Sunday, May 29, 2011

how many years? really??

We've been married 27 years - I just can't believe it. Our marriage has been a roller coaster ride - some years have been up and some down and some all around!! Mark has put up with temper tantrums and I've put up with the farm. Mark has put up with my snarky attitude at times and I've put up with his obsession with exercise. But we've made it 27 years . . .amazing!! We decided to go out to Cafe Dupont for dinner and we knew that it would be expensive so we didn't really "do" gifts this year but I wanted to have a little something for Mark. So I bought a gift bag, a package of snickers, some Cavenders and a bag of Lifesavers. I typed up some thoughts about our marriage using the candy as an illustration. The thoughts were pretty corny but who cares?

Mark came by my office that afternoon and I gave him the surprise. Now when you see the next picture, you might wonder why Laura and Anna are in the picture at our anniversary dinner. We decided to celebrate the fact that Laura just received her Master of Arts degree. She can teach anything from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade - now she just has to find a teaching job. It was a fun celebration. The food was delicious and beautiful. We enjoyed a drink and dinner and celebrated two very important events!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

How does the garden grow?

Well . . I'm not sure that we can call it a garden BUT Mark did plant four pepper plants for us this year. I love to cook using red and orange and yellow peppers but they are so expensive in the grocery store. Last year, George planted a pepper plant and shared with us a few times because he had so many peppers . . .so guess who had to plant some this year? I love peppers but I wish we could have tomatoes . . .actually, I wish we could have a whole garden with green beans and okra and corn and peas. We've tried planting tomatoes several different years - we've tried in the back yard, we've tried containers on the back porch. No luck whatsoever. But look at this pepper plant. Look at all the little "babies."

Speaking of babies . ..look really close and what do you see? A teeny tiny pepper beginning to grow. I'm so excited. Maybe we will have some success.

When I was growing up, my grandpa had an incredible garden. I remember walking down the rows and thinking it was the biggest garden ever. Of course, I was small . . . so in later years, I realized that it wasn't so ginormous BUT he did have good veggies. My granny had a closet that had nothing but her canned goods in it. She would can all sorts of things but the two that I remember the most . . .green beans and "homemade soup starter." I remember that my grandpa even had strawberries one year.

My daddy also had a garden in our backyard. It was much smaller but it was wonderful. We also had a peach tree in our yard and I remember a flavor so sweet and delicious (the peach tree was also the "switch" tree and I remember having my legs striped all the way home from down the street - of course, I was out visiting when I was supposed to be in OUR yard!!).

The first year that Mark and I were married, we were living in the little house where I grew up. We planted a garden in the same exact spot where daddy always planted. I remember we had tomatoes up til the first frost and Mark's daddy was still living and he told us to wrap the tomatoes and layer them in a Styrofoam cooler with newspaper in between. They continued to ripen and we had tomatoes all the way into November!! We also planted broccoli that fall and it was so good. There is just something "better" about vegetables picked straight from a garden.

I made my first "run" to the farmer's market last weekend. I love that place. I guess it reminds me of my grandparents and my daddy. I also bought our first watermelon yesterday (from Walmart! . . .though I have heard that Walmart is going to start purchasing local fruits and veggies which would be awesome!!). The watermelon is chillin' in the basement fridge. My daddy always said that watermelons weren't really good until the fourth of July . . .but I'm hoping this one will be delicious!

Has anyone else had good luck with gardens? Especially those who live in the city? How does your garden grow????

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Backyard Fishing

I married a man who L.O.V.E.S. to fish. His mother said that when he was a little bitty boy he would say "fish fish" even when he saw a mud puddle. Over the years, he and Glenn perfected their fishing techniques in our back yard (which has NO water). When Glenn was a young boy, he and Mark would plan their "backyard fishing show" . . .I think they even had a theme song!! They were going to be the "next big" fishing show. So now Glenn has grown up and is married and has moved four hours away but look what I saw when I looked out the window last weekend. Mark was "backyard fishing" once again. He and Glenn would practice their casting with regular rods and reels (if Mark were at home today I would ask him what they are actually called . . .casting rods?). On this day, Mark was practicing his fly fishing.

I decided to practice my "sports" setting on my camera. I was amazed at how the camera was fast enough to "catch" (no pun intended since he was "fishing") the action.

All of that whipping around of the line was actually very fast but in these photos it looks as if it was one step at a time. I did capture one photo where Mark messed up the cast . . .he said, "don't put that picture on your blog!" I'm sorry to report that no fish were caught on this day. After looking at these pictures, I realize that I MUST buy a zoom lens this summer. I thought that I would be able to use the one that I already own but it doesn't have the "anti shake" (not correct terminology) feature and I can't get a clear picture.

