Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Card Rejects

As I mentioned in my last post, Jackie, Troy and Ashlyn, and The Tide and I went to the park on Sunday afternoon to take some photos for our Christmas cards. Jackie suggested yesterday that I put the blooper shots of The Tide here on the blog. Most of them are me laughing at how uncooperative she was but maybe they will give you a laugh too. So, since I don’t have much else to write about today, I now present to you Christmas photo outtakes 2010.

Believe it or not Jackie managed to get a few good shots and I had a hard time deciding which one to pick for the 2010 Christmas card. I finally decided on this one coming soon to a mailbox near you:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Monday To You!

Good Monday to you, readers! I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I started off my day with a two-hour spinning class at the gym, logging in about 30 miles on the bike. It was great! Afterwards I headed over to eat with my family and then back home to peruse the Black Friday ads and take a nap; and, of course, watch some football.

On Friday morning bright and early my dad and I (as is our tradition) headed out to fight the crowds for all the deals. Having finished my shopping, there wasn’t much I wanted to look at; but, I did purchase a few things. We also stood in line at the mall for a free gift card and each got one worth $10. Hey, a free $10 is a free $10! We shopped for a few hours and then ate breakfast and then shopped for another hour or so before heading home. I took a nap, watched football and put out the Christmas tree and some other Christmas decorations. I didn’t put out too much stuff this year mainly because I don’t want to have to put it back up! I also watched A Christmas Carol, the Disney version that came out last year. It was pretty good.

On Saturday I ran some errands, including one for Santa, and did some cleaning around the house and guess what? Watched football. I finished decorating, including putting the lights outside the house and while looking for some ribbon in my sewing box, my finger grazed my fabric cutter and was basically sliced in two. It bled for an hour or more before I called my parents and then Lisa’s husband, Derek who is a paramedic to figure out what I should do. I decided to go to a walk in clinic to get some stitches. I was only there about an hour, which I thought was good. They ended up only butterflying it together rather than stitching it and then wrapped it in gauze and tape. It bled the rest of the night, only not as badly. It is still hurting, but that is also not as bad as it was on Saturday. So, I suppose I will live to see another day.

Sunday after church I met Jackie at the park so I could take some photos of her and her kids and so she could take some photos of me and The Tide for our respective Christmas cards. The Tide wasn’t extremely cooperative but she did sit still long enough to get a few shots to choose from.

So, that was the extent of my four days off from work – not very exciting, but I got some things accomplished that I needed to get done before my foot surgery which is this Thursday!

Christmas is less than a month away! So get to shopping if you’re not already done! Hope everyone has a nice Monday!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

There will be mostly radio silence here on The Chronicles of Nat for the remainder of the week. I hope each of you have a nice Thanksgiving and that there will be plenty of food on your plates and warmth in your hearts! Happy Thanksgiving from me and The Tide!

Skillet Bacon Jam Review

Recently I signed up at Tomoson to be a reviewer for various products. One of the items I signed up to review is called Skillet Bacon Jam – yes, you read that correctly. I was a little leery, but the name intrigues me and I had to see what this stuff was all about. I do, after all, love bacon.

What is Skillet Bacon Jam you may ask? According to their web site, “we use niman ranch bacon and render it down along with onions, balsamic and other spices. It cooks for several hours until it is a perfect blend of smoky, tangy, savory and slightly sweet…basically spreadable bacony goodness! USDA approved.”

The Skillet Bacon Jam arrived last week and I was either too scared or too busy to try it. Finally last night I opened it up to see what it was all about. Of course, when I opened it, The Tide was all up in my face wanting to get her own sample of the Skillet Bacon Jam. I’m sure she would give this product an A+. the Skillet Bacon Jam looks like a spreadable paste of little pieces of bacon. It smells like bacon and tastes like bacon too. I’m not really sure what you’re supposed to do with this stuff. I imagine you could put it over cream cheese and serve it with crackers at a dinner party or you could put it on a burger as pictured on their web site.

Since I’m not really sure how to use it, it would be helpful if their web site offered some recipes; but, alas I found none. I meant to take some pictures of it, but neglected to do that as well and needed to get this review up in a somewhat timely manner.

The Skillet Bacon Jam retails for $13 for an 11oz jar. The jar they sent me was a sample size and therefore quite smaller than 11 oz. I doubt I would pay $13 for this product since I can’t really figure out how to use it; not to mention the fact that I dislike jams and jellies in general. But, if you want to try it for yourself, then head on over to their web site and order yourself a jar.

If you have any specific questions about the product, you can email the company here.

And as always…

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Week of {Thanks} giving

This week my friend Caroline is having a series of guest posts over on her blog for a week of {Thanks} giving. I met Caroline when I lived in North Carolina and we had some grand times together. I wrote a post for Caroline's {Thanks} giving week and it is being featured over on her blog today. So, if you want to see a little bit of the more serious side of Nat, then head on over to Mrs. Collie’s blog and check it out. Here's the link. Be sure and read all the other posts from this week as well. You’ll be glad you did!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Movie Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

Over the weekend I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I. As I’m sure you may know if you’ve read this blog for any period of time, I love me some Harry Potter. The books are some of my favorite all-time reading and the movies aren’t so bad either.

