Christmas Cookie Exchange

I had every intention of coming back here to report on my friend Becky’s annual cookie extravaganza.

Because of our ski trip, I had to choose a cookie that I could bake within the time constraint I was under. In other words, after our three-hour drive home, I would have no more than three hours to bake seven dozen cookies.

After scouring the internet and Pinterest for a cookie that fit my criteria (quick, easy, fail proof) I settled on the Andes Mint Cookie Recipe. I did a test run while we were on our Ski trip.


  • 1 Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package of Andes  Mints

Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs together.

Drop small balls of dough onto baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 6-9 minutes.

Do not over-cook. Take cookie sheet out of oven and place 1/2 an Andes Mint on top of each cookie. Within minutes, the mint will melt. Use a sharp knife to swirl the mint around on the cookie like icing.

Be prepared to make friends and influence people.

And I’ll just tell you now, they are best served hot and gooey.

And it helps if you like mint.

Within an hour, my cookies were done and my kitchen looked like a cyclone had gone through it.

For as many years as I have attended Becky’s annual cookie extravaganza (which at this point I think is eight or nine) I have taken my cookies in a beautiful Christmas Longaberger basket. I decided that my beloved Longaberger baskets have not brought me any luck in winning the crown in the past, so this year, I decided to take my cookies in a Dollar General cardboard Christmas container.

I used red sprinkles on this batch to make them more festive.

Remember, presentation is everything.

Or something like that.

This was the official 2013 cookie exchange extravaganza spread.

It always looks so fancy.

(My cookies are just above the white platter in front.)

After catching up talking smack and filling up on this mess,

we all gather round the cookie table to eat A BITE OF EACH COOKIE. (This is the point where I start praying that MY COOKIE WILL WIN!) It may sound crazy, but, THERE IS A CROWN AT STAKE, and y’all know how I feel about a crown. Not to mention bragging rights for the entire year.

So, imagine, if you will, thirteen women gathered around a table getting pieces of each cookie.

And then getting a sugar high.

Once we have a sample of each cookie on our plate, we gather in Becky’s living room for the official vote.

We close our eyes (at least I guess everybody else does!) and Becky calls out each cookie. We vote by raising our hand and we get to vote for two.

When the voting was completed, Becky announces there is a three-way tie.


Sweet hallelujah. I can’t believe it.

Because Becky only has one CROWN, we had to vote again.

This time there was a two-way tie.



This was it. The final vote.

After counting the votes for a final time, Becky announced the winner.

It was not mine.

As it turns out, I lost by ONE vote.

Which means I was the runner up first loser for the second time in three years.

Meet this year’s winner…. Lee.

She made some nutty Mounds bar, which for the record wasn’t really a cookie.

The only thing I went home with this year was a prize for the cookie with the least amount of ingredients.

So at least there’s that, right?

Next year, though? IT. IS. ON.

Be warned, girls.

Christmas Card Addressing Party

December is my favorite month of the year. It is also our busiest. There is Christmas, my birthday, Stevie’s birthday, pictures with Santa, the Elf on the Shelf, decorating, Church play, Christmas parties, Christmas break, Church cantata, basketball season, driving around neighborhoods looking at lights, baking, Becky’s cookie exchange, and of course the annual Christmas card extravaganza. And by extravaganza, I am referring to hand-signing and addressing 250 cards, writing and printing an annual Christmas letter, and including a family Christmas picture. In other words, my yearly Christmas card extravaganza, is just that. An extravaganza. So, it should come as no surprise that I have come to really appreciate my friend Christina’s annual Christmas card addressing party.

Because Christina and her family are in Florida visiting Mickey at Disney this week, she held her Christmas card party the last week of November. That fact didn’t bother me in the least because it caused me to get an early start on my Christmas cards. To my surprise, I forgot I had actually signed them all last year while we were in Florida (the week AFTER Christmas).

Oh yes ma’am, I did.

Christina always has a fabulous spread, complete with fancy glasses, even though none of us are really fancy people. (And apparently I was so busy eating that I forgot to get a picture of the spread. I hate it when I do that!)

We sit around Christina’s dining room table, and though I can’t speak for the others, I spend more time talking than I actually do addressing cards, because I love being with friends, some of which I only see at Christina’s annual party. Still, I enjoy the opportunity to get a kick-start on my cards.

