The cr(AP)py Poll

Can someone please explain to me the thought process that goes on when picking the top 25 teams for the AP poll each week?

Year after year, week after week, I am dumbfounded with certain decisions that are made and I am sure I’m not the only one…

Let’s back up a little bit.
The 2017 season started off with what was supposed to be one of the biggest games in all of college football – #1 Alabama vs. #2 Florida State. This game was to set the whole season in motion and a loss for either team did not put them out of playoff contention. As we all know, Alabama came out victorious and FSU lost their starting quarterback to a devastating knee injury. The Seminoles held The Tide to only 24 total points, which is pretty impressive considering this is the lowest score for Bama we’ve seen through the first 7 weeks. With heavy hearts, Seminole fans all over the country carried on with their lives that following Sunday, waiting for good news and optimistic about the remainder of the season. That is, until the AP poll was released. FSU dropped 8 spots to #10, despite multiple reports stating that it wasn’t over and they are still a very powerful team. Granted, FSU has definitely not proven to be a top 25, let alone a top 10 team, but during week 1, a loss to the #1 team in the nation shouldn’t be the end-all be-all for ANY team.

Fast forward to week 7…with no top 25 matchups, honestly on paper this weekend didn’t look to be very impressive or entertaining. As a diehard football fan, I knew this could only mean one thing; UPSETS GALORE! What I didn’t know was that it would start on Friday night with #2 Clemson falling to unranked Syracuse. This was probably the most unexpected loss for me, personally, but since I graduated from FSU in May, I was not sad to see one of our rivals lose. I woke up Saturday morning to the news that Cal not only upset #8 Washington State, but ran all over them. Now, this is where things got interesting. Michigan pulled off an important win in OT, Miami barely skated by to an unranked team for the 2nd week in a row, #10 Auburn gave up a 20-0 lead and ultimately lost to LSU, Florida wore the ugliest jerseys of all time and still walked away with a loss at home, USC BARELY outlasted Utah on a failed 2-pt conversion to avoid OT, and Boise State and Arizona State handed San Diego State and Washington their first losses of the season, respectively.

All in all, this ultimately became one of the most exciting football Saturdays I’ve seen in recent years, so imagine my disappointment when the AP polls were released this afternoon.

Michigan WON and dropped 2 spots, the Miami Hurricanes moved up 3 spots after a 2nd last minute win against an unranked team, Clemson dropped 5 spots to #7 (WHAT? Need I remind you that FSU dropped much farther after a much more impressive loss??), USC moved up 2 spots, Washington State is still in the top 15 after an atrocious loss to an UNRANKED TEAM, and Georgia stomped all over Mizzou and only went up one spot. Penn State had a bye week this week so they were unable to prove their worth and with one of the toughest remaining schedules in all of the NCAA I don’t see them staying up there for much longer, so why didn’t UGA get the coveted #2 spot in the poll? Recent experience (when FSU didn’t play due to a hurricane and still descended down the polls) shows that bye weeks don’t stop the committee from dropping teams when others do well. With a true freshman starter and arguably the best running back duo in the country, I think the Bulldogs should be right up there with Alabama, who also show no signs of wavering any time soon.

Hopefully these upcoming weeks will be less controversial, and I will be the first to admit that I love upsets, but for the love of god, BE CONSISTENT. If a team loses to a someone ranked higher than them, there isn’t much surprise and they shouldn’t be punished too greatly for it, but when you have SEVEN top 25 teams lose to unranked opponents in the same weekend, maybe you should reassess your poll standings.

A Letter to Those I’ll Never be Able to Thank

Not too long ago I found myself stranded in Los Angeles, California, betrayed by the man I had hoped to spend the rest of my life with. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is NEVER easy to find out that the person you’re with is being unfaithful, but, finding out that the man I am in love with is actually in love with someone else (while I’m 2000 miles away from home visiting him) is probably the shittiest thing that has ever happened to me. I had no where to go, no one to turn to, and no clue of what to do next. All I knew was that I needed to get out of there. We got my airplane ticket transferred so that I could leave early to be with my family and even as angry as I was, I knew that saying “goodbye” was going to be so hard.

He drove me to the airport at 4:30 a.m. the next morning and couldn’t stop apologizing. He seemed upset, but I genuinely don’t think he will ever feel the immense pain that I felt knowing he must have stopped loving me at some point in the few months prior. When I turned away from the car and started towards the entrance to LAX, I lost it. Every bone and muscle and joint in my body hurt and I couldn’t keep myself from sobbing as I retrieved my boarding pass. Thank god for the self-service kiosks! I wasn’t composed enough to talk to an attendant.

