Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Little Mortified...

There has been a good bit of activity in life since I posted.

First, you will remember my car battery dying on me at the gas pump and how I replaced the battery. What I failed to mention was that from the moment the new battery was installed, my car developed a little hiccup. When moving out of first into second gear, it gave a little jump. I didn’t think much about it, but when it kept it up, I thought it best that I maybe didn’t drive it.

So, my dad allowed me the use of his little red pickup truck and my car sat. I was letting it sit until the 15th of December, because I was holding out all sorts of hope of receiving a Christmas bonus.

Didn’t happen. Not even a Jelly of the Month Club membership (name that movie)

So, after the 15th, I took my car to a very reputable repair guy in Hermitage, Tennessee who took a look at it and told me he was afraid it might be my transmission.

Ick.

So, I drove it over to Transmission Masters in LaVergne and left it overnight for them to take a look at it too. I stressed to them that this was a problem that had not occurred until AFTER the new battery was replaced. They had worked on a couple of different cars that my little brother had and I made sure that they knew how much he BRAGGED about the great work they did for him.

They called me the next morning with the news that it was NOT my transmission. As far as they could tell, it had something to do with the electrical system and/or car computer. AND, they were such stand up kinda fellows (and I BRAGGED about them so much) that they didn’t charge me anything to test out my car.

On a side note: where the heck is the computer in my car? Is there just a reboot button somewhere that I can find and save myself the trouble?

Since I had been waiting to purchase Christmas gifts to see if there would be a bonus, and that had not come through, I was faced with the notion that I would have to either (1) take my car to the dealer and not purchase Christmas gifts for anyone, or (2) keep driving the little red truck, purchase fewer Christmas gifts than in years past and take my car in after the first of the year.

I went with option two.

I am very, very grateful that my father has allowed me the use of the truck. What I forgot to realize was that there is a little magnetic side on the driver door of Dad’s pickup. It’s got a picture of a poodle and it has the words: I “heart” my Poodle on it.


I’ve been driving around town with this little signage for all the world to see. I don’t really heart my Dad’s poodle. I tolerate him. My father LOVES him though… and that is the most important part.

I hit the drive thru for breakfast this morning. When I pulled up to the window, the lady there started oooooing and ahhhhing over the decal on the door. I had to explain I was in my father’s truck because, well, I am just not one for car d├ęcor (UK allegiance does not count) and I’m not really hearting the poodle.

But, I am grateful. I will remain grateful whilst driving the red pickup around town.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Made Pie!!!

I made apple pie last night. I made it myself. I made it from scratch. I want to eat it. Now.

But I have to wait. If it is a success... I will make more. But for now, here's the fun stuff:

First: Start with a cookbook that was your mother's when she was first married. It will be more than 56 years old by the time you get your grubby hands on it. But that's okay... by the look of it, grubby hands have been on it for, well, 56 years!








Make your pie crust. It is fun! You will learn you really want a pastry cutter while you are making the pie crust. But you don't have one. So, you will use a potato masher instead. It will work almost as well. I could have done the whole "use a couple knives" trick... but this seemed less headachy.

Stick that crust in the fridge to let it set and it will be easier to work with.





When you roll the crust out here at Casa de Bell... you will quickly learn two things:

1. You will want a bigger cutting board to work with...

2. You will want a larger rolling pin. It is hard to use a seven inch rolling pin to spread out a 10 inch pie crust. Just sayin...

But Loooook.... see how pretty it turns out? It ALMOST reaches the edge of the pie plate. Almost. I didn't let it get to the edge on purpose. I didn't want to appear snooty and perfect or anything. That would just make my doorbell constantly buzz with all the men who will want me forever. Who wants that kind of headache?

Oh wait. That might be me. Nevermind.




This is what the apples look like when they are all cut up and covered in goodness. I know some of you out there (the three people who read my blog) are surprised and perhaps dismayed that the apples are not cut into perfect slices. Let me refer you to the note above about my need to distance myself from perfection for the sake of all mankind.

