Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Post of 2012

So, I just realized, after my college roomie asked in the comments section, that I never told you that yes, my dad did in fact find the missing money. Actually my brother found it. It was in my dad's office under some bills or something along those lines. Oddly enough I had looked through that same pile but apparently didn't pay very close attention.

As mentioned, I was on vacation all of last week as well as today and tomorrow and I have been busy and bored at various times. The day after Christmas we had some family photos made with my dad's parents. My cousin Alexandra took the photos and was patient and kind throughout the whole fiasco. Bless her heart, she is a much better person than I - I'm pretty sure if I was the photographer I would have snapped. She brought the photos on a disk to me at church yesterday and I have yet to look at them. I'm sure they are lovely. We had planned on doing the photos outside, but the weather didn't cooperate.

Also during my time off I saw four movies - Lincoln, Skyfall, Les Mis and The Hobbit. I must say, of the four, The Hobbit was my favorite. It did not seem like three hours in the least. It honestly seemed more like 30 minutes. Perhaps I will review these in the coming days because January is sure to be boring.

I also re-watched all 16 episodes of Downton Abbey in all of two days. I wanted to make sure I could remember everything in anticipation of season three which starts this coming Sunday. I have also started, but not yet finished my Lord of the Rings marathon which takes place twice a year. I'm a creature of habit, what can I say? I also managed to make it to the gym which has been a blessing and will hopefully motivate me to keep it up because it has been great to get some workouts in.

Today, New Year's Eve, my dad and I are cooking our annual dinner of prime rib for the family and a couple of close friends. Hopefully this year there will be no unforeseen trips to the hospital. I'll spend the rest of my dad preparing for the dinner and then, of course, eating the dinner. We are also going to make some caramel corn tonight. I made some the weekend before Christmas and it turned out so well.

Tomorrow I hope to finally take down the Christmas decorations because although I am still enjoying the lights of the Christmas tree, they will soon be on my nerves and it's better to just go ahead and take everything down before that happens.

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who stopped by in 2012 and I look forward to sharing more ridiculous and boring stories with you in 2013!

I certainly hope you all have a safe and happy New Year's Eve and may 2013 be every bit as wonderful as you wish for it to be!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012

I got up early on Christmas morning and made a couple of sausage and cheese quiche for us to have for breakfast. I also pulled apart the bread dough for the rolls we would be having for Christmas dinner. I then took a shower and got ready for the day and loaded up the car with presents and The Tide and put the dressing in the oven so it would start cooking while I was away.

On Christmas Eve we had decided to do Christmas at 9:00 a.m. and so The Tide and I arrived a few minutes before 9:00 and found the only person up and about was my dad and he was in a panic because he had lost $230 that his congregation had collected for one of the members as a Christmas gift. He and I looked for the money for about 45 minutes, going through the trash and every other place he could think of and we never found it.

Finally around 10:00 a.m. we all made it into the den to begin our family Christmas. It was a really good Christmas for everyone I think. My dad was surprised by a few of his gifts which is always nice and my mother and Justin liked their gifts as well. I was blessed with a lot of nice things, all of which were on my list and one awesome surprise - a Le Creuset 4 and 1/2 quart dutch oven. I have wanted one of these for years but they are so expensive that I never put it on my list. Earlier this year, the 4 and 1/2 quart dutch oven was on sale for a sweet price at Williams-Sonoma and I had told my mom about it. They sold out online and she told me that they had sold out and I didn't think anything else about it. My sneaky mother called the store here in town and asked if they had one for the same sweet price and they did so she got it. It was such a nice surprise and I cannot wait to put it to use.

After we opened gifts, I took some trash out to the street, my dad got busy in the kitchen and mother and Justin went to put their things away. I then left, taking The Tide with me. She was not feeling well and I thought it would be best if she weren't around over 20 Parkers later in the day.

When I got home, I cooked the rolls and made sure the dressing was done and around 1:15 headed back to my parents' house for the remainder of our Christmas festivities. We had a really good dinner and then played dirty Santa. I ended up with two Pyrex casserole dishes that have Parker engraved in the side. My aunt brought these and she ended up with one of them and just gave it to me. Her dirty Santa experience was much like mine was the week before. I brought a gift for Justin to play and he ended up with another Starbucks card. He was kind enough to buy me an eggnog latte the day after Christmas.

Most everyone left around 5:00 and my aunt and I left around 6:00 when the winds started picking up and it began lightning outside. It was quite windy and stormy Christmas night and there were tornadoes in the southern part of the state. Thankfully, there was no storm damage around Huntsville.

So, Christmas, much like Thanksgiving, was peaceful and a lot of fun. It was a great day with my family and I hope they all enjoyed it as much as I did.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

Well, hello there! Better late than never I suppose. I do apologize for not posting before now. I really have no excuse other than I am on vacation from work this week and have been lazy in my writing. So, let's catch up, shall we?

Christmas Eve began with our annual tradition of Christmas Eve breakfast. In years' past there has always been a large crowd, but this year, it was a small crowd of just 10. The breakfast was delicious as expected and the tenderloin my dad cooked was the best it has ever been. He has also discovered a biscuit recipe which has all of three ingredients - Bisquick, Sour Cream, and 7-Up. I was just as skeptical as you probably are right now, but I am here to testify that the biscuits were quite remarkable and very tasty!

After breakfast was complete and everyone parted ways, I came home for a few hours to do some cooking. I needed to mix up the dressing and make a couple of pies and also some red velvet brownies. I had made coleslaw when I first got up and had already taken it over to my parents' house. I also managed to get in a nap of about an hour.

I headed back over to my parents' house in the late afternoon to have Christmas and dinner with my maternal grandfather. We gave him our gifts and my parents received their gifts from him. My brother had gotten some shoes which he had been wearing for a while as his Christmas gift which just left me. My gift (although later discovered to be under the tree) could not be found. I was told, however, that it was a watch that I had asked for. Skipping ahead a bit - the watch was discovered later that evening and I opened it the next day only to discover that I didn't care for it. I had picked it out of the Fossil catalog and it was a lot larger than I expected it to be and I thought it looked like a man's watch. So, it is going to be returned and I will pick one out in person sometime soon I hope.

After we exchanged gifts, we ate dinner which was chili that my dad had prepared. It was quite good, especially for a cold night. My granddad left after dinner and then the four of us headed out to look at Christmas lights. I had mapped out a route for us to take and it turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.
We ended the evening at the Tinsel Trail in downtown Huntsville which was very lovely. It was such a good idea to do the Tinsel Trail and I think everyone that has visited it has really enjoyed it.

I made it home from the evening around 9:00 at which time I mixed up some dough for our Christmas dinner rolls and then watched Meet Me In St. Louis which has become my favorite thing to do on Christmas Eve. It's a moment of peace in the midst of Christmas chaos and I just love it. I was so tired, however, that I ended up falling asleep during the movie and soon moved to the bed for a good night of rest before Christmas Day, You do, after all, need to be asleep in order for Santa to arrive.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!

The Tide and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Hope Santa brings you everything on your list!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Cheer At Work

I'm happy to announce that the world did not end and also that I will not be working again until 2013. My place of employment is shut down the week between Christmas and New Year's and I am really looking forward to having some time off. I have always enjoyed having the week off between Christmas and New Year's and even when my workplace isn't shut down, it's a week that I've always taken off so I can enjoy time with family, friends, and also just some time for myself.

Friday, December 21, was the last day of the work week and the work year, and since it was also supposed to be the end of the world, some of my co-workers and I had a little fun with it. Long story short, one of our customers was visiting earlier in the year and was concerned about the world ending on December 21 and went on to tell how she had a helmet and was going to float away in her bathtub. I swear I am not making this up, and the lady was dead serious. There are many other crazy tales from this lady, but I'll stop while I'm ahead. So, I decided to bring in my bike helmet and wear it on the 21st. A few other people got in on it too and much hilarity ensued in our morning meeting.



Later on in the day, Santa stopped by and I had an opportunity to have my photo taken with him by the Christmas tree in the front lobby.



