Shifting Gears To Lo, Even More Meaningful Topics

What we have here is an assortment, a medley, a HODGE PODGE of topics.

Please pardon the absence of any sort of unifying narrative thread.

1) I may have mentioned one or forty-three times that I gave up sweets for Lent this year. I actually prefer salty stuff to desserts – give me a bag of chips over banana pudding any day of the week – but oh, do I ever have a weakness where chocolate is concerned.

That weakness is because I love it and find it to be very delicious.

And this right here? BIGGEST WEAKNESS OF ALL.

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Alex got a big bag of them for Easter. I can only blame myself since I’m the one who, you know, bought them. But I promise you that they CRY OUT TO ME every time I walk by the bag. So far I’ve managed to resist, but I’m forever mindful that I’m just seconds away from a full-on chocolate breakdown at any given point in the day.

2) This afternoon my friend Tiffany posted some very exciting news on Facebook, and the news was this:


Y’ALL DON’T EVEN KNOW.

It made my whole day. I mean, I enjoy living in the land of Alabama / Auburn football as much as anybody, but I am so tickled to be able to support my Bulldogs with a car tag. David (jokingly) asked if I was going to get mine personalized with “BOODOG,” but no. No, I am not. Just a regular ole MSU tag will suit me just fine.

3) I don’t know if anybody is interested, but Cynthia Rowley has a super cute line of dog bowls and dog bowl stands (holders?) at TJ Maxx and Home Goods. There are lots of fun colors, and the prices are great. Here’s the one that I got for Hazel (except that I had my camera on some weird setting when I took the picture, so I can’t really explain why my walls look that color).

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4) All the Mother’s Day bookmarks and bookplates came in, so I’ll be doing a little signing and mailing over the next few days. I hope to have everything mailed out by the first of next week, and if for some reason I don’t make my goal, you’ll be the first to know. Sister is working on the printable, and it’s DARLIN’ PLUS.

5) The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. It’s too good, y’all.

6) This made me laugh until I cried. Make sure to turn on the sound in the upper left hand corner. (And thanks, Nicole, for posting it on Facebook and completely changing my Tuesday morning mood.)

7) When I was in Home Goods this afternoon, I noticed that there was all sorts of activity going on at our new Steinmart. I drove across the parking lot to see what was going on (in case you don’t remember, this part of Birmingham has endured a harrowing Steinmart ordeal over the last year or so). Our old store had some structural issues with the building, so the developer tore down the original building, moved the Steinmart to a vacant store front across the parking lot, and rebuilt the store on the original site. This means that we have a BRAND-SPANKIN’ NEW Steinmart, and it opens on May 1st.

Between that and the Mississippi State car tags, I may require some vapors.

Perhaps These Crackers Will Be An Encouragement To You

I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think I have a new favorite cracker for spring.

I know. It’s a little sudden. It was only a month ago when I was raving about the Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Sea Salt crackers.

But like so many good things, these crackers came along seemingly out of nowhere. I wasn’t even looking for a new favorite cracker. I picked them up on a whim, really.

I was at the grocery store, reaching for my standard box of Triscuits (I typically prefer the cracked pepper and olive oil) when a new flavor caught my eye. The combination of ingredients sounded interesting, so I put the new flavor in my cart – along with the cracked pepper and olive oil because, well, TRISCUIT INSURANCE.

It was almost a week later when I tried them, and while I don’t want to overstate it, I think it’s safe to say that I will be a repeat customer as long as Nabisco continues to make them.

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Here’s what I enjoy about them.

1. They’re very dense. They’re not as crumble-y as a regular Triscuit, so I really like the change in texture.

2. They’re a little sweet and a little salty. Apparently I am drawn to that combination like a moth to flame.

3. This year I gave up sweets for Lent, so when I first tasted the little bit of sweetness in this particular Triscuit, my first thought was, “OH, IT IS PRACTICALLY A COOKIE.” But it’s not really like a cookie. It’s just that sometimes a hint of sweetness is mighty welcome indeed.

(Especially if you’re trying to curb a white-hot craving for red velvet cheesecake.)

(And no, the sweet potato / sea salt Triscuits certainly can’t replace cheesecake.)

(But they’ll do in a moment of quiet desperation.)

And if you’ll indulge me, I have one more cracker to share.

When Melanie and I were in Chicago a few weeks ago, the Tyndale folks served these sea salt crackers.

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They’re outstanding. Here’s what I like about them.

