April 17, 2014

I'm Still Here...and Happy Easter!

Well, it's been a while since we got together here on the ol' blog so I wanted to pop in and let you all know why.    You may recall that my mom is 93 years old and I am her full time caregiver.    The last few months have been a little rough on her.   She had to have 5 teeth extracted and then we've been following up with other dental work on her remaining teeth.    I took her for a hearing test last week and we ordered hearing aids.    None of this is covered by insurance but thankfully we finally got her house sold last October (after 4 long years on the market) so that money is really coming in handy.    Suffice it to say that a lot of my time is taken up with seeing to her and her needs....a priority in my book.    Something has to go so the blog falls way down the line.

Today when I went to get her for her hair appointment, her arm was all bandaged up and she had a huge knot and bruises.   Come to find out, when she was being bathed this morning, she apparently slipped and fell.    She's sore and bruised and didn't feel worth a flip.   I was really upset I hadn't been called as I found out this happened around 6:00 a.m. this morning and when I got to her assisted living cottage at 11:00, no one had called me!   Well, they had called my home number but I was out running errands early today BUT they have my cell number and my husband's and trust me, when I got through with the on call nurse, they will be sure from now on to call every.single.number they have until they reach me.    Ridiculous!    When we got to the beauty shop, her hairdresser was out with an emergency so the person that did her hair...well, let me just say, when my mom left she was in tears.   I don't know if that person has ever fixed hair before....it was a total mess!     Hopefully, one of my hairdresser friends is going to do her hair next week.   It's always something, isn't it?    I know in light of all the disasters going on right now in the world, these are minor things...I totally get that.    But my goal is to have my mom as comfortable and happy as I can make her.  

On the home front, we are hosting Easter this year, as we always do.   I have a few things out, my dining room table decorated and my mantle and that's it.   Hopefully I can get some pictures of that and post them...but it may be AFTER Easter!   

My daughter dropped by one evening this week and she had the twins' Spring pictures.    I can't believe they are going to be 10 years old next month!   
 Here's a little collage I made...the first photo is them riding a train at the mall one year at Christmas (looks like Jackson is licking the window...yuck!) and how they look now....growing up way to fast for me!   Jackson told his mama this was his "fake" smile!    Taylor was upset about her hair....the drama is starting!    Ms. Taylor and I are now wearing the same size shoe (6) and she's excited that she is almost as tall as me (5'1")...she'll pass me soon I'm sure (just like her mama did).   Exciting times ahead!

 Recently my husband got himself a new phone so he is now in the 21st century.   He wanted to be able to text and get "on line".   The first two days he added all his contacts.    Next he downloaded three apps...Auburn football schedule, weather channel and Angry Birds!   Now I understand the football schedule and the weather app but I'm not sure about Angry Birds...he knows Jackson plays that so maybe he was hoping he could play a game when he's at work....he'd kill me if he knew I told ya'll that!   The other night I was in our bedroom watching TV and he was in the den....I got a text (from him) that said I Love You!   I had previously told him I had to be the first woman he texted.   So now my sister and daughter text him just to mess with him...he's so excited he's getting texts!

My sister and I are heading to the beach in two weeks and I CANNOT WAIT!   No husbands, no kids, no grandkids and we may turn off our cell phones.   We'll be there 4-5 days (she may have to go back to work early so the 5th day is iffy right now) and we plan on sleeping in every morning, hanging out on the beach and pool, eating and of course, shopping.   I've checked the weather forecast and it's only supposed to rain the 2nd day we're there...we might have to make ourselves shop that day!

Guess I'll end this rambling post by wishing everyone a blessed Easter weekend.  

March 17, 2014

Angels Among Us

 I really have no idea if this is an appropriate title for this post, but I really felt impressed to share this story....it must be for someone.    I hope it blesses whoever you are.

