Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!

I'm sitting here with Tony at my parents' house on New Year's Eve. I want to wish everyone a happy 2010! I hope this year brings you lots of happiness and good health. Tony says Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Today is my last day of work in 2009! I am really looking forward to some time off. As many of you know, I don’t have internet at home because I’m too cheap to pay for it when it is readily available for me to use all day long while at work. So, needless to say, there probably won’t be much blogging here on The Chronicles of Nat in the next week or so.

In the meantime, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Year’s! I hope Santa brings you lots of goodies and I hope that 2010 will be a blessing to you and your family! Thanks for reading along; I appreciate all your support!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm Back!

Well, I rejoined the land of the living today. I had grand plans of baking this past Saturday and for enjoying a dinner at Mikato with Tony, but that all came to a screeching halt when I woke up with a stomach virus on Saturday morning. I don’t think I have to go into any details there. Needless to say, this was one of the worse ones I have ever had and I ended up having to stay the weekend with my parents so that they could look after me. I thought I was going to die. But, 24 hours later my stomach was feeling a little better and I was able to go home late Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday I stayed home from work because my stomach still wasn’t feeling up to par and Lisa brought me some chicken soup she had made. It was yummy! Thanks, Lisa. Today my stomach still feels a little queasy, but I’m gonna try to tough it out here at work.

So, as a result of the weekend’s unplanned festivities, I have nothing interesting to write about. On my way in to work this morning, I was listening to Christmas songs and decided to write about that. I really love Christmas songs; and, surprisingly, I am not yet sick of them this season. My favorite album to listen to at Christmastime is by The Statler Brothers, called “Christmas Collection: 20th Century Masters”. I think the original album was called “Christmas Card”. This is the album we listened to every Christmas growing up.

When we would travel to various places at Christmastime we would sing Christmas carols. Usually when we were in the car we would sing church hymns, but at Christmastime, the hymns were replaced with our favorite carols. One of the songs we would sing was “Winter Wonderland”. When it got to the part, “Later on, we’ll conspire as we dream by the fire,” I would sing, “Later on wilken spider…” Now, I had no idea why “wilken spider” was in this song nor did I know what a “wilken spider” was; but that’s what I sang and it was many, many years later before I knew what the correct words were.

I hope everyone has a nice Tuesday, and that you have all your Christmas shopping done. Only three shopping days left (including today)!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas - A Week Away!

It’s one week until Christmas Day! Do you have your shopping done? I do; Tony doesn’t. This probably does not come as a surprise to you, the reader. Surprisingly, I am not yet sick of Christmas music and I still have many Christmas movies to watch.

This Saturday (the Saturday before Christmas) is supposedly the busiest shopping day of the year. So, if you don’t have a need to go to the mall, I would suggest you stay at home. I know that’s my plan. I have some grocery shopping to do; but, with any luck I will get that done this evening after work. I plan to bake some goodies this weekend. That is provided I can motivate myself to do the baking.

What kind of holiday traditions do you like best? One of my favorite things to do is go to the mall on Christmas Eve and people watch. It is so fun to watch all the last-minute shoppers run around in a panic – especially when the announcement comes that the store will soon be closing. If this is something you have never done, you must try it. You will not be disappointed. This year, Tony and I are doing something new which I hope will become a tradition for us – Christmas Crackers! Have you ever heard of them? If not, read up. It’s a British tradition and can be a lot of fun – who doesn’t love a surprise. Crackers are mentioned in the Harry Potter books; and I’m sure you’ve seen Brits wearing paper crowns in various Christmas movies.

I wish I had something fun and entertaining to tell you all; but, alas, I do not. I have no big plans except for watching the Survivor season finale on Sunday night. And I’m crossing my fingers that Tony will take me out to Mikato tomorrow night (Wouldn’t that be so nice of him?!) If he does, I may be a big dork and take my camera along. Why not? I’ll never see those folks again.

