Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So long, 2008! It's been real!

When I was little, Daddy's great-aunt Sallie lived next door to us, and I can remember her talking about how time just flies by. Back then, it sure didn't seem that way to me. I though that must be how "old people" thought and talked. Times creeped by for me back then. Well maybe it's because I'm getting older myself, but this year has seemed to have flown by so fast that I don't even know if I can remember all that happened. A lot of it is just a blur!

I know you all have your own memories of this past year, but here are just a few of mine....

Heather and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary in April; in May, we spent a wonderful, relaxing week in Jamaica with Chris & Jessica Sentell; Alabama went to the SEC Championship ranked #1 and undefeated and then on to the Sugar Bowl; I began a great new job with the City of Tuscaloosa in August; we were fortunate enough to spend more time than ever in Orange Beach; I lost my wedding band in Orange Beach trying to get a monster crab out of a trap. (I got a new one, though.); we learned to be thankful for the health of our parents and to appreciate them a little bit more; I ate a whole lot of sushi this past year, and the more I eat it the more I love it!

This next year promises to be just as exciting as 2008. I will celebrate my 20 year reunion with old friends from dear old Jackson Academy; hopefully, our Bama team will have another winning season; I plan to spend as much if not more time enjoying friends and family; we already have the first beach trip of the year in the planning stage and possibly a DC trip being planned as well. Add our everyday craziness that just comes to us randomly, and it should be a heck of a ride!

So hang in there, folks. Maybe I won't run out of things to write about.

Happy New Year, ya'll.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

And I would be remiss if I did not give you the chance to read this classic one more time...again

The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Friday, December 19, 2008

HO HO HO!!!!

We had our office Christmas party today. This being my first Christmas here, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. We had to bring a gift for "Dirty Santa", which I normally do not like to play. I actually said so several times, but was informed that if I showed up this morning without a gift, that one would be provided for me. So I decided, "What the heck, when in Rome, what's good for the goose, etc. etc. etc."

We ordered lunch from McAlister's, which turned out to be a great idea, and so much easier than bringing a dish. Somehow, dishes don't always make it back home with me. It may have something to do with that monster in my car that keeps devouring things. I lose more stuff in that car!

So we ate our lunch and enjoyed some good fellowshiping. It is audit time at the City of Tuscaloosa, so the auditors joined us. They have been here nearly a month, and will probably be with us til February, so in the meantime, we take them in as a part of us. Then after lunch, it was Santa time. You all know the drill, so I won't bore you with those details. I ended up with this Alabama trivet that I really like a lot.

So maybe my view has changed on the Dirty Santa. Or maybe I just got lucky today.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Blue Angels are Coming!

You may remember me writing this summer about our attempt to see the Blue Angels in Pensacola. Well, guess what? They are coming to Tuscaloosa! The mayor announced this morning that Tuscaloosa has been selected as one of 36 cities that will host the Angels in 2009. Over 300 cities applied, so this is a great accomplishment.

Adding to the excitement of hosting the Navy's Blue Angels’ air show, Tuscaloosa has also been selected to host the U.S. Army Golden Knights. The Golden Knights are parachute teams that travel the world to perform in aerial demonstrations and competitions. The Golden Knights, formed in 1959, will celebrate their 50th Anniversary in 2009.

The dates will be April 4th & 5th at the Tuscaloosa Airport, so mark your calendars. I am planning to be there for the show. Maybe this time we won't wind up in the middle of a flood!

Paws to Celebrate

A book with recipes is called a cookbook.

A book with recipes that's illustrated with colorful, comical critters, and that includes section names like Lick Your Chops and Desserts to Drool For, is called a hoot.

But that's not the only reason to fetch ''Paws to Celebrate,'' compiled by members of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society Auxiliary. The book benefits the humane society, and includes about 525 recipes from auxiliary members, Birmingham-area chefs and veterinarians and nationally-known celebrities.

''The love of cooking and love of animals comes together,'' says cookbook co-chairwoman Jamie Preston.

The book's Top Dog section includes recipes from animal-loving celebrities such as Betty White, Doris Day and Tippi Hedren, whose recipe, ''Marnie's Red Velvet Cake,'' alludes to her role in the 1964 Alfred Hitchcock film ''Marnie.'' Johnnie Mickens, grandmother to NBA star Charles Barkley, contributed recipes as well, as did former Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley and Cherry Starr, wife of NFL notable Bart Starr.

You'll find recipes from Birmingham area restaurants, too, such as Bottega, Ocean, Cobb Lane, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Iz Catering, Satterfield's and the Bright Star. Birmingham-area veterinarians contributed recipes as well.

There's a pet-food recipe section, too, called Critter Cuisine, and a Heart to Heart section addressing pet care.

The catalyst for the cookbook was, appropriately enough, the auxiliary's monthly luncheons, where food is prepared by, and for, members.

''We have glorious lunches,'' says cookbook co-chairwoman Gail Batchelor. ''Everybody says, 'I want that recipe.''

Which, more than a year ago, prompted auxiliary member Rita Wood to say, ''Somebody needs to do a cookbook.'' To which Batchelor replied, ''I'll do it.''

It's done, and debuts Thursday at the humane society's Fur Art's Sake gallery opening and holiday open house. And the hope, humane society supporters say, is that folks will seriously buy into the idea of a cookbook that's fun.

''It costs us $150,000 a month to run the shelter,'' says humane society spokeswoman Victoria Arrand. ''Those dollars have to come from somewhere.''
''Paws to Celebrate,''$25, is available at the humane society gift shop at 300 Snow Drive in Homewood, or ($5 shipping and handling applies). For information, 397-8531, or (click on Visit the GBHS Virtual Gift Shop).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Home Depot Giveaway!

