Archives for May 2013

It’s Time To Talk About It

I know that I rarely post on Sundays, but for the last 24 hours there’s been an issue that I haven’t been able to get out of my head or off of my heart, so I figured I’d take a few minutes and blog about it. Maybe the process of writing will bring me a little clarity. Or at least it’ll help me vent.

Last summer I started to realize that there was a tendency – a trend, if you will – that was troubling to me on a lot of levels. I thought maybe it was a short-term deal, something that would run its course in a couple of months, but I’m realizing that this trend isn’t going anywhere. And I feel like I need to speak up about it.

Here we go. I’ll say this as plainly as I know how.

*deep breath*

Dear Grown Men of the Universe,

You’re gonna need to put away the tank tops.



And please understand. I’m not talking about undershirts. I’m not talking about work-out shirts, though I’m a little EWWW in that category, too. I’m not even talking about a loose-fitting something-or-other that a man throws on before he goes to the pool or the beach.

I’m talking about, well, stylish tank top options. I’m talking about what Peach says that her sons refer to as “bro tops.” I’m talking about Cool! Let’s go to the movies! Hold on while I throw on some shorts and a tank top!

I’m talking about this.

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And listen. I get it. The weather gets hot. Tank tops can be comfortable. Plus, if you’re a man who works out a lot, you may see wearing a tank top as an excellent opportunity to invite the general public to your own personal gun show.


Because here’s the bottom line, at least for me: what’s going on underneath a guy’s arms is his own personal business. I don’t need to be privy to ANY OF THAT.

I brought up this issue on Twitter yesterday, and I appreciate what Amanda had to say about the male tank top trend.

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That’s a hard word. But it’s a good word.

And clearly I’m (mostly) kidding about this whole thing, but the kidding doesn’t change the fact that I’m not really a fan of grown men going sleeveless.

So what do y’all think about the bro tops? Yay or nay?

A Brief Word From Ellie Mae

So. A couple of months ago I drove way out in the country to record the audio for my book trailer. I mean, I didn’t drive out there because I wanted to stand in the middle of the woods and use my phone to capture the sounds of rare birds – though that would’ve certainly been kicky and fun – but it just so happened that I had an appointment with a local sound engineer who lives in a remote-ish area, hence the “way out in the country” part of the story.

The folks at Tyndale had set up the whole thing, which was so great of them to do because, well, some of y’all have heard what happens on the rare occasions when Melanie and I try to podcast. It is no secret that I am none too gifted in the recording arts. So yes, oh have mercy yes, CALL IN THE PROFESSIONALS.

Anyway, the very kind sound engineer has a studio in his basement, and after we enjoyed several minutes of fairly stilted conversation about my book (it wasn’t him; it was me – because apparently I will never be able to talk about this book without turning into a case study for all the many facets of awkward human behavior), I put on some headphones and stood next to a really big microphone and resisted the urge to lean over and say, “Check, check, 1-2, check” just like the singers on TV do.

I also may have contemplated what it would be like to play a guitar and sing a few bars of an old George Jones song.

Fortunately, though, I didn’t sing. I just read the script. And when the nice sound engineer called me into another room where he was working on a bunch of fancy-looking equipment, we listened to what I’d recorded while I shifted in my chair and also cringed at the sound of my voice. We had to re-record one little section because I had unintentionally said the word “God” like “Ga-ad,” but even still it didn’t take more than five minutes for me to read through the script a couple of times.

Afterwards, though, there was a whole lot of tweaking. Adjusting. Checking sound levels. Etc. And I probably would have been totally fascinated by all of that (I get such a kick out of watching people do the things that they love to do) if listening to the sound of my own voice OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN hadn’t been a part of the audio equation.

Nonetheless, this was my view for the better part of an hour.

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In that hour, I thought about all the people whose voices I would like to have instead of my own.

Here are a few of them.

Kerry Washington
Emma Stone
Charlize Theron
Ashley Judd
Susan Sarandon

Unfortunately, I was and continue to be stuck with my own voice. In all my Ellie Mae glory.

Once all the editing stuff was finished, I didn’t have anything else to do with creating the video other than providing five or six family pictures. You’re gonna be really grateful for that, I think, when the circa-1971 picture of Martha and Sissie pops up on the screen because OH, THE HAIRDOS. And as you will see, I was very enamored of the side ponytail when I was in 4th grade.

The pictures are by no means a reflection of my whole family, but since the book mostly focuses on my experiences with family members who are a generation or two ahead of me, the pictures follow suit. And oh my goodness that picture of Alex with Sissie makes me want to scatter glitter and rainbows as far as the eye can see. They were always so delighted with each other.

So all that to say: here’s the book trailer. The concept, the execution, every bit of that stuff came from Tyndale – and I am mighty grateful.

And judging from the sound of things, I am also a little bit of a Clampett.

I hope you don’t require subtitles.

There you have it. We must never speak of this again.

Unless we speak of Martha’s hair in that first picture.

Because seriously. THAT IS SOMETHING ELSE.

