Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Best Birthday Gift

I don’t normally give myself a birthday gift and I don’t suppose you can really qualify this as a gift, but in my opinion it’s the best gift I could have ever given myself. As of February 1, my birthday, my student loans, accumulated over five years of college, are officially paid off. I am not kidding when I say that tears are forming in my eyes as I type this. Twelve years removed from receiving a degree, I am finally out of debt to the Department of Education. I could not be more overjoyed!

My parents did me a solid on two accounts: first, they made me pay for my own education and second, they helped me procure loans in my own name through the Department of Education. For those who may not know, the interest rates for the government loans are a whole heck of a lot cheaper than those you may get from a bank or credit union.

I’d like to address that first point a little further. My dad paid for his own college education by working and perhaps securing loans, I honestly don’t know if he got a loan or not but I do know he paid for it all on his own. He also paid for his high school education at a private school. As a result, I suppose he felt like his kids needed to pay for their own education as well

So, when I headed off to Tuscaloosa in the fall of 1995 as a wild eyed freshman, I went in knowing that I would be paying the way. I did earn a small scholarship or two that first year and my last and fifth year was paid for by my GA position in the athletic department. I can’t remember for sure, but I think my parents may have paid for my place to stay freshman and sophomore years and I did receive the occasional spending money from them and other family members; but, for the most part I was on my own. I worked at the library at University for spending money during the school year and in the summers, I held down at least two part-times jobs and sometimes additional babysitting or whatnot to pay for my sorority, books, and additional spending money.

Now, here I am 12 years after graduation and I am finally paying off those pesky student loans. To me, having to pay my way through school definitely made me appreciate my education a lot more than I think I would if someone had just written a check on my behalf. I’m so proud of myself for doing it on my own; I wouldn’t want it any other way… now. At the time, I probably thought it was unfair. I went through periods of deferment because I was unemployed, or really poor, but in the end, it’s all paid off and it’s the best gift I could have ever given myself.

I really get annoyed when I hear about or see storylines in shows about parents who go into an immense amount of debt to pay for their child’s education. If you have the money, well, that’s one thing, but if the parent has to take out a loan that’s another. I don’t think any parent should go into debt for their child’s education. The parents have earned the right to kick the kid out and enjoy their lives without going into debt while their kid is boozing it up at State U. I just personally think that the child should find a way to pay and if that means loans, so be it. If all goes according to plan, the child can spend the next 12 years paying off the loan rather than the mom and dad. I could go on, but this is kind of a soap box issue with me and I think I’ll shut up for now. I may get some hateful comments on the subject, but this is my blog and this is how I feel – make your kid pay for their own education.

All this to say, thanks Mother and Daddy for making me get my own loans and thanks Mother for filling out all the paperwork to get those loans while I was off boozing it up in Tuscaloosa (I don’t think this comment has really come as a shock to anyone). Without your having made me pay my own way, I don’t think I would appreciate my education as much as I do and I just really couldn’t be more grateful!

Monday, January 30, 2012

It Seems the Weekend Revolved Around Eating

Hope you all had a nice weekend, even those of you who didn’t win a cookbook. Sorry, wish I could give everyone a copy, but you know, money doesn’t grow on trees and all that jazz. My weekend was busy and not all that exciting all wrapped into one. Here are all the gory details:

On Friday after work, I stopped by the mall (a place I really loathe to visit). The reason for stopping by was to go to Buckle and get some jeans hemmed. I recently bought a new pair of jeans from Gap and they are always too long and I always take them to Buckle where they pin them up and send them off to their wonderful seamstress who does an amazing job! Well, I went into a dressing room, tried on my pants, had them pinned, took them to the register to pay the $8 that they charge for the hemming of the jean only to be told that they don’t do jeans unless they were bought at Buckle – HUH?! I guess this is some sort of ridiculous new policy they have because I’ve had jeans hemmed there as recently as last year. Needless to say, I was ticked because, well, it was the only reason I stopped by the dreaded mall. I have since gotten the name of my friend Candy’s seamstress and I plan to give her a call and a try otherwise my jeans will be dragging the ground.

Since I was at the mall, I decided to go ahead and peruse the shoe section at Belk, a store I am not a fan of by the way; I figured they would probably have some shoes on sale and y’all I am in DESPERATE need of some new brown shoes. I will probably devote a whole post to this problem of mine. Anyway, on the way down to Belk, I passed Kay Jewelers and realized I had a watch in my purse that needed a new battery. This particular watch battery can’t be replaced in the store because of how the band is made; instead, it has to be sent out for a couple of weeks. (Update – as I was typing this I got a call that it was ready – that was fast!) So, I dropped it off and went on down to Belk. No big surprise here – I found no brown shoes that I liked.

I then went down to Great American cookie and got a free slice, which was one of the coupons I got for my birthday. I mentioned this last week. If you like free stuff on your birthday, check out this list and sign up. You will eat free for a week at least. After the mall, I went to Publix and did my weekly grocery shopping and then stopped in at Jason’s Deli for a soup and salad combo for $5 with…wait for it… my birthday coupon!

The rest of Friday evening was spent cleaning, eating, watching TV and generally doing nothing of great importance. I did put together a breakfast casserole for the next day because on Saturday morning I attended my sorority alumnae founder’s day brunch. The brunch was slated to start at 10:00. I got there a few minutes before and it was 10:30 before everyone arrived and we got started. Now, listen, if there’s one thing I hate, it is people who are not on time. I cannot stand to be late – it makes me a ball of nerves! Plus, if you are supposed to be at an event that starts at 10:00 then why in heaven’s name are you going to show up at 10:30? I don’t get it. I could go on, but I will stop.

Anyway, at 10:30 or 10:40 whenever it finally was, we got started… with our founder’s day program… not with eating as one might expect. I seriously thought we were going to eat first because that was the order of events last year, eat and then meet; therefore, I did not eat anything before I left the house that morning and I think it goes without saying that I was more than hungry by the time we finally did eat … at noon! I hate to be a complainer because it’s a great group, but no matter what group this had been I would be writing about my complaints because I was more than a little perturbed with the situation. I also had other things to do on Saturday and didn’t want to be late in getting those things accomplished. Plus my lower back was in some crazy immense pain on Saturday. I thought I might burst into tears while I was standing around talking with people. Thankfully I didn’t.

After the brunch, I made a run by Target to pick up some paper plates, etc. for a gathering of folks on Sunday night. I then went by Mr. Donut, because it goes without saying Mr. Donut is the best EVER and who wouldn’t want to stop by there? Then I dropped off the paper goods at my parents’ house because the gathering was at their homestead. I had grand plans to go to the Bob Jones at Lee basketball game on Saturday at 5:00 but I didn’t have anyone to go with me and I also took a nap and didn’t wake up until 4:30 so that was scratched from the agenda. Instead, I made some food for Sunday night.

Sunday morning was church and afterwards I went to Moe’s to get my free birthday entrée. Y’all seriously have to sign up for the birthday foods! Then I stopped by Publix to get some fruit because one of the families for the Sunday night shin dig backed out and I am always paranoid that there will never be enough food for the masses. I napped on Sunday afternoon, went to church again Sunday night and then headed to my parents’ hacienda for the gathering of friends. It was a good time.

