Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Few Short Stories

I've got a few (hopefully quick) and random stories for you today. Here we go...

My neighbor Jeff is out of town for the week. He went to Virginia to visit his mother as I'm pretty sure her birthday is around this time of year. On Saturday, as is often the case when he goes out of town, he asked me if I would mind picking up his newspapers and putting them in the chair on his front porch. I said it would not be a problem at all. Jeff headed east on Monday morning and presumably took his newspaper with him as it was not in his yard. On Tuesday morning, as I was gathering my things to walk out the door for work, I remembered I needed to pick up his paper before leaving. When I opened the door, one of Jeff's friends was at his house watering his plants and she had picked up his newspaper. The fact that he asks me to pick up his newspaper and another friend to water his flowers and garden always gives me a chuckle - either he doesn't trust me with his vegetation or his other friend really loves to come over and take care of the vegetation, or maybe he knows I hate the heat and wouldn't want to spend a lot of time in the heat watering flowers and such. Whatever the reason, it baffles me because really it would be no problem for me at all to water the flowers and garden and it would probably be no problem for his other friend to pick up the newspaper if she is already going to be there. Maybe he just wants us to both feel loved and appreciated. Another thing that made me laugh about the friend watering Jeff's flowers on Tuesday morning was that it rained pretty much all throughout late Monday night/early Tuesday morning - so what was the point in her watering when God had just taken care of that? Something to think about...

Speaking of the newspaper, I recently cut my subscription back from a Saturday/Sunday delivery to a Sunday only. I never read the Saturday paper unless it was during football season, and now that there won't even be a Saturday paper during football season, I figured, what was the point? It was a waste and it immediately went into the recycle bin. On Monday, a representative of the newspaper called to say they would be providing me with the Wednesday and Friday editions for the next six months at no additional cost. As you may recall from my recent post, the newspaper is only going to be producing a paper on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday beginning in October. So, my assumption is they are trying to get everyone on board with this new three-day schedule and then in six months they will jack up the prices. Remind me six months from now to closely watch my monthly bank draft from the Huntsville Times

Monday afternoon, I was putting some things in car in preparation to leave for Ladies' Night Out. I was apparently in my own little world, arranging things just so when all of a sudden a man rode by on a bicycle and said, "That's a pretty house." My first reaction was a scream, not a blood-curling one, but still a scream. Clearly I wasn't expecting to be spoken to and the man startled me. I said, "Thank you!" and he said, "I didn't mean to scare you, I just wasn't sure if I had the breath to speak." I laughed and said, "no problem, I understand!" All of this took place as the panting man continued to ride down the street. It was a pretty funny moment if I do say so myself and it's always nice to get a compliment on your home.

Friday when Jackie came over to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, I modeled my new cycling jersey for her. Needless to say, it gave her a great laugh!

Back tomorrow with a few more of these random snapshots from my life.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Past Few Days

Yes, I know, no post on Sunday night/Monday. I just was not in a writing mood on Sunday night and am actually still not in much of a writing mood; but, my public awaits or something like that. I just do not have much going on right now and sometimes it's hard to make boring interesting. Where to begin?

Last Thursday I had an appointment at the Downtown Y to get set up on their FitLinxx System. It takes about an hour and basically one of the staff sets you up on all the weight equipment. Then when you go to work out, you sign in and at each station, the system tells you where to place the settings for the seats and backs and how much weight you are supposed to use as well as how many reps and sets. It's a pretty interesting system and tracks your progress and how much weight you lift, etc. I'm pretty excited to start using, although it will be a few days yet as almost every night this week I have something on the calendar.
After the trip to the gym, I came home to mow the lawn. I started about 6:15 with the weed eating and finally finished up a little before 8:00. It was hot and really humid; I'm sure I could have wrung the sweat out of my shirt. Waiting until later in the evening was a good move though because I didn't think I was going to kill over like I did the week before.

Friday night I had planned to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and do some laundry and cleaning; however, in a twist of plans, Jackie decided to stop by (not uninvited although she never said for sure yes so I thought she wasn't coming - ha!) and so all the cleaning and laundering came to a screeching halt while we chatted about everything under the sun and watched the ceremonies together.

Saturday I went to a baby shower for my sweet friend Shelley and munched on some awesome sausage rolls (I couldn't get enough!) and delicious cake. There was also fruit tea and you can never go wrong with fruit tea. The shower was out towards Hampton Cove so I made a stop by Mr. Donut before my weekly trip to Publix. I haven't been to Mr. Donut in a long while and I was kind of disappointed with the donuts I got that morning. They didn't taste as fresh as they normally do. I need to consult my parents on this as they stop by much more frequently than I do. Saturday afternoon I napped and then watched more Olympics and cleaned and did laundry. For the first time in many weekends I got all of the cleaning done before Sunday. I contribute this to boring television and the fact that I already knew the results of the swimming thanks to NBC blabbing about it earlier in the day.

Sunday, as is always the case, was a trip to church and the continuation of the quest for a class. I was sans Jackie on this particular Sunday so I went with my cousin Anna again. I know I keep saying I will one day blog about this in detail and I swear I will. I guess I want it to have a happy ending before I start writing that story. I had lunch with my cousins Chris, Amy and Bennett who is now about 10 feet tall and while dining we ended up sitting next to a former flame/friend - awkward. Isn't it ridiculous how you can be so close with someone for 12 years or more and then act like complete strangers and not even speak to one another. Life is so bizarre. Sunday night we had the fifth Sunday singing at Chase Park and it was filled with some sappy songs. I cooked some spaghetti for dinner that night and generally enjoyed an evening with The Tide who seems to not be feeling so well these days. I'm not sure if it's the heat, the old age or the supposed fronts of rain coming through. Perhaps she is just depressed, although I don't know what about because that dog has it made.

That was my weekend in a nutshell.

I don't know about you, but on Mondays, I wear the same outfit to work that I wore to church the previous day - provided I don't spill my lunch all over myself anyway. I guess I must have taken my cardigan off such that it was wrong side out on Sunday because I wore it in to work wrong side out this morning. Oh yes I did. The guy who sits behind me finally noticed it and brought it to my attention. Needless to say, it gave me a good laugh. Hopefully it brought you a good laugh as well.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Conundrum of Sorts

As I'm sure you all know (and are probably sick of hearing) I am a fan of cycling. My favorite team is Garmin-Sharp, an American based team with an exceptionally cool team manager. I, of course, follow them on Twitter and also follow the merchandise store on Twitter because the store is always having contests and sales and I'm not one to shy away from a contest or a sale for that matter.

This past weekend, they announced via their Twitter feed that all orders placed before 11:00 p.m. on Sunday would receive a surprise gift. Well, if that's not an incentive to buy something, I don't know what is. So, I bought a t-shirt that was on sale for $16.99 and sat on pins and needles for the next five days while I awaited my package to come in the mail. I figured it would probably arrive in the post on Wednesday and I was correct! On Tuesday they had announced all the great things they sent out as surprise gifts, including Garmins, water bottles, t-shirts, etc. On the way home Wednesday, I started thinking about what I my number one choice of a surprise would be (autographed jersey) and then decided, well, a jersey in general would be exceptionally cool and then said to myself, I do love their water bottles and would be happy with one of those as well. There were so many choices to think about on the way home!

When I arrived and saw and felt of my package, I knew there wasn't a water bottle inside. I knew it was clothing of some sort. After letting The Tide out, I tore into my package to discover my surprise was a cycling jersey! Oh yeah! Not only do they retail for $99, but they are also exceptionally cool and I don't have any and how awesome would I look riding around the streets of Huntsville in my very own Garmin jersey. I would be the envy of everyone! After taking a couple of photos and tweeting about it and sending an email to the now jealous Tony, I took a closer look and realized they had sent me a women's jersey. Now, to most gals, the women's cut would be preferable; but, most women don't have as large of a bosom as I do. I'm just being honest here people!

