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Thursday, December 30, 2010

RINGing in the New Year!

It's been a few weeks now and the excitement has yet to wear off. Mom and Shuga D were at the Cox Capitol Theatre this week for the Dead Confederate concert. When Mom went to order her drink, the man behind the bar gave her a wink. "This one is on me," he said, "Because you have the best engagement story ever." We'll toast to that!

So, for those not sick of hearing the story, here's another round on us, from Candy's point of view . . .

Shuga and Mom took on the Big Apple. Then Shuga took Mom by surprise. And he took a certain movie star with him.

It all began with their whirlwind trip in the middle of the week to kick off Shuga's birthday month, which also falls in the Christmas season. They checked into the Upper West Side's Hotel Belleclaire, a boutique hotel with one of the best room views Mom had ever seen in NYC. Not only was it well-appointed and ultra-clean, it had yet to make the bed bug registry, which was also a big part of the big city appeal. Within a few blocks was John Lennon's famed Dakota. It was also the anniversary of his untimely death. Within a short walking distance from that was Central Park's Strawberry Fields, the first stop on Mom and Shuga's chilly trip.

Bundled up and arm-in-arm, they wound their way through Central Park. They overviewed the city from a beautiful bridge, stopped for drinks and duck confit at the Boathouse and finally found Alice and her tea party on their stroll across NYC's nature to the Upper East Side. Still, unbeknownst to Mom, Shuga had something in his coat pocket. And even though it was ultra-romantic, the moment wasn't quite right.

From there they enjoyed jacked-up hot chocolate at Dylan's Candy Bar, window-shopped along Madison Avenue and eventually wandered their way into Tiffany's. "What floor?" the elevator ambassador asked.

"Will it freak you out if we look at rings?" Mom asked Shuga.

"Not at all," he answered, patting his coat pocket.

And up they went to the second floor. Mom bypassed the engagement rings and went straight for the wedding bands. When she and Shuga found something they liked, the saleslady asked her ring size. Mom couldn't remember.

"5.5," answered Shuga. Mom looked at him in shock . . . how did he know?

From Tiffany's it was on the subway to Times Square for a quick moment of awe. Then it was back on the subway to the Upper West Side for a dinner date with an old family friend . . . who Mom had never met.

Prohibition was the perfect, local-like wining and dining watering hole. It was there they met Robin Duner-Fenter, a New Yorker by way of an interesting upbringing in Macon. Rob's step-father Frank Fenter, was one of the founding fathers of Capricorn Records, and Mom's uncle Phil's business partner. His mother was Baroness Ulla von Blixen-Finecke, "Kiki" for short. Rob and Mom bonded quickly. Just when she thought her family history couldn't be more historic, she meets more . . . The other side of the fabled nonfiction that brought true international flair to her fair hometown. The three of them talked family business until the middle of the night (and the next morning). For Mom, it was like a homecoming in a city not her own.

The next day has since been officially declared Mom's "Best Day of the Decade." It started with the Manhatten Diner and Mom's favorite, absolutely favorite, food - a classic NYC bagel and Lox. From their breakfast of champions, they made their stroll across Central Park once more, on their way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And it was from there that everything changed forever.

They had been at the Met for almost an hour, overwhelming themselves with their choices of exhibits. Shuga suggested the French Impressionist on the next floor. As they made their way to the gallery, they passed a familiar face and unmistakable profile. It was the actor Owen Wilson. While it was pretty darn cool, they were also in the presence of Van Gogh . . . and Monet, Renoir, Manet, Degas and Seurat. Oh, Seurat. Mom immediately swooned when she saw one of his original studies of "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette." Not only does it remind her of a Second Sunday Brunch in Washington Park, but it's just one of those paintings she's paid attention to over the years of art history she's studied here and abroad.

While Mom continued to ohh and ahh over the famous works that surrounded her, Shuga slyly disappeared. When he returned to the gallery, Owen Wilson was closely behind him. Mom was confused. They looked up to something. And when Shuga took Mom by the hand and led her back to the Seurat study, she couldn't help but wonder (a la Carrie Bradshaw), why is Owen Wilson following me?

But soon she was distracted. Because Shuga D was on a bended knee. In his hands was a ring of all rings . . . one that hadn't had a chance to sparkle like it did under those museum lights for many, many years.

"Jessica Walden, in front of Seurat and Owen Wilson, will you marry me?"

And with that, Owen Wilson took out the couple's camera and snapped the most picture perfect picture of the very moment that dreams are made of.

In case you are wondering, Mom said yes. It was shortly followed by, "I need to sit down. I feel as if I am going to faint."

