippi, Dick Reed.  Reed modeled his calls after Jimmy Riddell, who created a Reelfoot Lake Style call.  "I ended up buying two of his calls.  I looked at his setup and thought, 'I can do this!'"  Ammons, an attorney, has always been wildly artistic.  "I like working with my hands.  I love to draw and to bake, and I can fix almost anything around the house.  I knew I could make duck calls." 

In the beginning, Ammons starting making Reelfoot Lake style calls, similar to Reed.  He eventually switched to Arkansas-style calls, better suiting his taste.  His calls would blow, but they didn't sound quite right.  "I decided if I wanted to become a better duck caller, I needed to enter some contests.  The first contest I entered I came in dead last," he smiles.  "I had no idea you had to have a routine!  Boy did I learn.  From there, I started learning routines and calling in more contests.  I actually won one in Tennessee.  After that, whenever Heblon and I hunted together, he would look at me and say, 'You call them!'"  Ammons had turned a corner.

I remember as a child listening to the echo of my dad blowing his duck call every night in the garage.  Night after night he practiced and perfected his routines.  He began meeting call makers across the country at duck calling contests, forming friendships and collecting calls.  "To me they are a work of art and something that you actually use.  I probably collected from thirty different call makers," he reflects.  "I started refining what I was doing and met a man named Roy Rhodes, who had his own call making company and won a world championship calling contest in Stuttgart, Arkansas.  He helped me get the most and best sound out of a call."

Ammons is an attorney by day and continues making duck calls as a hobby in his workshop.  He dubbed his calls Half Moon, because of the barrel shape.  "A lot of makers make a round portion of the call just after the brass ring.  I didn't want mine to look like every other call, so I starting shaving out the back half of the round portion of the call and it looked like a half moon."

Half Moon duck calls are created out of wood and sometimes acrylic.  "My favorite material is wood, and I love the cocobolo out of Mexico.  You have to have a hard surface for the reed to vibrate against, so I use the hardest woods." Ammons' Half Moon calls are also award-winning.  "A few years ago, there was a call makers contest in the state of Mississippi.  I submitted my call and they blew and judged it.  I won the Hunter's Division for the state of Mississippi for my call in sound and quality," says Ammons.  

Today, Ammons only has time to create a few handmade duck calls a year, but he continues to have a passion for the process and the beautiful result.  "It is not a simple little instrument.  If you shave off 1/1000th of an inch, it is going to sound different.  All handmade call makers will tell you that they all sound a little bit different."  

If you are interested in purchasing a Half Moon duck call, please email Clifford Ammons at cammons@watkinseager.com 
Photography by Caitlyn Sullivan Photography and Blog by Mitchell Walters
 
 
A blooming courtyard set a magical scene for Milla James’ first birthday celebration.  Inspired by Milla’s beloved BlaBla Dolls, feminine colors were woven throughout every sweet detail of the event.  BlaBla Dolls are precious hand-made products for children, knitted by artisans in Peru.  Each doll is carefully created with soft fabrics and vibrant colors.  Naturally, they inspired a perfect palette for Milla’s party.  

Virginia and Hunter Evans wanted to celebrate their first child with a memorable event.  Virginia says, “I wanted to show her that she is loved unconditionally and irrevocably.  She has blessed us in more ways that we will ever be able to tell her in words, and we wanted to portray these feelings to her with the most important people to us in the same space.” 

LeFlure East Foundation’s sunroom and courtyard provided a beautiful venue, and sunlight flooded the party with a rosy glow.  A white cake adorned with pastel roses served as the centerpiece of the party, as guests enjoyed sweet treats and discovered the birthday girl’s new tee pee.  

It was a memorable affair for Milla and her family.  Virginia smiles and reflects, “The smile that you see on my husband’s face is constant.  He is such an amazing husband, and I wouldn’t want to be on this journey of marriage and motherhood with any other man.  That smile on Milla’s face is one that the entire world has seen.  It’s her signature look.  That scrunched nose and smile.  It is one of the many reasons I adore her.  And the smile on my face is because of the happiness that these two human beings make me feel daily.”  

