Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Are Your Favorite Souvenirs? (And a Contest)

My family will all be quick to tell you that I'm weird and frankly when one of my kids has said that I'm weird, my response has always been, "thank you. I take that as a compliment." 

This weekend started out so rainy and miserable and all I could do is think about being somewhere sunny and beachy which started me thinking about travel. 

What do you like to do when you travel?   Like most people I like seeing the top-rated "things to see" but I also enjoy visiting grocery stores (depending on what country I'm in) and stopping in the local music shop.  It's fun to be able to enjoy foods and music from other places long after I'm back home. 

One of my other things to do is to bring home bits of nature.  I've got shells, rocks, salt and pine cones from several countries and yesterday I pulled many of the items out to decorate with them. 

What are your favorite souvenirs?

And speaking of travel.  Did you see this contest?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ambassador Young, Valentines, CPR, Oatmeal & Frida

2013 has been so busy and here is a sampling of activities from the past week.

It was wonderful to have a visit with former Ambassador Andrew Young.  We were so lucky to have him come visit our workplace as part of Black History Month.  He had some of the most amazing stories to share from the Civil Rights Movement.
This week was all about Valentines and we sent some of the most beautiful valentines to veterans but we also gave valentines to all of our employees who served in the Armed Forces.  What a special time we had distributing valentines.
This is Go Red for Women month and our second annual Oatmeal Bar fundraiser was a hit!  Once again we sold out of steel-cut oats.
And while focusing on heart-related topics, I took the CPR/AED training and am now certified.  Hope I don't have to use it but just in case, I'm ready.

The week ended with a lecture from Michael Shapiro who came to share highlights of the Frida & Diego exhibit which is now at the High Museum.  I can't wait to see it.

Higher Ground

A drum circle kicked off the program
 Alicia Philipp is amazing and if you live in the Atlanta area and don’t know Alicia’s name then you’ve been living under a rock.  Since 1977 Alicia’s amazing energies and innovative leadership has worked to address issues, challenges and funding of so many great initiatives in Atlanta.  Earlier this month I had the pleasure of hearing a presentation by Higher Ground, a group of retired faith leaders brought together by Alicia.  The group led a discussion on the topic of how religion inspires positive change. 
Alicia making opening remarks
 The program was held at Rialto Center for the Arts in downtown Atlanta.  The Rialto is part of Georgia State University which is significant - the presentation was packed with young students.  I was truly inspired by hearing the faith leaders share their thoughts followed by a Q&A where many young people shared their thoughts, asking lots of questions.  

Alicia was instrumental in bringing together this group of inspired thought leaders, recognizing that throughout Atlanta history faith leaders have worked in concert for the betterment of the Atlanta community and beyond.  Until attending this program I had no idea that Rabbi Rothschild from the Temple was one of the primary authors of the “Atlanta Manifesto” which was published by white clergy during the civil rights movement.  The published work called for schools to remain open rather than closing to avoid desegregation.   Sadly because of the Rabbi’s efforts with Atlanta clergy, the synagogue was bombed.

Higher Ground has been meeting regularly for two years and when asked why this diverse group continues to meet, Emam El-Amin remarked that “God must like diversity.  He put us all on this earth together and that means we should all be working together.”

Hearing the discussion made me proud to be living in a city that works to communicate and connect generations to share stories from the past, discuss challenges of the present, with a focus on the future.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Interview With Lee Radziwill

I found this interview of Lee Radziwill filmed by Sophia Coppola to be so interesting.  I hope you enjoy it too. Click here to view

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Valentines for Veterans

Growing up Valentine’s Day was so important to me.   Remember the joy of making valentines for all of your classmates?  In elementary school when we brought our valentines to school we were also supposed to bring a decorated box, usually an old shoebox, so that when the time came, classmates could drop a valentine in your special box.  At the end of the school day we would be given time to look in our boxes and open our valentines. There would be lots of construction paper hearts decorated with paper doilies and some purchased items and every now and then a box of conversation hearts or a lollipop.  
As I got older I kept the tradition of sending cards to my close friends for many years but once I had children my time was spent helping them get valentines prepared for their classmates.  And each year I made a special valentine cookie which you might know as the cream wafer.   It’s an old recipe my friend Aggie gave me in 1975.   I would cut the cookie into heart shapes and tint the filling a lavender color.  (See the recipe below in case you want to make these delicious, melt in your mouth butter cookies).
 As my last child left the nest I’d stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day until a few years ago.  Now it is a big deal and the planning starts in January.   Why, you ask?   It’s Valentines for Veterans!!!  Last month we encouraged employees and their families to start making valentines at home.  We've got craft supplies in the break rooms so employees can make a valentine on their breaks.  Already we've shipped boxes of Conversation Hearts and handmade valentines to a military concussion center in Afghanistan, and sent beautiful valentines to our military friends and family serving overseas.  Next week children from our employee day care will be hand-delivering handmade valentines and candies to all of our veteran employees.  We’ve got an enormous box of valentines going to a VA hospital located in a rural area.   I’m seeing lots of red and really excited about it.   
Nicole has been helping coordinate all of these activities
Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Just in case you feel like doing some baking here's the best butter cookie you ever tasted!  

