Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's Been Chaos

Wow, where has the week gone? I have intended to sit down and write more than one post this week, but time has gotten away from me. I've had a busy week and work and every night this week I've had something going on. Long story short, the blog has been put on the back burner because by the time I get home at 9:00 or 10:00 in the evening, the last thing I want to do is turn on the computer and write a post.

However, I'm here tonight to recap all the crazy that has been my life over the last week. Last Friday night, my mom and dad and I went on the Ghost Walk Trolley Tour. I've done all the walking tours before but have never done the trolley tour and so that's the tour we did. I must say the walking tours are 100 times better than the trolley. The trolley was loud and it was hard to hear and it doesn't have the same ambiance as the walking tours. So, if you decide to do a ghost walk in Huntsville (and this coming weekend is the last one for 2014), definitely do the walking version rather than the riding version.

On Saturday I did the usual cleaning and laundry, etc. and picked up my co-op food basket which was loaded with all kinds of goodness including strawberries, raspberries, bananas, apples, pears, red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, potatoes, and red onions. I felt like I hit the mother load of produce. I think my eyes were probably the size of saucers when I saw all the berries because I was so excited. Sunday I went to church and spent the afternoon whipping up snack foods. That night I went to church where my dad preaches and then had dinner at my cousins' house.

Monday after work, my mom and I co-hosted a Premier Jewelry party which was loads of fun. We had quite a few people show up and had great sales so we ended up getting quite a bit of free jewelry which is always nice.

Tuesday I went to the Huntsville All-City Choir Concert. My friend Meri's daughter was singing and she ended up winning Outstanding Choral Student for the City which was super exciting. We sat behind a lady who cracked us up and told us to "behave." As it turns out, I knew six or so children singing in the concert, including the uber-talented Troy. It was so great to see him sing as well.

Wednesday night was church, after which I went to my cousin Lauren and Jon Mark's house to watch Game Seven of the World Series. Lauren baked us cookies and we had a big night watching the game and checking Twitter because that's what we love to do.

All of this brings us to Thursday, which is today. I took the day off work because I had four doctor appointments scheduled, one of which ended up getting canceled and rescheduled. I started at the dentist and ended the day at the orthopedist where I found out I will be having knee surgery. I scheduled it for December 18.

So, that pretty much sums up my week and why I haven't been writing because I've been so darn busy and my evenings have not given way to writing. The coming months are going to be just as busy and sometimes I get tired just looking at my calendar. Hopefully, I'll find some time to write in between all the chaos because I'm sure you are all dying to know what I've been up to. In the meantime, I hope you all have a great weekend and a wonderful Halloween full of treats and no tricks!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

14th Annual Parker Pumpkin Carving Party

Last Sunday night, I joined various cousins both young and old for a pumpkin carving party. We called it the 14th Annual Parker Pumpkin Carving Party, although it was my first year to attend. I, however, have no doubt it's been going strong for 14 years or more. The soiree was held at the home of my cousins Benny and Jan and in addition to the plethora of Parkers, we were also joined by friends old and new. 

Jan had made taco soup and ham and beans and pimento cheese among other delicious items and we basically feasted all night and did some pumpkin carving too. Some of us used patterns, others of us free-handed intricate designs and yet others of us (um, me) went with the traditional jack-o-lantern. The one thing I did learn on this night was that the pumpkin scoop works like a champ when you are clearing out the guts of a pumpkin and I have since bought one for myself. 

Anna carved a small pumpkin with a fancy "T" on it which is representative of her new last name. Chris carved a Tinkerbell for his sweet grand baby Indigo. Lauren didn't carve a pumpkin but instead she bedazzled a witch's hat. Jon Mark free-handed a batman which was awesome. Conner carved the Browning deer and Annie did a different version of Tinkerbell. I believe I already mentioned that I did a traditional jack-o-lantern.

I had such a fun time with family and friends. There was lots of laughter, good food and fellowship - it was the perfect ending to a long weekend. Big thanks to Anna for sharing her photos with me since I was absent minded and didn't take one!






Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My First Food Cooperative Experience

I don't know about where you work, but where I work, the company is pushing for everyone to get healthier. It seems to work. I've noticed a lot of people have lot weight and others are taking the initiative to eat better and exercise  more. I even recruited some co-workers to join my strength training class at the gym. 

