There’s Something About Joe

There’s something about Joe…

Namath, that is.

That’s no secret, though, right? I’ve heard Namath’s name my whole life…and I’ve written about him more than once. I was born in the late 60s, and my grandparents were Alabama football fans. My grandfather was offered a place on the Alabama football team as a kicker, but because the family home burned down, he stayed home to help his parents. My parents both went to other colleges, but my mother was a Bama fan. Daddy grew up in Florida and liked Florida State, but he knew a good athlete when he saw one, I supposed…so he was a Namath fan too.

Plus, I’ve written about Joe’s charm and charisma before…you want to like him, and you want to root for him. He still has that same charm and charisma…at 77.

I’ve said before that when I was a little girl in Alabama, my parents would let me stay up and watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson if Joe was going to be on. He was always so funny and self-deprecating…and always smiling. I’m sure there were lots of jokes that went way over my head. All I knew was that Joe Namath was on TV, and everybody else on the show seemed to love him. Even now, whenever I hear he’s going to be on a TV show, I make a point of watching it. He is still just as charming as ever. He seems like a man who loves his daughters and granddaughters. And he remembers where he came from.

But I’m not writing this to try to figure out Joe Namath. He’s an enigma. No one will ever figure him out. I’m guessing he doesn’t even know the secret to his charm, but it has carried him a long way. He’s that guy. The one about whom we say, “Women love him, and men want to be him.” Even at 77…he’s still that guy.

I’m writing, because I will never get over how many people seem to love him. In 2018, I wrote a piece about visiting his hometown (Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania). It was an impromptu visit to the riverside town. My friend, Mary Ann, and I had been on a long road trip with our kids and decided to visit Beaver Falls on the way home. You can read about it here. Interestingly, that is the most-read piece of my blog this year…just like it was last year. It seems lots of people put “Joe Namath” or “Joe Namath home” in their search engines, and sometimes, it takes them to my little blog, where they read about my visit to Beaver Falls and my posing (in the rain with no makeup) with the plaque honoring Joe right there in the middle of town…next to the Carnegie Free Library.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Like I said, I’ve heard about him my whole life, and he wasn’t even playing for Alabama anymore when I was born! He was already playing for the New York Jets, but his was a household name…in my house, for sure. In fact, I remember seeing Richard Todd, another Alabama quarterback, play in the Senior Bowl in January 1976 in Mobile, and then I remember hearing he had been drafted by the Jets to take over after Joe Namath retired. Joe played the 1976 season before going to the LA Rams for the 1977 season and then retiring. To put it all in perspective, I was only eight years old at that Senior Bowl, and I knew all about Joe Namath.

Last year, for my birthday, my friend, Linda, gave me Joe’s autobiography called All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters. I was so excited to get it and just as excited to read it! Joe has had an interesting life, so it made for an easy read. If you’d like to read it, first, check your local bookstores to see if they have it, and if not, then you can order from Amazon. Since I’ve had him on my mind today, I decided to see if there are other books, and I found three more I want to order for my husband for Christmas: I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow…’Cause I Get Better Looking Every Day, Namath: A Biography, and Countdown to Super Bowl: How the 1968-1969 Jets Delivered On Joe Namath’s Guarantee To Win It All. Think he’ll let me read them too? You can find them all on Amazon here. Also, if someone in your family is a Namath fan, shop the Joe Namath Fan Shop here.

If you grew up watching Joe on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson like I did, or even if you didn’t, his life makes for a fun read. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised so many people search him on the internet. Like I said…women love him, and men want to be him. And if you ever decide to visit his hometown, Beaver Falls, PA, please stop in and get some goodies from Oram’s Donuts. I might just have to make a special trip there for those donuts.

***Feature photo from joenamathfanshop.com***

Stocking Stuffers 2020

Stocking stuffers 2020.

When I was a kid in Brewton, Alabama, we didn’t have a fireplace. There was no place to hang the stockings “by the chimney with care.” So we taped them to a door in the living room. Yep. Kids will be kids, and we wanted to hang our furry stockings that had our names spelled across the top in glitter, so we taped them to a door.

Most of the childhood Christmas Eves I remember were in the 1970s, and back then, I remember people mostly getting candy in their stockings. We would usually get lots of candy…no gifts…just candy. The gifts from Santa were spread all over the living room, unwrapped. Our gifts from our parents were wrapped and placed under the tree, but Santa didn’t wrap at our house.

When our daughter was little, Santa didn’t wrap at our house either. But after she had been in school a couple of years, she learned Santa wrapped gifts at other people’s houses and asked why he didn’t wrap her gifts. I told her to mail him a letter asking him to wrap her gifts. She sent the letter, and the gifts have always been wrapped since.

As for the stockings at our house, we get more than candy these days. We usually get lots of little gifts. I think I know some ideas Santa has for this year, and I’m sharing them with you here. You can read my posts about stocking stuffers from 2019 (two different posts) by clicking here and here. And here are some new ideas for 2020:

***First, I encourage you to shop local for stocking stuffers. In Charlotte, some great places to check for stocking stuffers are Paper Skyscraper on East Blvd, The Buttercup on Providence Road, and The Mole Hole on Colony Road. It’s important we support our local businesses this year.***

-Face Masks. I know. We are all weary of the COVID pandemic, but if we have to wear face masks, we can at least make them fun! The Buttercup in Charlotte offers a great selection of masks that are functional and fashionable. Visit the store at 343 Providence Road, or shop their website here. In Gainesville and Ocala, Florida, there’s a cute gift shop called Agapanthus that has a crazy cool selection you can purchase online too. See their selection here.

