My Favorite Sports Website

It’s no secret that I love sports. I’m not a great athlete, but I’m a fantastic spectator. I love to watch lacrosse, field hockey, baseball (in person), soccer, football, basketball, tennis…I just love to watch sports.

My favorite sports are the ones in which my 14-yr-old daughter is participating. She plays middle school field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse.

However, my favorite non-daughter-participating sport is football. I love professional football, middle and high school football, but most of all, I love college football…specifically, Southeastern Conference Football.

I’ve been known to scare young children when yelling at the television during an SEC game. Unfortunately, I can’t watch all the SEC games, but I like to stay informed.

Lucky for me, there is a website, run by two young gentlemen, that caters to the SEC Football fan. It’s called Front Porch Football. To see their Facebook page (please like/follow it for updates and invite friends!), click here. You can go straight to the website by clicking here. Its creators, brothers Chris and Brendan Paschal, are the sons of my friend, Maureen, a school librarian who also has a website called Raising the Capable Student (click here…I’ll be telling you more about it in a future post).

The tagline for Front Porch Football is “We take SEC football as seriously as you do.” And they do.11825968_401491053378587_1538355822811269543_n

Chris and Brendan started Front Porch Football when they were both students at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Brendan is a senior there now, and Chris is finishing up his first year of law school at the University of South Carolina.

It all began in the summer of 2015. The idea came about while the brothers were sharing some BBQ at the Q Shack in Charlotte (see the Q Shack website here). According to the brothers, Chris was doing his usual complaining about “how the national pundits don’t know what they’re talking about” when discussing college football. Apparently, he believes pundits on radio shows should be able to answer callers’ questions. According to Chris, “Knowing who won the 1995 Iron Bowl or the latest on a 3-star prospect from Moultrie, Georgia, isn’t too much to ask.” Their mother (my friend, Maureen) suggested to Chris that they start their own website, and the rest is history.

They needed a name. Naming a website is tough. You want it to be catchy, but you want it to be relevant. Because their site is devoted mostly to SEC Football, Chris and Brendan wanted it to be authentic and Southern, but it needed to get attention. They thought, “How many Southerners out there sit on their front porch and talk SEC football?” A name was born. It seemed only natural to call it Front Porch Football.

Now that I’ve gotten all the formal stuff out of the way, I want to tell you what I LOVE about this site. First, it is informative. These guys know their stuff. Second, it is entertaining and oftentimes, downright hilarious.

They write about various SEC programs and do post-game wrap-ups, from which I garner valuable information and insight. They also started some podcasts that are usually under 15 minutes (I’m the guest in one…click here), and they’ve made videos analyzing matchups, picking winners with guest pickers, interviewing a middle-aged University of Alabama alumna (ahem!), and just talking football. I love their videos of weekly picks, because they do their homework. Usually, I have my own ideas about how a game will shake out, but often, they give me a different perspective. I only get mad if they pick against Alabama. They know not to look me in the eye if they pick against Bama. I’ll give them the wicked “stinkeye” my mother taught me.

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BUT what I find most entertaining are their original, hilarious videos. You may be familiar with their video that went viral on October 16, 2017. It is titled “Help a Tennessee Vol,” and it received over ONE MILLION views. In the video, with Sarah McLachlan singing “In the Arms of an Angel,” distraught Tennessee fans appear while a speaker asks viewers to be “an angel for a helpless Tennessee fan.” Of course, it’s a parody of all those ads we see all the time for helping orphaned animals. The University of Tennessee Volunteers have had a few rough years in their football program, and this past season wasn’t any better, resulting in the firing of their Head Coach, Butch Jones. Brendan saw an opportunity in the Vols’ misfortune; he created the video, and the public ran with it. (The University of Tennessee subsequently hired Jeremy Pruitt, the former defensive coordinator at The University of Alabama, and Butch Jones was hired as an off-field analyst at Alabama.)

The “Help a Tennessee Vol” video was shared on Saturday Down South and countless other SEC football sites. You can see it here.

Chris says the videos are Brendan’s “favorite thing to do regarding Front Porch Football, and he thoroughly enjoys poking fun at teams and fans.”

Other funny videos have featured “Burns the Backup,” in which the Paschals’ friend, Ryan Burns, portrays the life of a backup quarterback. I wouldn’t mind seeing him as a recurring character. You can see that video here. There are other videos featuring the brothers’ funny friends and classmates in contests naming all the SEC head coaches, complete with music from The Price is Right (click here); “The Battle of the Brothers” (in which the brothers display some really good “stinkeye” that rivals my own) before the Alabama/Georgia National Championship game (click here); and other hilarious scenarios. One of my personal favorites features the brothers in a parody of Home Alone’s “Angels with Filthy Souls,” retooled as “Playoffs with Filthy Bowls” (click here). Clearly, I enjoy the videos. They are good…really good. You can see ALL their videos by clicking here.

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And I can’t forget the polls they have on the site’s Facebook page. Recent polls have asked followers, “Which is the real Death Valley: Clemson or LSU?”(LSU won) and “Better Rivalry: Iron Bowl or UNC/Duke Basketball?” (That last one was a close one. Iron Bowl won, and I might or might not have had a hand in making sure the Iron Bowl won.)