VENDORS:
EVENT VENUE: LeFleur East Foundation House
PHOTOGRAPHY:  Caitlyn Sullivan Photography
PRINT MATERIAL: Emily Ferguson for Designs by KPEP
MILLA'S OUTFIT:  Belle N Whistle
PUSH POP CONFETTI:  Thimblepress
BLABLA DOLLS:  blablakids.com
CAKE & CUSTOM COOKIES:  Campbell's Bakery
 
 
“Millsaps College is dedicated to academic excellence, open inquiry and free expression, the exploration of faith to inform vocation, and the innovative shaping of the social, economic, and cultural progress of our region.” Millsaps College Mission Statement

Mississippi is home to one of the country’s most celebrated liberal arts colleges.  John Sewell, Director of Communications & Marketing of Millsaps College, says, “We are proud of the recognition that comes with being ranked as a top-tier college by publications such as U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, and CEO Magazine. In fact, in 2015 Forbes.com ranked Millsaps as ‘the best college in Mississippi’ alongside other colleges and universities such as Duke, Rice, Vanderbilt, Tulane and Emory.” 

Millsaps is quite remarkable.  Founded in 1890, Millsaps College recently celebrated its 125th anniversary!  The first chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in Mississippi was established at Millsaps in 1989.  And in the past year, Millsaps was proud to have two students selected as Rhodes and Fulbright Scholars!  We had the pleasure of speaking with Sewell and learning more about Millsaps:

Tell us about your incredible faculty!
“Millsaps is fortunate to have a world-class faculty; in fact, 94% of our faculty members hold the highest degree possible in their discipline. When you combine that with an average class size of 14 students, it’s easy for students and faculty to build learning relationships that last a lifetime.”

What makes its location near downtown Jackson so unique and special?
“Millsaps is located across the street from the University of Mississippi Medical Center – perfect for a student who ultimately wants to become a physician or conduct scientific research. Every year, we have students who participate in undergraduate research programs and medical internships.

On our east side, we’re located across the street from the Belhaven neighborhood, with its rich historic and literary traditions – perfect for a student who wants to study the writings of Eudora Welty as they develop their own voice and style for the printed page.

On our west side, we’re across the street from Midtown, a neighborhood that has struggled with economic development, education, and housing issues for years. Students are invested in working with the neighborhood through the 1 Campus 1 Community program, working in the schools through our education department, and supporting the economic growth of Midtown through programs developed by the Else School of Management.

And to the south, we’re close to the hub of government and business for the state – perfect for a student who seeks a career in the law, marketing, accounting, or any other business-related area. Internship opportunities abound for students through our Career Center and external partnerships developed and nurtured over time.

Finally, our location is close to great music, food, and fun. We’re only a mile or so from the Fondren district, with its eclectic mix of restaurants and coffee houses, and downtown is nearby offering even more places to go for fun on the weekends.”

What does Millsaps offer incoming students that other schools do not? 
“We provide a four-year graduation guarantee for all undergraduates, regardless of their chosen course of study. Our Compass Curriculum, implemented in the fall of 2015 for all incoming freshmen, is a key building block in the Millsaps experience. All students, regardless of their ultimate career goal, will participate in courses that provide them the skills of critical thinking and writing, along with required courses in business knowledge, fine arts, mathematics, non-native language, STEM experience, and understanding of the natural and social world. Students can also earn a bachelors degree and MBA or Masters of Accountancy in five years, and many business leaders enroll in our Executive MBA program.”

Describe the Millsaps motto, Ad Excellentiam:
“Our motto, ad excellentiam, means ‘toward excellence.’ It sums up our focus in everything we do, from the classroom to athletics to public events.”

How has Rob Pearigen changed Millsaps for the better?
“As the 11th president of Millsaps College, Dr. Rob Pearigen brought a wealth of experience, along with an exciting vision for the College, when he was inaugurated in 2010. His passion for a liberal arts education, combined with his inexhaustible energy for Millsaps as he travels around the country (and beyond), have raised the visibility of the College to new heights. Enrollment is up, giving is up, and there is an excitement about Millsaps and what the future holds for the College.”

Tell me about the Millsaps graduates living internationally!  What sets these Millsaps grads apart from other college graduates?
“The only real difference between our graduates living and working overseas, as compared to those here in the States, is their address. The work being done by Millsaps alumni ranges from cutting edge cancer research in New Jersey to multi-national financial deals in London. They are all doing amazing work, but our alumni who are living abroad do offer new and varied audiences for the Millsaps message. We are working closely with them to tell the Millsaps story to prospective students who are interested in studying in America.”

