Monday, December 30, 2013

Thank You to The Rococo Roamer!!

I'm so excited!!!  

Over the holidays I won a beautiful German wooden smoker!!  

Thank you Brittany Ruth from The Rococo Roamer.  
During the Christmas holidays Brittany visited the Passau Christmas Market and during her visit purchased a beautiful snowman smoker as a giveaway.  I can't tell you how surprised and excited I was to win this little guy!  
Isn't he adorable?
He looks perfect on display along with all my other nutcrackers.  
Thank you Brittany Ruth!!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Are You Ready?

I'm not ready for Christmas.  This year we traveled over Thanksgiving (can't wait to share travel photos) and once we returned back to the states, the holiday season was well underway which put me behind on shopping, decorating, baking, etc., and I've not been able to catch up.  This weekend I realized that I won't be able to catch up and there may not be a purchase for everyone on my list. Today I went for a Christmas visit with my mom I was reminded that Christmas isn't about purchases. 

My mom lives in middle Georgia, a farming region in the state, and pecans are one of the region's crops. Every Christmas since my dad died in 2005, my mom cracks and shells pecans as gifts for those on her gift list.  When my dad was living they shelled pecans together at night while they watched tv so this is a tradition she has continued.  But as my mom has aged, shelling pecans isn't so easy to do.  I was so touched to receive her special gift.  She also gave me a little decoration from my younger years in the 60s.  Back in the day we called the little fellow a "Pixie" though today I think these adorable decorations have been re-marketed as the "Elf on the Shelf."   My vintage Pixie now has a very special place on our mantle. 

Tonight I'm treasuring holiday memories and trying not to think so much about all the undone tasks.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Irwin Decorator Set - A Memorable Christmas Toy

We always remember more things at holiday time.  - Mrs. Ennis, Holiday Affair

Do you recall some of your favorite Christmas toys?   Growing up, the only time of year we received gifts was Christmas so gifts from Santa were quite memorable.  You can probably guess my age if you recall great toys like Tiny Tears, Thumbelina, Mystery Date and of course Barbie, Ken, Midge, Alan, Skipper, Scooter and Ricky.  Do you remember Barbie's fabulous gold brocade faux mink trimmed suit? 

Oh, and the year Santa brought me a Barbie Fashion Case I was totally beside myself!  And yes, I'm thinking back to the 60s.
One particular gift from 1967 stands out in my mind and it is also a gift that I played with well into my early teens. The Irwin Decorator Set was something similar to a doll house but it was more that a doll house.  The year I got the decorator set our family was planning to build a new house and to get ideas our family spent lots of weekends and down time going to visit new builds and open houses.  There was lots of talk about shag carpet (can you imagine?) and what colors we would paint our rooms (yes, there was talk of getting my own bedroom) and lots of looking at styles, house plans, brick and tiles.  Then Christmas came and I got my own decorator set with wall panels, flooring, fixtures and more.  The set allowed me to build from the floor up and I loved it!  
 As I think back this creative set might have been part of the reason I ended up being a home economics major.  When I started 8th grade I finally put away my decorator set and started cooking and sewing for fun instead.  

Every now and then it's fun to think back and share some of those meaningful and magically holiday moments.   Hope you are making wonderful memories this holiday season.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Star Window

While on our trip to Lebanon we spent a night in a place called Bouyouti.  I can't wait to share more about the food, people, places, architecture and our getaway in coming posts but for now I'd like to share something about this little window.  
The owners of Bouyouti built a small church in memory of their parents.  On the eastern and western side of the building there is a small star-shaped window designed so that the sun shines into the church from both directions.  These small windows shine a lot of light into the chapel.
I've thought a lot about this little star window and its shining light and was reminded of one of my favorite scriptures.  Today, and during the Christmas season, it seems the perfect time of year for such a reminder.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. - Matthew 5:16.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Your Vote Counts

Billy & Gloria Copeland
I didn't want to go and vote today.  After all, there were only five positions being filled or decided in my hometown.  It would be easy to assume that my vote doesn't really count but unfortunately a few years ago, I learned the hard way that my vote really mattered.  

Back in the '90s my dad was running for a city council post in my home town and during the election season all of our family and friends spent every spare moment making phone calls, putting up signs, and working intersections during rush hour campaigning for my dad.  Vote Holt!

The town I grew up in, which was where my dad was campaigning, was about an hour and a half from my home town.  While I was so busy helping with my dad's campaign, I forgot to get an absentee ballot and I wasn't at home on election day.  I didn't vote.

It would be easy to think that my vote didn't matter.  But guess what. It did matter. Let me restate what I just said.  I didn't vote and neither did my husband.  Our Mayor,  an incredible city leader of 28 years lost the election.

Today on Facebook, the granddaughter of the man who lost the election the year I didn't vote, posted this message:

 It is very important that you go vote if you have not already. Some years ago Billy LOST the Mayors race by 2 votes. Just 2 votes, think about that. In talking with folks after that election, Billy came across so many of his supporters that told him "You had so much support, we just figured you would win, so I did not go vote" . If just 3 people had gone to vote that year, the outcome would have been different.
Make a difference, your vote COUNTS !

