This Takes The, Well, You Know

A few weeks ago I spent the better part of three days cooking a whole bunch of food. It’s sort of weird, but I love to plan and shop and cook for a crowd. It’s strange, I know, but I’d rather cook for 40 than 2, and while I realize that this pretty much makes me THE FREAK OF ALL NATURE, it’s one of those quirky little things I enjoy.

And for this particular round of brunch-y offerings, I made some of our family’s favorite treats.

I made sausage balls.

(Those sausage balls hadn’t been baked yet, by the way, but they were on their way into the oven when I snapped a picture with my phone.)

(I just wanted to clarify so that no one worries if I enjoy serving up a delightful side of salmonella as a compliment to the brunch-y offerings.)

I made homemade granola – which is probably one of my all-time favorite foods.

One reason I like making granola so much is because my friend Merritt’s recipe is so good and so easy. I don’t know where I’d be in life without it. Except that I’d probably be at a place in life where I wished for a really delicious granola recipe.

This would probably be a good time to confess that I double the amount of butter in Merritt’s recipe, though.

Doubling the amount of butter is my inalienable right as an American, after all. I believe it’s covered in the Constitution or some other government-y type document. It’s all very official.

And I also made pound cakes. So many pound cakes. So many, many pound cakes.

I made so many pound cakes, in fact, that I had to get sort of inventive with where I put them after they cooled. I needed my countertop space so that I could keep cooking, so I wedged in my pound cakes on the breakfast room table between pans of granola and Ziploc bags filled with sausage balls. And when I ran out of space on the breakfast room table, I decided that my next best option was to set one of the pound cakes in a breakfast room chair.

What can I say? I was tired and it was the fourth pound cake of the day and I was fresh out of food storage ideas.

About that time D walked through the kitchen, and I said, “You know what? I’m going to fix myself a Diet Coke, make a plate of cheese and crackers – and I’m going to play catch-up with the DVR for a while. I think I need to take a break.”

So that is exactly what I did.

Once I was back in the kitchen a little bit later, I started gathering ingredients so that I could mix up some hash brown potato casseroles. I walked to the refrigerator to grab the cheddar cheese, and I couldn’t help but notice something sort of peculiar out of the corner of my eye.

I walked over to the chair to get a better look.

It was the strangest sight, y’all. I couldn’t figure out what in the world had happened. I mean, I know my people enjoy sweet treats and all, but they typically make good use of utensils when they eat. Thankfully it is not the norm for them to just bend down and start gnawing the sides off of a pound cake.

I was oh-so-puzzled.

But then I heard the pitter-patter of little feet behind me.

And when I turned around, I realized that somebody had come back for seconds.

Apparently Ally finds pound cake to be TASTY.

I take issue, though, with the fact that she didn’t clean up after herself afterwards.

She didn’t even have the courtesy to throw the SaranWrap in the trash. She just slung it over to the side of the chair all devil-may-care-like. LEFT IT ON THE FLOOR, EVEN. I guess her dessert-related enthusiasm caused her to take temporary leave of her good manners.

Clearly we’ll have to work on that.

I think it’s only fair.
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Last week I posted a new giveaway from Sprite; there’s a $100 Shutterfly.com gift card up for grabs!

Feelings. Whoa Whoa Whoa. Feelings.

As a general rule I do pretty okay-ish with stress and deadlines and etc. I can kind of compartmentalize each thing as it comes, not looking too far in the future at whatever the next thing might be, and being able to do that helps to keep me (fairly) even-keeled and, for the most part, not too worry-ish about what’s waiting in the wings.

But somewhere around last Thursday, the various and sundry stresses and concerns and whathaveyous of the last three weeks caught up with me. And emotionally, at least, I hit the wall. Slammed right into it. And I stayed right up against that wall until Friday night around 9 o’clock in the PM when I finished talking to my husband and Explaining My Feelings in great detail.

He was mighty sweet to listen.

