Archives for January 2013

The Week That Was

Well, I haven’t been very bloggity this week. I’ve been wading through deadlines-o-plenty, and then of course I’ve had to carve out some time to re-watch the Miss America talents. Because the thing about a Miss America talent is that even when it’s bad, it’s good, because OH, THE EFFORT. I especially like very dramatic, very choreographed gestures while singing, and if we were all in the same place right now I would totally illustrate what I’m talking about by performing an off-key rendition of “Memory.”

Anyway, since I’ve done since a bad job of blogging this week, I thought I’d make a quick list-o-highlights. Not that anybody really cares, of course. But maybe it’ll make me feel productive and convince me that I haven’t completely wasted my bloggy week.

1. I ordered some cute white pants from Gap that ended up costing about $15. Here’s the link if you’re interested, but the pants are only available in 12, 14, 16, and 18. Use the coupon code GAPDEAL at checkout and get an extra 30% off. DELIGHTFUL.

2. Episode 2 of Downton Abbey – Edith has never been more like Jan Brady. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

3. I decided not to watch American Idol this year. We’ve had a good run, but I think it’s time to move on.

4. Talked to Martha Monday night, my aunt Tuesday night, and my mama Wednesday night. So grateful that they’re all still active and upbeat and loving life.

5. Pinterest has been my friend this week. I love this print (it’s not a free download, but it’s a reasonably-priced one for sure).


6. Last night we celebrated a certain little guy’s report card by going out to eat. The restaurant wasn’t crowded at all, and it was so nice to just hang out and visit and laugh with my people.

7. At a high school basketball game Tuesday night, I found myself wondering if I secretly harbor some deep-down desire to be a coach. Because MY WORD I am vocal when I watch the basketball.

8. We survived today’s WINTER WEATHER EVENT. In Alabama that means that there were approximately 1 1/2 inches of snow that fell over the course of two hours and then melted by late afternoon. IT WAS HARROWING.

9. Earlier tonight I was getting the Amazon link for Melanie’s book (comes out in three weeks!) (you’re going to love it!), and when I scrolled down the page, I saw this:

That’s the two of us. Side by side.

And listen. All of this book stuff scares the fire out of me. But somehow being next to Melanie makes me feel better. And kind of makes me want to cry.

You may be picking up on the fact that I’m feeling a little tenderhearted right now.

10. Let’s bring this whole thing full circle, why don’t we?

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Reflections On All The Pageantry

Yesterday morning, when I was simultaneously getting dressed for church and re-watching the Miss America talent competition, my husband walked past me, turned to see what was on the TV, and said, “You really enjoyed that pageant this year, didn’t you?”

And my response?

“OH. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.”

I’ve watched Miss America all of my life, and I can honestly say that I don’t know when I’ve loved it more than I did this past Saturday night. The pageant seems comfortable in its skin again, a welcome development after all those years when they might as well have hung a banner that said, “THESE WOMEN REALLY ARE SMART! WE PROMISE!” across the back of the stage. For awhile Miss America couldn’t decide what it wanted to be (remember when they set up a phone number so that people could vote for or against a swimsuit competition?), but it seems like they’ve finally figured it out. And Miss America seems content to be, well, Miss America. Go figure.

This year’s pageant wasn’t perfect, of course – I could’ve lived without that camera angle that swooped in on the contestants’ behinds during the swimsuit competition, and I’m not at all interested in the contestants’ views on what’s “sexy” – but this year’s pageant was fun. Granted, it would have been even more fun if there had been an opening number with the Miss America Dancers (I miss the Miss America Dancers), but we still had punny intros with some occasionally awkward choreography. I’ll take it.

Certainly I understand that the world faces far more pressing issues than whether Miss New York or Miss South Carolina took the crown this past Saturday night, but every once in awhile two-hours-o-entertainment feels like the cure for whatever ails you. And nobody asked me, of course, but I think there were several reasons why this year’s pageant was so much fun to watch.

1. Chris Harrison is perfection as the host. – Nobody navigates the very fine line between sincere and cheesy better than he does. He’s enthusiastic without being obnoxious, and he really does seem to have some interest in and compassion for the contestants. His years on The Bachelor have served him well in that regard.

