What Mississippi Does

She hugs you real tight and asks how your mama’s doin’.

She remembers the best about you, forgets the worst, and forgives even when you haven’t asked.

She shops with her mama, her sisters, her daughters and her nieces – and she’s always certain that they’ve never had more fun.

She listens.

She figures out what people you have in common even if she has to spend ten minutes asking questions about where your relatives live – and then five more minutes making a phone call to a cousin to see if the McWinns still live on 16th Avenue.

She tells you how darlin’ you are and asks where in the world you got your cute sweater.

She adores the names of her favorite small towns, places like Noxapater, D’Lo, Arcola, and Itta Bena.

She knows that grace and mercy are so much better when they’re shared.

She trusts that love is the better way.

She’s there when you get married, when you have a baby, when one of your people dies, when your kids get baptized, and when you least expect it but need it the most.

She remembers your name.

She’s well aware that the Lord gives and He takes away, and she’s at peace with that because, well, she figures that He knows best.

She rocks babies, wipes noses, ties shoelaces, and sings “This Little Light of Mine” soft and low.

She makes a killer hash brown casserole.

She studies the Bible, reads Miss Welty, watches Bravo, and connects themes from all three while you’re standing in the produce department at the Winn-Dixie.

She creates artful arrangements for her dining room table with hydrangeas, privet, and some sticks from her backyard.

She keeps her commitments.

She tells her little girl that she needs to stand up for herself as she fastens a bow the size of a dinner plate in her hair.

She celebrates the birth of her first grand baby and decides that she’d prefer to be called “Honey” or “Mimi” or “Sweetmama” from that day forward.

She keeps a secret stash of unsweetened tea in the back of the refrigerator just in case one of her guests is “off the sugar.”

She wants more for you than you could ever want for yourself.

She always welcomes you home with wide open arms.

And she asks when you’ll be back again – with a sweet smile on her face – every single time that you leave.

It’s About That Time

I am elated to report that the high today in Birmingham was 78 degrees. SEVENTY EIGHT DEGREES. It is August 15th.

The Lord is faithful and worthy to be praised.

And then – AND THEN – if that weren’t enough, I found this little treasure in our mailbox this afternoon.


I realize that you’ve probably already seen that picture if we’re friends on Twitter or Instagram, but I think it bears posting again because COLLEGE FOOTBALL, OH MY WORD.

I have to say, though, that this summer has been so busy that I’m way behind on my usual pre-season activities. I’ve barely read the message boards, and I haven’t listened to sports talk radio in months. I don’t really know who’s supposed to be good this year except for Alabama and A&M, and since I live in Birmingham, those predictions provide fair warning that I have about two weeks before walking into any clothing store means that I’ll be swimming in a sea of houndstooth. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy for my Alabama friends and their rich football heritage and etc., but have mercy, I WOULD NOT MIND A BREAK FROM THE HOUNDSTOOTH.

Because here is what every clothing store looks like from September – December.


There are houndstooth dresses and shirts and gloves and headbands and earrings and umbrellas and paper goods and sunglasses and phone cases and dog leashes and scarves and tights and more scarves and shoes and rain boots and never let it be said that the Alabama fans do not enjoy a theme.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking tonight about how lots of the SEC teams have a catchphrase (for lack of a better term) that their fans say to each other as a sign of loyalty or solidarity or pure-dee football crazy. In Alabama people even use the phrases as greetings – so instead of saying “hello” or “hey,” Auburn fans greet each other with “War Eagle,” and Bama fans greet each other with “Roll Tide.” The phrases also work for “goodbye.” Sort of like “aloha,” I reckon.

(This video provides an excellent illustration.)

(And if you’re wondering if it’s realistic? YES.)

At Mississippi State, we greet each other with “Hail State” (though Sister and I tend to say “Go ‘Dogs,” for whatever reason), and Ole Miss fans say “Hotty Toddy” (lately there’s been a whole thing with “Fins Up,” and even though I know Rebels don’t care a lick about a Bulldog’s opinion, I think the whole land shark thing muddies their mascot waters – but that is another discussion for another time). In the last couple of years Vanderbilt fans have adopted “Anchor Down,” but I don’t know if it has caught on as a campus-wide greeting or if it’s just more of a team motto. Texas A&M fans are partial to “Gig ‘Em,” and while Arkansas fans don’t necessarily say hello to each other with “Woo Pig Sooie,” they have turned #wps into one of the most recognizable college football hashtags (well done, Razorbacks).

The bottom line is that each SEC school has its own unique culture, right down to the ways that fans communicate with each other. I know that schools outside the SEC have similar traditions, and now that we’re just a couple of weeks away from kick-off, I thought it might be fun if some of us shared our favorite saying(s) for our favorite college team(s). I mean, I think it would be all kinds of fun to watch, say, the Akron / UCF game on August 29th and have the inside scoop on what the fans like to yell. Otherwise I’ll just be sitting on my couch and cheering, “Go…YOU! Go!”

