Archives for October 2012

A Diversionary Soup Option

It has been delightfully cool here for the past few days (as opposed to this past Saturday night, which certainly was cool but most definitely not delightful), and that means that we are once again enjoying things like yoga pants and long sleeve t-shirts and fleece-lined slippers. And when I say “we,” please know that I am really only referring to myself since neither of the fellas in this house is really big on yoga pants.

However, if they ever tried the yoga pants? LIVES CHANGED FOREVER.

Anyway, the cool weather always makes me crave soup, but I have to be careful about fixing soup because, as I have mentioned before, I am married to someone who feels that soup is not a meal. He sees soup as more of an appetizer, so unless I find a recipe that’s super-hearty, I don’t usually make a lot of new soups. I just stick with the old stand-bys. Now I personally happen to love and adore and treasure soup, but it’s not nearly as fun to make it for supper when two people may or may not look at you after they finish a bowl and say, “So. Are we having anything else?”

I’m gonna be honest. That’s usually the moment when I want to go all Zorba the Greek with the soup bowls and just slam them right down to the ground. I don’t actually do that, of course, but that’s mainly because I like my bowls and really don’t want to go to the hassle of replacing them. Not to mention having to sweep up all those pesky shards.

But this past Sunday afternoon I was watching the most recent episode of Trisha Yearwood’s cooking show (which I adore, by the way), and she made a tortilla soup that looked absolutely delicious. I decided that I had to try it – regardless of whether or not it was perceived as a starter course – so Monday afternoon I went to the store and rounded up all the ingredients. It was super easy to make (I even used a rotisserie chicken as a shortcut), and the flavor is out of this world. It’s the perfect mixture of broth-y and creamy, and get this: my husband LOVED IT. He mentioned two or three times that it was absolutely delicious, and tonight he was happy as could be that we were having leftover tortilla soup for supper.

THIS REACTION IS UNPRECEDENTED.

Next time I might add an extra can of each of the vegetables to make the soup even heartier – more of a chicken tortilla chili, I guess – but the recipe is so tasty as-is. I think y’all will enjoy it.

Trisha’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

That recipe might be just the thing for your Wednesday.

And finally: I have been riveted by the Sandy coverage over the last couple of days, and my heart goes out to all of you who have been affected by the storm. Know that you’re in my prayers. Stay safe.

A Mighty Wind

It was last Wednesday, I think, when the Student Association president at State tweeted a picture of a sign that said, “We Believe 8-0.” She announced that some students were starting a movement, and they encouraged all Bulldog fans to make We Believe signs to encourage our football team that they’d be 8-0 after the Bama game. I thought her idea was a great one, but in all honesty I wondered if it would catch on. After all, when most people announce that they want to start a movement or launch a crusade or go viral or whatever, my first reaction is a teensy bit on the skeptical side because I tend to think that sort of thing works better when it’s organic.

However, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that I don’t really know anything about anything. And also that I am pretty much a marketing person’s worst nightmare because my response to any sort of strategy is usually somewhere along the lines of Hey, I’m really more of a behind the scenes person, and I’m not real big on networking-type stuff, so how about we just all get some fried chicken and talk about last night’s episode of Scandal? Does that work for y’all?

Apparently, though, the SA president at State knew exactly what she was doing (ah, youthful courage and moxie – I do envy you), because by late Wednesday afternoon, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were COVERED UP with #WeBelieve pictures and posts. It was everywhere. And by Wednesday night, my inner skeptic was dead and buried, which means that I totally jumped on the #WeBelieve bandwagon and snapped this picture of my child.

OH YES I DID.

The whole #WeBelieve thing turned out to be so fun and so heartwarming. And by the time Sister rolled in to Birmingham Friday night, we were both just as fired up as we could be about going to Tuscaloosa on Saturday. We woke up Saturday morning, watched a little GameDay, then started getting ready so that we could meet some friends for lunch before we drove over to T-town. I am normally pretty low-maintenance about my football game attire, but for some reason I couldn’t decide if I wanted to dress up a little bit or go the practical route. I bet I changed clothes four times, and in doing that I got so burning up hot that I ruined my hair and had to re-style it. Before I knew it, we were running about fifteen minutes behind schedule, and I was ILL AS A HORNET because I LIKE TO BE EARLY.

Seriously. If five minutes early is good, then fifteen minutes early is better, and thirty minutes early – well, that is just bliss.

We finally made it to lunch (I went the practical route with my attire, and that turned out to be a good call), and I was so flustered by the time we walked in the restaurant that I ran straight into a sign that was right inside the door. It made such a racket that I was certain that I’d either broken A) the sign or B) my big toe, but thankfully both remained intact. My pride, however, took some time to recover.

