Friday, July 31, 2015

Fourth of July in the Preserve

We've always been out of town on the fourth of July and last year was our first year in the new neighborhood and we missed all the festivities.  This year,e were right in the middle of everything. When the neighborhood email arrived in my inbox, I signed us up for jobs.  I signed up for the photo booth and I signed Mark up to be a pie judge. Perfect jobs for us, right?
So, it rained on the fourth. Lots of rain. But it stopped right around the time for me to set up . . but the humidity must have been 99.8% - I was dripping!
So this is how the inside of the town hall was decorated. We have a nice town hall!
One of the events is a parade - you can decorate your bikes, trikes, golf carts, little bitty cars - anything you want and they drive around the neighborhood.

Look at the decorations on this golf cart - they have fringe on top!!!!

I didn't think I could post any pictures of the children that I snapped that day so I pulled one cute couple and my own young un!
I made props like crowns and bow ties. The girl in charge of the event dropped off some shakers. I had hats from the dollar tree and the curtains came from Amazon.  I think I want to volunteer again for next year because I want to improve on my booth.  I only had a short time to get ready this year.
Here is a picture of Laura and her friend, Josh.

I was hoping to meet lots of neighbors and I guess I did.  I sometimes amaze myself at what an introvert I become in a social setting where I don't know others.  Mark met quite a few folks but I didn't do so well.
Last year, they had LOTS of entries in the baking contests.  This year, not so much. There were four pies and let me go ahead and tell you that the winning pie was Jim Beam Banana Cream.  After the judges sampled and scored each pie, the committee cut the pies into small pieces and served them to the crowd.

The Hoover Fire Department is great about bringing the fire truck to an event where there are kids.  Two of the firefighters were "pressed into duty" to assist with the judging.  Mark really enjoyed getting to judge with our neighbor, Sarah. (Mark is in the orange shirt - Sarah is to his right)

They were sampling one pie at this point and the meringue separated from the pie and stuck to their forks.  I'm sure it was tasty anyway.

They ended up judging not only the pies but the homemade ice cream as well.  The Bananas Foster ice cream (I think it had Brandy in it) was the hands down winner.

It was a fun day.  I worked the Halloween party and the Fourth of July party.  I've met a few more neighbors.
Our neighborhood has some really cool events for families! This normal extrovert has just got to overcome her closet introvert and start talking (I know that all of you who know me well are laughing at this thought!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The third of July . . .yes, the third!

This year, the fourth fell on a Saturday so most of us were off on Friday.  Mollie and Roger graciously invited us to spend the day with them at their lake house on lake Mitchell.  What is it about the water lapping against the pier and the breeze blowing across the water?  I immediately feel as if God is washing me clean - every time!!  I hate that I need to be washed so often - but heck, I do.

So . . .the day was a little cloudy but the water wasn't crowded because obviously EVERY one else planned to celebrate on Saturday!

Mollie and Roger have a screen porch and deck up on top of the boathouse and Mark and I spent a good bit of time up there this year.

As a matter of fact, this year was a first.  NEITHER Mark nor I ever put on our bathing suits.  We love the water and the sun so that is really unusual for us.  We rested in the rockers - like old people - and it was nice.  I've been tired lately and it was good to just sit for a few moments.

We had a smaller crowd than some years.  Our kids were unable to attend and Nathan was on call and David and his family were out of town.  Even though we missed all those who couldn't be with us, it was still "just right." We ate, we talked, we laughed, we visited . .. we repeated!

When we first started going to the lake for the fourth (or third this year!), our children were the young ones . . .Nancy is holding Charis (Charis will be starting her sophomore year in college in just a few weeks) - David, on the sea doo, is now the daddy of three children;

so many memories - so much fun!

And now . . .NOW . . . there is a new generation of babies.  I can't even wrap my mind around the fact that the years just fly by!

Isn't she a doll???

Even though Mark and I didn't play in the water this year, lots of folks did!

It was such a good day with family.

Wednesday Hodge Podge

Join us over at "From This Side of the Pond" and answer today's questions:

1.  I recently read here about four secrets to happiness from around the world. They were-
Overcome your fears by facing them head on, allow yourself to relax and reset, work to live versus living to work, and find the good in life. Not sure if these are the actual secret to happiness, but which of the four do you struggle with most? Which one comes most easily to you?
I think finding the good in life comes most easily to me.  I am a glass “full” person – I am always looking for the good in situations and it sometimes drives my family nuts.  I’m not sure about overcoming my fears by facing them head on – I do that with some things but not everything.  I’m going to be thinking about that statement for days!!  I would love to relax more often but I have a tendency to think I need to be “doing something” . . . I would love to curl up with a good book for a few days . .. or go to the beach and literally lie down on one of those blue cushioned beach chairs . . .and not move for a few days.  I think those four items probably do make for a happier life.

