Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Martins, Acapella

So in my search to find the name for that hymn the chimes played last night that I just can't remember for the LIFE of me, I've been scrounging around the internet for lists of hymns from hymn books and all.  For some reason, a song rang a bell in my head that I know well from years ago.  My grandparents like the Gaithers, and I grew up with a lot of the hymns and songs they sang.  So yes, I'm a gospel fan. :-) With my parents, we had some CDs of music from some absolutely amazing groups that would perform on there.  This was one of them... their performance of "The Doxology."  I found videos of them on youtube, and I've been sitting here for over an hour, while I wrote the last post, listening to their various songs.  It captures me.  It's just incredible what these people can do with their voices.  I don't care what kind of music you like - you can't deny the beauty in this harmony and in the amazing talent they have.  It gives me goosebumps.  Plus, the message in itself and the song are beautiful already on their own.  (Tip:  Seriously, don't watch... just listen first.)

If you want more, check this next one out from the same group... totally different feel and is a bit bouncy at the beginning, but the last half is insane.  Gospel doesn't get much better than this.

Haha, and a hilarious tip from a comment at the bottom - check out Mark Lowry at 1:36. :-)

And now, I must go to bed... with some great music in mind.  (By the way - I enjoy this in my head MUCH more than Christmas music!!  Yes, I'm still putting it off as long as possible! :-) )

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving and more

I'm thankful for so many things I've been blessed with in my life. I often find myself thinking how thankful I am for even the smallest things... Like my fuzzy slippers that keep my ice-cold feel warm (speaking of... I just reminded myself to go get them!)... Or the little toaster oven that can bake just a few cookies in under 15 minutes from start of preheat to eating time... Or the dimmer switch in my bathroom that my handy man so nicely installed for me (after months of me begging him to grab one and put in, hehe) so I don't blind myself in the mornings with crazy-insane bright lights... who ever thought that was a good idea anyway?? It's so much better to get ready in the half-dark bathroom. :-) At least it is for my eyes.

Anyway, back to the subject. Small things are so important. But the big things have the huge impact. One of the things I am most thankful for in this life is family. Mine is incredibly supportive, loving, caring, funny, and so great to be around... and that's extended family as far out as I've ever met. Not much goes on around here without family being present... holidays, of course, being a primary example.

This year's Thanksgiving was a little different schedule than we're used to, but so far, it's been a blast. We're actually having another get-together tomorrow, so a few of us are getting two Thanksgivings, haha. Yesterday was hanging out with the Ezzell clan, and I so enjoyed it all. I absolutely love my family, and I mean that in all honesty. It's just good to spend time with people.

So, now that the sappy part is out of the way, here's a little photo-story of Thanksgiving, yesterday...

(All that really happened prior to this photo, that's worth mentioning, was before we even got out of the car at the grandparents' house. Jacob and I went earlier than everybody else, so I could make my casserole and we could hang out with them a bit. As we turned onto the street they live on, my heart jumped into my throat at the sight of a fire truck down at the next block. I know my eyes are bad, but I always think the worst, and it certainly did look to be near their house. Jacob, always casual and unassuming, assured me it was nothing. Turns out, the truck was actually at the house right next door to the grandparents' house. The guys were in the process of leaving, and nothing appeared to be wrong. Haha Grandmom didn't even know they'd been there, so there obviously wasn't a big to-do. Thank goodness. So we proceeded with our morning. :-) )

I made my casserole at Grandmom's...

While the guys did the usual... :-)

Dad did come play Turkey Carver for a while...

So I took Dad's place in the hang-out room...

Took a few pictures before the meal...

This is actually my only food plate shot... this is one of Jacob's "pose" faces - haha, I promise he really was having a good time :-) ...

I got evidence of everybody chowin' down...

Jacob and I took our usual places at the "kids" table (as it will probably always be called) - no worries, we still like it...

Got a shot of the dessert spread (and a dog trying to be sneaky) before we dug in...

All we Ezzells have our quirks... Alli's is apparently a love of mac and cheese (we already knew that one!) alongside chocolate dessert... (no worries, she did at least admit that the bites with both tasted strange, haha)...

And a nice shot before we left...

And along with dessert always comes the time to sit around and have good conversation. I like getting little slice-of-life videos, and I grabbed one of a funny story here. Dad is talking about the happenings of their wedding day - Granddad had to go into surgery that same day, so Mom and Dad left from the wedding, in all the attire, and drove straight down the Interstate all the way to see Granddad... and headed right into the ER after hours to go find his room.