It’s been a sweet forever since I read book seven – in other words I haven’t read it since the week it came out in 2007. I had made plans to read it again before I saw the movie, but life has been rather busy as of late and I didn’t get a chance to read it again before I went to the movie. I will try to accomplish that goal before part two comes out in July.

For the past I don’t know how many Harry Potter movies, my preacher’s son, Nicolas (now known as Nic) has gone with me; but, now that he’s 15 he’s apparently too cool to go to the movies with me and so his little sister, Lindlee (age 12) joined me instead as well as my friend Maria who probably doesn’t want me advertising her age on the internet.

Lindlee’s parents were kind enough to get our tickets the night before in case there was mass confusion and total chaos at the theater the next day. We decided on an 11:45 showing since the matinee prices are cheaper and we didn’t want to be out at the movies until all hours of the night (the film runs 2.5 hours). We were all three pleasantly surprised to find a very un-crowded theater at our chosen time and had plenty of room to relax and enjoy the show. Perhaps there weren’t many people there because of Harry Potter Hangovers from Friday night? Who knows? I was quite shocked at the lack of people there – 11:45 is the way to go people!

The movie itself was quite good. It followed the book closely (as best I can remember). The tone of the movie is very dark; it is, after all a dark time for the wizarding world, what with the return of Voldemort and all. At times the movie was terrifying, at times troubling and at all times my heart was racing, wondering what was around the next corner. Honestly, and I hate to say it, every so often, I also found the movie to be kind of slow and I felt like dozing off. I’m anxious to see if anyone else felt this way or if it was just the leftover Nyquil that I had taken before my head hit the pillow on Friday night. I was so tired when I left the theater all I wanted to do was go home and sleep – and that’s what I did.

Anyway, back to the movie – this final set of movies has a lot of adult themes in it and it’s hard to believe that Harry. Hermione and Ron are all grown up now, but indeed they are. I thought the movie ended perfectly considering we’ve got one more film to go. I was curious as to where they would cut the first film off and thought the ending was perfect, leaving the viewer thirsting for more. I’m sure the next film will have lots of battle scenes and action, which will be quite entertaining.

I realize I’m not giving a lot away here, but I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it or not yet read the books. Harry is something I think each person should experience for themselves without it being ruined by other people.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of adult themes and a lot of darkness in this movie. I realize there are a lot of Harry Potter loving kids out there that really want to see this movie but I would advise parents to be cautious about taking their little ones to see this film. Reading the book is one thing, but actually seeing torture and death and betrayal on the big screen is another all together. Let me put it to you this way, as I mentioned I was watching with a 12-year old and there were times when I wished she wasn’t there because I didn’t think it was appropriate for her. I felt very uncomfortable having her there because the movie was so dark and so grown up and I really wasn’t sure she should be watching it. The movie is rated PG-13 and they do, after all, have those ratings for a reason. One reviewer I read stated, “All in all, as the title says, this is a excellent grown-up movie and I can recommend it to everyone - except kids! If you have little kids, please don't take them. This movie has far too many scary scenes and little comic relief! Plus, the plot is quit complex including lots and lots of minor characters. It's really no longer a movie targeted at kids, even though it's still labeled "Harry Potter". If anyone else saw it this weekend, I’d be curious to hear what your thoughts are – leave a comment, please.

All in all, this was a great film and I am even more excited (and sad too because it’s ending) to see the next and final film of the series.

P.S. I made the pumpkin cheesecake using this recipe for church on Sunday. It was a huge hit. Wish I had a piece now!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I’ve Got Nothing For Ya

So, there’s not much to write about today. I figure you’re pretty sick of reviews since I haven’t gotten many comments and I’m going to have more of them next week. So, I’ll just ramble for a little while today.

It’s a little over a month until Christmas so you’d better get to shopping if you haven’t already started.

For those of you that live in Huntsville, here’s what’s happening this weekend:

Broadway Theater League presents Fiddler on the Roof (I’m going Sunday night!) Ticket information is available here.

The Huntsville Botanical Garden’s Galaxy of Lights walking tour starts tonight and goes through Tuesday night. After that it will be open for cars only. Click here for more information.

The Delta Zeta craft show is at the VBC this weekend. Here’s the 411.

Harry Potter opens this weekend – you can expect a review here next week. I’ll try to refrain from going more than once but I’m not making any promises.

The lighting of the Christmas tree at Bridge Street is tonight. The festivities begin at 5:00. Get all the details here. If you know of anything else going on this weekend, give us a shout in the comments.

I'm making a cheesecake for church on Sunday (I think). Give me your vote in the comments - pumpkin or tiramisu.

