Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tornado Season Strikes Again

Yowza! What a day! Clearly, I’ve had no time to write again today because I’m late posting again. Sorry for the delay folks!

I woke up this morning to thunderstorms, lightning, and tornado warnings, which is really nothing new around these parts, especially in the springtime. It is, after all, tornado season. It is rather spooky though to wake to the madness and have to take a shower whilst all this is going on around you. I mean, when we were growing up our parents forbade us to take a shower while it was lightning outside so doing it now seems kind of rebellious – does anyone else feel this way?

The weather calmed down quite a bit in the time I was getting ready this morning and by the time I left for work, the skies were beginning to clear.

I knew a second wave of storms was on the way and so I headed out to run an errand before it got dreary again. I had to pop out to pick up some flowers for our administrative assistant – it is after all, administrative assistant’s day. Hope all you admins out there were given a nice treat or two.

I got back to work and in the safety of the office by the time the second wave of storms started coming around. We had some cake and presented our admin with her flowers and then went down to the cafeteria for lunch. Halfway through our lunch, the sirens went off and we were ushered into the hallway for safety. We stood around in the hallways chatting for about 20 minutes or so until the tornado warning was lifted and we were able to resume our lunch, or in my case, go back to my desk.

Once back at my desk, the weather seemed to get worse. Hail was pounding the metal roof above my head and the rain was coming down hard and the wind was blowing the roof and it sound as though it was denting the roof, but who knows for sure. Not long after I got back to my desk, one of my friends had to leave because her house had damage. Apparently a tree fell on it or maybe a tornado hit it and her poor little dog was MIA. She was pretty upset. I imagine I would be too if The Tide was no where to be found. My aunt also lives in this neighborhood and a lot of the house there are completely gone, but she only had minor damage. Tornadoes are so bizarre, aren’t they?

Now the weather is taking turns being sunny and dark and it’s raining the all the while. It’s been a very strange day to say the least. More storms are headed in this afternoon and these are supposed to be worse with micro cells which means lots of tornados, lightning and who knows what else. Church services have already been cancelled – you know it’s bad when folks don’t want to have church! I am about to head on out from work while I can, and then I’m going to hunker down at home and pray for safety the rest of the night.

If you’re in the area, stay safe this evening. Tornadoes love to hang around these parts for some reason. Hopefully none will come your way.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Our Easter

Well, I’ve let another half day pass by without updating. I had all intentions of posting this morning, and time has gotten away from me. I have been very busy at work this morning (which is a good thing) and haven’t had much time to even check emails, much less write a brief post. Now that I’m finished with the little project I was working on, I can stop for a minute or two and say hello to you readers. Hello!

I didn’t mention Easter yesterday because I wanted to write about that dreadful experience at the shooting range. So, I’ll recap Easter for you today. I certainly hope you had a good one.

We Parkers cooked lunch over at my parents’ house. My dad baked a ham and made a banana pudding. Mother made a congealed salad, deviled eggs, and um… mashed potatoes. I say, “um… mashed potatoes” because she didn’t actually make them, but rather warmed them up. These were the Bob Evans potatoes that you can buy at the store (I think in the meat department). They were actually pretty good for something that is pre-packaged. I’m usually not a fan of the pre-packaged foods, but these potatoes were quite good. Not as good as mine, mind you, but good for non-homemade. I made a squash casserole, green beans and coleslaw which is a staple any time we have a get together. I’m not sure how it is that people fell in love with my slaw but I have to make it all the time now. I think I’ve made slaw more than any other dish in my life; except for maybe pinto beans – I made an awful lot of those when Tony was around.

Anyway, we gathered at the parents’ hacienda after church services on Sunday morning and ate lunch. It was a fine feast if I do say so myself. After we ate, the kitchen was cleaned and everyone departed to their separate corners, also known as their own homes. There are no little ones in our family so there was no Easter Egg hunt. The Easter Bunny didn’t even stop by and drop off any Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. It was very disappointing. Not to fear though, because I got some yesterday when they were on clearance! YEAH!

I ate leftovers for dinner on Sunday night, for lunch yesterday and then again for lunch today. I think I’m finally out of leftovers so tonight I’m back to cooking something else, which I think is going to be four cheese tortellini in a tomato cream sauce, or if I’m feeling lazy after I get home from the gym, it will be popcorn on the stove, which has become a regular dinner around these parts lately.

Anyway, that about sums up our Easter; maybe yours was a little more eventful than ours or maybe it was more low key. Either way, I hope it was a good one and you found the golden egg!

Monday, April 25, 2011

For Me, It Was A Double Visit

So, as mentioned last Friday, I went to the shooting range with my granddad. I met him there a little before 3:00. He already had a one hour pass which came with a gun that he recently purchased and therefore, we only had to pay the $10 per hour fee for me.

