Nice To Make Your Reacquaintance

I was driving through the parking lot in front of Nordstrom Rack Saturday morning when I saw my friend Anne Murray (her first name is a double name, just in case you’re thinking that I’m referring to the Canadian songstress from the 70s). I haven’t seen her since last spring, probably, so I was thrilled to have a chance to catch up. Anyway, I parked the car and we started talking and she said something like, “Is life always as happy as it seems on your blog? Because it seems like everything is going so well!”

My response?

“Oh, sister. Pay attention to the lulls.”

Because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been in a bit of a lull where the blog is concerned.

And it’s not any one thing. But last week, I felt like six months of crazy caught up with me. It all started when I broke my ankle, and then we had the holidays, and then Mama was sick, and then the book came out, and then I started traveling for the book stuff, and then there were a few weeks when real life just got really, well, real. And then last weekend I drove to Monroe, Louisiana for a speaking thing (it was one of my favorite events ever, by the way – such a great group of women), and by the time I got home I had to turn right around and go to work. Then I realized that somewhere along the way I’d caught a cold. And maybe that is why, by late Tuesday afternoon, every little thing was making me cry.

Puppies? Tears.

Stories about babies? Sobs.

Working through my Bible study homework? Profuse weeping.

And then Wednesday was like 42 days in one.

But here’s what happened Thursday. We were under a winter storm warning, which means there was no school. I stayed home all day in my pajamas. I took cold medicine in broad daylight and didn’t have to worry about whether it would make me sleepy or not. I had a couple of conversations with friends that were just flat-out good for my soul. I made my fellas a big ole Southern lunch – complete with gravy. I sat on the couch with Hazel and tried to make Alex’s head fit underneath my chin when he’d stand next to me in the kitchen and I’d hug him (he is now up to my eyes – which means I only have a few more months of being taller than he is). I washed about nine loads of clothes and even folded them. I watched Bravo.

And by Friday, I felt human again. I felt rested even if I sounded like a frog. We had late start (thanks to ice), so the few hours at work flew by. Friday night was fun and easy, and then Saturday morning the boys set off on a little father-son adventure. I drove to Mississippi for a wedding, laughed my head off while I was there, and when I got home late Saturday afternoon, I was by myself in my house for the first time in forever.

It was delightful. Granted, I missed my people, but I caught up on TV and got sushi take-out and fell asleep at 9:30 oh praise the Lord.

The next couple of weeks are no joke in terms of some work-related deadlines, but I’m so grateful that I don’t feel like I’m running on fumes any more. At least once a year I do this – just run myself straight into the ground – so I don’t know why I’m surprised when I find myself in a spot where I’m just WORN SLAP OUT on every level. There’s something prideful in me that likes to think that I can do it all, but I can’t and I never could. I just throw a bunch of balls up in the air and try to tend to whichever one I catch first – and then I catch another one and another one and pretty soon I’m juggling.

And listen. Juggling can be fun. Entertaining, even. But after awhile it can get a little exhausting. I have a feeling that some of y’all can relate to that.

So. Thanks for being patient and gracious and etc.

And I didn’t really mean to over-explain like that. Because I actually had a few things I wanted to mention before I wrapped up this post.

– Kelly Minter’s What Love Is: The Letters of 1, 2, 3 John is the Bible study I’m working through right now, and IT. IS. WONDERFUL. I’ve been moving through it slowly – taking 2 or 3 days for every day of homework – and there is so much depth, even in smaller doses, that I still walk away with lots to think about. (BONUS: There are some incredible recipes tucked in between each week’s assignments. So delightful.)

– I have decided that this is my favorite of all the drugstore mascaras. I’m not saying that it’s the best of ALL the mascaras, but this one has become my go-to when I run in CVS or wherever. I am well aware that this whole mascara thing has become a bit of a mythical unicorn for me, but the Telescopic works great if you are blessed with fine, sparse lashes like I am (that was sarcasm) (my eyelashes are so very sad).

– My guess is that a whole bunch of you watched Jen and Brandon Hatmaker’s new HGTV show called Your Big Family Renovation. The new season premiered last week, and it was such a treat. I laughed, I cried, I wished someone would come over and gut my entire kitchen.