Here’s one more thing. A gal named, Tanya stopped by the blog this week and left a comment. She writes a blog that’s basically about junk food from concession stands, roadside stands, etc. called Driving and Dining and she featured The Chronicles of Nat on her recent post. Check it out here. Thanks for the shout out Tanya!

Have a good weekend, ya’ll!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert

Earlier this week, Hollywood 18 here in Huntsville had a special presentation on the big screen of the 25th Anniversary concert of Les Miserables. As soon as I saw it jump off the page of the newspaper, I made plans to go. There was no way I was going to miss this event. For those of you who know me personally, you may know that I have a love for the theater and a deep passionate love in particular for Les Miserables.

The day of the show Erika called me and somehow it came up that I was going and she decided to join me and my box of tissue at the show. The cost was $15, which some people may think is a little steep; but, it last a little over three hours and was worth every bit the $15 and more – even Erika said it was a well spent $15. I’m glad this was only a one night event or I would be broke!

When I arrived at the theater, Erika was already there and had saved me a seat, which was a blessing because there were a lot more people there than I expected. I had not seen the show advertised except for the small blurb in the newspaper and I really didn’t expect there to be more than maybe five people there. I had even promised Erika I would get up and sing; but quickly changed my mind when I discovered there were 100 or so people there. The concert was shown in one of the larger theater rooms, which was a good thing since there were quite a few people there.

I had snuck in a McDonald’s cheeseburger (don’t judge me!) and bought some nachos and received a free drink with my loyalty card so I was set as far as snacks were concerned. I must admit it was weird to be chowing down on some nachos while Jean Valjean was singing on the big screen. I finally got tired of the nachos after the priest gave Valjean those infamous silver candlesticks and put them under the seat and got ready for the tears to flow. I cry through pretty much all of the show. It’s usually a very emotional experience for me.

The thing about watching this show in the theater with a bunch of other people who are also eating snacks is that the sound of candy bags and people trying to play footsies with strangers (some lady’s feet were a little too close to Erika) is that everything is a distraction and takes away from what you should be concentrating on – the show itself. I realized that this is obviously why no food or drinks are allowed at shows – makes perfect sense to me now! I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way and I think you all know how I love concession stand food. So for me to agree to ban it from something is a big deal!

I cried a little during Act I and then during the part when I’m usually sobbing like a baby, there was nothing and allow me to tell you why. During one of the most beautiful parts of the show, when Fantine is dying and asking Valjean to care for her child an old man on the front row started coughing and I don’t mean just some little coughs as if he had a cold, I mean outrageously loud non-stop coughing and I thought he might possibly die if someone didn’t soon give him assistance kind of coughs. It was the most distracting thing. It was all I could hear as if Fantine and Valjean weren’t even there – they were just background noise. It was so disappointing. I figured this man must have had a piece of popcorn go down the wrong way because it sounds like he was trying to cough it up. I wanted to yell, “Take it outside old man,” but refrained from doing so.

At intermission after a quick bathroom break and a kids meal purchase by Erika, I asked the old man if he needed a cough drop because I had some in my purse. This was my nice way of saying, “Old man, if you cough again, I will pick you up and toss you out of this theater.” He said no that he was fine now and confirmed my popcorn theory – it had indeed been stuck in his throat or something along those lines. His buddy told me it was nice of me to offer. Clearly he didn’t know my motives were just plain selfish.

We made it through the second half without any coughing, for which I was thankful. Erika enjoyed her kids sized popcorn with Junior Mints (snuck in) mixed in, which I thought was odd, but then again I don’t care for Junior Mints. She thinks it is a delightful combination. She let me have the fruit snacks that came with her kids meal so long as I gave her one red – I upheld my end of the bargain.

The concert was AMAZING! ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! In addition to the people who sang on stage, they had a chorus above the orchestra as well. The voices were so powerful and I had a constant stream of chills running up and down my body! At the end of the show, they had the casts from the two London theater companies come on stage with those that sang during the show as well as the original 1985 cast. The four Valjeans then sang, “Bring Him Home” – oh my word, people it was amazing. The original Valjean (Colm Wilkinson) is also the Valjean on my CD recording and so his voice is all to familiar to me and it was AMAZING! Have I mentioned it was AMAZING?! Then they all sang “One Day More.” AMAZING! Cameron MacKintosh and the writers all came on stage and gave speeches and then they ended with “Do You Hear The People Sing” with a chorus of high school students who have participated in the Les Miserables high school edition. It was so good. I would spend $15 again today if it were playing tonight.

The show was recorded live in London on October 3 and then shown in theaters across North America over the past few days. The role of Jean Valjean was sung by Alfie Boe (brilliant), Norm Lewis sang the role of Javert (phenomenal), Lea Salonga sang the role of Fantine (very good), Nick Jonas of all people played Marius and was quite impressive. The funny thing about this was that I dind’t even know he was Nick Jonas until I looked it up. I thought his face looked familiar, but never would have figured a Jonas brother as Marius. Ramin Karimloo played the role of Enjolras and was just as handsome as every Enjolras I’ve ever seen. I think this is a requirement for the role – I always cry when he dies.

