Come Here For All Your Empty Carb Needs

I wasn’t kidding about overdoing it on the chips and crackers.

Oh, it looks harmless enough at first. A few two-liters of Cokes, some Veggie Sticks, a bag of tortilla chips, an economy-sized Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

But as you work your way up the shelves, you start to notice a the abundance of All The Chips & Such.

What you can’t see are the new Lay’s Tangy Carolina Barbecue chips – have y’all tried them? They sneak up on you with their tastiness. Because at first I was all, “I don’t really think I like these,” and then within five minutes I had developed a WHITE HOT CRAVING for that chip and that chip only.

Imagine that you cross a regular barbecue chip with a salt & vinegar chip. That is the tangy barbecue chip. And oh, it is tasty.

And by the way, that’s a bag of Peppercorn Ranch Sun Chips on the bottom right. It’s on the edge of the shelf so that it doesn’t make quite as much racket when you’re reaching for something else.


And finally, our cracker collection.

The Chex Mix, mini-Nutter Butters and mini-Oreos are behind all of the crackers. We think it’s better to keep the more nutritional offerings – like, you know, Nilla Wafers – front and center so that we can make smart food choices.

But in our defense, we have really cut back on our Cheez-It consumption this year. And please make sure you notice that Paige’s Cheese Nips are reduced fat.

Or as we like to call them: health food.

The Chlorine Has Sapped My Sense

I don’t really think there’s any point pretending that I can string words into sentences right now. I have passed regular tired and arrived at silly tired. And that is why, at the pool tonight, my cousin Paige and I were hysterical talking about all the acrobatic maneuvers we used to perform in the water when we were kids. And then we even tried a few of them. You can imagine how delighted I am to tell you that Paige can still do a mean handstand with a lightning-fast scissor split.

And I may or may not still be able to do a super-awesome back flip. It all just depends on whether or not my back cramps mid-way through and I have to abandon the flip for more of a twist-type effect.

Oddly enough this was not a problem that I faced when I was 11.

Anyway, this week is our annual Cousins’ Beach Trip. Today was Day One. We got here at 4 this afternoon, and we left the pool at 10:45 tonight.

And while I can’t say for sure that I’m at an all-time end-of-summer high in terms of being completely dried out by chlorine, I’m prone to think that I am since it took approximately 1/2 cup of Eucerin to get my skin feeling even remotely moisturized after my post-pool shower. I also think that my hair has passed the point of no return. There is no amount of conditioner that can revitalize its texture. I think I just need to get it cut really short and then scatter it in some sort of wagon and then tell the kids we’re going on a hayride.

Or perhaps I could use it for mulch considering that it currently has the consistency of pine straw.

But beauty issues aside, I am just tickled to be here. This is always such a fun week for our family, and this year is going to be better than ever because even more of the family is joining the fun. Wacky hijinks are sure to be had by all.

There is also a very large quantity of snack food that is sure to be enjoyed by all. I am tempted to show you a picture of what’s in our cabinets right now, but I’d be way too embarrassed. Apparently this is the year when we decided we’d err on the side of ridiculous in the “chips and crackers” category. You won’t find a whole lot of protein in this condo right now unless it’s in the form of peanut butter or string cheese.

But you will definitely find four different kinds of potato chips, cheese balls, Whales, Triscuits (two kinds), tortilla chips, Chex Mix, pita chips, pretzel sticks and Sun Chips. And if we break into the Sun Chips, HEAVEN KNOWS you’ll hear us – that new bag leaves no Sun Chip snacking unpunished. Sweet mercy it’s noisy.

So that’s all that’s going on here. Some loud, happy children and some tired, happy grown-ups. Lots of potential for overloading on empty carbs. And – my favorite – a whole bunch of laughter.

Have a great Monday, y’all.

Meet Me In, Well, You Know

I’ve never been to St. Louis before. I’ve visited other places that the Mississippi River calls home – New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Vicksburg, Greenville, Memphis – but somehow I’ve missed St. Louis. Even still, I’ve always liked to think that, if we ever got to meet, St. Louis and I would probably be friends.


