Monday, October 31, 2011

We Have Crossed Over

It's official. We're the nuts who dress their dogs up in costume and then take photos before work on the front porch next to our pumpkin. We have crossed some sort of line and I'm pretty sure there is no going back. But really, does it matter? Have you ever seen two more tortured dogs?

If you can't tell, Pepe is a Yellow Submarine and Scout is a Squirrel. Pepe has grown a little bit since last year and looks like he's stuffed in there. Scout keeps trying to see what the thing on his head is.

We did bribe them with biscuits!

And because here's proof that Laura and Thomas have also crossed over. Which I think is extra funny because T has always given me a hard time about my dogs...

Doc and I got to dogsit on Friday and it was so much fun! Milly is so cute - she and Scout had lots of fun playing. Pepe was not a big fan. He was really hoping she wasn't here to stay. He thought we had a deal about no more puppies.

Jump on over to the sideboards tab to find a recipe for Southern Corn Chowder - perfect for a night of trick-or-treating!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Blast from the Past - Halloween 1994

As if getting your e-mail hacked one day isn't scary about this picture from 1994?

Can anyone guess who we are supposed to be? Here's a hint: Thomas is a skeleton. I am something to do with a very popular TV show and book series. Sis is the mother of a very famous King.

The person with the correct answers will be named Czar of Halloween!

(Does anyone else think my mom may be regretting making me clean out my childhood room and taking all my photos home where I can easily scan them and post to the World Wide Web for millions to see? I'm pretty sure Thomas and Sis are!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I've Been Hacked!

Thank you to all the friends and family who have reported a fake e-mail from my bellsouth account. I have not been kidnapped in Wales and do not need money (at least for that reason). Although, I would like to go to Wales and would be more than willing to take your donations to that cause!

I've changed my password and security question with Bellsouth. I have no idea how my e-mail was hacked, but I hope it doesn't happen again soon!

Thanks to Ashley for harassing the hackers - they apparently do not know the names of my dogs.

To everyone who called, texted, facebooked, and/or me or Doc - thank you! Extra thanks to Martin at Allstate Insurance for calling my mom to make sure I was okay - that is the very definition of customer service!

And while I have not been to Wales, my grandfather and uncles recently went to Scotland to play golf (does anyone else think the next trip should include grandchildren?).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Friends and BlogHer

As many of you already know, my reason for going solo to New York City last week was for a writing and publishing conference sponsor by Penguin and BlogHer. It was amazing. As someone who has become somewhat of a professional conference attendee, I can spot a good conference from a mile away. And this one was really, really good. So much so that my head was spinning by the end of the day from all my "a-ha" moments and my computer was about on fire from all my note taking.

One of the things I love most about going to conferences is the people you meet and their stories that they share. At the opening reception, I met these two wonderful ladies, Mrs. P and Wife of a Wounded Marine, who were (surprise, surprise) like me and hanging out by the food. They saw me (darn it!) spill the nice brownish mustard sauce all over the starched white table cloth and laughed.

I knew then we’d be fast friends. Mrs. P even encouraged me to dip my (overcooked) chicken in the brownish mustard sauce. I did. It did not help the chicken.

Anyway, Mrs. P and Karie were already “online friends” but had just met for the first time in-person at the reception. Both are widows of husbands who have died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both are around my age. And we were just a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks just a few weeks after the 10th anniversary. And all that blew my mind just a little.

Then we discussed the merits of wine and what we hoped to see in NYC and I showed them the goofy masks I’d just bought at the American Folk Art Museum. We tried them on and laughed at how ridiculous we looked. (We also made Mrs. P’s boyfriend try on one. I’ll let her post that picture. I don’t mess with Marines)! And we laughed some more. And they may have laughed at the way I talk.

