Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year From Positano!

I'm trying to figure out what the new year will be like if one starts the year with pasta and Lemoncello instead of black eyed peas and greens! Guess we will try it out and see. Wish I could figure out how to post photos on my iPad but I guess those will have to wait until we get home. Here's to peace, love, joy, good health and prosperity.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Music, Movies and Memories - Mimi Naja & Parker Smith

 We started the holiday off with a great night of music at The Five Spot in Atlanta.   Mimi Naja (of Fruition String Band) and her good friend Parker Smith put on a late night show on the eve of the eve. 

Members of Mimi's Girlband from Junior High
Here are 3 of the same girls in 2000. 
Wits End 2000

Alicia is a true friend.  Still up at midnight waiting for the show to begin
Once the music started, the dancing began
Sweet Hannah
Christmas eve for our family has always included a movie along with a trip to Waffle House and this year we decided to see Hugo.

  I loved the film and especially enjoyed seeing it in 3-D.   A beautiful movie and a wonderful story too.  

We do things by vote in our family and this year rather than eating Christmas dinner at home and preparing our usual feast of lobster we decided to go to the Melting Pot.  I'd gotten an email from them saying they would be open on Christmas with very limited seating and we got a spot.  We had so much fun dining out and enjoying fondu.  
Now we are off to pick up the grandgirls to start our holiday.  
My husband added photos instead of gift tags to the presents this year
Tomorrow we leave for our overseas adventure and I'll post pictures when I can. 
Keeping the holiday spirit, 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Atlanta History Center, Atlanta Botanical Garden & St. Regis

In some ways it feels like I've had no time for holiday festivities but truthfully I have managed to squeeze in a couple of events that have been lots of fun.
 The Holiday Spirit (or the Ghost from Christmas Past), event at the Atlanta History Center was a great event!   Last week my husband and I took the candlelight tour of the Smith House.   
As the tour began we ran up on some Confederate soldiers training a new recruit.  The Ghost of Christmas Past took us back to 1861, the first year of the Civil War.
Photos weren't allowed on the tour but we had the good fortune of meeting the local blacksmith, Mrs. Smith and Maude, our favorite character, who was a slave on the Smith Farm.  Maude gave an outstanding performance. 
The Atlanta History Center sits in the shadow of the St. Regis Hotel so after our tour we decided to visit the hotel.  In the lobby of the hotel sits a gingerbread house.  
Can you see my husband in the window?
The house is made from 900 eggs, 450 pounds of sugar, 30 pounds of spices and over 11,000 pieces of candy.  You can smell the gingerbread when you walk in the hotel. 
The 12 Days of Christmas cocktail menu had a little something for everyone on it.   My drink was something apple flavored.
Last night in spite of the rain, which was heavy at times, our family took the evening holiday lights tour at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
I loved watching my son and daughter head out to enjoy the lights and I managed to capture several pics of them during the tour.  I especially love this one beside the Chihuly fountain. 
And this one by the poinsettia tree. 
While we were in the flower garden there was a marriage proposal!  I was busy taking photos so I missed the "down on the knee" moment but we all heard the squealing.  

 And we were all mesmerized by this sound and light show.

A fun night for all...even the plants.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Very Special Gift

This week, unexpectedly, I received a very special gift and it will be one that I treasure all my days. 
Let me give you a little background.  About eight years ago I started a "recycle your holiday cards" campaign at work and began collecting cards after the holidays.   The first year I started collecting cards, St. Jude's Ranch for Children's Recycled Card Program was the perfect solution for a way to recycle thousands of Christmas cards a perfect way to help support a great cause.   When the next year rolled around I was ready to repeat the process but sadly there was a post on the St. Jude's Ranch website stating they had too many contributions from the previous year and would not be able to accept cards.   So I asked around within our firm and found an employee who leads craft activities at nursing homes in the Charlotte, N.C. area and she agreed to accept the card contributions.   She was overwhelmed with the number of cards collected so she asked we not send her cards again.  

It was a bit frustrating and I was getting a bit desperate for a solution.  Then Marci called me.   At the time Marci was a secretary in our firm though she is now retired (lucky Marci)!   Marci told me she could use as many cards as I could collect and thus began my friendship and admiration of Marci and her work in the community.
You might be wondering what Marci could do with thousands of Christmas cards so I'm sharing a small sampling of one of the card baskets she made for me a few years ago. For a couple of decades, Marci has been teaching anyone willing to learn card crafting the art of recycling cards.  Almost all of the items Marci makes are gifts for shut-ins, nursing home residents or hospital patients.  I add almost because this week Marci gave me a treasure - a card montage.   
The montage I received was made to be a tray though I've hung it on the mantel (along with some of my Holt Howard pieces).
Marci even built the frame around the final piece.  Every small scene is made up of tiny cuttings from Christmas cards. 