2. The “reality TV” element works well. – I’ve never been a fan of implementing gimmicks in the hopes getting higher ratings. But in this reality TV culture, stuff like giving the judges 60 seconds to add an additional semi-finalist – or putting Brooke Burke in “the cone of silence” so she can share behind-the-scenes info – adds a little intrigue and also shows that the folks at Miss America aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

3. We got to see ten talents this year. – For the last few years I’ve felt like Miss America was trying to downplay the talent a little bit, focusing more on the Q&A and trying to feature everyone’s platforms. But this year we were back to ten talents, and OH, THEY WERE GLORIOUS. There was a baton twirler, there were some earnest vocal performances, there was an interpretative ballet set to a Journey song (hallelujah), and there were even three tap dances.

THREE TAP DANCES.

THREE.

TAP.

DANCES.

As I said on Twitter Saturday night, the Lord is so good to us.

4. There was an Amway Changing Tent. – Okay. I get that the Amway Changing Tent didn’t really enhance the competition. But I was so tickled by the effort to brand every single aspect of the pageant (“It’s the Catalina Miss America Swimsuit Collection!”), and the fact that they made the girls change in a tent and Amway sponsored that?

I love America.

And also: I have decided that I’m going to start calling my closet the Amway Changing Tent. It’s catchy, don’t you think?

5. Social media adds such a delightful element to the pageant proceedings. – When I was growing up, I thought that there was nothing better than a pageant. But oh have mercy, that’s only because I didn’t know about the wonder that is a pageant plus Twitter. Or a pageant plus blog comments. Because no kidding: I laughed until I wheezed when I was reading people’s comments and tweets this past Saturday night. A pageant naturally lends itself to commentary, and if I can’t be in Mama’s living room with all my female family members, social media really is the next best thing. Delightful.

So there you have it: a list that proves I’ve given the 2013 Miss America pageant WAY too much thought. It made me smile so much, though. It was old school and modern all at the same time, and I enjoyed the fire of out it. In case you hadn’t picked up on that yet.

I think I’ll go work on my tap dancing skills now.

While watching The Bachelor, of course.

I think that Miss America would want it that way.

Miss America Viewing Party 2013

Well, I am just as tickled as I can be about tonight’s big event. I’ll continue to update this same post throughout the pageant, so just be aware that between the updates and everyone’s comments, we’re all going to have to refresh our browsers in order to keep up with the conversation. I’ve changed my comment settings so that we can have more comments on the main page, so hopefully that will help.

I know that it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: let’s absolutely embrace the fun of the pageant – but without being mean-spirited. Because I’m pretty sure that we would all be about sixteen kinds of mortified if some contestant (or, heaven forbid, her MAMA) accidentally ran across this post and felt like we’d been unkind. So let’s have a blast and laugh like crazy and start a slow clap during talent and take a moment to marvel at how many squats and lunges are represented on that stage during the swimsuit competition.

I’m fairly certain that I will experience significant ab envy during that swimsuit competition.

All righty – see y’all in just a little bit. Thanks so much for being here!