I don't know if you other gals have problems with the women's cut shirts, but I have always had a problem with them because they are way too tight in the chest. So, when I saw that the jersey was, albeit in my size, a women's cut, my heart fell. I went ahead and tried it on and enjoyed a good laugh in the process. Now, cycling kits are supposed to be tight, but I don't think they were meant to be as tight as my jersey was on me. If they had sent me the men's jersey, it would have been tight, but I think it probably would have worked okay because it wouldn't have been cut so tight in the chest. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Every time I have tried on any women's cut t-shirt, etc, it doesn't fit through the chest and therefore I have to stick with the unisex or men's t-shirt - not as flattering, but at least my bosom is the poking out for all the world to notice.

So, while I am super pumped to receive an awesome surprise gift, I am also sad that I will more than likely never wear it. I will keep it though and the next time I am able to go to a race, I hope to get some autographs on it and then it will be a treasured keepsake. Here are some photos of my very first cycling jersey:

 Fresh out of the package - Jersey on the Left, T-Shirt on the Right

 Front of Jersey

 Back of Jersey

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book Review: Faith and Other Flat Tires

I have another Thomas Nelson Publishers book review for you today and I think this is one of my favorites to date of all the Nelson books I have reviewed. The title of the book is Faith and Other Flat Tires and it was written by Andrea Palpant Dilley. As soon as I received the email from Nelson with the name and description of the book, I responded with a big, "Yes, please include me!" Sadly, in my excitement to read about the subject, I apparently neglected to request a giveaway copy which is unfortunate because I would love for someone to win this one.

The subtitle or catch phrase or what have you of the book is "Searching for God on the rough road of doubt" and I don't know about you, but there have been many times in life when I've had doubt in my life about God and my Christianity. I think this is part of the search for finding truth and I was so glad to see that someone had put down into words their journey and as it turns out, it was a journey that I could relate to with almost every turn of the page.

Mrs. Dilley's story is her own, a memoir of her youth as the child of a missionary, her teen and college years as she struggled internally with her faith and grew increasingly frustrated with a lack of answers, her 20s when she eventually left church and then her late 20s when she returned. She basically takes readers along on her journey to discover what being a Christian is and finding out what faith means to her.

I don't know Mrs. Dilley's age, but if I had to guess she is probably about the same age as me which I have no doubt is part of why I found her personal journey so relateable. No doubt many of the ways she rebelled and acted out were the exact ways I rebelled and acted out at the same age, and while I may not have verbally asked the questions she was asking (nor did I have a menage a trois  like she did, just wanted to clear that up for those of you who may read the book), I was in fact asking many of the same questions in my heart and at times wondering what was the point of all of this. I think this is just part of passage into adulthood. No one ever tells you about the transition from dependent to independent and when you add to that questions about God and faith and Christianity, well, sometimes it can feel like your whole world has been turned upside down. I feel like every Christian has at some point in their life questioned God, the existence of God, why do bad things happen to good people, etc. It's just part of coming to terms with the fact that we believe in a God that we can neither touch or see.

I really enjoyed the book from start to finish. Although Mrs. Dilley is of a different faith than me, I was still able to follow her story as if it were my own. She never gets finite answers to her questions about faith and God, but she comes to an understanding that she can live with and I think that's something we are probably all searching for - an understanding. I did find the end of the book to be a little disappointing. I guess I expected it to end where her life is now, saying something like, after I went through all of this doubt in my youth, this is where I am now. It was more of an open end for me which I didn't care for because it left me wondering, well, 10 years later, what are your thoughts? At times I felt like the stories were kind of thrown in without much purpose and that felt odd as well.

Overall it was a good book and I'm not sure my little review here does it justice. I suppose the thing I liked most about the book was that someone put on paper the doubts and fears that a lot of us have but may feel is taboo to talk about. If you are looking for a book about struggling with faith, this one would be a good choice. The folks at Nelson sent me a sample chapter to share with you all, but once again I cannot figure out how to link a PDF file. I'm thinking it's not possible. If you know how, give me a holler! Faith and Other Flat Tires is available in paperback or on Kindle from Amazon (you can also read a sample chapter here), in paperback or on Nook from Barnes and Noble and other fine retailers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Movie Experience and Review: The Dark Knight Rises

As mentioned in yesterday's post, this past Saturday I met up with my cousin Jan and saw The Dark Knight Rises, and y'all, it was so good!  Jan and I planned to go to the 6:30 showing. Since the movie was two hours and 44 minutes long, I decided an earlier start time would be good. I had dinner at my parents' house before the movie but of course saved room for popcorn.

I arrived later than I would like as I didn't know how long it would take from my parents' house. I bought my ticket and immediately went to the concession stand. There was a kid in line in front of me who looked to be all of 12 or 13; presumably his parents had dropped him off to watch a movie and can I just say that this sort of thing didn't happen when I was a wee lass back in the dark ages. So, the kid ordered a popcorn and big soda and his total came to $11.50. Clearly he didn't add up the costs in his head before ordering because he apparently only had $11 and gave it to the guy behind the counter. The guy asked him for the other 50 cents and the kids started searching his pockets and obviously had no more money. I told him to go on I would take care of the 50 cents and the kid just grabbed his goodies and took off - WITHOUT SAYING THANK YOU! Maybe he does this every time he goes to the movies. I mean, I was in a good mood that day so it didn't really get under my skin, but still, a thank you would have been nice! The cashier said thank you. I guess that will suffice.

I then made a pit stop where I had to dodge running and screaming children and a screaming mother and had to air dry my hands because there were no paper towels. After that detour, I went to the theater and looked for Jan who was already inside with a seat. I must have looked up into the audience for a good five minutes before I finally saw her - on the second row! I think it goes without saying that I was thrilled to finally settle into a seat.

The movie started a few minutes later and the theater was not nearly as crowded as I expected it to be. I guess the shooting in Colorado deterred some folks from visiting the theater. The previews started and they all looked good! I love previews and these made me want to spend every spare dime at the movies so I guess the mission of said previews was accomplished. 

The movie, as mentioned, was quite lengthy, but did not seem like it at all. I was sucked into this movie from the moment it came on the screen and the time passed by so quickly it seemed like it was only five minutes long. I have really enjoyed each of the Christopher Nolan Batman movies and this one was no exception and in fact, I think was my favorite of the three.

I'll sum up the plot by saying that a villain comes to Gotham and overtakes the city. I think that much was certain. Bruce Wayne, who has retired as Batman, obviously comes out of retirement. I think that much you already knew as well.  Batman is aided by Catwoman, played by the always wonderful Anne Hathaway. She was fantastic in the role and I thought she and Christian Bale had great on screen chemistry - it was like watching a well rehearsed dance. The superb Michael Caine is back as Alfred, the enchanting Morgan Freeman returns as Lucius Fox and the always intriguing Gary Oldman once again portrays Commissioner Gordon. (I'm using my adjectives today). Joseph Gordon Levitt makes an appearance in this film as the character John Blake who met Batman as a child. He, as always, does a remarkable job portraying his character.

The movie is jam-packed with excitement from the very beginning and I gasped at least twice that I can remember. There were a few times when I have no doubt I held my breath and probably another time or two when I wondered how in the world order would be restored in Gotham. There is more than one twist in this film and I will leave those to you viewing pleasure so that you will be just as pleasantly and shockingly surprised as I was.

