Year Three

We’re back! Thanks so much for bearing with us while we took some much-needed vacation (Zelda literally, Scout’s in the more metaphorical, lie-on-the-couch-with-no-pants-on sense of the word). And a huge shout out and massive thank you to all of you that took our reader survey! We are so appreciative and hope you’ll stick around as we enter our third year.

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Our lives have changed a lot since we first started this blog in August 2014. We’ve been through multiple jobs and apartments, made new friends and taken on other projects. The gusto of our first year faded after several months of three posts a week. So we took it down to two, hoping that would help us continue to see this as a fun creative outlet, rather than an onerous obligation. And for a while, that seemed to work. But we’ll be honest y’all: We’ve been adulting hard lately, and free time is severely limited, so there have been many weeks where getting even two posts up has been a struggle. And we don’t want that. We want to want to post: because we care about our readers, because we want to be proud of the content we’re sharing, and because this blog is, first and foremost, about two best friends and their labor of love.

So we are once again shaking things up. We’ve been through our naive infancy; suffered through the growing pains of our sometimes terrific, sometimes terrible, twos; and now we enter year three a little older, a little wiser, and brimming with excitement for what’s to come.

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What does this mean for you, our beloved readers? You’ll still get all your favorites (mostly) — playlists, required reading, food and cocktails posts, introspective ramblings about our lives. All of those will continue, and we’ve got some fun ideas about ways to keep them fresh and interesting. But these posts will only be coming to you once a week. We know, we know, most of you survey takers wanted us to keep it at two (or go back to three), but to be perfectly honest, we just don’t have it in us. We are busy ladies with busy lives, and if we were to attempt to keep up the current schedule, we fear the quality of our posts (and our friendship) would suffer for it.

This is not to say that you won’t occasionally get a multi-post week. Sometimes, we’ve got thoughts and feels that just need to come out. But in general, Tuesday will now be your Z&S day. And we promise to bring you one bangerang post every week that we’re proud of and feel is worth sharing, not just something we’re posting for the sake of having another day of content.

We’re super excited about what’s ahead, and we hope you are too. And if you have thoughts, feelings, gifs, etc. to share on the subject, find us on all of our social media channels or drop us a line at zeldaandscout@gmail.com! We’d love to hear from y’all. Come sit on our digital front porch for a spell: The sweet tea is cold, and the rockers have just enough squeak.

Until next week!

Love,
Zelda and Scout

Vacation, and A Little Homework

Hello lovelies, and happy August to you all! We can’t believe how quickly this summer is flying by; it feels like the past two months have vanished into a puddle of sweat and sunscreen. August is a special month for us here at Z&S. It’s the time when we take stock of where we are and how far we’ve come, when we look ahead to the next year and the path we want to take going forward. And it’s the month when we celebrate our blog’s birthday by taking a break.

That’s right folks, we’re off for vacation! Technically, Zelda is the only one following this statement literally, fleeing the streets of Brooklyn for the lakeside paths of her beloved New Hampshire. Scout’s vacation will be of the psychological and metaphorical variety, hopefully filled with beer and theatre amid the usual work and everyday adulting. But in blog terms, we’re both taking a breather — two weeks’ worth, to be exact — while we recharge and reassess. And that’s where we need your help.

See we don’t operate this blog in a bubble. To paraphrase the author John Green, we make this gift for those we love — namely, y’all. And so as we enter our third year in the blogosphere, we want to know how we can make this corner of the internet a more inviting home for you, somewhere you want to stop and sit a while with a glass of proverbial iced tea on our little digital porch.

So here it is: The First Ever Zelda and Scout Reader Survey!

What do you like? What don’t you like? What do you want to see more of? What do you never, ever want to read again? We want to hear it all, unfiltered and no holds barred. We hope you won’t resent us for giving you a bit of summer vacation homework.

Thank you in advance. You all make our lives — online and off — so much brighter. And we’ll see y’all in two weeks!