-Portable charger/power bank. If you have someone in your family who flies frequently (in normal non-COVID times) or spends a lot of time outdoors but needs their phone…a portable charger/power bank could be a fantastic stocking stuffer. I remember when they used to be expensive, but now you can get good chargers for less than $30! In fact, I recently flew to California, and I purchased a new portable charger from Amazon. Called the PowerADD Pilot 4GS 12000mAh, I got it for just $22.99 with free delivery because of my Amazon Prime membership. It comes in five colors, and it charged my phone several times before it needed to be recharged. They also make a 20000mAh model, and it’s just $27.59. See them on Amazon here.

Photo from Amazon.com

-More Fun Socks. Yes, I know I listed fun socks last year, but the ones I’m endorsing this year are different than those…but those are still great too. I mentioned Agapanthus in Gainesville and Ocala earlier…well, they have some socks that will make super stocking stuffers! Theirs start at $10.99, and they have a cute selection of holiday-themed socks, Florida socks, and other socks for men and women. Order here.

Photo from shopagapanthus.com

-Cinnabon Signature Frosting Pint. Who knew?!? A friend told me Cinnabon offers this pint of their signature frosting at the holidays for only $7! You know you’ve walked through your local mall and inhaled the deliciousness that is Cinnabon. I have always said I think they have a diffuser full of the aroma sending it out to draw people into Cinnabon. And frankly, whatever it is…it works. Cinnabon is delicious. If you have a Cinnabon lover in your home, this could be a great stocking stuffer! You can get them from by going to your local Cinnabon or through DoorDash or Grubhub.

-Magnetic Eyelashes. Yep. False eyelashes are back, and while some have the patience to sit in a salon to get them, others of us need an easier way to get them. Enter magnetic lashes. I’ve used them. I don’t know if the brand matters, but you can read reviews on Ulta.com or Amazon.com to decide which one sounds best to you!

Lucky Fortune Blind Collectible Bracelets. These cute bracelets come hidden in fortune cookies. Inside each cookie is a surprise bracelet and a fortune. With over 100 bracelets in the offering, there are lots of surprises! These would be great for ages 5 to 15. To add a little fun to it, the packaging is a take-out box! Order a four pack for $10.29 at Amazon with your Prime account and get free shipping. Purchase here.

Photo from Amazon.com

-Hungry Girl Your Daily Bright Boost. Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien devised the formula for this drink mix with the help of the folks at eBoost. With its citrus flavor, vitamins/minerals, and 110mg of natural caffeine, it’s a great way to start the day…or even as an afternoon pick-me-up. Counting calories? No worries! This is from Hungry Girl, the queen of low-cal ideas. This is a great stocking stuffer for teens and adults. It comes in boxes of 15 packets for $24.99, or subscribe and get it for $19.99. You’re likely spending way more than that on coffee, but this actually has nutritional value. Get it here.

Photo from Hungry Girl

-Duncan Imperial YoYo. I remember when Duncan YoYos were advertised on TV during Saturday morning cartoons…back when Saturday morning cartoons were a thing. Remember those all those commercials aimed at kids? I think they had some sort of YoYo champions on the ads, because those kids could do tricks I could never do. I don’t even know if kids today know what a YoYo is, so it’s time for them to learn. Mine teenage daughter will get one of these. Purchase at Amazon here.

Photo from Amazon.com

-Playing Cards. I know. Sounds basic, right? But individuals and families can get hours of fun from a deck of playing cards. Wanna step it up a notch? Get some playing cards featuring the logo of the defunct TransWorld Airways, TWA. The old TWA terminal at JFK Airport in New York has been refurbished and opened as a TWA-themed hotel, and you can order playing cards for $10 from the hotel website. Purchase here.

Photo from TWAhotel.com

-Cheeky Lip Balm. A friend introduced me to these recently. Eclair Lips offers lots of lip balms, but their “Cheeky” line is my favorite. With cheeky names like “Kiss 2020 Goodbye” and “Better Than a Lump of Coal,” these are fun additions to Christmas stockings, and they provide great lip protection for the winter months! Get them at Eclair Lips here.

-Goli ACV Gummies. My husband and I both love these. Do they actually provide any nutritional benefit? I don’t know, but we like them as treats twice a day. I feel like they probably aid my digestion, but I haven’t done any scientific studies…because I’m not a scientist. I had always heard apple cider vinegar had health benefits, but I could never choke it down unless I mixed it with apple juice…lots of sugar and calories in apple juice. These dummies make it easy to get my ACV. Order from Goli here or from Amazon here.

-Jiffy Pop. If you’ve never made Jiffy Pop popcorn, it’s high time you did. When I was a kid, Jiffy Pop was all the rage, and honestly, it’s a lot more fun than microwave popcorn. It’s fun item to drop into everyone’s Christmas stockings…and pop it up on Christmas morning! It had a slogan at one time say it’s “as much fun to make as it is to eat!” We love popcorn at our house, so I know this will be a hit. Purchase at Amazon here.

-Hand sanitizer. I know you’re tired of hearing about hand sanitizer, but hear me out. Everyone knows I love PooPourri toilet sprays, but does everyone know I also love PooPourri hand sanitizers? Did you even know they make them??? Well, they do, and they come in pretty little bottles and have a lovely scent. They are my favorite hand sanitizers, and I just found out they also have sanitizing wipes! I highly recommend PooPourri sanitizers, and they make cute stocking stuffers. Get them here.

Photo from Poopourri.com

Silicone Tea Infuser. Have a hot tea drinker in your family? People who love their tea love their tea. You can help them enjoy their tea with a cute manatee-shaped infuser, the Fred & Friends Manatea Silicone Tea Infuser. Heck I might take up tea drinking, just so I can use one of these! It might seem strange at first, but they can hang this cute little infuser over the edge of their cup or mug, and it won’t let leaves leak out. And who doesn’t love a manatee? But that’s not all they offer! The same company offers a flamingo infuser, an elephant infuser, and a sloth infuser. Order from Amazon here.

