Archives for December 2010

More Fun! Just So Much Fun!

We’re about to celebrate Christmas with D’s side of the family (shhhh – don’t tell Martha, but we got her a JACKET from the STEINMARTS!), but I wanted to hop on here super-quick and tell you that I just posted a brand new giveaway. And it’s only open until December 31st, so time’s-a-wastin’, giveaway enthusiasts.

Mastercard MarketPlace $100 Mastercard Gift Card Giveaway

I’ll be back later with an anecdote or four if my head doesn’t explode from jacket-related enthusiasm first.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

MasterCard Marketplace

This is a sponsored review from BlogHer and MasterCard MarketPlace.

All things considered, we don’t do a huge amount of Christmas shopping in our family. A few years ago we made a concerted effort to dial down the spend-o-meter a bit, and it’s one of the best things we ever did. I don’t feel rushed overwhelmed by present-buying, and that is a delightful change of pace from how things were five or six years ago.


I still very much like to get the best possible deal when I’m buying gifts. I scour the internet, look at newspaper circulars, clip store coupons – it just makes good sense to do due diligence when it comes to getting the very best price. So you can imagine my delight when I found out about MasterCard MarketPlace. They run deals in conjunction with some of the country’s top retailers. Plus, sign up for an account, and you’ll get an advance notice of special deals and savings.

(By the way, if you’re wondering what I mean when I say “top retailers,” know that I’m talking about some of my all-time favorites: World Market, Sur La Table, Brooks Brothers, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, BlackBerry – and so many others.)

(SEE? That’s good stuff, huh?)

And for someone who isn’t a fan of shopping on Black Friday (THAT WOULD BE ME), MasterCard MarketPlace is a great way to get Black Friday-like deals at deep discounts. If you are a MasterCard cardholder, well, all the better – because if you register at MasterCard MarketPlace, you can participate in something called Holiday Overwhelming Offers every single day of the holiday season, until December 24th at 1:00pm Eastern time. Holiday Overwhelming Offers are good for 50% off of top brands – a whale of a deal, in my opinion. Quantities are limited, though, so sign up today and make sure you don’t miss out.

Yes, Christmas card shopping can be stressful. It can also be costly. But MasterCard MarketPlace offers over the top savings that bring over the top joy. And that’s priceless.

If you’d like to enter to win a $100 MasterCard gift card courtesy of BlogHer, leave a comment that answers the following question: what gift would you love to be able to buy at a discount this year? A cell phone? A video game for a kid in your life? A great book? A nice suit for your husband? Something else? Make sure that you leave an accurate email address with your comment since I’ll notify the winner by email. And don’t forget to visit the other participating bloggers; you have several other chances to win!


No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment 
on this post

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on 
this post

d) Read the official rules for alternate form of entry.

Sweepstakes ends 5 PM PST on December 31, 2010.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.

Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.

You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be

The Official Rules are available here.

MasterCard MarketPlace: A Smarter Way to Shop Online.

Giveaway Official Rules

Overwhelming Offers (OO) are limited in quantity, reservation only and limited in time. Participating merchants and offers are subject to change. The OO discount is provided as a statement credit. See for restrictions and complete terms and conditions.

A Christmas List

Last night I thought of about fourteen things I wanted to tell y’all. Here’s the first part of the linky round-up.

1. Daniel Renstrom’s Christmas CD, On the Incarnation, really is the very best Christmas CD you may not have heard of yet. I listened to it on the way to Memphis and was teary-eyed throughout. It captures the anticipation of this season in a way I can’t even articulate – I can just tell you that it moves me way down deep in my heart. Wonderful. You can find it on iTunes or on Amazon.

(Nobody asked me to say any of this.)

(I just wanted to share.)

2. Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God is the story of Jesus from Genesis to Luke. It’s profoundly good, and your kids will love it. Because it’s the story of Jesus and not just songs about Jesus, it’s most meaningful if you listen to the songs in order from start to finish (the first time I listened to the album my iTunes was on shuffle, and I was a wee bit confused). :-) You can find it on iTunes.

