Archives for February 2012

It’s A Sign (No, Really. It’s Literally A Sign.)

A little over a month ago I was reading Paige’s blog when I saw a picture of a custom sign that a couple from Athens, Georgia made for her kitchen. Paige had the sign personalized with one of her favorite quotes, and as I read Paige’s post and pondered the wonderfulness of that big ole wooden sign (it’s 4 ft. by 2 ft. – BIG), a thought began to crystallize in my mind: OH. I’VE GOT TO GET ME ONE OF THOSE.

I thought long and hard about that sign for the rest of the day. I really loved the idea of using a quote that’s special to our family. Plus, the last six months have been sort of a crazy adventure in more ways than one, so I figured that if the sign also served as a sweet reminder of this particular time of our lives, then all the better.

I had the best time thinking of quotes and/or verses that might be fun to use. Once I narrowed down the list, a quote from Peace Like A River was the early frontrunner, but then I remembered that when Alex and I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe a couple of years ago, there was one section particular that left me so choked up that I could barely read.

And when I remembered that quote? I ordered our little family a sign. Oh yes ma’am I did.

Last Monday I walked in our front door after my night-o-writing at a hotel, and I was tickled – TICKLED, I tell you – to see a very big cardboard box in our foyer. Alex and I opened it, and y’all, I really could have cried. I love our sign so much. And my hope is that the sign will be passed down in our family for many generations to come.

And now, if you sit on one of our sofas and look in the direction of the front door, this is what you see.

(Except that it wouldn’t be blurry in real life.)

(I just happen to have some crackerjack photography skills.)

(Also, it’s now a smidge higher on the wall because I felt like it needed to be above the light switch.)

(I may change my mind tomorrow, though.)

After D and I hung the picture, the little man stood in front of it for a little while. After a few minutes he said, “Mama? That’s a quote from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, isn’t it? Thanks for having that quote put on there. That means a lot to me.”

Oh my goodness it made me smile.

If you’d like pricing and shipping information about a sign of your own, email Andy and Tara at andrewshanelowry@gmail.com. If you mention BOOMAMA in the subject line of your email, they’ll give you 10% off your order during the month of March. That’s mighty sweet of them, I think.

And I speak from experience when I say that your sign will bless your heart every single time you pass it in your den or hallway or kitchen or wherever.

(Just trying to give you an idea about what the sides look like.)

(I apologize again for my sub-par photography.)

(Be sure to let me know if you’d like for me to photograph your wedding or other special events.)

We are crazy about our sign, and you will be crazy about yours, too. Let me know if you decide to order one!

Happy Thursday, y’all.

I’ve Been Very Busy At The Abbey

1. Last night I didn’t watch a single second of the Academy Awards.

2. I didn’t even watch the Red Carpet.

3. Normally I will DVR the Red Carpet stuff since I like to see what everyone is wearing.

4. But last night I didn’t DVR a thing.

5. Because, well, I’ve gotten a little obsessed with something else.

6. And I’m betting that 80% of y’all are also obsessed – or have been obsessed – but I just happen to be late to this particular party.

7. You see, I was planning to write all day this past Saturday (and I actually followed through with my plan).

8. So, since Saturday was going to be a Get ‘Er Done day for book stuff, I decided that I wanted to relax Friday night.

9. And for whatever reason, I decided that I wanted to see what all the Downton Abbey fuss was about.

10. Keep in mind that I don’t normally like to watch TV shows that take place too far in the past because the lack of central air conditioning in the pretend characters’ pretend homes and businesses makes me feel a little claustrophobic.

11. Needless to say, I didn’t know if I’d make it fifteen minutes into Downton Abbey without sprialing into a flat-out oh-my-word-they-must-be-burning-up-would-you-just-look-at-those-corsets panic.

12. Much to my surprise, though, the female characters seemed crisp and cool and refreshed.

13. Also, it seems like Yorkshire isn’t very humid at all.

14. You can’t even imagine how relieved I was.

15. And once I was certain that the Granthams weren’t suffering in the sweltering, non-air conditioned indoors, I finished the first episode of season one and decided to watch the second.