Photo from Amazon.com

-School Spirit Morse Code Necklaces. These are so cute! The Buttercup in Charlotte has a selection of necklaces, offered in college colors, with the name of the school or the school’s battle cry (“Roll Tide” anyone?) in morse code. These would be great stocking stuffers for high school seniors, college students, or anyone who loves their college. Priced at $50, these will be well-received. To purchase, visit the store at 343 Providence Road or purchase online here.

-Patchology Eye Gels. Priced at $18 for three pairs of gels, these are a fun, glittery stocking stuffer. They claim to decrease dark circles, combat hyper pigmentation, and brighten skin tone. I hope they do, but they also just feel good on the eyes! Since they are “gently cooling,” I believe they likely reduce puffiness around the eyes. Who wouldn’t love that? Get them at Neiman Marcus here.

Photo from Neimanmarcus.com

-Dazey Coconut and CBD Bath Soak. What sounds better than a hot bath when you need to relax? Add in some coconut and CBD bath soak, and it sounds perfect! Sign me up! Drop this in someone’s Christmas stocking, and you’re giving the gift of relaxation! Get this at Nordstrom for $12 here.

Photo from Nordstrom.com

-Wearable Nail Polish Holder. Lots of people are spending less time at the nail salon during this pandemic, so they’re doing their nails at home. This little wearable nail polish holder from Tweexy, which is worn like a ring, keeps the nail polish bottle in close reach. Genius! Get it at Amazon for $9.99 here.

-Monocular. Sounds weird, I know, but it’s a great gift for outdoorsmen, birdwatchers, and sports fans. Easier to handle than binoculars, a monocular will fit perfectly into a Christmas stocking! I checked on the top-rated ones, and the one I found had the best rating was the Hawke Endurance 8X42 Monocular. It’s a little pricey at just over $100, but it’s waterproof and gets great reviews. And because of that, it’s sold out at a lot of places, but I found it at OpticsPlanet.com for $105. There are less expensive monoculars on Amazon, such as the Starscope…so look around before you buy. My husband is getting one of these. Order from Optics Planet here.

Photo from Optics Planet

-Tabletop Football. Remember the old days when we made paper footballs and played tabletop football using our hands as goalposts? Well, this set from Rhode Island Novelty provides pre-made footballs and plastic goalposts, so there is no question about whether the goal posts were moved. Get it at Amazon for $5.99 here.

So there you have it…my picks for stocking stuffers in 2020. I’ll have one of each, please!

Leslie Jordan Will Brighten Your Day (and your Christmas List)

Leslie Jordan will brighten your day…and your Christmas list!

If you’re not familiar with Leslie Jordan, you need to be. He is an actor from Chattanooga, Tennessee, who embraces who he is and shares joy with the world regularly through Instagram and Facebook. You’ve likely seen him before on Will and Grace, The Help, Sordid Lives, or one of many other roles on TV or in film. I love him onscreen, but one thing I’ve learned in COVID is that I love Leslie Jordan even more in “real life” in Insta and Facebook. If you don’t follow him on social media, stop what you are doing, and go follow him…right now! You need to become a “fellow hunkerdowner” with Leslie during the COVID pandemic.

You definitely want to be following him before Sunday, because on Sundays, he sings hymns. Does he have the greatest voice ever? No. But you feel the spirit of his joy when he sings hymns with Travis Howard…they are awesome. Lately, they have shared some snippets of Christmas songs. Last Sunday, he sang a snippet of Let it Snow, and another day, a snippet of I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus…yes, Daddy…Leslie is gay…and he is delightful and funny and charming.

Here’s the thing about Leslie Jordan: I feel like I know him. He grew up in the south, just like me, and anyone who grew up in the south will tell you we have “characters” in our lives…people we remember as being bigger than life. I didn’t know Leslie, but he reminds me of a few “characters” I knew and loved growing up. They had/have the same infectious joyful spirit as Leslie. Don’t we all love spending time with people who bring some joy into our lives? Well, Leslie Jordan, with his infectious laugh, he sweet smile, his funny innuendos, and his singing…he is just a bundle of joy…a 4’11” southern bundle of joy.

If you’d like to share the joy of Leslie with others this holiday season, you’re in luck. His book, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet is on sale on Amazon. I plan to start reading it tomorrow. A friend read it and told me Leslie is a born storyteller…southerners tend to like to tell stories, and Leslie being Leslie…I can hardly wait to read all his crazy stories. You know what they say about southerners: We don’t hide our crazy; we put it on the front porch and give it a cocktail. I can only imagine the crazy experiences Leslie has had between Chattanooga and Hollywood! If you’d like to order the book, you can get it here.

But there’s more! Leslie has always had great onscreen presence, but I think he is approaching a whole new level of fame, simply because folks love watching him on social media! He now has a site where you can purchase Leslie Jordan merchandise! Right now, the site features Christmas sweaters and sweatshirts, but there was a pink hoodie offered last week…hoping it returns! Shop Leslie merchandise here. Seriously, if my friends and family don’t love Leslie Jordan yet, it’s just because they don’t know about him yet. They’ll know him and love him after they open their Christmas gifts!

It’s going to be a Leslie Jordan Christmas at our house this year! Can’t we all use a little extra laughter and joy in our lives this year? Well, Leslie brings it!

Hoodies for the Holidays

Hoodies for the holidays.

I’m obsessed with hoodies…no secret there. I have a “collection” that is almost embarrassing, because my closet is bursting at the seams with them. What can I say? I love comfort. So I collect hoodies.

