Alternate Names Include Little Bit, Helen, And Sweet Baby Angel

Last weekend my sister-in-law Rose texted me to let me know that our niece had found a puppy on the side of the road. They’d spent the better part of the week trying to find an owner, but nobody claimed her. And Rose was also kind enough to attach a couple of pictures with significant “awwwww” factor.

I had just started to reply to Rose’s text when she called me. She went on to explain that they felt like they couldn’t keep the puppy because they have two dogs already, and one of those dogs was none too excited about having to share his space with another animal.

SO, Rose said. She sure would be a great dog for Alex. Plus, we’ll still get to see her if y’all keep her.

I tried my best to IGNORE, IGNORE because I have told myself (and my people) over and over again that this summer would be a much better time to get a new dog. But there was something about that puppy in Rose’s pictures that just grabbed my heart. D was immediately on board because, well, DOG LOVER, so we decided that he should probably sleep on the idea and then, if he still felt like it was a real possibility, sit down the next day and have a serious talk with Alex about the fact that Dogs Require Responsibility.

So he did and they did, and by Thursday of last week we were all on board. And Saturday morning, the fellas drove to Mississippi to pick up the newest member of our little family.

Y’all, she is the sweetest. Rose’s vet said that she is part bulldog and part rat terrier. All we know is that she is about thirty-seven kinds of cute.




Her name is Hazel.

We are understandably smitten.

20 Great Gifts Under $25 (Part One Of An Extra Special Guest Post)

For the past few years I’ve done a gift guide before Christmas. This year I told myself that I just didn’t have time to pull everything together (somebody cue the sad trombone) – but then I remembered Abby. And I felt some gift guide-related hope.

I think I first met Abby when she was in eighth or ninth grade; some junior and senior girls that I knew always talked about how they loved Abby’s sense of style. As I got to know Abby over the next few years, I quickly learned that she is even more beautiful on the inside than she is on the outside. Plus, I absolutely adore her family, and I want to be just like her mama when I grow up. Her people are the real dadgum deal.

Earlier this year Abby (who is now a married 20-something, so clearly I AM ANCIENT) and her friend Casey started a style blog called Mignonne, and I loved it from the first time I read it. Abby and Casey are so genuine and fun and joyful; they really see fashion as a way to express who you are – not a way to pretend to be someone you’re not. That’s a mighty big distinction in my book.

SO. Last week I asked Abby and Casey if they’d like to do the gift guide for my blog this year because, well, they’re darlin’, and I thought it would be fun for y’all to meet them. I was so happy when they said yes. They’re a great source of ideas for those of us who wonder what “the kids” are enjoying these days, and best of all, every single gift is under $25. HOORAY!

Here’s the first round of Abby and Casey’s fabulous Christmas finds.


As if finding the perfect gift isn’t hard enough, this is the season you have to find 9 zillion perfect gifts! So though we cannot provide 9 zillion suggestions, we are thrilled to give you 20 perfect gift ideas all for under $25 bucks! [Click on the letters in CAPS and it will take you directly to the item!]

1. SHE & HIM: Vinyl is a great gift option for any of your trendy acquaintances. Urban Outfitters has a wide range of them for sale in stores and online.

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2. STAG HORN SERVERS: For the outdoorsy hostess!

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3. OTK SOCKS: An essential in any wardrobe, these tall socks will make any lady smile.

4. RANGEMARK HEADBAND: I love receiving handmade gifts. These artisan made headbands come in various patterns and colors.

5. KATE JOURNAL: Every girl loves Kate Spade, but usually can’t afford her price tag. This journal will let you have a little Kate in your life without breaking the bank! And of course the gold stamped idiom on the front provides us with a good piece of advice that I personally live by: “Eat Cake for Breakfast”!

6. MAN CANDLES: Manly and handcrafted candles for your manly friend!

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7. FRENCH CARDS: Of course, we love anything Parisian… A perfect gift for your chicest friend!

