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Cheap--I Mean, Inexpensive--Gifts. That Are Awesome.

Also, you don't have to leave the comfort of your home to get them.  You're welcome.

Forbidden Reading?

I love looking at the list of the most-banned books in the U.S. It kind of cracks me up, and then it makes me very sad, but I really like looking it over and trying to figure out what the "offense" was in each particular case.

Random Missives

Dear Lucky Magazine: Who can drop $642 on ONE BLOUSE and consider it a "lucky" find?

The Antidote To This Weather

There is one, and we ate it tonight.  A variation on shepherd's pie, starting with an amazing recipe for something called "New Zealand Mince Stew."  I don't want to turn this space into a cooking blog (and it would be a lame cooking blog, anyway), but go check it out if you're looking for something to chase away the gray-weather blues.
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Posh Pooches Receive Curbside Service

The holiday season is upon us, and we're busy.  REALLY busy.  And with all the rain we've had, our pets are definitely dirty and disheveled.  But with all the other errands we seem to be running every day, arranging grooming appointments for our 4-legged family members is just something that keeps getting put on the back burner, it seems...and meanwhile, the dogs don't get any cleaner.  Enter the cavalry--or in this case, the Mobile Groomer.

It's Your Birthday!

OK, so it's mine.  And now I'm officially IN my forties.  In them, instead of just "being" 40, or better yet, having "just turned" 4o.  Bleah.  So far...not a fan.BUT.  My mother is taking me out to dinner tonight "anywhere I'd like."  To me, that pretty much begins and ends here.  There's just no one I'd rather have cooking for me on a special occasion than Peter Brave.  He'd have a run for his money if Miles James were closer geographically, but Miles isn't, so Peter doesn't.  I may not eat all day long in anticipation of tonight.What about you?  What's your go-to answer to the question of where you'd like to eat when you can choose ANY place?Also?  Where do you find a decent (read: non-plastic) Halloween costume for a kid around here?  She wants to be a "fairy," though if she looked like a butterfly, she'd be just as happy.  I think the wings are the key.

Everything Should Taste Like Bacon

The internet--at least the corners of it that I haunt--are currently abuzz with talk of a new seasoning product out of Washington State, called BaconSalt.  Over Labor Day weekend, a prominent blogger posted a message on Twitter, that simply gave the product's website, and said, "I'm ordering some on Tuesday.  Who's with me?"  Well, a bunch of us were, because, frankly, the idea of bacon flavor with no calories or fat is pretty darn appealing.  Since then, I've found BaconSalt all OVER the internet.  It's a phenomenon.  Don't believe me?  Google it.  93,500 results as of today.  I even had the curiosity to search flickr for the tag "baconsalt," and behold, there were multiple images!  When people start taking pictures of jars of seasoned salt, like I did, something is definitely up.My first impulse, once I had received and tasted the new product, was to pack some up in a little Ziploc bag, drop it into an envelope, and have it couriered over to the Times offices for Max to try--it's THAT good.  But then I considered the ramifications, in this climate of Homeland Security, of delivering an envelope containing an unidentified powdery substance to a news outlet, and thought better of it.People, get ye some BaconSalt.  It's high in sodium, but, you know, it's SALT, so that's to be expected.

Arkansas Flickr Friday: Looking Up

The skies over Arkansas have been particularly beautiful lately, which facilitates the theme of this week's online photography exhibit, "Looking Up."  Here are some images, mined from the "Arkansas" flickr group, that you might have seen if you'd been looking up in Arkansas recently.  Please click the photos for a better look, and to visit the photographer's photostream.  It's time well-spent.Arkansas Sunrise, by Jessica Hartley
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A Little Family Fun

For years, I've watched people on TV and in the movies going bowling, and thinking not only that it looked like fun, but that it looked like something I might be able to DO.  A couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to test my theory with the grand opening of Allfam Bowling and Family Entertainment Center in Cabot (2350 Lakewood Dr., 501-941-3225).  The Verdict:  It is kinda fun, but it is not something I can do.  I'll keep trying, though.The new place is nice--bright and clean, staffed with fresh-faced, clean-cut teenagers who are very helpful, polite and respectful.  After hearing stories about the behavior of  a relative's high school students, I was encouraged to see that Arkansas' youth is not a lost cause.  The atmosphere is festive (as is the carpet), and indeed very family-friendly.  It's not so crowded that other people's children are in your face, though.

