Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Birthday + Farewell Party

 I turned 29 in August and am still trying to figure out where my 20's went. AH!
My coworkers gave me a surprise at the office & treated me to lunch at the Rock House. MMM!
 I spent my actual at the beach with my family and we had a blast. The weather was gorgeous in Destin.
The weather was absolutely perfect!

Birthday dinner at Pompano Joe's!
Shopping at Destin Commons with my fun Mom!

The whole family was all together at Goatfeathers at Santa Rosa beach off 30-A.

So after I returned from the beach, I interviewed and was offered a job!  This was clearly the Lord's hand. 
After 5 1/2 wonderful years at the Marshall Co. CVB, an opportunity came along at Brownell Travel at the Summit in Birmingham that caught my fancy. After several interviews, I was offered the job! I truly feel in my heart this is the right time and have such a peace about it. I cannot say enough about the 128 year old legacy for excellence and personalization this company has for the details and outstanding customer service in the travel industry.  

I will start October 1st working as the Senior Administrative Coordinator for the President & CEO, Troy Haas, a godly man & leader who has been with Brownell for 20+ years. Everyone I have met there has been so friendly and professional.

 It has been hard to leave & say goodbye, as the CVB has been the best job for me right out of college. The people I've gotten to work with on events have been amazing.

I was so honored to have had my coworkers, board, and partners in the industry, and lifelong friends come to celebrate with me at my farewell party this week! It was sad, happy, and bittersweet, but I am blessed to have these people in my life and hope to stay in touch with everyone!
Such a fun day with these people! I'm going to miss them all! Potluck BBQ, cupcakes, and all the sides & fixings!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Back at College, Backstage Passes, and Searching 16 Acres for a Missing Pet

So Summer is...almost over! Boo! All the pictures of kids and teachers back in school has me not so much missing the dread of mid July when school supplies stocked the shelves at Wal-Mart and the registration process/new lockers, schedule, etc. It always sent me in a cold sweat, more of the unknown than anything, right? Transitioning into new schools, new teachers, harder subjects with each year, etc. But now as an adult, you look back and see how simple life really was back then.
Because you had to be stylin with the 101 Dalmations swag...

Speaking of being back in school, I went for my Year 2 of Southeastern Tourism Society's Marketing College last week in Dahlonega, GA. I was fortunate to receive another scholarship from Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. It is a three year program for those in the hospitality industry to acquire the highly respected TMP (Tourism Marketing Professional) certification. It is an intense 5 days of a wide range of relevant topics and instructors who volunteer their time. I stay in the dorms on campus of North Georgia University, which is a military college, eat in the cafeteria, and enjoy the feeling of being back in college--for a week, minus the exams! It's a lot of fun to get to know the 75 people or so in the class from all over the south and bring a lot of good ideas to implement back home!
Here are some of my sweet friends from Marketing College! They are all from South Alabama./Gulf Shores, etc.

 Peggie from the Boaz Chamber and I roomed together! :)

And on Day 5 you get your Certificate of Completion with STS President, Bill Hardeman! One more year to go!

Saturday was the 2nd Day of Main Street Music Festival in Albertville. That meant an early morning 5K with another mother/daughter duo, Ola & Whitney:

