Archives for March 2014

Some Thoughts About Crackers

I’m at the beach for a few days, trying to catch up on some writing, and I brought Hazel with me so that I’d have a little bit of company. What this means is that I’ve spent most of today looking at some variation of this –

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– which means that I’ve had to dig deep in the chew toy treasure chest that I brought down here with us. It hasn’t helped that it’s stormed all day long, so I couldn’t take Hazel outside for longer than about five minutes because 1) rain and 2) wind. I wish I’d taken a picture of her early this morning when the wind was whipping off of the Gulf like crazy; she didn’t not understand that particular natural phenomenon and finally just sat down in the grass and looked at me like, “NO MA’AM – I AM NOT A FAN OF THIS.”

However, I am happy to report that she’s sleeping now. And I think we can all agree that IT IS ABOUT TIME.

Since it’s just gonna be Hazel and me for the next couple of days, I have approximately zero plans to do a lot of cooking. That is why I arrived here armed with plenty of cheese and crackers. I’ll throw a rotisserie chicken or some sliced turkey in the mix every now and again, but by and large it’s gonna be cheese, crackers, and probably some roasted asparagus because heaven forbid that I go more than three days without an asparagus fix. That would be terrible.

Anyway, there are three kinds of crackers in attendance with Hazel and me (no, wait – there are four if you count the good, old-fashioned Triscuits), so I thought I’d highlight the pros and cons of each since I spent the last hour telling Hazel to quit trying to bite my toes and I’m really starting to doubt if I’ll ever finish the chapter I’m working on.

(This is one of those situations where I’m making light of it but seriously questioning my judgment in terms of bringing a puppy on a writing trip.)

(It has been a lot of barking, y’all.)

(So I’m going to talk about crackers in the hopes of lowering my blood pressure.)

(If talking about crackers doesn’t work, I may try to scrounge up a nerve pill.)

1. Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins – Smokehouse

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These crackers really do taste like the Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds. It’s the same smoky flavor, and while they’re a little bland on their own, they’re delicious with any sort of spinach-artichoke combo. They’re also really good with parmesan cheese. I like this type of cracker a lot (a sesame or nut thin), and these don’t have the weird flavor that some of them do.

Will I buy them again? Yes.

2. Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers – Sea Salt

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First of all, I can’t help but be tickled when a cracker’s brand name is Crunchmaster, and these crackers definitely live up to the name. They’re great for dipping but even better with cheese, and they’re a perfect cheese ball cracker (yes, there is such a thing) because they’re on the smaller side and don’t crumble. Every time I serve these, people comment on how good they are and want to know where they can buy them. I’m assuming that there are other flavors, but I don’t think I’ve seen them at the Publix.

Will I buy them again? Yes.

3. Cheez-It Grooves Zesty Cheddar Ranch

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I bought these crackers on a whim because, well, I am powerless over a new Cheez-It product. I normally don’t like anything Ranch flavored (other than Ranch dressing, of course – and those Snyder Buttermilk Ranch pretzel bits) because it always tends to taste so artificial, but I took a chance on these because like the old John Lennon song says, “Give Cheeze-It a chance.” Or something like that. Unfortunately, though, I really don’t care for these (grieves me to say it, it does). They taste almost fruity to me (maybe I’m drinking too much Crystal Light while I’m here?), and I can’t imagine wanting to dip them in anything. I’m just a Cheez-It purist, I think.

Will I buy them again? No.

So there you have it – my deep thoughts about crackers. And in all seriousness, I sure would appreciate your prayers over the next few days. I’m not sure if lots of writing, lots of rain, and an active puppy are the most ideal mix. But if Hazel will cooperate and I can knock out a couple of chapters, I’ll let her have ALL the crackers before we go home.

Not really. But I will get her a new chew toy. And surely that will be at least as good.

Several Things That Make Me Laugh

Okay. This will just be a quick list-o-goodies because I’d hate to break my recent streak of being in the bed by 10:00 – but all of these things have made me laugh in the last 24 hours. In fact, I may watch / read again before I go to bed just so I can laugh one more time.

