"Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere; I would be different." ~ Frances Mayes

After losing 112 pounds in almost a year and a half, I have come to realize how very much I was missing. I may be Late to the Party, but I am doing my best to catch up in my own unique way!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

And Things That Go Bump in the Night

 There's a traditional Scottish prayer:
"From ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night, good Lord deliver us."

Happy Halloween!  It is the night before All Saints Day and the ghosts and goblins are out, so beware.

This afternoon we picked up two of the Fab 5 from their other grandmother, came back to our house and proceeded to carve our pumpkins.  I must say they turned out rather well and we are already talking about what we will carve into our "jacks" next year.  But that is for another day.  Let me share with you our handiwork!

 Whoooo's pumpkin is this?  Olivia's.  She wanted an owl, so we put him on a tree branch. 

Our jacks together.  A pretty pair!

Oh, my goodness!  This is Carson's.  We used his hands as patterns.  SCARY!

Then it was time to get ready.  Pictures say it best!
Who are these spooky kids?

Yikes!  A very scary spider!

Looks like he's been eating more than flies!

I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!
And the final picture is our front door.  One last hurrah for October and Halloween.  Tomorrow the turkeys come out and all the spooky stuff goes away for one more year.
 So, if you hear anything tonight at the witching hour, it won't be these 2 little goblins.  They are fast asleep, dreaming of trick or treat bags full of candy.  Goodnight, everyone!  Hope your dreams are as sweet as theirs!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sharing Fall

I love swaps!  Recently I requested to join a fall swap that was being hosted by Karen at Some Days Are Diamonds, which is a lovely blog and I encourage each of you to visit and see for yourselves.  Karen was my swap partner and a wonderful partner she was!  The idea of the swap was to take a cigar box, any kind, any size, alter or decorate in a fall theme and put as many fall goodies into it as it could hold.  Oh, what fun it was to plan, decorate and fill that cigar box for Karen.  Last week I received my box from Karen.  What a delight to unwrap and explore what was in it.  Let me share what she sent me! This is the top of the box.  Isn't it lovely? 
 Upon opening the box, this lay inside, just waiting to be revealed. There was a small pile of ephemera bound by a black tulle bow with the cutest vintage owl pin EVER!  Can't wait to wear it!  There were old stamps, a vintage playing card, fall K& Company stickers.
  Then there were two antique wooden clothespins with ribbon wrapped around them, as well as an old wooden thread spool with more ribbon and a dainty little nosegay tucked into it.  A wooden tile with my initial stamped upon it, as well as a metal rim tag initialized, too.

 Aah...but the loveliest thing is this:  A wonderful wall hanging! It was lying on top of the cigar box and took my breath away when I spied it.  Upon further inspection, the background is a vintage piece of sheet music, "Don't Let That Moon Get Away", sung by Bing Crosby.  I love Bing Crosby and his old movies!  And I had just done a blog entry about the Harvest Moon and the Fall Equinox.  There is a vintage electrical socket plate, vintage ribbons, Scrabble tiles, lace, an old movie ticket, all combined so beautifully.  It now hangs where I can see it and will become a treasured part of my fall decorations.

So now you have a glimpse of why I love to participate in swaps.  Not only do I have the opportunity to create something to reflect my personality for someone who lives in a different part of the country, but it delivers wonderful surprises in return.  But, as I have stated before, the very best part is making friends with other creative, imaginative women who may live very far away, but who have so much in common with me.  Making new friends is my favorite part!

So thank you, Karen, for letting me be a part of the swap and for such a wonderful gift.  I will treasure it and your friendship for a long, long time.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Confession Friday - What's in a Smell?

One more Friday and time to confess!  Today's confession  - one gal's addiction can become another gal's too!

At one point in my life, I was blissfully unaware of what I am about to reveal as an addiction.  Oh, such innocence, such ignorance and naivety.  When my older sister and I went to Memphis almost ten years ago to visit our younger sister, little did I know that I would return a changed woman.  Neither did my husband.  Or my children.  My addiction happened overnight.  One exposure to this powerful, potent substance was all it took.  I understand that there is no cure. No, no, do not pity me.  But be careful, because I love to share it with others and most of the time the most unsuspecting friends become addicted too.  It has become an addiction that affects mostly the females in our family, even though we have a couple of males that have been known to succumb to the draw of this addiction.  And for some unknown reason, autumn brings forth the undeniable itch for this stuff.