(Nobody asked me to say any of this.)

(I just wanted to share.)

3. I have three giveaways running right now. Here’s a run-down (all are for Visa gift cards): Chef Boyardee ($200), The Laughing Cow ($150) and Welch’s ($100).

4. As you plan your Christmas morning menu, don’t forget the Granite Steps Coffee Cake. I have two pans of it in my oven right now, and SWEET MERCY, THE HEAVEN.

5. This post of Becca’s? Just go. And read.

6. A couple of weeks ago our pastor gave the closing prayer at Deeper Still (and I don’t know if that’s the right terminology or not – I was raised Methodist, so I always think of a closing prayer as a benediction, but I haven’t heard the word benediction very much in the Baptist church, and clearly I’m obsessing way too much about semantics and need to just get on with this little anecdote). A day or two later Melanie (who had been here for DS) and I were on the phone talking about some Deep Life Issues, and I mentioned what an encouragement our pastor’s humility is to me.

I had barely finished my sentence when Melanie jumped in and said, “Oh, I totally got that humility thing from him at Deeper Still. TOTALLY. He looked like Richie Cunningham standing on that stage.”

And it made me so happy.

Anyway, Richie Cunningham (oh, it just delights me) preached a beautiful sermon yesterday on The Mystery of Christmas. And if you’ve maybe felt a little beaten down this holiday season, or if you’re unsure about who this Jesus person is, or maybe if you’ve put your trust in Christ for salvation but feel like you’ve lost your sense of wonder about Emmanuel, God with us – well, I hope you’ll listen. You can watch here or listen here. And just FYI: the actual sermon starts around the 11:50 mark (up until then it’s a wrap-up of last week’s message).

7. I’m going to get my hair cut in a few minutes. This isn’t important at all, of course, but thinking about it reminded me that I forgot to tell y’all that a few weeks ago a huge spark popped out of my hair dryer WHILE I WAS USING IT, and the hair dryer died. It DIED, y’all – after (get this) THIRTEEN YEARS of faithful service.

Thirteen years of faithful service. Can you even believe that? Can you imagine the hair tales that she and I had to tell? Tales of bobs and long layers and bangs and bad home highlights and that time I got my hair cut like Faith Hill’s short cut and then stood in front of the mirror cried.

That hair dryer knew my adult hair woes like no one else. She was a trusted friend. And she will be missed.


Talking In Memphis

This post is going to have to be of the super-quick-first-draft variety because my battery is almost dead, and there’s just no way that I’m going to get out from under this toasty warm blanket to go fetch a power cord. Nonetheless, I feel like I need to document for all posterity what happened last night in Memphis.

Besides the walking, of course. Because I think it goes without saying that there is always walking in Memphis.

Sometimes people even people walk with their feet 10 feet off of Beale.

But do you really feel the way I feel?

(I’m so sorry.)

(I’m just so sorry.)

Yesterday I drove to Memphis because Sister, Janie (our sister-in-law) and I had big plans to go see Dave Barnes’ Christmas Show. I missed it when he was in Birmingham, and since Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors AND Gabe Dixon were also playing, it was a must-see event for me. The mere thought of it was almost more musical happiness than I could bear.


I wanted to leave Birmingham yesterday morning, but It took a wee bit longer than I expected to get out of town. It’s a long, dramatic tale for another day, but it involved an oil change, a false alarm with a tire, a dropped box of cupcakes, a very short temper, a small emotional breakdown, a good bit of apologizing and a lunch at Chipotle that brought about some restoration and healing. ANYWAY, when I finally turned onto Highway 78, I let out a huge sign and couldn’t wait – COULD NOT WAIT – for a night of great music.

Have I mentioned that I couldn’t wait?

Sister and I got to Memphis about the same time, and around 6:00 we all headed to dinner. After a great meal we drove to the concert, and we were tickled – TICKLED – when we found a parking place super-close to the venue. STEPS AWAY, in fact. The night was full of promise.

