Category Archives: The Grapevine

The Grapevine: Hey, August

There are so many good things floating around this month it was super hard for me to narrow down what to share with you. Here are some things I just can’t stop thinking about!

Here is a little peak of some things I am working on. Some are for the blog, and some are for an ebook I am creating. I am so excited about the ebook, but it is slow to come together. Who knew they were so much work?! :)

The Grapevine: Hey, AugustThe Grapevine: Hey, AugustThe Grapevine: Hey August

The Grapevine: Hey, August The Grapevine: Hey, AugustThe Grapevine: Hey, AugustThe Grapevine: Hey, August

 

Until next time, friends!

The Grapevine: The Liebster Award

Some very fantastic bloggers named Stephanie, Kelly, Ashley, Mir, Lisa, and Anna nominated me for a Liebster award. A Liebster award is an award passed among bloggers. The idea is to give small bloggers the opportunity to share a bit more about themselves and to highlight their work by having them share random facts and answering questions.  It is a great way to promote and explore new blogs. Personally, since I have become a blogger I have been astounded by the community, friendships, and support bloggers have for one another. We live counties, states, and oceans away from one another but our love of food brings us together on a daily basis to make up this amazing community. I love being a part of it! So I am honored to be recognized by my fellow bloggers and am thrilled to have a chance to share more about my life! Here we go!

  • I grew up on a farm.

The Grapevine Farm

  • I was a vegetarian for almost 10 years. The first time Mr. Maebell cooked for me after I started eating meat again was duck…a duck that he had killed…he served the cooked duck breast and I poked at it on my plate and flipped it over. There was still a feather attached. I almost died.
  • I have two sisters and a brother. I love them dearly.
  • I got married on a Wednesday.

The Grapevine: Married

  • My youngest sister looks creepily like me. So much so, that once we were shopping together and I had walked to the other end of the store. I looked up and saw her waving at someone, but I couldn’t tell who she was waving to. It was her reflection in a mirror. She thought it was me.

The Grapevine: Home

 

  • My hometown is known for the World’s Biggest Fish Fry. Seriously, the whole town closes down for a parade and cat fishes races. You can read the best description ever here. No matter how far I move away from home I will always crave hush puppies at the end of April.

 

  • I love my Birthday. I count down to it all year long. I decided a long time ago to celebrate a “Birthweek” instead of just one day.
  • I can’t imagine ever getting a tattoo, but when the dog I had growing up passed away I seriously, seriously considered getting a tiny Z tattooed on my wrist. Her name was Zipper and I couldn’t bare going through life without a little part of her with me. I am still not sure I won’t do it someday.
  • I made one of my prom dresses. I sewed the whole thing and did the bead and sequin work while sitting in History class in high school.
  • I grew up in a family that (obviously) loves animals. I will consider myself a success when I build a house on enough land to rescue all the animals. A three legged cow? Sure! A blind lamb? Why not! I want to save them all. Every single one.

The Grapevine: Family

  • My wedding vows mentioned cooking, the dogs, and duck hunting. They were pretty epic.

 

Here are some of the questions I was asked:

What is your favorite blog post?

This one. Read it, just read it. I learned one thing from that post. Sometimes in life there are just no words, but sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can find the perfect words.

Why did you start blogging?

Well, I kind of talk about that here. The short version is, I love food. Like, really love it. I also enjoy writing. So, naturally blogging seemed attractive. But I also saw this big gap with food bloggers. There were lots of gluten free bloggers and lots of not gluten free bloggers, but I couldn’t find a blog that had EASY, NORMAL gluten free recipes. You know, recipes real people could follow easily. I felt that I could fill that gap well. I actually think, for the most part, I have created a place that shares recipes you never even realize are gluten free. That was my goal.

Do you have any pets?

Yes! Two! Zink is our 6 year old Husky, and Copper is our one year old Yellow Lab. Our house is divided. Zink is on team Mom, Copper is on team Dad.

Copper and Zink

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take 3 things would you take?

My husband and my dogs! I think we would have a grand time! ;)

The Grapevine: Family

How did you come up with the name for your blog?

Maebell is what you get when you put my maiden name (mae) and my mom’s maiden name together (bell)

What is the best movie of all time?

