Archives for July 2011

Party Of Three

This was dessert at our house last night. After a quick trip to Walgreens, of course.

I bet you’ll only need one guess to figure out which flavor belongs to the eight year-old.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

I Need A Title For This Post

If June was the month of Tending To My Teeth, then July has been the month of Caring For My Car. Today I had a new rearview mirror installed (it’s part of a campaign that I’m doing with BlogHer); I had an appointment at 9:30 this morning at a place that mostly does stereo installations, I think, and as soon as the little man and I walked in the shop, I knew that we were going to have to find something, ANYTHING to do besides waiting there.

Because it was hot.

And there were some big ole fans.

And sometimes big ole fans just feel like they’re recirculating all the hot.

Fortunately there was a Walmart next to the installation place, so I got my laptop out of my car (when we left the house this morning, I fancied having lots of writing time while we waited), grabbed my child’s hand and set out across the pavement. It was almost like we were pioneers in search of a new land, only the new land had already been totally paved and boasted some pretty impressive outdoor lighting. Not to mention that it also offered a full-service pharmacy and portrait studio. And Subway.

Anyway, once we walked inside the Walmart and were smacked in the face by some blessedly frigid air conditioning, I grabbed a cart and started steering it in the general direction of oh, I don’t know, wherever. I could tell after a few minutes that the new Walmart was in some ways a flip-flop of the Walmart by our house, and the more I thought about the fact that I’d walked into some sort of Walmart Opposite Day, the more disoriented I was.

Seriously. I was like a cat in a room where all the furniture had just been re-arranged. I mean, I didn’t go quite so far as jumping up onto a non-existent table, but I was a little confused.

At some point in all our wanderings I found myself right next to an aisle of adorable storage baskets (I’m pretty sure that they were where the purses would have been in our Walmart), and I stopped for a second because MY WORD, storage stuff is so much cuter than it used to be. After I took a good look at all the colors and patterns that they had, I decided to move along to the health and beauty aids section because apparently I never tire of looking at shampoo and conditioner and hair spray.

Seriously. It never gets old.

Anyway, an hour or so later we picked up my car and drove home, and as soon as I walked in my bathroom, I thought, Dadgummit – why didn’t I buy some of those storage things when I was all turned around in the Walmart? Because here’s the thing: right now I’m fully convinced that my make-up and toiletries and whathaveyou are the most profoundly unorganized that they’ve ever been. I like for everything to be really accessible, and for that reason I’m not really successful with any organizational system that requires me to dig in the deep, dark recesses of drawers and cabinets.

The flip side, of course, is that my current organizational system involves a couple of plastic Lancome make-up bags and an assortment of moisturizers and hair products scattered all over my bathroom countertop. Along with my hair dryer. The hair dryer technically has a storage spot in a basket underneath my sink, but the basket has gotten filled up with make-up samples that Mama gives me whenever she gets a Lancome free gift (hence the make-up bags I mentioned earlier), and I’ve gotten in the (bad) habit of just leaving the hair dryer on the counter. The last time Mama was here she had the idea of using this wire serving piece as a catch-all for my make-up, but there’s so much space between each piece of wire that smaller items fall through and bigger items just look flat-out bulky.

SO, INTERNET: what sort of system do you use to store your toiletries? Do any of you have an on-the-countertop system that’s clutter-free? Have you figured out any way to categorize your products that makes sense? I’m so bad at this kind of thing, but THE STUFF IS DRIVING ME CUCKOO. So please advise.

(And if you want to tell me how you keep all your earrings organized, I’d be perfectly delighted about that, too. Because trying to figure out what to do with all of them is an ongoing challenge.)

(Notice how I said “challenge” all diplomatic-like.)

(I would hate for my earrings to read this and find out that they’ve been on my nerves a little bit.)

Oh – and just FYI. I have four small-ish drawers on my bathroom vanity – and then double doors underneath the sink. In case you need a visual.

And if you have any links to storage stuff that works for you, link away. I’m feeling a little desperate – but so happy that the internet is always kind enough to help.

I Brake For Breaks

A couple of weeks ago we bought four new tires for my car. Since my car is almost eight years old and has over 100,000 miles on it, it’s not a big surprise that Old Faithful is requiring a little more TLC these days. Fortunately we have a great mechanic (he doesn’t make me the least bit nervous or anxious or wary when he talks to me about car stuff – THAT IS A WONDER), and it’s nice knowing that he looks out for us and doesn’t recommend anything unnecessary when it comes to taking care of our cars.

