I’ve Fallen Into The Apple Music Rabbit Hole & I Can’t Get Out

Way back when I was a fresh-faced newlywed who had no need for anything even remotely resembling an intensive nighttime moisturizer, I listened to a whole lot of Ben Folds Five. It was the perfect angst-y music for my angst-y inner English major, and I’m happy to tell you that tonight, thanks to Apple Music (I promise I’ll quit talking about it eventually), I’ve listened to all manner of Ben Folds Five favorites that I haven’t heard in years.

I may have also made playlist that I’m lovingly referring to as Summer Dance Party (for Old People). It’s not quite finished, but I feel really good about its potential to get my fellow 40-somethings up and moving. And please know that I was tempted just now to say “on the dance floor,” but then I remembered that 40-somethings don’t typically hang out near a lot of dance floors, so I guess I’m hoping that it’ll at least convince some of us to stand up from the table and move our arms.

Nothing like breaking it down for four whole seconds before you take your seat again.

So anyway. The weekend. Yes. We did have one. Alex hung out with a friend Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, and since David didn’t have to work on Friday, we had the best, most laid-back day. Hazel was so pleased to have everybody in one place, as evidenced by the fact that she ran to the couch after Alex’s friend left and stayed in this position for about half an hour.


In the meantime, I finally finished the newsletter and sent it out, and then we spent the rest of the day right here in our pajamas. It was delightful.

We knew that our 4th was going to be low-key because some of our family members are having to lay low right now thanks to various pains, injuries, and ailments, and the folks we normally shoot fireworks with were out of town. But then Alex ended up going to a friend’s house to swim and cook out, so David and I went out to eat and then proceeded to run about 14 errands. One of the things we’d wanted to do over the weekend was make a list of everything – EVERYTHING – we eventually want / need to do to the inside and outside of our house, and I’ll be diggity dog if we didn’t finally get ‘er done. That list is long, and it is intimidating, and it makes me just a tiny bit anxious, but it feels like a relief to have finally identified ALL THE THINGS.

Y’all be sure to check back in around 2024 to see if we’ve accomplished all of them.

Do you hear my nervous laughter?

Probably the biggest thing on our list is the kitchen, and the main hang-up I’ve had with getting started on it is 1) not wanting to spend the money and 2) being so afraid that I’m going to get it wrong. I like so many different styles and colors that my Pinterest board for kitchens looks like it has a personality disorder, and I’m having the hardest time figuring out what will be classic but a little bit contemporary and colorful but not obnoxious. So, um, I’ll let you know when I get that particular set of problems solved. We are not going to go the route of a major gut job because we know it’ll get way too expensive way too fast, so we need to be smart about what we do.

Not gonna lie. It makes my head hurt a little bit. But I’m excited. But it still makes my head hurt. SO MANY DETAILS.

A few minutes ago, though, I was looking at people.com to get the full range of Princess Charlotte’s christening photos, and I saw this.

Photo Credit: Chris Jackson

Photo Credit: Chris Jackson


I mean. My goodness. Y’all. That is one cute young’un. So maybe I’ll just print out this picture and tape it to my current circa 1974 kitchen cabinets and call it a day. INSTANT HAPPINESS.

So that’s about all that’s going on around here. A big ole to-do list, a whole lot of music, and a fun week ahead.

Hope your week is fun, too!

(And if you have a bad day, just look at this.)

Photo Credit: Chris Jackson

Photo Credit: Chris Jackson

(It’ll make it all better.)

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 50


Well, our little podcast and Sally O’Malley have something in common.

This is our 50th episode, only I didn’t even realize it until Alex mentioned it to me right before we started recording, and then I forgot to say anything to Melanie until about 2/3 of the way through the podcast.

So clearly we’ve planned an enormous celebration.

We did make a very impromptu (and somewhat unorganized) decision to do some special giveaways, though, and you’ll find out the what and the how if you listen to the podcast. You can enter on my blog and Melanie’s blog; there will be four winners total.

And somehow, considering that this is our 50th podcast, it seems fitting that the content is absolutely all over the place. YOU SHOULD EXPECT NO LESS. We talk about Mabel and Piper’s trip to the Pawderosa Ranch, my many hair-related insecurities, the wonder that is Apple Music, my Power Ballad Mix Tape playlist, our enthusiasm for Top 40 radio, and so much more.

