Tuesday, May 31, 2011

# 137 Sometimes I Thank God for Answered Prayers...

If you are a facebook friend, then you know this news I'm about to share (and if you are not, I'm really sorry for not posting it sooner!):

I got my purse back!

(above-- my purse, dumped out on the floor, as I go through it all to see what's there! They went through everything because it was all just dumped back in there but it was mostly all there!!)

After the recent break-in (or brick-in, if you will), I was mostly upset about the loss of my purse, and everything in it. Of course, the debit card, license, checks, etc. were a huge loss, but those things can be easily replaced. What wasn't so easy to replace were the pictures, ticket stubs, business cards, favorite lip glosses, etc. Or the actual purse. And certainly not my beloved planner. This planner has all sorts of stuff in it-- birthdays and addresses of friends of mine for the past 10 years, lists of books I want to read, websites I should visit, quotes I love, things to do/have done, etc. It has all my upcoming events and necessary details for the next few months. It has random doodles and color illustrations on each day of the week (what can I say, I'm a loser!).

Back to the story-- last week, I was outside with Parker in the backyard and I came inside to get some water and I see a random man standing in my yard, in front of the window, holding my purse. I run to the front door and he introduces himself as Todd, my neighbor a block or so down the street. He said he's been out of town with his wife, and just got back and was mowing his grass when he found my purse.

I was ecstatic and crying and blubbering and trying to explain the situation to him, and I'm pretty sure he thought I was entirely nuts! But who cares??!! I had hoped that someone might return some of my stuff, but then I remembered that there wasn't anything in my purse with my new address on it-- everything had my Laurel or Newton address. But Todd said that he found a water bill stuck in a side pocket with my new address on it. He was super nice and seemed very concerned about explaining that the only reason he went through my stuff was to look for an address, and felt bad for violating my privacy. Well, Todd, I think that the invasion of my privacy happened when the brick went through the window, so invade the privacy all you want if you are returning the purse!!!

So, this is a super answered prayer! Everything was in the purse except some change that was in the wallet and a gift card to Olive Garden. Everything else was still there-- my wallet, license, social security card, debit cards, checks, chapsticks, Parker's collar, my planner, my pictures, my makeup, everything!!! I was so excited! Unfortunately, it had rained over the weekend while the purse was outside, so the planner is kinda bent up and the pages are mostly ruined, but they can be replaced!!

I'm so thankful to God for answering this prayer-- it wasn't anything major and I would have survived if I never got the purse back, but it was just so nice to know that God was watching out for me! And watching out with a random water bill stuck in the side pocket!

Second answered prayer-- I'm financially embarrassed. This is nothing unusual for me, as most of you know. But tomorrow I'm headed to Jackson for a CLE and then on to Atlanta to see The Monkees in concert! So I'm needing some money, or at least some gas, to make it through the weekend! I just got paid, but the paycheck I get on the last day of the month (today) goes mostly to rent and a couple small bills, so there isn't much disposable income until my second paycheck. Anyway, I was beginning to get stressed about making it all work out when I cleaned out a drawer and found a BP pre-paid gas card. I called to check on the balance and ta-da- it was $50.00! That was enough to fill my tank today at lunch and hopefully it will get my at least halfway to Atlanta this weekend!

Even better?

I found a pre-paid VISA card for $50.00 that was sent to me as a mail-in-rebate forever ago! So, now I'm totally balling and planning on blowing it out this weekend! I hope those Monkees are ready cause I'm heading their way!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

# 136 Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day! I'm enjoying the day with some snuggling with my sweet Parker (she's basically ignoring me-- I try to snuggle, she walks off. I'm not taking it personally though). I'm headed to Oxford later this afternoon to help my little brother organize his new house and new bedroom (remember the mattress?!) and I'm excited to see him!

Its Memorial Day and I don't really have any traditions. My family is kinda strange with the family traditions-- we don't have that many "normal" ones. We don't cookout for any of the summer holidays, we've spent more Thanksgivings than not headed to see our Rebels play in the Egg Bowl, and Christmas traditions were usually intertwined with our trips to Gatlinburg. Its actually something that makes me a bit sad when I think about it, and, in discussing summer holiday traditions with my mom recently, she pointed out that Memorial Day, for the past few years, the boys (and sometimes me, back when they still invited me) were at the SEC Tournament (no worries about that this year) and Labor Day is usually full with the first of football season. I guess its no surprise that many of our family traditions have to do with Ole Miss sports!

