Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pay It Forward

Around Christmas time in 2007, I pulled up to the drive through window at Starbucks to pay for my tall eggnog latte. The girl at the window leaned out, handed me a card that read, "God Loves You," and told me that the man in the car two ahead of me had already paid for my drink.

I was so taken by his small act of kindness that I looked for a way to do the same. So the next time I went through the Starbucks drive through, I paid for the coffee for the person in line behind me and asked the cashier to wish him a Merry Christmas.

I've since learned that this is called Paying It Forward. The name comes from a movie starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment, and the practice has been popularized by Oprah.

Yesterday I was catching up on my blog reading after returning from my trip to Paris and came across this post by Candy at Rock Candy. I jumped on it quickly and was lucky to be tops on her comment list.

So now it's my turn to Pay It Forward. Just be one of the first three to post a comment on this post, and you'll get a surprise from me. Then it will be your turn. I can't promise that your gift from me is exactly handmade, but I did have a part in creating it. Meanwhile I'm anxiously awaiting to see what I'll get from Candy. I'm sure it will be special.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Captain and Tennille

You meet the most interesting people traveling with a group. In my mind, I called them "The Captain and Tennille." He always wore a sporty red captain's hat, and her name is Toni.

Always dressed to the nines, the first day she wheeled him all over Paris wearing spiked heels. After that she changed to more sensible shoes, but they were still stylish.

At first I thought they were father and daughter. The age difference was about right. I later learned that he's Phil Maloof, whose family owns the Sacramento Kings and the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. Toni is his nurse and accompanies him on trips anywhere he wants to go.

We learned all about his collection of cars and theatre pipe organs and his house in Las Vegas.

Watch this YouTube video, and you'll see him just the way he was on our trip. Somehow I don't think these guys believed that Toni is his nurse, but she really is. She took care of him after his heart attack, and she's been with him since.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mother's Milestone

My mother has reached a milestone today as she celebrates her 85th birthday. Marion Lucille Reynolds was born March 29, 1924, in Camden, Arkansas, the third child of Robert Nason and Mary Belle Belin Reynolds. She married my father, Thomas Benton Walker, on March 26, 1944, just three days shy of her 20th birthday. They were married for 62 years and raised three children.

I can't imagine having a better mother if I had picked her myself. For most of my growing up, she was a stay-at-home mom, and when she did start to work, it was in my grandfather's construction company office that was in his basement just next door.

Not that she could have gone anywhere if she wanted to. If she wanted the car, she had to take Daddy to work, and after I turned 16, I would sometimes take him to work so I could drive the car to school. So she was stuck at home or at work in the "office," unless, that is, she was at circle meeting or playing Bridge.

I don't remember Mother nagging me much while I was growing up. If she did, it was to tell me to hold my shoulders up or I would "look just like Aunt Hedy." And she would sometimes remind me not to spoil my supper.

Mother shares my passion for the Arkansas Razorbacks. In fact, I think she probably yells louder than I do. I know she gets more nervous than I do before and during games. Growing up, I can remember lying awake on a Saturday night while Mother and Daddy were listening to the Razorback football game in the living room. I would be very quiet so I could hear the game through my bedroom wall, and I could finally go to sleep after the Hogs won.

Mother still roots for the Razorbacks, and she still plays Bridge. She also started following the Atlanta Braves a few years back when most of their games were on WTBS. She's still a Braves fan, but she doesn't get to see as many games on TV as she once did, so she's learned to check the score on the computer. And whenever something goes haywire on the computer, I can count on getting a call, particularly when one of her grandchildren has been around and signed her out of her Yahoo homepage.

So Happy Birthday, Mother. Wish I could be there to celebrate with you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Touch of Paris

I'm getting ready to leave for Paris tomorrow. At first I thought I'd show you pictures of my stack of clothes, my stash of over-the-counter medications (just in case) and my empty bag (I can never pack until the day before). Instead, I think you might be more interested in these things from my dad's time in Paris during World War II.

Daddy on the Streets of Paris During World War II

A Program from the Folies Bergere

A Postcard of the Eiffel Tower

Maybe it's signigicant that my 100th post is the last one before I take a little break for travel. In the meantime, to see what others have brought to Show and Tell today, go over to There's No Place Like Home where Kelli is hosting.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Black and White and Green All Over

It's been a busy week. I'm trying to finish up a couple of jobs and get ready for my trip to France on Saturday, so I hope y'all will forgive me for not creating a new tablescape. Once again I've gone to my picture stash of tables that Connie, Glenda and I have done for our church tablescape event. And since this one has a Halloween theme, you'll just have to save the pictures on your hard drive if you want them for future reference.