Lots of people love hoodies, though…even Oprah, apparently. In her list of favorite things for 2020, she included a hoodie from Giant Hoodies. I am proud to say I’m ahead of the curve on this one…I was even ahead of Oprah! In all seriousness, gianthoodies.com produces a great product…one size fits all oversize hoodies in lots of colors with lots of different graphics. I have one that says “happy” across the front; I got it months ago, and only recently, I got one of their bleach-dyed hoodies. They’re soft and very generously sized…the perfect hoodie. It’s one of my favorites, for sure. You can see their selection at their website here, or their bleach-dyed hoodies at Amazon.com here. I truly believe these would be a great gift for just about anyone. One of the best things about Giant Hoodies is that they come in ONE SIZE, so you don’t even have to pick a size! Just pick a design!

There are lots of other companies that offer great hoodies I love…here are a few to consider:

  • Teepublic offers tons of designs at great prices. Search for just about anything…want a hoodie with something from Smokey and the Bandit on the front? Teepublic can help you. That’s just an example, of course, but they have, literally, thousands of designs, and right now, everything on the site is on sale! Go to the site here.
  • Elly and Grace. This is a brand I love. I have a multicolor tie dye hoodie I got from here that says “Choose Joy” across the front…love it. They offer a variety of apparel items and graphics. You can get t-shirts, fleece hoodies, and even t-shirt hoodies and accessories! Many of them have uplifting, inspirational messages…who doesn’t love an inspirational gift? Prices start under $30. Check the website here.
  • Madhappy. My daughter has a friend who showed up at our house earlier this year wearing a hoodie that said simply “Madhappy” across the front. It was cute, and she assured me it was comfortable, so I went online, checked out the selection, and ordered one. When it arrived…I loved it. Still do. In fact, I’ve ordered a couple more. They are made of a heavyweight French terry. They hang nicely, and there are different styles for different seasons. My favorite from Madhappy is a light colored tie dye. They’re pricey, with hoodies starting at $118, but the quality is hard to beat. And the positive message? I will take it! Shop them here.
  • Cloney. Cloney makes great, fun hoodies…it’s a fact. Some of my favorites are from Cloney, which is a company that often parodies other companies or situations. For example, they make an orange hoodie with the Home Depot symbol on the front, but it says “Hermès,” as in the designer. But they also offer some that represent some of our favorite places, like Dan Tana’s restaurant in LA. My personal favorite hoodie from Cloney is a pink one that is printed on the front with “Hello, my name is Tender Roni.” Anyone who was a teenager or relatively young in the late 80s will recognize that as a Bobby Brown song, and I loved Bobby Brown. On the back of the hoodie are some of the lyrics from the song. But there are lots to choose from. These, too, are pricey, but again, the quality is tough to beat. See the Cloney selection here.
  • LF Stores. My teenage daughter loves this online store, and I understand why. LF offers vintage hoodies, sweatshirts, and t-shirts that have been reworked…and they’re awesome. If someone on your list has a favorite team, this could be a great place to find a gift. One of the most exciting college football national championship games I ever attended was in New Orleans in 1992…Alabama v Miami. As an Alabama grad, I was cheering for the Crimson Tide, even though they were serious underdogs. Incredibly, my team won, and it was memorialized in t-shirts and sweatshirts at the time. Earlier this year, I found one of those hoodies on LF, and got it for my daughter! LF is normally pricey, but when they have sales…they’re good. See their sales here.
  • Fanatics. If someone on your shopping list is a sports fan, Fanatics is there for you! I always find college hoodies and professional sports hoodies that are absolutely perfect at Fanatics. Is someone in your family a Pittsburgh Steelers fan? Shop Fanatics. Is someone a Chicago Cubs fan? Shop Fanatics. If someone is a Notre Dame fan…you guess it…Fanatics. You can shop their selection NOW and get up to 70% OFF (as of November 30). See their selection here.
  • Urban Outfitters. For a long time, I thought Urban Outfitters was just for teenagers, and maybe it is, but I’ve found some things I like for myself too. And they have a cute selection of hoodies in a range of prices. Does someone on your list like vintage concert hoodies? This could be the perfect place for you to shop. See the website here.

Yes, I’m a little obsessed with hoodies, but I know lots of other people who are too. Several of my friends and family members love receiving hoodies as gifts. Glad I know where to shop!

***Photo courtesy of Instagram: gianthoodies***

Share Your Stories With Your Kids This Holiday Season

Share your stories with your kids this holiday season…in book form.

I was talking with a friend recently who, like me, has lost both her parents. Yes, she is a full-fledged adult like me, but she remarked that, looking back, she feels like she knew nothing about the years before she was born. She knows very little about her parents’ childhoods. She doesn’t know any stories from their teen years or college years. To her, they were just parents. She asked if mine were the same, and when I told her I knew lots of stories from both my parents’ younger years, she looked sad. I think she feels a little cheated, because her parents never shared stories with her…or worse, she never listened.

I always loved stories of my parents’ lives…stories about Daddy, as a little boy, wishing he had lots of nickels, because an ice cream on a stick cost a nickel. Or how his friends said they wanted to be cowboys when they grew up, but he knew he didn’t want to be a cowboy, because he saw his daddy’s work as a “cowboy” on the farm. Mother told stories of walking to school with her cousin, Phyllis, and stories of days spent in New Orleans at Charity Hospital in nursing school. In fact, now that I think about it, I need to write down some of their stories for my own daughter.

And that’s why I occasionally share stories about my childhood here. It becomes a permanent record. I hope to live a long life, but I hope my daughter will live on long after I do, and I want her to have some of my stories. Like my story about peeing in my shoes during my kindergarten “operetta.” Or the time, when I was eight years old, that I was sleeping over at Cathy Farris’s house and walked in my sleep to her brother’s room…and got in bed with him! That’s a story. Or stories of all my college friends and shenanigans. I still have lots to write…and I will share it all here to make into a book for her later.

