Sunday, April 17, 2011

Seven dies in Alabama severe weather

I tried to mentally prepare myself for severe weather and tornados before I moved to Alabama and while I have been living here with all the preparation information I have received, but let me tell you. Nothing can prepare one for this type of weather!!! I was ready to hide away in the bathroom with a big bottle of whiskey on Friday night - and I hate whiskey!

It all stared about 3:30 p.m. on Friday. The first sirens when off. (Sounds like our crises or old war sirens in Sweden). Here in Alabama that means we left tornado watch and now we are in tornado warnings. Meaning people have spotted tornado touch downs. While at the movies the sirens when off a couple of times and I got my phone up just to check the weather news and radar to see where they spotted these tornados. I was kind of surprised when we got out of the theater the amount of activity people still was engage in. I thought everybody rushed home to hide.

We got back to our house for dinner and about 5-10 minutes after we arrived home the sky turned black and heavy rain and wind came over the city. At the same time the sirens starts to go off again and the TV programs are cut off and important tornado message is passed out to the public. "If you are in this neighborhood take cover now take cover now." This Friday evening was filled with messages and sirens for at least three hours before it stared to calm down. At 2 a.m. the Tornado warning was degraded to a watch and a little later all warnings for our area was cancelled. It took me a while to calm down and find my self comfortable enough to go to sleep.

The result of this storm was seven died in Alabama due to the tornados. And I know I will never ever again complain about grey rainy skies in Sweden. Cause I don´t want to ever again be close to a tornado. It might be different next time since I have now have experienced it even though I was not in it. It was too close this time around... And I believe Montgomery where we live, was lucky to not get hit, considering we were in the path of many of these bad weather systems all night long.

Here are some links of Friday nights severe weather which went over Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama. As I´m listening to the news now the North Carolina has been hit badly with deaths involved.

These links are from Mississippi and Alabama.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Travel time.. New Orleans

Got to have one of these when entering the Mardi Gras night life.... and tons of beads around your neck is needed too..

New Orleans was fun! Or NOLA as they call it. The place had nice food, nice old neighborhoods like the French district. Together with a visiting college friend we drove from Alabama to Louisiana with destination New Orleans. A five hour drive, which was not too bad at all. At least when we get to stop at great outlets for some shopping ;-) We also had great weather and being in end February you just don´t know what kind of weather to expect. But we were happy with mid 70s (23-26 C).

An evening view of from Sheraton hotel down town New Orleans. From the 36th floor.

Good connection got us staying in a suite at the Sheraton down town New Orleans on the 36th floor. Great view, scary one too, since the windows were all the way down to the floor. Leaning toward the window gave one a kind of strange fee falling feeling...

The Garden district with its wonderful houses and the French architecture. We also visited this grave site where the dead is buried above ground.. I would´t want to walk there at night...

My dear college friend had been in New Orleans before and was a perfect guide and planner of the trip. I just love to be taken care of... ha ha. We walked street up and down in the French district and the Garden district and took pictures, had coffee breaks, lunch and dinner.
We were also very lucky to be able to see the first Mardi Gras parade for this year, as well as take part of the crazy party life during the New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities...

It was more than crowded. This first night of the Mardi Gras festivities.

Considering the rest of the USA being strict on rules and regulations morals and values, visiting NOLA during the Mardi Gras was the letting loose from top to bottom - a moral free zone! Big crowds, drinks and beer in plastic cups in every visitors hand walking up and down the streets. Short skirts and no shirts were applied by some.. Strippers hanging in windows and doors to gentlemen clubs, and women and men flashing to get beads. Quite interesting to watch. But I will not publish any of those pictures on my blog.... sorry!

The French market with its café and its live music and good food (might not be so healthy) but cajun and gumbo is definitely good food and a must have when visiting New Orleans. Live music bands on street corners playing - this little guy just had a handful holding his instrument.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Welcome to Plastic Lane, Non-Recycling State in the US of A.

I just must say, one of the biggest amazement I have encountered has turned out to be a cultural chock. It is regarding the way they recycle in Alabama, or just how much waste one gets by going to the store for groceries. The amount you throw away and the amount of plastic used is just unbelievable even for me, who sometimes complain loudly about the amount of recycling we have to do back in Sweden.

It is ridicules to go to the grocery store because even if I shop a little I come out from the store with tuns of plastic bags. Sometimes I wonder if I have more plastic bags with me home than I have purchased items. Were is the stores responsibility of a greener world they so highly market to their consumers with their sales of alternative fabric bags?

