Monday, January 31, 2011

Let The Birthday Partying Begin!

This past Saturday, I had my first official 34th birthday celebration. Jackie’s family invited me over for dinner and we had a delicious meal prepared by her mom, Jan. Jackie and her brother, Kenny gave Jan a hard time about cooking such a nice meal, saying that she didn’t even cook them birthday meals as nice as mine, but I find that hard to believe. I think they just enjoy giving her a hard time.

Jan cooked filet mignon with a gravy/sauce that is one of my favorites, fruit compote, twice baked pototoes, salad, rolls and asparagus using a new recipe. The asparagus was (I think) puff pastry with the asparagus on top along with cheese. It was very good. Hopefully she will share the recipe with me because I would like to make it some time. It was a nice new twist on asparagus and I think everyone enjoyed it. For dessert we had chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese icing. It was three layers and in between each layer was a raspberry, confectioner’s sugar mixture. The cake also had one and a half cups of brewed coffee in it and it was delicious. It was one of the best cakes I’ve ever had and I really love cake!

After dinner, we answered questions from a set of dinner conversation cards. This is a tradition at the Bell home and we do it every time I am there. The questions cover a broad range of topics from what invitation would you most like to receive to who is your favorite fictional character. These cards are a lot of fun and it is always interesting to see what each person’s response will be. The questions also lead to other conversation, which I guess is the whole point. After we read and answered a few questions, I received birthday cards from everyone and Tim and Jan gave me a gift of movie passes and a pair of earrings. All of which will be put to good use. Once the opening of the presents and cards was complete, we had our cake and then we played Scrabble and a new game called Qwirkle. Kenny won Scrabble and Jackie won Qwirkle. One thing about this family is that they love to play games and are all very competitive. It was a lot of fun. If you’ve never heard of Qwirkle, you should look it up. It was a fun game for two to four players.

We had a great night full of laughter, conversation, game playing and of course eating which I think is the favorite of all of us! Thanks so much to Jan for cooking a wonderful meal and for Tim and Jan for having us over! It was a great way to kick off the “birthday week”!

Ashlyn was flying solo since Troy was at his first sleepover 

Earrings and a movie gift card - can't beat that!

Friends for a long time

Jan and Ashlyn putting candles on the birthday cake

We let children play with fire at my birthday parties!

Blowing out the candles. Kenny looks like he's trying not to get hit by spit.

A slice of cake

Tim, Ashlyn, Jackie, Me and Kenny (nice pants!)

Tim, Me and Jan

And The Winner Is...

Thanks to the five commenters for your wonderful comments in my blogiversary post! I really do appreciate all of you and am thankful to call you all friends. So, without further ado, the winner of my blogiversary giveaway is comment #2 – Mary McLaughlin! Congrats Mary! I tried to post a picture of the results page from on here, but am having trouble this morning so you will all just have to trust me. I hope you will like the book. It shipped to me yesterday and when it comes in I will bring it by your office since it is on my way home from work.

