Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

This day was created to remember the soldiers of the Civil War who died defending their beliefs. It continues today as a reminder that freedom isn't really free; it has a huge price and should be highly valued. Those men and women who died serving our country and protecting our freedom deserve our thanks. Today's military personnel deserve our prayers, no matter how we feel about the politics of war.

I am grateful for those who served and were lucky enough to come back home. My father-in-law trained to be an Army Air Corps pilot during World War II, then transferred to Army Intelligence and was stationed in Hawaii. Now 87, he still tells stories of those days.

My daddy enlisted at 17 into the Marine Corps to fight in Korea. He became a Staff Sergeant, and was in several campaigns including the cold and bloody Battle of Chosin. It was a profound experience for a simple boy from rural Tennessee. He rarely talked about the war, other than telling us about the jeeps and trucks he drove. He was a proud Marine, and I am proud of him. He died of cancer in 1986 and I remember him this Memorial Day.

We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them. 
     ~Francis A. Walker

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Write It Down: The Beauty of Lists

Anyone who knows me can tell you I'm a list person. I don't think I'm obsessive about it; often I forget to take a shopping list with me to the store. But I usually remember most of what was on the list anyway. I guess writing things down may save the information into my brain. For me, making lists helps me focus on what's important and checking off the completed tasks is very satisfying.

The most common lists people make are: to do, shopping, appointments, reminders, goals, and projects. I like the fun lists: Favorites (food, books, places, activities, people, bookmarks on the computer); Ideas (to write, to ponder, to make, to inspire); Go Me! (accomplishments, milestones, positive attributes, awards); and Quotes (inspirational, funny, thought-provoking, motivational).

Whether you write on scraps of paper or on your computer, using these notes to guide you through your week can make life run smoothly. They don't have to be long...sometimes shorter is better. You just have to follow them! Lists can bring order to chaos, help you enjoy life, relieve stress, limit procrastination, and inspire you to achieve more. They can allow you to be flexible and take advantage of opportunities.

When I worked in tourism, I created a master list based on our program of work, then notebooks or folders for each project with detailed lists inside. It was the best way I found to manage such a busy, diverse organization. I did the same when I owned JKI Mailing Services. Work is easier and goals are met more quickly when you're organized and prepared.

Now that I'm retired, some of my lists are different but still help me focus. Both of us are very busy with hobbies, gardening, yard work, travel, home improvement, helping parents, and other projects. I keep an ongoing someday list, a life lessons list, and a list of things that make me happy.
How many lists do you keep?

Useful Notion: Be sure to sprinkle a few fun and relaxing things into your to do list along with chores. Remember, all work and no play makes for a dull existence. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Take a walk outside
  • Eat ice cream 
  • Have a glass of sweet tea
  • Sit on the porch
  • Lunch with a friend
  • Snuggle with sweetheart
  • Buy or pick flowers
  • Smile at everyone
  • Count your blessings

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Woman's Trash is Another Woman's Treasure

Last week I mentioned yard sales, and one of the longest ones begins this week. The 12th Annual Highway 52 yard sale goes for over ninety miles, from the I-65 Orlinda and Portland exit (117) all the way to the Overton/Clay County line east of Celina, Tennessee. The dates are this Friday, May 20 and Saturday May 21, but you'll find a few people setting up on Thursday and staying open on Sunday if the weather is good. Last year they reported over 800 sellers.

The many stores and businesses on the route have sidewalk sales, weekend specials, and food. When you're in Celina, be sure to stop at Ain't That Nice, a wonderful shop on the square. I bought these pretty cobalt blue dessert dishes there last Friday while we were camping at nearby Dale Hollow Dam.

People bring everything, and I mean everything, out to sell during this event. In the past I've seen fine antique furniture, stoneware crocks, delicate lace, glassware, videos, 8-tracks, farm implements, plants, plumbing supplies, cars, rusty old tools, mowers, chain saws, wore-out tires, thousands of knick-knacks and enough clothing to dress everyone in the state. There have been a few piles of rubbish and moldy smelling stuff that I thought should be hauled to the dump instead of to a yard sale! Oh well, you just never know what people might be looking for.

Most things are priced fairly, some are extremely expensive, and other stuff is dirt cheap. I've found some great bargains, including an old wooden ironing board ($5) and a brown Bakelite AM tube radio ($8) that looks fabulous in my spare bedroom.