One last note; today is my friend Erika’s birthday! Happy Birthday Erika! I'm still waiting on you to have your roller skating party!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recipe Cards Winner

Congrats to Melissa, winner of the recipe cards. Two folks entered and once again selected entrant number one. So, congrats, girl. I have your address and I’ll send the cards your way as soon as I feel like braving the line at the post office.

I hope you all are having a better day than me! So far I left my phone at home and had to go back to get it because I am expecting a call today and then when I got to work I dropped my orange juice in the parking lot. So, I’m thirsty and have no cash. I think I’ll raid the boss’ fridge.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas with My Other Family

Yes, I was wearing my glasses last night.

Last night I had Christmas with Jackie, Troy, Ashlyn, Tim and Jan. It was great. We really had a nice time. Jan prepared a wonderful meal of roast beef, black-eyed peas, salad (she made my favorite) and The Pioneer Woman’s mashed potatoes. I didn’t even know Jan knew who PW was!

This is the first time I have ever seen Jackie in an apron!

After dinner we had dessert. Jackie had been preparing the cake when I got there last night. It was a lemon rosemary cake. Well, the cake didn’t completely cool so I suggested she put it out in the garage or in the garage fridge to keep it cool. So, she did and after dinner she went to retrieve the cake, which she proceeded to drop on the garage floor. I didn’t witness this event, but the kids did and of course thought it to be hilarious. Somehow she managed to save most of the cake and we were able to eat some. It was also very good. I should have taken a picture of the disheveled cake, but didn’t think about it.

Troy is helping with dinner

Then we played a table topic game. Troy read the questions from the cards and we went around the table answering the questions. It was a lot of fun and it was interesting to see what everyone’s answers were.

The table - a lovely display and a good example fo my terrible photography!

Then it was time to open gifts – the most exciting part of the evening for the kids. They were, of course, ready to open gifts as soon as I had arrived.

I went first. Tim and Jan gave me a cake pan from the Cake Pan Lady. Jan had seen these on The Pioneer Woman’s blog and she got one for both me and Jackie. I had also seen them on The Pioneer Woman’s site and had even “favorited” the site so I could order myself one sometime. Now there’s no need! A great gift! They also gave me a gift certificate to the movies and a lovely pair of earrings. From Jackie and the kids I received a framed photo of the three of them. It’s a great picture and I look forward to displaying it in my home. They also gave me a gift certificate to get a pedicure, which I am so thankful for because I recently wanted to get one, but didn’t want to spend the money. All the gifts were awesome and I am so thankful to have received them.

The top of my cake pan!

It says' from Natasha J's Kitchen

The kids went next. I got Troy an Electronic Hyperslide and a Harry Potter sticker book and Ashlyn got a Strawberry Shortcake play set and sticker book. I think they both liked their gifts; at least I hope so! I gave Jackie a combo birthday/Christmas gift earlier this year; but, I wanted her to have something to open so she received a personalized Christmas ornament from me.

Ashlyn and her sticker book

Ashlyn plays with her Strawberry Shortcake assortment

Troy opens a gift

Do you remember last week when I met The Pioneer Woman? Well, one of the cookbooks I had signed was for Jan. So, I was very happy that she knew who The Pioneer Woman was! She was very surprised and I think she really enjoyed the book. I gave Tim a gift card to Red Lobster since he takes the family there so often. If it were up to Troy, Tim would spend his life savings at Red Lobster. I also got a gift for Jackie's dog, Belle, only to find out that Belle no longer resides at Jackie's home. Well, that made The Tide happy!

Jan is perusing the PW Cookbook

So, that was my first Christmas exchange for the season. It was a fun time and for the first time this holiday season, I felt “Christmassy.” I really appreciate Tim and Jan and all they have done for me throughout my life. They are truly like a second set of parents to me and I love them very much! Jackie has been a great friend over the years and I am thankful to have her as my “sister.” Love you too, girl!

Christmas - 17 years ago!

And here we are in 2009 - I should have worn the Christmas bow in my hair last night!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Movies

Guess what my loyal readers? Yesterday’s post was the 100th on this blog. Very exciting indeed and I didn’t even realize it until today. I’m so observant.