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8. RAVEN+LILY: Gift giving is more fun when it is the gift that gives back! This jewelry company is an amazing organization and it doesn’t hurt that their jewelry is also amazing.

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9. NAIL POLISH: Because who doesn’t love a little glitter?!

10. RETURN ADDRESS: For your friend that is thoughtful and sends lots of Snail Mail!

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Stay tuned on Monday for the next 10 gifts! Happy shopping and have a very Merry Christmas!

xoxo – A&C

A Free Treat For Yourself Or Somebody Else

I meant to post about this earlier this afternoon, but then I got very busy making a big pot of black beans and folding clothes while I watched The Amazing Spider Man.

That last thing? I know. It’s like I don’t even recognize myself anymore.

On top of that, I didn’t realize that there is a giant lizard in this particular Spider Man installment, so as a person who has a borderline phobia where scaly textures are concerned, I have been challenged to the very core of my being. I may require therapy.

But that’s not what I wanted to tell you. Because I have news that is much better than anything I could ever share with you you about giant lizards.

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The Kindle edition of Melanie’s book is ZERO DOLLARS today on Amazon.


I don’t have any idea how long it will be free, so if I were you I’d GIDDY UP and download a copy.

And if you’re thinking, “Oh, I won’t be able to download it – I don’t have one of those fancy Kindle thingies,” don’t forget that Amazon has free Kindle apps that you can install on just about any device: iPhone, iPad, Macbook, PC, Android, a box of KFC – the possibilities are endless.

Hope y’all have had a great weekend!

p.s. I just found out that the Sparkly Green Earrings ebook is also free at today – so if you have a Nook, you’re in business. (Thanks, Mary, for letting me know!)

I Like Cheese. And Also Crackers.

There’s a restaurant here in Birmingham that serves what is, in my opinion, the best chicken salad on the planet. I’m not the only person who recognizes this restaurant’s chicken salad supremacy; in fact, the last time I was there with a couple of my out-of-town friends, they said really enthusiastic things like, “OH MY WORD THIS CHICKEN SALAD IS DELICIOUS” and “YOU WERE NOT KIDDING ABOUT THIS CHICKEN SALAD.”

It is awfully tasty.

But about a year ago, I went to Chicken Salad Heaven (alas, that is not the restaurant’s real name, but it would be an appropriate name nonetheless) with my friend Leigh, and I realized that I wasn’t in the mood for chicken salad. Not being in the mood for chicken salad has only happened to me maybe three other times in my life, so it took me a moment to process this strange and confusing development. However, after I looked at the menu for about 30 seconds, I knew exactly what I wanted to order instead of my regular chicken salad plate: The Cheese Plate.

And that cheese plate?

Well, it may have changed my life.

When the cheese plate (or, I should say, The Cheese Plate) arrived at our table, the first thing I noticed that it was gorgeous. There were four or five varieties of cheeses – some sharp, some mild, some soft, some creamy – along with a beautifully arranged assortment of crackers. I had so much fun trying this cheese with that cracker, figuring out what combinations worked best – it was like the happiest little food experiment ever.

And yep, I really did write that last paragraph. And you know what else? I MEANT IT.

SO, ever since that fateful day at Chicken Salad Heaven, I’ve had a renewed appreciation for cheese and crackers. I’ve been a little cuckoo for cheese and crackers, to be perfectly honest. The only problem is that my husband and my child do not share my affinity for the cheese and crackers combo, and unfortunately they do not consider cheese and crackers to be the most delicious supper in the history of all suppers. It would make meal planning so much easier if they did. As you might imagine, I am praying that we will be able to work through our cheese and crackers differences and trusting the Lord to fill our gaps.

Even still, there have been a few times recently when my cheese and crackers cup has overflowed, so to speak. Weekend before last some friends and I had a little girls’ night in, and would you look – JUST LOOK – at the bounty we enjoyed?

(I apologize for the seasonal cheese spreaders. I was experiencing an unexpected spreader shortage.)

(Yes. I know that is spinach dip. And I know that spinach dip isn’t really in the cheese family. But I felt that we needed a vegetable in the midst of all that dairy.)

