5 Southern Valentine’s Day Gifts Under $30

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Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Do you have a Southern lady on your Valentine’s Day gift list? Was your sweetheart born and raised in the South? And do you want to buy a thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift that won’t break the bank? Then look no further.

* This post contains affiliate links. *

Simply Southern: Love T-Shirt

~ Let all that you’d be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:16

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Lilly Pulitzer

We Southern ladies love Lilly, and this Lilly Pulitzer Note Set is darling!

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Corkcicle Tumblers

These triple-insulated Corkcicle tumblers mean that condensation is all but eliminated on those warm southern days. These are available in a rainbow of colors and come in 16 oz. and 25 oz. sizes. OK, yes, at first I thought it looked like a beverage shaker for the bar, but trust me when I say it is not. We actually have one of these (which we purchased ourselves), and my daughter takes it to school and practice and church and to friends’ houses… this thing is durable, and it works.

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Monogram It

If you get the Corkcicle, you must monogram it. I think that’s a Southern law. Vinyl monograms work on Corkcicles, Yetis, laptops, car windows, makeup compacts and really anything you can stick it to or sew it on. Check out this 3″ vinyl monogram:

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Yankee Candle: Midnight Jasmine

Is it wrong that I like how such a southern scent comes from a yankee company? Well if loving Yankee Candles is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Yankee Candles have all sorts of southern fragrances, but I do love jasmine.

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All of these gifts are available on Amazon.
* This post contains affiliate links. *

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Why I Rarely Get Political Online

political-memes-010-toy-story-expert-on-politicsUgh… politics is ugly, y’all. It makes good people behave badly. I had hoped that all this political rhetoric would have gone away once the 2016 election was over and that my Facebook feed would return to the normal Star Wars memes and videos of cats and dogs cuddling.

Alas, that is just not meant to be.

Why I Don’t Shout From the Rooftops

Yes, I have opinions and deeply held beliefs. Yes, I have the freedom to say everything I think and feel anytime I want. What is worse, is that the internet gives me (and everyone else) the opportunity and the platform to do it 24 hours a day.

I have intentionally stayed out of the political noise this time around for many well-thought out reasons…

Too Much Noise In My Bubble

Have you heard about political – or social – bubbles? It is when someone surrounds themselves exclusively with friends and family who think the same. Therefore your social media feeds, your news feeds and those you speak with in real life likely think and feel the way you do. Your opinions are validated constantly, and the “other side” is vilified consistently.

I seriously have no clue what that is like. I live in a no-bubble-zone.

My family members range from the far left to the far right. I have atheists and devoutly religious relatives. The friends I have chosen to be a part of my life mirror the way I grew up.

And many of them are not silent about anything, including politics.

Just like too many cooks spoil the soup, too many disjointed voices make communicating political opinions online a senseless use of my time. Others are already shouting in ALL CAPS or un-friending family members. I just can’t see the point in any of it.

I’m Too Old for This

I’ve voted in every presidential election since I was old enough to do so. Do you know how many times my candidate won? About half of them. I have voted for Democrats and Republicans. I have never voted solely down party lines. Yet still, my candidate has only won half the time.

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It’s OK to be wrong… not that I ever am.

Guess what? We’re still here. Because I have learned that a president can sign executive orders, but even that has limits. (I know it seems like our current president is signing lots of them this week, but every new president does. It’s how this game is played. It eventually does slow down.)

We have a legislative and judicial branch for a reason. The checks and balances set up by our Founding Fathers actually work… even if 24-hour news cycles like to pretend they don’t. Because, let’s face it, our political system working like it should does not grab the attention of viewers.

I Have Learned This One Political Truth

Every president has done things I agree with, and they do lots that I don’t.

That goes for presidents for whom I have voted as well as those I did not. It goes for both sides of the political aisle. Old age has taught me that my president is my president whether or not I voted for them. But my president is not just my president. They have do be the president of every citizen from sea to shining sea, and I’ll tell you what, I don’t agree with every citizen, so why should I expect to agree with every president – or even one president all the time. That’s just crazy talk.

When I Speak, You Know I Mean It

I don’t tackle every political fight publicly because at some point, your voice will no longer be heard. It will become just one of a chorus of political white noise that no one pays attention to.

But… when I do speak, you know I mean it.

Voices who speak out all the time about every little thing are easily ignored. Voices who speak out purposefully and with much consideration are often listened to.

Speaking Without Words

Just because I don’t shout my opinions on Facebook or Retweet many political leaders doesn’t mean I don’t join in the cause. Great ways to speak without shouting on social media:

  • volunteer in your community.
  • contribute financially to a cause.
  • most importantly… VOTE!

