Lunch with a Friend

I was talking to a friend today about how disheartening it was going to the polls this past November. Not knowing or caring how she voted, we both agreed that it was not in the least bit exciting. As soon as I walked into the polls, I just held my nose and voted. Not one name on the ballot (I thought) was worthy, but as a citizen of the United States, I care about voting (much more than the average person – too much).

In any office, whether federal, state or local, we need people who are going to move our country/government forward, not hold us back. Right now, it seems as though everything in Washington has come to a screeching halt due to established politicians’ petty bickering and lack of caring to compromise for the sake of our country. (And yes, maybe I am calling out the Republican senators regarding the health care bill).

We need people who have experience in both politics and outside of politics. We need people who are servants that care more about their constituents than their personal political agenda. We need good, genuine people to take office who know how to get work done. I truly believe that this upcoming generation, the end of the millennials, are advocating for these types of people.

I could see it during the recent SGA elections on a local university campus. The students elected are the students who have always cared for people even when running for office was just a thought. Their love for the university and their fellow students is unwavering, and they had experience in student government but also in other organizations on campus. They are kind, strong and down-to-earth leaders serving the university while keeping SGA moving forward.

People know who and what they want. This generation needs change. We want movement, and we want new people in Washington. All great things. While we see this great example on a university campus, that is just a small portion of America, and not everyone understands the importance of good government. I am afraid that it’s going to take a while to get there.

Think about this the next time you go to the polls, which for Alabama is August 12. Think about who on the list of people running for a certain position truly cares more about the citizens they will represent than their planned political agenda. Who is the most qualified? Who will actually pass a budget? Who will keep their promises? Who will actually build the wall? Who will keep us moving forward instead of holding us back? Who is genuine instead of just who is the most known?

Good luck.

Columnist in the Making: First Topic

If you know me personally, I have another blog that I use as a mere testimony of my life that is kept up-to-date about twice a year; however, I have been thinking. Yes, thinking…a dangerous thing to do.

But in this case, I feel like it is a positive thought because it gave me the sudden urge to use my website’s blog for the professional use of becoming an amateur columnist who discusses several topics at random unveiling the truth and pushing through the lies.

Let’s begin today, shall we? Today’s topic: Last Week’s News and the Blues

If you’re not up to date on what’s going on in the world, I have this sort of envy and pity towards you. Envy because sometimes I wish I didn’t know what was going on, but pity because everyone should at least know the daily headlines. So here are those headlines from last week… they’re all terrible:

Donald Trump throws Jeff Sessions under the bus. The lead singer of the well-known rock band, Linkin Park, killed himself. Hugh Freeze, the Christian football coach, has been using female escorts for personal use. OJ Simpson, the luckiest man alive, was let off yet again. Spicer has officially left the White House and probably really excited about it. You name it, and it was terrible.

Trump is at it again with taking his comments to the next level. He confessed to the media that he would have never hired Jeff Sessions knowing he would recuse himself from the Russian/campaign investigation. There are three things wrong with this.

One: A conflict of interests is obviously present. Sessions can’t oversee an investigation of a campaign when he was directly involved with the campaign. That’s just not how Jeff works.

I mean, Trump himself called Jeff Sessions “an honest man,” but he expected him to still oversee the investigation?  I don’t think Trump knew Sessions like we, Alabamians know him. I’m sorry Mr. President, but that is “WRONG, SAD, FAKE NEWS.” 

Two: Mr. President, you would be nowhere without Sessions. He was the first senator to endorse you, and now you throw him under the bus? “SAD.”

Three: Trump bypassed all of his administrators and went straight to the so-called “liberal media” to express his opinions. Mr. President, I thought the media was all fake news, but you still feed them? I mean, you even throw crap at NYT, but you went straight to them anyway. “SAD.”




Raised Bed Gardening in the South

Photo Courtesy of Alabama Extension

Raised bed gardens are different from regular gardens. They are an activity for the entire family and a great way to spend time outdoors.

