Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: Water for Elephants

I must admit that I have been beyond horrible with reading books this year. I used to be such an avid reader but the past year or two I just really haven’t been motivated to do much reading. I’m blaming it on the DVR. I always say I’m going to do better and make more of an effort to read books like I used to but life always seems to get in the way. Hopefully this time I will stick to what I say and get busy reading.

I started Water for Elephants on the plane ride over to France and read all of one chapter. I think I may have mentioned how miserable the flight from the States to France was and I really just didn’t feel like reading much. Then when I got to France, there was so much going on I didn’t have time to read. Finally, last week, I picked the book back up and decided I would give it a go – it was a slow week for the DVR – and I’m glad I did. Multiple people who saw me with the book at the gym told me how good it was which only made me want to keep reading it.

I decided to give this book a try after hearing about it from a lady at church. I don’t even know if she read it, but she mentioned it to me on a Wednesday night and I bought it the next week. The book is about a man who, by rather terrible circumstances ends up working with a traveling circus. If you’ve long been a reader of this blog, then you probably know I am a lover of the circus and have always thought it would be super cool to travel with the circus, so this book was right up my alley.

The man, Jacob Jankowski is ninety-three when the story begins and the books flashes between his present day life in a nursing home and how he ended up on the circus and all the craziness that ensues once he is fully employed with the circus. He ends up involved in all sorts of circus chaos and even falls in love with the show’s most beloved performer, Marlena, which is the main plot of the story. There are many side stories all intertwined with the main love story and there is a lot of good vs. evil throughout. The characters are each well developed, including the animals and you will find yourself loving someone who you at first thought weren’t so loveable. There are a lot of twists and turns in the plots as well, the majority of which you don’t even see coming.

This book was a very easy read and quite enjoyable. It will make you laugh and might even make you cry and will definitely make you want to turn to the next page to see what’s happening next. I have not seen the movie based on the film, but I am anxious to watch it now that I have read the book. If you’re looking for a good read this Labor Day weekend, check out Water for Elephants, I think you will be quite pleased.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cooking In The Car: Brownies

Last Thursday, while I was getting ready for work, I noticed that the weatherman said it was going to be a blistering 96 degrees outside. It had been hot the day before (98 or so) and the forecast was in the low 90s. So, I figured if they were forecasting 96 and really hot then it would be a great day to try to get in a day of cooking in the car.

So, after I got dressed and put on my face (as the older ladies like to say), I grabbed a box of brownie mix from the pantry and got to work mixing it up. Soon after, it was in the pan and ready for a day of baking on the dashboard oven.

Once I got to work, I placed the dish on the dash and headed in. I forgot to get the exact time, but it was some time after 7:00. I did not go out and check on the brownies at lunch time because I knew they would need the whole day of undisturbed baking.

I left work and headed out to the car around 4:30 or so. I was excited to see the progress of the brownies. I opened up the car door and proceeded to take the pan out of the dashboard and let me tell you, people, that pan was HOT! I nearly needed an oven mitt to hold it and couldn’t hold it for a long period of time. I was going to set the brownies in my lap to take a photo but the pan was too hot to hold in my lap. So instead, I got out of the car and placed the pan in the front seat to take the photo.

The brownies had formed a thin crusty layer at the top – you know that flaky top brownie layer. The insides, however, were still pretty runny. There were small chocolate chips in the batter and they had all melted but the brownies were not cooked all the way through. They were a tad bit thicker than when I had first placed them in the car but no where near being able to cut and eat like a real brownie.

I ended up taking them home and finished the baking in the oven. I served them up at work the next day and they were eaten by many. I had some left over to take home too and ate the remainder over the weekend.

My phone told me the temperature got up to 99 degrees and the heat index was 102. I can’t remember if I mentioned it or not, but I would really like to get a thermometer to put beside whatever I’m cooking in the car so we can all see how hot it gets in there. I know, and you do too that the inside of a car gets way hotter than the outside temperature. So, I’m anxious to get a thermometer to see just how hot it gets on the dashboard oven.

This cooking in the car experiment somehow left a greasy spot on my dash which gives me a chuckle each day. Guess I should have put a towel up there or something. I wonder what people think when they walk by my car – do they even notice that there is something cooking on the dash? Hmmm, I wonder.

I’m not sure that we are going to have many more scorchers this summer, thankfully. The temps have been in the low to mid 90s as of late, unlike Texas where they are still suffering from 100 plus degree days. Yikes! I’ll keep my eye out for another hot day and see if I can’t come up with something else to cook before the summer is out. As always, your suggestions are welcome.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Weekend

Hope everyone out there had a good weekend. I did, it just wasn’t long enough, but that’s how it always seems I suppose. This coming up weekend, however, will be a little bit longer as it is Labor Day, the unofficial end to summer. I wish it was the official end to hot weather, but unfortunately we will have to suffer a little longer when it comes to the heat.