One of the strongest ways you can speak is by listening to the other side. I mean listen. Even when there is no way you will agree with them, at least they know you have cared enough to hear them out, so that when you do choose to speak, you can demand the same courtesy.

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Daniel Plan (Food, Fitness, Faith, Friends and Something Else)

41pslpuw0zl-_sx325_bo1204203200_Y’all, I did it. I have been thinking about this for over a week, when let’s face it, I should’ve been praying about it. *This post contains affiliate links.*

Side note: I think God and I have come to a one-sided understanding, that most of my “thinking” – and even my thinking-out-loud – is really praying. So, in a sense, thinking does count as praying.

What is it that I did?

I signed up for the Daniel Plan study-support group at church. Lord knows I need to lose more than just a bit of weight. I need to eat better. I need to exercise again. I just need to do better when it comes to the decisions I make with my body and health because I certainly ain’t getting any younger.

The bad (or lazy) decisions I have been making over the years have certainly caught up with me in the size category. I am just lucky that so far my overall health hasn’t suffered. My blood sugar and blood pressure are both extremely good, but this won’t be the case forever.

So it is time to put on my big girl pants, and hopefully get into smaller pants at the same time.

What is the Daniel Plan?

Good question. The only thing I know about it right now is that it isn’t just a diet plan. It has a dietary component, along with exercise, faith and fellowship components, too. It really is a holistic approach to health (and hopefully weight loss).

For my study, we are using the Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life  and it’s companion Study Guide.

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I have read a few detractors who are not fans of this “diet” as they call it, nor do they favor the teachings of Rick Warren. I’m keeping an open mind on this one. I am certainly familiar with who Rick Warren is, but I have never actually done any of his studies. At this point, I am of the opinion that it certainly couldn’t hurt – spiritually or physically.

What is the Something Else?

In the title of the post I spoke of a “something else.” So what was that? Simply put, I forgot one of the 5 pillars (so-to-speak) of this study. Y’all, I love alliteration as much as anyone on the planet, seriously! The theme of the Daniel Plan (in the wrong order, I’m sure) is food, fitness, faith, friendship and FOCUS.

Yes, I forgot FOCUS. So, I am taking that as my sign that I need this plan as much as anyone.

When Do I Start?

I have the books in hand now, and I will spend this coming week reading through some of it, getting familiar with the upcoming life changes, writing shopping lists and, of course, eating cookies and having milkshakes every chance I get. Just kidding… I’ll stick to just cookies. See, I am already making improvements.

Then I start Sunday, January 22nd. I’ll meet my new group, and we’ll begin a six week journey together.

Other Resources

In addition to the book and study guide, I bought the e-book of the Daniel Plan: Jumpstart Guide. For $1.99, it was something that I would have on my kindle, to which, as y’all may know, I am permanently attached. (I should note that most of these resources are available on most e-reader devices.)

Of course there is an official app in the App Store and on Google Play.

Additional books include:

For more information and resources you can also go to the official website of The Daniel Plan.

Wish me luck!

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Parenting Win: When Your Kid Gets Their First Job

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Parenting wins – I mean real milestones – happen from time, and they should be celebrated, and of course, blogged about.

This week’s #ParentingWin came in the form of a job. Specifically, my son’s first job.

About a week ago at the dinner table my son announced he wanted a job. In fact, there was such certainty in his tone that my hubby and I thought he already had a job in mind or that a friend of his had given him a lead. But, nope. He didn’t have a real plan. He just felt ready for a job.

“OK, this is great,” we thought, but we had no idea how long the process would take, or even if he was even being serious.

Well, the next night he applied for his first job. He applied online, and the very next day he received a phone call and was invited for an interview the next afternoon. And wouldn’t you know, that following the interview, he texted me telling me they offered him the job! He went from thinking about getting a job, to applying, to interviewing, to being employed in under 48 hours.

Wow! #ParentingWin

And as excited as I am for him – because he took every bit of initiative here – I am super excited for me! My oldest son has his driver’s license, is about to graduate high school with honors, has already begun to take college courses and is now employed.

I’m gonna say it again… WOW!

It took many years of praying, getting less sleep than I’d like, crazy carpooling, heart-to-heart talks, and a few coming-to-Jesus discussions about wearing his rubber bands with his braces, but this little kid is no longer a little kid. He’s (almost) a grown man.

Does he have growing left to do? Plenty. But, my oh my, do the days and years pass so quickly. Enjoy the little milestones and the big ones too. Life is worth celebrating.