It was one of the best shows I have ever seen and it wasn’t even acted out, just sung. The only other thing (besides the coughing and the rattling of candy wrappers) that got on my nerves while watching the show was hat people clapped. Now, listen, I’m all about the clapping if I’m at a show. I’m the first to jump out of my chair and cheer like there’s no tomorrow but when I’m a movie theater I hate it when people clap because the people on the screen CAN’T HEAR YOU! So, what’s the point. I will admit that when watching this concert there were a couple of times when I felt moved to jump up out of my chair and cap with all the energy I had but I didn’t because there’s no point in clapping for people who aren’t there. I can’t even really put into words why it gets on my nerves so badly but it does. The same thing happens in movies sometimes. I’m sure that when I go see Harry Potter somebody will clap and I’ll just roll my eyes and try to concentrate on the movie. Does anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

At any rate, this show was AMAZING (have I mentioned that) and it is supposed to be released on DVD in the UK later this month and will be released in North America on a yet to be determined date. I assure you I will be purchasing it and if you love Les Miserables, so should you!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moview Review - Secretariat

This past Sunday I went to the movies for the first time since August! Yes, August! I can hardly believe it myself; but, it is football season, after all. I went with my parents to see Secretariat – and it was really a very good movie.

If you know anything at all about horse racing then you probably know that Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973. Since that time, there have only been two other Triple Crown winners, Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978.

While you may think the movie is about the horse, and it is, it is actually more about the woman who owned Secretariat, Penny Chenery Tweedy, played by Diane Lane. Tweedy was a housewife, raising four children when she became the owner of Secretariat. I found her story to be quite fascinating and motivating and don’t want to give too much away here in case you want to read about her story or go see the movie. Chenery hired Lucian Laurin, portrayed by John Malkovich to train the horse and she flew back and forth between her family farm in Virginia and her home with her husband and children in Denver while training and racing Secretariat. She had a lot of business savvy and whit about her and you can’t help but cheer for her throughout the film.

The movie was distributed by Disney Films and is truly a good clean family film that you can take your children to without having to worry about language or nudity or any other scandalous thing.

The actors did a really fantastic job of portraying their characters and the horse was absolutely beautiful. My heart actually starting racing each time the horse ran a race. I found it to be exciting.

If you’re looking for a nice film to see with your family this upcoming holiday weekend, I would definitely recommend Secretariat. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Python Printables: Thanksgiving Game Pack

Recently I posted a review of Python Printables United States Trivia Games Pack which includes 50 games of trivia – one on each state in the United States. This week I’ve been given the opportunity to write about Python Printables Thanksgiving Game Pack which includes approximately 30 games related to all things Thanksgiving. If you need something to entertain your rowdy family members this Thanksgiving, then Python Printables is just what you need!

The Thanksgiving Game Pack has games for children of all ages, including coloring pages for the wee ones at your table. This set also has a Thanksgiving mad libs (one of my favorites!), word searches (I also love these) and a couple of scavenger hunts to keep folks occupied while dinner is being prepared. There are a few different trivia games to test the presidential, American history, Thanksgiving and other knowledge of your guests.

If you are looking for something fun to do at your Thanksgiving gathering this year or if you are looking for something enjoyable to do with the children in your house while they are out of school for a few days, consider the Thanksgiving Game Pack from Python Printables. You’ll be pleased with all the fun it has to offer. The Thanksgiving Game Pack sells for $19.99; but, right now if you add the Harvest Coloring Pages (free!) to your cart, you will receive a $5 voucher at checkout and pay only $14.95 for the Thanksgiving Game Pack.

Don’t forget Python Printables also has plenty of other fame for all your party needs, including Halloween, Barbeques, and birthdays. Game packs range in price form $6.95 to $19.95 and there is something for everyone. Check it out the next time you have a gathering of folks at your home.

No matter how you spend your Thanksgiving next week, I hope it’s a good one!

[Product review & giveaway disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."]

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Help: A Book Review

I haven’t done many book reviews on here because for whatever reason 2010 for me has been “Read the Least Amount of Books Possible Year”. I’m stumped as to how or why this has happened because I’m usually all about the reading.

A couple of weeks ago Ms. Claudette was riding with me from worship to our small group meeting and we were talking about books. Another lady at church had just returned Ms. Claudette’s copy of The Help and that’s how the conversation about books and reading got started. I had mentioned I had read some reviews by fellow bloggers about how much they loved the book and that I had it on my list of books to purchase from Amazon. She then offered to let me borrow it and I took her up on the offer. Ya’ll, this book was so stinkin’ good!

The book is about African American domestic workers in Mississippi in the early 1960s. I really don’t feel like I can tell much more than that. The book is written from the perspective of three different characters, Abilene (a maid), Minny (a maid) and Miss Skeeter (a white woman).