– I have honest-to-goodness had a bob since 1995. TWENTY YEARS. There was one time about seven years ago when I let my hair grow out almost to my shoulders, but ultimately I decided that was a bunch of craziness and I went back to my chin-level hair. I don’t have any plans to change my actual haircut, but I do want to learn to style my hair in more of a wavy bob. The mere thought of this fills me with fear and trepidation because it will require me to use a curling iron. Quite frankly I felt like I’d left my curling iron days far behind me when I stopped using one to style my bangs in the late 90s.

Anyway, my growing obsession with the wavy bob is why I find myself staring at the following more often than I’d care to admit.

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Google Images will convince you to set some hair goals, y’all. And I welcome all wavy bob tips and suggestions.

I’ll be standing in the curling irons aisle at Ulta if you need me.

Hope y’all have a great Monday!

Because Spring Is About To, Well, Spring

Now I know full well that winter weather is not all the way behind us – there is even talk of ice and whatnot later this week in Alabama – but seeing as how it is March 1 and that means NO MORE FEBRUARY (hallelujah), I think it makes perfect sense to turn our attention to one of spring / summer’s most wondrous creations.

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The Linen Blend Pull-on Pant from Old Navy.

Oh, y’all. I love these pants. I had four colors until I snagged my gray pair on a nail. So I now I only have three except I just ordered two more which means I’ll be up to 5 for spring ’15. And lest you think I’m crazy for having 5 different colors of the same style pants, let me just stress to you that THESE PANTS ARE A DELIGHT AND A JOY. I actually put mine in the dryer, and since they’re not 100% linen, they don’t need to be ironed (unless you’re a little obsessive about ironing, in which case you can iron to your heart’s content). I wear mine to work, to church, to coffee, to the grocery store, to baseball games, to hang out at home – you name it.

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So. I don’t know if you like a wide-legged pant or not, but if you do, I can’t recommend these enough. I had a 30% off coupon from Old Navy when I ordered mine, so even if you don’t have a coupon right this second, you know that Old Navy will email you one within about the next five minutes. Or maybe it’ll take a couple of days. But still. Old Navy loves a coupon.

I ordered the chambray (which I’ve wanted forever but they were out of stock) and the black, by the way. I’m beside myself with kicky wide-legged excitement.

Who knew that the return of the Linen-Blend Pull-on Pants would make March 1st so much fun?

(I might be slightly overexcited about this wide-legged development.)

(However, I make no apologies considering that skinny jeans / pants make my legs look like tree trunks.)

(It’s good to be clear about skinny jean limitations.)

Happy Pants, everybody!

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 44

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I don’t mind saying that I’m a little punchy in this podcast. In fact, I had to sort of dial myself back a few notches about midway through. Please pardon all my very strong opinions about and objections to things that are really not important at all.

(I like to think that my absence of charm is connected at least in part to the antibiotic I’ve been taking this last week.)

(Apparently it’s turned me into FEISTY MCGEE.)

Also, Melanie has a bit of a cough this time around. For some reason it entertains me to no end.

Anyway, we talk about sandals, musicals, Melanie’s debut as a clue on Let’s Make a Deal, my misguided experimentation with hairspray, our mutual love for crackers, Mel’s cough syrup preferences, Noonday jewelry, and Talenti gelato (which is UNBELIEVABLE).

You can click here to listen. Or here. You can even listen right here.

Or, as always, you can subscribe on iTunes if you’re feeling particularly fancy.

Hope y’all enjoy it!

p.s. The crackers we mention are John Wm. Macy’s Asiago & Cheddar Cheese Crisps. :-)

Let It Maybe / Possibly / Hopefully Snow

I have failed at all the internet things this week. I haven’t blogged, I haven’t answered email, and I’ve just barely read anything. Work was super full on Monday and Tuesday, so I’ve pretty much driven home every afternoon in a too-much-to-process stupor, then tried to cook some supper and hang out with my people and stay awake long enough to watch this past Sunday’s episode of Downtown Abbey.

It took me two nights to get through one episode, by the way.

(This seems like a good time to mention that I was really hoping Rose’s wedding would have been more elaborate, but oh my goodness I always enjoy it when the Grantham clan goes on a road trip. Highly entertaining.)