Owen Wilson wasn't the only one who witnessed the big moment. Even the security and gallery-goers enjoyed being a part of the special moment. Mom will never forget the one lady who came up to them soon after and said, "That right there was a New York moment. And I am from New York, and I can tell ya, that was a New York moment. Congratulations you two and happy holidays!"

From there, they ordered two glasses of the finest champagne the Metropolitan Museum of Art offered . . . and they drank it all in.

After finally leaving the Met, it was a cab ride to DB Bistro Moderne, recommended by former Maconite Kelly Kramer, now a bonafide New Yorker/aficionado. Of course, Shuga told everyone that he had just popped the question. And it led to more champagne being popped, followed by an elegant three-course meal with the best rice pudding Mom will ever remember (she was so excited, she had a hard time eating up until dessert!).

And then it was on to the spirit of Christmas in New York. Mom out-blinged the Rockefellar Christmas Tree. She glowed like Rudolph and loved her ice far more than the skaters ice skating before her.

She and Shuga took in their hot toddies before the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and felt like they were the only ones in the world, despite the hundreds around them. And then it was show time, where Mom maintained a big ol' grin through every Rockette number. By the time the show ended with the moving living manger scene, Mom was so overcome with gratitude and just sheer joy that she practically rose from her seat and went to church as she sang, "Let Heaven and nature sing," with happy tears streaming down her face.

The newly engaged Mom and Shuga ended their day at the Top of the Rock, on top of the world, taking in the city that will forever hold one of the most sentimental pieces of their hearts.

You would think the magic would end there, but it didn't. The next day, awashed in their new engagement and preparing to pack for check-out, the thought occurred to them to turn on the television and see what Owen Wilson might be up to -- It just so happened to be "Live with Regis and Kelly."

On national television, before a live studio audience, Owen recounted the story about a "sweet couple from Georgia" and his participation in the proposal. Kelly awwed. The audience awwed. And Owen added that Shuga's move, "was pretty smooth."

Mom and Shuga sat in shock. This was them! This is their story! The one that they will tell their children's children. And hopefully those children will share it with their own. It was the proposal story heard around the world. But it is their love story that they will hold deep in their hearts, forever. And whether Owen Wilson knows it or not, he's now a part of their history, along with Seurat, for as long as that story will be told.

Happy new year everyone! A wedding is coming to Candy's Land!

Photo by Owen Wilson.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Who's Yo Daddy??

Welcome to the holiday season here in Candy's Land. It was two years ago this week that Mom and Shuga D adopted me home from Heart of Georgia Humane Society and brought each of us joy like never before.

This Christmas is busier than ever. Mom and Shuga D bought the house of their dreams (in the College Hill Corridor, of course), so we are beginning the moving process during their seasonal time off. On top of that, Mom and Shuga are stealing away for a few days this week to celebrate Shuga's birthday in the Big Apple.

So, 'tis the season to save some money. Mom and Shuga have selected gifts that celebrate the mixed-breed family that we are.

That's right, they are giving each other DNA tests - on us!

Now we know there is a good chance I have some Chihuahua and Papillon in my family tree. But Mom also questions my rat terrier tendencies. Then there is Tybee and Bowen, both from the same litter, but we all wonder if they are from the same planet. And finally, there is dear, sweet, good ol' Miss Kitty. There is no idea where to begin on her origins. Even her name makes things confusing.

Little brother Boz Waggs has been spared from the mouth swab we were all required to submit (see the pic of me and Shuga D!). Even though he was the latest sprung from the City of Macon Animal Shelter, he's a tried and true long-haired Chihuahua, with a serious sweet side.

Mom and Shuga are submitting our DNA via Mars Veterinary. They offer a Wisdom Panel Insights "mixed breed DNA test." The results should be available in the next few weeks. We can hardly wait to find out who are daddies (and mamas) are . . . those sly dogs.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Funny Stuff Mom's Pop Says

Dad: Bear, you gotta see this show on TV [as he walks over, turns on Mom's television and cranks up the volume]

Candy's Mom: What the heck is this?

Dad: "Southern Fried Stings." That little bald-headed boys has got some balls!

Candy's Mom: Dad, this is so fake!

Dad: Hush! This is truTV. Stop trying to ruin all of my fun!

Candy's Mom: Dad, even I know truck stop hookers don't look that good.

Just remember, Candy Lou still loves you ;-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Still She Smiles

When it comes to family, Mom is sentimental. Her happiest memories revolve around a creative childhood filled with imagination and family members who tolerated her and her imaginary friends, often playing along. Claire and Ellen; Bubba (Little D) and Stephanie; Darrell and Brandi; Malcolm, Trisha, Harlowe and Kathy are just some of the cherished cousins who doubled as the big siblings Mom never had.