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By the way, some folks on Twitter were just talking about what their Miss America talent would be. Mine would either be cooking bacon (also: eating bacon) or answering Real Housewives trivia questions. SKILLS. I got ’em.
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One more thing. A few days ago my friend Heather informed me that one of the girls in the pageant is an artistic rollerskater. I have very humbly asked the Lord to give her favor. SO THAT WE CAN SEE IT.
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Well, it should start off with the National Anthem. IT’S BETTER THAN A FOOTBALL GAME.
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I adore a Parade of States. Especially when girls are pretending to dance in a carefree fashion in the background.
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WELL PLAYED, MISS ARKANSAS.
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Very sweet, Miss Connecticut. So sensitive and appropriate.
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I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW.
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Oh. The puns are so delightful.
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CAREFREE. DANCING. CAREFREE! DANCING!
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Y’all, do you think they were dancing without music? Seriously.
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I love Miss North Carolina’s red hair.
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I like Miss South Carolina – “y’all are the ones with the accent.” She’s my new BFF.
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Miss Virginia has one of my favorite names: Rosemary. Love it.
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Oh, the dancing is so delightful.
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Semi-finalists: Miss Montana (AND WE’RE GETTING A CLOSER LOOK AT THE VOTING?!?!!?) (AND A SHOCKING TWIST), Miss Texas (I AM UNCOMFORTABLE WITH ANY MENTION OF “SEXINESS”), Miss Utah, Miss Oklahoma (WE HAVE A TAP DANCER), Miss Wyoming, Miss South Carolina (LOVE HER), Miss Tennessee, Miss Alabama (OH YES MA’AM!!!!!), Miss Maryland, Miss Illinois, Miss Indiana (I BELIEVE SHE TWIRLS THE BATON), Miss New York, Miss Florida, Miss Kentucky, Miss Iowa, and IN A SPECIAL SURPRISE SELECTION, Miss Washington
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My friend Amie Beth’s faves so far: South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Wyoming
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Swimsuit is next…I will pause from my commentary for a brief season of humbling.
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Miss Alabama’s quads have convinced me that I need not ever show my legs in public again.
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I am intrigued by Miss Wyoming’s decision to go with the big necklace. She’s so gorgeous that I don’t think she needed the bling.
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If Mariah Cary sings “Vison of Love” for a talent, my life will be complete.
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I really, really like Miss SC and Miss Wyoming (love Miss Alabama, of course).
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AMWAY CHANGING TENT = GOLD
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Finalists: Miss Washington, Miss Maryland, Miss Texas, Miss Alabama (GIDDY UP), Miss New York, Miss South Carolina, Miss Indiana (BATON TWIRLER), Miss Tennessee, Miss Oklahoma, Miss Wyoming (the necklace worked), Miss Illinois, Miss Iowa
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This Skechers commercial just made my whole life.
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Okay. Favorites so far? I think Miss Illinois is gorgeous. Still holding on to SC, Alabama, and Wyoming. What about y’all?
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I love that Miss Texas thinks that one of her best features is her back. I haven’t seen my back since 2004.
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I’m a fan of Miss New York’s dress and earrings.
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Miss Tennessee is stunning.
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Miss Illinois said she believed she’d wear a train.
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TEN PERFORMANCES – they added two!
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I just said “COME ON” out loud to my TV. Is anyone else thinking of Suzanne Sugarbaker?
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I clapped for that one. Spectacular.
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I have received approximately seven texts in the last 30 seconds.
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Interpretative ballet *and* Journey? Be still, my heart.
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Tap dances delight me. And oh, MISS OKLAHOMA HAS SKILLS.
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It wouldn’t be a pageant without a song from Les Mis.
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Well, I am captivated by Miss New York’s tap dance routine. Bringing a little sass (and soul) to the festivities.
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Well Miss South Carolina’s talent is delightful.
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Y’all, we have an abundance of tap dancing blessings tonight. I believe the Lord has given the Miss America pageant His favor.
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That was undoubtedly one of the finest talent competitions of my lifetime.
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I feel like this pageant has just FLOWN by.
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The judges got the Top 5 right, I think.
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AB thinks that Wyoming or SC will win. I think it’s Wyoming or NY. SC’s judge didn’t seem to like her answer.
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4th runner-up – Miss Iowa
3rd runner-up – Miss Wyoming
2nd runner-up – Miss Oklahoma
1st runner-up – Miss South Carolina (awwww – I am sad for her – she is darlin’)
Miss America 2013 – Miss New York (she’s originally from Alabama – yay!)

Well, y’all – that was just the most fun. And I think it was a great pageant! It was fast-paced, fun, and we got to see ten talents again.

Can’t wait to do this again next year!

There She Is

I want to give y’all a quick update about tomorrow night’s Miss America Viewing Party, but first I have to show you this clip (thanks to my friend Shellie). Because if I could sum up my sense of humor in thirty seconds, it would be this right here.