(And listen. I know that it’s important to keep college football in the proper perspective. Certainly I don’t think any of us intend to let our whole lives revolve around football. But I do think it’s fun to enjoy the anticipation of the season.)

(I believe I’ve sufficiently over-explained.)

All righty. What say you, college football fans?

p.s. Hail State.

p.p.s. Go, ‘Dogs!

Miss Mississippi 2013 Viewing Party

Before we get started, here’s my standard viewing party call to order:

We’ll share our thoughts / observations / reactions in the comments. This is all in good fun, so let’s please be mindful that somebody’s mama or cousin or great-aunt Ethel could stop by and read what we say. In other words: let’s do our level best not to say anything hurtful. These girls are young and singing / dancing / performing their hearts out. Plus, if any one of them showed up at a pool or beach where I happened to be spending the day, I would cover myself with a blanket and run screaming for the indoors. These girls are darlin’.

As far as watching the pageant goes, there are a few options. If you’re in Mississippi, you can watch on WLBT. If you’re like me and in another state, you can watch on the Miss Mississippi pro app, or you can watch the WLBT live feed on your computer or iPad. Here’s the link to the WLBT live feed.

And I know that nobody cares, but I’m gonna watch the pageant on my iPad (via WLBT) and use the computer for blog stuff. I feel good about this decision.

So. With all that being said, let’s enjoy the show. I’ll update this post throughout the pageant, and we’ll visit in the comments. It’ll be big fun. See y’all at 8 central!


Okay – here we go – hopefully.

I still haven’t completely recovered from last year’s unfortunate technical difficulties.

For the record, there are few words that bring me as much joy as “the Miss Mississippi dancers.”


I believe we have a slightly different runway situation. It wraps around instead of going out into the center of the auditorium. Very fancy.


Big points to anyone with the name “Emma Kate.” For entirely personal reasons, of course (a different Emma Kate was my roommate at State).


Alex won’t watch with me, but every time he hears one of the girls say “Mississippi State University,” he does a little “raise the roof” motion. HOME TRAINING. :-)

I have had to switch to watching the WLBT live feed on my computer, by the way – because for some reason the pageant is delayed on my iPad, and I can’t stand not to be caught up with everybody else.


Do y’all think we could take a class to learn how to say our names in that very unique, pageant-y tone?


We have an emcee who is expecting a baby in five weeks? This speaks to great levels of pageant commitment.


Top 10:

Miss Mississippi State University
Miss Leaf River Valley
Miss Heartland
Miss Southern Heartland
Miss North Central
Miss University
Miss Historic South
Miss West Central
Miss University of Southern Mississippi
Miss Amory Railroad Festival

State, Ole Miss, and USM are all in the top 10 – that hasn’t happened in forever! And Miss West Central is a Chi Omega at State, so HOOTIE HOOT to her. :-)


I am going to have to go watch on our big computer. Flipping back and forth on the laptop isn’t working for me. It’s all about gametime adjustments, people.


If someone asked me to wear that silver jumpsuit, I’d have to drop out.


Evening Gown –

Jasmine Murray is gorgeous. GORGEOUS. Remember when she was on “American Idol”?

It seems like they’re giving a lot of time to each girl in her gown.

And my word – I have never seen such a mermaid skirt. FIT AND FLARE, MY FRIENDS.

Those first three gowns were WOW, for sure.

Was Miss Univ.’s shoe caught in her train? I had a hard time telling.

How do y’all feel about the wrap-around runway?


Y’all, those silver jumpsuits may be the worst looking costumes I’ve ever seen.

YAY, Challie Ray!!!! She looks phenomenal.


Okay. Talent is next. I am AFLUTTER about the possibilities.


I always appreciate it when somebody crouches down a little bit before they go for a big note.

Miss Leaf River Valley is DANCING!!!!! And that was impressive – loved it. Very pretty.

OH. TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. This reminds me of a time in the 80s when one of the contestants was playing the marimba (no kidding) and the orchestra’s sheet music was out of whack and she had to finish without accompaniment. VERY DRAMATIC.

Jessica on the piano was just as cute as she could be.

I so appreciate the use of stage terms during the pageant – “strike the piano” – reminds me of Waiting for Guffman.



I give the first half of talent to Miss Leaf River Valley (lyrical dance) or Miss Southern Heartland (piano). What did y’all think?


Ole Miss girls bring it with the opera. Does anybody remember Missy Hurdle from the late 80s / early 90s?

If that whole princess thing had been a possibility when I was a little girl, I would have worried my mama to death until she let me participate.

All righty – the feed has quit working on my end of things.

