Archives for November 2010

Today And I Have Had Quite Enough Of Each Other

I have been beside myself with the PMS today. BESIDE MYSELF. It’s been so bad that at one point, when I couldn’t help but overhear an absolutely absurd conversation at the library, what I wanted to do more than anything in the whole wide world was to stand on a table and scream, “CLEARLY I AM SURROUNDED BY A BUNCH OF CRAZY PEOPLE!!!”

Obviously I must have missed my refresher course on patience and charm this morning.

I always know when I’m in for a particularly rough run with the hormones when I start to have A LOT of opinions. And my PMS opinions aren’t just any ole opinions, mind you – they are VERY RIGHT opinions. The rightest of the right, in fact. You could seek advice from the wisest person on the planet, and after you asked your question, he or she would point at me and say, “Ask her. She has all the VERY RIGHT ANSWERS.”

That’s how right I am.

The last time the PMS was this bad, I remember telling a friend of mine that I wanted to add some verses to Proverbs 31. And I wanted those verses to say something like, “She speaks her mind with great authority; she bombards her husband with all of her VERY IMPORTANT THOUGHTS. Not even the smallest detail is beyond her control.”

You can probably see why everyone around me was somewhat relieved when that particular case of raging hormones was over. I was delightful company – oh yes I was.

Anyway, tonight I’ve decided that I’m going to try to find a few positives in the midst of my current condition. Because if I don’t? Well, I’m a little afeared that I’m going to launch an all-out attack on the leaves in the driveway. Or I’m going to hit the washing machine with a hammer if it makes that “clicky” sound ONE MORE TIME. Or I’m going to get in my car and drive down the road and wind up confronting non-suspecting diners at a local restaurant simply because I don’t much care for the way that they CHEW THEIR FOOD.

OH IT COULD HAPPEN.

So. The positives.

1. Today I bought four bags of chocolate candy (two Hershey’s Kisses, Hershey’s Miniatures and bell-shaped Reese’s that are a REVELATION) at Walgreens and didn’t feel even a little bit guilty. Because the chocolate, IT UNDERSTANDS ME.

2. If there is any sort of snack food within a four foot radius of my person, I can smack it down WITH AUTHORITY.

3. Pringles Sour Cream & Onion chips have taken on a whole new dimension of flavor. This afternoon the little man was eating some chips for a snack, and I grabbed one (okay. FINE. four.) from his bowl. After I took a bite, I opened my eyes really wide and said, “WELL THESE ARE JUST DELICIOUS!” Apparently my hormones enable me to detect subtle nuances in all the artificial flavors. My senses are on FI-IRE.

4. My bangs wouldn’t cooperate for love or money this morning. They had this weird pouf thing going on, and no matter what I did, the pouf remained. Thanks to my hormonal state, however, I HAVE NOT LET THEM BEAT ME. My whole day has been a study in taming the bangs. Never you mind that they are still in a state of rebellion. THEY HAVE MET THEIR MATCH, AND THEIR MATCH IS ME.

5. It’s been a day when I have GREATLY ENJOYED the use of CAPITAL LETTERS because they help me EXPRESS MY OPINIONS with plenty of EMPHASIS in the APPROPRIATE PLACES.

So that is all.

And I’m going to bed now.

Or I guess I should say:

I AM GOING TO BED NOW.

After I eat a just a little bit more chocolate.

Priorities, you understand.

Some Announcements For The Class

– Over the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten a several emails asking about this year’s Christmas Tour of Homes. Nester is hosting the tour again this year, and she even has a sassy blog button you can use:

Mark your calendars for December 13th!

– Normally I’m reluctant to try new recipes for Thanksgiving. There are certain dishes that the people in our family expect to eat, and it’s best not to deviate from the norm. Tradition usually prevails.

But this year I tried a new squash casserole recipe that you actually make in the crockpot, and OH MY WORD MY LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Because it is divine.

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it.

– Looking for a beautifully written Advent resource?

Well, I have two to share.

TWO!

First, Ann Voskamp – who, for the record, puts words together like no other – has written an absolutely wonderful (and free!) Jesse Tree Advent Devotional Book. Nancy Rodden contributed gorgeous illustrations. Click here for download instructions.