When my son was in high school he had a friend who I will call "D".   "D" was at our house quite a bit....started off hanging out with my son and morphed into hanging out with friends of my daughter's....my son and daughter are 2 1/2 years apart and a lot of his guy friends got real interested in his sister and her friends.  

Anyhow, it didn't seem to effect my son and 'D' 's relationship much...they came to some kind of understanding and everything worked out.

After high school my son enlisted in the Navy and "D" signed up with him.   My son went for benefits and I think "D" more or less went because he admired my son and his parents wanted him to "settle down" and have a vocation.    After basic training my son and "D" came home...both got jobs and begin to make their way in the world.

It was soon discovered that "D" had a form of cancer (and I'm sorry to say I don't remember what kind of cancer he had) but it eventually went into remission and things seemed to be fine.     "D" and his family went snow skiing and "D" got so sick he had to come back home, where they found his cancer had returned with a vengeance.   "D" died on March 12, 1997 at the age of 22.     My son had a hard time dealing with "D"s illness and put off going to see him until the very end.    I was thrilled to find out that "D" had accepted the Lord and was baptized in the bathtub at his parents' home.    

 One morning when the hospice worker came in "D"s mother told her that "D" kept asking her to "sit him up at the foot of the bed".....every time she did, he'd shake his head no and try to fight her off.    The hospice worker said she'd go in and see if she could tell what "D" was trying to say.    Now here's the part where I tear up....when the hospice worker came out, she told the mother "D" was saying 'do you see the angel at the foot of my bed'?    She told the mom that "D" was ready to go but that he couldn't until his mother told him it was okay!    She did and within a few hours "D" passed into eternity.

His mother told this story at "D"s funeral and I can tell you there wasn't a dry eye in the room.     I'm sharing this story because I feel like someone needs to hear it.      I wouldn't presume to say I got a "word from God" but I really felt impressed to share "D"s story.

I've witnessed three miracles in my lifetime and this is one of them.    It gives me peace to know there is hope for every one of us.

March 13, 2014

Getting Ready for Spring With New Patio Cushions

With Spring just around the corner here in the South I'm anxious to get my back deck and patio ready for some outdoor living and entertaining.    We've all had a rough winter, and it's taken a toll on my deck and patio.  

We have a lower patio area where our umbrella table is and just a step up is the deck with our chairs and loveseat.   

 During the winter we have our fire pit in the middle of a circle of chairs but I have a plan for replacing the fire pit with something a little unusual.    More on that later.

I've had these same cushions for several years and they are faded and just old looking.   I thought about taking them to my upholstery lady and having them recovered but I'm not sure if she would do that.    I started looking on line for cushion replacements and the ones I liked were a lot more than I wanted to pay....in fact I could replace the whole seating ensemble and dining table for what the cushions would cost me!

This week while in good ol Wally World I wondered back to the garden area and saw some pretty black and white damask print cushions.    I needed 9 but they only had 6.    I bought them and the next day went to another Wal Mart hoping to find 3 more.     That Wal Mart didn't have any like the ones I bought but they did have some I liked just as well and better yet, they were reversible!   And did I mention they were only $13.50 each!!!!!

 I liked the black print on one side but fell in love with the black and white "awning" type print on the other.    They reminded me of some I'd seen in the Ballards catalog that I've always wanted.  

(yep, that's our exercise bike you see....the husband likes it in here so he can watch TV while riding it)
I also bought a new black umbrella at Fred's....they only had one but I need two.   Since we host Easter at our house every year, I'm on a mission to get everything all cleaned up and some flowers planted.   I bought two new planters to use on either side of the French doors that lead to the outside and I plan on putting boxwoods in those.    Lots to do and I'm ready to get my "dirt" on!