It took more than a week of cutting and piecing to create it and every time I look at it I see something new and magical. 
 I don't know how to say thanks Marci.  It is beautiful.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Enjoying the Season Middle Georgia Style

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here but we haven't had too much time to enjoy very many seasonal festivities.   But last weekend my husband and I took a day to go visit my mom and take her on a holiday outing.  

Early Saturday morning we headed down to pick up my mom and traveled to Perry, Georgia.  It happens to be the place where I was born (click here to see the house which served as a clinic and birthing center) and it's also the home of the famous New Perry Hotel
The hotel has recently reopened and is under new management so it was fun to explore this middle Georgia landmark.
The hotel was holding a gingerbread house event and we had such a great time decorating our houses.  

And even enjoyed a visit with Santa before lunch and heading off to Lane.  
Now if you have never traveled I-75 to Florida and stopped by Lane you've missed out on THE BEST peach ice cream, pecan treats and a taste of the south.  As a young girl we went to the packing sheds which operated 24-hours a day during peach season but things at Lane's have changed over the years.    
Lane Southern Orchards is a few miles off the interstate and driving over we saw cotton fields.   In some ways it looked like snow was  on the ground giving the farmland a touch of seasonal decoration.
 Then we passed the beautiful pecan groves.  So peaceful and stately.
At Lane's you will always discover fresh cinnamon pecans on the menu.

 And a store full of peach and pecan goods, including pickled peaches.  Yum!!!

 I'm hoping this week slows down so that we can spend more time enjoying the season.  
Have your holiday celebrations gotten underway?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Handcrafted in the U.S. - Wendell August

After enjoying Thanksgiving feasts, lots of naps, shopping, movies and a four-day work break I've turned my attention to the Christmas season.
 So now I'm thinking about gifts and recently I've noticed a number of posts about buying and giving "made in the USA."  For bloggers focused on trying to support local economies, I thought I would pass along a company I was introduced to last year.  

My girlfriend Marta (and I know she is going to read this post), gave me a beautiful pewter ornament.   I own a very small collection of pewter and enamel over metal ornaments so the gift Marta gave me was a real treasure.  Marta told me that ornament was handcrafted by Wendell August, a company in her home town that burned to the ground last year.  Her purchase was to intended to help support the company and the local economy.  

I thought I'd pass along the story and a link to Wendell August in case you are looking for handmade jewelry, ornaments or other household items.  You are going to love these works of art. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

'Tis The Season - Warrick Dunn Family Foundation

Today was amazing.  

If you follow my blog you know about my involvement with Habitat.  This year our firm completed its 14th house and I've had the chance to get to know some wonderful homeowners but this year's homeowner was exceptional. 
Olivia signing the closing papers
Atlanta Habitat homeowners are required to take a year of classes with Habitat, put in 250 build hours and part of this time must be spent helping other homeowners.   Habitat homeowners work hard to achieve home ownership.  This year working with our homeowner I was often amazed with her.  We would get to the work site about 7:30 a.m. to unload the truck and start the work day.  At 4:00 when the work day ended, I generally came home to shower and take a nap.  But not our homeowner.  Olivia, a single mother of three, would head home to cook and feed the kids before heading off to work a night shift as a healthcare worker.  Every Saturday I would think to myself, I don't know how she finds the energy.  

Well today was incredible.  Each year the Warrick Dunn Family Foundation selects two deserving Atlanta Habitat families and the foundation in partnership with Aaron'sCOMPLETELY furnishes the homes and makes a substantial down payment so that the homeowner has very little to pay on their home.  Recipients of the Homes for the Holidays program requires that the homeowner must be a single mom.  Warrick Dunn began this tradition to honor the memory of his mom, a single mother of six children, who was killed when Warrick, the oldest child, was only 18.  

This morning many of us who built the house were asked to be there at 8:30 for the SURPRISE REVEAL.  Olivia had  no idea and thought she was coming to sign the closing papers.  As we waited for her car to pull up,  we were trying to figure out if she would scream or cry, or both.   Having worked with her for so many weeks, I knew her sweet and quiet nature and I was sure that she would sob.  She did, but she wasn't alone.  There were very few dry eyes in the crowd.  

We were asked not to take pictures as the event was a very personal moment with the family and Warrick Dunn put his heart into making sure that it was treated as such.  It was about Olivia and her beautiful family.  It was especially nice that Arthur Blank and two of his children came out to support Warrick and congratulate Olivia.   
Olivia finally signed the closing papers and we did take picture of that very special moment.   And Arthur Blank stopped for a picture so that I could send it to my Falcons loving son.  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm a Rosebud

My mom at one of the Rosie gatherings
 And I'm proud of it.   A Rosebud is the daughter of a Rosie the Riveter and today the Atlanta Chapter held its quarterly meeting.  It was especially exciting that four Rosie's were able to attend.  