Today, though, we’re home. The forecast says that we have some snow in our future, though 40-plus years of living in the Deep South tells me that we need not get our hopes up. Alex was up at 6:50 this morning and READY TO SLED – but if the snow comes, it won’t be here until afternoon.

I can’t even imagine how riveting it must be to read about our weather, by the way. Stick around a little longer and I’ll tell you all about what’s in our pantry.

Anyway, here are a few things I’ve wanted to mention over the course of the last few days.

– My friend Karla takes care of all the behind-the-scenes stuff on this blog – stuff like layout and code and other technological details that threaten to make my head explode if I think about them for longer than about five minutes. Well, she read through all of your comments about the podcast graphics, and yesterday she sent me four new options (she’s a professional designer, so I trust her with design stuff more than I trust myself with Word Swag). Melanie and I both loved this one, so HERE YOU HAVE IT.

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I think it’s a great combo of the ones we liked most from Word Swag – just the right mix of simple and fun. So from here on out, it’s what you’ll see on the podcasts. And just FYI – we do in fact have a glitter option if we’re feeling particularly sparkly.

– This Sunday night I’ll be at North Monroe Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana.

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I would love to see some of y’all there!

– This has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that it always makes me laugh.

– This morning Dave Barnes posted this video by The Bros. Landreth on Twitter. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a long time.

– Hazel, by the way, thinks this (maybe) Snow Day is the best thing ever.

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She’s been snuggled right up next to me all morning.

Next thing you know I’ll be putting mittens on her paws and making her some sort of puffy vest.

Hope y’all are having a great day!

Let’s Just Call This Thursday Thoughts Because I Am Fresh Out Of Titles

Well, I’m not a doctor, but apparently – at least this time around – I did a pretty decent job diagnosing myself with a sinus infection. Because sweet fancy Moses do I ever have one.

I also now have an antibiotic, a 10-day supply of a steroid, and a brand new bottle of Flonase. And as much as I don’t enjoy taking medicine, I am very much enjoying my increased ability to breathe through my nose and also read things without feeling like my eyes are on fire. Hooray for progress.

Also, can I just say that y’all have offered a wealth of podcast graphics feedback? Thank you so much! I may have to make a spreadsheet to keep up with all the preferences in fonts and colors (or I may just turn over all the info to an actual, real-live designer), but y’all are so kind to look and think and evaluate and share your thoughts. Melanie and I can’t thank you enough.

As for events outside the realm of sinuses and graphic design, there’s really not much going on around here (well, I can’t really say that about work since there is ALWAYS something going on when you spend most of the day with teenagers, but most of those stories aren’t mine to tell). Last night I actually decided to catch up on American Idol since it’s been hard for me to stay up-to-speed on the audition rounds this year. Honestly, I may have walked through a little bit of an AI valley last year becasue after being so excited about the new judges (who were and are delightful, by the way), I felt like the season was a disappointment in terms of the actual competition. For there to be so much talent, there weren’t a whole lot of entertainers when it was all said and done, and MY, don’t I have some opinions considering that the height of my personal singing career was that time I got to sing a solo of “I’m A Lost Little Valentine” in the first grade play.

These were just my FEELINGS, though. My very personal FEELINGS.

So last night I got all caught up on the show, and as is ALWAYS my pattern, I have pledged my total and complete devotion to a couple of the contestants already. I don’t know why I always do the thing where I get totally attached to someone (only to be disappointed when they get voted off – please see Melinda Doolittle, Elliott Yamin, Casey James, and Casey Abrams, to name a few), but I do. So while yes, I should know better, clearly I don’t, because TYANNA JONES.

And SWEET MERCY, CLARK BECKHAM.

There are other folks in the top 24 who I really like a lot, but these two – THESE TWO – they are just pure joy when they sing (and play, in Clark’s case). I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for them.

Are any of y’all watching this year? Any early predictions or favorites?

I’m all ears.

(Get it?)

(I made a music pun.)

(That’s just a free service I like to provide.)

(The end.)

This Is Where We Are (And Also: VOTING!)