I think the bottom line is that when you take the day-to-day pressures of commitments and obligations and work and family and whatnot, then mix up that stuff with what has been a profoundly sad time in this part of the country and top it all off when some SWEET MERCY THEY’VE GONE COMPLETELY CUCKOO hormones – well, the emotional junk is bound to rise to the surface.

But the good news is that based on how emotional I was last week, I should be EVEN AND STEADY until approximately 2014. NARY A RIPPLE in the emotional sea. SMOOTH SAILING AHEAD.

ANYWAY – I reckon I just had some stuff that I needed to process and think through and talk about with my people. And with that being said, I will now bore you to tears by catching you up on all the excitement that’s been going on around here.

First of all, we ate supper at Zaxby’s Friday night. D and I each ordered a chicken finger platter. Alex ate a Nibbler and some fries. I got a Diet Coke refill before we left.

I understand if you need a moment to take in all of these exciting developments. It’s hard to wrap your brain around this level of sophistication and excitement, I’m sure.

And really, I can’t help but think that my 24 year-old self would be horrified by the developments in my 41 year-old life. Because, I mean, my 24 year-old self had high hopes that I would enjoy going to Fancy Gatherings and that I would care about wine and that I would only patronize the finest restaurants.

But clearly the 24 year-old me way underestimated my disdain for small talk, my complete ineptitude where wine is concerned, and last but not least my unconditional love for fried chicken in all its forms.

And really, I can’t fault her, because my 24 year-old self had no way of knowing that Zaxby’s chicken tenders, THEY ARE SO TASTY.

So pretty much Friday night boiled down to Zaxby’s + a long talk with my husband + A LOT of sleeping.

Saturday morning we drove over to Mississippi to see our mamas and D’s grandmother. And let me tell you what: I was as happy as I could be about having some uninterrupted time with my fellas. It’s been a few months since the three of us went on a little road trip together, and I loved it. We had lunch with Mama, Daddy and Martha, then spent some time at the nursing home with Sissie.

(And yes, I’m leaving out a big huge hunk of very funny details. But those very funny details deserve a post or essay or short novella of their own. I might even write a poem if I were any good at, you know, rhyming.)

Sissie recently celebrated her 101st birthday, by the way. She wasn’t able to leave the nursing home like she did last year, but we were so grateful to be able to spend some time with her yesterday and feel beyond fortunate that Alex has been able to know his great-grandmother. She is something else.

(Listen – y’all are as sweet as you can be to hang with this post as long as you have. It’s certainly not anything that could be considered even remotely interesting. But I’m just trying to get back on the bloggy horse, so to speak.)

(And look at me making a horse reference on the weekend of the Kentucky Derby!)

(Maybe I should go put on a sassy hat.)

(And speaking of hats – did we ever discuss the hat that Princess Beatrice wore to the Royal Wedding? Because I just. Well. I don’t know. I have never. Mercy. Never seen anything. Um. Can’t remember seeing. My goodness. Have to say it was a first. That hat. Would make a lovely design for a mirror. Or perhaps some decorative moulding.)

Okay. I’ve totally lost my way. But at least all this rambling sort of resembles a post. And I really did have a great weekend. And thanks to an episode of Curb Appeal that Sister saw, I’ve decided to paint my front door. And I bought some new Bermuda shorts. And Alex drew a portrait of me for Mother’s Day.

My first reaction when I saw it was to cry – because I’d had a rough week and it was just the sweetest thing for the little man to give me such a thoughtful gift. After I recovered from the tears and studied A’s handiwork a little bit more, all I could think of was what Shelby says about M’Lynn’s hair in Steel Magnolias: “You can’t mess up her hair…you just tease it and make it look like a football helmet.”

If the portrait is any indication, I have learned that lesson well.

Just tickles me to pieces, it does.

25 Things: The ‘Ham

We’ve been in Birmingham for almost eleven years (BLOWS MY MIND), and I’m more convinced than ever that moving here was one of the best decisions we ever made. Here are 25 of my favorite things about this place (in no particular order, really).