Anyway, I'd really like to start having a huge cookout on Memorial Day or July 4th (a July 4th shindig is already in the works, hopefully!). But this year, its too late to plan anything, so I'm just going to celebrate Memorial Day by blogging. Its an exciting life, people.

Interesting facts about Memorial Day I've discovered today:

-- it was first observed by freed African slaves in 1865

-- it was originally called "Decoration Day", and wasn't known as "Memorial Day" till after WWII

-- it was traditionally May 30, but changed in the late 1960s to a Monday so it would be a three-day weekend

-- the Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a bill every year to have it changed back to its original date-- every year since 1987!

Today, I'm celebrating Memorial Day by remembering some people very important to me-- my Pop, Albert Carr, and two of his brothers, Richard and Roger Carr, all three of whom were Army veterans, and who fought in World War 2.

Here is a picture of my Pop in 1944-- it didn't scan very well, and I really need to find somewhere that has a better scanner than I do because I have lots of old pictures I want to have scanned.

This is Pop (left) with Uncle Richard (middle) and Uncle Roger (right).

All three of these men are now deceased (Pop lived the longest, and he died nearly two years ago). But they were all three, especially my Pop, some of the bravest men I've ever had the privilege of knowing. I can only imagine what they went through for our country. I've heard Pop tell only a few stories and my Dad has told me other ones, but I wish I could have written down their experiences, so that they could really live on. Regardless, they were heroes to me, and I thank them, and all the other military men and women, for the sacrifices they made for my America. Pop's military service defined him for the rest of his life-- it was something he was very proud of, and rightly so. I'm so proud to call him my grandfather (I actually really lucked out all around in the grandparents category!)

In the book, Veterans of World War II, Newton County, my Pop and his brothers had several pages about them. This is a super neat book, and it has pictures and copies of letters and background information about all the men (and women) from Newton County who served. Its really interesting! The book has the picture of Pop from above (albeit much better quality!) and notes that:
Carr, Albert Benton, inducted 3 Jul 1943 in the United States Army at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, age 18. Civilian occupation: student.
It also notes that he was a member of the 393rd Infantry Regiment of the 100th (Century Division), was involved in the drive on Raen l'Etape, a strategic town on the 7th Army front, and the regiment skillfully out-maneuvered the Nazis at this town.

The neatest thing about this book was that it had excerpts of letters from the soldiers to their families and friends at home-- many of these letters were printed or mentioned in the Newton Record at the time. The newspaper articles state that Pop was awarded the "Combat Infantryman Badge" which is awarded for satisfactory performance of duty in ground combat against the enemy and entitles the soldier to $10 per month additional pay! It also described Pop's soldier's unit as "part of the victorious Seventh United States Army commanded by Lt. General Wade Hairslip", and that this unit was the first to taste combat in WWII by sweeping the enemy out of Sicily in 37 days. It landed on the beaches of the French Riviera and went more than 1000 miles through the heart of Fortress Germany and liberated the largest area of any regiment. They captured more than 650,000 prisoners in combat (and numerous other ones surrendered) and elements of the Seventh Army liberated thousands of Allied prisoners including Leopold, King of Belgium and his family and two former French premiers. I'm sure this regiment was huge and I don't know that Pop was involved in any of these things, but regardless, Pop did some amazing things and was literally a part of history. He also served as an Honor Guard at General Patton's funeral. That's pretty cool!

The book also mentions my great-uncles, Richard and Roger. Uncle Roger wrote to his family a lot, and I actually have some of those letters and a few cables from him. This book has an excerpt from one letter that states that he was in the invasion of Luzon and although his ship sustained no casualties, he can now understand the truthfulness of General Sherman's definition of what war is like.

These men were incredibly brave to leave their homes, their families and their friends to go across the world and fight something that was truly evil and I thank them for it. I hope they knew how proud I was of them.

