Archives for August 2013

Please Pardon All The Juggling

This week is a crazy one for us. I’m back in work mode, Alex is back at school, and the laundry is back in a big pile on the guest room bed. I did manage to put a roast in the crockpot before we left the house yesterday morning, so when we got home yesterday afternoon, I felt like the roast beef angels had smiled upon me. With carrots. And I was grateful.

I can tell that the pace of our week has put my brain into overdrive, and I say that because I’m stammering a lot, struggling to finish sentences, and longing – LONGING – for some quiet. But A had a great first day (his teacher this year was his 1st and 2nd grade Sunday School teacher, so that’s pretty much THE AWESOME), I actually provided some hot food for supper (thanks to the aforementioned crockpot), and I’m not even resentful that I woke up twice last night feeling like I had been sleeping underneath wool sheets in a 95 degree house. HORMONES, WHY DO YOU HATE ME?

And speaking of sleeping – I had a dream last night that I was speaking to a group of people but had totally forgotten to plan what I was going to say. So I did the only reasonable thing: I panicked and made up an impromptu talk entitled – and I quote – Three Reasons Why I Am Grateful That Jesus Called Me To Himself.

Obviously there was some reformed language rolling around my subconscious when I went to bed last night.

And here were my three reasons that I very awkwardly talked about in front of the group.

1. Jesus. (Because of course.) (I have always been a fan of the obvious.)

2. The Body of Christ.

And last but not least:

3. Pay it forward.

I realize that point #3 has nothing to do with anything, but please remember that I was unprepared in my dream, and that phrase popped in my head, so I ran with it. I promise that I really do try to be way more prepared when I talk to people in real life, but in my dream I was feeling very stressed and overcommitted.

By the way, you’re welcome for the dream story. Everybody loves those, you know.

I’m rolling my eyes right now.

Okay. Here are a few things I’ve been meaning to tell you.

Follow Me simulcast with David Platt – I know this is short notice, but tonight LifeWay is hosting a FREE simulcast with David Platt, and you can watch from the comfort of your home or car or favorite coffee shop. It’s at 6pm eastern time, and I’m confident that the content will be challenging and convicting.

dotMOM Chattanooga – Registration is still open for dotMOM Chattanooga on September 20-21. Remember, this is a conference for moms of all ages with kids at all stages – not just tech-y moms or blogging moms or moms who love social media. It’s for ALL THE MOMS (I explain more about that here). And we would love to see you there. Melanie and I are emceeing, and the line-up of teachers is outstanding. See?

– Sheaffer at Pinterest Told Me To is celebrating her blogiversary this week, and she’s giving away a $365 Nordstrom gift card.

– I love this post of Angie’s – such a good, timely word.

– A few of you asked if I’d share the salad dressing recipe that I mentioned on the most recent podcast, so here you go. This is my friend Angela’s recipe, so I can’t take one iota of credit. I can, however, assure you that it is DELICIOUS. Here it is:

1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated onion or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon poppyseeds OR 2 tablespoons toasted (or both)

Blend first 7 ingredients in a food processor or blender. Then add seeds and pulse for a few seconds. Serve over mixed greens, strawberries, toasted sliced almonds, red onion – whatever you like. I added a can of drained mandarin oranges, and I think some fresh broccoli would be great, too.

Hope y’all are having a happy Wednesday!

And please, by all means, PAY IT FORWARD.

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 26

Well, I’m afraid that Melanie and I have hit an all-time podcasting low in terms of our topics. Because we discuss all manner of mundane matters. There’s weather, feet, postpartum, the African dust storm (I had no idea this was even a thing), more weather, pajamas, college football – and that’s not even the half of it. We even managed to work salads into the conversation.

I’m not gonna lie. If you make it all the way through this one, it’s probably because you’re a relative.

Nonetheless, we’re just as tickled as we can be that we have recorded and lo, even posted our fourth podcast of the summer. This is surely some sort of record.