There are times I tell her stories about my life and think she’s not listening…or I even tell the same story multiple times and get the eye roll. But she’s listening. She had to write a paper recently for her English class, and she told me she wrote a story from my childhood. She hears me.

I’m sure she gets tired of my stories, because I have lots of them, but that’s one reason I write this blog. Sure, I love sharing ideas about products and experiences, but I’m also sharing and saving my personal stories for my daughter. She will never say she didn’t know anything about my life before I became a mom. So I plan to write more about my childhood and college years over the next few months.

One day, I hope to print it all out and give it to her in the form of a book…Shutterfly.com offers photo books with and without lots of text. In fact, just yesterday, my daughter said she had never seen very many pictures from my childhood and college, so I’m planning to gather some photos over the next few days and make a book on Shutterfly.com for her as one of her gifts this Christmas. You can make one at Shutterfly: ://www.shutterfly.com/photo-books/

And maybe next Christmas, when she’s 18, I will give her the book of my stories. I think it would make a great gift for anyone to give their child or grandchild…telling your stories in your own words. My daughter, when she has children, will have photo books of herself to show her kids, because I have made them for her over the years. In fact, that makes me think I should write down some of her childhood stories and make a book of those too…whew! I’m going to be busy!

2020 Gifts for Teens

2020 gifts for teens.

Every year, I enjoy compiling lists of gift ideas for different members of the family. For whatever reason, the gifts for teens is the most difficult to put together, and I think it’s because teens are so opinionated…and they want what they want.

I can tell you, without hesitation, that my teenage daughter will be getting some new slippers, a weekender tote bag that I featured a week or two ago (see it here), some shoes she has requested, some jewelry she has requested, and some clothes she has requested. But she is very specific about which ones she wants. She made my shopping easy, but I know all teens don’t want the exact same things.

If you need to purchase for a teen this year, I’m going to give you a list, but it’s not one I have compiled. I found it on Merrick’s Art, and it’s a good one. You can see it here. When I say there are lots of good ideas, I mean it. But like I said about teens….they’re picky, so ask some questions before purchasing.

I’ve looked through the Merrick’s list, and I can tell you what my own 17-yr-old daughter would like from the list. She has the LED light strips and loves them…got them for Christmas last year. If your teenage daughter doesn’t have them, you can order through the link on the Merrick’s list or get from Amazon here. They will definitely be a big hit with almost any teen girl.

Throw blanket? Polaroid camera? Yes! They will likely be big hits with almost any teen. My daughter, on the other hand, would look at me like I’m crazy if I give her a karaoke microphone. If you have a teen on your list who enjoys singing (or trying to sing), it might be a great gift. A bluetooth speaker is a pretty safe bet for any teen…boy or girl, but it doesn’t have to be a “mini” one as suggested on the list. My daughter has a big bluetooth speaker that she uses out by the pool all the time. Other things on the Merrick’s list that would definitely appeal to her? Gift cards to almost anywhere, but especially local favorite clothing boutiques and Ulta or Sephora.

I see Merrick’s has listed shearling boots. I looked at the ones they recommend, and they’re great. As for shearling, my daughter also loves her Ugg slippers, that are actually meant to be worn in the house, I think, but I often see her getting into her car wearing them. Our daughter loves the Scuffette II, and at $90, they’re not cheap, but they’re tough. You can find those here. As for the Nike Air Force I shoes they have listed, I say a resounding “yes.” It seems all teenagers love them.

Merrick’s also has listed fanny packs/bags, but check with your teen before getting that. Yes, they’re popular, but you don’t want to get the wrong one that will never be used.

As for blue light glasses, as suggested on the Merrick’s site, my daughter loves hers. She has several pairs that she purchased from Amazon. As much time as they spend staring at screens, they need these glasses to cut down on eye strain.

Roller skates? Maybe…depends on the teen. All the teens I know would say a big “no” to that, but that doesn’t mean others wouldn’t like them.

Those are the highlights and lowlights of the list, but it’s a great, comprehensive list that covers teens with lots of different personalities.

One thing I would add for teen girls is “repurposed” hoodies. They are very popular this year. Basically, they are vintage hoodies or t-shirts that have been bedazzled or reworked in some way to make them stand out. One store that offers them online is LF Stores. Click here to see their selection of sale items. It’s a pricey store, but they have great sales.

Teens are a fickle bunch, but we want them to have happy holidays too…and we don’t want to waste money on gifts they won’t use.

Happy shopping!

My Holiday Memories

My holiday memories.

At 53, I have lots of holiday memories…some better than others. Why write about my holiday memories now? Well, it’s almost Thanksgiving…my least favorite holiday, but I’ll get into that another day…and right after Thanksgiving, we start barreling toward Christmas, my favorite holiday.

I’m just feeling nostalgic, I guess. With this whole COVID pandemic, don’t we all just wish we could celebrate the holidays without getting government warnings and guidelines about how many of us can gather in one place? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not making a political statement…simply an observation. I’ve laughed a million times at a video made by Mark Mathis, a meteorologist with KUSI-TV in San Diego. He pokes fun at California Governor Gavin Newsom by pretending he is “King Newsom.” You can see it on TMZ here. I think it’s hilarious, but then, I think almost everything Mark Mathis does is hilarious.

But back to the nostalgia…the good old days when the holidays were fun and worry-free, and we could gather with lots of people, even stadiums full of them! Remember when we could go to football games with 100,000 people we didn’t even know??? This year, I’m just hoping there will actually be a live game played in a fan-free stadium somewhere, so we can watch it on TV. What else is there to do after all the festivities on Christmas Day?