Friday night I went to the Madison Academy game with my dad and brother. MA lost, but we still managed to have a nice time and see some decent football. The MA concession stand offered stellar food as always and I visited it twice, once before the game and once during half time. It’s just not football without a visit to the concession stand.

On Saturday morning, I got a haircut and then did my weekly grocery shopping. After I got home, I had a bite to eat and then loaded up The Tide and took her down to pet wash at Goin’ To The Dogs and Cats retail store in Five Points. I usually just bathe The Tide at home, but as you can imagine, it makes a huge mess and is a lot of work so I thought I would give this pet wash a try. It was the best decision I have ever made… well, as far as bathing The Tide is concerned anyway. The owner clipped The Tide’s nails for me and then set me up for bathing The Tide. The wash stand was awesome and I didn’t have to bend over far which was good for the ole back. The dog wash provides the shampoo and towels and even a super duper hair dryer which blows off excess dead skin and dog hair and the best part of all is that after you are done, they clean up the wash station in preparation for the next dog. I was so excited I thought I might cry from joy! The cost was $15 but it was well worth it, especially considering a nail trim alone at PetSmart is $11; not to mention the fact that I didn’t have to clean up a dirty/hairy bathtub after the Tide got all clean. I will definitely be using this place again.

After the dog wash was complete, I did a little straightening and cleaning of the house as best I could anyway. It’s hard to put things in order when things are piled on top of each other multiple times in multiple rooms. I at least got the sheets changed the floors vacuumed and mopped and some dusting done. I also replaced the air filters which were, as always, covered in dog hair, but also caked in sawdust from the room renovation. I also watched a little of the hurricane coverage and then saw on Twitter that Huntsville Utilities sent some crews up to Greenville, NC to help them with their power outages. Greenville, NC is where I used to live and where The Tide was born. Hope all you East Carolinians are doing okay!

Speaking of the room renovation, here are the latest pictures which I didn’t have with me last Friday.

Saturday evening, I went out with Jackie to a charity concert. Some of our friends put together a show to raise money for a child that has Muscular Dystrophy. The insurance the child’s mother has won’t cover a lot of the medical costs associated with the child’s MD and so our friends put on this show to raise money to pay for the child’s medical costs. There were a lot of different bands playing and it was a fun night. One of the bands’ even had a song called Ms. Parker. I couldn’t make out the rest of the lyrics, but every time they sang MS. Parker, I was intrigued. I had ridden with Jackie; so, about 11:00, I asked her to drive me home so I wouldn’t be too exhausted for church the next morning. If it had been a Friday night, I would have definitely stayed later because I was having a great time and all the music was really wonderful.

The band our friends are in, The Robertsons

Jackie took this with her iPhone.
I look really engrossed with what's going on.

After church Sunday morning, I went over to my friend Robert’s house to see his newborn baby. Little Aston is a little over two weeks old now and it was my first chance to stop by and see him and his parents. Robert and I used to work together but he moved on to bigger and better things at the first of the month. It was really nice visiting with them. After a Sunday afternoon nap and evening church service, I came home and ate dinner and watched most of the last day of this year’s Tour de France. I recorded the last day and the Alpe D’Huez stages while I was gone and haven’t watched them yet. Some may think it’s weird to go back and watch but I rather enjoyed watching last night and plan to finish it up this evening. I may save the Alpe D’Huez stage for a rainy day but am looking forward to watching it almost as much as I was looking forward to being there that day.

I guess that’s it for this Monday’s weekend recap. Hopefully there will be some progress made on the room renovation this week because I am ready to get everything back where it belongs. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

More Progress and an Unrelated Dilemma

Yesterday even more progress was made on the floor in my spare bedroom – you can actually walk in there again. All of the subfloor is now in place awaiting the hardwood to come in. I took some photos with my camera, then neglected to upload them; I meant to take a photo with my phone and then in a rush to get things ready this morning, didn’t do that either so there will be no photos of the subfloor today I’m sorry to report.

There was a lot of sawdust in the room and so I vacuumed a good majority of that up when I got home. It was while I was vacuuming that I noticed all the old floor had been tossed out of the window and was laying in a pile beside the house. I hadn’t noticed it before because I had not been able to get over to the window and I don’t really venture over to that side of my house unless I’m mowing the lawn; so I had no idea the pile was there until I happened upon it yesterday afternoon. I’m assuming at some point the repair guys will clean it up; or at least I hope so.

I also managed to dig the paint cans out of my bedroom closet and what do you know, the paint can for the spare room was in there so I am set as far as getting paint to match the room, which is great news. Now I will have to dig out the paint samples from my scrapbook of the house renovation and see if Home Depot can still make the colors for the hallway and the trim – here’s to hoping. I don’t really know at what point I can start painting; but I can assure you I am not looking forward to it in the least.

