Archives for May 2011

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 18

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So I think it’s accurate to say that Melanie and I have experienced perplexing technical difficulties every single time we’ve tried to record a podcast this past year.

Now granted, we’ve only tried to record a podcast approximately THREE WHOLE TIMES, but still.

This past Saturday, however, we finally got ‘er done. There are a few little technical ish-ahs that crop up throughout the podcast, but everything ironed itself out eventually. Except for the part towards the end where Mel got disconnected and I sat there for a few seconds saying “Hello? HELLO? HEL-LOOOOO?”

Oh, believe you me: it’s all just as top-notch and first-rate as it sounds.

But for the most part the technology cooperates, and we talk about the end of the school year, health and beauty concerns (including Mel’s new dry-brushing technique that positively mystifies me), summer TV offerings and, of course, our hair.

You can click here to listen. Or here. Or you can subscribe on iTunes, but that’s quite a commitment for a podcast that’s as reliably unreliable as ours.

Happy Monday, y’all.
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BlogHer and Purina are learning about ProPlan Selects – click over to check it out!
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Edited to add: Seeing the news out of Joplin, Missouri this morning is absolutely heartbreaking. I don’t even have words. But I am praying.

Technology Is A Marvelous Thing

I don’t know about y’all, but we are dragging around here in terms of our usual rise and shine routine. We have been waking up later and later over the last few weeks, and this morning, when I threw three pairs of pants in the dryer and figured I’d wear whichever pair got the most dry the quickest (read: being completely dry was in no way a requirement in order for the pants to be worn), I knew that I’d hit a new low in terms of being ready to face the day.

Come quickly, sweet summer. Come quickly.

Earlier this week one of the room moms for A’s class sent an email reminder that our scrapbook pages for his teacher’s end-of-year scrapbook gift were due today. I had a vague recollection of seeing the blank scrapbook page in an envelope in the little man’s bookbag, and I knew that I’d taken it out of the bag and added it to a stack of school-related papers on the kitchen desk. But honestly, my reaction when I first saw that scrapbook page was basically the same as it would’ve been if you put a small motor engine in front of me and then handed me a set of tools.

(That is to say: I’m not exactly sure how to complete the task that’s been set before me, so this is probably an excellent opportunity to MANAGE EXPECTATIONS.)

(After all, let us not forget The Unfortunate Capelet Incident of 2010.)

So Monday afternoon, I found myself sitting in front of my computer, looking at my email, wondering how in the sam hill I was going to put together some sort of end-of-year scrapbooking page without losing my mind.

Because I’m not sure if you’ve picked up on this or not, but CRAFTY THINGS MAKE ME CRAZY.

And please don’t misunderstand: I adore A’s teacher. He has had an absolutely incredible year with her, and we are way beyond grateful. She’s one of those people who was clearly born to work with young kids; she’s patient and encouraging and diligent and thoughtful.

So given all of that, I really wanted to do a good job with the scrapbook page. I thought the room moms’ idea of putting together a scrapbook was a great one – because it’s such a tangible way for Miss S to know how much we love and appreciate her.

But oh. Mama’s skills, they are LIMITED.

Wednesday night I finally decided that I could at least get started by uploading some pictures to Walgreens. I didn’t really know what I was going to do with the pictures, but I figured maybe I could make a “collage” and maybe use some “markers” and some “stickers” and maybe even some “ribbon.” Then I broke out in a cold sweat and decided that THERE HAD TO BE A BETTER WAY, THERE MUST BE.

I was just about to finish my picture order when I saw a little box over to the side that said something to the effect that I could order a collage of my prints for $3.99. And y’all, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head: I COULD ORDER A COLLAGE AND TAPE THAT TO THE SCRAPBOOK PAPER AND GET ALEX TO WRITE A NOTE TO HIS TEACHER AND OH MY WORD THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR RIBBON.

THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR RIBBON!

(!!!)

So that’s exactly what I did. I ordered a collage. I very carefully taped it to the scrapbook paper (and don’t tell, but even though I tried to get it straight three times, it’s still a little crooked, and clearly I am useless at any activity that requires any sort of precision). Alex wrote a note to his teacher at the top of the page. And I did not in fact have a nervous breakdown.

Score one for technology. In fact, I’ll never be able to thank technology enough for making it possible for me to avoid that sticker aisle at Michael’s.

Hallelujah and amen.

Okay. I Need To Talk About It.

No American Idol spoilers here. I don’t want to ruin the festivities for our West Coast friends.

But if anybody wants to chime in about what happened on Idol tonight, let’s talk in the comments.

I’ll be the first one there.

:-)

American Idol Top 3: I Have Some Thoughts

That’s a deeply original title I’ve got going on up there, now isn’t it?

Just reels you right in.

