When Old People Watch The Grammys

Me: You know what? I heard that Justin Bieber’s movie was kind of good.

Him: Where? Who said that?

Me: I don’t know. Magazines. The Twitter. People really seem to like it. They say it’s uplifting and actually a really neat story.

Him: Really? I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be seeing it. Not to mention that I don’t exactly know any of his songs.

Me: Well, you make a good point.

Him: And you know what? Even though everyone seems to love them and all, Mumford & Sons sort of make me angry.

Me: Angry? Really?

Him: Yes. They just make me want to throw things.

Me: Because their songs are kind of folksy and sometimes seem a little endless and maybe make you feel like you’re trapped in some sort of crowded pub?


Me: Well, at least they’re real musicians. They’re very talented.


Me: Who’s that?

Him: I don’t know. Oh, wait. It’s Cee-Lo. I think.

Me: Oh.

Him: So why is he singing with Muppets, exactly?

Me: Wait. Is that the catchy song with the bad word? YES. That’s the catchy song with the bad word. So maybe they thought it would be funny for him to sing his catchy song with the bad word with a bunch of puppets? You know, to make it kicky and edgy?

Him: Oh. Okay.

Me:*silently worrying about Gwyneth’s tricky shoes*

Him: *leaves the room for a few minutes, then returns*

Me: I think we’re officially too old for this. I mean, why is Katy Perry sitting on a swing made of ribbon and tinsel?

Him: I don’t know. It’s weird.

Me: Jolene!

Him: Jolene!

Me: Who’s that?

Him: She just won Best New Artist. I don’t know her name, though.

Me: It doesn’t matter. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never heard of her.

The end.

It’s Totally 8,000 Words

Another round of completely random pictures from my phone. Because the fun never stops around here, people. THE FUN NEVER STOPS.

You know, if you take a picture during a game just because you have a lead, that’s a pretty good sign that the season probably isn’t going the way you hoped. I snapped this picture during the State / Vandy game about a month ago while I was standing in my favorite basketball-watching place: the corner of my kitchen (because that’s normal). Anyway, we made a big run in the second half but couldn’t hold on for the win. All in all it’s been a rough year for Bulldog basketball. Way too much off-the-court drama. Here’s to brighter days.

We were in the LifeWay store right after New Year’s. Alex saw this CD, picked it up, and after a few seconds he said, “Mama? Was this Mr. Travis in the olden days?”

Why, yes, young Padawan. Yes. Yes, it was.

Why did I take a picture of almonds? BECAUSE THEY ARE DELICIOUS. The cracked pepper flavor is a revelation.

He just keeps growing.

What? You don’t take pictures of grated cheese? BUT IT’S SO PRETTY.

Sometime around Thanksgiving I bought a new chair for the little den / office area next to our kitchen. I had been looking for something to replace the glider that used to be in this spot (before all the broken springs rendered it useless) – and I found this sassy number at a local furniture outlet. Even better? NINETY-NINE DOLLARS. For the chair and the ottoman (“and it’s LEATH-A,” as Joan Cusack said in Working Girl). I love the little touch of what my mama would call “contempo” on that end of the house – and the chair is my new favorite place to drink my coffee in the mornings.

The little man passed me this note a couple of Saturdays ago while I was on the phone. I saw the “xoxo” and nearly fell off of the couch. A sweet talker at 7? SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME.

I took this picture in Martha’s garage at Christmas. For two reasons.

1) Right after Martha moved in her new patio home she called me to see if I would call Home Depot and ask if they had any Rubbermaid storage units she could put in her garage because her neighbor had two of them in her garage and they were perfectly wonderful. I said that the storage units sounded like a great idea and then gave her the Home Depot phone number. And lest you wonder why I couldn’t just go ahead and call Home Depot and save Martha the trouble, let me just assure you that one thing I know for sure after thirteen and a half years of marriage is that it’s probably going to work out better for everybody involved if I am not serving as the volunteer coordinator / go-between for my mother-in-law’s storage and organizational needs.

And see? She found the storage units. And they’re perfectly wonderful.

2) The out-of-season floral arrangements on top of each storage unit? Just tickled me to no end. Because it sort of makes it look like Martha decorated her garage.


I mean, those storage units are so drab! And they just needed a little pick-me-up! A little pick-me-up! Isn’t that MORE FUN? SO MUCH FUN!

