Sunday Lowdown #152


We’ve reached that point in the year when we can all relate to this gem:

What’s even more fun is that Nick is off from work the whole week, so we have to spend it together. I figured I would feint right and punch left by giving Nick an activity as a Christmas gift: go to a brewery, stay in that city overnight in a historic building, and finally meet Ashleigh @ Cupcakes & Machetes and her husband with the gloooorious hair! It’s only 131 miles. We could make it in, like 2.5 hours! Hooray! The nice meteorologist people said that because the ground was so warm, the snow that would start falling the afternoon of our departure would melt instantly.


We drove about 35 miles per hour the whole way. Car crashes and slide offs and one Amazon Prime van on its side and four hours later, we made it. And, you guys? She’s amazing.

Ashleigh and Melanie

It felt like I’d know her for ages, and looking back, I see we have an email thread that is 77 emails long, so yeah, lol. And the best part? She gives great hugs. The quickest way to hurt my feelings is give me a side hug. If you’re not a hugger, be a high-fiver, or a fist-bumper, or a wave-at-a-distance person like Garth Algar in Wayne’s World. But don’t be a side-hugger. Ew. Her spouse is also a great hugger, and call me weird, but I petted his hair and talked about braiding it. What can I say, it’s my secret love: braiding anyone’s hair.

The next day Nick and I wandered the downtown area, grabbing some breakfast and going through antique stores. How strange one downtown can support two antique stores, and both were nice. I’m used to dusty pole barn-like locations, where the antiques are valuable simply because they sat in Meemaw’s attic for ages, and not because they’ve any usefulness. And haunted. Everything looks cobweb-haunted. But not these stores. I ended up buying a measuring glass, a baking dish with a lid (I used to have this same baking dish — no lid — that broke ages ago) and some retro 70’s-looking canisters for flour, sugar, etc.

I’ve also been emailing back and forth with Bill @ The Australian Legend this week to see how life in sweaty Australia is. I think Bill might be the full-of-cheese guy right now, but I did promise an update about two things: is there snow, and has the Jason Voorehees mask that plays clips from horror movies when you boop its nose scared me yet. Okay, 1) it just started snow and should snow over night. I haven’t been outside, so I cannot tell if this is a wet or dry snow, but likely it’s wet given the warmer weather lately. 2) Seriously, right before I started this post, I booped Jason’s nose and scared the shit out of Nick. I said, “Don’t yell at me! You invented this nightmare!”

That is literally this Sunday Lowdown in the picture, lol.

Since we were gone for Christmas and then home for a day and then gone for two days again for our visit, we had few groceries in the kitchen. I don’t want to go to the store because I have this thing where I go on Wednesdays. It’s not Wednesday. Don’t judge me. So I tried making food with whatever is in the apartment and came up with mushroom, turkey hot dog, onion pizza for New Year’s Eve:

None of the ingredients are quite right, and I made it real big because I was like “I’m never cooking in 2021 again!” We got a gift certificate to a cupcake place so we DID go out and get those for midnight. We have a puppy chow (a Midwest thing) cupcake and peppermint chocolate:

We did the count down with CBS on TV, which had hosts in Nashville. I was happy to not watching that stupid sea of people in purple Planet Fitness hats in Times Square, but I had no clue who anyone was. Well, until I saw Hootie and got excited to recognize SOME celebrity, but then had to remind myself he’s Darius Rucker now. Sorry, Hootie.

January 1st and we’ve reached the metaphorical “full-of-cheese” part of life: the new year. Things got so confusing that Biscuit and I had book club scheduled four times this past week, but we’re all squared away now.


I’m so glad my review of A Man Without Words by Susan Schaller garnered so many comments and questions, and I hope that even if you don’t pick up her memoir that you’re aware that languageless adults do exist, and there are more than you’d think.

And for those of you who jump on and read my posts right at 6:00AM (or whatever time zone you’re in) and didn’t see anything on Thursday, thanks for your patience. I had to get my charts made up and write the post. Again, it’s that full-of-cheese/confused time of year. Here’s how it went in 2021.


Thanks to a recommendation from Anne @ I’ve Read This, I picked up The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour by Dawn Dumont. A group of Cree tribal people embark on a European dance tour that barely keeps things together. Review Tuesday.

Biscuit and I read a mystery — almost a cozy mystery? — novel about a fat woman in her forties who wants to know why her good friend would die by suicide when that friend was a pillar in the community. Sue Ann Jaffarian’s novel Too Big to Miss gets a review Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 203
Owned Books on TBR Today: 203


  1. Life is never boring in Melanie and Nick Land! That pizza is priceless! We have puppy chow in the South too, FYI. I prefer original Chex mix, but I would eat the heck out of that cupcake!#nevermetacupcakeididntlike

    I own that Jonny Sun book too! Bought it last year. Need to get to it this year!


    • I own the Aliebn book but not this one. I saw on Twitter people sharing stuff he wrote about neglect, and it made me realize I needed to revisit his work and see what he’s been up to. There is an audiobook of his newest book, and he reads it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year! How nice that you got to get away and visit a friend! Funnily enough we made What’s-Left-in-the-Fridge pizza last night too. It ended up being pesto, pepperoni, goat cheese, and roasted cauliflower. Not bad.


  3. Love the cartoon … was just saying to Mr Gums today, I just can’t keep track of what day it is. So glad it’s not my dotage that’s at fault (this time).

    It’s always (usually) fantastic to meet people in person that you know online, so so glad you met and loved Cupcakes. And I’m with you, a real hug or none at all.