I saw the sketch when it first aired on SNL, but I’d forgotten about it. I’m so glad Shellie reminded me. Playing the triangle could be a spectacular talent in Miss America, don’t you think?

Okay. Tomorrow night. Here’s an update.

I’ll hop on here around 7:50 central tomorrow night and open up a blog post. I’ll update that same post throughout the pageant, and then we’ll talk back and forth to each other in the comments, too. I’m sure that there are easier, more efficient ways to make this whole thing work, but whenever I try to start using a new widget or plug-in or whathaveyou, typically the end result is that I break my blog.

Only temporarily, mind you. But it’s inconvenient nonetheless.

So we’ll approach things the old-fashioned way tomorrow night: blog post and blog comments. It’ll be a kick. And all in good fun, of course. We certainly don’t want to say anything hurtful or discouraging because my goodness I’d be willing to bet that all the girls in the pageant have just worked like crazy to get ready for the big event.

Also, I am pretty sure that my friend Amie Beth is going to join us. Amie Beth was Miss Alabama at some point in the 90s (I was not living in Alabama at the time, but rest assured that if Amie Beth had been affiliated with Miss Mississippi in any way, I would still be able to tell you what she did for her talent and what color evening gown she wore). Anyway, Amie Beth is one of my favorite people on the planet – she is so funny and self-deprecating and wise and delightful – so I hope it works out for her to chime in from time to time.

Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend – see you tomorrow night!

A Very Eventful Tuesday

It is sad that my life has come to leading with this particular bit of news, but I finally sneezed this afternoon.

It caught me totally off guard and was cause for much celebration.

I’m not sure why the Lord chose to lead me through a ten-day sneeze fast, but I can tell you one thing: I will never take the sneezing for granted again. As the wise philosophers in Cinderella* once sang, “You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” AND THEY WERE NOT KIDDING, EITHER.

Now that the sneezing news is out of the way (LAMEST INTRODUCTORY PHRASE EVER), I have to say that I have loved reading your reactions to Sunday night’s Downton Abbey episode. I couldn’t help but think of everything y’all had pointed out when I ran across this little gem on Pinterest.


I think she would make a wonderful addition to The Bachelor, don’t you? Because I can guarantee you that Dowager Countess would have had something to say about the girl who hopped out of that limousine wearing a wedding gown. Oh yes ma’am she would have.

Anyhoo.

There are a few bits-o-information that I’ve been meaning to pass along to y’all for the last couple of days, so while they’re all sitting in a pretty little row in my mind, I thought I’d pass them along. In list form, of course. Because I do enjoy a list.

Melanie’s book, Sparkly Green Earrings, hits bookstores in exactly one month. YOU PEOPLE ARE IN FOR SUCH A TREAT. Don’t forget to pre-order your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or one of the other bookstores listed on Melanie’s book page.

– Earlier today I mentioned on the Twitter that I was looking for some new music, and several people mentioned that they were enjoying Chris Tomlin’s new CD, Burning Lights. I’ve been listening to it most of the afternoon, and YES. SO, SO GOOD. Two thumbs up. I’ve also had Bethel Music’s The Loft Sessions on pretty steady rotation this week, and it is excellent. I could listen to “Come to Me” for a sweet forever and then ask to hear it one more time.

– I wrote a post over at Ree’s about my 2013 TV Goals. And because I am brilliant, I accidentally titled the post “TV Goals 2012.” Because apparently I can’t keep my years straight. Nonetheless, all the info in said post is relevant to 2013, so just shield your eyes from the errant title and pretend like I know what I’m doing.

– This Saturday night is the Miss America pageant, and I thought it would be fun if we had a little bloggy get-together during the festivities. We were plagued by technical difficulties when we tried to get together for Miss Mississippi this past summer, but I figure it’ll be much easier to tune in to Miss America since it’s on ABC (9pm eastern, 8pm central). Here’s what we did last year for Miss America – and oh, was it ever a blast. Maybe my favorite bloggy fun ever.

All you have to do to participate is to watch Miss America with a computer or phone or iPad nearby. Even if there are just ten of us who participate, it’ll be big fun.