I’ve known these gentlemen since long before Front Porch Football was even a thought. They are hardworking, clever, witty, and they come from a nice family…have to make sure you know that! In talking with them about the website recently, I asked them what their goals are for Front Porch Football.

They didn’t hesitate. They want to “establish a strong fan base that ranges from the hardcore fanatic to the casual fan to the Grandma/wife/brother who doesn’t know much about SEC football.” They know there are people who just watch the games and people who live for the games. There are fans who watch it because there’s nothing else to do, and then there are the fans who, on any given day, might be re-watching a game from the 1980s, with the late, great Keith Jackson (you remember him, “Whoa, Nellie!”) commentating. They want all these people to follow their page/site and contribute their opinions and comments. They want everyone to become engaged in the discussion.

They say they created Front Porch Football for the fans, so their other big goal is to provide fans with a platform to voice their thoughts about SEC Football. They say they will be making some exciting changes this summer to the site to get more fans involved. I can hardly wait!

Down the line, they’d like to expand their brand and product, “especially into the apparel market.” As students, they know money doesn’t grow on trees, so they’d like to bring some quality apparel to the market at an affordable price. Actually, Chris’s words were, “Of course, each school has their own swag, but it feels like you have to sell a kidney to buy a decent shirt.” The apparel is a longer range goal. Personally, I’d love to own some apparel from my favorite sports website. I’ve already told them I’m first in line when they get some t-shirts out there.

So here’s the skinny: if you love college football as much as I do, this is a great site for you. If you have no knowledge of football but would like to impress someone with your football “knowledge,” you can learn a lot at Front Porch Football. Even if you are just a very casual college football fan, these guys are wicked funny, making Front Porch Football worth your time.

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If websites could have cheerleaders, I’d cheer for this one.

***If you like the videos you watched through my links, please go to Front Porch Football on Facebook and like/follow their site. ALSO, please share this story in support of these guys and invite your friends to follow them as well!***

RTR!

Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is May 13…just around the corner.

This year, I will celebrate Mother’s Day as a mother, but I will not be celebrating it as a daughter. I lost my mother in December. If she were here, she would say, “Don’t get me a gift. I should give my children a gift, because y’all make me so happy to be a mother.”

Of course, we sent her something every year, if we weren’t with her. One year, I didn’t see her or talk to her till late in the day. She wasn’t happy with me, and rightfully so. But I did arrive that evening, gift in hand. I’d had a bad day that day, but I didn’t want to burden her with my problems on Mother’s Day, so I just took the heat. I learned my wicked “stinkeye” from her, you know.

This year, we will make a toast to my mother at brunch, and I will tell my daughter some stories about her. That’s how we celebrate Mother’s Day…brunch.

I won’t be sending my mother a gift this year, but maybe I’ll receive a gift (or two) from my family. If you need to get a gift for someone who doesn’t drop hints, here are some of my ideas (hint, hint):

SKYLIGHT FRAME According to their website, the Skylight Frame is a digital touch screen 10″ photo frame that displays your digital photos and can be updated remotely via email. It promises “clarity, color, and brilliance.” Part of the setup process is connecting it to Wi-Fi. From what I understand, each frame has its own email address, so you can update the photos anytime from anywhere. Sounds like the perfect way to display new photos in your own home or at Grandma’s. Priced at $159, I think it is a great gift (hint, hint). You can get more information and purchase the Skylight Framehere.

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FRESH FLOWERS I know it sounds cliché, but I love fresh flowers in my house. I think most women do. I love walking into my house and seeing fresh flowers, even if I was the one who picked them, ordered them, or purchased them. They don’t have to be the most expensive flowers, you know. If you have some lovely flowers in your yard (we have some beautiful roses), make up your own bouquet and present them to Mom.  There are lots of awesome places to get beautiful flowers. My personal favorite in Charlotte is The Blossom Shop, simply because they have never failed me. Everything they’ve ever done is beautiful. You can see their website here. You can also pick up fresh flowers at most grocery stores and make up your own arrangement.

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BAKED BY MELISSA MINI CUPCAKES I wrote about these recently, but I’m adding them here again, because they really are some of my current favorite things on earth. My friend, Amy, sent me some for my 50th birthday last May, and I think about them every day. In fact, I placed an order for my “family” (myself) earlier today. They are delightful little bite-size treats and come in lots of flavors. Personally, I love the package called the O.G. (Original Greats). You can’t go wrong with this. To see what they offer and place an order, click here.product-the-og-25-pack_1_

SEND A MEAL This is a website from which you can send a voucher to any recipient…on Mother’s Day, that would be your mom. Mom spends a lot of time keeping the family fed, so give her a break on a day of her choosing. Prices vary, but it’s worth a look. I’ve looked through their website many times, and every time, I find something else that looks fantastic. One friend told me she had ordered from them, and the food was fabulous. They have a vast array of offerings including pasta, pork, chicken, beef, meatloaf, and more! They even have meals for special diets like Diabetic meals and Gluten Free meals. Check out their website here.

