Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Case of the Neighborhood Cat

Did everyone have a nice leap day 2012? Isn't it weird that we have an extra day every four years, which also always happens to be election year? A lady that I work with was born on a leap day and "turned 12" this leap day. She's the first person I've ever personally known to be a leap day baby. Pretty cool.

I didn't do anything very exciting on leap day, unless you count going to work, which I don't. Thanks to the early outbreak of pollen, my eyes are watering like crazy and I've blown my nose no less than 154 times in the past 24 hours. I'm a real joy to be around. Church services were cancelled on lep night because of potential bad weather. The last time Wednesday services were cancelled was April 27, 2011; let's hope we don't have another night like that!

On Tuesday night, Erika came over to watch a couple of episodes of the Pioneer Woman's cooking show. Her new cookbook comes out in less than two weeks - are you excited, Alison - and I am really anxious to see all the new recipes inside and of course give it a try.

In continuing with this week's impromptu theme of "The Case of..." we will today discuss the case of the neighborhood cat....

I am not a cat person by any stretch of the imagination. The only time I have ever lived with a cat, with the exception of some stray as a child, was when I was in college and my roommate Melissa had a chunk of a cat named Mittens. Oh Mittens. I used to keep my door closed so he wouldn't go in my room and every time I forgot to close my door, there Mittens would be, lying on my bed. What is it with cats loving to torture people who aren't fond of cats?

So, recently some new tenants have moved in to the rental house across the street. I'm not even going to begin to speculate on how they are related or married or whatever because who knows? That house gets all sorts of strange combination of folks. This particular group, however, keeps a sofa on the front porch as if they are living in a fraternity house and once they grilled out on the front porch and when the fire was blazing I thought the house was on fire.

Anyway, this new group of neighbors has a cat; well, they have a dog too but the dog stays inside. The dog is actually a puppy of some boxer mix I think and very cute. The cat, well, I don't think it ever is inside because it is always outside... at my house. This cat is actually pretty as far as cats go. It's primarily white and has some dark spots and maybe brown sports too. Is that called a tabby? I have no idea.

Almost every time I come home from my daily venture to work or church or wherever, this cat is lounging on my front porch as if it lived there. Sometimes in the morning it will be under my car hanging out by a tire and I will have to shoo it off because I don't want to run over it; and so it will run back across the street to it's real home. It makes me laugh because this cat seriously acts like it lives at my house as much time as it spends there. Maybe it spends equal amount of time at other houses but it sure does hang out at my house quite a bit.

That, dear reader, is the case of the neighborhood cat. I tried to take a picture of it when I came home the other day and it was chilling on the porch but it got up when the flash on my phone went off. If I catch this sneaky little creature on camera, I will be sure and share it with you all.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Case of the Fraudulent Charges‏

This morning as I was driving in to work, I stopped at Murphy Oil at Wal-Mart on South Parkway to fill my car up with some very expensive gas. I mean, really, these gas prices are getting out of control. I'm very thankful to have no car payment and a vehicle that gets really good gs mileage in times like these, even if I do have to use duct tape to keep it going.

I have a Wal-Mart Discover Card that I use to buy gas because some genius (and I'm not saying that sarcastically) decided to offer five cents off per gallon at Murphy Oil when you use your Wal-Mart Discover card. The only time I use this card is to buy gas and I pay it off each month. (Side note: for the last three months of 2011 it was 10 cents off per gallon -wish those days would come back!)

Anyway, I filled up my car to the tune of around $55 and then headed on in to work.Once I got to work, I went about my business and when I had a break I checked my Discover statement and made sure I had my next payment set up and what the balance was and all that sort of thing.

After lunch I noticed I had a missed call and voice mail on my phone. I didn't think much of it because I get a lot of calls from political campaigns these days and I figured it was some other person trying to win my vote. Thankfully, I decided to listen to the voice mail just in case it was Publisher Clearing House. I'm sad to say it was not Publisher's Clearing House that called, but instead it was the folks at Wal-Mart Discover calling about potential fraudulent charges on the very card I had used that morning. So, I immediately called them back.

I first had to go through one of those dreadful automated systems which told me that there was a suspicious charge of $308.04 and did I make that charge. Um, no I sure didn't; and so I was connected with Omar (not kidding). Omar told me there was another charge for $9.98 - didn't make that one either - at a convenience store and then the charge for $308.04 was for some discount store that I had never even heard of before. Omar said he was going to cancel my card and send me a new one and that I would also be receiving a statement regarding the disputed charges which had been taken off of my card.

Here's the thing, my card never left my possession and has never left my possession. I don't use it to make online purchases or any other purchases for that matter. The only time I use it, as already stated, is when I purchase gas. So, apparently, from what I can figure is there was some sneaky person at the gas station with some sort of electronic card reader. I've seen it on Dateline NBC before and you may have as well. Either that or the clerk working at the gas station was able to retrieve the card number from my transaction. I don't have a clue as to how it happened, but clearly it happened this morning while I was purchasing gas.

So, be careful out there, people! If you are anything like me then you probably check your credit card statements and bank statements on a weekly basis and will quickly discover if someone has somehow made a fraudulent charge on your account. I'm just grateful that my card company noticed the suspicious charge and gave me a call about it. That's good business practice indeed!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Case of the Woman and Her Pipe

There’s not much going on in my world these days, but I did have an interesting encounter while walking at work on Monday afternoon. Hopefully this boring story won’t put you to sleep.

We have a program at work called Vitality in which we earned points for being healthy and participating in walks and other such events and once we earn so many points, we receive a discount on our insurance. The program is really not all bad and it also reimburses each person (up to $200) for their gym membership so this year when I renewed my membership, it was free thanks to my reimbursement.

Anyway, we are currently in the middle of a 10-week walking program where everyone who is participating walks for 30 minutes a day once a week in order to earn some points. I walk on Monday afternoons at 4:00 and since the weather was so lovely today, the walking took place outside. We have what basically amounts to a walking track that goes around the majority of the building at work and that’s where we walk outside.