Monday night was rather boring and I once again have no pictures to share with you – my apologies. I did eat at Olive Garden with church folks last night, which is always good for filling up your insides and making you feel as though you are going to bust at the seems, but hey, it’s the holidays!

After dinner I came home and watched Meet Me in St. Louis. Have you ever seen it? I bought it last year sometime after Christmas, but last night was actually the first time I had ever watched it. Jackie will probably poke fun of me. You see, she finds it crazy that I haven’t seen a lot of the older movies that she has seen. I guess my parents’ weren’t big movie watchers when I was growing up. Since I’ve gotten older, I watch movies as often as I can, but still haven’t seen some of the old classics. So last night it was Meet Me in St. Louis, and it was delightful.

For the past couple of weeks I have been making plans to watch Christmas movies and it seems every time I plan to watch one something else comes up and I don’t get to watch. So, I’m happy to say that for two nights in a row now I have been able to watch something “Christmassy”. I have also been watching bits of Elf before I go to bed at night. I absolutely love that movie. It makes me laugh every year!

I also like the Home Alone movies, as well as The Family Stone, Love Actually, and a couple of my all time favorites are How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the old cartoon version) and the old version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I always looked forward to these coming on TV when I was a kid.

How about you? What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Unadventurous Weekend

Christmas – it’s only 10 days away! Can you believe it? I know I can’t. It seems that this month has really flown by! Have you finished your Christmas shopping? I have two more gift cards to purchase and then I am officially done. I had most of my shopping done before Thanksgiving this year.

Well, I had a rather unadventurous weekend; which means no pictures were taken to share with you. Try not to cry. It will get better, I promise. Friday night, I had an assignment for The Huntsville Times. If you care to read it, you can go here.

On Saturday I took The Tide to the vet for her annual shots. How it is I ended up with a dog that gets $150 worth of shots in December I will never know. I should have planned that better. I also made my Christmas cards on Saturday and got those ready for mailing; and cleaned house, my Saturday ritual. Saturday evening I headed out to the big city of Arab for a work Christmas party. I went solo since Tony is still on his man trip. Two other folks from my group showed up with their spouses. It was an interesting evening to say the least and I was more than happy when I was able to leave and head back home.

Sunday was spent attending church and napping. I also watched Four Christmases. I had never seen it before and it wasn’t too bad.

So, as you can see it was a rather uneventful weekend, which is nice from time to time. I added a Christmas Countdown at the bottom of the post and the bottom of the blog. I was going to put it to the side, but half of it got cut off; so I put it at the bottom. Hope it doesn’t freak you out when you realize you don’t have much time to finish up your shopping.

Since it’s Monday and I don’t have anything fascinating to write about (like teenagers having sex in a movie theater bathroom), let’s have a giveaway! I purchased some Christmas colored recipe cards recently to give away here on the blog. They are super cute. I should have taken a picture, but the camera is still recovering from all the PW photo taking from last Tuesday night. If I remember correctly, they are trimmed in red with white polka dots and they may have some green on them too. I don’t know for sure. Just take it from me, they are cute. If you want to enter the contest, just leave a comment on here and tell us what you love to bake at Christmas time. Good luck to both all the folks who enter! The contest will end Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m.

Have a good week!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brothers: A Review

On Monday night, Tony and I went to see the movie Brothers. This movie is based on the 2004 Danish film, Brødre. Brothers stars Tobey Maguire (AKA Spiderman), Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman. I had seen the preview for this film months ago and told Jackie that I definitely wanted to see it when it came out. The previews were so intense and I knew this was a movie I wouldn’t want to miss.

Tobey Maguire plays Sam Chill, a captain in the US Marine Corps. Mr. Gyllenhaal is Tommy Cahill, Sam’s brother who has just been released from prison for (from what I could piece together) robbing a bank. Natalie Portman plays Grace Cahill, the wife of Sam.

When the movie opens, Sam is soon to leave for another tour in Afghanistan. After saying his goodbyes to his family, we see different scenes of Grace and the kids back home and Sam in Afghanistan. Sam’s helicopter is shot down and Grace is informed that he has died. After Sam’s funeral, Tommy starts coming around and helping Grace with the kids and doing some much needed home renovation. All the while, however, Sam is alive and no one knows it because he is being held prisoner.