This was the last of the Christopher Nolan directed Batman movies, completing the trilogy that has far surpassed all other Batman portrayals, in my humble opinion. The ending to this movie was absolute perfection! Absolute perfection, people! I really don't think it could have been done any better. I shed a tear, smiled and maybe shed another tear - it was just perfect. There's really no other way to describe it.

If you are looking for a movie to see to get out of the heat or get away from your life for a few hours, then do go see this one. It doesn't get much better than this in my opinion.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Every Day Is A Big People Convention

I shall begin today's post by answering a couple of questions regarding yesterday's Cooking in the Car post. I have no idea what people think when they walk past the car. I sure wish I did though. It would be great to have a camera set up and watch people's expressions as they walked by. I can only imagine the look on the faces of people and Lord only knows what is going through their heads. I would guess that in the mornings most people probably don't pay attention because they are more than likely not fully awake. I would guess when people leave for lunch or leave for the day is when the dash gets the most curious looks. Who knows? It would be fun to watch though. To answer a second question, no, I did not give the bacon to The Tide. She prefers her bacon crispy just like me! If anyone else has questions about the bacon, let me know. I realize it wasn't the most detailed Cooking in the Car post and I want to make sure everyone gets all the information they need here on The Chronicles of Nat.

Now that the questions have been answered we will move on to our regularly scheduled blog posting.

It was another busy weekend for me. I guess you can say it got kicked off on Thursday night when I took the time to mow the lawn and thought I was going to kill over from heat exhaustion in the process. Although we haven't had a 100 degree day in a while, the humidity was so unbearable it was hard to breathe and I probably could have collected five gallons of sweat from my clothing. It took a good long while to get the grass cut since it had not been trimmed in over a month and with all the rain we have received recently the growing has been a wee bit out of control. I was glad that I got it done though as it started raining again on Friday and on and off on Saturday and Sunday. Sadly, it already looks like it needs to be cut again which means I'll be right back at it later on this week. When we were in high school, my friend Willie had a shirt that said "I Fought The Lawn and the Lawn Won" and that is exactly how I felt this past Thursday.

So, this time last year I was in France. I'm sure I've mentioned that like 10 times but for whatever reason it is just so surreal to me to think that I was in France on this day last year. I can't let it go. I need help. Moving on...

Friday night I went to a singing at Lincoln Church of Christ. Thankfully my friends Janet and Deborah were there or I would have had to sit all by my lonesome. The singing lasted a couple of hours and afterwards there was a plethora of sandwiches and cookies to munch on. I was a wee bit hungry so I fixed myself a plate with a few things on it and took it to go since Janet and Deborah weren't staying.

On Saturday I watched the tour, did some cleaning and lots of laundry and watched Batman Begins in anticipation of going to see The Dark Knight Rises later that evening. My dad fried some fish for dinner that night and then I met my cousin Jan for the movie (review coming later). Thankfully I brought an extra shirt with me to my parents' house so I wouldn't smell of grease at the movie theater. I'm not even kidding when I say that on Monday I still think there is a hint of grease smell in my hair - but I have an unusually strong sniffer thanks to my grandmother's genes.

Sunday I got up early and watched a wee bit of the last stage of the tour before heading off to church. Before leaving, I realized that someone had stolen my Loretta Spencer sign out of my yard! Don't worry though, I had a back-up and I'm advertising for Loretta once again. At church, Jackie and I struck out once again on finding a class to our liking (more on this in a later post). It's tough out there, people. After church that morning, I finally made it for my weekly grocery store trip to Publix which took all of 30 minutes because I was hungry and didn't want to linger and end up buying a lot of useless stuff. I then ventured over to Zoe's Kitchen to get some lunch and let me tell you, it was a madhouse in there. I would advise that you do not go there on a Sunday afternoon. I finally received my to-go order and headed home where I ate and then mixed up some dinner for me, Erika and Kendra.

The girls came over Sunday night and it was great catching up with those two as I had not seen them in quite a while. Kendra told us about going to the Little People Convention which was in Dallas this year. I made comment that there needed to be a Big People Convention to which Kendra replied, "Every Day is a Big People Convention" -Touché, Kendra, touché! I made a new chicken recipe which turned out quite good. Click here for the link if you want to check it out. The recipe calls for a crock pot, but I cooked it on 250 in the oven for six hours and it worked quite well. The girls left a little after 9:00 and I watched a little TV before climbing into the bed to close out the weekend; and that sums things up for me. Hopefully you had a nice one as well.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cooking in the Car: Bacon

I've got another Cooking in the Car post for you today. This is the last one for a while since this is the last one I tried when we had that stretch of 100 plus degree days. This one I was pretty excited about but it didn't turn out as I expected and I think I might want to try it again some time.

I tried cooking bacon in the car on Monday, July 2. I had a doctor's appointment that morning and so I didn't get to work until about 9:15. I placed the bacon in a small baking dish and placed it on the dash before heading in to the building.

I got off work around 4:00 that day and while it reached over 100 degrees during the day, it was also overcast on and off throughout the day so I'm not sure the bacon got the full Cooking in the Car effect and I would like to try it again maybe with a drip pan. I will say the car smelled like bacon and you can't go wrong as far as that is concerned.

There was A LOT of grease in the bottom of the pan and the edges of the bacon had cooked, but it had by no means cooked all the way through. Perhaps on anther hot and sunny day, the bacon might cooke a little better.

So, if you want bacon, it's probably best to just go ahead and cook it on the stove, or the oven, or whatever your normal method of cooking is.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Restaurant Review: Anaheim Chili

So, after I started writing the restaurant review of Zoes Kitchen yesterday, I realized that I have in fact been to another new restaurant recently and you might like to know about it as well. The name of the place is Anaheim Chili and actually it's not all that new as it opened some time towards the end of 2011, but I had never eaten there until last month when I went with Jackie and her parents and some friends. 

Anaheim Chili is located on Cecil Ashburn drive in the strip of shops that also houses I Love Sushi, Bicycle Works and Bruegger's. It's actually in the building above those three, but I can't think of what else is exactly in the same building as Anaheim Chili, I do think there is a tennis store there; oh, and Alabama Outdoors. At any rate, if you know the area, then you know what I'm talking about and that's all that matters.

As you can imagine, Anaheim Chili's special is, well, chili. In fact, they have 10 or so different types. However, in addition to chili, they also have hamburgers, hot dogs and other items. Jackie and I both had the loose meat sandwich when we went which is described as a Sloppy Joe without the sloppy and we both thought it was really good. I had fries with mine. The fries are described something along the lines of being cooked like they are done in France which quite honestly cracked me up because fries in France don't taste any different in France than they do in the States. The only difference being they are called Frites in France. Moving on...

Jackie's mom had a hamburgers and she said she likes them better than Five Guys burgers - a bold statement indeed. Our friend Christa had a chili dog and she said it was delicious. It's what she always orders if I remember correctly. Jackie's step-dad, Tim, had a bowl of chili and it was a large sized portion and I cannot remember what Christa's husband had; but everyone seemed to enjoy their food immensely. We also shared some onion rings which appeared to be hand-battered and were served with a side of special sauce - these were really good. 

The prices were reasonable, all food is under $10 if I remember correctly; seems like our sandwiches were around $7 or $8 and the bowl of chili was around $6. The owner was in the restaurant cooking the day we were there and was friendly. The other staff were also nice and helpful. We ate there on a Sunday after church and it wasn't too crowded but at the same time, there were quite a few families and couples enjoying the food. I would definitely return for another visit, and it especially seems like it would be a good place to go when you need a hot bowl of chili on a cold winter day.