Speaking of the front lobby, we have fresh flowers delivered every week and I recently found out you can request to take the flowers home on Fridays. My friend Meri works the front desk and I was asking her about taking them home one of the last two weeks of the year and so she ordered a gorgeous Poinsettia and I was able to take it home on the 21st. I'll be taking it to my parents' house I'm sure but can enjoy it for myself a few days before Christmas.



I also received a gift from the gal I share a cubicle with; she got me an Amazon gift card and a gift card to the movies. I was very thankful to receive both of those! I also received a pretty scarf from another co-worker. So, I'm really glad the world didn't end on Friday, December 21, because it was a really nice work day if I do say so myself.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Letters to Santa: 2012 Edition

Dear Santa,

I can't believe how quickly this year has gone by! It seems just like yesterday that I was writing to let you know my Christmas list for 2011 and now here I am writing again. I hope you had a nice year and were able to get some rest after delivering all those presents last year. I'm sure you are as busy as ever getting ready for yet another trip around the globe. I've downloaded the NORAD Santa Tracker Ap to my phone so I will know where you are and make sure I am in bed in time for your arrival. After all, we all know you won't stop by a house until everyone is asleep.

First of all, Santa, I want to let you know that I've been good this year. I haven't gotten into any trouble (that I can recall) and I've done my best to be nice to people, be a good example and make new friends. Hopefully I have made you proud and am on the nice list!

Santa, I was wondering if you know anything about mice? You probably are not bothered with these pesky little rodents in the North Pole since it is so cold there; but, if you do know anything about how to get rid of them, I sure would appreciate the help. Actually, I'm not sure it is a mouse that plagues my home at night, but whatever it is, my number one Christmas wish is for this rodent to be gone...forever. I'm pretty sure The Tide would appreciate this gift as well. So, when you stop by on Christmas Eve, maybe you could scoop up all manner of rodent and take them away. That would really be swell, Santa!

Santa, to be honest, I can't even remember everything I had on my Christmas wish list; but I do remember a few things so I'll let you know about those. First and foremost I would like a new pair of pearl earrings. The ones I have now often come off of the stud and then I have to repair them with gorilla glue. So, I would like a sturdy pair that will maybe stay on the stud for more than a few months at a time. I would also like a rose gold watch. I haven't gotten a new watch since my 25th birthday, that's a whole decade ago and I think it's time for a new one. My old one needs a new battery so maybe you could replace it when you stop by on Christmas Eve. If not then I can take care of it when I'm home from work next week.

Speaking of things that need to be repaired, Santa, I have a pair of brown shoes that I love more than cheesecake and they are in serious need of repair. I know you have some cobblers working up there at the North Pole and maybe they could repair them for me. If not, maybe Ed's Shoe Repair can repair them for me, or maybe you could talk with the folks at Steve Madden and just tell them to make this particular style of shoe again. Oh, Santa, I sure love those brown shoes if you could bring a new pair of those by, I would probably faint from delight; but I'm pretty sure that's impossible since these shoes are over 10 years old and aren't in circulation any more.

Santa, I really like surprises so if you don't mind, leave a few of those as well. Since you've known me so long, I figure you can pick out some surprises that I will love. You usually can't go wrong with kitchen gadgets or pedicures.

Well, Santa, I suppose that will do it for me this year. I hope you and the reindeer have a safe flight around the world on Christmas Eve! As always I will leave some milk and cookies for you and hopefully The Tide (or the rodent for that matter) won't eat them before you arrive. Thanks for being so kind to me, Santa! Talk to you next year!

XOXO,

Natasha



Dear Santa,

I have been really good this year and I hope you will remember me when you are making your rounds. I haven't really gotten into any trouble this year. I mean, I do eat the occasional sock and I still scratch holes in the occasional sheet, but other than that I would say I've been a top notch dog.

I'll be on the lookout for you on Christmas Eve and when you arrive I would appreciate it if you could help me capture the rodent that has tortured me for all these weeks. My mom, you see, is quite useless when it comes to rodent catching. She pretty much just stands on furniture and screams like she's in a horror film. I'm sure you probably know this Santa, but I had surgery last month and I really don't need to be running around chasing rodents all the time. I should really be staying off my leg and resting like other old dogs.

There's not really much I want or need, Santa. I have a pretty good mom and she takes good care of me and gets me whatever I need; but, you can always bring large boxes of treats because I do love a treat or 10 each day and I wouldn't want to run out. I'm also eating a new food now, Santa, that my mom says is expensive (whatever that means) and you are welcome to bring some bags of it. You can find it at my doctor's office, the Linderman Animal Hospital. I'm sure the nice folks there can tell you what kind it is. It's supposed to help an old dog with her bones and joints.

Santa, I'm going to leaves some carrots out for your reindeer so they will have a snack when they stop at our house. I'm sure they will still have a long way to fly after you leave our house and could probably use some food to give them a little more energy.

Santa, did you know I have a relative named Scout? Well, he is my grandparents' dog which I guess makes him my uncle. Anyway, Santa, he is still young and very rambunctious and crazy. I'm not sure if he knows about you or how to get in touch with you; so, if you don't mind Santa, please leave him some treats as well and maybe give him a stern talking to about where he should and shouldn't use the bathroom.
I think that's it for now Santa. Thanks for remembering all us animals as you trot around the globe. Please tell your reindeer hello and I promise not to bark when they arrive.

Love,

The Tide

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Busy Season Continues

Y'all, for whatever reason I just cannot seem to pull it together this week. I have been late to work every day - I usually come in at 7:00, but have gotten in around 7:15 the first three days of the week. Monday I was just dragging; Tuesday there was unexpected frost on my car with a defrosting system that basically doesn't work, and I have no idea what happened on Wednesday. I think I just couldn't decide on what top I wanted to wear. You'd think that during a week when I'm told I can wear jeans each day that picking out what to wear wouldn't be so difficult, but apparently it is.

Tuesday night I wanted to do some baking so that I could take some goodies in for my co-workers as my "Christmas gift" to them. Tuesday was the only night that I really had free since Monday I had Christmas with Jackie and the Gang and Wednesday is church. Thursday night I may go caroling and there are probably a lot of people taking off on Friday so Tuesday night was going to be the big baking night if it was the last thing I ever did.

On the way home from work, I made a detour by Erika's house because it was her birthday and I had a gift to drop off for her. She also got a copy of the Joy the Baker cookbook and I think she was pleased with her gift. Her mom and boyfriend were also there and Erika was opening all of her birthday presents so I stuck around to see what all she got, and she took in a good haul if I do say so myself. That boyfriend of hers does a good job of picking out gifts - kudos to him!

After breezing through Erika's like a tornado passing through town, I made it home a couple of minutes after 6:00 and got to work in the kitchen. I made about 100 molasses cookies and probably as many peanut butter balls. I was going to do buckeyes, but let's face it, trying to coat all but one side of that peanut butter concoction rolled into a ball is a bit difficult. So, I gave up and just coated the whole thing. I managed to squeeze in a little television as well; but, I was rather pooped by the time 10:00 rolled around.

The Tide had been sniffing around the house quite a bit throughout the evening and so I had a feeling we might have a problem with "the rodent" and therefore left the Christmas tree lights on. I was sound asleep around 12:30 when The Tide leapt up from the bed and started with that growling and barking and running about the house. At one point she sounded like she was chasing something so I'm pretty sure that little critter hasn't kicked the bucket yet. So, this party went on for about an hour or so and finally The Tide settled down. I got some sleep, but not a lot because she was up and down and I was afraid that little rodent might attack us when we least expected it. So, it probably goes without saying that I was pretty tired on Wednesday.

Thankfully while I stopped by Erika's she invited me over for dinner on Wednesday. She and Kendra are getting together to finish up season two of Downton Abbey and she invited me to eat with them at 5:00. So, I will swing by there and then head over to church and then, finally, back home. Jackie, once again, has saved the day by letting The Tide out so I won't have to make a stop by the house.