March 12, 2014

Updating Candlesticks

Before I post this, I wanted to tell you that I've been using Windows Live Writer to post to my blog for years.   For whatever reason, neither of my computers "recognize" WLW today!!! Very frustrating so I'm posting in the old blogger method...hopefully all the post and pictures show up.    Please let me know if you don't see all the pictures....when I preview the post sometimes they all show and sometimes they don't!    I'm beyond frustrated!!!!
 In addition to that, my Facebook page appears to be compromised and no one is getting my posts on FB for the past 2 weeks!   If that wasn't enough, my cell phone died last week and I had to get a new one...I've got to get someone to help me understand it!     Moving on.....

I wanted some new candlesticks….not just any, but some chunky ones.   However, I couldn’t find any I liked in my price range.   So what’s a girl to do?   It came to me one night (when I can’t sleep I think up things to do which can sometimes lead to trouble)….I remembered I had some variable height candlesticks somewhere out in the storage building…or at least I hoped I hadn’t sold them at our huge yard sale last fall.    The first time I looked I couldn’t find them but I kept digging and lo and behold there they were underneath and behind some things (gotta clean out that storage building)!

Only problem was they were not exactly what I had in mind.    I had bought them when I decorated with rich jewel colors (reds, gold, blacks, you know you had some of that stuff too)!

 Very pretty in its day but it was time for a new look.

I wanted to make them look kind of a weathered gray and luckily I had a can of Krylon Spray paint in Satin River Rock.   


I turned it upside down to be sure I got in all the nooks and crannies then flipped it and sprayed it right side up.

I sprayed one and after it dried it was too shiny and new looking.  
 I had a little bottle of Folk Art Paint in Barn Wood and just dry brushed it on with a little disposable sponge brush which gave the candlestick a matte chalk-ish look which was exactly how I wanted them to look.

Obviously I need some new candles!

I had a few other candlesticks already a weathered gray look and while these don’t match exactly, that’s okay because I probably won’t be using them all in the vignette.   I have two more that go with the one I painted but I ran out of spray paint (I didn't have much to begin with) so just as soon as I get more paint, I'll have a set of 3.

So if you have old candlesticks don’t be afraid to update them with a little paint and imagination.

March 3, 2014

Making My Own Laundry Detergent

I’ve wanted to make my own laundry detergent for quite a while now.   I’ve seen many posts and pins on Pinterest about different methods but decided to make mine using the products that Yvonne at Stone Gable used.    The only changes  I made is that I used 1 container of Gain Scent Boosters instead of Downy Unstopables and only 2 bars of the Fels Naptha Soap instead of the 4 that Yvonne used.

Here’s the list of items I used:

1~ 4lb 12 oz box of Borax

1~ 4 lb box of Arm And Hammer Baking Soda

1~ 3 lb 7 oz box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

1~ 3lb  container Oxy Clean

2 bars Fels Naptha Soap, grated

1 container Gain Scent Booster


laundry soap



We poured everything in a big garbage bag and shook it like crazy.     I also had a big scoop that we used to mix it up even more.

I wish I had a pretty container to show you like Yvonne’s but for now it’s in an empty 5 gallon bucket of David’s Sunflower Seeds!    My husband likes to do his own laundry (lucky me!) and he’s very klutzy and it would not last a week in the glass jar.    I have plans to get the laundry room cleaned out and give it a little makeover but until then, I guess my detergent will just have to stay in it’s ugly bucket.

I’ve got to say that after using the detergent for a week I love it!    It really does a great job cleaning our clothes and since my husband works outdoors (he has a landscape business) his clothes are “stinky” and grimy….the clothes come out clean and soft and smelling great!    Plus the whole house smells like every day is laundry day and has that clean smell all day.      Saturday I washed the coverlet on our bed and this morning my husband said whenever he woke up during the night he could smell it and it smelled so good!    He’s never commented on anything like that before.   

I’m taking a little container of it to my friend’s house when I go visit with her this week.    She’s a clean freak and I can’t wait to get her opinion on the “homemade detergent”!

I’d love to know if you’ve ever made your own laundry detergent and how you like it!

