April 19th, 2014

Forget kale. Forget fresh flowers. Forget whole grain bread. Last weekend at the farmer’s market, I saw all these kids walking around with delicious-looking popsicles and I knew that I needed one immediately. I searched for a while and finally spotted the popsicle cart conveniently hidden behind a long line of children. Typical. I waited my turn patiently and finally bought what was actually the most delicious thing in the entire world: a strawberry honey pop. 

The girls selling them (from 3 Porch Farm) saw my enthusiasm and said “they’re so good, right?! And they’re made with just strawberries and honey.” 

Naturally, I decided that I needed to be able to make these every day of my life, so I bought some strawberries and got to work. Luckily, I had impulse-bought some nifty popsicle trays a while ago at Target so all I needed to do was find an acceptable recipe. After some very scientific internet research and a survey of my honey arsenal, here’s what I came up with: 

  • 3 cups of hulled strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup of honey (I used key lime honey my mom brought me from Florida mmm) 
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice 

Put it all in a blender, fill the tray, and wait roughly 4 hours! It makes about 5-6 popsicles depending on your tray!

These were seriously so easy and so delicious— the hardest part was waiting for them to freeze. And, since they’re made of all good stuff, I justified eating them for breakfast, obviously. I ate it so quickly, I didn’t even get to use the handy straw feature on the popsicle stick. 

Also, wear your retainers, kids. My bite pattern is looking crazy…

April 18th, 2014

Friday Mixtape Ya’ll

Last night, I saw Lily & Madeleine perform at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur with some friends. It was the early show, so not only was the music phenomenal, but we were home in our sweatpants watching Netflix at a decent hour. Ah, adulthood. C’est la vie! 

Two of my favorite L&M tracks are this week’s mixtape in addition to some other stuff I’ve been enjoying lately. Since winter decided to return, bundle up and enjoy these tunes from the comfort of your favorite sweater. 

++As always, all the Friday Mixtapes are here++

April 15th, 2014

My uncle has been entertaining my mom’s side of the family (of infamous Pumpkin Roll Fame) since January with a daily email of stories and pictures from the family archives. One of the most fascinating stories to surface so far was the trip to Assateague Island, and so I share it with you now:

In April after the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, we took part in the insane expedition to Assateague Island. The pictures don’t do justice to that amazing ”drive along the beach and camp out” trip.

The group drove south to the mainland in Maryland and loaded the Shidner’s pick-up truck on a barge that was towed to the island.  Maybe there was a second truck.  Once on the island, the tires were deflated somewhat so the rear-wheel drive truck could ride over the dunes and down along the hardpacked sand at the surf-line.  Everyone rode in the back or on top of the truck.  Whenever the truck got stuck, we all got out and pushed.  We never saw another person on the island. 

The few existing houses had been ripped apart or washed out.  The men headed south to where the fence both barred access to Virginia and kept the wild ponies on the Virginia side.  However, the storm had destroyed the fence at the waterline and we drove out and around it into Virginia.  Along the way, we saw a half dozen skeletons of wrecked wooden ships that had been buried under the dunes for centuries, but uncovered by the storm.  The big keels and ribs remained.

The weather was cold and sometimes rainy, so the men took the extraordinary step of taking over the US Coast Guard Station that was evacuated and abandoned during the storm.  The station was atilt and the lower story was full of sand.  We cut open a fifty-five gallon drum and fabricated a stove, which they hooked up to the stovepipe inside the Coast Guard Station.  We slept upstairs in the barracks.  Looking back, it’s hard to believe we just invaded government property! 

The storm had not affected wildlife; we saw sea turtles laying eggs, raked clams and oysters, and tried to catch the wild ponies.  That was the trip where we found the baby raccoon, who became our pet, Racket.
In the photos you’ll see inside and outside the Coast Guard station (sand and the drum stove visible!), the truck that they rode down the beach in, my mom sitting in front of the Coca Cola cooler, and of course— Racket the raccoon. 
April 8th, 2014

One thing my Grandmom taught me about having a wildly spectacular life was that it’s fun to have things you love that are “special & yours”— blue & white china, walnut ice cream, sapphires, hot coffee, fancy rings, watercolors, big band music, tiny sandwiches, the beach.