(And if you’re wondering about the foreign language cards there on the right, those would belong to my friend Becky, who, instead of working on her Christmas cards, spent her time working on her homeschooling lesson plans because her girls hadn’t had their Christmas pictures taken yet. And before you ask, I have no idea what foreign language that is, though I am pretty certain it isn’t German which is what I took in High School… because, you know, everybody needs three years of German in their life.)

This was Christina’s third annual Christmas card addressing party (or at least the third one I was invited to) and we laughed ourselves silly, especially when Christina shared a really funny story with us. Despite the fact that she spent hours preparing her Christmas cards, money buying stamps for her Christmas cards, and days driving around town with the Christmas cards IN HER CAR, she forgot to actually drop the Christmas cards IN A MAILBOX.


I am still laughing about this little gem two weeks later.

You can imagine the dilemma that presents itself the next year as you fill out this year’s cards. Do you send last year’s card along with this year’s card? Do you trash last year’s card and count your losses? Do you send both cards, making a note on last year’s explaining that you’re a dork?

Obviously, I’m kidding about the dork part.

I take the Christmas card thing pretty seriously and it would make me crazy crazier knowing I had forgotten to send them.

Part of the reason I didn’t get much done at the party is because I got a wild hair up my you-know-what after seeing a great idea on Pinterest. I saw a fancy schmancy way to address cards. It went slow at first and took me several tries, but I just love how they turned out.

And before you start Googling, or decide to rob my friends, The Smith’s or The Abbott’s, you should know that the examples in these pictures are fictitious people and fake addresses. I didn’t figure any of my friends or our family would approve or appreciate me displaying their personal info here on the blog.

The silver sharpie looks best on a red envelope, but I didn’t have any extras.

And I am so happy to report that I will be mailing my cards tomorrow.

Did you hear that, Christina?







And you probably should, too!

Have a great Monday, folks.

I’ll be enjoying my last couple of days being in my 30’s…

What I Learned This Week

It is October in West Virginia. That translates to Bi-Polar weather. For instance, at our baseball game on Sunday, it was hot and sunny and I was such a hot mess when we got home that I had to take a bath before evening church. And then today when I left the house to take Alex to school, I was so cold I was sitting in the drop-off line shivering. I love fall, but honest to goodness I wish the weather would make up its mind. If I had my way it would be a straight 75 degrees year-round, but unfortunately no one ever calls to ask my opinion.

The first thing I’ve learned is that I better have a sweatshirt handy when deciding to go out in a short-sleeved shirt, or spending the evening at the ball-field.

Here’s what else I learned.

2. There is a city in West Virginia called Cairo, but it is pronounced KAY-RO.

3. There is at least one *cough* person *cough* on the planet who is not familiar with Duck Dynasty.

4. It is possible to become fast-friends.

5. My IRL friend Heather was on Dr. Oz this week.

6. It makes me all kinds of happy that Heather is now my IN REAL LIFE friend.

7. There is a fine line between cooking bacon and burnt bacon.

8. I can work a mall like nobody’s business.

9. It is rarely ever a good idea to wear a new pair of shoes to a six-hour conference.

10. When you purchase educational APPS from iTunes in bulk, you can get most of them for half the price.

11. Freedom Homes has a modular home for sale called the Si Pad.

That’s what I learned this week.

Now, what did YOU learn?

To join in on the What I Learned This Week carnival, simply follow these steps.

1. Any time this week, publish your What I Learned This Week post on your blog and link to this post.

2. Link up with the Mr. Linky form down below. Please put the link to your POST, not the front page of your blog.

3. Then visit the other participants and see what they learned this week.

Alrightythen. Ready, Set, GO!

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

I first started blogging to document all the crazy that happens in my life. I also hoped that I might get to eventually host reviews and giveaways of really cool products. What I didn’t count on was the friends I would make along the way. When I first made the decision to author From Inmates To Playdates back in 2008, I contacted two bloggers about blog design and hosting. Since that time, I have become FB friends with Heather and Jo Lynne and quite honestly, I consider them friends even though I have never met either of them.

