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December CONTENTS 2016 • VOLUME 13 • NO. 12


features 48 The Finest of Christmas A visit with Mary Helen McCoy

64 Drop Everything New Year’s Eve in the South

56 Two by Two Kentucky’s Amazing Ark Encounter

departments 14 Living Well Hope for the holidays

42 A Day Away Indianola

18 Notables Ronald McDonald’s house

46 Greaters Goods

22 Exploring Art Waxing light 26 Exploring Books Santa is coming 28 Into the Wild Firebuilding 101 34 Exploring Cuisine The Moravian cookie 38 Exploring Destinations Lighting the Ozarks


70 Homegrown Properly Tied 72 Southern Harmony The legendary Dolly Parton

Holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

74 Table Talk Hernando’s Ladybugg 76 In Good Spirits Milk Punch 78 Exploring Events 80 Reflections Endings



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editor’s note } december

The End. Again. I was in a meeting the other day and someone said, “Christmas is five weekends away.” By the time you read this letter, it will be even closer. For every end, there is a beginning and it’s no different as we bid 2016 farewell. Or perhaps good riddance? Reading this issue comforted me about the passage of time. While we’ve made sure to cover all the necessary seasonal topics including my favorites like food and fires, a collection of articles centers on legendary accomplishments. Mary Anne’s piece about Moravian Cookies and its founder (who is still working all these years later) reminds us that honest work and a dream can endure. It just takes time. And perhaps Robin gets the prize when it comes to time spans with her article about The Ark. Having lived half of my young life in Kentucky, it’s curious that the green hills now sport an ark--just like The Ark! I may need to plan a road trip. Having listened to Dolly Parton’s CMA acceptance speech, Debra’s piece about this legendary singer is spot on. Ever the same, ever humorous and eternally talented, Dolly is...well, Dolly. Is there any other? If the holiday spirit hasn’t quite taken hold for you, walk into Mary Helen McCoy’s exquisite Memphis home on page 48. With her recent book release “Christmas”, her style and spirit is infectious.

DECEMBER 2016 • Vol. 13 No.12

PUBLISHER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR Adam Mitchell PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Paula Mitchell EDITOR-AT-LARGE Karen Ott Mayer ASSISTANT EDITOR Andrea Brown Ross Finally, as the year winds down, you’ll notice a few new things in 2017. Beginning in January, we’re starting a new tradition with the back page, Reflections. I’ll be stepping aside as we open the essay page to new and seasoned writers looking to share their voice. For many years, I have been honored to share many of my own essays--and all of your kind comments have been much appreciated. Endings. Beginnings. And so much in between to live. From all of us at DeSoto, we wish you heartfelt greetings for the season and for your loyal readership. It’s imprinted on the hands of time--and on our hearts. See you in 2017,

Karen on the cover

Once the summer home of the Buntyn Plantation, now the home of Mary Helen McCoy shines during every season. Particularly during the holidays, the exquisite furnishings and decorations glow in magical style. Photo by James Richardson

CONTRIBUTORS Chere Coen James Richardson Robin Gallaher Branch Clint Kimberling Jeanni Brosius Judy Smith Eric Eckard Mary Ann DeSantis Kathryn Winter Debra Pamplin K.C. Ervin Charlene Oldham PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media 2375 Memphis St. Ste 205 Hernando, MS 38632 662.429.4617 Fax 662.449.5813 ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887 Get social with us!

©2016 DeSoto Media Co. DeSoto Magazine must give permission for any material contained herein to be reproduced in any manner. Any advertisements published in DeSoto Magazine do not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s services or products. DeSoto Magazine is published monthly by DeSoto Media Co. Parties i n t e re s t e d i n a d v e r t i s i n g s h o u l d email or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at

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living well }


Hope for the Holiday Blues By Robin Gallaher Branch. Photography courtesy of

Some people do not look forward to the coming holiday season. Anxiety and depression, two separate but related conditions, are very real for them. Two Memphis psychologists—Dr. Rodney Vogl, chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Christian Brothers University, and Dr. Brent Stenberg, executive director of the Christian Psychological Center--offer observations about the holidays and give professional advice on not only getting through them but even enjoying the season.

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Vogl and Stenberg recognize that the holidays— with their sensory overload of sights, smells, events, parties, and expectations—may be overwhelming, especially since expectations may collide with reality. Stenberg defined anxiety as a worry about an unsettled future and a fear as to how something will turn out. Depression may include comparing oneself to others and falling short; feelings of jealousy or worthlessness may develop. “Depression sees obligation rather than opportunity,” Stenberg said. “Depression looks backward to the past and sees a future of bleakness” Vogl said that one in four women and one in 10 men can suffer from depression. “According to my research on college students, 40 percent or more are at least mildly depressed,” he said. Stenberg said that “the holidays are particularly hard because we have more and more to do and less and less time to do it in. It is harder and harder to enjoy our relationships and to reflect on the season.” Vogl added that students face the pressures of exams, being away from home, and restricted finances “They might not be able to afford gifts. They have to maintain their grades. And there are always relationship break-ups,” he said. Stenberg said some people may be biologically prone to depression. Vogl added that “depression usually starts with a stressful event.” Well, how does one face the holidays? The two professionals encouraged several things. Stenberg brought up a current term, mindfulness. “Take time to unplug from technology,” he began. “Go for a walk. Just sit quietly. Relax. Take some time to reflect on the season.” Stenberg mentioned making a list of friends. “Call them your own Rapid Response Team. Write down two or three people that you’d like to waste time with and take time with them,” he said. Furthermore, intentionally make new habits. Follow the Golden Rule. Vogl encouraged a friend to be proactive. If someone isn’t showing up at things, ask why. “Check in on friends. Show you care,” he said. “Ask if there’s anything the friend wants to talk about. Then listen. Say, ‘That’s interesting. What do you mean by that?’ Don’t offer advice unless they ask you for it. That’s insulting.” Vogl said that sharing an event helps to reduce a negative emotion and may help a person get rid of it. He added that over time, the negative emotions surrounding an event actually may lessen and become neutral. Aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to handle stress; it decreases the body’s response to stress and increases self-esteem, Vogl said. “Keep yourself centered,” he continued. “Have a quiet time for yourself. You owe it to yourself to keep to routines that keep you focused. Keep yourself focused so you can more effectively share with others.” Yes, friends help, but friends can do just so much. Counseling may be required. Making a comparison, Vogl asked, “If you have a toothache, what do you do?” The answer is a person goes to the dentist. Well if you have persistent sadness, what do you do? An answer is to seek out counseling. Stenberg told a story that happened years ago about

a client in her 50’s. She saw him because of multiple, sudden, major losses in her life. Concerned about her, Stenberg asked the woman what she had planned for Christmas. Her answer surprised him—and has served as a model he shares with others who dread the coming holidays. This woman said she intentionally planned to make new memories. Brainstorming aloud, she gave possibilities— going to a concert, having friends over, volunteering, doing new things. She told Stenberg: “When January comes, I want to have a good, new memory. I want something to recognize that this year was different.” Evidently she kept that philosophy, for when Stenberg has seen her in subsequent years, she has mentioned she has multiple memories—good ones—in her repertoire.

Symptoms of depression Intense sadness that lasts over a period of time A decreased sense of pleasure regarding things that used to give pleasure Sleeping more or sleeping less Significant weight gain or loss A feeling of worthlessness Inappropriate guilt or rejection Mood swings A feeling of being less in comparison to others, especially those in the glamorized social media Isolation Tearfulness Assuming this: “Everybody else is happier than I am—at least from their Facebook pages!”

