A New Fashion Catchphrase

Yesterday afternoon I took Martha to Steinmarts. I took her to Steinmarts because she had been in town for a full three hours without making the pilgrimage to the mothership, and when Alex and I got home we found her sipping on her nineteenth cup of coffee and looking like she was ready for a shopping adventure.

I only had to utter half the word – “Stein” – before she threw on her turquoise jacket and grabbed her purse and walked briskly to the front door.

On the way to the Steinmarts Martha ran through her list of “a few things I’d like to find.” As long as I have known her – which, at this point, is the better part of thirty years – Martha has had a like-to-find list in her head. It changes, of course, depending on her fashion and decorative needs, but sometimes the like-to-find is a three-piece suit (jacket, skirt, pants) that she could wear to church and to weddings and to lunch with the girls if, you know, they were going somewhere nice.

Sometimes the like-to-find is a set of salt and pepper shakers with the same color of blue as those dishes that Rose gave her, you know the ones in the pie safe in the breakfast room? The ones with all the pretty colors?

Sometimes the like-to-find is a collarless black jacket with two buttons – but they have to be big buttons! not little buttons! – that she can wear with the red skirt from Dillard’s that’s not really a red-dy red but more of a burgundy-red, only not a true burgundy because she’s never really owned anything in that color, but the red-dy red skirt has sort of a high waist and so it would look cute with a short black jacket, but it really only needs to have two buttons to keep it a little dressier because if it had three buttons it would look more like something you’d wear to work in a bank or maybe even a law firm!

You really just never know.

Yesterday’s like-to-find list was a sofa, a wing-back chair and a small patio set, so I knew from the get-go that we weren’t going to be find any of it at Steinmarts. But I also knew that the siren call of the short, three-quarter sleeve jacket is strong and irresistible. And since I couldn’t take a page from The Odyssey and tie Martha to some sort of mast to help her resist the siren’s call, I opted to completely enable her.

Which is why we were in the Steinmarts for over one hour.

At one point Martha asked me to look at a black and white coat that she found. It really was cute, and I gave it a thumbs-up, but when she put it on, it was way too big in the shoulders and the sleeves hit her fingertips.


And I’m standing there thinking that if I tried to put on that ‘small’ coat and worked with all my might to squeeze my arms in the sleeves, a movement of a mere fraction of an inch would turn the whole thing into something that resembled the Incredible Hulk’s t-shirt.

Seriously. A light breeze could blow in Huntsville, and those sleeves would fly off of my arms like rockets.

In the end Martha didn’t find anything – she felt like most of the clothes were “beigey-taupey” and not really anything she was looking for and certainly not anything on the like-to-find – but on the way home she told me a story about a yellow jacket that she recently bought.

I’ll spare you most of the details, but the gist was that Martha got an incredible deal on this cute little jacket that had a little bit of fringe on the sleeves and was sort of a bright yellow, but not a mustard gold! oh no! not a mustard gold! Then she said, “I know you write on the blog that I say things are darlin’, just darlin’, but this one REALLY WAS, Sophie, IT REALLY WAS.”

And then:

“Do you know what it was? Do you know? That jacket was darlin’ plus. It was DARLIN’ PLUS! It was SPECIAL. DARLIN’ PLUS!”

And I’ll have you know that in that very moment a single thought came to my mind: in a day or so I’m going to tell the internet about darlin’ plus. And when I tell them, they’re not going to believe it.

Because “darlin’ plus”? WHO SAYS THAT?

My mother-in-law. That’s who.

So in conclusion, internet, I just want to tell you something.

You aren’t just darlin’.

You’re darlin’ plus. Oh yes you are. YOU’RE DARLIN’ PLUS.

And you can hold that in your heart forever and for always.

The Daughter-in-Law of Martha / Mother / “Martie”

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  1. LOVE IT!!!! I love your Martha stories!

  2. I love Martha!

  3. Everytime you write about Martha, I have visuals. It involves much hand-raising, hand-talking, a tidy, tiny little woman who is big in spirit and would make us Northerners just crack up.


  4. I love Martha stories too! I love that you have such a sweet treasure of a woman for your Mother-in-law. You are a mighty blessed family!

  5. Oh my, Sophie, thank you for telling us about ‘darling-plus’ Martha!!! I was so hoping to not have to wait until next week for a Martha update : )

    You all enjoy your weekend together!!

  6. I love your Martha stories. Love ’em! JUST LOVE THEM!!

    Keep ’em coming!

  7. I really think I love that woman sight unseen – she sounds delightful!

  8. Jennifer says:

    Annie and I pass Martha’s house every day on our morning walks, and I was just so tickled this morning thinking about her getting all praised up this weekend. She’s just the cutest, and I just love seeing her zip around the ‘hood in that Honda with her hair done just so.