So, the busy season continues and I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm ready for a few days of rest.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas with Jackie and The Gang

Monday night the Christmas festivities continued as I had Christmas with Jackie and her family. This has been an annual tradition since we were wee lasses and it is always a time that I look forward to each year. Jackie was kind enough to stop by and let The Tide out during the day because I had a late conference call and left straight from work to head over to Tim and Jan's. Jan prepared a dinner of Crock Pot Chicken, stir fry veggies and salad. Jan always makes the best salads! The food was delicious, as expected, but the company was even better. Jan has one of the slow cookers that can be programmed to begin at a certain time and end at a certain time. If I was in the market for a crock pot, and I'm obviously not, then this would be the kind I would want.

After dinner, we gathered in the den for the moment the kids had been most looking forward to - the opening of the presents. I was the first one to open, which Troy wasn't too happy about as he wanted to go first. The first gift I opened was from Tim and Jan and was wrapped in a Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark Tin and I thought that was what the gift was. I was told to open the tin and inside was not Peppermint Bark, but a gift card to the movies, which will be put to good use this weekend coming up as I plan to finally go see The Hobbit (I didn't have a chance to squeeze it in this past weekend); not to mention there are about 10 other movies on my list of movies to see while I'm on vacation next week.

I also got a gift certificate for a pedicure from Tim and Jan which I am really looking forward to using. It has been quite a few months since someone other than me gave my feet a pedicure and so it was a great gift! Jackie and the kids got me an adorable apron from Flirty Aprons. I had actually been looking at the aprons on that site late last week. They had a couple of Christmas aprons on sale and I wanted to buy myself one, but decided I didn't need to spend the money. The apron they gave me is turquoise and black and is so adorable. I can't wait to wear it in the kitchen. They also gave me a hanging tin "sign" with magnets on it. I say "sign" because it doesn't say anything but I didn't know how else to describe it. Anyway, on the "sign" with the magnets was a picture of Jackie and the Kids. It was one that they had taken for their Christmas cards and is a really great photo.

Troy opened his present next and I was really excited to see his reaction. I got him Season One of Once Upon A Time on DVD. Troy absolutely loves that show and I knew it would be the perfect gift for him. He didn't even open it all the way before he leapt out of his chair and threw himself on me with the biggest hug of all time. He so reminds me of Justin at that age as Justin would give the biggest hugs and run around the room like a spaz when he got a gift he liked. I think it goes without saying that Troy was very excited to get this particular gift.

Ashlyn opened her gift next and had to use the scissors to help get the paper torn because if there's one thing I inherited from my grandmother Betty it's to use an obscene amount of tape on packages. I gave Ashlyn a Fancy Nancy sticker book and a sliver necklace with a really pretty and colorful pendant on it. She was not quite as enthusiastic as Troy, but I think she liked it nonetheless. Jackie received a Daily Bible from me; this particular Bible is one I have mentioned before - the Bible in chronological order. It lays out the Bible in the order it was written and is an interesting way to read it. This Bible is also broken into daily sections so you can read the Bible in a year. I've read mine for three years in a row and really like it. Erika and my dad also have this Bible as well as some girls in our class. Hopefully she will enjoy it. I got Janice the new Joy the Baker cookbook which is full of tasty looking treats and I gave Tim an iTunes gift card so he can download aps, etc. on his iPad.

After opening our presents we had butter pecan cake for dessert and it was really delicious. I left around 8:15 or so and made it home a little before 9:00. It was a really fun evening with really fun people. I'm thankful that God blessed me with this second family and I look forward to spending many more Christmases with them!



It's a little blurry and I have evil eyes, but at least the apron is cute!

Troy and his Once Upon A Time DVD Set

Ashlyn and her Fancy Nancy book. I think she may be holding out her necklace as well, but I can't really see it. 

Jackie and her Bible

Jan and her cookbook

Tim and his gift card

Ashlyn with some whip cream on her nose.

It's mine and Jackie's yearly Christmas picture


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Even More Christmas Activities

Saturday evening I went with my parents to see "A Christmas Carol" at the VBC Playhouse. The production was put on by Fantasy Playhouse and was just as good this year as in years' past. We arrived about 15-20 minutes before the show started and found our seats. My parents were sitting on the floor in the wheelchair section and I was two rows behind them.

A few minutes after sitting down, a couple came in and had the two seats to my left. Their two seats were in the curve of the playhouse seats where two sections met and therefore, there was a lot of space between the two seats. this couple was probably in their 50s and did not have wedding rings but appeared to be head over heels for each other. I gathered that they were probably in that lovey-dovey stage of their courtship. Long story short, I traded seats with the man so that these two could snuggle up beside each other. The woman thanked me over and over again and practically hugged me. I told her it was no big deal as my parents were sitting in front and I wasn't on that row with anyone.

I actually love those seats in the curve because you get a heck of a lot more leg room than you would otherwise have. Unfortunately I ended up sitting by a squirmy kid whose mother would not discipline. Seriously, the kid had her feet practically on the head of the person in front of her. She wallowed around in her seat and over onto my seat at times. She bounced up and down and moved the seat up and down and all the while the mother sat there either oblivious to what was going on or she just ignored it. At intermission, the girls' sister came over and the two of them crammed into the seat beside me to the point where the squirmy girl was practically in my lap. I asked her to please sit in her own seat thank you. I was hoping she would fall asleep during the second act, but she didn't.

It was the first time I had seen the play in about three years and there are many lines I think I could quote due to the fact that I've probably seen it close to 15 times. The songs for sure I know and I know what is coming up next; but, it is always a good show and quite enjoyable. This particular show was sold out and they asked if anyone had any extra tickets to please turn them in for a tax credit so they could be resold. I'm not sure that anyone had any extra tickets. The show on Sunday was also sold out. I think this is probably one of the most popular Christmas performances in Huntsville and always does really well. If you have never seen it before or it's been a while since you have, check it out next season.

Sunday night I joined some of the girls from my Sunday school class for a Christmas party of sorts. Some of us get together for a prayer group on Sunday nights and although I'm not really a regular, I have been and was invited to the party. We brought finger foods and played Bunko and just generally had a great time. I had never played Bunko before and had a great time playing. We each brought a Christmas ornament and the winners of each round got to trade with one of the losers if they wanted. I ended up with a poinsettia ornament that was really pretty.

We played three games - six rounds per game - and then gathered in the living room to see who won prizes. There was a prize for the most Big Bunkos the most Little Bunkos and the most wins and the least wins. I won the prize for the least wins and got a really pretty photo album. After the prizes were dished out, I gathered up my things and went home. Since the Survivor season finale was on, I wanted to make sure I had time to watch it before going to bed. The hostesses were twin sisters and as I was leaving they gave me a mug with a "n" on it that was filled with homemade biscotti, marshmallows and hot chocolate balls. Apparently you put the hot chocolate balls in a glass of warm milk. I'm looking forward to giving that a try once the weather cools off, or if the weather ever cools off. I'm assuming they got a mug of goodies for everyone because they are very sweet girls.

I made it home in time to watch Survivor and be shocked at the winner. Then I got a wild hair and purged my winter closet of some sweaters I haven't worn in years, some of which I know I've had since 2001. I finally made it to bed around 11:00 p.m. and even turned out all the lights and guess what - there were no rodent scares!

It was a really great weekend full of Christmas cheer!

P.S. My most loyal commenter, Erika, is on vacation this week and therefore does not have access to a computer. So, if someone could please leave a comment or two this week to let me know someone is reading, it would be most appreciated.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Had To Remember It's The Season of Giving

Friday night was our Sunday school class Christmas party. I attend the Young Professional (YP) class and there are probably 40-50 people in the class. About 20 or so people attended the party on Friday and it was such a fun night!

