Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pause for Promotion

I'm taking a break from another quirky and endearing If That Ain't County tale to do a little promotion for some of the men in my life.

Paris Keeling is officially on iTunes so if you haven't purchased the CD directly from the band's website, you can now download it straight to your iPod. Check back at the PK website soon for a full PK store including apparel and other CDs from the band members.

Lomax and Biggs are back! Dad's second book Bloodthirsty is being released on May 1st and it features the awesome detective duo introduced in last years debut sensation, Rabbit Factory. Speaking of Rabbit Factory, it is now available in paperback. Both books make for an excellent beach read (or poolside read or plane ride read or Saturday morning over coffee read...). You get the point.

Also, check out the Lomax and Biggs website for an upcoming schedule of author appearances.

Ok. Enough pimping.

Next time, find out what mayonnaise jars and maraschino cherries have in common.

And if that ain't country, i'll kiss your...
The Local News Scares Me...

...And here's why.

Ok. So apologies if I repeat anything you might already know, but with 100 (!) posts under my belt, it gets a little complicated to go back through and see if I've already written about something.

Anyways, I believe I may have thus far spared you all the gory details involved with my subscription to the local newspaper, the Lincoln Times News (LTN). But a few months ago, I decided it would be a good idea to know what was going on in town - the politics, the issues, the events - so I mailed in a subscription request for the LTN. About a week later, on a Saturday, I found my first copy rolled up on the ground at the base of the mailbox.

But then nothing. Not for a week. So I called and spoke to someone who told me she would make sure my name got in the book but that I also needed a tube (basically an open mailbox where they stick the paper instead of throwing it on the ground). I asked if they could deliver the tube with the paper and she said no problem.

Another week. No tube. No paper. More calls. Apparently there was a new girl on the delivery route. I thought if she was new she wouldn't be stuck in old routines (or on old routes) but apparently she was using an old book. Aside from being left out of the loop on local news, what bothered me most was that I had received that first copy of the paper so someone, somewhere had a notion as to what was going on.

I'll tell you this. It took a month for my subscription to kick in. It was painful. The calls. The questions. The confusion. In the end it seems the new delivery girl (who apparently had "experience") wasn't experienced enough to handle the delivery route and was either fired or quit. Once she was replaced, my papers started coming like clockwork and ever since then, I've been plugged in.

So, the LTN. My little hometown paper. Actually, my little home-county paper - it covers all of Lincoln County. And you want to know how much news there is in the county? Not much. The paper comes out 3 days a week - and there's a fair number of wire stories, ads and classifieds.

The local news is dominated by car accidents. A headline a few weeks ago screamed "8 Days, 4 Dead" in reference to a rash of bad car accidents. What scares me is these aren't highway accidents. They happen on Main Street and Generals Boulevard and Startown Road and Highway 27. Roads I am frequently on. Roads where the maximum speed limit is less than 55 MPH. Sometimes alcohol plays a factor. More often than not, I don't think it does.

Frankly, when I got into a car accident a few weeks ago, I was glad it didn't make the paper (mine was thankfully accident and fatality free so that day's story covered a pedestrian struck by a car a few blocks away from our accident).

Besides car accidents, the news is also dominated by crime. But crime by our standards is a little different from what you all might be used to. To emphasize this point, Wednesday's edition featured the Lincoln County Sherrif's Office 10 Most Wanted. Here's a sampling of their crimes:

* Roger Dale Willis is wanted for felonius possession of personal property

* Christopher Turnball is wanted for breaking and entering to West End Housing. Officials believe Turnball stole three Country Clipper Zero Turn Radium Mowers and one Craftsman Riding Mower valued at $15,435

* James Dean Turner II is wanted for forgery and falsely making a counterfeit check drawn on Carolina Trust Bank in Lincolnton.

I won't go on - it's simply too boring.

Most recently, I thought that the paper may have yielded a new dining discovery. Plenty of local restuarants advertise and when I saw the below ad for Norman's Cafe, I was intrigued.