I got home at close to 10:00, posted the winner of the cookbook and went to bed; and that, folks, was my weekend in a little over 1,000 words. Man, I’m long winded! Hope you are still awake after reading all of that. It was a nice weekend, just not long enough as they never are. Whoever invented the weekend should have made it three days.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

And the Winner Is…

Thanks to all who entered the third blogiversary giveaway! There were a total of eight comments – one was thrown out because Jackie commented twice; so only her first one counted. Also, Candy said not to enter her since she had won a few things as well plus according to her time stamp she was past the deadline of 9:00 p.m. but then I don’t know if the time stamp may actually be Eastern Time. At any rate, I honored her request and didn’t enter her – so that left six.

So, I used random.org and the random generator came up with #4…Alison! Congrats girlfriend! I will arrange to get your new cookbook to you when it arrives in March! I had grand plans of putting up proof that is was #4, but I cannot seem to get that whole process to work correctly. I always seem to have problems with that and it’s late and I’m ready to go to bed, so, y’all will just have to trust me.

Thanks again for checking in each day/week/month or however often you stop by and here’s to hoping life will bring a lot of interesting things to tell you about in the years to come! Congrats again Alison!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Third Blogiversary...And A Giveaway - Woot!

~~ This Giveaway Is Now Closed ~~

We've reached that time of year once again - it's my Blogiversary! Or rather it will be on Sunday, January 29! Can you believe that this is my third Blogiversary? I certainly can't. I would say I didn't know I had so many things to say, but I'm a Parker and Parkers talk... a lot... so I guess I can believe it. What I can't believe is that people actually read this stuff. Well, at least 10 people or so do. So thanks to the 10 of you who stop by at least once a week to catch up on the sometimes interesting and sometimes not so interesting life of me... and The Tide (we can't forget her).

The blog has actually been a good outlet for me and when I am 90 years old and living beside Jackie and Erika at the retirement home, we will be able to look back on ye ole Internet and remember all the interesting adventures I had... and they had because they are often a part of said adventures. Anyway, it's been fun and I'm glad I did it and I thank you for reading because let's face it, I don't always have the most interesting things to say.

On the occasion of this third blogiversary, I am having a giveaway (try to refrain from screaming out in excitement). I've hosted a giveaway on my blogiversary each year and each year the giveaway has been some sort of book by The Pioneer Woman (y'all know I love her!). Well, this year is no exception in that regard. In honor of my third blogiversary, I am giving away a copy of The Pioneer Woman's new cookbook which comes out in March. Let me emphasize this point once more...the book comes out in March. So, whoever the winner is will have to wait for about six weeks before they reap the rewards of their winnings. The book is set to be released on March 13 (voting day here in Alabama) and I have pre-ordered a copy for the winner. So, once the book arrives at my home, I will promptly ship it or deliver it to the winner. Remember, this will be in March. I only emphasize this over and over again because I don't want the winner to be disappointed when he/she doesn't receive a gift right away.

So, here are the rules - leave a comment! That's pretty simple, huh? As always for the blogiversary giveaway, just leave a comment letting me know what type of posts you would like to see this year or what type of posts you have enjoyed, or what you hate about my random ramblings, or you know, just something. By leaving a comment you will be entered for the contest. This contest will run through the weekend and I will announce the winner on Sunday night. No entries after 9:00 p.m. Central time on Sunday evening, At that time, I'll collect all the names/numbers and use random.org to determine the winner; then I will announce the winner on ye old blog and then in March I will ship the winner his/her winnings. OK, any questions? Good luck everyone and thank you a million times over for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Keeping With This Week's Theme‏

1. You may know that my birthday is next week and you may also know that I love coupons and freebies. Well, starting today, I have gotten a plethora of emails for free sandwiches, burgers, ice cream and various and sundry other birthday treats. Basically, I won't have to cook for myself next week because I will be eating for free thanks to my turning another year older. If you have any interest in receiving free and discounted treats on your birthday, then you must check out this link from Hey It's Free and you too can eat for free the week of your birthday.

2. I have an unexplained pain in my back. (This originally said pan, thanks to my college roomie for helping me see the mistake!) It's been there for a couple of days now and it if doesn't go away soon, I may have to seek some expert advice. It's not normal back pain either. I assure you, I know about normal back pain. I have that all the time and go to the chiropractor once a week for my normal back pain. This is on the left side and is sharp pain; so strange. I have the oddest ailments.

3. Speaking of ailments, have I mentioned that I'm really sick of the rain - just kidding, I know I did. Seriously though, if we don't get a break soon I may not be able to walk much longer. These fronts that have been moving through have been causing the arthritis in my knees to flare up and they have been quite painful, especially my left knee which pops everytime I straighten it out. Getting older is awesome, people; just awesome! That is as long as you keep a jumbo size Bio Freeze in your medicine cabinet.

4. I wore a new pair of sandals to work today. Well, actually I wore my rain boots to work, but I brought along a pair of sandals to wear inside the building; it was after all 67 degrees outside today. I bought these shoes a few weeks ago from Joe's New Balance Outlet. New Balance makes a brand of sandals called Aravon and they are better for your feet than the average sandal, or so says the doctor. The Aravon shoes and sandals are all $100 or more. This pair had been reduced to $17.95 and I got another 20% off of that; they had originally been about $130 so I'd say it was a pretty good deal. I like them. They are comfortable and look nice. They do, however remind me of something I would see my grandmother, Opal wearing. What do you think?

5. When someone comes over and sits in "The Tide's chair", they get the stink eye. Case in point:

6. I have fat calves. I can thank my mother for this; it is from her that I inherited these monstrous legs. Actually, I wouldn't really call them fat, they are rather muscular; but, the problem with having large calves is that I cannot find boots to wear. I had this conversation with Erika on Monday night. She brought over a pair of boots that the cobbler had stretched out for her; but, alas, they were not stretched out enough for me. I measured my calves last year - they are a circumference of 18.5 inches. Most boots come in a 16 inch circumference; so, you can see how I have a problem finding boots. Erika, God bless her, found a web site and sent it to me, where you can order boots based on your foot size and the circumference of your calves. I was so excited I might cry and then I saw the price and I did shed a tear. Suffice it to say, I will be saving up some monies so that I can buy myself a pair of these boots before next winter and when they arrive, those boots may be the only thing that adorn my feet for the next six months.

7. Without giving away any details, you will probably want to stop back by tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Seven More Notes of Interest...Or Not

1. There's a new doughnut shop in Hampton Cove and I cannot believe I didn't mention this yesterday. It's called Mr. Donut and it is located behind the Exxon station where (for those of you who live in the area) Cafe Domain used to be. My dad stopped in not long after they opened and bought eight doughnuts (a weird number, I know). From what he told me, my mom ate two and he ate the other six, even though she asked him to save another one for her. He has been back a time or two since that first visit as well. I went over to my parents' house for breakfast on Saturday morning after going to the gym and there were some of these doughnuts out on the counter in a box. I tasted one and I am here to tell you, these are the best doughnuts I have ever put in my mouth! After I left my parents' house on Saturday morning, I made a detour by Mr. Donut to get a few of these for myself. If you live out that way, or are visiting out that way, stop by and pick some up. They are open from 4:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. They serves sandwiches as well and a friend of mother's said they were good. The doughnuts, I'm here to tell you, are to die for!