Suggestions about what to do if you have these symptoms Take the initiative toward doing potentially enjoyable activities Avoid isolation Be aware of negative thought patterns Watch the short video put out by the World Health Organization, “I had a black dog. His name was Depression,” Avoid overeating and overscheduling Get yourself to events Exercise Get a physical Talk honestly, openly with your doctor Take time “just to be” DeSoto 17

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notables } ronald mcdonald house

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A Place for Family By Clint Kimberling. Photography courtesy of Ronald McDonald House

Sherri Bushong–Maxey has been a part Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Memphis for 16 years. Actually, that’s only how long she’s been a paid employee. Maxey has been a devoted ambassador of the Ronald McDonald House since they opened their doors in 1991. She initially began working as a volunteer after her mother passed away from breast cancer. “I needed something meaningful to do and wanted to give back,” she recalls. When a full-time house manager position became open, Maxey took the opportunity to get out of the corporate world and do something more worthwhile. She explained, “The house to me has always been a calling, not just a job. It’s not about pay, it’s about the families and what we can do for them. I would do it for free if I could.” RMHC of Memphis is solely associated with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude’s is primarily an outpatient hospital, meaning patients and their families live

at the Ronald McDonald House while receiving treatment. Founded with the belief that families are stronger when they can stay together, RMHC of Memphis provides supportive services and a “home-away-from-home” for St. Jude families receiving treatment for cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. The goal of the Ronald McDonald House is to create a warm and friendly atmosphere. By creating a climate that embraces the entire family, including patient siblings who are often overlooked, the house provides a sense of stability and normalcy during uncertain times. Emphasizing the community DeSoto 21

aspect allows families to shoulder the burden of illness together. The Ronald McDonald House is 70,000-square-feet and can accommodate 53 families at one time. It also features nine kitchens, a teen room, game room and lots of green space on its 11 acres. “Families can really connect here,” Maxey explains. “All of our common areas are set up to be community spaces, a place to share and listen. The support system we create is one of the most important things we do here.” There is absolutely no cost to stay at the home and all expenses paid for visiting families. But RMCH provides so much more than a bed. “We know that children do better when they’re surrounded by family,” Maxey said. “It’s about taking care of the whole family. We provide everything that they need so that they’re not worried about little stuff. They can focus solely on the patient.” RMHC of Memphis administers quite a few programs to patients and their families. There are volunteer groups that come to the house and provide meals, haircuts, even pet therapy as well activities that include crafts and games. All in an effort, Maxey said, “To give families a chance to separate from the world of the hospital and to think about something else for a while.” After their child has endured a long day of doctor’s appointments and tests at St. Jude, families come back to Ronald McDonald House too stressed and exhausted to think about cooking dinner. But through a new program called Chefs in the House, dinner is provided to the families a few nights per week thanks to the generosity of the local restaurant community. RMHC also supports family outings which include 22 DeSoto

trips to sporting events, movies, mini golf, the circus, and other family-friendly events. These trips are of course fully funded and free for the families. There is also a parents’ night out that gives parents some much needed time away for themselves while nursing students watch the patients back at the house. Christmas is a special time at Ronald McDonald House. First, they go over the top with decorations thanks to a program in which community sponsors donate and decorate trees. There is also the holiday store filled with donated items from the community where parents can pick out (at no cost) presents for patients and siblings. Children can also use the shop to buy gifts for parents, too. Volunteers help select and gift wrap the presents. Each room at the house will also get a surprise visit from Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Maxey has made lifelong bonds with children and families who have passed through the house and still keeps in touch with many. “The work I do is incredibly rewarding,” she said. “To see the support these families have for each other is amazing. Together, they celebrate victories and cry when things aren’t good. And to see it on any given day is amazing to me. It puts life in perspective really quickly.” After 25 years at the Ronald McDonald House, Maxey still has to fight against the stereotype that it’s a gloomy, grief-stricken place to work. “Everyone thinks it’s a sad environment. And we do lose kids. It’s a fact of life. But there is absolutely nothing sad about the house. It’s bright colorful, fun. I encourage people to take a tour. Once you get a foot in the door, you’re hooked.”

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exploring art } wax candle company

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Wicks &Whiskers By Jeanni Brosius. Photography courtesy of Wax Candle Company

Just a few steps outside of Allen Sherman’s back door in Helena, Arkansas is a tiny shop where he creates small batch, hand-poured candles at his Wax Candle Company. Perhaps equally evocative are the scents. “We want the scent to trigger something deep down,” he said about the distinctive candles that come in jars, pillars or wax melts. Pulling select vintage-inspired Mason jars out of a box, Sherman unscrewed the lids one at a time, releasing scents, such as Boot, Cocobolo, December and Dusk. For instance, Gentleman is a scent that Sherman developed to honor his grandfather. It’s a blend of leather, musk and earthy woods within a light scent of pine, which Sherman said is an aroma that is reminiscent of a true gentleman. Nook has the smell of a library. The delicate blend of hand-rubbed wood, old paper and worn leather would delight anyone who loves getting lost in a good book. Boot is the scent of fine leather, and it really does smell like a brand new leather

boot. Most of Wax Candle Company scents are rugged and masculine; however, they have a feminine appeal as well. “We thought men had been left out in the candle world,” Sherman said. “So we came up with scents, such as Gentleman and Tobacco Leaf, but we find that women like them just as much.” These rustic candles don’t cover up with overwhelming fruit-smelling perfumes; they have a more subtle approach to scenting the air. “We cut back on the additives and use no chemicals, which makes them clean-burning candles,” Sherman said. “We use high-quality ingredients and cotton wicks. We believe by removing all the bad from it, we’ve made it better.” These small-batch candles are distributed in the DeSoto 25

United States, Japan and London. “We sell a lot of Tomato Vine and Loam in Japan,” he said. Sherman and his business partner, Trey Johnson, also create custom scents that can be unique to a particular shop or a special event. The two were commissioned to develop a mysterious fragrance late last year for a group of musical artists in London called ORA. Patrick Kinmonth, opera director and London designer wanted a scent to match the musical notes of the arrangements that would bring them to life. At the event in the chapel at the Tower of London, the candles were burned. Notes of incense and parchment over undertones of rare metals and woods wafted through the crowd during the concert. A candle was given to everyone in attendance, so they could relive and reflect on the experience each time they burn the candle. And that is what Wax Candle Company is all about. The Back Story While on vacation in North Carolina in 2011, Sherman said he was staying in a musty-smelling cabin. He went to town for groceries and picked up a few candles to help make the cabin smell better. “It made the cabin smell worse,” he said with a laugh. It was then, around a campfire, that the concept of a candle company begin to form. “Today marks four years since we sold our first candle at the blues festival,” Sherman said. And four years after that first sale, Wax Candle Company ships out an average of about 1,000 candles a month. Sherman grew up in Mississippi on a farm, but before he moved to Helena and became a full-time candle maker, he was a bartender at the House of Blues in New Orleans. Johnson is a soybean farmer, which enables him to help out during the winter season when the volume of orders are up. How to burn a candle properly Sherman said that there is an art to burning one of his candles. “Always trim the wick to one-quarter of an inch before each time you light 26 DeSoto

your candle,” he said as he pulled out a tool made especially for trimming wicks to that exact measurement. “The slogan of the company is ‘Trim your wicks and not your whiskers,’” Sherman said with a laugh as he stroked his full beard. If the wicks aren’t trimmed, they can “mushroom” at the top, causing excessive flickering and smoke. If not burned properly, Wax Candle Company’s jar candles can “tunnel,” which means the candle burns down the middle and leaves wax on the sides of the jar. This is why it’s important to burn the candle for the first time for at least three hours, so the melted wax pools evenly. Sherman suggests that each time your burn the candle, burn it at least until the wax pool reaches the edge of the jar. To find a store that carries Wax Candle Company, or to learn more about the company and its unique fragrances, visit the website at

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exploring books} santa is coming to mississippi

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Santa is Coming to Mississippi By Judy Smith. Photography courtesy of Judy Smith

Jingle bells, joy, holiday merriment, mistletoe, and magnolias mix under a wonderous star- filled sky without a chance of snow at all in the slightly cool forecast. Although that image may not be portrayed in most Christmas cards, Norman Rockwell paintings, or ornaments, it is the type of Christmas that everyone in the Magnolia State has come to know and love. Despite the lack of sleigh rides and snow, Christmas is always magical in Mississippi, and that is perfectly portrayed in “Santa is Coming to Mississippi” written by Steve Smallman and illustrated so beautifully by Robert Dunn and Jerry Pyke. “It’s a joy to read because it features our state and our region, and you don’t see that in many books about Mississippi,” Gena Watson of Hattiesburg’s Books-Million said. “Every holiday season, we make sure that we carry lots of these books because they go so quickly. I really think it’s a great book for kids and adults because if they are like me, they are astonished and pleased to see such a great holiday book about Mississippi. Plus, it’s done in such a beautiful manner with charming illustrations that really draw you in.” Released in 2013, this very delightful read is quickly becoming a classic and a family and generational favorite. The story resonates with those living in Mississippi or those who are Mississippi natives who now live away, but want to share their Christmases past with their children and families. “During the holiday season, this is one of our most popular books to be checked out,” Sarah Robinson Wright, librarian at the Laurel-Jones County Library, said. “It’s always a big favorite among the elementary school teachers and Head Start classes. We always include a copy in our Christmas displays every year. It usually takes center stage in our displays.” The story takes readers on a magical journey beginning at the North Pole as Santa checks his nice-and-naughty list twice. After deciding that all the children in Mississippi have been good, the elves load the sleigh, and Santa and crew head South to bring some Christmas joy to all good little boys and girls in Mississippi.