Thanks so much for listening, y’all. And for being patient when we’d take a year-long break between podcasts. And for not being critical when the sound was terrible. And for consistently encouraging us like crazy where this silly little podcast is concerned. In its own unique way, it has been and continues to be a blast.

You can click here to listen. Or here. You can even listen right here on the blog.

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

Just FYI – here’s where you can get more info on the products / places we mention (these aren’t affiliate links – just regular ole links):

Jen Lancaster’s I Regret Nothing
Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies
Benefit They’re Real! Mascara
The Most Awesome Power Ballad Mix Tape Playlist (by Sophie via Apple Music)

Enjoy, y’all.

11 Mildly Interesting Points On A Tuesday Night In Almost-July

1. I just got home from a quick trip to Mississippi, and in case you are wondering, every 18-wheeler in existence is currently traveling on I-20.


3. Mama had a couple of doctor’s appointments today, and she was a little (uncharacteristically) frustrated when we were leaving the house this morning because she didn’t feel like she’d had enough time to get ready. So when I looked at her black pants, aqua jacket, 2 pearl necklaces, dangly earrings, and 3 sparkly bracelets, I got a little tickled. “You’re good, Mama,” I said. And she was.

4. A little while ago I was setting up our Family Sharing on Apple Music, and after I clicked on some preferences it suggested this little treasure for me.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.50.30 PM

SO. MANY. MEMORIES. First cassette, first album I played on a jam box, and endless quantities of early teenager angst. FANTASTIC.

5. Then I spotted this little gem over on the sidebar, clicked on it, and I was back on Highway 25 in my Buick Regal again…his original Greatest Hits album was my FAVORITE thing to listen to on the way to college (besides Amy Grant’s The Collection, of course).

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.59.36 PM

6. And speaking of…

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.04.18 PM

…so I think Apple Music and I are going to be fast friends. I’ve resisted any pay-for-streaming service because I worried about the songwriters getting their fair share, but I’m gonna give this one a try. We shall see, I reckon.

7. I still have a few newsletter-related emails I haven’t answered yet. One thing to keep in mind is that if you subscribed after I sent out the first newsletter, Mail Chimp will not send you the first one. You should get the second one, though – and it’ll go out this Thursday or Friday. If you’d like to subscribe, just fill out this handy form.

8. You might need to sit down for this next bit of news, but I went to the movies TWICE last week. TWICE. TO THE PICTURE SHOW. I don’t even know the last time that happened. But we went to see Inside Out (which I LOVED – have thought so much about it after the fact, too) and Max (a little long, but it was a sweet dog movie). Anyway, I realized when we went to see Inside Out that our theatre has $2 Cokes and $2 popcorn on Thursdays, and that may well be a summertime game changer.

9. I am so sad about Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s divorce that it’s borderline irrational. But I honestly feel heartbroken for them. That’s probably weird. But I do.

10. This Apple Music thing is no joke, y’all. I listened to Chicago 17 and almost started digging through my bathroom drawers for my Merle Norman eye shadow sampler with that turquoise shade I liked so much in 7th grade. I told Melanie a few minutes ago that I feel like I found my red cassette tape carrier that was my constant companion in the 80s.

11. And finally – just because it never, ever gets old and I never, ever get tired of posting it.

Happy Wednesday, y’all.

My Not-Quite-Finished Favorite

We’ve been in this house for 8 1/2 years, and at this point it looks like we’re going to shoot for 40. It’s not that we never think about leaving, though. Every three or four months one of us will bring up the possibility of selling and buying something so brand-spankin-new that it squeaks, but then two things always happen: 1) we can’t imagine loving a location more than we love this one and 2) I walk in the door, look out the windows, and say, “OH MY WORD I LOVE THESE TREES SO MUCH I’M NEVER LEAVING.”

So the moral of the story is that we’re staying right here. But after 8 1/2 years, we’re still trying to figure out how to make these rooms work best for our little family.


For the longest time I didn’t really think I needed an office. I set up my blogging headquarters at the bar in our living room, and it was a pretty handy way to do things when Alex was little and I needed to be in the same room that he was. I liked having my computer in the center part of the house, and there were lots of nights when I’d sit at the bar and type a blog post while David watched TV on the couch.