2. I'm getting a Kindle for my birthday. I feel like I've already told you about this but perhaps not. If so, and this is a repeat, move on to number three. I love to read, but have run out of nooks and crannies to store my books. So, I've decided to join the 21st century, so to speak, and therefore asked for a Kindle. I have a love hate relationship with this modern technology we use to read books. While it's great in that it allows us to buy books at a lower cost, gives us a world of books at the touch of a button, and even provides us with a number of free books, I'm afraid that these new fangled gadgets will eventually make bookstores a thing of the past and that makes me quite sad. I've loved to peruse the shelves of the bookstore ever since I was a wee lass and cannot imagine not being able to do so or have my (hopefully someday) children enjoy going to the bookstore. Hopefully, the Kindle, Nook, iPad, whatever else they come up with won't make bookstores extinct; if it does, I guess you can say I contributed to the downfall of the bookstore.

3.I like to drink hot tea in the afternoons. When I was a kid my mom made this tea concoction called Russian Tea, Why it's called that I have no idea because the ingredients (Tang, Instant Tea, Lemonade, Cinnamon and Cloves) are anything but Russian, but nonetheless, it was dubbed Russian Tea. I made a batch at Christmas time (it's a powder form) and have been drinking a class in the afternoons. It's a delightful pick me up; only it would be much better if it was cold outside.

4. Tonight (Tuesday) is fish night for dinner. As mentioned yesterday, I eat fish twice a week for dinner - that happens on Tuesdays and Thursdays in case you were wondering. Tonight, I plan to stop by the Schnitzel Ranch and get a cucumber salad to accompany the fish. I usually eat rice and maybe steamed squash with it, but tonight, I'm going for the cucumber salad. The Schnitzel Ranch is on the way home from the gym and the cucumber salads are good and inexpensive. So, that's the plan.

5. I recently ordered le Tour de France 2011 on Blu-Ray. Why, you may ask? Well, I figured since I actually went to le Tour 2011 that it would be a good keepsake to have. Plus, I have two stages hogging up space on the DVR and I can maybe delete those once the Blu-Ray arrives...or not. I am anxious to see how these discs are. It's 12 hours of footage, so clearly not every minute of the race. I can only hope that Phil and Paul are doing the commentating on the discs because if not, well, I might be crushed.

6. I love playing Words With Friends, which is rather odd considering I hate Scrabble (probably because of a guy I once knew who loved to play it all the time; well, actually I wasn't a fan before him but definitely not after). I have never been a strong speller, numbers have always been my strong suit, which is why Scrabble isn't one of my favorite games, but I do love playing Words With Friends. I am not very good and lose most of the time, but it's still fun to play. If you play words with friends, leave your user name in the comments or invite me to play a game. I won't turn you down! I play with a lot of my friends from church and have been playing some random person for a long while. Each time that random person beats me, we always start up another game. I was also playing another random opponent and then forgot to start up another game with them and can't remember all of his/her username to start another game, which makes me sad because we used to chat while playing also. I feel like I've lost a friend. So, if your user name has daddyish in it and you are from Massachusetts, leave your user name in the comments because I miss playing with you!

7. It's supposed to rain again on Wednesday, which is why I will be wearing these:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Seven Unrelated Bullet Points

My Aunt Linda emailed me today and asked me if I was sick – she thought that was my reasoning for not blogging when actually the reason is that January has proven to be a rather boring month as far as my life is concerned and I seriously doubt you all want to read about how I cleaned my house and napped over the weekend… again. So, instead I’m going to tell you about some things you need to know, or something like that.

1. Downton Abbey – HAVE YOU SEEN THIS SHOW? Yes, that’s in all caps because people, this is the best show on television right now…maybe ever! It comes on Masterpiece Classic on PBS each Sunday night. The show is British and airs in England a year ahead of the airing here in the States. In other words, season two is airing on PBS right now while season three will be seen in England sometime later this year. I heard about this show on Twitter and from some other blogs I read and decided I must check it out so I bought season one on iTunes and watched the entire season (only seven episodes) all last week. I had recorded on the DVR the episodes of season two that had aired thus far and Saturday I had a marathon, watching four episodes of season one and two of season two. Y’all, this show is just amazing. It follows the life of Lord Crawley and his family and also the lives of the servants that live and work in the Crawley home. The Crawley’s live at Downtown Abbey. The show starts out in April 1912 and currently the year is 1917. There’s love, scandal, secrets, and many other wonderful storylines in this show. There are evil people, nice people, conniving people, you name it, this show has it. I told Jackie about it and I am not exaggerating when I tell you she watched the first episode one night and the other six the next day. In fact, she’s probably staying up tonight to catch up on the season two episodes on the PBS website. Jackie watched hers through Netflix so if you have Netflix, or iTunes, you can definitely watch this show and I would encourage you to do so. It is incredible! The best thing I’ve seen in a long, long time! I’ve been dreaming about this show at night, which as I’ve mentioned before is a sure sign that I love something. I even catch myself thinking about it during the day – so good people – please go watch it!

2. I’m sick of rain

3. My parents are going to Florida in April and I am joining them the second week of April for a trip to Disney (three days) and Universal Studios (AKA Harry Potter Land for one day). I wasn’t planning on taking a vacation this year since I have no money but I am going to be saving between now and then to make it happen. My parents are renting a condo or house and so they will have plenty of room and are not charging me for a bed, which is nice. I’ll be flying down on Friday, April 6 and then riding back home in the van with my dad on the 13th/14th. My mom is flying to and fro, but my dad is driving so they will have the handicap accessible van while they are there. I haven’t been to Disney since I was 12 so I am looking forward to it and we will hopefully have a lovely time.

4. My birthday is coming up – Number 35 – Terrifying! I will now have to move to the age 35-44 check box on surveys. I’d really rather stay put. Moving up to a new age group is never fun.

5. The circus is coming in April – looks like April will be a fun month. You know my dad and I love the circus and we force my mom to come along with us! I can’t wait!

6. I’ve been eating fish twice a week for dinner this year. I love Old Bay seasoning.

7. I’ve got some clothes in the dryer that I need to fold and it’s late so I’m going to wrap it up here. Hope you have a great Monday evening or Tuesday morning or whatever day it is you are reading this.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Olive Garden Experience

I had written a completely different post for today, but it will have to be saved for later because tonight I went out with some girlfriends to the Olive Garden and boy was it quite an experience.

We met up at the restaurant at around 6:30p.m. to get the party started so to speak. Our friend Shawna was in town and we had not had an opportunity to spend time with her in a long while and so she arranged our little soiree. Shawna, Lisa and I were the first ones to arrive and be seated and our waitress said she would be over in a few minutes and by the time she finally did come over (10 minutes or more later) everyone had arrived. Listen, people, I waited tables for a good five years or more in my college and post-college days and I know what good service is and isn’t. Now, our waitress, bless her heart, was pregnant and no doubt tired and running the gamut of emotions.