Thanks again for reading everyone and come back later for the first of several birthday related posts. Have a great Monday!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Blogiversary Giveaway!

~~~ This giveaway is now closed ~~~

Tomorrow, January 29, 2011 is my two-year blogiversary! In other words, as of this weekend, I’ve been blogging for two years! I can’t believe I’ve kept it up this long. I thought it would just be a fad and I might keep it up for a few weeks or months and the most but here we are two years later and I’ve told you all the most boring details of my life and you still keep coming back for more – or at least I think you do anyway.

So, in celebration of the fact that friend, foe, and Krispy Kreme lover alike come here to read about what’s happening in the world of Nat, I’m having a giveaway! Please, try to remain calm.

I contacted a couple of people and asked if they would donate on of their cookbooks for this blessed occasion. I sent an email to this person and I sent and email and a hand written note to this person but neither of them responded because apparently with all their internet success they have gotten too big for their own britches and have forgotten all about the Natashas and Erikas that made them famous.

So, since I have an unyielding love for The Pioneer Woman and all she does and since she has responded to every email I’ve ever sent her (no I didn’t ask her for a book) I’ve decided to give away a copy of The Pioneer Woman’s upcoming book “Black Heels To Tractor Wheels”If you’ve been a PW reader for any amount of time then you probably know that this book was first written on her blog (not the whole thing mind you) and is the story of how she met and fell in love with and eventually married her husband. Ain’t that sweet, ya’ll? I mean, who doesn’t love a good love story, especially when it’s true.

This book is hitting the stores on Tuesday, February 1 – my birthday! – and I have preordered a copy for myself and one lucky reader from Amazon. The book is scheduled to arrive at my hacienda on or about February 7 and once I receive it, I will mail it or hand deliver it to the winner; depending on if I see you on a regular basis or not obviously.

All you have to do to enter is leave a shout out in the comments and tell me what you like or don’t like about this here blog or tell me what you’d like to read about next because as uneventful as things have been lately, I need all the help I can get! One entry per person please.

The contest will run thru 7:00 a.m. Monday morning, January 31 when the winner will be selected using the random generator. I will announce the winner then and the winner will hopefully receive his/her book about a week and a half or so later. Good luck to everyone and thanks so much for reading! I love your comments and words of encouragement and I appreciate all your support. It’s been a lot of fun these past two years. Here’s to another year together!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Case of the Missing Donuts

Thanks to my college roommate Melissa for saving the day because I seriously had nothing to write about today and she made a suggestion in the comments on my last post that I write about my delayed Fed Exed donuts. Melissa knew about this from following me on twitter and I guess her curiosity got the best of her and she wondered what ever became of my missing donuts. Well, here’s the story…

A long, long while ago, one of the blogs I frequently read had a giveaway and a discount code for low-fat gourmet donuts from Holey Donuts. Needless to say, I didn’t win, but I did peruse the Holey Donut site and found the pictures of their low-fat donuts to make my mouth water. I never placed an order because I found the prices to be outrageous but I signed up for the emails from the company to see what kind of specials they were having, etc.

For months and months I would occasionally stop by the Holey Donuts site and think about ordering, but my stinginess with my pocketbook always prevented me from taking the splurge… until earlier this month.

As I mentioned, I had signed up to receive the company emails to be alerted about promotions and sales, etc. and the first week of January, Holey Donuts offered each box of their low-fat gourmet donuts for only $5.99 a box, and $7.99 a box for their cinnamon rolls. I had a little extra cash that I was willing to part with in order to see if the donuts were actually as good as they looked in the photos and placed an order for three boxes of the Sampler Favorites B. I chose this particular assortment because the donuts that had been calling out to me the most were the chocolate chip and the vanilla frosted and this particular assortment had one of each. Since I had never had any of the donuts before I wanted to get an assortment so as to see which donuts I liked the best in case there was a chance that I couldn’t live without the donuts and placed another order in the future.

So, on January 5, I placed my order and anxiously sat by waiting for them to ship. For states in the east and south, the donuts can be shipped FedEx Ground because they will still arrive within two days and for states in the west, the donuts have to be shipped via FedEx 2-Day. The donuts are handmade in New York and then frozen, packed in dry ice and then shipped. According to the Holey Donuts site, they must arrive in the two-day time frame so as to still be fresh. My donuts were scheduled for a January 10 shipment date and scheduled to arrive at my home on January 12. This would have been great except for the fact that Snow Storm 2011 hit on January 10 and on January 12, FedEx still wasn’t out delivering – at least not in my neighborhood.

So, January 12 came and went with no Fed Ex delivery; as did January 13. Fed Ex had changed the delivery date on the tracking page to January 13 and on that day the tracking page read that my donuts were “out for delivery” but about 5:15 p.m. or so the status changed to a delivery date of January 14. On January 14, the donuts were once again “out for delivery” and finally around 5:30 p.m. or so the FedEx guy stopped by my house.

I asked him if FedEx had happened to keep the delivery in the freezer since the box clearly stated “Perishable Item Please Keep Frozen.” The answer was just as I suspected “no, it’s just been on the truck or in the warehouse.” Great!