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Not to spoil the story for excited readers, but suffice it to say the fog and faulty navigational devices cause Santa to get off track in his journey. This is where knowing a little bit of Southern heritage and Mississippi landmarks comes in handy. One of the younger reindeer hears church bells chiming and is certain that it is the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson, and Santa’s miniature sleigh finds itself sliding past some of Jackson’s most prominent landmarks, such as the Old Capitol Museum, the Children’s Museum, and more. Once Santa has his navigational bearings down, he is able to find his way from the sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to the northern tip, passing such landmarks as Borroum’s Drug Store in Corinth, the Crossroads, and some many more memorable, recognizable places in the state. “Personally, I think this book would be a great gift for anyone,” Wright said. “Besides the beautiful illustrations, I love to read about places that I know and recognize. It’s also really nice to see your home state portrayed in such a positive light and a fun, exciting manner. It also lets the little ones know a little bit more about the many landmarks in their home state.” The illustrations are so vivid and bright, making Smallman’s book a magical journey for both young and old. “Santa is Coming to Mississippi” is as beautiful as it is fun and would make the perfect gift for anyone. What kid or kid at heart wouldn’t love to wake up to this gorgeous book under their tree Christmas morning? Families will find themselves returning to this book year after year, making it a staple of the holiday traditions. Without a doubt, Smallman’s book will become a cherished family treasure that will be passed down through the family for generations to come. Everyone becomes a child at Christmas, and young and old will fall in love with this enchanting read. The Christmas excitement just seems to build even more when your own hometown or home state is featured in this delightful book. So, you better not cry and you better not pout because “Santa is Coming to Mississippi.”

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into the wild } firebuilding

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Making Fire By J. Eric Eckard. Photography courtesy of and

As summer fades away, the change in seasons brings with it beautiful colors, football season and cooler temperatures. And as it gets chillier, it’s important to know how to keep warm this time of year. Whether you’re inside the cozy confines of your own home, sitting around your backyard fire pit or camping in the wild, fires not only provide warmth but an atmosphere of comfort as well. But just because you have a few pieces of wood and a couple of matches doesn’t mean you’ll be roasting marshmallows or making s’mores without a hitch. Fire-starting can be a series of trials and error, with plenty of prodding, poking and reigniting your kindling. But if you follow just a few simple tips, fireplaces and outdoor fire pits will be blazing this season. 1. After a long hot summer, the first step is to make sure your fireplace flue is clear of any obstructions. Birds often sneak into the chimney and build a nest. Shine a flashlight from

the fireplace and check for nests or other combustible items. Also, schedule regular cleanings with a local chimney sweep to prevent a creosote buildup. Creosote is that accumulation on the walls of the chimney, a chemical reaction of the burning wood below. It can be black or brown, crusty and flaky or drippy and sticky. Regardless of its appearance, it’s highly flammable, and regular cleanings are important to prevent chimney fires. 2. After the safety inspection and ensuring the damper is open, it’s time to prepare the wood for burning. The triedand-true method features kindling at the bottom, followed by smaller logs and finally a couple of large logs on top. Rolled up newspapers fit the kindling bill, but you can DeSoto 33

use anything that will catch fire quickly - toilet paper rolls, tiny twigs or dryer lint. For a campfire, you can use dry grass, pine needles or dried leaves. Campers who prepare might bring cotton balls dipped in Vaseline, or they can scrape their knife across a towel or rag to produce lint. For those who want to buy a quicker method, fatwood or fire-starter logs from the store will get things moving along nicely. And it’s not considered cheating all’s fair in love and fires. 3. The types of wood you choose are also important. Soft wood like pine will start quicker because it’s pretty sappy and the fire won’t last as long as a hardwood blaze. Wood from trees such as ash or beech provide a steady flame and good heat output. Many people start out with a few pieces of pine to get the fire started and switch to hard woods for longer-burning blazes. But the soft wood sap will cause more of a residue buildup in your chimney, so regular cleanings are vital if you use pine wood in the fireplace. Maple and oak are good-burning woods, but try to stay away from willows, spruces or poplars. None burn very well or long, and the poplar wood produces a good amount of smoke. 4. Stacking the wood might be the most important aspect of firestarting. The quickest way to kill a fire is to pile too many logs or too much kindling on your stack. Airflow is key to a good fire. Stacking logs in a pyramid or criss cross shape over the kindling will provide plenty of airflow to get your fire started quickly. Three logs will work fine for the pyramid, but you’ll need a few more for the criss cross set-up. Make sure there’s plenty of room between the logs to allow oxygen to reach the kindling. Some prefer the upside-down method of the stack. Start with the largest logs at the bottom and place the kindling on top. As long as there is plenty of airflow and the logs are dry, any of these stacking methods should work fine. 34 DeSoto

5. Lighting the flame. Long fireplace matches or the quick-start fireplace lighters give you plenty of distance between flame and hand. Experienced fire-starters can use regular matches or lighters. But even those who have built a thousand fires should take care when igniting that first pile of kindling for the fall. Although fires can have a relaxing and calming effect, one wrong move is all it takes for a tragedy. Keep barriers between the fire and anything flammable. Hearths should be clear, and large stones can serve as an impromptu fire break out in the woods. So after your kindling catches and your bigger logs start burning, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the warm glow. Whether you’re in an easy chair in the den, a folding chair around the fire pit or a sleeping bag in the woods, you can look at your fire with pride - just like early man did thousands of years ago.

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exploring cuisine } moravian cookies

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Sweet Traditions:

Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies By Mary Ann DeSantis. Photography courtesy of Mary Ann DeSantis and Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies

This time of year, the sweet aromas of ginger and molasses float through Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies factory like Christmas angels descending from on high. The paper-thin – and all handmade – cookies are indeed heavenly and have garnered a loyal following, especially since being featured as one of Oprah Winfrey’s favorite holiday gifts in 2010. Located near Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the company will produce more than 100,000 pounds of cookies this holiday season, and 60 percent of the packages will be shipped to all 50 states and to 25 countries. “My mother would be very pleased to know her recipes have been perfected and sold all over the country,” said Evva Hanes, the company’s matriarch who officially founded Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies in 1960 with her husband, Travis. The two met when they were in the eighth grade and

have had a sweet romance ever since, working side-by-side to build a successful family business. She has been making cookies for much longer, though. When she was five or six years old, Hanes began helping her mother, Bertha Crouch Foltz, who baked on a wood stove and sold cookies to local customers to supplement family income from a small dairy farm. When the family got electricity they were able to expand the business to sell wholesale to shops in Winston-Salem. DeSoto 37

The family dairy farm has long since been converted into a cookie-making facility, where visitors can watch – and sample – the wafer-like cookies as they are being made. The cookies are even hand-packed in tins by one of the company’s 45 employees. The family recipe for Moravian Sugar Crisps has been handed down through generations of Moravians, a protestant sect that first came to North Carolina in 1753. Now 84, Evva is the seventh generation of cookie makers in her family. She oversees the production of not only the classic sugar cookies, but also Moravian Ginger Snaps (a holiday favorite), lemon, chocolate, butterscotch, and black walnut cookies. “Each cookie is rolled and cut by hand, the same way Moravians made them more than a century ago,” she said. “The flavor is literally rolled into the cookies.” She explained that handmade cookies are better because the amount of flour and sugar can be controlled. Cookies made by machine use more flour so they won’t break, especially in transit. Being a cookie manufacturer wasn’t exactly the career Hanes had in mind. After high school, she worked at Hanes Hosiery and even played basketball on the company’s women’s semi-pro team. As her mother’s health failed, Hanes took over the baking. When she was pregnant with her oldest daughter, Caroline, she hired employees to help and launched the business. “I got into business because I felt sorry for my mother. That’s how my daughter, Mona, got into it – she felt sorry for me because I was working so hard,” She said with a laugh. Her daughter, Mona Hanes Templin, serves as the company president while her son, Mike, is the vice president and treasurer. Her other son and daughter help out as needed, especially during the holidays. Husband Travis is often the one who leads tours through the building, offering cookie samples along the way with his downhome humor. “I knew we had something we could build on. I could sell the cookies, but I knew I’d have to give her the dough,” he said with a proud chuckle. The couple grew the company slowly, adding equipment slowly and paying cash as much as possible. “I think we persevered because we went slow,” explained Hanes. “Our goal was not to be the biggest, but to be the best.” To order Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies online, visit Tours of the production facility are scheduled from January through October. Appointments are necessary for large groups, but individuals and small groups can visit the showroom where they can see cookies being made from a large picture window.

