Tag Archives: Bloglikecrazy

Blogging Like Crazy Didn’t Make Me Crazy!

img_3991Today ends 30 days of blogging every day.  Yep!  You read that right!  I blogged EVERY. SINGLE DAY this month!  And…I lived to write about it!

The incredible Javacia Harris Bowser, founder of the See Jane Write networking group challenged the women of the group to #bloglikecrazy for the month of November.  I did this last year and it was a fantastic experience.  I wondered then if I could find enough topics to write about for 30 solids days and I did!  And like anything you do, with practice you get better and ideas come a little easier.

This year the only snag I hit was a pesky sinus infection the week before Thanksgiving which is still hanging on today.  So even though I had some bigger ideas for topics to write about, I didn’t feel good physically and I think it clouded my ability to write on some days.  I chose easier topics to write about and figured I would reserve others for a time when I was thinking more clearly and not as exhausted from fighting the congestion.

I ran into my friend Audrey Atkins yesterday who blogs at Folkwaysnowadays.com and we talked about the bloglikecrazy challenge.  She did the challenge too and we were both excited that we were one day away from finishing!  Check that goal off our list!  Oh, and you really need to check out her blog and her series for this challenge on favorite idioms.  It’s terrific and hysterical!  I learned a LOT about idioms this past month thanks to Audrey!

Back to our meet-up – we discussed how important it is to really plan things out and write ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling at 8 p.m. at night to get a post completed.  I admit, that was me on several nights during this challenge!  But through this process, I’ve thought about other topics I want to explore and write about.  I’ve also been surprised by what people are actually reading vs. what I sometimes “think” will spark interest.  It pays to look at your analytics and see what is catching your readers’ eye!  I’ll be doing more of that as I move forward.

Javacia started See Jane Write to empower women to write and live a life worth writing about.  Thanks so much, Javacia!  It’s a wonderful goal to aspire to and I think by accepting this challenge…I’m on my way!

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Iron Bowl Saturday at the Odom House

Easy peasy taco soup ready for the Iron Bowl today!

Easy peasy taco soup ready for the Iron Bowl today!

Today was Iron Bowl Saturday and this is the first time in a long time that we’ve had a watch party!  All the kids were home today and I honestly can’t remember this happening.  Typically a few are AT the game or not in town.  I know my husband was really excited about watching the Alabama/Auburn game with his children.

This called for Taco Soup and of course, he was up bright and early to put a crock pop of this delicious soup on to slow cook.  Kickoff was at 2:30 so the soup would be nice and hot by then!  Along with that, he made cheese dip with rotel – one with ground beef and the other plain (for me)!  My daughter, Anna Marie made her now famous swiss and bacon dip and also a cookie dough dip.  Oh the dips!!!  So much for the diet!!!

At any rate, our family room was full of family – human and the furry kind – and the game was watched to the conclusion we all had hoped for – Alabama won!  YAY ALABAMA!

Game day jerseys on!

Game day jerseys on!

Here are a few photos of our Iron Bowl Saturday – Roll Tide!

If you want to see the recipe for this delish Taco Soup, check my post from last November!

The Thankful Tree

Our Thankful Tree the first year...

Our Thankful Tree the first year…

When my kids were little, I was always looking for ways to bring the importance of thankfulness into their lives, especially at Thanksgiving.  We did the usual taking turns around the Thanksgiving table saying what we were thankful for and brought out little items they made at school as part of our dinner each year.  Pinterest wasn’t a “thing” at the time so going out and finding a multitude of ideas wasn’t readily available.  Hard to believe with the access we have on the internet these days.

One year I remember reading about creating a Thankful Tree using limbs from your yard and hanging leaves (cut out leaves or fake leaves) on a string to the limbs with why you were thankful.  I really liked that idea and it took on greater meaning to me in 2007.  That was the year that both my mother and her sister were diagnosed with cancer.  To me, for this to happen to two sisters in one year was an incredibly sad situation.  Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer that March and my Auntie Gail was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that September.  Getting them both through their chemo, radiation, hospital stays and doctor visits was tough that year.  But I’ll always remember how brave they both were and how difficult it was for them.  It was a privilege to be able to support them both that year and watch their courage as they fought this disease.