You can click here to listen. Or here. Or, as always, you can subscribe on iTunes if you’re feeling particularly fancy.

Belated But Oh-So-Necessary

Well, I ordered two more pairs of shoes today after reading y’all’s comments, so obviously you people are very persuasive. I don’t intend to keep both pairs of shoes, mind you, but I figured they were definitely worth trying on, especially in the event that they change my life forever in the area of arch support. And while I promise that I won’t start calling y’all “Ethel” and complaining about my bursitis (well, okay. I might. but I’m not planning on it.), it was oddly comforting to read that some of you also deal with nerve / foot / arch challenges. I will think of you fondly the next time I can’t fit the ball of my foot into the bottom of a boot. And also the next time I do manage to wedge my foot into a boot and then hobble around and try to pretend like it’s comfortable.

And just in case you’re wondering, it occurred to me this morning that I neglected to tell y’all what I did with those flip flops that caused my feet so much grief earlier this week. I threw them away. It was time. And I have another pair that are headed for the garbage bag just as soon as I identify what my substitute “around the house” shoe will be. My barely-worn Olukai flip-flops are currently the front-runner. I just need to make sure. It’s a big decision.

Other than that, there’s not much going on around here. Alex has had to tag along with me a lot this week – it’s just sort of the way our schedule worked out – and he has been such a good sport about it all. So this afternoon I told him that, as a thank you for his patience, I’d make anything he wanted for supper. He picked patty melts, twice-baked potatoes, and roasted broccoli. His menu made me smile, mainly because I can remember when he was four and we had some epic stand-offs at the supper table over something that seemed super-important, like his refusal to eat blackeyed peas or his angry reaction to chicken pie. But now he eats just about anything (except meatloaf) and pretty much loves all the vegetables. I’d have never believed it was possible six years ago when my blood pressure was 470/290 after 45 minutes of standing on my principles about the consumption of six peas.

Anyway, since there’s not much going on around here, this seems like an excellent time to say something that’s been at the forefront of my head and my heart the last couple of months. I don’t even know how to say it, really, so I’m just going to take a stab at it and go with the first draft. It’s not gonna be eloquent, but I can promise you that it’s sincere.

At the end of May – right before my book came out – I was as terrified as I’ve ever been in my life. I couldn’t sleep. I was worried sick about how people would react to what I’d written, scared that I was going to unintentionally offend somebody, certain that folks were going to be annoyed by my Egg Bowl analysis, and completely convinced that I’d forgotten to change a name or detail that might be too personal to share.

I mean, I guess I could sit here and pretend like I was totally calm about the whole first-book thing and act like I was filled with a supernatural peace as the release date got closer, but I was a hot mess, y’all.

HOT. MESS.

And it wasn’t that I was trying to manage my expectations about how well the book would or wouldn’t do, because to me it was a foregone conclusion that the whole thing was going to be a train wreck. In fact, the texts that I sent to Melanie at the end of May / beginning of June are all the proof you would ever need to know that I am not what you would call a confident person.

But y’all, in the middle of all my feelings of CERTAIN, LOOMING LITERARY DOOM, the neatest thing happened: people were awesome. And they weren’t just a little awesome. They were great big, wide open awesome. They were supportive and encouraging and enthusiastic. And that didn’t have anything to do with the book – oh my word no. People just made a choice to be kind. And loving. And wonderful.

Seeing that kindness in action was such a privilege, y’all. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

So to all you awesome people, thank you – from way deep down in the bottom of my heart. You will never know how much your emails (that I’m still trying to answer, by the way) and tweets and comments have meant to me. This summer has been the busiest of my life – but it has also been the sweetest. The stories you’ve shared have ministered to me like crazy, and in the strangest, most unexpected ways, you’ve helped me conquer a few of my fears.

(I wasn’t expecting that at all.)

(But I still can’t call myself a writer.)