Today I made my inaugural trip to St. Louis so that I can tend to some bloggy bidness for AllAccess this weekend. And after I checked in my hotel and realized that I had a few hours to kill, I decided to go for a little walk outside among all the nature.

I’m happy to report that St. Louis didn’t disappoint. In fact, I am sort of smitten.

The first thing on my agenda was to head down to the riverfront so that I could check out that arch thing that I’ve heard about FOR MY WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE. And do you know what? The Arch is tall, y’all. I really had no idea, perhaps because my primary frame of reference for what the Arch looks like is that scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation when the Griswold family arrives in St. Louis. So clearly I have a done a lot of serious and academic Arch-related research.

Anyway, I took a bunch of pictures because I was all by myself and I’m a sucker for a bright blue sky. The sky was especially pretty today. In fact, I think the sky must also like St. Louis a lot because it was really putting on a show.

I didn’t ride up to the top of the Arch because I was wary of getting into the tram/diagonal elevator thing. I mean, what if I was overcome with claustrophobia or acrophobia or archophobia and then suddenly a group of strangers felt like they needed to offer me comfort? Granted, I’ve never been particularly phobic (except where scaly textures are concerned, and I’m not entirely sure that particular fear has a name), but since I didn’t have the benefit of a companion who could be appropriately co-dependent where my potential for some random onset of some random phobia was concerned, I elected to stay put on the ground.

I’m sure you understand.

Last thing.

A few hours after my walking tour I accidentally locked myself out of my room (I don’t know why I felt the need to specify that it was “accidentally” – because does anyone really ever lock themselves out of a room on purpose?), so I went down to the front desk to ask if they could give me another key to the room. As it turned out, they couldn’t give me a key unless I could show them a photo ID, but of course I couldn’t produce a photo ID since it was LOCKED IN THE ROOM.

Funny how that works.

Anyhoo, while I was waiting for a manager who could escort me back to the room and let me in, one of the guys working at the front desk said, “So. How are you handling this heat?”

And I was all, “What heat?”

And he was all, “Oh my – it’s never been as hot as it is right now.”

And I was all, “I live in Alabama. This weather feels like a delightful spring day. I mean, I went FOR A WALK. OUTSIDE. AND DIDN’T SWEAT.”

He was stunned.

And then he said, “You mean, it’s worse than this where you live?”

So for the next five minutes, I told him Southern Heat Horror Stories. I told him about walking outside at 6 in the morning and feeling like you’re colliding with a wall of steam. I told him about 86 degrees and 98 percent humidity AT NIGHT. I told him about summers in Baton Rouge.

(To be fair, I didn’t tell him about New Orleans because I didn’t think he could handle it.)

(Plus, when it comes to describing the heat of New Orleans during the summer months, I honestly struggle to find the words. I just know that it completely saps me of any desire to 1) move and 2) live.)

The good news is that, by the end of our conversation, the front desk guy seemed to have a renewed appreciation for the weather here in St. Louis. The bad news is that I don’t think he’ll be visiting the Deep South anytime soon. What with me scaring him to death with all the talk of the unbearable heat.

And that’s what I did today.

Spreading peace, love and climate-related fear,

When Life Gives You Oil, Add A Little Vinegar And Make A Lovely Vinaigrette

I’ve been trying really hard to remain upbeat about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

I keep thinking that something – SURELY, SOMETHING – will be able to stop the leak.

I keep thinking that maybe the winds will shift and the oil will move out in the middle of nowhere for a little while – at least until somebody comes up with a solution.

But if you’ve been paying attention to the news, you know that things aren’t looking so great for the Gulf Coast right now. The oil is about 9 miles off of the Florida Panhandle. And that oil has a mind to move.