Earlier this year, I received an email from a friend asking if I’d be interested in attending an Extraordinary Women conference in Roanoke, Virginia. When I found out that Third Day would be performing and Missy Robertson would be speaking, I said, “Oh yes, Sister, sign me up!”

A few days before the conference I was talking to McDaddy and mentioned something about returning on Sunday. He was confused (it doesn’t take much when you’re dealing with me) and told me he thought that we’d be back on Saturday. When I looked up the conference online I wondered what the heck was happening to my mind. Not only was McDaddy correct about me returning on Saturday, BUT ALSO that the conference was in Roanoke AND HOLY CRAP THAT’S WHERE HEATHER LIVES!

I contacted Heather on Facebook and said:

So…. I will be in Roanoke for Extraordinary Women on October 4-5. Any chance you’ll be there, too?

She replied minutes later with

I’m working it – the Spirit FM booth – Need a place to crash? I have plenty of room! But yes! We MUST get together!


In a matter of minutes, a perfect stranger who I had only talked to online had invited me and three of my girlfriends to spend the night in her home. She messaged me her phone number and asked if we’d want to meet her and some friends for coffee and doughnuts after the conference and/or dinner after the conference on Saturday night.

I was going to Roanoke with three girlfriends. I texted them to ask if they’d like to go for doughnuts after the conference on Friday or dinner on Saturday with a friend of mine. I might have neglected to mention that I had never met my “friend.” While we were at the hotel getting ready, I mentioned in casual conversation that although I had been “friends” with Heather since 2008, I had never actually met her.

There was some silence.

Some bugged out eyes.

A look of ARE YOU CRAZY?


And it dawned on me that this whole thing probably sounded crazy.

Still, I was excited to meet her!

Once we arrived at the arena (and waited in a ridiculously LONG line to get into the conference), I texted Heather to let her know I was there. She texted back to say she’d be there to meet me as soon as she could get away. As I waited for Heather on the concourse, I felt like I was on a blind date. The crowd in the arena was crazy and it was hotter than you-know-what in there. Within minutes, I was face to face with my friend and we hugged like sisters separated at birth. After five years, I was face to face with my blog designer, Heather.

I could tell immediately that we would be fast IN REAL LIFE friends.

Because she was actually volunteering at the conference, we weren’t able to talk long. We talked long enough for me to find out that her friend Cheryl – who was also at the conference – was a fan of my blog. It took me a second to process that. After writing this blog for five years, it is easy to forget that actual living, breathing people who I DO NOT KNOW stop in here day after day to read this mess, especially given my excessive comma usage and my flair for the dramatic. Only thing I can figure out is that my crazy makes your crazy seem less crazy. I told Heather that we’d love to meet her and her friend for doughnuts and coffee after the conference and we parted ways.

And then I giggled out loud thinking about the fact that I had a fan.

The conference was jam-packed. Unfortunately, so was the friggin’ parking lot. There were cars everywhere and not a one of them was moving. After the conference we sat on that stupid parking lot for 35 minutes, which might have been enough to put me over the edge because I hate to wait – especially at a stand still – but thankfully, when four women get together almost anything can make them laugh. Especially something like this:

It still cracks me the heck up thinking about the license plate and the whole “well-behaved women” thing. In fact, it was an on-going joke the entire weekend with my girlfriends.

And just for the record, there’s a pretty good chance I might make history someday.

Because it was midnight before we moved off of the arena parking lot, we decided that it was too late to go out for coffee and doughnuts, but agreed to go to dinner after the conference on Saturday.


Dinner was, um, an experience.

Heather told us about a nearby Mexican joint called El Rodeo. I was a little leery because let’s face it, Mexican restaurants can be a crap shoot, and when I order my “Chicken Fajita Chimichanga without guacamole anywhere on the plate” I have high expectations. Heather and my fan her friend Cheryl were already at the table chowing on the chips and salsa when we arrived at the restaurant. The waiter showed up at the table almost instantly, and before I knew what had hit me I was blushing and speechless because our waiter was off the hook. If you know me IRL you know that it is difficult to embarrass me and that I am rarely ever speechless.

In his defense, the six of us were more than any one man should have to handle by himself. He rose to the challenge. When my friend Jessica – while looking at the menu, mind you – asked “So, what’s good?” ol boy didn’t miss a beat when he responded with, “Me!”


I about fell out of my seat.