After we paid and filled out our paperwork, we headed to the back where the range is. The range master greeted us there and gave us some instruction. He told me that if a hot shell went down my shirt to put the gun down first and get it out later; to not jump around with a live gun in my hand. This was the first clue that I was going to have no fun at all. He gave a few other instructions – no rapid fire, at least one second before each shot, and the rest I really can’t remember very well. We put on our safety goggles and ear protection and went inside.

I thought it was loud in the hallway outside, but when we went inside it was 100 times louder – and I had ear protection! I jumped each time someone fired a shot, probably even screamed a time or two. My granddad shot the small .22 pistol a couple of times and then handed it to me. I shot it until there were no more bullets and hit the target twice. The shells popped up in the air and I prayed they wouldn’t go down my shirt.

Then my granddad brought out some bigger guns and shot those. They were so loud they made me jump with fear. Each time my granddad or someone else shot a gun, I just closed my eyes and prayed it would all be over soon. My armpits started sweating heavily and all I could think about was people getting murdered. When I told my dad told this, he told me I watch too much TV. I guess he’s right.

I noticed that each time my granddad got out a new gun to shoot, he just threw the other one in the bag without clicking on the safety or anything. I thought this was odd and at one point one of the range masters noticed it as well. He told me to get away from the bag unless I wanted to loose a foot (I mean, my feet hurt a lot, but I’m thankful to have them, ya know?). At this point, I had had enough of standing in there with guns ablazing and shells from every which direction hitting me in the head and thoughts of bloodied murdered bodies strewn across the floor and so I told my granddad I was going to wait outside, that I didn’t find this experience to be very enjoyable. This was after about 15 minutes or less.

The next thing I knew, my granddad was being kicked out of the range for the day and the range master was telling me to make sure and usher him out because of the way he had the guns in the bag, they could rub against each other and accidentally go off and shot someone – imagine how safe I felt walking behind him after that conversation. They gave us a refund of the $10 and two free passes to come back in exchange for his leaving.

My granddad didn’t understand why he was being asked to leave and I had to explain to him that you can’t just throw 10 loaded guns into a bag and take it to the range, that there was a possibility that one could accidentally go off, that the range tried to practice safety. I’m really not sure if he understood to be quite honest, but I told him he needed to store them in a better bag – one gun per bag or a bag with multiple compartments.

At any rate, we left and I have never been more thankful to leave a place alive. The shooting range was terrifying for me, which is why this was a double visit – my first and last!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter!

Easter Morning - Circa 1983?

Happy Good Friday, ya’ll! Remember when there was no school or work on Good Friday? Those were the days! Well, Easter weekend is finally upon us. It’s so late this year. For those of you who love to wear white shoes (not me) you’re welcome to bring those bad boys out beginning this Sunday. Just be sure and put them away again the day after Labor Day. Thanks, this has been a Public Service Announcement.

Since we Southerners love all things Bible and guns, I’ll be combining this holy day with some time at the shooting range this afternoon with my granddad. (Yes, this makes me chuckle too!) I have never shot a gun before; so, needless to say this afternoon should be quite an adventure for me. If the day goes according to plan, I’ll be leaving work around 2:30 and meeting my granddad at the shooting range around 3:00 or so. I’m starting off with a small caliber weapon (this statement makes me laugh). I think we are going to shoot for an hour or so. You can rest easily this weekend knowing that there will be a post regarding this come Monday. I’m sure you’ll all be drooling with anticipation as to how it goes.

After the shooting range, I’ve got to head over to my parents’ house to pick up my weed eater which we thought was not working, but turns out it is. We apparently just weren’t operating it correctly. Go figure. So, I’ll have to get a lesson as to how to start the thing before I attempt to use it this afternoon. I’m hoping for no rain today because I really need to get the yard work done and don’t want to do it on a Saturday. I’ve got an aversion to working in the yard on Saturdays. I much prefer a Thursday or Friday evening as opposed to a blazing hot Saturday afternoon.

Fridays are usually my grocery store days, but with everything else that’s going on, the grocery store will more than likely be pushed to Saturday morning after the gym. I’ve got a few things to buy in preparation for Easter dinner. I talked my parents into having Easter dinner; well, actually I just told them to cook a Ham and I would cook some things because eating frozen pizza on Easter is rather depressing. I don’t think I’ve had Easter dinner with anyone in my family in years. My Aunt Linda used to have the whole family over on Easter but she doesn’t do that anymore. Or, maybe she does and just doesn’t invite me… hmmm. At any rate, we will be having a home cooked meal on Easter and I’m pretty pumped about it!

I guess that’s about all the news for today, other than the pollen is finally catching up with me and my sinuses have been a complete mess the past couple of days, but I doubt you want me to go into detail about that.

So, in closing, I wish you all a happy Good Friday and a very Happy Easter! I hope that rascal the Easter Bunny brings you lots of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs – what more could you ask for, really?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Music Review – Foo Fighters Wasting Light

I don’t know that I’ve ever done a music review on the blog; well, at least not of a CD. Concerts, sure; but CDs, not so much. I’m not really sure why that is, maybe because I’ve bought so few CDs in recent years that were actually worthy of a review. Although the last Pearl Jam CD wasn’t so bad. Anyway, on to the CD at hand…

The Foo Fighters haven’t put out a new album in a sweet forever… also known as 2007. So, needless to say, to those of us who are lovers of Dave Grohl and all things Foo Fighters, this album, titled "Wasting Light" was much anticipated – especially after Lance Armstrong tweeted that he got an advanced copy and loved it.