But here’s the thing, Mrs. P and Karie didn’t let the terrible, awful, can’t-even-begin-to-imagine tragedy that happened to them define them. That they are both widows decades too early was definitely a part of them, it would be impossible for it to not be, but neither of them had a “woe-is-me” attitude. In fact, we'd been talking for quite some time before it came out that they knew each other through the online world of military widows (isn’t it so sad that there is one of those?).

I’m continually amazed at the people I know who have the ability to face great tragedy with grace, humor and courage. I always think of two quotes that I find so inspirational.  Plato’s quote: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle and the verse in John 16:22 “Suddenly your grief will turn to joy when you see me again.”

You can find out more about their stories on their blogs (linked to above) And I believe they are both working on books so be on the look out for that sometime in the future (not to put pressure on you two or anything!).

Countdown is On

Can you believe that yesterday was exactly TWO months to Christmas? Now, there are some people (ahem, Net) that really do not get into the spirit of Christmas. At all. Whose first thought at a Christmas tree is something like Ebenezer Scrooge's, "Bah humbug!"

But, unlike my endearing grandmamma, I LOVE Christmas. What’s not to love? Christmas parties (hopefully with fairy houses), Christmas cookies, Christmas lights, Christmas trees, It’s a Wonderful Life, and, well, you get the picture. And Halloween is the first major day to the Christmas countdown.

While I’m a firm believer in not decorating for Christmas until the turkey is good and cold and made into yummy sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving, I did do a little shopping last week in New York.

Enter in, this beautiful miniature snow globe and a Big Apple ornament:

Countdown to Christmas: 59 days, 17 hours, 59 minutes and 3 seconds

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

She Likes Cheese!

Elizabeth Magee just continues to impress her Aunt Sis. Yesterday, Sis sent me a picture of EM getting her first taste of cheese. And she loved it!

Are you surprised?

If you've made the mistake of trying to take a block of cheese away from her mama or Aunt Sis, you're not surprised at all. I have several friends who blame me for their addiction to cheese. Specifically, Cabot Vermont Extra Sharp Cheddar. For years, Mama Jean and Papa Carrel gave their "mice" a five pound block of cheddar cheese for Christmas. Still one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received!

What I Did in NYC

1. I had a great cup of coffee and inhaled an amazing cinnamon roll at the picturesque Two Little Red Hens bakery on the Upper East Side and seriously debated whether or not I could manage a box full of cupcakes and cookies on the way home. I decided against it.

2. Fraunces Tavern - I love any historical building and to think that George Washington bade farewell to the Continental Army in this very tavern made my glass of wine taste even better. It's so amazing to see something so old next to huge, modern skyscrapers. It's not that far from the 9/ll Memorial and just a few streets over from Wall Street. If you eat there, they'll give you a free pass to the museum upstairs (the guy working the museum desk was also kind enough to charge my phone for me while I walked around the museum!).

3. I loved wandering around Greenwich Village and loved seeing the Friends building. It's at the corner of Bedford and Grove and there's a little restaurant in the bottom of it - it's not nearly as cute as Central Perk though! I also saw the home of the Huxtable's at 10 Leory/10 St. Luke's.

4. Columbus Circle - As far as atmosphere goes, this area was one of my favorites. I had a great piece of pizza at Francesco's Pizzeria on Columbus Avenue between 68th and 69th Streets after the Millionaire taping. The Museum of American Folk Art, Julliard School and Lincoln Center are all in the area.

5. Trinity Church and St. Paul's Church - Once again such beautiful old buildings in the middle of Lower Manhattan really stood out. George Washington's presidential pew is at St. Paul's church (Trinity had burned and wasn't rebuilt until 1790) along with memorials from 9/11. It was definitely a miracle that the church survived without major damage and housed rescue workers for over a year. Alexander Hamilton is buried at Trinity.

6. Museum of American Folk Art Gift Store - This museum had the best gift store (and the best prices) of any I went it. The 9/11 National Tribute Quilt is made up of 3-inch squares each with a name of a person who died in the 9/ll attacks. The squares made up a photo of the New York skyline.