Y’all. It was all so delicious. There were about four crackers and six little bites of cheese left at the end of the night, but other than that, we SHUT ‘ER DOWN. I could clap my hands just thinking about it.

And because I am a total nerd when it comes to crackers, I took a picture of some of my favorites. I keep these on hand pretty much all the time. I would hate to be unprepared in the event of a crackers emergency.

My favorite variety of the Lavasch crackers is Everything – oh my goodness they are a treat. I accidentally picked up sesame the last time I bought them, and the sesame will do in a pinch. But the Everything – well, as Rachel Zoe might say, it is everything.

I also love the herb Mary’s Gone Crackers (they might be my all-time favorite), but they’re not in the picture because, well, I finished the box that we had and now I need to buy some more.

As far as cheese goes, here’s what I like: all of it.

What about y’all? Are any of you fans of cheese and crackers? And even better: do you have any cheese and/or crackers suggestions?

(Just thinking about comments devoted solely to cheese and crackers makes me so happy.)

(Is that weird?)

(Please don’t tell me if it’s weird.)

(But I’m pretty sure that it’s weird.)


I’m gonna have a lot of words on Monday. A LOT of words. Words about some STUFF and some THINGS, mind you. Just you wait.

But in the meantime: pictures. Or pintures. Or pinterestures.

1) These return address stamps are fab.

2) I’m obsessed with this skirt. I can’t explain why. All I know is that I went in Anthropologie a couple of days ago to buy a candle, and when I saw this skirt hanging in the window, I ran over to it and gazed at it longingly. They had a navy and white striped shirt with it in the store – which was an interesting choice (that’s my code for I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE ANTHRO MATCHING TECHNIQUES) – but on the website it’s paired with a denim shirt. And it looks super cute.

3) All my favorite foods. All in one place.

4) It’s called Fail-Proof Pizza Dough. AND THAT IS THE TRUTH. The ingredients in this dough are the same as another recipe that I’ve used for the last year and half-ish, but the ingredients are combined in a different order. As Robert Frost once wrote, “that has made all the difference.”

5) Comeback Sauce is a staple in the South. Or at least it’s a staple in Mississippi. I don’t hear people mention it as much in Alabama, but maybe that’s because people can’t stop saying “ROLL TIDE” or “WAR EAGLE” long enough to talk about deeply meaningful things like Comeback Sauce.

Comeback Sauce is great on chicken (prepared any which way), hamburgers, and I’m sort of partial to using as a dip. The only trick is that if you use it as a dip, the dipping agent needs to be saltine crackers. Not chips. Not Triscuits or Wheat Thins. Saltine crackers. Just trust me on this one.

6) I think about this purse more than I feel it is normal to think about, well, a purse.

Source: via Sophie on Pinterest

7) This pillow makes my heart go pitter-patter. This pillow is also beyond my budget, so unfortunately it will not be making my heart go pitter-patter in the comfort of my own home. But still. Love it.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Miss America Viewing Party 2012

All righty, everybody. I’ll go ahead and warn you that I’m going to update this post an obnoxious amount while the pageant is on, so between my wordiness and incoming comments, we’re all going to have to refresh the page from time to time.

I know. It’s not exactly a fancy plan, but it’ll do, hopefully.

See y’all in a few minutes!

As a point of order, I would just like to mention that I washed my face a few minutes ago but was so excited that I forgot to put on moisturizer. So I made it back to the TV in time for the pageant, but my face is now about to crack open. MISS AMERICA IS WORTH THE SACRIFICE.

Oh, wait – I am unfamiliar with this off-site introductory business. I LOVE MISS ARKANSAS (“called a hog”). These puns are magnificent.

I think the Las Vegas Visitors’ Bureau had a say in how the introductions are done. And yes, Miss Idaho totally called herself “a hot potato.” Also: I was unaware that Marky Mark is a sweet treat. But BREAK IT DOWN, GIRLS, with the dance moves.