Truthfully, I don’t remember watching football on TV on Christmas Day when I was a little girl…definitely on Thanksgiving, but not on Christmas. And I remember a lot about Christmas and all the great TV specials leading up to it…Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus, It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn…and later, A Christmas Story…so many greats.

I remember helping decorate our Christmas tree. For years, we could only have our artificial tree, because my younger brother was allergic. I can still remember standing in our living room in Brewton, Alabama, putting the tree up in the big picture window for all the world to see as they drove past on North Forest Hill Drive. We would assemble the tree’s “trunk” first, which was really just a few pieces of wood fitted together. Then we took the color-coded “branches” that looked like they were made from wire coat hangers and place them in the appropriate color-coded holes in the “trunk.” We would add lights, garland, ornaments, that silver tinsel stuff, and finally, the plastic angel on top. I thought that angel was absolutely beautiful, but in reality, a five or six-year-old’s idea of “beauty” is different than an adult’s idea of beauty. The angel really looked like a cheap knock-off Barbie doll with some lights around her. I’d say it was likely a pain in the butt to get her on top of the tree, but since our tree was only six feet tall, and Daddy was 6’3″, well, it was likely no big deal. Honestly, I thought that angel was so beautiful that I would stand in front of that tree just admiring her. Did I mention this was the old days when those fat Christmas lights got really hot and had a certain smell? Anyone who was alive in the 70s probably remembers that smell. It wasn’t bad. It just smelled hot. And the ball ornaments back then were made of glass, so if you dropped one, it shattered. I know, because it happened lots of times. But no matter what…as soon as we finished decorating the tree, we would walk outside and view it through the window…just to see what it looked like to passing cars or neighbors. In reality, that six-foot artificial tree with the knock-off Barbie on top probably looked pitiful from the road, but we thought it was the prettiest tree on the block!

Our family would decorate outside too, but our house wasn’t the one everyone wanted to drive past. Sure, there was lawn decor, but it wasn’t anything special. One year, we did all blue lights on the shrubs in front of the house. Maybe blue lights were on sale that year? Many years, we had white lights on the shrubs. And most years, we had our Noel candles out front, next to the front porch steps. Actually, at our house in Brewton, there was no porch step, so we just put them on the little entrance to the porch. But those Noel candles were my favorites. I don’t know why I loved them so. In fact, I have them stored away at my house now. I used them one year, but I’m a little afraid of the electrical components in them. Maybe I’ll get them out this year and only use them when we can keep an eye on them.

On Christmas Eve every year, after dinner, we would pile into the car and go drive around town to look at Christmas lights. We would drive through neighborhood after neighborhood, admiring the decor. And the whole time, I could hardly appreciate all the lights, because I was too busy watching the skies to make sure Santa wasn’t passing over my house. What if he came while we weren’t home? Would he know he needed to leave us gifts? Would he know kids lived there? In Brewton and later, in our house in Spanish Fort, we didn’t even have a chimney! I always worried about Santa finding his way into the living room with the six-foot artificial tree with the knock-off Barbie on top! After we got home from our drive, we would hop into bed and have lots of difficulty going to sleep. I would remind my parents at least twenty times to leave the front door unlocked for Santa.

I have lots of Christmas morning memories. I’ve written before about how my brother would get a toy train for Christmas every year, and we would play with it so much that the little engine box would overheat and die on Christmas Day. It might have been because we always played with it on high speed. Or maybe it was because Daddy was playing with it so much. We weren’t a sweet little quiet family. We liked to have fun! Go big or go home! And so those trains always burned up on the first day. But we always knew there would be another one the next year.

While I love my childhood Christmas memories, even better are the memories from our daughter’s childhood Christmas mornings. She’s 17 now, so some of the excitement is gone, but back in the early days…it was on! Her first Christmas, she was only 10 weeks old. We took pictures of her by the tree. Her second Christmas, in 2005, she was just 14 months old, but she was fun. She got a dollhouse, a play kitchen, a doll and stroller, and some red cowboy boots, but her favorite gift was from our neighbor. She gave her some toy cupcakes, and our daughter played with those things for hours! She carried them around everywhere…so cute! She also received The Muppet Movie, and on Christmas Day, we settled in to watch it with her. It was the first time she ever actually fell asleep watching something on TV…I guess all the excitement wore her out. I’m sure the nap didn’t last long; she has never been one to enjoy her sleep.

We have made lots of fun Christmas memories with her over the years. We even have some not-so-good memories, like the year she came down with the flu while we were ice skating with friends on Christmas Eve. We were up all night with her, because she was vomiting, and since I couldn’t leave her side, I had no idea how Santa would drop off her gifts. Fortunately, that year, I had been super-organized, and I had all her Santa gifts in a big black garbage bag upstairs in the guest room. All my husband had to do was go up and bring it down, and as soon as our daughter fell asleep for 30 minutes at 6am, I hurriedly put the gifts out in the living room for her to find later. She awoke an hour and a half later at 7:30am, and we stumbled in to watch her open gifts, but after just three gifts, she was too sick to continue and had to go back to bed. Poor baby. After three days of the flu, she and I checked into a local hotel, where we stayed for three more nights and ordered room service till she felt better.

And in 2017, we didn’t even spend Christmas Day together. My mother had fallen at her home in Alabama the night before, so I got up early Christmas morning and drove to be with her in the hospital. She passed away on the 30th of that year…a sad holiday season, indeed.

Here we are in 2020, the year of COVID. It’s going to be a different kind of holiday season, but we will make the best of it. I’ve put up our little aluminum tree and color wheel upstairs on the indoor landing, and right after Thanksgiving, we’ll put out some exterior decor and our real Christmas tree. So things will be different this year, but we’ll all be grateful for each other as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Holiday Gift for Someone Who Needs Sleep

Holiday gift for someone who needs sleep.