Connie already had the black and white transferware dishes, so we decided to use that as our inspiration. With that idea in place, we traveled to Oneonta where Connie knew of a fabric store with some great prices. Fortunately, the black and white toile was there just waiting for us, and we liked the idea of the green trimmed in black for an overlay. Connie is very talented with a sewing machine, so she made both the round table cloth and the overlay.

Since the toile featured roosters, we decided to use a couple in our centerpiece. We grouped them with white and orange pumpkins and added the three hurricanes to hold candles. These hurricanes are very versatile, since both the top and bottom sections are hollow. We used dried green split peas in the bottom and candy corn in the top for added color.

The challenge was how to keep the split peas in the bottom while we turned them over and positioned them on the table. The answer was Press 'N Seal. After filling the bottom section with the split peas, we covered the opening with Press 'N Seal, bringing it up the sides. After we placed the hurricanes on the table, we folded the Press 'N Seal down and trimmed off the excess.

At each place we used the black and white transferware dishes, clear goblets, my Towle hotel stainless and black and white polka dot napkins with silver napkin rings. For our placecards, we stuck a black chenille pipe cleaner into a miniature pumpkin, making a loop to hold the namecard. Colorful and inexpensive.

For more tablescape ideas, be sure to visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. You are certain to find lots to inspire you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kid Stuff

I've always enjoyed seeing children's art displayed in the homes I've visited, and today I'd like to share a couple of watercolors that hang in my home.

From the time he was just a little fellow, our youngest son Ben loved to draw. He drew super heroes and Easter bunnies, battleships and spring flowers. He even did a reproduction of Vincent VanGogh's "Starry Night." When he was six we gave him art lessons. At the time, I thought he might be an artist or an architect when he grew up. Well, he's grown up now with a career in public relations, but I still proudly display two of his paintings.

One of my favorites is this Razorback, especially since I'm a huge fan.

I love the colors in this painting of spring iris.

To check out what's on other walls this Wednesday, visit Barb, the hostess for What's on Your Wall Wednesday, at Grits and Glamour.

The BIG Dance - Wordless Wednesday

Judging from some of the early comments, I think I need to bend the rules and offer a bit of explanation. The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament kicks off this week. The tournament has often been called not only March Madness but The Big Dance. Thus the picture of the cover of Sports Illustrated when Arkansas won the championship in 1994.

This week's Wordless Wednesday theme is "Dance." Do you think Dixie was thinking of March Madness when she chose the theme? For more Wordless Wednesday posts, visit Dixie at French Lique, Texas, and be sure to leave a comment.

Kiss Me, I'm Irish!

Aren't we all a little bit Irish today? So in honor of the day we all wear green so we won't get pinched, I thought I'd post a few pictures from our trip to Ireland a few years ago.

Slea Head Beach on the Dingle Penninsula

Dingle Town Harbor

Blarney Castle

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Going Green

Since this week was my Altar Guild team's turn to create the flower arrangement for our church, I thought I'd show you how we turned some greenery and several bunches of flowers into a large arrangement for the altar.

With St. Patrick's Day coming up on Tuesday, Connie, Susie and I decided on a theme featuring different shades of green. So with that in mind, we visited the wholesale florist early Friday morning to see what we could find. We were glad to see that they had Bells of Ireland, and we found two sizes of green chrysanthemums. We also liked these green berries. I don't know what they're called, but they had pretty feathery folliage, and we thought they'd make good filler.

That afternoon Connie and I raided a friend's yard for smilax to use for our greenery. We also cut some white azaleas, and because they were just beginning to bud, they were perfect for our green theme.

After soaking our flowers and greenery overnight, we began to assemble our arrangement on Saturday morning. We selected a large moss lined wire basket to use as a "vase" and filled it with oasis that we thoroughly soaked in water. The oasis was covered with wire to help stabilize the flowers.

Using the greenery, we established the basic line of the arrangement. Then we added the Bells of Ireland to reinforce the line.