A few minutes into my walk today, I noticed a woman walking on the other side of the pavement headed south; I was headed north. It looked like she was trying to hide something in her jacket and then I saw some smoke. I thought well, I guess she’s having a smoke break while walking this afternoon. Upon further evaluation, it looked more like a pipe and she was being really secretive about it. When we passed each other I looked over to get a better look, but she had it hid in her jacket and had a mischievous grin on her face and as soon as we passed she took a puff off of the mysterious pipe.

Now, I’m not saying it was pot or anything, but she sure was being strange about it. I also didn’t smell any dope, but who knows with all the crazy things people smoke these days.

The rest of my walk was uneventful and free of suspicious acting people. If, however, I come across this lady again I’ll be sure and tell you about it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Many Moons and the Sun Too

Friday night my dad and I went to see the Fantasy Playhouse production of Many Moons. My mom was supposed to go with me, but she hasn’t been feeling well lately and so my dad went instead. The play was one I had never seen before nor heard of for that matter. It was about a king wanting to get the moon for his sick daughter. It was funny and quite good. Jackie and the kids were at the same show. My dad and I were on the very front row and so during the second half, Troy came down and sat with us, or on us I should say. He was quite the wiggle worm, but finally settled in on my dad’s lap. It was quite adorable; I sure hope the good Lord blesses my dad with some grandkids one day.

Fantasy has one more show on the schedule this season. Rapunzel will be showing in April and you can go here to check out show times and ticket prices. These shows are always well done and kid friendly. You should check it out if you are looking for something to do with your family.

Saturday morning after the gym, I spent a couple of hours at the church building readying the toddler classroom for the spring quarter. I switched out the lesson and put up some new decorations. I’m actually taking this quarter off from teaching the little ones and am teaching the older ones instead. It’s a welcome break in my book. After working at the church building, I headed out to Schoolcraft to pick up a few more things for the classroom and then finally made it to the grocery store.

It was a beautiful weekend weather wise. The sun shone beautifully both Saturday and Sunday and the temperature wasn’t too cold, which is really no surprise considering we haven’t had much of a winter. It actually felt like fall. I spent the remainder of Saturday napping and cleaning house and catching up on TV.

Sunday afternoon I finished up decorating the classroom with the things I purchased on Saturday and then came home and watched the Oscars, which is what I’m doing right now as I type this. I would like to be a seat filler at the Oscars one day. And wasn’t Octavia Spencer’s dress just perfect! Loved it!

Overall it was a rather low key weekend, which is always nice. I hope you all had a nice weekend too!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Good Customer Service

I wanted to chat with you for a minute about some awesome customer service I received recently. I am pretty sure I have mentioned here before one of my favorite places to shop - Boden. I don't often purchase from Boden because they are quite expensive, but sometimes you can catch a lovely sale and pick up some things for a bargain, well, a bargain for Boden that is. Twice (that I can remember) since I have been a Boden customer, I have received a $10 gift certificate just because I haven't purchased anything in a long while, which was the case this past week. Since I received this surprise gift certificate this past week, I decided to look through the clearance items and found a shirt that I ended up getting for $13 with free shipping. Ye-ah!

While I was on the site, I noticed a little blurb about returns and how it said if you are not satisfied with your purchase you can return your item for up to one year. Back in the fall, I had ordered a couple of items, one of which was an adorable sweater which I love. It has horizontal strips and in fact was worn in my first round of Christmas photos which Jackie took. However, after the first wash, the sweater got a hole in the shoulder, which really made me mad because I liked this sweater a lot and also Boden clothes typically hold up VERY well. In fact, I have a few Boden items that I have been wearing for over six years that still look great. So, after seeing the blurb about returning items for up to one year, I decided to email them (this was on Wednesday night)

Today, I received an email back from customer service saying that they were going to refund my money for the sweater and they also sent me a return label to use to return the sweater to them. Most companies wouldn't dream of treating their customers in such a caring manner; but clearly, Boden has the best interest of the customer in mind, and it is so refreshing.

This isn't the first time I have had a pleasurable experience with Boden customer service. At the same time I purchased the sweater I had purchased a dress which didn't fit well (it was too big and looked like a potato sack on me) and so I sent it back the next day. After a couple of weeks, I had not received an email notification (yes, they email you when they receive your return) nor had I received a credit to my card so I sent an email to them asking if they had received my return because I had never had the process take so long. They had not received the dress, but went ahead and refunded me my money. I have no idea if they ever received the return but the fact that they went ahead and refunded my money is enough to make me a customer for a lifetime!

I don't know about you, but I am often frustrated with the "customer service" I receive and it is so nice to actually deal with a company that care about their customers and offers superior customer service Another company I recently dealt with, Coldwater Creek, also showed great customer service. I returned a dress to them as well and sent them an email asking about it and they responded within 24 hours and offered further assistance. I don't know about you, but these are the types of companies I want to shop with for years to come and I am happy to share their names with you.

Some other notes:

I have something scheduled for every Saturday between now and April 14 - just the thought of all those Saturdays with something on the calendar makes me exhausted. Not to mention the fact that at some point during that time lawn mowing season will start back up. I should probably try to stockpile some sleep before spring.

I think I may have mentioned (or not) that the circus is coming in April. The tickets go on sale Friday and I've given my dad the assignment of going to pick up some tickets for us and also Erika who will be joining us once again this year. It's a new show this year and looks like it will be pretty good. I don't know how it has ended up that the circus comes to Huntsville every year. They used to only show up every other year, but for this will make four years in a row that the circus has come to town! Awesome!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Random Notes For Wednesday

A few notes of interest for this Wednesday:

1. Loretta Spencer is running for mayor of Huntsville again (municipal elections to be held August 28) - if you've read this blog for any length of time then you've probably heard me mention Loretta on one or 10 occasions. I love her! I think she was an awesome mayor and I look forward to placing one of her sign's in my yard and giving her my vote come August.