This is the One Project Closer December Giveaway!

This month, the nice folks at Home Depot are giving TWO lucky OPC readers a $100 holiday gift card delivered just in time to wrap up your holiday shopping before the big day!

Home Depot gift cards are a fun and easy gift idea for the do-it-herself-ers and handymen on the gift lists.This year THD has 17 holiday gift card styles to choose from including the duct tape model in the background on the right (it even FEELS like duct tape), and one of Santa in his workshop (our personal fav).

Having trouble deciding between a Black & Deck Alligator Electric Lopper, the Makita 7.25″ Circular Saw, or the Dewalt 10.0 Amp Reciprocating Saw for the DIYer in your life? You could throw this $100 card in their stocking and let them decide, or buy something for them & keep a little for yourself.

Go here to enter, and please, say you saw it on my blog!

If I win, I'm gonna get a jump start on that hall bathroom remolding project Heather wants to do. It will be awesome!

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer!!

Wow. What a season! Who would have thought that the Tide would have come as far as they have this year. It has definately been a fun ride. You know, I have been truly moved this year by the overwhelming atmosphere in Bryant Denny Stadium before, during, and after the games. The Million Dollar Band and the folks who run the videos on the Jumbotron just do an outstanding job. Every week, when the crowd is worked up into a frenzy, and Nick leads our team out onto that field while the band is playing "Yea Alabama," I can't help but get chills down my spine and my eyes get all teary. Saturday's game against Florida was a little bit sickening, but I am still proud of our guys in Crimson. I can't wait til January 2nd in New Orleans!

All last week I kept meaning to post my pictures from the Iron Bowl, but never got around to it. So here they are. It was a rainy, messy day. The Quad was a big ole mud bog. But we sloshed through it and had a ball anyway. Our guys played great, and it was so nice to be able to scream Rammer Jammer at the top of our lungs over and over and over. I almost cried.

Libby, Chris, me, & Julie on the Quad

Julie & Heather

The Girls

Told ya'll it was muddy!

After the victory!

Derrick, Hen, & me after the game

This guy kinda freaked me out a little.

Lance & me

Big D, Little D, & Lance

Me & Heather

Thumbs Up, Bama!

Roll Tide, ya'll!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nifty, nifty, Connie's 50!!!

Let me back up a week or so. November 21st was my cousin Connie's 50th birthday. She had been announcing its arrival for over a year. Some people may dread the Big 5-0, but not Connie; she was sooo excited. So her husband, Steve, and her mom and sisters decided to throw her a surprise party. Now one would think that she might have been expecting it.... no way!!!! She was so surprised. Her mom and sister, Monica, took her out for breakfast, then Target, then Starbucks, while the rest of us arrived and got everything ready. Then about 1:30pm, they came back home and we were waiting. She didn't have a clue! We had the house all decorated, and the sisters brought great food because in our family, we love to eat.

So Happy Birthday, Connie. May you have 50 more!!!

Thanksgiving Day

Heather and I had a busy Thanksgiving this year. We usually try to plan and spend some time with both sides of the families, but the Alabama Auburn massacre threw a wrench into our plans this time. Not that we really minded. We got up early, got home late, and managed to get everybody squeezed in. Plus we got to eat twice!!!

We left Thursday morning around 6:30am and headed down to Jackson. When we got there, Daddy was cooking bacon-wrapped catfish filets and bacon-wrapped wild turkey breast on the grill for us to snack on before the feast. It was soooo good! We helped them get everything finalized before the masses began arriving, and once everybody started getting there, it was a steady stream of folks in and out all day. We really are blessed to have such a large and fun family. We had 43 for lunch, but that's really only less than half of us. If you count us all up from my Mammaw down, there are over 120 of us!

The Cousins

Lunch was great, of course. At one point I was teetering on that fine line between being full and being miserable, but a piece of my cousin Alice's egg custard pushed me right on over. We had emptied all of the furniture out of the breakfast room and kitchen to make room for banquet tables. We ended up with a table for appetizers and snacks, 2 long tables of food, and a big dessert table. Fat kids love some food!

There's a story we all love to tell at Thanksgiving and I think you all might enjoy it too....

Mama does not make dressing. She never has in her life. My Daddy, on the other hand, makes some of the best dressing you will ever eat. So he always makes the dressing and Mama focuses on other things. Well, one year, Daddy had mixed up the dressing in big dish pans and was getting ready to pour it into dishes to bake it. Mama was spraying the pans with Pam so that they wouldn't stick, and then handing them down to be filled. As they were nearing the end of the dish pans and all the dressing was ready for the oven, Daddy noticed that the dressing was foaming. He pointed this out to Mama, and about the same time they realized what was wrong. Instead of using Pam, Mama had sprayed all those pans with oven cleaner! Of course she just started crying, but Daddy told her to start making more cornbread. Everything had to be thrown out. I guess if we had eaten it it would have been really bad. But we get a laugh out of it every year since!

We got some great pictures this year, and enjoyed catching up with everybody. I can't wait til Christmas when we do it all again!

We left Jackson and headed for Demopolis. Of course, we had to eat again! We also got to visit with my sister-in-law from Memphis and her boys. And we got to play with Jane Wiley and Austin, my Heather's brother Hess's kids.

We got home around 10:30 Thursday night. We were pooped, but looking forward to Iron Bowl festivities beginning on Friday!