Friday, October 29, 2010

Mayfair's Fall Festival

Last Sunday, I tagged along with Jackie and her kids and Maria and her kids as the old maid aunt at the Mayfair Fall Festival. The festival started at 3:00 p.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m. and had tons of games and prizes and snacks and face painting – pretty much everything you could ask for in a fall festival.

I arrived a few minutes after 3:00 and met up with everyone. When I got there, Reagan and Ashlyn were having their faces painted and the boys were, well, running around being boys. All of the kids wore the Halloween costumes, with the exception of Jordan who is apparently too cool. Ashlyn was a hippie. Reagan was Sacagawea. Troy was a Dementor. Jacob was an old man – and hilarious. Seriously I wish ya’ll could have seen him in person – HI-LAR-I-OUS!

A Hippie


A Dementor

The Old Man

After playing a few games, we went inside for some snacks – popcorn and sodas and cotton candy. Then the kids posed by the fall scenery for a group photo. I also took a close up of Try’s Death Eater hands. I don’t know how Jackie didn’t keep from pulling her hair out because one minute he wanted the hands on and the next minute he didn’t and let me tell you, people, those hands were not easy to get on. Jackie, you’re a good mom!

When we finished up with our snacks, we headed back outside for a hayride over to the trunk or treating area. I told Jackie I wish we could go on a real hayride. I don’t even know where you would go to do such a think but I have always been a fan of the hayride. It brings back good memories.

Here we are on the hayride

We arrived over at the trunk-or-treat area and the kids were ready with bags in tow to be filled with sugary goodness. There were about 20 or 30 cars that participated in the trunk-or-treat and some of them ran out of candy. Others had enough to feed an army of children.

I snagged a ring pop from this cauldron.

There were some dogs there, and the kids petted them, including this dog that belongs to our friends Christa and Jason. I actually don’t know what the little dog’s real name is, but his shirt says he’s the “Little Devil”.

Our friend Kim was dressed up as a witch of some sort and looked really good. I love her blue hair!

A lot of people decorated the trucks of backs of their cars for the festivities.

After the trunk-or-treating, the kids sat down in the grass and discussed their loot of candy. Trades were made and bargains were struck so that everyone could have what they wanted.

Looks like Troy is contmeplating taking those
Death Eater hands off... again!

When it was all over there was a quick devotional in the gym and then everyone went their separate ways. It was a fun afternoon and a great time was had by all!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Dogiversary to Me and The Tide

Eight years ago today, I drove down to the Pitt County Animal Shelter in Greenville, North Carolina and adopted myself a dog. I went on my lunch break to pay for the dog, now known as The Tide, and got a speeding ticket. I guess I was really excited about having a dog of my own. Since that day, The Tide has cost me a lot more than the $50 adoption fee and however much the speeding ticket cost, but she’s been worth every penny.

Last year I wrote about my 7th Dogiversary and in case you haven’t figured it out, today is my 8th Dogiversary with The Tide. She has been a loyal companion ever since the day I got her. She never ceases to make me laugh, and we could all use a little more laughter in our lives. The Tide is a good snuggler, a fierce protector, a devoted friend and an eater of all things garbage and paper towel.

I am really glad I made the decision to adopt The Tide. She makes the house seem more like a home and a lot less empty, even if it is hairier than I would prefer. The Tide has gone from a five pound pup to a 65 pound bundle of joy! Happy Dogiversary The Tide! You’re the most wonderful dog in the whole world and I am glad you are around to pick up the crumbs! I hope we have many, many more Dogiversaries together!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sam and Greg's

Last Saturday night, Jackie and I went out to Sam and Greg’s, located on the Northside Square in downtown Huntsville across from the courthouse and next to Amendment XXI and Wild Rose CafĂ©, for a pizza. Jackie had been before and loved it and some other people I know had been there as well but I had not yet had an opportunity to go and asked her if she would tag along with me sometime. Saturday turned out to be the day – I mean, who doesn’t need to refuel after a morning of Yoga by the River?