Martie’s Phone Number Looker-Upper

We’ve Hit An All-Time Klassy High

Over the weekend D went to Academy Sports to pick up a couple of things for a camping trip that he and the little man have coming up in a few weeks. Camping has turned out to be one of Alex’s ALL-TIME FAVORITE THINGS EVER, and it’s a fun little twist of family irony considering my love for air conditioning and cable television and doors that can be secured with LOCKS AND BOLTS.

As tickled to pieces as I am that my fellas enjoy going camping together, I’m firm in my conviction that it’s just not my thing. After all, I am a person who cannot bear to read historical fiction because I can’t stop thinking about how blazing hot everyone must have been in all those corsets and petticoats and bonnets. And then I get all co-dependent and worried because they must have been just miserable and THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A WINDOW UNIT.

Besides, I really don’t see anything even remotely romantic or idyllic about a book where a bunch of Southern belles from the 1800s show up for a festive August picnic in their finest antebellum gowns. Because really, how useful are those pretty gowns going to be when all those girls are laid out with a heat stroke fifteen minutes after their arrival?


Also: we can herald the pluck and the grit of the whole Ingalls family until the cows come home, but that does not change the fact that Laura Ingalls had to have been BURNING SLAP UP when she ran around those pastures or fields and helped Ma whip up a hearty summertime stew. Honestly, if I were Laura Ingalls I’d have befriended Nellie Olsen at every given opportunity. Because do you know what I bet Mr. Olsen had access to by virtue of the fact that he owned a store? AN ICE BLOCK.

Here’s a loaf of homemade bread, Nellie! And your bangs look FANTASTIC this morning! Why don’t we talk about how you keep your dresses so crisp and white WHILE WE SIT ON THE ICE BLOCK?

I now have no idea what I was originally talking about.

Oh, yes. Camping. Sort of.

So D came home with his Academy purchases, and he said, “I bought a chair for Alex” as he pulled a small box from the shopping bag. I never know what to expect when my husband buys something for our house, mainly because when we first got married his favorite furniture items always required assembly and typically employed a design motif of black laminate and smoky glass panels.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

Anyway, D went on to explain that the chair he’d picked up for Alex was inflatable. He’d noticed that when the little guy has friends over and they’re watching a movie or playing the Wii, one person usually claims the bean bag and then the others sort of sprawl out on the floor. D thought it might be nice if there was one more kid-friendly seat, and I thought that sounded like a fine idea, especially since it wouldn’t be something that we’d necessarily need to keep out all the time. I pictured something about the size of those convertible chairs you find in toy departments, and I was totally on board.


Tonight before the little guy’s bedtime, D mentioned to Alex that they needed to blow up the new chair (those words do have a certain air of sophistication about them, don’t they?). I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the process because all the air pump action was going on behind me. After about five minutes, though, D said, “I think this chair might be a little bit bigger than I originally thought,” and y’all, when I turned around, OH HAVE MERCY I AM CERTAIN THAT I GASPED AUDIBLY.

You see, it’s really not so much a chair as it is a chair and a half. Or a loveseat. It’s HUGE. And it would be fine to set up for Alex and his buddies when they need it, but I’m afeared that we would RIP IT TO SMITHEREENS if we tried to move the inflated version down the hall. It’s really best-suited for ON-SITE inflation, come to think of it.

We took a break from our chair issues for a few minutes so that we could tuck in the little guy and say prayers, and afterwards I finished cleaning up the kitchen. When I walked back in the den about twenty minutes later, I saw that my husband had found a way to incorporate the new (INFLATABLE) chair into our decor. Approximately twelve inches away from the television.


My eyes must have been as wide as saucers because D immediately said, “It won’t stay there forever. REALLY. Because when you need for the room to look pretty, WE CAN JUST DEFLATE IT.” And then he sat down on his inflatable throne and blew up some things on the Xbox. I had to laugh, mainly because he was so delighted by his new set-up. Plus, it’s apparent that the chair meets several of my husband’s furniture requirements. It’s portable, it has a cup holder – all that’s missing, really, is the ability to recline.

Since D was playing video games, I grabbed my laptop so that I could chronicle our recent decorative developments while I watched some HGTV in the guest room. An hour or so later I decided that I needed a little orange juice, and when I walked past the den, I immediately noticed that D didn’t leave the chair raft in front of the TV when he finished playing Xbox. I guess that’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news.