What sets Millsaps apart from other Mississippi schools? 
“We’re not just a school – we’re a community of incredibly talented faculty, students, and staff, working toward a common goal of excellence in everything we do.  We make good on our promise of a world-class education at an affordable value through scholarships and the four-year guarantee.  Millsaps boasts the highest four-year graduation rate of any school in MS, and 95% of Millsaps graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate/professional school 6 months post-graduation.  That’s why The Economist ranking of alumni outcomes places Millsaps in the top 14% of college graduates across the U.S., ahead of Sewanee, Rhodes, Birmingham Southern, Ole Miss, LSU, and Mississippi State, and the White House College Scorecard data show that Millsaps ranks #1 in the state for alumni earnings ten years post graduation.

What is Millsaps' hope for their students/graduates?
“Keep asking questions. Keep learning. Keep challenging. Keep changing the world for the better.”

Thank you so much, John!  For more information on Millsaps College, please visit their website here.  All photographs courtesy of Millsaps College.  

 
 
 
 
What is your favorite thing about Halloween?  Do you like the thrill of being scared?  Or do you prefer a family-friendly outing at a local pumpkin patch?  Whether you prefer tricks or treats, Mississippi is brimming with fantastic Halloween getaways!  We compiled a list of pumpkin patches and haunted houses around the state! 

Don't forget to post your photographs on Instagram and Facebook and tag Inspiration Mississippi!  We can't wait to see how you celebrate Halloween this season! 
 
 
It is Halloween season, which means it is the perfect time to indulge in some sinfully sweet treats!  Broad Street Baking Company & Cafe in Jackson is cooking up some mouthwatering goodies you will not want to miss.

Jen Lancaster, Pastry Chef , says, "Broad Street will be offering Death by Candy King Cake, Spooky Oreo Rice Krispy Treats and an assortment of Halloween and fall sugar cookies!  Our 'Death By Candy' King Cake was inspired when our Mardi Gras Almond Cream Cheese King Cake became so popular. This is when we decided we should focus on each Holiday. For each season we choose a flavor that suites the Holiday. So what is more fitting than crushing up Milky Way, Twix, Hershey's, Caramel Milky Way, Hershey's CookieNCream, M&Ms, and KitKat?  Our Death by Candy is filled with cream cheese and packed full of candy."  We cannot think of anything more delicious. 

Death by Candy will be available at Broad Street from October 20th through the 31st.  "We will have these available for walk-ins but we strongly recommend reserving one ahead of time to guarantee yours!  Most days they go fast.  They serve 15-20 people.  You can share with all of your friends and family and the shelf life is great!  Plus there is no need to go trick or treating!" Jen smiles.  

Sugar cookies will be available throughout the month of October, and you can walk-in or place an order for pickup!  Jen says, "Again, we strongly suggest you place an order in advance for certain shapes to guarantee your favorite!"  Broad Street Bakery also creates custom sugar cookies or Cinnamon King Cake year round with a 72-hour notice!  What's not to love?

Call Broad Street at 601-362-2900 to place your order or ask any questions!  You can also follow them on Facebook to keep up with our fun Holiday specials and dates available. Or check out their website -  broadstbakery.com

Don't be too bummed with the Halloween season is over.  Broad Street will be offering Caramel Apple King Cake for Thanksgiving and Apricot Ginger Wreath Cake for Christmas!  Happy eating! 

Photos courtesy of Broad Street Baking Company & Cafe 
 
 
Mistletoe Marketplace is one of Mississippi's treasured holiday events.  Every November, guests flock to downtown Jackson to shop with friends and family, enjoy special events and feast on delicious fare.  Mistletoe Marketplace is truly the kickoff to the holiday season!

Kara Davis, Promotions Chair for Mistletoe Marketplace 2016, smiles,  "It is the place to see and be seen! Mistletoe Marketplace kicks off the holiday season in the Metro area and you can always count on see the latest and greatest trends from home decor, clothing and more."