We have a girl at work whose sole responsibility is to help us get healthy. So, she schedules classes and food demos and health fairs, etc. to encourage us in our quest to be healthier. A couple of months ago, our challenge for the month was to eat more fruits and veggies. I didn't even turn in my results because they were not even on par with the amount I was supposed to be eating. During the campaign, however, she told us about some local food cooperatives who offer fresh fruits and veggies each week. I made a mental note of it because I had thought about trying this out but had never taken the plunge...until last week. 

My diet lately has been nothing to brag about, and so, in an effort to force myself to eat fresh foods and actually cook something good for me rather than frozen pizza or nachos, I decided to order my first food co-op box. I went with the Plentiful Produce Group because the price seemed reasonable and it was a 1/2 veggie and 1/2 fruit box. I ordered by the deadline and picked up my box at the designated location this past Saturday. 

I really had no idea what to expect and so when I picked up my box, I was amazed at how much food was inside. I had seven sweet potatoes, seven green bananas, four huge red bell peppers, six tangerines, four apples, a bunch of kale, a pound of strawberries, a pound of green beans, and three pounds of broccoli florets. The lady who was handing out the baskets said that we were also supposed to have gotten pears in our box but the pears were bad. Seriously, so much good food and I got it all for $21,50 ($20 plus $1.50 handling fee). 

Before the weekend was out, I had eaten two of the sweet potatoes, all of the green beans (which were the best I have had in a long time), one bell pepper and most of the strawberries. I have hardly put a dent in all the good food because my schedule has been insane this week and I've not been at home in the evenings. I was, however, proud of myself for eating better, fresher, and local food. 

I was so happy with the basket that I went ahead and ordered one for this next week as well. I probably won't order every week because being a single person it is hard to eat all that much food, but I do plan to order often because it is a good motivation to eat well and cook more. 

If you live in Madison County and are interested in a local food cooperative, check out Plentiful Produce. 







Tuesday, October 21, 2014

11th Annual Liz Hurley Ribbon Run

This past Saturday was the 11th Annual Liz Hurley Ribbon Run and it was my fifth year to participate, or maybe my sixth. I've honestly lost count. At any rate, I participated again this year and it was just as much fun as every other year. 

The race started at 8:00 a.m. and I drove over to my cousin Lauren's house at 7:15 a.m. to meet up with her and Anna and some of Lauren's Co-Workers. We all walked from Lauren's house to the race start which was about a mile away. I think everyone but me ran all or at least some of the race. I walked the whole thing because for one I hate running and for two I'm having problems with my knee still. So, I just strolled and took it all in, as they say. 

The citizens of our fine city were out along the streets as they always are and were just as enthusiastic as ever. One of the streets was decorated with balloons and wooden cut outs of pink ribbons. It looked especially festive. As always, there were tons of tutus and other outrageous outfits along the way, including one man who was dressed from head to toe in pink - even with a pink wig and pink bra. This is one of the funnest races of the year and I love that everyone lets their inner crazy shine through. I, once again, wore my pink tutu. 

When I finished the race, I didn't expect to see anyone I knew at the finish line. I figured everyone would have already begun making their way back to Lauren's house. However, Lauren, Anna, Anna's husband Randy and a couple of others were waiting for me at the finish line and cheering on my last few steps. It warmed my heart, especially since just a few steps before seeing them I was thinking to myself how nice it would be for someone I know to be cheering me on for a change. I secretly always hope someone in my family will show up and cheer me on at a race, but my family likes to sleep late. It was so nice of them to wait on me and my slow-paced self. 

After crossing the finish line, I circled back around to the group and we journeyed back to Lauren's house where we went our separate ways for the day. It was another successful Ribbon Run and a great way to spend a beautiful fall Saturday morning. 












Monday, October 20, 2014

Memphis Road Trip

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I am here to assure you that I am, in fact, alive. I apologize for the long break in posts. Last week was extremely busy and I had little to no time to do any sort of blogging. The good news is that my time away from the blog was so busy that it has afforded me many topics to write about so I hope to do some posting every day this week - provided I find the time. Fingers crossed that I will. 

Today, I'm turning back the clock to last Tuesday when my cousins Anna and Lauren and I went to Memphis for a Peal Jam concert. This was my fourth and their first Pearl Jam show. I'm sure I've mentioned it, but last year, I made myself a promise that I would see Pearl Jam every year they tour the United States and so far I'm keeping up the bargain with myself. 
The three of us left Huntsville around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday and made a stop for snacks and a bathroom break along the way. I'm not sure what time we arrived in Memphis, but I'm guessing around 4:30 p.m. We easily found our hotel and let the valet park the car. After checking in, we went up to our room to change clothes and get ready for the show. We stayed at the SpringHill Suites Downtown so everything was within walking distance which was nice. The hotel was clean and nice and had a great view of a courtyard. I think we were all pleased with the selection. I had booked on Priceline so I wasn't too sure of how the hotel would actually be. 