“Raised beds have taken gardening to a new level for many people,” said  Tim Crow, a home grounds regional extension agent located in Cullman County. “It’s a chance to have success in the garden for people who enjoy home-grown vegetables and who do not want to commit to the large-scale gardens.”

Most plants can grow in raised bed gardens. All vegetable and small fruit plants can grow as well, but of course, the size of the garden decides what can grow.

“In the summer months, the gardener could grow tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, eggplants and corn,” he said. “Gardeners grow any vegetable in a raised bed. In the cool season months, we grow more of our leafy vegetables like cabbages, lettuce, kale, broccoli and cauliflower plants.”

Plant spacing in a raised bed garden has the same importance as plant spacing in regular ground plantings.

“To maximize production of plants, proper spacing gives it the best chance to produce and not compete with too many root systems trying to do the same thing,” said Crow.

Raised bed gardens thrive anywhere; however, strategic placing in one’s yard depends on what a gardener plants to grow.

“Any area receiving six to eight hours of direct sunlight suits vegetable plants,” he said. “Make sure there is a water source nearby for watering. Shady areas are beneficial for ornamental plants that require certain hours of shade per day.”

Sizes of beds vary, but the average bed size is four by eight feet and 12 inches deep.

“Raised beds can be constructed from numerous products,” said Crow. Wood, stones and metal products easily construct the beds.”

Another difference of raised bed gardens is the type of soil used. Since the growing medium is easily controlled, it creates ideal growing conditions.

“Vermiculite, perlite, peat moss and mini pine bark nuggets make for a really good soil mix,” he said. “There are commercially produced products containing these mixtures, and local stores sell these mixtures.”

Proper care of raised gardens is imperative to ensure a long-lasting gardening experience.

“Make sure materials are staying together,” Crow said. “Wood products can begin to rot over time. When using stones, make sure they are stable and secure the structure, and replace pieces over time that need repair.”

All in all, it is reasonably inexpensive and can produce a lot of produce for a small family.

“My children love to plant and keep it up,” he said. “It can give children a garden that is more proportionate to their scale, and they enjoy spending time in it.”

For more information about raised bed gardens, please click here to read the Alabama Cooperative Extension System article, and to learn more about Alabama Cooperative Extension, visit

5 Reasons Why Students Should Be Excited for the Mell Classroom Building

Photo courtesy: Auburn University

The construction on our beloved Ralph Brown Draughon Library, RBD for short, is near the finish line, and the signs for “look for RBD under the big red crane” will soon be history. Students have been studying around construction since the beginning of spring semester 2016, and finally this fall 2017, current and incoming students will utilize the new resources this building addition will offer.

Here are five reasons why students and future students should be excited for the Mell Classroom Building.


Food is a priority for a college student.

“There will be a Panera Bread as well as places for food trucks,” said Jacqueline Keck, SGA President of Auburn University.

Panera Bread will include a walk-up window, which will allow students to order quickly in order to immediately go to class or study for tests.

2.New Plaza

Photo courtesy: Auburn University

Auburn University Board of Trustees recently approved the Mell Corridor project, which will be a vehicle-free pedestrian corridor or concourse. The corridor will be in front of the new building to provide for safe and efficient walking and biking for pedestrians and cyclists. The corridor will be completed by the opening of the Mell Classroom Building. Along with the corridor, a plaza will also be built in front of the building to encourage students and faculty to utilize the outdoor space by walking, socializing or eating outside. This project will start next month and is expected to be finished by December 2017, four months after the new building opens.

This article was previously published on Auburn Family. Please click here to continue reading the article.

Proper Care for Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds and Feeders

Auburn, Alabama — Springtime means the Ruby-throated hummingbirds have migrated back to Alabama from Central America.

Photo by Michael Chapman

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the eastern species of hummingbirds, which covers the entire state of Alabama. The males have ruby-colored throats and the females have green-tinted throats.