The family is a large one. Mom's own Mom is one of eight. It's hard to keep up with that many kin folk, but the love for each other exists no matter how much time, distance or families of their own affect that kinship. After all, blood is thicker than that.

Aunt Fran is a part of Candy's Land. She is the one who often surprises Mom and gets it right every time with special packages that arrive in the mail filled with vintage, French and sweet sentiments that make Mom's heart sing.

Today, Aunt Fran had to deliver different news, and Mom's heart is sad. Aunt Fran's daughter Kathy left this world this morning. For a while now, Kathy has fought hard and brave against the odds of aggressive, unrelenting, unfair cancer. And Mom hurts that her dear Aunt Fran had to see one of her children leave this earth far too soon.

Still, while Mom mourns, she smiles when she thinks of her cousin Kathy. In addition to caring for Mom growing up, Kathy spent a career caring for others as a nurse. Kathy also cared for their grandfather during his final days, just a few fall seasons ago.

Right now, in a Kingdom far beyond this earth, Kathy and Grand-Pa-Pa are also smiling. They're smiling because they haven't seen each other in while. They are smiling at how beautiful and handsome they both are. And they are smiling because Grandmother Lura and Uncle Joe are grateful to have more family gathered around a glorious table. And they are smiling because, after all, this world that cousin Kathy just left is going to be a much better place with guardian angels made up of more Cox and Laniers looking over it.

Hospice has been a wonderful blessing to so many. In honor of cousin Kathy and all who we have lost due to cancer and terminal illness, donate to your local hospice in their memory.

To Aunt Fran: Candy Lou and your niece love you.


Pictured is Mom's third birthday spent among her family that (from the top pic) includes Cousin Stephanie, Dad and Mom; Cousins Little D and Harlowe; Grand-Pa-Pa; Cousins Kathy (now an angel) and Trisha

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Save the Halls: Museums Matter in Macon - We're all Part of the Legacy

Visit to sign the petition and show your support of keeping the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon - as Mom's Pop says in his sweet southern drawl, "Where it belongs."

This video was produced by the "Little Creative Company" of Mom, Texas T and Bright Blue in the historic Grant's Lounge with some of Macon's passionate young musicians.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October was a Graveyard Smash

Mom and Shuga D had a lovely, lazy day laying low after the busiest October on record for both of them. For Shuga, it was the Christmas orders of Crown Candy candy needing to be shipped out across the country. For Mom, it was going from 1940's Spirit at Riverside Cemetery to 1980's zombie in downtown Macon's Thriller dance. She also judged the pet costume contest at the dog park, filmed a Save the Halls video PSA to air soon and still managed to make her zombie call time - all in one day. They both look forward to a much needed laid-back November.

We just handed out boxes of Crown Candy Peanut and Cashew Clusters to a big group of College Hill Corridor trick-or-treaters whose parents score serious points for showing their kids that every once in a while, there are some things worth rebelling for (such as keeping Halloween true to its date, even on a Sunday).

I met them at the door dressed like the little stinker that I am.

Happy Halloween from Candy's Land!

Monday, October 25, 2010

She Tricked me with a Treat

So, it's obvious by the way we're loved that Mom invests all of her maternal instincts into us mutts here in Candy's Land. And as much as Mom knows it just ain't right, she loves to dress up her kids . . . especially me. You've seen the Christmas sweaters. Now, in honor of all of the pets out there who are subjected to no-say-so in trick-or-treating, this video of last year's "Biker Babe" costume choice is dedicated to you.

Let's just say a sweet thing like me was never cut out for cut-off denim.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Now Showing at a Cemetery Near You

And we thought the fall meant a break in our break-neck schedules. Who were we kidding? Mom may not be able to stop the hands of time, but she manages to rewind them this month. She is currently "on tour" as Rebecca Smalling in Riverside Cemetery's Spirits in October Walking Tour.

The one-hour twilight tours take you through the historic cemetery and introduces you to some of the spirits and stories of Macon's haunting and compelling past. The tours take place during the remaining Thursday, Friday and Saturdays of October. In addition to Mom playing Rebecca, sister of Naval war hero Hugh Smalling, there is a witness to Macon's plane crash on Cherry Street, little Mabel White, a trickster teacher, a freed slave, an eccentric travel journalist, a Civil War soldier, the "Miracle Man of the Diamond," a Sister of Mercy, the first licensed female mortician in Georgia and the questionable Chester Burge.