Wasting Light “dropped” last week. I really hate that term by the way. I suppose I just used it here so I could say that I hate it. I much prefer saying it was released last week. And so, I purchased it from my local Target last Friday.

Not wanting to forsake my French lessons in the car, I waited a couple of days before popping it into the CD player. On Sunday morning as I got in the car to go to church, I guess I felt like rocking out and put it in.

OH MY WORD! Best CD I’ve heard in a long time people. THE BEST! I contemplated how I was even going to put into words how much I love this CD because I’m really not even sure that there are adequate words to describe my love. It’s seriously that good.

All of the songs are fantastic, but so far my three favorite are Dear Rosemary, Arlandria, and These Days. Of course, this is subject to change as each time the next song on the playlist comes on, I realize that I really love it too! The lyrics are great, the music is great, it’s all great – it’s seems old school to me and I think that’s why I love it so much. I can totally see myself loving this record in high school or college. When I’m driving down the road, it’s like I can’t get the volume high enough! I want to be enveloped by this music – it’s that good!

Dave Grohl’s voice is as amazing as ever. And, can I just stop for a minute to tell you how much I love the drums on this CD. I don’t think I paid much attention to the drum beat until I dated Tony and then that’s about all I listened to. The drums on this CD are amazing, in my opinion. I don’t know if Taylor did all the drumming or if Dave did some of it as well but the drums – out of this world. I’m sure Tony knows and maybe he can leave a comment and let us know who drummed on which songs. He’s a studier of Dave’s drumming technique and usually knows right off if it’s Dave or Taylor drumming.

I’m obviously not a very good music reviewer in that I can’t tell you about the technical aspects of the album. But, coming from a lover of rock music, this new Foo Fighter album is hard to beat. I’m afraid the French lessons may take a little longer than expected to resume.

Edit: Here's some technicalinformation on the album from Tony, a stalker of Dave Grohl:

This album was the first FF album produced by Butch Vig (he produced the Nirvana Nevermind album and he was also in the band Garbage).  The new album was also recorded on tape (analog) in Dave’s garage.  When recording on tape, you have less room for error as opposed to digital.  Most everyone now days records digitally.  Pearl Jam is one exception.  With digital if you mess up, you can just punch in at that moment, correct the mistake and keep on trucking.  On tape, you can punch in but you have to either play the whole part over or start from where the mistake is and play it out.  As you may have noticed they took the master tapes that these were recorded on and sliced them into 1 million pieces which are included with the first release of the album.  This is also the first album that the FF have made with 3 guitarists now that Pat Smear is back with the band.  On Dear Rosemary, the other guy singing is Bob Mould, who was in Husker Du, one of Dave’s favorite bands growing up.  On I Should Have Known, the gritty bass line towards the end is Krist from Nirvana.  That’s the first time he’s ever been on a FF album. 

Good stuff from Tony, like I said, he's a Dave Grohl stalker and knows all things Foo Fighters.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Movie Review: The King's Speech

As mentioned in an earlier post, DirecTV gave me three movie credits for being such a loyal customer – aren’t they sweet? So, last night I ordered "The King’s Speech" as the second of my three free movies. The King’s Speech came out on DVD yesterday and was available to DirecTV viewers the same day – they are good like that.

So, after overcoming a small technical difficulty – I’m not always the most technologically savvy person – I settled in for a night at home with "The King’s Speech".

If you know much about me, then you probably know that I pretty much love all things British – books, movies, etc. and so I was really excited to watch this film and was glad it was finally available to watch in my home since never made it out to the movie theater to see it.

By now I’m sure you all know the story of "The King’s Speech" since it was the Oscar winner for Picture of the Year and had a lot of press as a result of that. The story is about King George VI and his speech impediment and how he was able to overcome that with the help of a speech therapist, Lionel Logue.

The movie tells of how Logue came to be the king’s speech therapist and also shows some of the more unconventional methods the King tried prior to working with Logue. When the movie begins, George VI is still known as Prince Albert, the Duke of York since he has not yet become king. The story of how he came to be king is also recalled in the film and was quite interesting as I was unfamiliar with how it all came about.

The film also follows closely how George and Logue become friends and actually more like family. The film ends after the king delivers his first wartime speech in 1939 when Britain declares war with Germany during World War II.

Although it may not sound like the most mesmerizing film, I found it to be quite interesting and very entertaining. The historical aspect of it was also very fascinating to me as the older I get, I cannot seem to get enough history. There were a few times when I laughed out loud. The movie has a great cast – Helena Bonham Carter plays King George’s wife Elizabeth, Colin Firth (love his films!) plays King George and the always wonderful Geoffrey Rush plays Lionel Logue. There were quite of few of the Harry Potter actors in the film as well (Wormtail and Dumbledore) which makes for a fun time of, “where do I know him from? Oh, right he was in Harry Potter”.