2. I was perusing twitter on Monday night and one of the feeds I follow is a listing of jobs available in the Huntsville area. A job popped up for a store manager in Huntsville for H&M! I have not even heard a whisper regarding H&M opening a store here; but if they do, I will break down in tears of joy! Tears of joy, I tell you! Have any of you heard that H&M may be opening a store any time soon? I know it's not going to be this spring because it's not listed on the Spring 2012 openings list. I Googled H&M and Huntsville but nothing came up. Surely they are planning on a store here some time soon or else why would they have a store manager position open. If y'all hear anything about this, please let me know! Tears of joy, people! UPDATE: Since I wrote this, my lovely cousin Alexandra has found out that H&M is coming to Bridge Street in June! If it opens on a weekday, I'll be taking the day off! H&M! In Huntsville! I can hardly believe it! I think I may start a countdown. I've never so looked forward to June in my life!

3. Downton Abbey season two wrapped up on Sunday night. It was every bit as wonderful as I though it was going to be and I am so very sad that it has ended. I will now have to wait until next January to before I can see a new episode. In the meantime I will just sit around wondering what the Crawleys and their servants are up to in the "off-season". My friend Lisa is now watching and she's gotten through at least the first five (maybe more) episodes in two days. It's so good, y'all!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Movie Experience and Review: The Vow

So as mentioned yesterday, I went to see The Vow on Friday night. Jackie had emailed me late last week and asked if I had any weekend plans and guess what - I didn't. She asked if I wanted to go see the Vow with her and instead of saying, "are you freakin' kidding me, that movie looks ridiculous!" I said, "Yeah, maybe, just let me know. I could probably use a good cry - had one at the end of The Descendants last week too! And of course, I love to feast on buttered popcorn and get smacked in the face by scarves wrapped around the necks of old women." Yes, that was my actual response. I just copied it out of an email. What was I thinking you may ask? Well, I was thinking that my good friend wanted to go see a sappy movie and since she asked me to go I would be a good friend and go along with her despite my dislike for the uber sappy. So, I went.

On my way to the theater I was almost run over by an Ohio State grad who clearly didn't realize that the people coming off of Carl T. Jones had the right of way and no stop sign; thankfully I made it in one piece. As I was pulling in, I got a text from Jackie that said our friend Maria was coming too and my thought was this: "Well, if I had known Jackie had someone to watch this sappy movie with I would have kept my butt at home." I'm such a loving friend, aren't I? Look, I'm just being honest here. I had absolutely zero interest in seeing this movie. Real life isn't like the romantic movies and it's just depressing to watch it all play out on screen not to mention that these movies are so predictable! (I love you, Jackie!)

Anyway, I walked up to the entrance and was surprised to see that it was a VERY light crowd for a Friday night; they didn't even have the side concession stand open. I guess there weren't any big openers this past weekend. We got some snacks from the concession stand and made our way inside to find some seats. I then took the opportunity to have a bathroom break. One of the very wonderful things about going to the movies with people is that you don't have to take your popcorn into the bathroom with you; instead you can leave it in the seat and your friends will guard it for you and maybe even take a bite or two. I don't know.

The previews started and there weren't any that overly impressed me. We had a good laugh about the What to Expect When You're Expecting (if that's even the name of it) preview but other than that, there wasn't much to brag about. There was one preview from Prometheus about aliens taking over the planet which is probably why I dreamed that night that aliens took over the planet. Side note: I have had the strangest dreams as of late.

The movie finally started and it was one of the most frustrating films I have seen in a long while. As you may know, I get easily frustrated with movies like The Hangover because the obstacles in the way are so unrealistic, but this was a different type of frustration. I was frustrated because the girl couldn't remember her husband, because she went to live with her parents instead of her husband even though she had been estranged from them for five years, that she went back to put the moves on her ex-fiancé, that she was mean and not understanding that her husband was also having a difficult time, I could go on. As Jackie said, "it's like one awkward scene after another." Amen to that, sister. There were multiple times that I wanted to throw my contraband Diet Coke bottle at the screen because I was so frustrated. Is there another word for frustrated? Aggravated, maybe?

The film is actually based on the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, which now I am dying to know how much of it is truly based on them. Was she really from a rich family? Did she really drop out of law school... twice? Did they really get married in an art museum? Was she really a sculptor? Was she really estranged from her parents? Were his parents really dead? So many questions; so few answers. Lester Holt, if you are reading this, would you please do a Dateline NBC special on this couple? Inquiring minds want to know, thanks! The one thing I do know, the real life couple is not as good looking as Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum. AND, I've said it before on here and will say it again - where are the other Cullman boys that look like Channing Tatum because I sure as heck have never come across any!

Overall, it wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen. I doubt I'm giving anything away when I tell you that the couple ends up getting back together at the end of the movie. Unless you really love these types of movies though, I would suggest waiting until it comes out for rental on Netflix, Redbox, etc. because I had rather spend my money on some other movie such as The Descendants. It's really good, y'all!

Speaking of movies, has anyone seen The Grey? It has gotten such good reviews and I am so curious to hear from someone who has actually seen it because it seems like a strange story.

Despite all the sentimental romantic mumbo jumbo in this movie, I still had a good time seeing it with my friends, and that's worth more than $9 no matter how you look at it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Handyman Didn't Show and Other Musings from the Weekend

I hope you all are having a nice Monday and had a nice weekend as well. I'm just now getting around to posting because, well, I wasn't much up for writing on Sunday night. Sometimes I just can't get motivated, especially when there's not much going on. I'm sure you understand.

Friday I got home from work at 4:32, expecting to meet the guy who did the repair work and laid the hardwoods in my guest bedroom a few months ago. I'm sure you remember the whole ordeal, including how it was supposed to take one week and in fact took four. Anyway, the guy was supposed to be there at 4:30 because the flooring in the doorway to the guest room is splitting at the seams and not surprisingly, he didn't show up. I stayed outside talking with my neighbor for a good 15 minutes or so and then went inside. He never showed and never called. I haven't yet called him back because I needed to take a few deep breaths before I picked up the phone. So, he will be getting a call from me in the next couple of days.