There was a huge crowd for the show, which was awesome, and after we claimed a little piece of the back wall as our own (the tables were full by the time we got there), we settled in for our big-night-o-fun. Not too long after 8:00, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors hit the stage, and the three of us were immediately captivated by Ellie Holcomb’s voice because OH MY WORD. Plus, she had on this really cute dress that I can’t even begin to describe except to say that it was sparkly and flowy and festive-y. Her hair was also a point of obsession with me, but the main thing, the biggest thing, was her voice. And her husband’s voice. Together.


I noticed during the first song that the people in the audience seemed to be talking a lot, but I sort of chalked it up to the fact that there was a big college crowd there and people were getting re-acquainted after a semester away from home. But during the second song, the talking continued. Oh, there was applause at the end of each song, and the audience was enthusiastic enough, I reckon, but they NEVER QUIT TALKING. EVER. AT ANY POINT IN THE SHOW.

Gabe Dixon sang? They talked.

Dave Barnes sang? They talked.

Drew and Ellie Holcomb sang? They talked.

They talked and they talked and they talked and they talked.

By the fifth or sixth song, I was just undone. There were all of those incredibly talented musicians on the stage, and people were talking like they had run into each other at the mall or were trying to kill some time in a waiting room. There were loud, active conversations going on all around us, and when I reached the point when I couldn’t take it for one more second, I did the only thing I knew to do.

I shushed them.

I did.

I said, “SHHHHHHHHHHH!” really, really loudly. And then I said it again. And then Sister chimed in and said, “HUSH!” And then I think I shushed once more for good measure.

You’ll be shocked to know that people were not terribly responsive to our demands for silence.

But seriously – what is up with paying good money for a concert ticket and then thinking that you’re somehow entitled to carry on conversations while people are performing? I don’t get that AT ALL. I mean, if you want to talk while somebody is singing, then maybe you should just stay home, invite some friends over, and listen to the CD. Or get in your car and ride around and listen to the CD. But don’t pay money for a concert ticket and then treat the musicians like they’re background music at Starbucks, for heaven’s sake. Every single person who was on that stage is so stinkin’ talented, and all the Chatty McTalkersons in attendance missed a real treat by not giving the musicians their undivided attention.


All the incessant mumbling and murmuring aside, we really did have a great time. The music was incredible. And when we got in the car to go home, we laughed until we cried about the fact that I thought I could shush a room of 500 people. Apparently when I feel that others are misbehaving I turn into a cross between a PE teacher and an assistant principal. All I needed were some gym shorts, a whistle and an intercom system. And a stack of detention slips, of course.

Please let me know if I can be of service at any of your holiday gatherings.


In A Word: Uncle.

I keep thinking that I’m going to sit down and write a nice, semi-interesting update (not to mention that I still have that post-Deeper Still EPISTLE that I’m reluctant to publish because OH, THE INTROSPECTION), but if I take a long, hard look at, you know, REALITY, I don’t really see any way around a little bloggy break. I need to let my to-do list boss me around for an hour or eight tomorrow. I’m going out of town Friday and would prefer to wear some clothes that are clean. And on top of all that, I have three no-wiggle-room deadlines Monday. Just for kicks and grins, of course.

So I’ll see y’all next week. I think it goes without saying that I’ll miss you terribly, but I’ll say it anyway because, well, I’ll miss you terribly.

Happy Weekend Before Christmas, everybody!

Don’t forget to enter the 6th installment of The Laughing Cow $150 Visa gift card giveaway!

My List. I Will Share It.

I have a cold. Or allergies. Or something that makes me feel like the left side of my face is about to explode. Perhaps it is some sort of virus, but I won’t really know until I spend several hours Googling my symptoms and convince myself that I have a rare disease whose primary carrier is a gnat that’s indigenous to to the southwest corner of Thailand.

No, I’ve never been to Thailand.


