Happy 4th Birthday!

Today is a very special day.  We are celebrating our youngest granddaughter's 4th birthday!


From the day you were born, you have brought all of us so much happiness!

Just plain "CUTE!"

Absolutely huggable and kissable!


Olaf never looked so cute!

Too soon!

Littlest Miss Avery is "PERFECT" as far as this Nana & Boppa are concerned!
She is absolutely our most favorite "youngest" granddaughter!  Don't grow up too soon!


Souvenirs? NO! Special Purchases? YES!

Hey everyone!  Hope you are having a great week.  If you are among those who have been living through some of those tremendous winter storms, I do hope all is well and that you are safe and warm.  

I have just a short post today.  If you are among those who left such sweet comments regarding our  Our 5000 Mile Road Trip Christmas Vacation, thank you so much!  We had such a great time, and we did make a few purchases along the way.  The Man and I have made a pact with each other to not buy typical souvenirs when we travel.  Why?  Well, most of the time, they end up being junk; but mostly because they lose their luster when removed from the setting.  You know.....you get them home and you openly declare,  "What the heck was I thinking?"  So now we pre-empt travel purchases with 3 questions:

1) Is it consumable......can we eat it, drink it or otherwise use it up?
2) Will it enhance our home decor, and I (we) already know where it will be displayed?
3) Is it very unusual, well made, and something we've never seen before?

With those questions in mind, I'd like to share what we did purchase.

If you are a regular follower, then I'm sure you've heard me mention my love for aprons.  Well, I found this one at Mt. Vernon and thought it would be a perfect remembrance of our visit here.  And, yes, I have already used it!

The Man bought these for me at a street market in Charleston.  The design is of "The Tree of Life,"and the artist was just such a lovely lady.  The earrings are very good quality sterling and light-weight, which has made them my "go-to" set!

We had lunch in Charleston at a restaurant called "Hyman's," which is a four-generation owned establishment.  We didn't really care for the food, but do these people ever know how to do extended marketing!  You take one flight of stairs up to the second floor & restaurant, then another flight down, which leads you right through their little gift shop.  The restrooms have this salt scrub to use, so I was already sold before I ever entered the shop.  I've used (and made) sugar scrubs, but this stuff is so much better!  Maybe because it's from "The Holy City!"

Do you know why Charleston is called The Holy City?   This beautiful city is known as the “Holy City” because of the prevalence of churches on the city skyline. Charleston boasts over 400 places of worship of many different denominations throughout the city, and religion is deeply embedded in the city's rich culture.

Hmmm.....you will just have to take my word for it that this jug was once filled with beautiful, golden nectar!  We stopped at this cute country store when we saw the sign.  The lovely ladies who were operating the store, were giving out little samples of the peach cider, and The Man was hooked!  Any suggestions about what I could do with this jug?  The label is so cute!

At this same little store, I discovered this beauty!  I've been wanting one of these for some time, and this one is full and so very pretty.  I knew exactly where it would go......above my kitchen cabinets, but that will be for another post!

So what happens when you are "iced-in" in Abilene, TX and can only travel about a mile in any direction from your hotel?  You can eat at Denny's or eat and shop at Cracker Barrel's!  I always enjoy strolling through their little gift shop but generally just look.  Well, when I spied this little "lovely," I simply could not help myself!  She has been brewing up some delicious teas and does it in such a cute way -- always makes me smile.

Well, are these not just precious?  These were in the same display as the teapot and jumped right into my open arms!  I filled one with cinnamon and the other with cloves, which I like to add to my tea.

Well, what do you think?  Did we stick to our 3 rules for souvenirs?  I think we did pretty darn well!

Thanks so much for stopping by!  It's pretty busy around these parts right now, what with "winter visitors," the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and lest we forget.....the SUPER BOWL!  I think we will be hunkering down over here in the East Valley and just enjoy the fun from our television.  Hope everyone has a wonderful rest of your week and weekend!  "Deflate-Gate" or not, I'm routing for 
The Patriots.....well, actually, it's all about Tom Brady -- he is just so darn cute!