I get so excited at these meetings because it is a chance to meet and talk with individuals who are living history.  Two of my favorite people, Ken and Kathleen Powell, were able to make it and I was so happy to be able to sit with them.   If you click on the link you will hear Kathleen's story but having been a prisoner of war in Germany,  Kenneth too, has a story to tell.  
Four Rosie's now living in Atlanta

 Today's meeting was at Atlanta's 57th Fighter Group Restaurant which is located at the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport.   The great thing about meeting there is the fact that everyone in the restaurant recognizes and values the role these senior citizens played in American history.   For those who've never been to one of these restaurant's it's worth a visit.  It's like stepping back in time.  
Our President lined up a wonderful speaker who volunteers as a pilot with Angel Flight and I enjoyed learning about the work of the organization but the best part of the day for me was having time to visit with the Rosie's.  
President Billie Ruth Bird and Mack Secord, Angel Flight Pilot
Read more about some of our members and previous meetings as featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution by clicking here
I've been working on a number of ways to honor veterans in my workplace on Veteran's Day but it was especially nice to have today to celebrate the amazing women who served.  

Stop by The Tablescaper and see what other bloggers are up to this Seasonal Sunday. 

If You Love Art and You Love Jelly Beans...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blogging is Expensive

Is it just me or do other bloggers end up reading blogs and shopping?   I started blogging so that I could connect with my kids who live in other places but truthfully my kids tell me they rarely read my blog.  That's why I joined Facebook.   After blogging a year or so I realized the reason I continued to blog is because of the friends I've made through blogging and this continues to be the case.   Meanwhile as I blog I read lots of other inspiring blogs and because of blogging my family has benefited from lots of new recipes and updated home decor.   But I've also done a lot of shopping.   I thought I would take a moment to highlight some of my recent purchases and give credit to the bloggers responsible for my new creative outlets and experiences.
Cookie-making Supplies
I already owned a number of seasonal cookie cutters and several copper ones that I treasure but since I started following SASB, I've bought so many more.   Her cookies are pure artistry.  I haven't actually started baking any cookies but at least I have all the supplies and equipment I need when the time comes.  Oh that reminds me, I need to order that paisley cookie cutter. 

Art Supplies
Paris Breakfasts is one of my favorites!   Carol's blog is about much more than art but I love her watercolors.   Not only have I bought all new watercolors and brushes,  I'm working my way through Artist Journal Workshop and have just bought Watercolour Painting.   So far I haven't painted anything but I'm planning to test my talent on my next trip.   Speaking of trips this leads to my next category. 

This has been one expensive blog experience though I can't totally blame the bloggers.   Several bloggers have inspired me to travel and sight see both in my local community and abroad.   A few of these include Recollections of a VagabondeMille Fiori Favoriti, Menton Daily Photo, Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome and my good friend Pondside.   Thanks to Elizabeth I will be making a quick trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast in December.    Pondside inspires me because I want to meet my pen pal in person and I'm determined that the two of us will meet in person in 2012.

I don't know where to start here as many blogs have inspired me to buy books.   Susan at Between Naps on the Porch is probably responsible for most of my book purchases though there are are plenty of other bloggers who've introduced me to books I've bought and enjoyed.    I always want to live in the pages of books by blogger authors like Vicki Archer, Elizabeth Minchilli, Mary Kay Andrews and Susan Branch but since I can't, I buy their books. 

Besides the travel category this is one of the most expensive of blogging side effects but it is one that is great fun too.   Sue at Rue Mouffetard got me started on my first cooking class at Viking Cooking School.   Since then I've taken several classes and on my trip to Italy I will definitely be taking a class or two.   There are many blogs that have inspired me with their writing skills and one of my favorites would have to be Jenny Matlock's blog.   Blogging in general has made me want to improve my writing skills so I recently enrolled in a writing class.   I'm really sad the class has ended but I'm hoping our class can continue to meet periodically as a writer's circle, doing critiques and perhaps inviting other local authors to join our discussions.   The class was fascinating in that it brought together very interesting people with very different backgrounds.   Participants shared such interesting topics through their writing such as, being a young Olympic athlete with a most unusual childhood, dealing with racial issues in the 60s, growing up in the 50s with a gay parent, eccentric family members (we are in the south), dealing with the loss of a parent, experiencing the changing life of a parent with Alzheimer's and growing up in a small southern town.  Julie Cannon was our teacher and I so hope we are able to keep in touch.  I loved the class.  
Like I said, I'll continue to work on the writing but my next class effort will be photography (and a new camera)! 

I'm interested to hear about your blogging (and buying) experiences.