Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Month of Thanks

The trend on facebook has been to share something you're thankful for each day during the month of November. Though I don't often participate in these status trends, I quickly jumped on this bandwagon. Below is a record of my month of thanksgiving.

Day 1: I'm thankful for a friend in my apartment complex. Lots of fun walking our dogs together in this beautiful weather.

Day 2: I'm thankful for a church home that I lvoe so much and don't want to leave, and for finding another church to fill the gap that leaving Wedgwood left in my life. I'm not quite ready to commit to Euless, but I'm getting there.

Day 3: Today (and every day) I am thankful for my Jesus, who paid the ultimate sacrifice to redeem me from my sins even though I am so unworthy. Want to say the same? Ask me about Him!

Day 4: I'm thankful for weekends - I really need one today!

Day 5: I'm thankful that the Alabama/LSU game is at night so that I could participate in Joanna's bridal shower. So good to see old friends, and still get to watch my Tide. ROLL TIDE!

Day 6: I'm thankful that God has provided a roof over my head in the form of my cozy apartment.

Day 7: Thankful for Discover Card cash back.

Day 8: I'm thankful for the much-needed rain we've received over the last 24 hours.

Day 9: I'm thankful for God's ever-present creativity and majesty like that seen in tonight's beautiful sunset.

Day 10: Thankful for the moms at Cambridge for all the hard work they volunteer on a regular basis to help us pull off big events and just keep the school running. We couldn't do it without you!

Day 11: I'm thankful for my favorite veteran, who just so happens to be the best daddy ever!

Day 12: Thankful that my friends won't judge me when I say I'm putting up my Christmas tree today. Want some early Christmas spirit? Come to my place!

Day 13: Thankful for my sweet puppy, who makes me smile every day.

Day 14: Thankful for the salvation of my cousin and his willingness to profess his faith publicly through baptism yesterday!

Day 15: After a rough day at work and returning home to the very strong smell of cigarette smoke in my apartment, I'm just thankful that God's mercies are new every morning. Can I go ahead and say goodnight now?

Day 16: Thankful for the Cambridge praise team and their willingness to lead their classmates boldly before the throne of God in worship. What a special group of students!

Day 17: Thankful for Christmas music on pandora keeping me company all day at work.

Day 18: Thankful for a much needed break, beginning tonight.

Day 19: Thankful for airplanes so I can make it to Georgia in 2 hours instead of 14, and for the opportunity to see my family today for the first time since July.

Day 20: Thankful for a fun day worshipping outside followed by putting up Christmas lights outside with my parents.

Day 21: Thankful for shopping/bonding time with my mom.

Day 22: Thankful for the abundant ways God had blessed us, specifically all the food we've been preparing for a Thanksgiving feast.

Day 23: Thankful that when the lady backed her truck into me today, it did not more damage than a crack in the hubcap. Sure scared me though!

Day 24: Thankful for all the extended family I got to visit with today, including a little cousin I've never met before. Isbell family Thanksgiving gathering = success!

Day 25: Thankful for another year that I get to help Mom put up the family Christmas tree.

Day 26: Thankful to be able to watch the Iron Bowl with my Mamaw for another year, and that Bama won big! Roll Tide! :)

Day 27: Thankful for the wonderful Moner family who took such good care of my Brodie while I was out of town.

Day 28: Thankful that my heater finally started working late last night so I didn't have to freeze on the coldest night of the year so far, and that I was able to find a used washer/dryer relatively easily on craigslist.

Day 29: Thankful that I get to visit with Amy one last time before she moves away.

