Wednesday, March 25, 2015

There Goes The Neighborhood

Some new neighbors moved in this week and for once, I don't have to worry about who they are or what kind of ruckus they'll bring to the street. These new neighbors moved in four houses down across the street and I'm thrilled to welcome them to my hood. It's my cousin Anna and her husband Randy! They are moving here from Birmingham as they are both done with school (for now) and I hope they enjoy their time on our little street in Huntsville's hippiest neighborhood. 

A few months ago, Anna asked me if there were any houses for rent in my area and there were, there are always a few houses for rent and so I passed along some information. I don't know if she and Randy looked at any places at that time or not, but I guess they decided the liked the area. I guess I had mentioned at some point that the house across the street was empty and a rental (this is the house that has seen many a strange neighbor from Panties to Homeskillet) and so a few weeks ago, she asked me if it was available. I managed to get the owner's phone number from my neighbor Jeff and gave him a call to get some details. He was thinking about selling, but decided he would let Anna and Randy look at it (so gracious). That same day, the house down the street became available and so I got that phone number and passed it along to Anna as well. 

Anna and Randy looked at the house across the street, the house down the road, and a few others in a different part of town. The biggest house in the price range happened to be the one down the street and they made a verbal commit to the landlady. They moved in on Tuesday of this week and I'm super excited to have them as neighbors. With's Anna's move to the hood, there are now four of us Parker cousins living within a one mile radius of each other. I think it is so crazy and fun that we have all managed to live so close to each other in such an eclectic part of town. Just as Five Points is diverse, so are our personalities and we all fit well in our unique area of town.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dogsitting Dilemmas - Solved!

I'm heading out of town soon as it is once again time for my annual vacation with my dad. This year we are heading to Washington, D.C., our nation's capital. I haven't been to DC in ages. We went when I was either 10 or 12 which was 1987 or 1989. I honestly can't remember when it was; but, I do remember that I enjoyed it despite the fact I have yet to find a picture of myself smiling on the trip. I'm beginning to think I was a grumpy kid. Anyway, DC has a lot of offer in the forms of museums and monuments and even more so than they did in the 1980s and so I'm looking forward to the trip and I think I will appreciate it a lot more at the age of 38 than I did as a grumpy pre-teen. 

The upcoming trip presented me with a dilemma in regards to Pippa. I didn't want to leave her at the vet's office again this year because as you may recall, that didn't work out so well last year. When I picked her up last year, she had no voice because she had barked the whole time I was gone. I paid extra for her to receive special attention and she was so frazzled when I picked her up, I'm inclined to think she received no special treatment. The Pip is a kind of dog that likes to be around people and also be free and I hate the thought of her being couped up in a crate all day, especially now that she has freedom from the crate at home. So, I have been on a mission to find a solution to the age old question, "What should I do about Pippa?" 

I had a friend who used to stay at my house with The Tide when I went out of town, but she has since gotten married and I doubt she would want to leave her husband and her own dogs to come stay with Pippa; so, I marked her off the list. One of the nurses at my chiropractor's office has kept Pippa for me before, but her dog, Hooch, is very old and probably in the last stages of life and so I marked her off the list too. Since my dad is going with me, I marked him off the list and the girl who stayed at my house and watched Pippa when I went to the Biltmore a few weeks ago couldn't do it so she was marked of the list too. I was basically starting from scratch. 

One of the ladies at my chiropractor's office recommended a friend of hers who does dogsitting in her home. So, I contacted that lady and set up an interview for this past Saturday. I took Pippa to her house to meet her and her dog, Scooter. My first impression was of the backyard and it wasn't that great. Scooter was a poodle but was very dirty and the backyard seemed a little unkempt as well so I was skeptical. She then asked if I wanted to go inside and so I did. The house smelled like animal and was filthy. I have a nose that can smell things a mile away and I thought I might gag while I was there. Thankfully I kept it together. There was pet hair all over the floors and clutter everywhere and dust an inch thick. As someone who dusts every week and vacuums and mops multiple times a week, I was horrified. She invited me to sit down and I politely did, much to my chagrin. Pippa sniffed around and I don't know if her allergies were acting crazy of what, but by the time we left, she had slobber all over her muzzle which usually only happens after she has been running round outside acting a fool. 

