Tag Archives: Photography

Spirits of Thanksvings Past

Thanksgiving 2012 – Odom Family photo

This time of year, I do a lot of reminiscing and looking at old photographs.  Thanksgiving has always been “the” holiday in our family – both Zuniga and Odom.  When my dad, Aunt Gail, and grandmother were still alive, we always had Thanksgiving on the actual day at my house.  And we would have the Odom family Thanksgiving in Jasper the Sunday before.  Soon, we were having our gathering on the actual day in Jasper.

One of the things that remained constant for many years was the annual family photo on the Odom family swing.  We have been taking a grand-kids photos for years on the swing but we really didn’t start taking a family photo until 2006.  My niece, Kate became our “family photographer” for these photos and we used these photos for our Christmas card too.  We were pretty consistent with this for many years until we switched to Christmas in 2015-2016.  But for this Thanksgiving, I thought an Odom Family pictorial over the years was in order.  Meanwhile, I always like to encourage everyone to take photos so you can reflect back on these times later in life.  I’m finding time goes by very quickly and these photos and memories are so priceless.

Here are our photos over the years…beginning with 2006.  We were all seated on the family swing and Allen and Rhonda’s dog, Ozzie decided he wanted to get into the picture!

In 2007 – Our 2007 photo was taken after a major family football game in my in-law’s backyard!  I’m surprised we were all so put together after all that!  Then in 2008, everyone sympathized with Anna Marie by puffing up their cheeks.  She had her wisdom teeth taken out a day earlier and was a bit swollen!  We didn’t use any of these photos for our family photo, of course, but she was a good sport and posed for photos regardless of how big her cheeks were that year!

I couldn’t locate the photo from 2009.  But here are the ones from 2010 and 2011.  We included Lucy in the 2010 photo.

Here are the photos fro 2012 and 2013.  In 2013, we hosted Thanksgiving in Hoover so we took the photo on our deck.

In 2014, we took our last family photo on the Jasper swing.  After that, we had to change to taking the photo after decorating the Christmas tree at our house in order to have everyone together.  I’m sure this will continue to change over the years but if we can manage one family photo together a year, I’ll be happy!

Nov 2014 – last family photo on the swing in Jasper at Thanksgiving

 

 

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Odom Thanksgiving at Kate and David’s House!

The Big Thanksgiving Cookie – it’s a family tradition!

 The Big Thanksgiving Cookie – it’s a family tradition!Thanksgiving doesn’t officially happen until November 23rd, but this year the Odom family had the gathering a little earlier than usual.  As all of our kids get older and everyone moves out of the general Birmingham/Jasper area, we are getting creative with how we celebrate and where!

Kate and David outside their new home in Athens, AL!

This year, my niece Kate and her husband David wanted to host the family at their new home in Athens, Alabama.  Kate and I kept in touch the week of the gathering via text message down to Kate making sure we had pumpkin pie covered for my daughter Emily.  (I thought it was so sweet that Kate remembered how much her cousin loves pumpkin pie!)  Their home is beautiful and there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out and enjoy each other’s company.  But you know where everyone gathered, right?  Yep…the kitchen!  I told Kate that they have the same situation we have at our house…the end of the island is right in front of the refrigerator and that’s where everyone wants to stand!  Of course, I said this as I was standing there opening a bottle of wine!!

Everyone was able to be there this year except for my daughter Anna Marie and her hubby Ryan.  They were in town last weekend from Colorado for a family wedding so couldn’t return again this weekend.  We were also missing my nephew Dustin and his daughter Maddie.  They always make the gathering more lively!  We missed them all.  But we are working on a cousin reunion in December when everyone is back in town so stay tuned!

Our gathering was just what this family needed…great food, great wine (thank you Perry’s Steakhouse!), the tradition of our Thankful Tree, group photos and of course, the big cookie!  I didn’t take as many photos as I normally do…surprise…but here are several I took throughout the day.  Happy “early” Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

 

 

HICA and the Fun of Tamale Pick Up Day

Doors of HICA last December – welcoming tamale sale supporters!