And now, since you've continued reading through my rather long tribute to them, I will reward you, dear readers, with a couple of my favorite family pictures.

This is my Pop, Mamaw, Dad and Uncle Eddie. Nice turtlenecks.

A lot of people didn't know that Dad and Uncle Eddie were once co-joined twins. We are really glad that experimental surgery worked out.

I just spent like 10 minutes laughing at that picture. Its once of my favorites. There was another picture, taken at the same time, of these two, and it spent my entire life in a place of honor above the television at my grandparents house. Its a good picture too, because it really shows off the octagonal shape of my dad's head. Luckily, he now wears his hair much longer.

# 135 Ground Zero and Lemon Cake

After our run-in with the hungry snake (sorry Mom!), Melinda and I, ourselves quite hungry, continued on to Clarksdale, where we ate lunch at the famous Ground Zero Blues Club. We didn't see Morgan Freeman, but we had a really good meal.

Ground Zero. I think I see my old corduroy loveseat from college-- dad bought it for me at a garage sale. Thanks Dad!

Melinda and I!

People write everywhere here-- even on the pool table, despite several signs that say, over and over "do not write on the pool table".

Now here is where the night got wild-- while eat lunch, we perused a magazine called "Legends" and it has all sorts of artsy stuff from all over MS, including an article about Ground Zero and Morgan Freeman. So, we notice this yummy looking lemon cake recipe-- and I look closer and realize its an article and recipe by Leigh Ann Whittle, a lady from Newton. She has recipes in the Newton Appeal and I saw recently where she does a spot on some Meridian news show with tips and recipes. Since you all know what a great cook I am, we decide to make the cake (I'm not posting the article but it has a shout-out to the Piggly Wiggly in Newton-- former employer of yours truly-- seriously, the Pig made I what I am today. There's a plaque and everything on the wall there. Be impressed. Also? Check out the ad for the Pig next to the recipe-- its hard to read in this picture, but the top says "the Leading Grocery Store in Newton County." I'm pretty sure those are fighting words to the IGA in Decatur.)

So we got out my new fancy mixer. You may recall last weeks excursion to Indianola with Nick and Dillon-- and my "finder's fee" was the warming platter and this mixer-- finally putting it to good use!!

Start out with two made-from-scratch cakes--

Put them together with the yummy, made-from-scratch-as-well icing in the middle. We didn't have to of the same pans, so these aren't exactly the same size. We were hoping the icing would mask the mistakes.

It didn't.

But who cares? This cake was great! The icing was amazing, even if it looked absolutely nothing like the cake in the picture with Leigh Anne. Next time I see her in the Pig, I will have to bring this matter up.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

# 134 McCarty's Pottery Experience...

Last weekend, my friend Melinda came up from Laurel for a Delta visit and we had a total blast! Melinda is laid back and fun and so she's a great person to go exploring with-- she's up for anything! Melinda and I met a couple years ago when we were in the same pottery class at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. She drew the short straw and had to sit at the same table with me and Aunt Ju, who are never, ever obnoxious, loud or silly. Unfortunately for Melinda, she is conscientious about her art and very talented and so she probably thought we were super annoying and crazy! Luckily for me, she looked past our tendency to never take anything seriously and got to know us and now we are great friends. She's super talented in many different art medium, and I have one really fabulous picture she took for me of the Marcus Furniture sign, downtown Laurel, and its beautiful.

I was really excited for her to come visit and for me to get to show her around the area. Likewise, Parker was excited because in addition to being an art-lover, Melinda is an animal lover, and she is really good with Parker. So good that I was afraid Parker was going to try to sleep with Melinda instead of me, and she nearly did, but she relented at the last second and came to my room (any rumors of me threatening to making her sleep outside when Melinda was gone are slightly exaggerated).

Melinda got to town last Friday and we ate dinner at the Warehouse and I showed her around town. I think Cleveland's such a fun little town so I'm always excited to show it off to people. Saturday, we got up and headed to Merigold for a visit to McCarty's Pottery. I'd been once before with Aunt Ju and Lori, but this time we went outside and explored the really beautiful garden areas. Here are some pictures:

McCarty's Pottery-- really beautiful area in Merigold, but there are no signs or anything so you wouldn't know its a really great store unless you were looking for it!

