Archives for November 2012

Completely Inconsequential But Terribly Important

1) So. Ever since we’ve lived in Birmingham, a Popeye’s that isn’t really close to our house but is at least within reasonable driving distance has been the source for most of our fried chicken needs. We’ll usually go with Zaxby’s if we’re looking for chicken tenders, but for some fried chicken on the bone, Popeye’s has been our go-to.

(As you may know already, I have loved Popeye’s since I was a freshman in college and ate the 2-piece spicy dinner with fries, red beans and rice, and a large Dr. Pepper at least three times a week.)

(Once I was finished with my 2-piece spicy meal, I usually liked to sit around and wonder why none of my clothes seemed to fit anymore.)

Anyway, D texted me this AM to let me know that our closest (albeit not really close) Popeye’s has closed.

I assume that the sun will still come up in the morning, but at this point the grief is so strong that I can’t really be sure.

2) Last night I had a whole bunch of work-related work to do, so I threw all caffeine caution to the wind and hopped over to Starbucks for some coffee. I knew it was going to be a late night, so I figured that I might as well summon up some fake energy.

I was in the drive-thru line at Starbucks when I realized that I haven’t told y’all about something that has truly been a momentous discovery for me over the last few months. It’s something that one of our friendly baristas told me about when I was craving a specialty latte’ drink one night but not wanting to deal with all the sugar that often accompanies the seasonal latte’ drinks (and I don’t really care for any of the sugar-free syrups).

The barista suggested that I order a seasonal (or specialty) latte’ with half the pumps of syrup. For a grande that means you get a two-pump latte’ instead of a four-pump latte’. I thought it might taste weird or strange or whatever, but can I just say? DELICIOUS. The drink has a stronger coffee flavor for sure, but you still get the flavor of the syrup without quite so much sweetness.

But wait! There’s more!

Last night my friend Erin, who used to work at Starbucks, told me that the one-pump short latte’ with a shot of espresso is also an excellent option if you’re looking for less sugar.

I do hope that this information enriches your next Starbucks experience.

3) My favorite show on TV right now? Scandal.

Don’t tell me about last night’s episode. I was busy drinking my two-pump grande gingerbread latte’ and plowing through the aformentioned stack-o-work, but I cannot wait to see it.

4) If I could only pick one Christmas song to listen to for the rest of my earthly days, it would be Daniel Renstrom’s arrangement of Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. At my current pace I will listen to it approximately 416 times before Christmas gets here. LOVE IT SO MUCH.

5) All righty. I’m about to turn off this computer and head to the grocery store (we can’t watch the SEC Championship game without appropriate tailgating appetizers, you understand). Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend!

How Yellow And I Became Friends

Lately I’ve been looking around my house and realizing that somewhere along the way I gradually started adding yellow stuff into the decorative mix. It wasn’t part of any plan; for the longest time, in fact, it seemed like everything I had was black, red, taupe, or green, and I was fine with that. Those are good, honorable colors in my opinion. Dependable. Easy to work with.

But one day about five years ago, I found a lamp in a thrift store that caught my eye. It was yellow. And while I couldn’t think of one other yellow anything in my whole house, I thought it might be a nice pop of color against our living room walls. So I bought it for ten American dollars. And I have loved it to pieces.

And then, I don’t know, about three years later, I ran across this painting. The yellow in it made me smile, so I bought it and hung it in our foyer. No strategy, no plan – it was just something that I liked.

Not too long after that I was at an estate sale in my hometown and saw a sofa that could only be described as muted gold. But I thought it was kicky and fun, perfect for our playroom, and the price was right. So I brought it home.

And then I topped it off with a $25 painting from who-knows-where – a painting that, as I’ve mentioned before, is so bad that it’s fabulous (at least according to my friend Ben).

Listen. Every room needs a little bit of 70s in it. And if the 70s shows up with some questionable gold flowers, then maybe we should all embrace our inner Brady and run with it.

This vase, which is technically more lime green than yellow, came next. I was powerless to resist it when it called my name in Home Goods.

And speaking of powerless in the Home Goods…

…well, the big yellow ottoman immediately captured my heart when I saw it this past summer.

That “it” refers to the ottoman, by the way, and not to my heart. Because I imagine that it would be a little weird to see my heart in the Home Goods, though there’s not a doubt in my mind that they would display it beautifully. Maybe on an easel right there in the middle of the serving pieces.

ANYWAY.

Big yellow ottoman led to new pillows for my living room.

(I know. Chevrons and birds. It’s a lot of trendy. But the pillows make me smile, and that is really my only decorative criteria, as evidenced by the fact that I have a very large dark brown and gold painting from the 70s in our playroom.)

So. After five years of gradually getting to know the yellow, I think that it’s safe to say that yellow and I have developed a friendship. We started slow, but we’ve gained momentum.

We may even exchange presents this Christmas.