I wiped my eyes and tried to breathe as I walked down, what seemed like an endless hallway, towards the start of the security line. By this time it was 5:15 a.m. and there were a total of 12 people going through security, including me and the hipster with a guitar case behind me. I wiped my eyes and continued to sniffle, but stopped crying long enough to find my ID and get ready to hand my pass to the guard. As we got closer, I could hear the short, automatic responses between the guard and people in front of me – it was very clear that he wasn’t happy about being at work so early.

“Ticket?” *beep* “Enjoy your flight. Next!” were the extent of the words he exchanged with the few people in front of me while he scanned their passes. When it became my turn, I mustered up the best smile I could manage and handed over my license and boarding pass. To my surprise, he smiled back and began to make small talk… commenting on the baseball shirt that I was wearing and asking about their star player. This is the kind of conversation that I would generally thrive on! I love sports and I know everything there is to know about Bryce Harper and the Nationals. But this morning was different, it seemed obvious to me that this nice, male security guard, with a beautiful smile, was trying to cheer me up, not caring why I was so upset, but caring enough to make it go away. I’ll never be able to thank him for engaging me in conversation, albeit short and mostly one-sided, I appreciated the effort so much more than I could have let on at the time. Especially when I had rounded the corner to slip my shoes off and we continued to make eye contact. He finally gave me a brief side smile that seemed to say everything was going to be okay, before turning to the person in line behind me and saying, “Ticket?” *beep* “Enjoy your flight. Next!”

I slumped into a seat at my gate and stupidly texted my ex to tell him I made it. It didn’t take long for him to respond, “If it makes you feel any better, I am a mess, the second you walked away I lost it.” OF COURSE THAT DIDN’T MAKE ME FEEL ANY BETTER!

That one text would make me start blubbering like a baby again, enough to startle the woman sitting across from me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid her forever so I lifted my head and made eye contact with her. “Are you okay? Would you like some water? Or part of my granola bar?” She quickly asked me. I smiled, knowing that if I was in her position, I, too would have offered this young, crying girl, the granola bar right out of my mouth.

“No, thank you. I’m just having a rough day.” I proceeded to give her a few details because she seemed interested in helping me in any way she could. She was very genuine and so kind, and she is another person that I will never be able to express my sincere gratitude to. She said some very kind and encouraging words before we parted ways and boarded the plane to Chicago.

I was a mess the whole flight, thankfully the guy next to me was asleep so I didn’t have to worry about explaining myself again. I sat back and tried to escape by reading Amy Schumer’s new book of short essays about her life, unfortunately this didn’t help as much as I anticipated, but I did get a few laughs!

We landed in Chicago and at that time I had a little over an hour before my next flight, the flight home to Jacksonville. I stepped off the jet bridge and started looking for signs leading me to the next terminal when I heard someone say my name. I turned to face the kind woman from the last airport and she said, “Ally…. I have been thinking about you the whole flight and I know that I only got to chat with you for a short time, but I just had to let you know that you are so kind and so genuine and I know you’re hurting now, but you’re going to find someone who is so much better suited for you. I just know it.”

I couldn’t have asked for a better stranger to confide in. I hope I made it clear to her how much I appreciated all of the nice things she said to me, but, I may never know. I may never be able to tell her how much that meant to me and how that encounter would be the only thing that helped me keep my sanity long enough to get home.

My flight kept getting delayed and pushed back due to mechanical issues and weather in the Carolina’s. And progressively I got sadder and sadder. I never asked for help and I don’t think I looked like I needed any, either. I really just wanted to find a bar to sit at and drink my sorrows away, but unfortunately for me, they were all full and had long wait times. We ended up being delayed 6 hours and during that time, I met a very nice lady who was traveling alone to visit her sick sister, she was so thoughtful and never once asked me why I was so sad, but went out of her way to cheer me up, she made sure I was well fed and entertained. We sat together and just talked for hours about nothing important, but she is a third person, from the same day, that I may never see again to thank.

So, thank you kind security officer who didn’t HAVE to smile at me, and thank you dark haired woman who hugged me when we exited the plane – I hope you’re right about me finding someone better, and thank you lady who helped the delay to Jacksonville go by a little faster. You all honestly made light out of such a terrible day for me, probably unintentionally, and for that I am forever grateful. I just hope some day I will be able to return the favor with kind words or a smile to someone who needs them as desperately as I did that day. My faith in humanity has been restored and for this I thank you.