Love,

Zelda and Scout

July Round Up

It’s summertime in the city, and the living in our parts is decidedly sweaty. The heat has seeped in everywhere, even in places that should remain blessedly cool (see: Scout’s workplace, Zelda’s apartment). Zelda spent much of this month drowning in politics (#newsroomlyfe), while Scout was besieged by hordes of summer campers (#museumlyfe). But we did manage to have some fun. The banner headline goes to our trip home for Forecastle, the music festival by now much-discussed in the Z&S sphere. We danced and sang along and drank good beer and ate fresh pork rinds. We came home minus several hours of sleep but plus several freckles and a healthy dose of sun. It does a body good to spend an evening in a grassy field with one’s friends, swaying along to a melody, while a Kentucky sunset paints the sky cotton candy shades of pink. So thanks, July. We needed that.

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What We’re Doing: This month was definitely on trend, with summer posts ranging from the culinary to the literary and beyond. Scout talked music festival tips and breakfast. Zelda shared a Fourth of July recipe and some great Southern summer reads. We prepped for Forecastle with a playlist, made chocolate chess pie and strawberry gin smashes, and pulled together some Tuesday inspiration fit for a summer storm. But the post we’re most excited about is the return of Just Folks! This month we talked to Andi Morrow, Tennessee native and New York actress, filmmaker, etc. about dogs and community and Patti Smith and being “Southern as shit.”

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What We’re Listening To: This month was pretty much all about Forecastle for us, musically at least. While we looked forward to seeing old favorites like The Avett Brothers and Andrew McMahon, we spent the first half of the month prepping with this playlist of potential, soon-to-be favorites. The leaders of the pack after the festival were Sarah Jarosz and The Seratones. Sarah’s melancholy, mountain-tinged melodies shot straight to our hearts, and The Seratones rock kicked off our festival with a little dash of Louisiana, which is never a bad thing in our minds. But the real winner? Brandi Carlile closed us out on a warm Sunday night, under a brilliant sunset and the light of a rising moon. She was everything we wanted from Forecastle. Her cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” was the soundtrack to our exit, and will forever be linked to the whole experience in our memory.

We also love: We’re always happy to hear new music from blog favorite The Secret Sisters, so this cover of Hank Cochran’s “Make the World Go Away” made us happy, however sad the song may actually be.  And another blog favorite, Watsky, announced a new album and a new tour, and even released a couple of tracks. You can bet we’ve pre-ordered our copies and gotten our tickets. He also dropped the track list last week, and while a new Watsky album always has us excited, we are especially stoked for appearances by Julia Nunes, Dumbfounded, Chinaka Hodge, Rafael Casal, and Tony-winner Daveed Diggs.

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What We’re Watching: The long-awaited remake of Ghostbusters hit theaters this month, and you can bet our butts were in those seats (which is saying something, because and it takes a lot to get us to a theater in New York City — $15+ is a lot for a movie, y’all). And Scout would probably sell her soul (or at least donate it for cool science purposes) to Jillian Holtzmann, (played impeccably by Kate McKinnon), who was the highlight of the film for her. It was funny, irreverent, with a good number of nods to the original, and packed with girl power. Go see it. Women are funny: It’s time for the haters to deal with it.

We Also Love: Maybe you’re living under a rock, or maybe you just don’t care, but if you haven’t heard, Gilmore Girls is coming back for an encore this fall. Netflix recently dropped the release date (Thanksgiving Weekend plans, made) and this teaser, and got us all aquiver with excitement to revisit Stars Hollow. Over on YouTube, Scout continued her McElroy Brothers kick with gut-busting viewings of Monster Factory, their show where they use video games to build crazy looking characters and hilarity ensues. And our favorites over at Shipwrecked Comedy dropped the trailer for the upcoming “Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner” (#PoeParty) starring some of our internet favorites: Ashley Clements, Mary Kate Wiles, Lauren Lopez, Sean Persaud, etc. We are totally pumped.