Anyway, when I got my tires he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You really, REALLY need new rear brakes. I’m not saying that you have to stop driving your car or anything like that, but you need to get back in here before it’s time for your next service – definitely within the next month or two.”

And since he’s always really laid-back and low-key, his sense of urgency about my brakes got my attention. And then all I could do was picture the scene from Charlie’s Angels where Kelly was driving some big ole Ford and her brakes went out on a steep hill and she wound up in the back of an 18-wheeler.

(Listen. I just Googled “Charlie’s Angels Kelly’s brakes fail” on a lark. I couldn’t imagine that I’d actually find the clip, but I figured it was worth a try. And what do you know? THERE IT WAS ON THE YOUTUBE. Granted, it appears to have been dubbed in a foreign language, but the visual is what’s important. Quite frankly I don’t know when I’ve loved the internet more.)

(Also, I adore that Kelly is wearing hose with her wedge heels.)

(SASSY.)

All that to say: getting new brakes is at the top of my to-do list today since I’d prefer to be able to stop at the bottom of Birmingham’s big ole hills without relying on a parked 18-wheeler to halt my forward progress. So while I’m sitting at the car place, thumbing through some two year-old issues of Field & Stream and considering all the reasons why vinyl couches in waiting rooms are NOT AT ALL COMFORTABLE during the summer months, y’all will hopefully be enjoying these links. It’s an, um, ecelectic list, so consider yourself warned.

My Happy Confession of Having No Merit – I ran across this post when I was watching an interview that John Piper did with our pastor, and oh my. It brought tears to my eyes. What a good word.

In The Footsteps of Dan Mullen: ESPN Car Wash – I love any sort of behind-the-scenes article, and this one is the perfect prelude to football season. I mean, they have something called a fanwich in the ESPN cafeteria? That makes me so happy.

Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake: The History of Rap, Part 2 – This little treasure isn’t for the young’uns, but it’s mighty entertaining for mamas and daddies who grew up in the 80s and 90s.

– The MouseMail $100 Visa gift card giveaway and the bodycology rich&creamy giveaway are still up and running.

– I’d forgotten how much we love these delicious summer sandwiches until I made them for supper Monday night. I leave out the horseradish, add a little mayonnaise to the cream cheese, then add bacon and sliced avocado to the egg and tomato on my sandwich. Makes a great breakfast, too. So fresh and tasty.

Have a great day, everybody!

I Don’t Know What Can Possibly Top This, But An SEC Championship Would Be A Nice Place To Start

I was 11 or 12 years old, I think, when I discovered that the Sunday sports section was a gold mine of information during the college football season. My little hometown paper didn’t necessarily have loads of coverage, but the Jackson paper, the Clarion-Ledger, always devoted at least two full pages to each Mississippi team. So on Sunday mornings in the fall, I’d gather up four quarters (or ask Daddy for some) and carefully put them in the newspaper machine outside the Jitney Jr. on the way home from church. I can still hear the “plunk” of those quarters hitting metal and the creak of the newspaper machine door as it opened. Even now I think it’s what anticipation sounds like.

After Sunday lunch – or sometimes even during Sunday lunch – I’d open up that newspaper and read every single word about Mississippi State in the sports section. I saved all the stories that I loved in a brown photo album with a fancy fake brass binder. I soaked up every single word of Rick Cleveland’s columns and wondered how he learned to write like that. Same for Orley Hood, Billy Watkins and, in my grown-up years, Sekou Smith, Ian Rapoport and Kyle Veazey. Even though they have no idea, those men have been some of my very best writing teachers. I respect their work so much.

So a few weeks ago, when a blog reader-turned-friend who works for the Southeastern Conference asked me if I’d want to tag along with her during SEC Media Days, I was thrilled. THRILLED. Because yes, I love college football, and I especially love SEC football, and I especially especially love Mississippi State football. But no kidding: on equal footing in the thrill department – at least for me – was the prospect of seeing sportswriters that I’d read and admired for years in their element. In their natural habitat, if you will. LIVE AND IN PERSON. I couldn’t wait.

Since I already had plans to be out of town last Thursday and Friday, I could only make it to the first day of media days last Wednesday. I made a not-so-quick stop to get my driver’s license renewed on the way to Galleria (media days are at the Wynfrey Hotel, which is connected to the Galleria), and as I pulled off the interstate and onto my exit, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I’d been to that big ole mall in high school and college, wondering what sah-weet treasures Express and Espirit and Benetton might have to offer. There’s just no way I could’ve known that a trip to the Galleria at age 41 was going to blow that sassy safari t-shirt I bought from the Galleria Banana Republic when I was 17 STRAIGHT OUT OF THE WATER.