Fernandina High School’s Certified Nursing Assistant Program

Fernandina High School's Certified Nursing Assistant ProgramWhen I was ten years old I told my aunt that I wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon when I grew up. Now, for a ten year old, this is an interesting thing to aspire to be, so my aunt immediately told me that I would never make it that far and I would change my mind. Up until a few years ago I was dead set on becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon and proving her wrong.

My freshman year of high school I was in a class called Medical Skills taught by Mrs. Sharon Belcher, ARNP. In this class I learned all about the different medical professions there are, gave a PowerPoint presentation about poison control, was introduced to my now favorite show House, kept up with current events in medicine, learned how to read and use military time, became CPR certified, learned how to dress a wound, and I was introduced to the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class offered to seniors by Mrs. Belcher.

I soon realized that getting into the CNA program as a senior would help me get used to being in the medical field and would be a good first step to becoming a Pediatric Neurosurgeon. Junior year rolled around and I signed up to be in Mrs. Belcher’s Anatomy and Physiology Honors class, which turned out to be a lot like Medical Skills. I learned the specifics of each body system and we made Anatomy music videos (as seen below) to learn all the bones and muscles.

Towards the end of February the office started to make announcements about applications to be in the 2012-2013 CNA class. Naturally, I got an application, filled it out, and set up the face-to-face interview to try and be accepted. Within a few weeks, Mrs. Belcher posted a list of the 14 people who made it into the program and I am proud to say that I have been working towards becoming a CNA ever since!

In this class we learn different skills, like bed baths, dressing a patient, catheter care, range of motion exercises, how to take vital signs, and many others. The first semester in school is all learning and book work with some fun thrown in there! We practice the skills on mannequins and get checked off so we can start learning new things. We also host school wide events. So far this year we have held 2 blood drives for the Blood Alliance, one of which my best friend and I hosted, and a Buddy Check 12 fundraiser with Jeanie Blalock.

The second semester of senior year we put these skills to use. We get to go to Baptist Medical Center – Nassau to observe and help with patients every Monday and Thursday, but some of us can be at Amelia Internal Medicine, Heartland Rehabilitation or Amelia Foot & Ankle while the rest are at BMC-N. Every Tuesday and Wednesday we are either helping the CNA’s at Quality Health, at Amelia Urgent Care, at FB Fire Rescue, or in the ESC classroom at the high school. We are each in a new department every week so we can learn the logistics of each job offered to a CNA.

So far, in the five weeks we have been going to clinical, I have been to the Pharmacy at BMC-N, Amelia Urgent Care, the lab at BMC-N, Quality Health, the ESC classroom, Heartland, FB Fire Rescue (my favorite so far!), Medical Records at BMC-N, and the Ambulatory Surgical Unit at BMC-N. We will continue to go to clinical and practice our skills for the next two months.

On May 3rd, all 14 of us will take a written test, then a skills check off test. These tests will show the CNA evaluators our patient skills and our bedside manner. Hopefully that day all of us will officially become Certified Nursing Assistants and we can work on finding a summer job before we go to college.

This class may not seem very interesting to someone who isn’t interested in being in the medical field, but it means a lot to me. I have made lifelong friends this year because of this class and learned so much that I wouldn’t have learned from taking elective classes or doing OJT. But, as much as I hate to admit it, my aunt was right… I did change my mind. I’ve decided Pediatrics isn’t my forte; I would get too attached to my patients. I believe a better fit for me is trauma. I aspire to be a trauma surgeon when I graduate from medical school. Since I like to be in the middle of the action and FB Fire Rescue has been my favorite clinical site, I am often referred to as an adrenaline junkie… well, if the shoe fits, wear it!

I see myself and every single one of my fellow classmates doing great things in the future because of the CNA program offered at Fernandina Beach High School, I strongly advise anyone interested in the medical field to look into it!

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Ally’s Truck is for Sale

Ally's Truck is for SaleTruck for sale! That’s right, I have put my truck up for sale.

My 1998 Dodge Dakota is fun to drive with a 5-speed manual transmission. It has working air conditioning and two new front tires my parents gave me for my birthday.

The truck is certainly recognizable with its orange and yellow flaming paint job, over a metallic blue base coat. But, if you are a Gator fan, you will LOVE the coloring of this truck! Not only did my truck make the Top 15 List of cool cars in last year’s high school year book, but I NEVER have trouble locating it in a parking lot… ever!