After adding the large spidery chrysanthemums as our "face" flowers, we filled the gaps with the remaining flowers and berries. The result was a large arrangment that made a statement in green, even from the back of the sanctuary.

For more Metamorphosis Monday stories, visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. I'm looking forward to getting a closer look at what she's done with her master bedroom.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another Observation from the Slow Lane

Okay, so who thinks up these questions anyway? Or maybe I should ask, "Who thinks up the answers?"

I got an email earlier today from TravelAlaska.com inviting me to take an online survey.

Questions #8 read:

Do you have a broadband, that is a DSL or cable connection to the web/internet?

Here are the choices:

Yes, only at home
Yes, only at work
Yes, at home and at work
I don't use the web/internet
Don't know

I'm sure it must have been a man. I don't dare think it could have been Sarah Palin, do I?

Pink Piggies

If you've followed my blog for a while, or even if you've just glanced at my header, you probably know that I have a thing for pigs, and quite a few of them are pink.

The Good Luck Pig sitting in my kitchen window was a gift from my friend Janice. In Germany, when someone is lucky, it is customary to say, "Ich Habe Schwein Gehabt," which means "I have had Pig." This tradition dates back to hard times, when if you had a pig to feed your family you were considered fortunate.

With flames coming out of his nose, this pig doubles as a lighter. Linda gave it to me. I tried to light him for the picture, but I was having difficulty managing the camera with one hand and the lighter with the other without getting burned, so you'll just have to imagine the flames.

On the other side of my kitchen window is this collection of miniature pigs, including a couple of pink ones, that Diane sent me for Christmas. Diane is my daughter-in-law Katie's mother. I figured she spent the whole year just scouting for pigs. In fact, a lot of my pigs have come from friends, and I treasure all of them.

These two pigs sit in my grandmother's rocking chair along with my doll Liza, who is probably about as old as I am. The one on the left is actually a book that my sister Margie gave me just before Walker was born. My friend Luna gave me the cute little plush pig. He squeals when you press on his belly. The needlepoint pillow, also showing pink, once belonged to my mother-in-law.

I bought this fat chenille pig at market. He likes to sit in a window seat in my guest bathroom and watch the world go by. Maybe Walker will enjoy playing with him some day, or he can just continue being fat and lazy.

This little beaded pig coin purse was a gift from my friend Patt. He's just the right size for carrying a stash of mad money in my pocket.

If you have a minute and would like to read more about my pig collection, go here.

For more pinkness be sure to visit Beverly at How Sweet the Sound. You'll find that lots of bloggers are in the pink.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Bragg House

The Bragg House, near Camden, Arkansas, was built by Peter Newport Bragg in 1848. Grancy and Poosie, my maternal grandparents, lived in this house during my early youth, and I spent every Sunday afternoon playing there with my cousins while my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents talked about the news of the day.

Pictured above is a Christmas card that I found in one of my mother's drawers a few years ago. I'm not sure what year my grandparents sent that card, but it was likely from the late '40's or early '50's. We never used the front door of the house when we would go for a visit. Rather we entered through the door you see on the left side, which led right into my grandparents' bedroom. One of the front rooms was carpeted, which was unusual at the time, and near the door to that room was a burned spot in the shape of an iron that was blamed on my Aunt Hedy, my mother's oldest sister.

The story goes that there were cannon balls in some of the trees on the property from a nearby Civil War skirmish. I can't verify that because I never saw them, but I do remember the large crape myrtles that lined the driveway and put on such a show of color in the early summer. Under those crape myrtles were clumps of daffodils whose folliage made perfect places for the Easter Bunny to hide eggs. But if we weren't careful, we'd reach in to grab an egg and come out with a bee sting. I also remember digging in the sandy yard for doodle bugs, catching lightening bugs in the early evening, and tying strings around the necks of white-headed bumble bees.

Behind the house was a pen where Poosie kept his registered Hampshire hogs. He loved taking his grandchildren to the pig pen and letting them "ride" the pigs. This is a picture of Poosie with my brother Tommy and an unnamed Hampshire.

I have heard that my grandparents tried to buy the house, but the owners, who were descendants of Mr. Bragg, wouldn't sell. Eventually, they built a home on property that my grandfather owned a couple of miles away, and my parents later built their own home next door.

If you'd like to read more about the Bragg House, click here.