1) Dave Barnes‘ karate video

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2) Celebrity Photo Bomb on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

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3) My friend Joni’s blog

In high school my friend Joni and I wrote epic – and I do mean EPIC – notes. We would write pages and pages, and I am here to tell you that there was nothing that could make a Monday better like Joni handing me a four-and-a-half page note before I headed into first period. And here’s what blows my mind now that I’m an adult: WE DIDN’T GOSSIP. We just wrote about whatever made us laugh on TV or the funny noises our cars were making or what our mamas had cooked for Sunday lunch or how we got wet-your-pants tickled because somebody sang something operatic at church.

Well, for the last four years or so I have been begging Joni to start a blog. So has half of our hometown, for that matter. And I am just as thrilled as I can be that 2014 has become THE YEAR THAT JONI STARTED BLOGGING. Her blog is called Motherhood and Muffin Tops, and it is delightful. It’s funny, down-to-earth, and basically just a pleasure to read.

Yay, Joni!

4) Kevin Bacon Explains the 80s to Milennials

What he says about Russia? I tried to explain that very idea to some of my favorite 17 year-olds last week.

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5) Lyndsay Rush on Twitter

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She’s consistently hilarious, and oh, I do appreciate that in a person.

All righty. It’s now 9:30. I’m just telling you that so that you can rest in the peace of knowing that I will in fact make it to bed by 10:00 without 20 minutes to spare.

THE STREAK CONTINUES.

Reset

I have decided that having a puppy is kind of like having a toddler. Granted, one is human and one is not, but they operate in pretty similar ways. They put everything in their mouths, they fight sleep, they cry (bark) until they wear themselves out, and about twice a day they LOSE THEIR DADGUM MINDS. Fortunately, though, they’re cuddly and super cute, so it’s easy to forget the bad parts. Like about fifteen minutes ago when Hazel barked at me for a solid five minutes and by every indication was completely determined to eat my toes.

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Now, however, she is sound asleep. It’s like she passed out mid-bark. And since apparently I am at a stage in my life where I can’t blog until THE DOG IS ASLEEP, I guess I’d better savor the quiet and get to typing. As you do.

(Oh! Before I forget. The oil I mentioned in my last post is doTERRA PastTense oil. I ordered it from my friend LoraLynn, and it’s in a handy little roll-on container. I’m sure you can get more details from LL if you need them, but I have found that it is especially great for a sinus or stress headache, and as an added bonus it smells FANTASTIC.)

(I don’t know much about all the oil stuff, but since I don’t love taking medicine, the PastTense has been a really good option.)

(And I won’t make one red nickel if you order it, by the way, so no pressure whatsoever from me.)

This past weekend turned out to be a really good one. Friday night I took Alex and one of his buddies to a high school baseball game (David wasn’t feeling great, so he stayed home), and it cemented my theory that there is nothing more relaxing at the end of the week than watching a baseball game and visiting with people and enjoying the sky and trees and whathaveyou. We were only planning to stay for a couple of innings, but we ended up staying for the whole game and having the best time. I also discovered these, which was a real highlight.

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I know. It’s perplexing. Because they’re definitely orange-flavored, but they’re definitely minty, too. Somehow it works, though – almost like an orange candy with kind of a cooling sensation at the end. And since it’s rare that I find a new mint to add to the arsenal (I believe my affection for Wintergreen IceBreakers has been well-documented), I thought I’d pass along the Orangemint info.

Once we got home from the ballgame Friday night, I grabbed my computer to check the Twitter. Hazel isn’t really fond of the computer – I think it frightens and confuses her – and at one point when I left the computer on the sofa so I could go grab my phone, Hazel apparently decided to get a closer look at the machine with the glowing apple and inadvertently typed her very first tweet with her cute little nose.

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I’m not sure what it all means. Either she has an affinity for 17th century British history, or something is up with the neighborhood cats and she misspelled “meows.” Only time will tell.

Saturday I worked most of the afternoon – there are a few work-related deadlines that I was trying to finish – and it felt like sweet, sweet luxury to have some uninterrupted time to concentrate and plow through a big ole stack of papers that had been demanding my attention. And the even better news is that there was a light at the end of the paper tunnel: our friend Shaun was in town for a conference, so we got to meet him for supper and catch up and marvel at his hair. It was some good time family fun.

