jill conner browne and the sweet potato queens

Jackson is counting down to St. Patrick’s Day, or St. Paddy’s Day as it is known here. And the 2019 St. Paddy’s Day Parade on March 23 is expected to draw 75,000 visitors–pretty massive for a city of 167,000 people. Central to the St. Paddy’s Day Parade is a little somethin’ called the Sweet Potato Queens. You might be thinking, Sweet Potato Queens? Read on.

In 1983, Malcolm White (of Hal and Mal’s fame) decided a St. Paddy’s Day Parade would be fun to produce, so he did. And Jill Conner Browne, a local Jacksonian, decided to be the parade’s Sweet Potato Queen. As Browne explained to the Houston Chronicle:

You know, in the South we’ve got a beauty queen for every event, every organization, every day of the week, every food group. I was pretty far removed from the beauty queen circuit, but I just declared it [being the Sweet Potato Queen] to be so. I just found it funny, and still do.

Sweet Potato Queen

Source: Natalie Maynor via Flickr

The Sweet Potato Queens have a reputation of adding bawdy fun to the parade and since that first parade have mushroomed as a network of 6,400 chapters in 37 countries. No joking. Can’t make it to the parade next Saturday? Consider checking out New Stage Theatre’s Sweet Potato Queens: The Musical, which is based on Browne’s best-selling books and is appropriate for ages 18 plus.

boots & more on high street in jackson, mississippi

As a consumer, there are a few purchases where you might benefit from being expertly fitted. Buying cowboy boots seems to be one.

Last September I was itching for a pair of cowboy boots. I headed to the only place I could think of–Boots & More on High Street just east of downtown Jackson.

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You could easily get lost in this store (big selection), but one of the staff members found me and I found these beauties, which I absolutely love. The turquoise bluebirds seem to dance across the leather. And the tiny red hearts here and there? Love.

Having never purchased cowboy boots before, I was impressed with the variety of choices. Boots are available in snip toe, rounded toe, and box toe as well as in different leathers. Think cowhide, goat, snake, ostrich, alligator. Prices also vary considerably–from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Goodness.

Andrew Evans wrote a great article for National Geographic on what to look for when buying cowboy boots. You can access his advice here.

bookish

If you’re a bookish sort and favor independently owned and operated bookstores, #Mississippi has some cool gems, all within a three-hour drive from Jackson.

Let’s begin with Square Books in Oxford. The heart of Oxford is the courthouse square, known as The Square, so it makes perfect sense that the local bookseller is Square Books. Square Books is actually three bookstores, but the main store is big enough that you could spend hours uncovering Southern writers. Book hunting can be hungry work, but don’t despair. John Currence’s City Grocery is just steps away from the main store.

Square

In Jackson, Lemuria Books rests on the third floor of Banner Hall off Interstate 55. Lemuria hosts weekly, sometimes daily, book signings and author readings. My friend Stacie Wells recently visited Lemuria and captured this wonderful photo for her Instagram account, Jackson and Beyond.

Lemuria

Source: Jackson and Beyond

Down on the coast, Pass Christian Books and Cat Island Coffeehouse are the bomb dot com. The bookstore may be tiny, but the coffeehouse has a beautiful deck where you can read, savor a glass of iced coffee, and look at the Gulf of Mexico and Cat Island in the distance. Dreamy experience.

Cat Island

green clover, green clover

One of my neighbors in #Belhaven has a large clump of clover at the corner of his property. And every time I pass it by, I can’t help but peer closely and hope I find a four-leafer.

Jackson Mississippi Belhaven Clover Deep South

Clover is an herbaceous plant in the pea family, and its leaves are primarily three lobed. It took some diligence but I finally found a four-leafer–in my backyard when I was pulling weeds. Insert eye roll.

Honestly can’t remember the last time I found a four-leaf clover. Was I ten? Eleven or twelve? As a late 40-something, I’ll take this as a positive sign and hope that good luck might blow my way. (Now if I can just find a rainbow and a pot of gold.)

clean, vacuum, polish, repeat

I shared previously that my house in #Belhaven is for sale, and–Captain Obvious statement of the century–selling your house is quite an undertaking. My broker recently had the photos redone, and I love how they turned out.

House 1

House 3

House 2

I’ve tidied the house from top to bottom enough times that I’ve arrived at a cleaning formula. Cleaning this house (3 bedrooms, 2 baths) takes approximately 5 hours and involves cleaning, vacuuming, and polishing. Through trial and error, I have found these products work best:

– Scouring stick (you can use the scouring stick on tubs as well as ceramic tile)
– Comet
– Windex (cleaning glass with Windex makes a cool squeaking sound)
– Stainless steel polish
– Bona brand tile cleaner and hardwood floor polish

(The Bona brand is kind of spendy but really worth it.)

buttermilk popsicles at deep south pops

Ran an errand yesterday in downtown #Jackson, and woo wee, it was a warm and sunny day. Almost 82 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty special for the end of February. When Mother Nature dials up the warm-weather crank, I head to DSP–Deep South Pops on N. State Street.

Heaven on a stick is the Strawberry Buttermilk Popsicle. The crushed strawberries are fresh, and the buttermilk lends the popsicle a slightly tart/sour vibe. Translation: This popsicle isn’t ultra sweet.

The buttermilk popsicle is also available in blueberry, which is almost as good as the strawberry version.

If you need a caffeine pick me up, Deep South Pops offers an assortment of coffee drinks. It’s a cool space to hang out and chill.

sunshine by proxy

February seems to be humming along in my little corner of #Belhaven in Jackson, Mississippi. We’ve had a week of rainy, overcast weather but these daffodils offer a shot of sunshine by proxy.

When I think of daffodils, I think blooms in April–right around Easter. But in central Mississippi, these perennials started blooming last week. What an early treat.

Daffodils, like tulips, stand so tall, brightly, and confidently. It’s hard not to totally love them. In various cultures, daffodils represent good fortune, hope, rebirth, and new beginnings. Wishing all good things to readers near and far on this 21st day of February.