Now, this is a big break from Mom's normal speaking parts, which up until now, have consisted of PR Presentations and marketing stump speeches (playing herself, of course). To actually have to "act" was never something she considered. But put her in a vintage 40s dress, a swanky hat and a pair of white gloves, and suddenly it wasn't to hard to be someone else.

Of course, Shuga D has been her cheerleader and acting coach through it all. Today, her new 1940s persona swooned when a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived with his sweet note. What a gentleman, that Shuga D. You would think he was from another time.

Pictured is Mom in costume as Rebecca with her brother Hugh played by Anthony Ennis.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Move Over Snoop, Here is the Real Dog Pound

That Shuga is always sharing with Mom the cliff notes of the TIME magazine he just devoured - and it's not always the good, bad and ugly world news bits. Sometimes, it takes TIME to know the hippest and latest. Like this music video from the band OK Go, created in one take with all rescue pups (like me and my brother and sister mutts!). You gotta love something you can feel the beat to while raising awareness on pet adoption. Bow-wow-wow-yippee-yo . . . you get it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mutts Make the Bestest Friends

Here is the latest video of our available animal shelter friends in need of a good home. They have not had the easiest lives, yet their tails keep wagging. Please don't shop - adopt your next pet. Candy Lou loves you!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Home is Whenever I am with You

We've all got our summer tunes. But while some of y'all are California Gurl-dreamin', Mom and Shuga D would much rather be "Home." Check out Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Local-gone-worldwide indie music hub (and Bragg Jam sponsor) will have an interview with them soon.

And Shuga?

Remember that day you fell out the back window? Well, Mom says she would walk across broken glass and pick up all the pieces and chew on them if it meant for another moment of contenting nothing with you.

Cheers to the summer of 2010:

Moats and boats and waterfalls, alley ways and pay phone calls

I’ve been everywhere with you.

That’s true.

We laugh until we think we’ll die, barefoot on a summer night

Nothin’ new is sweeter than with you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

And Almost as Cute as Me . . .

Leave it up to Mom's "Jolie Amie" Jackie to share this smile-inducing ingenuity. I'm just glad I'm not lint on a leash ;-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cute Overload

Mom's Creative Crew friends are at it again with another project to help Macon's unwanted animals. Check out the latest video created by Bright Blue and Texas T of the seriously cute dogs and cats currently available for adoption at the City of Macon Animal Shelter. If it doesn't make you go aww, well, I pity the fool.

Remember, me and my brother and sister mutts were all unwanted at one time. I've done my time at the pound and now I am eternally grateful for my forever home. Part of that gratitude is advocating for others who spent time in the cage like me. If there weren't five of us here in Candy's Land, Mom would already be signing their adoption papers. Why shop when you can adopt? Check out this fun-loving muttley crew:

The Never-Ending Storeeeeee

I've had my Falcor-looking moments. I could swear there's some Papillon in him somewhere. Join Mom and the College Hill crew this Friday of this 80's childhood classic for a free outdoor screening in Tattnall Square Park.

Macon My Way Back to You, Babes

So, summer's been a good one here in Candy's Land. Bragg Jam played hard and the hard work paid off. Mom and Shuga D celebrated another year, another memory with their own jam, of the mountain variety, at their favorite cabin retreat. They chased water falls, discovered rock slides and conquered the rocks and rapids of the Chattooga -- Mom's first time white water rafting!

The summer was beach time, lake time, river time, mountain time and busy time, but more than anything, it's been a we time . . . there's even been a couple of those moments were Mom and Shuga were like H.I. and Ed in Raising Arizona, holding hands across a couple of lounge chairs (or in their case, floats in the hot tub turned cold tub) and relishing the "salad days."

I still can't promise much - our lives are crazier than ever - but Candy Lou has definitely missed you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Candy Lou Still Loves You!

Between Mom's full-time job at College Hill, the busy season crankin' up at Shuga D's candy factory and the annual concert monster known as Bragg Jam, anytime we get some free time here in Candy's Land, we're relishing our family time with each other. There really has been no place like home lately!

So, I'm leaving you with a few thoughts for the summer. Then we're going to re-charge our batteries for a little blogcation. Until then, pardon our progress.

To Read: Mom's new column coming out in the Macon Telegraph's "Out & About" section on Friday, July 30.

To Do: Second Sunday at Sunset, every Second Sunday of the month in Washington Park at 7 p.m. through September.

To Mark in RED: Bragg Jam, July 31, all over Macon. See the super cool website Mom has been busting her tail feathers over.

To Make Mom Red (as in blushing and totally humbled): Macon Magazine's August issue featuring the "Five Under 40" Young Leaders of Macon.