Anyway.

I just watched the Top 3 episode of American Idol, and I’m conflicted. Because while there were parts that I really enjoyed, there were parts that left me sort of shrugging my shoulders. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is, and I think the reason dawned on me just a few seconds ago.

Stay with me. I’m going to get to my point eventually. Promise.

Everybody sang well tonight. There were no major flubs (save Haley’s spill at the front of the stage), but nothing blew me away. There was no MOMENT. No great big crowning achievement for anyone’s AI journey. I think Haley probably came closest with the Led Zeppelin song that she sang first (seriously. she WAILED.), but then she followed it up with a Fleetwood Mac song that nearly put me to sleep, and the Alanis Morissette song just felt too big for her, like she couldn’t fit in all the lyrics in the allotted time.

(However, I did have a bit of a Haley breakthrough when I realized that she reminds me a little bit of Fiona Apple.)

(And once that dawned on me, I felt like I finally had some sort of understanding about what kind of recording artist she’ll be.)

(So that was nice.)

Scotty did his Scotty thing. I give him credit for knowing his strengths, and he definitely played to those strengths tonight. He’s made big progress in terms of being more comfortable on the stage, more expressive when he sings – but he’s kept it between the country music ditches this whole season. At some point it would’ve been fun to hear him do a country version of something unexpected – sort of like Kris Allen’s acoustic version of “Heartless” a couple of years ago.

And listen – that Lauren. I could just hug her. When she walked out on the stage for her first song wearing those white cowboy boots and those white flower earrings, I couldn’t help but smile. She’s so bubbly and cute and talented – but she lacks confidence. It’s the biggest difference between her and Haley. They both have great voices, but Haley owns hers in a way that Lauren doesn’t yet. I think the reason why she didn’t wow me tonight is because even though she sounded good, she didn’t have authority on the stage. That’ll come with time. And there’s not a doubt in my mind that she’s got a big career in front of her.

So given all of that, my big a-ha moment tonight was this: the judges have been so much nicer and more pleasant this season, but they haven’t pushed the contestants as hard. And that’s the reason why we’ve sort of gotten the same thing from them week after week after week. On one hand I so appreciate the judges’ consistent encouragement – I’d rather listen to their kind words instead of Ryan bickering with Simon any day of the week – but if there’s a drawback to all the niceties, we saw it tonight. And I couldn’t help but wonder if Simon would have been able to do for Lauren what he did for Carrie Underwood. You know?

(And listen – I don’t take issue with the judges being kind. I’m just not sure that they’re getting the same results from the contestants that they would if they offered more constructive criticism and less validation. I’m also very aware that if I were in the position of being a judge, I would probably do nothing more than tell every single contestant that they’re ABSOLUTELY DARLIN’ and then I would offer them some sort of homemade cobbler or maybe even a casserole.)

(I tend to overcompensate when I’m worried about hurting somebody’s feelings.)

If I had to wager a guess, I’d say that Haley and Scotty will be the top two. I’d never have guessed that eight weeks ago, but Haley is confident. And that confidence has propelled her ahead of Lauren, I think.

I also think that Scotty will win the whole thing running away.

What did y’all think? Who are your top two?

Links And Stuff And Such

– Last night at church I ran into my friend Jan. We don’t see each other nearly enough, and it was so fun to catch up with her. She opened a bakery here in Birmingham a few years ago, and it’s pretty much taken off like wildfire. Jan’s an incredibly talented baker and food stylist with a personality that’s infectious, energetic and oh-so-hilarious. She’s the best.

She is also, as of last month, a cookbook author. Her cookbook, Big Book of Cupcakes, was recently published by Oxmoor House.

It’s chock full of baking goodness; there are 150 (ONE HUNDRED FIFTY) cupcake recipes. If you like to bake, you will love Jan’s recipes and creativity. This book is a great resource for birthday parties – and it’s also a great way to encourage kids to learn how to bake (with adult supervision, of course). And just FYI: Jan didn’t ask me to mention her cookbook. Nobody sent me a free copy or anything like that. But I wanted to tell y’all about it because 1) I love my friend 2) I love her recipes 3) I think y’all will love the recipes, too 4) I crave her caramel sea salt mocha cupcakes on a weekly – if not daily – basis and 5) PEOPLE LOVE THEM SOME CUPCAKES.

It’s a good ‘un.

– You can still enter to win a $100 Shutterfly.com gift card from the Sprite Tabs for Humanity giveaway. Just click on over.

– The latest group of Compassion Bloggers is heading to the Philippines next week. If you’d like to show your support for the trip and help get the word out to your friends, grab a badge for your blog, Facebook or Twitter.

– I’ve mentioned a time or ten that I pretty much adore the clothes from Nations Outfitters. It’s a brand that’s about so much more than fashion. And now? They have gift cards. Such a great graduation gift, you know?