I was just like, “Well, alright! This cat is crazy as we are!” and I kinda figured the El Rodeo hadn’t seen this much excitement in a very long time. Our waiter, who I learned, was named Dennis (which cracks me up, because how many Mexicans do you know named Dennis?) was great. The chips and salsa were some of the best I have ever had  and my chicken fajita chimichanga (which I have never seen on a menu) was yummy. I would suggest you skip the “cheese sauce” though, unless you like more mayonnaise than you do cheese or sauce.

As we were diggin’ through our purses for money to pay the bill, I remembered that I had a pile of pennies in my wallet. I couldn’t resist leaving our new Mexican friend, Dennis a message (and no this was not his only tip) on the table.

Don’t ask me why I left the word H-O-T. It could be because I only had 33 pennies and couldn’t think of anything better. Or it could be because Dennis kept using the word “caliente” and it only seemed appropriate. Whatever the reason, he seemed embarrassed when he went to our table to retrieve his tip.

That’s Dennis there on the right.

He probably thinks we are a bunch of crazy lunatics.

And he is half-right.

I had so much fun this past weekend. I REALLY enjoyed Third Day, Tim Hawkins and Missy Robertson. But more than that, I LOVED meeting my friend, Heather.

And my new Mexican friend, Dennis.

In The Blink Of An Eye

I had a super, exciting weekend. In fact, it was so exciting, I have several ways I could go with this post. My mind is racing as I consider the many different things I could tell you about.

Scrumptious lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.
Anita Renfroe and her sham-wow.
My friend, Jill’s eye.
Our fancy hotel room.
How I lost my voice.
The book I’ll be reviewing this week.
Chris Tomblin’s exciting performance.
Getting a massage in the middle of the mall.
A cute little hotel sink.
The toy I’ll be reviewing this week.
Our encounter with the police.

I promise to get to each and every one of these topics in the upcoming week (or weeks depending on my need for blog fodder), but the truth is I want to give each one of these topics the attention they deserve. I really feel compelled to talk about an incident involving my friend, Jill. (You might remember Jill as the friend who made the curtains and pillows in my living room).

As I was preparing for a weekend getaway with twelve other women, (I was rushing around finishing laundry, preparing the church bulletin for printing, checking my list, and tidying up the house) I received a text from Jill that said,

Well…I just got busted in the eye with the flower end of a glow stick wand. I have a gash on my eyelid and a black spot in my vision. I don’t want to go to the ER but if the spot isn’t gone soon I may have to. I think [hubs] will probably have to drive us to the church tomorrow. The only thing this changes is I’m down one seat.


Whoa, Nelly! What the hizzle? “Busted in the eye?”
With a glow stick wand?
As it turns out, Jill purchased three glow stick wands for her daughter and two of her friends who were visiting for the evening. One was a sword glow stick wand, the other two were glow stick wands, one with a plastic flower and one with a plastic butterfly on top. As the kids ran through the house, the lone boy of the group chased the princesses with his sword. Jill’s daughter Maya rounded the corner to cast a wicked spell on the boy. She waved that wand as if she were casting the evilist of spells, and from what I understand it WAS an evil spell.
(Jill pictured in our hotel room with the offensive glow stick wand.)
Jill the one eyed wonder pirate.
As Jill recounted the story to me, and then to the others, I cringed. When Maya waved her wand to cast the spell, the flower that was sitting atop her wand, flew off the wand, across the room and hit Jill right square in the eye. Jill says there was a loud pop followed by severe pain. As Jill ran to her couch, she fell to her knees. She pulled her hand away from her eye to discover it was filled with watery blood. At that moment, she thought her eye ball had ruptured.
Once Jill overcame her state of daze and confusion, she determined that the watery blood was simply a mixture of tears and blood from a nasty cut above her eyelid. (It probably helps that Jill is a registered nurse).
We spent the weekend saying, “ARGHHH! Ahoy there my hearties!” but really this is no laughing matter. Jill could have easily lost her eye. A full three days after the incident she is still suffering from a “dark spot” in her line of vision.
I once accidentally poked myself in the eye with my toothbrush while brushing my teeth. I also poke myself in the eye with a mascara wand pretty frequently. And just last week, I was trimming Alex’s fingernails when one of the nails flew up and poked me right in the eye (you can’t buy entertainment like this, folks!). The pain was pretty intense for a few minutes. I simply can’t imagine the pain involved with a flying glow stick wand topper flying into my eye.
Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. If you happen to be shopping for toys in the Dollar Tree, you should steer clear of these glow stick wands.
You might be better off taking your chances with a Red Rider BB Gun.
Have a great Monday, y’all!