Apparently this is where we’re storing it. Or stacking it, as it were.

Clearly we’re going to have to come up with, oh, I don’t know, A DIFFERENT PLAN.

And do you know what? Despite my admitted aversion to Things Historical, I’m convinced that I know exactly how Laura Ingalls would handle this situation.

She’d pop that sucker with one of Nellie Olsen’s hair pins.

Maybe there’s something to be said for ye olden days after all.

In Which I Share Some Not-At-All-Original Ideas

Oh, I loved your comments about Sunday lunch. And yes, we do typically call it “Sunday dinner” in these parts. But I thought maybe saying “Sunday dinner” would make y’all think I was talking about supper – which would still be delightful, of course – so I went with the more typical diction.

There. I feel that I’ve overexplained enough. Remember, I am nothing if not a deeply annoying overexplainer.

Several of you asked how it’s possible to get post-church lunch on the table in a timely fashion, and I really don’t have a great answer to that question because, well, I’ve only done the big Sunday dinner thing twice. I do know, though, that whenever I cook for a crowd (I’ve bored you with those details already), the key is to do as much as possible ahead of time. Use the crockpot whenever you can. Buy a dessert at the bakery or put together something really simple the night before (brownies from a box, vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, the end). And setting the timer on the oven is a great idea, only it doesn’t work for me because the clock on our oven is broken, thus rendering the timer feature completely useless.

But if it did work, well, you know, ACES.

Anyway, after I read y’all’s comments yesterday, I made a quick list of meals (besides the classic crockpot roast, carrots and potatoes) that would be fairly easy to pull off after church. They’ll require a little Saturday night prep, but now that we can’t all sit around and watch “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island,” what else do we have to do since Captain Stubing and Tattoo are nothing but a faint (albeit precious) memory? Plus, the payoff of the prep time is all manner of Sunday dinner deliciousness. Not to mention fellowship. Hallelujah.

Chicken Divan – I only use 1 can of cream of chicken but add a little more mayonnaise than this recipe calls for, and I also like to use a little curry powder. But the basic premise is the same. I’d buy a rotisserie chicken, assemble the dish on Saturday night, then pop it in the oven as soon as we got home from church. Serve with salad and rolls. Sometimes Mama would serve this with fresh fruit and poppyseed dressing, and we were all blessed beyond measure as a result.

Lasagna – Use your favorite recipe (I can’t find mine online) and assemble Saturday night. Put it in your oven when you leave for church and set the timer. Or make a yummy crockpot version that you can put together before you head to the church house. Serve with salad and French bread.

Chicken and Asparagus Casserole – Initially I was going to suggest chicken pie, but this chicken and asparagus dish is so pretty and festive and colorful. It’s great with just about any side dish, and if you make it the night before, it only takes 30 minutes for it to be ready for lunch. And truthfully, it takes me almost 30 minutes to get ready for Sunday dinner; those yoga pants are gonna jump on my person by themselves, now are they?

Crockpot Chicken & Dressing – If there’s any dish that brings out my inner Jerry Clower, it’s this one. This isn’t something my mama made when I was growing up, but it just tastes like the South to me. So good. And it begs for peas and turnip greens and maybe even a little okra on the side. TASTY.

Meatball Sandwiches – Melanie’s recipe is a favorite at our house. Make your meatballs the night before, then let them simmer in the crockpot while you’re at church or heat them up on the stove when you get home. Serve with potato salad that you made the night before (or that was lovingly prepared by your local Publix).

Eggplant Casserole – Don’t roll your eyes. Seriously. Because this is one of those dishes that might sound a little iffy but is SO, SO GOOD. You can serve it as a main course (Mama always put chopped ham in ours when it was a main course), or it’s a wonderful side with fried chicken (leave the chicken frying to the professionals at the Popeye’s or the Bojangle’s). Perfect with baked beans and rolls. Also a great reminder that we tend to forget about the eggplant, but the eggplant, it is enjoyable.

Pork Tenderloin – I don’t think there’s any cut of meat that I cook more for company. It soaks up marinade, cooks quickly, and falls into the category of “identifiable meat.” It’s great with potato casserole (make ahead, cook when you get home). I made cheese grits as a pork tenderloin side this past Sunday because I forgot to buy potatoes. And when I mentioned that I might just cook some white rice instead, Alex said, “THAT’S not the mama I know!” So cheese grits it was.