    I’ve loved sharing bookish and similar talk with you this year Melanie and look forward to more in 2022. I wish you and Nick the best of all things in the coming year – and in particular, health and contentment.


    • In the U.S. there is a big void of holidays from New Year’s to Easter, if you celebrate Easter. So, we get a bunch of holidays rapid fire from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s and then nothing for about four months. It’s very confusing in my brain. A lot of places are now giving folks Martin Luther King, Jr. day off, so that helps, though it’s in January.

      Thank you for you kindness, Sue, and I hope that you and your spouse are well. I’ve been told it’s rather sweaty in Australia right now, the height of summer, so I hope you can go to the beach or enjoy air conditioning!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s right, I remember. We have Australia Day at the end of January (I think MLK Day is mid-January?), then for some states nothing until Easter, but here in CANBERRA – I’m back! – we have Canberra Day in March, and Victoria has a Public Holiday on the same day in March too (their Labour Day.) Our Labour Day is October! Our big gap in Canberra, and most states, is June to October, so a bit like you, I’ve just realised – over the winter months. Miserable!

        If I’m kind it’s just mirroring what’s coming at me Melanie, so thanks back!

        I LOVE summer so you’ll never get me complaining. Unlike most Aussies I don’t like the beach. Give me mountains and rivers any day in preference. Most early Januaries we go to the mountains, 2 hours away, for 5 days, but not this year, so it’s air-conditioning and shady trees for me. Meanwhile, I hope you keep cosy and warm.


        • I declare there should be one holiday per month, maximum. Also, in the U.S. since most of us have little or no vacation time, we rely on those government holidays to give us a day off.

          What kept you from going to the mountains this year?


          • I second that. Particularly for you in the USA. When we lived there we had Aussie vacation ie four weeks and my husband’s American colleagues couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe how some of them would fritter their previous two weeks by, say, taking a day to go outlet mall shopping! Whatever floats your boat, eh?

            Re the mountains, we need to book around October and while we were just coming out of lockdown we couldn’t quite get our head around what to do. Then we got an invitation to a show in Sydney in mid-January (our wonderful Bangarra Dance Company) so we decided to do that. Omicron though is raging in Sydney, and I know the Company is anxious about health so we’ll see!


            • I read an article yesterday that had a name for Sundays (I can’t remember what it’s called now), but basically, Americans are so used to a day shaped by work that we all become miserable on Sundays (oh, how I know this feeling) because we have no clue how to relax.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. That drive does not sound like much fun at all – so glad the trip was worth all that stress.
    A cupcake called “puppy chow”???? Nope, my brain cannot come up with anything that would be described in that way and still be edible. I just hope it tastes nicer than it sounds!


    • Haha, puppy chow is basically Chex cereal, peanut butter, melted chocolate, and powdered sugar. Those squares you see on top in the picture? That’s puppy chow. Folks often bring it to pot lucks (there’s that word again!) as a snacky dessert.


  5. Full of cheese is SO accurate. Moth brought aged gouda to the party and it was tasty.
    I am so, so, so glad that we finally got to meet! I LOVED that it was not awkward at all. Like we’ve been hanging out for years. I’m glad that I passed the hug test! FYI, so did you! You give excellent hugs. I felt instantly welcome.
    We actually have MORE antique stores than just the two. I’m not sure how they’re supported either to be honest but there is a whole antique mall west of town and a flea market by my house that typically does as well. Although, the flea market is usually the least quality of all the places. I have an uncle that loves antiquing so when he comes up from Florida, I just take him around town to do his exploring lol.


    • And when we were in the antique stores, there were several people around shopping. We weren’t the only folks there. I have to imagine these places do well because they have practical and nostalgic items and things are priced fairly. I’ve been to some antique stores where it’s pretty clear they’re just trying to charge you to death over something you want because they’ve decided it’s old and thus valuable, whereas the bake dish I bought for $25 is useful and sturdy.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. See. I knew the roads would be all slidey. It only happens here if I’m driving on a dirt road in the rain (which is more often than you might think when you’re delivering to minesites) but I wouldn’t drive in the US for quids.
    Love the look of those cupcakes. Not so much the pizza, though 10 marks for enterprise.
    I’ve read one Sue Monk Kidd – something, something Bees. As I remember I didn’t think the African American stories were hers to tell. No, I’ve read two: The Invention of Wings is brilliant.


    • I read this comment to Nick, who said, “He’s a hoot.” We think you are a treat, Bill! I like the way you write as you think without self-editing. The novel is The Secret Life of Bees, but I haven’t read any other of Sue Monk Kidd novels. Up next Biscuit and I are reading Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, who has been compared to your beloved Sally Rooney.


  7. How lovely to have a meetup – wonderful! I have hugged four people who weren’t my husband in two years, which feels a bit sad. Although I’m not a big hugger in my previous life, I do want to hold people tight now! Have a wonderful January!


  8. Aww, I love that pic of you guys. ❤ I'm so happy you finally got to meet! 😀
    Just the thought of Jason getting his nose booped makes me smile. lol And those cupcakes look glorious.


    • We talked loads about you, too! Like how you threw cheese slices at C&M (lol) and how you guys were pen pals and also you had the parents who would drive you to each other even though it was far. I told C&M that when I was reading My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix that it made me think of you and her. Have you read it? I sent my copy to C&M; you should tell her to pass it on to you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Puppy chow is Chex cereal, peanut butter, melted chocolate, all tossed in powdered sugar. Those are bits of puppy chow on top of the cupcake. The flavors of the cupcake were basically peanut butter and chocolate! Puppy chow is the kind of thing folks take to a pot luck in the Midwest, and you can never go wrong with it.

      Liked by 1 person

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