Perhaps it was the font they chose. Or the use of the word Cafe. Or the pretty illustration of the sun setting over the mountain. I thought that perhaps we had discovered another Willow Creek Inn . I thought maybe this was another fine dining discovery.

It's a good thing Marty called before heading out there on Thursday night because while the ad had an air of possibility to it, the menu didn't (sorry - that's the biggest I can get it to load).

Marty said the woman on the phone sounded offended when he asked if they served wine.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Recipe for an If That Ain't Country Sunday

20 chicken wings
2 racks of ribs
8 hamburgers
8 hot dogs
2 lbs. fresh cole slaw
1 bag Classic Lays
1 bag Doritos
1 jar Mt. Olive pickle spears
1 gallon sweet tea
1 pony keg of Budweiser

Garnish: Blue Bell ice cream, fresh strawberries

Take the above ingredients and mix with 75 degree, sunny weather and 9 wonderful friends and you've got a perfect If That Ain't Country Sunday.

Do I even need to say it?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Celebrating 100 Posts!!!

Ok - so it's been a week since I last wrote and I said I wasn't going to do that any more. But if I had written sooner as I intended, it would have been nothing more than a minute by minute, hour by hour update on the progress of Baby Nugs and the goat integration.

Plus, this is my 100th post and I wanted it to be something really special. Had I been a bit more forward thinking, I would have used it write my long overdue post on salads , but unfortunately, only hindsight is 20-20.

So after much consideration, I've decided to write about a whole lot of little things and bring you all up to speed.

The Goats

The goats are doing well. Nugget runs and jumps and plays and frolics and she even escaped the other day (she's not much bigger than Tony who slips in and out of the fence all the time). We hadn't thought it would be an issue because we figured she wouldn't stray from her mother, but apparently Baby Nugs has a bit of an independent streak! Still, I am happy that all is well and it's probably a matter of weeks before we add some more goats to the herd.

Carrie Underwood

It's official. I've gone totally country or totally mainstream America or both. I love the Carrie Underwood CD. All of it. Country music is like a drug. It's so catchy. So easy to sing. It's full of hooks. It only took about 2 or 3 times listening before I could pretty much sing along with all of the songs front to back. I like it so much, I'm even considering downloading the new Martina McBride album - or possibly some Toby Keith - to see what all the fuss is about.

Farmer's Market

I went to the Lincoln County Farmer's Market this morning. It wasn't nearly the same as the one in Carrboro - there were only a few vendors and they were mainly selling plants and flowers and frankly, despite my best efforts, my chive plant is looking a little limp these days so I am not yet ready to take on any more gardening responsibilities just yet. I did buy some wonderful looking green onions (10 for a dollar - what I'll do with 10 green onions is beyond me) and some beautiful asparagus from Hoffman Farms, but sadly there was no goat cheese. Although I found out the goat cheese I love is Celebrity Farms and I picked up 2 large hunks when I was in Chapel Hill last week and have since been gorging myself silly on the stuff. Hoffman Farms also sells 2-year old asparagus roots - it was tempting. Buy some roots and fertilizer from the expert and grow my own asparagus. She made it sound soooooooo easy too. But as I said, until my chive plant improves, I am holding off an all other gardening endeavors.


So I am walking down Lexington Avenue the other day when Marty calls to casually mention that Tony got into a fight of sorts and has a gash on his nose. We have no idea how or what he fought with - although the shape of the wound would indicate he got pecked by a bird. Maybe a chicken. Living proof that Tony is a total country cat! Just like his mama!

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

One Big Happy Family

I realize that you all don't need minute by minute, day by day updates on the goats. Apologies if I have been a bit "new mother" obsessed. Still, for awhile, I thought it was going to be Sophie's Choice. Ann-Margaret and Nugget were locked in a stall, bonding, while Elvis roamed free. But Elvis was missing his girlfriend, and neither Ann-Maragert nor Nugs seemed totslly happy in that dark stall. Marty tried to integrate them the other day - it didn't work well. Elvis went wild and got very aggressive with Ann-Margaret who didn't seem to appreciate his advances.