– If you watched the most recent season of Survivor, chances are that you’ll get a kick out of this post-finale interview with Boston Rob. Very entertaining.

– And in related news: this interview with Phillip “Stealth” Sheppard? It does not disappoint.

Let’s Call It Vintage Even Though That Just Means It’s Old

One of the things we enjoy the most about our neighborhood is that there are lots of kids in this neck of the woods. Almost every afternoon there’s a pack of young’uns that rotates from our house to our neighbors’ house to another neighbors’ house – kind of like a progressive play date. Usually you’ll hear the kids before you can actually see them, and that suits me just fine. I can typically track their location by standing in our driveway and listening for All The Yelling. They have a blast together.

For the last couple of months D and I have been talking about turning the little room off of our kitchen into a place where the kids can congregate to play games or watch movies or whathaveyou. It would also be a great place to keep the Wii. We have a hard and fast NO WII ALLOWED policy during the week, mind you, mainly because I am of the opinion of GET THEE OUTSIDE, CHILDREN, but on the weekends, we’re a little more flexible. A and his buddies will play outside for awhile, then come inside and play the Wii or watch a DVD for a little bit, then head back outside – and etc. and so forth and forever and ever amen.

The only hitch in our repurposing plan has been that the room next to the kitchen needs some extra seating. I could throw some beanbags in there, I know, but the clutter of it all would probably make my left eye blink uncontrollably, and I’d really like to use the room as a den for grown-ups when it’s not occupied by kids. I’ve thought that a loveseat of some sort would be the perfect solution, but loveseats can be pricey. Not to mention that the room isn’t big at all, so I can’t really use some huge overstuffed something-or-other – I need a sofa that’s smaller in scale.

And also inexpensive.

I am such a fan of the inexpensive.

This past weekend my aunt C mentioned that there was an estate sale at a house in my parents’ neighborhood, so in a fit of spontaneity we drove over to check it out. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but since we’d watched an episode of “American Pickers” on the History Channel the night before, I was feeling sort of intrigued by the idea of finding some unexpected treasure. Plus, it was the third day of the sale, so everything was half price. You can imagine my delight.

We’d been in the house about ten minutes when I walked in a little sunroom off of the living room. And this is what I saw.

I know. I KNOW. It SCREAMS 1968, doesn’t it? But I was intrigued. I didn’t know what style it was. I didn’t know what brand it was. I didn’t know what in the sam hill you’d call that color, either. But I loved the scale of it, and I liked the overall look of the lines. Now granted, I knew that the sofa was probably older than I am, but it was in excellent condition – sturdy as could be. Nary a hint of spilled coffee or Coke or sweet tea anywhere on or underneath the cushions. So I asked my aunt to take a look at it.

C immediately saw the potential. She inspected the upholstery and said that if I was okay with the color (which I totally am – I like a hint of funky in every room, you know – and there are actually flecks of a kicky green mixed in with all the muted gold), I could initially get away with just cleaning the sofa (it was a smidge dusty) and adding some fun throw pillows. Maybe recover the bottom cushions just for kicks. But all in all, she determined that it was in fact a very fun find.

Her approval really got me thinking. And then – AND THEN – I remembered that everything was half price.

Which meant that I could buy the sofa for AN INCREDIBLY AFFORDABLE AMOUNT OF AMERICAN DOLLARS.

So I believe the word you’re looking for is SOLD.

As a couple of nice men were loading the sofa into my cousin Paige’s ginormous vehicle, Paige noticed that there was a tag for Karl’s Furniture underneath the cushions. Karl’s was my aunt’s favorite furniture store in the 60s and 70s – it was a local business, and I can remember being a little girl and hearing Mama say that everything in Karl’s was “modern” and “contempo” (that’s Mama-slang for “contemporary”). It made me so happy that I’d run across something from Karl’s some twenty-five years after it closed. It’s like a little piece of our hometown has joined our family.

We took the sofa back to Mama and Daddy’s – with our fingers crossed that we’d be able to make it fit into D’s SUV – and for a few minutes I thought it was going to have to hang out on the driveway indefinitely because NOPE, NOT GONNA FIT.

(We had not taken the time to properly place the cushions.)

(I do hope you can forgive us.)

But then Paige and D worked their magic, and LOOKY HERE.

Snug as a bug in a rug.

Or as a sofa in a Chevy, as it were.

The sofa is now resting comfortably in our garage. Just as soon as I get it cleaned up, it’ll be moving into the room off of our kitchen. I bet that our neighborhood crew will make sure that the sofa gets a very loud, very enthusiastic welcome.

Welcome home, sofa-of-undetermined-style-and-era.

We’re just as tickled as we can be to have you here.