But then my laptop died and an old desktop computer became my bloggy HQ. So we cleaned out the playroom, moved a few things around, and made me a little office in the room right off of our kitchen. Apparently that room was the “mom den” when the house was built – a place for her to sit and relax at the far end of the house – and it’s always been one of my favorite rooms in the house.

That little office served me pretty well. Eventually we painted the desk and rearranged some things. And then I bought a gold couch at an estate sale and turned the room into sort of a hang-out space / office / den.

But here’s what happens when you put a couch in a room: people start sitting in there. And it’s great because we use that gold sofa and that little off-the-kitchen room more than any other space in our house, I bet. It’s just that a high-traffic area isn’t necessarily conducive to writing, and after I started working my first book about four years ago, I realized that I seemed to require a whole lot more quiet than I did with blogging. And that is tricky when you have been writing in a room that has a gold sofa where everybody likes to hang out.

So that is when we entered my writing-at-Starbucks-and-Panera phase.

I still wrote at home a lot, but I was forever distracted (write a few sentences, put on a load of laundry, finish a paragraph, unload the dishwasher, etc.). Sometimes I’d take the laptop in the guest room and try to write in there (that’s actually what I did a lot with the first book), and that is probably when I developed my deep and abiding affection for the bed in there. That bed and I are best buddies; it has become my favorite place in the world to watch TV, and really, I don’t know why I’m surprised since it is also my favorite place in the world to pile up clean laundry. That bed is good people.

The second book is what really proved to me that SOME QUIET SPACE, IT WOULD BE SO HELPFUL. I had a harder time focusing at Panera and Starbucks, maybe because I always seemed to run into former students and would wind up talking to people way more than I should have. There were times when I wanted to email my editor and say, “Well, I don’t have any chapters to send you, but I can definitely write up a very detailed update on how Cameron, Madison, and Caroline are doing at college,” only I didn’t really think she’d appreciate that in light of my BIG LOOMING DEADLINE.

Long story endless: when I finally finished edits on the second book, I asked David how he’d feel about us turning our 4th bedroom into an office. He was totally on board, probably because he’d watched me move my laptop from the kitchen table to the dining room table to the guest room when I was trying to finish edits on book #2. So after he agreed, it was really just a matter of finding a time to drive over to Atlanta and go to IKEA. Granted, it was nice to have that 2nd guest room when we had a bunch of company, but we’d recently let a friend who was moving borrow most of that furniture, and it seemed like a good opportunity for a re-do.

And listen. It was as low-key a makeover as you can imagine. We didn’t paint, we didn’t add any custom features, and we didn’t buy expensive furniture. We did, however, measure the walls and the floor space, and I’m so glad we did or we would’ve been in a pickle once we got to Atlanta.

We put the room together right after Christmas, but I didn’t really “move in” until the beginning of April. I’m still not anywhere near finished with it; I want to hang some window treatments and make a gallery wall above the awesome small sectional we found at IKEA (it actually has a trundle that turns it into a full bed, so we still have extra room for company if we need it). But this – THIS – has become my happiest little place in the whole wide world.

 photo IMG_4200_zpsfn6gfoxf.jpg

Please take note of the fancy stand for my fan (it’s an iPhone box), and I don’t even have the prints framed (you rock, gold washi tape). But I found the framed print at Home Goods (it says “Do All Things With Love” if you can’t tell in the picture), and I have what will hopefully be the intro for book #3 on the poster board above the desk, and then there’s Mentholatum and headphones, two things I never, ever want to be without when I’m trying to get some writing done.

And y’all. It’s so quiet. And THE ROOM HAS A DOOR. And I can sit right here in my very own house and be productive.

I’m not kidding. It has been such a gift. And it has been so nice to actually USE a room that we rarely even walked into before.

Here’s my next favorite thing.


Its a terrible picture. But I finally have a place for my nerdy podcast microphone and all the notebooks and papers that I like to keep nearby but tucked away.

Here’s a picture I posted about a month ago; it gives a little bit better idea of how the furniture ties together.


