Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Teaser

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Problem with Raspberries

This post just goes to show you how little is going on in my world right now. I've resorted to writing about produce. I don't know about you, but I'm a big fan of most all kinds of berries, strawberries and blackberries being my favorite. Apparently there was a bumper crop of raspberries wherever it is that raspberries are grown because for the last three weeks or so Publix has had raspberries on sale for $1.99 a carton, which is a pretty good price as they are usually upwards of $3.

So, for the past three weeks, I have bought at least two, sometimes three cartons of raspberries as I really love to munch on these and they are better than snacking on some sort of junk food. The problem is that out of the 6-9 cartons I have bought, I have maybe only eaten a total of two cartons because all the others have rotted before I even got a change to eat them.

This past weekend I bought two cartons on Saturday. Sunday night as I grabbed a carton out of the fridge to wash them and put them in a plastic container so I could take them in my lunch on Monday. Much to my chagrin, both cartons had rotting and molded berries. It has become rather apparent that Publix has way more berries than they know what to do with (there weer what looked like hundreds of cartons on the shelf) and the berries are also apparently not flying off the shelves which leaves rotting berries for those of us who do buy them. The bad berries are on the bottom of the carton so the next day or two when I finally go to eat them, the who carton is ruined.

Needless to say, I've learned my lesson (I hope) when it comes to these berries and I will not be adding these to my grocery cart this weekend, no matter how luscious they look. I actually had this same problem with two cartons of strawberries I bought Father's Day weekend. I bought the two cartons to make a cake and in total only about one carton was usable, the others had to be thrown out. Of course, peak strawberry season has passed us by and I'm sure they are not selling as many as they were a month or two ago, but still, the berries should last more than one or two days.

Speaking of berries, I would love to get some really good blackberries. Has anyone seen these at the farmer's market recently? I may check out Greene Street Market this Thursday and see if there are any available. Hopefully they will last more than one or two days.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Here's What's Happening

We reached 102 degrees here in Huntsville on Monday. It would have been the perfect day for Cooking in the Car; but, alas, I was running slow on Monday morning and wasn't able to put anything together. Sadly, the forecast predicts highs in the 100s again on Friday so I will do my best to cook in the car on Friday and bring you the results next week. I've got quite a few items planned for this season of Cooking in the Car and I'm pretty excited about it.

In other news, I found Loretta Spencer on Twitter and became one of her followers and I'm happy to report she is following me now too. I feel like a celebrity! Thanks, Loretta, for making my day! I'm scheduled to start volunteering at Loretta's campaign office soon. I actually think I'm supposed to show up this Friday after work. I haven't heard the official word, but I think I'm unofficially supposed to be there. I need to find out for sure.

We are conducting inventory at work next week which actually isn't as bad as it sounds, or at least I don't think so. A lot of people complain about it, but I don't think it's that big of a deal. I can wear jeans and tennis shoes every day and the only brain function I have need of is the ability to count. Pretty easy peasy if you ask me. Since I have a doctor's appointment for a physical on Monday, I may be called in on Sunday to help out for a couple of hours; that way I won't have to take any leave for the time I am out on Monday morning. I'm curious to know what hours I will have to come in on Sunday. Chances are I will have to miss my Sunday afternoon nap, but I'll be able to make it up on Wednesday when we have the day off for Independence Day. Am I the only one who finds it odd to have a Wednesday off instead of a Monday or Friday? I'm not complaining though. I'm looking forward to having the day off. If it weren't so darn hot I might even fire up the grill and cook myself up a little something.

On Monday night we had our monthly ladies' night out at church. I was the hostess this month and we had taco salad which was quite good if I do say so myself. I cooked 5.11 pounds of meat and every bit of it was eaten; and to think I was afraid that might be too much. Instead of playing a game or two like we normally do, we stuffed bears to send to an orphanage in Romania. A lady that attends church with my parents is going in December and she and the group she goes with are aiming to have around 3,000 of these bears to take with them. So, I decided we could help them out by stuffing a few. The stuffing party was a big hit. We ended up completing 160 bears in about 45 minutes. Everyone seemed to have a good time - all the ladies were talking and laughing and the piles of bears kept getting bigger and bigger. I think it was one of the funnest nights we have had. there were some bears left over and they were all taken home by various folks, including a 10-year old who came and wanted to take some home to work on. We will work on these again next month and I may try to schedule a Saturday or two this summer to work on these. I was really pleased with how well it went.

I'm sure you all are just as excited as I am to know that the 2012 edition of the world's greatest race, le Tour de France, begins this Saturday, June 30! I am thrilled beyond measure, but also a little dismayed to think that it has been a year since I was in France when it seriously seems like I was just there yesterday. Where does the time go? So, if you need me any during the month of July, you can most likely find me staring at my television with my mouth open and my heart beating fast, and perhaps even occasionally screaming, "Allez!" at the screen. I've never claimed to be normal. I also will not have a clue as to what is going on in the world until the wee hours of the night because I will steer clear of all manner of internet, social media, and news until after I have watched the day's stage. It's almost like living in the dark ages.

At the end of July the Olympics will come to us live from London. I saw Michael Phelps on the evening news last night and he had an extremely large and distracting mustache. I, for one, am not a fan. I am, however, looking forward to the games and have enjoyed watching the Olympic trails this past week to see who all will be representing our United States.

Well, I think that's all the completely random information I have stockpiled for you today. Come back tomorrow to read even more ramblings from the brain of Nat. Have a great day!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Summer Heat Has Arrived

I don't know about where the rest of you live, but here in Alabama, summer has definitely arrived. It was a scorcher this past weekend. I don't know what the high was each day, but it was definitely high 90s and felt close to 100. Thankfully, I did not have to mow the lawn this past weekend since we have had no rain and therefore the grass is not growing. Soon enough it will burn up completely I think. When I went to take the trash to the road last night I noticed all the flowers on the side of the house (hydrangeas, day lilies, etc.) were exceptionally droopy. I had been meaning to water them but this past week had not given it much thought. So, I drug the hose pie all the way around the house to help prevent them from dying. They all looked rejuvenated this morning, thank goodness.