March 1, 2014

I’m On Instagram and Didn’t Know It!

Last night our granddaughter was spending the night with us and we were looking at her Instagram stuff….she said “Mimi, I follow you but you don’t post anything”.    Well, apparently one other time when she was here we/she set me up and I just didn’t know how to use it.     But she gave me a few quick lessons (which I will probably forget!) and I think I’m going to like it.     I never understood all the hoopla about Instagram but now I think I can see why everyone loves it.    Sooooo, I’d love it if you follow me on Instagram at gracioussouthernliving!

Hope to “see” you there!

February 28, 2014

This and That and Hello March!

Well, it seems I’ve only posted one time this month…after such a good start in January!   I don’t have any excuses except that we’ve been busy with LIFE! 

Anyhow, if you’re interested, I’d like to share a bit of our busy February with you.   

Most of the country was hit with one of the hardest winters in a long time.     The South was especially hit hard, and while a lot of folks thought we were “pansy's” for making such a big deal over a little bit of snow, it wasn’t the snow that made life difficult, but the ice that formed.    So many unbelievable stories of people trapped in their cars for hours and hours, as they were stranded on the highways and interstates.    Atlanta and Birmingham were two of the worst hit.

ice storm#2

My DIL (in Birmingham) took 8 hours to get home that is a normal 1/2 hour drive!    My sister was in Birmingham at a conference and she and a co-worker left the conference early to try and avoid the coming disaster but had to stay in a Waffle House (!) overnight before they were able to travel to their town of Talladega.     I think everyone is ready for some warmer temps and SPRING!

ice storm#4


On Valentine’s weekend my husband and I had a little weekend get away to Fairhope, Alabama.   Such a charming town!    The weather was wonderful, and we got out and did a lot of sightseeing and of course, eating at some of our favorite places.     We traveled over to Magnolia Springs and Gulf Shores, both just a quick and easy drive from Fairhope.    If you’re ever in Magnolia Springs I would suggest eating at Jesse’s and in Gulf Shores we went to one of my favorite places, Lulu’s.    The shrimp salad there is to die for!

fairhope pier


This is the Fairhope pier and the weather was exactly like this the day we visited.   We sat on a bench and people watched then walked allllll the way to the end of the pier and back!    We got some exercise that hopefully off-set all the good food we ate!     

Whenever we’re in the Fairhope area, we love stopping by The Grand Hotel by Marriott.   We had our wedding pictures made on the grounds which are spectacular!

Grand Hotel Fairhope


Grand Hotel#2


Grand Hotel#3

(source for above photos)


And what would a vacation be without some retail therapy?    I did my share and found some darling things for the house.      I bought some planters for outside the french doors at the back patio and some boxwood items that look sooooo real!  

Just as soon as we got home my husband and I dedicated ourselves to better eating habits.    We just eat out way too often and not always the right kinds of food either.    Plus, we’ve gotten so sedentary this winter and packed on too many unneeded pounds.     This is our 2nd week of eating better and he’s lost about 10 pounds and I’ve lost about 7!    Nothing to shout from the rooftops but we both feel so much better.     My weakness is Cokes and I’m proud to say I haven’t had one Coke in 2 weeks…..only water.    We’re lucky our daughter and her husband own a bottled water company so we can get all the water we want (free!)

I’ve also done some retail therapy on line (which can be a dangerous thing, right?)!     I love baskets and when I saw this one on sale at Pottery Barn, I couldn’t put it in my basket quick enough.   

PB Beachcomer tray

It’s huge….so many places you can use this.   I still don’t know where I’ll put it but I’m sure it will find a home!

My ordering/buying of things usually come in spurts….I either buy things for the house or clothes/shoes.   But lately I’ve been doing both!     The prices range from really inexpensive to a little more than I usually want to pay but somehow it all evens out.    I’ve wanted some skinny ankle length pants for a long time but never could find any that fit the old body.    I’m not a teeny bopper (does anyone even say that anymore?) and don’t want to look like a ‘ho but when I found these I was pleasantly surprised.     They fit really well and the price is fantastic….I ordered 2 pair in white.    (Note:  The picture on the web site looks like some kind of camouflage but click on the other colors…I got mine in white).

