Friday, July 15, 2016

Moving to the South Survival Tips

I can hardly believe we've made the three year mark this July 4th. Sometimes it doesn't seem that long ago yet other times, it seems longer (not in a bad way). Either way you look at it, it feels like the home I have longed for, forever. Over the past three years, I've learned a lot about small town living in the South. I'm gonna share my fun list with you based on first hand experience. Now, this is all fun so don't go getting all offended by anything. Laugh, it's good for the soul!



  1. Shorten your "How on earth did you find (fill in town name) from California?", story. Now, if I had a dollar for every time I've had to answer that, I'd be a thousand dollaraire right now. Do yourself a favor and condense your story to ONE sentence because it does get tiresome to repeat. Trust me on this one. 
  2. Who's your relation? Don't lie about this because, well, I'll explain later. Military, job transfer, witness protection.... yes, those too. Don't lie.
  3. Be prepared to meet pretty much everyone in town. After three years, I think there's still a small (minuscule) percentage we've yet to meet. And remembering names... forgettaboutit! I hate to admit, it usually takes me about 3 times before I remember names with faces. 
  4. Be open to new experiences. Culture, food, language, lifestyle, accents, smells, slower pace, the art of porch sitting, seeing dead hunted animals in the back of trucks, mosquito bites, dewy skin, ya'll, mud bugs, BBQ (does NOT mean using your grill, it's pulled pork. Grilling out means using your BBQ), buggy (shopping cart), The Pig (Piggly Wiggly. Yes, it is a grocery store and yes, our main market in town), gas station pizza, limited nights to eat out unless you go into "town" (the city), waving (whether you know 'em or not!) and a whole lot more.
  5. Do not state the obvious. EVER. Every single place on this earth has its downside. Of course it is obvious to everyone living there but for heaven's sake, keep your mouth shut! There are nice, subtle ways of approaching things but calling them out with your handy dandy list is only going to get you one thing; hated. Instead, volunteer your time to help fix what you "think" is wrong. You'll gain friends that way and be less offensive. But again, do not complain about the new place you call home. And again, trust me. 
  6. Your house address means nothing. Every house in a small (historic) town has a name. True story. Our house is the Garner house. Maybe after 20 years or so, it'll be the Anderson house. Or maybe not. You see, here in the South, people don't move that often or "upgrade". Homes get passed from generation to generation and families get raised in these houses until they move off to college or marry out. It's actually pretty cool. Especially when you learn the family's history in town and what they contributed. 
  7. Driving. We live 40 minutes from the city, whichever way you drive. I actually LOVE it. There's no complaining. Period. You just do it and enjoy the drive. It's a two lane highway and some of the prettiest countryside you'll ever see. Embrace it. Use that time wisely by speaking to our Creator. Look around, there's beauty everywhere, from freshly baled fields, deer eating in the shadows of the trees, deer standing alongside the road (ugh!), baby cows, buzzards eating on roadkill and the most beautiful skies you will ever see. You'll have your favorite farmhouses you pass, see who's doing what (once you learn who lives where) and the list goes on. 
  8. SEC. What is that you ask? Football! College ball. The South is S.E.R.I.O.U.S about their football. One of the first questions we got, "Who you for?" Huh? Umm.... pardon?  "Alabama or Auburn?" Umm..... Alabama? "Oh, no! You gotta go for Auburn." Oh, okay. Well, as it stands, we are a house divided even though our Petunia is attending Auburn (War Eagle!). Okay, not only do you have a team, you have to show your spirit! Believe me when I say they take their dress serious! Ladies dress up to go to games. Fancy, school color appropriate fashion. Drop. Dead. Serious! Clothing, jewelry, wreaths, car emblems, flags (both at home AND on  your car) and any other imaginable item you can think up. 
  9. Weddings are scheduled around Football season. No lie. Really. I may go out on a limb and say that quite possibly child birth might be too. Not sure, but maybe. It really is that serious. :)
  10. Sharing. People are genuinely kind hearted sharing their garden bounties. Don't decline, that's offensive!