  9. Oh my goodness, Martha is your mother-in-law?? I love that you love her so much!! Mine wouldn’t be quite so fun to shop with…

    Ooops…was that wrong? :)

  10. I enjoyed the story about shopping with your MIL. My MIL passed away 3 yrs ago and she was such a delight. It brought back memories, thanks for sharing.

  11. L.O.V.E. your Martha story and you too are ‘darling plus’!
    Miss you but understand priorities.
    Blessings today and always,
    Matthew 21:22

  12. Oh my goodness! Sounds like you had a treasure of a day.

  13. If that’s not funny I don’t know what IS. Thanks for a good laugh!

  14. That post was just darlin’plus. And as a former high school English teacher, I am so impressed with your siren reference to the Odyssey. Excellent analogy. Or allusion. Or comparison. Or whatever.

  15. Up here we say, “That is just too cute.” And you are, Sophie. You are.

  16. My mother, Martha’s separated at birth alter ego in Texas, never takes a breath between sentences. A yellow jacket with FRINGE. Can you believe fringe? Would make my mama smile real big. Why it would be darlin’plus.

  17. Oh, bless her heart, she is just darlin’. And, what is great is that Soph, she sounds a lot like you!!! You know, not many people can pull off a bright yellow, only Martha! You are a great enabler, have fun in Memphis! Don’t let Martha get BBQ sauce on her new jacket (it would really show up on bright yellow, mustard gold not so much).
    The Park Wife

  18. Words simply can’t express how SAD I am that I’m not meeting the infamous Martha this weekend!

    HA!! I love me a good Martha story, too! :D

  19. Pamela C. says:

    I couldn’t help it, as soon as I read your post I had to smile. I have had some rough days recently. Yesterday was a good day. Today is a good day because your post brought laughter to my day. Thanks.

    pscole3467 at gmail dot com

  20. Oh my goodness, I have had the crummiest day, but your Martha story? It made me smile. Thank you for blessing my day with the sweetness of her darlin’ plus!

  21. My MIL is the exact polar opposite of yours, but I love her dearly.

    Is there a picture of Martha out there somewhere?

  22. I may be as excited to meet Martha/Martie as I am about the whole stinkin’ trip. And you can tell her I said so.

    See you both SOON,

  23. I have never experienced the joy that is Stein Mart. BUT… in just a matter of a couple of short months, I will be living in a town with not one, but *2* Stein Marts. I will have to give them a visit. And if you find yourself headed up the highway to Huntsville, AL, just let me know. You can give me all your insider info on “the Steinmarts.”

  24. Oh my word…lol

  25. Nobody beats Martha.

    But I think Nina may well be a tie, with her chick stoles and all.

    (I know Nina’s not your people but Melanie’s, but I also know that you know who Nina is.) (Just felt the need to let you know I’m not confused about all that.) :)

    Oh, and darlin’ plus is the best. Better than “fierce”, “disgusting”, or anything else ever thought up by the folks at Bravo or Tyra Banks. …just sayin’. Darlin’ Plus wins.

  26. Oh my. Martha is one of my people, fo sho. Y’all are just Darlin PLUS. Hysterical. I want to bottle Martha and sprinkle her on some of these yankee implants around here in H’ville. She’s just awesome.

  27. I LOVE MARTHA. I love her so much that I have to yell it, Innernet-style.

  28. Do you think you could find some way to video her next time? Because although you do a fine job of the play by play, nothing would be more fun than seeing it in person. Really, the internet could benefit from the fun!

  29. Martha sounds like a WONDERFUL mother-in-law! Your tales of her adventures always leave me smiling. I agree with Holly…video of your shopping sprees, etc. would be so much fun to watch. And the new phrase…it’s “darlin’ plus”.

    Jane (artfully graced)

  30. LOL…we need a picture of the darlin jacket…I have this picture of her in my mind being southern and saying “darlin”.

  31. The ninth grade English teacher in me loves the allusion to The Odyssey. Thank you for making my curriculum relevant:).

  32. I think Martha is “darlin’ plus”.

  33. I can’t wait to get my little eyes on that darlin’ Martha. I’m gonna fall in love. :)

  34. Oh my goodness! Is there any way you can organize a shopping festival called “Marthapalooza?” Not even kiddin’!! It wouldn’t even have to be an overnight event like the LPL, but a one day blowout of Steinmarts shopping and whatnot and lunch at a place that is darling plus, of course! Do it, Sophie!!! People would travel. They would!!

  35. Emily Massey says:

    OH Sophie-
    You had me at “she threw on her turquoise jacket…” Priceless, just priceless. And even better when you are from MS.