The book was riveting from the very beginning and I had a hard time putting it down. It was so well written and I enjoyed every word! I told Ms. Claudette when I returned the book that I can always tell how much I love what I’m reading by what I dream when I’m sleeping. I could not get this book out of my head and dreamt about the characters every night that I read the book. Another sign that I love a book is that I dread seeing it come to a close. When that happens, I know the characters have come off the page and are walking around inside my head and are as real as the people I see on a daily basis. I didn’t want the book to end and wondered what happened to each of the people in the book after the last page was written.

The book was written by Kathryn Stockett, a native Mississippian and an alumnus of the University of Alabama. This was Stockett’s first novel and she did an amazing job. The book is currently being made into a movie and the release date is set for August 12, 2011. I’m sure the movie will dim in comparison to this fantastic novel.

If you are looking for a good read or a book to buy the reader in your life for Christmas, see about purchasing this one or checking it out from your local library. It is so wonderful and you will not be disappointed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Concession Stand Review - Madison Academy

Last Friday night I didn’t have to work and so I went out to Madison Academy with my dad for the Mustangs’ game against Sheffield. It was the first time I have been to Madison Academy this season and I was looking forward to it for many reasons, one of which was the concession stand!

Madison Academy has a great concession stand. My friend, Temple, runs the concession stand at MA and has for a few years now and she does a great job. They are very efficient and have really good food. I guess I could be biased, but I think it’s one of the best concession stands in Madison County!

Before the game started, I went down and got a hamburger and some popcorn. The burgers at MA are grilled and are $2. It was really tasty, just as I expected it would be. The popcorn ($1) got cold before I could eat it but that’s only because it was about 30 degrees outside and nothing is going to stay warm in that kind of weather. I also had a Diet Coke – I’m sure you are astounded at this. MA sells sodas in cans and they are $1 each. Normally I wouldn’t pay $1 for a canned soda, but when you’re at the concession stand, you don’t have much choice. Truth be told you probably get more soda than you do when you get a cup with ice and soda and the cost of that is usually $1 as well, so you are more than likely coming out ahead in the amount of soda you are getting with a can.

At halftime I had some nachos ($2) and my dad had a chili cheese dog ($2). The nachos were fresh and I think you all know I love that “fake” cheese and my dad said his chili cheese dog, “Wasn’t bad”.

The highest price menu item is $3 and if I remember correctly that was for a chicken sandwich. MA’s unique item is Italian Ice which is also $3 or two for $5.

As expected, the concession stand experience at MA was a success and I’ll be eating my dinner there again tonight when the Mustangs take on Lauderdale County. I can almost taste the hamburger right now.

Final Grade: A+

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Some Updates and Links for You

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted any updates on here. Things have been rather busy, can you tell? Busy is good, but it can also be tiring – I’m sure you all know what I mean.

Charlie’s fire pit has returned to his back yard – As you may recall, my neighbor Charlie has a fire pit and earlier this year when he moved in, he would sit outside and smoke cigars and drink wine while sitting out at the fire pit all by his lonesome. The fire pit disappeared over the summer, and quite frankly so did Charlie. He was scarce to be found and rumor has it that he has a lake house. I assume the fire pit accompanied Charlie at the lake, but now that the weather has cooled off, the fire pit has returned and so has Charlie. He’s already had it burning strong one night this week. The man wastes no time!

Blue – My car, Blue, is at the shop being repaired this week. When I first took her in for an estimate, it looked like she might be totaled, but alas, she is not, and she is being repaired as I type. I will be driving that turquoise accident magnet again before long. In the mean time, I am driving a silver Volkswagen Jetta, which is one of the cars I have always wanted. It’s been a lot of fun driving the Jetta and I’m hoping it takes a few more days before Blue is retuned to me – no offense, Blue!

This week and next is our United Way campaign at work. You may recall that last year, Erika helped me bake and decorate an award winning cake. Tomorrow is this year’s cake contest and I will spend this evening decorating my cake for the contest. I baked it this morning while I was getting ready for work. So, it should be ready to go this evening when I get home. I just hope it turns out like I’ve got it pictured in my mind.

For those of you wondering, my college roommate, Melissa, finished her 3-day 60-mile walk for breast cancer. You can read about her adventures here (day one), here (day two) and here (day three). I’m really proud of her for making it the entire three days and 60 miles! I’m not sure I could have done it.

My friend Kimberly and her husband Gary spent a few days in India recently and they helped convert a lot of souls to Christ while they were there, which is no small feat! These two are living in Malaysia for a few months and Kimberly always has something interesting to write about on her blog. I especially loved this post about a recent dining experience she and Gary had. Right now she is trying to encourage Gary to write a blog of his own. Check out this post and then send Gary and email with some word of encouragement.

My friend Caroline and her Hero Hubs, Mark, recently had their Canon stolen. You can read about how it came to be stolen here. They are asking friends to email Canon, asking Canon to donate a new camera to them. Here’s Caroline’s post to Canon. Read it and send Canon an email. These two are doing great work for the Lord and extra money for a nice camera is hard to come by.