To Say Thanks: This favorite pic of Mom and one of her greatest influences, her Dad. It was taken in Washington Park during an outdoor concert many years ago. Who knew what was in store for her decades later, but she was already learning to stay in step with the BEST!

To Stay Tuned: Mom and Shuga D celebrate their second anniversary this month! And from this dog's eye view, I've never seen puppy love grow so strong . . .

Until next time, keep those paws to the floor and live life in Macon UNLEASHED.

Candy Lou loves you!

p.s. Check back with our Twitter feed in the left column for brief updates

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shrimp n' Grits For our Facebook Friends

Mom's status was simple. She had just made a shrimp n'grits casserole and was chilling and cheering with the guys as the U.S.A. soccer team took on Ghana. Fortunately, the casserole turned out much better than the game. Considerate it a consolation prize.

It was devoured before Mom thought to take a photo, but here is the basics of the easy, low country comfort food recipe:

4 cups chicken broth
1 cup grits
1 cup (or more) of shredded cheddar
1 cup (or more) of mont jack
1 bunch of green onions
1 green pepper
1-2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 lb cooked, peeled shrimp (wild caught, please!)
1 can diced tomatoes and chiles, drained
sausage (optional, but we had some good Charizo)
salt, pepper, olive oil and other preferences

Bring chicken broth to boil, stir in grits, cover, reduce heat and cook grits.

Mix grits with cheeses, saving some cheddar for the topping

Saute garlic, chopped scallions (save some of the greens for garnish) and chopped pepper, add to grit mixture. Add shrimp and diced tomatoes. Salt and pepper.

Cook sausage, drain fat and also add to mixture.

Pour into lightly greased, 2-quart baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Cook for 40 minutes at 350.

Let it firm up, then get out the forks because if you're like Shuga D, you might just eat it straight out of the pan.

Pictured is the UK's "Sammy the Shrimp." Go Paraguay!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fresh off the Pony Express

This week, Mom got one of the most exciting phone calls in a while. It was her friend Leah, a.k.a. the Magnolia Cowgirl, calling from the land line at the ranch. "I rode a horse today!" she says. "And it was awesome. And I loved it. And I see how you love it. You were the first person I called!"

It all began this time last year when Mom and her friend, who was then referred to as Honey Shot, decided to channel their inner-Annie Oakley and take a trip to a friend's Wyoming ranch. Except this friend's ranch was the size of a small country. And while Mom chased cows for the annual branding, Honeyshot was taking some of the best shots of her career in photography. Honey had also caught the eye of a real deal cowboy, who happened to be the foreman of the ranch. And he happened to catch her eye, too.

Fast forward almost exactly one year later and Honeyshot is now our Magnolia Cowgirl, settling into her new home, back at the ranch . . . in Wyoming. She uprooted her city life on Magnolia Street and followed her heart into the wild and arms of her cowboy. It's the stuff Harlequin novels are made of. And Mom says she's never heard her friend sound so happy.

Of course, Mom and the rest of their Little Creative Crew miss her terribly. When she heard the Magnolia Cowgirl's voice and the excitement coming from the other end of the country, Mom's eyes welled with tears. She was both proud her friend finally swung into the saddle and sad she couldn't have been there to give her the leg-up.

Then today a package arrived in the mail, with a Wheatland, Wyoming return address. Mom tore into the box with excitement to find, wrapped neatly in spur-spangled tissue, a vintage leather, tooled purse - the kind fashionable cowgirls carry. Mom swooned. It is exactly what she has been wanting for quite some time, and it couldn't be in more perfect, plus it matches her boots.

One year later from the adventure of a lifetime, she finally got the perfect souvenir.

P.S. Read the old posts about their trip to Wyoming here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Be Prepared to Perspire

It's going to be one hot and heavy weekend here in Candy's Land. Mom and Shuga D are looking forward to their date night to the Macon Macon Comic Kick-Off party at Asylum . . . (and here's a lil' Candy's Land exclusive: Mom is soon to be steppin' into a storyline - a la Nancy Drew - with Bragg Jam's Muddy Brown!) Then they are going to grab dinner at the Tic Toc Room before calling it an early Friday night.

The reason being, Mom and I have to be up early tomorrow for a video shoot that we're crossing our paws will give a dream make-over to Macon's dog park. We're working with AC Pup on this, and we'll keep you posted here, for sure.

After the early morning shoot, Shuga is making sausage and eggs as we kick-off the World Cup mania with a breakfast for our friends who have already been bitten by the international bug. We're getting competitive for sure!