At Thanksgiving that year, I asked the kids to go out into our yard and find some limbs so we could make our first ever Thankful Tree.  We put them in a vase and cut pieces of brown yarn and added them to leaves.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t write on the leaves so we used sticky notes and stapled them to the leaves and hung them on the tree.  I remember watching my sweet Aunt write why she was thankful that year on a sticky note and then help two of her grandchildren with their own sticky notes.  I was so thankful that year that we were all able to celebrate Thanksgiving together because I know how difficult it was for both my aunt and Mother to get through their treatments.

A few years later, I found some paper leaves we could write on and we used those for the tree.  We had a few transitions over the next few years, celebrating Thanksgiving with the family in Jasper so we didn’t make the tree for a while.  But then my sweet Sister-in-Law, Rhonda, passed away suddenly in July 2014 and finding a way to be “thankful” was something I felt we needed as a family that Thanksgiving in Jasper.  I wanted to create something more permanent that year so I had this idea about using a bulletin board and using felt to create a tree on the board.  I enlisted my daughters to create this tree and they did a fantastic job drawing it out, cutting it out and then gluing it to the bulletin board.  They also cut out different fall color leaves from construction paper so we could write on them.

When I introduced it at the family gathering that year, it was just what we all needed. Don’t get me wrong, in no way did it replace those that we have lost over the years but it did give us time to reflect, all gathered as family, about what we still have and what we need to maintain our family ties.  I think it helped us reflect on our love for one another through whatever comes our way.  It was a blessing to watch the “kids” – almost all adults now – take to this “new” tradition and write something special to themselves on a leaf.

We have now used the bulletin board Thankful Tree for 3 years and I love reading what everyone writes.  Whether it’s something funny in the laughter of the gathering or if there is something special on someone’s heart, it captures that person at that moment in time.  I really do hope we continue to do this for years to come.

I have a larger project in mind after a few years of collecting these “thankful leaves’ and hope that by next year I can get it underway.  Meanwhile, each year I take the leaves that are put on the tree, write the year they were written on the backs of the leaves, and store them with my Thanksgiving decorations.  I am so very thankful that I found this idea so many years ago and I’m thankful for the creativity of my daughters in creating this on a bulletin board so we can keep it going.

Thankful…

The annual Odom Family Thanksgiving Cookie!  Always a hit!

The annual Odom Family Thanksgiving Cookie! Always a hit!

Today the Odom family gathered at our house to celebrate our annual Thanksgiving dinner.  I could go into detail about the preparations, the decorations, the food, and the conversations but I won’t.  I could also make a list of all the things I’m thankful for this year but I think the best way to show this would be to just share the photos I took today.  I’ll also share the messages several of us wrote for our Thankful Tree, a tradition be started a few years ago and that I hope will continue for many years to come.

Today was a great day…and I’m thankful for these wonderful people in my life…

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Edwina Taylor – Helping People One Smile at a Time

img_3055I got my Cahaba Valley Health Care newsletter in the mail today.  I always like reading about the people who are helped by this wonderful non-profit and also the volunteers involved.  And in this edition of the newsletter – I spotted a photo I took at the See More Smiles Breakfast in 2010!

Let me start with a little background on Cahaba Valley Health Care or CVHC.  This non-profit was founded in 2000 by Edwina Taylor, a hematology and oncology nurse who had worked for decades at UAB Medical Center and then in palliative care at Cooper Green.  This is where Edwina began seeing how difficult it was for the uninsured to access health care.  In 1979 she and her husband adopted a daughter, Emilie, from Guatemala.  Because of her daughter’s background, she began paying more attention to the needs of the Hispanic community.  This reached a peak in the 1990s with the influx of Hispanics to the Birmingham region.  Edwina has told the story many times but I never tire of hearing it because of her enthusiasm and giving heart.  She said if it was hard for people who were born here and spoke the language to access health care, what must it be like for someone who wasn’t born here and doesn’t speak the language.  On top of that, there is the cultural and trust barrier that compounds all of this.