Friday evening, I met up with Jackie and Maria at the movie theater to see The Vow. I will have more to say on this subject at a later date - probably tomorrow. After the movie, I went home and watched a little television and called it a night. I lead such an exciting life.

Saturday morning I went to the gym for spin class and then went to Publix for my weekly grocery store run. I saved about $33 with my coupons this week! After Publix, I made a run by Mr. Donut because no weekend is complete without a few sweets from Mr. Donut. The remainder of Saturday was spent watching TV, napping, and cleaning house. I also watched The Help, which was just as delightful the second time around as it was the first.

Also on Saturday I received a wedding invitation to my friend Patrick's wedding. Patrick is the son of my friend Phil who passed away in January 2011. I'm thrilled for Patrick - he has found a lovely bride in his betrothed Meredith and I am excited about going to their wedding on March 24. Admittedly, I became quite weepy eyed when I opened the invitation because I know how much Phil will be missed at this joyful occasion. I wish Phil was still around to share in Patrick's happiness.

On Sunday, I braved the rain and sleet and went to church where I thought I was going to have to teach the toddlers for what feels like the 1,000th service in a row. Since I am the coordinator for this group, I have to fill in any time one of my teachers is out. I have a co-teacher on Sunday mornings that has maybe made it three Sundays this whole quarter. I am the primary teacher on Wednesday nights so needless to say I have been in that classroom on Sundays and Wednesdays without a break for what feels like an eternity. I think my teachers for this next quarter will be more reliable and I hope to have a three-month break from teaching children. I'm pretty ecstatic about it to be quite honest.

I had a really great nap on Sunday afternoon and cooked a roast for dinner along with some mashed potatoes and I plan to have some leftovers for dinner tonight after my evening trip to the gym. About 9:30 I decided to go on to bed but do some reading before I called it a night and as I was reading, The Tide decided to throw up on the bed. It was less than lovely as you can imagine. I don't know why she can't just throw up on the floor instead of on the bed. So, I had to strip the sheets and duvet and throw everything in the wash and mop the floor. I made her go outside while I did all of this because I was pretty ticked; especially considering I knew she was about to do it and told her to get down. So, tonight when I get home, I will have to put some sheets on the bed for the second time in three days. Oh well, that's how it goes I guess.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Four For Friday

It's Friday - which means that some of you will be getting two posts for the price of one today because I posted on Thursday night and scheduled this post to go up on Friday morning. I wanted to make sure Erika had plenty of reading material to kick off her Friday morning.

Here's a list of nothing in particular to end the work week.

1. I really love music; this probably comes as no surprise to those of you who know me. I downloaded the Adele 21 album this past week and love it. If you haven't checked it out (and you probably have because I'm the last to know about new music that is actually worth listening to) then you should. I am also, as you probably know, a lover of Harry Connick, Jr. and his music always lifts my spirits. He is just so lovely!

2. The flooring I had repaired back in the late summer needs some repair. Some of the seams are coming apart at the entrance to that room. The guy who put the flooring down is supposed to come over Friday afternoon and take a look. Here's to hoping he shows up and comes up with a solution that doesn't involve weeks of labor; and in case you were wondering, no I don't plan on paying him anything because it shouldn't be coming apart. That's all I have to say about that.

3. This spring quarter (March - May) on Sunday mornings I will be co-teaching the Ladies' Class at church with my dear friend Janet. We would love to have you stop by (well, if you're a gal anyway). The subject matter is I and II Timothy. I checked out my teacher notebook last night and much to my delight, my dad had checked out the very same notebook four years ago. I thought that was rather interesting/neat.

4. When it comes to vanilla (for baking), I'm a bit of a snob. Two years ago I won a gift certificate to The Spice House and in addition to other things, I ordered some pure vanilla from Mexico and have been ordering it from there ever since. I always get the eight ounce bottle which surprisingly lasts me about a year. They keep a record of what you order and it would appear that I've ordered once eight ounce bottle each year for the past three years (including this year). I just got a new bottle in this week which is very exciting. This time I also ordered some vanilla bean paste which is basically the inside of the vanilla bean in a paste form. It can be used instead of buying a vanilla bean and scraping out the insides. I'm excited to use this as I've never tried it before.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Television List

Yes, I know, there was no post last night. I do apologize. I had not written anything prior to leaving for church and then when I got home from church, I wasn't really up to turning on the computer and writing so I just let it be. I do hope you understand. I'm going to make it up to you by posting tonight (Thursday) and in the morning (Friday).

So, today, I'm going to chat with you a bit about television shows. I don't know about you but it seems like every day I'm a little less impressed with the shows the networks are picking up these days. Glee, for example, was really great during season one, now every storyline is about a gay couple and it's more than a little overdone. The only reason I still watch is because I do really love the songs; but if I couldn't watch it anymore I really wouldn't be crushed.

So, I thought I would share with you the shows that I really do like a lot and hopefully you can let us know in the comments what shows you really love - even those of you without cable!

1. You probably guessed it, Downton Abbey. This is the best show that has been on television maybe ever. I seriously cannot wait until the next episode airs. Set in the early 1900s in Britain, this show is prim and proper and full of intrigue and sometimes scandal. Will Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley end up together? Will Sybil run off with the chauffeur? Will the Countess give up her title of #1 flower grower in the county? Will Lord Grantham have an affair with a maid? There is no foul language, no cleavage in your face, none of the lewdness that is so common among the shows of today. If you haven't seen it yet, you must check it out. Season one is available through Netflix and iTunes and season two can be seen on Both seasons can be purchased from the PBS Store. However you go about it, please try to find a way to watch it - you will be so glad you did!

2. Parenthood - This show comes on NBC and is in the third season I think. I've watched it from the beginning and every season is better than the last. The show is about the Braverman family and they are every bit as dysfunctional as your own. The shows deals with all sorts of problems that are common to you and me and I find it very relate-able - people get laid off, some are dealing with trying to have a baby, some are dealing with adopting, others are surprised by a later in life pregnancy, the patriarch has heart problems, the teenagers dabble in drugs and forbidden relationships, one father is an alcoholic, one child has Asberger's. There is a truly eclectic mix of people and problems. Just like Downton, when this show ends, I cannot wait to see the next episode. It seems like there is a cliffhanger each week. It's well cast, well written and an overall joy.