All Kinds Of Happy

Remember when I first started this here blog and it looked like this?

Back then, I thought this blogging gig might last three months.

For the record, I wrote my first post in November, 2008.

Sometimes I surprise even myself.


I’m headed out of town for a weekend getaway with the girls. I’ve got 317 things to do, yet here I sit looking at this computer barely able to hold my eyes open. I wanted to post something and thought I’d visit the Photobucket for inspiration.

I just finished making up the games that we will play on the bus (y’all know I’m a party waiting for a place to happen, right?) and gathered up all manner of prizes. Everything except my clothes and phone charger are packed. (Must NOT forget the phone charger!)

I am headed to Louisville, Kentucky to party with Angela Thomas, Kay Arthur, Anita Renfroe (love her!) and Chris Tomlin. It is sure to be a memorable weekend. Angela Thomas will teach her heart out as she brings the message, Chris Tomlin will no doubt lead us in some serious worship and my friend Anita Renfroe will make us laugh till we pee our pants cry.

 What? You thought I was kidding about the whole “my friend Anita Renfroe” thing?

Oh no ma’am. Not kidding. At all.

We’re practically BFFs.

Except that she doesn’t know it yet.

[Please pay no attention to the second and third chin shadow? in the picture. There was no one around to take the picture of Anita and I, so I did what anyone in my position would do. I snapped the picture myself (yes, I am THAT talented!) and with the exception of the three chins you see, I think I did a pretty good job.

Anyway, I’ll fill ya in on the details once we return. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of fun stories. Now, whether or not I’m able to share them or not will be a different story because sometimes we like to get wild and crazy.


Oh, AND also, next week is Spring Break which means I won’t have to set an alarm for seven glorious nights!

That makes me all kinds of happy.

Have a great weekend y’all! I know I will!

Hair We Go!

As a member of BlogHer’s Life Well Lived Panel (which is intended to share great tips about getting organized, getting happy, and looking your best), I have been asked to share information about one or more of the following questions.

  • Do you have a favorite blogger or YouTube channel for hair tutorials?
  • Do you create your own?
  • What’s your best tip for finding the best tips?

The short answers are:

  • No
  • No
  • And well, that’s an easy one.

While Google used to be my first resource when looking for just about anything, I have recently found some of the best ideas ever on Pinterest.

Hair tutorials are no different.

In the interest of full disclosure however, I should tell you that I have never spent a great deal of time searching sites for great hairstyles. That is, until this evening. In fact, I never even knew that YouTube had channels until researching the whole hair tutorial thing.

A visit to Pinterest, opened up all kinds of hair tutorials. I learned how to ‘blow dry for volume’, ‘french braid for beginners’, and ‘find a short do that’s great for you!’ In fact, I spent quite a bit of time watching different tutorials. Sadly, my hair will still probably be a hot mess, because I would choose twenty minutes of sleep over twenty minutes of messing with this hair any day of the week.

My friend Judy has great hair. I don’t think she has EVER had a bad hair day. A recent overnight trip with her revealed that she spends over an hour on her hair every morning.

That makes me want to weep because that is seven WHOLE hours of sleep she is missing out on each week.

SEVEN. That’s almost a whole day’s worth.

This you can be sure of: I will NEVER EVER so long as I live spend over an hour on my hair each day.

Shoot. I would bet the farm I don’t spend an hour per week on this mess. And that includes washing it.

I’m not normal. I know.

Anyway, I’d love it if you would share your comments (and read mine!) on the main Life Well Lived page.

And just for fun, the Life Well Lived folks are giving away a Kindle Fire and a $50. Amazon gift card. All you need to do is share a favorite example of how love creates a Life Well Lived Moment. You can go here to do that.

Maybe if I’d show my hair some more love throughout the week, I live a life more well lived!

Have a great weekend, y’all.

I am a stay at home mom who rarely stays home.