I think I’ve lost count as to the number of HICA tamale sales I’ve been a part of all these years!  It’s the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama’s signature fundraiser and a labor of love each year to put together and pull off.  It’s gone from a group of people making tamales in a church kitchen, to volunteers making them at the Culinard kitchen to outsourcing to restaurants one year when the demand got so great.  Over the years I like to think we’ve finally perfected the sale, the way we market the sale and most of all, the tamale pick up day!  On a personal note, I rolled off the HICA board in December last year, but this organization is close to my heart and I’ll always use the word “we” when talking about it.

I’ve written a lot about the sale over the years but I don’t know that I’ve really talked about tamale pick up day.  It always takes place on a Friday in December and it’s the day set aside for people who have bought tamales to stop by the HICA office and pick them up.  We always ask HICA board members to be on hand to help with the pick up day in shifts.  Of course, the HICA staff is always on hand to make sure there is a good flow to everything and the orders are fulfilled.

Holly Hilton makes calls to people who purchased tamales to remind them to pick up!

Calls are placed to people who placed large orders to remind them to come by and pick up.  Over the past few years, Tamale Captains were created to help with this.  When you order, you can select a tamale captain that you know and request for them to be delivered to you through this person.

For me, tamale pick up day is my favorite part of this fundraiser.  I don’t sign up for a shift because I like being there all day!  I love seeing all the people who come by and support HICA by buying tamales and listen to their stories.  That’s one of the best parts.  These stories are often unsolicited too.  As they are waiting for their tamales to be bagged, they offer stories on what they will be doing with the tamales, when they will enjoy them and how often they’ve been buying them from HICA!  It’s become such a tradition for so many people in the Birmingham area.

In the past, I’ve brought Christmas music to play and also a box of goofy  Christmas headbands – antlers, santa hats, elf ears, etc. – for the board and staff to wear and greet everyone.  This past year, I had a blinking Christmas light necklace that I wore.   I bought it at Walgreens and several of the staff members loved it and wanted one.   So after I went to make a tamale drop off downtown, I hit up several Walgreens stores looking for a few more to share with the staff with no luck!  I’m hoping I can find a few in the next few weeks to take with me this year!!!  It just adds to the fun of the day!

Because of my love for “pick up” day,  I have recorded it with photos over the years.  Here are a few of my favorites and some of my friends who continue to support HICA by buying tamales every year.

If you are in the Birmingham area and want to experience the HICA tamale sale this year, like HICA’s Facebook page to keep up with the updates.  The sale begins on Thanksgiving day (Nov 23rd) and ends Dec 10.  Pick up day is on Friday, Dec 14th at the HICA offices.  I’ll be there so let me know you read this blog post and let’s take a photo together!

Happy Fall Y’all!

My first picture of my favorite tree this year…still a little green but beginning its fall color show.

It’s finally fall!  This morning while I was walking my pup Lucy, it was a cool 50 degrees, sunny and the wind would blow just ever so slightly.  A few times, while we were walking the leaves would fall off the tree and float by us.  Listening to the wind and the rustle of the leaves was so calming.

It’s been a little rainy and dreary these past few weeks.  Around the end of October, I always start to watch my favorite tree in my neighborhood.  I wrote about it last year in a post called,  My Favorite Tree.  It’s just such a gorgeous tree and when the leaves start changing, they change quickly and then before you know it, they’re gone.

Two weeks ago, I noticed a spot on the top of the tree that was beginning to turn orange.  I knew the tree would begin its color change soon.  This past week, I began taking a photo of the tree everyday as I left my neighborhood.  The first day was a brilliantly blue and sunny day, much like last year when I photographed the tree.  I stopped my car just across the street and took my first photo of the tree this year.

Over the next three days, the colors kept changing against a gray sky.  We had some rain and wind so I began seeing more and more leaves falling and covering the ground below the tree like a gold blanket.  I was so hoping the tree would be able to turn completely orange and gold before the leaves began falling.  But still…this tree is beautiful to me no matter what stage it is in.