Sunday morning I decided that I was going to take the day and press the “reset” button on my week. I mean, obviously it wasn’t a literal button or anything like that, but I think I’ve mentioned once or nine times that I am screaming for margin right now. SO. I didn’t go to church OR Chuy’s, but I did do lots of things that make my life feel more sane. While the fellas were off continuing the church/Chuy’s tradition, I wrote in my journal, I went to the grocery store, I finished a few things around the house, I rested, I washed clothes – and while I know it might sound strange, all of that stuff felt totally sacramental to me. It’s been a long time since I had a morning by myself at home, and while I don’t normally take a Sunday to make that happen, it was absolutely the cure for what ailed me. On top of that, the weather was gorgeous here, so late yesterday afternoon I turned on the grill and looked at all the buds on the trees and cooked some chicken and pretty much just tried to soak up some peace. It was DELIGHTFUL.

But oh, the fun didn’t end there. Because when I was sitting at the kitchen table about an hour after supper, David walked by and laughed.

“Is that your reward?” he said.

“YEAH it is,” I answered.

Because sometimes a hidden object game is all that will do.

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So suffice it to say that I have enjoyed the fire out of the last few days. I feel a little more together and organized. This morning I even put on a pot roast for tonight’s supper, and I decided right then and there that nothing makes me feel as accomplished as walking in the door in the afternoon and knowing that, for the most part, SUPPER IS DONE.

It made this afternoon so relaxing, in fact, that I was able to carve out a little time to play my hidden object game. Just doing my part to keep my inner nerd alive, you understand.

Y’all have a great week.

Love,
Mamaw

A Few Friday Favorites

This afternoon I got a bad headache out of nowhere (well, I say “out of nowhere,” but it was at least loosely connected to a certain puppy who was riding in the car with me and barking in the most high-pitched manner possible – at the rate of about 84 barks a minute, it seemed), so after we got home I took two Advil, drank a diet Dr. Pepper, and tried to find a spot in the house that was dark and quiet. The dark part wasn’t hard since it was raining outside, but the quiet part was another thing altogether. I finally gave up and decided to cook supper, and on the way into the kitchen I thought, You know, I’m going to use some of that essential oils blend that’s supposed to be good for migraines. So I put some on my temples and on the back of my neck, and SWEET FANCY MOSES THAT WAS SOME RELIEF.

That was the first time I’ve ever used it, I think, when I was smack-dab in the middle of a headache, so I was ever-so-delighted that it helped.

I’m not exactly sure why I told y’all any of that. However, a few minutes ago I touched the corner of my eye with a finger that I’d used to rub in the oil, and I just want to go on the record and say that if you happen to rub a peppermint oil blend near the eye area, THAT WILL WAKE YOU RIGHT UP.

And speaking of waking up (well, kinda).

There are times when I manage the whole family / work / writing thing pretty well. But I can say without hesitation that the last two weeks have not been my finest. I have been like a dog chasing its tail, and I feel like I’m forever playing catch-up, only I’m so far behind that part of me wonders what’s the point. This afternoon I talked to my mama for the first time in almost two weeks, and when I start to feel disconnected from my family, that pretty much sends me into all manner of guilt and condemnation because 1) I feel very selfish and 2) hey, I think I wrote a book about how we need to be intentional about time for our families, only I haven’t been to Mississippi since November, thank you very much. I’m behind at work and behind on the new book – so tonight I just opted to sit on the couch and watch American Idol with my people. I’ve been asleep by 10 o’clock every night this week, but when I wake up every morning my to-do list starts running on a loop through my head.

Basically I’ve spent the last two weeks like the woman in the first chapter of Boundaries. For example, yesterday at 4:15 we had just walked in the door from school, and I was just about to put on pajamas when it occurred to me that we had a vet appointment at 4:30, so we rushed out the door and went to the vet, which meant that I didn’t get to cook supper, so I picked up Zaxby’s instead, and I HATE IT when I get in the way of following through with the original plan and things start to feel chaotic.

I’m just trying to tell myself that for better or worse, it’s just the nature of things right now. I always – ALWAYS – feel like I’m forgetting to do something.