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Supper’s at Six

Evva Hanes is known as quite the Southern cook and, in fact, she was making supper for 16 people during her interview for DeSoto Magazine. She graciously shared this cookie recipe from her latest cookbook, “Supper’s at Six & We’re Not Waiting.”

Special Sugar Cookies

3 Sticks butter or margarine ½ teaspoon baking soda 4 ½ cups granulated sugar ½ teaspoon nutmeg 5 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 5 cups flour 1 teaspoon lemon 1 teaspoon cream of tartar ½ teaspoon almond extract ½ teaspoon salt Combine flour, cream of tartar, salt, soda, and nutmeg. Cream butter and sugar in large bowl. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add flavoring and beat well. Gradually add flour mixture; blend thoroughly. Place in greased bowl; chill overnight. Roll out on floured countertop, place on greased cookie sheet; Bake at 325° for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove with spatula from pan while warm. Store in airtight container.

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exploring destinations } lights of the ozarks

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Illumination Celebration By Jeanni Brosius. Photography courtesy of

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Every year, the Ozark Mountain landscape gets slightly brighter during the Christmas season. Choirs belt out Christmas carols, and children sip on hot cocoa, trying to stay warm as they wait to see Santa. More than 450,000 mesmerizing lights brighten the night as horse-drawn carriages meander through the streets of downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas during the annual Lights of the Ozarks. Lights of the Ozarks holiday light display was kicked off with a parade last month, and the display continues nightly at 5 p.m. through midnight, Dec. 31. It’s expected that more than 300,000 visitors from all over the world will visit downtown Fayetteville just to see the lights. This year marks the 23rd year that holiday cheer has illuminated downtown Fayetteville. Lights of the Ozarks began the night before Thanksgiving 1994 with a lighted firetruck at Drake Field Airport that drove north on US Highway 71-B. Block by block, as the firetruck passed, businesses would turn on their holiday lights. Over the years, the lighting display centered primarily in the downtown square. The concept of Lights of the Ozarks began during the Advertising and Promotions Commission retreat in 1993 to increase tourism during the winter months. The next year, the idea became a project in the Chamber Convention and Visitors Development Committee business plan. “It takes six weeks to install the lights,” said Byron Humphry, maintenance superintendent of Fayetteville Parks and Recreation. “We begin the first week of October, and the display starts the first Friday before Thanksgiving and lasts until New Year’s Eve.” More than 2,000 man hours go into the display each year. “Parks installs, (Advertising and Promotions Commission) helps with the light purchase, the Visitor’s Bureau handles lighting the night parade, and vendors [are set up] throughout the duration of the display,” Humphry said. In 1995, the Choirs on the Square began a musical tradition of local schools, churches and musical groups performing on the courthouse square. “I’m a volunteer and feel 42 DeSoto

committed to this event each and every year with the help of Fayetteville Visitors Bureau,” said Tracy Carter, who coordinates the musical event each year. “I feel this is my way of giving back to my beautiful town and enhancing the Christmas season, which is my personal favorite holiday of the year.” Carter said when the Choirs on the Square began, she reached out by phone and offered time slots for local musical groups to perform on the square. This year, the Choirs on the Square will begin at 5:30 p.m. each night on Fri. Dec. 6, Tue. Dec. 6 and Tue. Dec. 13. Carter said to reserve a spot, call (479) 790-3081. This is the 11th year that Ray Dotson at Ozark Mountain Carriages will take visitors on a romantic journey through the lights. “We have about 17 marriage proposals each year on the carriage,” Dotson said. “He had an actual ceremony on the Cinderella carriage as it went around the square….From the carriages, you get to be in the street without the crowds on the sidewalk. You have visibility on both sides of the streets, which makes for better photos.” Dotson said he usually brings two carriages out to the square, including the lighted Cinderella carriage. He also said that when it gets busy, he’ll bring a third carriage. “We have Santa Claus and Rudolph on the back patio of the old post office,” Dotson said. “It’s $2 to see Santa and $5 for a photo.” To purchase tickets for the carriage rides – $15 for adults and $10 for children over three – Dotson said the ticket booth, which is fashioned out of eight vintage doors, sits on the east side of the square.

For more information on the Lights of the Ozarks, visit thelightsoftheozarks. com.

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a day away } indianola, mississippi

Indianola, Miss. 10:00 Tour the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. Exhibits featuring rare artifacts, photos, music and films take you on a journey through this icon’s life and career. Check out Lucille’s Gift Shop before heading out. 12:00 Lunch at The Crown. This family-owned restaurant puts their own spin on traditional southern favorites. Dishes like Catfish or Chicken Allison, the Royal Sandwich or homemade chicken salad plates keep visitors coming back again and again. And be sure to visit the dessert cart where you can sample one of six mouth- watering homemade pies. Open Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 - 2:00PM. 1:00 After lunch browse the gift shop at The Crown. Local art, pottery and gifts are found along with their own Taste of Gourmet products. You can take home one of the delicious marinades, dressings or sauces used in your favorite dish. Open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 - 5:00PM. 2:00 Shop the quaint stores downtown and along Highway 82 for unique gifts, clothing, furniture, home decor and antiques. 3:00 Visit the Indianola Pecan House on Highway 82. This family-owned business has been around for 30 years. Sample a variety of pecans and choose your favorite item to take home. Not only do they harvest delicious nuts, but they make other products like Southern Trash, pecan pies or cheese straws. Besides visiting locations in Mississippi, you can order their products online and ship them anywhere. 4:00 Stop by the Indian Bayou recreational area. This beautiful bayou runs along the entire length of the town, and is the site for the annual Indian Bayou Arts Festival held in September. 5:00 - Dinner at Nola, a Southern restaurant with a cajun twist. House specialties include iron skillet f lounder, shrimp and grits or tuna Provencal. Steaks, pork chops, pasta and daily specials are also served. Open Tuesday - Saturday 5:00 - 9:00PM. Reservations on weekends are recommended. 44 DeSoto

For more information:

The Crown’sChicken Allison

The Crown’s Fudge pie

BB King Museum

Indian Bayou


Worth the trip: If you have the time, drive abut 20 minutes south to Sky Lake Preserve. Walk among the giant bald cypress trees, some of which are more than 1,000 years old. The Sky Lake Boardwalk, which is 1,700 feet long, offers excellent views of the trees as well as birds and other wildlife. You can also paddle through the ancient forest via canoe or kayak. Water levels are best from late fall to early summer. Paddlers can access parts of the swamp not visible from the boardwalk. For more information visit DeSoto 45

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greater goods } the holiday table

The Holiday Table










1. Mudpie Serving Spoons, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Rd E, Suite 16, Southaven, MS 2. Pom Chip & Dip Bowl, The Wooden Door, 2521 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 3. McCarty Pottery, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 4. Kudzu Pottery Platter, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 5. Elf treats mini plate, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 6. Beloved Pottery Cups, The Blue Olive, 210 E Commerce St # 4, Hernando, MS 7. Etta B Serving platters, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Suite 115, Olive Branch, MS 8. Casafina Deer Friends tableware, The Wooden Door, 2521 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 9. Blessing Ladle, The Blue Olive, 210 E Commerce St # 4, Hernando, MS

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greater goods } stocking stuffers

Stocking Stuffers










1. Men’s Boxers, SoCo, 300 W Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 2. Super Hero Helper, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 3. Men’s Colognes, The Bunker Boutique, 2631 McIngvale Suite #106, Hernando, MS 4. Ronaldo Bracelets, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Road E, Suite 16, Southaven, MS 5. Peek a Boot Socks, The Bunker Boutiue, 2631 McIngvale Suite #106, Hernando, MS 6. Bath Balms, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 7. Mesquite Chop House Gift Cards, Any Mesquite Chop House location. See their website 8. Thymes Frasier Fir collection, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 9. LipSense lip color, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Suite 115, Olive Branch, MS

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Collecting for Christmas

By James Richardson. Photography courtesy of James Richardson and Jay Adkins

“My Christmas tree is a memory tree. It’s a collection of things and you’re always gonna have your favorite things,” explained Mary Helen McCoy, a Memphis antique dealer who specializes in 18th century French period furniture and decorative art.

