Instead of Blogging …

I am watching the Olympics. I LOVE the Olympics. I love the athleticism, the competition, the sportsmanship. I love the excitement and suspense. I love the symbolism, the peace, the unity. I love the back stories of the athletes, the struggles, the obstacles, the overcoming, the realizing the dream. I love the sense of pride for my country I feel when one of ours takes home the gold. I love hearing our national anthem played on an international stage. I love the Olympics. Michael Phelps is my hero. Go Team USA!

August 12, 2008 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment

Miss Martha’s Ice Cream Crankin’: An Ice Cream Lover’s Dream Come True

Sunday was an ice cream lover’s dream come true. The Martha O’Bryan Center held its 23rd Purity Miss Martha’s Ice Cream Crankin’ Contest on the lawn of First Presbyterian Church in Nashville. Basically, it’s all the homemade ice cream you can eat, dozens of unique flavors, all for $8. After church, lunch, and a little naptime, you had better believe the Rutabagas were there for this one. All you can eat homemade ice cream. Who doesn’t love that? We even managed to drag the husband along.

Since 1984, Miss Martha’s Ice Cream Crankin’ contest has brought together people from many communities across Nashville to crank homemade ice cream and serve it up for a great cause. The contest, sponsored by Purity dairies, benefits the Martha O’Bryan Center, a non-profit organization providing integrated services to families in the James A. Cayce Homes, Nashville’s oldest and largest public housing development, as well as residents of surrounding East Nashville neighborhoods. Judging by the size of the crowd, and the large amount of paper sampling cups dispensed, I’d say that this year’s event was a success.

The Martha O’Bryan Center’s mission statement is as follows: “On a foundation of Christian faith, the Martha O’Bryan Center empowers children, youth, and adults in poverty to transform their lives through work, education, employment, and fellowship.” The ministry that is now known as Martha O’Bryan Center began in 1894, when Miss Martha O’Bryan organized The Gleaners Society at First Presbyterian Church, Nashville to assist her in delivering food, clothing, and furniture to families in need. During the next 50 years, the ministry met the needs of the community in a variety of ways including establishing Nashville’s first kindergarten, a girls’ settlement home, and a free clinic.

As I said before, Miss Martha’s Ice Cream Crankin’ is an ice cream lover’s dream. Even if you’re not feeling charitable, this event is a can’t miss. As one exuberant Rutabaga exclaimed, “This is better than Christmas!” (The presents part, not the Jesus’ birthday part, of course.) The weather was perfect, a nice breeze was blowing, and the tall trees that scattered the ample lawn in front of the First Presbyterian Church provided plenty of shade. There were four entertainment stages spread across the grounds to provide a little ambience. If that wasn’t enough, a random guy popped up here and there riding about six different types of unicycles and even managing to throw in some fire baton juggling.

Here’s the breakdown. After we parked our cars at the nearby John Overton High School and crossed Franklin Pike with the help of a lovely law officer/temporary crossing guard, we made our way over to the ticket table and paid our $8. This year, people who bought tickets online also received a coupon for a free pint of Purity ice cream. We did not do this and hope they provide this little online ticket incentive next year.

After getting all paid up, we were each given a paper bracelet, the kind you sometimes get at bars or fairs or amusement parks, a little blue paper cup, and a plastic spoon. Cups and spoons in hand, we were let loose to navigate the crowded tents and tables housing all sorts of coolers, cranks, and iced Tupperware containers. We were on a mission to try every flavor we could. There were chocolate based, vanilla based and sorbets, fruity flavors and alcohol mixes. The choices ranged from simply vanilla to “whoa, there is way too much going on in this cup.” The sampling sizes ranged from one tiny spoonful to a whole cupful of ice cream, depending on the server.

We made valiant efforts to sample every single flavor, but with over 500 gallons of ice cream available in who knows how many flavors, there was no way that was going to happen. No possible way. But we did have fun trying, and stuffing ourselves until we were almost sick. Here are a few of my favorite scoops: Wild Flower honey (the only table I went back to for seconds), pistachio, lemonade sorbet, tequila Mexican vanilla (because everything’s better when you add tequila to it), and double berry.