We headed out to Sam and Greg’s about 5:00 so that we could eat and get back to my house before the Alabama game started. We had a hard time deciding what kind of pizza to get and after staring at the menu for about five minutes we decided on a basic pepperoni (we’re so adventurous) and then decided to add pepperoncini at the last minute – good decision!

In addition to small tables inside, Sam and Greg’s has an outdoor area with six tables as well and since it was a nice evening, we decided to sit outside and watch all manner of passersby. There was a group of guys outside the restaurant with video and still cameras and we could not for the life of us figure out what they were doing. They were in hatch back cars and had the hatch open and video cameras out the back.

Our pizza arrived about 10 or 15 minutes after we ordered it and it was DELICIOUS, people! I really loved it. It was seriously one of the best pizzas I have ever had. The sauce was flavorful and they weren’t stingy with it. The cheese was stringy and gooey and the pepperoni and pepperoncini were a good combination if I do say so myself. It was so good in fact that I contemplated going back on Sunday afternoon and getting another one for lunch! They aren’t opened on Sunday, so that really wouldn’t have worked out to well anyway. We ordered the small which was four pieces and we ate it all. It was the perfect size for us.

Our yummy little pizza!

Getting ready to take a bite!
Yes, it was a make-up free Saturday.

All gone!

We didn’t have any dessert, but Sam and Greg’s has gelato, and I have heard it is really good. They also offer a variety of coffees and at lunch they serve Nathan’s hot dogs. So, the next time you want a casual dining atmosphere and some good pizza or just want some pizza to go, remember Sam and Greg’s – you will not be disappointed!

Yum... gelato!

This sign hangs above the restaurant but is not easily spotted.

119 Northside Square
Downtown Huntsville

Monday – Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Friday – 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Saturday – 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Yoga by the River

This past Saturday, I joined Jackie, her mom, Jan and our friend Kim at Yoga by the River at Hayes Nature Preserve. I searched at searched the internets for a more informative link and found all of nothing. I wish I could provide you with some more specific details like how it came about, etc, but unfortunately I couldn’t find anything. I believe Yoga by the River is sponsored by the Huntsville Hospital Wellness Center and Huntsville’s Operation Green Team. The instructor is Jon Lolley.

This was my first yoga class and despite laughing at myself from time to time, I actually enjoyed it. It was also nice to just be outdoors without the sounds of the city or The Tide barking or what have you. It was a really nice morning. It wasn’t too cool or too hot. The class started at 9:00 a.m. and was an hour long. After about 20 minutes or so I had to shed my long sleeve shirt because I had gotten warm from all the stretching. As you may know, yoga is basically just a bunch of stretching and breathing and relaxing and all that good (truly, it’s good!) stuff.

The hour went by really quickly and I only felt like a fool a couple of times. I usually go to a spin class on Saturday mornings, but really enjoyed the slower change of pace and I felt really good afterwards. The next day I was actually sore in some places, which is kind of odd considering there was no weight lifting involved, but according to Jon Folley, who could probably balance himself on one finger, you don’t need weights to be conditioned. I like your thinking, Jon Folley!

This Saturday is the last class of Yoga by the River. The class is free and as I mentioned begins at 9:00 a.m. and lasts an hour. This week after the class there will be a one mile hike to look at foliage, provided there’s any left after this week’s rains. I am probably going to go again this week so come on out and join us – just watch out for the falling acorns!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shutterfly Holiday Cards Review

Photo holiday cards seem to be all the rage these days. It seems every year more and more people are taking family photos or photos of their kids or dogs or what have you and turning them in to holiday greeting cards. You know what else? I love it! I look forward to receiving these cards every Christmas so that I can see how big the kids have gotten, what the new baby looks like, etc. Apparently these cards must have been popular in the early 1980s as well because I use one of my family as a bookmark in my Bible. My brother was no more than three so it was 1983 at the latest. Maybe I’ll scan it in one day so everyone can get a good laugh at us Parkers!

I realize a lot of you are probably on facebook and see pictures of your friends all the time; but for me, who refuses to use facebook, it makes the photos I receive at Christmas even more special.