Anaheim Chili does not have a web site that I could find. For those of you on the dreaded facebook, it appears from the Google that they do have a facebook page. I did come across a Huntsville Times article about the place and have posted the link for you here. Check out Anaheim Chili the next time you are looking for a new restaurant to visit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Restaurant Review: Zoe's Kitchen

It's been a long while since I've done a restaurant review probably because 1) I don't eat out much and 2) when I do eat out it's to somewhere I frequent like I Love Sushi or Little Rosie's. Monday night, Jackie was without her little ones and we decided to venture outside of our comfort zone of raw fish or Tex Mex and tried Zoe's Kitchen which opened just last week if I'm not mistaken. It might have been the week before; at any rate it has been within the last month and we braved the new world of healthy cuisine and gave it a try.

We met there at 5:00 and there were a few people dining and no line which was nice. During the time we were there, there was a small line at times, but nothing that lasted over a couple of minutes and there were always some empty seats. There is seating both inside the restaurant and a few tables outside on the patio too. Of course, this was a Monday night so it will most likely be busier on the weekend. We ordered our food, and received some good information on the side items from the cashier who seemed very knowledgeable about all the food which was pleasantly surprising considering the amount of time they had been open. She may be an employee at another store helping out for opening, or not, I don't know; but, she knew the menu well which was a good sign.

I ordered the steak wraps and Jackie got an appetizer of hummus and pita and ordered a bowl of tomato bisque. We grabbed a small table by the window and about three-five minutes later, the hummus arrived and not long after, our main dishes arrived. The hummus and warm pita was really good. The steak wraps were amazing. They came with a fresh side item, and I chose fresh veggies which happened to be broccoli, mushrooms and onions and it had a great taste to it. The steak wraps are warm and come with Swiss Cheese (which I left off), and I think mushrooms and caramelized onions. Actually, I cannot remember for sure if the onions were on it but the mushrooms were in the wraps for sure. It was served with a yellow sauce which was probably yogurt based but most likely had mustard in it as well. It had green specks of flavor (chives?) and was quite delicious. The whole meal was very flavorful (yes, Tony, that is a word) and I enjoyed every bite. In fact, I emailed Jackie this morning and told her I could not stop thinking about those steak wraps. I will be making another trip soon to try and simmer down my craving. As for the tomato bisque, Jackie said the flavor was good, but the texture was like baby food so it wasn't a creamy smooth soup like you might expect. You could actually tell by looking at it that the texture was mushy so that might not be a good choice unless you are prone to loving the texture of baby food. I should have taken some photos of our food, but hunger prevailed.

We were there for two hours - not eating, but talking - and no one pressured us into leaving. A girl came by and took our plates for us and asked us if we needed anything else, but I did not feel rushed. Again, it was a Monday and it might be different on the weekend.

I thought the prices were reasonable and comparable to Jason's Deli or Panera - something along those lines. My steak wraps with a side item were $8.95 (that's with tax). I had water to drink. I think Jackie's soup was around $3.99 before tax, and the hummus was probably around the same price.

Zoe's offers carry out as well. They have family packs that are designed to feed a family of four, tubs of hummus, pimento cheese and other items you can purchase and of course, you can order from the menu and take that to go as well. I saw quite a few people picking up items to go. Also while we were there, a guy came in that could be the identical twin of Chad, our friend Tina's husband. I was sitting at an angle where I could snap a photo of him and the first one I took sent a flash through the whole restaurant and I'm pretty sure our cover was blown. I ended up taking two more, without the flash in an attempt to get the best shot. I should have just walked up to him and asked him to take his photo. Here are the results of my not so sneaky photography:

Zoe's Kitchen is located on Whitesburg Drive across the street from Publix. It is in what used to be Tony's Little Italy and before that Qudoba. If the predecessors of that location are foretelling then Zoe's won't last but a few years. I hope that's not the case though as I really enjoyed the food and will be putting this dining experience in the regular rotation. When I checked the web site, the Huntsville location wasn't up yet, but you can still peruse the site and see what they are all about. Here is the link if you are interested in learning more.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Painting and a Reunion with Blue

Another 2012 weekend has passed us by - there are only 24 left in this year so use them wisely! I don't know what is up with me taking on out of the ordinary projects recently, but it happened again this weekend. You may recall a few of weekends ago I decided to clean the baseboards in my bedroom and even attempted to dosome window cleaning, which didn't turn out to well. I would like to have all the windows clean before the end of the year - such a lofty goal. 

Friday morning I got up before the sun so I could shower and ready myself for work before the Tour de France came on at 5:30. I wanted to get that one hour and 45 minutes of viewing time in before I had to leave for the day. (No, I'm not a normal person, why do you ask?) Anyway, I don't know if I was more awake than normal or if I ended up staring at the wall behind my stove for too long or just exactly how it came about, but before I walked out the door at 6:45 a.m. on Friday morning, I had decided that I would put a fresh coat of paint on that wall if it was the only thing I accomplished on the weekend. 

I had all the supplies (paint, roller, brush) with the exception of a pan; so, I stopped by Lowe's on my way home Friday and picked up a pan. I got out of work about an hour and a half later than I had expected and so instead of tackling the project on Friday night as had been my original plan, I put it off until Saturday. So, Friday night I watched...wait for it... the Tour and did the same on Saturday morning. I also did some laundry and some dusting, mopping, etc during commercial breaks so I wasn't a complete bum. Around noon I finally managed to get started on the painting. At first I had large goals of doing the three walls that are cream color but that plan was quickly thrown out the window since I didn't have a trim man (my brother) to help out. You may recall that at Christmas time I painted one wall of my kitchen turquoise and if I had not had a stomach virus at the same time, I probably would have done the whole kitchen.
I managed to get a couple of coats on directly behind the stove and a fresh coat on the majority of the rest of that wall - the fridge is there and I doubt anyone is going to pull it out and ask, "Why didn't you paint back here?" I did pull out both the stove and the fridge and gave the floor a good cleaning which it desperately needed. The new coat of paint looks so much better and to the person who does not live in my house, in other words all of you, I don't think you can tell which parts were not painted and which ones were. The way behind the stove was rather gross and there were at least two drops of exploding tea that came through the new paint. Bizarre! The exploding tea, by the way, was from Father's Day 2007 (I think) and no matter how many times you wipe down the wall, it seeps through again. That, my friend, was some potent tea. I also gave the wrought iron piece that hangs there a good scrubbing and wow, does it look so much better. I'm really glad to have that out of the way. 

The rest of the evening was spent cleaning up the mess I made painting, finishing up laundry and vacuuming, mopping and dusting - I lead such an exciting life. I did manage to leave the house long enough to pick up a few things at Publix. Can someone tell me how it is when you have just a few things on your list you end up spending more money than you thought you would? This happens to me all the time. Of course, it didn't help that I was out of Allegra and had to spend $28 on a 45-count bottle. I did have a $4 coupon, although that didn't ease the pain of buying allergy medication. Then, to top things off, while the guy was checking me out, I ran my card through the slot, which I normally don’t do until after they tally my coupons. Well, he told me the total, I said ok, and handed him my coupons as he was handing me my receipt. I have no doubt that I had a look of shock and awe on my face when that happened. I was at a loss for words and that doesn't happen often. I'm pretty sure a tear formed in the corner of my eye as well. I was shuffled over to customer service where they gave me cash ($19.09) for the value of the coupons I was going to use, but still, I didn't want cash, I wanted to pay $19.09 less for my groceries. Can I get an Amen?! 

Sunday I went to church at Mayfair where I am trying to find a class that I like. I will write more on this later because it is worthy of its own blog post and will tie in to a Thomas Nelson book review I will have for you soon. After church I went to lunch with my aunt and cousins and some of their friends and we had a great time laughing about the plight of my finding a class and being entertained by Grumpy Greer who later became a happier Greer. Greer is my cousin's 18 month old and he is quite entertaining. 