2. How would you spend a found $20 bill today?  Our office is providing lunch for Urban Kids tomorrow and I signed up for carrots and dip for 30 people.  I think I would go to the store and use that $20 to buy those items! Or, I’m meeting my best friend for lunch in a little while and I could offer to buy her lunch! I have no cash – I would actually be happy with $1.25 for the pepsi machine 

3. Ego trip, power trip, guilt trip, round trip, trip the light fantastic, or trip over your own two feet...which 'trip' have you experienced or dealt with most recently? Explain. About ten minutes ago, I was walking down the hall to the bathroom and I did one of those two step trip over my own two feet things . .. you know the kind? You don’t want anyone to realize that you somehow tripped over your own feet so you act like nothing happened!! I also drove my son and daughter-in-love to the airport this morning for a round trip flight – they are taking a delayed five year honeymoon to Cancun.

4. If you could master any physical skill in the world what would it be, and how would you use that skill? That is a very hard question. Wow – would I want to be able to run long distances and compete in marathons (and be skinny as a result??)? or would I want to know how to design and build houses and do that for the poor?  Since I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer this question, I googled “What are physical skills?” Here is the answer: There are ten recognized general physical skills. They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, speed, balance and accuracy. Thinking about the question that way – I guess I would need more stamina to keep up with all of my young co-workers (though I think I do a pretty good job!).

5. As July draws to a close, let's take inventory of our summer fun. Since the official first day of (North American) summer (June 20th) have you...been swimming? enjoyed an ice cream cone? seen a summer blockbuster? camped? eaten corn on the cob? gardened? deliberately unplugged? watched a ballgame? picked fruit off the vine? taken a road trip? read a book?  Are any of these activities on your must-do-before-summer-ends list? I have been swimming; enjoyed and ice cream cone; eaten corn on the cob; watched a ballgame; taken a road trip and I have read a book (kindle). I’ve also eaten watermelon and peaches and celebrated a birthday! I just can’t believe that summer is almost over.  School starts back really early in Alabama and once school starts, summer is over – even for those of us who don’t have school aged children.

6. The Republican Presidential candidates will debate on August 6th. What's your question? Can you please fix our country?  I’m not sure what we need but we need something. We’ve made a mess.

7. What's your most listened to song so far this summer? This is embarrassing.  I have listened to very little music this summer.  My husband tends to listen to his playlist quite often so I’ve heard his music. My most “listened to” would be the things that we have sung in church. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here. Remember a week or so ago and we had the question about air mail, etc.?  I received an envelope this last weekend and it was sent airmail!!  I had written to the fan club/agent’s office for Colin Firth and requested an autographed picture for my mother-in-law’s birthday. It arrived a week after her birthday and was a fun surprise!!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Come on over and sit a spell!

Since I work in a church, we don't close the office for lunch.  We either pick up take outs or we bring our lunch and we all sit around in a big (or small) circle and eat together and chat.  We stop and work when necessary.

While we were eating today, Suzanne said, "how about if we all go out to eat one night and then come over to your house for a tour!"  I said, "come on over!"  Jessica said that we could have drinks on the veranda.  We could certainly do that because our house has lots of porches!  Come on and I'll show you!

We have a front porch that wraps around one side.  The table is pushed up against the wall right now but we slide it out when we are eating around it.  One night last summer, after I went to sleep, Mark went online and ordered all this front porch furniture!  He had always wanted teak outdoor furniture and he now owns some.  There is a nice breeze that blows through most times and we are going to have a ceiling fan installed about the table (hopefully soon!).  Lanterns are from target - they were some other color originally and I painted them red.  Chair cushions are from At Home.

This is the front porch "proper."  When no one is eating at the table, we use the arm chairs that belong to the table on this part of the porch.  Mark also ordered the little teak table to go between these chairs.  It is kind of a "thing" in our neighborhood to have lamps on all of the porches.  We've been in our house over a year and finally got smart enough a few weeks ago to put all the outside lamps on timers!! I made the wreath to use for Amy Patterson's baby shower. I decided that I liked the blue and green combo so I found a great lamp and some throw pillows at At Home.

We also have two hibiscus plants and two ferns on the porch (not pictured).

This is our screened in porch that is on the side of the house.  This porch will connect to our soon to be completed courtyard.  They should finish building the house next door soon and after that, we can have our courtyard gates installed and some landscaping done.  This porch is also the walkway between the garage and the house.  We picked out the tile at Southeastern Salvage and had it installed both inside the porch and on the patio portion outside.  Our son, Glenn, made the bar for me for Christmas.  I've recently done some decorating on it.  Too bad I don't have the picture with the new stuff on top!  These wicker rockers came from Garden Ridge (now At Home).  The wooden rocker is the rocker that Mark had in his apartment back in Gadsden - right out of college.  I used that rocking chair to rock my babies!!  It was a natural color and I spray painted it to match the others.  There is a little wicker table between the wooden rocker and the wicker rocker.  It used to be white and is actually a little two drawer chest.  It was a part of some kitchen furniture that we used to have.  I spray painted it to match also.  If you look closely, you can see some items on the shelf of the bar.  There is a cool reclaimed wooden box that Mark picked up at Southeastern Salvage (can you see a shopping theme??).  There is also one of those giant margarita glasses that I bought to serve salsa in (not what you were thinking!!) and it is full of Mark's beer caps.  He gets a beer out of the fridge in the garage; walks by the bar and pops the top off on the opener mounted on the front; throws the cap in the bowl!