After vacuuming the room and making some food for a baby shower we are having at work today, I headed over to the lovely Erika’s house and had dinner with her and her delightful mamma. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of Beef Stroganoff and had even better conversation which lasted until I called it quits some time after 10:00. I think we could have talked all night long, but I’m a lover of sleep and had to cut it short. When I got home I read a chapter of the book I’m reading (a review coming soon) and then went to bed.

This morning, when I got up, I had a text from the newspaper (sent at midnight) about an assignment for tonight. When I got in to work this morning, I emailed and declined the assignment. I had already made plans with my family to attend the Madison Academy game tonight and really want to go to it. Plus, I’ve really gotten to the point where I don’t much enjoy covering high school games any more. I always get the worst games and when one team is beating another team 49-0, well, it’s just not much fun to watch or write about for that matter. I felt guilty about not taking the assignment, but I’m not keen on last minute assignments. I know it was an honest mistake, but still. So, now I’m debating about whether or not I should just “retire” from my newspaper writing days. I will miss the extra cash, but when you break it down with gas and the time I spend working, it’s probably less than minimum wage and I know I would have more fun if I just was a spectator. So, I’m kind of at a crossroads here and will definitely be pondering my newspaper writing future over the course of the next few days.

I think that’s about all the information I have to share with you all today. I certainly hope you all have a great weekend and if anyone is interested in helping me paint this next week, be sure and let me know in the comments. I won’t hold my breath for a large response.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Little Progress

I’m happy to report that when I arrived home yesterday afternoon, a little progress had been made on the guest bedroom, which is great news, people, great news. It may not look like much, but it’s getting there slowly but surely. Apparently the reason no work was done on Tuesday was because the repairman wanted to give the room and the joists another day to air out, which makes sense considering how saturated the wood was.

New floor joists went in yesterday. I was under the impression from speaking with my dad that the new joists were going to go in between the old joists, but it looks like the went in directly beside the old joists. I guess there was a change in plans or maybe I just misunderstood which is highly possible. It also looked like the repair guys cleared out some of the crawl space making it a little easier to maneuver around. That might just be a figment of my imagination, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it looked like.

There was a hole leading to the back of the washer that had not been there before; so, I am assuming the leak at the washing machine was repaired, which is definitely a good thing since it was the cause of all this madness.

Also, there was one new sheet of sub flooring installed. The other sheets are on my front porch and I assume will be put in today.

At some point, I’ve got to dig out the paint can for the bedroom and take it to Home Depot to get some new cans of paint. I’m praying I still have the can for that room, but can’t be for certain. I had stored a lot of the old paint cans and buckets out in my shed and finally disposed of them last year. I think that the bedroom paints are in my bedroom closet; but not 100% certain. I will soon find out though. As for the hallway, it will have to be repainted as well but I’m not too concerned with that paint color. I know I don’t have anymore of the beige paint that covers the walls in most of my house. All of those were in five gallon buckets and they were disposed of last year. I do still have the paint samples I used when we renovated my house so I can probably take those to Home Depot and hopefully they will still have the paint formulas there. If not, then I’ll just go with darker beige in the hallway, which really doesn’t bother me at all.

The hallway actually needed to be repainted before I knocked a hole in the wall. While I was renovating the house, and older man from church came over to help paint one day and he started painting the hallway the green that is in my bedroom. I noticed the mistake and gave him the right color – he then told me he was color blind. Most people will not notice it, but in the spots where George started out painting green, you can still see some of the green coming through the beige. So, a fresh coat of paint will definitely do that hallway some good.

Clearly, the repair work will not be finished by tomorrow, but at least they are making progress and before you know it this little project will be a thing of the past.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Day That Nothing Happened

I had grand intentions of writing a post today updating you on all the glorious progress that had been done on my spare bedroom… and then I got home last night, opened the door, and found that nothing had changed since I left the house about 12 hours earlier. The wind was knocked out of my sails. C’est la vie, I suppose.

Yesterday morning, my dad met the repair man at Lowes and bought materials to be used in the house. My dad called me soon after and said that the plan was for the new floor joists and sub floor to go in. I asked about the leak and my dad said that the repair man was going to figure out where the washing machine was leaking and repair that and then put in the joists and the sub floor. In the meantime, the hardwood floor would probably have to be ordered and I would get an update on that later on.

So, when I got home from the gym last night, I expected there to be a new sub floor in the spare bedroom. I was so excited to see the progress being made, hoping that I would soon be done living the life of a hoarder. Then when I opened the door to the spare bedroom, I felt so defeated and crawled under a pile of stuff and cried… well, not really. I was really disappointed, but I actually just fixed myself a sandwich and then took a shower. I also called my dad to see if he knew what was going on. I thought maybe they had just spent the day repairing the leak or something but everything was in the exact same place as before so I’m pretty sure that absolutely nothing was done yesterday. My dad didn’t answer so I left a message and haven’t heard back; so, your guess is as good as mine. I told you that no construction project only takes a week! I just hope it’s completed by Labor Day weekend so I will have the extra day to put my life back in order.