(Baby steps, I reckon.)

Buy Ellie’s song here. Because it’s beautiful.

Y’all are the best. And I am so grateful.

Love,
Ethel

The Sole To Sole Tour

As a general rule, I don’t like shopping for shoes. I realize that my ambivalence about a sassy new pair of heels is practically sacrilege to scores of women, but my feet are way too peculiar to lend themselves to marathon shoe-shopping sessions. I don’t like anything strappy since my arches are freakishly high; plus, I’m annoyed by lots of little pieces of leather running across the tops of my feet. I don’t like anything super-flat because I am a stickler for arch support (Toms are the only flats that meet my needs in this area). And since I inherited a fun little nerve condition that runs rampant on Mama’s side of the family and makes the bottom of my feet tingle and ache (giddy up, mamaw), I tend to like shoes that err on the side of cushion-y.

So. In summary. Nothing strappy. Arch support. Lots of cushion.

Add it all together and you wind up with UGGs.

Every once in awhile, however, I’ll jump on board with a trend and buy a pair of shoes just because they’re cute. I’m extra fond of my Volatile clogs, my Toms, and my Toms wedges – but they’re all too hot for the summertime, not to mention that the wedges aren’t really an all-day shoe for me. So for the last few summers, I’ve fallen into what I call the flip-flop rut. This means that I wear flip-flops pretty much all the time, and somewhere along the way I’ve sort of convinced myself that it’s a real shoe. And while I used to really make an effort to buy flip-flops with platform wedge so that I could at least get a little height out of the deal, I really haven’t even fooled with a heel for the last year or so. I just rotate through my collection of flat (but mostly cushion-y) flip-flops, and I pretend like I haven’t given up completely on footwear fashion.

Well. For the last couple of days I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of a work schedule, and I’ve been on my feet a lot. Yesterday afternoon I noticed that my feet just felt tired, for lack of a better word, and today was no different. It dawned on me that maybe the flip-flops were the problem, especially since the ones I’ve worn the last couple of days have pretty much zero support. They were oh-so-comfortable when I bought them a year and a half ago, but considering that, as Sister would say, I have worn the D-O-G out of them, they’re now pretty much the equivalent of those little pieces of foam they stick on your feet after a pedicure.

Yes, I know. Klassy.

Earlier today I came to grips with the fact that some shoe shopping was clearly inevitable, so I went to DSW in the hopes that I would find a couple of pairs of shoes that would carry me through fall and winter. I was serious about the search; in fact, before I went in the store I made a pledge way down deep in my heart that I would not buy anything that even resembled a flip-flop. I even felt a little excited about the possibilities.

However comma I am sad to say that the excitement was short-lived.

Because, well, for starters…

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JELLIES. I just can’t, y’all. I mean, I know that everything old is new again, and I’ll be the first to admit that 1984 holds some precious memories for me. But the jellies are not one of them. Lace collars, though – well, that’s a completely different story.

And then there were these.

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I’m pretty sure that I wore these booties to a Mississippi State football game in the late 80s. Oh, my version might not have had, you know, THE FLAG, but other than that they were almost identical. They also looked super cute with the floor-length prairie skirt and flannel shirt that I wore to the first game of the year. Which was at the end of August. It’s a small wonder that I didn’t have a heat stroke.

I wish I could say that the shoe selections improved, but things sort of went from bad to worse.

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Granted, they’d be perfect if I had plans to perform a modern jazz routine in front of an audience, but sadly, I do not. Not before spring, at least.

And these?

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Well, it’s all fun and games until somebody stumbles and winds up in the ER.

I did see a couple of pairs of shoes that appealed to me, but I don’t know that they’re necessarily the best choice for the workplace.

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Make no mistake, though. I could wear those slippers non-stop from October until February. They’d be heaven with a pair of Thorlo socks, a long-sleeve t-shirt, and some broken-in yoga pants.