For me, it’s mint chocolate, bike riding, pancakes, fireworks, fresh OJ, baseball games, shirley temples, Sufjan, stationery, red velvet cake, and ranunculus.

Thanks G-mom for teaching me right and to Gracie for bringing me these blooms after a sad weekend of saying goodbye.

March 31st, 2014

It finally feels like spring around here and that means only one thing: windows down, music up. (Technically, that’s two things, but one without the other just isn’t quite right.) 

Shorts and sandals are on, tinkling bluegrass music is full-out loud, bike rides and popsicles are in my future. 

To celebrate (and since it’s a been time or two since I’ve done a mixtape, MAH BAD) I made playlist for ya featuring my new favorite band obsession, The Show Ponies. Roll those windows down and enjoy. 

What shall keep me from 
Basking in the sun? 
Patience, restore my way. 
Life begins today. 

March 17th, 2014
People of the Internet! I need your help! 
I have the great honor of being a groomswoman (you read that right) in my boy-cousin’s wedding and I have to find a gray dress that goes well with the boys’ suits (pictured so dashingly above.) Such a fun adventure but also… I can’t find anything I like! 
Has anyone seen a cute, darkish gray dress that isn’t to fancy and isn’t too casual that also doesn’t cost all of the dollars?!?

People of the Internet! I need your help! 

I have the great honor of being a groomswoman (you read that right) in my boy-cousin’s wedding and I have to find a gray dress that goes well with the boys’ suits (pictured so dashingly above.) Such a fun adventure but also… I can’t find anything I like! 

Has anyone seen a cute, darkish gray dress that isn’t to fancy and isn’t too casual that also doesn’t cost all of the dollars?!?

March 14th, 2014

I find it no mere coincidence that Pi Day also falls right at the beginning of Georgia’s strawberry season and so— on a perfect Pi Day like today—there’s only one thing to do: 

In the immortal words of 90s country singer Deana Carter… it’s time to make Strawberrrrrrry Wiiiiiine Pieeee… 

I know it’s been a minute or two since I’ve made a Friday Mixtape, but you gotta listen to something while you make your pie. SO. Here we are.

Enjoy the tunes and happy Pi Day! 

For the Filling:
  • 4 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
For the Crust:
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust (this is an easy one) or Pillsbury Pie Crust Dough if you’re lazy like me (there should be two crusts in the box) 
  • 1 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Slice all the strawberries. Combine 3 1/2 cups of strawberries with the sugar and flour. I like mine not to be super mushy but you can blend to the consistency you want. Spoon the mixture into an unbaked pie shell. (When your pie dough is in the pan, poke some holes in the bottom of the dough with a fork. This will keep it from bubbling on the bottom.)
  3. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries (un-sugared, flat slices) on top of the sweetened berries. 
  4. With the second pie crust dough, cut strips for the lattice top. (I use a pizza cutter and make the slices a little less than an inch wide! Really easy!) You can then make the lattice top by “weaving” the strips together (over, under, over, under…) When you’re finished, pinch the edges of the crust together and then use fork tines to seal it. (Press down the flat side of the tines to make ridges all the way around your pie.) 
  5. Brush the top crust with milk, and sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar. If you want to make sure the edges of your crust doesn’t burn, wrap the edges with tinfoil. (Don’t cover the whole pie, or it won’t cook right… just the edges!) 
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees, and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden on top. Cool on wire rack. 
  7. Eat. Enjoy.

++ You can subscribe to all of the Friday Mixtapes Here ++

March 5th, 2014

I love ranunculus flowers. The other day I noticed this display of them on a friend’s table and I was ecstatic! Ranunculus! Spring is coming! Flowers and shorts and bike rides and picnics and Easter! I absolutely love this time of year when everything is blooming and life literally feels reborn after winter. There’s hope for my pale skin yet again! The promise of summer looms! Sun dresses get moved to the front of the closet! And with all of that comes the season of Lent, which… is something I’ve always felt really conflicted about.

Yesterday was Pancake Tuesday, which for obvious reasons is one of my favorite days. I also mentioned briefly that I don’t observe Lent and that I might explain why… But I didn’t realize so many people would actually want to know what I think about it, but you did! So. I’m sticking to my word and explaining a bit.