What about you? Do you like to decorate little by little? Or are you a major overhaul person? Do you gradually bring in a new color, or are you full-out, full-on from the second that a new color catches your fancy? Do you like change in your house (you may have picked up on the fact that I tend to err on the side of YES, I WOULD LIKE SOME CHANGE, PLEASE), or would you be perfectly content to live with the same furniture and accessories for the next twenty years?

As you can see, I am very curious.

The yellow and I will eagerly awaiting your answers.

Carbs Are Dead To Me*

Well, we had a lovely Thanksgiving – lots of family, lots of food, lots of laughs, and no shortage of shopping. The last of our company left this morning, and I have spent the better part of this afternoon watching The Cooking Channel / napping / catching up on the DVR / napping / resolving DVR recording conflicts for Sunday night programming / napping.

I’m trying to sidestep the usual post-holiday letdown, and part of my strategy is watching tonight’s Downton Abbey special on PBS. Because when all other coping skills fail, I find that it’s helpful to immerse myself in all manner of behind-the-scenes details about the pretend lives of a pretend family and their pretend staff.

Amen.

Anyway, I just wanted to relay a couple of pieces of information fairly quickly, and then I’ll be on my way to the Abbey.

1. For the four to six of you who are interested, I wrote a post about Christmas music over at Ree’s blog.

2. A few people asked for my grandmother’s chocolate pie recipe after I posted a picture of the finished product on Instagram. Here is the recipe for the chocolate custard – and then you just pour it into a baked pie shell, let it cool, and then add merengue. I make my merengue with 3 egg whites, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. I whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until the egg whites are stiff, and I add the sugar during the last couple of minutes. Brown in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes.

See? Magic.

I hope y’all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Love,
Sleepy McNapperson

*at least until Wednesday

Sometimes It Takes Me Awhile

For the last eight or nine years, my mama has made a habit of walking into my house, putting away her things, and then relaying the latest news for approximately seven and a half minutes before she starts looking around for something she can wash.

I will be honest. She has never had to look very far. Because if there is any consistent trend in this house, it is that the laundry is always – always – on the verge of total mutiny. I’m convinced that it creeps out of the laundry baskets and to the edges of our closet doors while we sleep, and it’s only the sound of our alarms that makes it retreat.

But make no mistake: one day it will overtake us. Something about the laws of mass and whatnot.

Anyway, Mama LOVES to “make laundry” (seriously. two lightly used dishtowels = full load of laundry.), but over the last couple of years, I’ve started to feel guilty about that. So lately, whenever she’s at our house for a visit, I try to intercept the laundry basket from her. I say no, sit down, rest, hang out with Alex, let’s go get a pedicureleave the laundry alone.

When Mama and Daddy pulled up to our house yesterday, they found me way, way behind on my Thanksgiving schedule. I’ve been sick for two days, and I haven’t done any of my normal prep work. It’s fine, really; I enjoy a culinary challenge, so I’ve been kind of tickled that today’s cooking pace has been fast and furious. But in the midst of running some cheese through the food processor around 7:45 this morning, I realized that there is a child in this house who doesn’t have so much as a clean pair of blue jeans.

So I looked over at Mama and said, “Hey – if you want to tackle the laundry in Alex’s closet while I’m cooking – well, it’s all yours.”

Now listen. If someone said that to me, I would probably think of some not-nice words – and I might even feel a little insulted.

But my mama? Apparently I dialed right in to her love language. She lit up like a Christmas tree. Popped straight up out of her chair.

And I realized in that moment – after years of trying to modify Mama’s tendency to wash, dry, and fold her way through her visits – that it’s not about the laundry.

It’s about being needed and loving her family.

I can be a tough person to love sometimes. I’m independent, stubborn, and I am always quick to say that I like to tackle things on my own. I like to call it self-sufficiency, but really it’s some hard-core control.

That’s why seeing Mama’s face this morning got my attention. It reminded me that maybe I should be a little bit less mindful of what I think Mama should want to do – and a little more mindful of giving the grace of being needed. Because what feels like a chore to me may feel like service to someone else. And service is almost always a way that people show their love.

I don’t want to take that away from somebody, you know?

So if you were at my house right now, you’d find me elbow-deep in sweet potatoes – and you’d hear the washing machine running like a playlist on repeat. Mama has laundered, bleached, and mended just about every item of clothing in a certain nine year-old’s closet.

It’s still hard for me to understand why in the world tending to the laundry has put such a spring in my mama’s step, why it’s put such a smile in her eyes.

But it has. There’s no doubt about it. And I’m grateful.

So I reckon I learned something today. Only took eight years for it to sink in.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

The Cabinets, The Plague, The Etc.

It was the end of last week, I guess, when I started to feel a little sniffle-y. Nothing major. I just assumed it was allergies and went on about my business, mainly because I had no time to be sick and couldn’t be bothered to entertain notions of colds and sinus infections and whatnot.