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Holidays Are Coming...

And I'm really getting excited about Thanksgiving holidays this year. 
I'm not expecting turkey for Thanksgiving but I am expecting that I'll be eating some of the best food in the world.  
Looking forward to a holiday in Beirut.

Friday, November 1, 2013


As the seasons changed and bloggers started buzzing about fall, I started wishing for spring.  As I've gotten older I just don't enjoy fall or winter.  

Recently I read a bit about "hygge"  and since it has given me a whole new way of thinking about the season.  

Hygge, (pronounced "hooga") is a Danish word that means coziness.  

It's a warm, sociable feeling that comes to the fore in autumn and winter and that, for Danes, is one of the highest states to which humans can aspire.

Wool sweaters, hats with earflaps, blazing log fires, strong ales in old wood-paneled bars and candles galore, even at breakfast, all conjure "hygge." 

So this year instead of focusing on the cold, darkness and brown landscapes, I'll think about more candles, friends and creating a cozy environment.

Check out this NPR article about hygge if you want to learn more. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Biltmore - A Ghost Story

This week I had a work trip to Los Angeles and as I normally do, I did some shopping around in advance for a great rate on a hotel stay.  Lucky for me the best rate was at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

Let me tell you that because of my work schedule there was very little time to enjoy the hotel but as I walked from meetings back to my room I was taking photos all along the way.  I was completely amazed with the hotel, its history and beauty, and completely intrigued with the stories about the hotel being haunted.

Did you know that the Academy Awards Ceremony began at this hotel?  You can read more about this here.  On my first attempt to peek into the Crystal Ballroom the door was locked.  On the second try, I was lucky - the door was unlocked.  A film crew was setting up so I didn't go wandering around but it was thrilling to be able to walk into a room filled with film history.

So now to the ghost story.  Just call me naive.  The great hotel rate was the reason I ended up at the hotel.  I truly knew nothing about the history, or the ghosts but after seeing the beauty of the hotel, I got on Google to run a few searches and those searches led me to some stories about the ghosts that have been sighted at this hotel.  Never before had I heard about the Black Dahlia until this experience.  Oh how I wish I hadn't read or seen all that I saw, but I did, and the story was totally intriguing.

If you don't know anything about Elizabeth "Beth" Short, there's plenty to read but reader beware.  By the time I finished reading some of the stories, I was too scared to go to sleep!  You should have seen the barricade I built to keep "Beth" out of my room!  Beth was last seen at the Biltmore Hotel and it is believed that she still walks the hallways.  True or not, it was haunting.

If you get to LA, the Biltmore is a hotel worth seeing and I'm hoping I get back to visit one of these days.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

When Will The Shutdown End?

It just so happened I was in D.C. this week and the city was looking a bit like a ghost town.  Cab drivers I spoke with were disturbed that they had little ridership and while they normally would be bringing in $200 a day, this week were doing good to hit the $50 mark.

 Normally there's lots of hustle and bustle all around the city and of course lines of people waiting to see key tourist sights and there's always lots of foot traffic.  It was weird seeing things so still in the middle of the work week.
Seeing the city first-hand took me back to my childhood and constant fear of government decisions.  Both of  my parents worked for the government and we lived in a town that existed because of our military base.  While growing up there were always worried conversations about base closures, budget cuts, oh and not to mention the Cuban missile crisis with constant preparations to evacuate and remain safe when the bombs would fall.  At one point my parents tried to build a fallout shelter in our backyard! My home and school were located very close to the base so the daily siren and the sonic booms just added to my constant worries that the base would close, my parents would have no job and somehow because of the nuclear missiles that were sure to be directed at our base, our family would end up separated from each other living in bomb shelters. No wonder I'm such a fear-based individual!!
At any rate the government shutdown is affecting much more than just government workers and this week in D.C. it was evident that lots of employees - federal or not, will not have much, if any income.  But this extends well beyond D.C.
There was a small crowd at the Supreme Court building.  Looked like the Justices were working.
On a very happy note, my sweet DIL had been deployed since May 1 and in spite of the shutdown, she managed to return home!!!!  My son and grandgirls were so happy to finally have her back.
The Welcome Home Committee
Happy weekend!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mexico Travel From Home

Sometimes you don't have to go far to go places and this is exactly what happened at work when some creative folks came together to plan a lunch event.
Jojo's Joys Mexico

 The papel picado was homemade! Can you believe how cute? 

All of the centerpieces were handmade too!
Jojo's Joys Mexican Centerpiece

 And I loved how adding a few painted gourds added so much to the serving tables!

Jojo's Joys - Tulum

Even more fun was being able to enjoy everyone's photos from travel in Mexico.  (Oh how I miss Mexico)!!

Jojo's Joys Tulum

Today I'm linking up with The Tablescaper celebrating Seasonal Sunday.