In the midst of all the ice cream sampling madness, there was actually a contest going on. Aside from all us regular folks, there were bona fide ice cream judges, consisting of Purity representatives, ice cream industry specialists, and local celebrities. Awards were given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the following categories: chocolate base, vanilla base, other, and youth created (Age 16 and under). A winner was chosen from each category, and the overall favorite was named the Miss Martha’s Crankin’ Contest winner.

Coco Loco was the winning creation, dreamed up and mixed up by a pair of 13-year-old boys.  Coco Loco is made of chocolate ice cream, caramel swirl, and Take 5 candy bars. If all goes as planned, meaning Purity can duplicate the flavor for mass market, we’ll be seeing this new flavor in stores sometime in February. Sadly, I missed out on trying the winning flavor. Since I’m not a huge fan of chocolate ice cream, I skipped the chocolate-base section to make sure there was room in my tummy for everything I wanted to try. Despite this seemingly brilliant plan and my efforts to eat as little as possible all day, there wasn’t. Maybe next year.

Speaking of next year, I can’t wait until next summer just so I can do this all over again. It was that good, y’all. I’m sure all the Rutabagas would agree.

Must haves: a lot of room in your tummy for a lot of ice cream and maybe a couple bottles of water. If you’re anything like me, all that ice cream will make you thirsty. Luckily, this year, the weather was perfect. But that may not always be the case. Come prepared for hot, August weather if you decide to come out for the Crankin’ contest next summer, which you will because I said to, right?

Could have done without it: the reusable cups. You have to use the same cup and spoon throughout the entire sampling process. They got pretty nasty toward the end. I kept rinsing mine out with bottled water.

What makes it special: There are all kinds of homemade ice cream flavors, mixtures you would never think of yourself. This is more than your churches summer ice cream social with the vanilla and chocolate and occasional peach, strawberry, or banana. When it comes to ice cream, Miss Martha’s Crankers don’t play.

Know before you go: You’re pretty much going to be walking around the whole time, so don’t worry about bringing lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. Also, the restrooms are the portable variety, and if you’re like me, you try to avoid those as much as possible.

Parking: For this year, the parking instructions were the following (though this may change before next year): You may park at the following locations adjacent to the Crankin’ along Franklin Road the day of the event. Trolleys will pick you up and return you to where you parked coming to and from the Crankin’. Franklin Road Academy, John Overton High School, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Due to major construction, there will be no parking on-site at First Presbyterian Church the day of the Crankin’ or at Judson Baptist Church. I would expect that last one to change before next year.

Price: Adults $8, Children (Ages 2-5) $5, and Children under 2 are FREE

Website: www.marthaobryan.org

Phone: 615-254-1791

Address: First Presbyterian Church, 4815 Franklin Pike, Nashville

Schedule: Check the Web site next summer for updates

Related:

August 5, 2008 at 11:19 pm 4 comments

The Second Installment of Way-FM’s Summer Brown Bag Concert Series

Monday brought the second installment of the WAY-FM Summer Brown Bag Concert series in Franklin, and you’d better believe I was there for it in spite of the heat warnings. I even took a day off work (I really needed a break) so that I could stay for the whole shebang this time. If you read my post on Part One of the Brown Bag concert series, you know that one of my goals for this one (aside from taking off work for the whole day) was to meet one of my “American Idols.” More on that later. Don’t get too excited.

Brown Bag concerts, sponsored by WAY-FM, are FREE, family-friendly, start at noon(ish), and take place on the grounds of The People’s Church in Franklin. Though this this was my first year to attend one of the concerts, they are somewhat of a summer staple. Way-FM hosts the concerts most summers, usually on weekdays during the lunch hour. All you need to enjoy this concert is a love for Christian music, a blanket or lawn chair, big sunglasses, a little (make that a lot of) sunscreen, and maybe even a giant beach umbrella or tent. Did I mention that the concerts take place at noon – in the glaring heat of the midday summer sun? Come prepared.