My oldest daughter describes our addiction and where we go to get our fix as an "adult candy store".  This addiction is fine when experienced alone but greatly enhanced if shared with a mutual addict. Just walking in the door gives us a high.  We have spent hours in a room that is probably the size of someone's  great room, completely dazed and heady over what we came for.  Our addiction lies in jars, lined up seductively along shelf after shelf, the colors of the rainbow laid out before us.  We wander from shelf to shelf, sniffing, sniffing, sniffing, our noses buried deep into the contents. We come up for air, cleanse our palettes and dive into another jar.  We pass the jars, their weight just right in the palm of our hands, our delight uncontained, wanting to share our personal experience and relationship with every jar with each other. Although not needed to enjoy the full addictive quality, the paraphernalia lying about that is so appealing to the eye, which demonstrates the ways that can only enhance the usage of my obsession, is icing on the cake, so to speak. 

So let this be a warning to you all.  If you want to avoid this same terrible fate, stay away from this place:

It looks perfectly innocent, right?  Don't be mislead.  Enter at your own risk.  I can only tell you I was a candle virgin that long ago trip to Memphis.  Oh, I had the occasional foray into the world of scent via WalMart or Kroger.  Not the same, doesn't even compare.  But my sister, De, the candle pusher, disguised as a Yankee Candle employee at the time, got me hooked through her employee discount and I have never looked back.
First of all, when you enter the store, it is overwhelming.... the choices, the labels, the jars, votives, and tealights.  When De opened that first jar of Hazelnut Coffee (recall the coffee blog entry a while back) and held it under by nose, I was hooked.  It had me at hello.  I came home with jars, votives and tealights, along with a few other scents, enough to last a long time.  There was no Yankee Candle store near me so I was content with my little stash.  Ah, but this is where Fate stepped in.  Soon after, we moved within 4 miles of Peachtree City, GA, with shopping that did not exist in my former place of residency, and Peachtree City came with its very own, yes, you know it.....YANKEE CANDLE store!  And my addiction went into overload. 

Yankee Candle retired Hazelnut Coffee.  Oh, the humanity! So then I got hooked on Raspberry Mint Jelly,which was soon to be retired, as was Cut Grass. Then I was turned on to Jack Frost...retired for a short 
time,but reprieved from extinction as YC reconsidered. 

Then my very favorite aroma, Autumn Lodge, came upon the scene and lasted about 2 years until, yes, lament with me, it was put out to pasture.  Thank GOD I had stocked up on several Autumn Lodge jars and just when I was hitting the panic button as the last jar burned down to the end, YC brought it back for a limited time last year. There are two Autumn Lodge jars in my cupboard as I write.

But these are not the only scents I have and love.  As I said, the fall scents bring out the YC beast in me and are my favs - Autumn Wreath, Farmhouse Apple, Cider Donuts, just to name a few.  Then there are the summer beachy scents, the smells of the ocean and tanning lotion and salt air.  I rotate jars of candles in and out of my cabinet as the seasons roll around and pass.  Fall is on display now, sitting in groups on trays in my kitchen and breakfast bar. But the wonderful Christmas scents lie just behind the cabinet door waiting to come out and spread their scents throughout my home.

My taste may not be your favorite aromas.  But I guarantee you that you will find what brings back a memory or evokes something good.  Want your house to smell like oatmeal cookies? Banana bread?  Pumpkin pie?  Fresh cut Christmas tree?  Your favorite wine?  It's there, all waiting for you. Just walking by the joint and smelling those wonderful aromas drifting out will seduce you and lead you like a lamb to slaughter.  Parents beware - here you see what happens when a vunerable child is let loose in a YC store.  The propensity to develop this addiction runs in families, I tell you!

It's a terrible thing, this place called Yankee Candle, and it can cause mental distress to the poor unsuspecting shopper.  Once hooked, go into a YC store and try to walk out with just one.  I dare you.  It is joyful anguish, if there is such a thing.  If you are brave enough to take the dare, good, laugh in the face of seduction! But if you see a 5 foot tall, dark haired, sweet 50-something lady coming toward you with a smile, a glint in her eye and an open jar, saying, "Come smell the lovely candle, my pretty",  then run like hell because it probably is my sister, the YC Queen looking for her latest victim.