So, I brought the donuts inside and opened them up only to find them completely thawed. I took one out to eat right away and put the others in the freezer because the instructions said that even if they were thawed to go ahead and put them in the freezer. In the meantime, I had contacted Holey Donuts and asked them about my shipment. Would the donuts be okay? Would they be ruined? Etc., etc. Only to receive no response until I finally had to call them on Friday, the 14th, before I received the shipment and spoke with a person who said they should be okay. She was wrong.

Since this story is already way longer than you probably bargained for when clicking over here today, I’ll try to shorten it up a bit. Basically, the donuts were extremely dry and did not live up to my expectations. The overall taste wasn’t bad and as I suspected, the chocolate chip and vanilla frosted were the best and the most edible because the icing made the dryness of the donut bearable. The first assortment I opened, I tried all of the donuts. The powdered sugar was terrible – so dry that even soaking it in milk wouldn't have helped. I think I could have broken a window with it as well it was so dry and hard. The original glazed didn’t hold a candle to Krispy Kreme – not that I expected it would, but I thought it might at least have some taste to it. Wrong. The caramel crumb and sugar and spice were good as far as the top of the donut, but again the bulk of the donut was dry and basically inedible. As for the other two assortments, I thawed them out over the last week or so per the instructions (in the box with the lid closed) and they were just as bad. I basically ate only the chocolate chip and vanilla frosted and threw the others away without even a bite.

I received some sparse communication from the company saying that the donuts were supposed to be soft and moist; but I am here to tell you they were not. I kept thinking the company might at least offer to reimburse me the money I spent or offer to send a new box of donuts so as to at least attempt to keep me as a customer, but to no avail. Needless to say, I will never again order donuts from Holey Donuts. They have a lot of rave reviews on their site, but I am beginning to think they are all made up because I had a dreadful experience with them and found their donuts to be less than desirable and their communication was just as bad. Oh well, we live and learn I guess. I just wish it hadn’t cost me $30.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some Random Thoughts and Stuff I’m Likin’

We were supposed to have gotten more snow this morning, but somehow that crisis was averted and we ended up with only rain instead. I know parents of school age children are getting fed up with school being closed or starting late and this time, the school boards made the decision to start school late the day before the snow was supposed to arrive rather than waiting to see if it actually came or not. I think that is so strange. Kids today are soft man! It was rare that school was cancelled when I was a kid. I think I’m sounding old now! Ha!

Even though we have had our fair share of snow this winter, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when I woke up this morning and there was no snow on the ground. There’s something about the anticipation of snow that is so exciting – at least to me – and I’m always so sad when I open the blinds and don’t see the snow I was promised. It’s like getting excited about a Christmas gift only to open it and find an ugly hat inside (ha, ha that was for you, mother!).

My birthday is now less than a week away and I have five “celebrations” planned already! I don’t know how it has happened but in the last four or five years my birthday has turned into a week long celebration! This year I wasn’t really planning on doing much because I wasn’t in much of a mood to celebrate, but as the day approaches and the calendar gets full, I’m actually looking forward to it. Here’s what’s on the agenda – and, of course, you can read all about it here next week: Saturday night, Jackie’s mom is cooking dinner for me; Sunday night, I’m headed to I Love Sushi and Broadway Theater League’s presentation of Beauty and The Beast; Monday night is the monthly Ladies’ Night Out event for the girls at church and although it’s not technically a birthday party, it might turn in to one; Tuesday night, Erika is having our American Idol group over and then the following Saturday, my parents will be having a birthday dinner! So, it’s sure to be a great birthday! I have a really great group of friends and family – no doubt about it.

I lost one of my pearl earrings at the funeral home on Monday. If you know me well then you probably know the only pair of earrings I wear are my pearl studs and apparently one fell out when I hugged someone on Monday. I feel naked without my earrings but have already ordered a new pair thanks to the Amazon and they should be adorning my ears in no time.

Since this is one of my random posts that have absolutely no meaning, here are some things I really like right now –

Almond Milk, Dark Chocolate – My friend Matt at work told me about this stuff and man, is it good. It has a lot of antioxidants and other vitamins and good stuff and tastes great too! I don’t know how they squeeze the milk out of those almonds, but I’m sure it’s a fascinating process. It’s the Almond Milk, not the soy – so if you go to buy some, make sure it’s Almond and not soy. The Publix I shop at doesn’t have the dark chocolate, but Target does.

Excellence Chili Bar by Lindt – I tasted this for the first time yesterday when my mental health regulator (ha – I just came up with that!), Jean, offered me a piece. Someone had given her a bar and folks, it is DELIGHTFUL! It has a kick of chili powder at the end so your mouth burns a little. I have no idea where to buy this locally but I plan on looking at Publix when I go this weekend. It is so good. If you love chocolate, you will love this bar!

Clif Bar Crunchy Peanut Butter – These are yummy; also given to me by Jean. I ate it today and it was so good. It is filling too and good for you; although it does have a lot of carbs in case you are trying to stay away from that sort of thing.