Here comes the bride

Mark and I drove (he actually did the driving . . .I took the medicine!!) to Huntsville last Saturday for a wedding. The groom was one of Glenn's roommates from his time at Auburn. We give thanks for the friends of Glenn and Lauren and Laura almost every night in our prayer time. They have truly been blessed with a great group of friends. The groom is attending seminary at Duke and his sweet bride is trying to decide what she is going to do next. Mark was laughing at me as we approached Huntsville. Actually, he was probably rolling his eyes . . but he was driving. I grabbed the camera when I noticed that we were approaching the rocket. I still think it is amazing that I can take a picture like this through the window of the car while moving at 70 miles an hour. Look at that sky . . .dark clouds!!!

As we were driving to Huntsville, I asked Mark, "Do you think we will see Deb at the wedding?" Deb is a United Methodist minister and we know her through the Emmaus community. We knew that she knew both the bride and groom because they were her summer interns at Urban Ministry a couple of summers ago . . when their romance blossomed (oh that sounds so incredibly corny but I'm leaving that phrase in here!!). We arrived at the church (early of course for those of you who know us!!) and walked in. A door opened and guess who walked through the door? You guessed it . .. Deb. Since we know Deb through the Emmaus community, we've only seen her in jeans and comfortable clothes. Here she stood in her "preacher's robe" . . .so of course, I had to (yes, I HAD to take her picture). She graciously agreed. Of course, I'm not sure she could have stopped me.

Our sweet daughter-in-law was the "program attendant" (that means she was handing everyone a program!!) She looked so pretty so of course, I snapped a picture of Lauren and Mark. I was so pleased when I uploaded the picture. Mark has a tendency to not smile in his pictures and this picture captured a full blown smile!!

While we were hanging out in the church lobby (I'm not sure if they call it a narthex or not!), Glenn and Levi and Kaylor showed up. Mark is happy to be with his "boys." Glenn is his son, Kaylor is his good son, Levi is his "something or other" son . . .they all have "names."

This is the inside of the sanctuary at Trinity in Huntsville. Isn't it beautiful? Someone told me this week that this sanctuary was badly damaged in a tornado several years ago. If so, they have certainly done a great job refurbishing it. It is gorgeous. You see all those pipes up front? They also had pipes at the back of the sanctuary so the sound was incredibly rich. The bride and groom served communion to all of their guests as their first "act" as a married couple. It was so special because he served his "side" and she served her "side" so it was very personal.

The reception venue was so cool. It is called The Lumberyard. They had a huge tent set up in the open space (good thing because it did rain some.) It was also incredibly cool. If I'm cold, you know it was cold. Some of those girls were freezing to death.

They had a really great band. At one point, the groom's sister and brother took over the stage and microphones. Actually, they were to sing the song for the groom's dance with his mother but the sound wasn't very good. They also sang during the wedding. All three of them (groom and siblings) are very talented.

This was the bar area. Everything was kind of fun and quirky. Lots of decorations (like the hammock and flowers).

This was so cool . . . it was the entrance to the venue. (except many of us came through the "back gate") The bride and groom and wedding party entered this way.

Each table had a different centerpiece made up of "old things." Ours had old books and old tin cans and a bowl full of marbles.

There were chandeliers in the tent . . which I thought was really cool (I need to get a thesaurus because I just noticed how many times I have used the word "cool" in this post)

Every table had an old china plate at each place setting. When you prepared your plate of food, the plates were clear plastic . . .so you could see the pretty china plate. They used the plates sort of like chargers.

This was their first dance.

I'm always the person who is snapping shots but I handed the camera to our sweet boy and he took a picture of his mom and dad.

I snapped a shot of Glenn and Mark - they are my men and I sure do love them!!

Here are a few pictures of the venue . . .there were a couple of train cars that were the "right wall" of the space.

This was the "left wall" - it was sort of like a facade . . of an old general store. They had lights on it and all sorts of fun decorations.

Lauren and Glenn came to visit at our table. We claimed a table as soon as we got there . . .sort of to the back . . .and the folks who joined us at our table were the bride's step-mother and father and the step-mother's parents. I don't know her family at all but everyone seemed to get along . . .at least for that day anyway.

We were getting ready to leave because it is a two hour drive and I needed to get back . . .and Levi was begging Mark to stay and "play." I offered to leave him with these guys if they would bring him back to Birmingham on Sunday . . .but Mark didn't stay. He is looking forward to the next wedding which is in June because we are staying in a hotel and he can stay and "play". Mark loves these guys and they all love him!This was a lovely wedding and reception and we were so honored to be included. Of course, NOTHING will ever top Glenn and Lauren's wedding but it has been so fun to go to all of these weddings over the last year and see how different each one has been.

yummy food and good friends - the best kind of evening!