Steel Magnolias and Remember the Titans are a dead tie in my book. I can, and do quote every single word of both. “You’re killin’ me Petey…your killin’ me!”

What is your favorite meal from your childhood?

My Mom’s mashed potatoes, hands down. I don’t know why hers are so much better than mine!

What is your favorite childhood memory?

This may not be my favorite memory, but I really love telling it. Once my brother and I were putting a bed together and a piece fell and made a big hole in the wall. We were home alone and totally panicked. For some reason we were totally POSITIVE our parents would just have a cow over that. So we filled the hole with wood putty (we thought walls were made of wood) and repainted the wall and dried it with a hair dryer. We never told. Years later, my Mom saw the imperfection in the wall the summer before I moved to college. I love that story, and I love that hole in the wall. I hope it is never properly patched.

What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?

I think I would be like a Fairy Godmother. I would keep it a secret and gift things to people. Need those student loans paid off? Bam! Your house needs a new roof? Done! I think it would be super cool to anonymously change peoples lives.

What is your favorite quote? 

“Keep the main thing, the main thing” it has been my parents’ mantra throughout their marriage. I feel that this pretty much sums up any situation in life. If you always keep the main thing the main thing you will be okay.

Some of the bloggers I would love to learn more about are Isadora from She Likes Food, Natalie from Tastes Lovely, Ami from Naive Cook Cooks, Sarah from Whole and Heavenly Oven, and Mary Frances from The Sweet-Tooth Life! If you girls would like to play along I have some questions for you!

  1.  Is blogging harder or easier than you thought it would be?
  2. What is your favorite quote?
  3. Do you set future goals for your blog or is it just a fun hobby?
  4. Where is your favorite place in the whole world?
  5. What is your favorite season?
  6. What is your favorite blog post?
  7. What blogs do you regularly follow?
  8. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
  9. What is your favorite show?
  10. What do you find most challenging with your blog?

The Grapevine Hey, July

It’s that time again. Time to share a little love. Here are some of the things I just can’t get enough of!

  • Or this single serving portion of Cherry Crisp, oh and no oven necessary!!
  • I have these Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas on the menu for next week. Mr. Maebell isn’t a huge enchilada fan but when I told him they had shrimp AND crab he was all in!

I just got my first Stitch Fix, and I am super disappointed. If you haven’t heard of it you can read about it here. Basically, it is an online styling service. You fill out this big style profile that asks you things like what size you are, what your most comfortable in, what you wear most often, etc. It even goes as far as showing photos of clothes and you rate if you like it, love it, or hate it.

I guess if you are a major shopper it would seem pointless but I only appear to be a good dresser. I am actually horrible at dressing myself. I worked in retail for years and luckily my coworker (Hi Andrea!!) just picked out my clothes for me. When those wear out I am screwed.

The only things I said I specifically did not want were sleeveless things or really thin/see through materials. I hate having to wear a tank top under everything. Well they sent three see through tops, a sleeveless dress, and a huge gold bangle. I sent it all back. Have you had better luck? Should I try again? I can’t decide!

And just for fun, here are some photos from Mr. Maebell from this month.

The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July The Grapevine: Hey, July Happy Tuesday Friends!

 

 

 

The Grapevine: Behind the Blog

Confession: I am a covertly nosy person. Not like a major in your face, who what where kind of nosy person, but more like a hmmm..I am going to casually listen to what you are saying then go home and Facebook stalk until I figure out the situation.

I don’t know why! I am just curious about things!

Since I have started blogging I have found myself increasingly curious on other bloggers processes. I love when bloggers show a little glimpse of how things come to be or what it takes to make a post. So, just in case you are nosy curious like me I thought I would share what my process looks like.

Now, I am not a “professional” blogger. This site came to be for a couple of reasons, one of which, was the need for a creative outlet. I work a regular job that allows for absolutely zero, zilch, NO creativity whatsoever. Even the art in my office is boring! Urgh! So in an effort not to completely lose my mind I needed a place that was all mine. Someplace I can share thoughts, recipes, photos, and little pieces of my life. That is how Maebells was born.

