Archives for November 2013

Happy 8th, My Friends (And Some Links)

First of all, here are some links I thought y’all might enjoy.

– On Thanksgiving Day YouVersion is releasing the Bible App for Kids. I got to preview the app earlier today, and y’all, it is awesome. Kids are going to love it. The illustrations are great, and the whole thing is interactive.

(click on the pictures and you can see them up close)

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The download is free, and you should be able to find it in the App Store first thing Thursday morning!

– I talked to Travis a couple of hours ago, and he told me that I really needed to download The Isaacs’ version of “The Living Years” (think Mike & the Mechanics circa 1989). He was so enthusiastic that I bought the song while we were on the phone, and about thirty minutes later, when I left to pick up supper for D and me (Alex is with family in Mississippi), I decided to give it a listen.

No kidding: within fifteen seconds I was fighting the ugly cry. Normally I would’ve surrendered, but I just got new contacts today and I was scared I would lose one of them while I was driving. But make no mistake: this is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a long time.

You can download the song on iTunes. STINKIN’ GORGEOUS. And what a word.

– I am just starting to think about decorating for Christmas, but I know for sure that there’s something new I’m adding to our house this year: Christmas Rules Subway Art Print.

Christmas Rules

Isn’t it fun? I love having a framed print that I can move around each year – whether I prop it up on a buffet, set it on a window ledge, or hang it in my kitchen. Plus, it comes in a few different colors, including this very festive red.

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They do mighty good work at Alexander Creative. And obviously this is not to be confused with the Wall Hanging of the Grievances that Melanie and I mentioned on the last podcast. Oh, heavens no.

– If you’re going to be on the road during Thanksgiving, don’t miss Dave Barnes’ new Christmas CD. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it gets even better the more we listen. Instant classic.

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Finally. And second of all. Kinda.

Late last night I realized that today is my 8th blog anniversary. Or 8th blog birthday. Honestly, I don’t really know if it’s an anniversary or a birthday, but I do know that I started this blog 8 years ago, and I still can’t get over the fact that I’ve stuck with it.

Just for kicks and perspective, here are a few things that I’ve started and given up on during the last 8 years:

– the Paleo diet
– FlyLady cleaning techniques
– free weights
– menu planning by the month
– at least six different hidden object games
– Pathwords
– Words With Friends
– skinny jeans
– SongPop
The Office
– sewing
– Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred

I think you get the idea. The fact that I’ve stuck with this blog is a wonder.

But I have loved it. And I still love it. And I’m forever grateful for y’all and the fact that you stop by and read and comment and make me laugh. I can’t ever thank you enough.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

The Return Of The Football Crazy

I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned how I’ve tried to back off of college football a little bit this season. It’s not that I don’t love it – because YES, YES I DO – but this fall has had more weekend commitments than I’m used to having, and I knew that if I was trying to make it to games and and plan road trips and keep up with all the message board drama, I wouldn’t have very much time at all to write, which is sort of what my publisher expects me to be doing since, oh, I have a book due in the spring.

So I’ve backed off. I’ve only looked at the message boards a couple of times since baseball season. I haven’t been to a single college football game this year. I have been to a couple of high school games because FISH GOTTA SWIM, PEOPLE, but I’ve watched very little College Game Day. I haven’t known much about the Top 25. I’ve watched my Bulldogs on TV, of course, and I’ve watched some of the big SEC games, but I think David and Alex both would tell you that I’ve been way more balanced this year. You know, sort of like a normal person might be.

But then there was Saturday.

I woke up early Saturday morning with every intention of getting some writing done, but first I wanted to to run to the post office (all the signed books that y’all ordered are on their way to you) and play a few rounds of Candy Crush before I committed to any serious writing. Just to get my fingers good and limber, you understand.

Finally, though, I sat down to write – at that point it was probably mid-morning – and the words weren’t having anything to do with me. They were distant and uninterested and uncooperative, and everything I wrote sounded like a form of writing that Melanie and I like to call “Since the dawn of time.” It’s what happens when you try to force the words, and as a result the sentences start sounding like a high school essay with a very broad purpose.

“Since woodworkers and tradesmen first started to hone their crafts…”

“Since filmmakers first began to capture moving images in story form…”

“Since man first put pen to paper…”

“Since the dawn of time, man has wrestled with…”

You get the idea.