But what does it take to pull off this magical event ?  Over 800 Junior League of Jackson volunteers!  These incredible women work tirelessly to prepare every tiny detail of Mistletoe Marketplace.  Davis says, says, "Our volunteers do it all!  From flanking the special events pavilion with detailed decor to loading ice in Pepsi barrels, no job is too big or too small when we come together in support of our  beloved event."  

Junior League member Jia Scott says, “I feel like it was just yesterday when I was asked to become the Finance Co-Chair of the 2015 Mistletoe Marketplace with an eventual step-up as Finance Chair on the Mistletoe Marketplace 2016 Steering Committee. That was over a year ago, and here we are rolling into the last third of that 18-month commitment with the Junior League of Jackson’s 2016 Mistletoe Marketplace. Time flies when you’re having fun and can look back at the countless hours spent that have played an integral part of my continued development as a leader. Being able to see how those countless hours turn into a measurable impact for the community is simply priceless.”

Mistletoe Marketplace raises more than a million dollars every single year.  These funds support the mission of the Junior League of Jackson and over thirty community projects.  

JLJ Member Kara Davis says, "“Serving as part of the Mistletoe Marketplace Steering Committee has been a most humbling experience. Not only do we each play an instrumental role in shaping the landscape of the Junior League of Jackson’s community impact, we but we are able to play a part in developing the potential of women on our individual committees.”

Buy your tickets TODAY for Mistletoe Marketplace!  Visit the website here.  We hope to see all of you at Mistletoe! 
 
 
Seth Conerly’s great love of horses inspired an intimate rehearsal dinner at Providence Hill Farm.  On the evening before marrying his bride, Taylor Townsend, Seth treated his close friends and family to an unforgettable night on the Farm.

Seth’s mother, Beverly Conerly, says, “During my first visit to the stable, I envisioned an elegant dinner by candlelight, with a table setting designed to complement the architectural design of the building.”  Seth and Taylor toured Providence Hill Farm, and fell in love with the gorgeous venue.  Beverly says, “When I asked Seth whether he pictured one long table or individual round tables, he immediately decided one long table would feel like ‘family’ gathered together.”

Beverly and her husband, Dr. Don Conerly, hosted the romantic evening for Seth and Taylor, and Beverly planned every exquisite detail.  Seth’s personality shone perfectly throughout the evening.  While appetizers were passed, a handlebar mustache motif adorned Seth’s favorite food and drink:  hot boiled crawfish and vanilla coke.

Friends and family were seated at an eighty-foot banquet table, where they were treated to an incredible dinner.  The table was flooded with white hydrangeas and roses, and candles created a beautiful, warm glow.  Beverly smiles, “I could see the table and décor in my mind after my first visit to Providence Hill Farm.  It came together exactly as I had envisioned.  I will always cherish that night in my heart and mind.”

After a delicious meal, Don and Beverly shared a sweet blessing over Seth and Taylor, and presented the couple with thoughtful gifts.  Beverly gave Taylor a delicate diamond necklace, designed especially for the bride.  The diamonds were sweetly taken from a pair of earrings that Don had given Beverly when Seth was born.  Seth received a devotional book on marriage that his parents began on their first day as husband and wife over thirty years ago. 

Beverly says sweetly, “As an additional surprise to both Seth and Taylor, my husband and I had someone sing a song called “Tailor Made” by Colbie Caillat.  We rewrote the song especially for Seth, because we knew in our hearts that God had tailor-made ‘Taylor’ especially for Seth.  She is everything and more than we have always prayed for him.”

VENDORS:
Event Venue:  Providence Hill Farm
Florals:  David Webb & Danita Summers
Catering:  Kathryn Davis
Photographer: Followell Fotography 
Event Planner: Beverly Conerly
Rentals:  Pretty Presentations Rentals and Mississippi Tent & Party Rental
Transportation:  Phoenix Limo

Blog by Mitchell Walters 
 
 
Inspired by his experience as a watchmaker, John Leslie Albriton, Sr., opened a watch and clock repair shop on Capital Street in downtown Jackson.  The year was 1920.  Albriton's was primarily a watch repair shop and carried only a handful of jewelry. 