Second, sweet Angela Cottrell has written a series of Advent devotions for her church. The devotions are rich and wise and perfect for all ages. You can find them here.

A Very Merry Neighborly Christmas Concert with Dave Barnes and Drew Holcomb? Why, yes. I believe I will. And if they’re playing in your neck of the woods, you can, too.

– Our friend Shaun sings and speaks all over the world on behalf of Compassion International. He doesn’t sing and speak because he wants to be famous. He sings and speaks so that hopefully the people who listen to him will decide to release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Shaun’s an incredibly gifted songwriter, and he’s currently raising money to record a new album. Here’s why.

And if you’re interested in helping Shaun make his new record, here’s how.

Hail, Dear Old State (And TJ Maxx, Too)

As some of you may remember, I nearly died last week during the Mississippi State / Arkansas game.

Oh, not dead dead. Just sorta kinda dead.

No need for alarm, of course. I bounced back beautifully.

Anyway, since the game against Arkansas was a bit of a heartbreaker, I was apprehensive at best about our game against Ole Miss. The Bulldogs really needed to win if we wanted to stay in the running for the Chick-fil-a bowl in Atlanta, and I’ve got enough years as a Bulldogs fan under my belt to know that things tend to get tricky for us when there’s some sort of pressure attached to a game.

And then there was the fact that the last time we played in Oxford, the Rebels beat us something like 104-2. Or maybe it was 45-0. Regardless, IT WAS SOMEWHAT EMBARRASSING.

I tried not to think about the game too much Saturday morning, and it helped that Sister and I spent a chunk of the day running errands. I had to get fabric for a couple of the little man’s school projects, and OH SWEET MERCY I may just lose my mind with the crafts. Put me in just about any situation that involves cutting fabric, and odds are that I eventually will find a small, private corner where I can assume the fetal position and weep at will. Thank goodness that Sister was here to stand in the crafty gap for me. I can’t imagine what my pre-game mental state would have been without her help.

Anyway, Sister and I were on our way home from the errands when we decided to make a quick stop at TJ Maxx. I don’t have a huge fondness for the TJ Maxx in our neck of the woods because I never seem to find anything there. I mean, I’ll occasionally find a deal, but they seem few and far between when you consider that I could walk into the TJ Maxx by Sister’s house in Nashville and find six red-hot deals within five minutes of entering the store. Maybe my TJ Maxx just gets picked over more quickly? Or maybe it’s part of a different distribution center? Or maybe I’m overthinking the nuances of TJ Maxx shopping and need to get back to the point of this post already?

Yes. That last thing.

Well.

We wandered back to the home stuff, mainly just to kill a little time before we headed back to my house before the State game. And when I turned down the third or fourth aisle, this little fella caught my eye:

Our mascot? Walking upright in a sea of red? At a TJ Maxx in Birmingham, Alabama that never has one bit of Mississippi State stuff since it is always FILLED TO THE BRIM with Alabama and Auburn merchandise?

YOU CAN’T TELL ME THAT IT WASN’T A SIGN.

In all seriousness, though, Sister and I did our best not to assign more meaning to that little Bulldog than what he deserved, and once the surprise of the initial Bulldog sighting wore off, I really didn’t think much more of it. After we looked around about 15 more minutes, we figured we probably should wrap up our Maxx-ing, so we started making our way to the front of the store.

But then this stopped me dead in my tracks.

YES MA’AM.

As you might imagine, I gasped.

It was, as best I could tell, the only one in the store. And while I was standing there trying to figure out what it might mean, WHAT COULD IT ALL MEAN, Sister tapped my shoulder and pointed at something across the aisle.

Clearly the Lord had decided to speak to us through t-shirts. I mean, it was like an Egg Bowl showdown right there in the middle of the casual knitwear.

We stood there for a few seconds, looking from the State shirt to the Ole Miss shirt to the State shirt to the Ole Miss shirt (I guess we thought that at some point the shirts were going to have words? Or a football from sporting goods was going to jump in the mix and the two shirts could battle it out in the parking lot?), and eventually my eye settled on a red tag on the Ole Miss shirt. About that time Sister said, “LOOK!” while she held up the very same tag.