There is a Tanneau cover installed, as well as an after market stereo I bought, and since my parents hardly ever let me go anywhere, the truck only has 118,382 miles.

I bought the truck two years ago, before I even had a drivers license, with money I had earned babysitting and I have been cruising all over East Nassau County in this cute little pick-em-up-truck for a year and a half.

My parents say this is an ideal first vehicle for a teenager. Mom and Dad were thrilled that I learned how to drive a stick and they say someday I’ll be glad I have that skill. And you can only imagine their happiness when they realized it is next to impossible to text and drive in Fernandina Beach if you drive a clutch! They never let me remove the Tanneau cover either, they said it would keep all of my high school friends from jumping into the bed of the truck for a ride home from school or to the beach.

truck-for-sale-fernandinaI think they just liked having a truck in the family when they needed to have something hauled home from Sears, Home Depot or Lowe’s.

This year I am a senior at FBHS and I’m in the CNA program. Since I have been already been accepted to several colleges, I decided I needed something more practical to haul my stuff to and from school next year and I found a deal on a vehicle that I could not pass up!

So, now, I am ready to part with my very first car. And my folks say, “Everyone remembers their first car!”

I have it priced at $2,000 (including a brand new, NEVER been used ice scraper and snow brush set and the black fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror), though when I looked it up on Kelley Blue Book ( the private sale value was higher. All reasonable offers are welcomed as well as any donations you would like to make to my college fund!

Please call my dad, Lawrence Mackie, at (904) 583-1010 and leave a message for more information or to test drive this amazing vehicle.

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Is Genetical Engineering Ethical?

Is Genetical Engineering Ethical?Genetic Engineering: ethical or not ethical? That is the question. Genetic engineering has become very popular among many young adults, who might be looking to become parents, over the past few years. This is a well known process that modifies or changes certain genes to create the “designer babies” (as many people are calling them) that these young parents are wanting. Parents now have the option to choose an eye color and specific personality traits; this choice that people make is no longer just for changing potentially harmful traits, it is to create the perfect baby.

What is genetic engineering? Well, the dictionary definition is the deliberate modification of the characteristics of an organism by manipulating its genetic material. This scope of practice manipulates genes in plants, animals, and now humans. We are no longer limited in our possibilities of neon green animals or rainbow colored plants, but why would we want to do this to our children? Research now is saying that we can genetically engineer our unborn babies to look and act exactly how we want them to. We can choose the sex, we can choose their athletic build, we can choose their eye color and how curly their hair will be. The possibilities are endless.

The process not only changes genes, but sometimes adds new ones that were not originally found in the baby before hand. These new genes are called transgenes and they undergo a major transformation during the engineering process. Basically in a nut shell, what happens is the medical scientist chooses the desired DNA strand or gene trait and takes it out of one organism, they then duplicate it and change things in it to make the specific gene that is wanted (gene cloning), this new strand/trait is then inserted into the organism receiving the gene. This is a practice that only very well trained and very skilled scientists are likely to enter.

Although traditional reproduction is not completely taken out of the equation, it is obviously not as effective as genetic engineering. Traditional breeding from sex or in vitro fertilization, we know, randomly takes half of the genes from mom and half of the genes from dad, some of these genes are likely to be undesirable and its obvious that parents would not want their children to have them; whereas, genetic engineering takes the genes that the parents know they want their children to have and place them straight into the egg. It is argued that since we, as humans, are already searching for a partner with desirable qualities to mate with and provide us with attractive and intelligent children for the future of our race, why should we limit our potential children to just those traits offered by our significant other when there are so many extraordinary advancements available to make them even more desirable than they could be without this technique?

Originally this process was used to remove genes that carry cancer and other harmful disease holding genes and replace them with more desirable, better traits that could sustain the life of these humans. Bacteria and other microorganisms that have been manipulated by genetic engineering are currently being used to produce many things that can help the human race including human insulin and human growth hormone, if we continue this practice the potential possibilities for improvement are far greater than we can currently imagine.

As with most procedures, there are complications. Scientists are now beginning to learn that they do not know nearly as much as they thought they did about DNA and how genes work. Scientists may never be able to master this procedure because humans are always changing and making babies and their genetic traits are extremely complex. In discussing how the new genes are inserted into the baby, Dr. George Wald, Nobel Laureate in medicine 1967 said, “the insertion disrupts the ordinary command code sequence in the DNA. This disruption may disturb the functioning of the cell in unpredictable and potentially hazardous ways. The insertion may make the chromosome unstable in an unpredictable way.” There is no way for the scientists to place the genes where they need to be, they just attach wherever they can. This creates problems and could cause a greater risk for the baby. Parents need to know and be well informed about all of the potential problems or instances that can occur before they decide that this is what they want.