So this is a little glimpse of how I work.

It all starts with these. Notebooks! Lots and lots of notebooks! I am an obsessive list maker and note taker. Each notebook has a purpose. One is for scheduling and self imposed deadlines. The one covered in food is the one that sits firmly on the kitchen counter. I write down everything I cook and how I cook it. Then I write down every blessed suggestion Mr. Maebell gives and any tweaks I think need to be made. I am fairly certain there needs to be a support group for spouses of food bloggers. :)
I have another notebook just dedicated to ideas. Pages and pages of recipe ideas, flavor combos, topics I want to write about, just whatever is interesting to me at the time. This is my favorite one because I love to look back and see things I wrote weeks or months ago. It is amazing how many I can’t remember I thought of!

Notebooks

I am also a major magazine hoarder. I can’t bare to throw one away! I love referring back to them when I am trying to get ideas for how to style a photograph or inspiration for props.

Cookbooks! I could write a book about how I feel about cookbooks. In short, I adore them. Most people curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book. Nope, not me, I will read every single word of a cookbook, cover to cover. My absolute favorites are community cookbooks. You know, like church cookbooks. I am especially in love with them if they are old and Southern. I will rarely ever cook from these because they all call for three cups of mayo, a pound of bacon grease, and seven cups of cheese, but I love to see how things evolve over the years. And if there is handwriting in them -oh don’t even get me started! I definitely have to make the recipe, with the handwritten adjustments, and make up a complete back story for whoever wrote it, cooked it, and for what occasion.

Cookbooks

Then there is the actual cooking. I generally spend one entire day each weekend dedicated to cooking, recipe development and photography. That is kind of absurd, I know. However, that is really the only way I can keep up with posting as often as I do. Most of the time I really don’t mind it. I mean I genuinely  love doing it. Sometimes I do get lucky and am able to make dinner after work and photograph it before I run out of daylight, but that doesn’t happen a lot.

The photography. I struggle in this area. Probably because I need to learn to SLOW THE HECK DOWN! I have this horrible problem of working on the blog when I am starving! So I make the food and either spend a little time staging, snap a few photos and then eat. Or I spend like no time staging, take a million shots that all look the same, then eat. Urgh. I am really trying to learn some serious self control and be mindful of the lighting, only use pops that add instead of distract from a photo, and upload the photos before I move anything. Sometimes a photo will look fine when I review it on the camera, but the second I see it on a computer screen I see exactly what I should have changed.

Little Helper

Say hello to Copper, my little helper. More often than not, I am cropping little doggy snouts out of the photos. I shutter to think what they have done to the food when I turned my back on them. :)

My photography set up is is not very sophisticated. We have a bar height kitchen table (to avoid the doggy snouts) and I find it impossible to set anything on the table to photograph. I am just too short. When I try this I end up standing on the tall chair, which I am certain will one day end in me breaking my neck and/or the camera, so instead I opt for something lower. If I am photographing something small, like the drinks above I just make my set up in one of the chairs. If not, I just pull these two baskets over from the living room and lay down a painted sheet of plywood. I usually use this as my “tabletop” for photographs. I have two boards like this, each side is painted a different color giving me four options. I found this plywood at Lowe’s for about $6 each. A really small investment that gives me a couple options for backgrounds. I also have two or three pieces of tile I picked up from Lowe’s for less than two dollars each. The brown boards you see are called craft boards or hobby boards and I found them at Home Depot for $1.98 each, one side is stained brown and the other is grey. However, if your thinking of doing a backdrop like that I don’t recommend using grey. It doesn’t seem to photograph all that well. Other than that, the props I use are all regular household items.

Photography

This whole blogging thing isn’t just fun and games. Unfortunately, there are things that go with this site that I don’t enjoy. Actually, some of the things I downright despise. Those things include loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the counter tops, and general maintenance in the kitchen. Ha! Fortunately, Mr. Maebell and I had had a long standing “I cook, you clean”rule, so he helps me out with a lot that.

Now I am curious about you! For my blogger friends out there what does it take to make your blog run? Is your routine similar to mine? Do you operate totally differently?