I couldn’t decide where to park once I got close to the mall, but I finally opted for the parking garage next to Sears. I have no idea why, especially since it’s not particularly convenient or, you know, CLOSE to the Wynfrey, but it wasn’t crowded and I was nervous and I felt a little better knowing that maybe I could CALM DOWN A SMIDGE on my walk to the hotel. Plus, I discovered as I walked through Sears that hammerhead auto-hammers were on sale for $99, and I would’ve completely missed that critical piece of info if I had parked, say, by the Belk’s. Or with the hotel valet. So clearly I made the right decision.

Also, I took this picture on my way to the hotel, but again, I have no explanation why.

Apparently I was feeling very impulsive and devil-may-care-ish last Wednesday.

I think we can all feel better now that we’ve seen such a stunning glimpse of Indoor Mall Architecture of the mid- to late- 80s. I know I do.

When I walked in the hotel there was all manner of activity going on in an area that’s called “Radio Row.” About 20 sports radio stations set up shop in the entry of the hotel during media days, and walking between all those tables is like being in a movie scene where all the supporting characters voice their opinions while rotating around the main character’s head. And I know that I’m probably not explaining that well, but four of you totally understood what I was trying to say, and I’m just as grateful as I can be for that. Apparently you four watched just as many John Hughes movies as I did.

After walking around for a few minutes I found my friend K at the registration tables, and I told her to put me to work – otherwise I’d just stand there and stare. She asked if I’d mind helping with lanyards and name tags, and of course I didn’t mind because I WAS JUST SO TICKLED TO BE THERE. Within five minutes I’d seen one of the men I mentioned earlier, another reporter who’s a bit of a legend in these parts, and a radio host/blogger from another state (known by Sister and me as the Chief Pot Stirrer during all the Cam Newton stuff). I didn’t say a word to any of the media folks, of course, mainly because I think I would have scared them if they knew how much I love to read what they write. And they probably would’ve thought I was a stalker. And then they might’ve called security. And what good is attending your first SEC Media Days if you have to be escorted back past the hammerhead auto-hammers as the nice men with badges are seeing you to your car?

When the registration stuff was almost over, we walked down the hall to a BEAUTIFUL lunch from the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism Bureau, a new corporate sponsor of the SEC. It was a big ole seafood spread, and oh, it was tasty. I happened to be sitting with some State fans at lunch, and it was big fun to talk about All Things Bulldogs over some fried shrimp, crabcakes and iced tea.

(Come to think of it, that last sentence could be the foundation of a pretty good country song.)

(Only the country song would have to be about beer and not iced tea, but DON’T TELL THE BAPTISTS OR THEY’LL KICK ME OUT.)

(Oh, I kid.)

(They’ll only kick me out if I’m dancing.)

After lunch we went upstairs to where all the coaches and players were speaking. The line-up for Wednesday was Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina and Mississippi State, and if you think I wasn’t over the moon about getting to see that last school, then perhaps I should introduce myself. As well as my MSU crazy.

Since I’d never been to media days before, I didn’t have any sort of frame of reference for the size of the event. And that’s why I was a smidge surprised when we walked into the room where the coaches were speaking and I saw how many reporters were in the room.

We rotated in and out of the big room for the rest of the day; we’d listen to a coach speak, then head in the direction of the conference rooms to watch the players move from TV interview to TV interview. The whole process is a well-oiled machine; it’s really well-done and so respectful of the coaches’ and players’ time. It also felt a little bit like a giant family reunion since a lot of the media relations people, reporters and SEC people have known each other for years. The SEC staff members were incredibly gracious and welcoming to everybody; it was impressive, really, to see how organized and efficient they were without seeming the least bit stressed or hurried.

Also, did I mention that I got to see the MSU quarterback? Because I totally got to see the MSU quarterback.

I have a feeling that he’s going to do great things for the Bulldogs this year.

The very last speaker of the day was Dan Mullen, MSU’s head coach, and to my credit I did not ring a cowbell (aye, and loudly) when he entered the room. I thought every coach did something really well when he spoke: Bobby Petrino maintained a calm optimism throughout his speech, Will Muschamp showed that he’s not afraid to coach with the big boys, Steve Spurrier won over every single person in the room with his dry wit and self deprecation.

And Dan Mullen? Oh, mercy. He proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s the best PR machine that Starkville and Mississippi State have ever had. I lived in Starkville for six years when I was in college and grad school, and by the end of Coach Mullen’s speech, I was ready to go home, pack some boxes, load up the family and move back to Starkvegas. He and his wife love it there, and their enthusiasm for Mississippi and her people is totally contagious.