But with time and a little patience, we got them all integrated and now they are one big happy goat family. Elvis has thus far taken very little interest in his daughter - although Marty swears he saw Elvis bathing her this evening.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's A Girl...

Her Name is Nugget...Nugs for short.

Too tired to write anything else but wanted to make it official. One more goat post coming tomorrow and then I am off the subject for at least a week (or a day...)

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nature vs. Over-Bearing Pet Parent

Ok. I admit it. I am obsessed. But who wouldn't be? Is our baby goat not the cutest thing ever?

So I got home last night and didn't even bother changing - just grabbed the bag of animal cookies and headed straight into the pasture still in my hmpfhp-dollar black pencil skirt from Barney's (at least I wasn't wearing heels).

I gave poor,lonely Elvis some cookies and then went to check on Ann-Margaret and the Nugget. Had a little hang with them in the stall - Mom ate some cookies, the little guy jumped around. But Ann-Margaret didn't seem to be herself - she seemed a bit despondent, a bit quiet and she was pressed up against the door like she wanted out.

I went back to the house, got rid of the cookies, but went back out armed with my camera. Elvis was aggressive - I don't know if he wanted more cookies or access to his girlfriend, but he flat out butted me - something he's never done before. I snapped some pix and once again noticed Ann-Margaret stationed by the door. I didn't have anything to bribe Elvis with to get him in the other stall so I let it be.

Then I noticed Ann-Margaret's poop was clumpy - a sure sign that she might have worms again and I panicked! I went straight back to the house and called the vet and left a "new-mom-I-have-no-idea-what-to-expect" message on his cell phone. It was 7:30.

Since I couldn't leave well enough alone, I ventured back out into the pasture a third time (no - I didn't change). Elvis was still aggressive, but it may have been the trough of sweet corn I was holding. I used it to coax him into the second stall where I locked him in and where he made lots of grunts and animal-like noises as he devoured the generous bribe.

I opened the door to Ann-Margaret's stall and she tentatively ventured out. I had to help the Nugget out because there's a big ledge and at 2 days old he/she couldn't quite manuveur. Well - Nugget just loved being outside. He ran and jumped and frolicked. Tony was out in the pasture and he and Nugget came face-to-face a few times. It was very cute.

It was also getting late and dark but how do you tell a 2-day old goat to get back in its stall? I tried to coax Ann-Margaret with some feed but she wouldn't leave her baby. Meanwhile - Elvis had finished his corn and was bleating and banging about in his stall like a cooped up madman and only contributing to the mounting anxiety in the air.

I returned to the house and grabbed the animal cookies - always a failsafe bribe. No luck, I could not get Ann-Margaret into the stall. Frustrated, I finally scooped up Nugs (no - I didn't check under the hood to see if it was a boy or a girl) and plunked him back in the stall. Well - he didn't like that one bit - being picked up and handled by a human AND separated from his mother - so he started wailing. Ann-Margaret started wailing and running around in crazy circles. Elvis was still wailing.

I was in the stall with the baby trying to get Ann-Margaret to come in. She would come up to the ledge of the stall, sniff Nugs, sniff the animal cookies and then run around the barn some more. It was exhausting.

I finally figured it out and removed myself from the stall. Less than a minute later she hopped in and was reunited with her baby. I gave her the cookies as a reward.

I locked them up safe and then let a stir-crazy Elvis out. I went back to the house and dusted the dirt of my clothes (nice) and my face (how'd I get a dirt smudge on my forehead?) and then sat and worried about if I had disrupted the mother-baby bond.

I had been told to leave them be, let them bond and certainly don't touch the baby too much. Sometimes animals reject their young if they smell foreign. I know Ann-Margaret knows my smell but I worried all the same - especially because it was supposed to drop below freezing last night.