I won’t give much more away. I’m sure if you have seen the previews, you know that Sam makes it back home, but the events that occur before and after he arrive home are basically the “meat” of the movie and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you.

Overall this film was good, and it was indeed intense, just as I predicted. The ending was a bit open ended and left the viewer wanting more, but that’s usually how it goes in these types of movies. So, I can’t really say I was surprised. If you’re thinking about seeing this one in the theater, I would wait and watch it on DVD. There are many more movies out now that would be better to see on the big screen; and movies ain’t cheap, ya know?

FYI - The most interesting part of the evening was when I got up during the movie to go to the restroom. I walked in on two folks having sex in the handicapped stall. I won't be blogging about this; but, if you see me soon, be sure and ask me about it. It makes for interesting conversation, I assure you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Come Hell or High Water…

Well, the high water definitely came, but it didn’t stop me from driving up to Nashville for The Pioneer Woman book signing at Davis Kidd Booksellers. I met her! I saw her! I had my photo taken with her! She is real!

PW addresses the crowd upon arrival

I left work early on Tuesday (around noon) and ran a few errands in town before heading home to relax for a whole hour. I didn’t want The Tide to think I had forgotten about her so I had to go by and spend a little time with her before I left. My college roommate, Melissa (who now lives in Nashville), had left a message on my “Anyone Want to Go to Nashville” post and I emailed her before I left work about meeting up. She called me about an hour before I left town and said she would like to go with me, but I would have to pick her up from work and drop her off back home. I said no problem. I was happy to have someone to talk to while I was hanging out waiting for The Pioneer Woman to arrive.

Melissa and I  before the signing

I left Huntsville about 2:00, after stopping by Star Market to pick up some sunflower seeds. I have an unnatural love for sunflower seeds. Every time I cover a sporting event for The Huntsville Times, I have sunflower seeds in hand. It’s rare that I’m without them. Plus, when you have a long solo drive in a torrential downpour in front of you, well, it helps to have something to do to keep you awake and shelling and eating sunflower seeds is an easy way to keep yourself occupied.

A crowd of folks at the bookstore

So, like I said, I left Huntsville about 2:00. The rain wasn’t too bad in Alabama when I left town. It started getting really bad just before I got to Franklin, TN, which was the same time my dad called my cell. We chatted for a bit and he asked me again who it was I was going to see. I said, “The Pioneer Woman!” He said, oh, yeah. He knows about her too, you see! Anyone who knows me knows I love The Pioneer Woman! If it weren’t for her delicious recipes, Tony and I would be eating the same things all the time.

Melissa waiting in line

I arrived at Melissa’s place of employment a little after 4:00. She came out to the car and we headed over to The Mall at Green Hills, which is where the bookstore is. We had decided to eat dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Can you believe I had never eaten at one before? It was good, but, sadly, I didn’t even have a piece of cheesecake! I meant to buy a piece before we left the mall for the night, but it slipped my mind in all the excitement! So, we ate dinner and caught up on old times and new times. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Melissa and it was so nice to see her. We basically picked up right where we left off, laughing and having a good time!

Me waiting in line

We went to the bookstore after dinner so that Melissa could buy a copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks – can you believe she didn’t already have a copy?! Since we still had an hour and a half to spare, we went over to Williams-Sonoma so that Melissa could buy the Chop and Measure. (By the way, I don’t have one of these, but they are awesome and would make a lovely Christmas gift).

The tickets - goup 6!

After our venture to Williams-Sonoma, we went back to the bookstore. We found a seat on a bench close to where The Pioneer Woman would be signing books. It was still an hour before the signing. So, we were able to sit and chat and catch up some more. I was even able to give Melissa a Jim Brickman demonstration, which she enjoyed immensely. After a while, the gals at the bookstore told the people sitting on the front of the bench that they needed to move so the area could be kept clear for when The Pioneer Woman arrived. Since we were sitting on the side, I asked, “Can we stay where we are? We are old and fat.” To which the reply from the gal was, “you’re not old.” “Oh ok, just fat I guess.” “Not, not fat either,” she said, and yes, we were able to keep our seats. So, we remained seated for a while until they started calling group numbers and forming the line.

