ShoeIf you are a one of my few faithful blog readers, you know I’ve been running to improve my health. I began running with a pair of Nike Qualify 2 running shoes. The Qualify 2 shoes have been great, but at the beginning of the month, I realized that I needed to get a new pair of shoes to prevent joint injuries from running in worn out soles. After exploring many options, I chose to go with Nike’s custom shoe service called NikeiD using the Pegasus 28 base model as the starting point. Here is my take on the whole experience.

ImageThe good: Visiting Nike’s site, you’ll find several models of shoes that you can customize with virtually unlimited combinations of colors, soles, treads, tops, and tongue labels. On top of all the options, the shoes are priced at the same retail price you’ll find at any major athletic shoe store. Once I received the shoes and a close inspection, the shoes were free of any defect, and felt great compared to the old Qualify 2’s that had several hundred miles on them.










The bad: It’s clearly explained that the shoes will take three weeks to come in, but after receiving the shoes, I was left wondering what about the shoes took them so long to be produced. Besides the custom colors, the overall design of the shoe is the exact same shoe that anyone else could buy at a local store. Even the tongue of the shoe was marked with a manufacture date before my order was placed. The issue that really turned my opinion of the whole process was the cheap “custom” tongue label, which I originally thought was the neatest part of the whole shoe. I was expecting a stitched label similar to the “Nike” they normally put on the tongues, and was disappointed after seeing what looks to be a thin rubber sticker used for the lettering.

Overall: I would not recommend most individuals going through this long process for a pair of shoes. If you go shopping, you can usually find shoes with the colors you prefer. I only can see the NikeiD shoes being helpful to a sports team that needs specific colors for their school. If you are thinking a custom label would be worth the wait, I would expect the label to rub off in just a few wears.  As for the shoes comfort, they are nothing short of what you would expect from Nike.


That’s my take on NikeiD, and I hope this helps you if you are ever thinking about getting a pair through this service.


My Southern Slang

Where I proposed to DeeAnn over 5 years ago on a rainy evening.

After a short layover, Easton and I sat down in our Southwest Airlines seat leaving Phoenix for Birmingham, and already, I was smiling with a bit of laughter at the accented conversations across the plane full of “Bama” fans obviously excited to be returning to the proud state of the current NCAA Football National Champs. Sitting down in the third seat in our section, the heavily wrinkled little old lady spoke; “Where y’all head’n to?” as the flight began. From then on for the next 24 hours, I began my return to the language of friendship, family, and warm welcome.


View of Birmingham from the top of Red Mountain

Before I educate you on these terms, let me preface: These are terms from a small section of the southeast, encompassing a 100 mile radius that covers cities of Birmingham, Alabama on the west, and then east across Talladega and Anniston, stretching south to Auburn and North to Remlap. Additionally, These come from the Gunnells, Holly, Casey, and Pepper family and may or may not be used in other areas or families.

1)”Great day in the morning” – A term used to describe excitement, surprise, irony, or just a great way to start a sentence. Ex: “Great day in the morning”… That truck just about hit that deer!

2) “Tump” – To turn something over on its side or top. Ex: (pointing to a five gallon bucket of water) “Tump” that over so the mosquitoes don’t get in it.

3) “Consarnate” – Frustration Ex: Consarnate Mildred!

4) “Flick” – A more pleasant “F” word used to describe Exasperation. Ex: (after realizing the milk was left out of the refrigerator) Flick!

5) “Pine Float” – A glass of water and toothpick. Ex: You want to come on in for a Pine Float?

6) “Bless his/her little heart” – A term to describe a concern or love for someone. Ex: (after hearing a story of someone’s unfortunate situation or condition) “Bless his/her little heart”

7) “Hissy fit” – an act of usually a child, but can occur with an adult when not getting ones way. Ex: (at Trussville Auto and Truck) Derrell; Mrs. Jones is on line one throwing a “Hissy fit” because her truck aint ready!


I’m not sure who was more scared… This guy was huge!

8) “Devilish” – A term describing something disliked or unwelcome. Ex: Those “Devilish” roosters are getting on the back porch!

9) “Well…” – Used to end a discussion when no clear answer has been determined, but more time in thought is needed. Ex: (after nodding and listening attentively for several minutes during a conversation about a family matter, the Patriarch of the family pauses and then with a voice of wisdom) “Well…”


Typical Alabama forest and lush green grass surrounding a family friends Farm.


These are just a few I was able to take note of while on our three-week vacation back to Alabama. I’d love to hear what you think about these terms, or what other terms you and your family use. Comment below!

“The Cove”

Driving to exit 299 off I-65 and down a few “God’s Country” Cullman County Roads, you’ll arrive in an area known as Bremen, where you’ll find a cozy little place known as “The Cove”. Thanks to my Grandmother, this place has been a recreational hotspot for hosts of friends and family for a decade! It’s Summer, Hot, Humid, full of flying insects, but there is no better place to enjoy time on the lake in Alabama. Lewis Smith Lake, better known as simply Smith Lake is Alabama’s deepest and one of the most beautiful lakes in America. If you’re visiting Alabama and want to wake to a symphony of Woodpeckers, Chickadees, and Owls with the background of rustling leaves blowing in the breeze, Smith lake is the place to be at 6am with a warm cup of coffee sitting on a wood swing with your special someone.