The little man and I are actually heading to that part of the Gulf this weekend with some friends. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for a couple of months, and whenever I’ve thought about it, I’ve pictured the kids playing in the water while the grown-ups sit on the beach and talk about Real Housewives and read magazines and relax.

It probably goes without saying that in my hypothetical mental picture, I’m also firmly ensconced underneath a beach umbrella. And coated in 220 SPF while wielding some sort of protective sun shield.

It’s strange, I know, but my complete inability to tan has never for one second diminished my love for the beach. It’s my happy place. And the beaches along the Alabama coast and the Florida Panhandle feel like home to me. They’re my favorite place on earth. There’s nowhere – NOWHERE – I’d rather go with my people. I imagine that many of y’all feel the same way about the beaches in Louisiana and Mississippi, too.

And honestly, I’m ticked – TIIIIIIIIICKED – that those beaches are going to be a big ole mess if somebody doesn’t figure out how to fix the problem.

I’m ticked that the marshlands off the Louisiana coast are already a big ole mess because nobody has figured out how to fix the problem.

I’m ticked that the Gulf is a big ole mess and the oil has spread over thousands of square miles because nobody has figured out how to fix the problem.

And when I get ticked? I get stubborn.

So. Whether the oil hits the Panhandle beaches or not, we’re going down there in a few days. And WE’RE GOING TO ENJOY OURSELVES, BY DIGGITY. We may not be able to hang out on the white sand or play in the Gulf, but we’ll still be able to relax by the pool. Heaven knows we’ll still be able to talk about Real Housewives. And we’ll still be able to grab a couple of meals from local restaurants that are far more affected by this whole BP fiasco than most of us will ever even begin to comprehend.

It’s a place that’s been very, very sweet to our little family.

And for better or worse, it has a piece of our hearts forever.

The end.


Oh, Oklahoma City was big fun indeed.

First of all, there was this:

An exit row seat with all manner of leg room on the way from Birmingham to Dallas. Every once in awhile I would straighten out my legs and kick them. Just because I could. The seat next to me was empty, so I got to use the under-seat storage in front of it. PERFECTION.

When I finally landed in Oklahoma City, I drove downtown to the hotel, and I had to smile when I spotted it from a distance.

I actually stayed in the very same hotel when I was about 11 or 12. My daddy had a convention in OKC, and you’ll be happy to know that I did not get spanked on the steps of the Capitol during that particular trip. I was so much more mature and, like, PRACTICALLY A TEENAGER, GAH.

Anyway, to add to my joy, there was an umbrella AND a can of spray starch in the closet of my hotel room. Even though I needed neither, I was overcome with gratitude as well as an unexpected longing for some wrinkled white cotton shirts and a nice thunderstorm.

(It’s so much easier to understand the previous paragraph if you’ll just remember HOW NOT AT ALL NORMAL I AM.)

Late Friday afternoon I went over to the arena for Deeper Still, and it was a mighty fine time. Over 9,000 women were there, and we all got to hear Kay Arthur teach the entire book of Hebrews.


And I’ll tell you something else: if I get to be 76 years old and am tempted to sit around in a housecoat all day while I eat chicken and watch old episodes of “Friends,” I hope I remember the sight of Kay Arthur walking up and down and all around that platform while she taught some uncompromising Truth. And I hope when I remember, I’ll turn off the “Friends” and put down the chicken and put on some sassy clothes and get out there and pour into the lives of some younger women.


Friday night I was so wound up that I had a hard time going to sleep (sort of like, you know, NOW), and when I finally dozed off around 12:30, I was awakened by the people in the room above me who, as best I could tell, were picking up various and sundry pieces of furniture and then dropping them. It was either that or they were bowling with 75-pound balls – which, as we all know, is a sport that’s catching on like wildfire in hotel rooms all across the country. So when I woke up Saturday morning, I wasn’t exactly rested, but I felt a whole lot better when I saw this outside of my window.

Sometimes a wide expanse of completely flat land has its advantages.