In other news, high school football season starts this weekend and I still have no idea if I’m working for the newspaper on Friday night or not. I’m inclined to think not, but then again, I have received assignments as late as Thursday before, and wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again this go around. In addition to not yet receiving an assignment, the newspaper has also made a tremendous amount of cutbacks in recent years, which is one of the many reasons why our newspaper isn’t as readable as it once was. Is anyone else as sad as I am that the newspaper will soon be extinct? Anyway, the paper also used a lot of interns last year because they like to keep it cheap and my guess is they are going the cheap route again, which in all honesty is fine by me. I don’t really think I’ll miss it all that much. I will, however, miss the extra cash.

The weather is gradually cooling off which means there might not be any more cooking in the car segments this summer. I really should have started earlier this year. Not that I’m hoping for really hot days, but I would like to get at least one more cooking in the car post up before the fall. I’ll keep my eyes out for an upcoming scorcher and hopefully remember to place something on the oven dash.

Keep your fingers crossed for some progress on my house today. I’m ready for the madness to be over. Have a great hump day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It’s Completely Chaotic!

A crack in the floor

Well folks, the chaos that is home renovation has begun. I really don’t even know if you can call it home renovation when it’s actually repair work, but we’ll go with that. It sounds lovelier, or something like that.

Over the weekend, I moved almost everything out of my guest bedroom. I took the little stuff out first and the small pieces of furniture that I could move on my own, as well as the bed linens. Most all of this was done on Friday night. I didn’t do much at all on Saturday since I went to the lake for the day; and on Sunday, I finished up what I could. I moved all of the clothes out of the closet and even bagged some up to give away. I also moved the desk out of the room so that I would have somewhere to put all the hanging clothes. Otherwise they would have had to lie on the bed and I would be sleeping on the couch which didn’t sound like too good of a plan to me.

By the time Sunday night was coming to an end, the only things left in the room were the bed, the cabinet that holds my DVDs (without the DVDs in it) a storage box full of books that was too heavy for me to move and the TV. I left the dress I had worn to church on Sunday laying out on the bed so that I could wear it to work on Monday. Otherwise, it would have been a wild goose chase trying to find something to wear.

I left the house yesterday morning for work and the man doing all the work at my house came over around noon, or so I’m told. Since I wasn’t there I don’t really know what time he showed up. I also don’t know what he did with The Tide. I wonder that too. Did The Tide just hang back and watch all the destruction or did they let her outside? She didn’t tell me. She’s very tight lipped about what she does during the day.

When I got home from work yesterday, the floor had been ripped out of the bedroom. I could smell the mustiness of the crawl space as soon as I walked in the door. I don’t know why, but that is one of the smells I dislike the most. I guess it has something to do with the fact that I like a clean house and the smell of dirt is not something with which I tend to fragrance my home.

The cabinet I had left in the bedroom was in the middle of the kitchen floor. I eventually moved it beside the stove so that I could get the dishwasher open. I needed to put my lunch dishes away. The bed and storage box were both moved to the hallway along with the two closet doors and was therefore blocking the way to my bedroom. The only way I could get to my room was through the door that connects to the end and I would have to crawl under the desk holding all my hanging clothes. So, I proceeded to move the bed, the mattresses and the doors so that I could at least walk into my bedroom like a civilized person. I also managed to knock a small hole in the wall in my hallway which will now have to be mudded and painted. I’m guessing the walls in the bedroom will have to be repainted too – just when you think you’re done painting a house for 10 or 20 years.

So, needless to say, the house looks completely chaotic right now. I seriously feel like I’m living an episode of Hoarders. I also feel like all the stuff is suffocating me. It makes me feel more than a wee bit claustrophobic. Erika was privy to the chaos last night when she stopped by to pick me up for the Ladies’ Night Out event. I told her I might have to come stay with her a night just so I can breathe a little bit.

This morning, I squirmed around all the things in my house and managed to pull together a lunch for today. It was quite interesting picking out some clothes. I luckily found some brown Capri’s close to the top of the pile of hanging clothes and spotted a short sleeve grey shirt that I often wear with those pants. After struggling for about five minutes to get the shirt out of the pile, I stopped for a breather, let go of the clothes on top and then couldn’t find the shirt again. I ended up with a lightweight long sleeve shirt instead. People probably think I’m nuts wearing long sleeves in 90 degree weather, but it is cool in my office so that will be my excuse.

The madness is only supposed to last a week but when was the last time a construction project only lasted a week? Let’s hope this one does. Otherwise, I may be checking in to the Motel 6.

This is in my bonus room -
clothes and towels and lots of other things.

A view of my bedroom

And another - with a confused Tide

And another - with a still confused Tide

My temporary "closet"

The guest bedroom almost cleared out.