Mom and I volunteered at the Information Booth at the festival and sold t-shirts, visors, and raffle tickets. That night was the main event--Exile & .38 Special in concert! The best thing about this festival is that it's FREE! Over 47,000 people came throughout the weekend, which is awesome! My Aunt Kristi lives in Atlanta and actually goes to church with Danny Chauncey, the main guitar player in .38 Special. She was coming home for a visit anyway, so it was nice to go backstage and get to meet Danny and his wife Kelly.
 Lastly, got a scary call on Wednesday at work from my mom saying that my pug of 12 years, Cuddles, was lost. Cuddles, being almost 13 years old has major health issues including being blind and deaf, collapsed trachea, enlarged heart, etc. But she's still kicking, which makes her former days of being adventurous hard to accept that she's no longer in the shape for such things. In the matter of 1-2 minutes this little girl escaped from my mom's sight and went deep into the trails and brush that encompasses our 16 acres of land. I came home at lunch and helped look a good hour all over our property before FINALLY hearing a small whimper and saw her trying to get through a gate behind our house! Praise the Lord! That was a scary 3 hours but so glad to have her back home, no worse for wear! Have any of you ever lost a pet, even for just a few hours? It makes you feel so helpless not knowing where your beloved pet is! They really are one of the family and she will be watched at all times now!
For the record, Simba was NO help in the search!
Living Out the Plans
Temporarily losing Cuddles yesterday made me stop & think about how easy it is for us as Christians to get distracted in today's world and lose sight of our main goal--to live for Christ & further His Kingdom. Sometimes we walk around with our own agendas and let our selfish desires rule our path. It is only after we lose focus and sight of where we know we should be & end up in danger that we realize how and when we stumbled. I'm glad that Jesus is forgiving and always welcomes us back with open arms. But how painful for our Father that has to be to watch His children be "temporarily lost" in the world. That is why we have to remain in His Word, prayer, and be accountable with our church family so that when we do get off track, we are never so far gone that we can't find our way. I love the lyrics in "Who You Are" by Outspoken:
You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far that you can't get back when you're lost."
"All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all." Isaiah 53:6

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Legendary 10 Year Class Reunion

So I miss high school from time to time. Don't we all? Did we realize how good we had it back then without many responsibilities and getting out at 3:00 each day? Um, no.
While it seems really hard to believe that it's been 10 years already (as my 20's seem to all run together), I was actually really excited to both help plan and attend my reunion.

I was not an officer in school but being yearbook editor and a planner for a living, I guess I just got roped in to the planning for it, which I can honestly say was really fun and rewarding.
Give me ample amount of time to think and research about decorating and planning for it, I'll go slightly overboard. But in a nutshell, here's what it consisted of:
1) Setting the location, date and time
2) Getting the group made and inviting people on Facebook
3) Developing a killer playlist (my favorite part). I can't tell you how much I love 90's music
4) Adding little details like photo booth area, banner, memorabilia, centerpieces, etc.
5) Developing a hashtag #Boaz05Reunion
6) Reminding people to RSVP
7) Getting there early to decorate
8) Take a group photo
9) Make it a mission to talk to every single person there
10) Have fun and enjoy it!

We had it at the Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge, which I was ever so shocked to hear people say that they either had never been before or hadn't been in years. Wuuutttt?! It's in your backyard people and it's gorgeous!
A big thank you to Jessica, Anna, and Caitlin for helping!

So anyway, it was way easy and just perfect! We had plenty of room, it was a sunny day, and we got to see and catch up with people that we hadn't seen in 5-10 years. Some people traveled a great distance to be here and some just a few minutes.
After dinner, we went across the hallway to the Hickory Bar. John Pate was the Selfie Stick Master, which provided us with photos of funny pictures of everyone that attended. We looked at the yearbook, and just had a good time. After that, a few of us went to John's for more fun at the pool. Everyone kept saying that we all needed to hang out more. Isn't that the goal? Just because high school is done doesn't mean you can't see these people again? You make time and just enjoy being together as former classmates.
Cheers to the next reunion--happening in 1, 3, and/or 5 years. Proud to be a Pirate.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Coon Dog Cemetery, Rattlesnake Saloon, Ave Maria Grotto & more touristy fun!

Each year, my mom, who is also my best friend and the best mom a girl could ask for, forms an itinerary we like to call "Daughter's Day Weekend." It varies in location, but it always includes a fun time, good food, and memories made.
This year's weekend was no different as we traveled to Florence, AL. My sister Lauren had never been before, so we had a lot to cover in a short amount of time over the Memorial Day Weekend.

We began our adventure by meeting at our glorious hotel for the weekend, the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa. It does not disappoint.

We ate lunch at one of the best Italian restaurants you'll ever find, Ricatoni's. Usually I get the brick oven pizza, but I tried the grilled chicken sandwich and it was great!
We shopped downtown and went in the famous Billy Reid, but didn't see anything we could afford! ha!

Next stop, Una & Leo, on the campus of The University of North Alabama, which is within walking distance from downtown.
 Here is Una getting some loving by her caretaker.