Season 25: Oprah Behind The Scenes –This show comes on OWN and I find it to be quite intriguing. I’ve always liked Oprah but haven’t always watched because well the show always came on when I was at school, and then, work. Now that I have the power of the DVR, I record it and if the subject interests me, I watch. Season 25: Oprah Behind The Scenes is well, about all the behind the scenes stuff that has gone on during Oprah’s last season and I have found it to be just so interesting – it makes me wish I had gone in to television. Fascinating, I tell ya!

So there you have it - I can write a long post about absolutely nothing. It takes talent, I'll tell ya. Hope your Wednesday has been great! If I can think of something interesting to write about then I will be back tomorrow (any suggestions??!). Otherwise I’ll be back on Friday with a surprise! Until next time…

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Show Choir Outfits and a Movie Review of The Social Network

This past Saturday, Jackie and I had a girls night because, well, we needed it. She had some money left over on a gift card to Connor’s Steakhouse (you should go if you haven’t been!) and so we headed there for dinner before hitting the Carmike Cinema’s dollar movies.

As I was getting ready, I decided on a white long sleeve button up shirt and a black sweater vest with jeans as my attire for the night. While I was ironing my shirt, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be funny if Jackie wears the same thing and she probably will because I haven’t worn this vest in forever.” A few minutes later, Jackie pulled up wearing, jeans, a white button up shirt and you guessed it a black vest. We laughed and I joked that we were going to be performing in a show choir later in the evening and this was our show choir outfit. Great minds think alike I guess. So, I changed clothes and we were on our way.

The remaining funds on the gift card didn’t cover all of dinner and so Jackie treated as my birthday gift – nothing like starting your birthday a week and a half early! We enjoyed steak and lobster bisque and salad and were stuffed by the time dinner was over.

Neither of us has been to the Carmike since it became the “dollar movies” and we were shocked to see that practically all of Huntsville was there. The place was packed and as Erika mentioned in her guest post, you should get there early if you are going on the weekend.

I splurged for the two dollars on the movie tickets and we were lucky enough to find seats towards the top of the stadium seating section in our theater. We had chosen to see The Social Network and although I am 100% against facebook and all the destruction it causes, I still wanted to see this movie – for one, I had heard great things about it, and for another, it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture.

Obviously, unless you have been living under a rock or in a coma, you know that “The Social Network” is a movie about how facebook came to be founded and all the corruption and nastiness that ensued as a result. Who knows if the story is really true or not? I, for one, am inclined to believe most of it probably is true. Some of the people involved in the story were consultants for the book on which the film is based and, while there are two sides to every story, I have no doubt this situation got nasty in real life.

I found this film to be extremely interesting and entertaining. The film runs for two hours and for me the time flew by. I thought I might have to get up and stop by the restroom during the film and the thought didn’t even cross my mind. I was zoned in for the whole movie and loved every minute of it.

The movie continues at the Carmike thru Thursday of this week. The show times for the weekend will be released later in the week so I’m not sure if it will be playing again this weekend or not. It will soon be released on DVD I’m sure so if you don’t have a chance to catch it at the Carmike, be sure and pick it up from RedBox, Netflix, OnDemand, or whatever else it is you kids use these days. It’s a great movie – you will not be disappointed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday GUEST Movie Review - RED

A special thanks to Erika for today's movie review. I have also heard this is a good film and would like to see it and Erika is right about the theater being packed. This was the first time at the dollar movies for both Jackie and me and there was not an empty seat in our theater either. On to the review...

Last Friday I ran into Natasha and Jackie at the dollar theatre. I mentioned I was going to see Red, and Natasha said I could write a guest review – she may not remember, but she did say it! Haha

I originally went to see Red on the big screen – I was nice enough to let my boyfriend pick the movie, and tried not to roll my eyes in front of him when I learned I was going to see what I thought was a “shoot ‘em up bang bang film”.

Fortunately, I was wrong about the movie, and had to admit it.

Red stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and a couple of other people I don’t know and am too lazy to look up.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is a retired CIA agent that has a crush on an office girl that works in the pension dept. Someone has set out to kill Frank, and of course, the girl gets involved as well – along with some of Frank’s other retired buddies. It contains a lot of violence – nothing too graphic to turn women away, but enough to keep the men folk entertained. It’s also a good love story – I love it when a man will do anything to protect his woman! And, it’s funny!

I definitely recommend it to couples who never can agree on movies. Catch it at the dollar movie (Carmike 10 for you Hsv readers) while you still can. Since you’re only paying $1.00, splurge on the ridiculously overpriced concessions! It’s some of the best movie popcorn I’ve had.

By the way, the theater is packed on Friday and Saturday nights. Definitely get there at least 30 minutes early. I don’t think there were any empty seats left in our theater.

Thanks again Erika! A movie review of The Social Network will be coming up later in the week.

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Unexpected Post

