Archives for December 2011

Pretend This Title Is Clever

Well, I accomplished some goals over the weekend.

First of all, I addressed all of our Christmas cards Saturday morning. You might not think that’s a big deal, but the Christmas cards snuck up on me this year. It was only last Thursday afternoon when I thought, “WAIT! HOLD ON! MUST TAKE CHRISTMAS CARD PICTURE,” at which point I called the young’un to the den, asked him to stand in front of the tree, snapped approximately three pictures with my phone and then called it a day for Christmas Card Photo Shoot 2011.

It was pretty much the polar opposite of 2003 when we gingerly laid a blanket on the beach at Gulf Shores and then did our level best to fill up the camera’s memory card in the hopes of getting the perfect shot.

This is just a small sampling, of course, but CLEARLY THEY WERE ALL SO DIFFERENT.

After I finished addressing this year’s envelopes, I patted myself on the back and then headed out to do a little Christmas shopping since I was looking for a way to really wind down and decompress on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. After all, what could be more relaxing than sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic and then navigating jam-packed parking lots? It was like a day at the spa, really.

I have to say, though, that it could have been a lot worse. The traffic was terrible, but I managed to cross off the bulk of my to-do list and afterwards I got to go out for Chinese food with my people. I’ve never really considered the egg roll as a reward for a busy afternoon of Christmas shopping, but after our exceptional egg roll experience Saturday night, I am definitely of the belief that YES. THE EGG ROLL IS A REWARD.

On top of all that, yesterday was about as relaxing as a day can be. After church we grabbed some lunch and then went to the grocery store to get a few things for supper (that’s how things go in the South, you know – we finish one meal and immediately start planning the next). More than anything I wanted to be able to STAY PUT once we got home, so I actually didn’t mind planning supper five minutes after we put down our forks at lunch. I had a greater good in mind, and that greater good involved putting on some pajamas and settling in for an afternoon of quality time with the DVR.

Hallelujah and amen.

My plan was totally successful, and as a result I am happy to announce that I am completely caught up on Revenge, Modern Family, Top Chef and Survivor. You can’t even imagine how much better I feel now that a considerable portion of my TV burden has been lifted. Granted, I’m likely to confuse plot lines if anyone asks me for details about any of the aforementioned shows, but I think it’s slightly plausible that Padma Lakshmi, in an attempt to avenge her father’s death, moves to a remote island with her son, Manny, and tries to punish her Hamptons neighbors through a series of high-pressure cooking challenges that are hosted by Phil Dunphy.

Makes total sense to me.

20 Teen-Friendly Gifts Under $20 (2011 Edition)

One of the greatest blessings in my life is that every single week I get to hang out with some darlin’ high school girls. They make me laugh and make me think and ensure that I don’t give in to the temptation of wearing a consistent uniform of my husband’s old Oxford shirts with some acid-washed Mom Jeans. Because no kidding: if you need some fashion-related accountability in your life, a group of 17-18 year-old girls will be more than happy to link arms and walk that narrow road with you. THEY DON’T MESS AROUND.

Last year some of the girls were kind enough to share a few Christmas gift ideas that I used in a post, and since I referred back to that list about 46 times when I was Christmas shopping, I decided I’d do another gift guide this year. As I’ve said before, I certainly don’t think that the point of Christmas is to smother America’s youth in LO, EVEN MORE STUFF, but when I do give a gift to a teenager in our family, it surely is nice to know that he or she might just use it and enjoy it.

Anyway, here are this year’s gift ideas for teenage girls (there aren’t any affiliate links, just in case you were wondering). And many, many thanks to “the girls” for their help. They’re the best.

Erin Condren Personalized Notepads – I am crazy about the modern designs, and I think any girl would be thrilled to receive these notepads as a Christmas gift. Also, the Fleur Feliz design may be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. EVER.

HUE Tights – The teenagers aren’t afraid of bold patterns or bright colors. And I can sort of relate to their fashion fearlessness considering that I spent a significant portion of the late 80s wearing neon yellow in any form I could find it. EVEN A JUMPSUIT.

French Bull Platter – These are such cute, colorful acrylic pieces to use on a bathroom counter or dresser. They’re practical and stylish – a winning combination.

BDG Cable Convertible Glove – It’s a mitten! But it converts to a fingerless glove! So your hands can stay warm while you’re texting! ISN’T THAT JUST GENIUS?

Custom Monogrammed Acrylic Tumblers – If these had been around when I was in high school, I would have had about five different tumblers in rotation. Depending on which font and color best suited my mood, of course.

Acorn Fleece Socks – I gave Sister a pair of these last year, I think, and she loved them so much that she may have composed some sort of ode that she read aloud while accompanied by the melodious sound of a pan flute. Or maybe she just told me that she really liked them. Regardless, there are tons of cute patterns, and I’m especially partial to Chocolate Dots, Pink Dots and Fun Stripe.