16. Then I watched the third.

17. Then I wrote all day Saturday, as was my plan.

18. But when I finished writing Saturday night around 8, I watched the rest of season 1.

19. I may have dreamed about Mary and Matthew.

20. After we got home from church yesterday and my people settled into some reading, I watched episode 1 of season 2.

21. Then I watched episodes 2 and 3.

22. Afterwards I grieved the difficulties of wartime while I very distractedly made a grilled cheese sandwich for the eight year-old.

23. Then I watched episodes 4 and 5.

24. Then I realized that I HAVE AN ADDICTION, SIR.

25. I am currently halfway through episode 6.

26. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish episode 7.

27. But I think I will probably see if my family would like to move to the English countryside.

28. We’ll be very happy there, I think.

29. Provided, of course, that we can find a home with central air conditioning.

30. And if the home is next door to the Dowager Countess, all the better.

Ever so fondly,
Lady Boo of Birminghamshire

p.s. I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH.

A Few Friday Favorites

1. A letter to a Pretty Girl

My friend Annie’s most recent post is so good. Chock-full-o-wisdom for teenage girls. And for 20-somethings. And for any-somethings, really.

2. Lisa Leonard pearl by pearl earrings

I think these earrings are the perfect blend of modern and traditional. You could wear them on your wedding day, or you could wear them with jeans and a cute t-shirt. Love.

3. Otterbox Defender iPhone Case

I’m one of those people who thinks the trouble that we’ll go to to protect, you know, OUR TELEPHONES is sort of ridiculous. But when we switched cell phone providers and got new phones a few months ago, I realized that my tendency to drop my phone + a fragile phone = a need for a good cell phone case. I asked D to order me the heavy-duty case of his choosing – just to please get it in turquoise if he could.

I thought that the turquoise might make me feel better about turning my cute new phone into a glorified vinyl brick.

I have to say, though, that I have adored my heavy-duty Otterbox Defender case. It’s very grippy, so it makes the phone easy to hold, and the grippy stuff also keeps the phone from sliding around on my desk or passenger seat or wherever. There’s also a protective screen that goes on top of the real screen, so there’s no risk of the phone getting scratched up in my purse. AND, when I *may* have accidentally dropped my phone on our garage floor a few weeks ago, I picked it up – fully prepared to see all manner of shattered glass – and the phone was totally fine.

Otterbox, you’ve made a believer out of me.

4. OPI I Have A Herring Problem

I have worn all sorts of gray polish the last six months. Gray with a touch of green? Check. Gray with a touch of brown? Check. Gray with a touch of purple? Checkity check check.

I’m a little gray’d out. So when I saw this shimmery dark blue the other day, I thought it looked like a fun change-o-pace. I’ll let you know how it goes after my next trip to the nail salon.

5. Ben Rector – “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

Like most people, I was so sad when I heard the news about Whitney Houston’s death a couple of weeks ago. I have loads of great memories associated with her music – which is why this Ben Rector video made my heart smile.

Have a great weekend, y’all.

I Like Cheese. And Also Crackers.

There’s a restaurant here in Birmingham that serves what is, in my opinion, the best chicken salad on the planet. I’m not the only person who recognizes this restaurant’s chicken salad supremacy; in fact, the last time I was there with a couple of my out-of-town friends, they said really enthusiastic things like, “OH MY WORD THIS CHICKEN SALAD IS DELICIOUS” and “YOU WERE NOT KIDDING ABOUT THIS CHICKEN SALAD.”

It is awfully tasty.

But about a year ago, I went to Chicken Salad Heaven (alas, that is not the restaurant’s real name, but it would be an appropriate name nonetheless) with my friend Leigh, and I realized that I wasn’t in the mood for chicken salad. Not being in the mood for chicken salad has only happened to me maybe three other times in my life, so it took me a moment to process this strange and confusing development. However, after I looked at the menu for about 30 seconds, I knew exactly what I wanted to order instead of my regular chicken salad plate: The Cheese Plate.

And that cheese plate?

Well, it may have changed my life.

When the cheese plate (or, I should say, The Cheese Plate) arrived at our table, the first thing I noticed that it was gorgeous. There were four or five varieties of cheeses – some sharp, some mild, some soft, some creamy – along with a beautifully arranged assortment of crackers. I had so much fun trying this cheese with that cracker, figuring out what combinations worked best – it was like the happiest little food experiment ever.

And yep, I really did write that last paragraph. And you know what else? I MEANT IT.