Day 30: Thankful that after a month of giving thanks, I realize that I have much to be thankful for, and can continue to celebrate Thanksgiving every day of the year, not just in November.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Favorite Thanksgiving Dish

Probably my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is my Aunt Martha's Cranberry Relish Mold. It's not just the old cranberry jelly out of the can - it's so much better! It takes a good while to make, but it's definitely worth it. Here's the recipe:

1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple
2 pkgs (small) cherry jello
1.5 cups ground raw cranberries (1 lb) - wash, blend in sugar
1 small orange, ground
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) - we usually make 1/2 with nuts, 1/2 without
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cups sugar
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup cold water

Drain pineapple, reserve syrup. Combine jello and sugar, dissolve in hot water. Add cold water, lemon juice, and pineapple juice. Chill til partially set. Add pineapple and remaining ingredients. Turn into 2 quart mold. Chill until firm. Makes 12 servings or 1 large plastic mold with top. Oh so yummy!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

LSU vs ALABAMA Are You Ready?

Today is the Game of the Century - the game all Alabama and LSU fans have been waiting for all season, and really since last season. It is #1 vs #2, rivals LSU vs. Alabama. Both unbeaten. Both vying for a chance to play in the SEC championship and ultimately the national championship game. Both hoping to eventually win the SEC's 6th consecutive national championship. It's going to be a clash of the titans, a battle of the unbeatens, a chance for Heisman hopeful Trent Richardson to come out and prove why he should win. It's in Bryant Denny stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. And it's TONIGHT! I can't wait (though I would be crazy not to be nervous about the game). I will remain a diehard Bama fan regardless of the outcome of this game, but a win would be phenomenal.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Give 'em HELL, Alabama!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from
a dog who's "bad to the bone"
and his mama Waiting for trick-or-treaters
"What do you mean, those treats aren't for me?"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Aunt Kathy Visits Texas

At the beginning of October I had a visit from my Aunt Kathy. Well, really, she came to town from Georgia for a conference, but conveniently her hotel was only 10 minutes from my apartment, so we got to spend lots of time together. Of course, I was so excited to introduce her to my baby. And just like everyone else, she loved him. :)
On Friday evening, after they arrived (Kathy's coworker Karen came too), I took them to opening night of the Texas State Fair. I mean, what better to do in Dallas in the fall? We had a great time eating fried foods, getting airbrushed tattoos, meeting Big Tex, visiting the petting zoo, exploring the craft booths, wandering the Midway, and riding the ferris wheel (well, Karen didn't, but I was excited that Kathy actually wanted to).On Saturday we headed over to the Fort Worth Stockyards for a real taste of the West. We enjoyed a yummy barbeque lunch at Riscky's and then explored all the western stores looking for souvenirs. The only thing we missed was the cattle drive. It happened right before we got there and didn't go again until after we left. Bummer!

I was excited that my cousin Colton (Kathy's son) was able to drive in from Lubbock on Saturday afternoon to surprise his mom. He had burnt his fingers at his job, so he wasn't feeling much like doing anything active, so we just hung out at my apartment playing with Brodie, looking at scrapbooks, and watching Bama beat Florida. And then I got to see them again on Sunday for lunch before Colton left town and Kathy and Karen had to really focus on the conference.It really was a great visit. I rarely get a chance to see Kathy and Colton other than at Christmas, and if I do, it's always with lots of other family around. It was nice to spend time with them more one-on-one, though I admit it made me ready for the holidays.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Texas Rangers Clinch the A.L. West!

Since the Texas Rangers are now playing in the 3rd game of the the American League Championship Series, I suppose I should finally finish post about the game in which they clinched their spot in the playoffs. So, on Friday night, Sept. 23, I met a bunch of my Cypress friends at the ballpark for what would be a great ballgame against the Seattle Mariners. Traffic was a bear, and by the time we got there all the regular parking lots were closed, so we had to park FAR away! As we walked toward the stadium we saw one of the little rickshaws and tagged him down. It was WELL worth the $5 per person for him to drive us up to the stadium, although he may disagree. Three grown women in a cart meant for two made for quite a load - he was dripping sweat by the time we got there. But thanks to him, at least we made it before the 5th inning (it was already the 3rd by the time we arrived at our seats).