Last week, I was watching Shark Tank. I rarely sit down and actually watch it. Usually, my husband is watching, and it’s just background noise for me. But this time, a product got my attention…the Sleep Pod from Hug Sleep.

I’m forever looking for the next product to help me sleep. In my whole adult life, I can likely count on one hand the number of times I’ve slept through the night. Therefore, I always have my ears and eyes open for new products or ideas to help my sleep. And I’ve tried them all…some work better than others. Some things that have helped: MyPillow brand pillow, low-dose melatonin, and a little lavender spray on my pillow. I’ve mentioned a weighted blanket before. While my husband loves his weighted blanket on his legs while he sleeps, I don’t. I just get hot, and it’s just too much for me. It’s great when I’m just sitting watching TV, but not so great for sleeping. But from what I understand about the Sleep Pod, the fabric from which it is made is very breathable and not hot...important.

So when I saw the makers of the Sleep Pod on Shark Tank, it got my attention. I know, “sleep pod” sounds weird, and at first glance, it is weird. You step into it like you’re putting on pants and pull the stretchy fabric up over your shoulders, creating a sort of cocoon. According to the website, it’s “designed around the science of Deep Touch Pressure Therapy that can help you fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer.” As soon as I read that, I was sold.

The site also says the pod applies a “gentle, calming pressure to your entire body, much like a hug.” Don’t we all know hugs help reduce anxiety? In fact, I think hugs can even help lower blood pressure and pulse rate. And haven’t we all been missing out on some hugs during the whole pandemic isolation? I know I have. I like to hug my friends and family, and even when I’m able to meet friends for lunch at outdoor dining areas these days, I can’t hug them.

I’ve ordered Sleep Pods from Hug Sleep for my whole family for Christmas. But there is a catch. Right now, their demand is through the roof, so you can get on the waitlist by placing an order through their website here. You don’t even have to pay right now. They’ll get payment information from you when your order is ready. The regular price for the Sleep Pod is $110, but if you place your order now, you can get it for $79.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t know when they plan to have these things ready. I’m hoping they are ready for the holidays, but if they’re not, I will make cards for my husband and daughter, letting them know their Sleep Pods have been ordered. My husband thought they looked awesome on Shark Tank too, so I’m hoping he will be excited. Yes, I ordered one for me for Christmas too.

So yes, I’m making this recommendation based solely on what I saw on Shark Tank. I never do that, but this product really got my attention. And if you’re like me and will do almost anything for a good night’s sleep, you’re ready to sign up for your Sleep Pod too! Order now at the link above, so you don’t fall farther down the wait list!

A Girly Gift Idea for Christmas

A girly gift idea for Christmas.

I’m slightly behind the curve on my Christmas shopping this year. Usually by the first week of November, I’m well underway and have most of my shopping done. 2020? Not so much. But I do know one brand that will save me this year for any friends and family with whom I exchange gifts.

Haute Shore.

That’s the name of the brand…Haute Shore. I discovered it in June when I made one of multiple trips to the beach. On this particular trip, I was in the Florida Panhandle, and I stumbled upon these adorable neoprene (yes, neoprene) handbags that I simply couldn’t resist. Literally, the first one I saw was displayed on a chair just inside the door of a lovely boutique called Willow in Inlet Beach. I could not walk past it the camouflage crossbody bag with an orange and pink striped handle. It was love at first sight. So I bought it. And it’s in my handbag rotation. When I need a larger casual, crossbody bag, I go with that one. It’s the Peyton bag. I have since purchased the Casey bag, a smaller crossbody that just holds my phone, cash, ID, and credit cards. And I always get compliments on both.

My teenage daughter and I don’t always agree on bags, but even she admires my Haute Shore bags. She isn’t one to carry a handbag…it’s a generational thing, I think. But she definitely always needs a weekender bag. Right now, she is using a cute purple weekender I got her for Christmas years ago, but in my opinion, it’s time to retire that thing. I tried to retire it by purchasing her a Longchamp weekender a few years ago. She used it a couple of times, and then I realized she wasn’t using it anymore, so I adopted it. It’s personalized with an “M,” which could be for her last name or first name, but I think it’s fine for me to use it, since my last name starts with “M.”

Since I still need to make her retire the old purple weekender, I’ve decided she is going to receive a Haute Shore neoprene called the Morgan. The one I like for her is the Morgan Elite…it’s camo with pink striped straps. It measures 21″ x 10″ x 12″…the perfect size for a weekender. I think she’ll love it, and at $140, it’s a bargain. Heck, I might even get one to wrap up for myself at that price! I think it would be a hit with any teenage girl…or mom…or aunt…for that matter!

But my love for Haute Shore doesn’t stop there. I love everything they offer! The Buttercup, a well-known boutique in Charlotte, sells some Haute Shore products. I know they offer a huge assortment of totes from Haute Shore, and they’re priced right at $105! The store is located at 353 Providence Road in Charlotte, or you can order online here. If you go into the store, though, you can peruse their awesome selection of gifts, so I highly recommend a visit!

If you’d like to see the entire collection of Haute Shore products, you can check out their website here. Sale prices for some smaller items start at $25. There are so many great colors and bag size options that I have difficulty deciding on just one! From wristlets to weekenders…the choices are amazing! Therefore, in addition to the Morgan Elite I will be giving my daughter, I know I will be gifting a few Casey bags to some friends and family members who can use a cute little crossbody bag for when they are out and about.

Haute Shore is making it easy for me to get lots of my holiday shopping done this year!

Top of the Rollercoaster

Top of the rollercoaster.