My new obsession-- I've posted before about not having any (or much) pottery. And while I appreciate the beauty in the different pieces and different makers (you know, being a ceramicist myself and all), I don't know that I want lots and lots of pieces of pottery-- its not really me. But there are some pieces I want, and this is at the TOP of my list. This hanging planter is gorgeous. I want it. I need it. I have to have it. I actually have to have two since it would just be ridiculous to only buy one and put it on the porch. Its one of the more expensive pieces so I'll have to save up my money or hope a kind and rich reader would gift this to me.

Let me be honest. These little guys creep me out.

After perusing the pottery (and navigating the gaggle of over-dressed Daddy's Girls), we headed outside. As I've mentioned, Melinda is a great photographer and has a fantastic eye for cool pictures and a really nice camera too. I mostly followed her around, saying words like "soft light" and "focus" and other photography-related words. I didn't use these in sentences, just said them randomly. I think she was super impressed with my knowledge. Luckily for me, it was so pretty that even I could take some nice pictures!

This was a neat little potting shed area with some different pieces of pottery and such. Made me wish I had 1) a green thumb, 2) a place to use my green thumb and 3) some nice pieces of pottery since even dead plants look better in nice planters.

Melinda dubbed these "drunken bunnies". Love them!

Readers, it was a great day. We had lots of fun and since this is a long post, I'll post more pictures of our experience another time. But, alas, all great days have to have a little drama to be great. And this day had plenty of drama.

Picture it: Merigold, 2011. Walking around a beautiful garden, being inspired, wishing we had more money to spent, taking pictures, laughing, enjoying our time hanging out. We pass by a beautiful archway and I head into the other area of the gardens. (WARNING: Mom, please quit reading now.) Melinda's still snapping shots behind me and I look down, mere inches from my feet and I see it:

A snake. In the middle of lunch. Apparently, today's special was a small bird. Its jaw literally unhinged and tried to eat this bird which was much bigger than it was wide. I mean, I remember learning that snakes do this type of thing, but it was disgusting. Unappetizing. Creepy. Being the mature person I always am, I screamed and ran back towards Melinda. A worker happened to be walking by and she went and got someone to dispose of it. He pretty much just took it into a different area to let it finish its meal.

Melinda and I bravely continued on our merry way through the garden, but, honestly, we didn't stay much longer. However, as the nice worker girl pointed out, "if you were a snake, wouldn't you want to live in this beautiful garden?" So true!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

# 133 Trying out some new things...

So on this Memorial Day Weekend, I'm taking a break from watching tv and snuggling with Parker to try some new things on this blog. I've spent all morning researching html and template design and toolbar and wordpress and loading and other words that mean absolutely nothing to me. I'm lost. Entirely lost. I really want to make this blog super cute and super impressive to all you readers, but all I've managed to actually do is lose my previous background and be unable to upload a new background. Where is that Blogging for Dummies Book? No, seriously, I borrowed one from my friend Molly, and, unfortunately, never returned it. And I don't know where it is now. Ok, I've now actually spent about 3 hours total today trying to get this stupid blog back the way it was so I could fix the problems I caused and it took forever. But I finally did it, but in doing so, I've pretty much wasted the entire day and now I'm tired of looking at this computer. So, loyal readers, you will have to wait till tomorrow for updates about my exciting life. But you can enjoy my new background that I (finally) figured out how to do! Love you all!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

# 132 a long few days...

Deserves a fabulous treat! Today I didn't make it to work- my car windows were being fixed by the very nice people at Tonys Windows, and I spent the day cleaning my house from top to bottom (my landlady says the house was spotless when I moved in. Hmph. That's the sound of me rolling my eyes and making an exasperated noise!) and getting lots done! I got more done at home than I would have at work! So now that my car is back, safe and sound and whole, I ran a couple errands and decided to relax with a cupcake and a DC at Crave here in Cleveland! Good end to a good day!
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Friday, May 20, 2011

# 131 Car 54-Where are You?

Readers, you are in for a treat. Today, you get to learn first hand, pictures included, how crime affects us in our everyday lives. Yep, yours truly was a victim of a horrendous crime today. Luckily for you, I've kept my sense of humor and my camera about me today.