You can bring you own lunch or a little extra cash to buy lunch from one of the food vendors, like Chick-fil-A. There was even a Purity ice cream vendor on hand with ice cream sandwiches and other cold treats to provide a little respite from the heat. For the younger kids, there was a play area with games, fun inflatable things, and shaved ice (or sno cones, as we like to call them in the Deep South).

The artists performing were Chris Sligh and Sanctus Real. Chris Sligh is a former American Idol turned Christian music artist. Chris was one of my favorite Idols from Season 6 (or of all time). Not only was he a great singer, but he also had a wicked sense of humor a great deal of wit. I mentioned earlier that I hoped I would get a chance to meet Chris Sligh, take a picture, tell him that I voted for him on Idol, you know, the usual. This did not happen, however, and it saddens me. Chris disappeared into the bus before I got the chance. Maybe to make up for it, Melinda Doolittle can perform next summer and then do a meet and greet afterwards and then invite me to go on tour with her (even though I don’t really sing). After all, she is my American Idol.

Sanctus Real is a Dove Award-winning Christian rock band from Toledo, Ohio. Their latest studio album, We Need Each Other, was release in February 2008. They’ve been around for quite a while, releasing their first independent album in 1998, according to Wikipedia, but this was my first experience with them. And I have to say, I quite liked it.

There was even an appearance by Audio Adrenaline’s front man, Mark Stuart. He was promoting the charitable efforts of World Vision and his Hands & Feet Project. But he didn’t leave before leading the crowd (despite his vocal cord troubles) in a very short version of “Big House,” oh yeah.

Like I said before, the Brown Bag Concert idea is brillz. It’s great for moms with bored or overly energetic kids who need to get out of the house for a bit. And since it’s during the lunch hour, it gives the workaholics a chance to take a little out of the ordinary break in a busy day. Sometimes, a break in the monotonous work routine is all you need to help get you through the rest of the week. I don’t know if WAY-FM will pick the Brown Bag concerts up again next year, but I sure hope they do.

Must haves: blankets or lawn chairs, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, pretty much anything that will keep you cool in the middle of one of the hottest days in July

Could have done without it: the heat

What makes it special: It’s a free Christian music concert for your lunch break. I think that’s pretty special. My usual lunch break consists of plain turkey and The View.

Know before you go: It’s going to be hot, so come prepared.

Parking: There’s plenty of parking at the People’s Church. But if you want to avoid the crowd a little, I would suggest coming in the back way by taking the road that runs in front of the Franklin YMCA.

Price: FREE

Website: waym.wayfm.com

Phone: 1-888-33-WAY-FM

Address: People’s Church, 828 Murfreesboro Rd, Franklin, TN 37064

Schedule: Check the Web site next summer for updates

Related: Way-FM’s Summer Brown Bag Concert Series

Update: I realized that I may have given a bad impression of Chris Sligh earlier when I said he disappeared. I wanted to add that he did stay after his set through the entire concert and rocked out in the front row during Sanctus Real’s performance. After their set ended, everyone (including Chris) rushed for the air-conditioned buses before I was able to make my way to the front. I can’t really blame them. It was like 100 degrees out there, after all.

July 25, 2008 at 1:37 am 6 comments

Dave Barry on Restaurants

I have studied American eating preferences for years, and believe me, this is what people want.  They don’t want to go into an unfamiliar restaurant, because they don’t know whether the food will be very bad, or very good, or what.  They want to go into a restaurant that advertises on national television, where they know the food will be mediocre.  ~Dave Barry

I say bring on the unfamiliar.  Who wants mediocre?  Not me (although sometimes I do want soup, salad, and breadsticks from Olive Garden – that national television commercial is just so enticing).

July 16, 2008 at 8:38 am Leave a comment

Fireworks Are Pretty!