I am slowly working through the pictures on my camera. . . I told someone yesterday that I don't think anyone really cares what is going on in our day to day lives but for some reason, I need to document . . .because I might forget. I would never want to forget how incredibly blessed we are. Our friends are one of our greatest blessings. Our supper club got together last Friday night and we had so much fun. We had hoped to all be together (there are six couples) but Dave's mom was sick and Dave and Kim both had to fly to Florida and I'm so glad they went because his mom died on Sunday. Our group has been through so much together.

Phella was in charge of appetizers and she made these incredible miniature cheese balls. One was feta cheese. One was Gorgonzola. I can't remember what the other one was. They were yummy!!

Here is a cute picture of Mark and Laura and Phella.

When I was a kid, I always hoped to be a part of a group like this. Of course, I didn't know about supper clubs or even entertaining. Our family didn't do that kind of stuff. I never remember having anyone over to eat at our house except extended family members. I remember going out of town with my friend, Karen and spending the night at her cousin's house and they were having a party. I was probably 12 or 13 years old at the time. I remember thinking - I want to have fun like that!

Ok - totally different subject. I have received several emails lately asking me about doing give-aways and advertising on my blog. If anyone who reads this has any advice, I would love to hear from you. Is it a good thing? Pros and Cons?

Can you believe that there were geese in our neighbor's yard?

I was out running errands on Friday (you know - the grocery store and all those kinds of errands that I try to cram into my off day!!) and as I drove back down our street I saw the most unusual sight. Look what was in our next door neighbor's yard. You can see our garage door is wide open because I pulled into the garage, ran up the steps and grabbed the camera and quickly sneaked (is that right? sneaked? snuck? Snuck couldn't be right . .) back over to the neighbor's yard. There were four adult geese and one baby and they were eating like crazy. What were they eating?. . .I don't know but they were picking at the grass constantly. The baby was really cute. I was a little bit afraid that one of the adults would try to run me off but they just kept eating as I snapped away.

I chuckled as I thought to myself, "This is the most exciting part of my day so far!!" Of course, that wasn't really true because Glenn and Lauren and Jerel had driven in from Mobile in the middle of the night and they were able to stay and eat lunch with us before they drove on to Huntsville for the wedding (pictures coming soon).

Mother's Day

I loved Mother's Day this year . . .it was such a low key and wonderful weekend. Mark was at the farm on Friday and Saturday and a funny thing happened when he was unpacking the car. He was standing in the driveway with a big gun in one hand and a chainsaw (or some other manly big piece of equipment) in his other hand and a van drove up our driveway with "two old ladies" (his words) in it. He was wondering to himself, "what in the world?" When the ladies parked the van, one of them stepped out with this gorgeous flower arrangement in her hand. Mark said that his first thought was, "OH NO someone is making me look bad." I have laughed about that whole scenario. The flowers were from Glenn and Lauren and they were indeed beautiful and lasted over a week. The container is a cute plastic lined lunch bag that I will be able to use often!! The flowers came from Norton's Florist here in town and they have been in business a long time. They did the flowers for our wedding back in 1984 and they did the flowers for Glenn and Lauren's wedding back in January.We had planned to grill steaks on Saturday night but Laura suggested that we wait until Sunday because she was going out. So for Saturday night dinner, Mark and I called in an order to the Dragon (local Chinese restaurant - in case you couldn't figure that out from the name!!) and drove to pick up take-outs and had a quiet evening at home.

On Sunday, we went to church and Sunday School and invited Meg (one of the young adults from our Tuesday night group) to come over for lunch. We grilled steaks, onions and asparagus on the grill and it was delicious. We also had baked potatoes and salad. Mark and Laura presented me with a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure and Laura had several cards for me - including one from the cat!! After lunch, I rode the stationary bike and I read for most of the afternoon. I did mix up a quadruple recipe of hashbrown casserole for the Tuesday night group but that was the most strenuous thing I did all day!

You have to understand that I've been a mother for 24 years and for each of those years, I have shared Mother's Day with my mother-in-law (whom I love very much). But each year, the day has really been about her. We have always had what she wanted for lunch and she always opened her presents after lunch. This year, she was in Delaware at my sister-in-law's house and I felt especially pampered. It is not so much that I mind sharing . . .I guess I didn't realize it until this year though . . .I don't think I've ever felt like the day was about me.

This next picture has nothing at all to do with Mother's Day . . .except for the fact that the cat was lying (once again - should that be laying?) on the deck while Mark was cooking the steaks. I walked around to the outside of the deck and snapped his photo. Isn't he a handsome kittyboy? (Yes, we know that he has pollen eye boogies . . .bless his heart . . .he has sneezed a million times this spring. How funny that a cat with allergies has come to live with a woman who is allergic to him!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Easter bunny hops on by on Saturday???