I ventured back one more time (now in the dark) to check that mother hadn't abandoned her child. She hadn't and I breathed a small sigh of relief.

I breathed another sigh when the vet called me back and told me that the clumpy poop was probably because she wasn't grazing and getting enough grass. Phew - I was worried about the return of the worms!

Tonight's experiment? To let mother and baby out with Elvis and see what happens...

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your..

Monday, April 09, 2007

Some More Photos of the Nugget!

Have I Truly Gone Country?

I am fairly certain that the fact that I downloaded Carrie Underwood’s album Some Hearts is a testament to something I am not quite ready to admit. Granted, I’ve never hidden my love of country music. And I am an outspoken fan of American Idol – I even watched Season 4 with some degree of regularity. So I don’t know why downloading the album feels somehow…shameful. Something I wouldn’t want to admit to anyone (and yet have now chosen to disclose to everyone).

I say this. I downloaded the album knowing only 2 songs: Jesus Take the Wheel and Before He Cheats. Both are favorite karaoke choices at Tradewinds (my next long overdue post along with a shout out to Tim Schafer) and I heard Before He Cheats about 4 times on the radio this weekend. By the second time, I knew all of the lyrics and was singing along with gusto. Anyways, it just seemed that if I liked those 2 songs, I’d probably like at least a few more and so instead of doing the iTunes cop-out and only buying individual tracks, I bought the whole album.

I have yet to listen to it in full – I’ll let you know what I think when I do.

In the meantime, I am sitting here pondering it what it means to buy a Carrie Underwood album.

And if that ain’t pop country culture, I’ll kiss your…

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Don't Forget...Photos of the Proud Papa Too!

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...
Meet the Newest Addition of Our Family

It was hard to take a lot of photos - didn't want to disturb mother or baby. But here are 2 photos of the cutie at less than 24 hours old:

Expect more in the days to come.

No idea if it's a boy or a girl - we don't want to pick it up and check yet because it's important not to disturb the mother/baby bond. Plus - some new mothers will reject their babies if there's a strange scent on them and we don't want to take the risk. Still debating about names - Marty is leaning towards Nugget (after the Golden Nugget) and I am leaning towards Sammy (after Sammy Davis Jr.).

I will see it's the cutest thing I've ever seen. So tiny. So new. Figuring out how to nurse, how to walk. Ann-Margaret seems more mature now that she's a mother. Maybe she's just exhausted from giving birth but I swear she's mellowed. Nature really does amaze me.

In the meantime, poor Elvis. He is so lonely without Ann-Margaret because she and the baby are holed up in a stall resting/bonding. He's wandering around without a playmate for the first time in months and my heart goes out to him. We are already talking about increasing the herd with another female and a neutered male so he's not lonely and so we develop more of a herd dynamic.

Expect a lot more goat updates in the days to come.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ann-Margaret is a Mom...And I Missed It!

Well - Ann-Margaret had her baby. And I was 265 miles away for the blessed event.

If you'll recall, Dr. Mary was out about a week ago for a check-up. I was not there and so all information was relayed to me second-hand by Marty. In his words, Dr. Mary said the baby was roughly 4 weeks away. Today, he said that she said the baby was no more than 4 weeks away. Big difference. Oh well. What can you do?

Dr. Mary had also given us some clues about signs that Ann-Margaret was close. It had to do with plugs in the nipples and well - not being there for the demonstration and not knowing what to look for, I guess I missed the signs.

It figures that my first chance to see a goat baby being born and I am in another state.

We drove down to the Beach yesterday to visit my in-laws for Easter and my father in-law's birthday. Typical of our luck, our 2 neighbors who normally check on things while we are gone are also out of town. Marty had called our friend Richie to feed the goats and check on them, but he was also busy. Luckily, Richie's mom Linda called us back and offered to take care of things.