Speaking of people in the mission field, Allison and Barton have been in Peru now for over a year, which is hard to believe because it seems just like yesterday that they moved from the States. You can read about their work in Peru here.

How is it that I came to know so many people in the mission field? Is this a sign of being old?

My foot has not been getting any better and so I am having surgery on Thursday, December 2. Hopefully the surgery will correct the problem and I will be able to walk without pain in a few months time.

I suppose that’s it for now, or at least all I can think of at the moment. As always, thanks for your comments. It’s always nice to hear what you have to say! Have a good day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I’m Headed to France

Have you heard I’m going to France? It’s true. On July 18, 2011, I plan to be in Lyon, France ready to take in the final week of the 2011 le Tour de France.

On October 19, the 2011 route for le Tour was announced and I have been brimming over with excitement ever since. The final details of my trip were made available to me last week and I have been so eager to share them with you. For all the details, click here.

I’m planning to arrive in Lyon, France on Sunday, July 17; then, on Monday, July 18, I will meet up with the group from Custom Getaways to start our journey on the last week of le Tour de France. I went ahead and booked the VIP trip because let’s face it, it’s not like I can just pick up and go to France any ole time. The VIP trip affords me access to the cyclists along with other amenities that I otherwise wouldn’t have and I want to make sure that I don’t waste away any opportunities I have to have the best experience ever.

The Tour heads into the Alps the week I am there and we will even be in Italy for two days! The final mountain stage is on L’Alpe d’Huez and I am thrilled about this. When Tony first began grooming me to be a cycling fan, he talked repeatedly of L’Alpe D’Huez and how awesome it is and now I get to experience it for myself.

After L’Alpe D’Huez, there will be a Time Trial in Grenoble and then I’ll wrap up the week in Paris and on Sunday evening after the Tour is over and the maillot jaune has been handed out to the winner, we will celebrate with a dinner cruise on the Seine! Jackie will be flying to Paris the next day and we will spend the week eating bread and cheese and doing all things Parisian. Ya’ll this is going to be the trip of a lifetime! I am excited beyond words.

My French software (not Rosetta Stone – couldn’t afford that) arrived last week and I will soon get to work brushing up on my French; so, please bare with me if I start practicing on you!

My plans are to take my computer with me on the trip so that I can blog daily and keep you updated on all the goings on while I’m away. I’m thinking about getting one of the wireless cards that plug into a USB port through my cell phone provider. Does anyone have one of these? Do you like it? I’ve got to do some research on these and make sure they work internationally but that’s one of the options I’m looking at since I don’t know how great the service will be in the various cities in France and Italy.

So, that’s the latest news on my trip. I am super excited and really looking forward to the adventure and also looking forward to sharing it with you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Then Sings My Soul - Book Review

In case you didn’t know, there less than 46 days left until Christmas. I put a countdown to Christmas counter way down at the bottom of the blog and forgot to mention it until now. So, if you ever need to know how many shopping days are left, just check back here and look at the bottom of the page and you’ll know!

Speaking of Christmas, leads us to Christmas shopping. Have you started yours yet? A few years ago for Christmas, I gave my grandmother the book Then Sings My Soul 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories. My grandmother liked to read and she also liked old gospel hymns and when I saw the book in the store, I knew it would be a good choice for her Christmas present. Since that time a second edition was published and now the author, Robert J. Morgan, has come out with a special edition which includes 150 Christmas, Easter and All-time favorite hymns.

If you have never seen or heard of this series of books, allow me to tell you a little bit about them. Obviously, each book contains 150 hymns. The hymn, along with it’s music is on one side of the page and on the other side is the story of how the hymn was written or the story behind the hymn – how it came to be.

The special edition, as stated, includes some of the most beloved Christmas hymns including The First Noel, Hark The Herald Angels Sing,, Away in a Manger, and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. The book also has a selection of patriotic songs and their stories, including The Star Spangled Banner, and America, the Beautiful. To complete the 150 hymns, the special edition has the stories of some of the most beloved hymns like Abide with Me, Jesus Loves Me, and Rock of Ages and it also has the hymn and story of one of my most favorite songs, There is a Balm in Gilead.

The book is in paperback form and I really like the way it looks which was another reason I was drawn to it when I bought the original copy for my grandmother all those years ago. The sides of the pages look like they are torn or made from handmade paper which to me gives the book a really classic and unique feel and look. It is one of my favorite features about the book. Then Sings My Soul is 310 pages and includes three indexes – one alphabetical by title, the second alphabetical by the first line of the song and the third alphabetical by the author/songwriter – so that you can easily find the song for which you are looking.

Then Sings My Soul is a great book for anyone who loves hymns. The list price is $19.99, but it can be found on Amazon for less than $15. Buy it for the music lover on your Christmas list!

This book review was written in coordination with my association with BookSneeze. All reviews are my own opinion. I was not paid for this review, but did receive a free copy of the book.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Concession Stand Review – Goldsmith Schiffman Field

This post was supposed to have appeared last Friday, but with the latest car accident, it was postponed until today. Another concession stand review should be up later in the week – two for the price of one!