Like all hummingbirds, they are acrobatic and precise in their movements, as any hummingbird observer has seen.

They nest and lay eggs as any bird would, but their nest is smaller and consistent with their body size. Usually, they build their nests on the side of trees with lichens, which are fungi that grow on trees.

“Apple trees tend to be a pretty good place because many apple trees have a lot of lichens on them,” said Dr. Jim Armstrong, an Alabama Extension wildlife specialist and Auburn University forestry and wildlife sciences professor.

The best way to welcome them back is by setting out a hummingbird feeder.

“Hummingbirds are a lot of fun to feed because if you put out a feeder, they will show up,” Dr. Jim Armstrong said. “It does not take them long to find it.”

Local outdoor supply stores sell hummingbird feeders and feed mixtures, but Dr. Armstrong suggests making the feed at home.

“Mix one part table sugar to four parts of warm water,” he said. “Let the water cool before putting in the feeder. Also, there is no need to put red dye in the mixture. The color of the feeder attracts the birds, not the sugar water.”

Flowers further encourage hummingbirds to visit. Tubular, bright flowers like trumpet vines are easy flowers for hummingbirds to get nectar.

Hummingbirds also eat insects, which provides protein. Feeders only provide them with an additional energy course.

“Because of their wingbeat, they burn a tremendous amount of energy,” Dr. Armstrong said. “Sugar is direct energy. That is where that sugar intake comes in.”

The additional energy is imperative before and during their migration to South America in the winter.

“They just have to have a tremendous amount of energy,” Dr. Armstrong said. “There are some that will fly the entire Gulf of Mexico without stopping. That is a long flight for a little bird that has stubby wings. They are not like vultures where they can just glide for miles. They pretty much flap their wings, or they fall. Once they start, they pump away.”

To ensure that hummingbirds will regularly visit a feeder during the warmer months, it is important to keep the feeder clean.

During the summer months, Dr. Armstrong suggests cleaning and refilling the feeder every four to five days depending on the environment the feeder is in and how quickly the hummingbirds feed on the sugar water. He warns of letting the water get cloudy since sugar, water and heat cause fermentation. Putting the feeder in shade can help prevent this.

“I always say it is better to clean them too often than not enough,” he said. “If you have access to a bottle brush, that’s great. Put soapy water in the feeder and shake it up to clean it. Then pour vinegar to help cut the soap film. Let it dry, and start all over again.”

Sugar water attracts ants to the feeders. Buying or making an ant guard helps prevent ants from invading feeders. The guards, like saucers, rest on top of the feeder and should be filled with water.

“It’s a lot of fun to feed hummingbirds,” he said. “It’s a great way to interact with nature because as they use the feeder and become familiar with human activity, they fly near the house and buzz by your head.”

For more information about the Ruby-throated hummingbird, Dr. Armstrong suggests reading Cornell University’s bird guide.

For more information regarding Alabama Extension, please visit


Three Students Who Did Not Want the Typical Spring Break

Photo Courtesy of Abby Crosby

Auburn University harbors students who love to give back, whether that is in Auburn, another state or another country.

Many students used their spring break to give back and serve people. Each person learned something different.

Abby Crosby is involved with Young Life at Auburn. She and 26 other Young Life leaders and staff members traveled to Nicaragua to work at the local Young Life camp, La Finca.

“During the week, we worked at the Young Life camp to prepare it for campers that were coming when we left,” Crosby said. “Everyone had different jobs. My job was to dig ditches on the side of the mountain, lay water pumps and lay electricity lines then fill the ditches we dug.”

Working alongside the Nicaraguan Young Life Leaders taught her a different culture and how to work.

“We got to know Nicaraguan Young Life leaders and that was an incredible experience to see how they are doing the same ministry but in a different culture and country,” she said. “They live so much simpler than we live here in America, yet have so much more joy than we do.”

“I learned what work looks like the way that God intended it to look,” she said. “Work should be life-giving and refreshing, not exhausting and dreadful.”