Priscilla Shirer taught Saturday morning, and without going into all the whys and wherefores, I will tell you that her message on Ephesians 3:20-21 MARKED ME. I really want to write about it, but I honestly don’t think I have the words right now. Just know this: I have loved those two verses of Scripture since I was 17 years old – even had them printed on Alex’s birth announcements – and they are more precious than ever to me now. For an entirely different set of reasons than when I was 17, OH THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT.

And also.

The fact that Priscilla delivered her message while wearing this dress?

Well, that was just an extra portion of blessing. The dress was right up there with Angela’s jeans back in 2007, though let me be PERFECTLY CLEAR: nothing will ever surpass the jeans. They are peerless. And one day when Angela decides she’s not going to wear them anymore, I’m going gently place them in a glass-enclosed shadow box and hang them in our hallway. Right where they belong.

Saturday afternoon Beth Moore taught on spiritual discernment, and oh my word – was it ever timely for me. What I especially loved about Beth’s session is that she really honed in on how to tell if you’re acting (or reacting) out of true spiritual discernment or out of a critical spirit, and she offered some mighty sound wisdom. It was excellent.

And before I forget, let me tell you that if you want to smile until your face hurts, watch Priscilla and Beth’s video about hair. Yes, about hair. Clearly it is A VERY SPIRITUAL TOPIC, AMEN.

Okay. Finally.

This morning I flew from OKC (I can’t bring myself to say “the city” because it makes me feel like my name is Whitney and I’m starring in a reality show on MTV and living with my friend whose parents used to be on “thirtysomething”) to Dallas, then from Dallas to Birmingham, and when my people picked me up from the airport, Alex shared three pieces of very important news.

1) He had his picture made with Santa yesterday.
2) He moved the fish ornament from the tree in his bedroom to the tree in the living room because he thought the fish looked “too much like a girl.”
3) He has a loose tooth.

That last one just killed me, by the way. His first loose tooth. He’s been waiting on it forever, and it finally happened. So if you’ll excuse me, Mama here is gonna go stick her nose in a plastic tub of baby clothes and remember WHEN MY BABY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TEETH.

Hope your week is filled with exit row seats, a cute dress, and hair that’s exceedingly, abundantly more than you can ask or imagine.

The end.

The Night We Met The BoBerry

After the unfortunate green sauce incident last Thursday night, Melanie and I decided to go in search of some less BLAZING, BURN-OFF-YOUR-TONGUE fare when we left the hotel for a late lunch on Friday. Since our buddy Travis grew up in North Carolina and is forever talking about Bojangle’s fried chicken – and since we don’t have Bojangle’s in our respective cities – we thought we’d give it a try.

We left our hotel and drove just a little ways down the road to the Bojangle’s. We were planning to eat inside, but before we got out of the car, I sensed a still, strong voice deep down in my heart: What if they don’t serve Coke products? I mean, I was craving a Diet Coke like nobody’s business, and quite frankly I was in no mood to settle for a Diet Pepsi. IT’S NOWHERE NEAR THE SAME. Melanie offered to swing by the drive-thru menu so that we could check out the Bojangle’s drink offerings, and sure enough, we saw a Pepsi logo.

You can imagine our disappointment. So we sent Travis a text to let him know about the SHOCKING Bojangle’s turn of events because THESE THINGS ARE IMPORTANT TO US.

To wit, a transcript.

Me: Mel and I were about to eat lunch at Bojangle’s but we saw they serve Pepsi products. That’s a dealbreaker, ladies.


And then, a few minutes later:


But Melanie and I were stiff-necked. Prideful about the absence of Coke products. So do you know where we went for lunch instead?

On The Border.

Yes, that’s right: more Mexican food. It’s a sickness, y’all. We might as well wear signs around our neck that say, POINT US IN THE DIRECTION OF “CHEESE” BECAUSE WE WOULD LIKE TO GO TO THERE.

(By the way, I’m not even halfway finished with this post and I’ve already referenced “30 Rock” twice.)

(Mama here might need to turn off the TV for a month or nine.)