  11. Don't talk or gossip about anyone! This is where #2 comes in to play. In a small town, EVERYone is related! Everyone. Directly or indirectly, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, 5th cousins, whatever! If you start that nonsense, you're doomed. If you find yourself on the receiving end, keep your mouth shut and just shake your head but never, and I mean never, let one word escape your lips. It's a trap. 
  12. Make friends with everyone. It doesn't take any extra effort to be nice to everyone. Really. And yes, you will say hi to EVERYONE, whether you know them or not. Practice your 'Hey!' because in these parts, that's the equivalent to 'Hi, how are you?'. Say it with a smile, it comes out pretty! And eye contact. Of utmost importance!
  13. Hunting. Whether you are for it or against it, get over it. It is a LIFE STYLE! And there is a calendar and everyone knows what day deer, turkey and duck seasons start. Boys go hunting before school and they have school clubs for it. If you are anti guns and anti hunting, do yourself a favor and do not move to the South. You'll get slaughtered.  
  14. Country music. The lyrics have a whole different meaning. Seriously, you gain real life visual with country music. 
  15. Pets. Everyone has dogs. Multiple dogs. They have jobs and they have human names. And they're family. And horses? Yes, they have real names too. The South is an animal loving region. If someone's pet gets lost, the search party heads out. Yes, I know first hand. Our Mia decided to take a walk about and if it weren't for my wonderful friend, she would have wasted away in the woods or became coyote food. One night in the woods did her in. She doesn't wander anymore. :)
  16. Ma'am and Sir. Oh, Lawdy, Do NOT, under any circumstance, tell someone NOT to call you Ma'am. It's a sign of respect, NOT age! Oh boy, the West Coast does not embrace the Southern way, as far as this is concerned. Children address adults as Miss. Amber, Mr. Bruce, etc. Yes, we have/are teaching our children the Southern way. :) 
  17. Love where you live. It's a place filled with American History. Take it in! Learn about it! Touch it. Feel it. I am still amazed of all of it. Embrace it and take the time to learn. Talk to people, you will learn so much. 
  18. Learn to love the fragrance of OFF. Ticks and skeeters. Enough said.
  19. Southernisms will infect you by osmosis. I swore I would not say Ya'll. Swore. Yeah well, I call BS. It just happens. I still sneak in the You Guys every once in a while but the ya'll, it's a given. 
  20. Humidity... yes it's damp. And yes, in the summer, it's hot and sticky. But, there is a huge difference between that and "dry" air that we were used to. Fact of the matter is, dry hot air is dry and hot whether you're in the sun or in the shade. The beautiful thing about humidity is like a free swamp cooler. Yes, you'll die if you stay in the sun but if you seek out the shade whether it's the porch or the gazillion trees in this beautiful place, you will reduce the temperature greatly. I, personally, love the humidity. Other than the hair frizz, which isn't so bad if you pull it up, I would not trade it in. We do, however, get the occasional "cold front" that pushes that tropical feel to the gulf. Those are pretty special days. 
  21. Tornado warnings. Depending where you are, you will get them. The weather here can get downright ugly! The first full year we were here, I was a wreck. I couldn't sleep and every time the weather radio went off, I made the family get up and go to the basement. As time went on, I learned to check the radar map of our Montgomery News. They are pretty accurate in their timing. And you add the weather app to  your phone for emergent warnings. You just do. I stopped freaking out after realizing that we picked the best place on the map as far as topography is concerned. We live on a ridge and the weather pattern goes around. It's weird but there are houses here that are over 150 years old that have withstood those years of weather. Now, we all just sleep through those thunderstorms. Our greatest fear now is that the oak tree between us and the neighbor breaks and lands on our heads. Oh, and another thing I'm grateful for. No earthquakes. At least with in-climate weather, you get a warning. Don't miss those surprise earthquakes. Nope. 
I could go on forever but this is the gist of it. Be genuine. Embrace a new way of life and be willing to bend a little. I haven't had to because the South has been a dream for me. No culture shock, no changing my ways, nothing. It's just been as good as I could have ever imagined. I have found my true home. Granted, it's not for everyone but it sure as hell is for me.