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US NATIONAL WHITEWATER CENTER This is a great, fun place lots of people forget we have in Charlotte. For an adventurous mom, a gift of adventure at the Whitewater Center would be a great gift. One year, for my birthday, a friend gave me a Canopy Tour at the Whitewater Center, and it was an incredible time! Guides take participants through a series of ziplines and platforms around the Whitewater Center. There are lots of other activities at the Whitewater Center, as well. Check out their website herehttps://usnwc.org/.

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BY D GRACE OF GOD PRODUCTS While watching CBS Sunday Morning, I saw a story that I had seen before but forgotten. It’s the story of a man who received an unsolicited Facebook message from someone in Liberia. Believing it to be a scam, the recipient proposed that the sender take some photos of the living conditions in his area. After receiving some photos from him, he realized the man in Liberia needed a better camera. He mailed him a camera with which to take photos, thinking he’d never hear from him again. But he did. The story is a touching one, and worth a readhere. The two men are now in business together, selling photos of Liberia and more. You can purchase their productshere. When you give Mom her gift, tell her the story behind it, and she will be thrilled to be a part of it.png_book_1024x1024.png

Whatever you choose to do for your mother, remember…you only have one mother. After mine passed away, a friend said to me, “I cannot imagine losing my mother. I don’t have any other family.” I said, “You have your husband!” She said, “I can get another husband. I can’t get another mother!” Of course, we laughed.

Spend some time with your mother and do something thoughtful for her this Mother’s Day. These were some suggestions, but every mother is different. Do something she will like.

God bless mamas.

XOXO,

Kelly

Seeking Human Kindness

My friend, Neill, posted this on facebook yesterday: Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person. 

That is an amazingly true statement.

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Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

It makes me think of one of Oprah’s shows. Didn’t we all love to watch Oprah back in the day? Well, on one of her shows, her guest was a lady named Tish Hooker. Years before, when Oprah was an eight-yr-old little girl, Mrs. Hooker visited her church while campaigning for her husband in the gubernatorial race in the great state of Tennessee. While visiting, she stopped as she passed the 8-yr-old Oprah. Mrs. Hooker looked at Oprah and said to her, “Why, you’re as pretty as a speckled pup!”

Apparently, no one had ever told little Oprah she was pretty before that moment. So sad, because don’t we all think our own children are beautiful? You’d think she’d have heard it from a relative at some point, but no, she hadn’t. And to be told you’re as pretty as a speckled pup? Well, it’s a southern girl’s dream!

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On the show that day, Mrs. Hooker came out to the stage with no prior knowledge of why she had been invited to appear. Oprah told her the story about the church encounter, and of course, Mrs. Hooker had no recollection of it. But Oprah remembered it. She said it made her feel so good to hear those words that she never forgot it.

Mrs. Hooker had done something kind in passing and didn’t even realize what a profound effect she’d had on that child’s life, but because Oprah went on to fame and fortune, Mrs. Hooker got to find out!

Wouldn’t we all love to have the same effect on someone that Mrs. Hooker had on 8-yr-old Oprah? It’s possible you’ve had that same effect on someone and don’t even know it. Maybe you believed in someone when no one else did. You don’t have to be a gubernatorial candidate’s wife to have a big impact on someone. I don’t mean go around throwing out hollow, baseless compliments, but doing kind things or giving thoughtful compliments can change a person’s outlook…and it can improve your own mood too.

Just today, I was leaving the grocery store, and I was deep in thought about all the things I have to do. It had been an uneventful day, and I had spent the morning tying up some loose ends. I was pushing my cart (or buggy, to those of you in the Deep South) to my car when a smiling lady complimented me on my hair. “Your hair is so pretty!” It put a smile on my face immediately, and I thanked her, adding, “You just made my day!” We started talking, and I detected an accent that wasn’t Charlotte, so I did what I do. I asked where she was from.

She was from a small town outside Knoxville, Tennessee, which explained the accent. I told her I thought she might have been from Alabama. She is a Tennessee Vols fan, and of course, I’m a Bama fan, so we talked SEC football and Bear Bryant for a few minutes before hugging like old friends and going on our merry way.

She had no idea how much that one little compliment brightened my day.

And that’s what I mean.

The late, great Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did. They will remember how you made them feel.” And that’s the truth.

It turns out Oprah remembered what Mrs. Hooker said, but she remembered it because of how it made her FEEL.

A few years ago, my friend, Angela, attended her 20th class reunion. (OK, so it was more than a “few” years ago.) At the reunion, a gentleman approached her and her then-husband. After introducing himself to her husband, he said, “I just want to tell you that your wife is something special.” He then went on to tell how, when he was a new student at the high school, he played football. After every game, the school’s spectators would rush the field and hug the players…important stuff to a teenage boy. The football player didn’t know many people at the school and didn’t have a lot of family in the area, so he could have felt lonely on that crowded field. However, after every single game, Angela made a point of finding him and giving him a hug…every…single…game. He remembered, because it made him feel special in a sea of new classmates. And guess what? By remembering it and telling her husband the story, he made her feel special 20 years later.