Keeping It Simple

Hey everyone!  Is this a confusing time of year for any of you the way it is for me?  It seems from the first of September, I have such motivation and direction -- Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas!  Then January rolls around and nothing.  Well, if I wanted to, I could decorate for Spring because that's the kind of weather we are having......sorry to all of you in bitter cold and/or snow!  I'm ready to do some Spring-things outside, but not inside just yet.  After all the color & glitz of the past four months, I'm ready for a more calm & soothing palette with lots of neutrals and natural elements....at least in most of our home.  I thought I'd share a few of those vignettes today.

The Entry

Saw no reason to remove my coffee filter wreath.

This is actually a candle holder, but I really like it this way for a change.  I took some faux pears and used Rub 'n Buff Gold Leaf on them.

Dining Room

This is almost a repeat of my Fall vignette, but I switched out trays and added two more pitchers.

I added some cotton stems to one pitcher and some of my sweet MIL's old silver to another.

Kept things very simple here with some greenery and the piece of coral I got last summer.

This cake stand and dome are difficult to store, so I try to find different ways to use it....that are not

I usually do something on the dining room table that is traditionally styled -- something in the middle and accented with mirror-image elements on either side.

This time I went with a very simple grouping of three items, all taking the center of the table position.

I brought back my burlap runner, too, which I really like.

Sitting Room

Are book-page bundles still popular?  Well, I don't care if they are passe', I still like the
natural element they lend to this moss-covered mushroom.  Anything under a cloche, right?

Coffee table simplicity.

I was happy to bring back this bird pillow cover from last Spring, and it looks perfect
on my little leather chair.

There you have it.  I'm thinking these vignettes will carry me through for several months.
Cough, cough......who am I kidding?  You and I know there will be changes!
Have a super-great week everyone!

I sometimes like to party with these lovely bloggers:

Dee at Meatloaf and Melodrama for Snickerdoodle Sunday

Cindy at Dwellings--The Heart of Your Home for Amaze Me Monday
Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday
Kathryn at The Dedicated House for Make It Pretty Mondays

Maria Elena at Our Home Away from Home for Tuesdays at Our Home
Marty at A Stroll Thru Life  for Inspire Me Tuesday
Leslie at House on the Way for Twirl & Take a Bow
Mary Beth at Cupcakes and Crinoline for Project Inspired

Suzy at Worthing Court for The Scoop
Karin at The Style Sisters for Centerpiece Wednesday
Kathryn at The Dedicated House for Before and After Wednesday

Kelly at Live Laugh Rowe for Live Laugh Linky Party
Richella at Imparting Grace for Grace at Home
Pamela at From My Front Porch to Yours for Treasure Hunt Thursday

Kathryn at The Dedicated House for Anything Blue Friday
Jody & Stan at Rooted in Thyme for Simple and Sweet Fridays 

Amanda at Serenity Now for Weekend Bloggy Reading


Our 5000 Mile Road-Trip Christmas Vacation

Hey everyone!  So happy to be back and revving up for a great "2015!"  The last of Christmas 2014 has been packed away, furniture dusted, and floors vacuumed of all traces of glitter & faux snow.  Well, making all that glitter & snow disappear is kind of a stretch -- just when you think you've gotten it all, it appears for an encore!  Oh well, I guess I don't mind some sparkles on my shoes and a snowflake or two on kitty whiskers is kind of cute!

As some of you already know, The Man and I took a road-trip to VA to spend Christmas with our son, dil, and our two youngest grandchildren.  The reason we drove rather than fly was so we could see some of the sights along the way.  It was truly a wonderful trip ( even being stranded by an ice-storm in Abilene on our way home), and I would love to share some of the highlights with you today.  This is a warning.  I don't think it's anything hazardous, but you better get food and drink -- this is long!

We were a bit concerned about road travel at this time of the year, what with sudden snow storms & such; but little did we know it would happen even before we left Arizona!  This was in the Payson area, in northeastern AZ.

No snow in New Mexico, but very cold.  Thank goodness for those heated seats and the remote start!
Room keys can only do just so much for scraping ice off the windshield!