We were served salad and drinks but our waitress was MIA for a long while and when she finally did return, it was with our dinner. We asked for more salad and extra dressing but she didn’t acknowledge that she heard the extra dressing bit and so Amy told her again and she finally acknowledged that she heard us.

We ate our dinner and talked and talked some more and once about every 15 minutes or so our waitress would show up and refill a drink or ask us if we needed anything. About 20 minutes or more after we had finished eating, she finally brought our checks to us. She then collected all of our cards and dinner checks on her tray. Lisa commented to me that all those cards and checks on the tray was going to be a disaster and sure enough it ended up being just that.

Lisa and I saw her tray tilt over and the money on the tray fell in the floor and some of the cards got mixed up. I noticed she kept looking on the ground for something and figured she probably was missing some money or a card. When she came back to the table, she tried to give me my check with Amy’s card. I told her that wasn’t my card and gave it back to her. She passed out some other cards and took Shawna’s and then came back and gave everyone their card but me. She then asked me to look in my wallet for my card, which was the ceiling for me. This whole time I had been watching her and knew my card was lost and for her to come over and ask me to look in my wallet, well, that was the final straw. I said, “I saw you drop your tray, I know you lost my card, you’d better find it.” She went back over and got assistance from another waitress and they moved chairs and other various and sundry objects looking for it. She finally found it, I think it ended up being on her tray the whole time, under something.

I then asked to speak with a manager and when the manager came over I told him that the waitress had not been very friendly and that she only checked on us every 15 minutes or so and that losing my card was unacceptable. He then said he was going to take care of my meal for me, which he did. We then discovered that the waitress had originally charged my meal on Amy’s card but then credited it back and charged her for the correct meal.

The manager then showed me where he credited my meal and he gave each of us a $5 gift card. The waitress then came over and apologized and she started crying and y’all, I just couldn’t take it. My guilty conscience took over and I felt so bad. By no means did I intend to upset her. I’m sure she was just having a bad night. I mean, she’s pregnant and I’m sure she is doing the best she can to make a living for herself and her child and I just felt terrible for causing her to cry.

We sat around and talked for a while longer and when we got ready to leave, the waitress was sitting at a table with one of the waiters rolling silverware for the next day. I went over to her and apologized to her. I told her I was sorry if I was rude and certainly didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. She apologized as well and I apologized again and told her not to worry about it. I hope she won’t get in trouble over the situation and hopefully she will have a better shift the next time. In short, it was a great night with the girls and I’m glad I went over and talked to her before I left; I certainly hope it made her feel a little better about the situation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Movie Experience and Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

As mentioned earlier in the week, I went to see a movie on Saturday afternoon. I took in the 4:30 showing of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", a British flick starring Gary Oldman (a genius!) and a Colin Firth (LOVE him) and a bunch of other cute and also not so cute British men. The film was released overseas in September of last year but for whatever reason was released in the States just this month. All the reviews said it was a flawless and (insert other flattering adjectives here) performance by Oldman so I thought, well, I'll go check this out.

Once again I went by myself. Jackie has her kids this past weekend and I really didn't think anyone else I know would want to see this particular film so I opted to just go by myself, mostly to get out of the house before I forever became a permanent fixture on the couch.

I got to the theater about 15 minutes before the movie started, bought my ticket and a medium popcorn. I had my contraband Diet Coke in my purse. I found a seat at the end of an aisle where there were five empty seats together. I put my coat and purse in the seat at the aisle and sat next to them. People started flowing into the theater and there were a few times when I thought that someone was going to plop down beside me, but thankfully that didn't happen and I was able to enjoy the luxury of elbow room and moving around freely without disturbing anyone next to me.

One couple that came in looked perilously close to sitting next to me but instead chose the two seats directly across the aisle from me. Let me tell you, if they had sat next to me, I probably would have gotten up and asked for a refund because it was bad enough having them across the aisle. The man constantly snorted and sniffed and it wasn't discreet in the least. Each time he snorted, he then sounded as though he was about to choke on whatever he snorted up and would cough and clear his throat. Clearly he has issues. I don't know if he was sick or if this is his normal behavior but if I was his wife or whoever that woman was with him, I would not have put up with that. It was disturbing. Once the movie got started, he didn't do it quite as often. My guess is because the movie was very quiet. At one point he got up and to be honest, I was so engrossed in the movie that I didn't even notice. I did, however, notice when he came back and it started all over again. I tried to give him the stink eye when I left, but the theater was dark so I doubt it did any good. But, seriously, it was probably the worst movie experience I've had as far as weirdos in the crowd.

On to the movie portion of this story - I had no idea what this movie was going to be about, just that the previews were intriguing enough to get me down to the theater. Turns out it was about a British government agency (they never said, but my guess was MI-6) who was tracking a mole within the group, well, Gary Oldman was tracking the mole. The film is based on the book of the same name, which was written in the 1970s and no, I haven't read it so I can't give you a comparison. In fact, this movie is not one that's easy to write about because the plot was quite complicated. You had to follow along real closely, blocking out as best you could, any snorting that was taking place to your left. The scenes flash back to the past and then to the present and everyone is trying to find the elusive Karla and who is leaking information to Karla. In other words, if you are looking for an easy breezy movie, this one isn't it. The film is very quiet and there are sometimes scenes where no one at all is talking, just thinking or reminiscing. It's a different sort of film, but it was quite good. In fact, it's a little over two hours long and when it was over, I could hardly believe that much time had passed. For me, I got really engrossed in what was going on and who was Karla's spy and would they ever catch him. Which one was it? Tinker? Tailor? Soldier? Or Spy? Code names, you see.

I'll let you go see if for yourself if you want to find out all the gory details. It was quite a good film, but not one that everyone in your group will enjoy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guest Post: Jackie's National Championship Experience

As per Natasha’s request I am writing a guest blog; so, bear with me because I am nowhere near the writer she is (Natasha’s note: She’s really too complimentary).The road to the National Championship game has been a rocky one, but I am glad to say that I was able to witness one of the best defensive games in the history of my love for Alabama football. I would like to say thanks to my wonderful boss who provided me with the tickets.

I headed out of Huntsville on Sunday around lunch time and made a quick stop in Birmingham to pick up one of my oldest and dearest friends, Tina, and her wonderful husband Chad. Chad is a lover of all things Alabama so needless to say he was more excited than a 5 year old hopped up on sugar who just found out they were going to Disney when I called to say I got the tickets! They were gracious enough to get us a really nice room at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi which is about an hour outside of New Orleans. The drive down went by super fast because we had a lot of catching up to do; so poor Chad had to endure endless yapping from me and Tina. The Beau Rivage is a beautiful hotel and I would recommend it to anyone who is headed down to Biloxi.

We got to “The Big Easy” around 11:30 on Monday morning. We slept in a little because people watching was way too much fun down in the Casino the night before. We valet parked my car at the Hilton and took off on foot to see all the sights. It took us a little bit to get our bearings but before I knew we were crossing the threshold onto Bourbon street and suddenly my nose was filled with an odor that words couldn’t possible do justice. In the great words of Zack Galifinakis, “if a foot could fart” that’s what it would smell like. Bourbon Street is one of the most interesting things I have ever witnessed in my entire life. It is definitely NOT a family friendly environment considering there is a new bar every 10 feet not to mention more Gentlemen Clubs than any street should ever possess and yet I was amazed at the amount of people walking with their children on this street of debauchery.