Then, let me explain that I really prefer the smaller bites of apple in my pie. I want to fork it up... I don't want to have to cut into a piece of pie. It's just my way of doing things. Hope you don't mind.




The wonderful goodness covering the apples? Well, that would be sugar, flour, cinnamom and nutmeg.

One word: Yum. With a capital Y!!!

It really works best if you get your hands in the mix. Seriously. Because you know the apples are fully coated with goodness.

Please pay no attention to my lack of manicure. I completely FORGOT about a nail appointment this week. Let's blame that on the fact that I comPLETEly didn't start my Christmas shopping until Monday.


Before it goes into the oven... it looks a little like this:



This is what the pie looks like at about 30 minutes into the baking process. I know... I KNOW... I am NOT supposed to open the oven door upon pain of DEATH. But I had to sneak a peek... it's Christmas for goodness' sake!!



This is what it looks like after it is out of the oven...



This is what will make you drool. If I make it to Christmas Eve dinner without slicing into this... it will be the new miracle of Christmas!


Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Pioneer Woman in NashVegas!!


So, my friend Mary and I pre-determined that we would attend the booksigning when Ree Drummond came to Nashville on her book tour for The Pioneer Woman Cooks. We went to Davis-Kidd Bookstore with a few hundred of our closest friends (that we've never met). Having read past accounts of the amount of wait time, we planned ahead and were prepared.

Comfy shoes? Check.

Early arrival? Check.

Turkey and cheese sandwiches? Check.

We had it all!

We pre-purchased the book and were located in Group 8. There were tickets that were given out and they were bunched in groups of 25 people. We knew we would have quite the wait. But, that was okay. It gave Mary and I a chance to catch up, so that was a wonderful blessing.

We covered a wide range of topics before the hum of hundreds of voices around us grew. Then we were instructed to get in line.

We made new friends around us. Martha was a lovely lady who was just a bright and cheerful mother. She looks GREAT in purple too! Her husband was wandering around the mall and would check in with her every so often. He was a nice fella.

There was a guy in line with us who wins Best Brother Award hands down. His sister is a big fan, but lives in North Carolina. The brother stood in line with us for a couple of hours to get a book for his sister. We're thinking she's gonna owe him big time for a while!

There was another lady there who was passing out free fabric bags as part of a study and to encourage people to use the bags instead of plastic or paper. So, I got a bag out of the deal, and I think its rather pretty.

Finally, PW appeared and spoke a few brief words to the crowd, and then the signing began. Here are a few pictures of the evening:

Here's the Pioneer Woman addressing the crowd. See that lady in the background with the camera? That is Betsy, Pioneer Woman's sister. She was snapping pictures... and so I got one of her!!



Here is a closer picture of Betsy and Hyacinth, good friend of PW... and bearer of a great name.



I took this picture because I was secretly coveting PW's boots. (I was secretly coveting her camera too... but I thought I would expound only on one vice at a time). I wanted to wear my boots, but I knew they did not fall into the comfy shoe category.


Look! We're getting closer!



This girl was cute. She had a shirt on that said "Look Mom! It's PW" with an arrow pointing to Ree. Fun!

Here's the recipient of the Best Brother Award:




Here is a picture of sweet Martha:



Finally... it was out turn. Here's me:

Here's Mary.
Thanks Mary! It was a great time and the sandwiches hit the spot at just the right time!
The line started off a little slow, but we really only had to stand for two hours... so that wasn't too bad.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Paying It Forward



Apparently, this week's postings will be all about automotive issues, traffic, cars, silly people in my hometown. The usual.

I got up this morning and was heading to church. I started my car so it would warm up, because it was like 28 degrees or so, and I wanted a nice and toasty warm car in which to travel.

The problem was, I had very little gas. Very little. The needle was just barely above the empty line.

But, no problem. I had plenty of time to stop and get gas before getting to church. So, I bopped on over to the gas station and filled my happy little car right up. Then, I put the key back in the car aannnnnddd... nothing.

It wouldn't start.

It wouldn't even try very hard.

Uh-oh. This can't be good. PLUS... I am stuck at the gas pump.