As we were seeing Connie and Steve and the girls off outside, the 6:00 bells began to chime at the church down the street. This is something my dad grew up hearing, as they ring hymns every day at 6PM. It's such a beautiful sound... I captured a bit of some of them. It was dark out, so the video might be boring if you don't like hymns. But I grew up with so many of them in church, and all of these were ones I knew by heart. I loved sitting out there last night and listening to them. Since it was Thanksgiving Day, they added an additional fourth song, since they usually only play three. Yesterday's selections were fitting... "Because He Lives," a song I'm racking my brain for but can't remember for the lift of me, "In the Garden," and "How Great Thou Art." These videos are of the last two, in respective order.



So that's about it for Thanksgiving 2009, Part 1. Part 2 comes tomorrow.

Today was an interesting break inbetween the two. Last year was one of the few years I've ever actually gotten up early and fought the crowds to get some Black Friday deals, and I definitely scored on some stuff then (although I basically got all Christmas shopping done then!). I'm trying to not spend much this time around though, despite the fact that there are SO many good deals, and so many things I'd like to have. So in my typical sales paper browsing I do on Thanksgiving Day, I made a list of the few items I was looking for. And last night, I was thrilled to find that many of the places I was considering going today had everything online too. So I was able to get one item I wanted online. I ended up able to get up and take my time this morning, and Jason and I headed out late morning to check out a few things. Wolf Camera was a cinch, and they even let you order the items that are out of stock in the store at the sale price... I love it when stores don't pull the rip-off with the fine print (3 minimum per store, no rainchecks... blah blah blah). Kohls was a different story... I only wanted a few clothes items, so I walked towards the line areas with said items in hand. Haha, I think my jaw probably dropped when I saw the line. It was INSANE. I honestly can't believe people were waiting in it - some only had a few shirts or what not. Haha, so I promptly turned around and put the items back. Jason had dropped me off, and was so ready to get out of the parking lot - apparently it was a mad house. And this was even at 1:00... guess people were trying to make the doorbuster deadline, haha. The mall was even worse... so we stopped and called it a day.

Something noteworthy did present itself before our first stop today. We parked right in front of the camera store, next to the sidewalk. There was a man there tending to his baby in a stroller, and there was a puppy right next to them, with his leash tied to the bench. The man was kind of grinning at the dog but not interacting, which I found odd. When we came back out of the store, the man was gone, but the puppy was still there, confirming my thought that the dog didn't belong to the man.  A few people walking by kept crouching down to pet it a while, but then would get up and keep on walking. I kind if asked aloud to Jason what we could do, because someone obviously had left it or was too busy with their shopping to make arrangements for their dog. We left, because people kept stopping and tending to the dog. I was pretty worried (aka ticked off) though... animal cruelty and negligence is something I don't take lightly at all. I won't get into all that... but it just makes me angry - no matter if someone actually left the dog there on purpose, knowing that a kind stranger would take care of what they're too lazy to do themselves... or if someone was just so incompetent and uncaring that they decided to tie up their puppy while they did a little shopping or had lunch in a nice heated restaurant. I don't care, there's no excuse. We had lunch nearby, so we drove back by afterwards to check. I was fully prepared to pull the guilt trip and at least beg Jason to drive us to take the dog to the SPCA adoption center if it was still there, because it certainly didn't deserve to go back to the people who left it there, even if they did plan to come back. (Yes, I had already jokingly mentioned "rescuing" the puppy ourselves, and let it become part of our family... and how it could conveniently save us adoption fees in the dog we eventually want to get, haha... and that "joke" was quite denied... oh well, in due time.) Thankfully, the puppy wasn't there any more. I'm happy that it's at least out of the cold. I can only hope that it's with somebody more responsible now. If I could have, I would have had no problem taking that dog home without even a note left on the bench. I just pray he's happy, warm, and cozy - it's reeeeally getting cold out tonight!

Hope everyone had a great holiday yesterday and is getting to enjoy a long weekend...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Random musings of the day...

Just a few of my thoughts from today...

There are just certain days that it seems like the stupid people come out on the road... all at the same time. Or, as I also like to say, everybody wore their stupid hats.  Today was one of those days.  Hmm, random braking all over the interstate - seems like a good idea to me!  Swerving all over the place, especially a few feet from my bumper - always fun for all!  Sheesh...