The past few years I have handmade my own Christmas cards. It gave me something to do at night while watching TV and I liked the extra touch it added (or so I felt anyway). This year, however, I think I am following suit with the rage of photo greeting cards and Shutterfly has a lot of wonderful choices this season.

If you click on the Christmas cards, you will find 748 choices! 748! That’s more than I know what to do with and believe me when I say that picking one out is not going to be easy. They are all adorable! When searching, you can sort by color, size, number of photos you want to use, flat or folded, designer, etc.

If you prefer a religious theme, you can find those at Shutterfly too, there are 35 different religious themed cards from which to choose.

You can also order Christmas invitations for all those parties you will be hosting. Shutterfly offers gift tags as well. For around $15 you can get a set of 25 gift tags which are so, so charming! I was glad to see this because I have already been looking at ordering some gift tags and now I know exactly where I will be getting mine. For those of you reading that may speak Spanish or are looking to add a little international flair to your holiday cards, Shutterfly also has cards in Spanish.

Like I said, there are so many designs to choose from that I am really having a hard time deciding what to go with. I guess it will all depend on how cooperative The Tide is when it comes to picture taking. Here is a small selection of some cards I like:

Royal Elegance Christmas Card
If I had a few kids or a family of my own, I would love this card. It’s very simple but with a slight holiday twist and I love black and white photos. Of course, you could put a color photo here as well and it would look just as lovely. The only downside to this one is that it’s a flat card so if you want to add a handwritten message you would have to do it on the back or put a separate note in the envelope.

This card is a 5x7 folded card, which I love. I like the fact that you can open it up and write a note on the inside. You can also choose from multiple layouts for the inside of the card. The colors are also nice, while not the traditional red and green of Christmas, you can still tell it is a holiday card, and it has the date so that you don’t have to wonder “when did I receive this card?” I also like that there are multiple photos on the front, which is good for folks like me who probably want to showcase their dog more than themselves.

Not only is this card cute, but 10% of the sales of this card go back to the American Lung Association. It would be a great choice if you had a really nice family photo or a super adorable photo of the kids to use since it just has one photo on the front. The trick for me would once again be getting The Tide to cooperate for a good photo.

One of my absolute favorites! It has a lot of color in it and is very whimsical. Don’t be surprised if you find this one in your mailbox come Christmas time.

When choosing Christmas cards this holiday season, take a look at the choices on Shutterfly. You will not be disappointed!

Also, if you have a blog, be sure and fill out this form to write a review of your own and get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly. For “How did you hear about this promotion" select "Birmingham Bargain Mom." No, that's not me. Ha!

Happy shopping! 

Questions Answered and What’s Up Next

It was another busy weekend for me, only this time I actually had a moment or two to relax a little as well instead of constantly being on the go, which was a much welcome relief. Stay tuned for posts on all the activities.

Friday night I was out at Sparkman once again and this time I had a room in the press box all to myself. The game was really good, won in the last six seconds of play on a field goal by Buckhorn. Since I’ve already reviewed the concession stand at Sparkman, there will be no review this week. I hope you aren’t too disappointed. I once again had a cheeseburger and some popcorn, and brought my own Diet Coke (they have Pepsi at Sparkman, remember?

This leads me to answering some of the questions you have posted in the comments section over the last couple of days. Yes, Alison I have a love for Diet Coke beyond measure. I take it you missed the Ode to Diet Coke post. It was written a long time ago before you were a reader. So, perhaps you will go back and take a look at it. To answer your question, when I am at a restaurant and they have Pepsi products, I drink water. Nothing satisfies like a Diet Coke, Alison, nothing! By the way, sorry for previously putting two “Ls” in your name; only today did I realize there is only one!

To answer Kimberly’s questions: 1) Yes, that was Kim Davis. Later this week I will have a photo of her from Mayfair’s trunk-or-treat. You won’t want to miss it. 2) You can find the stats about your blog by clicking on “stats” from your dashboard or it will be one of the tabs when you are in the posting screen.

Sorry to those of you who were bored by my answering questions, but I want to make sure everyone stays informed and I can only communicate with Kimberly through hidden messages and answer sessions like this because I don’t have an email address for her. Thanks for your patience.