After lunch we drove to Tuscaloosa, where we found a place to park fairly easily and spent the better part of three hours roaming around the campus. We watched the Homecoming parade, hung out for a bit at Starbucks, checked out the tissue paper signs on sorority house lawns, and basically had a lovely time. There were a couple of strange things about the afternoon, though. One was that until we went into the stadium, Sister and I could not seem to escape cigarette smoke. I don’t know if it was the sort of thing where the more we noticed it, the more we noticed it (does that make sense?), but we apparently found the tailgating section where people were enjoying the Marlboros (or the brand of their choosing, I reckon), and we couldn’t get away from it. Over the course of the afternoon it got to be a little bit like a Saturday Night Live skit. One woman even unintentionally exhaled straight into Sister’s face, and we got so tickled that we couldn’t breathe.

The second odd development is that I noticed on more than one occasion that some of the high school- and college-aged girls had forgotten to put on their pants (or leggings or SOMETHING) before they left the house. There seems to be a trend where a long shirt counts as a dress, and I would just like to address this trend in all love and say UM, NO. I think it’s a good Rule For Life that if a really good breeze (or, for that matter, leaning down to pick up something you drop) has the potential to cause you some public embarrassment, then it really can’t hurt to put on some additional clothing. I’ve seen this same trend at work here in Birmingham, but I really noticed it yesterday when everybody was walking around in their Homecoming finery. I don’t mean it in a judge-y way at all, and obviously I am a mama and old and all that, but there were a few times when I was tempted to run up to a perfectly darlin’ girl and fashion my big ole scarf into some sort of wrap skirt.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

After Dawg Walk was over, Sister and I decided to go ahead and begin the hike to our seats in the stadium. I haven’t been to Bryant-Denny since they added the upper decks to the end zones, so I didn’t have a really good frame of reference for how high up those seats are. But MY WORD. By the fourth level of the ramp I was trying to motivate myself with some pretty spirited self-talk, and by the time we got to the sixth level, I had lapsed into a prayer language and begged the Lord for mercy. Sister and I moved up the ramp at a pretty good pace, and oh, was I ever sorry for that when we finally got to the top. If I’d known at the bottom of that ramp what I knew at the top of it, I’d have gotten in line for the little shuttle thing and let someone drive me up that ramp. I might have even faked a twisted ankle in a moment of weakness.

Getting to the top of the ramp was just half the battle, though, because then we had to make the vertical ascent to our actual seats. I’m not scared of heights at all, but the stairs in that upper deck are so steep that I was afraid to turn around and look down for fear that THE VERTIGO, IT WOULD GET ME. We were on row 29, which basically means that we hiked halfway up Mt. McKinley and then braced ourselves by holding on to the bleachers while we sidestepped over to seats 25 and 26. I had no idea that watching a football game was going to require rock wall training, but I’ll know better next time to stick some ropes and carabiners into my purse.

Even though the temperature wasn’t that cold, we noticed as soon as we sat down that the wind was going to be SOMETHING ELSE. I was wearing a scarf, but within five minutes I’d pulled an even bigger scarf from my purse and wrapped it around my neck, too. And within five more minutes I’d taken that extra scarf and used it to cover my ears because, well, they were getting a little numb. It was fine, though, and we were pretty happy and good-natured about the whole BRACING OCTOBER WINDS thing when my friend Daphne took this picture of her older son, Sister, and me before the game started.

But then.

That wind picked up even more, and it seemed like there was nothing we could do to shield ourselves from it. By the end of the first quarter, Sister and I were looking more like this.

Oh. I was so very, very cold.

And by mid-way through the second quarter, I just took that gray scarf and wrapped it around my head like a tourniquet. I WAS NOT MESSING AROUND.

You see how that printed scarf is still around my neck? That’s because I used it like duct tape to seal off the air flow into the gray scarf. It was like some sort of twisted football fan edition of Survivor, y’all, and I used everything at my disposal to stay warm. Daph wasn’t wearing her coat, so that became a blanket, and luckily Daph also had some hand warmers that I tucked inside the cuffs of my sweatshirt and am now considering bronzing because they are just that dear to me. I did have the good sense to wear some really warm socks and fleece-lined shoes, so at least my feet weren’t freezing. And I’ll have you know that my tourniquet scarf kept me from getting windburn.

So see? I AM PRACTICALLY AN EXPLORER.

The game didn’t go State’s way, and while we definitely were hoping for more in that regard, it’s tough to complain about our season so far. Alabama is an incredible team – sort of eerily phenomenal at every single part of the game – and I’ll be shocked if they’re not in the National Championship game again this year. The ‘Dogs play A&M next, and I have a feeling that #WeBelieve will be going strong again this week. Because, well, we do. Our boys have come a mighty long way over the last few years.