One thing that has been on our bucket list for quite a long time, was to go to Memphis and eat at The Man's cousin's restaurant.  Coletta's was opened in the 50's by his 1st cousin, LaVerne and her husband.  LaVerne is lovely, warm and sharp as a tack at 92.  Her son, dil, and a grandson now run the restaurants (there are 2).  We were so happy to have had the opportunity to meet these very nice people and get to enjoy some delicious food.

Yes, there is a room dedicated to Elvis!  Coletta's was his favorite eatery.  Priscilla still comes in for take-out whenever she is in town.

Isn't The Man just a cutie?

Oh yes, of course we did! 

What surprised me the most about Graceland, was the size.  I was expecting something very palatial, and it wasn't at all.  It was just a very nice home.  I'm sure it was seen as very big and fancy back in the day.

This was the back of the house and an addition that Elvis made while he lived there.  

I promise not to share each and every room, but there are a couple that you must see (for those who have never been).  This was the formal living room, and I thought this room was elegant and beautiful.  I think that sofa was like twelve feet long -- gorgeous white brocade!

This was Elvis's mom's room.  Apparently, Gladys loved purple and poodles.  The ensuite bath has purple and pink tile and poodle wallpaper.

The formal dining room was so elegant, and that chandelier was incredible!

I never knew how many Gold and Platinum albums and other awards had been given to Elvis.  This room was like a long, wide hallway, lined floor-to-ceiling on both sides with this massive collection.

Even as olden as I am, Elvis lipstick was long before I was of lipstick-wearing age!
Okay, fess up -- who among you had some of this?

The small family cemetery was very well done.  Elvis rests next to his father, and his twin brother (who died at birth) has a stone next to their mother.

I came away from Graceland with such respect and a sadness for the loss of this man.  He was so talented, humble and very, very generous.  I left there with a strong feeling that those people who were suppose to be looking out for him, just didn't do a very good job.  If you have ever thought about visiting Graceland, I would highly recommend it.

We had had so much fun on this trip and things were just about to get even better!  We were so thrilled that our son and dil invited us to spend Christmas with them.  It would have been really hard to be alone for such a special holiday.  These two cherubs were excited that we were there and especially excited for Santa.  I made the little gowns!


This was our very first time to be with any of our grandchildren on Christmas morning with Santa
very much alive and well!

Can we all say, "E.X.C.I.T.E.D.!"

We even did some sightseeing!  Mount Vernon was so interesting, and without the usual crowds, we strolled around for several hours.

Just look at this kitchen -- probably one of the original "islands!"

Oh yeah, I was just a little giddy to be standing so close to the White House!

The Vietnam Memorial was very emotional.  The Man and I both had friends who lost
their lives in that war.  We've all heard the number of lost lives, but seeing all the names on
this 500 ft. long wall, is very overwhelming.

It was a perfect day to see the Reflecting Pool with the Washington Monument on one side and 

The Lincoln Memorial on the other.

Hmmm......I think I know some of these people!

We even got to eat at one of our son's restaurants, and it was very nice to have him
show us the ropes
Our visit with the kiddos came too quickly to a close, and we were off to Charleston.  We decided it would be fun to do one of the horse-drawn tours, so I would like you to meet "JACK."  He and our guide, Kate, provided us with an awesome tour.

We saw so many just incredible houses.  Some have become B&B's, but many are still private residences.  I'm not sure I could tolerate the hoards of people gawking and taking pictures, but I'm so glad these home owners are way more tolerant than myself.

There was such beautiful landscaping, too.  I'm not sure, but I think this may be called 
"The Tree of Life."

We had a nice lunch at a local and very popular restaurant called Hyman's.  These boiled peanuts
were brought to our table as a little appetizer.  Have any of you ever had them, and if so, did you like them?  I thought they were about the grossest thing I've ever put in my mouth!  Good thing I had one of these to get that nastiness off my palate!


Next up, Savannah.  Quite a night-life in the downtown, with people wandering from one pub to another or just strolling the streets.  Probably some had taken the Cemetery tour and were trying to drink away those ghostly images.....lol!


We did a trolley tour and saw some beautiful homes.  This was the house used in the movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

As we continued our westward-bound trip, we couldn't resist this little country store.
Have any of you had peach cider?  We had not, and it is so good!  I really liked that sign, too.