Later today (fingers crossed) I should have a review of the new Shutterfly holiday cards; so, check back later for that. Also up this week: Mayfair’s Fall Festival and Trunk-Or-Treat, A review of Sam and Greg’s pizza, Yoga by the River, and a recap of tonight’s Ladies’ Night Out costume party! Hope you’ll stop back by. Have a good week.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Information Is So Intriguing And Sometimes Funny

Blogger has a new feature for it’s blog writers called “Stats” that allows me and other writers to see how many page views the site gets, how the readers arrive to the site (Google, other blogs, etc.), where in the world my readers are located and which posts are most popular. I have found all of this information extremely fascinating. Now you may not be interested in all of this, but I thought I would share because the information captivates my attention every day; so, I hope you will find it funny and interesting too!

Blogger began keeping the stats in the month of July. Would you know that I have had over 1,000 blog hits each month? That’s kind of crazy. Anyone want to take a guess at which blog post is the most read? I bet Erika can figure it out without even thinking – Jim Brickman! Since Blogger began keeping up with the stats, the Jim Brickman post has been the most read with 262 individual hits (as of this moment).

Every week Jim Brickman leads the pack with individual page hits, and it is still holding strong as the most commented on post with 12 comments while The Cookie Experiment is a close second with 10 comments. The second most read post is about the circus from earlier this year. I guess people are trying to figure out if the show is worth seeing – it is!

Another great thing about the stats page is that I can see searches that people type in that end up leading them to my blog. The majority of these searches are along the lines of “is Jim Brickman married” Jim Brickman married” “who is Jim Brickman married to” “Jim Brickman wife”. I wish I was kidding but I’m not. Clearly the world has some sort of crazy obsession/fascination with Jim Brickman! Who knew? Certainly not me. If only I could box up his magic and sell it – think of all the money I would make!

There are a lot of concession stand searches that lead people here as well, which makes since considering all the concession stand reviews I’ve done this football season. Sorry, once again, Randolph.

By far, the funniest search I’ve seen that led someone to The Chronicles of Nat was as follows: “can blue sour punch straws cause black stool”. I seriously about died laughing when I read that. I assume this search led this person to the Sparkman Concession Stand Review and obviously that post didn’t help them with the answer to their question. The only thing I know of that causes black stool is blood in the colon. Sorry, folks. That was probably more than you bargained for today. I certainly hope that person found the answer they were looking for out on the internets.

As for you readers, the majority of you are from the United States (no shocker there). I get a few hits from Malaysia (Hi Kimberly!) and South Africa (Hi Caroline!); but, who are you other people? Are you the one needing to know about black stool? I have a handful of readers from each of the following: Canada, Germany, The United Kingdom, Spain, Lithuania (really?) Guadeloupe, and Denmark! Who are you? How did you come here? If you are one of these people (or even if you’re not) give a shout out in the comments. Inquiring minds want to know how it is you came across this little blog.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Apologies, Randolph!

I’m sorry Randolph; I recant my previous statement about your concession stand. I don’t know if someone from Randolph saw my previous review and decided to make some changes or if I just didn’t pay close attention the last time I was there; but, either way, I’m recanting my previous review and Randolph is getting a new grade.

This past Friday, we had the Spaghetti Dinner for the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run and so I obviously had my fill of pasta and salad before heading out to Randolph to cover a game for the night. After I got set up, I went down to the concession stand area to use the facilities before the start of the game and I took my camera with me to see if there was anything worth capturing on film.

As I was walking out of the restroom, I heard one of the men working at the concession stand say something about a Five Guys burger and I looked on the menu and lo and behold, Randolph School is now serving Five Guys burgers at their games. You can get a combo with a drink and chips for $5! $5! That’s cheaper than going to Five Guys! If I had known this I may have skipped the spaghetti dinner altogether and opted for the Five Guys burger!

The last time I was there I didn’t see nachos on the menu and they were there this time, along with chili and a Frito pie which seems to be popular at high school concession stands everywhere.