We’ve had our #WeBelieve sign on our front door for the last couple of days – mainly for fun since we live in the middle of a whole bunch of Bama fans – and late last night when Sister and I got home, I pulled the sign off the door and moved it to our kitchen. This morning when I got out of bed, I walked down the hall and saw that the little man had made some edits.

In case you can’t see it, it says, “Sadly, we lost.”

And listen. You have to know that the comma after “Sadly” WARMED THIS ENGLISH MAJOR’S HEART.

But as much as I loved that comma, it was what I saw at the top of the sign that made me grin from ear to ear.

That boy of ours may only be nine years old, but he is already fully acquainted with Bulldog fans’ unique brand of optimism. And hopefully he’s right, because, you know, AGGIES.

#WeBelieve

So, About Those Bulldogs…

Listen. I really do try not to overdo the football talk in the fall. I really do. After all, I can recognize that the majority of you probably don’t care that much about college football, and even if you do care about college football, odds are that you don’t care a whole lot about Mississippi State. That’s why I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time talking and texting with Sister, Emma Kate, and Daphne over the last few weeks as opposed to continually blogging about this year’s football season. Because they not only understand my Bulldog crazy – they encourage it.

But now that we’re 7-0? COME ON, PEOPLE. I have to write about it.

IT IS VERY EXCITING.

And don’t worry. I’m not looking at the world through maroon-colored glasses. Well, not completely, anyway. I get that our next game is against Alabama, the defending national champion and the #1 team in the country. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they are pretty good. Even still, it is huge for the Bulldogs to be able to play in a game like the one coming up, and it is almost unheard of for us to be undefeated (seriously. it’s happened one other time in my life.) at this point in the season. So my point is that I have every intention of soaking up this fun football atmosphere and enjoying the pre-game back-and-forth and hoping for the best while trying to remain realistic.

It’s a tricky balance. I’m not gonna lie.

We have had plans for a sweet forever to drive over for the State / Bama game with our friend Leslie and some friends who will be here from Texas, but last week, when ESPN announced that the game was going to be at 7:30, D and I had to have A Discussion. You see, Papaw typically doesn’t like to be up past 10, which is such a coincidence since I don’t like to sit in a stadium and listen to him yawn for the last two hours of a football game (I mean that in ALL LOVE, but after fifteen years of marriage, you can be brutally honest about this sort of thing). The biggest piece of the puzzle was trying to find a babysitter who’d be willing to stay with the little man until 1:00 or 1:30 in the morning (traffic is TERRIBLE – TURRRRRRRRRIBLE – between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham after a football game), and after weighing all the pros and cons and optimal sleeping schedules, we finally decided that it would be better for D to stay home and for Sister to go to the game with me.

Now if you’ve ever made it to the end of one of my posts about football, you know that Sister and I LOVE to go to the State games together. Week before last we went to the Tennessee game in Starkville, and after we parked the car in our favorite lot, we started walking at a pretty fast pace so that I could deliver some tickets to a friend of a friend in The Junction. We hadn’t walked more than 50 yards when a cute, young girl on a golf cart pulled up next to us and said, “Would y’all like a ride?” Since I’d read on the State website that they were planning to have more golf carts in service that weekend, Sister and I yelled “SURE!” as the girl turned her cart around and came back down the street to pick us up.

While we were crossing the street to meet the driver, it dawned on me that the carts might not be for everyone, that they might be designated for people who have trouble making it from one part of campus to another. I looked at Sister and said, “Hey, do you think that she thinks we’re old or something?” But then we both got tickled because CLEARLY THAT WAS RIDICULOUS. A few seconds later we climbed in the cart, and as we were moving up the hill by the coliseum, Sister turned to the girl who was driving and said, “Yeah, we laughed because we wondered if you thought we were old.” And without missing a beat, the sweet girl said, “Well, ma’am, we are supposed to stick to the criteria of only picking up the handicapped or the elderly.”

Well. I just. Wasn’t really expecting. That particular response. My goodness.

By that point we were flying down the road on the way to The Junction, and I didn’t know if it was better to ask her to stop the cart because HEY, NOT ELDERLY YET or just keep riding and chalk it up to the fact that when you’re 19, everybody over 35 looks comparatively ancient. Sister ‘fessed up and told her that we didn’t really qualify for the golf cart ride based on the criteria, and the driver was so embarrassed and so apologetic that it would’ve restored your faith in humanity if you had heard her. After we got everybody’s respective season of life squared away, the girl told us again that she was so sorry for her mistake, and then she dropped us off at the bookstore.