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My brother, Mr. Tough Guy, is good about performing random acts of kindness. Yes, I’m going to brag about him for a minute. He has always been good about helping stranded motorists in one way or another. Just last year, he was driving behind a truck on a country road. At some point, the truck pulled over to the shoulder. Brother (that’s what I call him) kept going, but after about a half mile, it occurred to him something might have been wrong. He turned around and went back. When he and the other driver stepped out of their trucks, it turned out to be someone he knew from high school but hadn’t seen in years! The old friend thought he might be running out of gas, so Brother followed him to the nearest gas station…just in case. That act of kindness turned into something positive for Brother too…seeing an old friend. He didn’t tell me the story to get “good deed points.” He told me the story, because it made HIM so happy to see his friend!

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My brother (on the right) sent me this selfie after running into his old friend.

Random acts of kindness…

If you find yourself feeling less than great, practice random acts of kindness. You might make someone else’s day, year, or even change their lives with one gesture! It’s probable you will benefit, as well. It gives me a little rush to think I’ve done something nice for someone. It’s not a “patting myself on the back” thing…it just makes me happier!

Next time you see your child’s teacher, tell them something nice instead of complaining. Treat a new friend to coffee. Stop by to meet a new neighbor. Pretty flowers growing in your yard? Cut some and take them to a friend. Greet your flight attendants with a warm, genuine “good morning” and a smile as you board the plane. Give a little extra tip to your server…or a big extra tip…especially if he/she is having a bad day. A generous tip could turn the day around for them. You never know when someone might need that extra cash. Donate needed items to a friend who collects things for the homeless in your area (remember, homeless people are somebody’s babies too). Check on someone’s elderly mama. I know I’m grateful to people who checked on and visited with my mother as she got older.
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My friend, Mary Ann, won’t take credit for this, but yesterday, she sent a message to the gentleman who organizes free mowing services for elderly people and veterans who need it. He has a country-wide network. Mary Ann wanted to help an elderly couple, both of whom are veterans, but they don’t have a lawn mower, and she couldn’t haul one in her automobile. She contacted the gentleman, and less than 24 hours later, he had someone going to mow the lawn. Mary Ann made it happen.

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My friends, Mary Ann and Neill, and my new friend from the grocery store (whose name I did not get) were my writing inspiration today. They’re all good eggs.  I’ll keep Mary Ann and Neill on my friends list, and next time I see my new friend from the grocery store, I’ll get her name.

So, make a conscious effort to practice random acts of kindness. The recipient will feel better and you will too.

Just think of it this way: Act like a Hooker…Tish Hooker, that is.

Why, you’re as pretty as a speckled pup!

XOXO,

Kelly

 

***If you enjoyed this, please share with friends and invite them to like my Facebook page and Instagram page!***

Seeking Human Kindness

My friend, Neill, posted this on facebook yesterday: Helping one person might not change the world, but it could change the world for one person. 

That is an amazingly true statement.

matt-collamer-555626-unsplash

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

It makes me think of one of Oprah’s shows. Didn’t we all love to watch Oprah back in the day? Well, on one of her shows, her guest was a lady named Tish Hooker. Years before, when Oprah was an eight-yr-old little girl, Mrs. Hooker visited her church while campaigning for her husband in the gubernatorial race in the great state of Tennessee. While visiting, she stopped as she passed the 8-yr-old Oprah. Mrs. Hooker looked at Oprah and said to her, “Why, you’re as pretty as a speckled pup!”

Apparently, no one had ever told little Oprah she was pretty before that moment. So sad, because don’t we all think our own children are beautiful? You’d think she’d have heard it from a relative at some point, but no, she hadn’t. And to be told you’re as pretty as a speckled pup? Well, it’s a southern girl’s dream!

dalmation-called-domino-1497782

On the show that day, Mrs. Hooker came out to the stage with no prior knowledge of why she had been invited to appear. Oprah told her the story about the church encounter, and of course, Mrs. Hooker had no recollection of it. But Oprah remembered it. She said it made her feel so good to hear those words that she never forgot it.

Mrs. Hooker had done something kind in passing and didn’t even realize what a profound effect she’d had on that child’s life, but because Oprah went on to fame and fortune, Mrs. Hooker got to find out!

Wouldn’t we all love to have the same effect on someone that Mrs. Hooker had on 8-yr-old Oprah? It’s possible you’ve had that same effect on someone and don’t even know it. Maybe you believed in someone when no one else did. You don’t have to be a gubernatorial candidate’s wife to have a big impact on someone. I don’t mean go around throwing out hollow, baseless compliments, but doing kind things or giving thoughtful compliments can change a person’s outlook…and it can improve your own mood too.

Just today, I was leaving the grocery store, and I was deep in thought about all the things I have to do. It had been an uneventful day, and I had spent the morning tying up some loose ends. I was pushing my cart (or buggy, to those of you in the Deep South) to my car when a smiling lady complimented me on my hair. “Your hair is so pretty!” It put a smile on my face immediately, and I thanked her, adding, “You just made my day!” We started talking, and I detected an accent that wasn’t Charlotte, so I did what I do. I asked where she was from.