Once Coach Mullen’s speech was over, my friend K gave me the best parting gift ever: a box filled with media guides for every single SEC school. You can imagine my delight. And you can also imagine that once football season starts I will DRIVE MY PEOPLE CUCKOO when I pull out the media guides for whatever two teams happen to be playing. Because Mama here will want to SHARE SOME PLAYER NAMES AND STATISTICS. Oh yes ma’am I will.

All in all it was an absolutely incredible day. I got to see so many writers I admire, and I also got a little spring in my step when I realized that FOOTBALL SEASON, IT IS UPON US. I cannot wait. And while I’ve always been proud to cheer for a school that’s part of the SEC, I think I’ll be even more proud this year. Because the folks that I met at media days? They’re good people. They work hard. They work well.

And they work with their sponsors to make sure that there’s an endless array of fountain drinks and Golden Flake potato chips right outside the print media room.

Honestly, what’s not to love?

Go ‘Dogs.

A Milestone

I know – I KNOW – that I’ve blogged a whole lot about fried chicken over the last 5 1/2 years. I’m guessing that the only topics I’ve mentioned more are bacon and Mississippi State. And I imagine that if I ever find myself in a situation where I experience fried chicken, bacon, and a Mississippi State sporting event all at the same time, my head will spin around in circles and steam will pour out of my ears while I ring a cowbell with one hand and wave a chicken leg with the other.

Well.

I’m in Charlotte for a few days, blogging and helping out at Living Proof Live, and last night I went to supper with a group of friends who are also here for the event. We had reservations at a place called The King’s Kitchen, and before we got there I was so excited, mainly because I’d heard what they are all about – and that they serve local Southern food.

And also because I didn’t have lunch yesterday.

And also because I was burning up hot and really, really wanted some good iced tea.

Well.

As soon as I saw the menu, I knew that we were in for a treat.


I mean, listen. There’s no way to go wrong with something called “Aunt Beaut’s Skillet Fried Chicken.” So that’s exactly what I decided to order – with creamed potatoes, fried green beans, and collards. I didn’t even know what fried green beans would taste like, but the menu said they were “Rosa’s Fried Green Beans,” and in my experience a Southern dish that has someone’s name attached to it is almost always worth a try.

I was also encouraged by the restaurant’s slogan at the bottom of the menu:

OH, COME ON. Yes ma’am. Eat some chicken and feed somebody. Yes ma’am. That is a noble calling. I almost had to pick up my white napkin and wave it in the air.

Our waiter (who was darlin’) brought us biscuits and cornbread before the meal, and they were delicious. But would the fried chicken live up to my expectations? Would the food be underseasoned? Would the creamed potatoes be the real deal?

So the food arrived. I spent about a minute just staring at it.

And y’all – oh my goodness. It was the fried chicken of my life. OF MY LIFE. It reminded me so much of my Mamaw Davis’ that I felt a little teary-eyed. The chicken had the perfect amount of crust on it, and it had been dredged in some well-seasoned flour. I’m almost positive that it spent a day or two soaking in buttermilk (and maybe a little hot sauce) before it was fried, too. The creamed potatoes were buttery and delicious, the collards were fresh and hadn’t been cooked down so far that they’d lost all texture, and the green beans were perfection. I think they’d been cooked like normal in a pot, then reheated in a hot skillet.

Just FYI: I’d give anything to have a whole pot of them right about now.

Dessert was homemade banana pudding – complete with homemade vanilla wafers – and I have to quit talking about it because I’m making myself way too hungry.

So, to sum up: 1) incredible meal 2) fried chicken of my life and 3) FRIED CHICKEN OF MY LIFE.

I never even saw it coming. But oh, I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.

Hallelujah and amen.
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Two things: 1) The bodycology rich&creamy giveaway is up and running for a few more days and 2) you can win TWO free tickets to .MOM over at AllAccess.

It. Was. Glorious.

Today I went to SEC Media Days for the very first time. It will probably come as no surprise that I loved every single second of it. And I have every intention of boring you to tears (TO TEARS) with all my pictures and thoughts and favorite moments and etc.

But right now I’m wiped out, not to mention that I need to finish packing for my last bloggy trip of the summer and a flight that leaves early tomorrow morning.

So consider this post a bit of a placeholder. But if you’re an SEC fan, you can watch the Media Days coverage live tomorrow and Friday on the SEC Digital Network, ESPN3, or via the free Watch ESPN app. The festivities start in the morning at 9:30 eastern, I think.

All righty. There you have it. It’s been a good, full, happy day.

Go ‘Dogs.