My next purchase was inspired by a pair of shoes I saw on a lady at my hairdressers last week.    They were the cutest “shooties” and I wanted them!    Unfortunately, I couldn’t talk her into giving me hers so I set out to get my own (LOL)!   


I ordered these but until I get them and see if I can walk around in them comfortably, the jury is still out.

This week I had my mammogram on Monday (ugh but necessary…everything’s good) and dentist on Wednesday.     I also took my mom to the dentist…she’s been having some problems with her teeth.    Turns out she needs 5 extractions and a partial plate!    My mama is 93 years old so I’m not looking forward to this for her.     She’s a tough old bird though and I pray she’ll do good.

I guess that about wraps it up for me.     I’m so excited because on Monday I’m going to visit my very best friend!   Her name is Judy too!   We’ve been best friends since the 1980’s and gone through a lot together….she says I’m the sister she never had.    There have been times in my life I don’t know what I would have done without her.    


Judy and Judy

BFF Judy in white and me in black and white


Goodbye February….I don’t think anyone will miss you!

February 4, 2014

Snow Babies

PicMonkey Collage

Last week the South experienced a freak ice/snow storm that paralyzed many thousands, if not millions, mainly due to the ice.    But my grandchildren (and their cousins) took advantage of the rare snow and had a lot of fun! 

January 28, 2014

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Please remind me to NEVER, EVER complain about our scorching hot summers…please!   We’re just not used to these extreme cold temperatures here in the Deep South but that’s exactly what we’re getting.      My brother commented earlier to me that our weather was “lightweight” and I guess it is to him…although he lives in Kentucky, he’s still used to more wintery type weather than we are.    


View outside my kitchen window this morning…ice just starting to form on the windows



I’ve never seen ice on my windows like this!






My car is covered with snow



Early this morning you could see ice starting to drip off our firewood



Late this afternoon ice is really clinging to everything



My birdbath is completely frozen



Back deck mid-afternoon



I took this just after dark

This morning I started potato soup in my crock pot.    I had to run to the grocery story for a few things and meant to pick up some crème cheese to add to the soup but completely forgot it!    It still tasted good and since I’ve never made the soup before, not sure what difference the crème cheese would have made but I plan to add it next time.    I crumbled up some bacon and added shredded cheese to mine and it was soooo good.   



I know my pictures don’t look as bad as other areas of the country but since we just don’t see the level of ice and snow we are experiencing it’s a real novelty to us here.      My son lives 100 miles north of me in Birmingham and his office is 10 miles from his home.    He said it took him 4 hours to get to his subdivision (after picking up 2 kids at daycare and school) and then he had to park his car at the entrance to his subdivision and walk home!   He said cars were parked all over the roads into his subdivision, which is very hilly, and everyone was walking.    Fortunately someone was able to give him and the kids a ride to their house.    My daughter-in-law left work at 11:00 this morning and she still had not made it home when I spoke to him at 5:00!    He is in touch with her but the roads are slick and cars are at a standstill.     I’m praying for her to arrive safely.

Strangely enough, we are supposed to back up in the 60s this weekend….crazy, huh?   I sure hope so because we’re supposed to go to the lake to celebrate my brother-in-laws birthday, and my son and daughter-in-laws anniversary.    

Toodles poodles!