There have been many reported incidences of genetically engineered plant species spreading specific genes uncontrollably, it has been said that this damage to the ecology and plant world is not able to be fixed or repaired. Also an uncontrollable spread of some genetically engineered genes from certain microorganisms has been reported and scientists are trying to deal with this.

I personally believe that this technique, whether some think it is ethical or not, is based mainly on personal opinion, as are many other debates in the medical world. If I chose to not partake in this practice, as a physician who only wants the best for my patients, who am I to say that I refuse to change a gene in your baby that could potentially kill them in the future if I don’t do something about it? This would be a difficult decision, but, if I had to choose, I know that I will always respect the parent’s wishes. So, yes, I believe that this practice is ethical to alter someone’s genes when circumstances call for it. But, do I believe that parents should abuse this technique just to choose an eye color? No, I do not.

The Center for Health Ethics – University of Missouri School of Medicine – Gene Therapy and Genetic Engineering.” N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

“UNL’s AgBiosafety for Educators.” UNL’s AgBiosafety for Educators. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

Genetic Engineering.”, n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

Important Message to Students.” What Is Genetic Engineering? N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

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2012 Splash Bash Benefits Relay for Life AND Humane Society

2012 Splash Bash Benefits Relay for Life AND Humane SocietyYou are running out of time to purchase your tickets for a chance to win $500.00. This Splash Bash fundraiser benefits both the Nassau Humane Society and Relay for Life.

Saturday, at 6:00 PM, August 4, 2012, “Katie” will dive into the pool at the NHS Dog Park and select two winning balls!

Come early, snacks and drinks will be available.

Insurance prohibits dogs at social events!

The more you purchase the greater your chances are to win!

Call Sandy at (904) 491-6146 for more information.

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S’More Sandwich Cookie Recipes

S'More Sandwich Cookie RecipesHere is a great recipe for S’More Sandwich Cookies I baked for my classmates to share at the End of the School Year Party in AP World History.

These were a huge hit and a perfect cookie to get everyone geared up for summer vacation camping trips!


    -3/4 Cup butter, softened
    -1/2 Cup sugar
    -1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
    -1 Egg
    -2 Tablespoons milk
    -1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
    -1 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
    -1 1/4 Cup graham cracker crumbs
    -1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
    -1/4 Teaspoon salt
    -1/8 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
    -2 Cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    -24 to 28 Large Marshmallows


    -In a large bowl cream butter and sugars.
    -Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla.
    -In a separate bowl combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
    -Gradually add the powdered ingredients to the creamed mixture.
    -Stir in the chocolate chips.
    -Drop by tablespoonfuls, two inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
    -Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.
    -Place on wire racks and cool completely.
    -Place cooled cookies on a microwave safe plate, bottom side up.
    -Top each with a marshmallow.
    -Microwave on high, uncovered, for 10 to 15 seconds, until marshmallows begin to “puff” but DO NOT overcook.
    -Top each with another cookie.

Tips to the Perfect Deep Fried Turkey

The Amelia Island Way to Deep Fry a Turkey

How to Deep Fry a Turkey

This is a classic video I pulled from the early SearchAmelia days showing you how to deep fry a turkey. This video was made before we had established a SearchAmelia channel on YouTube, but it is indeed worth watching again if you will be cooking your turkey outdoors.

Each year we fry eight, ten or more turkeys for our neighbors, friends and relatives throughout the day. My husband wakes up early to start the cooker and everyone has a scheduled time to show up with their bird. Because they take about 45 minutes to cook, plus additional time to prep the turkey and of course, to let the perfected poultry cool down, we get well over an hour to visit with each set of friends.

For our newer viewers, if you have ever been interested in learning how to safely deep fry your Thanksgiving turkey, this video is a timeless reminder.

For complete instructions and a list of needed supplies, visit the original article published on SearchAmelia two years ago by clicking on the following link:

Happy Thanksgiving!
Team SearchAmelia

Fernandina Beach Wins Babe Ruth North Florida State Championship [Video]

Fernandina Beach Wins Babe Ruth North Florida State Championship

Babe Ruth North Florida State Championship

Fernandina Beach beat Dinsmore 9 to 3 to win the 2010 North Florida Babe Ruth 15U (15 and under) State Championship. The championship game was played Sunday, July 25th and with victory came Fernandina’s advancement to the Regional Championship held in Matthew, North Carolina the first weekend in August.