The Grapevine: Hey, June

I am way overdue for a new addition of The Grapevine. I have a couple projects in the works that I can’t wait to share with you, but today I have got to share some of the fabulous things I have come across. There is so much good stuff out there!

Let’s start things off with the food. Clearly, that is what I take the most seriously.
  • This ice cream. Stop it. You had me at chocolate and salted caramel.
  • This Strawberry Lemonade from Cindy at Pick Fresh Foods. I’m obsessed with this, the recipe only calls for 1/3 cup of sugar where most lemonade recipes have piles of sugar!
  • This cake, okay the cake is phenomenal. But if you are a fellow food blogger read the whole post. Loved it. Totally spoke to me.
  • This grilled corn has me swooning.
  • Gayle came up with these peanut butter bites, we made them and ate them all in like one day. My fellow peanut butter loves, make this. You will be glad.
  • I am loving these vegetarian sliders. Perfect for summer entertaining.
  • This dressed up Alfredo sauce is pretty much all I can think about. Alfredo+Spinach+Pesto = Perfection.
  • This tart…holy cow. I have never seen a tart this beautiful! Simply stunning presentation. And on top of that, tons and tons of mango. I need it!

Last weekend marked the first real weekend of summer for us because Mr. Maebell made his ceremonial first of summer BBQ. I purchased a crazy expensive Boston Butt at the grocery, he rubbed it down with spices and woke up at 4:00am to put it on the grill, so it would cook low and slow for 14 long hours. The smell of BBQ wafted through our neighborhood and tortured us, and our neighbors all day.

BBQ

Unfortunately, I also had THE WORST allergies I have ever had this weekend. It looked like I had been crying all day because my eyes were watering so bad. I couldn’t breathe at all, I couldn’t even talk because I was coughing so much. It was really awful. I took a 24 hour allergy medicine and waited and waited for it to work. Four hours later I told Mr. Maebell we HAD to do something else because I was miserable. He researched and told me I could take another medication. So, I popped the pill and hoped for the best. That is pretty much the last thing I remember. I woke up at almost 9 that night. It knocked me completely out. I didn’t even remember eating his fabulous BBQ! What a bummer! On the up side, I could breathe and felt a million times better when I woke up! :) And the left over BBQ was out of this world!

Just in case you haven’t decided what to make for Father’s Day on Sunday, I have rounded up a couple of my favorite “man food” dishes. All are easy and delicious!

And because I am continuously amazed at what my husband can do with a camera, here are some photos courtesy of Mr. Maebell.

Early Morning

Shotgun Shell

 

Sunrise

Little Copper

The Grapevine: Spring Edition

Good things are happening, the weather is getting warmer, grass is growing, flowers are blooming. I love it! It is time to open our windows and let the fresh air in. It’s time to crank up the grill, and take the dogs for a walk. Basically, time to get out of the house! I think this winter got to me way worse than normal. I think I had a pretty significant case of cabin fever!

Sunrise

Branches

Woods

Aren’t these beautiful?

Mr. Maebell has become quite the photographer. He is currently putting my photography skills to shame!

Mr. Maebell and I worked on our yard this weekend. It is in need of some major TLC. Two big dogs and a very wet winter did nothing for our humble little yard. We got the basic maintenance done, but we are planning on reseeding and working on filling a few holes those precious fur babies dug. However, the longer I stood out there this weekend the more I got to thinking about creating some type of outdoor living space. That sounds great, right? Nothing fancy, maybe a stone patio, a real place to put our fire pit. Just a place to enjoy some fresh air. If you follow me on Pinterest you may have noticed I went a little crazy with the patio options.

I could tell that Mr. Maebell noticed the gears were churning in this little brain of mine. He is trying awfully hard to put a pin in it before I decide to build a gazebo, put in a pond and plant seven trees without actually saying “No” to me. We will just see how it goes. ;)

In other news, I have some things for you that I am really loving. Take a look!

Now for a sneak peak of things I have been working on!

Lemon Granola Bars

Fresh lemon zest? Oats? Roasted Almonds and Poppy seeds? Good things are happening here!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

We had ourselves a little fiesta the other night! Fresh shrimp, lime juice, chopped cilantro, rice and salsa verde made an awesome 20 minute meal! Recipe coming tomorrow!