In the meantime, I’m going to watch this over and over to prepare myself for all the pageantry.

(I know. I’ve shown that video about 72 times on my blog.)

(I love it so much.)

Happy Tuesday, y’all!

* – I originally said Aerosmith but have corrected the error. Obviously I am grief-stricken that I confused my power ballads. It’s like I don’t know who I am anymore.

Exciting TV-Related Developments

Well, I still haven’t sneezed.

At this point I’ve stopped worrying about the fact that I can’t sneeze and have decided to set my sights on inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2015.

I mean, setting some sort of world record for being sneeze-free has never been an actual goal of mine, but everybody’s gotta be good at something, you know?

Today is our first post-Christmas day back in the real world – with real alarms and real responsibilities and real schedules – and while I was definitely enjoying our more laid-back pace (not to mention all the Parenthood episodes I’ve watched over the last three weeks), I am one of those people who does much, much better with a day that errs on the side of structured. Someone asked me not too long ago how I managed to write my book while working full-time, and my immediate reaction was that it’s the only way I could have done it. There’s nothing like a little pressure to make me more productive. However, if you give me four wide-open weeks with nothing but time, glorious time to work on whatever deadline is at hand, odds are that I’ll find several new Bravo shows to watch while I’m completely overtaken by an urgent need to cook many new varieties of meat.

Seriously. I know my weaknesses. This past weekend I cooked prime rib when my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews were visiting, and I could not quit talking about the whole meat-cooking process. Everyone gather ’round while I sear the meat! Now watch me flip the meat! Wait! I will transfer the meat to a roasting pan! Behold the smell of the meat as it cooks! Look at the glorious color of the roasted meat! Now let us slice the meat! ISN’T THE MEAT TASTY?

It really was delicious. But I probably could have dialed down my enthusiasm a notch or seven in the interest of everyone else’s sanity.

After Brother and his people headed back to Memphis yesterday, I promptly put on my pajamas at 2 in the afternoon and settled in for a day-o-rest. In addition to knowing that it was my last rest hurrah before real life resumed today, I wanted to make sure that I was completely relaxed and stress-free for the season three premiere of Downton Abbey last night. I watched the first two seasons online this past summer, so watching each week on PBS is new for me, but I am up for the challenge. And oh my goodness, last night’s episode did not disappoint.

Here are a few of my favorite moments (SPOILER ALERT for those of you who haven’t watched yet).

(No kidding: SPOILER ALERT.)

(Last warning: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.)

1. Shirley MacLaine was everything I hoped she’d be.

2. It dawned on me about halfway through the episode that Edith Crawley is Jan Brady with a British accent.

3. Mary’s wedding gown was absolutely beautiful. And that comb / feather / tiara thing that she wore? Stunning.

4. When Isobel Crawley shouted, “WELL SAID!” at the dinner table, I cackled. She tickles me with all her social crusading.

5. When Daisy kept having trouble with the oven, I was afraid the castle was going to burn down. So I was relieved that the only ill-effect was that the guests at Downton were forced to enjoy a cold-cuts buffet and some awkward song-leading from Martha Levinson.

6. I am worried that things aren’t going to end well for Anna and Mr. Bates. Just a feeling.

7. When Sir Anthony told Edith (aka Jan) that he’d be back the next morning to ask Lord Downton for her hand in marriage, I halfway expected for him to be killed in a car crash on the way home. Isn’t that awful? But it would totally fit in to the way things typically go for Edith, wouldn’t it?

8. I loved all the conspiring between Mary and Dowager Countess.

9. The guy who slipped something into Tom’s drink? I DID NOT CARE FOR HIM. And I was proud of Sir Anthony for standing up to him.

10. Maggie Smith can communicate more by blinking her eyes than most actors can by saying 10,000 words. She is brilliant.

Did y’all watch, too?

(And while I don’t want to encourage cultural whiplash, let us remember that the season premiere of The Bachelor is tonight.)

(Certainly we’ll need to pace ourselves after the two-hour Downton episode, but I have full confidence that we can handle it.)

(Be sure to stretch beforehand and drink plenty of liquids.)