Friday night I went to see Troy and Ashlyn perform in Blue Plate Broadway. Blue Plate Broadway is basically a week long drama camp and at the end of the week the students and counselors put on singing and dancing production. It's put on my While We Wait Productions out of New York City and headed up by Stephen Tyler Davis, whom I have known since he was in diapers. That's kind of weird. I've got to say for these kids to just have had one week to practice, they all did a really great job. Troy and Ashlyn each had a small line to say in the show and they both did a great job. The show was really enjoyable and lasted about two hours. I'm happy to report that although I did cough during the show it was not a constant cough and hopefully did not distract others from enjoying the show. The kids had two performances on Saturday as well, although I didn't go to those since it was the same show all three times. With any luck, this will inspire the kids to try out for some local plays because I think they would both be really great at it!

Saturday morning, The Tide and I headed out early to the dog wash. I had scheduled an 8:00 a.m. bath time for her so that I could get that out of the way before doing anything else. she is shedding her winter coat right now and my word I have never seen so much hair. I mean, I am beginning to winder if she is importing it in from other dogs just to make me a little crazy. The girl at the shop cut The Tide's nails, a job I hate doing myself, and then I gave her a good scrubbing and was able to rid her of a good chunk of loose hair. It was her first bath in three months so she was overdue.

When we got back home, I was overcome with the cleaning bug and decided to clean the baseboards and windows in my bedroom. I managed to get all the baseboards done as well as the door that leads outside. I started on the window behind my bed; I have the kind that pop out so they are supposed to be easy to clean. The bottom window didn't just pop over and out, it came completely out which freaked me out a wee bit as I thought I might now ever get it back in. After much consternation, I managed to get it back in place and decided I would put the window washing on hold until I could come up with a better plan - one that most likely will involve a ladder and cooler weather.

I cleaned the rest of the house and for the first time in I don't know how long completed every bit of laundry with the exception of what I was wearing, including many linens and blankets. It probably goes without saying that I napped and then made my weekly trip to Publix. Why is it when you don't seem to have much on your list is when you spend the most money. That makes no sense to me. It probably didn't help that I didn't really want to go to the store, which is odd, but I needed something other than canned foods to eat. That evening I finished watching the Showtime series Homeland. If you have not seen this show, please, I beg of you, do everything in your power to see it. Oh my word, is it good!

Sunday was nothing to write about, unless you count that I cooked five pounds of hamburger meat for taco salads for our church ladies' night out event for this evening. I almost forgot to mention that on Friday at the Blue Plate Broadway event on Friday I ran into a friend who had some Loretta Spencer signs in her car and so I snagged a couple from her and I braved the heat long enough to put one up in my yard on Saturday. Y'all know I love Loretta!

So, now we have arrived at Monday again and it's back to the grind. I don't know about you, but I am looking forward to having a day off from work, even if it is in the middle of the week. I don't have any plans for the Fourth and as of this moment am planning on being a lazy bum, that is, unless I decide to attempt some more window cleaning.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review: Sarah's Key

I've got another book review for you today. This book was another one I had heard mentioned by two or three bloggers I follow and so I thought I would give it a try and I am so glad I did. The name of the book is Sarah's Key and it was written by Tatiana de Rosnay.

I cannot give a lot of details about the book without spoiling it for those of you who may want to read it; but, I will do the best I can. The book begins with two stories. In chapter one, we are introduced to a little girl living in Paris in 1942 and in chapter two we read about a woman, Julia, living in Paris in 2002.

The little girl and her family are Jewish and are taken from their home in the middle of the night in the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup on July 16, 1942. In the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, over 13,000 Jews were gathered by the French police under German control and were eventually sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. They were first sent to camps in France where the men were separated from the women and children, then the children from the women. The story is told from the girl's perspective and is heart-breaking and captivating all at the same time. I could not stop reading and each time I came to the end of a chapter, I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter told from the girl's perspective to find out what was going to happen next.

Julia is an American ex-pat who has lived in France for 25-years. She is married to a Frenchman and has one daughter. She is in her 40s and is a writer for a magazine in Paris. When she comes into the story, she has been given the assignment of covering the 60th anniversary of the Ve' d'Hiv Roundup and, it probably goes unsaid, becomes deeply moved by the stories she hears and the information she gathers. In addition to her writing assignment, she is also having problems in her home-life. The story of the Ve d'Hiv Roundup becomes so much more to Julia than she ever imagined, and that, my friends, is the treasure of this book.

This is a novel and none of the characters are real, but the facts surrounding the story make it seem very real. It is a gripping story and it sucks you in from the first words on the page. I would love to tell you more, but I'm afraid I cannot do that without giving away more of the story. You will have to read for yourself to find out what happened. This is one of the better books I have read in a long while. According to Amazon, it's around 400 pages and I read it in three days and I was really disappointed when it ended because I wanted to know... what next? Alas, I will have to make up the "next" in my mind. If you check it out let me know how you liked it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just Call Me a Slacker

Hello there dear readers! I know I promised a book review today, but I’m going back on my word. Please don’t be mad. It’s been a very busy couple of days at work and I didn’t have any spare time throughout the day to do any writing. Now I’m at home and after spending all day at the computer, I don’t feel much like spending the evening in front of another computer.

I did want to pop in and say hello and that I hope you all have a great weekend! I’ll be back next week with a book review and probably more random ramblings about nothing in particular. Until then!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Took A Sick Day

The blogging has been sporadic this week - I do apologize - and just when I thought there wasn't anything to write about today, I've managed to write over 1,000 words about nothing. That takes talent, my friends, sheer talent! I went to the doctor yesterday and took a sick day from work and just didn't much feel like writing. The diagnosis is bronchitis. This is the third time in a year - it seems to come around every six months. I'm not sure what's up with that. The doctor said that allergies and acid reflux in combination can cause bronchial spasms - who knew? I guess I'm out of luck for the remainder of my days.