An Assortment, If You Will

Nothing in this post is going to be connected. I feel like I should warn you about that from the get-go. But I just can’t. Because this week has already been four months long, and my brain is all a-jumbled (pretty sure that’s not even a word), and I couldn’t tell a story in sequential order right now if somebody paid me large sums of cash money and offered me free fried chicken.

– I’m watching American Idol while I’m typing this, and when Ryan announced that Kree was singing “All Cried Out,” I thought he was talking about this song.

Listen. I was a child of the 70s and 80s. It stands to reason that “Apology not accepted / Add me to the broken hearts you’ve collected” would come to mind.

Powerful lyrics. I think we can all agree on that.

– I’ve mentioned before that I like to cook a hot breakfast in the mornings. It’s something that my mama always did, and for whatever reason, it’s something I enjoy doing (unlike laundry or unloading the dishwasher or cleaning out closets). So I think it speaks to my level of STICK A FORK IN ME that today I bought a four-pack of blueberry muffins in the grocery store bakery, and all I’m saying is that BREAKFAST IS SERVED for the rest of the week.

– As far as snacks go, I’m in a banana with peanut butter phase right now. And I’ll take some Bing cherries for a back-up. Even though I don’t like cherry-flavored anything (pie, candy, beverage, lipgloss, you name it). I just happen to adore Bing cherries. In the words of Peter Cetera and Chicago, it’s a paradox. Full of contradiction. How I got from there to here, it defies a logical explanation.

– Earlier today Dave Barnes linked to a video that has made me laugh all day long. It’s a parody of 80s church music. And while yes, that’s a very specific parody, the combination of Amy Grant music and some say-weet synthesizers (along with very dramatic vocals) has tickled me to no end. The last 20 seconds are brilliance.

– Speaking of Amy Grant, her new album is a DELIGHT. It’s for sale in all sorts of places (iTunes, for instance), and there’s one particular song with James Taylor that makes me weepy every time I listen to it.

(Oh, look! Another YouTube video! Sometimes the Internet makes life so very easy.)

– Before I forget, let me say this: thank you so much for your incredible response to the sale at Nations Outfitters. Y’all are awesome.

– Tonight we had Bible study on my friend Mary Jo’s screened in porch, and her flowers were so gorgeous that I had to grab my phone and take a few pictures. So, so pretty.

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Yes. I am 109. And apparently I would like to start a garden club.

Happy Thursday, y’all.

p.s. I’m just starting to get bits and pieces of weather news on Twitter, but North Texas folks, you’re in our prayers.

It Would Be Irresponsible Not To Share This Sale-Related Information

Over the last three years I’ve hosted several giveaways for my friend LisaAnn and her company, Nations Outfitters. LisaAnn started Nations about five years ago, and during that time she’s designed some great-looking, modest, stylish clothes. She’s also encouraged young people to live lives of service, and she’s been focused on Kingdom-building every step of the way.

LisaAnn has poured her heart and soul into Nations, but after burning the candle at both ends for the last five years, she’s going to press “pause” on the business side of things until God tells her to press “play” again (that was a random metaphor – I do apologize). LisaAnn has four phenomenal kids (seriously. phenomenal. I would happily claim any of them as my own.), and I know she’s going to enjoy having even more time to focus on her people without the daily stresses of running a business. Sometimes it’s good to take a little break, you know?

Last week LisaAnn emailed me and asked if I thought y’all might be interested in getting the first look at her sales inventory, and I promptly wrote back and said, “UM, YEAH!” This sale will eventually be announced to Nations’ customers via email, Facebook, etc., but y’all get first dibs. And the prices are FANTASTIC. So if you need to stock up on some summer dresses / tops for yourself or for the girl(s) in your life (or if you want to grab a few things for next fall), look no further. The stuff on the Nations site is, as my mother-in-law would say, DARLIN’ PLUS.

(It really is!)

(Just darlin’ plus!)

So here’s the deal: Everything on the Nations website is on sale. Every item is discounted at least 50%, but the stuff on the sale page is discounted at least 75%. The prices listed are the discounted prices. All sales are final.

How ’bout a little sampling?

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The Sandy Dress – $25

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The Daisy Dress – $10

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Red Ruffle Dress – $20

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The Rosemary Tunic – $29

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The Carol Dress – $20

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Gold Buckle Belt – Camel – $11

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Flora Scarf – $25
(Just so you know: the Nations scarves are big and wondrous.)

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The Chandelier Dress – $10

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The Allison Dress – $10

So you get the idea. Clearly there are some very cute dresses, tops, and accessories at some really great prices.

Here are some quick links if you want to take a look at each category of merchandise.

Women’s Dresses
Women’s Skirts
Women’s Tops
Women’s Accessories
Sale Items

And not that it matters, really, but in the interest of clarity (especially since this is a business owned by a friend of mine): I don’t / won’t make any money off of any of this. I’m just trying to help LisaAnn clear out her basement a little bit. Because she’s awesome. And inspirational. And whathaveyou.

Let me know if you have trouble with any of the links – and happy shopping, y’all!


Well, this has been a delightful weekend.