When we wake up in the mornings, we never know what the day will bring. Sometimes it brings happiness and other times it brings sadness. Some days are a combination of both. Today was a sad day for me. What was an otherwise “normal” day turned tragic when a dear friend from work, Phil Bailey, had a heart attack and then an hour or so later was pronounced dead.

Our lives crossed paths when I came to work at the company with which I am employed. He taught me a lot of things about work and even some about life. Phil was 59 years old. I think one of the reasons I loved Phil so much was because he reminded me somewhat of my dad and I thought of him as my “work dad”. He went on semi-annual guys-only trips with his friends of many years. He LOVED Alabama football. He loved his wife and children. He almost always had a smile on his face. The Friday before the Alabama vs. Auburn football game, he wore a tie that would play the Alabama fight song. He always made time to chat with you whether it was about work or something else. He loved to joke around. He was a good confidant.

People come into our lives for a reason and I am blessed to have known Phil Bailey. As you enter your weekend, joyful to have a couple of days off from the grind of work, please remember to say a prayer for Phil Bailey’s family. His wife, Harriet; sons Josh, Jonathan and Patrick, brother Jim and all the other family members that I don’t know and certainly his many hundreds of friends. There’s an empty spot in our hearts today. May you rest in peace, Phil; I am proud to have called you friend.

Python Printables Review - Mardi Gras Games!

I’m closing out the week with another Python Printables review. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I really like these printable games. For me they are extremely convenient when planning the Ladies’ Night Out activities for the church I attend. Instead of spending hours racking my brain and searching the internet for games to play, I can just print out some of these games and quizzes – which save me a lot of time. The games are fun too and don’t require too much thinking which is just how we like it since by most of us have been at work all day and don’t want to do much thinking by the time we get together.

This review is for the Mardi Gras Game Pack which retails for $19.95 and includes 20 Mardi Gras themed games. I have applied with Zataran’s to host a Mardi Gras themed party using their yummy foods and although I probably won’t get picked, I wanted to make sure I was armed with some Mardi Gras games in the event I am chosen and need some activities for the party goers. I also thought I could use these for the Ladies’ Night Out activity in February which will be a couple of weeks before Fat Tuesday, which falls on March 8 this year.

Most of the games in this package are for adults, although there are five games for kids, including a Scavenger Hunt, Paper Dolls, Spot the Difference, Naughty or Nice, and Printable Paper Masks. Some of the games involve beers from around the world and another is a champagne trivia game; neither of which are convenient for church get-togethers but might work for your party. The set also includes a Mardi Gras Trivia game, trivia about the state of Louisiana, a Newlywed game (I always like those), Mad Libs and more.

Out of all the Python Printables I’ve reviewed, this pack has been my least favorite, probably because there is so little I can use for the Ladies’ Night Out program; but, as I mentioned, it might work for you and your upcoming Mardi Gras Party. If you are not interested in the entire package (all 20 games) then you can purchase each Mardi Gras game or activity individually for $6.95.

Python Printables also has games for the Super Bowl as well as any other activity or upcoming event you may be having in the near future. As always, Python Printables also offers a few free printables, and you can check those out here. So, check out their site for all your party game needs and most importantly, have a great weekend!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using 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.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A New Twist On An Old Tradition

As I was driving in to work this morning, I was singing along with Lionel Richie and wondering what in the heck to blog about today. I have another Python Printables review to post but didn’t really want to put that up today and then it came to me – I need to write about the Parker Bowl Challenge. I had planned to write about this earlier, but then I let it slip my mind

Every year after the college football bowl games are announced, we Parkers, my dad, mom, brother and I make our picks as to who we think will win each of the bowl games and at the end of the bowl season, the person with the most correct picks earns bragging rights for the next year.

We have been doing this for I don’t know how long. When we first started, my dad put up a $25 gift card to Chili’s to give to the winner – then he won. The next year he put up another gift card and he won again. After about three years of this no gift cards were put up for the winner because my dad was the one who won all the time.

We obviously continued to pick our games each season for the grand prize of being the champion for a year. This year, I decided it was time we had a trophy for this annual tradition. So, I ordered a trophy with “Parker Bowl Challenge Reigning Champion” emblazoned on the front. I figured each year the winner could hold on to the trophy and then pass it on to the next winner or keep it for another year should they win again.

This year, my brother came out victorious and my dad finished in second place for the second year in a row (Tony won last year). I finished in third yet again – this seems to be my spot.

Last weekend when I went to do my laundry at my parents’ house, I took the newly acquired trophy with me. We all had plans to go to dinner together and I planned to give the trophy to Justin while at dinner. The dinner plans fell thru and Justin didn’t come back over to my parents’ house, so I left the trophy with them to give to Justin. I just hope he doesn’t lose it by the time next year’s challenge rolls around.

And so, without further ado, I present to you our new trophy for the Parker Bowl Challenge Reigning Champion. Maybe one year it will be in my possession, but I’m not holding my breath.

This picture was taken with my phone.
