Meet Earnie Faulk: Entrepreneur & Seller of Snowballs

Several months back, my wife and I were in Sam’s Club stocking up on our monthly goods. We had passed several other folks with their buggies who were just shopping. You know the routine. Shopping at Sam’s Club isn’t exactly Date Night. Sometimes it’s just a necessary evil.

Except for this one guy who is I see coming down the aisle as if he is enjoying his club experience and life. I watched him as he came closer and his demeanor made me smile. He had a genuine skip in his step. When he got within range, my wife said hello. You know the range. It is the distance where the person is close enough to you to say something friendly, but not so close that you accidently spit on him; the safe distance. He responded with a friendly greeting and a happy smile. He stopped his buggy for a moment to talk. It was full of nachos, cheese, hotdog buns, and all the good stuff that you would find at a fair or good ole fashioned football concessions. I had to ask about his buggy full and he handed us his card. It was Earnie Faulk, owner of Earnie’ Snowballs. We converse a little longer and then he joyfully moved on. We moved on a little more joyfully too.

I gave Earnie one of my cards that day as well. Later we became Facebook friends. I had read several of his posts and found him to be very interesting. I messaged Earnie and asked for an interview.

Me: Hey, Earnie. We met in Sam’s Club and exchanged cards. I am a blogger and I have a category on my page called “Everyday People.” I started it because I meet so many interesting people with great stories. I like to introduce them to my friends. Would you be interested in an interview?

Earnie: No problem, T.J.

Me: So, Earnie tell us a little bit about you.

Earnie: I am 32, single, no kids. Born and raised in Dothan. I love to travel inside the United States and outside it. I really like mountain bike riding and trips near water. I am the owner of Earnie’s Snowballs on Ross Clark Circle. I started my business as a hobby because I have always wanted my own business. I knew that I was meant to create and not just consume.Earnie on the Rigs2

Me: I thought I had read in a post of yours that you once worked on oil rigs. Can you tell us about that?

Earnie: I worked offshore for 8 years. I traveled to towns like New Orleans, Texas, Mobile Al, Madrid Spain and Canary islands. I worked my way up to Rig Safety and Training Coordinator/ Offshore HSE Advisor.

Me: I bet you have some interesting stories.

Earnie: As far as interesting stories, I was born into farming and livestock, played high school football, became a college level Co-ed cheerleader, worked on a farm a little while, cook at a restaurant, cheerleading and gymnastics coach, Class A CDL driver, drove for Waste Management, and a former dental assistant.

Me: Ah, a kindred spirit. So, back to the Earnie’s Snowballs. How did you get started in that? You said you were born to create not just consume.

Earnie: I started the business 2 years ago. I got started by listening to the people whom I worked with who said I would be good at the Snowball business. I was also tired of the corporate world, traveling, and always being away from home. I was tired of partying and I wanted to settle down and build the foundations to start a family.

Me: Is Earnie’s Snowballs open all year round or do you work another job or have another passion?

Earnie: I am open all year except the end of December first of January. This is my passion and I am focused on it only as far as business at the moment. I will not work another job at the moment. Chili dog consumption should start becoming very popular soon.

Me: Ah, football season?Mobile Unit

Earnie: I think our mobile unit will be booked more due to football/party season.

Me: Do you cater?

Earnie: I have the ability to.

Me: So, tell us more about your mobile unit.

Earnie: I found my trailer on Craigslist. Sold some things to purchase it. It can be booked for just about any party type; kids or adults.

Me: Any advice for anyone who wants to own their own business?

Earnie: My advice would be to find a mentor. They are hard to come by. If they can’t find one buy books and mentoring programs.

Me: Tell us how people can find out more about you and Earnie’s Snowballs.

Earnie: People can find out more about me by adding me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They can even call me on my cell 334-685-5787.

Me: That is all awesome. Great stuff. Thanks for the conversation.Best Ice Treats 2016

You may think you have seen the yellow building for Earnie’s Snowballs, but just can’t quite place it. It is located on the Ross Clark Circle near 84 West. This year, 2016, Earnie’s Snowballs was voted the Dothan Eagle’s BEST of the Wiregrass for “Best Ice Treats.”