So Saturday I spent most of the day finishing our kitchen cabinets (which, for the record, I started painting approximately four months ago). I initially started painting them an apple green color, but about three cabinet doors into the process, I knew that the apple green was going to be a mistake.

That’s the previous color on the left. So the apple green offered a bit of contrast. Which is sort of like saying that neon pink is a tiny bit more bold than beige.

After a considerable amount of time on the Pinterest, I decided that I really wanted more of a gray-blue color on my cabinet doors. I picked a Benjamin Moore color called Wythe Blue, and I knew the second that I put it on the doors that it was perfect. Exactly what I was looking and hoping for.

The problem, of course, was that I only got a little ways into the re-painting process when I had to go to Nashville for a few days, and after that trip I totally lost my mojo. Which is why my cabinets looked like this for weeks and weeks and weeks.

Klassy, don’t you think?

The absence of hardware was super-convenient, too.

It was one of those things that I completely quit noticing after the first couple of weeks, so I know that all our repair people – and we have had more than our fair share lately – must have wondered what in the world I was going for in terms of my vision for our kitchen. Finally, though, I started painting again a couple of weekends ago, and I really am so happy with how it turned out. Especially since we bought some new hardware this time around.

(The flash sort of blew out the color on that last picture, but you get the idea about the hardware and all that.)

In a way I’m glad that I lived with the kitchen looking like a kindergarten craft room for a few months. Because now, of course, I think it’s the biggest improvement ever.

And just ignore that yellow vase on top of the refrigerator, by the way. It doesn’t really go there, but I didn’t know what to do with it, so I left it there, only now I’m regretting that decision.

Anyhoo.

After watching the most exciting Saturday night ever in the history of college football (seriously, Baylor – that was something else), I woke up Sunday morning and noticed that I seemed to be on the road to a full-blown head cold, but I tried not to think about it because we had some friends coming in town. I have been threatening to cook a big ole Southern supper for my friend Heather for about five years, and the timing finally worked out for her and her kids to drive over and spend the night. We started off with cream cheese smothered in the praline mustard sauce that I mentioned last week, then moved to country fried steak and gravy, cheese grits, butterbeans, cabbage, and rolls, then finished with homemade chocolate pie. It was one of those meals where I should have put up a sign that said, “WARNING: In addition to carbs, we will also be eating carbs,” but we survived. It was so much fun.

But around 3 this morning I knew that the head cold was going to be something more along the lines of a severe bronchial ailment, mainly because I woke up with cough that grabbed a hold of my lungs and screamed “IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP NOW!!!!” while it continued to chain-smoke Marlboro Reds. By mid-morning it had simmered down a little bit, and that was very fortunate because Heather cooked breakfast and OH, IT WAS DELICIOUS.

Strangely enough we didn’t eat a lot of breakfast tacos when I was growing up in Mississippi, and I don’t really do a whole lot of cooking with chorizo sausage. But oh my goodness – those breakfast tacos were a revelation. So simple and tasty and hearty and good.

Heather and her crew headed back home early this afternoon, and not too long after they left, I was smack-dab in the middle of a coughing fit when D looked at me and said, “I think it might do you some good to go ahead and get in the bed.” So that is exactly what I did. Well, technically I got on the couch, but I have been here for about four hours now, and I think I’ll probably spend tomorrow here, too. I have some medicine, I have some Mentholatum, and I have the cutest box of Kleenex that you ever did see.

So see? I’ll be totally fine.

Plus, I have episodes of Scandal and Revenge on the DVR. I’M IN BUSINESS.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Finally.

Yesterday was one of those days when I woke up RARIN’ TO GO and was so looking forward to being super-productive – but alas, I spent the better part of the day spinning my wheels. It’s nobody’s fault (well, except mine), but I just couldn’t seem to build up any lasting momentum.

However, I did do an impressive amount of texting. Quite frankly my thumbs have never performed better.

Clearly I’m choosing to cling to the tiny, inconsequential victories.

Anyway, yesterday I really wanted to post about the Compassion Bloggers in Peru, so I’m making sure to do that today. Reading everyone’s posts this week has reminded me how my life sometimes feels like a big ole walking paradox (which, now that I’ve written that, sounds sort of serious and also like it might need to be treated with some antibiotics), but more than anything it’s reminded me that the Lord is doing incredible things through Compassion’s ministry. And whether I’ve been reading Angie’s post about Esperanza, the story of Jen meeting her sponsored child (or, for that matter, Kevin and Layla meeting their sponsored child), or Shaun’s oh-so-touching post about a sweet boy named Richard, I’ve been encouraged – over and over again – by how lives are being changed all over the world. Families are being changed. All for the glory of God.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

p.s. Don’t miss Angie’s video with her precious girls at the end of this post (and there are some mighty beautiful words before the video, too).