(squeezing into the cart)

Since I already said the Rangers are currently playing in the ALCS (I'm actually watching game 3 right now!), you know the results of the game. But what I haven't said is how perfect the night was - the weather was so comfortably cool, we were able to wear jeans. I don't know that I've ever worn jeans to a baseball game, because it's always so hot! But not this night - it was fabulous! And the atmosphere was amazing, full of anticipation. I had lots of fun watching the game, cheering for the home team, and hanging out with friends new and old. And the fact that the Rangers won just makes it that much better.And after the game, the fans were treated to an incredible fireworks show over the stadium. At this point we didn't know whether the Rangers had clinched the West or not - we were one game away until the Oakland/LA game was completed later in that night. But everyone was in the mood to celebrate, and there's no better way to celebrate than with fireworks. (And this definitely made up for my disappointing 4th of July fireworks experience.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'll Fly Away

Last Friday I had an amazing adventure. You see, last year I went to the Plano Balloon Festival, and my friend Dena said I should have told her I was going because her brother was there with his balloon and I might have been able to help crew. Well, this year I remembered that and told Dena I definitely wanted to help crew the balloon. So I took Friday off from work and set out for some fun. I got to Plano at 6:00 a.m. - it was still dark out! - and after the pilots' meeting we headed for the field. I got to help Rocky, Dena, and Shack unload, set up, and inflate Rocky's hot air balloon. It was really cool to be so close to all the balloons going up.And then the adventure really took off, literally! Though it was windy and Rocky had initially said he wasn't going to fly that morning, after the balloon was upright he told me to get in the basket, Dena handed me my camera, and off we went! Oh my, it was fabulous! Our takeoff was really easy, it was hard to tell when we actually left the ground. And it was amazing to look down over Plano, Allen, and Frisco, to see the other balloons being inflated below us and flying all around, to hear the burner as Rocky periodically added more heat to keep us in the air. It was just incredible! And then, it was time to land... And land we did! Rocky pointed out a field in the distance and said he was going to try to set the balloon down there. As we got closer and closer to the ground, the winds picked up speed. Rocky told me to stow my camera and hold on, and then we touched down. Actually, we hit... HARD! We bounced up and Rocky cut the burners because of all the wildfires we've been having in Texas. And Rocky said, "Ooh, I almost lost my britches!" Then we hit again, and the basket tipped on its side and the balloon pulled us across the field. We were sliding on our side, my shoulder was digging into the ground as we slid, and Rocky had landed on top of me when we landed. It seemed like we slid for minutes. When we finally stopped moving, Rocky asked if I was okay and whether I had broken anything. I told him I was fine and said "Do you still have your britches?!" We laughed, and then climbed out of the basket to wait for the chase crew to arrive. You can see our "drag" in the picture below. I stuck around in Plano for the rest of the day and we went back out to the field that night with full intentions of setting up the balloon again for the balloon glow. Unfortunately, a big storm came through and we had to leave. But I went back up on Saturday afternoon to try again. The winds were really bad and so Rocky decided not to set up his balloon, but a lot of the others did, and I thoroughly enjoyed being out there among the balloons, seeing them glow, hearing the burners, and fellowshipping with the pilots and crews.

Flight stats for my first hot air balloon ride:
Pilot - Rocky Bailey
Balloon - "Fly 'N Again"
1 hour 15 minute flight
20+ mile flight (from Plano to Frisco)
1500 feet high
15-17 knot winds upon landing
50 foot drag

After the flight, Rocky read the Balloonist's Prayer, tradition for celebrating a first flight -

"May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that
God joins you in laughter.
And sets you gently back
into the loving arms of Mother Earth."

Well, all of it applies except for the part about a gentle landing! I was so grateful to Rocky and his crew for welcoming me and allowing me to join them for the weekend. I had a blast meeting everybody, and I'm already looking forward to my next flight.