And as you may have surmised, Earnie serves more than just snowballs. Like I mentioned at the beginning, he serves all the good stuff you would find at any tailgate party or high school football game and more. Click one of the links below to find out more about Earnie’s Snowballs or to book his mobile unit for a kid or adult party. Earnie told me he has seen some folks take his snowballs and make “tipsy” snowballs. I’ll let Earnie tell you about that.

Earnie’s Snowballs on Twitter

Earnie’s Snowballs on Facebook

Shack

 

Meet Ashley Smith: Accountant & Amish Retailer

Introduction

Meet Ashley Smith, mother, wife, accountant, Hubby and Daughterhorse lover, and seller of Amish goods. I was first introduced to Ashley when we both worked together. I had recently been promoted and was given a budget for the first time in my new position. Honestly, I didn’t understand the process and codes. It was all Greek to me. I was told to “go talk to accounting.” So, the testing of patience for Ashley and her fellow accountants began and continues even to date. And patient she was, as well as understanding and helpful. Truth be told, I do my best to make the folks in accounting my best friends and they truly are.

Ashley no longer works with us, but her friendships continue. As so often is true in life, her passion turned her in another direction. I and the accountants have been fortunate to keep in touch with Ashley and her adventures which often take her and her family to Tennessee to the Amish country. I caught up with Ashley and I asked her if I could share my conversation with her with you. She generously agreed.

 Our Conversation

Me: “So, Ashley, I would like to introduce you to my friends. You good with that?”

Ashley: “Absolutely.”

Me: “Great. So, tell us a little about yourself and your family.”

Ashley: “I’m 42 years old, married to Stacy for 15 years, have one child (13 year old girl-Carsyn). We enjoy living in the country & riding horses. I have a BS & a Master’s in Accounting. I work at Harris Tire Company during the week as their comptroller.”

Me: “How many horses do you have?

Ashley: “We only have two right now.”

Me: “You say you work as a comptroller during the week. I know you ride horses in your spare time, but you also like to travel to Tennessee a lot, especially the Amish Country  there. Do you own a house in Troy where you live and in Tennessee?”

Ashley: “We live in Troy but my parents have a second house in Tennessee.”

Me: “I see. I know from other conversations and via Facebook that you sell Amish items. Mostly handmade. How did you get into that?”

Ashley: “For the past 20 years I have been Acorn Birdhousevisiting the Amish in Tennessee several times each year. I have accumulated several of the things that they make. After having people repeatedly tell me how they like my purchases and how much they would like to have the same thing; I decided to start trying to sell some of the smaller Amish handmade items myself. So, in the summer of 2015 I started selling Amish handmade wooden items such as birdhouses, cutting boards, bird feeders, rolling pins, etc.”

Me: “That’s pretty cool. Tell us more about your experience with the Amish people.”

Ashley: “We love going to visit the Amish and relaxing at the house in Tennessee. Over the years we’ve made friends with some of the Amish. I like selling stuff the Amish make so that hopefully people can learn to appreciate the craftsmanship the Amish have and all without electricity!!”

Me: “Would you be willing to give up being an accountant in making this a full time pursuit?”

Ashley: “I would love for this to turn into a full time job one day!!”

Rolling PinMe: “Somehow I see you loving this too much to call it a job. So, you have a store online. What is it called?”

Ashley: “Going Back In Time.”

Me: “How can people get a hold of you or get an idea of what it is you are so passionate about?”

Ashley: “People can reach me by phone/text at 334-618-3201, Facebook, or email ashsmith.1974@yahoo.com.”

Me: “Great. Ashley thanks for your time. It was good conversing with you again.”

 A Little More Information

If you would like to see more of Ashley’s line of handmade Amish items, click on the link below to go to her Facebook Page “Going Back In Time.” When I approached Ashley about doing an interview she told me that she was excited about it and thanked me for thinking of her. I think you will agree that even though this article is listed under “Everyday People” on our blog site “The Salty Eclectic”, Ashley is an interesting Everyday Person and I thank her for letting me introduce her to you. Be sure to like her Facebook page.