We then headed over to Jackson Square which was quite lovely and took in all the sights. While standing in front of Andrew Jackson’s statue I was harassed by a boy who couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years old. He was wearing a LSU jersey and had a Alabama Elephant hanging by a noose wrapped around his belt loop dragging it on the ground behind him and started screaming “Tiger Bait, Tiger Bait” at me. His dad finally jumped to my rescue and told the boy to calm down that the game hadn’t started yet. I found this very funny but also a little unnerving since I had seen this same boy on Bourbon Street earlier that day. I guess those LSU fans start them out young.

Per Natasha’s recommendations we went to Café Du Monde and ate some beignets and had an iced café au lait. It was absolutely scrumptious!! There were horse drawn carriages, sidewalk artists, people dancing and musicians trying to make a penny all around us. It was all very entertaining. After having dessert we decided to eat an actual meal so we went to Muriel’s and I had the best seafood gumbo I have ever eaten. I will say this, people in NOLA don’t joke around when it comes to food.

We finally headed over to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and that’s when the crowds became almost too much for this girl to handle. I felt like a Crimson fish swimming upstream in a sea of gold and purple. LSU fans are rabid! Not only are they obnoxious they wear the most ridiculous outfits. I thought overalls, toilet paper and a Tide soap box were bad but these people take it to a whole new level. We got some beads thrown our way and no we didn’t have to show our “tickets” as my nieces used to call them when they were little.

Here is where the real fun begins...totally being sarcastic! We finally get in line to enter the superdome and make our way in rather quickly. I am so excited that I can’t see straight and I immediately reach into my purse to get cash for a program only to find my wallet is GONE! Yes that’s right GONE! I panicked for all of 2 minutes and then maintained composure that Janice Bell (mom) would have been very proud of. I was determined this would not ruin my experience and it didn’t. After a few quick calls to cancel credit cards, bank accounts and so on I was back to “fun time” Jackie again.  (Natasha's note: for those of you wondering a nice LSU fan found Jackie's wallet, got in touch with her and sent it back. Jackie got it this past Saturday and was planning to send the lady a thank you reward, but there was no return address.)

Unfortunately Tina & Chad were sitting a section over from me but this too didn’t deter me from having the time of my life. I ended up sitting with my boss’s son and became fast friends with the girl to my right. We were high fiving, screaming and hugging each other before the game was over. I have heard from some people who watched the game from home that is was boring to them. Well it’s a whole different story in person. I was terrified it was going to be a kicking game like last time and even though it somewhat started out that way our players played with such heart and soul it brought a tear to my eye. The boys were pumping the crowd up every chance they got and for there to be so few Alabama fans compared to LSU fans it was absolutely amazing how loud we were. When Mosley went down the Alabama section started chanting CJ. When Maze pulled up because of a pulled hamstring you could see concern on all of us Alabama fans. We later watched the replay of the game & it was heartbreaking to see Maze crying on the sidelines knowing this is his last game & he can’t even finish it.

The game was a nonstop adrenaline rush that I will never forget and I am very lucky to have gotten the chance to experience it. We stayed throughout the ceremony and interviews. The streets were full of crimson and white and everyone was in great spirits! This would have been the time to head back to Bourbon Street to celebrate but my feet were killing me and Tina & Chad were ready to get back to the room. I heard more “Roll Tides” during those 2 days than I have ever heard in my life and I have never been more exhausted! It was well worth all the craziness and sleep deprivation. I would do it again in a heartbeat! ROLLLLLLL TIDE ROLL!!

Jackie and Tina

Jackie and Chad

Beignets and Cafe Au Lait

As seen on Bourbon Street

LSU fans on Bourbon Street

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Glamorous Weekend Life

Well, we’ve reached the end of another weekend/the beginning of another week. Why is it the weekends seem to go by so quickly?

I didn’t do much of anything this weekend. Friday I did some cleaning and some catching up on the DVR. On Saturday morning, I went to the gym and then came home and did some more cleaning and finally managed to put away the outdoor Christmas lights. The sun showed up on Saturday which was a nice surprise; sadly I think the rain is returning again this week. Saturday afternoon I went to see a movie (review coming later) and then made my weekly Publix stop.

After stopping by Publix, I popped in to Tommy’s Pizza for slice. The last time I had a slice of Tommy’s Pizza was in 2008. That particular evening I ended up having an attack of the gallbladder and then had surgery just a month or so later. So, I really didn’t know what to expect this time when I ate a slice. When I went to bed, I started having a little stomach pain, but gratefully didn’t have any sort of attacks or anything of the sort. So, I may give it another go again soon because it is quite good.

Sunday I went to church and really didn’t do much else than that. See how much fun the life of a single gal is! Please don’t be envious! I’ve spent some of the evening watching The Golden Globe Awards and I must say that Ricky Gervais never ceases to make me laugh. A lot of the other actors and actresses have been quite humorous as well. At this precise moment I am watching the Morgan Freeman montage as he is about to receive the lifetime achievement award or something like that. Let me state for the record that he makes some mighty fine movies! I’d also like to say why couldn’t I have ran into Channing Tatum down in Cullman before he made it big in Hollywood. He is handsome. I didn’t realize they grew men like that down in Cullman.

I haven’t seen many of the Golden Globe nominated movies so I’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do before the Academy Awards. Thankfully a lot of the movies are available through DirecTV so I hope to take some time to order a few over the next few weeks. I think last year was the year I saw the least amount of movies; not sure why that was.

I don’t suppose I have much else to say at this time. I should really stop writing when I don’t have anything much to talk about because I’m sure you’ve all got better things to do.; but at the same time, I know Erika needs something to read at work every day. So, this one’s for you, Erika! Hope your Monday is great!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

People Are Strange

Well, I've been basically staring at a blank screen for the past 10 minutes or so trying to think of something hilarious and entertaining to write about and sadly, I've come up with nothing. It's been a slow week for me; nothing much going on other than work, and church and going to the gym, none of which really provide a great deal of interesting things to write about. Although I guess I could write about the odd things I see at the gym because believe you me, there are quite a few and it's doubtful I can even remember them all for this post. I will give it a shot though. See, apparently all I have to do sometimes is start typing and a subject will flow from my fingertips!

If you've ever gone to a gym just once or on a regular basis then you probably know there are all type of people who frequent the gym. I've been going to my gym for almost two years now and sometimes I am still in a state of shock and awe at the things I see. When I first started going to the gym, I went to a class that involved weights. There was a lady who came to the class that wore a white wife beater tank top. She had a large derriere and she pulled the tank top down over the derriere but it was not pulled down in the front. On her head she wore a clear shower cap. It seriously looked like her hair was being set for a perm. I still see her occasionally and always want to ask her why the shower cap but I never do because she talks like she's from the streets and could beat me up.

Last week there was a girl in spin class who wore one of those box shaped caps and she tied her t-shirt in a knot at the front. Due to her t-shirt being tied up in the front, it was raised up in the back, thus revealing her rather large tramp stamp, also known as a tattoo on the small of her back for those of you unfamiliar with the terminology. This wasn't the first time I've had someones back tattoo glaring at me in class and I have no doubt it won't be the last.