xoxo

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bits and Pieces

Summer is in full swing as the twins are out of school
and my daughter has graduated!
Time with your kids definitely goes by as 
quick as a blink of an eye. 


Things are still in the works on the building.
Slow and steady wins the race, they say....
LOL! 




I avoid going to the market, bank, shopping, etc.
to avoid the million dollar question:
"When is the bakery going to be open?"

Trust me, I want it open NOW!!!! But, as luck would
have it, my contractor (husband) works full time
elsewhere so I only get him part time which means
evenings (sometimes) and weekends (when other
things aren't scheduled). 
As for me, my kitchen is usually a bustling place.
I don't ever say No to an order unless I am heavily 
booked. Even then, I will stay up all night
to accommodate my clients. 
Once the bakery is open, my hours will be set
and there will be no more baking from home.
The French Pressed Home will again be my place
of refuge. 

I am very happy/lucky/blessed to have been able to start this
amazing dreamy business from the kitchen of our home.
I do, however, look forward to "going to work" and "going home". :)

Being homebased has been wonderful. Especially with the kids 
and their schedules. The flexibility of being able to work 
my baking around things, has been great. 

Even though I've been "home", I haven't had time
to have a proper vegetable garden.
I didn't plant a thing this year.
Many of my herbs reseeded themselves as
did my little Zinnia patch. As I sit here, at the dining
table, I'm looking out at the coop and see those brightly
colored flowers standing tall. 
{Thanks for being reseed troopers, little flowers!}



And just like that, it's time to get to work.

Until the next time.....
xoxoxo

Monday, April 18, 2016

A New Life

Good morning! I hope the weather is just as beautiful in your
neck of the woods as it is here, in the South. 
The air is pure and clean, the trees are vibrant shades of green
 and all of our slumbered plants are awakening with such enthusiasm to give
us their best. Spring is definitely a time of new beginning. 

I've been thinking about what to post for quite a few days.
What do I talk about? I know this blog was meant for home decor
and lifestyle but a part of me wants to share my thoughts about 
life, how I see things and other things totally
 unrelated to its intended purpose.

You know what? Today, I am.

I'm going to tell you about the love affair I've been having
for quite some time...

I've always, for as long as I remember, sought out the
black sheep of the family, the misfit, the left behind, the
loner. The different. The forgotten. The cast aside.
I know it's a psychological thing (and relate-able) but to me, 
those things have the most soul. There's an untold story behind and inside
that surface. And while most people would bypass such flawed people/things,
I have always been mesmerized. Sometimes to the point of tears. I have this
crazy thought that everything, and I mean everything, with a heartbeat or not,
has feelings. A life. A core. It's a beautiful thing.


  I tend to look for the beauty on the inside, behind that surface. I feel the most beautiful
things are flawed. Dents, scratches, bruises, cracks? Those are signs of life.
Most of the time, what's on the inside is pure, and good, and longing. Longing
for someone to see beyond that shell and to see the heart of what/who it is. 
If you give those things the right attention, they will love hard, shine bright, be forever
grateful and have a new purpose in this world.


                               Everyone and everything has a story. It's true. I think that's why
I love Vintage so much. It's the untold stories these pieces hold
that make me wonder where they came from. Who loved them?
How did they get to these thrift and antique stores and yard sales?
How did they slip through the cracks?
I'm serious. I think about these things all the time. 


Over the years, I have collected so many pieces that were 
stand alone, flawed, broken or dismantled, only to give 
them new life, a new meaning or simply to be adored because
I love them. Sometimes those things that have been overlooked
have a greater value than the cheap price tag. My most recent
heart skip was a vintage broken up set of china I bought for $40 that 
I researched and valued at over $1000. Ahh.... I'm sure its
previous owner wouldn't be happy about that but guess what?
It's mine now and I love it so much, I will never part with it. Not because
its monetary worth (that means nothing to me),
 but because I fell in love with the feeling it gave me
when I saw it. 

Stories. Our stories. The stories of everything in this world, are important.
They truly are. 

I have taken on the responsibility as an en-lightener to help others
 look at things in a different way. To evoke memories, feelings and 
give a different perspective. Not everyone "gets" it, or me, and that's okay. I suppose 
you have to be different to understand the different. I'm just outspoken about it. 
Oh, but those that do get it, the smile in their eyes speaks volumes and that
gives me such happiness. Once that connection is made and seeing that 
understanding and happiness in that persons face... amazing. :)

The bakery will be home to many, many pieces of such beauty. Even pots,
pans and utensils. All of the Vintage china and flatware that I have
collected over the years is going to be so proudly displayed and used in
such a way that every bite eaten off of them is going to be something special.
I want people to wonder about those pieces. I want people to say, "My grandmother
had a set of dishes like these". And I want people to see that things that do not
perfectly match are just as spectacular as things that do. 
It's all in how you look at it. 


Our bakery has a heartbeat. I've journaled the process of reviving the building
from the very beginning and getting feedback from people
that have memories, has been nothing short of amazing.
That building belongs to everyone. I knew I wanted everyone
to be a part of what we are doing. Although it won't look 
much like it did back in the day, all the elements will still be there
with the material we are re-purposing into new ways. 
I talk to the building (or occupants ~ which I feel) when I'm there.
Out loud. haha! I do, really!
I like to think that those old bricks are happy to be loved
and happy to have new life breathed into them. 