Going Back In Time Facebook Page

Meet Michelle Elkins: Cake Artisan

Meet Michelle Elkins: college student, newlywed, and (though she will not call herself this) cake artisan. Michelle is pursuing a degree in business at Troy University while working and learning what it is like to be a wife. She makes her home with her husband, Jonathan and three cats in Headland, Alabama. I had the chance to sit down with Michelle and ask her about her cake creations. I found out, as I already suspected, that she is very creative in crafts as well. Here is our discussion in a Q & A format.

Me: “How long have you been decorating cakes?”

Michelle: “Since the 6th grade in school. So, a little over ten years.”

Me: “How long have you been doing this professionally? I.e. working in a business.”

IMG_20160722_123135
Cat Cake

Michelle: “For well over a year. I started with Delectable Edibles in Dothan, Alabama and they have just recently went out of business. I currently work at Sweet and Sassy, also in Dothan off of Westgate.”

Me: “So, Sweet and Sassy picked you up, as it were, from Delectable Edibles shortly after their closing?”

Michelle: “Yes.”

Me: “How did you come to creating these cakes? I know you say you are a cake decorator, but these cakes seem to be more like creations than just mere cakes. I would consider you a cake artist.”

Michelle: “Well, I don’t know if I am a cake artist. I had an interest in cakes from watching shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes on the Food Network and it really interested me. My mom started taking cake classes at Michaels and she began to teach me what she learned. Then she would let me create my own. I filled in the rest by internet searching.”

Me: “Was there a lot of trial and error? Did you fail a lot?”

Michelle: “Oh, yeah. I still do, but I have learned so much along the way.”

Elkin's Wedding0660Me: “You have been recently married and I understand that your mom wanted to let someone else make the wedding cake and the groom’s cake, but you convinced her to let you do it. You also created the cake for your husband-to-be’s man shower.”

Michelle: “Yes. I did all three.”

Me: “What would you say is the hardest cake you have ever done? And what made it the hardest.”

Michelle: “A four tier wedding cake. It was all pound cake, so it was heavy, and by the time I was finished with the swirls and scrolling, my wrists were hurting.”

Elkin's Wedding0668

Me: “What would you say is the cake you enjoy making the most and why is that? And could you give us an example?”

Michelle: “It would be the cake where I get to be the most creative. Recently, a lady asked me to do a cake for a coworker who is an accountant. She really wasn’t sure what she wanted, so we brainstormed and I came up with a cake that she loved. I was able to create a cake that was unique to her situation and for her coworker.”

Me: “You also do crafts. Tell us about that.”

IMG_7341Michelle: “I love to paint on canvas and create other things like door hangers. I also like to draw and illustrate.”

Me: “Where can people get in touch with you and/or get a better idea of the cakes and crafts you create?”

Michelle: “The best way for people to reach me is through my Facebook page and they can see more pictures of my cakes and crafts on Pinterest. Both are called “Cakes and Crafty Things.” They can also find me at Sweet and Sassy on Westgate Parkway in Dothan.”

One can see by the pictures of cakes scattered throughout this article that Michelle is indeed more than just a cake decorator. She told me she “decorates” cakes ranging from cupcakes all the way to full sheet cakes for all occasions. For reference, the common birthday cake you or I would get at a bakery is called a one-quarter sheet cake. Imagine four of those put together into one cake.

For more on Michelle’s Cakes and Crafty Things or to contact her, you can click on the link below:

Michelle’s Cake Facebook Page

Movie Time Cake
Movie Time Cake

 

Super Hero Cake
Super Hero Cake

 

 

WIRED 2016 – Construction 36 – A Personal Experience

WIRED 2016 Worship

With all the chaos, violence, and uncertainty in our world and country, there was a life changing event this past summer that deserves mentioning – WIRED 2016. It was designed to “occupy” the Southeast Alabama area as a force for good during the last full week of June. A stark contrast to the forces in the world to move to destroy, WIRED 2016 moved in a positive, life-changing direction.

What Is WIRED?

The brainchild of Mark Anderson and friends in 2008, WIRED is an organized effort to “wire” together the churches and Christians in unity and mission. That mission is to reach out, touch, and affect the lives of others in a positive way. One of the mantras of Christianity is “to be the hands and feet of Jesus.” WIRED exemplifies this mantra through setting up and conducting “mission sites.” These sites were construction, evangelistic, child outreach, and non-profit agency support, in nature. This year forty-six churches sent youth and chaperones to man over ninety-five (95) such sites.