About this time, I was reminded that approximately eight months ago the dealership that did my oil changes told me I needed a new battery. I didn't believe him. Mostly because they always liked to get me to give them more money than I wanted to every time I came in... and also because I never had any problem starting my car.

About a month ago, I took my car to the Valvoline Instant Oil Change in Smyrna on Sam Ridley Parkway. I did this because I didn't want to drive all the way to the Boro... and since my car was past the warranty, I was going to have to pay for the oil change any way.

The guys at the Valvoline place were really nice. I needed new wiper blades and they took care of that for me. They chatted with me and my time there went by very well. I asked them to check my battery... just to validate my opinion that the dealership was trying to get my money. They told me that it was a little low, but that it should last me for a good while longer. So... I drove my happy self on away and thought that this would be a place I would have no problem taking my car back to for general maintenance sort of things.

Nice, competent people/businesses will get my business every time.

The good thing for me was that I was just a building away from the Valvoline Oil Change place. I told the attendant what had happened and that I was going to walk across the parking lot to see if someone could help me.

When I got there, I realized they were not open yet. However, the guy that helped me before was sitting in his car in the parking lot. He was waiting on the manager to come and open the store at 11. (It was about 10:35). I told him what the problem was and that he had helped me before. I asked if he had any jumper cables and he did. So, he drove his car over and jumped my car off.

He was so nice. I told him I didn't have any cash with me, but I was going to run by the bank and bring him something for going to the trouble of helping me. He refused and said that he was happy to do it and maybe sometime I could bring a box of doughnuts or something. That would be sufficient.

I called my brother who told me to take the car to AutoZone and they would change out the battery for me. They did and my car is running really nicely right now.

But I wanted to do something for the guys who had been so nice. I thought doughnuts were a little puny for a bunch of big mechanic kind of guys... so I went to Bar B Cutie and told them how many people I needed to feed. Then I drove my happy car that now smelled of BBQ back to the Valvoline place and got out of my car.

My helper (who I am embarassed to say, I did not get his name) came out of the bay with another fellow and I said, "I decided against doughnuts, I hope you don't mind".

He was like... what have you got?

BBQ

You really didn't have to do that.

Yes, I did. Merry Christmas.

The look on his face was priceless.

I don't have a lot of money this Christmas... and I have less now that I have a new car battery. But some things are worth more than the money. Paying a kindness with a blessing works for me.

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Seriously?...


As I continue on my little rant from the other day (the day I was a first responder after a not-so-intelligent fellow flipped his motorcycle) let me first preface this rant by saying I am guilty of this offense.


Sometimes I apply makeup whilst I'm driving.

I know.


It is bad. It is not good. It is something I should never do.

Ever.


But, I still do it sometimes. I really try to wait until I am in a traffic jam (which can occur at any given time here in the middle TN area) or when I am at a traffic light. But that is not always the case. Sometimes I will apply makeup when I am on a long stretch of straight road.

I try to keep one hand on the wheel.



However, I have never been quite as precise as the lady in front of my car today. She spent the ENTIRE LENGTH of a very long red light applying mascara.


To. One. Eye.


More that 45 seconds.


One. Eye.


Now, take just a minute (okay, really just 45 seconds) and see how long that really is.

It's okay. I'll wait.


(Jeopardy tune humming)


Now imagine applying mascara to ONE EYE for that length of time.


The girl could have waxed BOTH eyebrows in that amount of time.


Or her upper lip.


Or her legs.


I sat in stunned amazement. Was she applying mascara to each individual lash? Was she OCD?


We'll just never know.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Here I Come to Save the Day!!!