It all started last night when, as faithful readers will already know, the Mayor and I got home after eating dinner and we sat outside and listened to the Ole Miss game on the radio. Anyone who knows me probably knows that my purse has been stolen before. Out of my unlocked vehicle at my house when I came home for lunch one day. Stupid, yes. But in my defense, I grew up in Newton, which, practically used to be Mayberry. So I learned the hard way that Newton's got some crime. So, I've previously had a habit of leaving my car in my locked vehicle at night. And I've tried really hard, especially since I've moved up here, to break this habit and I've done a pretty good job, if I say so myself. And I have to say so myself because no one else knows if this is true or not. But it is true. I'd never lie to you, dear, sweet readers.

Anyway, when we got home, we sat outside, listened to the radio, walked Parker and in the midst of all the fun, I left my purse in the vehicle, on the passenger side floorboard. Dave and I watched the Mentalist and then hit the sack early since being so wild and crazy makes a person tired.

Bright and early this morning, around 6 a.m., I wake up and Parker and I head outside for her morning constitutional. As we turn to walk back towards the house, I notice my passenger side window is down. I think we've accidentally left it down from last night when we rolled the windows down, listening to the game. But, as I look closer, I realize-- its not rolled down, its knocked out. I immediately get sick.

Here's what I saw (Warning: Some images may not be appropriate for young children.)

The brick that went through my passenger side window, hit the inside of the windshield and landed in the driver's side door:

They were kind enough to leave my Bible. Perhaps they thought it would burn their hands...

Anyway, they only thing they took was my purse. My favorite purse that I get TONS of compliments on, that cost way too much and I had to save my money up forever to afford, Cynthia Rowley snakeskin purse. I bet those thugs don't even appreciate its beauty. Inside my purse was my wallet-- complete with my ID, debit cards, credit card, $25.00 Olive Garden gift card (I'm actually really upset about this!), pictures of my friends kiddos (Gatlin, Bentley, Conner and Patrick-- if you're reading...), stamps, brand-spanking-new health insurance card (!), library cards, etc. There was also some checks and two of my favorite lip glosses! But most of all that can be replaced.

The one thing that cannot be replaced? My Kate Spade planner. I'm actually quite sick about this. I LOVE my planner. I bought it years ago and its been my trusty sidekick even before I had Parker. It has all my addresses and numbers and upcoming events of my whole life. If my life could be boiled down to pieces of leather and paper with colored drawings on them (what can I say, I like to color all over my calendar events!), then it would be in that planner. Over the years I've written down book titles, quotes, lists of shops and restaurants I want to check out, etc. I'm so very sad about losing this. On the bright side, now I can look for a new planner!

Despite this crappy day, I'm super lucky in a lot of ways.

First, it worked out nicely that my dad was in town. When I ran into the house crying at 6:15 a.m. and woke him up, he was surprisingly calm and remained that way all day. He let me borrow his car to head to Clarksdale for work later this morning, and he took my car to get it cleaned out and set up an appointment for the windshield and window to be replaced next week. He even changed my oil! God was totally taking care of me when Dad came to stay with me last night!

Second, it could have been a lot worse. My camera, my Nook, my phone-- none of those things were in my purse or my car. I'd cleaned out my purse the day before, so some random things-- like a CD my new friend Corley made me, my favorite ponytail holder and some other lip glosses, some makeup, and several chapsticks-- all of these things I'd taken out of my purse. My quote book-- a recent purchase with all my favorite quotes and recent funny quotes made by my crazy family and friends-- it wasn't in my vehicle either! So, it could have been a lot worse.

Third, I get a new windshield! A couple years ago, a rock hit my window and make a huge crack all the way across the bottom. I've never been able to justify getting a new window-- and now I have a reason!