The short version? Our culture, both secular and Christian, is entirely too self-absorbed. It’s no wonder the word of the year last year was “selfie”! We are obsessed with ourselves— keeping ourselves healthy, happy, relevant, accepted, celebrated. Lent has become just another celebration of self (not that all 100% of people have succumbed to this, but it is sure prevalent.) We take a season that is supposed to celebrate and recognize the monumental, unfathomable sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord and have made it a way to eat more veggies or stop watching TV. We’ve trivialized it in such a way that it’s a competition of Self— “what can I do or give up for 40 days that will make myself better? What will people think of me if I give up/do this for Lent? I will be better. I will be awesome. I want people to know how holy I am.”

Colossians 2 tells us not to be “puffed up” (self-absorbed) about keeping rules and regulations which Christ has not mandated. We are not to “submit to regulations- ,”Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)- according to human precepts and teachings.” Paul tells us that these “have indeed an appearance of wisdom […] but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Abstaining from dessert for 40 days might indeed be good for your body! But what does giving up dessert have to do with honoring Jesus or putting to death the sin that reigns within us?

Ultimately, you have the freedom in this to do what your conscience pricks. The Gospel has set us free from earning our own righteousness (doing this and that to make ourselves better and more worthy), but we can and should obey and honor The Lord with our lives! For you, that could mean observing Lent. It also could not. If you don’t feel led to observe Lent, think about why! If you do, think about why! If your reasons are about you and not about Him, pause and think. Our hearts are deceitful above all things— there is much of “Christianity” today that has nothing to do with loving Jesus but instead with loving ourselves.

Whatever your conviction is about Lent, here’s the hope: Later in Colossians Paul says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” We serve and obey and live to honor Him because He has already given us everything we need in Christ. Now go eat a cookie and remember that you’re already more loved and known than you dare to hope :)

March 4th, 2014

Today is Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday/Pancake Tuesday so basically it’s one of my favorite days of the year, obviously. This day falls right before the Lenten season so that you can, ostensibly, pig out on indulgent foods (like stacks and stacks o-pancakes) right before you fast or give something up for the 40 days. 

I don’t observe Lent in the give-something-up-for-forty-days sense (which I think I’ll expound upon tomorrow because I’ve given this some good thought recently…) but I can totally get behind any holiday that focuses on pancakes. 

As a connoisseur of the cakes-of-pan, I’ve collected here some of my favorite pancake recipes for your enjoyment. Pick your favorite, invite some friends over, and Happy Fat Tuesday, everyone! 

// Red Velvet Pancakes //

// Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes //

// Mexican Chocolate Pancakes with Dulce de Leche //

// Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes //

February 25th, 2014

I am tired of hot, winter food and am doing my best to usher in the springtime by opening the windows, cranking some summer jams, and making this for community group dinner tonight. 

If you are what you eat, then I am equal parts This Chicken Pasta and Ike and Jane’s Donuts. 

Growing up, when my mom would make this, my siblings and I would quite literally dance a happy dance in the kitchen. Chicken Pasta Salad. OH. MY. GOSH. It was like Christmas and 4th of July and Your Birthday all rolled into one delicious summertime pasta. It was so good and the recipe makes so much that we’d be eating it for days. The only problem was that whomever took the last helping out of the refrigerator… well let’s just say that it was not a good day for you. 

Here’s the recipe, straight from my Mama.

  • Roaster chicken
  • Old Bay
  • Pasta
  • 3 green apples
  • 1 Sweet Onion
  • Craisins
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • Green seedless grapes
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • Salt n’ Peppa CD to dance to whilst eating this deliciousness

Take a roaster chicken, (whole chicken, usually the cheapest form of chicken) and boil it in a large pot with water and lots of Old Bay seasoning.  The more the better.  5 or 6 tablespoons… not a whole can or anything.  

Boil until done, usually  45 min or an hour.  I usually put it on and forget about it.  Take the chicken out of the hot water, don’t drain the water because you’ll cook the pasta in it.  Ummmm yummy with all the broth and Old Bay in it. 

Let the chicken cool.  While you’re waiting for it to cool you can cook the pasta.  Use a box of shells, or short noodles or twists, or what ever you like.   Cook so it’s a tad al dente.

While the pasta is cooking and then cooling, don’t forget to take it off the heat and rinse to stop the cooking when it’s still not too mushy.  I put a little bit of olive oil on the noodles to keep them from sticking together. 