To see what everyone else has brought to Show and Tell this Friday, drive on over the Kelli's house at There's No Place Like Home. Thanks for hosting, Kelli.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Observations from the Slow Lane

When you spend most of your life in the slow lane, you sometimes see things others miss. I have a few I'd like to share.

1. Driving past the post office yesterday afternoon, I saw two large FedEx trucks parked right by the front door. So why would FedEx be in the post office parking lot? It's simple really. The post office has allowed FedEx to put a collection box right there by the front door. Isn't that sort of like Shell letting BP install a couple of gasoline pumps at Shell stations?

2. Not only do I live in the slow lane, but I am also height challenged. So why is it that all the grocery stores want to stack things on the top shelf eight feet high? I can't pull that box of cereal off the bottom row, or the whole thing will come crashing down. And there're never any store personnel around when I need them. Sometimes another taller customer will offer to get something for me, but usually I resort to finding a toe hold on the bottom shelf so that I can get a little boost. But what happens if I fall? Could I sue the store for making it difficult for me to shop?

3. Here's one I've been thinking about for a while. My mother-in-law has a walker, and she has put tennis balls on the legs to make it easier to move the walker around without scratching up the floor. I don't know that I've ever seen a walker without tennis balls on the legs. So why don't they just come that way to start with?

4. What's the point of wearing a sweater if you're just going to tie it around your neck? I once heard Wimp Sanderson observe that it must be a really cold day in Birmingham because the Mountain Brook women were wearing two sweaters tied around their necks. If you're from Little Rock, you can probably substitute "Heights" for "Mountain Brook."

Does anyone else ever think about these things?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Power of Pink

I know this is not Pink Saturday, but today for Tablescape Thursday I want to share with you another table that Connie, Glenda and I did for our church tablescape event. 2006 was the year that two of our friends had died of breast cancer, so we decided to honor them with our table by using a pink and cream theme with silver accents.

First we covered the table with a round cream cloth and draped the same fabric over the chair backs, accenting each chair with a pink ribbon.

The china is Old Britain Castles Pink by Johnson Brothers set on fluted silver chargers, and the flatware is Towle Hotel Stainless. I had collected the goblets on eBay over a period of several months. They are Kings Crown by Tiffin with a cranberry flashing and work perfectly with the Old Britain Castles. Places were marked with pale pink napkins that were secured with silver frame napkin rings, and each guest took home a bag of pink jelly beans.

In the center of the table we used tall silver candleholders with cream colored candles and bunched pink roses in a collection of Old Britain Castles pitchers. Finally, we scattered pink rose petals on the table and added a picture of each of our friends in silver frames.

For the dinner that evening, Glenda, Connie and I donned our pink and pearls and joined other friends to celebrate the lives of Fran and Nan.

Susan at Between Naps on the Porch would love for you to stop by to see what other tablescapes are in store for you this Thursday. You are certain to get some great ideas.

Birthday Girls

March 11 brings us two birthdays to celebrate--our daughter-in-law Katie and LBeau's sister Mary Katherine.

When I first met Katie in March of 2005, I had no idea that she would become a part of our family. Brent may have had an "idea" in the back of his mind, but they were just friends at that point. They came through Birmingham on their way back to Jackson with a group of friends who had traveled to New York for Spring Break. They had driven through the night and arrived at our home just in time for breakfast. Katie and Brent were both feeling the effects of a stomach bug, so I really didn't get to visit with her much.

But once the "idea" became a plan, things moved quickly, and Brent and Katie got married on Bainbridge Island, Washington, December 30, 2005. In our family of men and boys, it was so nice to finally have another girl, and I think one of the best times Katie and I have had together was shopping for girl things this past Christmas.

I actually met Mary Katherine before I met LBeau. In fact, she set us up with a blind date, a story in itself that I'll save for later.

Mary Katherine has been my sister for more than 38 years now, and we've had some good times together--summers at the lake with our children, football games in Dallas and Fayetteville, a basketball tournament in Nashville, and family weddings and birthdays.

Happy birthday to both of you. When it comes to family, I certainly got lucky.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

(Girl) Friends - And a Few Guys

It's Humpday, so it must be time for Wordless Wednesday, hosted by Miss Dixie at French Lique, Texas. Today's theme is "Friends." So why don't you head on over to Dixie's place and check out the other posts. Maybe you'll make some new cyber friends. In the meantime, you can click on my friends to enlarge.