I thought I had my camera pictures with me, but I don't.
I ordered this trophy from K2 Trophies and Awards  in case you
are in need of ordering trophies any time soon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Washing Machine is Working Again

I know you were probably up all night last night tossing and turning concerned about my washing machine. Well, I’m happy to report that it has been repaired. The same week mine went down in a blaze of glory, so did the machine of a lady with whom I work. She gave me the name of her repairman and I called him yesterday. Lewis was his name, and he came out yesterday afternoon and repaired my machine in less than five minutes!

The belt that had come off was a little frayed, but he just put it back on and told me if it came off in 90 days to let him know and he would replace it with another one for only the cost of the part. He told me he could have walked me through over the phone how to repair it myself but that I would have needed someone to hold the washing machine up for me, which is a problem when you are a single gal living with only a dog. Yesterday’s five minute repair cost me only his trip fee - $49.50. I wish I made $10 a minute! I guess most of his trips don’t really take that short of an amount of time and he probably makes a little less than $10 a minute.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled the washing machine is working again and am looking forward to doing laundry on my home turf this week. Apparently the reason the belt came off was because lint, a dryer sheet or two and a handkerchief of all things was under the machine and I guess the debris causes the belt to get out of alignment. So be sure and sweep up all the lint and dryer sheets from in front of you machine so that you don’t run into the same problem and if you do, let me know and I’ll point you in the direction of Lewis who actually just lives a couple of streets over from me, which is good to know.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's A Holiday For Some; But Not For Me

I have absolutely nothing to write about today which is why half the day has passed with no post. I wish I had something exciting to tell you about; but there’s not really much going on other than the normal day-to-day routine.

For some people today is a holiday, a day off from work or school; but, not for me. I’m at work today, which is just as well because with Christmas having just passed and the weather from last week, I’ve had a lot of time off lately and it is nice to get back to a normal routine. Although an afternoon nap wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

I have seen on TV where this year is the 25th anniversary of the MLK holiday, which is odd to me because I can only remember a time when this holiday was around but I was eight when it started which means I had a few years of grade school with no MLK day even though I don’t remember that. The thing I remember most about MLK day was that my grandmother Betty would always take me shopping. Since my birthday was around the corner and I had no school and there were pretty good sales, we would hit the mall for a day of birthday shopping. I always looked forward to that. I sure could use one of those shopping trips right now, or at least the money for one. I have some new clothes to purchase before my trip.

Over the weekend I spent seven hours at my parents’ house doing laundry because my washing machine broke last Monday. I think a belt has come off. I called a repair man and he is coming out this afternoon. I sure hope he can fix it and at a reasonable price because it seems like everything that is breaking is costing a lot of money these days.

As mentioned in the caption on one of the pictures in the snow post, I got Blue back on Sunday, January 9 after being without her for four weeks. I am really glad to be driving that car again and so far things are running smoothly. The heater works and it’s not overheating; so, everything is good for now.

The foot continues to heal nicely. I am walking around without any trouble. The only time it really bothers me is if I have been standing or walking around a lot; especially after work where we have concrete floors. Overall though it has been great and I am so very glad I went ahead and had the surgery.

In other news, it’s now official; my dad is coming to France for the second week of my two-week getaway. Since Jackie ended up not being able to go my dad took her place and will be joining me for a week of sightseeing and eating and whatever else we can find to do. I want to say a special thanks to my mother, good ole Deb, for “letting” him come along. The week he’s there will be the week of their 38th wedding anniversary and to my knowledge the first one they have ever spent apart. Thanks, Mother for letting Daddy come along. We will bring you back a nice gift!

Once our itinerary is finalized I’ll let you all know about it but for now, it looks like we will be taking in as many of the sights of Paris as we can as well as spending a day at Versailles and another day in London thanks to the quickness of the EuroStar! I’m really looking forward to this trip. It will be one we will never forget!

We are finally thawing out from our recent snow. I’m guessing most of the white stuff will be gone by the end of today or tomorrow at the latest. My dad made the comment that he had forgotten how long a big snow lays on the ground. I did too. It’s been a long while since I lived in New York or North Carolina where big snows are commonplace and I had also forgotten how long it takes to thaw out after multiple inches of snow.

I guess that’s about it for today. I’m sorry it wasn’t more entertaining or at least more interesting. In the least Maybe it answered some of the most burning questions on your mind… or not.

Until next time…

Friday, January 14, 2011

Movie Review: The Fighter

I’m closing out the week with a movie review – maybe it will help those of you headed to the theater this weekend.

Last Saturday, Jackie and I met up at the theater to watch “The Fighter” starring Mark Wahlberg (without his funky bunch), Christian Bale (without his Batman suit) and Amy Adams (without her big dress from Enchanted). As I’m sure you may know this film is nominated for a Golden Globe and will probably be a top Oscar contender as well, which is one of the many reasons I was interested in seeing the film. I’m a big fan of watching all the films nominated for awards. It’s an old hobby of mine.