FEED IS WORKING – but what were the last two talents? I’m heartbroken that I’ve apparently missed a fiddler.



As far as I’m concerned, they all look like a million bucks. There is no amount of money that would make me get up on a stage in a two-piece so that the spectacle of it all could be televised. The end.


Next up is the on-stage interview. And from what I understand, we’ll be able to vote on the app. Or something along the lines. But I’ll go ahead and say that I am a smidge skeptical about incorporating technology into the festivitie. There have been some glitches tonight, after all.



Top 5:

Miss West Central – Laura Lee Lewis
Miss University of Southern Mississippi – Hannah Roberts
Miss Amory Railroad Festival – Chelsea Rick
Miss University – Caroline Connerly
Miss Leaf River Valley – Jordin Johnson


All righty. Time for the final results. I’m as confused about who it will be as I have ever been.

4th Runner-up – Miss University (I’m surprised by that – I thought she would finish higher)
3rd Runner-up – Miss Leaf River Valeey
2nd Runner-up – Miss West Central
1st Runner-up – Miss University of Southern Mississippi
Miss Mississippi 2013 – Miss Amory Railroad Festival

Thanks, y’all, for making the pageant so much fun! We’ll do this again in January September (!) when it’s time for Miss America!

Miss Mississippi Reminder

This has nothing to do with Miss Mississippi, but earlier this week my mama sent me a family friend’s funeral program (just in case, you know, I wanted to do a little light reading), and she also wrote me a note about what had been going on for the previous three or four days. This was my favorite part:

I have been without a stove since last Tuesday, so I can’t cook. I’VE LOVED IT. I was baking Sylvia a cake and it blew up. See you the 19th.

Love, Mama

For some reason it has tickled me to no end.

Anyway, I just wanted to remind anyone who’s interested that we’ll be having a little Miss Mississippi viewing party tomorrow night (Saturday, July 13th) at 8:00pm central. You can watch the pageant on the Miss Mississippi website or on the pro version of the fancy new Miss Mississippi app (links for the app are on the home page of the website).

I’ll put up a post tomorrow night about 7:50 central – and we’ll use that post to comment as we watch (provided that the live stream cooperates). This will all be in good-natured, friendly fun, and we’ll be ever-mindful not to say anything mean or hurtful. Mainly we just like to have a safe and happy place to talk about the pretty dresses and share our gratitude for contestants who tap dance or clog.

(This is not from Miss Mississippi. But it is an excellent example of everything that is good and right and wonderful about tap dancing in a pageant.)

It should be a delightful time. Hope some of y’all can join us for the festivities!

Wednesday Brought The Thunder

This post is going to be super-fast because my computer battery is almost dead and I’m at my parents’ house and there’s a ten year-old asleep in the room where my power cord is, but I just wanted to thank y’all so much for your sweet comments and emails and general words-o-encouragement about the book being released and all the accompanying hubbub.

(Is “hubbub” spelled like that?)

(I don’t think I’ve ever typed it before.)

(And in the irony department, I feel like I’m making a hubbub about “hubbub.”)

Tuesday turned out to be a really good day – once I got past my initial nervousness and texted Melanie the most neurotic series of sentences you have ever seen in your life. At one point I wrote something along the lines of, “THIS HAS ALL BEEN A TERRIBLE MISTAKE,” and then I fell sideways on a chaise lounge and rested my hand on my forehead and grabbed a nearby container of smelling salts since I was feeling very faint.

Listen. It was a very dramatic 30-35 minutes. But I don’t always handle New Life Events very well.

That afternoon my Bible study friends hosted a little get-together to celebrate the book, and by that point I was so wound up that I TALKED FOR MANY MINUTES IN A ROW WITHOUT STOPPING AND ALSO I WAS VERY LOUD BECAUSE I WAS VERY RELIEVED TO BE AROUND SOME PEOPLE.

Please let me show you this cake.


Isn’t that adorable?

Eventually I will make some sort of collage something-or-other with my pictures from the shindig, but there’s no time for that right now because, well, COMPUTER BATTERY IN THE RED. Just know that it was very fun and I am so grateful for friends who treat me like family and please remind me to tell you about these pretzel and M&M cookie-type things that could very well lead to my earthly demise.

Also, Tuesday night we ate supper at Chuy’s. I can’t imagine that even a single one of you is surprised.

This morning I took the little guy to VBS, and we had big plans to leave for Mississippi just as soon as I picked him up. But one thing led to another thing and another thing and another thing, and the bottom line is that it was almost 4:30 before we got on the road. I just couldn’t get my act together – I would fold a pair of jeans and then put my hairspray in a bag and then scrub the kitchen sink and then dig through a pile of socks and it just took me forever to get our stuff packed. I also took a brief nap about midway through the packing process because suddenly I was very tired and just needed to shut my eyes for a minute.