Speaking of tattoos, there used to be a girl that came that literally had tattoos on almost every inch of her body. The only thing that wasn't covered in tattoos was her face, neck and hands. Both of her arms had sleeve tattoos and she always wore a tank top and best I could tell, her back was covered as well. I haven't seen this particular girl in a while, but she has been replaced by a woman who was changing in the locker room this past week who had a tattoo as large as her back. I thought it might take wings and fly off. This particular woman, who looked to be in her 50s, also has been known to have bright pink hair.

Then there are the group of girls who don't necessarily look weird, but they are only there because they think they are hot stuff and they love to flirt with the male instructors and basically think they are God's gift to the human race. they also talk in those high pitched voices that many girls with lack of brain power think is attractive - it's not. These are probably the people that get on my nerves the most.

You can also always spot the guys who want to try and lift the most weight even if they might not be able to walk when they get home in the evenings. There are people who don't wear deodorant or at least needed a refresher before they started sweating. I don't know if they are oblivious to their stink or what but sometimes it's more than a girl can bare.

Seems like there are more intersting people I wanted to mention but at the moment I can't think of who they might be. Needless to say, it's ever a dull moment at the gym, people. It apparently takes all kinds to make the gym go round and that's okay because if you're a people watcher like me then there's a lot to see. You should stop in some time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Regarding Rain and the Lawn

Sadly, I have nothing very exciting or even interesting to write about today, which means this is the first still of what will most likely be many posts in 2012 of me rambling on about nothing in particular. I can feel your enthusiasm beaming through the interwebs!

So, yeah, I still have my outdoor Christmas lights up. As you may remember, they are while lights and the cord actually blends in with my porch railing so I doubt you can really tell it. I haven't turned them on because I get really annoyed with Christmas lights shining bright after about January 1. I planned to put them away last weekend, but it was apparently the start of the monsoon season in Huntsville and hanging out in the rain wasn't at the top of my agenda believe it or not. So, with any luck, the rains will disperse this weekend and I'll be able to wrap those lights up and stash them away for another 10 months or so.

Speaking of the monsoon season, I can't believe how much rain we have been getting lately. I'm really sick of it, and I'm a person who actually likes rain from time to time; I mean, it is kind of essential to the circle of life, but good grief, I've practically forgotten what the sun looks like. Today in Huntsville, there are a lot of flooded roads, including the one I live on; one end of my street is apparently closed. I haven't seen it with my own eyes, but I did see it listed on a couple of websites after my aunt emailed me to tell me about it. Then my mom called and wanted me to leave work early - um, no, I have to make that time up; so, that's not going to happen.

Anyway, I was pretty excited to get home and see what all the fuss was about. Sadly, the street was not closed or flooded; I suppose the water had all receded by the time I got home. However, there were no barricades on the side of the road either which was peculiar. When I got home, my front yard was basically a mudslide. My house is elevated from the road so I suppose all the water ran down to the street and since my front yard never seems to get much grass (which I found out is because I didn’t rake my leaves – who knew?), it’s just all mud at this point with some smooshed leaves and a few random blades of grass. I think if I wanted I could easily slide down to the road without much effort. It’s pretty gross out there.

Also, I saw where all the manhole covers on California Street between Governors and Bob Wallace were gone because flood water had washed them away? Now, that's some serious water people. I hope it brings lush green lawns this spring.

Speaking of which, I hope to put down some grass seed at some point. I've got to consult my resident expert (also known as my dad) as to what kind of seed to put down and when to put it down, but I am tired of having an ugly front yard. I was planning to sod my front yard this spring but I don't have the money to do that. So, if you happen to know of someone or hear of someone who is giving away free sod (don't laugh, I've known it to happen in my parent's neighborhood), then please pass the word along because a nice lush front yard is a goal of mine, I'm concerned it may never happen.

I guess that’s really all I have to ramble on about for now; but don’t you worry, it will only be a matter of time before I write another post about nothing in particular. In the meantime, stay dry and warm – it’s supposed to get cold out there tonight!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

There Was More Than One Trophy Presentation Monday Night

Was everyone else as tired as I was on Tuesday? Needless to say, I stayed up late on Monday night watching the National Championship game and even some of the post game coverage and got into bed much later than my normal 10:00 p.m. bed time.

After work, I had an appointment at the chiropractor and then went to the gym for spin class. I came home, showered, grabbed the king cake I had made the night before, rounded up The Tide and headed over to my parents’ house to watch the big game and arrived just a few minutes before kickoff. My dad had picked up some barbeque earlier in the day and we had that for dinner and it was quite good. I love me some barbeque!

We settled in and had an enjoyable time watching the game together. I figured I might fall asleep since it started so late and I’ve been known to fall asleep a time or two watching a game, but I guess my adrenaline was pumping and I sat up and watched from start to finish and enjoyed every minute of it.

At half time we enjoyed some king cake and we also got a few laughs out of The Tide and Scout chasing each other and playing with a sock. The Tide had a hold of one end and my dad would give Scout the other end. Scout would hold on for a few seconds as The Tide pulled him across the room. It was quite humorous! I tried to get a photo but was unsuccessful in getting a really good shot.

The second half of the game was just as good as the first and we were all elated that Alabama won their 14th National Championship and second in three years. Three years in a row for the state of Alabama and six years in a row for the SEC! That’s pretty amazing!

After the game was over, we had a trophy presentation of our own. As you may recall, my family has a football bowl challenge each year and last year I purchased a trophy for the reigning champion to keep for the year. At the beginning of the bowl season, the champion returns the trophy until the next winner is determined. Well, folks, this year’s winner was none other than…wait for it…. me!

I beat out both my dad and brother to be the 2011 bowl season champion! My record was 28-7. Justin finished second with a 25-10 finish and my dad ended up 22-13. Yes, the master, my dad, finished last. In his trophy presentation, my dad congratulated me and told me he was proud he taught me to love sports. We stood there shaking hands for what felt like 15 minutes while my mother, God bless her, tried to operate the camera. She finally managed to take a picture or two and then my dad took a few. They aren’t the most glamorous pictures considering I’m in my PJs and have on no make-up and my hair is kind of crazy and I’m wearing my glasses in some shots, but that’s okay. I’m not really here to impress anyone and I had a good time taking these.

It was a fun Monday night and worth the sleep deprivation. Thanks, mother and daddy for hosting me and The Tide! There’s only 233 days until the 2012 college football season starts!

P.S. Jackie was lucky enough to be able to attend the game on Monday night in New Orleans. I’ve asked her to write a guest post about her experience. So, look for that to (hopefully) be coming soon!

I was trying to take a picture of The Tide and Scout lying on the couch beside me but was at an odd angle. This photo still cracked me up.

Entertainment by The Tide and Scout

My dad would hold on to the sock and then let Scout grab the other end.
I wasn't quick enough with the camera.

The trophy presentation

The Victor

Doesn't every winner kiss their trophy?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Roll Tide, Y'all!

In case you haven't heard, there's a football game on tonight. So, there's not going to be any elaborate post. I'm over at my parents' house watching the game and enjoying it as well as the entertainment of two dogs. I'll be back tomorrow with something more lengthy. So, until then, Roll Tide, y'all!