Sunday night I went to church with my parents and afterwards we picked Blue up from the mechanic! I was so thrilled to have her back. It was such a wonderful reunion. The mechanic repaired the following:

The back window is now operable once again
The windshield wiper works again
The gear shifter works without the aid of duct tape
The fan belt was replaced
And finally... the biggest surprise of all.. I can retrieve the key from the ignition without sticking a Bic ink pen in the steering column. I didn't even ask for this repair, it was a bonus repair. For three years or longer I've been sticking an ink pen in the steering column to get my key out. It is weird not to have to do this any longer. 

Wow, that seems like a lot crammed into one weekend, but really it wasn't. Hope you all had a great weekend as well!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cooking in the Car: Popcorn

On Saturday, June 30, I tried another Cooking in the Car experiment; this time it was popcorn. I was up early that morning to cook myself some French toast for the start of le Tour and so I put some popcorn oil and a few kernels in a pan and placed it on the dash around 6:30 or so that morning.

Getting ready for the car

A look inside the pan

On the dash - early morning

On the dash - early morning

 I didn’t have any plan to leave the house on Saturday so the pan with the kernels had all day to sit on the dash and cook. The temperature hit a high of 105 on this particular day and I couldn’t wait to see if the exposure to the heat for hours on end would produce a bit of popcorn.

I went out to the car around 6:00 or so in the evening to collect the pan from the dash board; so, the pan was outside for around 11 and a half hours or so. Sadly, the kernels did not pop. I was really hoping they would but it was not meant to be. I did not put a lid on the pot as I do when I cook it on the stove – I don’t know if that would have made a difference or not. My guess is not. The pan was really hot to the touch and I had to sit it on the mail to bring it back into the house, but obviously it wasn’t hot enough to produce popcorn.

After sitting in the car all day

So, if you want popcorn on a hot summer’s day, you’d better rely on your stove or your microwave, or better yet, your local movie theater.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Five Years in the Making

I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not, but back in April I hit a milestone in my professional career. For the first time ever, I have worked at the same place for five years. This is quite a milestone for me for many reasons.

As you may recall, I was actually laid off from work back in the fall, but was very blessed to only be out of work for one week and rather than being out of a job was instead transferred to another division within the company. I had to take a pay cut and go back to the same position I started in, but I am not complaining because I feel so lucky and blessed beyond measure to actually have a job; some people that were laid off the same day as me are still without a job. So, since I was able to transfer to the other division, all my time, vacation, sick, etc. transferred over as well and as of April 09, I have worked for the same employer for five years.

I started working when I was 16, as a cashier at Winn-Dixie and since that time, I have held a plethora of jobs - everything from working for a US Congressman to stocking shelves at a grocery store. I've worked in sports media relations, been a writer for various media outlets, worked security for a Senior PGA tournament (Seriously, who's going to be afraid of me?) and been an after-school sitter for a couple of rowdy kids. I've worked at K-Mart (also as a cashier), waited too many tables to count at three different restaurants, worked as a bar tender in a fraternity house and did some time in the shoe department at Wal-Mart. In college I held down a job at the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library where I may or may not have been captured sleeping on a sofa in the University of Alabama yearbook. I've worked as a receptionist, a bookkeeper, a photographer's assistant,  a United States Census worker and a youth intern at a church. I think it goes without saying that I have had more jobs than I can count - maybe with the help of my friends and family I could list them all, but I seriously doubt it. To say making it five years at one company (can't really say one job) is a milestone is perhaps the understatement of the century.

What can I say? I get bored easily and I like to keep an active mind and I'm constantly thinking about the next job or the next step, or at least I used to. Thankfully, the older I get the more my mind settles down. Do I still have dreams of owning a bakery or a catering company or winning the lottery and moving to France. You can bet your bottom dollar I do, and maybe one day I'll brave the trepidation and anxiety I feel and give it a go and then again maybe I won't. Some people think I should be doing something bigger and better with my life making mad amounts of money; but you know what, that's not really for me. Would I like to have more money, sure who wouldn't? For me, though, money does not make the world go 'round. I have a good life and do not want for anything, which is a lot more than some people can say. If I leave this earth without fortune and fame, so be it.

So, back to working at the same place for five years.... I do a good job at work and feel confident that I will be moved up again soon. It will come when it is supposed to and that's just fine by me. With my five year milestone, I also hit three weeks a year of vacation, which makes a huge difference. I like the people I work with and I do not dread going in to work each day as I have with other jobs. That's not to say that one day I may look for something else, but right now, I am quite content and sometimes contentment is exactly what you need in life.

I brought all this up, three months after the fact, because today, my five years of service at my company was celebrated with cake and sodas. What more could you ask for? All the employees who hit milestones last quarter at the company were celebrated today. I was the first name called, which of course made me laugh because laughing is my favorite. My supervisor said, "speech, speech," so I thanked the HR guy who hired me. I asked him to come and he did and he is one of my favorite people at work. It was a funny moment.

The gal I share a cubicle with had also been invited, but she and I thought she had been invited for moral support or something but as it turns out, it was her service award day too. She has been working for the company for 25 years and will now be privileged to receive one of the up close parking spaces, she also got $150 from the company - nice! We got a good laugh out of that because first of all she didn't know it was her 25-year award and secondly there is no telling how many weeks or months she has been walking a long distance to her car when she could be parked up close. We did a lot of laughing this afternoon - I think it was the sugar. For five years of service, I also received a $10 voucher for our cafeteria and a free pizza from Papa Murphy's, which doesn't do you much good when you are not eating dairy. I'm also not a fan of Papa Murphy's; but, it was still nice and maybe my parents will become the recipients of the free Papa Murphy's pizza.

Five years - quite a milestone for me. Here's to making it at least five more!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Five Points from Five Points

This may be the lamest post ever; humor me, and go with it.

1. It rained this week -sweet, glorious rain! The temperatures also dropped and are below average this week, which I don't know about you, but this makes me so happy I could almost cry. I'm just thrilled that it finally rained and hope it doesn't stop the remainder of the week or month for that matter because we need it.

2. My neighbor Jeff brought me some tomatoes this week. This is the second time he has given me tomatoes this year. He also ran someone off from my parking spot a couple of Sundays ago. Our neighbor down the street has a gathering of folks three of four times a year and if you are nor at home when the guest start arriving, then beware because your parking spot will probably be taken from you. I didn't know there was going to be a party on this particular evening (I guess it was to celebrate the Fourth) and when I pulled on to my street, I thought, oh no, there had better not be anyone in my spot. There wasn't. When I got out of the car, Jeff came over and told me he had just ran someone off from my spot. He was going to pull my garbage can out front to block the spot had I not arrived home when I did. He is a good neighbor.

3. My neighbor Charlie has not one, but three Porches. My car needs duct tape to function while my next-door neighbor has about $200K worth of car. Five Points is a little crazy like that.

4. It's been over four weeks since I last mowed the lawn. It doesn't need it. Lack of rain equals lack of grass. The grass is so dry that it makes a crunching sound when you walk on it and is also as brown as brown can be. I'm sure it will do a little growing this week since we received some rain and I'll be back to mowing in no time.