(My sleeping habits of late are a whole ‘nother post. But apparently I was operating on a significant sleep deficiency at the end of the school year, and OH, HAVE I EVER BEEN TRYING TO MAKE UP FOR IT.)

Anyway, it was a little cloudy when we pulled out of our driveway, but by the time we got to the interstate, it was starting to get really dark. And after we’d been on the road about 15 minutes, it started to rain with such force and fury that I wondered if I shouldn’t just turn around and go home. It eventually let up a little bit, and we kept moving, but somewhere around Tuscaloosa the bottom fell completely out of the sky and we ended up swimming to Mississippi.

I am kidding, of course. But OH, THE RAIN.

I ended up staying in the right lane with my hazards on for the next 30 or so miles, but after about the sixth round of torrential downpours, my nerves were shot. So I pulled off the interstate at a McDonald’s, parked the car, texted my husband, and said something along the lines of, “It is raining so loudly that you could not hear me if I called. So we are going to go in McDonald’s now. I think I have had enough of the weather.”

And do you know that we stayed in that McDonald’s for over an hour? Yes we did. We ate supper there, enjoyed the free wifi, refilled our drinks a couple of times, and basically could’ve camped out there all night if necessary because driving in all that rain was no longer an option for me. Mama’s nerves = DONE.

Finally, though, the worst of the rain passed us. D texted me and said it looked like we were free and clear from the storm system (that thing must have been GINORMOUS), and we bid farewell to our Mickey D’s haven. We made it to my parents’ house way later than we planned, but yay for not driving in, you know, A SQUALL.

(I’m not entirely sure that we experienced an actual squall.)

(But make no mistake. That weather was squall-ish.)

But wait! There’s a silver lining! When we were almost to my parents’ house, we caught the tail-end of the most gorgeous sunset. I even pulled off the road (again) and stopped the car (again) because LOOK AT THIS, MY WORD.



I’d say that all worked out.

Happy Thursday, y’all.

Bacon: The Giveaway

Thankfully – blessedly – our house no longer smells like charred tomatoes. Since I was out of town this past weekend, I don’t know when exactly the stench lifted, but I was very relieved that the smell of singed meatballs didn’t knock me over when I walked in the back door this afternoon. That was some serious cause for praise.

I spent the weekend in Atlanta with Melanie, by the way. We planned our trip a sweet forever ago, and oh, was it ever timely and fun and wonderful and refreshing and etc. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna make it into my 2013 Top 5 Favorites. Delightful all the way around.


Before I forget, here’s the winner of the last giveaway.

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Congratulations, Jody! I’ll send you an email in just a little bit.

As for this last giveaway – well, I hardly know where to begin. Because in so many ways it is the culmination of all my bloggy hopes and dreams. Perhaps I should explain.

This giveaway has three parts. The first part of the giveaway is my book, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet, which officially releases on Tuesday and that is all fine and good but TRUST ME not nearly as special as the rest of the giveaway.

The second part of this giveaway is a staple in almost every Southern cook’s kitchen. I for one couldn’t live without mine – it is the best all-purpose pan under the sun.

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(It’s a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)

(If you’ve never used one, you need to understand that it’ll change your whole life.)

(And your cornbread will never be the same.)

The third part of this giveaway is almost too good to be true. It is more, in fact, than I ever dreamed. But apparently, if you write a book that has the phrase “fifteen pounds of bacon” in the subtitle, there are wonderful people out there who will step right up to the plate and offer to give away – GET READY – fifteen pounds of bacon.

You read that correctly.


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Somebody give the Lord a handclap of praise.

The bacon is courtesy of Petit Jean Meats, an Arkansas company that makes, among other things, incredibly delicious bacon (I recently found out that their bacon is the official bacon of the Dallas Cowboys, AS WELL IT SHOULD BE). Petit Jean Meats sent me a whole bunch of bacon after my friend Stephanie (we actually went to high school together) told them about my book title, and no kidding: the day all that bacon showed up at our front door may have been the happiest moment in all my years of blogging. Their peppered bacon has become the hands-down favorite in this house, and I am so excited to be able to share it with y’all. Because, well, BACON.


SO. If you’d like to enter to win a very fancy prize that consists of my book (which, compared to bacon, you know, WHATEVER), a 12-inch Lodge cast iron skillet, and FIFTEEN POUNDS-O-BACON, just leave a comment on this post. If you’d like, you can also sign up for the Petit Jean Meats email newsletter or like their Facebook page, and if you do either of those things, come back here and leave an additional comment for a second entry (you can just say “PJM social media” or something like that in your second entry).

I’ll close comments on this post tomorrow night, and I’ll select a winner using random.org.

Hope y’all have a great week – it’s been so much fun doing these giveaways with you!

This giveaway is now closed. I’ll announce the winner in a couple of days!