From earlier in the season - Roll Tide siblings!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yogurt Woes

I’ve been a yogurt lover for a long time. I don’t know how long, but for about as long as I can remember. I’ve tried all different kinds of yogurt and for about the past year or so, I’ve bought the Publix low fat yogurt because it’s at a good price and also tastes pretty good and has a variety of flavors. I know a lot of folks are all into this Greek yogurt craze, but I’m here to tell you, I am not one of those. I think the Greek yogurt tastes awful!

When I was in France this past summer, yogurt was always served at breakfast; but, the yogurt in France tasted a whole heck of a lot better than it did here in the States. One of the guides that is American but lives in Paris said it was because there weren’t all the preservatives we have here in the States and I have no doubt that is indeed the case.

Recently, I was in Publix looking at the yogurt and something caught my eye. It was Dannon Activia French Yogurt. It was more expensive that the Publix yogurt I had been buying, but I was curious and wanted to give it a try to see if it was similar to the yogurt I had while in France. I bought a couple of them and tried it the next morning. Y’all, it was so good. I was transported back to the summer and could hardly believe the taste on my tongue. I’m sure there are more preservatives in this French yogurt than there were in the yogurt I had while in France but it was the closest I was going to come to have that delightful yogurt from the summer of 2011.

Since that first purchase, I have only bought the Dannon French Yogurt and have enjoyed every single cup. This past Saturday, I went in to Publix for my weekly shopping trip and went over to where the yogurt was and much to my chagrin, the Dannon Activia French Yogurt was on clearance! It won’t be available again after this month! I’m not sure if this is only at Publix or if it’s everywhere. I asked the guy stocking the shelf about it and he said he didn’t know if it was being discontinued only that they couldn’t get it anymore. I’m so sad, people; so, sad! If you happen to see it at your store, pick up a cup and give it a try before it’s all gone.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Movie Experience and Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

While I was out for vacation last week, I managed to make it to the movie theater to see "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" on the big screen. As you know, I read the books last year and enjoyed each of them immensely - once I was able to get into it that is. So, I was looking forward to seeing what Hollywood was going to do with these books that have been read and loved by so many.

I went last Friday night and after running a couple of errands, arrived at the theater, bought my ticket and then a large - yes, a large, popcorn. After having the stomach virus a couple of days before and eating cautiously on Thursday, my hunger had caught up to me and I was ready for some eating, people. I didn't eat the whole bucket, but came pretty darn close. I ran into two couples from church in the hallway when I first arrived and chatted with them for a while before making my way to the theater.

I settled into a seat ca couple of rows from the top and was hoping the theater wouldn't fill up. I should have known better because it was showing in one of the smaller theaters and there were already quite a few people in the "stands". I was really amazed at the number of couples in the crowd because call me crazy but I wouldn't want to watch this movie with a boyfriend or husband. Something about seeing rape on the big screen doesn't say, "I love you sweetie," to me. But, hey, what do I know? I guess I sat down about 10 minutes before the movie started and in those 10 minutes , the place became rather full. Two girls came in and sat right next to me which I was less than thrilled about but thankfully they didn't talk or fart or anything like that. (I have no idea what inspired me to write fart, but I'm keeping it. Sorry, Aunt Linda!)

Once the movie began, they showed a wide array of previews, none of which really struck my fancy. I mean, Ghostrider 2? Really, wasn't the first one bad enough? Nicolas Cage, how you have fallen. Of course, I have never enjoyed his acting, but that's a post for another day.

OK, on to the movie review - this movie was quite well done considering the vast amount of material the screenwriters, directors, etc. had to work with. You would think they would have had to leave something out, but in reality there wasn't much missing at all. Impressive. I have watched many a movie based on books I have read but this is the first time I have ever watched one where I felt like someone had literally taken the scenes from my head and placed them on the screen in front of me. I give all the credit to Stieg Larsson and his immaculate attention to detail. He described things so very to the point that it would have been hard to mess it up; but, seriously, y'all - right out of my head. It was quite mind blowing. The whole movie wasn't like that mind you, but many of the scenes, especially from the parade Harriet was at before she went missing and the wreck of the gas freighter on the bridge. It was quite surreal.

I wasn't sure how I would like Daniel Craig in the role of Mikael Blomkvist, I mean, he's quite lovely as James Bond but I always pictured Mikael to be a little pudgier and less handsome than Daniel Craig, but he did quite a good job. He was actually believable in the role, which is obviously important. Christopher Plummer was quite wonderful as Henrik Vanger but I mean when is he not wonderful - hello, Captain Von Trapp! Rooney Mara - amazing as Salander. She did a phenomenal job as this very reclusive and troubled yet remarkable girl. She played the role beautifully.

There were a few things that were changed to make the movie flow better into the second film, such as Palmgren being in the nursing home, which doesn't happen until the second book. The ending was a little different as well, but worked out just fine and didn't take away from the plot at all. I closed my eyes during the rape scene because I did not care to see that on the big screen, or any screen for that matter. There were a couple of other disturbing scenes (those in the basement of Martin's house and another one or two) in which I also closed my eyes because really I wanted to be able to sleep peacefully once I got home that evening. The movie was 2 hours and 40 minutes long but it kept my attention the whole time and I didn't look at my watch once - a modern day miracle. In all, I would give this movie an A plus. If you loved the book, then I think you will love the movie as well. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the second, assuming there will be a second. Here's to hoping so!

Side Note: I decided to name these posts movie experience and review since I seem to write more about what happens at the theater than the actual movie and honestly I don't think I'm that good at reviewing. Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rev It Up

You may remember that when my dad and I went to the Christmas parade last month, there was a woman across the way that kept yelling "Rev it up!" at all the cars that passed by. This unknown lady has been the subject of many laughs between my friends and I, especially my friend Candy who often asks for a demonstration of the woman and her motions and the way she said, "Rev it up!" Y'all - it never ceases to make us laugh!

So, this past weekend, as my mother and I were leaving the hospital, I noticed a stand of flyers and they caught my attention because in large letters the flyer said, "Rev It Up!" Apparently Crestwood Hospital is starting a new program for the the New Year which deals with weight loss and healthy living and all that jazz. I grabbed a flyer and took it home with me to show Candy, knowing we would get a good laugh out of it and indeed we did. She told me I needed to scan it in and post in on the blog and so I have done just that. It actually looks like it might be a good program, although it's rather expensive for my taste. Here's the link if you want to check it out.

I scanned the flyer in hopes of posting it here on the blog, but our scanner at work only scans into PDF format and apparently that format won't work here on the blog. I'm so disappointed! But, at least we got a good laugh out of the flyer.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back to the Grind

Well, I wrapped up the final couple of days of my Christmas vacation and went back to work on Tuesday. I was ready to be back on a normal schedule, but also dreaded getting up early after sleeping in (until 7:00 - I'm such a rebel!) and taking lots of naps while I was off.

On Sunday, my dad came home from the hospital and we were able to enjoy the nice dinner we had originally planned for New Year's Eve. The food was excellent if I do say so myself. I tried this new potato recipe and also this recipe for Egg Nog Pie. If you like Egg Nog, then you will definitely like this pie, which is very light and goes well with a heavy meal when you don't want a heavy dessert. After dinner, we visited with our friends Naaman and Cheryl and then The Tide and I headed home for a night of good rest.