She was from a small town outside Knoxville, Tennessee, which explained the accent. I told her I thought she might have been from Alabama. She is a Tennessee Vols fan, and of course, I’m a Bama fan, so we talked SEC football and Bear Bryant for a few minutes before hugging like old friends and going on our merry way.

She had no idea how much that one little compliment brightened my day.

And that’s what I mean.

The late, great Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did. They will remember how you made them feel.” And that’s the truth.

It turns out Oprah remembered what Mrs. Hooker said, but she remembered it because of how it made her FEEL.

A few years ago, my friend, Angela, attended her 20th class reunion. (OK, so it was more than a “few” years ago.) At the reunion, a gentleman approached her and her then-husband. After introducing himself to her husband, he said, “I just want to tell you that your wife is something special.” He then went on to tell how, when he was a new student at the high school, he played football. After every game, the school’s spectators would rush the field and hug the players…important stuff to a teenage boy. The football player didn’t know many people at the school and didn’t have a lot of family in the area, so he could have felt lonely on that crowded field. However, after every single game, Angela made a point of finding him and giving him a hug…every…single…game. He remembered, because it made him feel special in a sea of new classmates. And guess what? By remembering it and telling her husband the story, he made her feel special 20 years later.

katrina-berban-604179-unsplash.jpg

My brother, Mr. Tough Guy, is good about performing random acts of kindness. Yes, I’m going to brag about him for a minute. He has always been good about helping stranded motorists in one way or another. Just last year, he was driving behind a truck on a country road. At some point, the truck pulled over to the shoulder. Brother (that’s what I call him) kept going, but after about a half mile, it occurred to him something might have been wrong. He turned around and went back. When he and the other driver stepped out of their trucks, it turned out to be someone he knew from high school but hadn’t seen in years! The old friend thought he might be running out of gas, so Brother followed him to the nearest gas station…just in case. That act of kindness turned into something positive for Brother too…seeing an old friend. He didn’t tell me the story to get “good deed points.” He told me the story, because it made HIM so happy to see his friend!

IMG_3812

My brother (on the right) sent me this selfie after running into his old friend.

Random acts of kindness…

If you find yourself feeling less than great, practice random acts of kindness. You might make someone else’s day, year, or even change their lives with one gesture! It’s probable you will benefit, as well. It gives me a little rush to think I’ve done something nice for someone. It’s not a “patting myself on the back” thing…it just makes me happier!

Next time you see your child’s teacher, tell them something nice instead of complaining. Treat a new friend to coffee. Stop by to meet a new neighbor. Pretty flowers growing in your yard? Cut some and take them to a friend. Greet your flight attendants with a warm, genuine “good morning” and a smile as you board the plane. Give a little extra tip to your server…or a big extra tip…especially if he/she is having a bad day. A generous tip could turn the day around for them. You never know when someone might need that extra cash. Donate needed items to a friend who collects things for the homeless in your area (remember, homeless people are somebody’s babies too). Check on someone’s elderly mama. I know I’m grateful to people who checked on and visited with my mother as she got older.
alex-pavloff-562215-unsplash.jpg

My friend, Mary Ann, won’t take credit for this, but yesterday, she sent a message to the gentleman who organizes free mowing services for elderly people and veterans who need it. He has a country-wide network. Mary Ann wanted to help an elderly couple, both of whom are veterans, but they don’t have a lawn mower, and she couldn’t haul one in her automobile. She contacted the gentleman, and less than 24 hours later, he had someone going to mow the lawn. Mary Ann made it happen.daniel-watson-75022-unsplash

My friends, Mary Ann and Neill, and my new friend from the grocery store (whose name I did not get) were my writing inspiration today. They’re all good eggs.  I’ll keep Mary Ann and Neill on my friends list, and next time I see my new friend from the grocery store, I’ll get her name.

So, make a conscious effort to practice random acts of kindness. The recipient will feel better and you will too.

Just think of it this way: Act like a Hooker…Tish Hooker, that is.

Why, you’re as pretty as a speckled pup!

XOXO,

Kelly

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***If you enjoyed this, please share with friends and invite them to like my Facebook page and Instagram page!***

School Trip

This week, my 14-yr-old daughter and the rest of the eighth graders from her school are going on a trip for two nights. They go to a conference center a few hours away.

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In fifth, sixth, and seventh grades, they visited camps. Well, most of them did. In fifth grade, my daughter went with them to a camp, but I think it was one night. It wasn’t her favorite night, and frankly, it wasn’t mine either. I was one of the overnight chaperones, along with my friend, Leah.

The kids weren’t allowed to take snacks, which can make for unhappy little girls. I will admit it: I took a few “not messy” snacks for them. I knew those girls weren’t going to eat the dinner they were served. Shhhh!

The cabin was fine. It was a cabin. The bathroom was even fine. The mattresses, however, were those thin mattresses covered in plastic. They make noise every time someone rolls over.