Needless to say, I was torn because I certainly didn't want to leave her in a dirty smelly house (even if the people were going to take good care of her) but I was running out of options. Fast forward to Sunday night when I went out to dinner with the Denney's. Mrs. D. and I have birthdays one week apart and her sweet husband had agreed to take us out for dinner to celebrate; but, with the bad weather and conflicting schedules, we haven't been able to set a date until this past Sunday night. We talked about all sorts of things and somewhere along the way, she mentioned that their granddaughter K dog sits for people in their homes. She is in college at UAH and pet sits for extra money. She will stay at your house and will even let the dogs sleep with her. Y'all, it was like a sign from God. I got so excited I almost leaped out of the booth. I got Kelly's number and called her not long after I got home. Thankfully she is available the dates I'm going to be gone and she is going to stay at the house with Pippa and Pippa will be able to stay at home and will have someone to cuddle up to at night. 
Mrs. D. and K are coming by Tuesday night to meet Pippa and ask any questions about routines, etc. 

I'm so happy that this has worked out so well. I hate leaving my house empty for long periods of time and so I'm glad K will be able to stay there and Pippa will be able to stay home too. It could not have worked out any better. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's the Official Drink of Rhode Island, Y'all!

A few weeks ago when I was in North Carolina for my weekend getaway to the Biltmore, my friends and I stopped by a grocery store to pick up a few items for breakfast. While we were perusing the dairy section in search of coffee creamer, we came across an intriguing item called Coffee Milk. Lauren and I were the two who were most interested in this concoction and so we bought a quart to try. 

I don't remember if we popped it open that night or waited until breakfast the next morning, but whatever the case, we really liked it and were sad that we had never seen it at home. We assumed our coffee milk days were behind us and that we would look upon that time fondly. 

Well, for whatever reason, I decided to Google coffee milk last week. My original intent was to try and find out if it might be sold in one of the grocery stores nearby and in my search, I discovered that coffee milk is the official drink of Rhode Island and then it made perfect sense as to why I had not yet seen this delicacy in the deep South. I then ended up searching for recipes and came across several, all involving coffee syrup. I don't know about you, but I had never heard of coffee syrup. I did find some on Amazon but it was kind of pricey and so that led me to search for recipes for coffee syrup and in the process I found a recipe for coffee syrup and the proportions needed to make coffee milk. 

Since I had all the ingredients on hand to make both the syrup and the milk, I made this my Saturday morning project. I brewed two cups of coffee, added one cup of sugar and brought it to a boil on the stove top. Then I reduce the heat and let it simmer until it was reduced to about 1 and a half cups. The recipe says this should take about 30 minutes, it took me a little longer. I then removed from the heat, poured into a glass bottle (you can use a Mason jar or whatever you have on hand) and placed in the refrigerator. Once cool, you combine 2-4 Tablespoons of coffee syrup to one cup of cold milk and mix to get coffee milk. 

I think I put a little too much syrup in my glass  because it was a lot sweeter than I remembered it, so in reality, two Tablespoons is going to be plenty. The syrup will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. It was really easy to make and now we can have coffee milk whenever we want which is a bonus indeed! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Prayer, Babies and Gunshots

My crazy busy weekend continued Saturday, starting with the Ladies' Tea at Mayfair. The tea started at 9:00 a.m. and I managed to get a couple of loads of clothes washed before leaving the house that morning. The tea was late getting started because of some technical difficulties; but, we had some ladies who could speak loudly and at least got us started with a prayer before breakfast. The breakfast was catered by "Let's do Lunch" in Decatur and it was really delicious. There was a breakfast casserole (eggs and sausage), some of the most amazing grits I've ever had, biscuits, and a fruit cup. To drink there was fruit ta, water, and coffee. The coffee and fruit tea were both very tasty. 

After we ate breakfast we got underway with a series of prayers, singing, and our first speaker, Linda Goode, who was quite funny. After Linda spoke, the ladies had 30 minutes to visit the different prayer stations before we returned to the gym for tea. While we had tea (and cookies for the sweet eaters), we had another speaker, Janice Greenleaf. Mrs. Greenleaf was also good, but considering she didn't start until noon and she spoke for almost an hour and then breakfast was supposed to be over at noon, I think she probably lost the attention of a lot of people in attendance. I think it would have been much better if the ladies had been given more time to visit the prayer stations, and then we wrapped up with prayer and tea. Good points to remember for next year. Everyone was given cute canisters (for storing tea of course) as a remembrance of the day. 