1. They’re super crunchy.

2. They’re excellent with a slice of parmesan cheese. Some crackers can’t handle parmesan because they fall apart as soon as you bite into the parmesan, but this one was up to the task.

3. They’re rectangular. This means they’re the perfect two-bite cracker. I find that larger square or round crackers can lead to awkward snacking in front of other people because there’s no graceful way to eat them (especially if they tend to crumble), so a dense rectangular cracker is a much nicer option.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find these crackers in Birmingham. I still have to check Whole Foods, though, so I’m holding on to hope.

So there you have it. My new favorite crackers.

And yes, I realize that I’ve done a significant amount of needless over-analysis on this subject.

Let’s just all smile and pretend this is perfectly normal.

Do you have an all-time favorite cracker? Please feel free to share with the group.

The Book That Has Stolen My Heart (And A Giveaway)

I don’t know when exactly I started reading Nester’s blog. I want to say that it was five or six years ago, and when I got to meet her in person at a conference a couple of years after that, I remember thinking, Well. She is just as warm and funny and endearing as I thought she would be.

I love it when that happens.

Myquillyn (that is her real name, though personally I default to “Nester” just about every single time) has such a knack for creating spaces that breathe, for decorating rooms in ways that don’t feel stuffy or overwrought or unusable. I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve gone to her blog in search of inspiration, and a few years ago, when Sister was decorating her newly re-built first floor (it was wiped out in the 2010 Nashville flood), we talked about Nester and her ideas like she was an old friend who would’ve totally gone to all the Nashville-area Home Goods with us if only she hadn’t lived a couple of states away. What I remember more than anything is that Nester’s laid-back, easy, no-fuss approach to decorating made Sister feel less overwhelmed about getting her house back in order, and that, as my mama would say, was such a blessing. No joke.

Well.

This past Friday I spent most of the day trying to finish some writing that I started over a month ago, and by the time I got home late Friday afternoon, I was ready to put on my pajamas and crawl under some covers and watch TV. But then I noticed a cardboard box on the kitchen counter, and when I opened it, I found this little gem.

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I told myself that I’d look at it sometime Saturday – but curiosity got the better of me, and I started to read. An hour later I was still sitting at the kitchen table (I hadn’t even changed into my pajamas yet), and I had to force myself to put down the book. Early Saturday morning I picked it up again, and except for about five minutes when I set it down so that I could hang a print in my foyer (the book inspired me to not put it off for one more second), I kept on reading until I finished.

And here’s the thing (I said this on FB yesterday, so forgive me if you’ve read that already and I’m repeating myself). I typically don’t read a lot of home decor books, mainly because I get intimidated and overwhelmed and my perfectionistic side just can’t take it. But Nester’s book is inspiring and honest and gorgeous and real. I actually felt a little sad when the book was over – but then I looked up at my own house and saw all sorts of totally imperfect possibilities. That made me smile.

So. Just because I love this book to pieces and want to share it, I’m giving away three copies of The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect To Be Beautiful. Nobody asked me to do this; I just want to do it because Myquillyn has created something that’s unique and oh-so-special – and I really do think it’s going to be so meaningful to the people who read it. Since the book releases next Tuesday, I’m going to make this giveaway a pretty quick one so that you still have time to order for release day if you don’t win. If you’d like to enter, just leave a comment on this post and tell me your absolute favorite thing about the place where you live.

I’ll use random.org to draw for winners Wednesday night and notify them ASAP via email.

Y’all are going to love this book!

This giveaway is now closed. Winners will be notified via email.

A Quick Bookmark / Bookplate Update

Hi there, bloggy people.

Y’all have pretty much blown my mind with your response to the bookmarks and bookplates. It has been so fun to read through your info on the order form and learn a little bit more about you and your families and your friends. I have gotten the biggest kick out of every single bit of it. And now that I’ve had some time to do a little counting, I’ve realized that we’re getting right up to our bookplate limit. David and I talked about ordering more, but we’re afraid we won’t have a new batch in time to send them out for Mother’s Day. So. Therefore. It looks like this round of bookplates is coming to a close, but I cannot thank y’all enough for your incredible response.

Also.

A few of y’all mentioned that you might like to have Mama’s words-o-wisdom on a printable, and Sister has graciously agreed to help us out on that front. As soon as it’s ready I’ll just post it here as a free download (I’m pretty sure that our interweb wifi technology will allow me to do that).

(It’s all so very fancy.)

I am so grateful for each one of you. Have a wonderful Easter!