Cut up any of these ingredients that are optional and can all go together. It’s really what ever you have or whatever you feel like at the time.  

  • One sweet onion chopped small but not minced, use less if you use a red onion!
  • green seedless grapes cut in half OR green apples, washed but not necessarily peeled. Or both!   
  • raisins or craisins 
  • celery
  • red, yellow or green peppers chopped up   

I add a few dollops of mayonnaise so that it’s moist but not gooey with mayo.  I also add a small glug of white wine vinegar, or four to six good shakes if you have a shaker top.   

Then I put in a lot of coarse black pepper and salt.  Maybe less salt because I’m a salt nut and most people aren’t.  

Peel and pick the chicken.  Add it to the big bowl and mix well.

Sprinkle the top with Old Bay before serving.  

Ummmmm yummmy.  

This will feed 8 people easily especially if you serve bread and fruit.  You can stretch it to 20 by doubling the recipe but add an extra box of pasta and maybe more of the fruit and veggies! 

February 24th, 2014

Years ago (literally about 4, which is RIDICULOUS) our little group of Athens friends would play tennis at Bishop Park and then eat dinner together at local restaurant every Monday night. Those were the days when the only thing on our minds was becoming a regular at the restaurant and getting a healthy fitness glow from the sweet Georgia sun. We never thought those days would end and I was convinced I would finally have a consistent backhand.

I was wrong about both things apparently as I can’t hit a backhand to save my life, and tonight, when I ate there for the first time in years, I was immediately taken back to the glorious phase between college and real responsibility and the huge pasta portions we would justify after casually playing tennis for a few hours.

I sent a group text to the old crew and this response captured my sentiments perfectly: “That was a lifetime ago. Good times, friends. I’m not one to say that the best is not ahead but damn that was fun. Athens fam fo’eva.”

It’s not good to live in the past, but sometimes it’s good for the soul to eat a large bowl of pasta and look at old pictures…

February 20th, 2014

Though the whole show last night was awesome, Ben Rector melted my heart with his version of I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which I believe is one of the saddest songs in the world. You might be fooled and think that it’s not, but, you’re wrong. Just trust me. And the sleeve of Oreos I often eat whilst listening to it.

Is it so much to ask to just dance with somebody? I mean, it’s really not too much to ask. Just a dance. With another person. And maybe, just maybe, have that person love you? Preach it, Ben/Whitney.  

February 7th, 2014

My Grandmom was 91-years-old when she passed away late Tuesday night.  A few months ago, I visited her during her first trip to the hospital and she spent most of the time worried about people seeing her “all disheveled in a bathrobe” or talking about how the doctor told her she couldn’t eat cheese or drink wine anymore and she “just wasn’t sure what the point of living was, then.”

Grandmom had always been spunky yet refined, as if raising 4 stubborn boys hadn’t ruffled her feathers at all. She had never worn tennis shoes or a sweatshirt in her whole life and even on Saturday—the last day I saw her and talked to her— she was fully dressed in loafers, slacks, and a floral cardigan. 

She was a beauty in her younger years and even on into old age, though my favorite thing about her was her hands; they were always so soft and warm and bejeweled and I was fascinated by them. 

I always wondered about the hands that had raised my father and his brothers; the hands that had lived and worked inside many houses across many states over many years. A few years ago she gave me this hutch, which is probably my favorite earthly possession and now sits in my dining room. She told me how she and my Grandpa tried to move the hutch into one of their first apartments together in New York, but the stairway was too narrow. Grandpa sawed off the top part and reattached it later, my Grandmom using her hands to later fill it with blue and white china (her favorite). The saw-marks are still visible on the sides and the glue where they pieced it back together.

Of course, I am sad. Going to school at UGA and living a short drive down 85 to Atlanta these last 8 years has afforded me a lot of time with her. She was always so sassy and would tell me things like when I needed to get a haircut, but she was also kind and a wonderful painter and I admired her This Is Just Who I Am attitude. She loved her family fiercely and despite the fact that she would ask too much about my non-existent dating life… I always felt better to be around her. 