P.S.  If you sign up online at  Yankee Candle.com to get their email newsletter, they will periodically send you coupons to reduce the costs of your newly found addiction.  I have one burning a hole in my pocket as I write.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Word of the Month

Yes, the month is more than halfway over and I am just now getting to October's Word of the Month.  I have "tried on" several, but they just didn't seem to fit.  But, as usual, in good time I have settled upon the perfect word, which I will get to later in this post.

What I want to talk about right now is the fact that this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  We have all been made very conscious of the prevalant occurrence of this terrible disease through the Pink Ribbon Campaign throughout the United States.  We buy products with pink packaging  and pink ribbons with parts of the proceeds going to breast cancer research - a wonderful cause.  But sometimes we forget the faces of women who have had or who are battling or who have passed on from breast cancer.  They are the faces of our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, cousins, or friends.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to one of those faces. 
Take a good look.  It is the face of courage and hope and perseverance.  It is the face of optimism and perpetual spirit.  This face has been through eight months of hell starting this past January with the diagnosis of breast cancer. This is the face of my friend, Debbie Redd.

It started with finding a lump through self-examination.  That lead to a mammogram which lead to a biopsy which lead to those dreaded words, "You have breast cancer."  Then surgery, followed by a not so good prognosis.  Debbie has just finished eight months of chemo, which, like many patients, made her violently sick. She couldn't work.  She lost all her hair. She had a port that was prone to pain and infection. As if that weren't enough, she had to take steroids to avoid losing too much weight.  And then there were the radiation treatments which, from what I understand, creates its own nightmarish pain and aftereffects.  Her white blood cell counts dropped.  Days of treatment went into weeks, weeks into months.  These are things that make even the strongest person weak, question why and sometimes want to give up, I am sure.  But these are the things that make a person strong in ways she never knew she had the potential to be, that make a gal appreciate life, learn to forgive, love harder, accept herself, embrace change, treasure memories.

Take another look at that face.  It is the face of beauty.  It is the face of grace and laughter.  It is the face of a survivor.

And that is my word for October - SURVIVOR.

We all have our moments of despair and we are all survivors of one thing or another. Unless we are privy, sometimes we have no idea what those around us are going through.  Some things are more challenging than others.  Some we bear inwardly and some we share with the whole world.  Some things we deal with in our quietest times and some we scream out so the whole world can hear us.  But in the end we survive.  We survive through the grace of God, the warmth and love of family and friends, the kindness of strangers, and our own sheer hard-headed determination that will not yield.  I hope and pray breast cancer is one thing I, my loved ones, my friends and any of you never have to survive - ever.  But in the future, whatever I go through and have to get over, I will think of Debbie and in those dark moments I will see her face and others like her that have battled and set an example of survival for all of us everyday.

Thank you, Debbie, for allowing me to share this with the world.  God bless!.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Giveaway at my friend's blog

Just wanted to share with everyone that my friend, Debbie Smith, who lives all the way out in Washington State, is having a giveaway on her blog Love the Decor.  Debbie was my swap partner a couple of months ago and we were instant friends from the first FYI email. Someday I hope I get to meet her in real life.  In the meantime, blogs and Facebook and emails will have to do. She is a wonderful person and is trying to spread the word about her new business venture, Willow House.   Come look at Debbie's blog and see why I love it.  Then follow the steps to enter the giveaway.  Have fun!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Confession Friday - Give Me the Boot

Another Friday and it is time to confess once again.

I offer this quote as an introduction to today's Confession Friday:  "From the empty carpet-bag she took out seven flannel nightgowns, four cotton ones, a pair of BOOTS, a set of dominoes, two bathing caps and a postcard album." ~ Pamela Travers, Mary Poppins, Chapter One 

Mary Poppins sounds like my kind of woman.  Any woman worth her salt has at least one good pair of boots. And that is my confession for today - I have a thing for boots.

It is no secret that I have undergone a tremendous change in my life recently.  A year ago I could hardly walk, much less walk around in boots.  My shoe wardrobe consisted mainly of Crocs.  Don't get me wrong, I still love my Crocs, but I wore them only out of necessity.  Carrying around the equivalent of another adult on your body does not lend to one being able to stroll around comfortably in just about ANY kind of shoe.  And fat calves are prohibitive to prancing around in boots higher than the ankles. Add Rheumatoid Arthritis into the equation and it is not hard to understand why Crocs and I had a long-standing relationship for years. Since I am confessing, I admit:  Crocs, I am sorry, I have been cheating on you for the past 6 months and you have been mostly shelved.