Today, I was coming home from running errands around 4 p.m.  The sun was starting to set  and was catching the gold and yellow of the tree as I drove up.  I stopped briefly to capture one final photo this year.  I know in the next few days, all the leaves will fall and the tree will settle in for a long winter’s nap.

Today’s photo of the tree – it has already lost most of the leaves from the back side. In a few days, it will be bare.

Honoring One Who Served

My dad, Praxedis S. Zuniga – posing on his plane. (1945-46)

Tomorrow is Veterans Day…a day set aside to honor the service of all US military veterans.  Today I was watching a DIY program and the man in the segment was talking about his father’s service and how when he died recently, he was buried at Arlington Cemetery.  He said just driving through the cemetery and seeing tombstone after tombstone that it really hit him…this is the price of freedom.  All these men and women who have served, and in many cases gave their lives in the field of combat.

I thought about the time I visited Arlington several years ago and remember having a similar feeling as I walked through and watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier.  Reading some of the headstones was somber as well…so many young lives.  Their young ages made me think about my father.

My dad was 20 years old when he enlisted in the Army in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His occupation at the time was listed as fountain clerk in his hometown of Carlsbad.  He had already been taking flying lessons and wanted to be a pilot prior to enlisting.  Eventually he became a pilot instructor for the Army.  My mother always had a picture of dad visibly stationed in our home.  It’s a picture of dad in his uniform…you know the old saying – “I love a man in uniform.”  Well, I always loved this photo of my father in his uniform.

Praxedis Sotelo Zuniga – 1945-46

As I got into researching our family tree and history, I was fortunate enough to accumulate some more great photos of dad in uniform and by his plane.  For his memorial service in 2001, I created a scrapbook of these photos along with newspaper clippings that my grandmother had saved all these years from dad when he was star quarterback for the Carlsbad Cavemen football team.  He was so young…and so handsome!  Most of our family had never seen these photos either so it was a great memory to watch everyone’s reaction to them at the service.

I can’t think of a better way to honor my dad on Veterans Day then to share these photos today.  Our family is so proud of his service and how it shaped his life.  Happy Veterans Day.

Tales from the Thrift – Part Two

J Crew statement necklace for $1.99 – thrift store find!

As you read in Part 1 of Tales from the Thrift – I love a bargain!  I’ve been perfecting my thrifting “style” over the years and I believe I’ve turned a new leaf this year when it comes to the hunt.  This happened when I began photographing my finds and keeping track of these new-found treasures.  When I find something these days, I ask myself a few questions…(1) do I really like the item?  Sometimes it’s a name brand item but it’s not my style.  This could be clothing, dishes or glassware, jewelry or collectible items.   (2) Will I use it?  This could mean, does it go with any of my collections or is there a spot in my house that needs sprucing up and this would make the difference?  Will i wear it?  and finally (3) Is this something I can I’ll use while entertaining or for an event?  For instance, I host an annual cookie swap party, so is it something that I could use as a theme for that party or another?

This past year, I’ve lucked up on a lot of great jewelry at the thrift stores!  Last year, I wrote a post about all the vintage Christmas pins I found.  I have a collection so this fit right into my criteria and I do love using them during the holidays.  This year it’s been about silver jewelry and pearls with a dash of statement necklaces!  During one trip I found two very different pearl bracelets…one gray wrap bracelet ($2.99) and the other a white pearl and gold cuff ($3.99), still with the original tag on it, I might add!

On another trip, there were a multitude of silver jewelry to choose from and I walked away with another bracelet and 3 pairs of earrings.  The bracelet was really an exciting find for me.  It’s a Mexican Cabochon link bracelet with all the markings on it.  I paid $9.99 for it which was a steal when I’ve seen them for as much as $80 on Ebay and other online places!  I have two others already, one from my mother and one I found in an antique store.  I paired all three together for a beautiful look recently.  The earrings I found are all very vintage looking and very timeless.  One pair is a drop pearl, and you can’t go wrong with pearls!  The other two can be change based on your wardrobe – casual or dressy.  I like stuff like that!