Another view

The guest bedroom on Monday afternoon

Another view

The bed in the den.
Here, The Tide is not confused, just staring a her jar of treats.
She knows what she wants.

The cabinet in the kicthen

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fun at the Lake

This past Saturday, I was invited by Jackie’s Aunt Nina and Uncle Mickey to join the family for some fun at the lake. Nina and Mickey have a lake house on Wheeler Lake in Rogersville and it’s been four years since I last was able to go out for a visit. I was thrilled when Nina emailed me and asked me to come out on Saturday. In addition to Nina and Mickey, Jackie, Troy and Ashlyn and Jackie’s mom and stepdad (Jan and Tim) along with Jackie’s cousin Scott were also there.

Jackie and the kids came by and picked me up around 11:30 or so and we headed out to Rogersville. We arrived at the lake house around 1:00 or so, after stopping to pick up a quick bit from Wendy’s on the way, which was completely unnecessary because Aunt Nina had prepared all sorts of goodies to munch on.

Troy headed to the water immediately but was back inside the house soon after because he had been stung on the cheek by a wasp. After a few minutes of crying and a Benadryl and Fudgesicle later, all was well and he headed back to the water once again along with all the rest of us.

A Fudgesicle makes it all better!

Uncle Mickey pulled Troy and Ashlyn on the water raft to start off the day of fun. Then the two of them started swinging on the rope and into the water, only Ashlyn would just hold on to it and drop right it. It was kind of pointless for her to even use the rope, but it gave us all a good laugh.

Riding the Water Raft...

...pulled by Uncle Mickey

An hour or so after we arrived, Tim and Jan showed up to join in on the fun. Tim got in the water right away and Jackie then took the kids and then me out on the Jet Ski. I, of course, screamed about three times while getting on because I’m always afraid my big ole booty is going to make that thing tip over.

Jackie and Troy

Jackie and Ashlyn

After riding on the Jet Ski, I got in the water for an hour or so with the kids. I held on to a floating noodle and kept old tennis shoes on my feet because this city girl does not like the feel of the bottom of the lake on her feet. Ashlyn and I both wanted a snack and so we headed up to the house to chow down on some seven layer dip and salsa and, of course, brownies. Soon everyone else joined us and after we were all sufficiently stuffed, we headed back outside.

Round two in the water didn’t last long. I didn’t get back in and the kids only stayed in for an hour or so. I headed back up to the house to shower and change and not long after we all sat down to dinner. We had BBQ, salad, green beans, peas, a casserole that Uncle Mickey had made, rolls, slaw, mashed potatoes, fruit, the list goes on and on. Basically, I ate so much I ended up with a pain in my side. It’s been a long time since I put away that much food. It was well worth it though because Aunt Nina is a great cook.

After dinner, Aunt Nina, Uncle Mickey, Jan, Jackie, Troy and I headed out in the boat to see if we could find the lake house of some other folks that we know. We think we found it but no one was milling about to be sure. I really enjoyed the boat ride, I think it was one of my favorite parts of the day.

We had a really great Saturday at the lake. On the way home Ashlyn said that “sometimes it feels like Matasha is part of our family,” it was the best compliment. I told her I was an honorary member of their family and when I have kids one day they can call her Aunt Ashlyn. It was a great Saturday of fun with my other family; I hope we can do it again next year!

Ashlyn swinging off the rope

Troy - he got to be really good at it.

Ashlyn ready to jump off

Scott took this photo. I clearly had no idea.
Apparently me looking confused in photos is a recurring theme.

Me, Jackie and Aunt Nina

Me and Ashlyn

Me, Jackie and Scott

Tim, Troy, Ashlyn and Me

I am chilling in the back of the boat as we are about to head out,
clearly Aunt Nina did not want to have her photo taken.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Mattress and the Mower

I’ve had a busy day today. I’ve had a steady week at work which is a nice and welcome surprise and I also ran an errand earlier this morning that took about an hour. Errands always make the day go by quicker. So, I just now have had the opportunity to sit down and write a little bit.

I thought I would update you all on the new mattress and the new mower because I’m sure you’ve been sitting around wondering how those two recent purchases have been working out for me. I’m here to tell you, they have been serving me well.

The mattress arrived last Saturday. I had taken the old (26 year old) mattress and box spring off the bed so I could clean under the bed before the new paring arrived. So, when the delivery guys showed up, they didn’t have to take the old one off, they just had to put the new one on. They did haul the old one off to wherever it is mattresses go to die. I’m telling myself it’s someplace that’s environmentally friendly, but who really knows for sure.

The new set is A LOT taller than the old one. I have to put a little pep in my step to even get on the bed. I also moved my ottoman into the bedroom so The Tide can use it as a step. She actually can jump up there by herself, but it’s a bit of a struggle. It takes some extra oomph to get that booty of hers on the bed. So, the ottoman works well. During the day, I move it away from the bed and so far it has worked in keeping her off the bed. I hope it continues to work because she loves to scratch holes in the sheets and if she stays off the bed during the day then I may be able to keep a set of sheets for more than a couple of weeks. The mattress sleeps really well. I hardly move at all during the night and my back isn’t hurting in the morning anymore, which is awesome.