Monday morning I went to the gym and then came home and finally cleaned my bathroom. I say finally because it seems like ti had been on the to do list for about a week before I was finally able to get to it on Monday morning. That afternoon, I took a break from watching football (much to the surprise of my dad) to go have a late lunch with my Aunt Linda. We went to Jason's Deli and the food was, as expected, great. I love their salad bar! We visited for an hour and a half or so and then I came back home and watched more football and perused the internets for nothing in particular.

All of my Christmas decorations were put away last Friday with the exception of my outside lights and I suppose I will get around to doing that this coming weekend. I did manage to take the wreaths down as they are stored in the same bag as my tree. I've got some lingering dish towels and whatnot to put away still but am waiting on some of them to still be laundered so I can take them all out at once. I haven't got in much of a hurry with the laundry as of late.

As mentioned I started back to work today and I was kind of excited because back in early November, I won a sweet parking spot in our annual United Way campaign. I won the spot for two months, which then turned into four months when they doubled the number of spots available on the side where I park. You see, we have a huge parking lot and it is quite a trek from where us minions usually park to the inside of the building and the spot I won (for January, March, July and September) is quite close to the entrance. Seeing as how today is the coldest day of the winter thus far, that made the spot even better.

Well, when I arrived this morning, everyone was parked up close because they have started doing some repair work on the paring lot and I kid you not, over half of the parking lot was blocked off; and now, since it's so cold out, no one knows when the work will resume. So, my parking spot, is less than shiny right now since everyone is parking up close. I hope they get those parking lot repairs completed soon so that I can enjoy my winnings while everyone else (except those who have worked here for 25 years or longer) have to park out in Timbuktu.

Work actually went by rather quickly today as we are doing inventory and spent a good portion of the day auditing counts. I suppose it's a nice way to ease back into the daily routine of coming to work each day and actually wearing clothes other than pajamas. Hope your week is off to a good start as well!

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Am the Master of Uno

The continuation of my New Year’s Eve (read part one here)

After the adventurous day with my dad and getting my mother home, I went over to Jackie’s to visit with her and the kids a bit before heading back home to an unruly kitchen and a pie that still needed to be made.

When I headed out, there was a truck blocking the road I needed to get on. The truck finally moved up the road and as it was going up to the highway, I noticed what looked like a piece of car flying towards my car. As it turns out, that truck it a SUV coming down the mountain and the side view mirror was what came flying towards me. I stopped and talked to the people in the SUV and then drove off to get the license plate number of the truck; but thankfully the truck turned around to go back to the scene of the crime. I think those folks had already hit the bottle.

Jackie had made a spread of finger foods but I wasn’t hungry thanks to the hospital beef stroganoff. I did have a couple of brownies before I left for the night and they were delectable. Our friend Maria was there as well as her dog Ally. The kids were wound up in anticipation of the New Year, complete with noise makers. They were loud and rambunctious and hyped up on life. It was quite entertaining.

Troy showed me some of his new Lego sets and then he brought out his new Harry Potter Uno game and it was Game On! We played probably 10 rounds or so and I won… wait for it… two! He beat my butt and even made up a little song about it! He declared himself the Master of Uno! And indeed, he was. I got beat by a nine year old – many times, people; many times!

Jackie then got out a couple of decks of cards and we set in for a few rounds of Nertz, which is a game we played when we were kids. I think we each won three games. I really can’t remember the exact count, but we were in full on concentration mode and were having to push the kids out of the way and tell them to hush so we could concentrate.

Around 8:30 I had to call it a night because The Tide had not been out for a bathroom break since I left the house a little after noon. I would have loved to stay longer so that I could become the Master of Uno; but, alas it was not meant to be. My dog needed some attention. We popped open the sparkling grape juice before I left to celebrate the New Year and the taste brought Jackie and I back to our youth when we were quarantined to a bedroom with a set of rented VHS tapes and only summoned out a few minutes before midnight to toast in the New Year. I then headed home and was thankful to avoid any drunks on the road.

It wasn’t the New Year’s celebration we had planned, but it was good nonetheless. We were blessed that nothing major was wrong with my dad and it was fun and enjoyable to spend some time with the kids beating my butt at Uno. Hope your New Year’s was really great! All the best to you and yours in 2012!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My New Year's Eve

I don’t know about you, but my New Year’s Eve certainly didn’t turn out a thing like expected. For the past couple of years, my dad and I have cooked a nice dinner for our family and a few close friends and it was decided that we would do the same this year. My dad was going to cook prime rib and I was in charge of everything else, which was to be a green salad, potatoes Romanoff, steamed shredded brussel sprouts and lemon pound cake and egg nog cream pie.

I woke up around 7:00 on Saturday morning and immediately started to work in the kitchen. I first made the pound cake and then started on the potatoes which had to be shredded – that food processor is a dream come true for this lover of cooking. I got the brussel sprouts shredded and the salad made and cooked some bacon for the salad and thought I was doing pretty well. Around 11:00 I left the house to pick up a pizza I had ordered from Sam and Greg’s because I didn’t want to make myself lunch when I was already making myself dinner – or something like that.

On the way back from the pizzeria, my mom called. My dad had taken himself to the hospital because he was having chest pains. The doctor didn’t like the first EKG and so was going to wait a bit and do another one. My dad had tried to call me so I called him and asked what was going on. He told me the same and that he didn’t want anyone coming down there. A nurse came in to draw blood which cut our conversation short. I ate my pizza and mom my called back. I told her that we were cancelling the dinner and postponing it to either Sunday or Monday.

Not long after talking to her she called a couple of more times with updates and then called to say that the doctor thought my dad was trying to have a heart attack and that they were going to do a heart cath. I took a quick shower, called Jackie to meet me at my parents’ house and drove over there myself to help my mom get dressed and take her down to the hospital.

I was the first to arrive then a couple of ladies from the church my parents attend and then Jackie. We all managed to get mother dressed. A husband of one of the ladies put mother in her wheelchair and Jackie and I packed a small bag with some snacks and sodas. Mother and I were then on our way.

By the time we finally got to the hospital, the heart cath was over and the arteries were really clean – great news! No heart attack! Even better news! Apparently the chest pains had something to do with upper GI problems. My dad has ulcerative colitis and that probably has something to do with it. It may also be ulcers. He will have to have an endoscopy sometime soon.

They moved my dad to a room and soon after visitors trickled in. Thanks to all of you friends who stopped by and all you family too! I would name everyone but then might forget someone and I would feel bad so a BIG thanks to all who came – your love and support did not go unnoticed! Also a BIG thanks to all who prayed or called to check in. We really appreciate it all!

My mom and I headed back to the house around 4:30 but first stopped in the hospital café to have some dinner of beef stroganoff and green beans and you know what, it wasn’t bad at all. I got mother home and her nightgown on her and some friends were going to stop by and help her get in the bed. I do not have the strength to lift her one iota. I can maybe lift one leg. My granddad, her dad, came over to spend the night with her and I left to do a little celebrating with Jackie and the kids.

To be continued...