The Ole Miss shirt was on sale. The State shirt wasn’t. WHAT COULD IT ALL MEAN?

And that’s not all. Because if you look even more closely at the tag, you can see two telltale words:

“PAST SEASON.”

Let that settle in for a few seconds, my friends.

“PAST SEASON.”

What happened this past season? Well, the Bulldogs beat the Rebels 41-27 in the Egg Bowl. THAT’S what happened this past season.

Let me guess: cold chills just ran down your spine.

I mean, HAVE YOU EVER?

Sister and I laughed about the whole thing while we stood in the checkout line, but we were definitely still nervous about the game. Once we got back to my house and cooked supper, everybody settled in for the Egg Bowl (Sister and I may or may not have watched from separate rooms, but I’ll save that tale of our collective crazy for another day). We cheered and hollered and clapped for three hours, and do you know what happened?

The Bulldogs won. 31-23.

The Egg Bowl trophy stays in Starkville.

photo by Keith Warren

AND THE TJ MAXX KNEW IT ALL ALONG.

Go ‘Dogs.

Five.

Yesterday was the fifth birthday of this here little blog. So I celebrated by making a stuffed pork roast, dressing, homemade gravy, squash casserole and strawberry pretzel salad.

Okay. So maybe that stuff was technically for Thanksgiving. And maybe nobody else at the table had the foggiest idea that the blog was having a birthday. But still. It was the best pretend birthday party that a blog could ever hope to have.

Mama’s pecan pie didn’t hurt.

Anyway, before Sister and I set out in search of some new Christmas ribbon for me and some new shoes for her, I just wanted to stop and make sure y’all know how deeply grateful I am for each one of you. Thank you so much for reading and commenting and emailing and putting up with my crazy. I’ve had big fun with you people for the last five years, and oh, I am thankful.

(insert powerful-yet-tender ballad here)

(preferably a duet with Phil Collins and the incomparable Marilyn Martin)

(preferably with a music video where someone rests his or her head against a wall while he or she sings with great emotion)

Here’s to five more, sweet internet. Or at least one more. Because five more years seems like sort of a lot right now, and long-term goals stress me out a little bit.

By the way, here’s what the little man looked like five years ago.

I think I just died.

I love y’all,
Me

Twenty Teen-Friendly Favorites Under Twenty Dollars

Every single week I get to hang out with a great group of teenage girls who make my heart smile. I love them to pieces. They keep me young and make me laugh and encourage me with their humility and transparency. They are, as the French would say, LE AWESOME.

Okay. So maybe the French wouldn’t say it exactly like that. But still.

A few days ago the girls and I were talking about Christmas and how I sometimes struggle with buying gifts for people in their age group. Granted, I don’t do a ton of shopping for teenagers, but our niece will be thirteen in a couple of months, and I dread the day when she’ll open up a gift from us and secretly wonder if we’re stuck in 1995. I know that it’s the thought that counts, but by the same token I think we all hope that people will enjoy the gifts that we give them.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want to be That Relative whose gifts are dictated by whatever’s in the biggest bin at Costco. Sometimes you have to face facts and realize that Jean Nate’ After-Bath Splash isn’t at the top of the kids’ wish list this year.

And hasn’t been since about 1983, for that matter.

And by the way, I’m not advocating that we all buy a bunch of stuff just to buy a bunch of stuff. I’m a fan of thoughtful giving, and after two years of struggling with how that might look in our family’s life, I’m trying to find my way back to a wee bit of balance. Because in 2008 and 2009, I pretty much wanted everybody to wake up on Christmas morning and sit around in a circle and talk about materialism. Good times.

So now that I’ve overshared, how about some gift ideas? These are mostly for girls, but some would definitely work for guys, too. Big thanks to Lucy, Abbey and Mary E. for their help with this!

Chunky Double Bead Necklace – I think the olive/green color combo is great-looking and super-versatile. Also: sweet mercy at the inexpensive. Take a gander around the F21 website, and I’ll bet you find some earrings that can keep this necklace company.

Square Jacquard Flower Scarf – It would look great with a t-shirt and jeans, and it would also be fab with a sweater tunic, leggings and boots.