3. Smash - Another NBC show, this one just started on February 6. It stars Katherine McPhee (you may remember her form American Idol - did you have the McPhever?) as well as Debra Messing (from Will and Grace), Angelica Houston (I will always think of her as Morticia Addams from The Addams Family movie) and a guy that was in Pirates of the Caribbean (too lazy to look that up). Anyway, I watched the first episode and loved it. Best I can tell it's going to go from the beginning to the end of writing, developing, casting and making a Broadway musical. I haven't watched this week's episode yet but I'm sure it is just as lovely as the first. I love a good musical and this show has all the makings of one; so all you fellow Broadway lovers out there take a look. You can catch up on the first two episodes on

4. Who Do You Think You Are - Yet another NBC show. I have a love of NBC! This show is GREAT and very interesting! This is the third season for this show which was created and is executive produced by Lisa Kudrow (you know, Phoebe from Friends). Each season a different set of celebrities traces their family roots and researches their family tree and let me tell you, these people have found some very interesting things. I am fascinated by genealogy and would love to do this for my paternal side (someone else already researched my maternal side). If they ever make this show with regular people, I'm going to petition to be on it each year until they finally choose me. If you have any interest in this sort of thing you will find it just as fascinating as I do.

So, if I had to choose only four shows a week to watch those would be the three. Some others I really like are:

Revenge - it's a new show this year and is quite a surprise. Jackie told me about this one and I had also read about it on another blog. I had to catch up on the first seven or so episodes online but am now all caught up and each week brings another vengeful act by the main character. My heart has raced on more than one occasion during this show.

CSI - This one doesn't need any explanation and is always rather interesting. I've been watching this show for about 10 years now and still really like it which says a great deal about the writers and actors.

NCIS and NCIS LA - I've watched NCIS for a long while and NCIS LA since the beginning and love both of them. I think if I had to choose one over the other I would probably choose LA because I do love that Hettie Lang; but Jethro Gibbs is also a great character. Both shows are quite good and well worth the watch.

There are a few others I watch, Blue Bloods, Unforgettable, Person of Interest, Survivor and The Amazing Race. I seriously watch way too much TV which is why I don't get in nearly as much reading as I should or would like. I'm actually looking forward to the summer when the TV schedules dies down and I can have more non-TV time. Well, I guess technically I could have more non-TV time now, but well, that's probably not going to happen.

So, that's my television list - what about you - what are your favorites right now?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Movie Experience and Review: The Descendants

Last Friday night I went to see The Descendants with George Clooney. Well, I didn't go to the movies with George Clooney, he was in the movie, The Descendants; but, how cool would it be to go with George Clooney? He would probably be a fun person to hang out with. Anyway...

The movie started at 6:40 and so about 10 minutes after 6:00, I left home and instead of going my regular route, I headed towards the interstate to the Parkway. I was apparently in la la land because once on the ramp, I realized I didn't need to go that way and prepared to exit to go my regular route. In the process, I was almost run over by a work van of some sort who was merging into my lane in the same spot I was driving. I had to slam on the brakes to prevent from falling of the interstate. Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe driving?

I finally made it to the movie theater in one piece and pulled into the parking lot. There was a lady standing in the middle of the row I was driving down talking on her cell phone and she had to move out of the way, then she proceeded to stand in front of the parking place I decided to take and she had to move again. When I got out of the car, she was again standing in the middle of the row. It was freezing cold out and I mean, really, what idiot just stands in the middle of a parking lot row talking on the phone? Have the common sense to at least stand to the side so you don't get run over. Not everyone is going to be as polite as me!

I made my way inside the theater and got in line to purchase a ticket. There were two old women in front of me and a third rushed passed me to join them. As we were walking in line, one of the first two slung her scarf back over her shoulder and proceeded to hit me in the face. I let out a little scream as I was not expecting to be mauled at the movie theater, but the old woman didn't seem to notice, or perhaps she didn't care that she had just struck an innocent bystander with her orange weapon. A man in line behind me noticed it and he and I had a chuckle about it. He told his wife what happened and she joined in our laughter as well.

I finally managed to get a ticket once the old women were out of my way and headed towards the inside. Unfortunately, they only had one line open to get in and needless to say, there was a bottleneck of people trying to make their way inside. One of the managers, thankfully, had enough sense to open a second line to take tickets and it wasn't long after that I was safely inside. I headed straight to the concession stand and found a spot that had no line and promptly ordered a medium popcorn.

After getting my bag of popcorn, I made my way to the theater and had to walk through a sea of people who were posing for a photo with some characters from Star Wars. Look, I like Star Wars as much as the next person, maybe more so in some cases, but on this particular evening, these characters were basically just a nuisance, an obstacle to my getting to my seat. In case you are wondering why the Star Wars folks were there, well, in an effort to make George Lucas even richer, Star Wars Episode One was released in 3D over the weekend. I just don't get the whole fascination with 3D. It does absolutely nothing for me and I am not going to pay money to go see a movie in 3D that I've already seen in the theater and have at home on DVD or Blu Ray. Seriously, everything is coming out in 3D now. Even Titanic! It's ridiculous. I think I'll pass and use the extra $3 for popcorn. Not to mention the fact that it makes me kind of nauseous.

Moving on...

I finally reached the theater and when I walked in, I was overcome with the fact that I was the only person under the age of 60 in the room. I am not even kidding when I say that 95% of the people in the room had grey or white hair. Who knew older people were so keen to watch a movie about a women dying and how it effects her family? I found a set on the next to the last row and got all settled in. I was afraid I would be late, but the previews had not yet started. As is always the case, just when you think the theater can't get much fuller, more and more people trickled in, including a couple who looked to be in their 80s who came in as the movie was starting and sat behind me. The man coughed on and off through the movie and it was a deep cough. I thought he might lose a lung a time or two. Thankfully, he walked out on his own accord once the movie credits rolled.