1. our church
2. A’s school
3. the Steinmart(s) near our house
4. the trees and the hills and the flowers – it is beautiful here
5. the way the western summer sky looks when the sun sets (especially when we’re coming home from church on Sunday nights)
6. Dreamcakes
7. The Summit (which includes Chuy’s, NATURALLY)
8. At Home
9. my work
10. sweet tea in every single restaurant
11. knowing that this is the place that A thinks of as home
12. knowing that this is the place that D and I have come to think of as home
13. the McWane Center
14. the fact that this town is SEC FOOTBALL CUCKOO
15. hearing the kids on our street playing outside together in the afternoons
16. Friday Special at Taziki’s
17. Dr. and Mrs. K – a precious couple whose example has taught us more than they will ever know
18. Full Moon BBQ
19. Montevallo Road and Altadena Road in the spring
20. Fresh Market & Whole Foods
21. WorkPlay
22. 280 (I really do love 280 – maybe because I don’t have to drive it during rush hour)
23. knowing that the Southeastern Conference and Southern Living are headquartered here – it’s almost too much for my Southern heart to take
24. sweet friends who make me laugh
25. looking back over the last eleven years and seeing some very specific reasons why God brought us here (Psalm 107:7-9)

What do you love about the town where you live?

Fun Fun Fun Fun Lookin’ Forward To The Weekend*

This weekend Sister and I are going on a little road trip to Mississippi State. Our college sorority is having an anniversary celebration Saturday afternoon, and we’re attending the festivities. And we may just show up at a spring football scrimmage Saturday morning because when it comes to MSU football, we tend to err on the side of crazy. Big fun in store.

I was initially a little hesitant about going to the anniversary shindig because I’m not usually a huge fan of big reception-type events where there are a great many people wearing name tags, but then my friend Daphne put together a Saturday night dinner for folks who were at State about the same time we were, and I went from on the fence to TOTALLY ON BOARD in the span of about four seconds. Wouldn’t miss getting to sit down and visit with those sweet friends for anything in the world.

(*We we we so excited. We so excited.)

So. This morning I decided that Sister and I need a special playlist for the drive to Starkville. Even though it’s damp and gray outside, it’s still springtime. And springtime + road trip to a college town + reunion with old friends = CLEARLY WE NEED SOME SPECIAL SONGS.

I have a few songs in mind, but mostly I feel like I’m dragging the same ten songs that I always classify as “fun” into a new playlist. Maybe I’m in a road trip music rut? Maybe I’m old? Maybe I’m in a rut and I’m old?

So I need your help, interweb peoples. What are your favorite road trip songs? The decade is completely irrelevant; the only qualification, I guess, is that it has a good beat and we can dance to it. And sing along, of course.

Fire away.

Futility In The Key Of Khaki

Well, I spent most of this afternoon consumed by the fact that I couldn’t find a pair of Alex’s khakis, neveryoumind that I had vivid, distinct memories of smoothing out the khakis and walking in A’s closet and hanging up the khakis this past Saturday while I was on the phone with a friend.

So here’s what I did in an effort to track down the missing pants.

1. Looked in the little man’s laundry basket just in case I’d imagined the whole hanging-up-the-pants thing.

2. Looked in the dryer to see if they’d gotten mixed in with a load of towels.

3. Looked in A’s closet.

4. Looked in the basket where I put all of A’s shorts – just in case I’d confused khaki pants with khaki shorts and OH MY WORD WHO AM I AND WHAT HAS BECOME OF ME?

5. Looked in my closet to see if I’d accidentally hung up the pants with my stuff.

6. Looked in A’s closet again.

7. Paused briefly in my quest to find the khakis in order to season some asparagus and put it in the oven.

8. Looked underneath the currently deflated inflatable chair that’s on top of the ottoman in our den because quite frankly a larger-than-average horse could hide under that thing and we’d never, ever know it. Unless of course the horse decided to whinny. But since khakis can’t whinny, I decided it couldn’t hurt to double check.