Time Keeps On Ticking Watch in Neon – I may have to get one of these for myself. Even though I’ve tried to put the 80s behind me, I’m still drawn to bright colors like a moth to flame.

Embroidered Penguin Classics – No lie. This particular cover of Emma makes me swoon a little bit. Beautiful.

Staring At Space Dyed Arm Warmer – If I were way younger and way cooler and way more confident about my accessory choices, I would WEAR THESE OUT. They’re perfect for a teenage girl who’s very hip and with it and now.

Women’s Printed Flannel Lounge Pants – Everybody sleeps. And everybody likes to be comfortable. That makes these lounge pants SOLID GOLD, my friends.

Vanilla Bean WoodWick Candle – These candles smell great, and as an added bonus, THEY MAKE A CRACKLING SOUND. Perfection.

Vanilla Bean WoodWick Diffusers – Apparently the vanilla-scented goodness is very popular indeed, and several of the girls mentioned how much they enjoy having diffusers in their rooms. I might be tempted to go with the lavender or linen scents as opposed to vanilla, but that’s just me. I’m wacky like that.

Eddie Bauer Novelty Stripe Boot Socks – I’m a fan of the way “the kids” are wearing high socks with their boots so that the tops of the socks peek out. These Eddie Bauer boot socks will look great with just about anything – and they’ll keep those little tootsies warm, too.

(Did I just say “little tootsies”?)

(Apparently I am now 95 years old.)

Owl Help You Keychain – It’s adorable. It’s functional. And it’s guaranteed to make its owner smile.

Nations Outfitters Simplicity Scarves – Okay. So technically this one isn’t under $20. It’s actually $20 on the nose. But WE’RE ONLY TALKING ABOUT A PENNY, PEOPLE. This scarf’s length makes it super versatile, and the colors are basic enough that they’ll go with anything and everything.

Gussy Sews Headband – They’re sassy, colorful, handmade and ruffle-y. What’s not to love?

– – Grown-ups put crackle finishes on tables. Teenage girls like to put a crackle finish on their nails. I can’t pretend to understand, but I will support their crackle vision.

Jeremiah 29:11 Bible Verse Hand-drawn Art – This print + a simple frame from World Market or Target = a keepsake that someone can keep forever.

Rubie Pebbles Woven Ring – Lots of girls enjoy a statement ring, and Ruche always has a great assortment at really reasonable prices.

iTunes Gift Card – The girls vow that this particular gift never gets old. And I am prone to agree with them.

Happy gift-giving, everybody!

An Exercise In Futility

This past Saturday my fellas went camping, and oh, I had some plans. I was going to finish decorating for Christmas, write a couple of posts for Ree, watch the SEC Championship game, order sushi, write some more posts for this blog, catch up on laundry and clean out our refrigerator. Then I thought I might paint the house and re-landscape our backyard just for kicks. After I split an atom, of course.

My point is that I was feeling very industrious and goal-oriented and whathaveyou about my “home alone” time. So about 12:30 Saturday afternoon, I said good-bye to my people, shut the door, and here is what I did for the next 12 hours:

1) napped
2) finished decorating for Christmas
3) felt vaguely unsettled by all the quiet
4) watched the SEC Championship game
5) ordered sushi
6) washed four or nineteen loads of clothes

But alas, there was no writing. Not even a hint of writing. Not even a smidge.

There was no refrigerator cleaning, either, but for some reason I didn’t seem to miss that part as much as I missed the writing part. Go figure.

And once Monday arrived, I hit the ground running. I don’t blog about work because BOUNDARIES, THEY ARE HEALTHY AND GOOD, but I think it’s perfectly fine to mention that this week has been and will continue to be a little CUCKOO-KA-CRAZY, as evidenced by the fact that I just sat here for about five minutes trying to remember if today is Tuesday or Wednesday. And listen. For about two of those minutes I was totally convinced that it’s Wednesday and that I’d completely forgotten about Bible study, but then I realized it’s only Tuesday. However, the only reason that I realized that it’s Tuesday is because I looked up in the right corner of my computer and saw this reminder.

Basically that’s what things have come to around here: an increased dependence on calendars and calendar-related alerts. This morning I actually set the calendar on my phone to remind me about three different things at 4:00 this afternoon, and then I realized that I could set my reminders, too, so at 4 my phone pretty much screamed at me and I was all, “CALM DOWN, GLADYS – YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SO LOUD,” but by diggity I checked a few more things off of my list, cooked supper, looked around the Facebook and the Twitter and then sat down here so that I could wonder what day it is.

But now I know.

See? I totally remembered.