When she got there the first time, Elvis came to the fence but no sign of Ann-Margaret. Linda ran some errands and came back to check a second time. As soon as she started banging on the fence, she heard Ann-Margaret hollering in the barn. That's when she called us.

We were standing in the middle of Old Time Pottery with a cart full of dishes. Slight digression: Old Time Pottery is this giant warehouse full of pottery and silk flowers and linens and vases and kitchenware and baskets and it is all so cheap. I mean - $0.69 for plate cheap. The most expensive thing I think we got was a vase for $5.99. And the stuff is awesome. I don't know how they do it.

So here I am in Old Time Pottery on a total a shopping high - thinking about setting my new orange and turquoise and lime spring table - when Marty's phone rings. It's Linda telling us that she can hear Ann-Margaret, but can't see her. Marty thrusts the phone at me so I tell Linda to go into the pasture and walk to the barn. She does - Ann-Margaret is having her baby. Linda says the baby is half out. Well - we've got no idea how long she's been like this so I shove the phone at Marty and grab my phone to call the vet - which of course, is not a simple process. I have to call the main # - listen for the emergency number. I don't have a pen so I have to call back to get the emergency number again, write it down, dial it, wait for an operator, give her the information, wait for her to page Dr. Severt and wait for him to call me back. Meanwhile, we tell Linda we'll call her back after the doctor calls.

My father-in-law Boyce had the sense to call our other neighbor Tony who was thankfully home - although in the middle of cooking supper. So Tony drops everything and goes over to help Linda. My phone rings with the doctor. Marty's phone rings with Linda and Tony. Linda says something about the baby being out and gasping for air. I panic. I'm breathlessly pacing the aisles, trying to get away from a screaming child nearby, excitedly spilling the story to Dr. Severt - KICKING MYSELF THAT I MISSED IT. I've got Dr. Severt trying to tell me what needs to happen in the next 30 - 60 minutes, I've got Marty shoving his phone at me so Tony can tell me what's going on. I asked Dr. Severt if he could go over and check on everyone but he was birthing a donkey! It was sheer and utter chaos. I mean - it probably lasted no more than 5 minutes but it felt like 20. And seriously, the screaming child in the next aisle didn't help. But phones were flying back and forth, as soon as one piece of information was relayed another came flying back in the opposite direction. Madness.

We were able to communicate in all directions and based on what Tony told me, it sounded like Ann-Margaret and baby were doing just as they should: she was cleaning him/her, the baby was trying to stand and trying to nurse.

There was a bit of hijinks while Tony & Linda & Linda's daughter Mikayla tried to get Elvis in a stall so he wouldn't bother mother and baby but they finally got him in.

The baby is mostly black with a few white swirls. In this day and age of ubiquitous cell phone cameras, no one had one so we don't have pictures yet. No idea if it's a boy or a girl.

Tony then brought some feed and water to Ann-Margaret and she followed hiim right into the stall. He had to carry the baby.

Mother and baby are locked up safe for the night which is where they need to be. The key thing is for them to bond. I can't believe it's April and it's going down below freezing tonight, but there is plenty of straw for them to burrow under and Carole said she has had goats in the dead of winter. Ann-Margaret will take care of her child. It's nature.

If it were up to me, I'd be on the road, speeding out of Myrtle Beach towards home. Then again, what are we going to do tonight?

Tony is going to check on them a little later tonight and Linda said she'd stop by on her way to church in the morning. You can be sure I'll be hustling Marty out of bed early in the a.m. and getting on the road home.

Praying that mother and baby make it through the night. I don't know why, but it somehow seems fitting that tomorrow is Easter - maybe that's a good sign.

Still, I can't believe I missed my goat being born. I guess I'll have to wait until next spring.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Long Overdue Post on Salads

You have Melissa Clark at the New York Times to thank for this post. It was her post on salads in this week's Dining Out section that inspired me, because you see, I started writing this post back in May. That’s right – May 2006.

I don't know why I've never finished it - and who knows if my comments feel relevant or original at this point, but enough procrastinating and on to the post.

