Archives for December 2013

All The Reflective-y Reflections

This morning Alex had a dentist appointment, and before we got there I decided that I was going to use my time in the waiting room to crush some candies. For the last couple of days my TV viewing has taken priority over playing Candy Crush, but by diggity this morning I was dead set on playing catch-up.

I’ve been stuck in the Easter Bunny Hills for a sweet forever, people. It’s time to at least try to move on.

After we sat down, I grabbed my phone and started to look for my reading glasses. The reading glasses have become critically important ever since I went to the eye doctor about a month ago. I now need a stronger contact lens in my left eye so that I can see far away, and apparently that increase makes it more difficult for me to see up close. The cruel irony is that I can see up close JUST FINE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH when I’m not wearing my contacts – but if I don’t wear my contacts, I can’t really see the lines on the road or, you know, read signs. So I wear the contacts because, well, SAFETY, and I’m sure that it’s just a matter of time before I’ll be wearing my reading glasses on one of those chains around my neck just like all my mama’s friends did when I was growing up.

Listen. Getting older will BREAK DOWN some vanity. It will BREAK IT ON DOWN.

Unfortunately, however, I left my reading glasses at home, and I couldn’t very well crush all those candies if I could not in fact see them. I also couldn’t check Twitter unless I was willing to sit on the waiting room sofa while holding my phone two feet away from my face. So after a few minutes, I resigned myself to doing absolutely nothing for the next 45 minutes, and then I thought. And I thought. And I thought.

I thought about all the many things.

I thought a whole lot about 2013.

And I came to the conclusion that 2013 was pretty much something else. I even made a mental list of some of my favorite moments. It went a little something like this.

– Mississippi State played for a National Championship in baseball, and I even got to watch part of the College World Series with Emma Kate at her house. There was a delightful abundance of yelling that night.

Melanie and I both released books, and thank goodness she went first because it equipped her with the ability to listen to all my worrying and then say SIMMER DOWN, GLADYS with some authority. Our weekend at Living Proof Live in Atlanta this past June was a memorial stone moment for sure.

– David and I went on a five-day trip all by ourselves and had the best time. Like Mel, he should get some sort of award for patiently dealing with all my writing-related insecurity (not to mention my tendency to overcommit, which is a WHOLE ‘NOTHER STORY).

– Sister and I continued our Egg Bowl winning streak in Starkville and rang our cowbells for a solid 30 minutes after the game was over. I’m so glad we were there.

– I got to spend more time than I normally do with my best friends from college, and every single time we laughed so hard that my bladder totally betrayed me. There’s not a more supportive, loving group of people on the planet.

– I was reminded over and over again why the state of Mississippi is my favorite place on earth.

– One night this summer when I was at Mama and Daddy’s, I couldn’t sleep and got up to get some water from the kitchen. When I was on the way back to the bedroom, I saw Mama sitting up in her bed and reading my book. I said, “Why in the world are you reading that?” – and she said, “Oh, I just keep reading it over and over again.” I may have cried. My family has been incredibly gracious about the book stuff. And, you know, the fact that I wrote about them.

– My friend Heather and I went to see NEEDTOBREATHE at a place here in Birmingham that only seats about 300 people. It was one of the happiest musical moments of my life. Such a highlight.

– I have some sweet young friends who are in high school, college, and grad school, and by this point David knows that when I talk about them, I’m gonna get teary-eyed. Those relationships bring me so much joy.

– Not too long ago I asked Alex if he ever feels pressure to be perfect (he tends to err on the side of driven), and he said, “No ma’am” – almost like I had just asked him if he wanted to dye his hair purple. I said, “Really? Why is that, do you think?” – and he said, “Because I’m made in God’s image. And if He made me, that’s enough. I’m enough.” So that was a word.

There are more sweet memories for sure – and oh have mercy there’s also been some icky, difficult stuff that I haven’t necessarily blogged about because BOUNDARIES. The bottom line, I reckon, is that it hasn’t been an easy year by any stretch of the imagination, but I can honestly say that it’s been such a good one. And what I kept thinking about as I sat in the dentist’s office this morning is that people really do make all the difference (well, people and Jesus, but you know what I mean). I didn’t have a single memorable moment this past year that wasn’t directly connected to another person. And I’m mighty grateful that our friends and our families are God’s very best instruments for mercy and grace and laughter in our lives. 2013 has been such a reminder of that.

Happy 2014, everybody!

What I Learned About Myself Over The Weekend

TV Shows I Will Apparently Watch Over & Over, Even If I’m Watching Re-Runs:

House Hunters
Friends
Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives
The Real Housewives of Atlanta
The Pioneer Woman

TV Shows I Will Watch In Marathon Form, Even If I Had No Idea I’d Find Said Show Remotely Interesting:

Border Wars
Thicker Than Water

Movies I Will Stop To Watch Every. Single. Time. If I See Them When I’m Changing Channels:

Steel Magnolias
The Proposal
Notting Hill
Four Weddings and A Funeral
When Harry Met Sally

Commercial That Makes Me Laugh Even Though I Tell Myself That I’m Tired Of It:

Infomercial That Owns Me:

Fluidity
(I came so close to ordering it today – you have no idea.)