I also was reminded today of just how lazy people can be.  I was working on entering paper surveys, and it just amazes me how few people actually write legibly and make sense of their words and thoughts.  I was able to decipher most of it pretty well, but it is frustrating to spend so much time doing that when all it would take is them taking 2 more seconds to write so that somebody else could read it.  But it just reminds me of how lazy and conditioned the world has become, with each person being allowed to think it's all about them, and that's all that matters.  It would be such a better place to live if everyone stepped back a little from that.  And I truly believe you get what you give.

And lastly, if you live in the Triangle area and are not ready for Christmas spirit, do NOT (repeat, DO NOT) go to the following radio stations:  106.1, 101.5, 102.9 and 99.5.  (Am I missing any??)  Surprisingly, 93.9 has not joined in yet. Maybe they figure everyone else is doing enough already and they're just going to stick with their normal continual Christmas during all of December.  I found all this out today by flipping through the preset stations in the car, trying to find some normal music, making sure to avoid hitting 106.1, as I found that one out yesterday MORNING (yes, a Monday morning... that was fun).  So while channel surfing today, I changed over to my rarely-used FM2 presets.  Loved the surprise when even 2 of those had jumped on the wagon.  So I had to break out the CDs.  Seriously, are all the stations going to have a monopoly come December and make us listen to NOTHING but Christmas music?

Aaaaand to top it all off, the TV commercials on right now are all playing Christmas music.  YAY.  Same thing happened last night - I had Jingle Bells stuck in my head, which of course isn't going to fly.  So I had to go rock out to some real music before bed, just so I wouldn't fade into winter wonderland and dream of Christmas yet.

I'll leave you with one of those truly awesome songs... always makes everything better. :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It just keeps getting worse...

...and it looks like it's only going to continue getting worse. Guess I just need to brace myself until New Years.

I get see this while walking to grab lunch in downtown. The leaves are still falling off the trees, for crying out loud!!

It's a bit hard to see because it's a cell phone picture, but the second one is wreaths, lining the entire street, as far as you can see.  I love how there's still leaves on the trees, right next to the wreaths.

Good grief.  Craziness.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A non-cooking night for me!

Just wanted to share the nice thing Jason did for me tonight - he took care of the cooking.  Always a nice thing to not have to worry with that once in a while. :-)

Taking a peak...

 Servin' it up...

 The whole spread, on my fun old thanksgiving placemats. :-)

He baked some awesome porkchops and sweet potatoes, with some LeSueur peas (my favorite!!).  I was in charge of putting the rolls in the oven and finishing making the tea. :-) Not bad compared to the amount of cooking I usually do.

By the way, if you want some really nice-smelling fall scents, Bath and Body Works has a yummy pumpkin scented candle.  I've got a little one burning in that picture above... it's just enough without being too much.  Puts me in the fall mood, especially in all this rainy weather!  (aka NOT Christmas mood!!!)

Well, it was nice to have the day off (work, I mean...)!  Back to work tomorrow...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Yeah, more Christmas...

So this was in Target as soon as I walked in the other day...

Yay, even more Christmas!  They're even playing Christmas songs on TV commercials now too... it's getting ridiculous.  I can't wait to see how else they're going to immerse us in the holidays.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Seriously... Christmas, now?

(Note:  This picture is posted with much sarcasm on my part, courtesy of Target.)

The past few years, I've really gotten sick of the "Christmas spirit."  We're hit with it from all sides so much that I'm sick of it before December even comes around, let alone Christmas itself.

But this year, it's already gone too far.  I mean, waaaaayyy too far.  Weeks ago, Jason and I were walking down the second floor in the mall, and they already had the little Christmas trees hanging from the balcony.  We stopped with jaws dropped when we saw those, looked down, and saw that they were setting up for Santa's huge area down on the first floor.  In early OCTOBER.

Mom and I went to Asheville this weekend for some wedding work.  Biltmore already has up the Christmas tree in the winery, and the big tree is up in the fountain in front of the house.  But I give them a break, because they do the Christmas candlelight evenings.  BUT last year, the Candlelight evenings started the last weekend of November, which was when we actually went to see it all.  But this year, they're starting on November 6... which meant they had the trees up on Halloween, when we were there!  I mean, come on, Christmas decorations in October, really?  I just went to Biltmore's website, and apparently they're already geared up, lit up, and ready for the Christmas-happy visitors...