This movie was absolutely delightful and I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for something enjoyable and interesting to watch. This film was certainly worthy of the Best Picture nod it received from the Academy. Go rent it today!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's All About Me

I went to the dentist this morning. Apparently I’m on a monthly rotation instead of every six months. Today was just my annual cleaning – no cavities, no crowns, and no root canals! Woot! The hygienist that cleans my teeth is a talker and it really annoys me. I often want to ask if they have a hygienist that is less sociable. “I can’t talk to you when you have your fingers in my mouth so please don’t ask me questions,” is what I want to say to her before we get started; but, I never do. Instead I just keep my mouth shut and roll with the incessant babble.

On to a totally different subject… we are soon to be in the throes of putting together a new pictorial church directory. I’m pretty excited about this because it’s been a long while since we’ve had one made and since we moved to our new location we’ve had a lot of folks place membership and it’s hard to keep them all straight.

This time our pictorial directory will have one page per family and each page will have a bio about that family. This way, we can learn a little more about the family and when a new family places membership, we can just add their page to the directory. Or, if someone leaves, I guess we can rip their page out. You get the idea.

So, yesterday I wrote a bio for myself and laughed the whole time I was writing it. Being the quirky person I am, I wanted my bio to be a little funny and give folks a chuckle. I emailed it out to some friends and they all gave their stamp of approval. Then I got home and looked at the instructions and realized I had too many words in my bio (imagine that!). So, I had to cut it down, which really makes me sad because I loved the original version.

I wanted to share with you all the original and newer condensed version here on the blog so that at least a few people could maybe get a laugh out of it. There are two condensed versions here on the blog. The first is 213 words long and the page will just have a photo of me. The second is 132 words long and in addition to the photo of me, I’ll also include the photo that was on my Christmas card this past year. Let me know which one you think I should go with! Thanks, ya’ll!

The Original Bio (377 Words - Too Long, But My Favorite)

Natasha Parker has been a member of the Memorial Parkway/Chase Park congregation since she was six years old. She is the daughter of former members Steve and Debbie Parker who now work with the Hampton Cove congregation.
Natasha attended the University of Alabama where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and elected as a senator for Student Government Association, representing the College of Arts and Sciences. After two and a half years in Tuscaloosa, she transferred to UAH where she obtained a B.S.B.A. with a concentration in finance and a minor in political science.
A fifth generation Huntsvillian, Natasha works as a program manager for a local defense contractor. Prior to establishing her career in Huntsville, she worked as a Sports Information Intern at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, New York and as the Assistant Sports Information Director at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. In 2003, when she tired of rubbing her last two pennies together and eating Ramen noodles morning, noon and night, she packed up her belongings, left the career she loved and moved back to Huntsville where she decided to put her degree to good use.
In addition to her “real” job, Natasha is also a freelance writer and her work can be found locally in The Huntsville Times during high school football season.
In 2005, Natasha bought her great-grandmother’s house in the Five Points area of Huntsville and, along with her father and grandfather, completely renovated the house taking it down to the studs and building it back up. She has lived in the house since January 2006 and has loved every minute of it, even the unconventional ones.
Natasha’s most loyal companion is her dog, The Tide, who was adopted from the Pitt County Animal Shelter in North Carolina in 2002. The Tide was born with hip dysplasia and has had the joints in both of her hips replaced.
Aside from spending time with The Tide, Natasha enjoys cooking, working in yard, reading, watching movies, listening to music, going to the theater, spending time with family and friends, cycling, watching sports, and searching for a husband.
A self-described old soul, Natasha is a lover of Frank Sinatra and can always be found wearing an apron in the kitchen.

The Condensed Version #1 (213 Words – No Additional Picture)

Natasha Parker has been a member of the Memorial Parkway/Chase Park congregation since she was six years old. She is the daughter of former members Steve and Debbie Parker who now work with the Hampton Cove congregation.
A fifth generation Huntsvillian, Natasha works as a program manager for a local defense contractor. Prior to establishing her career in Huntsville, she worked in the sports information field at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, NY and East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. In addition to her “real” job, Natasha is also a sports writer for The Huntsville Times.
In 2005, Natasha bought her great-grandmother’s house in the Five Points area of Huntsville and, along with her father and grandfather, completely renovated the house taking it down to the studs and building it back up. She has lived in the house since January 2006.
Natasha’s most loyal companion is her dog, The Tide, who was adopted from the Pitt County Animal Shelter in North Carolina in 2002.
Aside from spending time with The Tide, Natasha enjoys cooking, working in yard, reading, movies, music, theater, spending time with family and friends, cycling, and watching sports.
A self-described old soul, Natasha is a lover of Frank Sinatra and can always be found wearing an apron in the kitchen.