So.... I was minding my own business on my drive home yesterday when I topped the hill on I-24 right before the Sam Ridley Pkway exit. I noticed that there were blue lights on the overpass and that meant the traffic exiting the interstate was backed up quite a bit.
Because I'm such a good girl, I took my foot off the gas pedal and tried to determine if I wanted to pass this exit and go to the next, or if it was moving enough to head off at the correct location. It looked to be moving... just slowly. So, I planned to make the exit.
UNTIL.
Mr. Speedy Gonzalez on a Yamaha motorcycle FLEW past me on my left and cut in front of my car. The problem was that Mr. G was not paying attention and was moving FAST upon that long line of stopped traffic. I was on the phone with a friend and hung up on her in order to dial 911.
Why? Because Mr. G slammed on the front brakes of his bike and immediately flew himself up in the air, flipping a couple of times before landing in a grassy patch on the side of the road. Where he lay. Motionless.
I pulled over immediately, as did a nurse and a couple other women to see if this man were injured and/or dead.
He finally stood up and was rather shaken up. He wanted to just get back on his bike and drive away, but he could not pick the bike up. We Three Women assisted him and after a number of tries, he was able to get the bike started again. However, he was pretty disoriented and the nurse and I really did our best to help him out. She got his cell phone out and helped him place a call to a family friend while I watched the ambulance and State Troopers arrive on the scene.
As I was the only actual eyewitness, I spoke for a minute or two to the Troopers who thought it would be a great idea for Mr. G to step into the ambulance and get checked out. He did, and they worked to move the bike. I was released to leave and I did. Here are some ideas:
1. Be aware of your surroundings when you are driving.
2. Look ahead and see what is going on around you and when the Speedies of the world pass and get in your lane... take your foot off the gas and prepare to slow down/stop.
3. Try NOT to be that Speedy guy.
4. Be VERY aware of motorcyclists.
5. Be very aware of where you are so you can give accurate directions to emergency personnel should you need to contact them.
6. Be careful out there. Buckle up those seat belts. (Requelle...that means you!!!)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Mary Mary Stationary

Remember me telling you about my friend Mary? She's wonderful. She's crafty. She's artistic. She's a creator.

Sometimes I hate her. (not really)

Mostly I love her.

Okay. I always love her.

She's my friend who introduced me to the Pioneer Woman website. So, she's the reason for hundreds of hours spent reading that blog... and other blogs that are linked to that one. It is almost like Lay's Potato Chips. You don't stop at just one.

ANNNNY way...

She does great things. If you are looking for WONDERFUL and UNIQUE Christmas cards... go here:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/MaryMaryStationery?section_id=6606057

Do it now. Order now. You will be glad you did.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Here are the Pictures that go with my last Post

Remember how I told you about my aunt and uncle going to get a cookbook for me from the Pioneer Woman when she did a book signing in Little Rock Arkansas? Well... they took some pictures and I thought I would post them here:
This is my uncle. I don't know why the picture is smaller. We'll have to ask KatyBell(all one word)


My aunt and uncle stood in line for four hours to get this book signed for me. Cause they loved me that much and I'm their favorite niece.
Okay... I'm their ONLY niece. But that has nothing to do with it!



And Marlboro Man was there too! As a matter of fact, he signed my book in two places. One on the picture of his face... but then my uncle made him sign the picture of his booty on the last page.

I might blush if I meet MM in person in Nashville... cuz he told my uncle that he had not signed across the booty for anyone before.
Oh well. It wasn't my fault, but I'm not complaining! :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

BUSTED!!!

I should lay the blame for spending as much time as I do on the Pioneer Woman’s blogsite at the feet of my friend Mary. Mary has a blogsite too.

http://www.kelsofamily.net/blogs/index.php/Mary/

Mary is one of three people who read my blog and typically leaves me a message.

I love Mary.

I don’t know how Mary found the Pioneer Woman, but she passed me the website address and after about five minutes, I was HOOKED. It is a great site. It is funny and pretty and there are WONDERFUL photographs (and I had just purchased my Big Girl Camera) so it is very informative.

And she gives stuff away too.

I haven’t won anything yet, but I’m still trying.

At any rate… I read PW’s website daily. If she is late posting a blog for the day, I will check it a few times to see when it is updated. I will at least smile over something she has written and sometimes I will laugh right out loud.

The Pioneer Woman has now published her first cookbook. How fun! How exciting! I stopped by my local bookstore the other day to pick one up and couldn’t find it.