The world of recycling or using paper bags have not really arrived to Alabama. I am amazed that nothing is recycled here by the people. In Sweden, I have counted, I have up to 10 recycling bins just in the apartment complex we live in. In Alabama I throw everything in one big green garbage bin (which should be black instead of green, since green for me means recycling).

Someone has told me they recycle at the garbage station. Just picture this: I throw everything into my leak-proof garbage bag, than into the garbage bin which is emptied twice a week (due to the weather here in the summer time reaches 90s 104F /35-40C), after that it goes to a station where people work - sorting, picking and recycling mine and everybody else's trash. How disgusting is that!!! I hope they get paid more then well! Just the common knowledge and the general attitude among the Alabama residents and the stores about recycling makes me highly questioning it.

When I do my shopping I try to avoid products with the enormous amounts of plastic wrapping around every single item, but it is difficult. I have bought fabric bags that I bring to the grocery store when I shop. But, usually I end up with plastic bags anyway because everything will not fit according to the person packing it. If I could packed it myself, I am quite sure I would fit everything in my 5 green colored fabric bags. (Observe, in the grocery store you do not pack your own bag. Its packed for you and even unloaded for you into your car).

Well, yesterday I forgot my fabric bags at home. The result can be found in the pictures below.... It took 15 plastic bags to bring home the items seen below. Ha ha ha.. I even told the man packing my groceries to make sure to fill the plastic bags with so many items as possible... They just don´t listen or just don´t understand what I am trying to say..

In this picture you can see what I bought. And by the way, guess what these items cost me!? The correct guess is one hundred dollars (679 SEK). There is no meat, egg or milk, but other basic products and lots of vegetables, which is very expensive.

I just wanted to show you the size of the plastic bags they pack all the groceries. I have an issue with them. They are not very strong or large for that matter, but trust me they hold much more than just one item.

I have on my kitchen floor lined up all the bags I got for all the items I purchased yesterday (see first picture). It took 15 plastic bags. And several of them had only one item in them. Talk about waste...

In Alabama I have 10 bags with me home from the grocery store, but only one garbage bin to throw it away in. In Sweden I have one plastic bag with groceries with me home, but I will have ten bags filled with garbage with me down to the recycling station.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Coupon country 15 years ago - still coupon country

Think about carry this one with you to the grocery store every time you shop! Picture borrowed from where you can learn more about how you organize yourself and your coupons...

In my collage years you are on a tight budget and getting things for a less price would be a better deal. So while at collage, I got the Sunday paper out to see if there were anything at a discount price or a coupon for it. The Sunday paper was heavy and twice the size of our Swedish daily Sunday paper DN. And cutting out the coupons took its time. But a poor student would do anything to save some dollars.

This was 15 years ago, and the Sunday paper is still filled with ads and coupon "deals"... In Sweden I haven´t seen a coupon in ages. I believe it moved on to other ways of market their products than via cut out coupons.

Every time I go to the store, I see the ladies walk with the shopping cart and a huge book with coupons sorted both left and right.
I can to some extend understand the savings you can do, and if a family/person is on a tight budget, but the time it takes to put all this together must be worth some money too?! I spend about an hour in a grocery store when I do my weekly shopping - way to much time I think. I cannot imagine how much time it would take if I had to walk up and down every aisle to find all the coupon deals in my coupon binder too. And how much does that time cost me? And I am also wondering how much saving you actually do? If you really need the product and it has a coupon well then it might be a saving. But sometimes I feel that having all these coupons tells you to look for a good deals for something you really don´t need at that particular time... But it has a coupon - its less expensive - why not!!?? hmmm?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Insanity work out from home??

From the beginning of this trip I promised myself to get in shape. Work out and make sure my health got a high priority. I did however have a slow start and got sick and before I started to get into the routine of it half of the time here in the States had passed. But a couple of month ago I stared to get into a good routine. Now am working out 5 times a day about 1-2 hours each time. It is hard work and sometimes I wish I would see the result much faster. I guess, I just have to blame my diet. I do believe I can eat anything since I work hard every day at the gym. But as my PT said to me it is 80 percent what you eat and 20 percent physical work. So I guess, I just have 20 percent figured out *smiling*.

I have however, progressed good and the pair of jeans I bought a year ago I can pull off myself buttoned. I know I have lost at least one clothing size and a little bit more. So am even more exited about this progress, but the most exited about this is that I have really starting to enjoy cardio work outs - scary!