As for the movie itself... absolute perfection! Let's face it, pretty much everything that George Clooney does is perfection these days. The man chooses really great scripts. The film is set in Hawaii and is about a family dealing with what will soon be the loss of the wife/mother, who was in a boating accident and is in a coma. It basically shows how the family copes with it and there is a twist or two along the way. As deep as the subject matter is, there were many laughs for me along the way. I laughed loudly a lot! I also laughed loudly a few times when no one else did; not sure what that says about me. I saw a lot of my own family in this family and I guess that's why I was able to find humor in places where others didn't. I also cried at the end so obviously this movie will take you on an emotional roller coaster so be prepared.

There is a lot of foul language in this movie so be prepared for that as well. Despite that, I would highly recommend this movie to anyone looking for something to watch this weekend. I'm not sure how much longer it will be out. I think it was re-released since it's up for so many Academy awards; so it may not be at the theater much longer. So, if you miss it on the big screen definitely check it out via Netflix, Redbox, or whatever else it is you kids use these days. FYI, my parents also saw this movie last Friday and my dad really liked it too; not sure about my mom.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Check It Out

Hope your week is off to a good start! Tomorrow I plan to have a movie experience and review for you that may be longer than you bargained for. I took notes at the theater because there were so many things going on that I didn't want to forget. None of which included the fact that I was having a difficult time getting my car out of park.

Over the weekend, I stopped by my parents' house to help my dad set up a new blog. As you may already know, my mom, Deb, has Multiple Sclerosis, and I think it probably goes without saying that this terrible disease has given us more than our fair share of trial and tribulation. So, my dad decided he wanted to start a blog in an effort to get rid of some of the anger that MS has put in his heart. I wanted to encourage you all to stop by and read what he has to say. He plans to update two or three times a week. Leave him a comment to encourage him to keep up his posts because I think this is going to be a good outlet for him and any time I get comments it encourages me to keep on writing and hopefully it will do the same for him.

So, check out Dear Multiple Sclerosis when you've got a few minutes and come back tomorrow for an interesting tale from the movies. Oh yes, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Ghetto Car

So, as you probably know, I often have more than my fair share of problems with my car, Blue. It seems that just when one problem is repaired another one pops up.

Lately I have had a lot of problems with getting my car out of park. As most of you probably have to do with your car, I have to place my foot on the brake and shift from park to reverse or to drive or whatever. You know what I’m talking about I’m sure. Back in December I had the oil changed and also had a headlight and reverse light replaced. During that process while the car engine was off, I had to put my foot on the brake and put the car in reverse so the guys could see if the bulb was replaced correctly. It was after this little adventure that I started having the problem with moving the car from park.

The problem got better for a while and I figured out some tricks to help the process along. For whatever reason, late this past week the problem got worse and I had a really difficult time getting the car out of park. The problem is the lever on the gear shift would not push in, it gets stuck and won’t budge. Friday was a real pain and Saturday morning it became much worse.

I managed to get it in drive and go to my haircut appointment; but, when I was ready to leave, I couldn’t get it to budge. Finally about 10 minutes or so later I was able to put it in drive and head to Publix. After my grocery trip, I had the same problem and finally managed to get it in drive and head over the mountain to Mr. Donut. There, I left the car in drive and put on the emergency brake and discovered that I could move it in to park to turn on the ignition and as long as I didn’t take my finger off the lever, I could move it back into drive, reverse, etc. (Is this story making any sense?)

Anyway, I went to my parents house and then to the Publix in Hampton Cove to get some bread (my first stop I didn’t’ get any bread because it wasn’t baked yet) and I had to take the keys out and put it in park. Well, when I got back to the car, I couldn’t get it to budge out of park. I had to call my dad and as he was on his way, I finally got it out of park – 22 minutes after my first try. I ended up duct taping the lever and so far it has worked in allowing the car to go from park to reverse or park to drive. Hopefully it will work for a good long while because I really don’t have the funds to have this little problem repaired.

So, that’s the latest story about Blue, my ghetto car. Maybe one day I’ll have the Volvo station wagon I’ve always dreamed of and it will work without fail. Here’s to hoping!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Let's Make It Eight

This is all I got, feel free to move on to some other more informative corner of the interenets.

1. Do any of you watch Glee? If so, did you see this week's episode with Ricky Martin? Sweet Mercy! He may be gay, but he has some major sex appeal! He makes me want to be livin' la vida loca!

2. The gal I share a cube with is an interesting person. When I first moved in to her cube, she never cursed, apparently she was trying to quit but I never heard one swear word out of her mouth. For the past two weeks, however, it's been another story. She's been cursing a lot and I really don't understand why because we are under less pressure now than we were two months ago.

3. Philadelphia Brand (you know, Philadelphia Cream Cheese) has a new product that is out of this world! It's called Indulgence and it comes in three flavors, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate. I bought the milk chocolate because I had a $1.50 off coupon and folks, it is so good. You are supposed to dip pretzels, fruit, etc in it, but I just eat it with a spoon because that, my friends, is how I roll.

4. After lunch today my stomach became upset. I suppose that was my punishment for not eating the sandwich I brought and instead eating food from our cafeteria. I guess I was just looking for a chance of pace, but ended up with an upset stomach. Tomorrow, I will definitely be eating the lunch I brought today and may never grace the doors of the cafeteria again. Thankfully, my cursing cubemate had some Rolaids she shared with me and those were able to somewhat calm the rocky waters in my belly.

5. It's almost the weekend, for which I am very thankful. I live for the weekend, don't we all? I don't really have any big plans. I do intend to go see a movie on Friday night and then will be getting a haircut on Saturday as well as making my weekly stop at Publix and no doubt will detour to Mr. Donut for my weekly dose of deliciousness - that is assuming my stomach is feeling better by then. I also plan to clean, and clear out the DVR and go to church. Then Sunday evening Erika will be stopping by for a marathon of The Pioneer Woman's cooking show. Should be a good weekend. AND - it's going to be cold! Finally a winter weather weekend!