7. Watch a show - or stalk Reggis - I did both! After waiting in line for over two hours, I found out that for those of us in the standby line for Reggis & Kelley (I was No. 14) were not getting in. There was lots of bonding in the line and I had a great conversation with some Memphis people. Even though none of us got in, we did see Reggis walking from his apartment building across the street to the studio. Fortunately, one of the assistants for Meredith Vierra's Who Wants to be a Millionaire show came by  with tickets to her show ad I was so glad I went!

8. Wander around Central Park - This place is huge! On Saturday morning every street was chalk full of runners. There are two ice skating rinks that weren't open yet but looked like so much fun. Just a warning for the wise though, the Cheese and Crackers House doesn't serve cheese or crackers. It's just a name for a visiting center. That was very disappointing!

9. Ride the subway - The best part of this was people watching. Here's a hint: If you find yourself unsure of where you are, it's better to ride the thing all the way up or all the way down. You may (or may not) find yourself in a very diverse situation! To navigate your way around just remember if you are going Uptown or Downtown and then East or West (divided by 5th Av). Also, all subways are on avenues (which run north and south). The Express train will get you there faster than the Local.

10. FAO Schwartz - This is your chance to be kid in an amazing toy store. Slide across the piano from Big (like Tom Hanks), design your own Muppet in the Muppet factory and make your teeth ache looking at all the candy.

I loved New York City but was so glad to get home!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Millionaire and Meredith

Fast. New York is fast. The people walk fast. They talk fast. They even eat fast while talking fast on (at least one) cell phone while at the same time walking fast as all get out to some place that must be on fire.

It's also a lot of fun and there is a ton of things to do. I’ve seen and done so much fun stuff (and can’t wait to share it will ya’ll once I get back to real life!), but one of the neatest things I did yesterday was to participate in Millionaire’s live, studio audience. I very much admire Meredith Vieira, and after I read her husband’s book “Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness A Reluctant Memoir” it made me like her even more.

When Meredith first came out, she welcomed the audience and if you heard her voice you'd definitely say she's from New York, but as soon as the cameras started rolling, her voice changed to what you hear on TV. I was very impressed (and can think of a few politicians who may should find out the name of her dialect coach!).

The studio is at 30 West 67th Street (near the corner of 86th and Columbus Av). That morning they were filming three shows because Meredith was going to be in Mary Poppins that night. It moved quickly and was so entertaining. I thought I was going to leave after the first show but ended up staying for the whole thing. The three shows will air in January and May 2012.

The audience took a 30-question quiz and then, after the filming wrapped up, the top five or six people were asked to audition to be on the show (I was not one them!). It was fun and much easier to get into than shows like Reggis & Kelly (which was, sadly, booked).

And one last bit of random knowledge, the studio is the same one as the famous presidential debate between Nixon and JFK that proved how important television would come in politics. A poll after the debate showed that those who listened to it on the radio thought Nixon had done better but those who watched it on TV thought that JFK had done better. Maybe that will be on a trivia show one day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting Lost in Bloomingdales

Did you know before it was known as the Big Apple, New York City was nicknamed the Big Onion because you could peel off layer after layer and never get to the core?

No? Well, I didn't either before starting to plan this almost-last-minute trip to the Big Onion Apple. It's one of the nifty bits of information I've gleaned from A Thousand Places to See Before You Die.

I've been singing this song all week: I'm leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again. Because I'm leaving this morning (yay!) for New York City. And, Lord be willin', I'll be back on Saturday night. So I really do know, but that wouldn't make a very good song, now would it?

So far, this trip has one main goal: Don't get lost in Bloomingdales.

Why not, you might ask?

Well, because the one time I've been to NYC was about 12 years ago. And guess what? Sis and I got lost in Bloomingdales. This was before the days of cell phones in the hands of every teenager and we were a wee bit excited about being turned loose in the BIG CITY and didn't really pay attention to the sunglasses stand where we were supposed to met Mom, Dad and Thomas in exactly one hour.