Albriton’s great-grandson, Cameron Albriton, says, “Albriton’s has been handed down from father to son for four generations (myself being the 4th generation).  My Grandfather John Leslie Albriton, Jr. capitalized on the early success of his father by expanding Albriton’s jewelry collection, while still maintaining our stance as a watch repair destination store (John Jr. was a trained watchmaker like his father).  My father, John Leslie Albriton III, has contributed to the growth of Albriton’s during his career by adding many different designer lines to Albriton’s jewelry selection, and I joined the business in 2008 after finishing my graduate gemological degree at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).  We look forward to continuing Albriton’s great tradition of providing excellent customer service and top quality jewelry to the people Mississippi, as we are VERY close to breaking ground on our own freestanding building, that the store will be moving into in Summer of 2017."

Albriton's Jewelry has been in business for 96 years, and remains one of the most renowned jewelry stores in the south.  We had the great pleasure of speaking with Cameron about Albriton’s, and we are thrilled to share more with you today!

Albriton's has been in business almost a century. What has changed for the company and what has remained the same?  
“We’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to operate a successful business for quite a long time, although many things have changed over the years.  Fashion styles come and go, so that is a constant change in our industry, and the challenges of the business have changed a lot over the years.  There is a lot more competition out there these days, whether from online competitors, or other industries taking a piece of the pie, such as electronics (ipads, iphones, tablets, etc.).  As technology advances, stone cutting techniques have become more precise, as well as jewelry designs have become much more complex.  This gives the consumer many more options to select from than in years past. 

I would say that the main thing that Albriton’s has been able to keep going for all of these years is our focus on customer service, and making sure our customers are getting the very best value for their dollar.  We strive to keep a customer-first focus, as we feel it really adds something to our customer’s overall experience when shopping with us.” 

What sets Albriton's apart from other jewelry stores in Mississippi?
“We are the only jewelry store in Mississippi that has been passed down from father to son for four generations since 1920.  We offer several exclusive designers that are not available from other jewelers in the area. More importantly, we feel that our customer service is what really separates us from other stores in Mississippi.   We go above and beyond to make sure our customers are pleased with their experience at Albriton’s.”

Do you have generations of families who continue shopping with you?  Why do you think these families are so devoted to working with Albriton's? 
“Albriton’s has many multi-generational customers who have shopped with us for many years.  I feel the reason we are able to keep our customer’s coming back from generation to generation is the service they receive while shopping with us.  Also, being a large engagement ring dealer, we have been able to be a part of so many special moments in people’s lives, and we have nurtured those relationships over the years.  We feel this leaves the customer with a great experience, and we hope that that draws them back to us for all of their future jewelry needs.”

 What are your top-selling items? Are there any pieces or brands you would like to focus on or mention to our readers? 
“The most consistent selling items for Albriton’s would be diamond engagement rings and watches.  Fashion jewelry tends to be more seasonal, but is a lot of fun to sell.  Some of our top designer lines are Tacori, Simon G., Roberto Coin, Mikimoto, Breitling, Baume & Mercier, and Michele.  Of course, we have multiple other designers that offer beautiful selections as well.”

Tell me about Albriton's new location!  Where will it be and when will it open?  Why did you decide to open a new store?
“We are super excited to be building our very own freestanding building in northeast Jackson!  In the past, we leased our different locations, and recently we had the opportunity to purchase some land and build our own store from the ground up.  This is something we had considered for several years, and the location and timing worked out perfectly for us.   We have been located in Jackson since our founding, and really wanted to stay within the city limits.  We found a spot that we love, and were able to acquire the property.  The building will be located just north of the buildings that are part of Highland Bluff North complex, as we purchased the northern section of their parking lot from them.  The building will essentially be across the street from Bravo Restaurant, which is located on the southern end of Highland Village.  We will be opening in the summer of 2017.  We decided to move to our own freestanding store, because we always have wanted to own our own building, and the right opportunity presented itself.  We also feel that we are a destination store, and having our own freestanding building will give us even more presence and visibility in our area.”

Will the store in Highland Village remain open?
“Unfortunately, we will be closing our doors in the Highland Village location just prior to moving into our new building.  The owners/magagement of Highland Village have been great to us with this transition, and we wish them great success in continuing the tradition of upscale shopping/dining that Highland Village has maintained in Jackson since 1972.”

Thank you so much, Cameron, and congratulations on Albriton’s wonderful success!  For more information on Albriton’s, please visit www.albritons.com