After freshening up, we walked towards the FedEx Forum and found a local restaurant to stop in for dinner. The placed was really busy with what we assumed were concert goers. We had an appetizer of spinach and cheese dip and then for dinner, Lauren and I had a burger and Anna had chicken and waffles. The burgers were okay, nothing to brag about, but I think Anna really enjoyed her dish. 

Once dinner was over, we walked to the FedEx Forum and every bar we passed along the way had Pearl Jam blasting from the speakers. We arrived at the arena and I got in line at  the merchandise table that had the fewest amount of people. I was able to get a poster for this show and a bag (which subsequently shrunk in the wash) and a sticker for everyone. Pearl Jam does show specific stickers and posters and so I try to always get one of these. 
We found our seats which were just as wonderful as I had hoped. We were to the side of the stage in the middle section with a great view of everything that took place during the show. I loved these seats. It was totally worth calling Ticketmaster and finagling my way to better seats all those months ago. The show time on the ticket was 7:30 p.m. but it was around 8:15 p.m. or maybe later before Pearl Jam came on stage. There was no opening act. 

The band played for three hours, as per usual, but performed a lot of lesser known songs which was kind of disappointing because the crowd didn't get into it as much. Also, Eddie Vedder was a little under the weather and his voice was strained and I didn't feel as much energy off of him as I have in past shows; but, it was still a good show nonetheless. Anna and Lauren enjoyed it as best they could. After the first set, Lauren asked if it was over and I said that the first set was done. Her reply, "There's a second set?" After the second set she asked if there was a third set. I said, "No, just an encore." I neglected, however, to tell her the encore would be 20-30 minutes. 

When the show was over, we walked back to the hotel and called it a night. We had free hot breakfast at the hotel the next morning which was really very good. After we got ready to hit the road, we left the hotel and went to the Nike Clearance Store before leaving town. On the way, we passed Graceland where people were lined up to take a tour. We shopped at Nike for a while and then headed home, making a stop in Corinth for some lunch along the way. It was a quick but fun trip and I'm glad I was able to spend it with these fun-loving cousins of mine. 















Here is the list of songs from the show:

Set 1
Pendulum
Wash
Low Light
Why Go
All Night
Mind Your Manners
Even Flow
Lightning Bolt
Sirens
1/2 Full
Garden
Alone
Wishlist
Given to Fly
Let the Records Play
Spin the Black Circle
Black
Rearviewmirror

Set 2
Nothing As It Seems
Come Back
Elderly Woman Behind A Counter In A Small Town​
Do The Evolution
Breathe
Porch

Encore
Once 
Crazy Mary
​Better Man
Alive
Rockin' In The Free World
Yellow Ledbetter


Monday, October 13, 2014

Unfortunately, You Can't Sit on Them

Hello friends, or friend - I feel like Erika is the only one who reads my blog these days. Thanks, Erika! At any rate, I hope all five of you reading this had a really good weekend. I was busy all weekend long, yet I feel like I accomplished nothing. I guess that's how it goes some times. 

Friday night, my dad and I made it out to the MA game to watch yet another massacre of a Mustang opponent. The game actually started out quite well, and I thought it might be close, but MA pulled away and there wasn't much to it. We left a few minutes before the game ended and made a Krispy Kreme run for my mother. I believe that's going to be the last MA game for us until the playoffs where I imagine we will go every week, but then again, I could be wrong. Only time will tell I suppose. 

On Saturday morning, I was up before the sun washing clothes and cleaning the bathroom. So exciting, I know! I had an appointment to have my car aligned at 8:00 a.m. at the Goodyear downtown. Last month when I had taken my car in to Nissan, they told me I needed new tires and an alignment and I basically refused to believe them because I feel like dealerships are always out to get your money and so I made the appointment at Goodyear for an alignment and for a rotate and balance of my tires. 