We want to have a couple of ceiling fans installed on this porch.  We need a breeze!  I love to sit out here in the morning.  I've been known to slip out there even in my jammies.

At the bottom of the picture, you see the tail of our sweet kitty!

This is our upstairs porch.  You enter this porch from our loft living space.

These four chairs are from pottery barn and they are really comfortable.  We have a great story about these chairs.  If we are ever with you and you haven't heard it . . .we need to tell you.  I think it would lose something in typing it.

You can't tell but the little tables between the chairs are wooden fish.  They are like these at Amazon. We repurposed the little lamp (far table) from one of the kid's rooms, I think!  The white fish plate on the stand was a gift at some point from a friend and it just works on the porch!

We want to have two ceiling fans installed on this porch, too.

 I have a big "E" on the door and it is painted in the blue and green colors like the downstairs porch.  This porch is also on the front of the house so the two porches need to sort of match.  I would like to do some more decorating on all of the porches but can only do a little at a time!!  I think it would be fun to have some outdoor rugs for color and maybe a few pictures - especially on the screened in porch.

Did you notice our shutters?  They are actually working shutters so if we ever had a big enough storm, we could close them if we needed to do so!

We have porches and chairs galore and would love for you to come visit and sit a spell.  We can fix a glass of sweet tea for you or something stronger!  We can talk long into the night and swat away the mosquitoes.  We can solve all the problems of the world . . .sitting on the porch!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

These Are a Few of Her Favorite Things!

This post is photo overload - you have been warned.  If you proceed, do so knowing that this post is special to me and I'm writing about it so that we will always remember!!

Saturday was the birthday of a very special person.  My mother-in-law's birthday was on Saturday.  She made me promise years ago that I would never be a part of a surprise party for her.  We didn't surprise her.  We told her!  We even gave her options and she chose to spend her special day with family.  Family is ONE of her favorite things!

The first stop of the night was at the Bright Star - a landmark in town.  This restaurant has been in business and owned by the same family longer than any other in the state of Alabama.  We dined at the restaurant of her choice!! 

Laura and Lauren arrived early with balloons and table decorations (and we have no photos!!)

Our friends, Hayden and Jan, were the only non family members who joined us and they were our houseguests from out of state.  We think of them as family!  Jan very graciously went around the table at the restaurant and took a picture of everyone.

Our handsome son and his lovely wife . . .

"uncle" Nathan (really a cousin) and our beautiful daughter

cousins - Kim and Bill

Mark's brother and his wife

the two Susies

Mark's twin brother, wife and daughter

and the two of us . . .and we have no picture of Hayden and Jan!  I will say that I was not at "my best" on Saturday night.  I had been sick on Friday night and was still not quite up to my normal self.

After dinner, we rushed back to our house because we had invited everyone over for dessert.  Here is where we had a tiny element of surprise.  Two of my sister-in-laws and I texted back and forth for weeks coming up with our theme and decorations.  Our theme was "A Few of Her Favorite Things."  My niece made a slide show of pictures and the music was that very song from Sound of Music.  We had the slide show playing on the tv.

So what are a few of her favorite things?
Unsweet (yes, you read that correctly) - unsweet tea (which was poured into that wonderful beverage dispenser . . .I dropped mine on Saturday morning and broke it!!)

She loves shopping - especially at Talbots.  Alice made flower arrangements in moss purses and they were draped with "ribbon" - a roll of stickers from Talbots (they gave my sister-in-law all sorts of fun decorations when she told them what we were doing!!).

She LOVES flowers and faithfully served on the flower committee as the original chairperson for years and years. (see the little red hanger? Talbots!!)

No party is complete without a banner and paper chains!!

She loves caramel cake so we served 8 dozen baby bites!! I put out a plea on facebook to our church friends and asked to borrow cake stands - they all just magically appeared in my office.  What in the world do we do without friends - especially church friends??

We had pictures of her at various stages of life.

She loves nuts so we served almonds and praline pecans.  She loves jelly bellies so we served those.

She loves mystery novels so we had those interspersed throughout the decorations and she also loves movies . . .especially movies with Colin Firth.  He just happened to pay a visit for this special party!  Most all of the ladies had their picture taken with him - even George had his picture taken with him (but I don't have a copy!!)

I love this one of mother and daughter with Colin!

My sweet mother-in-law is on the left and her sister-in-law is on the right.  If I were to tell you how old they are, they might not (they WOULD not) be happy!

Aren't they pretty?  They are southern belles - through and through - college educated; smart; articulate; well read; well loved; deep faith ladies.

Happy birthday Grandmother (that is what I call her along with my kids!! - never have been able to call her anything else!!).  I'm glad that YOU are one of our favorite things.  Thank you for making our lives better.  Thank you for loving us!  Thank you for being YOU!