(Photo credit

[Note:  I am not bashing Biltmore in any way.  I love Biltmore. :-) ]

Mom and I did some shopping yesterday as well.  Went in a few stores, and all was fine.  Then we set foot in Kohls.  Not a few minutes in, and we reached a quiet area.  You know those times when suddenly you can hear the music in department stores?  Well it happened... and I couldn't believe my ears.  Keep in mind, this was NOVEMBER 2nd, people.  Halloween was only 2 days before.  The words I began to hear over the speakers were... "Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful..."  I can't describe the icky feeling I had inside.  I shuddered.  I shook my head.  I think I made some disgruntled noises out loud to my mom, halfway hoping the nearby employee stocking the shoes would hear me.  Ugh.  I mean, I hear that song, and typically feel the epitome of Christmas spirit.  It should be cold outside, with Christmas day shortly over the horizon.  Snow is optional, but welcomed.  Cozy fires are preferred.  But November 2, when I'm surrounded in the majority of the store by pumpkins, cornucopias, fall-colored leaves, turkey decorations, and Halloween costumes on clearance??  REALLY??  I was so close to finding the manager of the store and asking what the heck they were thinking.  But I just couldn't stand to be in the store much longer.  We left, and I had to shudder some more once I walked out and get that way-too-early Christmas feeling out.

Next stop was Michaels, for some craft supplies.  I won't get on my soapbox again, but you can probably guess what they were playing... what else but more Christmas music?  Plus, in these stores, they now have all the Christmas decorations right up front as soon as you walk in.  It's ridiculous.  And we can't get away from it without separating ourselves from society completely.  Even the discount stores like Ross and Homegoods are doing it, which is sad.

I was watching ABC Family last night, and they started advertisements for some Christmas movies.  I didn't pay much attention, thinking it was the "normal" (today's version of normal) advertising for their Christmas movies they run all December... they call it the "ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas."  (I only remember that because they advertise the darn stuff so much during the holidays that you can't help but get it stuck in your head... plus those 25 days monopolize the time they'd usually show some halfway-good movies on TV, which I think every other station is in on too... so basically it's either Christmas TV or no TV at all for all of December.)  Anyway, the particular commercial I saw last night turned out to not be for the 25 Days movies... it's for a Christmas movie marathon they're starting up soon in ANTICIPATION of the 25 Days movies.  Yes, they are going to play a marathon for most of November... of Christmas movies.  Yay, can't wait.  I'm probably better off anyway... less TV to feel the need to watch.

It's like some crazy person started Christmas WAY too early this year, and everyone else in the world felt like they had to keep up, maybe some sort of domino effect or something.  Whatever happened, I really feel a need to fix it.  First of all, the real meaning of Christmas has been completely lost for a long time - much longer than the holiday spirit has been coming out too early.  Christmas is about the birth of our Lord, and celebrating his grace, mercy, and gift of eternal life to us.  Second, I really like Thanksgiving.  It's a great holiday.  With a great meaning as well.  And it's really getting lost in the shadows with all this early Christmas hype, kind of like a little road bump on the long, huge, speeding-fast road to Christmas.  It's like a little pothole in the road... "What was that?"  "Oh, just Thanksgiving.  It's ok, keep going!  We've got so much to do!!"  Blegh.

Growing up, you just didn't decorate for Christmas until the free-for-all day, which was the day after Thanksgiving.  When you went shopping that day, aka Black Friday, THAT was the introduction to all the Christmas stuff in the stores.  THAT was when you were free to be bombarded with all the Christmas spirit, and you're actually allowed to enjoy it and start to immerse yourself in it, should you so choose.  And even if you didn't go shopping, you could stay home and start to pull stuff out of the attic and closets to begin all the Christmas decorations.  THAT was when you started getting into it.  I personally never liked doing all that until December actually started, but that Friday was at least the unspoken "release" date.

I can recall times growing up that it seemed things were happening a bit early.  I can remember neighbors setting up their trees early, just so they could "go ahead and have it done, and enjoy the holidays, instead of decorating all the time."  I never thought too much of it.  I remember when the radio stations started playing Christmas music in high school for the entire month of December... annoying, but hey, I let it slide - at least it's December.  But now, it's absolutely insane.  I heard on the radio today about one of the DJ's family doing their Christmas photos, and they already have them printed and ready to start addressing.  Saves time I guess, but I just can't imagine dressing up for Christmas photos before Halloween is even here.  Even our families now have all Christmas things set up for the family Thanksgiving get-togethers.  I'm not complaining, because yes, it's pretty.  And yes, it lets you actually enjoy December and revel in the Christmas spirit, instead of spending it all to decorate, just in time to take it all down.  But it just solidifies that everyone has gotten used to starting Christmas way earlier than we used to.

Any thoughts on how to get things back to the way they used to be??