Earlier in the week, I had asked Justin if he would like to go and he said yes; since we were planning to play Dirty Santa, I picked up two $15 Rosie's gift cards as our gifts. The party started at 6:00 and was in Hampton Cove, so I picked Justin up about 5:45 and we headed that way. On the way, we listened to The Statler Brothers Christmas CD and laughed and sang and laughed some more at how bad my driving was. It's a sure sign you're getting old when it's difficult to see while driving at night. We passed quite a few houses that were well decorated and gave them one, two, or three honks depending on how much we liked them. Finally we arrived at the party in one piece and I told Justin he could drive when we left.

There were quite a few folks there when we arrived, including Jackie and her mom. Jan had prepared baked spaghetti for our dinner and Jackie had come early to help her mom and the hostesses' mom get things set up. In addition to the baked spaghetti, we also had broccoli and mashed potatoes (yes, I also thought mashed potatoes was kind of an odd choice) and garlic bread. The food was excellent! For dessert there were a couple of cookie cakes. I actually didn't eat any of those, but had a glass of what was supposed to be a coffee punch but really just tasted like chocolate milkshake.

After we ate, we played Dirty Santa and I had the "luck" of drawing the very last number. When we got towards the end of the game, there were two people (including myself) who had not had a turn, but only one gift left to open; so, we were short a gift. The other girl, we'll call her #24, had brought her daughter along to the party and the daughter played Dirty Santa with us. When I asked #24 if she had brought two gifts for her and her daughter she said no, only one and that was obviously where the disconnect was. Had she brought two gifts both her and her daughter could have played but since she only brought one gift and her daughter had played, she was out. Sadly, she did not comprehend this and she got up to open the last gift and I had to call her out on it. I felt kind of bad because she didn't understand, but hey, all's fair in love, war and Dirty Santa.

So, I stole one of the Rosie's cards, and that person stole her boyfriend's gift and then the boyfriend stole the Rosie's card back from me. This group plays different than my family and once a gift id with the third owner it could no longer be stolen. There were a few iTunes gift cards left to steal but quite honestly I didn't know what was open and felt under a lot of pressure and was extremely frustrated and just opened the last gift under the tree which was some sort of Mary Kay hand lotion. Now, I have more lotion at home than I know what to do with, plus I sell BeautiControl so Mary Kay lotion was about the last thing in the world I wanted or needed. I ended up giving the lotion to a girl who got a stupid gift that one of the boy's brought. Long story short, I brought two gifts (for me and Justin) and went home with nothing. Justin, however, scored a Starbucks gift card. He said he would buy me a cup of coffee - I will be holding him to that. He did offer to give it to me, but I just told him to keep it. I just had to keep reminding myself that it is, after all, the season of giving. One of the guys told me later that I looked visibly upset. I said, well, I was. Thankfully, Justin had warned everyone ahead of time that I am terrible at hiding my feelings and to be prepared because if I didn't like what I ended up with I would be letting everyone know.

After the game, we had a photo taken in front of the tree and chatted for a little while. Soon after we all parted ways. Justin drove back to my parents' house so he could be dropped off and then I drove myself home. First, however, we made a stop to fill my car up with gas because it was $2.97 a gallon at the Wal-Mart in Hampton Cove and I just couldn't pass that up since I knew it was a bit more expensive in South Huntsville where I usually fill up.

It was a really fun night, despite the fact that I went home empty handed.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Living Christmas Tree 2012

Thursday night my family and I ventured out to First Baptist Church on Governor's Drive in Huntsville to enjoy The Living Christmas Tree concert. This year's show was titled Star of Wonder, and a lot of the songs focused on the star that shone when Jesus was born. Obviously a lot of people celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas; I, however do not. I believe the date of Jesus' birth is unknown and therefore do not celebrate it at Christmastime, or any time for that matter.

My friend Denny's parents sing in the Tree and he got me six tickets a few weeks ago. I had gotten an extra pair in case my parents wanted to invite a couple of their friends. They didn't want to invite anyone so I gave two tickets to a girl at work who went with her cousin. That left me with four tickets for me, Justin and my parents. Justin was leading his first AA meeting and so he was unable to attend and then, my mom backed out because she had been at the hospital during the day while my granddad had a heart cath. So, it ended up being just me and my dad - can't really say that was a surprising turn of events.

The concert started at 7:30, which ended up being a shock to my dad and I because I thought it started at 7:00 and had told him to meet me there at 6:30. When I got there and saw my dad was by himself, I turned in our other two tickets so that someone else could use them. We found a seat close to the front and waited for the show to start.Beginning at 7:00, the orchestra began playing music to entertain us while we were waiting for the concert.

A few minutes before 7:30, the minister greeted us and soon after the concert began. In addition to the choir and orchestra, a group called SlipJig also performed and they were wonderful. One guy played the violin, another played the guitar (though sometimes he played a wind instrument as well) and the third guy played some sort of flute type instrument and some sort of bag pipes that you didn't have to blow into. I have no idea what these strange instruments are called, but the combination of them all sounded really great. This is a Celtic/Irish type band and they were one of the best parts of the show and the part my dad liked the best I think.

I really enjoyed this year's program. The only part I did not enjoy was the dancer. They had some girl that is originally from Huntsville and is a trained ballerina perform a couple of dances which were just completely stupid. I personally found it to be inappropriate for someone to be dancing around while the choir was singing of the Savior's birth. It also seemed really out of place and was distracting and quite frankly made me a little uncomfortable.After speaking with the girl from work about last night's show, she and her cousin had been of the same opinion of the dancer and my dad also said that they could have done without the dancer. So, First Baptist, if you're reading this, ditch the dancer. She did not go over well with the folks I know.

The show lasted about an hour and a half and as mentioned, I really enjoyed it. I got caught up in the moment a couple of times and felt like leaping out of my seat and whistling; but, one I don't know how to whistle and two, people probably would have thought I was crazy. I'm not sure my dad enjoyed the show. He kept looking at his program and checking his Blackberry throughout the show and during the next to the last song he was like, let's get out of here. I told him to go on, but he didn't. He did leave during the last applause and tried to get me to go as well. I, however, was enjoying myself and in no hurry to rush through the night and wanted to take my time leaving. So, he finally left my himself and I left when everyone else did. I don't really know why he was concerned with me leaving at the same time as him. We didn't park anywhere near each other. It's not like I needed him to drive me home.

I got home at precisely 9:21 and text Denny to let him know I had enjoyed the show. The Living Christmas Tree has five more performances on the docket. They are Friday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 15 at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday December 16 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The 3:00 p.m. show on Sunday is abbreviated for children and the show on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. will be interpreted in sign language.

If you have time this weekend and are looking for something to do, check out The Living Christmas Tree. It's free to the public and is a really enjoyable show. The concert will also be aired on Sunday, December 16 at noon on WHNT Channel 19. For additional information regarding The Living Christmas Tree, please click here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Work Snack Day 2012

Today was our snack day at work and we had enough food to feed a small army and the food seemed to multiply throughout the day. I arrived around 6:45 so that I could update my morning reports and then help get the conference room set up. The girl who was bringing the tablecloths was running late and so arriving early didn't do me much good as I needed the tablecloths, plates, etc. to set up the room. She arrived a few minutes before 7:30 and I met her outside and helped her bring everything in. We got the room set up and then the food started arriving.

I brought sausage balls and a chicken ball to this work soiree of ours. Some of the other items that were brought included seven layer dip, homemade salsa, cheeseball, spinach dip, Boston butts, Chick-fil-A trays, cookies, cakes, the list could go on and on. There was seriously a lot of food. We ran out of plates before lunch time and had to get another stash from the cafeteria. HR supplied us with a tray of chicken fingers at lunch time and those were devoured so quickly I never even saw them - and I sit right beside the conference room where all the food was being kept.

Snack day is my favorite day of the work year. Everyone is in a good mood and jolly and having a good time. Most of the time we are all just trying to get through the day without killing each other. Okay, maybe it's not that bad, but all our attitudes greatly improve on snack day.

After our first trip round the food table we were joking about how eating was going to put us in comatose state and we would all want a nap. That's when one of the guy's came up with the brilliant idea to take these two photos.