I have never wished for a cane more than I did in that moment. I think it would have made the driver feel better if I had confirmed her initial assessment of my age by gently hobbling to the bookstore entrance and then maybe popping out some dentures for good measure.

Bless her.

Sister and I managed to find our seats at the game without breaking any hips, and after the game we hung out by the stadium and visited with some friends for 30 or 45 minutes. It was after midnight when we finally started walking back to the car, and we were probably 200 yards from the parking lot when a man drove by on a golf cart, slowed down, and said, “Ladies? Do you need a ride to your car?”

NOW LISTEN.

Clearly I need some new concealer and also maybe a light face lift.

Anyway, Sister and I told him that we were happy to walk to the parking lot, and once we got in the car, we HEE-HAW’D. I really am so glad that our alma mater is offering the golf cart service for people who need it, and if one of the drivers thinks I’m 70 (which, for the record, seems younger to me every year), that really is fine by me. At least they’re kind enough to stop and ask.

Plus, my bursitis always appreciates it when I can sit down and rest for a little while.

So all that to say: Sister and I are headed to T-town this Saturday. We’ll even get to sit with my friend Daph and her older son during the game. I don’t have any idea what the outcome will be – nor do I know if we’ll be offered some sort of over-65 assistance – but I’d be willing to bet that when we finally get home in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I’ll find that Papaw tried to wait up for us but fell asleep in his recliner.

See? It all works out.

Hail State. Go ‘Dogs. Beat Bama.

Love,
Mamaw

The Appliances Have Turned Against Me

About a year ago our kitchen faucet decided that it was no longer interested in working properly. If memory serves it was right around Thanksgiving – a time when having a functioning kitchen sink is, you know, handy – so D picked up a temporary replacement faucet at Home Depot. It was, as my mama would say, el cheapo, but it got the job done. And about eight months later, I finally got around to picking out the permanent replacement.

You may be picking up on the fact that I am a real go-getter when it comes to home repairs.

In the time between picking out the sink hardware and actually having it installed, we had to replace our refrigerator because, well, it died. And then, when the plumber came to install the sink hardware, he took at look at a plumbing issue in our basement (I would tell you the whole story, but I couldn’t stand the guilt of causing you to die from boredom). While he was down there, he looked over at our hot water heater and said, “Hey. Looks like y’all have a leak.”

Sure enough, the hot water heater was toast. So we had to replace it.

Now I don’t know what your experience has been, but in my opinion, purchasing a hot water heater is an utterly unenjoyable way to spend your hard-earned money. I think that it’s even less fun than spending money on a root canal, because at least with a root canal you know that you have a built-in rest period after you write the check. It’s kind of like paying for a two-day nap, if you think about it.

But buying a hot water heater? That right there is the poster child for JOYLESS SPENDING.

After dealing with the refrigerator and the faucet and the plumber and that sassy new hot water heater, we figured that surely we were done with house stuff for a little while. And we were done. For approximately two whole months. Because this morning, at approximately 6:28, our stove took its last breath and whispered, “No more.”

You’ll be happy to know that I was cooking bacon at the time. Somehow that just seems fitting.

So this weekend we will experience the unbridled joy of searching for a new cooktop. It should be slightly more fun than replacing the hot water heater since the cooktop is an integral part of moving All The Bacon out of the package and into my mouth, but at the rate we’re going, I’m a little concerned that when Alex wakes up on Christmas morning, I’ll be pointing at the new appliances and saying, “I SURELY DO HOPE THAT YOU LIKE YOUR PRESENTS!”

Because MY WORD.

Suffice it to say that our oven and our dishwasher would appreciate your prayers.

No Mention Of Football Therein

– I have been on a break from sugar since the first of August. It’s been a good thing, even though I’m pretty sure that any man who took a two-month break from sugar would have lost about 15 pounds. I, on the other hand, seem to have plateaued after losing approximately 4.25 ounces of water weight. Anyway, I feel better when I’m not eating sugar, so I’ll consider that a win, but I have been craving sweet stuff like crazy the last two days. I have no idea why. However, I can tell you that nothing sounds better to me right now than some sort of molten chocolate lava cake with really good vanilla ice cream melting over it.

I also wouldn’t turn down some apple pie or a donut.

I was hoping that telling you all of that would make the craving go away, but now all I can think about is when apple pie has that crispy, buttery, crumble-y topping. I’m about to fix myself a glass of ice water, though, so I’m sure that will make this whole SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE ME CHOCOLATE situation so much better.