5. There are five new kittens across the street. They were born on June 6 and are not the kittens that were conceived outside my window seeing as how the kittens conceived outside my window are probably still gestating. How long is a cat pregnancy anyway? Maybe they aren't still gestating; but, at any rate, the cat across the street was knocked up before there was a crazy cat night outside my window. Four of the five kittens are some combination of black and white and one is a tabby. The tabby is the prettiest one. If you are looking for a cat let me know and I can tell my neighbors. The Tide and I will not be taking one.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A List

I'm feeling like a list today; so, here it goes:

1. I stumbled across two new blogs recently. Both are written by friends of mine and I encourage you to stop by if you have a chance. The first is called Southern Sass with a Side of Laughs and is written by my sorority sister Gwen. Gwen is one of the funniest people I have ever met. She always has a smile on her face and makes others around her laugh. Her quirky and smart sense of humor is unbeatable and I am so glad she decided to put her feelings of anxiousness aside and start a blog. She only has one entry (at the time I am writing this) but it is well worth the read. Her father passed away last week and she first talks about braving the world of blogging and then shares the eulogy she spoke at her father's funeral. It is remarkable and I hope you will take the time to read it.

The second blog is called Simply Living Our Life and is written by my friend Ashley. She has recipes and craft ideas as well as  just general entries about what's going on in her life. Her recipes look delicious and the craft projects are darling. She has also been blessed to become the newest fourth grade teacher at Madison Academy and so I'm sure she will soon be regaling us with stories from the classroom. Check it out if you have the chance.

2. I have been on an apple and peanut butter kick for breakfast for at least a month, maybe two. I'm not sure what started it actually, but it has been a good choice for my breakfast as it is very filling and I'm not hungry before lunch time. I'm a Golden Delicious fan. Despite the fact that for the past six-eight weeks I have been cutting an apple each morning for breakfast, I walked out of my front door on Monday without one. I completely forgot about cutting an apple or eating breakfast at all apparently and didn't realize it until I was driving to work. I blame it on le Tour. I was all involved in getting as many pre-race tweets read before cutting myself off from all manner of the world. Thankfully our cafeteria at work serves breakfast. It was greasy, but it was food so I won't complain.

3. Speaking of le Tour, there have been a ton of crashes this year and some big names have had to abandon, which makes me sad. My favorite to win it all was out after stage six and I was crushed because I wasn't sure who I would pull for to win it all and am still not sure. The current wearer of the maillot jaune had some brutally honest and fierce comments after Sunday's stage. I'll link up to it here in case you want to read about it, but I will warn you the language is in-your-face and not for the faint of heart. I personally loved it, but I've never been one to shy away from swear words in certain situations. Just being honest here, Aunt Linda! His response was in question to the naysayers who accuse him of blood-doping. The link to his response is here.

4. I'm still on a dairy ban and I haven't lost the first pound - maybe I'm doing it wrong? I mentioned it to my doctor when I went last week and he seemed thrilled that I was going dairy-free for a while. I've vowed to keep it up through the end of August and then I will re-evaluate. I'm not missing cheese too much, but man could I go for a cold smooth glass of milk!

5. As of Wednesday, July 11 (which is more than likely when you are reading this), there are only 50 days left until the start of college football season. I realize most of you don't care, but I am pretty excited about it. Look at it this way, In seven or eight weeks there will be a new fall TV season, and with any luck cooler weather, in combination, you can hardly beat those three.

6. This time last year I was preparing for a flight to France. This time this year, France is loudly calling my name and I cannot wait to go back, whenever that may be. I'm having withdrawals from the motherland.

7. Met a cute boy at church on Sunday. Sadly, he is about 10 years my junior so I think I'll go ahead and mark that possibility off the list. Onward!

8. As of this week, I have not eaten anything from McDonald's in one year. It wasn't really a conscious decision it just kind of happened, which is strange because I love their french fries more than any others. 

9. Tuesday morning, there was a wreck that shut down the Parkway close to where I work. Thankfully I had seen this on the news before I left home and was able to come up with an alternate route and made it to work on time. A lot of other people were late. Days like that, I'm glad I watch the news in the morning.

10. I like hot dogs.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: Racing Through The Dark

Well, it's not the end of the week, but I'm going with a book review anyway because I just finished this particular book and wanted to post some things about it while it is still fresh on my mind. That's how I roll.

The book is called Racing Through the Dark and it was written by David Millar, a cyclist on my favorite team, Garmin-Sharp. It is an auto-biography of sorts and is one of the most intriguing books I have read in a while. Actually, I feel like I have said that three times in a row as the last two books I reviewed were also interesting; but, this book goes to the head of the pack in my opinion. However, I am a lover of cycling and so you may not agree and that's okay, I'll still like you.

David Millar is one of the quirkiest, in your face cyclists out there. I have followed him on Twitter for a while now and basically everything the man says has me in stitches. I love his blunt honesty and is rather odd sense of humor. When I found out he had a book coming out, I immediately set forth looking for it. The book was released in the UK last year. Millar, born in Malta, is a Scot, and thus the first release of the book was in his homeland. It was published in other countries as well while I patiently waited for a US release date. Finally, June 26, 2012 came around and Racing Through the Dark was downloaded onto my Kindle and I started reading it that day. I was pulled in from page one.

Millar begins the book at the very beginning (his birth), a very good place to start (as they sing in the Sound of Music). He describes his childhood as a brat of the Royal Air Force and goes on to tell of his parents' divorce and how he came about living with his dad in Hong Kong. He describes how he became interested in cycling and made a decision to become a professional cyclist.

Millar became a professional cyclist in the 1990s and as you may or may not know in the 1990s cycling was tainted with athletes who used performance enhancing drugs to better their performance. Most of this involved what is known as blood-doping, which involves increasing the red-blood cell count to increase the oxygen in the blood which in turn helps you heal faster after training, etc. and as a result helps better the performance of the athlete. Hopefully I explained that in a general and yet accurate way. I wasn't really familiar with the blood-doping era of cycling as I was not a fan at that time. I became a fan after dating Tony which was in 2008 and when the sport had been cleaned up quite a bit. Sure, there are still some guys who I would assume use blood-doping tactic, but I think for the most part it is gone from the sport, or at least I like to think so. The Garmin-Sharp team is one that has a zero tolerance for blood-doping which is one of the reasons I like them so much; that, and they are an American team and their team manager is completely awesome.

So, in case you haven't figured it out by now, Millar was one of the athletes who succumbed to blood-doping tactics. At first and for years he raced clean, but the pressure finally became more than he could handle and the team he was with wasn't the cleanest team in the business and the pressure to perform became more than overwhelming and so Millar gave in to that pressure and began using EPO to increase his red blood cells. This went on for a year or more before he was caught by the French authorities and finally came clean about what he had been doing.

Millar's account is very honest and open and for me was very eye-opening. As mentioned, I was not a fan during this time and so it was interesting to read about the things that were going on during cycling's most tainted decade. Millar received a two-year ban for his crimes and then made a comeback to cycling with Garmin, at the time known as Slipstream. He is now an advocate against blood-doping and for keeping the sport clean.

I loved this book from beginning to end. His descriptions of races and cycling in the peloton made it feel as if I was riding a tandem bike with him and eavesdropping in on his conversations. It brought a fantastic perspective to this super-fan. He also describes throughout the book his relationship with his sister, Fran, which often reminded me of my own relationship with my troubled brother. This book made me laugh, and yes, made me cry and at the end of it all, I felt like Millar and I were great friends, or mates as he would be more likely to say.

If you are a cycling fan, then I think you will love this book and even if you are not, I still think it would be an interesting read. The ups and downs of Millar's life will have you turning the page with frenzied fanfare and have you wondering what in the world is going to happen next. Thankfully we know that in the end, it all turns out okay and the world is a better place because of that.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cooking in the Car - Eggs

So apparently I should have taken the end of last week off from blogging because no one left any comments; which basically means that Erika was not at work - she is my most loyal commenter and for that I will be eternally grateful. Comments keep me going people, just being honest here.