David Wilcox, a folk musician/singer-songwriter from Cleveland, Ohio, released a song in 1991 called Top of the Rollercoaster, a song about riding a rollercoaster on a 30th birthday as a metaphor for life. “It’s the moment of truth, the top of your youth…when you tip the top of the rollercoaster, look down the other side.” (To hear the song, click here.) Lucky for me, it came out several years before I turned 30, so I could listen to it on my 30th birthday and feel like it was written for me. However, unlike the song, which proclaims “it’s all downhill from here,” I didn’t look at turning 30 as the “top of my youth;” I looked at it as a new beginning. And honestly, my life got better after 30. But that’s not really what I want to discuss. I want to talk about rollercoasters, because at the age of 53, I still love them.

Don’t most of us remember our first rollercoaster ride? I don’t mean those little rollercoasters like Thunder Mountain at Disney. I don’t even mean rollercoasters like The Rock-n-Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios or Space Mountain at Disney. If those are the most exciting rollercoasters you’ve ridden, I hate to break it to you…they don’t even count. They’re not thrilling. Sure, they’re a little fun, but definitely aren’t thrilling. When I get off those rides, I don’t have the same “high” as I have when I step off the Intimidator or the Fury 325 at Carowinds…or even Goliath at Six Flags Over Georgia. So when I say we likely remember our first rollercoaster ride, I mean a ride on a real rollercoaster…a thrill ride.

The year was 1976. It was the year of America’s Bicentennial, and I had turned nine years old in May…just as school was getting out for summer. I had been to Six Flags Over Georgia countless times with my family, and since 1973, I had been watching people disembark from the Great American Scream Machine, which at the time was the longest (3800 ft), tallest (105 ft), fastest (57 mph) rollercoaster in the world. It was a giant wooden coaster, and for a long time, I was terrified of it. But that summer…the Bicentennial summer…I decided I could ride it. I was standing with my family, watching riders disembark when Daddy asked me if I wanted to try it. I answered, “Yes,” and we got in line. The line for the Scream Machine was always long in those days, and there were no fast passes, so we waited…and I’m sure I changed my mind a dozen times before we ever boarded the coaster, but when it was our turn, I followed Daddy right into that coaster seat.

If you’ve ever ridden a wooden coaster, you know it’s not as smooth as a steel coaster. The first hill seems “rickety,” with the noise of the chain pulling the train up, and the “clickety-clack” of the tracks as you wait to reach the top. I was terrified, but I was excited at the same time. Back then, though, safety mechanisms weren’t what they are now. In my memory, there was nothing tight around my waist to hold me firmly in my seat. I recall a loose chain across my lap and a metal bar that bounced with every bump. Just as we reached the peak of the first hill, the train lurched forward as it started its descent. I weighed less than 50 pounds, and I felt like I was going to fall out of the car. I yelled to Daddy, “Push the bar down!” But he just laughed as we continued the bumpy ride. Once I knew I had survived the first big hill, I knew I could survive the rest, but it was scary…and exhilarating.

The ride ended back at the station after an exhilarating two minutes and twenty seconds. I had survived. I had ridden my first major rollercoaster and lived to tell about it. I feel sure I was giggling as we got off the ride, and I probably talked about it on the walk back up to the top of the hill near the entrance, where my mother was waiting. And then, like any coaster enthusiast, I said, “Let’s do it again!” I’ve never looked back. What an adrenaline rush! And every time I ride a rollercoaster, I remember that day in the summer of ’76.

Fortunately, my own daughter is a rollercoaster enthusiast. When she was a little girl, she would cry, because she wasn’t tall enough to ride the coasters at our local amusement park, Carowinds, which was owned by Paramount at the time, and then purchased by Cedar Fair Parks. As soon as she was tall enough, we rode them all the time…for years. When the old log flume ride was removed from the park in 2010 to make way for the Intimidator, a rollercoaster with a height of 232 feet that goes 80 mph, we had to work up the nerve to ride it, but once we did, we never looked back. And then, five years later, the Fury 325 debuted. Reaching a maximum speed of 95 mph and with a height of 325 feet, it looked daunting. But the first time we rode it, we rode in the second seat. The next time? Front car with my friend, Angela, and her daughter, Hannah…and it was a big adrenaline rush! My daughter was 11, and Hannah was 13…and we loved the ride! In fact, every time I’ve ever ridden it, it has been a big adrenaline rush. I feel pretty sure that if I can ride that coaster, I can ride just about any coaster anywhere.

About 34 years after that Bicentennial summer and my first major coaster ride, I took my daughter to Six Flags Over Georgia. She was six. She wanted to ride the Great American Scream Machine as soon as she saw it. So while my friend, Wendy, and her daughter watched, we boarded the same rollercoaster that was my first major rollercoaster, and it became my daughter’s first major rollercoaster too. The ride was even more bumpy that I remembered, but she loved it. She was laughing when we got off the coaster and wanted to get back in line immediately…like mother, like daughter. Maybe one day, my daughter will have a daughter whose first coaster will be the Great American Scream Machine. A weird family tradition, for sure.

Going back to David Wilcox’s song, maybe when he said “it’s all downhill from here,” he didn’t mean it was all going to be bad. Maybe he meant it was all going to be fun…a rush…exhilarating. Now that I think about it, I prefer that version. Because honestly, I’ve done my best living after 30. Well…there were those four college years in the 80s, between the ages of 18 and 22…those were pretty awesome too. But there’s something special about being over 30. And if you haven’t turned 50 yet…just wait…it’s great too.

Are rollercoaster rides good metaphors for life? I don’t know. But I do know rollercoasters are fun, and they make me feel young! I’ll be glad when Carowinds is open again! Till then, maybe we’ll even make a trip down to the Atlanta area to visit Six Flags Over Georgia and ride the Great American Scream Machine again…they’re open on a “reservations only” basis! They’re even offering BACKWARD rides on the Scream Machine for a limited time!

We love rollercoasters!

If you’d like to virtually experience the Great American Scream Machine, click here.