Sunday is Second Sunday, so that means, we'll be at Washington Park for free live music organized by Mom and her full-time job at the College Hill Alliance. We're switching it to the evening time of 6 p.m., so consider it Second Sunday at Sundown. It's Mom's co-worker and partner-in-crime Nadia's birthday, so be sure to wish her a happy one. And as a special gift to everyone, Mom and Nadia will be giving out a little fun to do that Southern thang of "I declaring" while fanning yourself.

In honor of the sweatin' we're sure to be doing all weekend, here's a little video of the hot and lovely performer, Carrie Rodriguez, to get a little bit going on your brow:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Here Comes the Jaded Bride (Again)

Remember several entries ago when Mom had a fabulous "wedding-like" cake made for her fellow single ladies? It was the same night that they all got together for a little tongue-in-check photo shoot. Our Magnolia Cowgirl Leah Yetter recently sent them the finished photos, and once again, the ladies were smiling at the art they created. Although they are saving the hundred-or-so photos for their own private giggles (and maybe one or two framed in their favorite spaces), Mom was willing to share a solo shot of herself here in Candy's Land, as well as a lil' essay she wrote about the experience:

There are some things so cathartic, you shouldn’t give a darn to how offensive it might be. The wedding dress, for example, is given more sanctity than it deserves. It’s an over-priced, fussy, some-shade-of-white adornment. Sometimes it has intricate beading. Sometimes it’s pure woven silk. Oftentimes it cost thousands to buy and hundreds to preserve. And I’m just not sure it deserves any of the fuss. After all, you only wear it once.

And what happens if you wore it once and the wedding didn’t work? You and the groom go your own ways months, years, decades after the dress was given its own day and worshipped by a room full of revelers who stood at the site of you in it.

In divorce, you are left picking up the pieces of a failed marriage and starting an entirely new life you didn’t plan. And among the pieces you take with you, the former bride, is this once perfect wedding dress . . . now fallen to used, unlucky, tainted grace. Do you burn it as a sacrifice to the altar? Do you sell it to a stranger who doesn’t know its story? Do you shove it into storage and swear to never look at it again? Or do you make peace with it? After all, it wasn’t the gown’s fault the vows didn’t take.

It just so happens I am not the only one in my circle of girlfriends with a leftover wedding dress. You make friends you can relate to. And mine are smart, business-minded, civic-driven career women who have lived several lifetimes by the time they hit their thirties. We’re somewhat fearless. And we like to fancy ourselves as hell-raisers. Together, we make quite the creative, untouchably talented crew.

It wasn’t hard for our photographer friend Leah Yetter to arrange the studio and have the lights, camera and background music jamming for us when we arrived – here comes the Jaded Brides – with our wedding gowns from another life slung over our shoulders and a brown bag of brand new whiskey in hand.

None of us had been to each other’s weddings. Changing into our dresses we became like a bunch of bridesmaids, who hadn’t married for the first time, cooing and complimenting each other on the gown that never was.

Then came the hair and make up. Loads of eye make-up just like our wedding day, this time smudged, smeared and streaked on purpose. A really good purpose – our new vows:

To those who have cried and then had your tears dried by your fellow jaded bride.

And no matter how hard we tried to make ourselves look like we felt during the days of divorce, we were funny. We laughed as we applied eye drops to make our mascara run. While creating circles under our eyes, we swigged Jack Daniels.

Well, except for the eight months pregnant one. She wore a long white slip that fit her expanded belly but brought the tiara from her elaborate wedding day. She was our good-sport prego princess, and even though she couldn’t fit into her old wedding gown, it couldn’t have been more fitting.

Standing before the camera, bad silk flowers and liquor bottles in hand, we gave our wedding portraits another chance. This time there was no glimmer of happily ever after in our eyes. But we still sparkled. We also pouted, sneered, scoffed, made obscene gestures and poked fun at the wives we once were . . . and just weren’t meant to be.

So the marriage was far from a fairy tale. And all I ended up with was this lousy wedding dress. But now I can look at my gown again with fondness, knowing I got my money’s worth. And the photos, lessons learned and empowerment to show for it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spa Junkie

It's no secret that Mom's drug of choice is mixed cocktail of products and services at Macon's Vineville Salon. What better way to relax than the warm towel and holy hands of Sonya, the massage therapist? Mom got so taken away in her latest massage that she got Shuga D a gift certificate to decompress from a crazy day in the candy factory -- because if there was any other woman Mom would let put her hands all over her Shuga, it would be Sonya!

Then there is the hands-down and feet-first offerings of Paige for the perfect mani-pedi. Mom is still loving the dark purple "Shoot for the Stars" they selected together for her toes, but she is anxious to go back and try the appropriately named "Freebird" color of Spa Ritual's organic polish line. Paige is currently offering a free manicure with pedicure special. Call for an appointment and tell her you read about it here on!