Edwina decided she needed to act on her desire to help the uninsured and with the help of friends and her church – Cahaba Valley – she set out to start a non-profit that offered health screening for the uninsured population with a focus on Hispanics in Jefferson and Shelby Counties.  The latest newsletter already has the dates for the 2017 screenings listed and almost all are at area churches with a Hispanic congregation.  Always happy to see my own church, Prince of Peace Catholic – on the list!  These screenings include vision, dental and blood pressure.  I’ve attended a few of these screenings and I’m amazed at the number of people who come out.  Many people who come to these screenings are in dire need too.  Edwina talks about how if you have a tooth ache, you have a bad day…but what if you have several?  Many of her clients require much care and have no way to access if it weren’t for CVHC,  I even heard one story of someone pulling their own tooth with pliers because of the pain.  I can’t even imagine…

I first met Edwina when I visited their first offices at Cahaba Valley Church along with a friend from an area foundation who was going to present a check to her.  I went along to learn more about her and her organization because of my involvement in the community.  I had actually met her at the United Way Latino Issues Committee but had not had a lot of time to talk to her.  Something about Edwina that I found out early on is that her demeanor is always the same – smiling and positive – ALWAYS!  She is not someone you say “no” to either and she can pull volunteers and collaborators together like no other person I’ve ever known.  Another thing I learned about her is that she is always looking for ways to help more and more people.  She is not satisfied with the status quo and her energy is inspiring to me.  She is the type of person who makes you want to do more.

Earlier I mentioned my photo being in the newsletter advertising the See More Smile Breakfast.  This fundraising event has grown so much since my first breakfast about 8 years ago.  Edwina gets everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – donated and there is no cost to attend.  You are simply asked to make a donation at the end of the breakfast and after Edwina talks, you WANT to donate!  I never attend a See More Smiles breakfast without my camera anymore.  That’s one of the things I’ve learned over the years of working with non-profits …there is always a need for more marketing and PR assistance and a good photo can go a long way!

Speaking of being able to generate volunteers…Edwina many years ago took on the task of creating the Fiesta Health & Wellness Village for us (the Fiesta board).  We had a vision for having all the health care agencies and non-profits in one area at the festival and she took it and ran with it!  At one point, she would just ask us for the registration forms and would report back close to the event who was coming so we could prepare.  We never questioned because we knew that in her hands, the village would be phenomenal…and it always has been.

Edwina speaks to visitors to the Fiesta Health and Wellness Village that she coordinated through 2015.

Edwina speaks to visitors to the Fiesta Health and Wellness Village that she coordinated through 2015.

In April this year, CVHC moved to Cooper Green Hospital.  The ability to serve even more clients in their dental clinic is exciting.  It seems almost like it has come full circle for Edwina though…as a nurse at Cooper Green so many years ago.  She is back where she originally saw the need to serve and is doing just that.

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Once Upon a Time…35 Years Ago…We Met

Nov 2014 - celebrating the anniversary of the night we met!

Nov 2014 – celebrating the anniversary of the night we met!

It was Veterans Day eve and I had UAB Chamber Choir rehearsal that night.  I remember all my friends from work were heading out to a “happy hour” and I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t going with them.  But the Chamber Choir was getting ready for a performance and I knew I couldn’t miss rehearsal so…

A friend of mine said she would go later if I felt like it.  So after rehearsal, I called her and we both got ready and headed to the happy hour.  It was close to 10 p.m. and I thought there wouldn’t be anyone there.  Turns out Mr. Right was there!  And the party was just getting started!

Our big group danced and sang along with the band for the rest of the night.  The band kept asking for requests and I kept asking them to play “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon to no avail.  (I still do this when I’m out and I’ve yet to have anyone play it for me!)  Eddie and I kept drifting toward one another when we were all dancing together and eventually we ended up dancing together.  We had both been noticing each other at work and he told me later he’d had a secret crush on me when he’d see me at the office.  I confessed the same to him.

This was our 30th "first" - 2011 and we were headed to Flemings that year for dinner.

This was our 30th “first” – 2011 and we were headed to Flemings that year for dinner.