I started out writing today with all intents and purposes of posting another book review; but, I'll save that for tomorrow or the next day and instead just ramble on aimlessly - that seems to be what I do best.

My day at home was rather uneventful. I went to the doctor for a 9:45 a.m. appointment and was out of the office a few minutes after 10:00. Sadly, I wasn't at the prime of my coughing while in the office. Does this happen to you as well? It seems like whatever the ailment is it disappears or lessens when you arrive at the doctor's office. Prior to going in to my appointment I was having some of the most violent coughing I have even had in my life. Then when I got to the doctor, not so much. Although he made comment about how much I was coughing and I said, "This is pretty good. You haven't heard anything."

After my appointment, I went to Target to pick up my prescription which had been sent in via eScripts (I have no idea if that's how it is spelled, but we are going with that for today), only to discover my prescriptions had not come down the electronic line. The pharmacist said it can sometimes take up to four hours to go through because they come in batches. So, I asked them to call me when it came in, bought some dog food and went home.

Around noon the pharmacy called and said they had received the prescriptions and it would take about an hour to fill. I told them there was no need to fill the Prednisone because I would not take it. It makes me hot, gain weight that I can never seem to take off, and also lie awake all night long with my eyes open so wide you would think they were about to pop out of my head. Not to mention the fact that this is my doctor's favorite drug to prescribe and you're not supposed to take it very often because of the side effects on your body. I think I'll pass. I went back to Target around 2:00 to pick up the drugs only to discover that the inhaler he prescribed was $50 with my insurance. I didn't get that either, which was disappointing, but $50 is a little steep for something I'm going to use just a few times. Plus, I have an inhaler from when I was sick with pneumonia back in the winter and so I am just using it until it runs out. That one, by the way, was only $25. Why couldn't he have prescribed that one? So, out of three prescriptions, I only got one, the antibiotic, which thankfully seems to be working as I am already feeling some better.

Other than my two jaunts to Target and the visit with the doctor, I didn't do much else. I did watch a lot of television - all shows or movies that I had stored up on my DVR for a rainy day. DirecTV had a free HBO, Showtime and Cinemax weekend the past couple of weeks and so I was able to record quite a few movies I had not seen. I was really looking forward to watching X-Men: First Class and when I started watching it, it was in Spanish. I thought I had accidentally changed the receiver to Spanish somehow but then I realized that I had recorded it from HBOL, which is HBO Latino! I mean, really, the Latinos now need their own HBO Channel? I was upset about it because out of all the movies I had recorded this is the one I wanted to see the most. Oh well.

I was glad I had a plethora of shows to watch from the DVR, because I am here to tell you, Daytime TV just isn't what it used to be. When I was in high school and college, I recorded soap operas and that was the highlight of my free time. Now, there's maybe one or two on. Of course, I had no interest in any of them because I wasn't familiar with the plots, etc and didn't even attempt to watch. Now, well, there' just not much to choose from. I should have done some reading, but I guess I couldn't get motivated to do that either. Anyway, that was my sick day at home in probably way more detail than you bargained for today.

In other news, and I don't think I mentioned this yet, I ordered a pair of DUO Boots from the UK. These are the boots that Erika discovered on the World Wide Web and you can order per your calf size. I ordered the next to the largest calf size (49 cm) and I'm here to tell you...they didn't fit. It was crushing. I felt like crying. The boots were sent back the next day. I think ordered a pair of stretch boots from Zappos to give those a try. They had a sweater backing with stretch and so I thought they might work. Wrong. Actually, they fit, I was able to get them on and up my large legs, but they were so tight I thought I might lose blood flow in my lower extremities - it would be the equivalent of preparing for an amputation. As badly as I would LOVE a new pair of boots, I would also like to be able to feel my legs and feet while walking. And so, the quest for a pair of boots continues. Wish me luck, dear friends.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The End of an Era

In case you haven't heard, over the past couple of weeks, there have been a lot of changes in the newspaper business here in Alabama; well, in three major cities anyway, Huntsville, Birmingham, and Mobile. All three papers are owned by the same company, Advance Publications

A few weeks ago, launched a revamped site, which quite frankly made my eyes bleed when I looked at it. The color was a bright yellow. So bright, in fact, that you needed sunglasses to even look at the screen. Honestly, I have no idea why "they" decided a re-vamp was needed because I liked the site the way it was before. Now, I have no idea where anything is. All the places I used to go for deals, recipes, etc. have vanished from their former spots and it might take a modern day miracle to locate them. Thankfully, after numerous complaints on Twitter and undoubtedly via email, the color was toned down to a much more bearable beige. (Thank you powers that be!)

A few days after the revamped site was launched, another announcement was made - these three papers would be going from a daily circulation to a three-day circulation beginning in the fall. Say what? Some folks I know were raging mad about this, others were indifferent. The majority of people I know felt like the newspaper here in Huntsville didn't provide enough coverage of local stories. I agree, it's definitely not the newspaper it used to be; but that was pre-internet when people relied on the daily delivery to actually deliver the news. Remember when Huntsville had two papers? A morning and an afternoon paper? Those, my friends, were the days.

This past week, 400 newspaper employees including columnists, photographers, circulation department folks and everyone in between lost their jobs as part of this new a week circulation nonsense. Call me old fashioned, but I do not think this is a change for the better. I'm not an idiot; I realize that everything is going digital and I have even been a contributor to the change to digital with the purchase of a Kindle. However, there's just something about the loss of a hometown newspaper that is really heartbreaking to me. Maybe I am too close to the situation. After all, I have written for the Huntsville Times for the past four years covering high school football and sometimes basketball and as a result of that work have made many friends, all of whom will not have a job come September 30. That's a lot of local knowledge thrown out the door. As my dear friend Mary put it, " I’m curious how on earth they think they can publish a paper 3 days a week AND have 24/7 updated content with so few people!" Mary's husband also worked for the newspaper and will also be shuffled out the door on September 30. Less than 20 writers were retained - that is really hard concept to grasp.