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“I have found that you’ll start out decorating the tree for the children with Santas and this and that and the other. And that’s really fun. Then you might want to give those to your children as memory pieces and later on, you can do your own thing.” And McCoy has done exactly that. “The way I’m decorating now is more reaching out to baby boomers who are getting a little older and maybe more mobile. They are getting out and going to the kids or to see grandkids for Christmas. What I’m doing is just finding and using flowers and greenery, beautiful ribbons and bows.” With her Christmas tree, for instance, she incorporates her collected pieces with decorative elements. “I’ve collected different ornaments through the years. Some of them through the Metropolitan Museum of Art” of which McCoy is a member. “I have ornaments that pertain to fruit, nuts, berries, and that sort of thing. That sort of ties into how I like to decorate with fruit. I also place angels and birds, lots of birds on the tree. The tree, a Frazier fir, is about 11 feet high.” It fits nicely in their home with its twelve foot ceilings. McCoy is not only an antique dealer of fine 18th century antiques with a beautiful Christmas tree. She is also an interior designer. “That is more of a boutique designer where I work from soup to nuts with the client in making their home special. I work with architects, designers, and landscape designers. They want me to procure architectural things to help build the house. I have access to that kind of stuff in Europe.” She has traveled extensively searching for antique furniture and decorative arts in Europe and at various auctions throughout the country. At an early age, she was exposed to European and Southern traditions by her mother and grandmother. She and her husband Ron have been in Memphis for three years. “We were originally from Birmingham, Alabama. Then we moved to Charleston and opened our shop in a bad time in this country’s economic history. After five years, we decided to head closer to home. We selected Memphis because we felt like it was similar to Birmingham. The living was wonderful and people in this area really appreciate DeSoto 53

Center piece on the dining room table

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Lemon Christmas tree on the console

that. And because the living is great, we felt like it was a top-rate city regardless of what others think. Memphis has the symphony. It has an opera. Two museums with artwork and decorative art. There’s football. Basketball. So much going on. Entertainment. The Orpheum. I just think there’s more here than the people give it credit for.” Their home is located in the Buntyn area near the Memphis Country Club and the Pink Palace. “The Buntyn Plantation used to be over where the country club is now. It burned and this house was an extension of the plantation. It was like a summer house.” Renovations have been made that were not part of the original home. “But the high ceilings and the nice size windows are part of the original footprint of the house. It needed updating when we got it. We came in and somewhat rescued it. That’s what we love to do to have historic houses. This house was built in 1860, when the original Buntyn Plantation was built. The original Buntyn Plantation burned in 1865 after the Civil War.” Their home is chocked full of antiques from the finely decorated entry hall to its elegant living room to the den in the rear of the home. Every corner and wall has a treasure with either the furniture piece itself, or what adorns it, or both. “The center piece on the dining room table is special to me personally. It’s an English Sheffield silver epergene and candelabra. When my mother was in her early 80s, she gave it to me and said, ‘You’re entertaining more that I am. Go ahead and enjoy it.’ So, I’m real proud to have it.” Also in the alcove of the dining room is a console with an interesting holiday tree-like arrangement. “The thing I did on this console is quite interesting. People can do that at home. That is just lemons. It is made like a Christmas tree. Go outside and pick the holly and start making your little tree. I also have flowers stuck in it.” McCoy offered more decorating advice. “I love fresh greenery and there’s so many things out in the garden that you can use. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can go out there and cut your holly, or your magnolia. We’re lucky here in the South to have the magnolia. Pick up your pine cones. Go to Michael’s and buy the gold spray. You can spray them gold, red, or green. We are so fortunate in the DeSoto 55

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South because we can do that and use what we have.” Her decorating ideas are simple. Use what is available and be creative. When she is not showing her 18th century French period furniture and decorative art, or visiting galleries and antique auctions throughout the country and Europe, or decorating her home with simple traditions, she entertains friends and guests, and donates to charities. She is currently a member of the board of The Art and Antique Dealers League of America, a member of the Brooks Museum Decorative Arts Trust, and a member of the New York Chapter of the French Heritage Society. She also supports the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “I am of Greek heritage and I like to make lovely Greek pastries and give those out at Christmas to some of my friends. I also donate to the Church Health Center, which will be moving to the Sears Crosstown building.” Mixing the elegant with the simple, McCoy creates holiday vignettes designed to celebrate collected memories and treasured antiques.

Released just in time for the holidays in October 2015, “Christmas at Designer’s Homes Across America”, includes Mary Helen McCoy’s home and interior decorating style. Images and scenes reserved usually for only family and friends can now be shared by anyone willing to walk through the pages--and into the homes.

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The Ark!

By Robin Gallaher Branch. Photography courtesy of Ark Encounter

Eileen Kees went to Ark Encounter, a theme park based on the biblical account of the flood in Genesis, on opening day, July 7, 2016. Visitor parking is in a separate area, and shuttle buses take participants up a switchback road to the ark.

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A reaction to the replica of Noah’s ark at first sighting includes amazement. “When I saw the end of the ark, I thought, ‘It’s magnificent!’” she exclaimed. “It’s unbelievably huge!” Located on a grassy knoll in Williamstown, Kentucky, the ark has dimensions reflecting those in Genesis: 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high. It has three interior decks and a door on the port side. However, a difference between Noah’s ark, built perhaps 4,500 years ago, and this modern one is code. “Ours was constructed to building codes,” laughed Mark Looy, one of the co-founders of the 800-acre theme park. In other words, Ark Encounter has emergency exits, restrooms, and fire suppression. Located about 40 miles from Cincinnati, Ark Encounter is a new theme park operated by a Christian non-profit called Answers in Genesis. The ministry also operates Creation Museum, which opened in 2007 in Petersburg, Kentucky. The outside of the ark is made of a New Zealand pine called radiata. “The pine was sent to the Netherlands and treated so it could withstand the heat and cold of Kentucky. Then it was sent to North Carolina to be cut. Then it was sent to Kentucky,” Looy said. If the lumber pieces were laid end to end, they would stretch from Willamstown to Philadelphia, he said. “I love to watch the visitors on the shuttle when they see the ark for the first time. Their gasps are audible. Some call it the eighth wonder of the world,” Looy said. “We took some design and shipbuilding ideas from the ancient Greeks. We had an idea about what the bow and stern might have looked like.” Attendance at Ark Encounter has been remarkable. Looy said that there were 350,000 people in the first 12 weeks of operation. “The State of Kentucky said we’d be lucky to get 320,000 in one year,” he added. Kees has no doubt that the theme park will do well. “That’s because many people are curious about the ark,” she said. T he stor y of the f lood is told in Genesis 6-9. According to the biblical account in Genesis 6:5-8, (New International Version), “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every DeSoto 61

The Ark kitchen exhibit

The Ark bear exhibit

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inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” As the biblical story continues, Noah and his three sons build the ark; pairs of animals come aboard; the Lord closes the door with the four men, their wives, and the animals inside; the waters of the deep burst forth; and rain falls on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights. Andrew Snelling, a research geologist and director of research for Answers in Genesis, holds a PhD in geology from the University of Sydney and is the go-to person for many questions visitors ask about the ark and the biblical story. What kinds of animals were aboard? The animals probably looked different from the animals today because of interbreeding over thousands of years, he answers. His research showed that dogs would have looked more like wolves. “Domestic dogs today came from a wolflike dog in the past,” Snelling said. The giraffes aboard the ark were smaller than the ones in zoos and game parks today. “Their necks were only four to five feet long. An adult today may have a neck as long as 20 feet,” Snelling said. A reason the ark could hold so many animals, two of every kind, was probably because the animals were juveniles, he said. After the flood receded and the animals disembarked, they grew to adulthood and bred. Children inevitably ask about dinosaurs. Of course dinosaurs were on the ark, Snelling smiles, because the Bible states that land dwelling and air breathing creatures entered the ark (Genesis 7:13-16). “These were young dinosaurs; about the size of a cow or sheep,” he added. People also ask about the earth’s age. A Google search gives this answer: 4.543 billion years old. Snelling disagrees. Snelling believes that the earth is between 6,000 and 6,500 years old. “This is based on details in the biblical record,” Snelling said. “The Bible gives us the DeSoto 63