The Condensed Version #2 (132 Words – Includes Christmas Photo from 2010)

Natasha Parker has been a member of the Memorial Parkway/Chase Park congregation since she was six years old. She is the daughter of former members Steve and Debbie Parker who now work with the Hampton Cove congregation.
A fifth generation Huntsvillian, Natasha works as a program manager for a local defense contractor. In addition to her “real” job, Natasha is also a sports writer for The Huntsville Times.
Natasha has lived in her great-grandmother’s house in the Five Points area of Huntsville with her dog, The Tide, since January 2006.
Natasha enjoys cooking, working in yard, reading, movies, music, theater, spending time with family and friends, cycling, and watching sports.
A self-described old soul, Natasha is a lover of Frank Sinatra and can always be found wearing an apron in the kitchen.

Don't forget to vote for #1 or #2 - leave your answer in the comments! Thanks for your help.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Favorite Shopping Sites For Clothes

In response to last week's post about my recent shopping habits, my college roomie, Melissa left a comment asking where I do my online shopping. Since I aim to please the readers around here, I’m going to give you a list of my favorite online shopping sites.

Boden – I have been a lover of all things Boden for about eight years or so. Their clothes are really well made and will last you a really long time which is why I don’t mind spending a little extra when I buy clothes from here. I bought a few things from the spring line that I loved. I had to send one shirt back for a smaller size and that ended up being quite a debacle because they sent it to my parents’ house instead of mine (long story) but once I finally got the shirt in the right size, I loved it.

I haven’t had as much luck with the summer line. The dress I mentioned in my last post will be returned to Boden, but I did end up with some great camis which I desperately needed. I have another dress on the way from them and hope it’s a better fit. Boden is out of England so sometimes your shipments will be from England and sometimes from the States depending on where their stock is located. Boden usually has free shipping and free returns if you order a certain amount which is one of the reasons I don’t mind returning things from them because all I have to do is stick the label on the package and walk to my mailbox – super convenient!

Right now if you go to Boden through Ebates, you will get 10% cash back! Remember I told you about Ebates here and here. Awesome!

Land’s End – I get Land’s End catalogs in the mail and will order form them occasionally. Their clothes also hold up really well and they often have classic styles which is more what I like rather than what is trendy. I recently ordered a slip on cotton dress and a couple of shirts from there. I loved them all and didn’t have to make any returns. So, I’m not sure what their return policy is.

By the way, if you are shopping for a new swimsuit this season, I have found that the Land’s End swimsuits are by far the best ones around. I’ve had four or five and loved every one. The quality is good and they fit beautifully!

Right now if you go to Land’s End through Ebates, you can get 6% cash back.

L.L. Bean – I’m an L.L. Bean lover from way back. Again, their clothes are really classic, and you can wear them year after year without fear of them not being in style. I ordered the shorts I mentioned in my last post from L.L. Bean and other than them being a little tight through the belly area, I loved them. I mean, it’s not Bean’s fault that I love Mexican food! The L.L. Bean orders come with a return label, but it’s for UPS and so you have to first find a UPS drop off location and if you use the label, they will charge you or dock your refund $6.50. I just go to the post office instead of using the pre-paid label. L.L. Bean has recently changed their policy so that everything ships free – no minimum order! Awesome!

Right now if you go to L.L. Bean through Ebates, you can get 2% cash back.

Eshakti – I have only ordered one thing from here, a dress, last year, but I love the dress and ordered another dress just this week. This company offers reasonably priced shipping charges and right now, free shipping for orders over $100 (not me). You can shop the overstock stuff for 35% off, and once you sign up for their emails they will send you a discount code once a month. Also, when you first sign up, you can get $20 off your first order. If the item doesn’t fit, you can return it for your money back, an exchange or a gift card for the price of your item plus another 20% - in other words, if you got he gift card option and paid $50 for your item then you would get a gift card for $60.

Those are the main online shopping sites I visit. I recently bought a couple of pairs of jeans at Gap online and loved both of those – they don’t carry the big booty size in the stores.

For shoes, I often check out 6pm before anywhere else because they usually have awesome deals and I have gotten some really great buys from there.

I hope some of these shopping tips helped. Remember to sign up for Ebates here and then when you are ready to shop go to Ebates first and then click on the name of the store where you want to shop. Ebates will take you directly to the store’s site, and you will earn money back on your purchases, which is how I ended up with $12.34 as mentioned in this post.

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Quick Thursday Update

I had a post prepared for you all today but my computer is in the IT department getting a hard drive upgrade and I’m using a loaner today. The good news is I have access to my email and obviously the internet; the bad news is I don’t have access to my personal files which means no access to that lovely post I wrote for you today. It was in response to a comment from yesterday’s post. So, now it will go up tomorrow, provided I have my computer back. Keep your fingers crossed – or not, you may not be interested in which stores I patronage. In the meantime, I didn’t want to leave you in a lurch and I thought I would pop in and say a quick hello. I’ll also tell you that I had a lunch with my lovely Aunt Linda today. I took her out for a change in celebration of her recent birthday. We had a lovely time as always and I wish her many, many more happy birthdays! Have a good Thursday, ya’ll!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Post In Which I Tell You About My Recent Shopping Habits

Clearly, I was struggling for a title to this post.