I know a lot of you don't care much about local high school sports, but there are a lot of people in this city who do and have increasingly complained about the lack of coverage in the newspaper. It wasn't the writers' faults, it was the editors and other upper management who made those cuts. Now I wonder if there will be any coverage at all. "They" axed the one guy who had more local high school sports knowledge than anyone I've ever encountered. As for me, I have no idea what the plan is for those of us who helped with high school football, etc., but even if they do call and ask me about coming back (which I seriously doubt will happen), I will decline their offer, just on principle alone. I also don't want you to think I'm writing this for your sympathy on my behalf - my writing job was just for extra money and I didn't need it to feed my family. What "they" have done to these people and their livelihoods is wrong in my opinion. Sadly, there probably won't be many repercussions for the owners of the newspapers because eventually everyone will become accustomed to the digital editions and very few people will remember what it was like to hold a newspaper in their hand every day.

Change is hard for a lot of people, myself included. In these difficult economic times, there are now 400 more people without a job; 400 people who will more than likely have to relocate their families or make a total career change. To me, that is so heartbreaking. For whatever reason, these lay-offs have struck me to my very core and I have shed more than one tear over the loss of my friends' jobs. Working in a newsroom is like working with a family and it saddens me that I will never be a part of that again. No late night deadlines, late night laugh fests or late night pizzas or late night debates. Truth be told, a lot of them I will never see again because I only saw them in the newsroom in the fall - I wish each of them a fond farewell.

I wanted to bring all of this to your attention primarily to ask that you keep these people in your prayers. Being laid off is difficult in and of itself, but being laid off from an industry that is more or less fading is even harder.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Post For Monday

Well, hello there! I'm late posting and for that I do apologize. I am not feeling too well you see, so, I didn't write anything Sunday night. I've had a terrible cough for the past four weeks as well as some chest congestion. I'm sure my friends, family and the people I work with are tired of hearing me cough. Yesterday I started feeling bad and then last night I got a collective amount of about two hours sleep. So, needless to say, I'm struggling to make it through this Monday. The girl I work with is out today, otherwise I would have taken the day off to sleep and visit the doctor. I have an appointment for Tuesday morning so I'm going to work for a couple of hours, go to the doctor, and go home for some rest. I am really looking forward to it and the folks I work with are probably looking forward to it as well.

I really don't have all that much to write about today as the weekend wasn't too eventful. I mowed the grass on Friday night and I think that helped contribute to my feeling bad. I'm beginning to think I have a grass allergy because I always have congestion afterwards and I had not taken my allergy medicine last week - on accident - and so I feel pretty positive that the grass helped moved my illness along. Saturday was spent cleaning, going to the grocery store, cooking and napping. See, not much to tell.

On Sunday we had our annual Father's Day lunch of Meatloaf, Green Beans, Okra, Corn, Cornbread, and Strawberry Cake. It was quite enjoyable if I do say so myself. I got my dad a bow tie for Father's Day. I had given it to him earlier in the week so he could wear it on Sunday. I think he pulled it off well.

That's about it for me. How about you? Hope you all enjoyed a nice weekend.

Side note: It's officially summer on Wednesday and it's heating up here in Huntsville which means that Cooking in the Car will soon be making its return to the blog. I've got quite a few items lined up, so bring on the 100 degree days... I guess.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Seems like the end of the week has become a good time for a book review - for now anyway. I'll keep it up as long as I can either find something interesting to read or have an assignment. This week's book review is about a book that I read for pleasure. I saw someone I follow on Twitter mention it and I looked it up on Amazon and it looked interesting to me so I downloaded it to my Kindle and soon after started reading. The name of the book is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and it was written by Rebecca Skloot.

Have you ever heard of Hela cells? If not, then you are probably not working in the field of science because I had never heard of Hela before reading this book. If you haven't guessed yet, this book is a work of non-fiction, and is about Hela cells, which came from Henrietta Lacks. When Mrs. Lacks was in her early 30s, she contracted cervical cancer. She lived in the Baltimore area and she sought treatment at Johns Hopkins hospital which provided medical assistance to the poor. In the 1950s, which was when Mrs. Lacks' cancer was discovered, treatment for cancer was still experimental, more or less. Radiation treatments were given to Mrs. Lacks, but sadly, the treatment did not work and she passed away.

During the time she was being treated at Hopkins, a doctor took a sample of the cells of her cervix, and the first two letters of her first and last name were written on the vial in which the cells were stored (HeLa). Until this time, the doctor collecting samples had not been able to keep any cells alive for more than a day or two; but there was something special about Henrietta's cells. Not only did they live, but the multiplied, flourished and have continued to replicate over the years and are still used in labs all over the world today - almost 60 years after her death. Henrietta's cells became instrumental in developing a vaccine for polio and were also used to develop many chemo-therapies used to day as well as a plethora of other drugs and solutions to the medical problems faced by society.

Although a work of non-fiction, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks reads like a novel, which is part of the appeal. Ms. Skloot heard of Hela in her college science class and soon after began a discovery to find out about the person who was behind Hela. The novel took years of research and years of spending time with Henrietta's uneducated but very interesting family. I make the point that they were uneducated not to be rude, but because truly, this is one of the major parts of the story. These people were not blessed to have access to education and were often confused and misled about what happened to Henrietta. That in itself makes for an interesting story.