I cannot wait to be in there, working, in the midst of finger pointing and story telling.
I can't wait to feel the warmth of home in there. 

I can go on forever but I'll end here. 

I hope you understand my heart. My purpose. My thoughts.

My wish is that you notice the unsightly in a different light.

We are all beautiful. You just have to have the right eyes to see it.

xoxo, Amber

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Dishes and Dishes

Sticking to my word!

Today being Easter Sunday {Happy Resurrection Day}, I thought that I would
wait till morning to post but I have some free time between
breakfast and our Easter meal later today,
to sneak in a little post. 

Since my life evolves around food, I thought I'd
share my table with you.

The boys went on a junking adventure
yesterday {I was working} so I squeezed in 
a little time to clear off the catch-all table {dining}
so I could set it for Easter.



I decided to use plates, cups and silverware that
I've been collecting for the bakery.
I have kept my thrift store selections limited
to lighter, paler tones so when they're stacked,
they all kinda go together. I think they
are a beautiful compliment to each other.
To add to the feel of vintage, I decided not
to iron my vintage embroidered table cloth
because it feels a little Rachel Ashwell, when I don't
{not because I'm lazy}.

{I have a deep love for all those mismatch pieces but
I'll save that story for another time. ;) }

This morning, our breakfast consisted of
Creme Brulee French Toast (YUM!)
of which I managed to pick the bomb recipe
off Pinterest, smoked sausage and
mixed berries with vanilla cream
and topped with a flower of sweet
cream frosting.





Yes indeed, I will squirrel this recipe away to 
put it to use in the bakeria. 

Later on I will start on our afternoon meal
of smoked ham with a crackle crust, fried
corn with bacon {new trial recipe}, my traditional
hashbrown/potato casserole and popovers/yorkshire pudding.
Then for dessert (which I will eat tonight and in the morn), 
this beautiful mess...



I hope your Easter Sunday is being spent with family and 
loved ones and I hope you have great peace in your heart
on this glorious day.

With much love, Amber

Sunday, March 20, 2016

YIKES!

Oh, hello!
Remember me? 

As today marks the first day of spring, it's been since winter
that I have paid any attention (physically) to this page.

Trust me, I've wanted to.

My life as The French Pressed Home
has completely shifted to
FPH BAKERY and I couldn't be
more proud or happy. 
Most days, I still cannot believe it. 


No, we haven't opened the store yet.

Since we are doing the work ourselves 
{mostly Bruce at this point}
in addition to working full time to pay for it, 
it takes time.
Not to mention that peeling the layers back of an
80 year old building has given plenty, if not more,
fun projects to tear out and re-do.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it was/is 
a full gut. Top to bottom, inside and out.
And life with a contractor is definitely not a life
with band aids. No, no it's not. Fix it right so it
sustains another 80+ years.
Sure, I've been disappointed and frustrated
but I know that in the long run, it will be well worth
the time it's taking to do this right.
I appreciate Bruce's talented hands and his mighty
brain that can pull this off. He's definitely a
master of his trade.

All of these renovations are purely funded out of pocket 
so in order for this place to swing the doors wide open,
we gotta WORK in order to do that. 
My kitchen has shrunken due to the rolling racks that 
have found their way into my life, as of late.
Every once in a while, I'll roll them into the dining room so 
I can reminisce about the days before they moved in. 
Oooh, it was so spacious! lol! 




It won't be too much longer before they roll on out and 
down the road to their permanent home.

I am looking VERY forward to not working where I live.
I am not one for drawing the line between
home/work even though the kitchen/dining room
threshold holds the imaginary line
between the two. Many days, to my disdain,
the "house" gets neglected {ignored} so I can focus
on the work in my place of employment. The kitchen.

It will be nice to have the separation.

Right now, I'm looking out toward the coop and my weed filled garden.
I hope to get some things planted out there but I may 
end up just planting flower seeds this year and hitting
up the Farmer's Markets instead. We'll see.
Whichever, it will look beautiful against that 
pretty little coop.



Please follow me on Instagram and on my FB page 
{or friend request me, it's all one in the same!}
where I post quick updates regularly.

And like all good things, this post must come to an end. 
Time to get in the kitchen and heat up that oven. :)

I vow to make my Sunday mornings my posting time
because frankly, I'm ashamed so much time as passed.

May the warm sun of Spring warm your face, sweet friend.
Thanks for visiting.

xo, Amber