6. As mentioned I'm getting a haircut on Saturday and I don't think I've ever been so anxious to get my hair trimmed as I am this go around. I get a cut every eight weeks and this time I need it so desperately! I'm going to have some layers put in as well because it's starting to look just dull and boring. Man, I can't wait! I wish I could pamper myself with a massage and a mani and pedi as well, but sadly, it's not in the budget this week.

7. I wish the Department of Education would send out a certificate when you pay off your student loans. I would probably have it framed and hang it on the wall beside my diploma!

8. It seems like every time I put an earbud in my ear to listen to my iPod at work, someone calls or comes over or needs something from me. Just once I'd like to be able to listen to one song without it taking 30 minutes from start to finish.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And So It Continues

I don’t have much to write about this week. I was planning on putting together another list of seven tonight but I’ve just got home from church and I want to be a lazy bum and watch television shows from the DVR (I love you, DVR!).

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what me having nothing to write about has to do with the title of this post. Well, if you’ve followed along for any length of time here then you probably know that my Jim Brickman post gets the most hits every day, week, month and year – no kidding. Apparently there are a lot of Jim Brickman fans out there – who knew? I, however, do not count myself among them.

Occasionally I’ll still get a comment on that post; in fact, it’s the most commented on post. Well, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten a comment until today! And y’all, it is the best Jim Brickman comment ever! I loved it. Here is what it said, “Hi Nat, I haven't been to a Jim Brickman show in several years but I have attended a number of them in the past because I used to work for Jim and I can vouch for what you said about Jim being full of himself. That's actually putting it mildly. I'd be willing to bet that most of the people who described Jim as "warm," "a sweetheart" or whatever haven't actually known him personally. As is the case with many entertainers, what Jim shows the public is VERY different from what he shows you in private. In fact, they're pretty much polar opposites. Most of us who worked for Jim when I did were not fans of his (or fans of his music, for that matter). The phrase "drama queen" is probably the first one that comes to mind when I think of Jim. For what it's worth, I've worked with other musicians since Jim and most of them have been very nice people -- even the ones who are more famous than he is. So it's not a matter of fame. I think that there are well-known people who are nice and well-known people who aren't nice, as with pretty much any category of people.”


Whoever left it did so anonymously, but anonymous is my new friend – I love you, former worker of Jim Brickman! Seriously, this comment made my day. Hopefully you will get a kick out of it as well!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The 35th Birthday Weekend Part Two

Yesterday I began the tale of my weekend and today, the tale continues..

After checking with my dad, I discovered that he had not picked up enough of the enchilada mix and so when I drove over the mountain into Hampton Cove, my first stop was Publix. It was still pouring rain out and when I got in the store and checked the shelves, I discovered there was no enchilada mix. Apparently not a lot of people make enchiladas at home because this is often a problem and I suppose I should have stopped at Wal-Mart to begin with, but I really loathe going to Wal-Mart and was trying to avoid it at all costs. However, when Publix had no enchilada mix, I headed back across the highway to Wal-Mart and finally found what I needed. Third time was the charm I guess. All the while it's still raining like mad, my feet are soaked and The Tide is in the back seat. I wonder what was going through her head. she was probably tired of making stops every five minutes.

After the successful trip to Wal-Mart, I made a stop at Mr. Donut because let's face it, they have the best doughnuts in town and I personally love to eat doughnuts on Sunday morning before church. I also wanted to pick up some doughnut holes for Erika since she was kind enough to wrap my birthday presents for my parents. When I got to Mr. Donut, I parked and got out of the car, leaving my keys in the ignition. I thought about going and getting them out but figured no one would steal a car with a large dog in the backseat and I guess I was right. Actually, I doubt anyone was casing the place to steal a car but I guess you never know. Anyway, I got the doughnuts and the doughnut holes and finally, FINALLY, made my way to my parents' house.

When I pulled in the driveway, the garage door was down so I called my dad and asked him to open it. We then proceeded to let The Tide out and unload the car. By the time I had finished unloading things and handing them off to my dad or bringing them in myself, I was soaked. So, I borrowed a shirt from my mom and some socks and put my things in the dryer.

My dad and I then proceeded to start the making of the enchiladas. We made 28 enchiladas for nine people. We also made yellow rice and I brought along homemade salsa and a seven layer dip that I had made earlier that morning. A little before 4:30 I put the enchiladas in the oven and soon after folks started arriving.In attendance were my three grandparents, my parents, Jackie, Erika and Naaman who was without his wife Cheryl. She had family visiting from out of town and was visiting with them. Before the meal, we had a toast to my paying off my student loans. I love to make toasts, so it was just something I wanted to do. We then ate, opened gifts and spent the rest of the evening talking, or listening I should sy to some hilarious stories from my dad's youth. After everyone left, we got the kitchen cleaned up and The Tide ad I headed home as well. It was a fun night with family and friends.

On Sunday, I didn't do much of anything other than go to church and watch the Super Bowl and of course watch this week's episode of Downtown Abbey. BEST! SHOW! EVER! Once again the weekend wasn't long enough, but that's how it goes I guess. Hope you all had a nice weekend as well.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The 35th Birthday Weekend Part One

Friday after work, I met my parents for my postponed birthday dinner. We ate at Red Lobster which is where I always wanted to go on my birthday when I was a kid. I had not been there in a long while and had a hankering for it so that’s where we went. It was a good meal and a good time visiting with each other as well. When I was younger, they would put a foam lobster on your head and sing “Happy Birthday”, now there’s no lobster hat, just the song. Somewhere in the photo archives is a photo of me with the lobster hat; I can see it plain as day, but have no idea where it is. If I come across it, I’ll be sure to share it with you. Remember when they had the hushpuppies instead of the garlic cheese biscuits? I realize a lot of folks love those garlic cheese biscuits, but I miss the hushpuppies!

On Saturday, my parents hosted a small gathering of family and friends for my birthday. The party was to start at 5:00 and my dad and I were to do the cooking so I left my house at 1:30 with The Tide in tow to run some errands and then head over to my parents’ house. As soon as I pulled out on to the road, it started raining and I was wearing my beloved browns with the crack in the sole and it was raining quite hard and of course when I got out of the car my feet got soaked.