Needless to say, I was not surprised when the guy came in to tell me that I did in fact need new tires in the front because the car had been out of alignment and had cut into the tires. He also said the back two tires were in the last third of their life and so, I made an adult decision to go ahead and get all new tires. Thankfully, Goodyear has financing and I was able to finance for six months with no interest. So, I've worked it into my budget for the next few months. Sadly, I was planning on buying a new couch around Christmas time and that will now have to wait until I get the tires and my recent vet bill and eye doctor bill paid off. Thanks goodness for interest free for six months on all of these items or else I would be in a world of hurt right now. I am getting a rebate on my tires and the rebate doubled since I used the Goodyear financing and so that money can also be applied to the payment of the tires which really helps out. Sadly, I cannot display these tires in my living room or ask my friends to have a seat on my new tires. Oh well, I suppose it gives me something to look forward to.

After my trip to Goodyear, I went to Publix for my weekly shopping trip where I discovered that they have a new coupon policy and now they will only allow you to use one $5 off $50 coupon instead of two. Previously, if your grocery bill was $100, you could use two of these coupons. The coupons are also for Star Market (Publix takes competitor coupons) and the cashier also told me that rumor had it that Star Market was going out of business. I knew the one in South Huntsville had announced a closing, but I have not heard about the one in Five Points and hope it is just a rumor because they have the best meat in town and I always buy my meat at Star Market. Have any of you in Huntsville heard this as well? 

When I was finished with the grocery shopping, I came home, unloaded the cold stuff and then took Pippa to the local pet store for a nail trim. I also returned an "indestructible" toy that she did, in fact, destruct. They replaced it with another one which she proceeded to destroy once we got home. I will not be taking this one back. Clearly, these toys are not meant for The Pip. 

I spent the rest of the day straightening up the house and cooking for my friends. Erika, Candy and Kendra came over for dinner on Saturday evening. We dubbed it, "Kendra's Last Hurrah in Huntsville". She recently got a job at Vanderbilt in Nashville and will be moving this coming weekend. We are sad to see her go, but super excited for her and this new opportunity. We will see her often though because her family is here and she will be back and we can always drive up to see her as Nashville is really not that far away. It was great to get together with the girls and send Kendra off properly. 



Sunday was church, followed by a rainy, lazy afternoon and then my cousin Tyler's birthday dinner cooked by his mother, Jan. The food was amazing, as always, and it was great to spend time with my family to close out yet another 2014 weekend. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Family Outing at the Botanical Gardens

This past Monday, I had made plans with my parents and my mother's caregiver Ada to go to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens to see the Scarecrow Trail. I had recently won some passes and wanted to take advantage of them while the Scarecrow Trail was up. The plan was to meet there at 5:00 p.m. and take in as much of the garden as possible before dark. 

As luck would have it, there was a wreck on the Parkway around 11:15 a.m. and it knocked out the power in the area of town where I work, including our building. After an hour or so of sitting around in the dark, upper management made the decision to send us all home because even after power is restored to the building, it takes another two hours for it to be fully restored and operational. So, we were sent home and even paid for the day which was very nice! I called my parents to see if they could meet at the garden sooner than 5:00 p.m. since I had the afternoon free. They could and we met up a little before 3:00 p.m. to tour the gardens. This ended up being a blessing in surprise because beginning in October, the garden actually closes at 5:00 p.m. so we wouldn't have been able to take our tour if we had kept our original plans. 

Oddly enough, none of us had ever toured the gardens before. We had all been there for at least one wedding and during the Galaxy of Lights, but as far as actually getting out and strolling around and taking it all in, none of us had done that before. The Botanical Garden is very nice and very spacious. I honestly had no idea how large it was. My dad was very impressed. He loves flowers and landscaping and kept saying over and over how nice it was and he even ranked it the second best Botanical Garden -second only to the garden in Victoria, British Columbia. 

The Scarecrow Trail was not as impressive as I had hoped but some of the characters were well done and comical. It started raining when we were on the far side of the garden, so mother headed back to the main building to take cover. My dad and I ventured over to the butterfly house before leaving and I think that was my favorite part. We spent some time there before heading back to the main building and the car. The nice people at the garden gave us passes to come back on another day since we got rained out and didn't get to spend as much time at the garden as we would have liked. That was incredibly nice of them.

After the trip to the garden, we stopped at Captain D's for an early and probably not very nutritious dinner, but it was still good. It was a successful and fun afternoon thanks to the power going out at work. If you live in or are visiting the Huntsville area, be sure to check out the Huntsville Botanical Garden. It makes for a very nice outing any day of the week!