Finally, I love a good statement necklace!  I have several I’ve collected over the years and I look for unique pieces that you don’t see coming and going.  This amber stone necklace has a Chico’s tag on it and if you’ve been shopping at that store, you know these are rather pricey!  When I saw this one I knew it would be a great fall piece because of the color.  It was $5.99!   The other statement necklace is from J.Crew and was $1.99.  I plan to wear this over the holidays because it has bling! (This photo is posted at the beginning of the blog post.)

Chicos statement necklace – great fall color!

Finding Mexican made items is also something I’m always on the lookout for, especially talavera pottery.  It turns up here and there and I’m always thrilled!  Recently I found this planter for $2.99.  I have several in various colors and designs and I love adding more to the mix.  I also walked into the thrift store a few days before Day of the Dead this year and found these punched tin lanterns.  They were perfect for my dining room altar and are marked Mexico.  Timing is everything plus when I find things like this I always have the belief that they were there just waiting for me to come and get them!

Fiesta dishes are also a love of mine!  A few years ago I decided I wanted a set in every color I could find at the time and Kohl’s had a great sale and I took advantage of THAT sale!  I’ve been able to find various Fiesta vintage pieces while thrifting.  A few weeks ago I lucked up on bowls, mugs and plates in three colors.  Each were priced individually at $1.99.

Wow…I still have more to share so I guess there will be a Part 3 after all!  Stay tuned for more Tales from the Thrift tomorrow!

That Awkward Space Above Your Kitchen Cabinets

That space between the top of the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling – my original display with vine wreaths and lights.

There’s that space between my kitchen ceiling and the kitchen cabinets that I’ve always wondered about.  I guess if I had known more about building a house when we built ours I would have asked for more storage in the form of cabinets all the way to the ceiling.  But that was a long time ago and I digress…

Instead, many years ago I was at a friend’s house and I noticed she had a similar situation and she did something very simple and creative…she unwound a grapevine wreath and added white Christmas lights and voila…problem solved!  I got home determined to so something similar.  I went to Michael’s and bought two wreaths and thought it would be a simple project for a Saturday afternoon – one hour max!  Wrong!  First of all, those dang wreaths would not unwind the way I wanted them too so I ended up separating them into sections and using brown pipe cleaners to put them together side by side by side.  Next I began wrapping the lights around the separated wreaths and was making headway.  I had several extra strands of lights from Christmas that I decided to use.  Of course, I tested the lights before I wound them.  I finished up and placed them on top of the cabinets, plugged them in and…a section right in the middle of the display wouldn’t light.  Really???!!!  Yep…I then remembered why these lights were in a bag and in the attic!  I should have introduced them to the trash can!  So after a quick trip to the store for another set of lights, unwinding the bad lights, rewrapping the new ones…it was now 3 hours later and I was finally finished! Yay!

Over the years, I started adding things to the top of the cabinets.  At first it was pretty sparse but over time I was loving the look!  It was a nice way to display things that I loved.  I didn’t turn the lights on all the time either.  Usually they were plugged in over the holidays and on special occasions.  With just the under the cabinet lights on, it gave the kitchen a really cozy hue.

Now…over time, as you can probably imagine, things get a little…well, dusty.  And not just a use a Swiffer and get rid of the dust dusty, but sticky dusty from cooking and all that goes on in the kitchen.  I’ve taken everything down on occasion to clean it all off but it’s been awhile.  These past two weeks, I’ve really noticed that everything had a cloudy and fuzzy look so I pulled up a bar stool and took a closer look.  UGH!  The wreath and lights looked like they were growing fur!  Not good…

So today I retired the wreaths – to the garbage – and bought some cute little LED lights, cleaned off the top of the cabinets – more UGH – and washed EVERYTHING from the top of the cabinets.  Some things had to be washed twice!  I got rid of some items, and added others from around the house.  It turned out to be a fun project and tonight I’m sitting in the kitchen really enjoying the finished look.  Now…on to the next project!