Yes, I'm running just a little behind . .. I think these are the last Easter pictures. Why do I post all of this stuff? Because I'm getting old and I might forget . . .and hopefully, this will help me remember!!!! Ok - do you remember what I gave up for Lent? Reese cups! . . .Look what the Easter bunny bought herself!! An entire Reester Bunny and I did not share. YUMMY! (I will say that I have only had a few from the candy jar at work since Easter so abstaining for that period of time was beneficial. I have also continued the discipline of reading my Bible each morning . . .I just moved right into the book of John and am reading a small portion each morning before my prayer time.)
Yes, even though my "children" are now 24 years old and my husband is much older . . .they still receive Easter baskets. For some reason, I never found the "tub" of Easter decorations in our attic this year so that means I had to buy new baskets. I found these in the $bins at Target - aren't they cute? Bunnies for Laura and Lauren.

And basketballs, etc. for Mark and Glenn. Can you see into the baskets? Everyone got a pack of seeds this year. Lauren and Glenn have planted theirs but neither Laura nor Mark have planted theirs.

We started celebrating Easter (just our immediate family) on Saturday night because when our kids were a part of the church youth group they always participated in the sunrise service. There is no way we could get up early enough to have baskets, etc. before sunrise service. This year we were blessed to have all of our kids home at Easter and so we decided to grill out. We also invited Dustin (a friend) and Grandmother and Ben (our nephew who is at Vanderbilt and was able to drive down for Easter).

We grilled regular hamburgers and Elk (yes, I said Elk) burgers. Did I eat an Elk burger? No. I ate a regular hamburger and it was quite delicious, thank you! Did the guys eat Elk burgers? I know that Glenn and Mark and Dustin ate them . . .I'm not sure about Ben. I think Lauren ate one also. She is pretty adventurous.

After everyone else left, everyone received their Easter basket. (except for this middle-aged mom who never gets an Easter basket . . .hmmmm . . . I guess the Easter bunny doesn't need a basket :-)

Aren't you impressed that they all posed and smiled for me? I think they have given up. I think they know that I'm going to take the picture whether or not they want me to or not. Another perk of being a middle-aged mom!!

It was a good Easter weekend. I enjoyed spending time with family and friends and I enjoyed worship the next morning.

Easter Sunday

We attend a fairly large church - we average about 1400 or so in worship each week and we do not have enough parking for the large number of folks who come to worship on Easter . . so we offer a shuttle service. We offered parking and shuttle service from a local city park so that is where I parked and rode to church on one of the buses. My wonderful driver was Jim. He is such a nice man!! I think it is so neat that our van drivers are church members . . .Jim has a very important job by day - saving lives . . .but is willing to drive a van on Easter Sunday.
Our church is always beautiful (to me) but on Easter Sunday it is spectacular. We have some incredibly talented folks in our congregation. The altar flowers were beautiful!!! You can't see it in this picture but that is a cross (maybe wrought iron) and those are white flowers all around and behind. I heard that the church member who was the lead flower person for Easter Sunday had been working on this idea for months. The flower committee's motto is Flowers for the glory of God.

The early service starts at 8:45 . . I took this picture at 8:30 just so you could see how crowded it was already. Look at our pew - makes me smile . . .Laura and Dona and Gary and Glenn and Lauren and her mother, Ann. I was sitting in the chair in the aisle. That is Mark in the front right corner. He was sitting on the row in front of us. We were surrounded by family and friends on Easter Sunday morning. That is such a good feeling.

The cross was draped in white. He is risen - He is risen indeed!! On Friday night during the Good Friday service of darkness, the cross is draped in black. I love walking in on Easter Sunday to a sanctuary filled with light.

We went to Mark's momma's after church and Sunday School. She had her table and dining room decorated for Easter.

There was candy in little candy dishes amongst all the decorations. The eggs right behind that candy are "blown" eggs that Mark and George (and their momma!!) made when they were little boys. Every year I am amazed that those eggs have survived another year.

She acquired these cute rabbits from a store in Nashville where our friend, Jan works.

We didn't take any pictures at the flower cross this year but I was able to snap a few before lunch. Here is a good one of Glenn and Laura and Lauren.

I think I caught Mark in mid-sentence in this one.

Let's see . . pound cake and bunny cookies and deviled eggs (I didn't make the cute chicken deviled eggs this year . . .just regular). I see black and green olives which kept disappearing way before lunch and chocolate coconut nests with jelly bean eggs.

I waited so long to post that I've forgotten what is in all these bowls. I bought a honey baked ham and Mark's mother had turkey. She made a sweet and sour green bean and artichoke dish. I did mac and cheese and oriental slaw. Of course, we had an Easter feast.

We invited Lauren's mom and brother to eat with us which was really nice because George and Alice and Grace were in Clopton so we would have had a small group otherwise. I love that we make a "big deal" on holidays. I don't always love it in the planning and cooking stage but I love that we have made many memories!!