I'm not gonna lie, I could totally have used a nap once or twice throughout the day. I managed to stay awake and I also managed to not eat too terribly much. I wasn't stuffed to the gills and miserable as can easily be the case on days like this. It was a really fun day at work. It's nice to see folks loosen up a little and have a little fun.

Tonight we are headed to The Living Christmas Tree and I hope to have a Friday afternoon post up about that experience. I'm looking forward to it as it is usually a really nice show.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's 12/12/12 Y'all!

Can I just say I don't really see the big deal with today being 12/12/12 (you're probably reading this on 12/13/12). I mean, why all the fuss? I don't remember folks being this fired up for 11/11/11 or 10/10/10 or 09/09/09 - you get the picture. My cousin said on Twitter this morning that today is the only time that 12/12/12 will ever happen? Really? No, it isn't. It's happened 20 times before today and will happen again 100 years from now, etc. I had to give him a hard time about his comment. It's the only time it will happen in our lifetime, yes; but not the only time ever.

I guess 12/12/12 is supposed to bring good luck and also the end of the world but neither seemed to happen because if you are reading this on 12/13/12 then the world is still spinning on its axis and it certainly didn't bring me any good luck. In fact, I was behind schedule starting my day thanks to frost being on my windshield. The only thing I am looking forward to in regards to 12/12/12 is the benefit concert for the Superstorm Sandy victims because that, my friends, is going to be some good music and they will probably raise an enormous amount of money. Sadly, the victims will probably never see a penny of it, but at least the music will be good.

Moving on... Monday night Justin came over for dinner of homemade chicken pot pie and afterwards we went driving around looking at Christmas lights. We didn't have any particular route or plan; we just randomly drove around taking in the sights of downtown, Blossomwood and the medical district. As mentioned in my post a couple of days ago, we like to honk at the houses we like and after honking, we scream "We love Christmas lights!" We have never claimed to be normal. We took The Tide with us as well. Sadly, we only honked and screamed at one house - The Tide also barked after we screamed out "We love Christmas lights!" It was rather hilarious if I do say so myself. We were either driving in the wrong part of town or no one is really decorating like they used to when we were kids. I think it's just that not many people decorate these days. Hopefully we will come across a few more nicely decorated houses before the Christmas season is over. We also made a stop by Starbucks, because holiday activities are all the better with a Starbucks in hand.

After getting to bed late and restlessly sleeping on the couch Monday night, I was pretty tired on Tuesday. I managed to make it through the work day without falling asleep at my desk and then stopped by the chiropractor's office before heading home to eat chili dogs with my brother. We have really enjoyed my parents' being out of town as it has given us an opportunity to spend some time together. He could only stay about 45 minutes because he had to go by the AA meeting to pick up a key to the building where they meet. He will be leading the AA meeting on Thursday and again on Sunday I think. Anyway, it's his first time to lead the meeting and he is looking forward to it. He's doing really well and has just had someone ask him to be their sponsor, which is very cool. I think he will do a great job in that role.

When Justin left, I cleaned up the kitchen and settled in for some TV watching and about that time, The Tide started going a little bonkers around those kitchen cabinets again. Justin had put the floor vent back in place for me and told me there were a lot of dead lady bugs in the vent and that lady bugs make dogs go crazy. So, maybe it's just lady bugs in the house (because there are a ton of them right now), but probably not. The Tide barked and growled for a good 15 minutes or so and finally calmed down. Thankfully she stayed calm for the remainder of the night and not only did I go bed at 10:00 without having to worry about her chasing down rodents, but I also slept from about 7:30 until 9:00 and felt much more rested on Wednesday. Hopefully Wednesday night will be low key as well as far as rodent chasing goes.

Today we received a 10-12 pound turkey from work. This was the first time we had been given a turkey from our upper management and I was really surprised and pleased with this change of events. Usually we are given a holiday meal at lunch time, but I think the turkey is much better than the meal. My parents will be the lucky recipients of my turkey and I think my dad has arranged for the ole bird to be fried for Christmas. I've never had fried turkey and am anxious to try it.

Tomorrow (12/13/2012) is our snack day at work. It was originally scheduled for November 30 but because of some complainers it was moved to December 13. At any rate, I'm looking forward to all the good food we will have; plus, snack day puts everyone in a good mood and that makes for a fun day. I also need to get busy with some Christmas baking. I want to make some goody bags for my co-workers. This year I am going with molasses cookies and maybe caramel corn. I hope to get all of this completed over the weekend in between Christmas parties and a viewing of The Hobbit. Speaking of which, why do all the best movies come out at the end of the year? Isn't there enough to do without having to squeeze in 10 movies at the theater?

I suppose this is all the news (or lack thereof) for now. We are going to see The Living Christmas Tree at First Baptist on Thursday night and with any luck I will write about that experience when I get home; otherwise, it might be midday on Friday. Hope everyone is having a good week!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Almost Evacuated the Premises

About three or four weeks ago (I seriously lose track of time) I was lying on the couch watching TV and The Tide was otherwise occupied in the kitchen, more than likely rummaging around for a crumb or two. All of a sudden, she was on one side of the kitchen staring down the cabinets on the other side of the kitchen and growling at them as if they were about to come alive and attack us. To say I was concerned about this situation was kind of an understatement. Nothing I did seemed to appease her.

The same thing happened another time or two and I would open up the cabinets for her and she basically climbed inside looking for whatever it was she saw. There is an air duct in one of my kitchen cabinets and at one point she stuck her head as far as it would go between the air duct and the hole in the cabinet that she ended up cutting her mouth. Clearly, she was a dog obsessed.





One night while I was at a football game and Erika and Kendra were making use of my television, she started up again with barking and growling at the kitchen cabinet and they weren't sure what to do either. So, I again let her stick her head inside the cabinet. A few days later, I cleaned everything out of the cabinets. I feared there may be a mouse in the house and wanted to (apprehensively) look around for proof. I found nothing, but did manage to get those cabinets much straighter than they have been in quite a while.

For the past week or so, she hasn't growled or barked at the cabinets and that has been a blessing because I was kind of able to put all thoughts of a potential rodent out of my mind. Then came Sunday night and can I just say that there are times in a woman's life when having a husband would be really handy and Sunday night was one of these instances. I was in the living room and heard The Tide's paw tapping on the floor like she was trying to catch a bug. I have cave crickets in my house all the time and figured that was what I would find when I went into the kitchen. I instead found nothing, but The Tide was intently staring at the bottom of the stove so I figured that cave cricket had gone under the stove. I took this opportunity to fold some laundry and while I was doing that I heard The Tide start barking and tapping her paw again. I looked up from the laundry only to find a large roach crawl out from under the stove and then back under. All I could do was scream bloody murder - nonstop screaming. I was frozen in time. Roaches I cannot handle. This is the first such rodent that I have encountered at my house and I wanted to run for the hills.

From that moment on I have been terrified of going anywhere near the stove. I immediately text the bug man and told him I had encountered a huge roach that nearly scared the life out of me and to please spray extra around the stove and vent. He said he would take care of it.  I told Erika I was hesitant to even tell this story because I didn't want y'all thinking I have a dirty house. She assured me my house is not dirty and to go ahead and put it on the blog; so, here it is.

On Monday, my brother came over for dinner and I had to venture near the stove since I was doing some cooking. Thank the good Lord in Heaven I did not encounter any large man eating roach. I asked Justin to please pull the stove out from the wall and see if there were any roaches back there and please stomp and dispose of any that he finds. He found none.

Justin left around 9:00 and I went to bed a little after 10:00. About one minute after I turned off all electronic devices and laid my head down, The Tide bolted out of the bed as if there was an intruder in the house. She immediately went to the vent in the bedroom and became, once again, a dog obsessed. I am here to tell you that this also nearly scared the life out of me. She growled, she howled, she whined, she barked and she pawed at that vent as if she were in a digging contest. Her sniffer was in turbo mode and she was like a bloodhound treeing a raccoon. She went from the kitchen to the vent in the bedroom and back and forth and back and forth.