There’s not much going on around these parts these days which is why there was no post yesterday and today’s post is going to be less than stellar. Other than the occasional band shacking up next door, the neighborhood has been rather quiet.

Lawn mowing season has begun and I’ve already cut the grass twice. Santa brought me a new weed eater for Christmas but apparently his elves didn’t assemble it correctly because it wouldn’t work straight out of the box and my dad took it with him to be serviced. I hope I get it back soon or else I’ll be paying the kids down the street to come trim up the yard. They do a good job too. I had them trim it up at the end of the mowing season last year.

I’ve purchased a few new clothes recently. I rarely buy new clothes for myself and decided to buy a few new things this year so I would have something nice to wear on my trip in July. I am not a fan of shopping at the mall and rarely find things I like there and as a result am mostly a catalog shopper – which can be good or bad. Good because I don’t have to fight the crowds at the mall or the heat (is it just me or is it always burning up at the mall? I break a sweat every time I go there) and bad because sometimes the things I order don’t quite work out and I have to return them. That’s the case with the order I got in yesterday. I ordered three pairs of shorts and am returning them for another size. I hate wearing shorts anyway because of my big ole thunder thighs, but I figure I need some seeing as how I’ll be traipsing through France in the heat of July. I like the style of these shorts, just need a different size so they are going back for an exchange which means I will be hitting the post office this afternoon. Luckily there is a small post office at the drug store close to my house and there’s usually not a long line there.

I also got in a dress that I ordered yesterday and it too is going back. It’s just all around wrong. The color looked terrible on me and the style did too not to mention that it was a little too short for my taste; so, back it goes. Hopefully I will be able to find a few things that I don’t have to send back soon.

That’s about all I’ve got for today. I’m sorry you stopped by only to read about my habit of buying clothes online and then returning them. If there was something more interesting going on, I assure you, I would write about it. I need to get a book review done for Book Sneeze and it’s one I think a lot of you will like. So, hopefully I can put down the remote and pick up the book so that I can tell you about it. In the meantime, happy hump day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Just Call Me Mrs. Kravitz

In keeping with what seems to be the norm these days, my neighbor had yet another band shack up at her house over the weekend. I’m beginning to wonder if she’s running a brothel over there because it sure seems suspicious that week after week there are new guys from out of town staying the night at her place.

Friday night, after I had been asleep for a while, I was awakened by The Tide jumping up and barking really loudly. This happens from time to time if there is a strange noise outside – The Tide is a good watchdog! I lay in bed and listened as well as I could between her barking and heard the sound of car doors shutting and then I could have sworn I heard glass bursting. I, being the lazy lover of the bed that I am, decided not to get up and investigate. I figured if my car was being broken into I would deal with it the next day and I hope the burglars want to learn some French because all I’ve got in the car right now are French lessons on CD.

The next morning, I got up and let The Tide out and noticed a beat up old car (i.e. – band car) in my neighbor’s yard. I didn’t think much of it other than that another band was staying there and I guessed that was what all the commotion was the night before. I set about my morning activities and then went to the gym. When I came home from the gym, I noticed the back windshield of the beat up car was busted out. I don’t remember it being busted out when I let The Tide out earlier that morning, but I could have still been waking up at that moment.

A few hours later, there was all kinds of commotion outside again as my neighbor began whistling and yelling for her dog, Oz. This happens at least once every two weeks or so. I don’t know why she can’t seem to keep track of her dog, but she can’t. It was then that I saw the two guys from the band. They were also outside looking for my neighbor’s dog and they had a dog with them too. I wonder if the dog is part of their act?

I suppose they finally found Oz because things settled down a bit and the next thing I knew the band guys were taping up their back windshield. Apparently gigs don’t pay enough to actually call someone and have the back windshield repaired. I guess a back windshield of clear tape adds more hippie ambiance to the situation.

Anyway, because I’m a nosey neighbor and because I like to provide you all with the most interesting information and photographs possible, I snapped these two photos through my kitchen window of the band memebers in action taping up the broken windshield. Call me crazy, but when I look at these two, I’m reminded of Rich and Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes. Would you agree? Needless to say, I look forward to seeing what band this next weekend brings.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Movie Review: The Next Three Days

As mentioned in my last post, DirecTV recently gave me three free pay-per-view movies for being such a loyal customer. Wasn’t that nice of them? I really do like DirecTV. The only problem I have with them is that their CEO is the third highest paid CEO in America and yet they raise their prices by about $4 every couple of years. Um, Michael White, how about you take a pay cut and pass the savings along to your loyal customers, like me?

