“I’d like to add some beauty to life. I don't exactly want to make people know more, though I know that is the noblest ambition. But I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me ... to have some little joy
or happy thought that never would have existed if I hadn’t been born.”
– L. M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables
Having grown up in one of America's most beautiful, historic cities — Natchez, Mississippi — I'm quite keen on captivating food, houses and storytellers.
The three-story Victorian manse in which my mother and grandmother and I lived near downtown was anchored by our family business: a clothing boutique with a smattering of antiques and my grandmother's homemade jellies and preserves — to which the word "Famous" would join her "Aunt Freddie's Pantry" product name when celebrities such as Bob Hope and Lucille Ball began ordering it for holiday gift-giving.
Such a Godsend, paired with local support, kept Nannie (and by proxy, me) busy each fall, when around Thanksgiving we could be found decorating the jelly boxes, using bright green paper for the green pepper jelly, and red for red. After carefully cutting out Santa faces from reams of collected wrapping paper, and affixing bits of cotton to each beard and hat, the jolly red faces were added to the packages for a festive, homespun touch.
Above the store and our small living space we rented apartments to an evolving cast of characters, so needless to say, our place was buzzing — especially at sunset on our front porch, where an ever-changing mix of friends, family, customers and tourists would relax, drink in hand and nibble or two within reach.
Though I'd taken to writing at an early age, my first opportunity to help document Natchez' rich flavor and culture came while helping my grandmother, Freddie Bailey, produce two cookbooks. She did so at the urging of one of her biggest fans — my cousin, renowned designer Lee Bailey. And he was so smitten with Natchez that he worked with its Pilgrimage Garden Club to produce the gorgeous James Beard Award-winning Lee Bailey's Southern Food & Plantation Houses.
Lee's "don't gild the lily" style philosophy not only became a guiding principal in my life but also inspired others, including writer-extraordinaire Nora Ephron (whose moving New York Times tribute to him is here).
Little wonder that I'd focus my career on the good life — from entertaining simply and elegantly to feathering
one's nest smartly and beautifully.
I've been a food and entertaining/home design writer/editor/stylist for some of the nation's top magazines, including Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Coastal Living, Southern Accents, Traditional Home, Country Home and Organic Gardening.
I've also written and styled five cookbooks with my husband, photographer Robert M. Peacock (also a native of Natchez). I've co-written, styled and contributed to a number of other fine publishing projects.
Robert and I live near downtown Dallas in Oak Cliff's historic Winnetka Heights, with delightful tree-shaded streets and front porches. And it's here, when the sun sets (and it's not too scorching-hot), that we and our friends can often be found ... drink in hand and nibble or two within reach . . .