There are clusters of sellers at crossroads, in towns and more populated areas, but of course there are gaps along the way with none at all. Be aware of signs for other sales down the side roads, too. Take plenty of cash and change, a hat, sunscreen, chigger spray, an umbrella, some water and snacks.

It will take longer than you think, because of the slow traffic. Take a friend along to spot the good sales so the driver can keep her eyes on the road. People & kids dart out and drivers slam on brakes to snag a good parking spot. The shoulders are wide from I-65 to east of Lafayette, but after that it's narrow till you get into Celina. Have fun and be careful...see you out there!

Useful Notions: As you shop yard sales this year, think about how you can use things for something other than their original purpose. The old ironing board I bought is now a plant stand on my back porch. 
You can tell a lot about a person by what they sell at their garage sale. What kind of books they read, what kind of music they listen to ...” ~ Wynetta Wilson


Monday, May 9, 2011

Five Fabulous Things About May in Tennessee

I love my home state of Tennessee. Each season has special qualities, and I try to enjoy all of them.  Here are five fabulous things about May, in no particular order.

Portland strawberries
Strawberries -- These sweet, succulent, bright red, juicy berries are my favorite fruit. I prefer them this way: shortcake, pie, cake, right out of the field, on ice cream, on cereal, on biscuits, coated in chocolate, with whipped cream, in a get the picture. Too bad they only produce for a few weeks. Fresh is best, but homemade jam or preserves run a close second. 
Festivals -- Tennessee has a wide spectrum of festivals and events during the month of May. We celebrate strawberries, barbeque, arts & crafts, colonial and renaissance fairs, music, main street and downtown, heritage, gardens and flowers.  Search online or go to to find one close to you. 

Flowers –- Roses, peonies, and iris are blooming abundantly now. These romantic flowers are both delicate and hardy. Amazing arrays of color and exquisite fragrances delight my senses and sometimes cause a bit of sneezing! But their beauty is worth it.

Holidays -- Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, and Memorial Day bring celebrations with family and friends. Mexican food, guacamole, and drink on the fifth, spending Sunday with mama in the middle, then a big finish grilling out or heading to the lake. Good times.
Yard Sales -- Warm weather around here sprouts more than flowers. Watch for bright signs with arrows that make diehard junkers slam on brakes and hang the corner on two wheels. Spring cleaning has produced lots of stuff from the depths of closets and basements. Ready to shop?

Useful Notion:  Be selective about the bargains you find at garage sales...think how you'll use, repurpose or incorporate it into your life before you bring it home. 

"Enjoy May's colorful blooms, green grass, songbirds and all of nature...soon it will be too hot to go outside at all!"  -- Anonymous


Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother's Day Projects: Earring Organizers and Pretty Beads on a Chain

Here are a couple of quick, easy projects to create for Mom or for yourself. 
Display earrings where they can be seen, instead of cluttered in a drawer. All you need for this project is an embroidery or quilting hoop, some tulle fabric, and a short piece of lace. You can use several smaller hoops or a large one. Lay the tulle over the inside hoop, slide the outside hoop over, then tighten the clasp. Pull the tulle snug, then trim close to the edge on the back side. Mom can hang her earrings by color or style. 

For post type earrings, use a medium piece of lace, push them through the holes and clasp on the back. I used a decorative pin as a hanger. 

These hang beside my mirrored closet door, making it easier to coordinate with what I'm wearing. I found the embroidery hoop at a yard sale last year, and had the tulle in my stash.
Now that she has additional storage, make Mom something pretty to add to her collection. Costume jewelry is easy and fun to create with quick change beads. You can find the basics at any craft store or in most variety stores with a craft department. Choose a simple silver 16” chain with small clasps and string it with colorful, inexpensive beads. Make sure the holes are large enough to slide easily onto the chain. Add a focal piece or keep it simple. Give her a few extra beads in silver or colors to mix and match. Hoop earrings can be made in a snap, too; there are several styles available.

Useful Notion: Creativity doesn't have to be difficult or complicated. Walk through a craft store for may discover a simple project that leads to a new hobby.

My mama taught me that I had the power to achieve my dreams, to find my own way, and to be responsible for myself.” ~ Katie Scarlett 


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