Hmm. How strange.

So, the next time I was in the location of a bookstore, I stopped over to see if the book was there. Nothing. I was starting to think we were in some sort of parallel-planed universe here in middle Tennessee. I was at a third bookstore (wasting time on my lunch hour) and thought to look there. Didn’t find it. I actually asked one of the college students who worked there if they had the book and she said, “I think we have one left. Don’t you just LOVE her blog?!” I was happy to talk with her and she explained that she told the store managers when their shipment came in, that it would not be nearly enough. She was right. Management was wrong. They have placed their second order with the publisher.

Finally, I located the LAST copy at the B&N at The Avenue in Murfreesboro where I was meeting my college project partner for a study time. I went ahead and made my purchase and then found out PW had added a book signing date in Little Rock, where I have family.

So… I texted my cousin and aunt and told them they should go. They were busy and they are not as interested as I am. But they indulge me anyway.

So, you can only imagine my SURPRISE when I was looking at the PW website this morning and Lo and Behold… there’s a PICTURE of my Aunt standing in line for the book signing. A closer look shows my Uncle with her (but he is blocked) I laughed WAY out loud and picked up the phone.

My aunt is in the jogging outfit wearing the glasses behind the two girls getting their picture made. http://thepioneerwoman.com/confessions/

My sweet Aunt and Uncle stood in line for FOUR HOURS to get this book signed by Ree Drummond AND her husband (Marlboro Man) to give ME as a Christmas gift! They thought it was hysterical that they made the website and told Marlboro Man, who was taking the pictures, that if they were posted, they’d be BUSTED! And they were.

They were even famous enough to make it onto another blog site:

http://www.nonsensicalgibberish.com/?p=265


Goodness but I love my family!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday afternoon...


I should be working on a class project. But it's pretty outside. So, instead of working... I decided to take my camera to the backyard and play with the manual focus... zooming in on one object and letting the background go blurry.


Why? Because I can.


Bird Feeder:



Tree Bark:



Garden Hose:


Gate:
Cruise control:

I promise to work on my paper. Really, really soon.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

She's All That... and a Bag of Oats!

She's got style... she's got grace... she's big and dark and beautiful... and she took it to the big boys and beat the whole lot of 'em.
Zenyatta absolutely should be named Horse of the Year. There will be debate with supporters of Rachel Alexandra. But, let's face it... Rachel didn't show up for the big dance that is the Breeder's Cup Classic.
Zenyatta did. She didn't just show up, but she started out flat last and made her way through the trenches to overtake all those macho boys and won! She is undefeated in 14 starts.
And... she has a signature walk! (Tyra Banks would be proud) She likes to strut before taking her place in the gates. She likes to paw the ground and she loves the attention from the crowd. Her jockey said at one point in the race it felt as if she were slowing down to pose for the throngs of people... but she picked right back up and made her way across the finish line first.
This all coming after a very dramatic moment while loading the gates. One of the boys, Quality Road, was having no part of being loaded into the gate today. He bucked and reared and the handlers finally thought to throw blinders over his eyes to get him in the gate. This is not an uncommon tactic in horseracing. But Quality Road was having no part of it. Once in the gate, he began to kick so violently he was led out and examined by the veterinarian. They determined to scratch him (a first in Breeder's Classic history) because he developed a scratch on one of his hind legs. That's not good in a racehorse and I applaud those in charge for erring on the side of caution.
So, they had to unload all the other horses (who had been standing in the gates for all this time) and reload them. When the gates opened, they were off... with Zenyatta bringing up the rear and biding her sweet time.
When she made her move, there would be no stopping her. She ran a powerful and beautiful race and deserves all the accolades due her.
... and probably some extra grain too!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lantern Lane Farm



I know... you've seen the pictures, but let me explain a little bit about Lantern Lane Farm.




This is a great non-profit organization out in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. My friends Ralph and Joni Cook own and operate it. There is a log house on the property that has just been named The Selah House at Lantern Lane. It is a place for rest and renewal of the body, soul and mind. We are working on the brochure for the house as well as the counseling services that Ralph provides (he is a licensed counselor).