Gosh. The more I talk about all of this, the more I just want to get that essential oils blend and pour it on top of my head. So in light of all that: what say we talk about some DIVERSIONS? :-)

Here are some recent favorites.

1. Phillip Phillips – Raging Fire

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Alex likes to be the DJ when we’re in the car, and he has played “Home” by Phillip Phillips about 4 gazillion times in the last two years. It may be his all-time favorite song. So tonight when I saw that Phillip Phillips was playing his new song on American Idol, I couldn’t wait to hear it. Turns out that it has a DELIGHTFUL Dave Matthews-ish feel to it (but still distinctively Phillip Phillips), and I promptly made the AI marketing machine’s dreams come true by immediately buying it from iTunes. It is $1.29 of almost-springtime fun. Love it.

2. OPI Brazil Collection

One of my favorite springtime traditions (can you tell that I am laser-focused on spring? so tired of the gray and cold and rain) is getting my first sandal-weather pedicure. I’m always curious about what new polish colors OPI may have, and when I looked at their latest collection, I was beside myself. The bright colors are so wearable (well, maybe not the yellow for me, but the others are great), and the neutrals are just the right blend of fun and trendy. I especially love these two:

I Sao Paulo Over There

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Live, Love, Carnaval

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3. L’Oreal Telescopic Shocking Extensions

A couple of weeks ago Melanie made the comment that I am always on a quest for the holy grail of mascaras, and she is so right about that. It is a quest – a LIFE MISSION, if you will – and I am bound and determined to find the best mascara for the money. For a while I was smitten with the Rimmel, but I started to have issues with smudging, so I decided to see if there was something else out there since apparently I lack contentment with my mascara choices.

About a month ago I tried this one.

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I really, really love it. It also comes in waterproof, and it doesn’t smudge. Between this mascara and my new eyelash curler, it’s like a whole new eye make-up day has dawned.

Until I resume the quest, of course. But in the meantime: EYELASH BLISS.

4. Brook Hills App

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Our church has released a new (FREE) app. I have to say that it is pretty snazzy, and you should totally try it. You can listen to sermons, watch sermons, and my favorite feature is that every morning I can open it and it will tell me what I need to read for our two-year Bible reading plan. It was just this morning, in fact, when I realized that I can actually read the passages within the app (I’d never scrolled down the page – I just used the app as sort of a memo), and I think it’s safe to say that it’s going to change my whole life.

Oh, technology – sometimes you are very convenient.

5. Palazzo Pants

When I got my very first real job, I took my 23 year-old self to The Limited and bought myself some palazzo pants. I thought they were very fancy and sophisticated, and I really liked to wear them with my metallic Nina flats because to me it was the very best way to pretend to be a grown-up.

Well, in light of the whole “so long, skinnies” news that we talked about last week, I was thrilled to see the palazzo pant might be making a bit of a comeback.

Wide Leg Batik Palazzo

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Tribal Print Palazzo

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Y’all, what does it say about me that I WANT TO OWN THESE? I mean, are they at all age-appropriate? Probably not. But I just think they’re so fun and colorful and flow-y and would be absolutely adorable with a pair of wedge sandals.

And if those wedge sandals happened to be metallic?

KILLER.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

The Dog Days Of March

Hazel is, of course, a puppy. This means that she enjoys biting, she enjoys running, she enjoys playing tug of war with towels, she enjoys baying (it’s the beagle in her), and she enjoys wrestling with chew toys.

Another one of her favorite things is to “hide” under the tablecloth while David, Alex, and I are eating supper so that she can attack our chairs after we sit down. Usually this means that there’s a whole lot of “No, Hazel!” in the middle of the dinner table conversation, and eventually she gives up on the table and starts hunting for crumbs underneath the cabinets.

It’s a very relaxing dinnertime environment. Clearly.

Last night, however, Hazel wasn’t of a mind to play. In fact, she stayed in D’s chair during supper, and when Alex went to check on her after he finished eating, he ran back in the kitchen almost immediately and told us that Hazel was sick.

Oh, y’all. Was she ever. It was obvious that her stomach was upset, but what concerned us even more was that she was so lethargic. She could just barely hold up her little head, so I called the emergency vet (it was after 6, so our vet was closed), told them her symptoms, and tried not to jump to a worst case scenario when they said, “Bring her in.”