I eventually decided that I was in no mood for “Since the dawn of time,” and since the Mississippi State / Arkansas game was about to come on TV, I figured it couldn’t hurt to watch a couple of quarters and then get back to all the not writing I’d been doing.

Well.

By midway through the 2nd quarter I was standing in a corner of the kitchen while I watched – with my face about eight inches from the TV screen. I yelled, I admonished, I encouraged, and I said, “COME ON, NOW, SON” with more enthusiasm than I have all season. By the end of the third quarter I was wiped out, frustrated, and worried that I’d managed to waste a writing day. So I decided that if I changed locations, there was a chance I might be able to write and the ‘Dogs might be able to eek out a win.

So anyway. D said he didn’t mind if I went to Starbucks for a little while, so I hopped in the car and headed that way with hopes of helping the Bulldogs (I’m really not serious about that part) (okay maybe kind of a little bit) and working my way through the writers’ block. I took my laptop so that 1) I could continue to follow the game and 2) I could at least pretend like I was writing. I didn’t have very high hopes for it, but I was so discouraged by that point that even some good old-fashioned pretense beat nothing at all.

Once I found a table, I cracked open the laptop and checked in on the game. I also opened my Word document because, well, PRETEND TO WRITE, and then I clicked over to Twitter because I think we all know what my priorities were in that moment.

The game ended up being way more exciting than I imagined it would be – and it cracks me up to see how Twitter tells the tale.

The Bulldogs had a chance to kick a field goal for the win at the very end of regulation…

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…but we missed it. And had to go into overtime. And Kelly was miserable, too.

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But overtime was unexpectedly good for the Bulldogs.

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I felt like my decision to change locations had been a good one.

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And we won.

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Kelly grieved.

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And do you know that after that game was over, I wrote more in about forty minutes than I’d managed to write all day?

Clearly college football inspires me.

So that was our Saturday. And our Sunday was delightful. What’s even better is that we have a big, wide open week ahead of us. I’m gonna soak up every bit of it.

Happy Thanksgiving week, y’all!

Winner Winner Hot Spiral Ham Dinner

The winner of the Petit Jean Meats half spiral ham is comment #517, Julie. I just sent Julie an email – her comment looks like this.

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Congratulations, Julie – and thanks so much, everybody, for participating!

Oh, There’s Nothing Like Ham For The Holidays

Earlier today I was trying to figure out what I might blog about tonight, and then out of nowhere I thought, “THE HAM! I NEED TO TELL THEM ABOUT THE HAM!”

Because remember how I’ve given away fifteen pounds of Petit Jean bacon a couple of times? Well, not too long ago Misty from Petit Jean Meats emailed me and said something along the lines of, “Hey – would you be interested in giving away a ham on your blog?”

And I said, “Oh, you know me – I don’t really care for meat.”

I KID.

What I really said was that I would love to give away a ham, and today, WHAT DO YOU KNOW, that is exactly what I’m doing.

It’s not just any ham, mind you. It’s fancy ham.

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It’s half a smoked spiral ham – about 7-9 pounds (worth 65 American dollars) – and here’s the description from the Petit Jean website.

Every Ozark Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced ham is individually hand -trimmed and seasoned with a blend of cloves, cinnamon, and other special ingredients before going into our old-fashioned smokehouse. Inside our smokehouse, each ham soaks up the smoke from smoldering hickory chips for at least 16 hours. The result is a ham that is fully cooked, moist and tender through and through, with a incredible smoky flavor that goes all the way to the bone.

Doesn’t that sound delicious? Petit Jean is a great company – and since I know for a fact that they do wondrous things with bacon, I have mighty high expectations for the ham.

I’m gonna leave this giveaway open until Friday morning about 10 central – and then I’ll close it and draw for a winner. Once I get the winner’s address, I’ll coordinate with Misty to see when and how long it will take to ship (that way you’ll know if it’s possible to have it at your house for Thanksgiving – or if it makes more sense to have it shipped closer to Christmas).

I’ll announce the winner here and on my blog Facebook page by noon on Friday.

So. To enter the giveaway, just answer one simple question: What dish do you look forward to the most on Thanksgiving day? Sweet potato casserole? Fried turkey (I see you, Louisiana)? Pecan pie?