I typically head into a long weekend with a very ambitious mental to-do list. In fact, as I was driving back from Nashville this past Saturday, I thought about all the things I wanted to accomplish after I got home: washing four or nine loads of clothes, making a big pantry re-stocking trip to the grocery store, finishing up with hanging stuff in the office (we turned our 4th bedroom into an office over the Christmas holidays, and it has been about 80% finished ever since), working on the outline for a new book (I have an idea and a title – but that’s about it), catching up on Bible study homework, and ordering some sandals because I am so tired of wearing boots and I BELIEVE IN SPRING.

So. Here’s what really happened. I did make it to the grocery store but only for the bare necessities. I also managed to catch up on Bible study homework because I had the luxury of two lazy mornings. But as far as the list was concerned, that was about it. I did manage to take not one, not two, but THREE different naps on Monday, and I also watched five episodes of Downton Abbey and am now completely caught up. So while I didn’t get a single letter typed on the new book outline, I can most certainly say that I achieved exceedingly and abundantly more than all I could ask or imagine as far as the Grantham family is concerned.

(And oh, Edith.)

(This season she has done some of her very finest Edith-ing.)

If finally dawned on me today that three naps in one day is NOT AT ALL NORMAL for me, so I made a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow afternoon in the event that I have the plague or a rare sleeping virus or maybe even a sinus infection (my bet is on that last thing). For some reason I sleep a lot when I have a sinus infection – maybe because my eyes burn and get pressure-y and whatnot – but I was so busy napping yesterday that I didn’t really put all the clues together. Anyway, I have a sneaking suspicion that by this time tomorrow I will be enjoying a lovely antibiotic and perhaps even a Z-pack.

Oh! But wait! There’s been one other thing going on around here.

Last week, when I was in the throes of my Word Swag discovery, I started trying to make a new logo for Melanie’s and my podcast. We’ve had our same logo since 2007, and as much as we’ve loved it, we’ve known for a couple of years that we needed a little refresher. Here’s our faithful friend of eight years, by the way.

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I know that’s tiny. But somewhere along the way I deleted the bigger version of it, so we’re rolling sort of lo-res these days.

So I started messing around on Word Swag, and here was my first attempt at a redo.

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I think it’s fun but maybe a little girly in a I-still-like-Barbies sort of way.

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I like the colors in this one, but the background sort of reminds me of an 80s movie about breakdancing.

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Love the colors in this one. Don’t know if a dark gray background is cheerful enough for two people who talk about mascara and Amy Grant so much.

I kept trying different stuff, and eventually I wound up with a color palette that I liked the most (the kelly green and navy at the end). Some of these are really sad, but I’m gonna post them all because I have some questions for you fine people who read the weblogs and listen to the podcasts and whatnot.

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Why am I so drawn to sparkles? I have no idea.

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This one is so boring and blah it makes me want to cry, but I was going for plain after my experiment with sparkly.

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Now please understand: I know that I’m not a graphic designer. I know that I’m not even a pretend graphic designer. I don’t have any idea how to put colors together and when sparkly backgrounds or useful or anything like that. But I am interested to know what (if anything) you like about these as far as potential podcast logo-type things are concerned. Please remember that Melanie and I don’t really get into that whole idea of “building a brand,” so it doesn’t matter to me at all if the logo colors “family” with our blog colors or anything like that. We’re a couple of mamas who like to talk about TV, not some sort of media conglomerate. CLEARLY.

So, if you have an opinion about which one of these you like the most, let me know in the comments. You can say, “type from 2, colors from 10″ or “please no not number 8″ or “I want to marry 7.” WHATEVER. There’s no need for fancy design critique because I won’t understand it. I’m just trying to get an idea if there’s even one of these we could use as a baseline – or if we should just stick with our old standby because it’s been faithful and true and loyal for eight years and if it ain’t broke, etc.

And why did I stop including our names about halfway through? Because I forgot, that’s why. And now that I look back on them, I’m not so sure that our names are necessary.

All righty. Offer feedback / opinions / a list of your top 3 in the comments. And feel free to chime in on whether you like our full names being there or not. I’ll edit based on your comments. Or maybe I’ll just turn the proceedings over to the professionals. Regardless, though, this will more than likely be a short-term solution, so please don’t feel like I’ve placed the eternal fate of our podcast graphics into the hands of a $1.99 app. NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

Thanks in advance, y’all!