Eau de Charred Tomatoes (And A Giveaway)

I wasn’t planning on doing anything special for supper tonight – just serving my people some leftovers that we could all pretend were tasty and delicious – but at the last minute my husband suggested that we go out to dinner. It took me all of two seconds to say, “YES, PLEASE,” and within a couple of minutes we were in the car and on our way.

We ate supper at one of our favorite non-Chuy’s Mexican places (Chuy’s, of course, is the pinnacle), strolled through a nearby bookstore, and grabbed some frozen yogurt before we headed home. I’m going to be out of town this weekend, so as we pulled in the garage, I was thinking about how fun it had been to have an unexpected night on the town with my fellas before I leave for a couple of days. I was still in my little reverie as I got out of the car, but then I stopped, and I looked around, and I smelled it.

I didn’t know what “it” was, exactly. But I knew that it was a cross between Italian food, smoke, and a white-hot BBQ grill.

Then it dawned on me.

I must not have. Turned off. The leftovers. On the stove.

I mean, I thought I did. I announced that I was going to turn them off. But apparently there was a significant user error, because when we walked through the kitchen door, I realized that I might need to practice getting that control knob to the COMPLETELY OFF position.

Oh, y’all. The smoke. It was so very smoke-y. Granted, I’m so grateful that nothing actually, you know, caught on fire, and I think we’ve gotten most of the smoke out of the house, but oh, it is some charred-smelling awfulness in this place tonight.

And for the record, I am never cooking meatballs again.

Anyway. Let’s talk about something fun now. Like prizes!

Here’s the winner of the cornstick pan and two copies of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet.

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Yay, Jennifer! I just sent you an email.

I’m also starting to feel like a game show host. And I don’t mind it.

So I’ll make this next giveaway pretty quick because I need to start typing “how to get smell of burned Italian food out of my house” into the Google, but I think y’all will enjoy this next little Southern treat. Especially if you’re planning to take some road trips this summer because, well, hash brown casserole, anyone?

Yep. It’s a $50 gift card to Cracker Barrel, plus, you know, a copy of this book.

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And who knows? If I can’t get this smell out of my house, I may be at the Cracker Barrel first thing in the morning. Coffee and homemade biscuits can cure a world of hurts, you know.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

This giveaway is now closed.

My Hair Wasn’t The Only Thing That Was Flat (And Another Giveaway, Too)

All righty. A list!

1) I’m a little sick of myself right now. Just in case you were wondering.

2) Before Karla installed my re-design, something in my WordPress was broken. Because of all the brokenness, I had to type in any code – like for links, formatted text, etc. – by hand. But now my WordPress is fixed, and I can link and italicize and LO, EVEN MAKE WORDS BOLD (see what I did there?) with the click of a single button. My life has meaning again.

3) Book signings are listed over here. You win, non-Facebook people. :-)

4) Today I initially thought that I was going to have a very promising hair day, but then I stepped outside, and it seemed like I could actually hear the volume leaving that critical crown area. I tried to fluff it a bit after we left the house, but I could not revive it. It was flatter than a pancake and deader than a doornail. And I kid you not: within five minutes of my hair-tastrophe, the tire pressure light came on in my car. A few weeks ago I ran over a nail and had to have my tire patched, and today, apparently, I ran over a good-sized bolt. I know this because our favorite / beloved / blessed-among-men mechanic pointed out said bolt when my flat-ish tire and I arrived at his shop.

You’d think that I spend all my free (spare? get it?) time driving leisurely through construction sites.

Needless to say, it was not a good day for my hair or my tire. But the good news is that I ordered a new tire (the hole was in a place where it can’t be patched), so I’ll be back in fine tire form tomorrow. I’m afraid that I cannot say the same for my hair. Because OH, THE HUMID.

5) Here are the winners from yesterday’s giveaway. Thanks, random.org.

106 – Susan (comment on 5/28 at 10:11pm)
180 – Angela (comment on 5/28 at 11:44pm)
245 – Kim (comment on 5/29 at 6:39am)
381 – Glennell Strawng
518 – Sarah at 32 Flavors

Y’all will get an email from me later tonight with info about how to claim your prizes.

6) When I was growing up, Mama almost always cooked a hot lunch straight from Daddy’s garden. We’d have fresh corn, blackeyed peas, fresh tomatoes, fried okra, fried eggplant – or whatever delicacy happened to be growing at the time. We usually didn’t have meat for lunch unless it was leftovers, but more often than not, Mama made cornbread. And for some reason, when she’d make cornbread at lunch, she’d use a cornstick pan that had belonged to her mama, my Mamaw Davis.

And that’s the prize for today’s giveaway: a cast iron cornstick pan. I didn’t even know that anyone still made them, but I’m so happy that they do. Whoever wins the cornstick pan will also receive two copies of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet – one for the winner and one for friend.

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So there you have it. A cornstick pan and a couple of books. Just leave a comment if you’d like to enter to win. I’ll close comments in 24 hours.

And if you made it all the way to the end of this post, please accept this invisible certificate as a token of my appreciation. You are a champion. No doubt about it.

This giveaway is now closed.

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.


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: bodenusa.com 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 Tonight, 8 Central

Tonight about 7:55 central I’ll set up a post for our Miss America festivities. I’ll probably do a live blogging-type thing and update the post throughout the pageant. Y’all can take over the comments, and I’ll jump in there from time to time, too. I think the easiest way to talk back and forth is via the “reply” button, but posting a regular ole comment will work just fine, too.

One last thing. This will all be in good fun, so, like I said before the Miss Mississippi viewing party, 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 very best not to say anything hurtful. These girls are darlin’.

See y’all later tonight!

A Fine Kick-Off For All The Pageantry

When I was in college, Emma Kate had a little TV/VCR combo that sat right underneath the window in our room at the Chi O house (oh, that TV/VCR was the HEIGHT of technology back in the day). At the time I had a slight obsession with taping my favorite shows and then watching them over and over again. so I’m surprised that I didn’t wear the TV/VCR slap out with my repeated viewings of Moonlighting, Saturday Night Live and Designing Women. I watched all three shows so often that I pretty much committed most of the episodes to memory (is that pathetic? please don’t tell me it was pathetic. IT WAS MY HOBBY.)

This past Saturday morning I was checking “the Facetime,” as my husband calls Facebook (and we thought it was really funny and clever until there was actually, you know, something called Facetime, at which point his nickname for the Facebook became a smidge confusing), and a college friend of mine had posted a scene from Designing Women that I’d totally forgotten about. Watching it made me miss the show like crazy, and it made me think of all the hours I fast forwarded and rewound similar moments on EK’s TV/VCR.

It’s a TV memorial stone, people. A TV MEMORIAL STONE.

Now I would be remiss if I didn’t follow up by saying that I have seen some lovely Miss Maines and Miss Vermonts in my time – but Suzanne Sugarbaker’s take on things cracked me up. It also reminded me of one of my all-time favorite DW memories (and I have a LOT of favorite DW memories). It’s such a classic.

It’s Miss America week, y’all.

Giddy up.