9. Looked under the bed in the guest room because, well, I sort of like to think of the bed in that room as my giant laundry basket.

10. Decided that 2011 is going to be my year to enter a crazy contest and WIN IT ALL, BY DIGGITY.

11. Looked in one of the suitcases we took to California.

12. Looked in A’s closet again.

13. Looked in a stack of pajama bottoms that I was about to put away.

14. Looked in a folded fitted sheet that is currently residing on the floor of the guest room because, well, it seems happy there.

15. Greeted my husband when he came home from work and then said, “Have I told you that I CAN’T FIND THE KHAKI PANTS?”

16. Looked in my laundry basket again.

17. Looked in the laundry room again.

18. Served supper to my family while talking about the fact that the two pairs of lighter-colored khakis were in the washing machine, THEY WERE IN THE WASHING MACHINE, but the darker-colored khakis were still NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.

19. Poured a Diet Coke over some delicious crushed ice because not even my search for the khaki pants could prevent me from enjoying THE FINER THANGS IN LIIIIIFE.

20. Walked back to A’s bedroom and wondered, If I were a pair of khaki pants, where would I be?

21. Reached the conclusion that it was probably unwise to, you know, ASSUME THAT THE PANTS COULD THINK AND MAKE INDEPENDENT DECISIONS.

22. Folded some more clothes while D was talking to someone on the phone, and as soon as he hung up I said, “I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND THE PANTS.”

23. Looked in the dryer again.

24. Contemplated asking the people on Twitter if they had any idea where the pants might be.

25. Looked in A’s closet again.

26. Found the pants hanging in A’s closet in the exact spot where I thought I remembered putting them this past Saturday when I was on the phone with a friend, OH THANK YOU.

So that was pretty much my afternoon / early evening.

And needless to say, the little man will be wearing those khaki pants to school tomorrow, OH YES MA’AM HE WILL.

Love,
Crazy in Alabama

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

Well, since I’m struggling a little bit today with doing anything that could be considered remotely productive (unless, of course, you consider watching basketball a productive activity), I thought I’d update the blog and bore y’all for a little while.

It is my sweet privilege to serve you in this manner.

So.

Last Saturday our little family of three hopped on a plane and went to California. We flew out of Atlanta because we could get a flight from there waaaaaay cheaper than we could from here, so we left the house at dark o’clock Saturday morning and made the trek to the ATL. A friend of mine had suggested that we park at one of the off-site parking lots and catch a shuttle to the airport, so that is exactly what we did. It was a big time- and money-saver. I’m now an off-site parking believer.

(And yes, this is life at 41. Excitement over off-site parking lots.)

(Next up: FIBER SUPPLEMENTS!)

We’ve been planning our trip to LA since the first of the year, and we had about fourteen different reasons behind it: 1) D’s best friend Todd and his family live there, and we were way overdue for a visit 2) We were also overdue for a just-for-the-fun-of-it family trip 3) My sister-in-law Janie and my nephews were meeting us out there 4) It was Spring Break 5) Spring Break happened to coincide with the little man’s 8th birthday 6) We wanted to ride some rollercoasters.

Okay. Maybe we only had six reasons. BUT SIX IS A LOT.

And we had so much fun. Here are a few of my favorite moments.


Our flight to LA had TVs in the backs of the seats. And for six American dollars, you could watch a pretty wide selection of live television programming. I opted for Food Network, and OH, IT DELIGHTED ME. I love “Chopped,” and there was some sort of “Chopped All-Stars” thing going on. I DID NOT MIND IT.


We spent most of Sunday sightseeing, and when we stopped at Hollywood & Highland to walk around and take some pictures, I got very excited when I saw the banners for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” across the street. I kept pointing and asking D if he wanted me to take his pictures in front of the banners, and he looked sort of puzzled and grinned and said, “No, that’s okay.” It was only, oh, YESTERDAY when I realized that D doesn’t actually watch Jimmy Kimmel – he watches Jimmy Fallon. He loves Jimmy Fallon’s show, in fact, but it is filmed in New York. Which is a considerable distance from Hollywood & Highland.