Happy Ham, y’all!

This giveaway is now closed.

An Assortment Of Unrelated Items

Well, it has been almost 48 hours since the Mississippi State / Alabama football game, and I’m still not over it.

It wasn’t that I expected to win. But we played with so much heart and effort, and we never, ever quit. Just like in the A&M game. And the LSU game. And the Auburn game.

And I guess what I’m saying is that at some point I would love it if our fellas could catch a break.

Nonetheless, it’s officially PRIME TIME for college football in Alabama. The Iron Bowl is in two weeks, and the SEC West title is on the line, and OH SWEET MERCY I WOULD NOT LISTEN TO SPORTS RADIO RIGHT NOW IF YOU PAID ME.

I’m all for a meaningful Iron Bowl. But when you don’t have a dog in the hunt, it all gets a little, um, repetitive.

Anyway, I started this post because I was going to link to a new post I wrote over at Ree’s blog, but now I think I’ll just go ahead and link to some other stuff, too, because I’ve had a few “awwwww” moments on the internet today.

I love those moments.

– Here’s the new post I wrote for Ree’s blog. It’s about Scandal. If you don’t watch Scandal, you won’t find it remotely interesting. But if you do watch Scandal – well, I HAVE SOME THOUGHTS.

– By the way, I made Ree’s chicken pot pie recipe tonight, and it is FANTASTIC. The little market by our house didn’t have any flat pre-made pie crusts, so I just bought a 2-pack of deep dish pie shells, let them thaw, and then placed them on the top of the chicken mixture (they fell apart, so I just pretended I was putting together a jigsaw puzzle). Worked great.

– Y’all. Have you seen the pictures of a toddler named Beau napping with his puppy, Theo? I cannot even. Sweetest thing I’ve seen all year.

This excerpt from Tullian Tchividjian’s latest book just wrecked me. Absolutely beautiful.

This sermon. According to my husband, I set a new record for the number of times I said “Come on” during a single Sunday morning message. It’s a strong word.

– I don’t have a little girl, but if I did, I’d want her to have a room just like Jayci’s.

The Hungry Games – courtesy of Sesame Street

– This may be my favorite post that Ann Voskamp has ever written, and that – that is saying something.

Edited to add one more: Don’t Raise Good Kids – I totally identify with every bit of it.

Hope y’all had a great Monday!

What Mississippi Does

She hugs you real tight and asks how your mama’s doin’.

She remembers the best about you, forgets the worst, and forgives even when you haven’t asked.

She shops with her mama, her sisters, her daughters and her nieces – and she’s always certain that they’ve never had more fun.

She listens.

She figures out what people you have in common even if she has to spend ten minutes asking questions about where your relatives live – and then five more minutes making a phone call to a cousin to see if the McWinns still live on 16th Avenue.

She tells you how darlin’ you are and asks where in the world you got your cute sweater.

She adores the names of her favorite small towns, places like Noxapater, D’Lo, Arcola, and Itta Bena.

She knows that grace and mercy are so much better when they’re shared.

She trusts that love is the better way.

She’s there when you get married, when you have a baby, when one of your people dies, when your kids get baptized, and when you least expect it but need it the most.

She remembers your name.

She’s well aware that the Lord gives and He takes away, and she’s at peace with that because, well, she figures that He knows best.

She rocks babies, wipes noses, ties shoelaces, and sings “This Little Light of Mine” soft and low.

She makes a killer hash brown casserole.

She studies the Bible, reads Miss Welty, watches Bravo, and connects themes from all three while you’re standing in the produce department at the Winn-Dixie.

She creates artful arrangements for her dining room table with hydrangeas, privet, and some sticks from her backyard.

She keeps her commitments.

She tells her little girl that she needs to stand up for herself as she fastens a bow the size of a dinner plate in her hair.

She celebrates the birth of her first grand baby and decides that she’d prefer to be called “Honey” or “Mimi” or “Sweetmama” from that day forward.

She keeps a secret stash of unsweetened tea in the back of the refrigerator just in case one of her guests is “off the sugar.”

She wants more for you than you could ever want for yourself.

She always welcomes you home with wide open arms.

And she asks when you’ll be back again – with a sweet smile on her face – every single time that you leave.