I called Justin and told him I might need him to come over. I was screaming and standing on top of furniture and my heart was about to beat out of my chest. A rodent was on the verge of causing me to pack my bags and hit the road. At this point, The Tide had literally taken the vent out of the floor and I was afraid for my life. I told Justin I was going to sleep in the guest room. He laughed and laughed at me and told me I could come over and stay with him (my parents are out of town). I said I might, but I sure would be embarrassed to tell people a roach (or mouse) ran me out of my own house.  I had some clean laundry on the guest bed and I removed it and crawled into bed. The Tide jumped up in the bed as well...for all of two minutes before her sniffer alerted her and she ran over to the vent in the guest room and started pawing at it.

I finally went into the den, leaving lights on in both bedrooms and the bathroom and settled for sleeping on the couch. Just as I started dozing off, The Tide came and jumped on the couch, causing me to nearly jump out of my skin. She finally settled down as well and we spent a not so restful evening on the couch, hopefully away from whatever rodents are lurking beneath and in the crevices of my home.

I called the bug man today. Thursday is my normal service day and I wanted him to be aware of the torture I was experiencing in the darkness of the night. I told him I kind of thought there might be a mouse even though I have not seen the little devil nor have I seen any mouse droppings. He said he felt certain it was a mouse and that he had a lady call him at 9:00 last night with a mouse problem and he told her he would come out the next day but for the night he recommended the snap traps. He told me that he really likes the snap traps and I could try those. I told him there was no way on earth I would be using a snap trap in my house. If I were to catch something I would certainly have to evacuate the building until I could find someone to dispose of the mouse. He has caught four mice at his own home this past week. Apparently Madison County is experiencing a problem with mice these days.

So, instead of coming on his normal Thursday, he is coming out on Wednesday and will put some of those mice pellets under the house that kill the mice and make them disintegrate or whatever without being stinky. Lord help me, I hope this works. He said it usually takes 3-5 days for the pellets to take effect; that it's not an instant thing. I said, that's okay because I just cannot deal with catching a mouse in a trap. In the meantime, I plan to sleep with a few lights on and pray that I will be able to get at least a few hours rest each night. So help me, if I ever see this creature of torment, I may just leave and never return. You can rest assured that I will keep you posted on the progress of this rodent infestation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Apparently Our Parties Aren't as Cool as We Thought

It was a festive weekend of sorts for me, how about you? I can't really say I'm in the "Christmas spirit", but then again I haven't been in the "Christmas spirit" for years now. At any rate, I still like to take in a few Christmas festivities so as to try and find the "Christmas spirit" that I lost all those years ago.

On Friday night my parents were hosting a Christmas party for the folks at the church where my dad preaches. I called my grandparents on my way home from work to ask if they would like me to pick them up for the festivities. My grandmother said they didn't know anything about it, asked who it was for and I told them Hampton Cove Church of Christ. She said, no they weren't going because they didn't know about it and if it was announced (it was) that they didn't hear the announcement. Somehow this doesn't surprise me. I had a feeling this did not bode well for the 6:30 party. Sure enough, at 6:30, in addition to my brother, parents and myself, there were only six other people at the party. Everyone was supposed to bring a finger food and thankfully I prepared three different items, otherwise there wouldn't have been very much to eat.

Despite the low turnout, we still had a good time talking with one another and I think some folks even played games after I left. My mother caused the greatest excitement of the night when she nearly choked to death on a roll up sandwich that someone had brought. My brother and dad did the Heimlich maneuver while I yelled for someone to call 911. One or the other of them managed to un-lodge the food from my mother's throat; sadly, it did not fly across the room and hit anyone in face, which would have made for a much better story.

Saturday morning The Tide had an appointment for her annual shots. Why yes, I have spent a small fortune at the vet's office this year. I wish y'all could see how excited The Tide is when we go to the vet's office. I have never in my life known a dog to love the vet as much as The Tide. One day I may have to bring someone along with me to video her nudging me out of the front seat so she can get out and run to the door. It's one of the funniest things in the world and always give me a big laugh. While we were inside waiting, another dog came in and The Tide growled and barked really fiercely that even the vet asked about it and thought it was funny knowing how sweet she is. She got a good report and we were soon on our way. After a quick stop by Target and Hobby Lobby, we headed back home to catch up on the DVR.

Saturday afternoon at 4:00 I was supposed to go to a wedding; but, after being lazy all day, I did not feel like getting all dolled up for a wedding. Not to mention the fact that the wedding was in Guntersville and I just did not want to drive over to Guntersville all by my lonesome. So, I just took a hot bath and put on a fresh pair of pajamas instead. I called my parents to speak with my mother about a top secret Christmas mission and my brother invited me to go with them to a concert at the library and look at the luminaries and decorations downtown. I agreed and told him to swing by and pick me up. Long story short, the van had some issues (you know us and our old vehicles) and so my mother could not be transported anywhere. So, instead of it being the four of us, just my dad and I went to the concert.

The concert was the Army Material Command Jazz Band and the Rocket City Jazz Orchestra. Both bands were so great and they each had a few songs with singers and the signers were also quite good. The concert was free to the public and started at 7:00 and lasted two hours. There were a ton of people out and about downtown on Saturday as there were a lot of Christmas festivities taking place. After the concert, my dad came in for a quick demonstration on how to mix up the sour dough that Erika and I learned how to make a couple of months ago. It took all of five minutes and then he was on his way. I mixed up a second batch as I was making cinnamon rolls for m Sunday school class.

Sunday morning I got up at 6:00 and rolled out my dough and made the cinnamon rolls and then watched some TV while they were rising. I got ready for church, baked the rolls, iced the rolls, and left the house. The rest of Sunday was pretty low-key with a couple of church services, a nap, and dinner at Jason's Deli with the over 65 crowd, which I really enjoyed. I had a few good laughs at dinner and really enjoyed spending time with my Aunt Linda and some other folks whom I have known for years and some I had just met.

This week brings a full schedule as well. Tonight my brother is supposed to come over for dinner and then we plan to drive around looking at Christmas lights and sing Statler Brothers Christmas songs. We will also honk at the houses that have Christmas decorations that meet our approval. We are weird, but this is one of our favorite things to do and I'm really looking forward to it. It's been a few years since we have been able to have this quirky brother/sister time together. On Thursday, we are going to see The Living Christmas tree; Friday is my Sunday school Christmas party and Saturday is A Christmas Carol and at some point I must fit in a showing of The Hobbit. So, it's a very full week, but hopefully it will be lots of fun.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A State Championship Road Trip


Last Thursday my dad, brother and I went down to Auburn to watch Madison Academy play in the 3A state football finals. It was a long and tiring but extremely fun day!

They picked me up at 6:00 a.m. and we hit the interstate, arriving in Birmingham just about rush hour. The traffic wasn't too terrible as we were going against the flow most of the time. At one point, when we were in traffic on Highway 280, we noticed some police lights up ahead. When we got to area where the patrol car was, we notice a black mustang with parts falling off of the front. A minute or two later, we looked up and a girl in an SUV was driving down the road with the front bumper of the mustang attached to her trailer hitch and she didn't have a clue. I really don’t even think I have the words to describe how bizarre of a situation this was; we don’t know if the accident had just happened and she just drove off or if they were wrapping things up. Whatever the case, she didn't have a clue that she was driving around with another car’s bumper on her backside.

Once we were outside of Birmingham, we stopped for breakfast at Bojangles and then were on our way again. I have only been to Auburn once in my life when I performed with a drama troop with my church youth group and that was a drive there, perform and drive back trip and knowing me I slept the whole way there and the whole way back; so, I didn't realize that it was such a long drive down to Auburn.

When we arrived in the town, we had a difficult time trying to find a place to park as none of the people in security attire could provide us with accurate direction. We finally found a place to park and arrived in the stadium about 30 minutes before kickoff.  

The game was very exciting and the Mustangs were up 17-7 at the half which still made my dad nervous as he wanted a big lead to secure the win. MA went on to score two more touchdowns in the second half and won the first ever state title in football for all of Madison County by a score of 31-7. My dad, who played at MA, and has put a lot of blood, sweat, money and most of all heart into the program was overcome with emotion and just as I suspected, had a hard time holding back tears. It was a great win for the school, county and city.