Anyway, I haven’t seen a lot of movies in the past few months, which you may have noticed from lack of movie reviews here on the blog. So, I was pretty excited to get this unexpected gift since there are a lot of movies I have missed in the theater.

Last week, I got the first of the three free movies – The Next Three Days, starring the always handsome Russell Crowe. Although I do think he was at his handsomest in Gladiator – wouldn’t you agree?

I knew that Tony had seen this movie because when it came out many moons ago, he tweeted that it was good; and I know from experience that it’s hard to please Tony when it comes to the movies so I figured I would give it a look and see if I agreed.

The basis for the movie is this: Russell Crowe’s wife, played by Elizabeth Banks, is arrested for murder and all the evidence points to her guilt. The first half hour or so was confusing at times to me because unlike some movies, there was no “three months later” or “the next day” or “one year later”. Instead, she was arrested in one scene and in the next she’s lost her chance of an appeal. I found that sequence to be kind of strange.

The movie goes on to show how Russell (yes, we’re on a first name basis) plans a jail break for his wife. I don’t think I’m giving too much away here because I think most people out there know that this is the basis for the movie. During the time of the jail break planning, the movie is quite suspenseful and I love a suspenseful movie. However, I don’t know if it’s me getting older and more realistic or what the deal is, but all I could think about was how stupid Russell’s plan was and hoe he should stop worrying about breaking his wife out of jail and start planning a future for him and his kid.

I won’t let the cat out of the bag as far as whether or not Russell breaks his wife out because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I’ll let you rent the movie and see for yourself. As far as suspense thrillers go, this one was pretty good. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie and even caught myself holding my breath on a few different occasions. If you can overlook the fact that Russell should be spending his time more wisely than planning a jail break, then you should really enjoy this movie. Pick it up from your local Redbox this weekend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Some Thoughts From My Head

I wish I had something exciting to tell you all about today; but, alas, I do not. I have racked my brain all morning trying to think of some great story to no avail. When getting ready this morning, I saw a notebook and planned to bring it in because it had notes of a story I want to tell you about… and then I started hustling and bustling about and left the notebook right where it was. So, that story will have to wait until another day. So, here are just some random thoughts:

I’m addicted to the game Angry Birds. Don’t start playing it or you also will be addicted.

Today is the first round of the Master’s and I always find that to be exciting. DirecTV is really awesome when it comes to the Master’s and other major tournaments because they have about four or five channels that have different shots of the tournament and you can choose what you want to watch without being forced to watch whatever ESPN or CBS is showing.

Speaking of DirecTV, they rewarded me with three free pay-per-view movies for being such a loyal customer. I watched one already and if I can think about it, I will do a movie review on it tomorrow.

The classic cycling race, Paris-Roubaix is on VS. this Sunday and if it’s anything like last weeks’ Tour of Flanders then we will all be in for a treat. Not that anyone besides me really cares much about that.

The threat of a government shut down is really ticking me off; and as Forrest Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that.

Speaking of Forrest Gump, that is a really good movie.

The Groupon and Living Social Deals for Huntsville have been terrible lately. I’m just saying. (My mother hates it when I say, I’m just saying, by the way).

Tonight after work, I plan to take a spin class and then go home and mow the lawn. It will be a sweaty evening.

The cafeteria at work has vastly improved its food lately and last week they featured a Chicken Caesar Pita that was so good I went back and got a second. I’ve requested that it be placed on next week’s menu. Here’s to hoping they listened to me.

Finally, as mentioned in a couple of posts, you can sometimes earn an Amazon gift card from Viewpoints just by writing reviews of things you use everyday at your home. Right now is one of those times. Set yourself up a Viewpoints account and write five qualifying reviews between today and April 18 and you will earn yourself a $5 Amazon gift card. For this particular gift card, your review must be 700 characters and an item in Home Appliances or Kitchen Appliances. So, look around your hacienda and pick out some things to write about. It’s $5, baby!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thanks For The Salad, Deb

Last week I wrote a post about the Taco Flavored Doritos that have made a comeback and about the salad my mom used to make when I was a kid that was ever so tasty. Well, good ole Deb is a loyal reader of my blog and she made that salad for me this past Saturday. I should have taken a picture of it so you could see all the salad-Dorito goodness, but we were too hungry to take time to stop and do that. The salad was delicious and just as wonderful as I remembered it being. My dad liked it too and so did my mom. I’m not sure about my granddad; he didn’t say much, but he’s more of a sweets man anyway.

My mom didn’t have a recipe and just kind of made it up as she went along. Here’s what all she put in it in case you want to give it a try yourself:

Lettuce – a head of, not the bagged kind
Ranch Dressing – Just however much you think is appropriate
Crushed up Taco flavored Doritos

Mix the first four ingredients together then crunch up the Doritos, pour on top and mix again. Serve immediately – otherwise you’ll have soggy Doritos and that’s never a good thing.