The book details, as much as possible, the life of Henrietta from her childhood to when she married, to her cancer, and then her untimely death. It also goes into detail about her children and her husband and what happened to them after she died. I never thought a book about science and cells could be so interesting, but this book was fascinating from beginning to end. I don't know that I would put this book in the category of the ever popular "summer beach read" but you should definitely put it on your reading list, especially if you like to read non-fiction.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Music Review: Born and Raised by John Mayer

I've got a music review for you today, which probably makes no one happy because it's rare that anyone comments on a music review here at The Chronicles of Nat. I'm okay with that. I understand you may not like the same music as me or may not have yet listened to an album if you do like the artist and therefore have nothing to say. Listen, there's just not a lot going on in the life of Nat these days. It's the dog days of summer so to speak and I haven't been doing much other than going to work, going to the gym, and coming home. So, you are stuck with a music review. I hope you are okay with that and will stop back by on another day when the subject may be more to your liking.

I've been a John Mayer fan since his first album which feels like it came out 100 years ago but really it was only 2002. It was at the Conference USA softball tournament in Tampa while I was sitting in the press box that the announcer played a John Mayer song, I asked who it was and the next day he had a burned copy for me. Ah, to be young and pretty again. Anyway, since that few days in Tampa (which coincidentally was also the first time I ever ate at a Jason's Deli) I have been a fan of John Mayer's music and his guitar playing - he rocks, y'all!

I really couldn't say which of his albums is my favorite, but I can say I do not think it's this one; maybe because I don't yet have any memories tied to this particular album; whereas the others I do. The lyrics on this album are very meaningful and my word, it seems like dear John has really done a lot of soul searching and poured his findings out onto the music sheet. One song in particular, Shadow Days, which is the first release off of the album, he sings about being, "a good man, with a good heart," and you know what? I believe it! He speaks about the mistakes he has made and how he learned from them and if you can't relate to that then you must be perfect, or at the very least, not learning any lessons in life. I think this song might be my favorite off the album which seems a little cliche considering it's also the first release, but c'est la vie!
This album has a different sound than any of John's (yes, we are on a first name basis) other albums; but, then when you really think about it, each of his albums has a different sound as his music grows and his mind matures. This album has more of a folksy feel too it, which I happen to like quite a bit.

Sadly, John won't be touring any time soon as he is having some issues with his vocal cords and had surgery a few months ago but apparently the problem is back - I read all of that on Wikipedia; sadly, he didn't call to tell me about it. I did see him in concert when he came to Huntsville back in 2007. I went by myself - I had gotten a ticket for Christmas - which let me tell you was quite a lonely experience. Anyway, I won't wallow in self pity. This album is worth purchasing if you a John Mayer fan. If you had never heard of it, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as the first one you should listen to, but it is still good and admittedly, I've listen to it probably 10 times or more since purchasing it. I, however, will listen to an album until I'm sick of it and you may not be like that. If John's vocal problems don't clear up, this may, sadly, be the last album he ever sings on. I feat the thought!

Available on iTunes, Amazon, and wherever you pick up your music favorites!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two More Favorites

I have a couple of more favorites to share with you this week. These are new favorites and are likely to remain favorites for a while. One is a food product (no surprise there) and the other is a TV Show (probably no surprise there either).

Biscoff Spread - Have you ever heard of Biscoff cookies? I'm sure if you have ever flown on Delta Airlines then you have most assuredly heard of them, as they are one of the treats that is almost always available on the Delta flights. Other airlines may use them as well but I honestly cannot remember. Seems like I may have had them on US Airways before - at any rate, they are known as "The Airline Cookie". I remember the first time I saw Biscoff in stores and I was pretty fired up about it because I have always enjoyed the cookie but Biscoff wasn't always sold in stores. So, you had to take a flight somewhere to enjoy the deliciousness that was Biscoff. After seeing them in the store for the first time, Biscoff has on and off been a staple in my pantry. I don't always have it on hand because I don't want to grow tired of it, but at the same time, it is purchased on a pretty regular basis.

A while ago I had heard something about Biscoff spread and then a couple of weeks back, a blog I read mentioned Bisocff spread as one of the ingredients in a recipe. This past Saturday on my weekly Publix shopping trip, I was buying some peanut butter and noticed the Biscoff spread and got a little excited about it. I wasn't too excited about the price of almost $5 for just ____ ounces, but I decided to go ahead a splurge because you only live once (which has become our family motto as of late - I have no idea how that happened).

When I got home and unpacked the groceries and came across the spread, I immediately opened it, grabbed a spoon from the drawer and gave it a go - it was indeed just as wonderful as I hoped it would be. The spread tastes just like the cookies in a smooth creamy peanut butter type form. It comes in creamy (this is the one I got) and also a crunchy (not sure what it's like). The jar says it's good on apples, bagels, toast, etc. I prefer to eat it straight out of the jar. It is truly delicious.

Grimm - This TV show premiered in last fall and for whatever reason, I didn't watch it. A couple of weeks ago, the premier re-aired on NBC and so I recorded it to see if I would have any interest in adding it to my line-up. The first episode intrigued me and so I got online to watch the others. The first season had 22 episodes and I am here to say that I have already watched all 22 and am now anxiously awaiting the beginning of season two this fall.

The show is about detective Nick Burkhart who works for the Portland PD. In the first episode he discovers he is a Grimm, which is basically the dude who keeps order among the Wesin (pronounced Vesin). Wesin are humans who also have a mythological creature side to them. Nick encounters all kinds of crazy after his discovery. His partner at work, Hank and his girlfriend, Juliette have no idea that Nick is a Grimm which makes for many misunderstood and interesting scenarios. There is a more in-depth plot line that is carried out throughout all episodes in addition to the individual plot line of each episode. My favorite character is Monroe. He is a Wesin and becomes friends with Nick and helps Nick learn about the other creatures and also helps Nick solve some of the crimes.