As for the mower, it is also working out really well. I used it for the first time this past Tuesday afternoon/evening. The grass had not been mowed in about a week and a half and so I had my work cut out for me. The bagger on the mower worked beautifully and the mower started up quickly which was a welcome blessing as I hate pulling and pulling and pulling to get a mower to start. It handles really well and the wheels actually work like they are intended to work which is a lot more than I can say for the old mower.

Needless to say, I am thrilled with both of these purchases. Well worth the money spent/to be spent (I financed the mattress) and I look forward to many years of use out of the both of them.

I guess that’s about it for today. Not really all that interesting, but I didn’t want to leave you heading into the weekend without a post. I’m going to the lake with Jackie and the kids and her family tomorrow and I’m so excited! It’s been about four years since we’ve had a chance to get together at her aunt and uncle’s lake house and we always have a grand time when we go. I’m sure I’ll be sore from riding on water rafts being pulled by the boat, but it will be well worth the pain. Hope you all have a great weekend! See you on Monday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Scoop On The Floor

Since I don’t have much more to write about today, I guess I can begin telling you my saga with the floor in my back bedroom and the battle with the insurance company. I don’t guess it was really that much of a battle considering I really didn’t have a fighting chance, but it makes for a good story anyway I suppose. So, here it goes.

Back earlier in the year, I noticed the floor in the guest bedroom of my house was soft in some spots. I didn’t think too much about it at first because my house is, after all, around 70 years old. The soft spot got worse, however, and so I called in the experts, otherwise known as my dad and his cronies. Well, first my dad came and agreed that something was definitely wrong and then he called the cronies who said the softening was happening because the sub floor was rotting due to moisture from the ground in the crawl space.

So, I decided to wait until I got back from France to deal with the floor, primarily because I didn’t know how much money I would need while overseas and I didn’t want to worry about not having enough money with me while I was away. Obviously, I’m back from France and the floor has gotten considerably worse. In fact, after I got back, a wet spot was discovered in the floor. The spot is directly behind where my washing machine is on the other side of the wall. So, it looks like I have had a leak all this time although a few months ago I was told there was no leak.

So, I called the insurance company who didn’t want to do anything at first and when I told them the leak was just recently discovered they decided to send an adjuster out. Of course, I had to call the insurance company multiple days in a row because I couldn’t get anyone to call me back, which made me less than happy. My mother also called because she loves a good fight and so after multiple calls from me and one from my mother, they finally set up an appointment for the adjuster to come out.

That appointment was yesterday and my dad was kind enough to meet the man at the house while I was at work. It took all of about 15 minutes for the adjuster to deny the claim because the insurance doesn’t cover rotting floors even if you didn’t know there was a leak.

So, here we are with unfortunately no insurance coverage which is a big bummer. I will have to cover all the expense out of pocket. Fortunately, I received a very generous estimate from a man who attends church with my parents and I will be using his services. Unfortunately, it’s going to take almost every penny left in my savings account. Fortunately, I am blessed with a good job and will be able to replenish that savings account in due time.

Lucky for you, this mini-renovation should make for some interesting experiences resulting in some interesting posts. I hope to get the majority of the stuff out of the room over the next few days; wish me luck! In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on this little adventure.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Movie Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

This past week, we DirecTV customers had a few days of free Cinemax, which meant that I recorded a few movies to watch that I missed when they were in the theaters. One of those movies was The Time Traveler’s Wife. Many of you may have already seen this movie, but if not, then maybe you will rent it/download it/whatever it is you kids do these days.

I read this book in anticipation of the movie coming out but didn’t review it here on The Chronicles of Nat. In fact, I may have read it before I started the blog. The book is really an extraordinary novel – it amazes me that the author was able to come up with such a unique story and tell the story from so many different perspectives and time periods. You really have to pay attention when reading the book to know what year it is and which Henry is in the scene. I found the book to be beautifully written and at the end I cried like a baby – it was one of those ugly cries where I had to let my tears dry up for a while before I could continue reading. In my opinion, this was one of the best books I have ever read and I actually wouldn’t mind going back and reading it again, but then there are so many other books out there to read. I remember that while reading this book, I would dream about it each night and that’s always a tell-tale sign that I’m in love with what I’m reading – it consumes my thought.

For whatever reason (probably because I was dating Tony and he would have had no interest in seeing this movie) I never went to see the movie in the theater, even though I remember really wanting to see it. Then, with the demise of the video store, I never had an opportunity to rent the film either; so, when I saw it would be playing on Cinemax during the free preview days, I recorded it.