Ingredients for the cookie:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Ingredients for the filling:
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
 food coloring
To make the dough cream the butter add the flour and cream.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 1-1/4-in. round cookie cutter. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle with a little sugar. Prick each cookie 3-4 times with a fork.
Bake at 350° for 7-9 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.
In a small bowl, mix ingredients to make the filling, adding whipping cream a little at a time until achieving desired consistency.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Atlanta Bloggers Celebrate Valentine's Day

Atlanta blogger Joyce hosted the nicest Valentine’s Day lunch for a group of fun Atlanta bloggers and I had to share a few photos.
We were asked not to bring food but instead we were asked to bring items such as toiletries, diapers, etc., for a local women and children’s shelter.  Isn’t that a great thing to do?   A heartfelt gesture was perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. 
 Joyce had done a beautiful job decorating the table and we were all amazed when she told us the beverage glasses were from the Dollar Store!   Aren’t they cute!!!
Valentine decorations were everywhere….even in the bathroom!
The lunch was amazing.  The chicken pot pie was perfect for a cold and overcast winter day and the salad was incredible but the people were the best! Rose, Linda, Sue, Joyce, Sandie, Cheri....I loved the conversation and the laughter!  
Sue of Rue Mouffetard made some delicious popovers and oh my, the Linzer cookies! I loved the cookies!!!
I’m not too big on Valentine’s Day but it would be hard not to get into the spirit after visiting Joyce’s house.  Don't you love the sweet dessert plates with dogwoods?  And see the boxes on the table?  Joyce made the bigger box and Rose brought treats in the smaller box.   I haven't opened mine yet.  Should I wait until Valentine's Day?
Sue, let me know when you get your pictures posted so I can link up my post.  Your photos always put mine to shame so I appreciate your artist's eye!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tony McCray, Stone Soup, Pajamas and More

It’s been a couple of years since I boasted on my neighborhood. I’m guessing that most neighborhoods have plenty of interesting people, but I feel really lucky to have so many interesting and fun people living around me.

Every couple of weeks one of our neighbors hosts Stone Soup.  The event is held on a Thursday evening which gives us all a chance to get a jump on the weekend.  The hosts of this event are neighbors Tony and Missy McCray.   Tony and Missy were the urban pioneers who moved into our neighborhood when most people were afraid to even drive through the area.  They’ve had six kids (homeschooling them all) and they both continue to help promote that small town community feeling in a metro area with the world’s busiest airport just minutes away! 
Tony & Missy's house
 I can’t always make the stone soup social gathering but somehow this week I managed to get home in time to put on pajamas and join the fun.  Most people didn’t want their photos taken in their pajamas but I had to share a few pictures of this month’s breakfast stone soup event.
Tony is featured on the left

 For years as our neighborhood was under renovation and development, Tony was instrumental in the design of our street signs, house numbers, mailbox numbers and the landscaping. He didn’t do all the landscaping but he did the work for a number of homes in our community and certainly inspired everyone.  

Hanging lanterns are everywhere

Our neighborhood glows in the evening thanks to Tony!
 Now Tony focuses his efforts on his business, Rust in Peace.  If you go to major fairs you are bound to run into Tony.  He’s always at Scott Antique Market, in the area for Marburger Farm and lots of other fairs and shows.   Click here to see a highlighted item on the Country Living website. 

Sometimes I get caught up by the thought of going to a faraway place to see something interesting or meet amazing people.  Isn’t it a good feeling when you realize they are in your neighborhood? 

We should have a virtual neighborhood party where we share our neighborhoods.  Might be fun to get to know the neighbors!