The famous PW!

Now, thanks to Jackie’s sister, (also named Melissa, we’ll call her Melissa G. today) we were in group 6. I emailed Melissa G the week of Thanksgiving and asked her to pick up a couple of tickets for me. Thank goodness I had the mindset to do that because by the time the signing started, the store was handing out tickets for group 20! There were 25 people per group which meant that there were approximately 125 people in front of us. So, an extra special thanks to Melissa G for picking up the tickets and mailing them to me, otherwise, I might still be in line!

I think these folks gave PW their cell to talk to someone. I would have done that for Erika, but she never has her cell on! Remember that, Erika!

The store had groups 1-10 line up and it was total chaos! There were so many people in line and milling about. Finally, a little after 7:00, The Pioneer Woman came in to applause from the crowd. Now, this part was a little disappointing to me. If you know me, you know I sometimes, ok often, like to be crazy. And I was planning on screaming really loud and clapping like a maniac when she came in, but I never saw her come in and by the time she was speaking in the microphone, I had missed my opportunity. The Pioneer Woman addressed the crowd for a few minutes. Someone asked her where Marlboro Man was – I’m guessing this is the most asked question? – and then she began the book signing.

PW is having a good time!

At first the line creeped along; but eventually began to pick up speed. Melissa and I chatted with a pregnant gal in line behind us. I didn’t get her name, but I think she reads every blog in the blogosphere! She knew about every blog known to mankind – except for The Chronicles of Nat – go figure!

When we got closer to the signing table, I snapped a few photos; and then before we knew it, it was almost our time! Melissa went up first.

Melissa and PW

Then it was my turn! It was like meeting a celebrity! I was so excited! The lovely Erika had given me a letter to pass along to The Pioneer Woman and I gave it to her and told her that Erika couldn’t make it but wanted me to pass along the letter.

I'm having a laugh with PW! This was right after I gave her Erika's letter.

We chatted for a bit more about where she was off too next and maybe another subject. It all happened so quickly! I was there at the table with her for maybe all of two minutes; but it was the memory of a lifetime! But I met her! She is real! (Tony always says she probably isn’t real). She was just as beautiful in person as she is on her web site and the cover of her cookbook. And she was so polite as well. I’m sure she stayed and signed every book and greeted every person.

Watching PW sign my books - I look like a dork with my umbrella!

The Pioneer Woman had her sister, Betsy and her friend Hyacinth with her as well. They handed out the t-shirts and also signed the cookbooks by their photos. There were only medium and large t-shirts. So, I got a large, knowing it wouldn't fit; and unfortunately it is too small. The fitted shirts and I do not get along well; but it is a nice souvenir. After we were finished with the signing, it was 8:45, which wasn’t too bad considering how many people were there. I’m sure there were people who were in line for four hours or more (thanks again to Melissa G!). The bookstore was expecting 400 people, but I think they were surprised when it turned out to be much more than that.

Hyacinth and Betsy!

We left the bookstore and headed south. I dropped Melissa off at her home in Franklin and headed back to Huntsville. It was a little after 9:00 when I got on the interstate in Franklin. Erika had called me; so, I returned her call and relayed the evening’s events as quickly as I could. When there were no lights on the interstate, I ended the call so I could concentrate on the road.

It was like a monsoon outside! I mean the rain was really coming down. Never more in my life had I wished my car was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. After all, Chitty could turn into a boat or a plane and I was pretty sure I would need a boat to get home. There were times when I could barely see the car in front of me it was raining so hard. I got off the interstate in Ardmore and when I reached the center of the city, it was literally under water. The roads were closed and I got scared that I wouldn’t make it home. A man that worked for the city of Ardmore told me a detour to take and I was eventually on the road back to Huntsville. I made it home at about 11:15, very thankful to have had a safe journey and of course, for having met The Pioneer Woman.