Got a chance to do some HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography this morning. Here is a couple I liked! If you wondered what HDR on your iPhone’s camera was, it’s the phone combining multiple exposures to better display area’s of the image that are dark and light. These two are a combination of 20 images.



Huntsville Alabama visit

I got to spend the most time I’ve ever spent in Huntsville, Alabama this week, and I found several unique places that will keep you entertained on the cheap if you ever find yourself in the fourth largest city in Alabama for any length of time.

The first place Easton and I went was the North Alabama Locomotive Museum. The place is “Open” seven days a week 9-5, but you wont find many people there, not even employees. When Easton and I arrived, the gate was closed and locked to prevent any vehicles from parking in the main lot. Fortunately, they have a small lot accessible from the road with a large tree providing shade from the Alabama hot sun. We were the only people in the park, and got to give ourselves a self guided exploratory tour. This place used to be a botanical nursery and train stop years ago, but has since fallen in disrepair. Now days, it provides a unique place to take pictures, and centerpiece to the few trains that are on display. Although trains are fascinating to view and explore, after checking out what this Museum has to offer, I would say that it being free was the best part!

After the train museum, we made our way to Monte Sano State Park. Because of the gate guard being unattended, we got more free sight seeing! We just arrived when DeeAnn called wanting to meet for lunch, so we didn’t get to explore. To journal our short trip there, we took a couple pictures, and headed out! I saw a nice playground and the Von Braun Astronomical Society building that I wished we had more time to explore. Maybe one day, we’ll be back.

The next place on our tour was Redstone Arsenal. I had hoped to find a special spot to photograph the Tennessee River that you’d only be able to get with a military ID access card. We traveled on base to the Col. Carroll D. Hudson Recreational Complex, and were disappointed. Huge dragonflies and bees had made the kids playground home, preventing Easton from playing, and the river had a concrete wall built all along the access from the complex, which took away the natural beauty of the area. I hope I’ll be able to get a good shot of the river before I leave. The most interesting thing I saw on base was the nuclear fall out shelters everywhere. It was obviously something out of the cold war era that is rusting away. 

The last place we went was the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. This place was the best place on our trip to Huntsville! It was Military appreciation week, and again, got in free! It was what they call “Wacky Wednesday” at the gardens, and there were lots of kids! They have the countries largest live butterfly exhibit, and you are allowed to pour nectar on your hands to attract them to hold. It was pretty amazing to see hundreds of butterflies flying about all around while you walk through the arboretum. In addition to the butterfly exhibit, they have a kids water park play area, a pirate ship tree house, and 1/10 scale train that Easton loved watching it go around the bonsai trees and model houses that had been placed around to resemble a small town. Wished we had found this place first, but I guess having the best come last is fitting.


Here are a few pics of our adventures



Gunnells Sweet Tea


Growing up in Alabama, Sweet Tea is taken for granted like buying bread at the grocery store. Could you Imaging going grocery store to grocery store not being able to find bread? Knowing about the invisible line through Texas that keeps Sweet Tea trapped from going west, it dawned on me that I would have to learn to make my own Sweet Tea if I were going to survive in San Diego! Lucky for me, my Dad has had the responsibility of supplying the Gunnells’ home with its daily supply of this sweet nectar, so I didn’t have to go far to learn the ways of Sweet Tea making! If you live in San Diego, or anywhere outside of the Southeast of America, Follow the instructions below to get your own taste of refreshing bliss!

Things you’ll need:

1)   15 minutes of time

2)   1 Gallon (3.8 Liters) pitcher

3)   2 Lipton Iced Black Tea Pitcher Size tea bags

4)   2 Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice tea bags

5)   2 Cups of Sugar (Splenda or other artificial sweeteners can be used)

6)   Ice

7)   Pinch of baking soda

To begin, take your pitcher, and fill with 20 Ounces or .5 liter of filtered cold water. Remove any tea bag strings, and then drop all four tea bags into the pitcher to sit in the water for 10 minutes.


While you wait, Boil 57 Ounces or 1.7 liters of water, and prepare your sweetener in a measuring cup.


Once your water has come to a boil, you should by now have let the tea bags brew in the cold water.


Pour the boiling water into the pitcher trying not to pour directly onto the tea bags, letting the tea brew for 5-6 minutes, and then remove the tea bags with a large slotted spoon.


Add the 2 cups of sweetener and stir, making sure all the granules are dissolved.


Add the pinch of baking soda

Add Ice to the hot tea to bring tea level to the top of pitcher and stir while it melts and dilutes the tea and sweetener to the perfect level.


At this point, your tea should still be slightly warm, and ready to pour into a glass of ice for refreshment.




Lina & Ben

It’s not often you get to meet a whole family at once, and even less often is that whole family as warm and inviting! Here are a couple Sneak Peek shots from today’s shoot. Lina and Ben met through an online dating service, and kicked things off at Starbucks! Really a great couple, and were very nice. I couldn’t have asked for a better couple or family to work with! Thank you Lina and Ben! Hope you enjoy that Phill’s BBQ!