Fruit Cake, Fall & Pat Altschul

Bravo Television Commentary, Homemaking, Recipes

For those of you who write, you will understand my current predicament. I haven’t written for a while – therefore I can’t write – therefore I haven’t written – therefore….. You get it. Chicken – egg. Chicken – egg.

Now, abruptly changing subjects…

This morning I scrolled through Twitter to find that Southern Charm’s Patricia Altschul recently put out feelers for a great fruit cake recipe with lots of nuts.

As much as everyone wants to hold on to summer, we can’t deny that fall is (almost) upon us. I thought posting my fruit cake recipe might help me mentally prepare for the holiday season ahead and, maybe, help crack my writers block.

I did my very best to perfect this recipe last fall when my life as an empty nester began and I had time to start perfecting things.

This is for you Miss Pat. I hope it does not disappoint.

Nutty Fruit Cake

Base: A good pound cake recipe  (Yes, I sometimes use a box mix). Boxed or homemade, follow cake directions then add Pinches of Cinnamon and Allspice to taste, One Large Egg, 1/3 c Dark Rum, 1/4 cup Brandy, 2 Tsp Heavy Whipping Cream, 1 tsp Soy Sauce

Into the batter, fold 3 Heaping Tsps each: Candied Mango, Dried Cherries, Dried Apricot, Dried Currants, Dried Cranberries, Chopped Pistachios, Chopped Hazelnuts plus 1 c Chopped Pecans and 1tsp Lemon Zest

Bake in a buttered pan according to your pound cake recipe

With a fork or toothpick, carefully pierce top of warm cake several times before adding glaze

Glaze: Heat 1/2 stick butter until it’s very slighty browned. Immediately whisk in 3 Tsps dark brown sugar, 3 Tsps Dark Rum, 2 Tsps Sherry, 3 Tsps Tangerine Juice, 1 tsp Tangerine Zest. Remove from heat when sugar is dissolved. Spoon over cake

Allow to cool and slice with a sharp knife




Hurricane Ashley Hits Hilton Head Island

Bravo Television Commentary

Believe it or not, I spent last week in a place without Wi-Fi. It’s hard to imagine but it explains why I’m just catching-up on last Thursday’s episode of Southern Charm. The intense drama not only begs an article but dissecting the violent storm called Ashley provides enough material for an entire website – (preferably put together by a team of talented psychiatric professionals). Ashley’s erratic personality looms over the whole vacation to Hilton Head but the episode illuminates other interesting moments as well.

The thing I like most about Southern Charm is, unlike most reality shows, it features more friendship and less hatred. Maybe its structured this way because of geography. Southerners are, by nature, gracious, hospitable and there has always been a palpable chemistry among this group. The cast’s mostly friendly interactions are light and enjoyable. I appreciate that producers allow for only one villain at a time (first Kathryn, now Ashley). I would prefer less villainy and more lifestyle stuff but the general public demands outrageous behavior.  Although I love a few of the Housewives groups, I often can’t keep their layered arguments straight and end up changing the channel to a re-run of Seinfeld. 

I’m the first to admit I go all swoon-ey in the heart for Southern gentlemen and there have been moments (I cringe to reveal) I have been charmed by Thomas’ deep drawl, impeccable wardrobe (minus those white jeans) and gorgeous, historic homes. Obviously those moments are eclipsed by two sexual abuse charges brought against him, not to mention the convicted felon thing (that his loving girlfriend loves to point out), plus all the gross, creepy, misogynistic icky-ness he oozes this season. Remember his outrageous declaration at Pat’s dinner party? He says “I have all the money. I have all the power” when the conversation turns to his romantic life.

Thomas is more arrogant than a Tesla driver in Los Angeles. He has an archaic, intensely offensive philosophy regarding women he dates and is inappropriate with female friends too. In this episode he scolds Chelsea with such venom and aggressive body language she looks as if she’s been physically assaulted when he’s finished with her. I think we all have a better understanding of the power dynamic Kathryn lives with.

The episode opens with Friday night dinner on Daufuskie Island and a tirade so explosive, it feels like a night terror you can’t wake up from. I wonder if  Hurricane Ashley has realized she can’t possibly re-gain work as a Hospice nurse after all this monstrous aggression has been documented on TV. Can you imagine Ashley caring for you as you lay dying? That image makes me think I would rather be on Faulkner’s treacherous trail of darkness with the fictional Bundren family than allow Ashley near me in my final stage of life. When Ashley’s blatant and intense gold-digging proves fruitless, she’s going to need a job. Hospice is an organization dedicated to human dignity. Ashley is to Hospice what Roseanne is to ABC.