Chicken Cakes – Another great recipe of Mel’s. You could mix up the chicken cakes Saturday night, form them into patties, then quickly pan fry them after church on Sunday. Serve with sweet potato casserole and butterbeans. Then sign contentedly.

Spaghetti – Make sauce Saturday night. Cook noodles when you get home Sunday. Throw a little parmesan on the plate, grab a hunk of bread and you’re ready to roll.

Taco Salad – This is my all-time favorite simple meal. I brown a couple of pounds of ground beef with all the taco seasonings. I chop up a head of lettuce, open a bag of tortilla chips and unzip a package of flour tortillas. FANCY. Then I set out bowls of yummy toppings: grated cheese, black beans, tomatoes, sour cream, onions, Ranch dressing, queso dip, salsa, etc. People can either build their own salad or make nachos or make soft tacos. It’s even better if you use cute paper plates, because the clean-up is practically non-existent.

So. There you have it. And I know that there’s really nothing new under the Sunday dinner sun, but sometimes it’s good just to remember the options. Or, you know, you can always go out to eat. The important thing is to find the option that is most relaxing and recharging for you and your family.

All that being said, I will now return to my regular bloggy box. The box where I talk about bacon and Mississippi State sports and TV. And butter. And also mascara.

The end.

Sunday Lunch

When I was growing up, Sunday lunch was always a big deal. We didn’t go out to eat very much, so Mama always fixed a big ole meal after church. I remember roast with carrots and potatoes as a staple, but fried chicken, beef stroganoff, turkey and ham were also in the rotation – with lots of fresh vegetables on the side. And rolls. Always rolls. OH SWEET MERCY THE ROLLS.

If we weren’t eating at Mama and Daddy’s house on Sundays, it was usually because we were having a big family lunch at my aunt’s house. We did this more times than I can remember; my aunt would fix her meal and Mama would fix her meal and then we’d combine everything into a gigantor family potluck. When my grandparents were alive they’d join the fun, too, and my Mamaw Davis would bring a homemade chocolate pie or her homemade apple tarts or some other dessert that would make you weep by virtue of its sheer deliciousness. There was never a shortage of sweet tea or coffee, and after lunch the grown-ups would sit around the big table and visit while the kids ran around outside or walked down to the Jitney Jr. to buy some gum. Or maybe even some Bit-O-Honeys if we were feeling particularly crazy.

A piece of candy cost two cents, by the way. TWO CENTS. Which means that if you were in possession of a whole quarter, you could just about afford to send yourself into a post-candy sugar coma.

It was a simpler time.

And just so you know, now I’m all teary-eyed just from thinking about my Mamaw and Papaw Davis. WHEN DID MY BRAIN TURN INTO A HALLMARK COMMERCIAL?

For whatever reason, I’ve never really latched on to the Sunday lunch tradition since I’ve been the one doing the cooking. I cook all during the week, and occasionally I’ll make a big pot of red beans and rice or chili or something on Saturday night, but I typically leave Sunday lunch to the the experts at the restaurants. We don’t have family here, and we’re too far away from everybody to just hop over to my hometown for a Sunday meal, so eating out has been a pretty practical solution.

A few weeks ago – seemingly out of nowhere – I decided that I wanted to make a big ole Sunday lunch. Roast and carrots. Mashed potatoes. English peas. Homemade chocolate pudding. But since that much food is way too much food for three people, I texted my friend Leigh to see if she and her family wanted to join us. Leigh and her husband are originally from Mississippi, too – were even at Ole Miss the same time my brother was – and Leigh and I love to swap Southern stories. Hers are always the best.

Anyway, Leigh and her family came over for Sunday lunch a couple of weeks ago, and it was so much fun. They didn’t get to stay for long after we finished eating because we were under a WINTER STORM WARNING and there’s a small mountain in between our house and theirs, but I loved every single thing about having company on a Sunday. I loved using my pretty dishes, cleaning up afterwards, having some tasty leftovers for supper – the whole thing. It reminded me of how I grew up. And more than anything else, it was comforting to spend part of the afternoon with friends who feel like family.

Today is D’s birthday, and last week I thought that instead of cooking him a big birthday supper – which is what I normally do – I was going to cook him a big Sunday birthday lunch. Leigh and her family came over again, and I pulled out my favorite green dishes. We had pork tenderloin, cheese grits, squash casserole, butterbeans and rolls (OH HAVE MERCY THE ROLLS). I fixed D’s favorite tres leches cake for dessert. After we ate Leigh and I sat at the dining room table and drank coffee while the fellas went into the den and talked about electronics and movies and whatnot.