By mid-afternoon Sunday, the boys could not quit giggling / making tooting noises / actually tooting. Janie decided that if we had any chance of returning to the hotel with our sanity intact, she was going to have to physically separate Alex and H. They were slightly wound up.


Their wound up state may have had something to do with the fact that they had just spent about fifteen minutes running around in the ice-cold ocean. Oh, they were lively.

The next day we were at Disneyland bright and early, and as you can see, everyone was considerably more calm.


In his defense, it was his 8th birthday, and it was the first time he’s been tall enough to ride the Indiana Jones ride, so his happiness was sort of off-the-charts. Plus, the Indy t-shirt was in a stack of clothes that our sweet neighbor recently passed along to us, so, you know, PERFECTION.


A couple of hours later the boys made their first trek to Space Mountain together, and listen: we all hollered like a bunch of hillbillies who had just won a round of “Family Feud.” We love us some rollercoasters, and we screamed our heads off. Even after we waited SEVENTY MINUTES to ride Tower of Terror. Such a blast.


Alex was a little scared about riding California Screamin’ – it is super fast and has a big loop and all – but he decided that he wanted to try it, and OH MY MERCY he loved it. In fact, he walked off of it, looked at me and said, “One word: AWESOME” – and jumped right back in line to ride it again. My nephews thought it was awesome, too – they rode it three times in a row.


We had a little birthday dinner at a Disney restaurant Monday night, and we were all so tired that I’m not entirely sure we could tell you what we ate (I do know that ice water has never tasted more delicious than it did when I sat down at the table and KNOCKED ‘ER BACK). At the end of the meal our waitress brought Alex a birthday cupcake, and he proceeded to eat all the icing and very little cake. Which was really no different than his first birthday.

Tuesday we went to Universal, and after spending Monday fighting some serious crowds at Disney, our time at Universal felt a little bit like a trip to a spa. We got to the park about fifteen minutes after it opened, and the average time we waited for rides was about five minutes. The first thing we did was take Alex to the souvenir shop to buy a hat (I’d left his cap at the hotel), and y’all, he picked out a WINNER. Cracked me up every single time I looked at him. Especially when he paired his new hat with the 3-D glasses for the studio tour.


WHAT UP, PAPAW?

The studio tour was so entertaining (way better than it was ten years ago); the kids and the grown-ups had a blast. Afterwards we rode some rides and took some pictures and watched the very cute Shrek in 4-D.


I didn’t know if an eight year-old would still be interested in getting pictures made with characters, but as it turned out: YES. He was way more laid-back about it than he was four years ago, but he still got such a kick out of seeing the “real” characters. Big fun.

Late Tuesday afternoon Todd was sweet enough to set up a little behind-the-scenes tour for the boys at the place where he works, and it may have been the boys’ favorite part of the trip. Afterwards we went to eat at a place called Paco’s Tacos, and I could write an ode to the tortillas there. They were FANTASTIC. Todd’s wife and daughter met us for supper, and we all spent most of our meal talking about how cute Gracie is. She is a doll.


See? I told you.

We had a long day of travel on Wednesday thanks to a couple of runway delays in LA and Atlanta (there was no gate for our plane in Atlanta after we landed). I was about to CRAWL OUT OF MY SKIN after sitting on the runway in LA for over an hour, but then the Delta people made it somewhat better by making all the on-flight movies complimentary. Which is precisely the reason I spent a couple of hours getting re-acquainted with one of my favorite movies of all time.


“That is one NUTTY HOSPITAL.”

So good.

And when we finally got back to Birmingham, there was one very sweet puppy dog who was beside herself with happy when she saw us.

So all in all, it was a great trip. We had great fun. We made some great memories.

And it’s great to be home.

The end.