Bugle Bead Elastic Headband – Adorable, feminine and fun.

Voluspa Japonica Candle Tin in Baltic Amber – Candle scents are mighty personal, I know, but this one is sort of universally divine. Love the colors of the candle tin, too.

Wide Leaf Bracelet – There’s so much to like about this bracelet – the cuff style, the little bitty leaves, the bright colors. It would go with just about anything.

Women’s Terrific Tights in Ruby – The whole colored tights trend was a little lost on me at first. But now? I think they’re ADORABLE. Such a fun way to add a little spark of personality to an outfit.

Natural Life Everyday Wristlet – I see girls carrying wristlets all the time, and it sort of boggles my mind because I personally prefer a purse that can hold a 12-pack of diet Coke if necessary. But this wristlet from Francesca’s is so cute, so practical – and it really can hold all the essentials.

iTunes Gift Card – You can never, ever go wrong with this one. The kids enjoy them some music. And some apps. And when I say “apps,” I’m not talking about buffalo wings from the TGIFridays. Amen.

Yankee Candle Clean Cotton Car Vent Sticks – These are so affordable that you can buy three in whatever scents you like and still be under the $20 ceiling. The teenagers enjoy taking care of their cars, you know.

Scout Lil Slim Laptop Sleeve in Petallica Green – This is the perfect way to protect a laptop (or as I like to call it: THE BABY) before slipping it into a tote bag or backpack. Laptop sleeves come in all sorts of sizes, though, so make sure you know what size you need before you order.

Women’s Printed Flannel Lounge Pants – Let’s see. These are affordable, comfy pajama pants in an assortment of fun patterns. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

and – Both of these colors are “new neutrals” – perfect for any time of year and current enough that they pack a little bit of a trendy punch. Delightful.

Bath & Body Works Body Lotion in Warm Vanilla Sugar – This lotion is a perennial favorite in all age groups. And right now you can buy 2 and get 1 free or buy 3 and get 2 free. I’d call that a deal, my friends.

Customized Starbucks Card – When I was a teenager, I pretty much just drank Coke. But kids these days – they order a grande PSL extra shot extra hot no whip like total pros. For that reason, a Starbucks card is sure to get lots of use, and a customized version adds an extra element of fun.

Women’s Knit Mukluk Slippers – Hello, warm and cozy. It’s so nice to see you again. And at such a reasonable price!

Solid Color Knit Infinity Circle Scarf – I have an almost unnatural affinity for the circle scarf. This one comes in fantastic colors, and the price is oh-so-right.

Owl Key Covers – Do you remember how exciting it was to have your first set of keys? Well, imagine your first set of keys with these little owls attached. OVER THE MOON. You’d be OVER THE MOON.

Fleece Lined Leggings – Comfort, thy name is fleece lined leggings. What a treasure you are.

Table Top Jewelry Stand Earring Holder – I’m thinking of ordering one of these for myself, mainly because I have absolutely no system for keeping up with my earrings. Unless tossing my earrings on top of the dresser can be considered a system. In which case I’m golden.

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle – Remember back in the day? When we’d all stand in line and drink after each other at the water fountain? That’s not really how things work these days. These water bottles are perfect for school or for a hike, and there’s a huge selection of colors, to boot.

Well, that’s it, I reckon. All that food in our refrigerator isn’t going to cook itself, so I’d better get busy.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
________________________________________________________

Don’t forget the new Laughing Cow giveaway – there’s a $150 Visa gift card up for grabs!

Fifteen Favorites Under Fifteen Dollars

We’re not much for extravagance around our house at Christmas – unless you count the sheer volume of Land-o-Lakes butter that we consume, of course – but we’re definitely fans of giving. In order to keep the giving from breaking the bank, I typically put a ten or fifteen dollar price limit on gifts for friends (we call smaller gifts “happies” in Mississippi and Alabama; people in south Louisiana call them “surcies,” and OH MY WORD I adore regional quirks). I think it’s so fun to find something that fits a friend or family member’s personality, and I love practical things that have a little kick of funky to them.