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What We’re Reading: This fascinating look at how American dining has changed over the last 30 years (Bon Appétit), along with this compilation of the most popular foods and/or cocktails for every year from 1970 to 2016 (Fondue! Kiwis! Cool Ranch Doritos!) (Good Housekeeping). This story about the infamous quiz every applicant to the Strand bookstore must take, which goes a long way to explain why the store is so freaking great (The New York Times). Play along at home and see if you make the cut! This (maybe a bit too real) guide to surviving an air conditioning-less summer in the wilds of Brooklyn (Bushwick Daily). This scathing peek behind the curtain of our nation’s Cheeto-hued would-be leader, told by the man who actually wrote The Art of the Deal (which, were he to write it today, he would more aptly title The Sociopath) (The New Yorker). Speaking of politics, we generally refrain from discussing them too deeply on this here blog, but this spoof of every outfit-analyzing, intellect-minimizing analysis of a candidate’s spouse is really delightful (Quartz), and this essay by Ghazala Khan, the mother of slain Muslim soldier Humayan Khan, to explain why she appeared silent behind her husband, Khizr, while he reminded watchers of the Democratic convention what makes us American and why this election matters so much, is a must-read (Washington Post). In other news from the department of “reading that makes us better, more thoughtful humans,” check out this reminder of why representation in the media matters (don’t be fooled by the listicle format — this sucker will hit you right in the feels) (BuzzFeed), as is this discussion of the politics of the AWESOME new “Ghostbusters” movie (The New York Times). And finally, to end on a charming note, as a former constructor of her own fairy huts, Zelda was particularly enchanted by this profile of the woman who filled the forests of New Jersey’s Rahway Trail with houses fit for Thumbeline (The New York Times).

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What We’re Eating: Scout cooked up a chocolate chess pie for our monthly dose of Eat This, Drink That. It’s a classic Southern treat but with a chocolate twist, because chocolate makes everything better. While it didn’t quite live up to our Homemade Pie Kitchen expectations (but we really can’t expect Scout’s creations to live up to that — she’s pleased when they’re mostly edible), it was pretty tasty, and we enjoyed it both for dessert and for breakfast the next morning.

We Also Love: Our trip home wouldn’t have been complete without a few trips to our favorite hometown eating establishments. We brunched at The Silver Dollar, because we always have room for their chilaquiles. We swung by Wild Eggs for an everything muffin. And we even managed a slice of Mellow Mushroom while still on the festival grounds. 

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What We’re Drinking: Zelda stirred up some strawberry gin smashes for Eat This, Drink That, and they were tasty as hell. This summery spin on a classic straight out of the Roaring Twenties was totally refreshing in the July heat. Honestly, we are always down for any drink that incorporates strawberries and/or smashing, and we highly recommend the pitcher version of this recipe for easier smashing and more strawberry flavor.

We Also Love: In the midst of our Forecastle adventures, we left the festival grounds for dinner at hometown (and internationally acclaimed) brewery, Against the Grain. We had exemplary food, exemplary service, and above all exemplary beer. Speaking of exemplary beer, our trip home wouldn’t have been complete without stops at the Louisville Beer Store and The Holy Grale. Louisville, we love you, and you clearly love good beer as much as we do.

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What’s On Our Wishlist: Despite our pre-orders, our copies of the newest addition to the Harry Potter universe have yet to arrive. Dearest Amazon, please dispatch the Cursed Child to us by the next owl, lest we be forced to send you a howler expressing our impatience and displeasure! We also wouldn’t complain if you threw in a popsicle maker, the better (i.e. colder) to convey deliciousness, boozy or otherwise, into our mouths.