Construction Sites

This was my second year as a chaperone at WIRED. Both years I was involved in a construction site. Even though it was construction in focus, this site was consisted of the same make up of every other site. That is, youth who came from different churches, at least two adults from different churches, a track leader adult (usually a college student) and the mission contact. On the construction sites, the mission contact is a site foreman and sometimes an assistant. Unlike most youth camps, mission and otherwise, the work is not done by church groups. Rather, the work is done by members from different churches. The goal here is to do missions as the Body of Christ rather than just as a local church group. This not only broadens the horizons of the youth involved, it exposes them to missions with brothers and sisters they never knew before. Sometimes lifetime friendships are created as they work side-by-side with fellow believers to minister to those who may be less fortunate.

Praise and Worship

Every morning the group assembled in the Dothan Civic Center for a brief moment of worship, a word of encouragement and inspiration, and marching orders for the day. Each night is filled with a time of praise and worship through songs and exploring the Word of God. Everyone heard the teachings of Jesus and then put them into practice the next day. Part of the worship and praise was a recount of the day’s events through a video and announcements. Sunday through Thursday consisted of the WIRED group. On Friday an invitation was extended to anyone who wished to join the WIRED group for a night of worship. Friday night, the Dothan Civic Center was packed to overflowing. It was an awesome sound to hear over 5000 voices singing songs like “Good, Good Father.”

The last night of the week, Mark spoke to the WIRED and extended group. He told us if we counted up all the volunteers who were ministering at each site, both youth and adult, the count was close to 1600 volunteers. Add up the hours of each volunteer for the week and you would have over 45,000 volunteer hours in the community. It would take one full time volunteer over 20 years to accomplish what this group had done in one week. Impressive.

Construction 36

There were thirty-nine construction mission sites this year. I, along with the 15 passenger bus from our church, were assigned to Construction 36. Our mission: scrub down, prime and paint the home of an elderly couple in the community. Additionally, we were to remove and replace all soffit and fascia from the home, build a walking ramp, paint the front door, and shore up a sagging cabinet in the home. Our team consisted of ten youth, our track leader (Hayden Bush), and three adult chaperones (Meda, Kevin, and I). Unfortunately, when we arrived the first day we did not have a foreman. He had a family emergency and would not be there that week. The duties of leading and directing the work fell to the adults, who did a superb job.

The Workday

The youth were phenomenal in their participation. The cleaning, priming, and painting stayed right on schedule. They tore off the soffit and fascia in no time. Replacing it in time was questionable and fortunately for us we had back up through Tom and Steve to install it while Kevin, Meda, and Hayden helped the youth paint. The front door had to be rebuilt and painted. The walking ramp was a simple build and was done in half a day. We did not get to the cabinets. At lunch Hayden led the group in a bible study of the principles they were living out that week and hopefully for the rest of their lives.

WIRED 2017

I am very proud to have served with the group known as Construction 36 and with over 40 youth and adults from Balkum Baptist Church. Provided below is a catalog of pictures of these wonderful people who I will always remember and cherish. Next year’s date is already set: June 26-30th. If you want a challenge as well as a blessing serving for at least one week as the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need visit the website for WIRED at www.wiredministries.com.  You can also go to my Facebook page and look at the album I have shared there.

 

 

 

Why I Like Salt

Salt
Click on our Blogcast player below for an audio version of this blog.

 

Saltaholic or supertaster?

I like salt. Those who truly know me know this fact about me. I have liked salt since I could remember. People have stopped chastising me about the use of too much salt. I simply raise my right hand and say, “Hi, my name is T.J. Allen and I am a saltaholic” though I might really be a supertaster.  I used to have salt cravings to the point I would pour salt in my hand and lick it. I would occasionally put the little salt packets from fast food places in my mouth and let them dissolve. It was a little different take on just a little pinch between the cheek and gums. My wife has accused me of salting everything. She has suspected me of salting my coffee (my second favorite thing). I haven’t, though I hear it will make it less bitter. My older brother, Bill is a salt lover too, but I feel not to the level I am. Still I think maybe he is to blame for my addiction.

Where it all began.