As always, I won’t give away the complete story; but instead just a brief synopsis. The film is based on the true story of boxer Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and he came into his boxing career. Micky’s brother, Dicky Eklund (Bale) was also a boxer who has fallen into the throes of drug addiction and the movie follows the relationship between the two brothers as well.

The boys’ mother, Alice, acts as manager for Micky, until he comes to his senses and gets a new manager. Alice also has seven other children, all girls, who are in a lot of scenes in the movie and provide most of the comic relief. One of the sisters is played by Kate O’Brien, sister to Conan, and let me tell you people, she looks just like him!

The film also tells the story of Micky meeting his girlfriend Charlene Fleming (Adams) and how she became probably the only stable thing in his life.

This movie is heartbreaking, exciting, terrifying, sad, and hilarious all wrapped in to one. In a word – excellent! The film is rated R and obviously only for adult eyes. There is a lot of language (hey, it’s Lowell, Mass. For crying out loud), so if you are not comfortable with foul mouths then you probably won’t like this film. The filmmakers did a great job telling the story of these brothers and their personal and emotional struggles with boxing, family, addiction, and just life in general. Almost everyone I know can probably relate to the lessons of this film in one way or another.

If you’re looking to break free of the snow and ice this weekend, head out to the theater and take in “The Fighter” you won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It’s The Picture You’ve All Been Waiting For

Let me begin by saying I really hate ending sentences with a preposition as it is not proper grammar, but hopefully you can all forgive me as I felt it was the most appropriate title for this post.

I mentioned in my Christmas 2010 Recap post that my dad had gotten us all Parker Family T-Shirts and that we had a photo taken on New Years Eve but that I didn’t have a copy of the picture and hopefully my mom could send me a copy. A few commenters mentioned they couldn’t wait to see the shirts.

Well, apparently my mom posted them on the site which shall not be named and got a lot of comments on them and Kimberly’s sister, Shelley sent me an email saying she LOVED (all caps, not an exaggeration) the shirts.

So, without further ado, I present to you our family photo in our newly acquired Parker Family T-Shirts:

Rooftop Icicles

It’s still a winter wonderland around these parts. The ground remains covered in snow and sub-freezing temperatures have become the norm. I’m wearing my rain boots, which I guess could also be known as snow boots, in to work every day and changing into my tennis shoes when I get to my desk. Otherwise my feet would be cold and wet all day long and that would be no fun at all.

Yesterday when I got home from work, I noticed all the icicles hanging from the house. Some of them are huge and would definitely do some damage if they fell and hit you in the head. I took some photos of them although I’m not so sure the pictures really do the icicles justice. Also, with my tin roof, the snow slides down and then kind of curves under. It’s really rather bizarre.

I knocked down the icicles that were dangling above the steps on my porch for fear that they would come crashing down on my head and knock me unconscious, which wouldn’t be a good thing, or at least I don’t think so.

If you’re out and about in the winter weather be careful out there and watch out for falling icicles!

The side of the house

Another view

And another

These icicles come halfway down this window.
Please ignore the dirty windowsill.

Front of the house.
See how the snow curves under as it melts off the roof?

Look out below!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Storm 2011

Well, in case you didn’t know it, the reason I’ve been MIA for the past couple of days is because those of us in North Alabama are in the midst of a winter snow storm and who knows when it’s going to go away – it doesn’t appear to be any time soon.

Last week the weather forecasters predicted that we were going to get a lot of snow and for what feels like the first time, they finally got it right. They predicted 6-10 inches and I had a little over eight at my house. Some areas got more, some area got less, but in Huntsville, the general consensus seems to be between eight and nine inches. It’s the third largest snowfall on record for this area!

Eight inches here

Nine inches there

My feet in the snow.

The snow started coming down about 8:45 or so on Sunday night. I kept looking out the windows Sunday evening and told The Tide multiple times that it probably wasn’t even going to snow but once it started it came down in droves and within 15 minutes or so the ground was completely covered. At 10:00 I turned on the news and the weatherman was talking about thundersnow – in a matter of minutes, the thundersnow came. It was unbelieveable. Lightning, thunder and snow – I had never in my life experienced such a thing.

I got up at my normal time on Monday, but didn’t go in to work because the roads were impassable and people were advised to stay home and that’s what I did. I let The Tide out at that time and I had a difficult time getting the back door open. Once she got outside, I think she was a little confused.

The Tide at 5:30 a.m. on Monday.
I'm sure she was wondering what the heck was going on.

Snow piled up at the back door.

It's a grill snow cone!

About 10:00 or so The Tide and I headed outside and played for a couple of hours. I took some photos of the house and the goings on and mostly of The Tide rolling around in the snow as if it were a lush blanket. I built a snowman, (sorry Barner fans, but mine snowman was a Duck fan; although I am glad the National Championship stayed in the SEC) and threw snowballs at The Tide. I tried to get her to go for a walk but she wasn’t too keen on that idea. I asked some people walking down the street to take a photo of me and The Tide but the girl couldn’t figure out how to operate my camera even though I explained it to her. Oh well; should have asked someone else I guess. While I was building my snowman, my neighbor Jeff came over to bring me the latest New York Times which he does from time to time.