Since I’m always on the look-out for unique, affordable gifts, I thought some of y’all might be, too – so I decided to make a list. And get this: every single item is under fifteen dollars. I KNOW! In the South we’re big on hostess gifts (I’m guessing other parts of the country are, too), and anything on this list would be a wonderful way to thank your host or hostess for his or her holiday hospitality. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with the standard poinsettia, but these gifts will keep giving long after the party – and the season – is over.

And if you’re wondering where all the Etsy goodness is, let me explain. I initially had a few Etsy items on this list, but now I think I’m going to do a second list that’s Etsy-only. Because I’m a wee bit obsessive. And also fascinated by the crafty people.

All righty. Here are my fifteen-and-under favorites. And yes, I know we still have a couple of days until Thanksgiving, but I figured I’d go ahead and post this for those of you who like to plan ahead and create spreadsheets and wrap all your presents by December 1st.

Very Merry Christmas – Dave Barnes – I am a huge fan of Harry Connick, Jr.’s Christmas CD because of its laid-back, bluesy feel. But you know what? Dave’s Christmas CD is even better. YEAH. I SAID IT. It’s infectious joy all the way around.

Tapestry Hand Towel – This little towel packs a punch with great, bold colors. Tie it up with a gold ribbon and make your hostess’ day.

Surprised By Worship – Travis Cottrell – That Travis. I tell you what. He composes incredible music, sings like a dream, and now he’s gone and written an absolutely beautiful, heartfelt book about worship. What I love the most about this book is that it’s who he is inside and out – reverent and funny and wise and tenderhearted. Anyone who reads it will be challenged and encouraged.

French Bull Pocket Notepads – I feel like I’m always digging in my purse for a piece of paper. Or rummaging around the kitchen for a piece of paper. Or looking in my car for a piece of paper. This little notepad set would solve all my paper-related problems. Stash one wherever you might need it – and then swoon when you see the cute cover designs.

Glass Bird Ornament – The thought of Christmas lights illuminating this little beauty makes me sigh with nostalgia. Lovely.

Hummingbird Farms Lavender Body Wash – Melanie introduced me to the Hummingbird Lavender products a few years ago. They’re THE BEST. This body wash smells fantastic and is the bath-product equivalent of instant relaxation.

Chop & Scoop Cutting Board – This gift errs on the side of practical, but good grief at the handy. Anyone who likes to cook would get tons of use out of it, I imagine.

Trudeau Colorful Melamine Mixing Bowls – You know what would make somebody smile when they’re making their 46th batch of cookies this Christmas? These mixing bowls. Adorable.

French Bull Tapestry Salad Servers – A few years ago I saw these salad servers in a local store, and I’m pretty sure that my heart stopped as a result of all the cuteness. They’re colorful and funky and functional – my favorite combination.

Caspari Decorative Matchboxes – These matchboxes are so much prettier than keeping a big grill lighter-stick-thing-y on your coffee table. The matches are longer than normal, so they’re perfect for lighting candles and fires, and the boxes are a great decorative touch.

Paisleys Spoon Rest – I adore a good spoon rest. And while yes, that might be the lamest sentence I have ever written, it’s the truth. I use a spoon rest every day of my life, and I’d prefer for said spoon rest to have a solid cute factor, by diggity. This one delivers.

Aveda Refreshing Bath Bar – One day I’m going to write an ode to Aveda products. Or maybe I’ll just move in an Aveda store so that I can smell all the divine scent combinations every single day for the rest of my life. This soap bar is for men or women, and it’s moisturizing without leaving an annoying soapy residue. It also lasts for a sweet forever.

Snowflake Pajama Pants – I’m sure there are people who don’t live for the post-supper moment when they put on their pajamas, but I don’t know any of them. And if I did know them, I probably couldn’t be friends with them. Because comfy pajama bottoms? NOTHING BETTER. If someone gave me these as a hostess gift, I’d be tempted to change clothes and wear them to the party. I’M JUST SAYIN’.

Lightweight Ruched Scarf – Scarves are timeless, and this one is light enough that it can be worn year ’round. Can’t beat it.

Little Peepers Shakers – Salt and pepper shakers are something that I never think to buy for myself. One Christmas a sweet friend gave me a set as a gift, and I was TICKLED. These would be pure happiness on a breakfast table any day of the year, and the price is fab, too.

Happy Merry, y’all!