Here are a few shots of the photo shoot I took on Friday before the rains came:



Here's Riley and Cindy, the two cutest boxers around.





This is Lindsey. She is one of our volunteers. She comes out on Fridays and works with the horses and helps with the feeding/grooming, etc. Lantern Lane would be nowhere without the help of all the volunteers! There are six full-size horses, three minis and a couple of donkeys. It is a lot of work, which is why the volunteers are soooo appreciated and loved!




Here, we are showing how the counseling/therapy sessions go. The counselor and the client (Lindsey is playing the part for the photo's sake... she's not a client. I wouldn't put a client picture up without their approval first) work together to set up an obstacle course for the horse. Each object represents an obstacle in the person's life. Once the course is set, the client walks the horse through the course...


After leading the horse, the client would spend some time talking with Ralph about what those obstacles in their course represented and how to overcome those obstacles.





The other part of Lantern Lane Farm is the Selah House at Lantern Lane. It is a log house at the back of the property that is available for rental. It is really designed as a retreat for those people who need to get away. It has been rented for families who are vacationing in the area. But there are small groups that have used it as well. I know of a ladies' Bible study group that spent a weekend there and there have been a number of pastors and their families who have utilized it to recharge their spiritual batteries. That is the true purpose behind Selah House.


There was just a Board of Directors meeting this morning and are planning the first event for Lantern Lane Farm. On December 19 from 2-4pm, we will have Christmas at Lantern Lane Farm. There will be an area for people to have family photos made as well as hot chocolate and an hourly rendition of the Christmas story. There were be some live acoustical music and a bonfire.


So... mark your calendars now and plan to join us on December 19!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Just doing the stuff...



So... it has been a good week this week. I should be writing a paper right now, but... I'm posting a blog instead.

I really need to finish the paper. And other homework too. But, it has been such a pretty day... and I've had a lot going on. So, I PROMISE... I will get that stuff done soon.

I swear.
This is where I am really hopeful that neither of my professors reads my blog...

But today was a little bit busy. My friend Requelle and I attended the funeral of a very kind and special man... Curtis Poteete. Curtis attended Two Rivers Baptist Church with me and for many years he helped with the animals when we produced the Passion Play. He was such a character and so much fun to be around. I always loved to see Passion Play roll around because I knew I would be working with Curtis Poteete and Don Roney. Curtis was great with the camels... but he also always led in the white horse at the end of the production.

Curtis has been having problems with his heart and I am told was on a list for a transplant. Unfortunately, his heart transplant did not occur... but Curtis has been transported from this world into glory. The service today was a sweet time. I thought at one point that it would have been fitting to have a white horse hanging out in the lobby. I have a feeling Curtis has stepped right up to the Lord's stables and is giving those magnificent creatures a good rub down.

Speaking of horses... I left the funeral and found it fitting to go out to Lantern Lane Farms and help set up for their annual fall festival. Of course, Requelle came out and helped as well. There was plenty of food and horrible bluegrass music from Ralph's Iphone (thanks Ralph!) and they were planning a hay ride for later in the evening. (I had to leave in order to finish this paper that I haven't finished yet!)
Here are some shots of the festivities:
This is Scooter and Apostrophe. They are BFFs.


Here's Requelle getting the food organized...

Here is the cook fire! We roasted dogs and marshmallows here. And kept warm since it's getting a mite chilly in the evenings.

Mite chilly. I'm talkin' like a girl who likes bluegrass.

'Cept I don't.

Heh.

There was a friendly game of horseshoes going on...


And I thought this tree was really pretty. So I took a picture of it.


Then I wanted to take a close-up picture of Requelle... and it took about three minutes because she kept laughing!!! Seriously.

And she should thank me for NOT posting the picture I WANTED to post.

Yeah... who's your friend, Requelle? I am.




After all that time... I finally got this shot:




And this is a great way to end a fine evening... with a horse grazing in front of a cabin!


Ahh... you know its fall when you come home smelling like you've been standing in front of a campfire.