Three Cheese Pasta

Here I go again with these skillet meals! This is another one dish 20 minute meal I came up with. I have to tell you, we are totally in love with this one!

And just in case you have ever wondered what the creation of this little website looks like. This is it. Just me and my boys doing a little Saturday morning blogging.

The Boys

Momma’s boys, I tell you…Momma’s boys!

If you ever see any spelling or grammatical errors I will blame it on the fact that the little one is likely helping me type.

The Boys

There you have it. Happy Wednesday from my whole crew!

The Grapevine: Why Perfect is Overrated

So I have been doing a bit of thinking lately.

Be Real

There has been this little thing irking me, and I just need to get it off my chest. We live in this fast paced, crazy, technology filled world where you have access to pretty much anything just by hopping online and searching for it. I think that is great and all… it is that same technology that allows me to have this little corner here on the web where I get to talk to you and share ideas. I am so very thankful for that.

But it has also created this “Pinterest Generation,” if you will. You know what I mean. An entire group of people who are constantly flooded with these images of perfectness. A perfectly plated dinner, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, a perfect home, perfect garden…the list goes on and on. The photos of food and place settings could even make Martha Stewart look pitiful!

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty, too. I pin the pictures. I admire them. I even get the idea stuck in my head that if my house doesn’t look EXACTLY like my Dream Home pinterest board I am a complete and utter failure. I make food to share with you. Then I wait until the lighting is just so.  I take about 50 shots using different garnishes, place mats, and napkins just so it looks perfect.

Can we just stop and take a moment here.

You are not a failure if the food you cook isn’t pretty.
You are not a failure if you can’t apply your eye shadow correctly, and you don’t know how to french braid your hair.
You are not a failure if you can’t build your own furniture out of pallets.

That world, that oh-i-was-born-an-expert-at-this-i-have-never-failed-at-anything-ever attitude that is creeping up on us. Let’s stop. Let’s just be real. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

Embrace both. Embrace them whole heartily.

Both of those… your good days, your bad, your wins, your losses, your successes, and your failures. They built you.

They made you.

And you, yes you, sitting right there reading this are totally unique. Nobody else in this world has what you have to offer.

Embrace it my friend!

So, in honor of taking the good and the bad, in honor of being real. I am sharing some of my failures with you. Some of these were good ideas with poor execution, some were just terrible ideas all together. But they are mine, and I am owning them.

Here we go!

roast chicken

So, this one time I was going to show you how to roast a chicken. Except I roasted it wrong side up which made for some fairly unflattering photos.

roast chicken

Speaking of photos, aren’t these terrible? Yes, that is black poster board I was using as a background. What was I thinking? Fail!

For the record, the chicken actually tasted great!

lemon cake

Lemon cake…oh lemon cake. I love it, yet I butchered this one. Sometimes you just need to leave things alone. I had a great cake but I tried to be fancy and add a healthy(?) strudel topping and sliced almonds. Okay, so in order to create a nice crumb like topping you need butter…and sugar. Without it you are just kind of sprinkling flour on top, which is basically what I did.

And these pictures….oh dear. Yellow lemon cake doesn’t belong on a greenish cake stand. Again, Fail!

lemon cake

This was going to be so great! A Pancetta and Pepper strata, I saved the last couple slices of my precious gluten free bread for this dish, but only had like 4 eggs. Instead of going to the store and buying more or just changing my plan I said, “oh I will just wing it!” The result? Very dry, eggy croutons with even drier peppers and pancetta stuck to them. We ate cereal that day. Fail!

strata

strata

You know that lovely Sausage and Spinach Quiche I shared with you? Well this was my first attempt at photos. Sheesh! Fail!

sausage and spinach quiche

This is just the tip of the iceberg my friends. For every tasty, nicely photographed recipe I share with you, there are two or three that failed. Behind this blog there is a messy kitchen, an expensive grocery bill, a full refrigerator, a faithful taste tester, a lot of determination, and a stockpile of Chocolate Chex for our inevitable failures. But that is okay, because it’s this beautiful mess that keeps life so interesting.

Perfection is so very boring. What would I have to write about?