 And Leo snoozing in the shade.

They were having an extra lazy day but they are so fun to watch! We asked what they eat and it's a special diet of ground up beef from Colorado!

We needed to cool off and what better place than this pool at the hotel?!

After a refreshing dip in the pool, we threw a frisbee outside on the back lawn and walked around.

By this time, we were getting hungry and we had reservations (required) at the 360 Grille, atop the Renaissance Tower at the hotel.
What a treat this place is. From the moment we stepped out of the elevator, we heard the soft live music playing, and beheld the views at the top of the 22 story revolving restaurant.


I chose to get the Farmer's Market Special--which all ingredients from the spring vegetable salad to the mushroom gnocchi, to the finale, the mint strawberry shortbread were all purchased that morning at the local farmers market!
On Sunday, we began the morning with brunch at the hotel and then packed up and headed on another road trip. The destination was the Coon Dog Cemetery in Tuscumbia. It took about 45 minutes to get there from Florence on winding roads out in the middle of nowhere, but we finally made it.

Founded in 1937 when the beloved coon dog, Troop, passed away, his owner buried him at the spot, and it soon came to be a burial remembrance ground for other owners of the breed to do the same. Today, over 185 coon dogs are buried there and it is the only cemetery of it's kind in the world, thus making it a tourist attraction.

There is a sign in book and on the grave sites/markers you will see pennies laid from others who have come to pay their respects. Is there really anything like the special bond between a dog and it's owner?

If you're ever in the area, you should make the trip up to see this one of a kind memorial. But prepared, it's rustic (no restrooms, vending machines, cell service).

Next on the adventure was the Rattlesnake Saloon, also located in Tuscumbia and only amount 10 miles from the Coon Dog Cemetery.
We pulled in to the dirt gravel lot and waited at the shuttle stop to then climb up on the bed of a pick up truck that would carry us down to the Saloon, which is a large cave opening with restaurant inside and outdoor seating on plastic tables and chairs. Opened to the public in 2009, it is another tourism gem, and although we didn't eat because of the large wait time, the food looked and smelled amazing!
We ate a quick lunch back in downtown Tuscumbia before we had to say our Daughter's Day Weekend farewell!
On the return trip, Mom and I decided to complete our tourist day by stopping off in Cullman at the Ave Maria Grotto. I had never been before and yet it's only an hour from home! Dedicated in 1934 by Benedictine Monk Brother Joseph Zoettl, the Grotto, which means cave in Latin, features over 125 miniatures, reproductions of famous shrines, churches, and buildings throughout history.

 We even spotted a rat snake--not a reproduction (OR A RATTLESNAKE) thankgoodness!

 It took about 30 minutes to walk through outdoors, but is something everyone can appreciate all the time and detailed work that Brother Joseph constructed out of materials sent to him from all over. This included colored glass, marbles, cold cream jars, punctured commode floats, wrecked marble, broken bathroom tile, costume jewelry, gifts from every state in the union and from many foreign countries.
While we were walking through, a large tour bus with about 50 people unloaded and began touring alongside us. They were a group of Roman Catholics from Chicago and chanted many Catholic prayers aloud along the way. Mom and I were surprised at first but found it really contributed to the feeling of being in another country and seeing all the biblical replicas. 

Living Out the Plans:
This special Daughter's Day Weekend makes me reflect and be thankful for my family. I am blessed with wonderful parents (who celebrate their 40th Anniversary this month), a sister who is also such a great friend, and to live in such a great state. Let us not take our culture, our upbringing, southern hospitality, values, and traditions for granted. I know that people in other parts of the country and world would love to have and experience the everyday things like talking to our family on the phone, celebrating special holidays and occasions and taking trips together. It also brought home just how much our State has to offer. Such a wide variety of unique experiences to see and do all in the matter of a few hours driving. A good mix of city, country, contemporary, history, music, culture, and cuisine.
One thing I am ashamed to say I didn't know, but the Alabama Motto is "Here We Rest." How simple, yet fitting. Alabama has a lot to offer in the way of "rest," from the beaches, the mountain tops, trails, lakes, and everything in between. It reminds me of this scripture: "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken." Psalm 62:1-2

Happy Summer everyone! I would love to hear from you if you've been to Florence, Coon Dog Cemetery, Rattlesnake Saloon, Ave Maria Grotto, etc.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Just in the Nick of Time

So here's the monthly blog! Just in the nick of time!