This past Monday night, I had an opportunity to watch it and I really thought it was well done. As mentioned in the past, it’s hard to get every detail of a book on film and there were many small details and even larger details that were left out of this film; but on the whole, I would have to say this film captured the message and meaning behind the book. I don’t know if it was because I loved the book so much or because I had read the book I knew what was about to happen in the scenes or if I was just overly emotional when I watched this move, but I have to tell you, I cried like a baby through the majority of the film and it brought back so many of the thoughts and feelings I had while reading the book. It made me want to pick it up and get lost in it once more.

I felt as though the love between Clare and Henry was very accurately portrayed on the screen and my heart ached every time Clare’s did. For a book as in depth and as long as this one, the movie played out pretty well, I would say. Just as I did when I read the book, I dreamt about it after watching the movie. Apparently there is something about this story that really touches my heart. If you’re looking for something to watch this weekend, see if you can find The Time Traveler’s Wife. Then come back and let me know what you thought, especially those of you who read the book.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Movie Review: The Help

This past Saturday, Erika, Jackie and I, along with two women from church (Ms. Claudette and Ms. Mary Ann) went to see The Help. I reviewed the book here on The Chronicles of Nat back in November of last year. I had borrowed the book from Ms. Claudette and absolutely loved it. It was one of the best books I have read in a long while and I was really looking forward to the movie coming out.

Jackie read the book about a month or so ago and then Erika bought the book last week and read it in all of two days. It’s that good, people. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. It is such a great read!

We went to the matinee and I got a large popcorn. While Jackie ate a little of it, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I did the majority of the popcorn eating. It was exceptionally good for some reason. We settled in to our seats in a theater that was full of mostly women. There may have been a man or two sprinkled in here and there.

The movie was really great, ya’ll. I would recommend this movie as much as I would recommend the book, but please do read the book beforehand if you can. After all, as you probably know, I’m a firm believer in book reading before movie seeing.

This film followed the book quite closely as best I can remember. Erika, who had most recently read the book, agreed that it was close to the book. There were a few things that were left out, but nothing that took away from the story. The book is obviously more detailed, but, as I’ve said before, if the movie makers got every detail of the books correct we’d be sitting in a theater for hours on end. So, I would say they hit the nail on the head when it came to turning this wonderful book into a big screen attraction.

The acting in the movie was quite remarkable as well. Bryce Dallas Howard did a remarkable job as the evil Hilly Hollbrook, Emma Stone was delightful as Skeeter, and Octavia Spencer stole scene after scene as the sass-mouthed Minnie. The movie’s best performance, however, may have been by Viola Davis as Aibileen. Jackie said she should be nominated for an Oscar for her performance and I would have to say I agree. All of these women as well as the rest of the cast did a fantastic job of portraying their characters and on more than one occasion had the audience in tears.

Don’t think this movie is just for women, though. An older man I attend church with said he also saw it last week and he loved it. So, load up your husbands and boyfriends and get down to the theater to see this very powerful, heartwarming and moving film. It’s definitely one worth spending your $10 on.

Monday, August 15, 2011

PGA Tournament - Day Two

Well, I’m sitting here at home on a Sunday night watching the conclusion of the PGA Championship and writing up a post for Monday, which will be today by the time you are reading this. Let me tell you, it’s a lot more comfortable watching at home, but I do miss being there amongst all the excitement because when I cheer at home it just doesn’t seem to have the same effect.

So, Friday was another scorcher in Atlanta. At one point I told my dad that I felt like a Thanksgiving turkey baking in the sun. We left the hotel a few minutes after 9:00 and headed to the parking lot to catch the shuttle to the golf course. Once we arrived at the golf course, we picked up course radios so we could follow along with what was going on throughout the various holes on the course. After much debate and walking back and forth, my dad decided we would watch the par three, hole four and so that’s where we went.

There were grand stands on the green at hole four with a perfect view of the tee box as well. It was one of the best spots we had during the two days. When we first arrived, there was a wee bit of shade in the area and I was extremely grateful for that as I had already soaked through my clothes by the time we reached the stands. Unfortunately the shade vanished after about an hour but the viewing was still great. We brought out sunscreen with us and applied it throughout the day which worked to our benefit I believe because neither one of us got burnt. There didn’t seem to be a cloud in the sky for hours but eventually a few popped up and hid the sun from us for a few minutes on occasion – it was a welcome relief.

We watched Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods and many of the other more popular players play the hole and it was really a lot of fun. I’m a big Phil fan myself and was really thrilled to see him play. At one point I got up for a bathroom break and to get us our second waters of the day. While I was at the port-o-potty location a player and his caddy stopped by for a natural break (as they would call it in cycling). For some reason this really cracked me up because a player and his caddy are about the last people I would expect to bump into at the toilets. After this run in, I walked over to another location to get the waters which was actually beside the permanent toilets that are for player use only and while there I another player came over and asked me if those were the players’ bathrooms. I told him yes and in he went. So, apparently hanging out at the toilets around hole number four is the place to be.