Want a monthly dose of Z&S delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter here! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest to make sure you don’t miss out on a single bit of Southern-fried, Brooklyn-based goodness.

images via: SCREENRANT, BUSHWICK DAILY, SLASHFILM

Six Breakfasts

On our Just Folks questionnaire, we end by asking all of our respondents to make one final choice: Bagels or biscuits? It’s an important question when trying wade through your Southernness and your New York-ness, and a person’s answer can speak volumes about their identity on a cultural and personal level. It also brings me to the topic at hand: breakfast. As the cliché goes, it’s the most important meal of the day (I would argue it’s also the best, because eggs…and cheese, and bacon, and bread, etc). Breakfast has so many forms, changing with our tastes as we age or relocate. It can say a lot about a person, how you choose to kick off your daily culinary journey — who you’re going to be that day, how you’re going to approach the world, where you are in life. With that in mind, here are six breakfasts I’ve eaten.

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French Toast Casserole and Scrambled Eggs on a Long Wooden Dining Table; Louisville, KY: Once or twice a semester, our school cafeteria would have Breakfast Day. In my personal opinion, these were the best days of the year. It was the one day that I would look forward to our school-provided hot lunch. This was a time before we all figured out that you could eat breakfast food whenever, and no one would bat an eye. Our dining room — yes, we called it the dining room not the cafeteria — was lined with long tables made of dark wood and chairs too large to fit around them. We ate family-style in grade school, passing scrambled eggs back and forth and learning our table manners. I ate at those same tables for thirteen years, and I think about it every time I eat breakfast food not for breakfast. It still feels a little like a treat, like I’m not really supposed to be doing it.

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Syrup-Drenched Pancakes on a Tan Plastic Plate; Brevard, NC: Camp meals are the best — both Zelda and I will extol to you the merits of being able to make a whole room break out into song over pancakes (or in her case, crêpes). My last summer at camp, my cabin, as the oldest campers, was basically in charge of starting the day. We’d get to the dining hall early, set up all the bright green painted tables with tan plastic plates and cutlery that was bent and twisted in every direction from years of use. We’d ring the bell to call the rest of the camp to eat and lead them through many choruses of song, banging on tables and playing the cups long before Anna Kendrick. A week later, when we had to cover for the CIT’s who usually did the dishes, I’d curse people (like me) who had no regard for the people that cleaned that plate and poured their syrup with reckless abandon. I loved Rockbrook, but I never loved it more than at breakfast — teenage and preteen girls singing at the top of their lungs at eight in the morning.

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Bacon, Sausage, Eggs, Biscuits and Gravy on a Salvaged Wood Dining Table; Snowmass, CO: My mom and I used to go skiing every spring with her two best friends, Carol and Dave, and their daughter, Taylor. One year, my grandparents went with us. It was an exciting trip, and while the most impressive story to come out of that trip is my grandma riding in a dumbwaiter, my favorite bit was on the final full day when we gathered around the dining table for what we like to call a “Horty” breakfast. That’s the full Southern breakfast fixin’s, most importantly biscuits and gravy. There’s nothing quite like biscuits and gravy to bring people together: There’s a reason they call it soul food.

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Sourdough Cinnamon Toast, standing on a Linoleum Kitchen Floor; Norris Lake, TN: My mother’s parents lived on a branch of Norris Lake just outside of Tazwell, Tennessee. It was four-ish hours from Louisville, and we drove down at least one weekend every summer. My grandmother, Gaga, would make sourdough bread from scratch before we came down to visit. Being at the lake always made me wake up with the sun, but somehow Gaga was always up before me, up before everyone. My room was off the long narrow kitchen. When she heard the creak of my door, she’d cut two slices of the new loaf, add butter and cinnamon, and fill the house with amazing smells that never ceased during our time there.

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A Spinach, Bacon, and Red Onion Omelet in a Lime Green Chair; Towson, MD: The omelet station in the main dining hall was always crowded. Every time we’d get to brunch, no matter how early, there was always a long line. Except for once. One magical day, I saw a glorious opening. Seizing it, I got myself a fresh omelet without having to totally miss out on having brunch with my friends. Truly, it was one of the finest food-based achievements of my college career, second only to my triumph conquering the Monday before Thanksgiving meal. The result from both was the same: sitting around vaguely IKEA-esque tables with my cohort, gorging ourselves on the unlimited food the meal plan provided, eating off hangovers, and laughing loud.  