Here are the scores from this weekend’s Babe Ruth tournament played on Amelia Island:

Thursday’s Games
Dinsmore 7 Orange Park 2
Starke-Bradford 6 Julington Creek 5
Fernandina Beach 6 Fort White 4
Dinsmore 6 Jacksonville Beach 5

Friday’s Games
Julington Creek 4 Fort White 2 (Fort White eliminated)
Fernandina Beach 8 Starke-Bradford 7 (8 innings)
Jacksonville Beach 18 Julington Creek 7 (Julington Creek eliminated)
Starke-Bradford 12 Orange Park 1 (Orange Park eliminated)

Saturday’s Games
Fernandina Beach 13 Dinsmore 1
Jacksonville Beach 6 Starke-Bradford 2 (Starke-Bradford eliminated)
Dinsmore 10 Jacksonville Beach 4 (Jacksonville Beach eliminated)

Here is just some of the action from this weekend:


It is estimated that 300 boys and girls participate in Fernandina Beach Babe Ruth baseball each year, establishing an environment to learn teamwork and discipline. The season begins in March and runs through November and this year Fernandina hosted the North Florida State Tournament bringing parents, grandparents and friends of these great young players to Amelia Island.

Congratulations Fernandina Beach!!!

If you have news or information about our community that you would like to share, please send it to us by clicking here.

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Fernandina Beach High School

Fernandina Beach High School

Fernandina Beach High School

Entering the final nine weeks of the high school year, Fernandina Beach has put out a revised end of year calendar.

    -Report cards for the third nine weeks will be distributed on April 13, 2010.
    -AP testing will be conducted during the first two weeks of May.
    -The Fernandina Beach High School Prom will be held on Saturday, May 15, at the Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center.
    -Senior exams will be held the final week of May with senior make-up exams on May 28.
    -Monday, May 31st is Memorial Day and there will be no school that day.
    -Baccalaureate will be held at Fernandina Beach Middle School at 7:00 PM.
    -The SAT will be given at Fernandina Beach High School on Saturday, June 5.
    -High School Graduation will be held on June 5th at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena at 3:00 PM.
    -The last day of school is on Wednesday, June 9th and this is a 1/2 day of school.

Christian Rock Band Hello Forever Q and A

Christian Rock Band Hello Forever Q and A

Christian Rock Band Hello Forever Q and A

When I first heard that the band “Hello Forever” was coming to Fernandina Beach to perform at The Journey Church on Amelia Island, I thought “Christian rock…hmm. This could be interesting.” I admit, I did not give them enough credit and I definitely did not think that they would come to be my favorite Christian band.

After the performance I went straight home and typed “Hello Forever” into google. I wanted to find out as much as possible about them. The first things that popped up were “Hello Forever on MySpace” and “Hello Forever on Facebook”. Immediately, I added them on Facebook and I added their lead singer, Dillan Howell, as well.

It took some courage, but I contacted Dillan and was given this great opportunity to interview him about the band!

Dillan Howell

Dillan Howell

Here is the interview:

Ally at the Desk: How did you get the name “Hello Forever”? And how did you guys meet each other?
Dillan of Hello Forever: I liked the name Hello and wanted that to be in the name, a buddy of ours said how about Hello Forever. I said perfect. We decided Hello Forever means Eternity and thats what we want to hear when we enter the kingdom of our father, “Hello Forever”. Adam and I were friends when I was on the road with a previous band and he jokingly said, “Lets tour when you get home”, I said, “okay” and then a joke became reality for us. Adam put the band together, I came in with the vision, and we went from there.

Ally: Who are your major musical influences?
Dillan: I would say we have several. Hillsong United, David Crowder, Muse, Cold Play, etc…

Ally: What is your favorite song to perform and why?
Dillan: Shine Your Light, it is an original that people are slowly becoming familiar with and it’s super easy on top of that.

Ally: Where is your favorite place to perform? (And don’t say The Journey, unless you really mean it! LOL)
Dillan: Believe it or not, The Journey is one of our favorites to play. For some reason the people love us there and we love being there.

Ally: Do you mostly play covers or write your own music?
Dillan: We are currently working on our first Album so definitely writing, but being a worship band we will always share with other artists.

Ally: How strict is your rehearsal schedule?
Dillan: Not strict enough! ; ) some would probably say different!