Friday afternoon I went to see The Great Gatsby with some friends, and since I love the book a whole bunch (it’s borderline unhealthy, really), it was fun to see a new adaptation of it. I wish that the pacing had been a little faster, though I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was great, and the sets were oh-so-beautiful. I also wish that the theatre had been a LOT cooler because it’s bad enough watching a movie about the 20s when they’re burning slap up and putting blocks of ice in front of oscillating fans, but it’s a whole ‘nother level of frustration to be watching people burn slap up while wondering if the air in the theatre WILL EVER CIRCULATE AGAIN.

I’m happy to report that we all survived the heatwave. But make no mistake: the thermostat at our local theatre is on my Summer 2013 Watch List.

D and I went out Friday night for a Real-Live Fancy Dinner, something that we rarely do because we’re just not fancy restaurant people. But about a year and a half ago, some friends of ours gave us a gift certificate to a great place here in Birmingham, an lo, eighteen months later, we finally got around to using it. The food was absolutely delicious, and we had a really good time, but it’s just not very often than we eat in a place that doesn’t have TVs.

We have very refined tastes.

Saturday I went to a wedding while the fellas ran some errands, and it was a fine way to spend a pretty May afternoon. My friend Alison did the flowers at the church and the reception, and they were gorgeous.


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She is so talented.

After I got home, I cooked some supper, and after the young’un was in bed, I took it upon myself to get caught up on Scandal (OH, I HAVE SOME THOUGHTS) and watch Kristen Wiig host SNL. I fell asleep about fifteen minutes into SNL (obviously, I love the night life / I’ve got to boogie), so while I don’t really have a strong sense about whether or not SNL was funny, I do know that I was rested as all get out when I got out of bed this morning.


We had a really sweet service at church, and right after the sermon started, Alex passed me a couple of different notes.

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Listen. That first note was mighty sweet in light of an ongoing conversation / discussion we’ve been having about worship, but the second note just cracked me up. HEAVEN FORBID a child would have to eat at Chuy’s two days in a row. That would be terrible.

(We did end up going to Village Tavern, though.)

(The brunch option was oh-so-appealing.)

(But next week I plan to have a deeply meaningful reunion with deluxe tomatillo sauce.)

This afternoon I was fairly worthless but in the most enjoyable ways: I took a nap, hung out with my people, kept up with the State / Ole Miss baseball game, read a little bit, took another nap, heated some leftovers, read a little more, watched The Help, and now I’m typing this post with the Survivor finale on in the background. There were probably lots of things that I could have done, but it surely has been nice to throw all of that stuff on the back burner and just relax.

Even if those two naps mean that I will probably fall asleep around 3:53 Monday morning.

But that’s okay. I have Mad Men and a couple of new books to carry me through.

Hope y’all have had a wonderful weekend, too!


Now I know that the title sounds like an exciting new breakfast offering from McDonald’s, but alas, it is just a made-up word that popped in my head when I was putting together a mental list of links I wanted to post.

And yes, it would be ever-so-exciting if I managed to write a post with some semblance of a narrative thread this week, but it may not happen. There is lots of busy busy-ness on the work front for the next couple of days, not to mention that I plan to see a matinee of The Great Gatsby this Friday so that I’ll be able to stick around for a second showing if necessary.

The level of love that I have for that book is not at all normal.

All righty. Let us begin the Linktacular.



I could do this forever.

– Today I felt a surge of white hot panic when I realized that I had not yet ordered Mother’s Day gifts for my people. I can blog about this, of course, because my mama and mother-in-law will never, ever see this post thanks to their long-standing personal policies of never really having a reason to “look at the computer.”

Anyway, I am happy to say that I found gifts that I think they will enjoy very much: Sparkly Green Earrings and Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole for Martha, who loves to read more than she likes to shop for jackets (hard to believe! but true!), and for Mama, who loves all things related to hospitality, I picked Return to Sunday Dinner, which is an absolutely gorgeous cookbook.

Just thought I’d pass along the suggestions in case one of you happens to be in white hot panic mode, too.

Also, let us pause and give thanks for the wonder that is Amazon Prime.


– So this is epic.

Just FYI: “Don’t Cry Out Loud” is one of my all-time favorite pageant songs. It lends itself to a wide range of Deeply Meaningful Motions.

And when Jimmy Fallon broke out the Sam Harris song, I looked at my husband and said, “Oh. The fact that he pulls out a Sam Harris reference from almost 30 years ago makes me think that I would like to be his friend.”

– So. Let’s just re-visit that Sam Harris Moment, why don’t we? Because I was in junior high, I think, when I discovered that I could scream/sing in the same range that he sings in, and that made for some memorable vocal moments with my jam box and my Sam Harris cassette.

I continue to love this performance with every fiber of my being.

– If you’re a Mad Men fan, you will understand why I’m a little obsessed with this GIF.

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Oh, Pete Campbell.

– If you live in Birmingham or like to visit here, Rachel has put together a great Pinterest board called Birmingham: Eat Local. Really, it’s a catalog of some of Birmingham’s most beloved restaurants. And I’m totally using it as a reference the next time D and I stare at each other and say, “So. Where do you want to go?”

– I’m getting my hair cut and highlighted tomorrow.

I don’t have a link for that, but SWEET MERCY, IT IS TIME.