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A Corn Muffin and a Can of Diet Coke standing on the B38 Bus; Brooklyn New York: Breakfast in New York isn’t as glamorous as Audrey Hepburn makes it look. We can’t all sip our coffee and eat a croissant outside Tiffany’s as the sun rises. My commute is longer here, and like most people I often use that extended time to do things I couldn’t do if I was driving — like eat breakfast. I usually just stuff a muffin or a banana in my bag and grab a can of Diet Coke before heading out the door and end up eating it on the bus or over my desk when I get to work. Not the most exciting or unique meal, but it’s still indicative of a time and a place and who I am right now. I like where I’m at in my life, for the most part, and if that means breakfast is a literal balancing act, then so be it. I’ll have time to scramble eggs later.

Photos via: SkinnyMs, Ethan Calabrese (Delish), Pillsbury, Kidspot, SailusFood, All Recipes

Eat This, Drink That: Chocolate Chess Pie and Strawberry Gin Smash

Summer is in full swing here in New York, which means one thing: We do our Eating and Drinking in the comfort of Zelda’s apartment with central A/C, because no one wants to turn on an oven in Scout’s apartment (a location which is currently a temperature roughly akin to the sixth circle of hell). But despite the high heat, Eat This, Drink That is back with another couple of tasty treats! This month, we have chocolate chess pie and strawberry gin smashes.

Chess pie is a traditionally Southern treat, somewhere between a pudding and a tart. OG Chess pie is a buttery, sugary treat the color of summer sunshine, and it can only be made better with chocolate, right? The epitome of this treat for us is from Louisville’s own Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen, which introduced us to many wonderful treats over the years: the chocolate chess pie, the Dutch apple pie, the upside-down cupcake. Far from any of their locations, we decided to try to hack it ourselves.

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Scout used this recipe from Tessa at Handle the Heat, which calls for the following ingredients: one unbaked, 9-inch pie shell (we generally buy our pie crusts here in the kitchen of Z&S, Pillsbury all the way), 1 ½  cups of granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, a pinch of salt, one 5-ounce can of evaporated milk (about ⅔ cup), 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (melted), 2 large eggs, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

This recipe is super easy, which is just the way Scout likes it. The more we do these posts, the more Scout realizes that maybe she just wasn’t meant for the kitchen life; some of us just aren’t. But our chocolate chess pie only takes a few steps, and offers huge rewards for minimal effort. Step one: Combine the dry ingredients (sugar, salt, and cocoa powder) in a medium-sized bowl. Next, whisk in the wet ingredients until combined into what Scout would call a yummy chocolate soup.

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Line your pie pan with your crust and pour the mixture in. We would suggest a smallish pie pan if you have one, to create a thicker pie in the end. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the outside is firm and the middle jiggles just a bit. Let set for a while so you don’t end up with chocolate soup. You can use this time to run out to buy ice cream and whipped cream, or to make yourself a cocktail! You deserve a drink, after all.

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This month’s drink is very of the season, featuring two of Zelda’s favorite summer ingredients: gin and fresh strawberries. The gin smash is an oldie, dating all the way back to the late 1800s, which is basically a julep minus the bourbon. This variation, courtesy of The Kitchn, adds strawberries and lime juice for a sweet twist and a tart kick.

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For this drink, you will need 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1 lime, 3 fresh strawberries, 3 ounces of gin, club soda, and a sprig of mint. Combine your sugar and the juice of half the lime (the Kitchn calls for one wedge, but we found that wasn’t quite enough) in the bottom of a tall glass (Note: The glass we used for pictures, while very pretty and new to Zelda’s kitchen arsenal, was not quite tall enough. We recommend something slightly bigger to make your muddling easier, and to allow for a proper ratio of liquids.).