Ally: Have you always played Christian Rock? If no, then what did you play before?
Dillan: Since day one we have been a Christian band and until we die we will be a Christian band.

Ally: What has your biggest challenge, as a band, been?
Dillan: Being away from families, friends and jobs. We do not pay ourselves in Hello Forever, all the money goes right back into the ministry so that can be tough.

Ally: Where do you see the band a year from now? 5 years from now?
Dillan: There is no telling, God moves in big ways. : )

Ally: How can your fans gain access to your music?
Dillan: Right now they can’t. Only through Youtube and Facebook, MySpace. Downloads are not available yet, sorry!

Ally: How do you balance your music with other obligations? (Significant other, jobs, etc…)
Dillan: Very tough, but God always manages to take control in these situations.

Ally: Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Dillan: I would like to thank all of our fans who keep this ministry alive and beg their local venues and youth pastors to keep bringing us back. Most importantly our King, who has paid the ultimate price, so that I can walk with our Father and worship him.

Ally: Any last words?
Dillan: We sing a song by Steve Fee called Glory to God Forever. I hope the words in this song will be the last words of us all. “Glory to God Forever!”

If you like Christian rock, I definitely suggest that you look up Hello Forever! Until then, I looked up Steve Fee’s, Glory to God Forever, so I could check out the lyrics. Enjoy!

Glory To God Forever by Steve Fee

Verse 1
Before the world was made
before you spoke it to be
You were the King of Kings
yeah you were, yeah you were

And now you’re reigning still
enthroned above all things
Angels and Saints cry out
we join them as we sing

Glory to God, Glory to God
Glory to God, Forever

Verse 2
Creator God you gave
me breath so I could praise
Your great and matchless name
all my days, all my days

So let my whole life be
a blazing offering
A life that shouts and sings
the greatness of the King

Take my life and let it be
All for you and for your glory
Take my life and let it be yours

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A French Recipe for Croque Monsieur

A French Recipe for Croque Monsieur

A French Recipe for Croque Monsieur

My French teacher has once again given my class the assignment of translating and cooking a French recipe for my family. Since I love to cook, this is one of my favorite homework tasks this year!

Sauce béchamel (facultatif)
2 tranches de pain de mie
¼ tasse de fromage rȃpé
1 tranche de jambon

Beurre les 2 tranches de pain de mie de chaque cóté.
Sut 1 trance, mettre la moitie du fromage rape et one partie de la sauce bechamel, la trance de jambon, puis le reste de la sauce bechamel et du fromage
Fermer avec la tranche de pain de mie qui reste.
Faire cuire au four pendant 15 minutes.

English translation: Grilled Ham and Cheese

*Bechamel Sauce (Optional)
2 Slices of bread
1/2 Cup of grated Cheese
1 Slice of ham

Butter the two slices of bread on each side.
On one slice put half of the grated cheese, one part of the sauce, the slice of ham, the rest of the bechamel sauce and grated cheese.
Close with the slice of bread that remains.
Bake in oven for 15 minutes.

This was a tasty twist to a traditional grilled ham and cheese sandwich. I thought it was perfect for a cold winter’s dinner. However, it is not easy to keep my family out of the kitchen long enough to treat them to my latest French cuisine surprise.

*Bechamel Sauce

Bechamel Sauce

Bechamel Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk, heated
Freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Stir in the flour and cook for about two minutes stirring constantly, until the mixture looks like paste and it starts to bubble at the edges.
Slowly add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens.
Bring it to a boil and add salt and pepper to taste.
Lower the heat and continue stirring for a couple more minutes.

Now, I’ve been cooking since I was a child, and I think this must be the easiest way to teach someone how to make gravy; simply substitute your turkey drippings or sausage drippings for the butter. If the gravy becomes too thick add more milk.

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Snickerdoodles is one of my favorite cookies. Baking with my mom at the holidays is a tradition for our family and this year one of our cookies is the Snickerdoodle! My mother has a red and white checkered Better Homes and Gardens cook book that was given to her from my grandmother. The spine is worn out, its pages have faded with time, and it has a few stains, but it also has some of the best recipes in the world.

Mix in a medium bowl:
3 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 Teaspoon of salt

Mix in a large bowl:
1 Cup butter (or margarine)
2 Cups sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup of milk
1 Teaspoon of vanilla

Mix in a small bowl:
3 Tablespoons of sugar
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grease a cookie sheet and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.