Crosby’s advice to someone who wants to make a difference during their spring break is to go and get out of your comfort zone.

“I wanted to spend my spring break in a way that was not about myself and my desires,” Crosby said. “Because of this trip, I have made forever friends in America and Nicaragua. My perspective has changed, and I have learned so much about myself, Jesus and others. I came back to Auburn after spring break feeling refreshed and full of life.”

Photo Courtesy of Liz Phelps

Liz Phelps traveled to the Dominican Republic with Campus Crusades, also known as Cru.

“During the week, we installed water filters into the Dominicans’ buckets to purify the water and make it drinkable,” Phelps said. “We then talked to them about their lives and faith and shared the gospel.”

This article was previously published on Auburn Family. Please click here to continue reading this story.


Alabama 4-H Opportunities Continue Empowering Youth

Photo Courtesy of Alabama 4-H

Auburn, Alabama — More than 100 years later, Alabama 4-H opportunities continue empowering youth’s heads, hearts, hands and health.

“The 4-H program provides youth with opportunities and experiences to build their capacity of becoming college and career ready,” said Dr. Molly Gregg, assistant director of the Alabama 4-H Program.

4-H challenges children to be their best and achieve their goals. It also empowers children with a mindset to continue their personal development throughout their life.

“We want and love to see kids grow and try things they have never done before and be successful,” said Deborah Stewart, 4-H Foundation regional Extension agent.

4-H is a program for everyone, including children and adults, and it provides a variety of opportunities for children to become involved.

“I had a mom say that her little boy is not good at sports. He really didn’t have any interests until 4-H came along,” said Stewart. “4-H lit his soul. That is what this program is. It’s offering opportunities for children to find something they can enjoy.”

Through the program, children explore their interests through school clubs and community clubs. All clubs are led by certified adult volunteers who are passionate about certain topics.

“We put our volunteers through a rigorous process of background checks and lots of screening and training just to prove that they are adequate for our children because that’s very important to us,” said Stewart.

Children and teens learn life skills through 4-H. All clubs teach and enrich students in something they otherwise do not have any knowledge of from school alone.

“4-H offers clubs in leadership, arts, livestock, shooting sports, gardening, sports fishing and kayaking clubs,” said Dr. Gregg.

While gaining hands-on experience, children have the opportunity to compete at their local county contests. Then,  winners compete at a regional competition. The senior level winners move forward to compete at the state competition, which takes place at the 4-H Center in Columbiana.

“Another great part of 4-H clubs is that an eighth grader and a 12th grader in a shooting sport together teach and learn from each other,” said Stewart.

Along with clubs, students serve as members of the state 4-H council, a youth governing body for Alabama 4-H, or as a state ambassador.

“Alabama 4-H is the largest youth development organization in the nation,” said Dr. Gregg.

“I love 4-H, and I love seeing kids grow and do their best and finding success in something,” said Stewart.

Each county in Alabama has a 4-H program. For more information about your local 4-H club or how to apply to volunteer, please visit


The Inspiration Behind Ashley Moates’ Big Dream


Photo Courtesy of Ashley Moates

Each year, a new Miss Auburn is elected by the student body after rounds of interviews and a week of campaigning around campus. This year, Ashley Moates can continue sharing her platform, AUsome Dreams.

Each Miss Auburn has a story behind her platform, and Ashley Moates’ inspiration is her younger sister, Anna, who is living with down syndrome.

“She inspired me to do this platform because she has passions, goals and dreams just like I do, but she doesn’t always have the opportunity to make those happen because those opportunities are not always out there for her,” Ashley Moates said.

“I started AUsome dreams so that Anna and others like her can come to Auburn and find out what they are passionate about and make the dream come true at Auburn University,” she said.

Through AUsome Dreams, two wishes have been granted since the campaign began. One of those was Anna’s wish.

This story was previously published on Auburn Family. Please follow this link to continue reading the story.