Today we have part two of Cooking in the Car: 2012 Edition. You may recall that a couple of years ago I attempted a to boil an egg in the car by leaving an egg in a glass of water on the dash for the day. Sadly, it did not turn out boiled as I had hoped, but rather it was basically a poached egg. This year I decided I would crack open the egg and see how that worked. After all, we often hear the phrase, "it's hot enough to fry an egg" or however it is that goes.

On Friday, June 29, I cracked open two eggs and scrambled them up in a glass bowl. I had smeared the bowl with butter because let's face it, cooked eggs need a little butter to make them tasty and I was hoping it would help prevent the eggs from sticking.

At the house before work

I arrived at work around 7:00 a.m. and left the eggs on the dash for the day; as always, I'm sure people were wondering what the heck was going on.

On the dash - 7:00 a.m.

Up close and on the dash - 7:00 a.m.

A view from outside the car - 7:00 a.m.

I left for the day at 4:00; so, the eggs were in the car for about nine hours. When I first got to the car, I didn't think the eggs had cooked. I don't know why I thought that because clearly they are not going to fluff up like scrambled eggs when they are basically just baking all day long. At any rate, I opened up the door and discovered that the eggs had indeed cooked, almost to the point of burning. They were a solid mass of egg and very hard and stuck to the bowl.

4:00 p.m.

Overdone eggs - 4:00 p.m.

A view from above - 4:00 p.m.

You know how if you over boil an egg and the yolk will get a bluish/black on the outside? Well, that's what happened with these eggs too. They were overcooked. The yolks were basically the color of Velveeta they had cooked so much and there was bluish/black on some parts of the egg.

A view from the underside - 4:00 p.m.
I did not eat this experiment. I'm not a big fan of eggs anyway and these were just not appealing to me in the least. I will say the eggs were a beast to get off of my bowl; apparently I should have used more butter. I ran the bowl through the dishwasher twice before some of the crustier egg finally came off.

So, that's the story of cooking eggs in the car. I wouldn't recommend leaving it out there for nine hours if you are looking to cook it and eat it. If you added some onion, mushrooms, cheese, etc. then it might make for a good omelet. Hmmm, maybe I'll try that another time.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Change of Gyms

ave been going to the same gym for a couple of years now. I call it a ghetto gym because well, let's be frank, it's pretty ghetto there. I signed up when they were running a special of $300 for a two year membership with an option to renew yearly at $150 per year. I renewed back in March when my contract was up but haven't been happy there for a while. The place is far from what I would call clean. It's often stinky, which I can somewhat overlook because it is after all a gym, and the bathrooms are pretty gross as in I wouldn't want to step on the floor barefoot. Sometimes in the summer the air conditioner will go out and it will take weeks for it to be repaired, and the staff isn't really all that friendly. It's rare that the person at the front desk will say hello and I've been taking the same spin class from the same instructors for over two years and they still don't know my name... and one of them has even been to my house to watch a cycling race when he was without cable!

To top it off, most of the people that go there get on my nerves. I don't know any of the people who just come to lift weights or whatever but the people in the spin class are rather snobby with the exception of about four older men who are always nice and say hello and can carry on a conversation that doesn't revolve around booze. The instructors, you see, are all in their late 20s or early 30s and are still living it up like they are in college, which is really not very appealing to me. Plus, they all drink energy drinks like they are going out of style which says to me, I drank too much last night and I need a boost to teach this spin class. I am of the belief that energy drinks are terrible for you so it's a little disconcerting to see a physical trainer pounding one every day. Oh, and did I mention the parking lot is full of pot holes and isn't located in the loveliest part of town?

OK, I think that does it for my complaints about my old gym, at least that I can think of right now. When I signed up I mainly wanted to see if I would actually go to the gym before actually delving into something more expensive. Needless to say, I've become a little un-enamored with the place as of late; not that I was ever over the moon about it before; and, after seeing the lovely facilities at D1 recently I came to the realization that I should do myself a favor and move on to a better gym, even if it does cost me more each month.

So, after lots of thought and lo, even budgeting, I decided on the YMCA. There is a downtown location which opened a few years ago and I had toured once with Erika. I knew it was a nice facility and is located less than two miles from my house - I can ride my bike there! I was originally planning to get the membership for the downtown Y only, but after talking it over with some co-workers who are Y members, I decided to go for the whole kit and caboodle. We get a (very small) discount through my employer and since I work in South Huntsville, which is close to one of the other two locations, it made sense to have access to all Y locations.

Monday night I took a spin class at the downtown location and was one of two students in the class. The instructor said it's been a little odd lately with people being out of town for vacation and what not. I think they usually have a bigger crowd. The class was completely different from the spin classes to which I am accustomed. The way they do it at the Y will definitely take some getting used to. I'm used to techno music and having a set track for each song (mountains, terrain, sprints, intervals, etc). The class on Monday night was really random. The instructor just played some music and there wasn't any structure to the songs. It was a lot different; hopefully I will get used to it and not hate it.

Tuesday night I tried out a class at the Southeast Y that was called HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training - and it was really great. The class was pretty hard core and similar to the sessions at D1. Each week the class is different so you never know what to expect. There was some running and I just trotted or walked during the running parts because 1) I was exhausted and 2) I DO NOT want shin splints again any time soon so I am going to take it easy on the running for quite a while. The instructor was upbeat and enjoyable. I will definitely take this class again and have plans to make it my normal Tuesday afternoon routine. It starts at 4:15 so if I leave work about 10 til 4:00, I have plenty of time to make it to the Y, change clothes and have a breather for a couple of minutes before getting started - and I get home before 6:30, which is an added bonus.

Other than some slight disorganization with the front office at the downtown location I have so far enjoyed my experience. The Y offers a large variety of classes and the Southeast location has a pool, racquetball courts, and basketball courts. Both locations offer childcare, which comes with the membership; but sadly, no canine care. I guess that's how it goes.

I shall keep you posted on how things are going but as of this moment, I think the Y and I are going to have a very lovely and long-lasting relationship.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sometimes I Frighten Children

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth! Mine was nice and really low-key. I was up early and made some coleslaw and lemon bars before settling in to watch the day’s stage of le Tour. After watching the stage I managed to peel myself off the couch and bathe which is always important when you are going to be seen in public.

My parents had a cookout which was originally scheduled for noon but due to some errors with the stove, we finally got around to eating about 1:15. The food was great and I ate too much. Our friends Naaman and Cheryl brought their famous potato salad and I was thankful to be able to bring some of it home with me as well as some of the Kahlua pig my dad cooked; so I will have another good lunch on Thursday.

I left at the same time as my granddad. He wants me to drive his spare vehicle for a while, which is actually the vehicle my brother usually drives. My granddad offered to have my car fixed – the window and possibly the gear shift if it’s not too much. I hope to take it in over the weekend or sometime next week. The offer came out of nowhere and was really nice of him. I will be glad to have the window repaired and probably so will anyone who rides with me. So, we dropped Blue off at my house then I drove him home and brought the Beamer back home with me. When I got home and turned the car off, it sputtered a bit and it was like the engine wouldn’t cut off. It was a little weird. I don’t really know what my granddad’s plan is for the car, but I will drive it while mine is in the shop but don’t plan on holding on to it. I think it is better suited for my brother. After all, I have a goal of driving Blue until she gets 200 thousand miles on her.

Wednesday night I went to church and only had one child in my class so he and I went in and joined another class so that he wouldn’t be the only student. I still have a slight cough from my recent bronchitis and every time I coughed one of the babies would turn around a stare at me. He had the most serious look on his face and it cracked me up. Apparently I was a wee bit startling. The rest of the night I hung out with The Tide, watched some TV and listened to all the folks shooting fireworks. I’m sure it will carry on way into the night.