As we continued into Georgia, a potty-stop landed us in Mercier Orchards Store & Deli. They had everything peach-related that you would ever want to see.  There was peach wine, jars of canned peaches, caramel peaches on a stick, peach bread, and on and on!


Now we were on our way to my "birth place" in Louisiana.  I was born in Monroe but lived in 
West Monroe, just across the Ouachita River.  My family all moved away in 1961, when I was 12, and I had never been back!  I was excited and a bit apprehensive.  My biggest desire was to see my grandparents home (hoping that it was still standing).  I give full loving credit to my grandparents for making me the person I am today.  They were my guidance, support, and lifeline when my parents came up short.  My grandfather was a building contractor, and my grandmother was a homemaker.  I spent so much time in their home (we lived right next door or just behind them almost my entire young life).  I knew their home was quite old when they moved, so I was so relieved when it
came into view.  Except for a few trees, it looked the same & well cared for.  I played for hours on that little front stoop & sang my heart out just inside the front door.  They always had hymnals from church, and I loved to sing those hymns.

This was my official home right next door.  It wasn't much of a house when we lived there, but it has definitely gone downhill since then.  I took these pictures standing on a vacant lot that once was home to a little country store.  We bought all of our groceries in that little store, and they had the best selection of penny candy!

This was the last house we lived in and is just a short walk behind my grandparents' home.  This one has been added onto since my dad built it in 1959.  He was a masonry contractor, so this house was all brick which I could still see along one side.  This addition across the front has aluminum siding, but they have a garage and we only had a carport.  

This was the church I attended with my grandparents.  My grandfather was the contractor for this building and was also an Elder.  

This building has been added onto so many times, I had trouble figuring out just where the original building was.  I'm pretty sure it was the center section with the three peaked roofs.  Apparently this Church of Christ is now the home congregation of the Robertson Family of Duck Dynasty fame.  Phil Robertson is an Elder.  I fear my dear, sweet, straight-laced grandfather would be turning over in 
his grave......oh my!

On to Texas we go.  Our reservations were in Midland, but late morning we got a call from the hotel saying they needed to redirect us due to weather.  So, off to Abilene, only two days from home now.....or so we thought.  We kept watching the car thermometer going down, down and into the 20's.  Yikes.....it wasn't even that cold in Washington, DC!  We made it into Abilene, picked up a few supplies at Walmart (including wine), & got to our hotel just as the roads were starting to ice up.  We got checked in, unloaded our stuff in the room, poured some wine, and went down to the lounge area to find out what anyone might know about the weather.  So funny, we started chatting with four other couples (from all over the US and Canada) who were all trying to get to Arizona and some nice weather for the winter!  They all had wine, too!  Oh yeah, this was New Year's Eve, so we kind of made our own little party, and the hotel even brought in hot food for us at no charge.  They did the same on New Year's Day, too.  Our little AZ-bound group kept checking with each other to see if anyone was going to try leaving, but we all staid put until Jan. 3rd.  Others who left the day before, were turned back about fifteen miles out.

This is what the parking lot looked like, and no that is not snow -- ICE!

The roads were fine when we left and made our way to Las Cruces, NM.  We saw lots of tangled semis and upside-down 5th wheels along the freeway, which made us so glad that we had waited.

We had never been to Las Cruces before, and with the help of a hotel attendant, found our way to a most charming and very old area called Mesilla.   La Posta was over 150 years old, with lots of adobe, creaky and uneven floors, and some of the best Mexican food we've ever had!

This was the lobby of our hotel.  I kind of miss saltillo tile but not enough to change what we have!

The Man and I both really liked this old bench and the arrangement of crosses & other religious art displayed above it.

It was a fantastic trip, even with minor setbacks, but it did feel so good to finally turn into our neighborhood.  Home at last!

Okay, you can wake up now!  I know this has been a really long post (even for me), but I was on a roll -- what can I say!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Years.  I look forward to some regular posting very soon, but in the mean time I will do as much visiting as possible!

Have a wonderful week!

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