I love salad. I do. I eat it nearly every day. Sometimes for lunch. Sometimes for a snack. Sometimes for an appetizer before dinner. I am the type of girl to order a salad at TGI Friday’s even though that’s where you go for nachos and loaded potato skins. I don’t feel right if I don’t get my green veggies and salad is an easy and tasty way to accomplish that.

On an early trip to Lincolnton to visit my in-laws, we went to lunch at Don’s Grill in neighboring Maiden. I don’t know quite how to explain Don’s. It’s a small shack and they serve your basic Southern fare: burgers, dogs, basic sandwiches like ham and grilled cheese. I think the most expensive thing on the menu is a fried seafood basket at $7.95. Hot dogs cost less than a dollar. A cheeseburger is only $1.15. Blue-haired women who look like they have been waitressing since the Revolutionary War serve you simple food (much of it fried) in little plastic baskets. Beverages come in large Styrofoam cups with lots of crushed ice. There are a hundred places like Dons around this part of the world. I don’t know what to call them but they are akin to the New York greasy spoon. They are an institution.

On my first trip to Don’s I ordered the grilled chicken plate – which came with 2 sides. At the time, I was rigorously following Atkins and so many of the sides – mac & cheese, fries, onion rings, hush puppies, corn on the cob, potato salad (what’s up with these people – why is everything so starchy?) – were off limits. Still – they had a salad listed as a side so I ordered it. And as far as dressing, let’s just say that raspberry balsamic vinaigrette has not found it’s way into Don’s kitchen. The choices are pretty standard: blue cheese, thousand island, french and ranch.

My salad came out first and it was essentially a bowl of iceberg lettuce. There may have been a strand or two of red cabbage in there but it was pretty much just iceberg. Although I grew up eating iceberg lettuce, I had long ago graduated to mesculun and leafy greens. I was also used to other things in my salad - from the pedestrian (tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots) to the posh (artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, goat cheese).

My salad experience at Don's was a forebearer of what I could come to expect from salads in general dodwn here.

In the summer of 2005, when Marty was living here and I was still in Hoboken desperately praying that someone would buy our house, he called me one night to tell me he had discovered a restaurant in downtown Lincolnton, Court Street Grill, that actually served mesculun in their salad. You had to ask for iceberg special. Whoa.

Having now lived in Lincolnton for 11 months (!) I've come to the following conclusions on salad. They are more often than not made with iceberg lettuce and they seem to be merely a vehicle for a lot of fat: ham, bacon, cheese, crutons and some type of mayonnaise-based or sugar-laden dressing. In fact, they all come smothered with cheese (even at Court Street). The non-lettuce vegetables seem to be afterthoughts - an odd slice of cucumber, a mealy tomato, a wisp of a carrot or a piece of cabbage. Maybe a radish for garnish. They are often an appetizer versus a main course, and they usually cost only a $1 - $1.50 assuming you order an entree. It's like - for an extra buck, we'll throw in the salad so you can feel like you're eating healthy. The irony is, you're really not.

Which is why I found Melissa Clark's article so interesting. Here she was talking about salad not as a healthy dining option or penance, but as a vehicle for the better, more indulgent things in life. And while lardons and duck confit may not have found their way onto a salad in Lincolnon yet, we've got our own version: country ham and calabash chicken tenders.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Grow Garden Grow

I was back in Chapel Hill on Friday night with the Divine Miss M (aka Maggie Walkup) and we woke up early on Saturday to go to the Farmer's Market in Carrboro.

We stopped en route at The Open Eye Cafe - also in Carrboro - for coffee. I suppose I've become a victim of Starbucks because I ordered an iced, decaf, skim latte. I really wanted an iced, decaf, skim, sugar-free vanilla latte but they didn't look like they had sugar-free anything so I didn't ask. It's a good thinig too because the barista had some coffee attitude.