When we were younger, Bill and I would break off chunks of salt from the salt block our parents put out in the pasture for the horses and the cattle. The animals would lick it and it would create pointed corners which we cheerfully broke off and consumed. I did not do this deed on my own. My earliest recollections of salt recons started with following Bill’s lead. One time mom caught us breaking off the salt and demanded to know what we were doing. When we explained, she scolded us and explained that the animals licked the blocks and it was unhealthy and nasty. It hadn’t hurt us so far, but mom knows best. So we decided to be more sanitary and wash our new chunks of salt; where else but in the horse watering trough. It didn’t occur to our boyish brains that the horse trough with its green algae growing on the sides and backwash may have been just a little less sanitary than the salt licks. Hey, we survived.

I tried to quit, I really did.

When I was in basic training in the Army I decided to start eating right, whatever that meant. I had been told numerous times of the dangers of salt consumption, so I started there. I swore off salt once and for all. This was a fresh start and I reasoned I would gain enough salt from the master chefs in the mess hall. After all, it cost one million dollars to build this wonderful eating facility and surely only the best would be in the kitchen. That’s what our Drill Sergeants had told us over and over, so it must be true. To a new recruit the Drill Sergeant’s words are gospel.

The problem to this no-salt approach appeared two days later when I woke up with feet so swollen I couldn’t put my boots on. It was off to sick call for the day. I was interrogated by the physician’s assistant concerning my walking, exercise routine, and had I done anything different lately. I responded that other than joining the Army, I had stopped using salt. The PA scratched his head.

“You stopped using salt?” he asked.

“Yessir. I wanted to start eating healthy and I was told all my life that too much salt was bad for me.” I said.

“Hmm. That’s all you have been doing different?”

“Yessir. That’s all.”

“Hmm. Go back to using salt and let’s see how that goes.”

“The same amount as I used to use?” I asked.

“Yes. Go back to the same amount.” He said. I must have had that “are you sure” look about me since he repeated the command. With a “yessir”, I was out of there and on light duty until I could put my boots back on. Several days and salt fixes later my feet stopped swelling and I was back in action; boots on the feet and on the ground.

Salt, it’s not for everyone.

A few years ago my wife discovered from her research (Woman’s World and such) that there are minerals in ocean water you can only get from there. (See this article from Virginia Hopkins Health Watch). These minerals, plus the amount of natural salts in the water are good for rinsing of the sinuses, it was said. Sounded good to me. I have constant sinus issues and I was up for anything to keep my battle won. As a dutiful husband I accompanied my wife out into the Gulf of Mexico to retrieve this mineral laden miracle of sinus healing. I suspect it was just a ploy to make an extra trip to the beach, yet we went. We made sure we were far enough out into the gulf to capture the best; as if we knew what the best was. It had to be where no one was swimming or sand was stirring. Forget the idea that fish and other sea creatures live and die and void in the water. Hey, can’t be much different than a horse trough, right?

That night we tried our natural sea salt rinse. The next morning, I could hardly breathe at all, much less through my nose. The condition worsened into an all-out sinus infection that drove me to see my now familiar ENT. I explained everything to him about the sea salt and how it seemed to help my wife, but me, not so much.

“T.J.” he said, “There is a small population of people that have a reversed reaction to salt sinus rinses. Though this remedy works for the vast majority, it doesn’t work at all for some, and a small percentage has an adverse reaction. You are part of that small percentage where salt rinses affect you negatively.”

“Are you saying I am not normal?” I asked.

“Salt or no salt, I would never say you are normal.” He said with a smile.

“Thanks, Doc. You’re so reassuring.” I said. “Don’t quit your day job.”

“Oh, I won’t. It pays too well. You can check out at the receptionist desk.”

You are the salt of the earth.

My name is T.J. Allen and I like salt. In Matthew 5:13 Jesus says we are the salt of the earth. I think He especially had people like me in mind. Well, maybe not. It is still one of my favorite scripture verses. I just like salt; iodized, seasoned, rock, Himalayan, or block. I like salt. I especially like being the salt of the earth. Salt makes food zesty and flavorful. We too are to add the zest and flavor of God to the lives of others as we allow Him to make us such. Salt also helps by promoting healing. We are to live in such a way that our actions and our words heal. Go salt your world today. Someone out there will like you more.