Veterans Day eve became our “first” anniversary – the anniversary of the night we met and we’ve been celebrating it every year since.  When the kids were little we’d have dinner at home and play up about the night we met.  As they got older, we started going out to celebrate and reminisce about meeting and when we dated.  It’s fun to keep those stories alive and even more interesting when new details emerge!

Two years ago we went to Firebirds for dinner.  I don’t know if it was the way we were talking or what, but the server asked if we were celebrating something special.  We said, “yes, the anniversary of the night we met 33 years ago.”  She thought that was the coolest thing ever and by the end of the meal, she brought out a fabulous dessert on the house along with a card addressed “To the sweet couple!” When we opened it, the entire staff had signed the card!

Tonight we will continue the tradition of celebrating our “first” anniversary.  If there is a band wherever we go I’ll yell out “Werewolves of London” as a song request.  Meanwhile, I’m so thankful that I decided to go to that “happy hour” on that night 35 years ago.  I can’t imagine my life without this wonderful man in it!

Happy “first” anniversary, sweetheart!

Frida’s Lipstick and Nail Polish

img_2313I was browsing Instagram few months ago when I came across a photo of Frida Kahlo nail polish and lipstick.  I did a double-take.  When was a line of Frida Kahlo make-up introduced, how did I miss it and more importantly, where could I buy some??!!!  I commented on the photo and got a response that these items were found at a CVS store in California.  My heart sank a little.  I mean, with the large Hispanic population in California I could see this being a popular line but why not in Birmingham too?  I mean, we have a large Hispanic population too!  Granted, not to the level of California but still…  Artist Frida Kahlo is iconic with the Mexican population, especially around Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos celebrations.  (I’m working on a post about Frida that I’ll post soon!)

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I was only able to find two lipstick designs at the Homewood store…I may need to check around and see if there are others!

So I grabbed my laptop, typed in Frida Kahlo nail polish and lipstick and the search directed me right to CVS.  There I found several color options for both the nail polish and lipsticks and better yet, iconic paintings of Frida and some of her artwork!  Now I knew I HAD to have these!!!  Ordinarily I would have just ordered them all online but that wasn’t an option.  There was, however, an option to search for a store that carried these products.  So I entered my zip code and found several stores right in my area.  Now I was getting excited!  I wrote them down – all within a 10 mile radius – and began my hunt.  At the first store in Homewood, I walked all over looking high and low.  The big name cosmetic brands all have their designated space in the store, so I knew I wouldn’t see these there so I figured it would be a small display off to the side or on the very top of the shelves.  No luck there.  Crossed that off the list and headed to the CVS in Cahaba Heights.  Once again, no luck and by now I was losing faith that I would find them.  I went to one more store in Homewood and again…nothing.  Maybe the product hadn’t landed in the stores yet?  Maybe I was a bit ahead of the shipment?  I really don’t know the answer to those questions.  I was disappointed but then decided I really didn’t “need” the products – I just “wanted” them – and so tucked it out of my mind…temporarily.

About three weeks ago I ducked into the Homewood CVS to pick up a few items when I noticed a small display of sample products in front of the cash registers.  I’m such a sucker for sample sized products so clearly my attention was peaked and as I browsed, there they were…several colors of the Frida Kahlo nail polish and several of the lipsticks too!  I couldn’t believe my luck!  And the colors are so vibrant and beautiful too!  I picked up two of each and on a return visit two weeks later, I picked up one more nail polish.

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The color and photo on this nail polish bottle are striking!

Honestly, I think I love these more for the artwork than the actual polish and lipstick…they are just so darn cute!  But I did go back onto the CVS website and this time found several great reviews on the products so maybe I was a little ahead of the shipment after all.  One person said she would put the polish up against OPI which I thought was quite a compliment.  The lipstick was also given high marks.

I’m hoping this isn’t a one-time offering and that I’ll be able to find these again next year, or better yet, online!  I guess time will tell.  Meanwhile, I’m loving the fact that they were created at all and happy I was able to find these here in Birmingham!

Love the names of these lipsticks!

Love the names of these lipsticks!