Ashley goes berserk over an un-vitation to a two-year-old’s birthday party and  screams unthinkable insults at Kathryn – ironically, in an attempt to score an invitation to said birthday party. Additionally, she needs both a history lesson and an etiquette class dedicated to utensils. Apparently, she’s never eaten crab and thinks Hilton Head Island is a mountainous destination. Oh, and can’t you just see her grubby little hands rubbing together in her mind’s eye when she wonders if Thomas owns the town named for his family. Her behavior at Saturday’s dinner can only be described as bizarre. When naturally benevolent Shep extends an opening for polite conversation Ashley’s weird, hostile attitude bewilders him. Shep is slow to anger (unless Craig’s around) so making him mad really registers. Good for Chelsea for standing her ground when Ashley tries to create another opportunity to trash Kathryn at bedtime.

The Chelsea situation is noteworthy. Chelsea is funny, warm, gorgeous and best of all, so authentic. Shep makes comments about how much he likes (like, likes) her but doesn’t seem to want to put forth any effort into dating her properly. I guess he’ll know if he’s found a potential match when he feels organically motivated to pursue a woman like a true gentleman. Austin has a slightly longer attention span for relationships but he’s not ready to commit.

Chelsea is so cool, mature and full of pure goodness. She rises above Austin’s indecisive romantic yearnings for the sake of their friendship. He dates Chelsea’s friend Victoria, breaks things off with Victoria due to unresolved feelings for Chelsea then re-establishes a relationship with Victoria. I’m going to be disappointed in him if, next episode, he immediately cozies up to Chelsea after being dumped by Victoria via phone call. It’s no surprise that relationship crumbles before it (re-) starts. Austin’s let’s get back  together speech delivered to Victoria over drinks is so lackluster and unsubstantial its shocking she takes the bait. Austin has the integrity to be honest with Chelsea about his wavering feelings which is admirable. Still, Chelsea deserves better than his teeter-totter-ing between friends.

Meanwhile Craig and Naomi continue to throw out both aggressive and passive aggressive lobs at each other. Someone needs to remind them that public snitty-ness is unbecoming. Sadly, living with each other and without each other makes them unhappy. On a career note, I do hope Craig has the courage and vision to pursue a design career. Although I find the way the Housewives use their Bravo-lebrity to shamelessly peddle their wares exhausting,  I make an exception for Shepgear, Pat’s kaftans and would love to see Craig find his professional bliss by creating a fabulous pillow line. I don’t know why everyone wants to pigeon-hole him into law when his passion is clearly design.

Whitney is a little absent this season. My husband and I both laughed out loud when Whitney stays in bed (watching Netflix?) instead of joining the group’s boating activities. He hides out in his room to escape the overt PDA Ashley lavishes on Thomas in pursuit of a big diamond, expensive luggage and a credit card. Maybe Whitney is tiring of the party-fueled life and is looking to find the right girl. Hopefully we will see him find someone special next season. Whitney, like Shep, is fundamentally decent, smart and has the makings of a good partner/husband. He just needs to find that someone who is smart, sophisticated, beautiful and understands his unique lifestyle.

I think the Southern Charm audience collectively misses Cameran but she’s been in the baby cave. I think every mother feels connected to Cameran as she edges toward the birth of her daughter. Those last days of  pregnancy are torture. Too big for my maternity clothes, I remember sitting lethargic and alone in my underwear the day before my first child arrived. Cameran handles her pregnant body with extreme grace right up until we see her, ready to burst, eating pickles and cheese puffs at her kitchen island which is actually cute given how beautiful she is.

I know I won’t be alone this week as I anxiously await Thursday’s continuation of the Charmers excursion to Hilton Head. What will I do with myself to pass the hours?

Thank you, thank you to the entire cast. You open your lives so the rest of us can have a laugh, pass a judgement and have something to talk and write about when our own lives bore us a bit. You are all good sports. Your bravery does not go unnoticed.




10 Reasons Pat Altschul Is The Ultimate Southern Lady

Bravo Television Commentary

BRAVO Television fans have come to know and love Whitney Sudler-Smith’s mother, the divine Pat Altschul, duing five successful seasons of Southern Charm. Mrs. Altschul oozes all things that make southern ladies a special breed. Here are ten examples of why she is a splendid example of the southern lady.

  1. She speaks her mind with confidence, resolve, and wit.
  2. She hosts the most luscious parties.
  3. She believes in the institution of marriage and is not afraid to share her views with her younger cast mates.
  4. She has raised a son who has impecable taste and manners.
  5. She’s an animal lover and activist (and her dog and cat caftans are gorgeous).
  6. She’s an eternal optimist. “Eat, Drink and Re-Marry” is one of her mantras.
  7. She remained friends with her son’s father post divoce.
  8. She shares her wisdom and advice without being aggressive or stuffy.
  9. She’s a master of etiquette and keeps traditional decorum alive.
  10. Her magnificient home is a graceful nod to the south’s past, present and future.