genealogy of mankind back to Adam. We’re told that the earth was created by God in six days. And so the earth is only a week older than Adam,” he said. Snelling acknowledged scholarly differences of opinion. “There are two sets of beliefs about the past. I believe God created instantly. Other scientists believe creation happened by slow processes,” Snellings said. “It all boils down to your view of God.” As a geologist, Snellings has researched the flood. “We have then to compare the evidence and find which fits the facts best,” he said. Geologists agree there is worldwide evidence of a worldwide flood. Genesis 7:20-21 states that the mountains and the hills were covered with water and every living thing on earth perished. “If that really occurred, what evidence would you expect to find?” Snelling asked. “Well, when the waters receded and the earth was dry (Genesis 8:14), I would expect to find evidence of marine creatures, like their fossils, in abundance. And that’s exactly what we find. Fossils of marine creatures are in the interior of continents and away from the oceans,” he said. There is not an abundance of evidence of marine creatures buried on the ocean floor in that abundance, Snellings added. “Rock layers on the continents have marine fossils, for example the limestone layer in the Grand Canyon and corresponding limestone layers throughout North America. If the continents were flooded with the oceans, we’d expect to find marine fossils, and we do. The same is true of the limestone layers in Europe and the Himalayas,” Snelling said. If a worldwide flood occurred, the geologic record should show that rock layers formed rapidly, thereby giving evidence that the waters receded. “The sequence of layers is like a stack of pancakes. That’s what we’d expect to find from what the Bible says,” Snelling said. “And that’s what we find.” According to Genesis 8:4 (NIV), “the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” Some people today claim the ark is stuck in a mountain crevice and parts 64 DeSoto

of it exist as petrified wood. Looy doubts that any parts of the ark are left, petrified or otherwise. “Because Ararat is on a volcanic system. We think volcanic eruptions over the years would have destroyed the ark,” he said. Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum are located in Kentucky for a reason. “We chose this area because about two-thirds of the American population, 190 million people, can drive to us within a day. Canada is only four and a half hours away from Cincinnati; Atlanta is seven, Chicago is five, and Nashville is four,” Looy said. Another upcoming Answers in Genesis project is a Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) on the same property in Williamstown. “That’s a few years down the road,” Looy said.

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MoonPie drop in Mobile, AL

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Who dropped the...


Fun New Year’s Eve Drops in the South By Cheré Coen. Photography courtesy of,, and

New York may dominate the news when New Year’s Eve rolls around but the South has its own countdown at midnight — and most are a lot more colorful than a crystal ball. From MoonPies to drag queens, there’s something for everyone on a Southern New Year’s Eve.

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Fleur de Lis Drop

Conch Shell Drop

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Pelican Drop

Mobile’s MoonPie More than 50,000 people — including Oprah and Good Morning America — show up every Dec. 31 to watch a 600-pound electric MoonPie drop 34 stories from the RSA BankTrust Tower in downtown Mobile, Alabama. The fun begins this year when Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Councilman Fred Richardson cut into the world’s largest, edible MoonPie, baked by Chattanooga Bakery (where MoonPies originate). In addition to enjoying the MoonPie cake, attendees are encouraged to decorate umbrellas to march in the second-line parade, led by the Excelsior Jazz Band, down to the main stage where En Vogue will perform at the corner of St. Joseph and St. Francis streets on the edge of Bienville Square. The evening ends with a laser light show and fireworks following the MoonPie drop. For more information, visit Fleur de Lis Drop Ref lecting the city’s French heritage, a giant fleur de lis falls over the crowd from the top of Jax Brewery in New Orleans, followed by a 15-minute fireworks display over the Mississippi River. But first there’s music by Luke Winslow King, then Cyril Neville’s Swamp Funk with special guest Big Chief Monk Boudreaux. For more information, visit For something more family friendly, the Louisiana Children’s Museum offers its own New Year’s Eve fun but instead of midnight, they offer a more respectable hour — which also allows mom and dad to attend the adult festivities in the nearby French Quarter. The New Year’s Eve Kids’ Countdown to Noon will be from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information, visit Pelican Drop            Over in Pensacola, Florida, a giant pelican with a 20-foot wingspan drops from a 100-foot platform at the intersection of Palafox and Government streets. But the fun happens all day long. Festivities begin at 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve with live performances on two outdoor stages and restaurants and vendors offering refreshments. Following the dramatic Pensacola Pelican Drop, fireworks will light up the sky. This year the kids’ area has been DeSoto 69

Peach Drop

Panama City’s Beach Ball Drop

Acorn Drop

expanded and there will be a kids’ New Year’s Eve countdown at 8 p.m. with confetti and a mini fireworks display. For more information, visit

Here are a few others:

Atlanta — The largest drop in the South occurs in Historic Underground Atlanta, where a giant peach falls in front of more than 100,000 people, the largest New Year’s celebration of its kind in the Southeast and second to New York nationwide. If watching a peach descend isn’t your cup of tea, there’s always the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, a semifinal bowl for the College Football Playoffs at the Georgia Dome, or take in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall at the University of Georgia.

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Key West — For New Year’s Eve, Key West drops several items: A large conch shell from the top of the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a “pirate wench” from the Tall Ship America 2.0 schooner’s mast in the harbor, a Chive Unicorn at The Porch bar and drag queen “Sushi” from a balcony on a bright red sixfoot-high heel on to Duval Street. As you may guess, Key West’s New Year’s Eve celebration is geared more for adults. Raleigh, North Carolina — A 1,250-pound steel-and-copper acorn is dropped at 7 p.m. (for the kids) and then again at midnight at City Plaza in Raleigh, North Carolina, as part of the First Night  festivities. Visitors may purchase a pass to the festivities and enjoy performances across downtown Raleigh for the day and evening. For more information, visit

Tallapoosa, Georgia — The original name for Tallapoosa, Georgia, was “Possum Snout” but was later changed to the more dignified Native American name that means “Golden River.” Folks here still like their possum, however, and drop a stuffed version of one named Spencer on New Year’s Eve. In addition to the New Year’s Eve drop, there will be entertainment, such as the Eagles tribute and an Elvis imitator; a Possum Drop Kids Zone with games and activities; the 3 p.m. Possum Day Parade and the crowning of the Possum Drop King and Queen (who are not stuffed, just an FYI) with a conclusion of fireworks. Fincastle, Virginia — About 15 minutes before midnight, the courthouse bell begins ringing in this quaint town that dates back to the 1700s. Then, at 12-second intervals, the church bells in town answer in a clockwise order. This continues until the courthouse bell strikes midnight. Taps are then played to signify respect for the dying year and three shotgun blasts indicate the New Year has arrived and bells ring for an additional 10 minutes. The Bells of Fincastle New Year’s Eve tradition dates back 150 years. Panama City — 10,000 inflated beach balls drop at 8 p.m. on to the families present at Pier Park in Panama City, followed by a brilliant fireworks display. Bands perform for the later adult crowd and a giant beach ball lowers at midnight, again followed by fireworks. The streets are closed to traffic at Pier Park so there’s plenty of room to enjoy the free live music and entertainment. For more information, visit Lafayette, Louisiana — Like New Orleans, Lafayette offers a ball drop for the little ones. The 20th annual “New Year’s Noon” ball drop and party for children will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 31 at the Children’s Museum of Acadiana in downtown Lafayette. The parking lot next to the museum will become an old-fashioned carnival and there will be games, food and a balloon drop at noon. Admission is $8 per person and tickets for Carnival games and food are 25 cents each.  For more information, visit

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homegrown } properly tied

Alex McKinney from SoCo Apparel, Hernando

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Tied to Southern Style By Kathryn Winter. Photography by Adam Mitchell

While most high school students are busy preparing for college, Hunter Knight was perfecting t-shirt designs and sketching logos in class. Once he came up with a logo that he liked, he decided he wanted to create something with it, but wanted to wait until he had a strong idea and foundation before officially launching it. Knight worked on his idea for eight months before the first t-shirts were ever made. During the summer of 2013, Properly Tied Clothing Company was born after selling 1,000 t-shirts overnight. The young entrepreneur now attends The University of Mississippi and splits his time between school and growing his company. “We design everything in house, what fabrics we want to use, theme and audience we’re trying to target. We go through a sampling stage and then show it to our retailers-who predict what the market is going to provide before the last step of mass producing the product,” Knight said. “All of our art is hand drawn, our prints are custom made for the line and uniquely designed.” Properly Tied sells everything from stickers, koozies, croakies, bowtie key chains, trucker and cotton hats, boxers, pajama pants, heathered socks, embroidered pocket tees, long sleeve performance polos, signature tees, classic button down shirts, pullovers, rain jackets, vests, and ties. Some of the company’s most popular items besides t-shirts are the Pintail jacket, Kensington pullover, and McGregor jacket. Hot sellers for Christmas include: Pintail blankets and plaid flannel button downs. His very first shirt design- an American flag made out of bowties is still among one of his best selling designs. “Our Kensington pull over is 100 percent polyester blend and it is the softest of its kind. We guarantee it. It features a leather pull on a YKK zipper, navy gingham inserts, elastic cuffs and Properly Tied labeling on the front and back. Our t-shirts are also 100 percent cotton and tagless.” Knight said. “Our presence is really strong online, we get a lot of online orders. We cannot keep our tee’s in stock, and our outerwear is really popular. There are so many staples that the whole line is in pretty high demand.” What started out as a small t-shirt company became a successful men’s line, but now a goal for Knight and his staff at Properly Tied is to debut a women’s line in 2017. A marketing major, Knight wanted to establish his youth presence-which included adding a children’s line, called Little Ducklings. He has also started a college ambassador program, where participants rep the clothes on campus and spread awareness for the brand.