After the game we were back on the road and made a stop at the Russell store in Alexander City on the way back where I got an Alabama shirt for all of $7. When we got to Birmingham we hit traffic again and while it seemed to take forever, it was probably only about 30 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic. We stopped downtown at The Fish Market which as you may recall is my favorite Birmingham eating spot and had a delicious meal that my brother gave 10 out of 10.

After dinner we were back on the road and were all extremely tired at this point. I think it’s the first time in my life where I've been in the car with my family and no one has said one word. My brother was driving and at times I feared for my life, but we made it back in one piece a few minutes before 8:00 p.m. It was a long and exhausting day, but so worth the trip. We had a great day and saw history made and most importantly were able to spend time together enjoying a game we all love.














Friday, December 7, 2012

Nat's Must-Have Christmas Albums - 2012

I don't think I've ever written about my favorite Christmas albums; but if I have, I'm doing it again and if I haven't, well, today is your lucky day! I love Christmas music, but I am a stickler for only listening to it from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Day, and then no more. On December 26th, the Christmas music goes back in a box and is stored away under the guest bed, or in the vault of my iTunes account. So, during those 30ish days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I try to cram in as many Christmas songs as possible. Here are four of my favorite Christmas albums:

100% Christmas - Various Artists

 

I came across this album recently on the Amazon MP3 page and after taking a look at the song list, I immediately purchased it. This album has 100 songs on it, most of which you will recognize from your childhood. A sampling of the artists includes Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Etta James, Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and Brenda Lee. It has all the Christmas favorites such as White Christmas and The Christmas Song (AKA Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) as well as I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and my all-time favorite Christmas song, The Christmas Waltz. the album also has some of those rather unorthodox favorites such as I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas, All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth and also contains a few you may never have heard such as Dominick the Donkey (The Italian Christmas Donkey). The MP3 of this album was just $4.99 when I purchased it from Amazon a week or so ago and it was money well spent. I am so glad I bought this album and it has officially become my favorite Christmas album. Seriously - 100 songs - there's something for everyone.

Christmas With The Rat Pack - Various Artists


Who doesn't love the Rat Pack? OK, probably every one of you, but I do and the Rat Pack singing Christmas songs? Well, be still my heart! I bought this album probably five years ago and have loved listening to it each Christmas season since. I can close my eyes and imagine Frank, Dean, and Sammy putting on a Christmas show and it makes me wish it was 1950 and I'm all dolled up with a mink stole, a cocktail and a smoke with my man. Some of the songs on this album are also on the 100% Christmas album; in fact, they may all be now that I think about it. However, if you have a Rat Pack lover in your family and they also enjoy Christmas music then I would highly recommend this album. It also has The Christmas Waltz - seriously, who doesn't love the Christmas Waltz? It's the best - if only I had a dancing partner.

Christmas Card - The Statler Brothers

 The Old Look

 The New Look

I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a Statler Brothers fan. I'm sure I would recognize a few of their songs because my parents were crazy about The Statlers in the 1980s and so it is inevitable that I would know some of their songs. Their Christmas album, however, I love dearly. Nothing takes me back to my childhood more than this album. Every year at Christmas when we ventured to and fro from this event to that event, this cassette tape was inevitably popped into the player and all four Parkers would sing along. My parents, in fact, still have the original LP and it was played many, many times, in our home during the Christmas season. Some of the songs on this album are traditional and some are originals and each one is just as lovely as the one before. A few years ago I was thinking about this album and decided to do a search for it in CD format. It has a different look than it did in the 1980s but it is still as wonderful as it was when I rode in the backseat of the car and argued with my brother about hogging up the seat. If you are looking for something a little different with a soft sound, then you will like this Christmas collection and perhaps it will also remind you of simpler times.

Michael Buble - Christmas



So, obviously I am a lover of jazz; but, you probably already knew that, especially if you have been reading for any number of days or years. Most people would probably have expected me to go with a Harry Connick, Jr. album as my final pick. Admittedly, I do love his Christmas albums, but I don't really prefer any one over Michael Buble's 2011 album simply titled Christmas. I know; it is shocking. The Buble album includes a lot of Christmas favorites sung in the old jazzy style I love, or maybe it's just Michael Buble that I love. Either way, even though it was only released last year it quickly became one of my favorites.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Auburn Bound - Yeah, I Never Thought That Would Be a Title Either

If you are reading this, then it is most likely Thursday, December 6, 2012 and I along with my brother and dad are either on the way to, in, or on the way home from Auburn. Yes, that's right. Three people who bleed crimson and white and all things Alabama football have hit the road for a town filled with blue and orange. My stomach is turning over just thinking about it all.

Madison Academy, for the second year in a row, has made it to the state football finals and we are going to be there from the coin toss to the trophy presentation. The football finals are being played at Jordan-Hare Stadium this year. For years and years the finals were played in Birmingham at Legion Field. Then I suppose the contract came up, and the finals were bid out and as a result they are now played in Tuscaloosa one year and in Auburn the next. Quite frankly I miss the Legion Field days. Birmingham is such a central location to all areas of the state and makes a lot more sense to me; but, alas, no one asked my opinion.

You may recall that my dad and I went to the finals in Tuscaloosa last year and watched a terrific game, but a heartbreaking loss as MA played their hearts out but lost in the final seconds of the game thanks to an onside kick that went through the hands of one of the Mustang players. We are obviously hoping for a better outcome this year, even if the game is being played at Auburn. I'll post an update on our day when we return - probably Monday because I'm sure I'll be tired when we return on Thursday evening.

In the meantime, wish us luck and safe travels and come back tomorrow for a post on some of my favorite Christmas albums.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Our Lips Will Be Well Moisturized in 2013

had about 10 different titles for this post but decided on the one I did for reasons you will soon read. Tuesday night made two nights in a row of Christmas partying for me as I had some girls over for a favorite things party. This is the same group of gals that used to gather once a week to watch American Idol and are thus called, "The Idol Girls". Of course, once Simon Cowell hit the road so did we, and we no longer get together to watch Idol. Instead we just get together whenever we can. In this case, it has been since August 2 since we have all gotten together - so it has been a while to say the least and I was really looking forward to getting the gang together, catching up and having  some good laughs.

Back in August when we were together I asked everyone if they wanted to do a favorite things party for Christmas and we agreed. A favorite things party works like this, a person decides on an item or items that is one of their favorites and then purchases the item for each person in attendance. We set the limit at $5 per person and since there are eight of us (meaning we would buy seven gifts), we would be spending no more than $35. You can go lower than $5 if you want and you can even buy a pack of something and open the pack and distribute one of each to the attendees - whatever floats your boat. I'm not sure how other favorite things parties work, but this is how ours worked. After all, none of us are Oprah and we aren't going to be purchasing new cars, iPads or Ralph Lauren sweaters for each other - just sayin'.

I was really excited about this party and had been looking forward to it for weeks. On Monday, Candy sent me a text saying she would not be able to come. The father of a man at church had passed away this past Friday and her husband would be speaking at the memorial service. All of her normal babysitters were also going to the memorial service and so she had no where to send her four children. So, she wasn't going to be able to make it. On Tuesday morning, I got to work and had an email waiting on me from Jackie; due to something unexpected, she wasn't going to make it. She has a key to my house so she dropped off her very delicious caramel chocolate brownies and her gifts for everyone. Tuesday afternoon as I was leaving work, Amy sent me a text and said she was not going to make it. Her parents' were supposed to babysit for her, but they bailed on her in favor of something else and she had no back up babysitter. So, she came by around 5:00 and dropped off her food and gifts. So, that was three down for the count, five (including myself) expected to show.