Guess how many sunglasses stands there are in Bloomingdales?
I have no idea and I really had no idea 15 years ago.

Guess what it takes to make the department store people page the entire Bloomingdales department store?
One distraught mama.

After they paged us over the loud speaker (think: would the two girls from Mississippi please report to lost and found on the balcony level). At this point I get very excited because we've been "rescued" but Sis gets real annoyed that we are going to look like tourists and doesn't want to rush over there so no one will know we are the "lost girls from Mississippi." We found our way to our family. And Thomas made friends with a little old lady who didn't know how to drive a car and had never heard of anyone having a pet duck. I think they both made quite an impression on each other!

Later that afternoon on the subway.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Boo!

The first year we lived in our neighborhood I noticed so many houses had a little white ghost taped on the front door with a sign that said "We've been booed." The next year I came home one day to find one on my door along with the following note.


The air is cool, the season fall,
Soon Halloween will come to all.
Ghosts and goblins, spooks galore...
Tricky witches at your door.

The spooks are after things to do,
In fact a spook brought this "Boo" to you

The excitement comes when friends like you,
Copy this note and make it two.

We'll all have smiles upon our faces,
No one will know who "BOO"ed who's places!

Just two short days to work your spell,
Keep it secret and hide it well.

Please join the fun, the seasons here,
To spread these "BOO's" and some Halloween cheer.


* Enjoy your treat.
* Make 2 copies of the BOO and also of this note.
* Place the BOO ghost on your front door.
* You have 48 hours to make 2 treats and secretly deliver them to 2 neighbors.
* Watch how far this spreads by Halloween.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wine Cork Trivet

Is it just me or does the cooler weather make anyone else feel crafty? That should actually be the promise of cooler weather because its been close to 90 degrees every day here!

Anyway, if, like me, you have an embarrassingly big collection of wine corks this is an easy craft that took less than half an hour. I began by having Doc cut a piece of scrap wood to a 7 inch by 7 inch square. (If you don't have a saw, you can always ask the guys at the lumber store to cut it to the size you need).

You wouldn't have to paint it, but I had just used the wood to mix some paint colors to get orange.

Using a glue gun, lay the corks in a pattern and glue them down. I did two horizontical corks and then two vertical corks.

After I finished I put a heavy pot on top and left it over night just to secure the corks in place.

I really should have painted the edges so it doesn't look unfinished - I may go back and do that!

And this is totally off subject, but I saw it on a friend's Facebook wall last week and thought it was so funny - and so true!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Footloose and Fancy Free

DeeDee and I went to see the new Footloose movie yesterday afternoon. It's been a long time since I've watched the original with Kevin Bacon. Usually, re-dos aren't that great but I thought this one was pretty good. There was a good mix of drama and humor (mainly coming from country-boy Willard played by Miles Tellar who learns how to dance wearing camo and overalls).  The two main characters Ren (played by Kenny Wormald) and Arial (played by Julianne Hough) were great as well. And Dennis Quad (plays Arial's dad) is always nice to see! Overall, if you don't leave the movie wanting to dance, something may be wrong with you.

1984 Movie Trailer:

2011 Movie Trailer:

We did leave the movie wanting to dance but since our other-halves were busy with work and studying, we went shopping! I got this purse at Target for $25.

On Sunday's agenda are church, walking, grocery shopping, Witt's baseball game and getting ready for my trip to New York City! I leave bright and early Wednesday morning!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Point Clear, Alabama

I attended the annual Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF) Conference was at The Grand in Point Clear, Alabama. Point Clear is a darling little town about 30 minutes from Mobile. The Grand is a historic resort that's been around since the 1840s. Here are some photos of an early morning walk along the boardwalk. This was my second trip to The Grand but the first time to stay at the resort. Ryan had a friend get married here after pharmacy school and we put it on our "one day when we have money to stay at nice places" list!

Back at The Grand