“Our brand caters to all sizes for all ages. We start with a youth size extra small, and carry up to a 3XL. We’re a local company that most people don’t realize is local. We’re in over 300 stores all over the Southeast, we have everythingmen’s, women’s and kids.” Properly Tied is carried in stores throughout North Mississippi. Neilson’s in Oxford carries the brand locally and is the flagship store. “It was a big confusing puzzle to figure out, nothing came together all at once. What started out of my bedroom in my parents’ house- now we have our own office in Oxford. I’ve definitely messed up and learned from my mistakes,” Knight said. The clothing company collaborated with Taylor Made Farm to bring customers the farm’s official 40th anniversary tee, as well as the ‘Me and all my Chromies’ tee, celebrating the horse ‘California Chrome.’ Taylor Made Farm has sold over $1,600,000,000 billion in horses since its founding over 30 years ago. California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 2014. He was also named horse of the year and his dedicated fans are known as ‘Chromies.’ “It is so awesome that we have collaborated with Taylor Made. Our company was so excited to create designs for them.” Follow Properly Tied on Instagram and Facebook @ properlytied. You can also find out more information about the company, shop, and view new styles at “It’s crazy to think one design in my high school classroom turned into me picking out catalogues, learning about retail, building relationships with stores, testing different materials, etc. I never really dreamed that the idea would grow to be this big. The South is known for its classic dress and impeccable manners, and our designs compliment the timeless style of the South. We hope that you will tie yourself to our company on our journey to spread Southern-inspired style across the country.”

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southern harmony } dolly parton

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Our Dear Dolly By Debra Pamplin. Photography courtesy of Webster PR

This year marks marks new milestones for country music legend, Dolly Parton. A new album, a movie sequel on NBC and the coveted Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award during November’s Country Music Awards are just a few things that create an amazing year for the singer, author and actress. During this year’s Nashville awards ceremony, Dolly was presented with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award by longtime friend and co-star of “9 to 5”, Lily Tomlin. While presenting the award, Tomlin labeled Dolly as “one of the greatest artists in the history of country music”. And, rightfully so. According to the Academy, this award is bestowed on “an iconic artist who has attained the highest degree of recognition in Country Music… representation at the highest level.” The CMA tribute was kicked off with Jennifer Nettles and Pentatonix with the new cover of “Jolene”. Followed by Reba’s version of “9 to 5” and then another hit, “Here You Come Again”, from Kacey Musgraves. These ladies were then joined by Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride on stage, and performed Dolly’s signature hit, “I Will Always Love You”. After thanking a variety of folks, she jokingly added, “For me to be receiving the Willie Nelson award, this is a real ‘high’.” Dolly has become the first artist ever to have top 20 hits on Hot Country Songs Chart in every decade, beginning in the 1960s. The newest smash hit, Pentatonix’s cover of “Jolene” gave her a hit during 2010. Dolly’s original version of the song was a billboard chart topper back in 1973. Over the years, Dolly has walked away with seven Grammy Awards, 10 Country Music Association Awards, five Academy of Country Music Awards and three American Music Awards. She is also one of only five female artists to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award. Two albums have been released this year. Dolly’s solo CD, “Pure and Simple” was greeted with high praise. The album debuted at #1 worldwide. Her 43rd studio album debuted in the top spot in not only the U.S, but on the national charts in Canada, U.K. and Australia. Released in August, the album landed in the #11 slot on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, landing a first-week total consumption of 21,000. Also released this year was The Complete Trio Collection, that includes unreleased tracks and never-beforeheard versions of the original records of the trio. The trio was

made up of Dolly, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. It was three decades ago that the trio made musical history with the release of the Grammy-winning album. The success of the album was so high that in 1999, there was a follow-up album Trio II. “It’s nice to have it all together,” said Parton. “I just think we all take such pride in this. I know that for me, this will always stand as one of the greatest musical things that I’ve done in my entire life. I’ve never been prouder of anything else. I love these girls like sisters, but what we did will stand up long after we’re all gone.” Her songwriting ability blends effortlessly with acting, and she has been very successful in turning her songs into movies like the 1980s hit and movie “9 to 5”. Last year, “Coat of Many Colors” brought in huge ratings for the Peacock Station. It was the first of four movies agreed upon between Dolly and the network. “Coat of Many Colors”, originally a song based on Dolly’s childhood, brought in such high ratings that the network came up with a sequel. “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” is the next chapter in the life of young Dolly Parton. Jennifer Nettles won the role of Dolly’s mom, and Dolly said of Jennifer’s performance, “it was like Mama was channeled through her. We were really impressed, and moved by it”. “Jolene” will also be made in to a made-for-TV movie, as the third installment. A Christmas special is also on the books for 2017. In 2017, she plans on getting more involved in the production of TV movies. She will be acting in some of the shows as well. As her successful 2016 comes to an end, Dolly shares that she has no plans to slow down. “I’m hoping to do bigger and better things. Being my age, that makes you feel really inspired, and lifts you up. I’m still at it; I’m still rolling right along. So, it makes me want to just do better, to not disappoint anybody. I’m still serious about my work, what I do and who I am. I don’t have time to get old, I’m too busy for that.”

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table talk} the ladybugg bakery and cafe

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Freshest Food, Best Baked Goods By K. C. Ervin. Photography by Adam Mitchell

Looking like a small, red-walled home nestled among the businesses that line Commerce street, The Ladybugg Bakery and Cafe in Hernando, Mississippi boasts a friendly atmosphere, plenty of ladybug trinkets, and some phenomenal flavors. Small town, friendly and casual, visitors are immediately greeted, not only by the Ladybugg family, but quite possibly, even a familiar face. Founded by owner Heather Ries, Ladybugg is wellstaffed with family including her mom and dad Valerie and David Hawkes. If you want some baked goods to take home, people wait behind the counter and help you put together a goody box of almond cream cupcakes and pecan maple macaroons. Want to stay for lunch? Take a seat in the cozy dining area packed with tables and trinkets. Immediately, someone is there to bring you a menu and get you something to drink. The service is casual, but also prompt. Our food arrived only minutes after we ordered, and it was a surprise only because it was such quality food in that short amount of time. The roasted red pepper soup of the day was by far the best thing we’d eaten. Ever creative and whimsical, Ries, whose maiden name was Bugg, chose the business name for a good reason. “When I was a kid, I was endlessly teased and given ladybug things,” she said. Everyone agreed the name Ladybugg fit perfectly for a family business. The bakery started small--baked goods created in Ries’ kitchen and sold wholesale to local coffee shops. Their first retail location was created in Midtown, and that lasted a while. Eventually, they knew they needed to move closer to family. “A friend of mine had the building in Hernando, and he knew we were looking for the space. And it just worked out for us. It was a bakery before we moved in, so it was an easy transition,” Ries said. “And this small town really supports local businesses. It’s just been great,” Hawkes added. Granted, their story did not start off with the steady stream of customers. At first, when their shop opened on Commerce in October 2011, they started by selling cupcakes, baked goods, and fresh-baked bread crafted by David Hawkes. But as they began to work on growing their company and product, they decided to begin incorporating lunches, using their fresh baked bread. If the idea was ever met with any sort of trepidation by the locals, it has since melted away. The cafe has a steady lunch crowd, especially on Friday when they add a free cupcake on with lunch. It’s not unusual for 100 people to visit the shop on free cupcake Friday. In the end, though, it is all about the variety of product and their flavors. Just as on this day, the cupcake flavors range from chocolate almond cream to pumpkin cheesecake