– The new Mumford & Sons CD, Babel (not always kid-friendly, just FYI), has completely captivated me and prompted grad school-like levels of wanting to analyze lyrics. It’s so bad that I may have to start a club. Or a support group. Whichever.

– I mentioned this on Instagram the other day, but my most recent trip to the grocery store left me more convinced than ever that the Greek yogurt craze in this country is officially out of control. WE’VE HIT OUR LIMIT, AMERICA.

– I realize that this video of Jon Hamm & Adam Scott re-creating the opening credits of Simon & Simon will only appeal to a very specific sense of humor, but oh, it tickles me. I will probably watch it 92 more times, mainly just to marvel at their jackets. If you want to skip all the mockumentary stuff, the “new” credits start around 8:50. And the original credits are at the end.

Remember when shows had minute-long theme songs?

– I am convinced that there is no graphic in the 21st century that causes more anticipation and/or curiosity than this one right here. It’s what call waiting was to the 80s.

– Thinking about Simon & Simon led to a major YouTube rabbit trail of TV shows’ opening credits in the 70s and 80s.

For example.

The Internet is glorious, you know?

Timed Writing

Okay. I’m giving myself 30 minutes to update this here blog with something besides a video. It’s been a crazy few weeks – in a good way – but I am finding that it is difficult to take care of my family and work and stick to deadlines and cook some food and occasionally fold laundry and serve diligently as a college football superfan without neglecting other areas of my life. Blogging has definitely been on the neglected end of my current activities spectrum, so I’m going to try to play catch-up.

I may not make much sense in the process, but I’m going to try nonetheless.

Last weekend Sister and I drove to Lexington for the Mississippi State / Kentucky game. It was such a pretty drive, especially since the trees have already started to turn in that part of the country. It was after 8 when we finally rolled into town, but we still had time to explore around our hotel a little bit and go out to dinner.

Well done, Lexington, with this little number.

Photobucket

So pretty.

We woke up early Saturday morning so that we wouldn’t be rushed (something you may not know about me: I DESPISE feeling rushed; I would rather be two hours early and SETTLED than five minutes late and frazzled), and after a delightful breakfast buffet at the hotel, we fired up the GPS and headed to the stadium. It took us awhile to figure out where to park, but once we’d taken care of that end of things, we high-tailed it for a couple of blocks so that we could get to the stadium in time for Dawg Walk. We walked up approximately 90 seconds before the team’s buses arrived, and once Dan Mullen (who is State’s head coach) hopped off the bus, he nodded at Sister and proceeded to give her a high-five.

Neither one of us really understood why. But it tickled us to pieces.

(Listen. I’ve said it a thousand times. Our coach is darlin’. I have honestly thought about making t-shirts that say “Our Coach Is The Cutest,” but I just haven’t gotten that far down my to-do list. His wife is a darlin’, too, by the way. They are a darlin’ family. DARLIN’ PLUS, as Martha would say.)

We were in our seats a loooooong time before kick-off, which means that we saw the warm-ups before the warm-ups before the actual warm-ups. It reminded me of when I was a little girl and would go to State games with my daddy; I watched the team warm up so many times that I knew the exact order of their stretching routine. I recognize that may somewhat strange considering that I was, you know, eleven, but all those afternoons in section S at Scott Field are exactly why I get such a kick out of our Bulldogs now.

FINGERS CROSSED that Alex will feel the same way in about thirty years.

It was fun to see the ‘Dogs win on the road, and even though it was a lot of time in the car just to see, you know, a football game, I am so glad we made the trip. We drove back to Nashville late Saturday afternoon, listening to the Florida / LSU game for most of the trip, and we walked in Sister’s door just in time to see the second half of the Ole Miss / Texas A&M game. IT WAS EPIC. You would be embarrassed for us if you knew how much we hollered and clapped and whistled, so I’ll make it easier for you and pretend like we were very reserved and refined.

I was mighty happy to see my people Sunday afternoon, and even though this week has been full, it’s been a good ‘un. There is just something about opening the front door every morning and feeling the BLESSEDLY COOL AIR. There’s always about a five-second window where I feel like I could totally run laps out there in the middle of all that 50-something degree weather, but then I remember that I don’t run. And that tends to shut down the whole running option LICKETY-SPLIT.

So that’s about all that’s been going on around here. In addition to studying for tests about William Penn and trying to learn spelling words, of course. And also: last night I got home from Bible study and realized that the DVR was recording Duck Dynasty AND Nashville. I decided to watch Duck Dynasty because I was afraid Nashville would prove quickly addictive and keep me from sleeping. Did any of y’all watch?

Okay. End of 30 minutes. And then some. Hope y’all are having a great day!