(The only thing that stopped me was that the $14.95 price advertised on the infomercial is a mere fraction of the actual price.)

TV Show I Watch For Approximately Twelve Minutes Every Year Before The Nasal-y Voices Drive Me Crazy:

Keeping Up With The Kardashians

TV Shows I Would Like To Watch in 2014:

Brain Games
Building Wild (the National Geographic channel is my new favorite) (did I mention that I watched a marathon of Border Wars?)
American Idol (Harry Connick, Jr., y’all)

Hope y’all had a wonderful Christmas!

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 31

Well, I would welcome you to our annual Christmas podcast – except I don’t think Melanie and I have actually recorded a Christmas podcast in about five years. We are far too fond of flying by the seat of our collective pants to plan anything in advance, much less to commit to it on a yearly basis. We like to tell ourselves this is part of our charm, but it’s actually probably a little annoying.

This time around we talk about a bunch of different stuff: Melanie’s theory about Pinterest, Christmas with little ones (newsflash: our kids aren’t really “little ones” anymore), TV shows that make us paranoid, holiday treats, my ongoing eyelash issues (and Melanie’s solution), and our observations about overly familiar customer service. So basically we just ramble, but since we recorded this one on December 21, VOILA: CHRISTMAS PODCAST.

Also, for some reason my Mississippi accent is real strong this time around. I watched Steel Magnolias the night before, and apparently it triggered some dormant speech patterns. I say this because there’s a point when I pronounce “our” like “ire,” so I hope you folks from other parts of the country don’t require a translator.

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

Merry Christmas, y’all. So grateful for you!

Look! Fun Things!

Well, I’m writing this at 4:24 in the afternoon, and while I don’t mean to brag, I am already in my pajamas. Alex is with his buddies down the street, and strangely enough, he didn’t ask me if I wanted to hang out with them and share some passing tips as well as my thoughts about playing defense in the red zone. Imagine that.

(Okay. It is now 5:51. But my friend Elise called and made me laugh until I wheezed, and then A. got home, and I’m just now sitting down again while we wait for D. to get home.)

(Not that anybody cares, of course.)

(I just enjoy over explaining.)

Anyway, I feel like there’s been some Christmas progress this last week. I mean, there hasn’t been any improvement on Christmas itself because, well, JESUS, but there’s been progress in the sense that my friend Alison decorated my front door and my mailbox, and I have finished almost all of my Christmas shopping – I just have two more gifts to buy. I still have two or three more things I’d like to do as far as decorating goes, so hopefully I’ll get there. Or maybe I won’t. But my front door is pretty, amen.

Anyhoo.

I’m sure most of y’all saw this yesterday, but just in case you didn’t, Melanie’s new book, The Antelope in the Living Room, is available for pre-order, and OH, WHAT A DELIGHT IT IS.

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I read it back in the summer, and I laughed and clapped my hands and wiped away a few tears, too. It’s so stinkin’ good. I will save ALL MY WORDS for closer to its release date, but if you are looking for a fun Christmas gift for someone who loves to laugh (and who gets that while yes, marriage is a serious commitment and a covenant relationship and about fifteen kinds of hilarious just because it always consists of two people who are bringing all sorts of individual crazy to the union), Antelope is the answer.

There’s even a free, printable greeting card that you can wrap for Christmas since the book doesn’t ship until February 4th. Or you could do like I did today and put the gift card in a plain white envelope and then write FANCY GIFT WRAPPING on the front of the envelope because you are terrible with details. Like remembering to wrap a gift.

Also – another fun option – my friend Mary Allison has designed a darlin’ line of t-shirts called Be..Now. She got the name from an aunt who always ends phone conversations by saying something like “Be sweet now” or “Be good now” (in an Alabama accent that’s so strong that it makes me sound like a news anchor in Minnesota, no less). Mary Allison has taken her aunt’s expression one step further, and the results are adorable.

I love the Christmas ones…

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…and I imagine we all have at least one person in our families who could wear this one with pride.

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I think my favorite is Be Peaceful Now.

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There are so many cute designs – great for all ages – and if you want to make sure you have a some t-shirts for Christmas gifts (or a cute one to wear Christmas morning), you can order online – or email me and I’ll send you a number so you can order by phone to make sure your shipment will get to you in time. MA and her mama will be mighty glad to help you.

All of this shipping talk has reminded me that I have a story from today’s trip to the mail / shipping store. I thought I would type it all out in a post, but maybe I’ll just tell it when Mel and I do a podcast this week. There’s a special Christmas edition on the way, and I know that there are probably six or possibly seven of you who can hardly wait.

Merry merry, y’all!

More Gifts Under $25 (And A Few Other Links & Anecdotes & Whatnot)

– Well, Abby and Casey have ten more ideas for gifts under $25.

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And every single one of them is darlin’.

Go see all the goodness over at TresMignonne.com.

(Part 1 is here).