Once the tea was over, I made a quick stop by the grocery store and then home where I began cooking dinner for my cousin Lauren who had a baby earlier this month. At some point, I took a break in the cooking to check the mail when I noticed that there were a ton of police cars and a firetruck a couple of blocks down the road. This isn't necessarily the most unusual sighting in my neighborhood, but what I did find unusual was that almost everyone on the street was standing out in their front yards looking down the road. This was my first sign that something out of the ordinary was happening. I went in and checked Twitter, but couldn't find anything so just put it out of my mind. 

I left to drive the one mile over to Lauren's about 5:20 p.m. and the road was still blocked so I had to take a detour to get to her house. We ate dinner and visited for a while and I held that sweet baby for an hour or so while we had "family movie night" with G (the four-year old). His choice for the night was "The Croods" and I'm still a little confused about it, probably because I wasn't paying close attention. 

I left Lauren's to head home a little bit before 8:00 p.m. only to discover that the road was still blocked. We had since found out that there was an officer involved shooting and internal affairs and all other sorts of folks were investigating the incident. Apparently the police were called for a domestic dispute and the man came out onto his porch with a gun and officers fired shots and the man dropped the gun. They are either really bad shots or missed on purpose because the man was not injured; but, he was arrested. He apparently made bail though because I saw him outside of the house on Monday evening when I drove by there. 

So, that was my rather interesting Saturday, full of prayer, food, babies, and gunshots. There's never a dull moment in Five Points. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Decorating and a Movie

Well, it was a super busy weekend for me and I feel like I need another day just to recover. It started at soon as I got off work Friday with a haircut at 5:00 p.m. Thankfully my salon is rather close to work so I didn't have to drive across town or anything. I love going to see m hair stylist as he often has a hilarious story to tell me and we have a big time during our visit. 

After my haircut was over, I went to the church building where I was meeting up with my friend Lauren to set up our table for the Ladies' Prayer Tea for Saturday morning. While I was waiting on her, she called and said she was going to be late because she still needed to run by Target to pick up a couple of things. Since I was just sitting in the parking lot at church (which is close to Target), I volunteered to run by there and just meet her back at the building. I went and picked up some flowers for our table and some Sharpies which were needed for Saturday. It worked out perfectly as we both got back to the church building about the same time. 

Our friend Margaret Ann met up with us as well and it took us about 30 minutes or so to set up our table. Our table was the thankfulness prayer station and we had broken pieces of china (don't worry, the plates, etc. were from thrift stores and already had cracks, etc.) on which the ladies wrote an answered prayer or something for which they are thankful. We laid out the broken pieces of china and Lauren had a chalkboard with our Bible verse on it and Margaret Anne arranged the flowers in the vase and when it was all said and done, it looked nice. It was a lot simpler than some of the other tables, but it still looked great. 

The three of us left the church building and went to Little Rosies to feast on Mexican food. It didn't seem as crowded as I have seen it on other Friday nights, but then it was difficult for us to find a table, so I guess it was rather crowded after all. We took our time eating and then went to the movie theater where we saw the 8:15 p.m. showing of Cinderella. Y'all, 8:15 p.m. is late for me so I wasn't sure if I would even make it through the whole film, but luckily, I did. 

There was a seven minute Frozen episode that aired before the movie came on and previews before that so it was 8:50 before the movie even started. The movie was absolutely wonderful. It followed the Disney animated movie more closely than an other adaptations I have seen. The scenery in the film was gorgeous and the casting was great as well. Lady Rose from Downton Abbey played Cinderella, Helena Bonham Carter was the crazy fairy godmother, the guy who played Rob Stark on  Game of Thrones was Prince Charming, Daisy the kitchen maid from Downton was one of the step sisters, and Cate Blanchett was fabulous as the wicked step mother. I never got bored and the time passed quickly and I loved it from beginning to end. It's great for girls of all ages and stages. There were even a few dads in attendance and I heard no moaning or groaning from any of them, 

When the movie was over, the three of us parted ways and I went home for the first time since I had left that morning. I'm sure Pip was glad I was home, although she had probably rather had some time to play rather than just go straight to bed. It was a fun night to kick off such a busy weekend. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Molding Young Minds

This past weekend, I took a break from "normal" life to chaperone the senior high school spring church retreat, otherwise known as Festivus. I believe I've mentioned a time or two that I'm a Huddle Leader (aka mentor) for the ninth graders at church and since I only see these kids once a month, I wanted to spend a little more time with them in hopes of getting to know them a little better. 