Hallelujah and amen.

I ended up leaving DSW empty-handed (though I may have to go back for those New Balance – I am such a fan of the bright colors), and I decided to run in Belk since their shoe department is gigantor. But I felt like everything I saw was too strappy / too summer-y / too winter-y / too bulky / too flat / too old for me / too young for me, and I walked back to the parking lot feeling a little sorry for my freakishly high arches and me. I mean, I know that I don’t really like to shop for shoes, but it would be fun to find something when I do shop. And it would be even better if what I found happened to also be, you know, cute.

When I was driving home, I spent some time thinking about Shoes I Have Loved, and out of nowhere I remembered how much I adored my Birkenstocks in the mid-90s. I read somewhere that they’re in the throes of a comeback, so I decided to stop by one of our favorite local stores that happens to carry them. I got such a kick (punny) out of trying them on, and I was just about ready to buy a pair when I realized that while they were great for all sorts of nostalgia, they weren’t necessarily providing the level of cushion that I was looking for. So I tried on a few more things, and I ended up leaving with two VERY cushion-y pairs of shoes that will hopefully meet all of my very specific footwear requirements. They may not be the prettiest options, but they’re dependable and comfortable and perfect for work.

(I had to pull pictures from the web because I couldn’t convince my phone to talk to my computer after I took pictures here at the house.)

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I will be wearing these Dr. Scholl’s to a meeting tomorrow morning. Because while yes, they look like a futuristic clog, they’re actually delightful little clouds that hug your arches and support your heels.

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And since I couldn’t commit to the Birkenstocks, I committed to a pair of Wallabees instead (a throwback is a throwback, I reckon). I’ve seen some of my younger friends wearing them, but even still, I was not prepared for the depth their comfort. MY WORD, PEOPLE. They’re so comfortable that I actually giggled when I tried them on. GIGGLED, I tell you. And since I struggle with boots (aye, and mightily) thanks to the aforementioned freakishly high arches, I can’t wait to wear these with corduroys and jeans this fall.

So there you have it. I bought two pairs of shoes.

Needless to say, I am completely exhausted.

Are there any shoes that you’re loving these days?

(And thanks so much for all the great recipe ideas in the last post – y’all are the best.)

Fresh Out Of Ideas

Well, I am sitting here watching the finale of The Bachelorette even though I didn’t watch a single episode after the season premiere. But I read something earlier this week about THE MOST DRAMATIC HEARTBREAK EVER, so I tuned in tonight to see how everything pans out. So far it seems to me that Des must have been attracted to the hipster type, because the guy she just sent home is so earnest in expressing his thoughts and reactions that I am sort of halfway waiting for him to pull out a guitar and convey those feelings in an impromptu yet heartfelt song.

Also, based on the five minutes of island footage that I have seen so far, I think that I would like to go to Antigua. Like, tomorrow. Please and thank you.

This morning I had a meeting at 8, which is about the same time that I’ve been hauling myself out of bed the last five or six weeks. I was very puzzled and confused when I heard the alarm, and I’ve spent the rest of the day yawning and, as my mama always says, “resting my eyes.”

After lunch I did manage to make a quick trip to the grocery store, and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a greater state of meal-planning desperation. It’s so humid here, which means that I don’t want to cook anything that will make my kitchen hot, but by the same token I’ve just about burned out all of us on Meals Involving The Grill. I am normally all about shopping the perimeter of the store and buying lots of fresh stuff and blah blah blah blahtedy blah, but today was my grocery store equivalent of saying, “SUMMER, YOU HAVE WORN ME DOWN.” The only – ONLY – item of produce in my car was one lone Vidalia onion, and I’m too embarrassed to tell you what else I bought. Just suffice it to say three things: 1) it’s a time of the month when junk food is very appealing 2) I relied heavily on potato chips wisdom from last week and 3) for tonight’s vegetable I served baked beans, which, honestly, only qualifies as a vegetable on a technicality.