Eventually I’m going to make everything look all neat and PURTY and I’ll open the blinds and turn on the lights and take lots of pictures. But in the meantime just know that if you’ve been wondering if it makes a difference to have a place in your house where you can really settle in and write / paint / draw / sing / hum / cry / pray / read / plan in the semi-quiet, I would just like to say that YES. YES, IT DOES.

It took me 8 1/2 years to figure it out. And it’s not even a little bit fancy.

But it’s functional, and it’s cheerful, and it’s worth every bit of the wait.

Hallelujah and amen.

Please Mark Your Calendars & Locate Your Batons

I feel like I need to give ample advance notice for this EXCITING LIVE EVENT so that you can plan accordingly.


In the past we’ve used the blog for our commenting, but it gets tough to keep up with the conversation when you’re constantly refreshing and trying to catch up on what you haven’t read. For the last Miss America, we used Twitter, and it was great fun except that comments are limited by 140 characters. So this time around, I thought we’d give Facebook a try. We can start a new thread with every section of the pageant, so hopefully that will keep the conversation more manageable. Plus, Facebook makes it easier for us to reply to each other.

Here are the details.

Miss Mississippi Live Stream“Watch Now” link will be live a little before 8 central on Saturday

Viewing Party – We’ll discuss / analyze / pray corporately that a tap dancer makes it to the top 10 on my Facebook page. As always, this is all in good fun; we don’t want to be critical or hurt anybody’s feelings. We just want to enjoy the pageant together and show our appreciation for the best evening gowns and clap like crazy in the event that someone performs an interpretative dance to a Mariah Carey ballad.

Just FYI: you will have to “like” my Facebook page in order to read and comment, but you can “unlike” it just as soon as the pageant is over if you have a finely curated Facebook feed and don’t want to add anything else to the mix.

By the way, I just wondered why my blog posts never show up in my FB feed, and after a little investigation I realized that I have never liked my own Facebook page. I AM A MARKETING GENIUS. Maybe I’ll decide to like myself before the viewing party. Or maybe I’ll just continue to be non-committal.

REGARDLESS, our Miss Mississippi party will be so much more fun if you can join us. You don’t have to be a Mississippi girl – just a person who loves a good pageant. It should be a delightful way to spend a Saturday night, and I am sure to quote the Sugarbaker girls at least once.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing them.

It Feels Like It’s Been Friday Three Days In A Row

All righty. I sent out the first newsletter this morning about 9:30 central time. If you signed up and did not receive an email from me, check your spam folder. If there’s nothing in your spam folder, then check to make sure you followed the instructions in the confirmation email you received after you signed up. And if you still can’t find a newsletter from me after you do all of those things, email me and let me know. I can check for your email address and then add you manually if need be.

Today I got to hang out all afternoon / evening with three of my best friends from college, and WHOA NELLIE we laughed and dare I say guffawed. My friend Katy had to come into town for work, so Elise and Tracey decided to tag along and oh my word I am so glad they did. We pretty much just sat in a hotel room in our pajamas for the better part of the day, and I laughed until I wheezed on at least six different occasions. I wouldn’t take anything in the world for that.

Around 7 we decided to put on some make-up and change clothes and go to dinner, and we had ourselves a lovely meal at Bellini’s (I know I talk about Chuy’s all the time, but Bellini’s is one of my top five favorite restaurants in Birmingham). I came home after dinner because I have a couple of appointments in the morning and didn’t need to stay up late singing duets from the 90s (I’m not saying that’s exactly what we would have done, but it’s probably a pretty decent guess), but time with forever friends is always such a treat. I wish we all lived closer, but I’m so grateful we get to see each other as much as we do.

The other big news is that Alex comes home from camp this Saturday, and we cannot wait to have him home again. I fully expect that Hazel will lose her dadgum mind when she sees him, and I also fully expect that his camp clothes will require an extensive fumigation process. He left for camp last Sunday afternoon, so the house hasn’t been the same without him here – but he has had a great week away, and we are mighty thankful for that. If I had to guess what his top priorities will be when he gets home, I’d say 1) drinking an ice-cold Dr. Pepper 2) taking a shower and 3) reacquainting himself with the wonder of air conditioning. These are all fine and noble goals if you ask me.

Finally, let’s continue to pray for peace, justice, and healing in Charleston. I can only imagine the shock, the hurt, and the grief. Be near, Lord.

See y’all next week!