P.S. A special thanks to the guy at Davis-Kidd who took the photos of me and The Pioneer Woman. He took pictures for everyone in line and I’m sure he got tired of it, but he was a trooper. You rock, dude!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow In Alabama!

It snowed this past Saturday! The weather folks predicted it, but I didn’t really think it would happen. That’s how things go around these parts. But, sure enough when I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, there was a blanket of snow on the ground. Can you call it blanket when it’s less than an inch?

There wasn’t much snow, but what little there was quite pretty. I love snow. When I lived in New York for a year, I got really excited for our first big snow of the season. One of the men in my department wrote a note on my farewell card months later “thanks for reminding us that snow can be fun.” I guess when you’ve been around snow your whole life it’s not as much fun as it is when you’re a Southerner who thinks snow is a novelty. I took some photos of the snow before it all melted away. Check them out below.

In other news, I’m headed to Nashville this afternoon to meet The Pioneer Woman. Say a prayer for my safe travels! It’s supposed to be raining and storming all afternoon and evening and I’m not too excited about taking this trip solo. I hope to be back with you tomorrow with a story of travel and adventure! Until then…

Monday, December 7, 2009

Anyone Want To Go To Nashville?

I’m headed to Nashville tomorrow afternoon to see none other than one of my most favorite bloggers and persons The Pioneer Woman. For those of you that are not familiar with The Pioneer Woman, then you are missing out on one of the best things in life! She is awesome! She has the best recipes in the land (I cook at least one every week) and she has a quick wit and sense of humor like no other.

Recently she published a cookbook called The Pioneer Woman Cooks, and it is amazing! I love it! In fact, I started crying when I first read it. I was overcome with emotion for some bizarre reason. Of course, those of you that know me probably don’t think it’s all that bizarre. So, The Pioneer Woman is going to be in Nashville tomorrow for a book signing, and I have plans of going.

I was hoping the lovely Erika would go with me. After all, it was she who introduced me to my hero, The Pioneer Woman. But, alas, Erika has a work Christmas Party at Santa’s Village and is dumping me for that.

Then I was hoping Tony would take the hint and go with me, but we all know how Tony is with hints. And, he is headed to his family’s cabin in the woods for the next week tomorrow to get a break from me before all the Christmas chaos ensues.

So, that leaves me going by myself. If any of my friends out there want to take a ride to Nashville, just send me an email or leave me a comment here. I may even buy you a cookbook!

And the Winner Is...