Whew....Am I glad that is out!  Now I can look squarely at my shoe shelves and not avoid full eye contact with my faithful rubber shoe friends.

My obsession with boots began at an early age.  I recall watching the Mickey Mouse Club every afternoon and the weekly segment I loved the most was Talent Round-up Day because the girls, especially Annette Funicello, wore these fabulous white cowgirl boots.  Dear God, please forgive me...I  covetted Annette's boots at age five.

 And the boots with that fringed skirt....killer.  But, alas, those boots with accompanying Western outfit was never forthcoming.

When I was about in the 7th grade and as awkward as a pre-teen can possibly be, I set my sights on a pair of black leather ankle boots with stirrup pants. Not so bad, but the thing is I didn't know how to wear stirrup pants and I wore the one pair of stirrup pants I owned OUTSIDE the boot, strap under the arch. Not a great look but even worse, black ankle boots with shirtwaist plaid dresses and white socks that peek over the boot top is not, let me repeat that, NOT a fashion statement.  Where was Stacy and Clinton and What Not To Wear back then? 

I place in evidence
this.  Yes, sad, but true, that is truly hideous.  I am so sorry to subject you all to that, but confessions are not always pretty.

Let's move on, shall we, if you can peel your eyes from the train wreck above.  Fast forward to college and I was not so awkward.  No pictures to prove it, but I was slim, trim and had a pair of knee high suede boots. Can we say trendy? Or slutty....you choose. Marvelous fun, but short-lived.  Thirty-eight years of marriage, four pregnancies, three children, five grands, and lots and lots of weight - life happens.  I was a former boot wearer, those sexy, black, knee high boots - or any boots for that matter -  a faint, faded memory.  But then my life changed and hiking came into my life.

"We've got a hill to climb.  But we've got some good climbing boots, so we'll be okay." ~ Herman Edwards

There was a news report yesterday that researchers have found hiking makes you smarter.  I hope that is true!  But since I have started hiking, at least Ed and I were smart enough to realize that if we were going to do the type of trails we tramped around on last weekend, we needed more than running shoes.  Meet my latest love: 

 Like my men, I like my hiking boots strong, dark and handsome, as well sturdy, supportive and durable with a sole that is in for the long haul, but yet will give me plenty of room to move around in.

But these are not my only recent loves. I am a multi-booter.  I can't be faithful and commit to just one pair of boots. For example,  I found these at Goodwill a few weeks ago. 

  And I pulled these out of the closet where they had been hidden away for the past five years. They actually fit and I didn't have to wear them completely slouched down AND I can wear jeggings tucked into the INSIDE of the boot.  Joy of joys! 

So if you have two black pairs of boots, what is missing?  BROWN boots.  After searching relentlessly for about two weeks last month, I came across these:
And if brown suede boots alone were not enough, take note of that cute strap and side bow.  Bliss, pure bliss.

"My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud." ~ Henry Rollins

Remember the knee high boots in college I told you about?  Reclaimed youth calls and sometimes it is hard to ignore.  I wanted boots, knee high boots.  But slutty with heels is not in the cards.  Hard to do these days - knee high boots without spike heels.  So, the question is how to feel like a million bucks without looking 58 trying to be 21?  Maybe 35, but never 21.  Please keep in mind that for our generation, 60 is the new 40.  That's my excuse and I am standing by it.  Here's my solution


They wait for me, unworn, in my closet, poised for the perfect weather and event.  I can't wait.  In an earlier blog entry, I warned everyone that I was looking for a black dress with leggings and black boots.  I have the black dress, the leggings and the boots.  Watch out!  Coming soon!  Consider yourselves forewarned!

Now I have confessed my boot obsession.  Do I have enough boots?  Probably.  Do I want more? Duh.... Are there more boots in my future? If the opportunity presents itself, definitely!  Because my philosophy falls along these lines:

"One must always have one's boots on and be ready to go." ~ Michel de Montaigne

Tomorrow is Saturday.  It's going to be a beautiful fall weekend.  You can bet your boots that I will have mine on! 