I feel like I use the word busy too much. Aren't we are all guilty of TBD (Too Busy Disorder)? I don't mean it as a crutch or excuse. The thing is--you always make time for what's important to you. Whether it's your family, friends, job, church, hobby, etc. It's what you look forward to when all the other parts of your life are mismatched and hectic---we all have that reward.

One of the highlights of the past few weeks is getting to see a good friend of mine, a writer, and fellow blogger, Elizabeth Mozley McGrady. I had the pleasure of meeting her about this time last year at a book signing and then getting to read her beautiful words about our shared love of NYC in "We Share the Same Sky." Please check out her blog:  What a sweet friendship to have when you know when you get homesick more than anything for your favorite city--you know you can talk and share memories with that person because they love it just as much! We met for dinner at Mater's in Gadsden and had the best time talking about so many things...but to sum it up--LIFE! How beautiful! Forgot to get a picture but we did get this photo sometime last year--she's a wonderful person & friend!

Early this month, I met my sister in Birmingham for the Mat Kearney concert. We ate dinner at a place called Slice! It was love at first sight of this upscale pizza joint! Their salads had gotten rave reviews so it was a must for us--the house was perfection in every way. The sugared pecans, the honey dijon dressing. We split the Very Veggie--and it was that! So yummy!
And then there's dessert--quite possibly my biggest weakness, tiramisu, and then you say tiramisu cheesecake?! Done & Done.

The concert was a favorite for sure! Parachute and Judah & the Lion put on a great show too!

 Side note: a guy at the concert asked me if my dress was chevron. Anyone who knows me close, knows that is the ONE print I CANNOT stand! Taken aback, I immediately fired back, "I don't know what it is but I hate chevron!" and walked away. Geez. Micheal Kors wouldn't do chevron print!

My cousin Kase turned two on April 1st but we celebrated on Saturday with a Thomas the Train theme party!
He had a boucey house that he adored & got a little jeep to drive around just like his Dad's, among other toys and goodies, mostly Thomas the Train!
Mom & I went for a hike at Noccalula Falls Park! So much fun!
April showers sometimes bring one of my favorite things--Rainbows make me so happy! God's beauty in nature is just perfect---He doesn't have to do any of this but He chooses out of His love for his children!

 It's garden time!

One of the biggest events at work happened April 9-12--the Bassmaster Elite tournament!
It was a lot of work and planning but also a lot of fun and great for Marshall County! Skeet Reese ended up winning the tournament with over 90 lbs of fish for 4 days! Here my coworker Beth & I took a minute out of the craziness to pose for a magazine cover, ha!

Mom and I went to Tuscaloosa last week for the NEEDTOBREATHE Compadres Tour! Can't say enough about the venue, the band, the night, etc. The new Embassy Suites Hotel downtown is super nice and within walking distance to the Amphitheater!

 Priscilla Shirer is an awesome Woman of God! I love her style of teaching and girl did she bring The Word on Saturday in Huntsville! She talked about putting on the full armor of God in every part of our life! Amazing time spent with some of my favorite ladies from church!

 My cousin Kase wrote the book on cool, y'all! He calls me "Enshey" and it's precious.

Living Out the Plans:
I'm preaching to myself when I say it's time to SLOW DOWN and appreciate what is in front of you--don't get so busy you start neglecting your time with The Lord, your family and friends, and the things that truly make you happy. I don't want to be always caught just in the nick of time when it comes to what matters. May we seek God's beauty and promises each day, rest in them, knowing they are sound, secure, and our Rock in whatever we face.

One of my favorite hymns is "Standing on the Promises." Did you know how many promises we have in God's Word? Over 8,000 are offered up from The Lord! That should give us such hope for whatever we are going through! We must grab hold of His promises and not be hindered in fear.

"Standing on the Promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit's call.
Resting in my Savior as my all in all.
Standing on the promises of God."

Until Next Time...
                                                                      Take it easy!