So. What are y’all doing for supper during these dog days of summer? Keep in mind that I am iffy at best on anything involving a red sauce, and a cold soup would never fly in this house. But if you have any ideas that are simple and quick and LO, EVEN HEALTHY, I would love to hear them. Because my supper rut is so deep that it may be November before I find my way out.

Muchas gracias in advance, bloggy people.

Foiled Again

Well, I didn’t mean to leave the potato chips post at the top of the page for three days, but I got sidetracked with beach fun, and really it turned out just fine because the comments on the last post have brought me untold amounts of joy. OH MY WORD y’all have provided a wealth of potato chips information, and I was especially delighted to be reminded of this previously forgotten treasure.

Au Gratin O’Grady’s. The gold standard of 80’s potato chips. May they rest in peace.

Today we have been settling back in to real life and responsibilities and etc. We spent most of the day plowing through an Errands Extravaganza because I recognized this morning that I needed to try to whittle down the to-do list I’ve been neglecting for the last two weeks. We finished about three-quarters of the seemingly endless list-o-tasks I keep in the “Reminders” app on my phone, but we eventually had to push pause on the productivity since the boy and I had appointments for haircuts at 2:30. He was supposed to be at a friend’s at 3:30, and since I was getting highlights in addition to my haircut, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to take a break from my time at the hair salon in order to run Alex over to his friend’s house in a timely fashion.

By the way, if you’re wondering, Um, why did you agree for your child to be at a friend’s house at 3:30 if you knew you were going to be at the salon until 4:00 at the earliest?, then I will explain. I have a bad habit in that sometimes I inadvertently double-book, and when I realize that I’ve double-booked, I feel so bad about canceling that I just try figure out how to make both things happen. I won’t even attempt to put a positive spin on this behavior because it is SO annoying. Fortunately, though, most of the time everything just kind of works out – like today when the girl who does my hair folded the last piece of foil at 3:22, which meant that I had 30 minutes for the foils to work their magic while I ran A to his friend’s house. However, that also meant that I TOOK MY CHILD TO HIS FRIEND’S HOUSE WITH A FULL SET OF FOILS IN MY HAIR.

As a matter of fact, as soon as we hopped in the car (and have mercy was it ever tricky to duck my way into the driver’s seat while keeping all those foils in place), Alex said, “Mama? Since you’re taking me to C’s house with that stuff in your hair, I think that maybe I’m going to write a book called All The Ways Moms Can Embarrass Their Children.”

“Listen,” I answered. “Either I drive a mile and a half with foils in my hair, or you’re going to have to wait for the foils to be out of my hair – and you’ll be an hour late. I happen to think this is a pretty decent solution.”

“Good point,” he replied. And then I proceeded to tilt my head so that I could attempt to shield people in the opposite lane from the glare of the 100 pieces of tinfoil that surrounded my face. Luckily the friend’s house was only 4 or 5 minutes from the salon, so I managed to drop off the young’un, preserve the foils, and make it back to the salon with about 20 minutes to spare.

SEE? IT ALL WORKED OUT.

And that’s really all that’s been going on around here. Well, besides the fact that Mama called me Tuesday afternoon to tell me that she’d fried 20 pieces of chicken FOR LUNCH – all because my nephews were there and they love her fried chicken and apparently they can PUT THE HURT on some yard bird. Then last night my cousin Paige drove over from Mississippi to pick up her little guy, who went to the beach with us, and D and I agree that we never get tired of having them here. They could visit us forever and that would suit us just fine. And this morning I talked to my aunt, who gave me a report on what happened at prayer meeting last night (if you’ve read my book, you know all about those prayer meetings), and after that a guy from Home Depot came over and installed a new storm door that is quiet as a whisper and may very well change our lives in terms of opening and closing the back door.

As you can see, the excitement never stops.

Have a great weekend, y’all!