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Once the sugar is completely muddled, slice two of your strawberries and muddle them, gently, in the bottom of your glass. Let sit for five minutes, so the flavors have time to meld. Then, fill your glass with ice, add the gin, and top with club soda. Garnish with your mint sprig and final strawberry, and drink up!

These drinks are, first off, very pretty. Flavor wise, we admittedly found them underwhelming at first. But given time to mellow and for the strawberry flavor to infuse the drink, they transformed into a refreshing summer treat! The Kitchn also offer a large-batch version of their recipe, and we’d be very curious to see how a pitcher of these babies fared. We posit that it could be even better than the individual version. Stay tuned for updates.

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P.S. While we initially enjoyed our pie warm and gooey, the best part about this recipe is that it tastes just as good chilled! We both ate the leftovers straight from our refrigerators for breakfast the next morning. And can vouch for their deliciousness. Let’s be real: No one wants a hot pie in this weather.

Southern Summer Reads

Summer is upon us, those hazy, humid days when the very air seems heavy and time oozes by like molasses. More than any other, this is a Southern season to us, made for iced tea and lemonade, juleps and swimming holes, lightning bugs and thunderstorms. And what does summer demand if not a summer read — those delicious, all-consuming books that sweep you up and away into another world. Sometimes called beach reads, although we find them equally suited to front porches or air-conditioned bedrooms, they are sunnier fare. You can leave your Proust’s and Yanagihara’s for the rain-soaked weeks of fall: When the mercury is up and our foreheads are perpetually sweaty, all we really want is a great, captivating story. Here are some of our favorites.

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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Author: Rebecca Wells

Published: 1996

Setting: Lake Quinault, Louisiana

Features: female friendship, mother-daughter drama, Cajun French, a striptease, an oxygen tank

Quote: “She longed for porch friendship, for the sticky, hot sensation of familiar female legs thrown over hers in companionship. She pined for the girliness of it all, the unplanned, improvisational laziness. She wanted to soak the words ‘time management’ out of her lexicon. She wanted to hand over, to yield, to let herself float down the unchartered beautiful fertile musky swamp of life, where creativity and eroticism and deep intelligence dwell.”

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Author: Fannie Flagg

Published: 1987

Setting: Whistle Stop, Alabama

Features: tomboys, vacation bible school, barbecue sandwiches, The Weems Weekly, a railway accident

Quote: “Are you a politician or does lying just run in your family?”

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The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Published: 2009

Setting: Jackson, Mississippi

Features: maids, journalistic ambitions, fried chicken, the Junior League newsletter, chocolate pie

Quote: “I always thought insanity would be a dark, bitter feeling, but it is drenching and delicious if you really roll around in it.”

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Gone with the Wind

Author: Margaret Mitchell

Published: 1936

Setting: Clayton County and Atlanta, Georgia

Features: unladylike spirit, a brothel, carpetbaggers, architectural horrors, the siege of Atlanta

Quote: “‘Sir,’ she said, ‘you are no gentleman!’  ‘An apt observation,’ he answered airily. ‘And, you, Miss, are no lady.’”

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The Little Friend

Author: Donna Tartt

Published: 2002

Setting: Alexandria, Mississippi

Features: a mysterious death, Genghis Khan, Christmas gifts, a black tupelo tree, a would-be girl detective named Harriet

Quote: “A training program. This was Houdini’s secret.”

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Prodigal Summer

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Published: 2000

Setting: The Appalachian Mountains, Virginia

Features: a park ranger, an entomologist, coyotes, mountain women, the extinct American Chestnut

Quote: “If you never stepped on anybody’s toes, you never been for a walk.”