The Chicago 900

OK, now that I've had...what--3 weeks? to decompress, I'm going to try to write about my experience at the BlogHer 2007 conference in Chicago last month.  Let me just preface this by saying that if you are a blogger, especially a woman blogger, you owe it to yourself to be a part of BlogHer.  (Are you hearing this, Tildy?)  Membership (that's not even really the right word, but it's as close as I can come right now) is open, and it benefits everyone.  Just go to www.blogher.org, register, and then list your blog in the directory.  And even if you don't write your own blog, it's a great place to keep up with topical events and leave feedback (or don't leave feedback).

There is a Balm in Gilea--Well, The Mailbox

Hubby has been feeling pretty poorly today.  This almost brought about a miracle recovery when it arrived in the mail this afternoon: Darn nice article.  McFadden is the first football hog to grace the SI cover since 1978.  Read it for yourself, online:  Darren McFadden--The Best Back in the Land

Name That Building, Media Geeks

More on my trip to Chicago for the BlogHer conference later (short version--it was fan-freaking-tastic).  For now...Can you name this facade?  It's been around a while.  Hint:  This entrance faces Michigan Avenue.
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In Flight

Well, almost.  We're just about to board, and I am headed to Chicago for the 2007 BlogHer Conference.   Could not be more excited.Homeland Security threat level this morning?

Need A Cool, Fun, Delicious Diversion?

Intended at first for kids out of school for summer, but you could probably divert anyone with this.  Bella and I tried our hands at homemade ice cream this evening.  We made vanilla-Heath "blizzards," and they were great.  Best part?  Took 5 minutes, start to finish.  More details are over here, but the basics are just milk, vanilla, and sugar in a zip bag, shaken for a few minutes (4, for us) inside a larger bag containing ice and rock salt.  Try it!  If nothing else, it will distract you from HARRY POTTER for five minutes.  Sheesh.

Arkansas Flickr Friday

This Week's Theme:  Those great old barns that criss-cross our state...the ones that are being maintained, the ones that are losing the battle, and the ones that are being reclaimed by Nature.  These structures seem to fascinate photographers, and we have no shortage of such images from photographers in our fair state.  Oh, and rest assured that this is one of the only times that a "Flickr Friday" will contain so many of my own photos--I just happen to have a soft place in my heart for these dilapidated old barns.  Please click on each individual photo for more information."Leaning Barn" by ninjapoodles

Fit to Bust, I Am, Over This New Restaurant in Cabot.

So much so that I'm treading on Eat Arkansas territory.  It's called "The Daily Grind And More."  I'm not wild about the name, and I've commented before on the plethora of  restaurants in this area that include the phrase "and more" or "and such" in their names.  Also, "The Daily Grind" suggests that this unassuming little building on Highway 5, just north of the Highway 89 intersection, houses a simple coffee shop.

"Order of the Phoenix" Preview Impressions

We were fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of free VIP passes, courtesy of Smith Barney, to a preview showing of the new Harry Potter movie tonight at Breckenridge Village (it opens tomorrow).  In attendance was, as my Granddad would have said, "The whole fam damily," consisting of Alex, myself, and our nearly-5-year-old daughter Bella, my mother, my sister and her husband, along with their 10-year-old nephew, who is a Harry Potter FANATIC, books and films.  The boy's a genius, and has every detail of these stories committed to memory.  As you can see, both kids were mighty excited to be there.

Tribute in Action: Damion Maynard

I came across this story thanks to Gayle Nicholson of Little Rock, and was so touched by it that I wanted to share it in its entirety, as written by Gayle herself.  The photos are hers also, and you can click on any of them here to see more.

One Last Look Back at the 4th

Just because it was too pretty to pass up, and I missed it during my Friday round-up!  Thisis the view of the fireworks show from "Pops on the River" over Little Rock, from the vantage point of Ft. Roots, beautifully captured by Alton Roberts of Sherwood.  Click the image to view more of his work.

Arkansas Flickr Friday: Images of Arkansas, by Arkansans

Click on any image to go to its flickr page, where you can enlarge it for optimum viewing."Swamp" by Mandy Gann of North Little Rock, shows an amazing image of the oxbow that runs behind Cotham's Merchantile in Scott.  Note the detail of the mimosa blooms and their reflection in the center of the photo.For "Reaching For the Clouds," Flickr user "Jim-AR" got down low and shot these amazing yellow daisies from his own back yard in Monticello.
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