Oh! I forgot to mention that Sunday night I watched all 16 1/2 hours of the bowl selection show on ESPN, and I’m now convinced that the whole bowl selection extravaganza is nothing more than an excuse for four grown men to sit around in suits while they watch 30-second college football highlights. It was perhaps the most boring 44 hours of television that I have ever witnessed, but I felt like I needed to stick with it just so I could make sure – MAKE COMPLETELY SURE – that State was headed to the Music City Bowl. Somewhere around hour 62 they mentioned that State was going to be playing Wake Forest in Nashville, and then they talked about our team for 15 whole seconds and the end.

So I guess what I’m saying is that while I’m tickled that State is going to a bowl game in a city that I love, the official announcement was a little anti-climactic. And in that respect I suppose that it has a great deal in common with, you know, this post.

Because sweet mercy at the boring. Can I offer you some coffee or some chocolate to make this experience more enjoyable? Or, better yet – a peppermint mocha?

What about an update on the day and time?

You’re welcome.

And also: TOMORROW WILL BE WEDNESDAY.

Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance to you and your naming-the-day-of-the-week needs.

Somebody’s Mailbox Is About To Get A Makeover

All righty. I have closed the comments. I have consulted random.org. I have eaten two Reese’s Miniatures in the last 30 minutes.

But that’s really neither here nor there.

Anyway, WE HAVE A WINNER for the Christmas mailbox arrangement from AKT Designs.

And the winner is…

Congratulations, Stephanie! You should find an email in your inbox with further instructions.

That last line made it sound like I’m about to send Stephanie on a secret mission.

I assure you that is not the case.

Thanks for the great response, y’all – and if you ever find yourself in need of a talented, reasonably priced, totally relaxed but super-creative floral designer, Alison is your girl.

Hope y’all have had a great day!

Edited to add: Stephanie and I emailed last night, and as it turns out she doesn’t live in the Birmingham area. She graciously suggested that I should select another winner who’s local, so the NEW winner is…

Congratulations, Lisa! I’m about to send you an email.

A Fine Way To Start Your Saturday

This post by Angie is absolutely beautiful.

Happy Weekend, y’all.

A Special Christmas Giveaway from AKT Designs

Not too long after we moved to Birmingham – way back in ye olden days of 2000 – I met my friend Alison. It would take me thousands of words to explain what she and her sweet parents (her daddy used to be my boss; her mama is my Bible study leader) have meant to me over the last 11 1/2 years, so just suffice it to say that I can’t talk about their family for very long without fighting back tears. I will never, ever forget the countless ways Alison and her precious mama welcomed me to this city; their friendship is one reason why Birmingham immediately felt like home to me.

You may be picking up on the fact that I just love them to pieces.

A few years ago Alison started her own floral design business, and I am consistently blown away by her work. She’s so creative, so deliberate, so thoughtful in everything that she does, and she has such a gift for taking ordinary objects and using them in surprising, extraordinary ways. Lately she’s been doing lots of weddings in and around Birmingham, and during the holidays she branches out (is that a bad pun? I do apologize) and makes the prettiest arrangements for mailboxes (and front doors! and mantels! and dining room tables!) that you ever did see. As a matter of fact, last year I loved the arrangement on our mailbox so much that I left it up until ’bout near February.

TAKE THAT, HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION.

I’m only half-kidding.

Because just look at how pretty these are.


In the interest of spreading a little Christmas cheer, Alison has graciously agreed to give away one of her original designs for a lucky blog reader’s mailbox. Obviously she can’t travel to, you know, WISCONSIN, but she’s definitely willing to travel within a 60-mile radius of Birmingham in order to deliver the winner’s prize. So let’s say that our giveaway borders are Cullman to the north, Tuscaloosa to the west, Montgomery to the south, and Oxford to the east. If you live within that great big circle, you’re good to go giveaway-wise.

(By the way, I don’t have any idea how many Birmingham-area people read my blog, but in my head it’s somewhere around seven.)

(Given that, I think the odds for winning this particular giveaway are mighty strong indeed.)

(Also: if you don’t live in this area but would love to try to win the giveaway for a friend or relative who does live here, that is totally fine with me. Just please make sure that the person lives within a 60-mile radius of the ‘Ham.)

(And if your house doesn’t have a curbside mailbox, Alison will make an arrangement for your front door. Which is pretty sassy if you ask me.)

If you’d like to win one of Alison’s custom greenery designs for your (or a friend’s) Christmas mailbox, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post that answers the following question: what are your favorite colors to use when you decorate for the holidays? Are you a traditionalist who likes red and green? Do you throw a little turquoise or hot pink in the mix? Maybe a hint of lime green? Or are you more of a metallics girl?

I’ll leave the comments open until Monday, December 5 at noon central time, at which point I’ll draw for a winner using random.org. I’ll notify the winner via email, and if that person doesn’t respond within 72 hours, I’ll draw for another winner.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Just so you know: this is not a sponsored post. Nobody gave me anything free in exchange for this post. Unless you count all those times that Alison and/or her mama hosted Bunco back in 2001 and we had some really good snacks. The end.

This giveaway is now closed.