I wouldn't say this is my all-time number one favorite show, but it is quite enjoyable and it has caused my heart to race and has also made me gasp out loud on more than one occasion. The dark undertones and constant suspense make it scary at times. I'm really looking forward to season two which will start in late August or early September. If you have some time, check it out on the NBC web site and watch the first season before the next one starts.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How I Paint My Toenails

Last Thursday night after I finished mowing the lawn and cleaned myself up, I decided to paint my toenails. I realize this isn't ground breaking news by any stretch of the imagination, but painting my toenails always makes me chuckle and also makes me think about my college roomie, Melissa who (I'm pretty sure it's you Melissa) laughs every time she thinks about me painting my toenails. So, I decided I would post about it and hopefully she and you will get a good laugh out of it. Have I peaked your curiosity yet?

You see, I don't paint my toenails like the average girl. I would assume the average girl tries to stay "inside the lines" if you will. In other words, the average girl probably does her very best to make sure the polish doesn't spill over to the skin/out of the nail bed. The average girl probably tries her very best to insure that the toenail looks perfect before calling it quits and putting the polish away for the night. I, however, am not your average girl.

I, you see, don't care if I stay "in the lines", if the polish spills over on to my skin or out of the nail bed. In fact, that's the key to my polished toenail success. I developed this method when I was in college, undoubtedly by accident, and have stuck with it ever since because I'm cool like that. When I paint my toenails, I do so with wild abandon. I polish on the nail and the surrounding skin, and if I get it on the skin around the nail, so be it, it's not that big of a deal. No, I don't go back and take it off with polish remover. What do I do, you may ask? I wear shoes and socks. Huh? Here's how it goes...

I paint my toenails and toes, first with a base cost and then a couple of coats of color. Then, I let it dry the rest of the evening. The next day, I wear socks and shoes, no sandals. My feet sweat quite a bit - I don't know if this is the key to polished toenail success or not, but I'm sure it doesn't hurt. I wear the socks and shoes throughout the course of the day after the toenail painting. Then, that evening, or the next morning, whenever it is that I pull off those socks, I am not kidding when I say all the polish that was on the skin has flaked off of the skin and the toenails look perfect. I am not even kidding. There may be a random flake or two you may have to get off yourself, but it will come off in the shower or bath when you wash your feet. Here, let me show you...





So you see, if you paint your nails outside the lines, it's really not that big of a deal because nature will take it's course and the dried polish will come off on it own. Clearly, this is not a good method if you are needing painted toenails to look good in a pair of sandals the same or the next day, but if you can plan a day of socks and shoes, then the night before is prime time for painting.

Now the next time you see my perfectly painted toenails, you too can have a chuckle. Happy painting!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations to Erika, winner of a copy of My Big Bottom Blessing by Teasi Cannon. You finally won something! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review: A Heart Like His

I've got another book review for you this week. This one does not, unfortunately come with a giveaway, but there's still time (until 9:00 p.m. Central on Friday night) to enter the book giveaway I announced last week; just go here.

This week's book review is of Beth Moore's A Heart Like His. I was contacted by the publisher's of the book and ask to review it for my blog and so here we are. I'm sure most of you are familiar with Beth Moore as she has written numerous books and Bible studies all of which I have heard wonderful things about. Here is an excerpt from her bio for those of you who may not be familiar with her work:"Beth Moore is a writer and teacher of best-selling books and Bible studies whose public speaking engagements carry her all over United States."

I reviewed a daily devotional study by Moore on the blog once before and you can find that review here if you are interested. A Heart Like His was originally published in 2003 but is now available for the first time in trade paperback which is what prompted the publishers to contact me. The trade paperback also includes a sample of Moore's study, David: Seeking a Heart Like His, which looks very interesting and is something I will probably purchase soon. I have not actually done one of Moore's studies before, but like I said have always heard people speak very highly of her studies.

A Heart Like His is an in-depth look at the life of David, who just happens to be one of my favorite Bible characters. Most people probably know David as the runt kid who picked three stones from the babbling brook and killed Goliath with one of them, launching it from his slingshot. In fact, there is a lot more to David than his being just a shepherd boy. Did you know that God chose David to be king of Israel? In fact, in I Samuel 13:14 it says, "...the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people..." The title of the book obviously refers to this verse as David was in fact a man after God's own heart. When the Lord sent Samuel to Jesse's house to anoint the future king, he told Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. the Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." I Samuel 16:7.

Moore's book takes a look at the life of David from the time he was a young boy through the end of his life and everything in between. The book looks at the slaying of Goliath, his relationship with Jonathon, the turmoil when Saul was trying to kill him, his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, the death of his son Absolom, and so much more. David was such an interesting man and dealt with so many trial and tribulations, heartaches, tragedies, and yes, even some happiness. His life was not all that different from the lives we lead today, well, with the exception of the fact that he was a king. As far as the problems he faced in life though, I think a lot of us can relate to being hated, having a good friend, losing a child, coveting our neighbor's property, the list goes on. I'm quite sure there is one circumstance if not more than one that each person can relate to. Moore's book puts David's life into perspective for us, showing us how, like David, we can have a heart like God's which will help enable us to deal with whatever circumstance we face in life.

I found the book to be very insightful and also quite an interesting look at David's life. It will allow you to walk away with a greater understanding of David's life and all that he dealt with and how by relying on God he was able to weather all the storms of his life. If you only knew a little about David before reading the book, you will definitely know a lot more after reading it and hopefully will find that you also have a heart like his.

Moore's book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble if you are interested in purchasing. Prices range from $12- $15.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Movie Experience and Review - Snow White and The Huntsman

I haven't written a recap of the weekend because quite frankly there isn't much to write about. It was quiet and low-key and at times boring but I loved it. I managed to venture out Saturday afternoon for a showing of Snow White and The Huntsman and I'm so glad I did. It was a really great movie and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I went to the 4:00 showing and arrived at the theater about 3:45ish. I got my medium popcorn and found a seat. Thankfully no one sat beside me this time. In fact, for the second time in a row nothing crazy happened - no one hit me with a scarf or smacked their gum or kicked my chair. It was so lovely.