Right now my only strategy for dealing with the cold / allergies / plague is to sit here and watch Food Network and refuse to take any cold medicine. It seems like the stuff that’s supposed to make me drowsy always keeps me wide awake, and the stuff that’s supposed to keep me wide awake always makes me drowsy, but just as soon as I try to outsmart the cold medicine and take the non-drowsy stuff before bed, the cold medicine pattern that has been true throughout my adult life will bamboozle me, and the next thing you know I’ll be up at 4 in the morning ooh-ing and aaah-ing over that mineral make-up infomercial with Leann Rimes.

Clearly I’m trapped in A MEDICINAL WEB OF LIES.

Anyway, before I turn off the computer so that I can steep in my stopped-up misery, I wanted to share just a few items of note. They are, of course, completely unrelated, mainly because my eyes are burning but also because I can’t imagine what any of these things have to do with each other.


1) Several people asked me about the stuffed pork loin that I mentioned last week. I made it Thanksgiving, and it was DELICIOUS. I was actually planning on making another pork loin recipe, but then I ran into my friend Pat at the grocery store, and she changed my entire Thanksgiving meal strategy standing right there in front of the frozen bread products. Her recipe was so much less complicated than the one I’d originally chosen.

So here’s what you do.

Double-butterfly a 3-4 pound pork loin. You can find instructions online about how to double-butterfly. It’s pretty easy, actually.

Nothing like some super-vague instructions to inspire confidence, huh? (Oh, just cut it here and put the stuffing in there and bake it and IT’LL BE FINE, I PROMISE.)

Cook 1 box of Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice (original recipe). Let cool, then stir in one-half cup of chopped, dried apricots.

Salt and pepper both sides of your meat. Spread rice/apricot mixture over the surface of your pork loin. Roll up the meat and tie it with kitchen twine (I followed these instructions for assembly and cooking – just FYI). Glaze the top of the pork loin with about 1/4 cup of apricot preserves.

About midway through the cooking process, glaze the pork roast again. Cook another box (or 2) of wild rice to serve with the roast. I also made a gravy from the drippings in the roasting pan, and IT WAS DELICIOUS. When I make this recipe again, I’m going to add some chopped pecans to the rice and the apricots. Because I’m nutty like that. And also punny.

2) I really don’t think there’s a living writer I admire more than Ann Voskamp. Seriously. She is deeply, profoundly gifted, and the way she puts words and sentences together just takes my breath away. She sees God’s beauty and grace and mercy in everything – IN EVERYTHING – and He uses her to inspire so many of us to see Him more clearly.

I got to meet Ann a couple of weeks ago, and afterwards Melanie and I decided that Ann might very well be an angel among us. She is the only person I’ve ever described with the word “ethereal,” and oh, did I ever mean it. She’s just lovely.


Ann has written a book called One Thousand Gifts that comes out in January. However, the Kindle edition is hot off the presses, my friends. Or the servers, if you will. And I can’t think of a more wonderful gift – for yourself or for someone you love.

(Thanks, Angie, for the reminder!)

(And by the way, I got very tickled when I saw that the Kindle copy of Ann’s book is delivered wirelessly by Amazon Whispernet. It just seems so fitting. Because Whispernet sounds just as soothing and unobtrusive as Ann is.)

(But if I had a book on Kindle? It would be delivered by Amazon Hollernet. And it would scare you with its loud volume to the point that you would feel compelled to shush it.)


3) I feel compelled to publicly acknowledge that I am making significant progress in terms of catching up on this season of “30 Rock.” I have been very – dare I say “embarrassingly” – behind on my TV-watching schedule, but over the weekend I managed to watch four episodes. I have six more to go, and I believe that I can dig deep over the next few weeks and muster the determination and courage necessary to meet my TV-related goals. MOUNTAIN, MOVE OUT OF MY WAY.

I have given up on this season of “Survivor” and “Amazing Race” – there’s just not world enough and time to watch all the episodes I’ve missed – but I’m holding on to hope that “30 Rock” and I will make it. Please do not hesitate to hold me accountable. And as is always the case when I am facing a backlog of DVR’d programming, I would appreciate your prayers.

The end.