Anyway, we went to On The Border for lunch, and it was actually pretty tasty. Their Diet Coke was perfection (just the right fizz, plenty of syrup, nice ice-to-beverage ratio), and we had some sort of avocado-Ranch dip that was delicious. All in all it was a perfectly lovely chain restaurant experience. It didn’t have the same regional charm that Bojangle’s would have had, of course, but it DID have Coke products. And sometimes you just have to pick a restaurant based on your carbonated beverage principles.

Even still, thoughts of the fried chicken we hadn’t eaten haunted us. Travis’ words haunted us. WHAT IF WE HAD MISSED A BLESSING?

Early Saturday morning Mel and I decided that once all of our sessions were over that night, we’d pick up Bojangle’s in the drive-thru and make alternate beverage arrangements to alleviate the sting of the Pepsi. We COULD NOT WAIT to have us some hot chicken for supper. And when we ran into our conference roomie Annie later in the afternoon, we asked if she was interested in sharing All The Chicken with us. She was totally game.

By 6:30 the three of us were walking side by side out of the hotel and into the parking lot, striding confidently toward our fried chicken destiny. I felt sort of like an astronaut getting ready to board a space shuttle – only without the bulky suit and the heavy helmet. And without the space shuttle. And without, you know, space. So basically I guess I really felt like a girl who was walking out of a suburban Charlotte hotel to go get some fried chicken with her friends. But trust me: that whole space shuttle analogy would’ve been a ton of fun if I could’ve pulled it off.

Annie drove us down to the Bojangle’s, and while I don’t know what came over the three of us in that drive-thru, I do know that suddenly there was no amount of fried chicken and sides to satisfy our hunger. I’d sort of anticipated that we’d get a few 2-piece dinners and call it a day, but instead we ordered some sort of family tailgate pack that came with 12 pieces of chicken (THIS WAS FOR THREE PEOPLE, MIND YOU) and three sides. And biscuits.

While we were waiting on our tailgating feast, we felt it was only right and proper to bring the person who had inspired our meal up-to-speed. So we sent Travis another text: We are at the Bojangles getting our supper. And just as we pulled onto the main road and headed back to the hotel, we got a reply: Lord bless y’all. Be sure to get – along w/ your chicken, the fries and the boberry biscuit.

Now listen. We had twelve pieces of chicken with mashed potatoes, pinto beans and green beans. But no fries. No boberry biscuits. And while we had no idea what a boberry biscuit was, we knew that Travis wouldn’t lead us astray. So we turned around and went right back to that Bojangle’s and right back through that drive-thru and we ordered us some boberry biscuits, oh yes we did. And also: a couple of orders of fries.

Apparently we were operating under the assumption that we needed to be prepared in the event that four or five other people decided to stop by room 815 for an impromptu evening buffet.

Once we hauled all of our Bojangle’s fare back to our hotel room, we settled in and ATE US SOME CHICKEN. We loved it. I still prefer Popeye’s chicken to Bojangle’s because of the crust, but the texture of the actual chicken was really similar (can you tell I’ve given this some thought?). I loved the Cajun spices that gave the chicken a little bit of a kick but not too much heat. Big score on the pinto beans, too – and I’ve never met a mashed potato that I didn’t like.

However, I cannot speak to the green beans because I didn’t eat any. Obviously I exercised remarkable food-related restraint by not cluttering my very white and beige food choices with any of that pesky green.


Angels sang. Stars fell. Crowds cheered. Grown men wept.

Y’all. I had no idea that putting a glaze on a biscuit was an option. I had no idea that putting blueberries in a biscuit was an option. But I’ll tell you what: now that I know, there’s no turning back. Because in all my biscuit-eating days – and I confess to you in all humility that I am no stranger to some BISCUIT-EATING DAYS – I have never encountered a biscuit that so perfectly balanced the savory and the sweet. It was a revelation. It was a special biscuit provision.

It was a BoBerry Blessing.

And I will never be the same.