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A Mother’s Day Happy & A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet

I think I’ve probably mentioned that I was scared out of my mind when my book came out this past June. I didn’t know what to expect because, um, NEWBIE, so I sort of braced myself for mean reviews and disappointed readers and PLENTY-O-DOOM-AND-GLOOM.

Needless to say, I was sort of WOUND UP on release day.

And then something happened that really shouldn’t have surprised me at all.

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People were so incredibly kind and warm and wonderful.

That doesn’t mean that everybody loved the book. I knew going into this thing that a book of Southern family stories wasn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Even still, nothing can change the fact that the last ten-ish months of book stuff have been so much fun. Over and over again I’ve been so touched by your sweet emails and stories. You will never, ever know how your kind words have blessed not just me but my whole family. Mama, Chox, and Martha have enjoyed your reactions more than I have, if that’s possible, and that has been such a gift for all of us.

Well.

A couple of weekends ago Sister and I were talking, and I mentioned that I’d been trying to think of a way to do something special for the folks who might decide to give their mother or grandmother or aunt or godmother or homeroom mother (I am trying so hard not to leave anyone out; this is one of the more annoying parts of my personality) a copy of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet for Mother’s Day. Back in November I got the biggest kick out of signing and shipping books for Christmas, but since I don’t have a stockpile of books at my house right now, I can’t make that same thing happen for Mother’s Day.

But then Sister had a delightful idea.

I would like to share it with you at this juncture.

LOOKIE HERE AT WHAT SISTER DID.

First of all, there’s a custom bookplate. I can personalize it and sign it, and since it’s a sticker, you can put it inside a book that you’re giving as a gift. If you are in fact giving a copy as a gift. Which you might not be. And that is totally fine because NO PRESSURE.

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Second of all, there’s a bookmark. It’s printed on coated card stock, so it’s heavier than regular paper and won’t bend nearly as much. I love it so much because it has some of Mama’s most memorable words-o-wisdom on it, and that seems very fitting considering, well, MOTHER’S DAY.

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Sister designed both of these, by the way. At first I was going to ask the folks at Tyndale to create something, but then I remembered that wait! Sister is very gifted with the lettering and the painting! And it just seemed right for her to do the design work, too, especially since she’s heard Mama say all those bookmark sayings over the course of her whole life – just like I have.

Anyway, here is what those two things will cost you should you decide that you’d like to add them to your Mother’s Day gift.

ZERO AMERICAN DOLLARS.

So.

If you’re planning to give someone a copy of A Little Salty… and you’d like to add a personalized bookplate and a bookmark to your gift – or even if you’d just like these little mementos for yourself – all you have to do is fill out the form below. It’ll take you approximately 91 seconds – maybe 97 if typing is not your area of giftedness. On that form you can tell me where to send the bookmark and/or bookplate, and you can also specify how you’d like me to sign the bookplate.

Once you’ve finished filling out the form, just click “submit” – and next week I’m gonna sit down with the list, sign each person’s bookplate, grab a bookmark, put them in an envelope, and send them your way. And yes, I’m all too aware that a bookplate and a bookmark aren’t exactly extravagant gifts, but hopefully they’ll make the book a little more special if you’re planning to share it with a special mama in your life. They’re also a very small way for me to say “thank you” for all of your encouragement and support.

Edited to add: if you need more than one set, that is totally fine. I’ll put them all in the same envelope…just specify on the form what inscriptions you need (To Jane / To Mary / To Sue, etc.).

And if you need a book – well, you can find one at Walmart, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

Thank y’all so much for everything you’ve done – and everything you do – to make the book stuff so fun (not to mention that you make this blog such a happy little haven for me and for the people who read here). I am forever grateful.

Love,
Me

Not Here. Over There.

Well, I am still doing my level best to cough up a major organ (SWEET MERCY, POLLEN – I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU), and I just started round two of antibiotics, a fact that grieves me to no end because I like to think that I can cure just about anything with some orange juice, some hot tea, and a dab or nine of Mentholatum). Unfortunately, my unusually small ear canals, my throat, and my lungs have not seen fit to get on board with my personal wellness strategy.

However comma I did want to let y’all know that I have a new post over at Ree’s today. I wrote about my favorite music for springtime, and I’m talking about five new-ish albums that I am loving right now. It would be oh-so-fun to hear about what y’all are listening to, too, so if you’re feeling comment-y, feel free to join the conversation.

Hope y’all are having a great Tuesday!