We had a crazy busy, enjoyable, relaxing weekend.

After dinner here at my favorite place

with 19 girlfriends, complete with chips and salsa (OH MY WORD, I LOVE THEIR CHIPS AND SALSA) and lots of laughs, we headed out for even more laughs as we watched Queen Latifah and Dolly go head-to-head in

and if you haven’t seen it, you should go. In fact, grab a group of gals, (or even your hubby cause it is a hoot!) and go this weekend. Prepare to spit goobers out your mouth as you laugh yourself silly. I have giggled several times this weekend just thinking about my favorite line from the movie:

“Is there such a thing as being too good-a-Christian, cause I think that just might be my problem?”

I think that may be my new line.

Oh I kid.

Sort of.

On Saturday, the boys enjoyed playing shootem’ up laser tag

at a birthday party for a classmate of Stevie’s.

[NOTE: I would ask that you please excuse the poor picture quality, but really none of the kids in this particular picture are mine and I’m not sure how their mamas would feel knowing they were on the blog, so the fact that this picture is (really) bad is actually helpful this time.]

Now that the boys are older, I love that I can sit back and relax and laugh and cut up with the other moms at birthday parties.

Oh, and of course I never turn down an opportunity to eat birthday cake.

Then on Sunday, Alex attended a birthday party (more cake. Score!) of a little boy in his class, at a local pizza joint.

To round out the weekend, I used these

to design a little birthday surprise for a friend who turns 40 today! I saw the idea on Pinterest and loved it. It turned out so cute! And before you ask, yes, I will share it soon, I promise!

And in between all of that I did a little more planning and plotting for our new mud room which I am so very excited about.

More about that soon, too!

Oh, and don’t forget my cardiologist appointment.

Shew. There’s a lot going on around here.

Don’t you hate cliff hangers?

Stay Tuned…..

Christmas Card Addressing Party

There are few things I like better than a get-together with girlfriends.

Especially one that involves laughing and food.

A few weeks ago, my friend Christina sent an e-mail inviting me to a Christmas card addressing party. I have never attended anything like that, but I had hundreds of cards that needed stuffed and addressed, so I was all, sure, where do I sign up?

I dropped the kids off at school.

I loaded up my boxes of cards. My address book. Our Christmas picture. And 200 copies of our annual McFamily Christmas letter.

Yes, I said 200.

Seven of us, armed with sharpies, cards, glue sticks, address books, and hungry bellies showed up.

There were muffins and doughnuts, orange juice, coffee, breakfast casserole, fruit, and of course my beloved Dr. Pepper.

A great time was had by all.

[Note: Please excuse the poor quality of this picture. My iPhone camera did the best it could with the big windows and crazy natural light that was shining through the windows.]

And the 2011 Christmas card extravaganza is officially over for another year.

Well, except for the stamps.

Argh! I always forget something.

Thanks Christina! I had a great time!

The Christmas card signing party works for me!

Causing A Scene

Welcome to Not Me! Monday, where I share a few things I might or might not have done this week.

“Why,” you might ask?

Well, because it’s cheaper than therapy.

I never, ever, dance around the house (in my underwear) singing Adele at the top of my lungs while getting ready.

Now, that would be a scene, wouldn’t it?  In case you’re wondering, I cannot sing, and I most certainly cannot dance.

It’s not me who goes to an outlet mall with three girlfriends, but prefers to shop alone because I enjoy taking my time and shopping at only those stores who have things that I like to shop for. I also don’t take breaks from shopping to use the bathroom and check Facebook.

Nope, not me, because I never check Facebook while doing my business in the bathroom. Ever.

And speaking of business, it wasn’t me who stood her ground at the ‘Under Armour’ store when the manager person refused to honor a 20% off sign because “um, that sign should have been removed from that rack yesterday, but I got busy”.

Couldn’t have been me, because I would never cause a scene over a  $20.00 savings. Nah, never.

I did not get excited when I discovered that we have You Tube on our fancy new digital TiVo. Nor did I sit and giggle about some of the “most frequently watched” scenes videos for more than an hour the other day.

And finally, I would never ask McDaddy if we could go ahead and put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving because I never, ever, rush anything.


In fact, you will never find a more patient person than me.


What kinds of stuff did you NOT DO this week?