Long story short, Hazel is fine. She doesn’t have any of the things we were concerned she might have, and she’s all better today. In fact, she perked up a good bit right before the vet gave her a shot (apparently there is something along the lines of puppy phenergan). I was so relieved to see her stand up that I took a picture and sent it to my fellas, who were waiting and worrying at home.

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And, you know, that was pretty much it. I mean, I guess we could pretend like the story was a whole lot more dramatic than what I just told you, but it wasn’t. It was, however, an excellent excuse to share a picture of the cutest dog that has ever lived.

(I promise that I’ll stop it with the dog pictures.)

(I just can’t promise that I’ll stop this spring.)

(Because THOSE EARS.)

The end.

Sunday Night Catch-Up

Well, it’s Oscar night, and since I haven’t really seen anything that’s up for an award (well, I saw Gravity, but I was underwhelmed), I’m going to watch the Red Carpet and feel really relieved that I’m here at the house wearing a t-shirt and yoga pants. I mean, those gowns are gorgeous and all, but I’d rather hang out in pajamas any day of the week. I can’t even imagine the how many pairs of Spanx have been called to duty tonight in the Greater Los Angeles Area, but I’d be willing to bet that it is significant. And also somewhat restricting.

Since I barely blogged last week, I turned to Instagram a little bit more than I usually do – and in case you missed it, I want to be sure to pass along what was most definitely one of the high points of my week. It came in the form of an email from Anthropologie, and I am here to tell you that reading it felt like freedom to me.

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Honestly, I don’t know when my calves have been more thrilled.

And to be clear, I think that skinny jeans look darlin’ on other people. But someone in my Instagram comments said it so well when she remarked that she no longer has to feel pressured to make herself look like an ice cream cone.  I’d never thought about it that way before, but that is EXACTLY how I’ve felt whenever I’ve tried on the skinnies. And after clinging to the boot cut with everything in me for the last four years, I’m so relieved that I can embrace the wide-legged pants again. ALL HAIL THE TROUSER JEANS.

Oh! And speaking of wide-legged pants…I really do love these from Old Navy. I bought a couple of pairs last spring because I thought they’d be great for work, and I just ordered two more that got here yesterday. They are super-comfortable. I just have two suggestions, though: order a size smaller than you normally wear because STRETCH (at least that was my experience), and be really careful about putting them in the dryer because they’re linen and they’ll pill if you aren’t careful. They’re on sale, though, if you order by Tuesday (code MARCH), and personally I am a sucker for an Old Navy discount code if it’s at least 30% off. It’s the little things, you know.

Another thing that brought me great joy last week was watching The Tonight Show. Maybe it’s because it was such a big deal to get to stay up late and watch it when I was growing up, but something about having a host from my very own generation – the first Gen-X’er to take the reins – well, it made me feel kind of old but mostly oh-so-happy (plus, I have a husband who has watched Jimmy Fallon since his very first Late Night show, and we always talk about how his genuine enjoyment of people makes him so fun to watch). Anyway, this was my favorite Tonight Show moment last week, and while yes, I know that Melanie mentioned it on her blog, too, I figure that maybe there are four of you who might have missed her post and therefore need to see the delightfulness that is Paul Rudd.

In addition to all of that, this weekend ended up being the greatest joy of the whole week, really. We had big fun with some sweet friends who were in town, and it was so good to relax and laugh and drink coffee and laugh and talk and laugh. Did my heart a world of good.

Plus, you know, there’s this sweet girl, who was waiting for Alex with me when I took this picture. We are CUCKOO about her – to the point that we have to laugh at ourselves because it’s ridiculous how attached we are.

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And for what it’s worth, here are my favorite red carpet dresses (for the most part, tonight sure was a big ole parade of neutrals, now wasn’t it?):

1. Charlize Theron

2. Sandra Bullock

3. Amy Adams

4. Lupita Nyong’o

5. Olivia Wilde

They all looked beautiful. But I bet they’d give anything for a good pair of yoga pants right about now. And I bet they could put the hurt on some cupcakes, too.

Hope y’all have a great Monday!