Finally, I've felt very loved today! Lots of people have called to check on me or sent me emails or facebook messages checking on me, and that's been wonderful! I'm loving my new home, but its sometimes quite lonely here and its nice to be reminded, even through something not so fun, that I'm loved by many great people, even if I don't get to see them often! So thank you to all my sweet friends and my sweet readers! I can't be too bad of a person if all your great people love me!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

# 130 Rolling out the Red Carpet...

Tonight Cleveland had a real treat-- a visiting dignitary. The Mayor of Newton. A lot of people were really excited. I've not personally talked to any of those people, but I believe there are some excited people out there. The Mayor didn't want a bunch of security or cost to the taxpayers of Cleveland (unlike President Obama and Ireland), so he didn't make a big deal about coming. He's ethical like that, you know. He had been on a furniture shopping spree with the First Son over in Oxford, and came over to visit me for the evening. Who am I kidding-- he totally came to visit Parker. But at least I got dinner out of it!

I spent the day in Hernando for child support court (working hard today-- didn't get lunch till 3:30!), and barely got back to the big city before the Mayor rolled in in his Hyundai (2009!)! We hit up Airport Grocery:

We blew it out with the fried mushrooms as an app and we split the open faced roast beef. I also got a baked potato to take for lunch tomorrow. Ice water with lemon for these two wild and crazy cats. Unfortunately, much like last time, Airport Grocery was out of the couple things I really wanted to eat, but it was still a good dinner.

Then we headed home to stand outside and listen to the Ole Miss-Arkansas baseball game (we won!) on the car radio. This is something of a tradition at my house-- many, many an afternoon or evening has been spend sitting outside under the carport listening to an Ole Miss game on the radio (especially before there were 28,682 different ESPN/FSS/CSS networks that began broadcasting college games.)

Now, Dad's watching The Mentalist and I'm updating this blog. He just asked how he can find my blog on the internet. Presumably, the "bookmark" tab on his computer doesn't work.

Also, he and his friend Mr. Phil have been texting about the baseball game. Dad's new phone is slowing him down considerably on the text messaging front, so this process is taking a while!

All in all it was a fun evening and I'm super glad I got to see my dad! Parker is really excited too! I personally think I have the greatest dad in the world, so I'm always glad to see him!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

# 129 Mattress (S)Hopping...

Today I was lucky/unlucky enough to get to travel to Indianola and help my brother pick out a mattress and box springs set for his new house in Oxford. I'm not sure this blog has the capability of explaining how much fun this experience really was. And I'm only partly being sarcastic.

We went to 82 Outlet, this great place in Indianola that has all sorts of great deals. There are tons of pieces of furniture that I'm dying to get, but they will have to wait! Nick was in the market for a mattress and they have some pretty good deals. He convinced his roommate, Dillon, to come over with his dad's truck and pick out some stuff for their house. It was a wild and crazy day.

After laying on a couple mattresses in the middle of the floor and debating the merits of various types of pillows, Nick finally made his choice. Then, the fun began:

I will be honest- I was laughing so hard at this situation that I could barely take the picture. The ladies in the store were cracking up inside, and I think it was the funniest thing I've ever seen-- seeing these two chuckleheads trying to get this mattress into the truck was great. Actually, Dillon had it together, sorta, and Nick was mostly useless. Poor Dillon, he was working hard to get it all tied down and situated. On the ride home, they had to go about 50 miles an hour-- they are probably still somewhere between Marks and Batesville.

Nick's mattress top and pillows:

Here's where the real fun began-- Dillon was obsessed with what seemed to be the world's largest bean bag-- a steal at $50.00. He and Nick argued about it, fussed over it, discussed it, called their other roommates to debate it, and it seemed, at first, that Nick won-- he had succeeded in convincing Dillon that it was an ugly black monstrosity.

But Dillon made a last-second decision and bought it anyway. And then, he tried to fit it in the vehicle. Yet another amazing part of this day...

My "finders fee" for helping out. Personally, I think the entire ordeal (including shopping with my dad and brother last weekend) is worthy of a LOT more than a warming plate that's on sale for such a good price-- I believe my effort was worth more like a brand-new food processor (for all the new baking I'm doing) or a new chest of drawers for my room or something. But I will settle for this. And the immersion blender I also got!

We celebrated our day of shopping with pizza and artichoke dip at Lost Pizza Company in Cleveland. It was excellent and I had a great time hanging out with two of my favorite guys!