Well, there were only two comments left on the latest and greatest Christmas giveaway here on The Chronicles of Nat. According to, the winner is (drum roll please)…. Mary! Sure enough between one and two, picked number one. Mary, since you know me, just send me an email and maybe we can do lunch soon and I’ll bring your winnings to you. Stay tuned for another giveaway before Christmas. Hope everyone has a nice Monday.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Giveaway #3

~~~ This Giveaway Is Now Closed ~~~

It’s time for another Christmas giveaway! This time it’s for the cook in your life – or you if you’re the cook. I bought two chopper and grater sets off of Woot! a while back in anticipation of using one and giving one away here on The Chronicles of Nat. I wish I could tell you that this chopper and grater are out of this world, but honestly, I haven’t even used them yet. There are no instructions in the box and my non-mechanical mind can’t seem to figure it all out. So, if you win this one, you need to tell me how it works and write a review for me.

I did some searching on the web and found this set is sold at SizzleTwist (I had never heard of it) and so you can go there and read all about it if you want. They are green in color just like the photo. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment in this post. Just tell us what you plan on cooking for dinner one night this weekend. And if you’re not cooking tell us where you’re headed for dinner. The contest will go through the weekend. No entries after 7:00 a.m. Monday morning. I’ll announce the winner Monday morning and the winner will be selected using – that is if there is more than one entrant. Oh and if you’ve recently left a rude comment about my Jim Brickman review, you will probably be disqualified, after all this is my blog and I can do what I want! Nanna nanna boo boo!

Good luck!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Damned United (a guest review by Tony)

So here we go with the first guest review to be featured on the Chronicles of Nat by myself, the infamous Christmas spoiler Tony. Today I will enlighten you all on a lesser known (but quite enjoyable) film entitled The Damned United. I shall start by telling you all to run out and see it before I begin my review, being as the film will more than likely not be showing anywhere in Huntsville by the time I finish writing this.

With the intro out of the way let’s get on with the review…

The Damned United is a film about the English football (soccer) manger Brian Clough and his ill-fated tenure as coach of one of England’s most storied clubs…Leeds United. The film includes a who’s who cast of English actors. You won’t know their names but you will certainly recognize a lot of faces from other successful films. The actor who plays Brian Clough in the movie is Michael Sheen. You may recognize him from some of his more recent films including: Frost Nixon (as David Frost), and the new Twilight movie New Moon (as Aro). The film shows us how Brian started out coaching the small club (with a somewhat barren trophy case) Derby County (pronounced Darby) against his archrival manager Don Revie at Leeds United, who at the time is the most successful club in England. We see how Brian leads Derby County through the ranks to become on level footing with Leeds United. And with the sudden departure of Don Revie from Leeds to coach the English national team, Brian is offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to coach Leeds (who he has bitterly hated through the years). Brian accepts the position in the sole attempt to one-up Don Revie. The rest, as they say, is history.

Michael Sheen as Brian Clough

Nat and I decided to go see this last Friday after the Auburn / Alabama game. We were in pretty good spirits after the Tide’s victory, so what better way to celebrate than to see a movie, right? We headed out to Hollywood 18 (the only theatre in the state showing it) that evening hoping to beat the crowds. Turns out we only had to beat 3 other folks since it was only the 5 of us in the theatre to see The Damned United. I felt the movie did a good job of explaining things to folks (like Nat) who don’t regularly follow English football (soccer). I was quite pleased with the film and would recommend it to you all as well. So unless you’re planning on seeing the film today, Thursday 12/03/09, catch it on DVD when it comes out. It was a pretty (damned) good film!!

P.S. Nat agrees and I don't care for soccer.

Jaelynn's First Birthday

Wednesday night after church, I accompanied my Aunt Linda to her great-granddaughter’s (and my fourth cousin’s) first birthday party. It was the first time I had ever seen little Jaelynn. That is one bad thing about growing up – you don’t see your cousins as often because you all have busy lives of your own.

My aunt had told me how much Jaelynn looked like Jacob, and boy was she right! That lovely little lady is the spitting image of her father, my cousin. She is absolutely adorable. She was very happy the whole time we were there and seemed to be enjoying herself. She had lots of little playmates there and I told my aunt, that was the part about little ones that sometimes got on my nerves – the chaos. I guess I’ll have to get used to it when I have children of my own.

While we were there, I had my aunt, my cousin Cecelia, Jacob, and Jaelynn pose for a picture – four generations! How very lucky!

There was lots of good food and everyone was really chatting it up and having a good time. When it came time to open the presents – well, you should have seen all the gifts this child got! She is very loved, that’s for sure! She sat in her mother’s lap for a while, while Kacey opened the gifts. One of the gifts had a sippy cup in it and Jaelynn tried to get a drink out of it. The cup was put away, but she found it again and kept trying to get a drink. Either it was her favorite gift or she was very thirsty.

I took this photo of Jacob and Jaelynn. It would have been really good if Jacob had been looking at the camera. Every time I looked at Jacob last night it reminded me of my brother. Justin’s hair was once long and curly and stuck out from under his baseball caps like this. Jacob’s look and mannerisms reminded me so much of Justin last night that it was hard to look at him without tearing up.

Finally it was time for the cake! Cecelia got the cake from Edgar’s Bakery in Birmingham, and it was as delicious as it looked. Cecelia had taken them an invitation from the party and they made the cake look like it.

They also made this little cake for Jaelynn to tear in to.

Jaelynn enjoyed playing in her cake and we enjoyed watching her. She is a beautiful girl and I wish her many more happy birthdays!