  36. It is POURING rain outside right now in my little town. I had a kind-of-lousy day until right now. You just made it a DARLIN’ PLUS day……with a sweet new phrase to share with my friends! Love you, Boomama! You’re are just too funny :)

  37. I had to laugh out loud. My Mimi always has a “like to find” list working. She’ll be 91 in Feburary and still goes to the Steinmarts with her “like to find” list.So she can look cute for the Women’s Guild…..
    Catch ya on the flip side at LPL in

  38. i want to go shopping with Martha! but only if I have a lot of time on my hands.

  39. You are so lucky to have such a special darlin’ plus mother-in-law!

  40. Oh. My. Goodness. That is just too funny! I love Southern Ladies, particularly the ones of that generation. I want to be just like them when I grow up!

  41. Oh my goodness! You know I am an ardent fan of Martha, I really really truly am, and I know you are going away for a spiritual weekend, and I know The Office was not spiritual AT ALL but I loved every second of it and I hope you will blog about it later when you get a chance. That said, have a wonderful weekend!

    Kevin’s shoes – that’s all I’m saying.

  42. I wish I had a Martha of a mother-in-law!!
    You are the best writer ever.

  43. Mary Jo Smith says:

    I think I’m going to incorporate “darling plus” into my vocabulary…I live in Texas, I’m sure I could throw in a “y’all” after that, too. :)

  44. I love her!

    She’s a jewel from heaven!

  45. Long live the “Martie” stories! It’s starting to feel like old times in this bloggity neck o’ the woods. :)


    which, btw, was the most precious thing ever.

  47. Oh my goodness, this was my first time reading a Martha story. What a treat! And I needed a special moment of silence for the Steinmart in Nashville. We don’t have any in Maryland and in this economy I cannot justify a jaunt into DC when I have a Loft coupon sitting right on my counter. Not that a Loft could ever compare to a Steinmart, oh no.

    This post was just darlin’ plus!

  48. Okay, so now I have a new rule about reading your blog: Don’t drink and read. I laughed so hard that I spewed tea all over my keyboard. Enjoyed this piece.

  49. Love you SO-phie. Have such a great time this weekend!!

  50. Oh, how I’ve missed Martha.

    I think SHE is darlin’ plus!

  51. I didn’t know that Martha was your MIL either! Woot, where-I-been?

    I love these ‘southern’ posts. It’s like a whole separate culture compared to what I was raised in (rural midwest) and also compared to where I live now (Pac NW). Crack me up.

  52. So, did Martha LOVE it? Looking forward to hearing all about it. :) And pictures would be fab, too, if you have them! ;)

  53. Ok, Sophie, confession time. It has been a while since I have read your blog; not b/c you aren’t high-larious and all, but I have a condition known as (wait for it)… Adult onset ADD. I think it happened with the birth of my 2 girls when they zapped my brains out as well. SO, I am tickled that I got to see Martha from a distance and have a visual of her
    before I even read this!! Now. Second of all, I’m glad I got to see you this weekend!! You haven’t changed a bit. Love ya!

  54. Renae and I were so tickled for the chance to snag you and Melanie for a half-second and a hug! It was wonderful to see you. Thanks for your encouragement to “stay the course” and keep pressing on in the Lord.

    Beth was fabulous. God touched down in a big way! I have never been to one of the big arena events. I heard Beth at Bellevue back before she WAS Beth Moore. She had not written her studies yet but we all knew, after we heard her teach, that God had big plans for her! At the end of her message, she signed a Sandi Patti song. They played the song and she signed it with all the drama that you would expect. It was wonderful. And she read several of her poems that she later published.

    The night before she spoke I got to go to dinner with her and about 8 other women who were active in Women’s Ministry. Her girls were about 12 and 14 I think.

    Anyways,it was a great blessing to gather with so many who love the Lord and praise ourselves hoarse and hear the Word proclaimed with great power!

    I only wish I had gotten to see you and Martha at the SteinMarts!! It is one of my regular haunts and I never go in without thinking about Martha and her compulsion for all shades of green and her quest for a lipstick that co-ordinates without washing her out!

    Blessings on you and the fam! jean

  55. You’re making me miss my own mother-in-law this morning with your cute story! She was just darlin’ plus. Enjoy those shopping trips, you’ll miss them someday.

  56. WEll I honestly think that Martha is Darling Plus! I LOVED her!
    I could have talked to her all day
    My favorite comment was when she said (in response to my question did she have fun this weekend)
    “I absolutely loved this weekend. I think I held my breath the whole time!”
    She is a treasure!!!
    Great to see you Sophie – you are precious
    Much love

  57. I really need to go shopping with Martha. I can never find a cooton pickin’ thing that’s darlin’, let alone darlin’ plus!

  58. Oh, I love it!! I NEVER have that much fun shopping for clothes. ;)

  59. I love Martha stories; they’re just darlin’ plus!!! I never knew she’s your mother-in-law either. What a fun one you got when you married!! ♥

  60. Shannon W. says:

    Well, that was my first “Martha” story and I’m in tears!! She sounds like a HOOT.