Death is a strange thing, I’ll say that. In many ways, her passing was a relief as there’s no more suffering. She had lived 90 good and healthy years, even despite battling breast cancer in the 70s and as someone who hated vegetables. In selfish ways, I am sad and mourning. I’d always wanted her to see me get married; her little tom boy finally settling down. Just last night I had a glass (or 3) of red wine (with friends) and thought about how much she loved to sit and talk and drink wine and eat cheese— also 3 of my favorite things so I will always think of her. 

On her last good day, I got to see her along with my Dad. As we sat and talked, I noticed my Grandpa’s Bible from the 40s sitting on the table next to us. I flipped through the pages and knew deep down that this was probably the last time I would see her. I held her warm, soft hands and prayed that God would take care of her… for her well-being and for my heart and for my Dad’s. I knew she was ready. 

February 4th, 2014

A few days ago, it snowed in Athens. We didn’t get the drama or the news coverage of our Sister to the South (Atlanta); we got a few peaceful, quiet, cold and crisp days off from the hustle of normal mid-week activities. We got sledding and snowflakes and sleeping in. It was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I posted the top picture on Instagram as I walked to meet some friends for a snowday brunch.  

In reality, the untouched, un-Instagramified, un-VSCOed picture is below. It, too, in it’s raw form, is beautiful: the way the road slopes up, seemingly forever; the snow piled up on the banks, the naked trees cascading along like a canopy. 

But. I fixed it. I fixed it so that it … looked better. More snowy. More magical. 

My life looks nowhere near what I thought it would at this stage. In practical ways, this is your typical 27-year-old-girl internal drama of ithoughtiwouldbemarriedbynow and howisitthateveryoneiknowishavingbabiesandicantevengetallmylaundrydone etc etc etc. But a lot of it, too, is the fact that I compare myself to others constantly and think that if my story doesn’t match theirs, something is wrong. I do it without even realizing it.

Our internet/social-media savvy generation has become obsessed (me included; I realize the irony of writing this on a blahg) with documenting our lives: what we eat, what we wear, who we hang out with, our adventures… but in the midst of that self-obsession, we’ve also become obsessed with what others are doing and how we do or don’t measure up. Every time I open Instagram, it’s an emotional roulette: will my friend’s egg fritata make my Cheerios look lame? Will I see evidence of a dinner party last night I wasn’t invited to? OH Great… now I want to redo my living room, too! 

I think the internet is great. I love Instagram and I love Tumblr and I love reading blogs and keeping up with both friends that live far away and far away people that I wish were my friends. I love taking photos, and I am even OK with photo editing to make something look better (because, hey, that picture is really beautiful, no?) I think the little moments and tiny warmth and connection you feel whilst reading someone’s post where you think Oh, man. Me too. I’m glad I’m not alone or I really cannot wait to try to make that maple ganache frosting or I needed a laugh like that today… these moments are all worth sifting through the mess of the rest. 

Just before the snow storm, I received a Facebook message from a girl out in Dallas who reads this blog. She stumbled upon it a few years ago and has kept up with the (mis)adventures of Morgangster ever since. I was totally flattered and surprised… but the coolest thing that she said about her and her friends is really why I’m writing all of this in the first place: 

…your posts have resonated with each of us in different ways. From career changes to moving cities to wondering why we’re 26 and single, we have always come back to your blog for some wisdom and candidness. Your group of friends really reminds us of ourselves.

So keep Instagramming. Keep Facebooking. Keep blogging; I’ll keep reading and I’ll keep writing. I think it’s important to share our stories and our experiences and our wisdom, because humans are pretty neat and hilarious. But when you find yourself feeling badly, feeling left out, feeling left-behind or feeling unworthy… unplug. Walk down your street and take an unfiltered photo of the street where you live on this day, at this period in your life. You won’t always live there, and an un-doctored reminder of the place where you were at this specific point in time will be more valuable to you than a wintry wonderland created in a phone. I promise. 

January 28th, 2014

The falling snow is quiet like memory. It is steady and slow and full of nostalgia and even when painful and cold it can be good for the soul. 

I hope this snow day brings adventure with friends as well as rest and warmth and a good pair of wool socks and a fire. Enjoy your day with a cup of hot chocolate and this Wintry Mix! Happy Snow Day, everyone!

m o r g a n g s t e r

a twenty-something breakfast enthusiast just trying to find my way in this crazy world. a designer by trade, a photographer by passion, a believer by grace.
Athens, Georgia