The problem I am facing in the near future is the return to Sweden and a normal life with full time work and children at school, their activities are awaiting me and maintaining 5 day work out might be hard to maintain. I think my body will require it since I feel already now the need of a cardio work out. One thing for sure, I cannot go back to the old life of - I just have worked too hard to get to this point.
Anyway, the other night I was watching some television and one channel showed some infomercials - they are quite funny to watch and cheesy. But one, the INSANITY work out, got my attention and I am now thinking of testing this since it got so many good reviews. I am just hoping am able to pull it off from home, how cheesy it now sounds, but that is my only options being by myself without any husband during the week days so I can get that daily cardio work out.

It seam to be a killer work out and if I were to give myself a challenge it might as well be a physical one from home. What do you think? Watch the link above and see beyond the result bla bla bla talk and focus on the actual work out... However, the greatest would be to find such a class at the gym.. that would be FUN!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January just an in-between period...

Christmas is over and January has hit us, the weather is colder and at several times we have even had colder weather then back home in Stockholm. I guess January is one of those months that is not good anywhere you are (Australia might be the exception). I think the worst part is that I feel so unprepared for this cold weather we got. Back home I know it would come, but in Alabama, where the summer so hot and the fall so much summer for me, and the fact that were are on the same latitude as northern Africa, I am not on equal terms it can be cold here. Part of this denial takes is tolls on my feet, I am still walking around barefoot in my summer loafers.

The cold weather really started when we headed back from Florida Keys (which was lovely and I will blog about later) between Christmas and New Years. When we arrived at our in-between stop in Orlando we all were only wearing sweaters and we had no jackets with us. It was nearly 32 degrees (0C). In an eight hour drive the temp dropped almost 20 degrees. The weather reports were warning for icy roads and ice storms. I have now started to adjust to the weather and actually got myself a pair of warmer shoes.

Hopefully the spring and summer weather is not far away. I just want to have as much sun and warm weather as possible before we head home, since nice weather in Sweden is not a guarantee. Alabama people tells me it will warm up in March/April, but that is an Alabama person who is used to having it HOT and that is equal to normal and they would not get into the pool before the outdoor temperature hits 30C (85F). So I am therefor hopeful it will be warm weather already in March.

This in between period I am really focusing on my fitness. I work out 5 times per week between 1-2 hours per day. I have a personal trainer once a week and she is really good. I kind of feel I need a goal since I am not working and using much of my brain capacity I have put the focus on my fitness and health and that is quite fun and I enjoy it very much. I just worry when I return home to work and our daily life how much exercise I will be able to fit into a full time working schedule? Hopefully the need of exercise is so high that I will prioritize it. I feel however, it is more difficult to get fit here than back home, but the life is also different in Sweden compared to in Alabama. Our daily life in Sweden contains so much more walking and less driving. We move around without a car from point A to B. Whereas here, we park as close to the entrance as possible and we make sure we get help in loading the car with whatever we have purchased and when we return back home we drive the car into the garage which is two steps way from the door to the house. We take the car to the park, and we take the car to the gym even if it is within walking distance. But because of the lack of sidewalks it makes it hazardous to walk and cross busy two line streets with no pedestrian street crossing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This years Christmas tree - an all plastic Walmart tree. The kids decorated it with ornaments in all kinds of colors and the more it shimmered and shined the better it was.

We are heading south and I really wanted to show you our Christmas card jingle we made - Rocking all the way to the beach, but the link will not work on here for some reason, so all you, who are Facebook friends with me can view the link on there instead.

We have been watching the news back home about the real winter you have. I know it is tough with all delays in traffic, shoveling snow to get the car out, or just bundle up so much to be able to spend a while out in the cold air. Well, in Alabama, that kind of weather would probably kill people, so I do not wish it over here, but I do miss the Christmas spirit the snow gives me. The Christmas feeling is far away from me even if I do have a Walmart Christmas tree, lights hanging in the trees outside and our advent star in the window. I guess, for me the snow does it all! Unfortunately, the Christmas spirit will probably be further way when we in a couple of days are setting our course south and getting into our car for a 14 hour road trip to the Southern most tip of the USA - The Florida Keys. But at least it will be relaxing and hopefully the weather will be warmer. I am not in need of doing dishes or cook for that matter. So, I will have to wait until next years Christmas and I am hoping to see as much snow than as you have this year back home... Many might not agree with me on that, but you don´t know how much you miss snow when you are far away from it and so used to it during some season...

Marry Christmas to all of you!!!

We have done our best in getting into the Christmas spirit, but I cannot say that I have succeeded.

This Christmas it is the Southern most tip of the USA who is waiting for us. It do look nice and I am looking forward to the service and getting relaxed. I am guessing the hotel will have jingle bell playing all over every lobby and pool area, but it is going to feel weird and misplaced for me who are used to winter and dark times during Christmas.

I know the kids will have a blast!!!