When we finally got up to start tackling the dishes, we realized it was 3:30 and couldn’t believe it. We’d spent over two hours talking about everything and nothing: the sermon we heard this morning, our young’uns, our ish-ahs, our TV habits, and so much more. There’s just something about eating a meal together in the middle of the day – with a whole big afternoon stretching out before you – that slows down the pace of life a little bit. And I’m not exactly sure why it’s taken me thirteen and a half years of marriage to figure that out.

After our company left and I loaded the last of the plates into the dishwasher, I walked into the den where D was in the process of rescuing some soldiers from a rogue alien army on the Xbox, and I made a proclamation.

“THAT,” I said, “was DELIGHTFUL. And I think from here on out – at least a couple of times a month – I’m going to make a big ole lunch on Sundays, and we’ll just invite whoever comes to mind.”

“I think that sounds great,” he said.

And so that’s our plan.

What about y’all? Do you go out to lunch on Sundays? Or do you cook a big meal? Do you have people over? Do you get together with your extended family? Do you remember the Sunday lunch traditions from your childhood? I’m strangely curious.

And if you feel led to share any favorite menu ideas, well, you just go right ahead.

So We Went To Dinner

1. We just got home from a retirement dinner for a wonderful lady in D’s office. It was one of those deals where I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go or not, but I lined up a babysitter at the last minute and tried to make myself presentable and hopped in the car and ended up having such a great time. I love when that happens: when you don’t really have any expectations one way or another, and then you end up laughing a whole bunch and feeling really grateful and wondering how on earth it’s possible for a chef to make meatballs so tasty, MY WORD.

2. At dinner I sat by a darlin’ 20-something girl who works with D. We’d met before because she goes to our church, but we’d never really gotten to have a nice, uninterrupted conversation. She is just a DELIGHT. And I’m telling you: the more I talk to and interact with the teenagers and the 20-somethings who are bold enough to live life with a global, Gospel-driven focus – the teenagers and the 20-somethings who love the Lord and love the nations – the more I’m convinced that they’re going to change the world.

Seriously. They’re going to change the world.

3. D and I aren’t really people who do a lot of “fine dining,” and tonight was the first time in a couple of years when we’ve been out to a really nice restaurant. After what could only be described as an array of appetizers – meatballs, calamari, crab cakes – we dug in to our main course of veal and risotto. We don’t eat a lot of risotto in this neck of the woods; we sort of prefer our rice cooked for 20 minutes then bathed in butter.

Anyway, D was initially a little hesitant about his risotto, but he was a gamer and more than willing to give it a try. He took a bite, then sort of examined all the herbs and whathaveyou that were stirred into the risotto. He took another bite, and after a few seconds he started to nod his head.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Hmmmmm,” he responded. “Tastes like tree.”


4. I still don’t like red wine even a little bit. And I still like Diet Coke over ice a lot.

5. For most of my life I was kind of on the fence about tiramisu. It was okay, but it wasn’t my favorite. It certainly wasn’t something I’d order in a restaurant, not when there were things like lava cake and flourless chocolate cake and brownie a la mode and whathaveyou.


But over the last couple of years I’ve had a change of heart about the tiramisu. I so enjoy it. And tonight’s did not disappoint. I would totally order it again…and while chocolate desserts still reign supreme, I think tiramisu may have passed cheesecake as my second-favorite dessert to order at a restaurant.

Anyway, tonight’s tiramisu made me start thinking about my all-time dessert favorites. I think the best chocolate dessert I’ve ever had was last spring at Nobu in NYC with Ree and Melanie. I have no idea what it was called (except for “TASTY” and “ALL GONE”). My favorite dessert that’s not chocolate? Tiramisu from Bottega here in Birmingham. Or maybe the lemon pie from Jim and Nick’s. Because it is also very divine.

So I’m curious: what’s your favorite dessert to order in a restaurant? And if you’d like to go so far as to specify the restaurant where you most like to order that dessert, all the better. Let’s please remember that knowledge is power, my friends, and if you can encourage someone in terms of setting their dessert goals for 2011, well, you have certainly been of service today.

And we are all ever-so-grateful.