When I inquired about the status of my drink which was taking a while to be produced (and while other people behind me in line were getting their drinks), the barista informed me that the shot of espresso she had pulled for me was bitter and so she needed to pull a fresh one. I didn't ask why she was tasting the shot - or better, how - I just thanked her politely for her supreme coffee knowledge and concern for my optimum coffee experience.

She then made a nasty quip about my drink being "iced, decaf and skim" and needing "all the help I can get," and I found myself longing for the unpretentious, watered-down vibe of Starbucks where you are not judged for your coffee quirks or even perhaps Morgans, where their severe lack of coffee knowlegde would have been refreshing.

The caramel swirl on the macchiato was that they didn't even have plastic cups and the whole point of drinking iced coffee (well - not the whole point, but one of the main ones) is that you get the giant plastic cup.

But enough about Open Eye and on to the farmer's market.

I wish I could shop at a farmer's market every day. It is simply so inspiring. We do have a small farmer's market in Lincolnton - open on Saturdays in the summer - but it sells mainly produce. Good produce - but the farmer's market in Carrboro had all kinds of delicious cheeses from small, local producers; organic pork and lamb; beautiful flowers (the ranunculas in particular); divine pound cake and so on and so forth.

I loaded up a canvas tote with lamb shoulder chops - made even more endearing by the fact that the man selling them, Howard, doesn't eat lamb - he prefers beef. Maggie and I are guessing he's merely the butcher. I picked up some garlic brats and a Boston butt from Brinkley farms. I got some amazing goat cheese rolled in garlic and paprika (forgetting the cheesemaker) and also some delicious farmer's cheese - I think from Chapel Hill Creamery. I grabbed a bunch of green garlic - something I've never seen before. Sadly - the tomato truck was cleaned out by the time we got there.

The final purchase were 3 herb plants: sweet basil, garlic chives and rosemary.

I've always wanted an herb garden. Actually - I've always wanted a garden and as it turns out the prevovious owners of the property where we now live used to have an award-winning garden. Sadly, I don't quite have the time for a garden. I haven't even had time to call a landscaper to come out and discuss spring planting options. But the herb plants were so pretty and they had such an amazing variety that I was inspired.

I must have asked 10,000 simple questions on what to do once I got my plants home. The woman selling them was very nice and gave me some basic tips. Another woman picking up a variegated sage plant (not to use but simply because it was so pretty) also chimed in. It seems that growing herbs isn't totally fool-proof but shouldn't be impossibe.

I was told to re-pot the herbs so when I got home I went to the hardware store in search of self-watering pots (which are supposed to help regulate water consumption) but they didn't have any. I settled for plaine terra cotta and made a deal with myself that if my plants survived for 2 months, I'd treat myself to some pretty ceramic pots. I also got some high end potting soil.

The this morning I had to go to Wal-Mart and so I ducked into their garden center. They did have self-watering pots but they were plastic and ugly so aesthetics won out over my brown thumb and I stuck with the terra cotta. I did pick up a cute wrought-iron display stand and a galvanized watering can (got to have the cute watering can).

It's a growing investment in my little herb garden (which I am not sure I am fully qualified to handle) but at least I haven't crossed the line and started shopping at Smith & Hawken.

I re-potted the plants this afternoon - well, I think I did. I don't really know what re-potting is. All I know is I took the plants out of their little plastic containers and plunked them in the terra cotta pots with some potting soil. I didn't quite know how much to add, if there needed to be a layer of soil on the bottom, or what, so I sort of winged it. Yes - I have heard of the Internet. And I did a little bit of research on growing an herb garden - I just didn't find anything that spelled it all out clearly. What this means is that I have more work to do - or, anyone with tips on successfully growing herbs can post a comment.

Anyhow, I set my pretty little plants on their pretty display stand, gave them a little bit of water (I think the rosemary needs to stay drier than the chives and the basil) and admired my handiwork.

Now I am just hoping I can get my little plants to grow because after all, I do live on a farm.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...