The movie is based on the Grimm Brother's fairy tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but this Snow White is unlike any you've ever seen. In other words, she doesn't stand by the well singing and wishing for her prince to come. She can take care of herself thank you very much. Now, I have never read the Grimm brothers version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs so I don't know how gruesome it is or isn't, but from what I've heard this darker version is more like the Grimm Brother's version than the beloved Disney version we saw as children, though both movies follow the same basic storyline.

As I'm sure you know by now, Snow White's mother, the queen, dies and soon after her father marries an evil woman who kills him and takes control of the kingdom. She holds Snow White prisoner for many years and one day, Snow White is able to escape. The evil queen then "hires" a huntsman to find Snow White who has fled to the evil forest and instead of killing her, he ends up helping her escape the queen's clutches. The remainder of the movie is spent watching Snow White and the huntsman get themselves into and out of a series of precarious situations. Yes, there are dwarfs - what Snow White rendition would be complete without the dwarfs? Yes, there is a scene with an apple where Snow White falls into a deep sleep. However, true love's kiss may be surprising to some. I figured it out because I'm cool like that. Will they eventually overthrow the queen? I'm sure you know, but if not, I'll let the movie be the story teller. I will say this, at the end, I was expecting and actually rooting for (so unlike me) a big sloppy kiss and it didn't come! Kudos to the director for that unpredictable surprise.

Overall, I thought the movie was really good. I was on the edge of my seat many times and the two hours and seven minutes went by really quickly for me. Charlize Theron does an amazing job as the evil queen - she is really believable and super evil! The Huntsman is played by the ever-handsome Chris Hemsworth who is also quite good and even if he wasn't he's nice to look at folks! My only problem was with Kristen Stewart because let's face it folks, will she ever be anyone but Bella? Um, no, I don't  think so. No matter how hard she tries to break free of being Bella, for me anyway, it's just not happening. she did a good job but she also brought a Bella-ness to the role. Seriously, she has the same facial expressions and movements in everything I've seen her in. I'm not sure she can play anything but the timid heroine lovesick type of person. The only difference here was that the man across from her (Hemsworth) is a lot hotter than Robert Pattinson. If anyone else has seen this, I'd like to know what you think in that regard - will Kristen Stweart ever be anyone but Bella in your eyes? Poor girl, I feel kind of bad for her.

I really liked the movie and would definitely watch it again; but I love fantasy movies and you may not. It had quite the medieval feel to it which I also really enjoy so those two elements together was a real hit in my book. Check it out this weekend if you have a chance.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Thought of Something Else

So, when I posted about some of my recent favorite things yesterday, I completely forgot about something that I really love. I probably didn't think about it since I'm "done with dairy" for a little while. Since this product has dairy, sadly, I am not partaking of it at the moment; but, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it! The product is International Delight Iced Coffee and it is delightful!

I saw a coupon for this in the Sunday circulars and decided right then and there that I must try this product. It took me a long time to find it anywhere and finally had to search the International Delight web site to see where it was sold. It was sold here at Wal-Mart and Kroger, two stores which I do not frequent. One afternoon on the way home from work though, I did manage to stop by Wal-Mart and pick up a carton of the Mocha flavored and loved it from first taste! This is now carried at my Publix too which was nice for the one time I bought it there before going dairy-free.

If you like iced coffee then you will most likely enjoy this product. It comes in three flavors, vanilla, mocha and plain ole coffee. I've only tried the mocha and really enjoyed it. It comes in half gallon cartons and the price is either $2.98 or $3.98, I honestly cannot remember since I haven't bought it in a couple of weeks. I am terrible at brewing coffee for some strange reason and might brew a cup once every six months and that's only because I need some for a recipe of some sort. So, I found this iced coffee to be very convenient as all I had to do was pour it out of the container. I actually prefer iced coffee over hot coffee. Coffee sometimes upsets my stomach but I've never had the same problem with iced coffees probably because they have so much milk cutting down on the acidity of the actual coffee.

Check it out the next time you are at the store. In fact, thanks to a program I participate in called Vocalpoint, I have about four coupons for 75 cents off a half gallon. They expire later this month; so, if you want one, leave a comment and I'll get one to you. This applies to the first four people only since I only have four coupons. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, June 4, 2012

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

It's been a while since I've given you all a list of some of my favorite things - probably because there's not much out there right now that really makes my skirt fly up. I did want to tell you all about a product I love though and thought I would just turn it into a favorite things post because surely I can pull some other favorite out of the proverbial hat. Here we go -

Road ID - LOVE this product! This is a great product for the loved one in your family who lives and active lifestyle or any lifestyle for that matter. Road ID was designed for runners and cyclists who use the roads. It's a bracelet that has a silver plate which has identification information. Living in Huntsville, it seems like there is a cyclist vs. car  accident on a monthly basis and a Road ID is a necessity in my opinion if you are cycling or running on the road. There are two different kinds of Road ID - a basic and an interactive. I actually have one of both. With the basic band, you can put as much information as will fit on the plate. Mine for example has my name, hometown, blood type, medicine allergies and two numbers to contact in case of emergency.

The interactive ID is really awesome. I just recently bought one of these. Because my original ID has Tony's number on it, I decided to get a new plate, but since the plates were almost the same price as a new bracelet, I just got a new bracelet instead and opted for the interactive ID. My interactive ID has my name and then a number to call or web site to look at in case of emergency. On the back side of my plate is a serial number an a pin number for emergency responders to use in case of emergency. Once they call or log on to the web site, they are privy to  a plethora of information about yours truly, including insurance information, emergency contact lists, a list of medications I take, my address, instructions for someone to look after The Tide if I am injured, etc. The first year or interactive ID is free and then the charge is only $9.99 each year after that. For less than $1 a month, I can be satisfied knowing that if I am injured doctors and nurses will immediately have access to all the information they need to treat me.