This is a lovely self portrait.

My snowman

The Tide is checking out the snowman

The Tide treats the snow as though it were a lush blanket.


And again

This was my attempt at getting a photo of me and The Tide together.

The Tide and I went back inside around noon and I warmed up some gumbo that the same neighbor Jeff had given me the day before. It was quite yummy. The Tide and I spent the rest of the day watching TV and reading. Well, she mostly slept.

Yesterday I finally ventured out of the house on a walk. I didn’t even bother asking The Tide if she wanted to come along. I walked down to the Dollar General to get some sweetened condensed milk to make some snow cream. On my walk I passed a mail truck that was stuck in the snow. I asked the mailman if he was stuck and he said yes that he was trying not to hit the mailbox. He had already called the tow truck. This situation was somewhat funny to me considering the postal service creed of “"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" although I now understand that’s not the official creed even though many people, including myself believe it to be so. I also came across the coolest snowman; well, it was a snow cat I guess.

The snow cat

My road on the way home from my walk to the Dollar General

I got to the Dollar General and grabbed the item I needed and decided to peruse the store a bit since I was there. All their Christmas stuff was 75% off but there was nothing that caught my eye. While I was looking at these items, however, the song “Closing Time” came on the radio. I love this song. It’s an old favorite from college and so I danced around the aisles a little bit and sang the song. When the song was ending, I went up to the counter to pay and the cashier (a man) belted out the last few words of the song and it cracked me up. He then proceeded to tell me how they always played that song at Bar Nashville as it was closing and he would sing it. I told him it was indeed a catchy tune.

I walked back home and went a little bit of a different way for a minute or two because I saw a snow creation that caught my eye and I wanted to check it out. Turns out it wasn’t anything to write about, but at the same time I passed a man building something out of the snow and I wondered what it was. When I passed by there this morning, I discovered it was a large beer bottle made out of snow. Hey, whatever floats your boat I guess. I also passed the stuck mail truck again and I guess he had tried to move the truck a bit because he had indeed hit that mailbox he was so desperately trying to avoid. I gave him a wave and a laugh and he did the same.

After I got home, I made some snow cream and gave some to Jeff. He said his mother made it when he was growing up (in upstate NY) and then came back into the warmth to do some more reading resting and TV watching.

So, that about sums up the past two days or so for me. I’m back at work today and it’s snowing again. I probably will leave early today in order to beat the traffic and try to avoid any accidents. As I’m sure you know, I don’t have the most stellar record these days when it comes to driving.

My car. This was a little before 7:00 a.m. on Monday.
Yes, I've got Blue back - got her back on Sunday afternoon!

View from the front porch about 7:00 a.m. on Monday

My street

The Tide is having some fun!
Candy - please note her ear is up even when in running mode!

The fire hydrant in front of my house.

The steps going up to my front porch.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas 2010 Recap

Today, I’m continuing with this week’s theme of belated Christmas posts; I sure hope you don’t mind. This will hopefully be the last one.

After everyone (me, my brother and granddad) arrived over at my parents’ house, we were treated to a breakfast of homemade waffles thanks to my dad. I didn’t even know he had a waffle iron! They were good and I think most of us were glad to have something warm in our bellies.

Then came the part we had all been waiting for – presents! I love buying presents for people. I’ve mentioned it before and will say it again, I think I do a pretty good job of picking out gifts for people and I always like to see their reaction to the gifts I have chosen for them.

For my mom, I got a homemade Alabama jacket, and I, of course, didn’t take any photos of it. She wore it to church this past Sunday and got a lot of compliments from what I hear. I also got her some jewelry and some house shoe boots and some other things.

Nice boots, Deb!

For my dad, I got a Garmin, a Fry Daddy, a cookbook and some other things as well. My mom surprised him with a Wii but I think she enjoys playing it the most. She’s gotten really good at bowling so watch out – if you come over to her house she will challenge you to a match and then proceed to beat the socks off of you.

I gave my brother a couple of CDs and a couple of gift cards to fast food places so he can eat some lunch on my nickel.

That's my brother over on the right looking less than thrilled.
I don't know why but I didn't take any solo shots of him.
He's wearing his paper hat from his Christmas cracker!

My granddad got a gift certificate from Gibson’s because he likes to eat breakfast there. My parents got him some clothes and maybe some cologne. I really can’t remember.

Here's my granddad wearing a toboggan and a paper hat.

Santa brought me a new suitcase for my upcoming trip overseas as well as a couple of new skillets and a weed eater! I blew the motor out in my weed eater this past summer so that was indeed a good gift. I got some other things as well.

My dad got the four of us (him, my mom, my brother and me) a long sleeve t-shirt that says “Property of Parker Family”. I didn’t get a picture of these but we all wore them on New Year’s Eve and I know my mom has a photo of it. Maybe she will send it my way and I can post it for you.

The Tide got some treats and was generally unimpressed with all the Christmas present opening.

It was a really good Christmas and I think everyone enjoyed their gifts. How about you? What was the best gift you gave and/or received?