Friday, October 29 was the last football game of the regular season and I covered the Columbia vs. Madison County game that was played just one mile from my house at Goldsmith Schiffman Field (GSF). I haven’t had many good experiences at the GSF concession stand and last Friday was no exception.

I left my house at 6:30 in order to get to the stadium at 6:32. Ha! That’s funny to me for some reason. I found a prime parking spot at the corner of the street which made it easy for me to make my escape to the newsroom after the game.

I had eaten a snack of deviled eggs (I was on a deviled egg kick last week. I think I ate a dozen or more!) before I left for the game and decided I would finally have some nachos for a change. I love nachos, but they are messy and not always a good option when working at a game. After I got set up (had my own room again – yay!) I headed down to the concession stand to see what they had to offer.

I knew that GSF as well as the other Huntsville City School ran facilities had Pepsi products so I had brought with me a Diet Coke purchased at Propst Drugs earlier in the afternoon. So, my drink was covered. I looked over the menu and decided on nachos and a hot dog. I placed my order and wouldn’t you know it, the nacho cheese wasn’t ready. I’m not even kidding here. How can the nacho cheese not be ready 20 minutes before kick-off? So, I opted for popcorn in place of nachos. As soon as I was handed my hot dog and popcorn and not a second later, the nacho cheese was all of a sudden ready. Again, I’m not even kidding. I think it was some kind of ploy to get folks to buy more food. I went ahead and got the nachos so that I wouldn’t have to come back down and stand in line at half time because I know from experience that the halftime line at GSF is ridiculous! Even though there are four windows for taking orders, only two windows are used and I haven’t for the life of me figured out why that is.

I took my loot up to what we will call my private suite and ate the nachos first since that was what I wanted the most. The cheese that was so complicated in its getting ready process was kind of runny and didn’t have much taste. The basket ‘o chips was also not full. I felt cheated! Next I took a bite of the hot dog and one bite was all it took for me to score two points at the trash can. It was terrible. Last, but not least I ate the popcorn, which was probably the best of the three. I think I’ve mentioned before that it’s really hard to mess up popcorn.

To make matters worse, the Diet Coke I purchased earlier in the day was expired and also tasted terrible. I didn’t think I needed to look at the expiration date on a 20 oz Diet Coke before purchasing it but apparently I do. I hope I remember to check it out from now on. Shame on you, Mr. Coke Man for not properly rotating your merchandise and leaving expired items on the shelf! You ought to be ashamed! Some of us live for the ice cold taste of a Diet Coke and you ruined my moment! Ruined it! I should have walked across the street and gotten some grub from Sonic but it was cold and well, my foot (having surgery December 2 by the way).

The total for the three items was $5 – nachos ($2), popcorn ($1) and hot dog ($2). The highest priced item was $3 for chili cheese nachos. They also had candy and I think pizza, but can’t remember for sure. Needless to say, if you’re headed to a game at GSF, be sure and eat before you go.

Final Score: C-

Friday, November 5, 2010

They Say It Comes In Threes

I had a post about the concession stand prepared for today; but that will now have to wait until next week because it has happened again. My poor car, Blue, was involved in yet another car accident – the third in three months! (Read about #1 and #2 if you haven't already.) I’m beginning to think Blue is actually a magnet for car accidents.

Last night after work I went to the gym and then headed over to drop some things off at a friend’s house. As I was coming home, I was stopped at the traffic light at Russell and Pratt Avenue. When my light turned green, I started driving and out of the corner of my eye I noticed someone coming down Pratt Avenue at what seemed like 40 miles per hour and it looked as though they had no intention of stopping. I slammed on my brakes to try and prevent poor Blue from being hit again; but it was no use. The guy in the silver Reno plowed into the side of Blue and gave my unfortunate car her third injury in as many months.

Neither me nor the other driver were injured which is a blessing. I’ve had a headache since last night, but the doctor says it isn’t a concussion; so, that’s good. Needless to say I was less than thrilled about being in yet another traffic accident. I really wish I could afford a driver because I hate driving more and more every day. I really think I have a sign on my car that says, “Please pull out in front of me” or “Please hit me”. Unfortunately the sign is invisible to me and I can’t see it to get rid of it.

So, that’s the latest saga of Blue. She’ll be headed back to the shop next week. Since things supposedly come in threes, I hope that this third accident is the last one for a long while. Keep me in your prayers as I travel the roads of Madison County!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chex Mix - My Get Together

For those of you who are regular readers, you may remember a few weeks back when I mentioned I was selected by the folks at Pssst to host a My Get Together Party for Chex Mix. I received three bags of Chex Mix (traditional, turtle, and honey nut) a cute bowl in which to serve the Chex Mix, napkins, plates and coupons to pass out to all the people who came.

I invited my American Idol gang to come over and participate in the Chex Mix sampling and they each brought other goodies as well. We had the football game on in the background while we munched away on all kinds of goodness.