Then there is the lovely Anne keeping Mom tuned into the fountain of youth. As you've read here before, Mom loves a microderm. It's the chemical-free way of sloughing off the stuff that ages and weighs our faces down. If you've never tried a microderm before, send us a Candygram at, and we'll hook you up with a free test run.

Finally, Mom is the product of good products. She is hooked on the natural and eco-friendly focus of all things Aveda. And she is a sucker for the shampoos and conditioners of shower champagne / product line Shu Uemura. You may have to save your pennies to buy it, but gosh darn it, you're worth it . . . and every penny.

Nothing wrong with pampering yourself with a little fix from the Vineville Salon. Come on, we're all doing it.

Macon Musicians Unite to Keep Georgia Music in Macon

It's First Friday in downtown Macon, and you can find Mom at the Musicians United Benefit Concert to keep the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon. She's actually in for a treat tomorrow because she will be sharing the stage of the Historic Douglass Theatre with her father, 2003 GMHF Inductee Alan Walden. Mom and her pop are emcees for the concert experience that evening . . . expect her to turn red a time or two when her dad threatens to do his Elvis impersonation. Please, God, no. Regardless, it's something near and dear to both of them and the live music for the evening is just a bonus. Buy a ticket and support not just live music in Macon but keeping Georgia music history in Macon!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Whatever it Took [to make it as Kenny Chesney]

Sometimes it takes more than a bad mullet to make it in Nashville. Check out the vintage Kenny Chesney video, circa 1993 on Capricorn Records. Yep, Uncle Phil always knew how to spot a star . . . including his daughter, Amantha Starr Walden, dancing as Kenny's leading lady in this fabulous music montage.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mom's Side of the Mountain

Mom said she was tired of her own excuse that she didn’t have any time. Truth be told, she really hasn’t had any lately. But she always said if you want something done, ask a busy person. So Mom told herself, “If you can’t find time, make time.” And with that, she issued herself a dare.

For her, it was just as bold and daring as those bucket list things in life that require helmets, safety vests and waivers. She would spend a weekend completely alone, in her cousin’s mountain cabin, where there is no cell signal, no internet, no cable or other forms of communication, unless you go looking. She would have no other choice but be enveloped in complete quiet time and choose to spend it reading, writing or just being still.

With Shuga’s support, telling her he was proud of her, Mom left Macon in the rear view mirror for the mountains of North Carolina.

The Mini Cooper loved every turn as she climbed the mountain to where the cabin was nestled, her heart racing with every shrinking cell bar. When she finally caught site of its tin roof and welcoming screen door, all signal was lost. The solo mountain sojourn had officially begun.

Without a doubt the air was lighter the minute she stepped out of her car. The birds were louder than she remembered, and the cabin with all the care her cousin had invested, never looked so precious with its blooming flowers and cozy interior, decorated with folk art, vintage Macon postcards and music mementoes of Capricorn artists gone by.

Despite the instant serenity, Mom spent her first day antsy, as predicted. She wasn’t sure how to handle the quiet. She had to make herself not to turn on any music until it was at least dark outside. She read, she napped and she almost drove back to Macon at least once when she started missing Shuga and us mutts so bad. But she bucked up and went to bed early with the notion that tomorrow would be a new, full day, and she slept well knowing the baseball bat Texas T loaned her was by her side.

Life was different the next day. She opened the windows to the sounds of birds, got the tea kettle going and decided that was all the noise she needed. With the cool mountain air, she kept her long sleeves on, the tea always hot and a blanket over her lap when she read on the porch. Meals consisted of goat cheese, prosciutto and green onions and loved it. She brought along her Dolly Parton box set, but soon found she didn’t need it. Hours were spent writing beside the window, the breeze in the trees and the occasional rain shower keeping her mind focused and inspired.

Mom also prayed, but more than anything, she tried to listen. For once in a long time, her world was quiet and all she had to do was look at the view to feel the Kingdom of God before her.

While Mom was on the mountain, she read Erskine Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre. A friend of her Uncle Phil’s recommended it to her. Ironically, the main character is named Ty Ty Walden.

Mom finished the book on her last day at the cabin, on the porch as the rain was beating down.