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St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Author: Karen Russell

Published: 2006

Setting: The Everglades,  Florida

Features: alligator wrestling, nuns, Swamp Prom, Sleepaway Camp for Disordered Dreamers, the exoskeleton of a giant crab

Quote: “My older sister has entire kingdoms inside of her, and some of them are only accessible at certain seasons, in certain kinds of weather. One such melting occurs in summer rain, at midnight, during the vine-green breathing time right before sleep. You have to ask the right question, throw the right rope bridge, to get there-and then bolt across the chasm between you, before your bridge collapses.”

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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Author: Carson McCullers

Published: 1940

Setting: an unnamed mill town, Georgia

Features: best friendship, legal insanity, deaf-mutes, a piano, a diner

Quote: “She wished there was some place where she could go to hum it out loud. Some kind of music was too private to sing in a house cram full of people. It was funny, too, how lonesome a person could be in a crowded house.”

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Salvage the Bones

Author: Jesmyn Ward

Published: 2011

Setting: Bois Sauvage, Mississippi

Features: pit bull puppies, canned goods, the myth of Medea, the eye of a hurricane, motherless children

Quote: “In every one of the Greeks’ mythology tales, there is this: a man chasing a woman, or a woman chasing a man. There is never a meeting in the middle.”

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An Abundance of Katherines

Author: John Green

Published: 2006

Setting: Gutshot, Tennessee

Features: a child prodigy,  a paramedic-in-training, road trips, tampon strings, the supposed grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Quote: “He liked the mere act of reading, the magic of turning scratches on a page into words inside his head.”

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Author: John Berendt

Published: 1994

Setting: Savannah, Georgia

Features: voodoo, murder trials, a historical mansion, an antique pistol, Lady Chablis

Quote: “Rule number one: Always stick around for one more drink. That’s when things happen. That’s when you find out everything you want to know.”

Just Folks: Andi Morrow

Guess who’s back (back back), back again? That’s right, it’s“Just Folks,” our series in which we talk to Southerners who have found their way to New York about where they’re from, where they are now, and what home means to them.

This week we have Andi Morrow. An actress, writer, and filmmaker from Huntsville, TN, Andi has lived in New York for four years now, along with her comedian husband, Drew, and their dog, Mick Jagger Pup. While she considers herself a “temporary guest” of the city, she loves what it has to offer, even if it does sometimes make her lonesome for nights in her mountain hometown, dancing under the full moon.

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Name:

Andi Morrow

Hometown:

Huntsville, Tennessee

Age:

29

Current City:

New York, New York

Who are you and what do you do?

I am an actress, writer, and filmmaker. I’m the founder of the NYC Lady Parts Film Club, a community that promotes and supports the work of women in the film industry. I grew up on a small farm in a very rural town in East Tennessee, so I’m most at home outdoors. I love to garden, play guitar, go camping, float down a river, and dance under full moons, and I love to make my own homemade natural tonics, elixirs, and beauty products inspired by my Appalachian heritage. I live in NYC with my husband, Drew Morgan, who is a stand-up comedian (also from the South — a very, very tiny place called Sunbright, TN) and our dog Mick Jagger Pup (#mickjaggerpup)!

Time North of the Mason-Dixon line so far?

4 years

What brought you to New York?

From a very young age, NYC had always been my dream. Drew and I are both in the entertainment industry, and this is where we need to be for our careers. Right after we got married, a personal tragedy struck Drew’s family, so we lived in Knoxville for a couple of years to be close to them. It wasn’t part of our plan, but now I’m glad we stayed in the South a little longer. The Knoxville artistic community is so welcoming, creative, and generous. During those two years, I got to explore my art in a way I probably wouldn’t have been able to if I had come to New York right away. It was really difficult to leave our Knoxville community, but we knew it was time.

What’s the most common reaction when people learn where you’re from? What’s something about life in the South that you have to explain to non-Southerners?