I woke up every single time someone rolled over that night. I could hear them every time. And every time, I thought someone was falling out of a bunk. So not only did I wake up, I woke up in a panic, thinking I needed to buffer someone’s fall. It made for a terrible night’s sleep. I was happy to leave the next morning before they started activities, and my daughter wanted to leave with me. I told her she had to stay for the day.

In sixth grade, they went to another camp for two nights. Of course, the night before, my daughter fell at soccer practice and injured her thumb. My husband brought her home around 9pm. Urgent Care was closed, and I needed to get her to a doctor before the field trip the next day, so we went to the emergency room. She got x-rays, but a radiologist wouldn’t see the x-ray till the next day. (The X-ray below is not her hand.)

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I did a stupid thing. I sent her on the trip with the thumb in the splint from the ER. While she was gone, I got the call from radiology that it was not broken, but I should have kept her home. She was miserable the whole time. I shouldn’t have made her go. I will always feel guilty about that.

When the seventh grade trip came around, she had a horrible looking spot on her knee. I took her to the doctor the day before the trip and found out it was a staph infection for which she needed to be taking antibiotics. This time, I made the right decision: I kept her home.

Now, it’s time for the eighth grade trip, and this is supposed to be the fun one. They can take snacks. They can take their phones. They can take stuff. They aren’t required to stay with their advisory group. Fingers crossed she stays healthy enough to go, because she is actually looking forward to it.

A friend said yesterday that she is going to miss her daughter while they’re gone. While I always enjoy time with my daughter, I am going to welcome the opportunity to be lazy. No school pickup. No practice pickup. No driving all over town.

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It is good for my daughter to have to fend for herself sometimes. This trip is a taste of that. Yes, she will be with friends and teachers, but they will be staying on their own. It’s good for them.

This summer, my daughter is going on a two-week trip to Iceland with a group of teenagers. I’m excited for her, and I’m a little jealous at the same time. Iceland looks beautiful in photos. My friends who have been there tell me it’s incredible and unlike anywhere else they’ve ever been. She will have the time of her life, I’m sure. She will be making memories that will last a lifetime.

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I was the same age when I went on my first big trip out of the country with other teenagers. She will be 3 1/2 months shy of her 15th birthday, and that’s almost exactly how old I was when we flew to Mexico City, then traveled on to Cuernavaca, Taxco, and Acapulco…back when you could go to Acapulco. I know we returned on March 6, 1982, the day after John Belushi died. Everyone was talking about it on the flight home.

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Taken right after we arrived in Mexico City, at the National Cathedral

That trip was an incredible learning experience for me and for my friends. I’m sure we came back with a mutual respect for each other and a respect for other cultures. We were exposed to more than we would have been exposed to as regular tourists. We learned a lot. We even learned how to haggle with vendors in the market in Mexico City…our first experience with that. That’s where we bought the sombreros pictured below. That haggling experience came in handy last summer when my friend, Jennifer, was purchasing something from a street vendor in Puerto Rico. He told her a price, and she was ready to pay when I stopped her and “haggled” with the vendor as best I could in Spanish. I’m sure he spoke English, but it was fun to try my hand at Spanish.

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This photo is from our hotel room in at the Hotel Reforma in Mexico City…wearing our new purchases

In addition to learning about each other and a different culture, we learned a lot about ourselves. We learned how to handle homesickness…cry it out, and then the tears turn into laughter. We learned about sharing a bathroom and mirror space with four other teenage girls. And we looked out for each other. I was actually physically ill for a good part of the trip…Montezuma’s Revenge and a terrible upper respiratory illness…coughing the whole time. My friends helped me. Among other things, they supplied the Pepto Bismol I had for breakfast the day I woke up with Montezuma’s Revenge.

The pictures below are also from our Mexico trip in 1982. The one on the left is our waiter at a pizza parlor in Acapulco. Note he is posing next to the beer menu…there was no drinking age in Mexico in 1982. We might have taken advantage of that. The photo on the right is the cute waiter at our hotel in Mexico City, Manuel. I thought he was adorable.

 

 

The coughing was terrible and constant. The Montezuma’s Revenge was short-lived, thank goodness. But the memories are forever.

Anytime teens are away from their parents for more than a few hours, they learn something. Hopefully, while she is on her school trip this week, mine will learn something about keeping her own belongings separate from everyone else’s. This summer, in Iceland, I hope she learns something about getting those belongings together and being ready to move on at a moment’s notice. I hope she learns more about how strong she is…mentally and physically.

This week, while she is gone, I hope I take some time to be selfish…just for Wednesday. Just one day of total selfishness…doing what I want when I want. Thursday morning, I will be excited to host some friends at my home, and that afternoon, my “baby” will come home.

While I’m looking forward to a couple days to myself, I’m already looking forward to her return, and I hope to hear all about the fun school trip.

I guess I need to make a Target run to get some snacks for her to take!

***If you enjoy Kelly Mattei’s Favorite Things, please share the post and invite friends to like/follow the page.***

XOXO,

Kelly

Don’t Know What to Send? Tasty Ideas…

Last year, for my 50th birthday, my friend, Amy, sent me some Baked By Melissa mini cupcakes. It was quite an assortment of flavors, and I loved every single one. In fact, now that I’ve had them, just looking at the photos on their Instagram page makes my mouth water.