“When you get God in your heart, you have a feeling that living is worth striving for night and day. I ain’t talking about the God you hear about in the churches, I’m talking about the God inside of a body. I’ve got the greatest feeling for Him, because He helps me to live. That’s why I set aside God’s little acre out there on the farm when I was just a young man starting in. I like to have something around me that I can go to and stand on and feel God in . . . All you boys seem to think about is the things you can see and touch – that ain’t living. It’s the things you can feel inside of you – that’s what living is made for.” - Ty Ty Walden

Friday, May 28, 2010

When a Man Loves a Woman

Especially his daughter . . . He'll trade the world, spend his very last dime and give her everything he has. Thank you, Mom's Pop Walden, for marking another year as a wonderful father. We're a little late with the birthday wish, but after 67 years . . . who's counting?

Pictured is recent birthday (May 23) boy Alan Walden with Jack Chisom and the ultimate balladeer Percy Sledge, who remains romancing couples everywhere as he tours today. The picture was taken the week "When a Man Loves a Woman" reached number one in Billboard. It was also taken at a party where Mom's Pop met a then-unknown guitarist named Jimi Hendrix and could have mistaken him for Johnny Jenkins!

There's a whole lot of living and legends wrapped up in those 67 years. Candy Lou loves and celebrates you!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Portraits of Former Pound Puppies

Thanks to photographer Chris Smith for these great "headshots" of me Candy Lou and my new little brother Boz Waggs. Just call us poster children for "Why would you ever want to shop when you can adopt from your local shelter?"

By the way, in case you can't tell, we've got new summer hair cuts!

Make tails wag everywhere by being committed to adopting and rescuing all of your pets. We sure are glad Mom and Shuga D always have and always will.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sister Love, East to West

It's been so crazy in Candy's Land catching up from Mom and Shuga D's first real deal, week-long spring vacation, that we haven't had time to recap it. Although old news now, it's been far from forgettable. From visiting her sister Georgie Girl and her drummer man Scott in Hollywood to driving through the desert to Tucson for visiting his sister Brooke and main man Steve with their beautiful toddler and newborn brood, Jackson James and Olive Jean, here are just a few of the highlights:

- The moment Mom saw her sister . . . and hugged her until they weren't the only ones in the Pig and Whistle with tears in their eyes. Georgie Girl has been an L.A. Woman for over a year now, and she looks more beautiful, authentic and TALLER than ever.

- Shuga D taking the crew to a L.A. Dodgers game against Arizona's Diamondbacks. Mom not only agreed to go to a sporting event, but she stepped out of her comfort zone so much so that she lost a few moments in outer space on Hollywood Boulevard.

- Hugging the neck of Macon's own crooner Mark Brooker and his beautiful Italian lady friend after meeting up at the place of 80's rock legends, the Rainbow Room.

- The strike at Lucky Strike, first try and several "Roy Rogers" drinks later while bowling with Shuga.

- The infamous $25 salad among the famous (or wannabe famous), poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel, Mom and Shuga's temporary home-away-from-home. Such salad is now a souvenir pictured here.

- Afroman's curse-filled, star-studded celebrity tour that made Mom blush and Shuga say, "The Southern gentleman in me isn't so sure about this."

- Pinkberry. Pinkberry. Pinkberry.

- Mom dipping her toe into the chilly Pacific ocean and soaking up the sites and sounds of the stunning cliffs of Malibu with Shuga, Georgie Girl and Drummer Man Scott.

- The Jewish waitress at Greenblatt's Deli who cursed when she burned herself and harkened the New Testament with a few choice words. And then there was the best bagel and lox (Mom's absolute food favorite!) ever had.

- Sitting amongst her Walden kin - sister and cousins in their historic deco home nestled in the hills above Hollywood. The West Coast seems to be treating the younger sibs of Waldens well.

- The breath-taking art and artistic view from the top of the Getty Museum that got Mom and Shuga behind schedule and stuck in L.A.'s Friday rush hour . . . for three hours.

- Windmills on the desert drive just before the sun went down and the lights of Palm Springs came on

- Figuring out the Prius rental car in Phoenix, then figuring how much money and little carbon footprint they really did save!

- Jackson James anticipating their arrival by waiting in the front yard

- Meeting, holding and cuddling newborn Olive Jean for the very first time

- Eating an orange, straight off a backyard orange tree

- Tucson's version of Bragg Jam . . . and Mom and Shuga taking notes!

- Mom's re-discovery of the desert's beauty, a decade since her last trip and the first time with the man of her dreams.

- The Sonoran hotdog: bacon, mayo, peppers, beans and bottomless bun. No need to say more.

- Fresh tableside (in their case, barside) salsa-making right before their eyes. More tomatillos, please.

- Seeing Shuga and his sister share that same wonderful Weatherford smile . . .

And that is just a start of Mom and Shuga's recapped adventure in the wild, wild west. The rest, as they say, is meant for the family scrapbook. Except for the poolside salad.