The Nester’s Christmas Tour of Homes is today. I don’t know about you, but I could use a little inspiration. This Christmas has not been my finest decorative hour. Case in point: over the weekend I bought these stars and hung them in our den windows. It was the most ambitious thing I’ve done so far, so I felt a completely unmerited sense of accomplishment.

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…and thus concludes my 2013 Christmas tour.

– Saturday afternoon David asked Alex what he’d like to get me for Christmas. Alex said he had no idea, so D said, “Just think think of what Mama likes to do. That’ll help you decide.”

“Well,” A replied, “she likes to cook. She likes to write. She likes to teach. And she likes to watch Bravo.”

So I just thought y’all would like to know that, if nothing else, my legacy is intact.

– Yesterday at lunch we were talking about what’s on the agenda for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I used to like to sort of roll with things and not worry with plans, but then there was one Christmas where we didn’t have any extended family in town, and after I watched The Proposal for the nineteenth time and stayed in my pajamas for the better part of four days, D and I came to the conclusion the the holidays seem to work out better (at least as far as my emotional health is concerned) if we have some activities lined up. I haven’t thought about it too much this year since we have family coming in on Christmas Day, but apparently my people have discussed it when I wasn’t around.

“So, Mama,” Alex said. “Daddy and I were talking about it, and we think it’ll be good if we go to lunch on Christmas Eve, and then go to church at 4, and then maybe ride around and look at Christmas lights afterwards.”

“Oh. Okay,” I responded. “I didn’t know we were making plans.”

“Well,” Alex said, “Daddy and I made the plans. Because we thought that it would be good to do some things so that you don’t get depressed.”

I laughed so hard. Because the young’uns have a way of knowing, don’t they? Even when we don’t say a word.

– One of my favorite bands is Act of Congress. They just happen to be based here in Birmingham, and sweet mercy they are talented. Last year they released a Christmas EP, and their version of “O, Holy Night” has turned out to be my all-time favorite.

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Well. This year they’ve released a second Christmas EP, and y’all, it is so delightful. Their rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is so funny and won’t make you squirm if you’re listening with your kids, and we have been listening to “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” on repeat. The EP is only $3.96 – and your whole family will love it.

Happy Monday, y’all!

20 Great Gifts Under $25 (Part One Of An Extra Special Guest Post)

For the past few years I’ve done a gift guide before Christmas. This year I told myself that I just didn’t have time to pull everything together (somebody cue the sad trombone) – but then I remembered Abby. And I felt some gift guide-related hope.

I think I first met Abby when she was in eighth or ninth grade; some junior and senior girls that I knew always talked about how they loved Abby’s sense of style. As I got to know Abby over the next few years, I quickly learned that she is even more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside. Plus, I absolutely adore her family, and I want to be just like her mama when I grow up. Her people are the real dadgum deal.

Earlier this year Abby (who is now a married 20-something, so clearly I AM ANCIENT) and her friend Casey started a style blog called Mignonne, and I loved it from the first time I read it. Abby and Casey are so genuine and fun and joyful; they really see fashion as a way to express who you are – not a way to pretend to be someone you’re not. That’s a mighty big distinction in my book.

SO. Last week I asked Abby and Casey if they’d like to do the gift guide for my blog this year because, well, they’re darlin’, and I thought it would be fun for y’all to meet them. I was so happy when they said yes. They’re a great source of ideas for those of us who wonder what “the kids” are enjoying these days, and best of all, every single gift is under $25. HOORAY!

Here’s the first round of Abby and Casey’s fabulous Christmas finds.

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As if finding the perfect gift isn’t hard enough, this is the season you have to find 9 zillion perfect gifts! So though we cannot provide 9 zillion suggestions, we are thrilled to give you 20 perfect gift ideas all for under $25 bucks! [Click on the letters in CAPS and it will take you directly to the item!]

1. SHE & HIM: Vinyl is a great gift option for any of your trendy acquaintances. Urban Outfitters has a wide range of them for sale in stores and online.

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2. STAG HORN SERVERS: For the outdoorsy hostess!

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3. OTK SOCKS: An essential in any wardrobe, these tall socks will make any lady smile.

4. RANGEMARK HEADBAND: I love receiving handmade gifts. These artisan made headbands come in various patterns and colors.

5. KATE JOURNAL: Every girl loves Kate Spade, but usually can’t afford her price tag. This journal will let you have a little Kate in your life without breaking the bank! And of course the gold stamped idiom on the front provides us with a good piece of advice that I personally live by: “Eat Cake for Breakfast”!

6. MAN CANDLES: Manly and handcrafted candles for your manly friend!

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7. FRENCH CARDS: Of course, we love anything Parisian… A perfect gift for your chicest friend!

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8. RAVEN+LILY: Gift giving is more fun when it is the gift that gives back! This jewelry company is an amazing organization and it doesn’t hurt that their jewelry is also amazing.

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9. NAIL POLISH: Because who doesn’t love a little glitter?!

10. RETURN ADDRESS: For your friend that is thoughtful and sends lots of Snail Mail!

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Stay tuned on Monday for the next 10 gifts! Happy shopping and have a very Merry Christmas!

xoxo – A&C

www.TresMignonne.com