SO, ever since that fateful day at Chicken Salad Heaven, I’ve had a renewed appreciation for cheese and crackers. I’ve been a little cuckoo for cheese and crackers, to be perfectly honest. The only problem is that my husband and my child do not share my affinity for the cheese and crackers combo, and unfortunately they do not consider cheese and crackers to be the most delicious supper in the history of all suppers. It would make meal planning so much easier if they did. As you might imagine, I am praying that we will be able to work through our cheese and crackers differences and trusting the Lord to fill our gaps.

Even still, there have been a few times recently when my cheese and crackers cup has overflowed, so to speak. Weekend before last some friends and I had a little girls’ night in, and would you look – JUST LOOK – at the bounty we enjoyed?

(I apologize for the seasonal cheese spreaders. I was experiencing an unexpected spreader shortage.)

(Yes. I know that is spinach dip. And I know that spinach dip isn’t really in the cheese family. But I felt that we needed a vegetable in the midst of all that dairy.)

Y’all. It was all so delicious. There were about four crackers and six little bites of cheese left at the end of the night, but other than that, we SHUT ‘ER DOWN. I could clap my hands just thinking about it.

And because I am a total nerd when it comes to crackers, I took a picture of some of my favorites. I keep these on hand pretty much all the time. I would hate to be unprepared in the event of a crackers emergency.

My favorite variety of the Lavasch crackers is Everything – oh my goodness they are a treat. I accidentally picked up sesame the last time I bought them, and the sesame will do in a pinch. But the Everything – well, as Rachel Zoe might say, it is everything.

I also love the herb Mary’s Gone Crackers (they might be my all-time favorite), but they’re not in the picture because, well, I finished the box that we had and now I need to buy some more.

As far as cheese goes, here’s what I like: all of it.

What about y’all? Are any of you fans of cheese and crackers? And even better: do you have any cheese and/or crackers suggestions?

(Just thinking about comments devoted solely to cheese and crackers makes me so happy.)

(Is that weird?)

(Please don’t tell me if it’s weird.)

(But I’m pretty sure that it’s weird.)

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn

So far the trickiest part of trying to write this thing they call a book is finding pockets of quiet where I can concentrate and write for an extended period of time. Oh, there’s that pesky business of wanting to have something to say, of course, but I try not to let that part bother me too much. If all else fails I’ll resort to one- or two-word chapters that feature grocery store items that excite me.

Bacon!

Cheez-Its!

Laughing Cow!

Asparagus!

Peanut butter!

See? That’s five chapters. I’m almost half finished.

My work schedule means that most of my mornings and early afternoons are booked solid, and once I pick up the little guy and we head home, we usually tackle homework and then have some assortment of buddies here until 5 or 5:30. That is not a complaint at all; it really does bring me great joy to have a few extra young’uns here in the afternoons. Plus, I definitely don’t want Alex to look back on this time in our lives and think Hey. Remember when my mama wrote that book and she needed for the house to be quiet and my friends quit coming over to play? THAT WAS TERRIBLE.

A couple of weeks ago D and I realized that in order for me to meet my deadline without going Cuckoo McCrazy, we needed to figure out a way to re-purpose some of our time. Maybe he’ll pick up A from school a couple of times a week so that I can go to Panera for a few hours. Maybe he and A will do some fun father-son something-or-other so that I can have four or five hours to write on a Saturday morning. Or maybe every once in awhile I’ll go somewhere by myself for a night and try to build a little writing momentum with all that uninterrupted time.

All that to say: we have options now. And I am such a fan of options.

So yesterday, after we came home from church and ate lunch, I packed a little bag, grabbed my laptop, and drove myself to a hotel. Well, technically I drove to Starbucks first, but that probably goes without saying. Mama’s brain has to have fuel, after all.

I reserved a room through Priceline, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but there were two things that brought me untold joy after I checked in: 1) my room was at the end of the building, and to me that meant that my room would be at least 50% more quiet, and 2) my room was directly across from the ice machine. I know it’s weird, but one of my favorite things in life is to fill up a glass with ice, then let the ice melt a little bit before I enjoy the COLDEST ICE WATER EVER. The proximity of the ice machine meant that all my ice water dreams were quite literally within my reach.

Somebody give the Lord a handclap of praise.

Brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

And this desk? With its adjustable office chair?