The party was slated for a 6:00 p.m. start and a couple of minutes before 6:00 Kendra arrived and then a few minutes after 6:00, Erika arrived. Around 6:15 I sent a text to Lisa asking where she was and then around 6:20 sent the same text to Sara. Kendra, Erika and I went ahead and started eating and soon after Sara responded saying she had emailed me last week saying she wasn't going to make it. I never got the email, which isn't very surprising as sometimes emails will go to junk or quarantine and I don't happen to notice. I checked my texts from Lisa again and as it turns out, she had sent a text earlier in the day saying she was going to the memorial service and would be late. So, Kendra, Erika and I stuffed our faces and caught up on some episodes of the Pioneer Woman episodes - in other words, it was like a Friday night only with a smorgasbord of food. Lisa got out of the funeral around 7:00 and was at the party by 7:15 and fixed herself a plate and caught us up on how the memorial service was. It was kind of comical because Erika, Kendra and I see each other on a regular basis and didn't have much to catch up on so there wasn't much talking taking place.

After Lisa finished with her dinner, it was time for our favorite things gift exchange - the moment we had all been anxiously anticipating. Since the favorite things had been my idea and since we had never done it before, I went first so that everyone would kind of follow suit. I wanted each person to tell about their item(s) and why they decided on that item(s) and why it was one of their favorite things. My items were a recyclable grocery bag from Publix because I wanted everyone to have a bag to take their loot home in and also because I use recyclable grocery bags (I hate having hundreds of plastic bags around) and love them and I love Publix! Inside each bag was the main gift which was a flour sack kitchen towel. I chose the kitchen towels because they are the most durable and best kitchen towels I have ever used. They are great for drying dishes, hands, etc. and when they get stained and have holes in them, they make great clothes for dusting your furniture. Seriously, best towels ever, I will never use anything but these.

After I passed out my gifts I passed out Jackie's which was peppermint Chapstick which was chosen because her lips are always dry in the winter and a packet of Kleenex because you can never have too many; plus, the packaging was cute. I then passed out Amy's gifts which were coupons for various items of free food from Chick-fil-A. When we opened the coupons, we noticed they were expired, but after texting Amy, she said that Chick-fil-A will accept an expired coupon. I've never tried, so I don't know for sure, but time will tell.

Next up was Lisa who gave us a Carmex lip balm - the new non-medicated ones - and a package of chewy sweet tarts, both of which she loves. then it was Kendra's turn and she gave us a package of Pepperidge Farm Gingerbread mini cookies which she loves and are only available at Christmas time and a tube of soft lips. At this point, we were laughing so hard about the overwhelming number of lip products. Last but not least was Erika who gave us each a tube of organic homemade lip balm which she purchased from everyone's favorite craft site, Etsy. She had purchased a tube earlier in the year and really liked it so she got one for each of us. So, apparently a lot of my friends really love lip balm, which is an item that never even crossed my mind when I was planning what gift to give as my favorite thing. I think it goes without saying that we are all set on lip balm for the next few months.

We laughed and laughed about the lip balm selections - and no two were alike. We decided that next year we should make a list of categories and draw and then the person will purchase a favorite thing from the category so that maybe we won't end up with four lip balms. We chatted for a little while longer, divided up the leftovers, and then Lisa told us about a Jimmy Fallon spoof on Downton Abbey called Downton Sixbey and we looked it up on You Tube and proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes laughing at that. The girls left after our Downton Sixby viewing and I soon went to bed. Even though the night didn't turn out exactly as I had planned, it was still a lot of fun. I am really blessed to have so many great friends!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ladies' Night Out Christmas Party 2012

Last night was the annual Ladies' Night Out Christmas party for the Chase Park gals and it was the last one in which I was the organizer. That's right folks, after about 10 years of heading up this fun monthly activity I have handed over the reins over to someone else. I still have not written about my change in church congregations and will hopefully find some time to do that soon. We gathered at the home of Mrs. Irma as we always do this time of year and as she always does, her house was decorated from top to bottom far and wide with Christmas decorations.

We feasted on a plethora of salads and desserts (including one of my favorites strawberry pretzel salad) and just generally enjoyed each other's company before we got started with a game of dirty Santa. Mrs. Irma made the comment to me that one of the parents at church had asked what dirty Santa was. I thought that was pretty funny as I never imagined having to explain something like dirty Santa to a young child.

There were 30 people at the party so playing a game of dirty Santa took well over an hour but was still a lot of fun. There were a lot of great ornaments this year and for the first time in many years there was a lot of stealing of gifts. It seems like the last few years the girls haven't been in much of a "dirty" mood, but that changed last night and there was a lot of plotting and stealing which resulted in a lot of laughing. Rather than call the numbers in order (each person has a number, that's how you know when it's your time to play) I always make two sets of numbers and draw numbers so that you won't know when your number will be called. I was drawing and calling the numbers last night and as luck would have it, my number was the last one to be drawn. I promise I did not look at any of the numbers and I moved them all around each time I drew. I guess luck was just on my side last night. I ended up with one of the most coveted ornaments of the night which was an Alabama snowflake ornament and it looks quite lovely on my tree if I do say so myself.




After the game, Mrs. Irma, on behalf of the ladies, gave me a present as a thank you for my years as coordinator. They gave me a lovely card as well. The gift was a crock pot with a locking lid. I have always liked the ones with a locking lid. This, however, will make crock pot number four for me; so, I will probably be donating some crock pots to the local thrift store soon as no one, especially a single person, needs four. It gave me a good laugh and it was really nice that they thought to get me something as they didn't have to do anything at all.

I have really enjoyed working with this group over the years and I look forward to seeing them each month as I plan to continue to attend each month so that I can catch up with them and see how things are going. God has truly blessed me by putting these women in my life and I look forward to many more years of friendship with each of them.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Parade 2012

Huntsville's annual Christmas parade was this past Saturday and for the first time in many years my whole family ventured out to take in the holiday fun. Last year, you may recall, my dad and I went; and this year my mom and brother came along as well.

I had a hair appointment for 10:30 that morning and the parade started at noon so I made arrangements to meet my family in town. I ended up waiting on them about 20 minutes thanks to my brother who was holding up progress, I assume so he could make himself some sandwiches. That guy eats more than anyone I have ever known.

When they finally arrived, I hopped in the van and eventually was able to direct Justin as to where he should park. We went to the same location where my dad and I had sat the year before, only across the street. Luckily there was a spot big enough for all four of us and our chairs. Soon after, my brother commenced in eating his lunch of two ham sandwiches and some chips that were two years old. Yes, two years old. They had been in a Alabama National Championship tin from the 2009 championship. He said they were good. My mother said they were terrible. I didn't try them, but am going with my mother's verdict.

Tthe parade reached us about 15-20 minutes after noon and it lasted probably two hours. One of the first groups to pass us by was the Alabama A&M band and they are my absolute favorite. Not only is the band good, but the drum majors are full of some crazy dance moves and it is quite entertaining. The bands were spread throughout the parade route and included Lee High, Grissom High, Huntsville High, JO Johnson High and also Covenant Christian School. All the bands did an excellent job.

As always there were lots of Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops and a few dance troops as well. There were a number of fire trucks from all over the country and I hoped they wouldn't be needed while they were parading around. There were also a lot of cars and I am not even kidding that once again this year we happened to be close to the "Rev It Up!" lady. Instead of being across the street from her this year, we were just a few people away from her on the same side. She didn't get quite as animated as she did last year but she certainly enjoyed it when the drivers revved it up and it gave me such a good laugh. It was worth going just to encounter her again.

After the parade I was dropped back off at my car and we all went our separate ways. Earlier when we had been planning to go, we joked about there not being a Britling's Cafeteria to go eat at after the parade. When I was a kid we used to pick up my great-grandmother and go to the parade and would always eat at Britling's Cafeteria afterwards.

It was a fun event and I'm glad we all went. I took a photo of my parents and my brother but the settings were wrong and let in too much light so they didn't turn out; but, I did take a few others and posted a couple below for your viewing pleasure.

Don't forget about the bell ringers' concert tonight at Trinity United Methodist at 7:00 p.m. it's free to the public and will be one of the most enjoyable and magical things you will do this holiday season!