The rutabagas headed downtown and grabbed a spot on the east side of LP field for the Independence Day fireworks.  We had a great view, but we could only faintly hear the Nashville Symphony in the distance.  The show was AMAZING.  Everyone who lives in Nashville should go at least once.  Heck, you could even make it an annual tradition.

Must haves: a good spot with a clear view of the Batman building

Could have done without it: the long walk

What makes it special: It only happens once a year, and it’s one of the best Independence Day pyrotechnics shows in the nation.

Know before you go: The show usually starts a little before 9:30, but you should head over at least an hour early to deal with parking and to get a good spot.

Parking: Good Luck!  There was an estimated 100,000 people downtown for the celebration, so plan for the crowds and head out early.  You can find a place to park, but you may have to walk a good ways to get to your viewing spot.

Price: FREE

July 6, 2008 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment

Way-FM’s Summer Brown Bag Concert Series

Monday marked the return of the WAY-FM Summer Brown Bag Concert series in Franklin, and you’d better believe I was there for it. My co-worker Nita and I took a little extended lunch break, borrowed a blanket from a soccer mom (thanks, Deb), and set out to enjoy (as best we could in the heat) the blazing summer sun and rocking sounds of Article One and Superchick. Even though we had to leave before the concert was over to get back to work, it was still worth the short trip and the sweat (we don’t think our co-workers minded).

Brown Bag concerts, sponsored by WAY-FM and Kemp Orthodontics, are FREE, family-friendly, start at noon, and take place on the grounds of The People’s Church in Franklin. All you need is a blanket or lawn chair, big sunglasses, a little sunscreen, and maybe even a giant beach umbrella. Did I mention that the concerts take place at noon – in the glaring heat of the midday sun? You can bring you own lunch or a little extra cash to buy lunch from one of the food vendors, like Chick-fil-A and Blue Coast Burrito (who both gave away coupons for free stuff). There was even a Purity ice cream vendor on hand with ice cream sandwiches and other cold treats to provide a little respite from the heat. For the younger kids, there was a play area with games and fun inflatable things.

The artists performing were Article One and Superchick. Article One is a Christian alternative pop/rock group (with an electric violinist – I love violinists) from Ontario, Canada. Their latest album is Colors and Sounds. Superchick is a Christian pop/punk/rock band whose music has crossed over into mainstream media. Their latest album is Rock What You Got.

Whoever came up with the Brown Bag Concert idea is a genius. It’s great for moms with bored or overly energetic kids who need to get out of the house for a bit. And since it’s during the lunch hour, it gives the workaholics a chance to take a little out of the ordinary break in a busy day. Sometimes, a break in the monotonous work routine is all you need to help get you through the rest of the week.

The next scheduled Brown Bag Concert is on Monday, July 21st. Christian rock band Sanctus Real and former American Idol contestant turned contemporary Christian artist Chris Sligh will be performing. I love Chris Sligh. He was one of my favorite AI contestants. I’m thinking about just taking off work for the whole day so I can enjoy the entire concert this time … and maybe even get a chance to meet one of my American Idols. That would be absolutely fab.

Must haves: blankets or lawn chairs, sunscreen, sunglasses

Could have done without it: the hot, glaring sun

What makes it special: It’s a Christian music concert for your lunch break. I think that’s pretty special. My usual lunch break consists of plain turkey and The View.

Know before you go: It’s going to be hot, so come prepared.

Parking: There’s plenty of parking at the People’s Church. But if you want to avoid the crowd a little, I would suggest coming in the back way by taking the road that runs in front of the Franklin YMCA.

Price: FREE

Website: waym.wayfm.com

Phone: 1-888-33-WAY-FM

Address: People’s Church, 828 Murfreesboro Rd, Franklin, TN 37064

Schedule: The next concert is Monday, July 21, noon

Related:

The Second Installment of Way-FM’s Summer Brown Bag Concert Series

Goonies Never Say Die! Nashville Scene’s Movies in the Park

June 27, 2008 at 9:01 pm 7 comments

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