It was a perfect little writing spot. However, I should probably explain that I took this picture when I was in the process of unpacking my stuff, which is why my hair spray is hanging out next to my coffee. I certainly wasn’t styling my hair while I was sitting at the computer, though I guess stranger things have happened.

I wondered when I checked in yesterday if I’d actually be productive, if I’d be able to justify the not-quite 24 hours that I spent by myself while D held down the fort at home. But oh my goodness, that chunk of time at the hotel was such a gift. I didn’t sleep that much, but I wrote a whole bunch – more than I expected, even. By the time I walked through our front door early this afternoon, I felt like the book load was a wee bit lighter. Granted, I have a long (loooooong) way to go, but I’m closer to the end than I was when I climbed out of bed Sunday morning.

Last thing. Right now I’m not planning to do much updating on the book stuff, mainly because I don’t know how to write about it without boring you to tears, not to mention that I really like to blog about the important issues in life – things like snack crackers and reality television and my current goal of learning how to apply eyeshadow with brushes instead of those little sponge applicators. Tonight, however, I wrote about the book-related stuff because the hotel thing was a bit of a novelty, but tomorrow I plan to devote my full attention to my current food obsession: cheese and crackers.

Clearly, bloggy people, THE EXCITEMENT NEVER ENDS.

Love,
Me

A Few Friday Favorites

1. Voluspa Goji Tarocco Orange candle

This candle is the hands-down, no question, not-even-a-contest best candle I’ve ever owned. It’s sublime, really – a perfect mixture of floral and citrus with just a hint of spice mixed in. Plus, it makes the whole house smell great, not just the room where it’s burning.

2. Udi’s Natural Artisan Granola

I like to make my own granola, but lately things have been a little cuckoo and it’s just been easier to pick up a bag at the store. The Udi’s Original is my favorite store-bought version that I’ve tried so far. It’s not greasy at all, and it’s not in big huge chunks, so I don’t feel like I’m trying to break open a rock when I eat it. I love the pistachios and bananas chips – oh-so-delicious!

3. Sesmark Rice Thins – Sesame

I’ve been buying these crackers for a couple of years, and I’m still amazed by how great they taste with, well, anything. They’re gluten-free, which is a delightful bonus, but mainly they’re crispy and tasty and perfect for dipping.

4. Erin Condren Life Planner

I have tried to be one of those people who keeps a calendar on my computer. I HAVE TRIED. But at the end of the day, I can’t shake my love for writing everything out on a calendar. Yes, my phone has a great little calendar app, but I can’t use colorful Sharpies on that calendar app. End of story.

After my beloved Blue Dog 12-month desk calendar was (apparently) discontinued, I finally broke down and bought an Erin Condren Life Planner. It’s a little pricier than my normal calendars, but if you’re patient, you can get a good deal by using a coupon code. All of the designs are great-looking, and I had the best time figuring out how I wanted to personalize my planner cover. Right now you can get 40% off a personalized gift label / life planner combo while supplies last – just use the coupon code ILOVEACOMBO at check-out.

(Nobody from Erin Condren contacted me about mentioning that, by the way.)

(I just saw it in an email from them, so I thought I’d share it.)

5. Cheeky Maiden Facial Soap

I know that it’s a tiny picture, so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that there is a whole lot of goodness in that little bar of soap. It’s 100% natural, smells great (lemongrass & tea tree oil? I believe I will), and it has made my skin very happy indeed. Plus, it’s only $2.99. TWO DOLLARS AND NINETY NINE CENTS, PEOPLE.

6. Obagi 5% Vitamin C Serum for Eye Area

One of the great ironies at this stage in my life is that waking up in the mornings and hopping out of bed is easier than it’s ever been, but sometimes it takes my eyes a couple of hours to catch up with what my body is doing. I’ve tried a couple of different eye creams, and while they kept the under-eye area moisturized, they didn’t really help with puffiness. But this Obagi Vitamin C Serum is a wonder. I dab it under my eyes after I wash my face in the mornings, and it has helped the skin underneath my eyes so much. There are some stronger percentages of Vitamin C Serum available, but the 5% is perfect for me – doesn’t make my skin dry, doesn’t cause peeling.

All righty. I need to go light my candle before I wash my face and put Vitamin C under my eyes so that I can eat granola and sesame crackers while I consult my calendar to see what I need to do today.

Or something like that.

Have a great weekend, y’all!