At half time, I got popcorn and a sweet tea (copying Westminster; I also don’t remember this being on the menu before). It took me over five minutes to get the two items and as my brother mentioned in the first post, it was total confusion as to who was ordering – there were no lines and as Justin said, everyone was discombobulated. When I got back up to the place I was sitting – it’s not a press box, but a slanted table at the top of the bleachers – I sat my drink on the table and began munching on the popcorn. The next thing I knew, a slight breeze blew and my tea spilled everywhere. (Great design Randolph! Yes, this is a sarcastic statement.) To make matters worse, there was less than two minutes left until the start of the second half and there was no way I would have time to get another drink. So, I had to eat my popcorn with no drink and spend the rest of the game with a dry thirsty mouth.

They are still serving Pepsi products at Randolph, but maybe they will one day get wise and sign a contract with my beloved Coca-Cola. So, Randolph, I’m sorry; you’re concession stand is actually pretty darn excellent.

Final grade: A- (They do, after all, have Pepsi products!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

7th Annual Liz Hurley Ribbon Run - Part Two

As mentioned in the last post, Jackie, Jan and I were on Team Christina this year. Christina attends Twickenham C of C and some of her friends started a team for her as she is in the beginning stages of battling breast cancer. Somehow the word spread and people from other churches began to join, which is how we ended up being on the team. Some of Jan’s friends knew about it and we all decided to join. At last count, I believe there were 144 people on the team, raising the second largest sum of money behind one of the corporations in town. I was able to meet Christina at the Spaghetti Dinner on Friday night and she seemed to be in good spirits and was really excited about all the people running on her team.

The team had really cute shirts, pink for the girls and white for the guys, and we all wore them on race day.

When I got up Saturday morning, I had almost no pain in my foot, which was a modern day miracle; however, I still decided to walk rather than run because I didn’t want to press my luck. I made it through the whole 3.2 miles, but it was the slowest finish time I have ever had, which kind of makes me chuckle. My foot punished me by hurting the rest of the day and weekend.

There were tons of people and tons of pink as always. We had a really fun time and enjoyed spending the morning together.

As a reminder, my college roommate, Melissa, is walking in a 60-mile walk this weekend for breast cancer awareness. Please keep her in your prayers as she attempts to accomplish her goal. She is also volunteering to carry the names of your loved ones with her during her walk. If you’d like for her to remember someone you know, then please check out this blog post and leave her a comment. Good luck Melissa! Love ya!

Here are some pictures for you:

Here are Jackie and I before the race. I had ordered the hat from Etsy and got lots of compliments on it. After we started the race I was ready to shed it because it was getting warm, but my hair was greasy so I kept it on.

There were lots of dogs there and this little one was the first to catch my eye. I loved its doggie sweater.

Here is one of the banners at the tent for Team Christina.
All of the phrases on the banner were on the backs of our shirts.

Another dog - this one and its friend had on pink tutus.
I'm pretty sure The Tide would have nothing to do with wearing a tutu.

Kim, Louwena (not sure if I spelled that right), Jan, Jackie and Me.
I didn't get the dark pants memo apparently

The women's 5K is off to a good start!

There were tons of runners/walkers

Jackie and I thought the shirts for this team were funny.

There were babies along for the ride too!

This one's for you, Tony - with a little less than a mile to go we came across these people blowing Vuvuzelas.
I felt like I was at the World Cup! I heard them before I reached them and knew immediately what they were and I was right!

Here's a closer look!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

7th Annual Liz Hurley Ribbon Run – Part One

This past weekend was the 7th Annual Liz Hurley Ribbon Run benefiting the Liz Hurley Breast Cancer Fund at Huntsville Hospital Foundation. Jackie and I did the Ribbon Run last year and decided to do it again this year. Jackie’s mom, Jan, was also planning to participate and asked us to join the team she was on, Team Christina (more on this later).

Friday night was the pre-race spaghetti dinner at Huntsville Middle School and we all attended. The dinner was catered by Carrabba’s and was really good. They had ziti (with or without meat), Caesar salad, bread, and brownies and cookies for dessert. We all arrived a little bit after 5:00 and there were not a ton of people there yet, but as we were leaving there were a lot of people coming in so I would say we ate at just the right time.

Troy had red punch, can you tell?