 

My Life With Teens: 2016 in Review

432c88fcca4ebe0e9ae3fa50f0bf41e72016 was an eventful year in our little, southern household. The kiddos were old enough to pay attention to and even comprehend the spectacle that was the U.S. race for the presidency. Of all the celebrity deaths of 2016, the passing of Alan Rickman and David Bowie seemed to affect them the most.

But political nonsense and celebrity deaths aside, 2016 was a pretty good year.

My oldest son’s marching band had the opportunity to work with a pretty amazing composer this past year, Robbie Sherman. Robbie is the youngest son of Disney Legend Robert Sherman of the Sherman Bros. (The Sherman Bros. were the Oscar Award-winning songwriting duo who composed the music for Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, it’s a small world, The Jungle Book, Charlotte’s Web and sooooooo much more.)

As luck would have it, I was able to sit in on a phone interview with Robbie early in 2016. That interview led to his song, “Disneyana!” – which was originally written for the Disneyana Fan Club – to be arranged for marching band by my son’s Director of Bands, and “Dineyana! for Marching Band” made its debut at Walt Disney World on December 19th.

I will write more about this amazing event in the coming weeks, but until then, I want to share with you this wonderful video of Robbie playing the rarely heard, unpublished 3rd verse to “it’s a small world” which was penned by his father just months before he passed away.

Not to be outdone, my youngest daughter declared that she was now a vegetarian. This was brought about by her father sending a photo of the Copenhagen fish markets. I thought it was a lovely (though, yes, slightly grotesque) photo of super fresh fish, but my daughter saw death and fish carnage.

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I am pretty sure my middle son suffers from parentally-induced middle child syndrome. I know he had a pretty great year, but most of the specifics escape me. He is no doubt thankful for that. His braces came off, as did about two minutes from is 5K time for cross country. But otherwise, I have no idea what he does. Thank goodness I can follow him on Instagram. That’s a big help.

Here’s hoping that 2017 is way better than how Mariah Carey ended 2016. Seriously, y’all!

 

 

Airlines No Longer Lose Luggage

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This post contains affiliate links.

Great news, travelers. Airlines no longer lose passengers’ bags, suitcases or any other checked items!

No more lost luggage.

What? Say it isn’t so. It’s a miracle.

So why is it, when my husband recently flew overseas, he was the last person at the baggage carousel waiting for a suitcase that would never appear?  He certainly wasn’t waiting because his bags were lost.

What is Delayed Baggage?

Now, when your bags do not complete the journey with you, it isn’t because the airlines lost or misdirected it. No. It’s because your baggage has been delayed.

I understand the reason that the airline industry wants to refer to your lost items as delayed baggage. In all likelihood, you will receive it within 24 to 48 hours of landing. So, it isn’t lost (really), it’s just late – as if it is perfectly natural for luggage to travel slower than its owner.

Lost –  I mean – delayed baggage causes all sorts of mayhem and confusion. When you are away from home, especially in anther country, you just want your own things. You want your own clothes, your own shoes and yes, your own toothpaste. Though I am sure European toothpaste gets the job done, too.

Resourceful v Patient

So when the airline delays your bag (I had a hard time typing that last sentence), what type of traveler are you? Do you want to run to the nearest shopping center – assuming there is one at your destination – to replace what you consider necessities, or do you wait it out for a day or two and see if your “delayed” luggage catches up with you after having a nice time at the suitcase spa? Because really, a spa day is about the only reason I can see that my luggage would intentionally travel more slowly than I do.

Happily Ever After

Happily for my husband, his slowly traveling suitcase made it to his hotel about 36 hours after he checked in. 36 hours may not seem like that long, but for 24 of them, we honestly had no clue where the bag was, if it was really lost or even picked up by the wrong passenger at another airport.

Though, how any airline misdirects a bright orange, 29″ hardside suitcase of a first class passenger is a bit beyond me. That suitcase is big. Hard to miss really. Below is the 21″ version of the bag, so you know the 29″ bag was easy to spot from across the tarmac. (I just wanted an excuse to write the word tarmac.)

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I will say this, I won’t call out the airlines, because the “delayed baggage” folks at both air carriers were as kind and helpful as they could be, especially considering it was a holiday weekend, and I know my husband’s suitcase wasn’t the only one that was “delayed.”

Maybe they have a first class lounge for first class luggage, too. That would explain so much.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to my Amazon Associates products.