You can add other ingredients as well. I remember this salad having cucumbers, but that may just be because I’m a cucumber lover and like to think of all things salad as having cucumbers. We didn’t think about putting cheese in it until the end, but you can obviously add that too. Just make it your own – I promise you it will be delightful!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Bounty Could Also Be Yours

Recently, I wrote a couple of posts with some couponing tips. (Here are the links in case you missed them: Part 1, Part 2). In the second post, I briefly mentioned some ways to earn Amazon gift cards and rebates by using certain web sites. I wanted to share my recent winnings with you so you could see that these things actually work.

The first thing I want to tell you about is how to earn some Amazon gift cards by doing something that you most likely already do and also by doing something new. In the past month I have earned $25 in Amazon gift cards for not doing much of anything. Here’s how you can do it too:

Swagbucks – As mentioned in my previous post, Swagbucks is simply a search engine where you can earn Swagbucks for doing nothing more than searching. You won’t win every time you search, but you will earn every now and then and those bucks add up over time which allows you to redeem them for items in the swag store. There are tons of items in the store, but so far all I’ve ever gotten are the Amazon gift cards – I’m an Amazon lover in case you didn’t know. You can also earn points by answering the daily poll, clicking on trusted surveys and by looking for swag codes which are posted throughout the day.

Another way to earn Swagbucks is by purchasing living social deals and Groupons. If you are already planning to purchase these, go back to the Swagbucks site and then purchase through it and you will earn Swagbucks in addition to the great deal you just purchased.

One $5 Amazon gift card is 450 Swagbucks. Last month, I redeemed enough bucks to get four of these for $20 in Amazon gift cards! All I did was use Swagbucks as my search engine and used some of the other methods above to earn extra bucks! So easy!

Viewpoints – I also mentioned Viewpoints in my last post but wanted to elaborate a little on it as well. In January I earned a $10 Amazon card and in March a $5 Amazon card just for writing a review of items I have around my house. Viewpoints is a site where people write reviews and others come to read reviews on everything from dog food to Blu-Ray players. I keep a list of items that I plan to review and then when Viewpoints offers Amazon gift cards as incentives for writing reviews, I will write the number of reviews needed to earn the card. In March, you could write five reviews for a $5 card and that’s what I did. The reviews have to be around 900 characters but when you are writing about something that you really love then it’s pretty easy to come up with 900 characters.

So, that’s how, in the month of March, I earned $25 in Amazon gift cards for doing not much at all.

The other thing I wanted to tell you about again is Ebates. I am new to Ebates and in fact only started using this site recently. This is how it works – when you are going to shop online, first go to Ebates, then find the site from which you are going to make your purchase, click on it and then Ebates will open a new window that will go directly to that site. Once you make your purchase, you will get back a certain percentage of your purchase which will be deposited into your PayPal account or sent to you via paper check. You receive money back every three months. At the end of March, I received back $12.34 into my PayPal account just from purchases I had made. I will definitely plan to use this site more often. It’s amazing how much 80 cents here and 40 cents there will add up!

I hope I did an okay job of explaining these things to you and I hope you too will take advantage of these opportunities. I am saving up all my Amazon cards to put towards a large purchase before my trip to France.

As a reminder – if you sign up for any of these programs, please use the links provided in this post so I can get credit for your joining. Thanks for reading, good luck, and happy shopping!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Visitor

It’s Monday and as luck would have it, I burned the tips of three of my fingers this morning. So, typing isn’t really something I want to do a lot of today. So, instead of writing a long post today, I thought I would instead show you the picture of this squirrel I took yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, after napping, I decided to open up the front door so The Tide could look outside. As I was opening the door, I noticed a squirrel sitting in a flower pot and shooed The Tide away from the door and went to get my camera. The Tide ended up running out the back door, which wasn’t latched, and that was great for my photo taking, otherwise, she would have surely barked and scared the squirrel away.

I took a couple of photos and then decided to put my bigger lens on. Luckily, the squirrel stuck around for its photo session and I was able to get some closer shots.

I don’t know why, but that squirrel sitting in my flower pot just really intrigued me. That’s all I’ve got for today, folks. Hopefully the throbbing in my fingers will stop soon and I will feel like typing more tomorrow. Until then, have a happy Monday!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool’s Day

I’ve never been a fan of April Fools Day. I guess I’m too trustworthy of a person or maybe just gullible, but it’s not hard to prank me on April Fool’s Day because I believe everything my friends tell me. I hate it when I say, “Really?” and then someone says, “No, April Fool’s”. Then they will start laughing hysterically and my blood pressure goes up because I fell for it. So, I promise to you that I will never pull some kind of stupid prank here on this blog on April Fool’s Day.

Having said that; watch out for the pranksters in your life. They are probably lurking around the corner at your office waiting to prank you with some ridiculous April Fool’s joke. Even the news stations and newspapers sometimes get in on all the “fun”. You can call me a party pooper or whatever else, but there will be no April Foolin’ from this girl.

Here’s a link to the April Fool’s page on Wikipedia if you care to read more about this “holiday.”

Be careful out there today, folks and don’t believe everything you hear! Have a great weekend!