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My Covid-19 Journey

In February of 2020, I went to see my best friend, Sarah, when she was visiting her mom about two hours from my home in Little Rock. We both lived in Little Rock until about ten years ago, when Sarah’s family moved to New Jersey, so the chance to spend 24 hours with her was not something I was going to pass up. We talk nearly every day & text if we don’t talk. She, her mom and I sat in her mom’s den that Saturday evening and talked about this new virus that was making the news. We discussed how it appeared to be inevitable that it would eventually be a pandemic and how Trump had recently called it a “democratic hoax” and how he surmised that “like a miracle it would just disappear.” All the way home, I couldn’t shake that our world was about to change in the worst & most disruptive of ways. I soon became really concerned for her as she lives in New Jersey, which is uncomfortably close to NYC, where cases were beginning to appear.

I was sitting on our couch one day about a week and a half after that trip, editing photos, when Chuck came in the room and said, “I think this is serious. I think it’s time we all work from home. We need to stock up on some groceries and only go out for the bare necessities.” That day, it was reported that a hospital an hour away had Arkansas’ first Covid-19 case. Not long after, our youngest son’s school district went entirely remote, our oldest son’s college went remote and our daughter began working from her home. I had JUST set up an office in a room we call the playroom even though no one has “played” in there for years. Chuck took over my desk and has been there since March 11th.

President Trump’s remarks got crazier and crazier as he referred to Covid-19 as the “China virus” and he lashed out at reporters asking perfectly logical questions. Chuck & I embarked on the search for masks, at first fashioning makeshift ones from bandannas and scarves, until my husband hit the jackpot in the storage space under our house, finding an unopened package of N95 masks that I had purchased for some long-forgotten painting project. My mother-in-law made us some masks and I began ordering them from various places. Three friends and I formed a group chat and jokingly called ourselves the “Task Force.” It went from sharing funny memes with one another to griping about incompetence in our state government to sharing stories of people we knew who contracted Covid-19, to sharing stories of people we knew who had died to sharing stories of being tested ourselves and in my case ultimately, in late December, getting a positive test. (The “task force” is still going strong almost a year later, though no governing body seems interested in our skills:)

I am fortunate enough to be a photographer, a career that I can do from a distance, and I began a project photographing people in their homes, behind doors and windows. Black & white documentation of a time in our lives we all hoped we would live to remember, yet we kind of wanted to forget. A local news station even covered my project on the news and I was named Arkansan of the Day for the project. Our “shut down” didn’t last long and once people started going about their business like nothing was happening, I abandoned the project. I wanted the photos to be authentic, not staged by people who had worked in an office all day and spent the weekend on a family vacation. Soon spring turned to summer and things seemed pretty survivable in summer. We skipped our usual vacations and the pool was closed. We walked the dog, but otherwise, save for the occasional photo session, stayed home. School was out and things were more relaxed but “Covid fatigue,” as experts refer to it, was starting to set in.

Case numbers in the summer didn’t seem as scary and the numbers still weren’t terrifying, especially for upper-class white folks like myself who enjoyed a level of privilege that quik-shop employees or factory workers did not. We all got rather complacent, though many of us remained diligent in our safety protocols, like masks & no large gatherings. This disease was disproportionately hitting minority populations and those who didn’t have the luxury of staying home like I did. As I read obituaries in the paper and watched news stories, I felt guilty. Once again, class and race gave us advantages over large populations of people. In Arkansas, the Marshallese population was especially hard-hit. I got tested several times, because I would visit my immunocompromised dad in Missouri and wanted reassurance before doing so, or I would have a close call with exposure & think, “Is this headache/sore throat/fatigue actually Covid?” It wasn’t, so I stopped getting tested and assumed that since I was being safe, I felt comfortable assuming that those minor symptoms weren’t Covid. I did stop visiting my dad, because no risk was too small there. I primarily went to Kroger and Target, masked and armed with sanitizer, though I usually used delivery/pick-up services. Sometimes I would walk to our local bookstore or support a small boutique. The desire to support small businesses where owners had become friends occasionally outweighed my need to feel 100% safe. I only went places that took firm safety precautions like limited people in stores, required masks and ample sanitizer. I like being home though and I’m never, ever bored so it wasn’t an inconvenience for me to stay in. I would only leave to walk the dog or relax on our deck. Twice Chuck and I did dine out on outdoor patios but when we left we felt like we shouldn’t have gone. I got angry when friends espoused the “you do you” philosophy, which I found incredibly self-serving and thoughtless. I got angry with friends & family who carried on as though nothing was happening. I got angry when Chuck’s grandmother contracted Covid but the family insisted she didn’t really have it. I got angry when family and friends gathered for games and holidays and birthdays as if there wasn’t a world-wide pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of people. And instead of listening to us, people just called me “angry.” There is a time and a place to be angry, and yes, I was most certainly angry. Churches? My heavens, churches should have people’s best interests at heart and gathering was and is, in my eyes, completely unnecessary during a pandemic. My dad’s life depends on people doing the right thing. We have no concept of the flow charts illustrating how our actions affect others around us. It baffles me that some of the people who weren’t cognizant of that consider themselves Christians. I began to see people having long-term complications & I saw friends losing family members after weeks on ventilators, and yet people were still calling this lethal virus the fucking flu because it fit their political narrative. Don’t even get me started on the politicization of wearing a simple mask.