Because I love them so much, I now send Baked by Melissa treats to friends and family too. In fact, I’ve been known to send them to myself. These mini cupcakes are tiny but packed with flavor.

When ordering for my household, I love the “Pick your Flavors” pack, but I also love “The O.G.” (the original greats). When ordering for friends, I usually go with The O.G. or The O.G. Plus Seasonal. My very favorite cupcake offered is the Tie-Dye Cupcake, but there are still flavors I have yet to try.

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Baked By Melissa cupcakes

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Two Baked By Melissa PBJ cupcakes making a PBJ cupcake sandwich. This gives a good idea of the size of these minis.

To see the Baked by Melissa website, click here. Prices start at $25. And while I said the Tie-Dye is my favorite, looking at the PBJ makes me think it might be my favorite!

While this is my current favorite treat to send, I have others in my repertoire. There are so many opportunities to send special treats…birthdays, pick-me-up, graduation, retirement…or even no reason at all. Here are some treats I’ve sent in the past and will be sending again. Any of these would be perfect for Mother’s Day, which is coming up in May:

 CHERYL’S Years ago, I started ordering cookies and cakes from Mrs. Beasley’s online. The company eventually became a part of Cheryl’s Cookies, but the quality stayed the same through the merger. Over the years, I’ve ordered lots of gifts from Cheryl’s, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of their treats myself. My personal favorite is their powder sugar dusted chocolate truffle cookies…they are incredible. I’ve also enjoyed their frosted sugar cookies and various brownies…all delicious. Each cookie or brownie comes individually wrapped, so it’s easy to eat some now and save some for later. I highly recommend any of the Mrs. Beasley’s baskets. You can see their website here. Prices for sale items start at $9.99, but plan to spend at least $30-$40. They used to have their own website, but now it appears to be through the 1-800-FLOWERS link.

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Mother’s Day Ceramic Basket of cookies offered by Cheryl’s

SOUTH GEORGIA PECAN I was introduced to this company by my friend, Linda. Before she lived in Charlotte, she lived in Valdosta, Georgia, and I think she learned about this company then. One Christmas, she gifted me with some of their Chocolate Amaretto Pecans, a special treat indeed. Not only did she give them to me, but Linda also told me the best way to keep them fresh: in the freezer. And they are fantastic…very representative of southern flavors! I have since sent them to friends who live in other parts of the country, so they can get a taste of the south. That’s not all they offer at South Georgia Pecan, though. They offer candied nuts, plain nuts, praline pecans, pecan cheese straws, pecan pies…all kinds of goodies. You can order for your friends who love sweets and your friends who love salty…or both! See their website here. Prices start under $2 for single items, but plan to spend $30-$40 for a gift tin. As luck would have it, April is National Pecan Month, and you can register to win free pecans for a year.

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Assorted Pecan tin from South Georgia Pecans

COOKIES BY DESIGN Recently, some sweet family members sent us an adorable cookie bouquet from this company. Cookies on sticks and arranged beautifully! Not only did they look pretty coming out of the box, but the cookies were buttery and delicious! They’re colorful and cheerful, and each cookie is individually wrapped, so you don’t have to eat them all at once, even though you’ll want to do just that! A couple of days, I stuck one in my daughter’s school lunch, and she was thrilled. To see their website, click here. Their bestselling cookie bouquets are priced around $70 to $80. Here is a picture of the bouquet we received earlier this year:

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Cookies by Design cookie bouquet

BERTIE COUNTY PEANUTS Sometimes, you just want to send a taste of your home state. My home for the last 17 years has been North Carolina, and one North Carolina product is Bertie County Peanuts. Interestingly, my ancestors owned a large farm in Bertie County in the 1800s. I think it was a cotton farm, but knowing I had family there makes me feel connected to the county and the peanuts. Bertie County Peanuts are known and loved far and wide. Bertie County Peanuts Brand offers lots of different flavors, from sweet to spicy, and even fried. And peanut brittle…can’t forget the peanut brittle. You can order nuts in tins, bags, jars, and even gift baskets. These would be a welcome gift at my house anytime! You can check out their selection at their website here. Prices start under $10 for a 2-lb bag of peanuts.

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Sensational Sampler from Bertie County Peanuts

CAROLINE’S CAKES You’ve seen Caroline’s Cakes on Oprah’s Favorite Things. My friend sent us one for Christmas a couple years ago. It didn’t last long in our house. It was as delicious as it was beautiful. The first one we had was a Christmas-decorated caramel cake, and it was incredible. In fact, they call themselves “the home of the world’s best seven-layer caramel cake,” and they might just be right! Since then, I’ve also had their strawberry cake, and next, I plan to try the lemon-raspberry. Order this for a friend or family member, or order it for your own family. Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to try one, and that’s coming up in May. All their cakes have at least four layers, and some have lots more. You can check out their website here. You can get a great cake shipped for $70 plus the cost of shipping. Order early for Mother’s Day!