In large bowl, beat softened butter for 30 seconds; add sugar and beat until fluffy.
Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and beat well.
Add dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
Form dough into one inch balls, and then roll in the sugar and cinnamon coating the balls.
Place the balls two inches apart on the cookie sheet and flatten slightly with the bottom of a drinking glass.
Bake about 8 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

If you want to make your home smell like the holidays, this is a great cookie to bake. Close your eyes and breath in… can you smell the spicy cinnamon and warm vanilla?

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Translating the French Recipe Gratin de Poires

Gratin de Poires

Gratin de Poires

High school brings great adventures and this year I am taking French. One of our extra credit assignments is to translate French recipes, then prepare and serve them to our unsuspecting families, and then get them to comment on the dish. Gratin de Poires was the challenge provided by my teacher and as I write this, the scent of roasted pears wafts through my home. The first thing I needed to do was translate the recipe that called for roasted pears. What the heck is a roasted pear? Yep, I had to research that as well.

Here is the recipe in French:

Gratin de Poires

Gratin de Poires

Before you get started on this tasty recipe, you should begin with the recipe for roasted pears:

How to Roast a Pear
Cut a pear into four lengthwise-quarters and remove the seeds.
Heat a skillet over medium-high, and when hot, add the butter.
Arrange the pears, flat side down, in the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn pears to the other flat side and repeat.
Pears are done when they are browned slightly and softened throughout.

So, the pears were roasted, and I do recommend you use one of those splatter screens because the juice of the pears mixed with the hot melted butter caused more than one minor burn to everyone that neared the stove.

How to Roast Pears

How to Roast Pears

It was kind of a running joke while making this dish. When I told my mom the name of the recipe was, she thought ÄúGratin was cheese. She wanted to know what a cheesy pear was, well, as it turns out, Gratin in French originally meant the tasty crust left behind in the pan after baking. Chefs ate it as their bonus treat!

Here is the translated recipe:
8 Pears
2 Cups of Milk
1 Cup of flour
1/2 Cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon of butter
4 Tablespoons of ground almonds
1 Packet of vanilla sugar or a table spoon of vanilla extract

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, vanilla and milk.
Roast pears and cut into strips.
Butter a dish that goes in the oven.
Place pears in the dish.
Pour batter over the pears.
Turn the oven on to 375 degrees F and cook for 30 minutes.
Serve warm with sprinkled almonds (My dad bought walnuts by mistake, but they work, too.) on top.

Pour Batter Over the Pears

Pour Batter Over the Pears

The assignment was not for me to give my comments; the members of my family had that homework. I figured if I didn’t like it, there was still some leftover chocolate ice cream in the freezer for my dessert!

Here are the comments:
Mom: Incredibly sweet, just like Ally. I liked the combination of the crunchy, nutty tid bits blended with the baked pears and a sweet creamy “gratin” holding it all together. My favorite part was the quality bonding time we spent in the kitchen as a family! Good job, Ally!!!

Dad: Very good!!! Interesting texture and taste, I liked it, but it was different. I am looking forward to the next recipe.

Ally: It was very good, but extremely rich. This serves way more than six people. I just might have to make this recipe again. (By the way, vanilla ice cream would be amazing served atop a warm dish of Gratin de Poires!)

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Beware of Goats When Hunting with Rednecks

Beware of Goats When Hunting with Rednecks

Beware of Goats When Hunting with Rednecks

Two rednecks from Nassauville are out hunting near an old abandoned farm surrounded by car parts, machinery and other junk, when they come upon a huge hole in the ground. They approach it cautiously and are amazed by the size of it. The first hunter says “Wow, that’s some hole; I can’t even see the bottom. Wonder how deep it is?”

The second hunter says, “I don’t know, let’s throw something down and listen and see how long it takes to hit bottom.”

The first hunter says, “There’s this-here old automobile transmission, give me a hand and we’ll throw it in and see”. So they pick it up and carry it over, and count one‚ two‚ three, and throw it in the hole.

They are standing there listening and looking over the edge and they hear a rustling in the brush behind them. As they turn around they see a goat come crashing through the brush, run up to the hole and with no hesitation, the goat jumps in head first.

While they are standing there looking at each other, looking in the hole and trying to figure out what that was all about, an old farmer walks up. “Say there”, says the farmer, “You fellers didn’t happen to see my goat around here anywhere, did you?”

The first hunter says, “Funny you should ask, but we were just standing here a minute ago and a goat came running out of the bushes doin’ about a hunert miles an hour and jumped headfirst into this-here hole!”

The old farmer said, “Why that’s impossible, I had him chained to a transmission!”

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