10 Best Shopping Sites for Plus Size Clothing

cmAs a lady with curves, I hate the almost inevitable frustration that comes with every trip to the department or clothing store. My current size is what I like to refer to as the in between zone — otherwise known as the Seventh Circle of Size Hell. I just might fit in the XXL in the regular sizes, or they might be cut too short for my tall frame. I might find the right 0X or 1X in the plus sizes, or they may just look tent like and unflattering.

And while I love that so many department stores do carry lines in extended sizes, I must lament that they often miss the mark in terms of style, cut and selection. Here’s a hint, y’all. Baggy t-shirts look worse on curves. Excess fabric is not our friend.

But, instead of complaining, I want to give props to the stores who understand real curves, and celebrate women of all sizes.

eShakti

eShakti has been a favorite online retailer of mine for a while. Shopping for casual or work? Need a dress for a cocktail party? eShakti has everything, and they boast a selection of clothing where almost all items are available in sizes 0-36W! Not only that, but you can customize necklines, sleeve lengths and skirt lengths to your own tastes.

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For the styles they offer, and the quality, I think the pricing is quite reasonable. They have super friendly staff and customer service.

Lane Bryant

Lane Bryant has been in the forefront of Plus Size fashion for decades. However, my one problem is that even though I live in an area with a few malls, only half seem to have a Lane Bryant store housed within. No problem. LaneBryant.com to the rescue.

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And if I am being honest, what they have always gotten right was that they feature real models in every shape and beautiful skin tone. A few models do look more like a size 12 than a true plus size woman, but I can handle that, as long as I see a size 20 or 24 in the catalog as well.

Bonus Points: LB gets serious bonus points for stocking shoes in wide sizes and boots for curvy calves!

Dress Barn

Darn it, I said it. I went there. Yes, I like Dress Barn.

Dress Barn may not seem ultra hip, and it isn’t. But it isn’t supposed to be either. I like to wear nice tops with my jeans. I like classic dresses with just a touch of interesting. Too much interesting is a bit out of my fashion comfort zone.

  • Well-cut jeans? Check!
  • Cute blouses? Check!
  • Little Black Dresses that won’t break the bank? Check!
  • A clearance rack that actually has good clothing I want to buy? Check and check!

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And, Dress Barn isn’t just for plus size beauties. Our less-curvy friends will find an equally good selection there, too. Which is actually a bonus for those of us in the between zone.

Crown & Ivy

Southern women rejoice, dressy casual (or is it casual dressy) has a price conscious savior, Crown & Ivy. Solids, prints, blouses, dresses… yes, yes, yes and yass! I like to think of it as Lilly Pulitzer-adjacent. Don’t get me wrong, I love LP styles, but most stores do not offer my size, and I like the Crown & Ivy price point far more. Crown & Ivy also offers lots of styles, not just prints. Though I love the prints.

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You can find Crown & Ivy at Belk stores and some malls have standalone Crown & Ivy shops. Even better Crown & Ivy has almost every demographic in the southern lexicon covered.

  • Regulars
  • Plus
  • Petite
  • Jrs.
  • Jrs. Plus

But you don’t live in the south, and your mall doesn’t have a Belk? Well, bless your heart. Belk.com delivers!

Retailers that Mostly Get it Right

Taget, Old Navy, Charlotte Russe, Torrid, Hot Topic and Talbots all have been hit or miss for me.

Target is great for staples like v-neck tees. Target’s Massimo denim is fantastic. Where they fall short are dresses and dressy tops.

Old Navy usually has a top or two I like, but it’s pretty inconsistent. I usually check out the racks if I am in the store for my kids (Old Navy is great for school uniforms, y’all!). I have other go-to shops for myself.

If I am shopping at Torrid or Hot Topic, I prefer brick and mortar. That way I can feel the item in my hands and try it on. The quality is hit or miss on some pieces, which is fine for occasional wear items, but wardrobe staples in my house need to be extremely well-made. But if you are looking for fun & edgy, Torrid is a great place to stop.

Wrapping it Up

If you have a plus size lady on your shopping list, I highly recommend a gift card from one of the shops above. Humans of all sizes have different tastes and different preferences when it comes to style and fit.

I love v-necks and think that scoop necks were created by Satan. Other ladies may love the scoop. They must, or stores wouldn’t carry so many of them. But, my point is, we all love gift cards!

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with any of the above brands or retailers. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

More $#i% Southern Women Say

The world received an early Christmas present this Thanksgiving week. Hallelujah, a new “$#i% Southern Women Say” video has been released. As a mama who is fluent in the Southern language, I think these are the best. This post may contain affiliate links.

Click here to see more from the Southern Women Channel, because wouldn’t we all feel a little bit better if we put on a little lipstick.

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