We were scheduled to leave the church building at 4:40, but I got there around 3:15 to help get the registration tables set up and also organize and set up the pizza tables (we had pizza prior to our departure). The kids started arriving around 4:00 and after eating and then cleaning up our mess, we were off to Camp Lee in Anniston, Alabama. I didn't ride the bus to camp, but instead rode with my friend Margaret Anne (who drove) and a couple of our other girlfriends. It was nice to have some time with these friends before the weekend got underway. 

I honestly don't know what time it was when we arrived at camp; but, after arriving, we spent time getting set up and us adult girls spent time moving cabins because we originally bunked down in the wrong cabin. Come to find out, the cabin that was assigned to us only had one working hot water heater so there were two showers available for about 60 girls. The evening ended with a worship session and then we were assigned groups for the Saturday sessions and by the time it was all said and done, it was after midnight before I got to bed. As you can imagine, I was pooped. Unfortunately, the girls from one of the other churches bunked down in our room and so we were separated from our girls the whole weekend. What's worse is that the girls who were in our room were so stikin' rude and loud and I was not happy about it. 

Saturday morning we started with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. I had gotten up around 5:00 a.m. (out of habit) and taken a hot shower and then laid back down until time to get up. We had a morning worship session and then broke off into our groups for three other activities/study/discussion times. We had lunch and then some free time where I napped until I was woken up by a call from my mother (thanks, mother!). 

Saturday evening, there were games, dinner, and a final worship session and then a bonfire to end the night. I opted out of the bonfire and hit the bed early instead. It worked out well because I was able to get to sleep before the loud girls came into our room. 

Sunday morning after breakfast, we had our final worship session for the weekend. The guest speaker for the weekend had wrapped up on Saturday evening; so, Sunday morning was singing and then a wrap up by our own youth minister. After that, we packed up, cleaned up and hit the road towards home. 

It was a fun weekend and I'm glad I went. I got to know some of the kids better which was great, and I am looking forward to continuing to get to know them throughout the coming months and years. 

Me and my cousin Bennett at Festivus

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ice and Rain

Just when I started hoping that we were done with the winter weather, we were hit with a mini ice storm of sorts. It started late Wednesday night with rain and then turned to sleet early Thursday morning. I smartly elected to stay home because it wasn't long before the roads were a solid sheet of ice and I didn't want to wreck, get injured, die or get stuck at my work place for the night. Thankfully, I had the good sense to bring my computer home with me on Wednesday and was able to get some work done while I was at home. 

It sleeted for most of the morning, followed by rain which quickly turned to ice once it hit the ground because of the low temps. When it was all over, I easily had and and come back  inch or more of ice in the yard. Thankfully I didn't lose electricity and I had food on hand so I didn't go hungry either. Truth be told, I actually enjoyed the day at home and was able to get quite a bit of work done, even with Pippa staring at the computer screen. 

Friday my workplace didn't open until 10:00 a.m. and I had already planned to leave at 2:00 p.m. to go on the senior high fall retreat with my church youth group. I went out around 9:15 to warm up the car and remove the ice from the windshield, etc. Being the graceful person I am, I fell and landed on my knee (yes, the one that was operated on just a couple of months ago). Then about 9:40 a.m. I headed out and after slipping and sliding all over the road and seeing three wrecks within a mile of my house, I made the decision to turn around and go back home. I wasn't willing to take the risk to go to work for just four hours. 

Now, after a beautiful weekend, we are stuck with at least five straight days of rain. My yard is already so muddy and I fear there is no end in sight. I am so ready for some sunny days and dry land and nice evenings that are prime for taking a walk. Between all the snow and the continuous rain I can hardly remember what a dry day looks like. Fingers crossed, we'll have some nice spring days and evenings before too long!