I don’t know about the other girls, but my favorite of the Chex Mix varieties is the traditional. I especially love it when I happen upon a piece that’s loaded down with seasoning. The turtle and honey nut are also good if you are looking for something sweet for a snack. I prefer salty foods when I snack… well, most of the time anyway.

We had a great time catching up and I would like to send a special thank you out to the folks at Pssst for allowing me to host this party. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take any photos – it had been a long day – but I can assure you that we all had a good time and left with bellies full of goodness!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween 2010

My 2010 Jack-O-Lanterns

I think this will be the last Halloween post of 2010, but I’m not making any promises. This past Sunday, as you know, was Halloween – one of my favorite holidays! Sunday afternoon I carved pumpkins in preparation for trunk-or-treat at church and the trick-or-treaters at my house.

Carving pumpkins is my most beloved Halloween tradition. I can remember carving pumpkins with my dad as a young child and when I moved away to this state or that, I always carried on the tradition by myself. I actually debated on whether or not to carve pumpkins this year; but, I decided not to let any sadness get in the way of my continued tradition of pumpkin carving and Sunday afternoon I got out the knife and spoon and got to work.

I was originally going to do just one pumpkin, but ended up carving both of the pumpkins I had on hand. I also usually use the pumpkin patterns you can buy at the store, but this year I decided to go old school and just carve out my own jack-o-lantern design.

After I carved the pumpkins, it was time to get ready for church and trunk-or-treat. I think I mentioned last year how weird I think trunk-or-treating is. I much prefer the old school door-to-door trick-or-treating and I feel sad that a lot of kids will never know this age old tradition. Nevertheless, trunk-or-treating can be fun for both young and old.

When church service was over, I headed outside and lit the candles in my jack-o-lanterns and set up a chair to pass out candy. It was a lot cooler out than I expected and I wished I had brought along a jacket. Trunk-or-treat started about 6:15 or so and I stayed and handed out candy for 45 minutes or maybe even an hour. There were a lot of people there; not just children from our congregation, but also people from the surrounding area neighborhoods; so, it was essential to have a lot of candy on hand. Thankfully, I was wise and only gave out two pieces of candy per child as opposed to the four of five pieces I usually give out. Otherwise I would have run out, as some people did. I always watch for kids that come back for more candy and I had to shoo away a few kids who thought they could trick me into giving them a second helping. Wrong, kiddo! I have a good memory!

My Jack-O-Lanterns and Candy Bowl

This was the set up at the car next to me - they outdid my lame set up!

Most of the kids were polite. I had a few who were not including one who as I was reaching to get some candy, said, “I want that kind,” and grabbed what he wanted and took off. I was kind of in shock considering this was a kid that I knew. There were lots of great costumes this year, and seriously, there were tons of Marios from Super Mario Brothers. Are they making a comeback? I feel old having to ask this question when this would typically be something I would know about.

Here are some of the costumes from trunk-or-treat:

This is one of the Corder boys. I don’t know which one. I think Peyton. I always get the younger two mixed up. He was a baker from “Mom’s Kitchen” and passed out free homemade cookies. They were good too!

Silas, the son of my friend Candy, came as a penguin and was adorable! He waddled over to the candy bowl and had his pick of the treats. 

Candy’s charming daughter Jane Claire was Cinderella. She was all about posing for the camera. I had to take a few different shots of her because I couldn’t find the right setting.

Sara’s son Bryson was Scooby Doo and her husband, Stephen was Shaggy. They were really cute! Sara’s oldest boy, Brayden, came as Buddy, Will Ferrell’s character from Elf, one of my all time favorite movies. Sara came as a BP oil spill clean up worker and her costume was awesome! I was actually a little jealous that I didn’t come up with something as cleaver as this! It came complete with a rescued bird too!

This Scooby doesn't look too happy; but he's cute!

Poor bird! Hope Sara gets it cleaned up!

Alison’s lovely daughter Nina was (I believe) an Egyptian princess.

After I passed out almost all of my candy, I decided to leave the festivities so I could get home and pass out candy to any kids that came by my house. I obviously loved going door-to-door as a kid and as an older kid I love to hand out the treats. It makes me laugh every time I say, “What are you supposed to be?” and “Oh, you look so scary!” or “Oh, you look so pretty!” Yep, I am definitely an adult now.

I had a couple of more bags of candy at home and opened those up for the neighborhood kids. I had my biggest crowd yet with 27 trick-or-treaters. I realize this isn’t a lot compared to some neighborhoods, but I usually average about 13 or so. I guess the word is out on the street that I pass out good candy! Ha!

The last trick-or-treater stopped by around 8:20 and I closed up shop about 8:45. I was pleasantly surprised that my jack-o-lanterns made it the whole night on the porch without getting stolen and smashed in the street like last year.

The Tide is looking for ghosts and goblins.
Pay no attention to my filthy door.

As far as Halloween’s go, this one wasn’t too bad – I even had some candy left over, which is a bonus indeed. How about you? How was your Halloween?