P.S. I have heard that stirrup pants are coming back into vogue.  I promise that if they do and I succumb to that fashion mis-statement, I will have the good sense to wear the stirrup on the INSIDE.  I may be a slow learner, but I try not to make the same mistake twice. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stars Get In My Eyes

Last week the Capitol was all a-buzz.  No, not over politics.  Not over elected officials.  Not even over the latest gossip.  We were starstruck.

Hallmark Channel productions had come in and overtaken our building.  There were cables, electrical cords, spotlights, scaffolding, props and extras everywhere.  The rotunda was minus the busts of Georgia's founding fathers and had, instead, been turned into Grand Central Station, literally, only they called it Union Station.  Production crew members rushed around doing their jobs.  The icon director's chairs were just off the set in front of the Governor's office.  And yes, they really do have the actors' names embroidered on the canvas panels on the backs.

The movie's title will be "The Lost Valentine" (or is it "The LAST Valentine"?) and the stars of the movie are none other than Jennifer Love Hewitt and the wonderful Betty White.  For three days, our staff was allowed fairly close viewing of the filming. We watched the director set up the shots, give direction to her actors, and learned from friendly crew members what a "grip" does or what exactly is a "gaffer."  We stepped over cables and watched extras go in and out of scenes with the prompting of the crew just off camera.   It was amazing how much access we had to the sets.  Some of us were lucky enough to be at the right time and the right place to experience movie making from up close and personal.  But of course, the biggest draw was getting close to the stars, Ms. White and Ms. Hewitt.  It seemed staff members were always watching.  In the morning, in the afternoon, at end of business hours, you could find some of us enjoying the experience.  It was if we were addicted!  I will admit it, my colleagues and I were almost stalkers!  On Friday afternoon I left the Capitol with the tinsel of Hollywood still luring me to catch a glimpse of stardom.

Over the weekend I had the chance to reflect a bit on the what had transpired last week.  Betty White was delightful to watch.  Some of my friends actually got their pictures made with her and she was quite friendly, engaging them in conversation. At 86 and the last surviving Golden Girl, she is an inspiration.  Jennifer Love Hewitt is a lovely young woman and became quite emotional watching Ms. White during the shooting of a very tender and sad scene.   But what I found myself thinking of the most, other than wanting to host a movie party when "The Lost Valentine" premiers, is how surprised I was at my having "star"dust in my eyes.  It seems that I had succumbed to the power of celebrity. 

Now don't get me wrong.  It was all so nice and fun and wonderfully exciting.  But I couldn't help but ponder why I acted so, what drove me to strive to get as close as I could to these two women.  After all, the actors were doing their jobs, and from what I could tell from the endless re-shoots and the retouching up of makeup and hair, it is a pretty boring job.  Days and days of work for what I understand may only cover 2 minutes of the movie - TOTAL!  Yes, they are talented and yes, they are pleasant to look at.   And they get paid well in relation to the importance (or lack thereof) of their jobs.

It comes down to what we hold in high esteem and whom we place in positions of value in our society.  Erma Bombeck once said about fame, ""Don't confuse fame with success.  Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other."  Did people gush over Dr. Jonas Salk when he stopped polio?  Do we even know the names or celebrate those who devote their lives to research and inventions that have given us the best medical system in the world and the highest standard of living in the history of mankind? When we see a uniformed soldier on the street, do we throng to thank him or her for serving for us and protecting our freedoms?  The farmers that make us The Bread Basket of the World?  Those that are fighting to end breast cancer and AIDS and diabetes and Sudden Infant Death?  Autism therapists that spend countless hours trying to unlock a young child's mind?  Those that take care of our elderly when we are unable to or won't?  All we have to do is recall the contrast between the death of Mother Teresa and Princess Diana to see how we value celebrity over real service and worth.

"If only the sundrenched celebrities are being noticed and worshiped, then our children are going to have a tough time seeing the value in the shadows, where the thinkers, probers and scientists are keeping society together." ~ Rita Dove

The Capitol is quiet once again this week.  The glimmer and glitz removed.  Things are back to normal.  And, yes, I will thoroughly enjoy seeing "The Lost Valentine" when it premiers, although I will feel a little sheepish in remembering how I acted this past week.  What I will take with me are the thoughts I need to convey to my grandchildren - that there is worth in hard work and service. Fame is not a virtue; character is. Money is not related to happiness.  Unsung heroes walk amongst us every day.  We need to celebrate that.