Road ID comes in various shapes and sizes. They have a pouch you can put on your running shoes, a Velcro (original) bracelet (which is the first one I received), an ID tag and an ID slim (that's the kind I purchased most recently and I wear it every day all day). They also have Road ID for pets in the form of collars. These are great for young children too. I've seen many recounts on Twitter of people whose children had wandered off and parent and child were reunited thanks to the help of Road ID.

Hopefully I've adequately described the product. If you want more information, please visit their web site here. This really is the perfect gift for the runner or cyclist in your life or even a loved one who has a medical condition. It looks a lot cooler than those med alerts, that's for sure.

Right now, in honor of Father's Day, you can receive 15% any order by using the code: pcDadRocks

Silk Fruit and Protein - I'm currently steering clear of dairy products. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, I may have lost my mind, be in temporarily or permanently is yet to be determined. Long story short, I know more than one person who has managed to drop some weight by cutting out dairy and by George, I thought I would give it a try despite my unyielding love of all things cheese and cheese substitute (I'm talking to you concession stand nacho cheese). So, unable to drink a gallon of milk a week (wipes a tear from her eye) I've had to find something else to satisfy my craving for smooth dairy in the morning. I actually had tried this before my "Done with Dairy" campaign, but have come to rely on it since milk has been banned from my fridge. There are three flavors, but I've only managed to find two  - Mango Peach and Mixed Berries. I have not yet found the Strawberry Banana. It's made with soy and fruit juices and is a great source of calcium and vitamin D which is something we all need in our diet. If you're looking for something new to drink on in the mornings or even in the afternoons, then check it out. You can often find coupons on the web site here.

Well, just when I think I will be able to come up with quite a few favorites, I can't. That's how it goes I guess. Mainly I just wanted to tell you about Road ID because I think it is a really great product and I've never mentioned it before. I hope you'll take the time to look around on their site and don't forget the coupon code if you decide to order something.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

It Was Fun While It Lasted

I know you are just sitting on the edge of your seat wondering how things are going with my workouts at D1 and I'm here to tell you that it's going absolutely nowhere. Try not to be too disappointed. Actually, it's okay if you are because I am and misery loves company or something like that. I've tried to spare you all the details of my attempting to rehab my shin splits because a rotating routine of icing down my shins, wearing sexy compression sleeves and massaging BioFreeze on the sore area of my legs does not make for good reading material.

As you may recall, I bought the Groupon for one month of workouts at D1 and had every intention of going as many days as my schedule would allow. I had grand plans of five days a week workouts and looking super toned at the end of one month and then the shin splints came. I don't know why it is but every time I've been cursed with shin splints, it has taken a sweet forever for them to heal. The last time I had them I ended up at the orthopedic doctor because I was in so much pain I thought I might have a stress fracture. He prescribed what was basically a strong form of Advil and told to stay away from running for a month until they healed - advice I suppose I should be following now as well.

I tried to push through the pain in week two at D1 but it just wasn't possible. Each time I did a jumping jack and landed on my feet it was like electrical needles were pricking the front of my legs. Running was completely out of the question and running is what takes place about 50% and sometimes more of each session. So, while all the others were running drills and having a grand time, I was stuck on the sidelines on the elliptical watching - it was my own personal TO moment. (You know, TO, Terrell Owens - when he was injured and would be on the sidelines riding the stationary bicycle during the game? No, you have no idea what I'm talking about? OK, then, never mind).

I stayed away from physical activity the latter part of what was week two at D1 and then did the Cotton Row on the following Monday. Since I walked, I didn't have much pain in my shins and I iced them down afterwards and tucked my lower legs away in compression sleeves the rest of the day. I thought I would be okay to return to D1 on Thursday, the last day of May. I had ordered some new shoes (old shoes can be a contributing factor to shin splints) and had compression sleeves on and went outside for a practice run before I headed over to D1 to make a fool of myself and sit out another session. Much to my disappointment, the feeling of electrical needles pricking the front of my legs came charging back as soon as I took my first running step in the yard. I wanted to run in the yard since there is turf at D1 and the yard is more comparable to the turf than the road. I was crushed. It is obviously going to take much longer for my shins to heal than I expected and I was suddenly made aware of why I gave up running for the bicycle - I don't have to deal with injuries like this.

To top things off, I asked about what the price would be after my one month Groupon expires - it's $180 a month! Call me crazy, but that's a little steep. The girl I talked with said she could let me pay $160 a month - um, still steep. Look, I know a personal trainer runs around $50 an hour and in a sense you are getting the benefit of a personal trainer but in a group setting, which I happen to like better because all the focus isn't on me. When you break it down, it doesn't seem as bad. After all, if you went to four classes a week it would end up being around $10 a class each month, which isn't too bad, especially if you think of it like getting a $40 per hour discount on a personal trainer. If I made enough money to comfortably afford the $160 a month then I would absolutely do it; but I don't really have the privilege of spending that much money when I already have a membership at another gym. I think it would be well worth the cost and I would love to do it, but I'm having a hard time justifying the expense - especially when I think that if I set that money aside for just two months, I could buy a pair of duo boots that would actually zip up around my 19.5 inch calves! Yes, you read that right, 19.5 inches! Not to mention that if I stay injured half the time then it would be like throwing money away.

The gym I have been going to for the past few years actually has some group sessions that are similar to D1 but probably not as intense and definitely do not include running because there's no where to run. So, I think I will inquire as to the cost and might join one of those groups. In the meantime, I'll be returning to my normal routine of multiple spin classes each week and hopefully I will have enough discipline to add in some walking/jogging as well as some much needed core work. Needless to say, I'm disappointed that this little venture of mine did not go as planned; but, that's life. What's important is that I'm healthy despite having a large derriere (thanks a lot maternal DNA!). Any thoughts?