to salted caramel. Their most popular breads--rosemary and Kalamata olive--disappear before our eyes. A hummingbird cake sits on top of the counter filled with banana and pineapple and pecans. Macaroons, peanut butter bars, and lemon bars filled the case beside the cupcakes. Brownies and cookies are tucked in their own display. And while the menu seems a bit smaller in comparison, the options focus on varied, flavorful lunchtime favorites. Their quiche is the most popular item filled with classic quiche food: ham and cheese or broccoli and cheddar or red peppers and feta. Or you could go for their sandwiches made with fresh bread and local ingredients. “We love flavors,” Hawkes said of their cupcakes and food. “And the town has allowed our business to grow as they’ve learned to trust our flavors.” A fact which can be proven not only by actually eating the product they put out, but by the awards they’ve been granted along the way. For the last four years in a row, they have been named the Best Bakery in Desoto county. And last year they received the award for Best Wedding Cake of Desoto county. The bakery does do custom cakes, made from scratch. And if you want a custom creation, Ries said, “We don’t duplicate other people’s work when making the custom cakes.” It’s about creating a new cake that hasn’t been seen before that utilizes Ries’ own creativity. What’s important is the fact that their ingredients come from local farms and businesses. They even have their own garden out back where they grow herbs and tomatoes and peppers for the food they put on their menus. It’s about putting fresh, delicious food out for everyone to enjoy. Giving back is a large part of Ladybugg’s mission. Following the Project Green Fork guidelines, Ladybugg works to make sure their products are biodegradable and use only the freshest ingredients. Another charitable aim focuses on the bakery donating unsold food to the Palmer Home in Hernando. Finally, with the holiday season upon us, nothing fits better than the Ladybugg Bakery and Cafe for a thoughtful and very tasty gift for friends or family. Whether it’s going in for a warm bowl of soup and a seasonal cupcake, or purchasing their holiday gift baskets, it’s definitely the kind of place to spend a December day. Find them online at or on facebook at The Ladybugg Bakery and Cafe. DeSoto 77

in good spirits} milk punch

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Mississippi’s Milk Punch By Charlene Oldham. Photography courtesy of

Jean-Luc Charboneau, owner and head distiller at Charboneau Distillery, paired a rum milk punch with the divine desserts created by competitors at the Sweetest Chefs of the South contest in Ridgeland, Miss., this September. Charboneau also recalled the festive, four-ingredient cocktail being well-received despite temperatures that likely touched 90 degrees. “I really think this could be the replacement for eggnog this season,” said Charboneau, who serves the cocktail over ice. “It’s very easy to make, especially in batch style, for a holiday party.” Indeed, it would be a snap to stir up a big bowl of milk punch for a winter brunch, cookie exchange or holiday open house. Charboneau recommends cutting the rum down to an ounce per serving in party settings so the smooth, sweet cocktail packs a little less punch. The drink can also be frozen beforehand and thawed to create a slushy mixture. There are a number of variations on the basic milk punch formula, which might feature vodka, rum, bourbon, brandy or a combination of liquors as well as flavor additions such as chocolate, raspberry or peppermint. In fact, there are references to milk punch in English writings as far back as the 1600s and it was a favorite of American founding father Benjamin Franklin, who had his own signature recipe. Today, a milky version like the one Charboneau served at the Sweetest Chefs competition is a staple in New Orleans bars and restaurants. And some mixologists around the country are offering an updated version that’s heated and filtered so it is clear rather than creamy by the time it reaches a glass. Charboneau also plans to keep experimenting with his basic formula, especially as more Mississippi-based companies, including Cathead Distillery and Rich Grain Distilling Co., branched out into bourbon.

“So I would love to incorporate some of their products and do kind of a Mississippi milk punch,” he said. For now, Charboneau offers this recipe using his Natchez-based distillery’s white rum. You can purchase premade simple syrup or make your own by combining equal parts of sugar and water, bringing it to a boil and letting it simmer until the sugar completely dissolves. From there, take it off the heat and let it cool completely. Simple syrup can be stored in the refrigerator in a glass jar or frozen to extend its shelf life. Charboneau rum milk punch 2 ounces milk 1.5 ounce white rum  .5 ounce simple syrup 1/8 ounce vanilla extract  Stir cocktail  Serve over ice and garnish with a light dusting of nutmeg and bittersweet baker’s chocolate.

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exploring events } december Christmas Parades: December 1 Horn Lake, MS Southaven, MS December 2 Collierville, TN Greenwood, MS Tupelo, MS December 3 Vicksburg, MS Olive Branch, MS Natchez, MS Holly Springs, MS Memphis, TN Corinth, MS December 5 Hernando, MS Pontotoc, MS Oxford, MS Columbus, MS December 6 Senatobia, MS Grenada, MS December 10 Byhalia, MS Germantown, TN 18th Annual Southern Lights Through December 31 Central Park Southaven, MS For more information, visit or call Southaven parks & Recreation at 662-280-2489. Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees Through December 31 Pink Palace Museum Memphis, TN For more information, call 901-636-2362 or visit Cedar Hill Farm Christmas Tree Farm Through December 22 Cedar Hill Farm Hernando, MS For more information please call 662-429-2540, visit www. or email The Polar Express Train Ride December 2-4, 7-11, 14-23 Departing from Batesville, MS For more information, visit or call 877-334-4783. DeSoto Family Theatre Presents “Meet Me in St. Louis” December 2 - 18 Landers Center Theatre Southaven, MS Purchase tickets at LANDERS Center box office 662-470-2131, or call the DFT office at 662-280-6546. For additional information visit,

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Holiday Tour of Homes December 3 - 4 Cleveland, MS On Saturday, historic homes in Cleveland will be available for tour from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Sunday, the tour will take place in West Cleveland from 1:00-4:00 p.m.  For more information, visit or call 662-843-2712. Tracks of Generals December 3 Holly Springs Depot Holly Springs, MS 10:00AM - 6:00PM An annual event highlighting General Van Dorn’s Raid and celebrating the survival of Holly Springs during the Civil War. For more information call 601-503-7605. North Light Gallery and Oxford Writes Reception Highlighting Walt Mixon’s Photos December 8 The Orchard Oxford, MS 6:00PM - 7:30PM Come see one of Oxford’s favorite photographers and meet his son, Avery. For more information call 662-259-0094.

Ballet Memphis Presents The Nutcracker December 9 - 11 Orpheum Theatre Memphis, TN For more information visit or call 901-525-3000. Gaither Christmas Homecoming December 10 Landers Center Southaven, MS 6:00 PM Purchase Tickets at: LANDERS Center Box Office 662-470-2131,, or call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. Dickens on the Square December 10 - 11 Historic Court Square Covington, MS Carolers, storytellers, puppet shows, carriage rides, visits with Father Christmas and much more. For information visit 58th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl December 30 Liberty Bowl Stadium Memphis, TN 11:00AM For tickets call the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at 901-795-7700, email or visit

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reflections} endings

Endings By Karen Ott Mayer

Way back in 1999 when I decided to become an independent writer, I bought some books, read and consulted with seasoned writers. I remember calling up one lady to ask a few questions and I clearly remember her response. “Who will ever hire you? You have no experience.” I really couldn’t answer that question because she was right. Good thing I suffered from delusional optimism because I hung the phone up and ignored her. It was harder to see the confusion in my then boyfriend’s eyes and his fear. “You’re quitting a perfectly good job to write?” Again, no really rational defense to that one. With every beginning comes an ending. Maybe we force the change or maybe life forces it upon us. Either path takes us somewhere beyond a present point that we can never return to again. It’s scary. It’s fun. It’s at times unbelievable. I keep a quote on my refrigerator because the truth of it echoes my own path to writing. In 1941 Katherine Anne Porter, the American author and essayist wrote, “I believe in the rightness of Miss Welty’s instinctive knowledge that writing cannot be taught, but only learned, and learned by the individual in his own way, at his own pace and in his own time, for the process of mastering the medium is part of a cellular growth in a most complex organism; it is a way of life and a mode of being which cannot be divided from the kind of human creature you were the day you were born, and only in obeying the law of this singular being can the artist know his true directions and the right ends for him.” 82 DeSoto

For nearly 20 years, I have been doing what I absolutely love--writing. And for many years now, I have had the privilege of filling this back page with non-fiction essays about my own perspectives on life. The only thing I love more than writing is talking to, learning from and encouraging other writers. So, in 2017 you’re about to meet some of them as we open up Reflections to all of the writers and essayists out there seeking another beginning. Over the years, I’ve been amazed at the kind comments and observations from people who took the time to read these essays. You have made it so much fun. And while my mother hasn’t always been happy when she found more stories about our family or herself on this page, I’m happy to report she’s been in the minority on that count. Sorry, mom. And so a new beginning. And new stories in 2017. This month, I am reminded that life can turn on a dime, leaving us searching for answers or understanding. For me, the only path to clarity is to pick up a pen and write. Sometimes I know where I’m going, other times not so much. As we unwind 2016 and leave it to history, I am grateful. For your time and support. For your compliments and loyalty to DeSoto. We are proud of our body of work, hoping to leave an imprinted legacy in the minds of a few, and a new beginning with the turn of every page.

DeSoto Magazine December 2016  

Christmas spirit, wishes and the joy of the holiday season.

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