After we ate, we went outside and looked at the luminaries. You could buy a pink bag for a luminary for a loved one who has battled breast cancer. Troy and Ashlyn got two bags for their Auntie Michelle.

We ran into some friends that we knew from church and talked to them for a while and then Jackie and I went over and had our picture taken by a pink tractor. There was a little boy named Steven sitting/playing on the tractor and he wasn’t too keen about getting down so we told his mom he could stay in the picture.

It was a nice evening spent with good friends and good food, which is always an excellent combination.

Up next… race day!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Votes Are In

Well, the time has come to reveal the winner of the What Should Nat Be for Halloween poll. Are you ready to know the results? For over half the time the poll was up only two people had voted, and it was a 50/50 split between Devil With a Blue Dress and Liar Liar Pants on Fire. As I started writing this post, I figured the result would be the same… wrong! Apparently two more people voted, or one person voted two more times, leaving the clear winner to be, Devil with a Blue Dress with 75% of the vote (all of three votes!).

So, here’s the part where I let all of my readers down by telling them that I’m vetoing the decision and going with one of the other choices. Please don’t hate me for asking you to decide and then not going with it. First of all, I don’t really have a blue dress. My mother has one that she wore to this dinner and I suppose she might let me borrow it, which would mean I would only have to buy a devil’s horn and tail and pitchfork, which I’m sure can easily be found at any of the stores right now.

I, however, wanted all along to be a Beekeeper, and I’m pretty sure (unless I change my mind at the last minute and that has been known to happen) that a Beekeeper is what I’m going with. It’s a pretty low maintenance outfit and I’ve already ordered some bees – give me a break here, I ordered the bees when I thought the vote was going to be split 50/50.

One of the VPs where I work has a farm and he raises bees (is raise the right term) and around the time I found that out, Tony was going through a phase where he wanted to have a beehive in his backyard and make honey. Tony went through a lot of phases, including me apparently. At any rate, being a beekeeper, makes me laugh and reminds me of all the times I used to laugh with Tony about his desire to have bees and make honey in his own backyard. After reading the post with the choices, he emailed me and said his vote was beekeeper, and that was my vote all along as well and I had already started planning the costume in my head and I guess had already settled on the fact that’s what I wanted and that’s what it was going to be.

So, I hope you aren’t mad at me and I hope you will come back and continue reading the ridiculous and boring stories about what’s happening in the world of Nat. I usually stick with what I say, but this time I’m sticking with my gut, which says to me, “Be a beekeeper for Halloween.” So, a beekeeper it is, maybe I’ll be a Devil with a Blue Dress at Trunk or Treat. Hmmmm….

Sleeping Beauty

I’ve had so many things to tell you about this week that I almost completely forgot to write about going to see Sleeping Beauty this past Sunday night. I only remembered it last night and since the play is continuing this weekend, I wanted to be sure and include it in this week’s posts in case you are interested in going to see it.

This year I bought myself two Fantasy Playhouse season tickets. The first of the three plays included in the package is Sleeping Beauty and I went, along with my friend Sabrina, last Sunday night.

The play was really well done, as are all plays put on by Fantasy. The costumes were really amazing and the set was simple yet extremely cute. The three main characters in the play are the three good fairies and the one bad fairy. The storyline has been changed a little, but it was still very good and had some added adult humor that Sabrina and I thought was quite funny.

The three good fairies did a fantastic job! Their names are different from those in the movie and the girl that plays Daffodil does and absolutely delightful job and she is just as cute as a button. The bad fairy, Belladona, also did a great job; she was wonderfully wicked and had a really fantastic evil laugh – it sounded just like the evil witch in the Wizard of Oz. The other actors also did a great job and one guy in particular, he played Lord Brunswick, cracked us up. His facial expressions were priceless.

The play continues this weekend with showing Friday night (7:00) and Saturday and Sunday afternoons (1:30) and evenings (5:00).The tickets are $10. The great thing about Fantasy is that they welcome children and their plays are geared toward children, which is great for you parents out there. Sleeping Beauty lasted about two hours and was a lot of fun. I hope you’ll check it out.