January 26, 2014

The Heart of A Child

I hope you all will indulge me while I share a little about my granddaughter Taylor.   She is my daughter’s 9 year old, and she has a twin brother.   We have been overly-involved with these two sweet peas since the day they were born and make no apologies for that!   (I’m sure all grandparents out there can understand that)!    Taylor and I have always had a special bond, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.     She has a heart of gold and has always been a friend to everyone.


taylor 2014

She took this “selfie” recently


Way back in 2nd grade she had a little friend “Mary” (not her real name) who took a growth spurt and was a lot taller than any other child in her class.   “Mary” also had some learning disabilities and a little bit of a speech problem.    One day the class was taking a field trip and each child had to have a “buddy” on the school bus.   No one wanted to be Mary’s buddy so before it became obvious that Mary was being left out, Taylor quickly spoke up and said she wanted Mary to sit with her and be her buddy that day.    It happened that Mary’s mother was chaperoning the field trip and was so moved by Taylor’s actions that she fought back tears….she later sent my daughter a message about how much she appreciated Taylor’s kindness to Mary and even sent Taylor a letter thanking her for being Mary’s friend.    Taylor and Mary have not been in each other’s class since the 2nd grade but remain friends.    And every year when awards are being handed out, Mary always has one of the highest AR reading scores!   

Last year each student had the opportunity to be selected either “Queen of the Jungle” or “King of the Jungle” for a week.    Taylor has been selected “Queen” several times.    One week when it was time to vote for a new King, there was a little boy in her class who had never been chosen and according to Taylor, no one wanted to be his friend (why are kids so cruel?).    Anyway, Taylor elected him and more or less convinced the other kids to vote for this little boy….he was crowed King of the Jungle for a week!    The teacher knew what happened, and who was behind his being crowned, and wrote the sweetest letter to Taylor.   I wish I could share it here but it would be too personal with children’s names and I respect their privacy too much.

Just this past week, Taylor wanted to invite a little classmate to go to Wednesday night church with her.    Taylor called the little girl’s grandmother, who is raising this child, and invited her friend.    The grandmother then called my daughter, Taylor’s mom, and they met on Wednesday night so the little girl could go to church with Taylor.    The grandmother explained the circumstances by which she was raising her granddaughter and it had nothing to do with the little girl, but the grandmother’s son…don’t know anything about the mother.    But the child is being well cared for and taken care of….don’t you love it when a grandparent steps in to see that her grandchildren are being raised right?     Once again, the grandmother was thrilled that Taylor had included her granddaughter and invited her to church.

A couple of years ago one of my daughter’s friends little boys had some serious medical issues and spent a good bit of time at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.    During one of the times the little boy was at Children’s, was the same time Taylor’s class was learning to write checks.    She wrote a check for $900.40 for her friend Chase.    I shared this story earlier but think is bears repeating.    When Shannon told her friend about Taylor’s “check” the friend relayed the story to her husband and told Shannon that the husband never cried, even when they got married and at the births of their  boys, but when he found out what Taylor had done, he cried!   


(original story here)


At no time did Taylor ever share any of these stories with her mom, the adult or teacher always told my daughter what Taylor had done.     Taylor does not see what she does as something special, it’s just how she is.    I think part of it may be that her twin, our precious Jackson, also has learning disabilities and speech problems.     It makes Taylor sensitive to what the world may consider an “underdog” but to Taylor, everyone deserves to be treated fairly and with respect.   

She is growing up way to fast for me but I’m so proud of the child she is and the young lady she is becoming.    

Over the years:



taylor & jackson

The twins in 1st grade


shannon and taylor

Her mom (my daughter) and Taylor at my mom’s church



Me and my Tay-Tay at a church banquet



Posting one night when she was spending the night


taylor and pop

Taylor and her Pop (my husband) discussing the merits of their ice cream! 


taylor and mckinley

I had to share this one of both of my beautiful granddaughters!



taylor all stars

She loves playing softball (summer 2013)


taylor 2

Taylor and her cousin at the ball field


taylor boots

Posing at her mom’s office last summer

Thank you for allowing me a walk down memory lane with my “heart” and granddaughter.       I will end my post by saying what we always say to each other….”I Love You More” Taylor!

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