I know I’m partial, but Miss Mississippi looks fantastic. And listen – all these old-school opening statements (“having fun is always the Maine event,” “from the home state of Nike, here tonight to Just Do It”) are making me clap my hands.

God bless Chris Harrison. He really is a perfect host, don’t y’all think?

There’s a Head Judge? WHERE DO I SIGN UP?!?!

Top 15 is silly, but nonetheless, we have Miss Oklahoma, Miss South Carolina, Miss Florida, Miss New York, Miss Iowa, Miss Texas (WHO IS DARLIN’), Miss Virginia, Miss Illinois (“There she creates, there she gives”), Miss Arizona, Miss Alabama (YAAAAAAAAY!), Miss Tennessee (WHO IS ALSO DARLIN’), Miss Wisconsin, (COMMERCIAL BREAK), Miss North Carolina, Miss California (sidenote: I don’t really need for my Miss America to be edgy, nor do I want her to manipulate the media, but I understand that I am old), and Miss Louisiana.


You know what I’d love? A good production number.

This is sort of like watching The Hills if The Hills took place on a really big stage. With crowns.

Swimsuit competition? I miss those old one-pieces that looked like they were made of vinyl. And looking at all these six-pack abs reminds us that I’ve got some pimento cheese in the refrigerator. I think I’ll go make me a sandwich.

I miss the three-point turn.

I think it might lead to some ish-ahs if you’re eliminated right after the swimsuit competition.

Three blondes left. The hair color tide, it is a-turnin’.

Now that is just mean. For girls to have to line up behind the girl they want to stay? OH MY WORD SO MEAN.

I just said this when I replied to an email, but clearly that whole “stand behind the girl you want to save” thing was designed by a man. A MAN WHO HAS NEVER BEEN A GIRL IN JUNIOR HIGH.

Dear Miss Illinois: You are gorgeous, but Miss America does not use the phrase “sex appeal.” And I LOOOOOVE Miss South Carolina’s gown.

Dear Miss Texas: Your gown is perfection.

A Person Who Shall Remain Unnamed just texted me and said, “Alabowma.” SO GOOD. And I thought everybody looked gorgeous in evening gown, by the way.

Y’all? Is she dancing to a Prince song?

Talent: Miss Arizona (cute routine, strange music), Miss Illinois (maybe not the most difficult routine, but certainly better than I could do, you know, EVER), Miss Oklahoma (IRISH STEP DANCE, AMEN), but I’m having a hard time concentrating on the talents because I’m obsessed with the strange facts and can’t stop thinking about how Miss Illinois is AFRAID OF WINDMILLS.


Miss Texas (very talented at piano as well as her ability to sit gracefully in a dress with a slit cut up to her hip), Miss Wisconsin (some opera something or other), Miss New York (oh, this is my kind of Miss America vocal, yes ma’am), Miss Louisiana (it’s like an Ann Margret number in toe shoes – I don’t mind it – and she ALMOST SWALLOWED A DIAMOND), Miss Tennessee (bonus points for singing something from Cats in Italian), Miss Iowa (You Raise Me Up – a crowd pleaser), Miss California (appears to be LEGIT as far as her ballet skillz are concerned; her interpretation of the black swan was very EDGY, I have to say). :-)

My prediction for Top 5: Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, California, Oklahoma – what do y’all think?

Top 5, for real: Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Arizona, New York, California (I’VE NEVER BEEN LESS ACCURATE). In my humble opinion, Miss Texas and Miss Louisiana should’ve been in the Top 5.

4th Runner-Up – Miss California
3rd Runner-Up – Miss Arizona
2nd Runner-Up – Miss New York
1st Runner-Up – Miss Oklahoma
Miss America – Miss Wisconsin

Well, that was just so fun! More fun! It was just so much fun!

Thanks, y’all, for being the best commenters in the whole wide ever. I had the best time with y’all!

(I still can’t believe Texas and Louisiana weren’t Top 5.)

(I’ll try to get over it.)

(‘Night, everybody!)