So, like I said, low key and enjoyable. It’s back to work again tomorrow which seems odd because all day it has seemed like a Saturday. Hopefully you all had a nice and enjoyable day as well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth

This Tide and I wish all of you have a very
 Happy Independence Day!
Hope you all have a great time with your friends and family!
Stay safe and have fun!

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Weekend Revolved Around le Tour

Well, it seems that most people (two of three anyway) don't have a preference as to how many Cooking in the Car posts are posted in one week. So, for now I will kind of play it by ear. Today I felt like rambling on about nothing in particular and so decided I would pass on another Cooking post for now. I do have something in the car today that I am pretty excited about. The temperature for today was forecasted at 100, but I'm afraid that it hasn't gotten that hot and so it may be a bust and if it is, then I will try it again because I just know in my Cooking in the Car heart that it should turn out fabulous. I will obviously keep you posted.

Despite the unbearable heat, the weekend for me was really great and I have no doubt I can contribute the greatness to the beginning of the Tour de France. Friday after work I went ahead and made my weekly trip to Publix and it turned out to be the best trip I have had in weeks because for the first time in a few weeks I was actually prepared for my grocery trip. I had actually set out all my coupons, etc. which is what I normally do, but for whatever reason haven't done it in the past few weeks and have felt like a scatter brained mess at the store. After my stop at Publix, I went by Starbucks because the Starbucks locations at Target were having buy one get one free frappucinnos! Ye-ah! I got mine with soy and I'm hear to tell you there was not one bit of difference in my opinion in the taste. I enjoyed one that afternoon and saved the other for Saturday morning. When I got home that night I made eight cups of homemade salsa. Normally this wouldn't be something worth mentioning except that I have already eaten all but about one cup. What can I say? It was good.

On Saturday morning I was up bright and early and made some French toast for the opening prologue of the Tour. I ate my breakfast and enjoyed the free frappuccino from the Target visit on Friday and settled in for about four hours of time trial watching. Thankfully all of my friends and family respected me by not placing any calls during that time. Actually no one usually calls during that time any way but I was afraid someone would and they didn't and I was thankful. Just being honest here, people. The remainder of Saturday was spent napping, doing a little cleaning, eating salsa and watching replays of the Tour. I finally broke away from the Tour replays long enough to bathe and eat a real meal and eventually watched a movie before being able to recite everything the commentators had said earlier in the day. Speaking of commentators, NBC Cycling has two new guys this year who are just atrocious! Seriously, I don't even have the words to describe how bad these two are. One is brought in during the pre-race report and the other is a "side-line" guy. Oh my word, worse ever!

Sunday morning I was up bright and early again and went ahead and got ready for church. I was able to squeeze in an hour and half of tour watching before heading off to worship. I was afraid I might not make it though. When I went to put my car into drive from park, it wouldn't budge. Apparently these 100 plus degree days had loosened up the duct tape that has been holing the gear shift in a manner that allows me to maneuver from park to drive or reverse. You may recall I had the same problem earlier this year. After several panicked minutes, I made a call to my granddad to see if he would come pick me up and let me use his spare vehicle. The call went straight to voice mail. I called my parent's and had to wait on them to call me back. I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned this before, but my phone will not connect to their land line. It rings once and then disconnects. For a few months after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes, the problem went away but it returned a few months ago. So, any time I need to get in touch with them I have to call and pray that they will realize the phone has rung and wait for them to call me back. Clearly I hope I never need them in an emergency situation for I will most likely be out of luck. At any rate, as soon as my mom called back and I answered the phone, the car miraculously shifted into drive and I peeled off the old duct tape and added a tighter new layer. So far, so good. I just need to remember to check that out every few days. I went to church with my aunt and cousins and I really enjoyed the service and sitting with my family. I didn't get to stay for class because I had to make an appearance at work that afternoon. So, after church, I made a run by Target for another round of buy one get one fraps and some sushi for lunch. I think Target has pretty good sushi as far as supermarket sushi goes. I actually think it's better than Publix. (I think I may have just heard a collective gasp from the readers).

I went home to eat, change clothes and watch another 45 minutes or so of the Tour before going in to work for a few hours to audit inventory. My feet were beyond tired by the time I left. Since I usually nap on Sunday afternoons, I think I was a little delirious having to count widgets. I finally finished up watching the day's stage that evening and may have even jumped off the couch towards the end. Yes, my friends, it was that exciting.

Monday morning I had an 8:15 a.m. doctor's appointment for a blood work/ general health check up and was able to watch an hour of the tour before leaving for the day, which was nice. I look forward to watching the remainder of the stage when I get home Monday evening. Speaking of Monday evening, I'm starting at a new gym Monday night and I'll be sure and fill you in on all the details later this week; because I'm sure you are just dying to know all about it. I had actually planned on mentioning it in this post, but I've already rambled on about watching the Tour for probably 1,000 words and I'm sure you are tired of reading at this point. So, I shall end things here and will be back later on in the week with a report on all things new gym.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cooking in the Car: Crescent Rolls

So, we’ve hit 100 degrees or higher for what feels like the last 100 days. Seriously, I don’t remember what it was like to walk outside and not sweat. Since the 100 degree days have decided to return, that also means that Cooking in the Car has returned and the 2012 edition is pretty good if I do say so myself. Before we get started though, I need to know something from you readers. Do, you want all the Cooking in Car segments posted in the same week or would you prefer one a week? Let me know in the comments; and if you are not familiar with Cooking in the Car, you can check out the previous years’ posts by searching "Cooking in the Car" on the left-hand side of the page. Sorry - I can't figure out how to link to all the posts. Ok, folks, here we go; it’s Cooking the Car 2012!

You will be happy to know that Wednesday night I went out and cleaned off my windshield and dashboard. The Hackberry tree in my yard is dropping lots of sap as is the case every summer and the windshield was beyond nasty. So, cleaning was essential before opening up the oven for the summer.

I started 2012 Cooking in the Car on Thursday, June 28 with Crescent Rolls, you know the ones Pilsbury makes and you buy in the refrigerated section at your local grocery store. I had a four pack of these in my fridge and they were yelling to be cooked in the car.

I rolled them out and into the crescent roll form and laid them out on the baking sheet before leaving for work. I arrive at work right at 7:00 a.m. and promptly put the baking sheet with the four rolls on the dash.

In the kitchen before work

On the dash - 7:00 a.m.

Up close - 7:00 a.m.

A view from outside the car - 7:00 a.m.

I left work around 3:45 since I had an appointment at 4:00. When I arrived at the car, I was actually kind of surprised to see that the crescent rolls had a golden brown color. I figured they would probably cook, but didn’t think they would get really brown. As it turns out, the golden brown wasn’t just on the outside, but it was all the way through, including the bottom. The outside of the rolls had a flakiness to them like you would find on a real croissant. Normally when I bake these at home they don’t really get flaky.

On the dash - 3:45 p.m.

Up close - 3:45 p.m.

A single roll - 3:45 p.m.

The bottom side - 3:45 p.m.

The rolls were not hard, in other words, I doubt they would break a window, but if they had been left out a few more hours they might have become that way. They tasted just like they had been baked in a real oven. They could have used a little butter though. Perhaps next time I will melt a side dish of butter.

After taking a bite - 3:45 p.m.

Golden brown all the way through!

The high on Thursday was 104 (I think I remembered that correctly).

So, if you are ever without an oven and are craving some crescent rolls in the hot summer, just put some on your dash and you’ll have them in no time, or at least in a few hours.

Don't foget to let me know if you want all the cooking posts in a group or one a week! Thanks!