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Christmas Caramel Cake from Caroline’s Cakes

 

NEIMAN MARCUS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES These things are legendary. In fact, there’s an urban legend about a woman asking for the recipe after having them with her lunch at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. As the story has it, she asked for the recipe, and the waiter told her he couldn’t give it to her, so she asked if she could buy it. He said “yes,” and when she asked how much it was, he said “two fifty.” According to the legend, when she got her Visa bill, she was shocked to see she had been charged $250 for it. She was so angry, she got revenge by sharing the recipe. The story, of course, is false. But the cookies are truly that good! Priced at $28, they’re worth every penny. You can get the recipe on their website here, or avoid the work and order the real thing here.

 

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Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

Any one of these treats would be great for Mother’s Day, birthdays, get well gifts, or just to brighten someone’s day.

If you need my address for shipping, let me know…

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XOXO,

Kelly

 

Shaking The Blues

Most of the time, I’m pretty happy-go-lucky, easy-going, laid-back and carefree. I tend to live life flying by the seat of my pants, and I enjoy that. If life is too planned out, it gets boring for me. I like to have a general plan, but room to veer off the path if I want to or need to.

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Most of the time, I’m glass half full. I’m optimistic. I’m happy to be alive. Truly, it is very rare for me to have “the blues.”

But every now and then…I fall into a dark abyss. It’s not clinical depression. It’s the blues. And almost always, I don’t know what triggers it.

Lately, I’ve had the blues. As always, I don’t really know the trigger. I’m sure it’s a culmination of things: a delayed reaction to my mother’s death at the end of December, my friend’s illness, the school year coming to a close, and being worn out after spring break vacation.

 

Today, my friend, Maureen, suggested all the pollen in air could be to blame. I usually have a headache every few weeks, but lately, I’ve had more, and yes, the pollen could be part of the problem. I can take meds to help with the headaches, but there’s nothing I can take to improve my temporarily sad mood.

I know it’s temporary. I’ve been here before. It makes me want to crawl into bed for a weekend and watch movies in a dark room.

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Most of the time, I know some solutions for “the blues.” One thing is to get out and do something nice for someone else. It almost always lifts my mood. Not this time. I’ve tried. I’ve done favors for people. I’ve performed random acts of kindness. No mood lift.

Another solution is my tried and true method of “fake it till you make it.” It’s actually my solution for almost everything in life. With my two life mottos, “I’ll make it happen,” and “We’ve got this,” “Fake it till you make it” usually gets me through anything. For sadness, I find pretending I’m happy usually makes me start to feel happy. It almost always works.

I learned “fake it till you make it” in my 20s. I’m not a morning person, but when I was working, I had to adjust to the rest of the world. I actually had to show up at work in the morning…imagine that! It wasn’t easy for me. By the time Thursday rolled around, I was dragging. It could do a number on my psyche.

One Friday morning, as I was walking into the office, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window as I was walking in, and I looked sad. I straightened my shoulders, put some pep in my step and a smile on my face, and I actually FELT better. It became my answer to weariness: fake it till you make it.

A couple years later, after a breakup with a boyfriend (I dodged a bullet there!), the same thing happened. I was walking into the office and saw my reflection…looking all sad. I thought, “If he sees me looking like this in this parking lot right now, he will be so flattered.” I straightened up, pepped up the step, and put on a big smile. It totally changed my mood and my outlook.

I learned from those experiences, and like I said, it almost always works.

Maybe this week was just a tough week, though I can’t point to any one thing that has happened. Maybe it’s the pollen. Maybe I’m missing my mother and worrying about my friend, and it’s all catching up with me, so I’ve been looking at other ways to lift my spirits.

Sunshine is often the answer, and I’m afraid I missed my opportunity to sit in the sun today. Sunday and Monday look rainy and cloudy, so come on, Tuesday!

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We all know exercise can improve mood, but when I’m down, I’m down. I just want to be alone and watch stupid movies. The last thing I want to do is exercise. Maybe tonight after dinner, I’ll go out for a walk.

And speaking of dinner, I’ve been reading a lot about mood-boosting foods. I’ve learned some mood-boosters are chocolate, carbs, fruits, and vegetables. Maybe I’ll base my dinner menu on that tonight. Maybe some macaroni and cheese for dinner with a strawberry salad, followed by a big chocolate dessert. If it doesn’t boost my mood, I’ll at least be happy that I’ve eaten some of my favorite things!

As we were leaving her lacrosse game earlier today, my sweet 14-yr-old daughter asked me what was wrong. When I told her I’m just having a tough week, she said, “Mom! Take some time for yourself! You never do that!” That, actually, made me smile.

I guess I’m raising a pretty good girl…plenty of reason to smile right there.

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So I’ll just keep thinking of my daughter and smiling about what she said. Maybe that will improve my mood. I’ll add the mac and cheese, strawberry salad, and chocolate tonight, and then go for a walk.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll “fake it till I make it.” After all, my mottos are “I’ll make it happen” and “We’ve got this”! One way or another, I plan to shake the blues soon.

How do YOU shake the blues?

If you enjoy Kelly Mattei’s Favorite Things, please share the post and invite friends to like/follow the Facebook page.

XOXO,

Kelly