It’s usually fascination, which I really like. When I say I’m from Tennessee, most people respond with, “Oh wow, that’s cool!” I really love Tennessee, so it makes me happy that people find it interesting. A lot of people will try to talk about Nashville at first, so I’m up here spreading the good news about East Tennessee!

Describe life in NYC as people at home picture it. Describe life in NYC as it actually is.

I think people back home mostly picture a glamorous, fast-paced, and dangerous daily life. I am pretty busy, but I sleep a lot! I’m still a Southerner, so I like to move at a pretty slow pace. And I’ve never been in a situation where I felt unsafe. I think people forget that New York is home to lots and lots of families. They live in a giant city, yes, but there are still pockets of communities here.

Where do you consider home? Why?

I’m a bit of a wanderer, so “home” is an interesting word for me. But I think home will always be the house I grew up in, where my parents still live, in Huntsville. That house has been in my family for over 100 years. It’s full of my family’s history, and it will always be a part of who I am. I consider Knoxville home, too. I have a big community of friends and artists there, and I feel so at home in that city. Other than that, home is where my husband and pup are!

Do you miss where you’re from? Do you see yourself going back?

I do and I don’t. I miss a lot of things about the South: the community, the scenery, the laid-back atmosphere, the music, my family and friends. But there are things I don’t miss as well. There is this opposition to progress that seems to come with small-town life — an unwillingness to see or accept things any other way. That was always the disconnect for me with my hometown. And I don’t think this is necessarily exclusive to the South; I think a lot of small-town people perpetuate this attitude. I definitely will go back to the South one day, but I don’t think I’ll ever live in my hometown again. I want to be in a Southern city like Asheville or Knoxville. Those are my favorite places. And as an artist, I don’t think I could ever live somewhere again that didn’t have a big artistic community.

Do you consider yourself a Southerner? Do you consider yourself a New Yorker? Why or why not?

I’m Southern as shit! I come from Appalachia, so it’s a different kind of Southern. We are farmers, coal miners, and mountain people. I have a real connection to the mountains and the land. East Tennesseans have historically been very proud, independent, honest to a fault, hot-headed, and stubborn. I am 100% all of those things. I don’t consider myself a New Yorker at all. I’m just a temporary guest. I do really love the city, though, and all the things it provides. I’ve loved meeting people from all over the world, and I’ve found a lot of similarities between them and Southerners. Even on opposite sides of the world, we’ve all had common experiences. I love that.

Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines New York for you?

The movie West Side Story was my first exposure to New York as a kid, which is really funny now that I think about it. The book Just Kids by Patti Smith had a huge impact on me and really solidified my desire to experience this city as an artist. And I don’t think anything has ever more perfectly summed up the NYC experience than the song “New York, I Love You” by LCD Soundsystem.

Which food/drink/song/book/movie/artwork/quotation/gif/etc. defines where you’re from?

Music is the heart of the South, in my opinion. East Tennessee is definitely best-represented through old-time mountain music: Southern gospels, bluegrass, and old-school country. Dolly Parton’s “Early Morning Breeze” is my go-to song when I’m feeling homesick. Waylon Jennings perfectly represents the Southern “give no shits, do what I want” attitude. Sturgill Simpson is the leading voice for this new Southern era. He speaks for a lot of us who love the South so deeply, but have always felt a little out of place there at the same time. There are so many Southern writers I love, but the short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker has always really resonated personally with me. It’s told from an African-American perspective, but the themes of abandoning and honoring heritage is something a lot of Southerners of all races can relate to. And then the Bitter Southerner is my favorite current publication. They are doing some really amazing things for this New South movement that’s being ushered in.

What is the best cure for homesickness?

Hanging out with my Southern friends who are in the city! Works every time. If i’m really bad off, I’ll take a trip upstate or somewhere else out of the city. Seeing some green landscape always helps.

Bagels or biscuits?

BISCUITS, DUH!

Want to learn more about Andi and follow her New York adventures?  You can find her on Instagram, on Twitter, and at her website, andimorrow.com.