Once all the leaders came through hole four, we moved on to another location – the concession stand up towards the entrance. We each had a hot dog and sat in the shade while we ate. We then decided to go to the grand stands on 17, but once we got there we realized that those stands were for “special people” – in other words people that paid more than we did to be there so we moseyed back on over to 18 to sit in the stands there. Before we sat in the sweltering sun again, I found a shady spot on an unused tee box and we sat there for a while, actually we even laid there for a while.

We eventually went over to the grand stands on 18 and sat under a misting fan. The sun was at our backs and it really was quite comfortable compared to sitting directly under the blazing sunbeams. We watched the same groups come through that we had watched at four. We were thrilled that Tiger didn’t make the cut for the rest of the weekend as neither of us are big fans of his. After Tiger’s group, however, we decided to head on back to the car and head home. We were both pretty tired and didn’t want to be too late getting back home.

We found a Panera in Dalton, Georgia and ate dinner there on the way home. It was so much better than having to eat something from McDonald’s or Wendy’s. I was in charge of finding a spot for dinner and I was really hoping for something like Panera or Jason’s Deli and thankfully I held out long enough until I found one.

We got to my parents’ house about 10:30 and I got home 20 minutes or so after that, took a shower and went straight to bed. It was a really fun two days and I’m glad I got to spend it with my dad.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It Was Hotter Than Blazes

Well, my dad and I had quite an adventurous day today. We left his house a little after 5:00 this morning and headed to Atlanta for the first round of the PGA Championship. After an hour or so, we stopped off at Hardees to grab some breakfast to go and were soon on our way again.

Once we were in Georgia, we were driving along when all of a sudden there were blue lights in the rear view mirror. My dad thought it was because he was speeding, but it turns out that was not the case. For those of you who are familiar with my dad’s driving, you will not find it surprising that he was in fact pulled over for driving in the middle of the road. Thankfully, he got off without a ticket and promised to pay more attention to the road.

Once we reached the parking lot, we started putting our things in the trunk and getting together what we needed to take inside. I heard the car beeping and asked my dad why it was beeping. He said it was because the door was open. I thought that was a little strange, but didn’t question it. We walked on over to the shuttle and soon arrived at the golf course.

When we were inside, we looked through the store, then we eventually made our way over to the green at 18 and sat there for a while and watched a few groups putt. Then we ate some lunch and headed over to the backside of the course to hole five. We watched quite a few groups come through there. At this particular spot, we were in the blazing sun and it was so stinkin’ hot. There was a nice girl there that shared some of her sunscreen with me. I had applied some twice before I went in but didn’t take mine with me because it is a large spray bottle and I didn’t want to tote it around. I must have looked pretty bad because my dad asked me more than once if I was okay and also when we got our lunch someone asked me if I was okay and again when I went to get some waters. Ya’ll, I may be a Southern girl, but I do not do well in the Southern heat.

After a few hours or so at hole five, we meandered on over to hole nine and stayed there for a few hours. This was a nice spot as we were in the bleachers and there were fans close by. There had also been fans with mist at original spot at 18. The fans were great – good thinking PGA! While we were at hole nine, my dad thought out loud that he may not have turned the car lights off – thus the beeping I had asked him about. He figured that when we got back to the car, the battery would be dead.

We left hole nine around 6:30 or so and headed out to the shuttle and when we reached the car, sure enough, the battery was dead and we had to get a jump from one of the parking lot attendants. We left the parking lot and headed out to eat some dinner at Red Lobster, which was really good and the service was way better than the one in Huntsville.

We finally made it to the hotel about 9:30 and I am now typing this up and chatting with my insurance company about how terrible their customer service is. Again, that’s a story for another day. So, tomorrow we head out for round two of the tournament. It’s going to be another scorcher. Hopefully the sunscreen will hold up. In the meantime here are some photos I took on my phone, photos are not allowed during championship rounds so don’t tell on me!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Did You Already Take The Picture?

After reading the post about all the photos my dad mistakenly took while we were in France, Jackie left a comment that I should post all the photos where I look confused. If you are confused, then let me help clear things up.

The week my dad was with me, he was obviously the one taking my photo and it would often take him more than a minute or two to get the camera focused the way he wanted it, etc. Once he finally got the camera focused, he would take the picture without a 1-2-3 or a ready or anything and so most of the time I’m looking at the camera wondering when or if the photo has been taken. Let’s take a look:

Standing in a bomb crater in Normandy

At Versailles - this is one of the better ones.

Not really confused, just in a daze - on the subway

Trying to tame my wind blown hair

At the London Eye

As you can see, I look a little confused in almost all of these. Going through these photos with Jackie gave us quite a laugh.

My dad and I are in Atlanta today for the PGA Championship. Unfortunately there is no picture taking but I might try to sneak one in on my phone. Shhh, don't tell anyone.