The first stop was to pick up my birthday cookie at the mall. Thankfully, I was able to park downstairs and out of the rain. I had a coupon from the cookie place to get six free cookies with a pre-ordered cookie cake. Since my mom can’t have chocolate, I decided to use the coupon to get some chocolate-free cookies for her. The person that waited on me had to ask the manager who said I could not use the coupon because it was for Valentine’s Day. Now, in the email were pictures of heart shaped cookie cakes, but all the email said, was six free cookies with your pre-ordered cake. I talked to the manager, who then got upset and said to the woman helping me, “Just give her some cookies!” in a harsh voice. Please ask me to do the impression for you if you see me out and about – you will not be disappointed.

The next stop was to PetSmart to get The Tide’s nails trimmed. I had brought along her rabies vaccination form with me because I had a feeling they would ask for it – they don’t always but the little voice inside my head said to be sure and grab it. It was pouring rain at this point. The Tide, who loves to go to PetSmart almost as much as she loves to go to the vet was so excited she came into the front seat, stepping on the cookie cake and ended up in my lap as I was trying to get the umbrella. We finally managed to get out of the car and inside the store where indeed they asked for the rabies vaccination… and I had left it in the car. Despite the fact it was pouring out and I told the girl I left it in the car, she told me to go get it. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled. Water was leaking into my shoe and my feet were soaked but I went and got it and when I got inside realized I had grabbed the one from 2010, not 2011. Thankfully, one of the girls working there went ahead and entered the information for me. Thank you nice girl!

I paid for The Tide’s nail trim and managed to get her back in the car and then went over to Target to pick up a prescription. I was also going to pick up some more enchilada sauce mix (we were having enchiladas for dinner) because I didn’t think my dad had picked up the right amount. Target didn’t have any enchilada sauce mix packets so I went over to the pharmacy to get my medicine. I have a discount card on file for the medicine I was picking up and the pharmacist had not run it and therefore the price was wrong. I asked them to change it and 10 minutes later when they still hadn’t managed to get corrected, I told them I would just come back later. Plus the girl who waited on me always has a bit of an attitude. In fact the one time she was polite to me, I almost fell over from shock – I think that was last month.

I went back to the car and called my dad to confirm that more enchilada sauce mix was needed and indeed it was and so the adventure continued…

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Beloved Brown Shoes

About 100 years ago, or at least 12 years ago anyway, I bought a pair of brown shoes made by Steve Madden. I remember the day I bought these shoes as if it were yesterday. I couldn’t tell you how much they were, but probably around $50 if I had to guess. I remember there were a dark brown pair and a light brown pair of the same style and I opted for the light brown, or camel colored pair. I guess you could say it was one of the best purchases I have ever made because to this day, I still wear these shoes – at least once a week, often more than once. They w ere even the shoe of choice in my 2011 Christmas card.

Needless to say, after wearing these shoes for at the very least 12 years, quite possibly longer, my beloved brown Steve Madden shoes are about to meet their demise. Parts of the tip of the shoe have chipped off and now the top of the sole in the right shoe has cracked and basically, I have got to break down and get a new pair at some point. The problem is that I’ve had these beauties for so long that every other brown shoe on the market pales in comparison. Why can’t Steve Madden just make me a new pair of these? After all, most of the Steve Madden shoes on the market now are just atrocious! I think good ole Steve ought to bring back this classic pair that goes with everything!

I may take these to the cobbler to see if he/she (I’ve never known a female cobbler) can do something with them , like resole them and give them a good polishing or whatever it is you do to these type of shoes. I don’t think polishing is the right word but they need some sort of sprucing up, the cobbler may not be able to help my cause, but it’s worth a try I suppose. Perhaps if the cobbler can help these shoes will last another 12 years and by then, Steve Madden will come out with a retro line that will have these shoes in it. A girl can only hope.

Here are some photos of my beloved browns:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My 35th

As far as birthday weeks go, this one has been rather low-key. Erika kicked off my birthday festivities on Tuesday night when she hosted a group of friends at her house for taco soup and delicious birthday cake. We had a lovely time and actually called it an early night compared to most nights we get together. I think I was home by 9:15 but I was tired and hopefully didn't appear to be ungracious.

On Wednesday, my actual birthday, there wasn't much activity. I went to work (I think everyone should get their birthday as a day off from work, don't you?) and had a pretty busy morning and a very slow afternoon. Thankfully Jackie had a slow afternoon as well and we emailed back and forth on all manner of subject including how when we are living next to each other in the retirement home we will drink hot tea in the afternoons like the Brits. All the other old folks will probably be jealous of how awesome we are. Sadly, because it was the end of January, I went pack to parking in the lot with all the other peons. You may recall that I won one of the close up parking spots for January for our United Way campaign. I'll get to park there again in March, but it was just kind of a bummer that I had to give it up on my birthday of all days.

After work, I was supposed to meet my parents for an early bird dinner at Red Lobster, but because my dad has bronchitis and didn't want to get out in the yucky weather (yes, it's raining again!) we postponed until Friday. So, instead, I stopped by I Love Sushi and treated myself to a delightful dinner. Before I went there though, I stopped by Schlotsky's and picked up my free small original sandwich which was one of the birthday coupons I received via email. No, I didn't eat that as well. The coupon was set to expire on Saturday and so I went ahead and picked it up for my lunch on Thursday. Not having to pack a lunch in the morning is an added bonus.

Wednesday night I went to church and along with my friends Lisa and Candy, taught the toddlers about the animals God made. I'm changing up the lesson next quarter to families because quite frankly, I've had enough of animals. That was it - pretty uneventful.

This weekend, my parents are having a little birthday soiree for some friends and family. My dad and I are making enchiladas - yum! I'm sure it will be a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone who called, tweeted, emailed, sent a text, or left a birthday comment. Here's to hoping years #35 will be a memorable one!

The cake Erika made for my birthday!

Me and my cake!