Thank you Miss Pat for the entertainment and education.



Shep Rose is like a child, That longs for everything it can come by…

Bravo Television Commentary

Five Insights for Shep Rose Regarding LOVE

I’ve, many times, started to report my thoughts on Shep Rose and his troubled heart. Then a rush of so many disconnected  philosophies flood my mind, the list of things to mention reads as long as Craig’s career goals last season. So, I close the computer, pour another glass of sweet tea and put it off till another day

Today, I challenge myself to make some written headway on the subject. I know, its easy to analyze someone else from afar so please don’t label me a hater. Its only with best wishes I weigh in on how Shep might deal with some issues that separate him from true love.

I really do adore Shep. He’s an imperative piece of the perfectly cast reality show, Southern Charm (Thursday night’s on BRAVO Television) that chronicles the lives of a group of colorful, entertaining Charlestonians.

Principal character Shep Rose is Charming (note the capital C) and that’s why he gets away with all kinds of mischief. He’s handsome, funny and doesn’t appear to take himself too seriously. He loafs around Charleston behaving like he’s on eternal vacation. He ambles into bars, hangs around golf courses and hunting lodges and doesn’t seem to have a care in the world. And that might be, Unless, he is truly interested in love. If he is, he has to focus, strengthen his attention span, and stop reaching for every easy, meaningless involvement that comes along.

I’ll mention five (of ten) items I think Shep needs to sort through if his intentions for a real partner are honorable.  We’ll see how things go. I may publish five more.

1.So Shep,….its time to come to terms with the fantasy of marrying a sweet, privately educated, Southern sorority girl from a strong southern family who has the makings of a skilled wife and mommy.  Those girls are serious about their futures when they’re young and get snatched up by their contemporaries after graduation.  The gap between you and young college graduates is widening by the nanosecond. I’m not brow-beating you for failing to snag your college girlfriend. I’m suggesting, in case you think about it once in a while, you put that thought in the no longer available bin.

2. You are extremely blessed with a loving family. Your parents seem a couple whose connection is authentically solid, rooted in respect, true affection and tradition.  Their love story  has rendered a beautiful family and lifestyle. They are to be congratulated for their dedication to each other and your esteem is well-placed. However, idealizing your parents could be holding you back.

At 38, please understand even the most successful couples have hiccups and struggles. Projecting a united front to the world shows manners and breeding but, even they have had their private strains.

3. Southerners are a group largely misunderstood by the outside world. The south is full of beauty, tragedy, heartache and ghosts. According to my own (undocumented) research, most folks have negative associations with the south (this author exempt). Since you stem from old southern roots, a fellow southerner might understand you best. My stomach catches as I write this. It’s plain weird to suggest that people ‘stick with their kind’. I’m not speaking in terms of religion, heritage, color or socio-economic group. What I mean is, a deep love of the south (for all its good and bad) might be a mutual point of deep connection between you and a potential love.

4. Find a balanced counterpart. Let’s be honest, you are a H -A -M, HAM! You are outgoing and easy with people. You love attention. Your Speedo wearing theatrics is but one example. I see you with a Laura Bush type. Think about it. Politics totally aside, you need a smart, well-mannered, sweet, funny, sincere lady who will give you straight-up advice and balance your antics. Think Laura Bush’s calm, brainy, librarian intellect set against her husband’s loose, partying, lack of structure.* Opposites make wonderful partnerships. Adorable Cameran and her husband are the perfect illustration.

5. Reach for that special feeling. Anyone who has genuinely fallen in love knows that chemistry is key. Some people grow to love one another which is a profound experience too but if you find an authentic spark, a palpable energy with someone, then follow your instinct and don’t give up when the first inconvenience comes along. Be a gentleman. Show respect and value a little restraint. Remember how you fumbled last year? You wanted to be unattached for a weekend wedding and thus let Austin swoop in on the beautiful, smart and fun-loving Chelsea. Enough said. (I hope that didn’t hurt too much.)

Bless the hearts (and I mean this sincerely – no snark attached) of Shep Rose and his castmates for bearing their souls for the rest of us to watch and enjoy. They provide a lot of fun escapism for viewers.

*This referral to Laura and George Bush comes from what I’ve read about the couple’s early days of courtship/marriage and how they found common ground in their relationship. This notation does not indicate any political statement or leaning.  I’m speaking only in terms of marriage and successful personal relationships.