Schools and universities resumed classes and as one might expect, the uptick in cases began to surge. Christmas approached and I did most of my shopping online, at Target pick-up or at the few small boutiques and the bookstore I mentioned earlier. I was concerned my son would bring Covid-19 home from college but after Thanksgiving he didn’t have to return to college until mid-January. My older son moved out in November and I worried he would bring it home to us as well, since he was no longer part of our household unit. Our kids are careful and wear masks but at this point during many December days, we were having days of 3,000 – 4,000 new infections per day. One thing I did start doing was donating platelets. With so many Covid patients in hospitals, there was a constant need and it isn’t something a lot of people do, so I decided to let go of my fear and go with Chuck, who had donated for years. I went in December around my birthday and I was so frustrated because the man hooked up closest to me would NOT keep his mask pulled up. It was down under his chin as he pretended to eat a snack. I would ask the workers to have him pull it up and as soon as they were occupied with others, down it would go. I had mine on but we were little more than six feet apart and studies were showing a safer distance was more like 12 feet. He finished his donation before me and as he walked out the facility door, I noticed he coughed. Probably nothing. Get back to your book and stop being paranoid, Noelle.

Christmas Eve was in two days and this year I weighed not having the kids and my mom open presents here at all against doing a quick exchange on Christmas Eve. As I do every year, I ran myself ragged wrapping gifts, making a wreath, putting up outside lights, decorating the tree, finishing holiday photo orders, sending out Christmas cards, & making sure everything was perfect, all while handwriting hundreds of postcards to support Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia. I was TIRED. The night before Christmas Eve, I went to bed and thought, “I have not been this tired since I was pregnant the first time.” I woke the next morning and had a tickle in my throat. It was about 6:30 a.m. and I decided to go to Baptist Urgent Care at 8:00 a.m. and get a test. By the time I was actually seen, my tickle had gone away and I thought, “Why am I here exposing myself to Covid to find out I don’t have Covid?” The nurse did the rapid test and said it was negative but they did another PCR test to find out for sure if I’m positive. The doctor came in and warned me that she had to call four people that morning to tell them their rapid negatives had been proven wrong by positive PCRs. I went home fairly sure I was negative and in a move I regret, I allowed the kids and my mom to come over as long as masks were worn. Brooks and Chuck went for tests that day as well and both had negative rapids with contingent PCRs. After we all ate, I think mom was the only one to put her mask back on and we soon parted ways, a little annoyed that the ineptitude of our leadership had made for a quick and less-than-relaxed Christmas celebration. That night I went to bed exhausted but it had been a busy day so I thought nothing of it. After all, no one had any real symptoms and collectively we had three negative tests so far. In hindsight, it might not have changed things, but I would have worn my mask in the house and isolated until I got my PCR. In my defense, I honestly couldn’t think of a place I could have been exposed and the blood donation had not yet occurred to me. The morning of the 26th, I actually woke with some energy and the phone rang. When I saw a number with a Baptist prefix, I just knew. Why, I don’t know, but I knew. Positive. “Well, ok, ma’am. The health department will be calling, isolate, take your temp and log it, rest, Tylenol for fever, etc.” I know all of this because I have extensively asked questions of my friends in medicine and I have read every reputable article I could get my hands on since February. I retreated to Wyatt’s old room with books and stitching and my phone and computer. I still had work to do and orders to place and as I said, I am never bored. I was still quite tired and had a headache one day but it was no worse than my usual migraines and my Zomig worked perfectly. I waited anxiously for the symptoms to begin. Fever? Never came. Breathing difficulties? Never came. Chills and body aches? Nope. Loss of taste and smell? Nada. Cough? Only once when my Snickers bar went down the wrong way. Chuck was so good to bring me food & whatever I texted a request for, but tensions are high, as you might guess how stressful this is. I decided that surely that one positive test was a mistake because Brooks and Chuck both had negative PCRs now. I decided to go for another PCR. Negative. This really didn’t make sense but then I remembered: the blood donation guy. I checked the timeline. It fit perfectly, if you considered that my positive test was likely at the END of my exposure. My very mild case would make sense because he was about six feet away & I had on a mask. But HE didn’t have a mask on the majority of the time I was with him and had a cough. Every other person I was in contact with continued to test negative. Thankfully, my dear neighbor, who is an infectious disease physician, told me to be sure Chuck was tested five days or so from my positive and again at ten days if that one is negative. So off he went. Two days later he got his results and yep, POSITIVE. Our son who lives at home continues to test negative. Everyone else (older son, daughter and mom) has tested negative. Chuck’s only symptom was a mild cough, which if you live with him, work with him or live in a 1/2 mile radius, you know is a daily thing and has been for most of his life. (Seriously, I’ve never been around a family who coughs more.) Chuck is now back to himself. Just when I think I am, I have a day of fatigue or a headache (and now they are not feeling like my normal migraines). I can’t tell if my brain fog is worse or just the Gabapentin I take for my back. I have learned several things from this experience. For ease of explanation, I’ll just list them for you.

  • This virus is easily transmissible & perhaps even more than we first thought. You can’t be too careful. I read a few months ago about a woman who wore her mask at home. I thought that was a bit much. I wish I had.
  • If you have even a hunch you might be positive, get tested. This would make a huge difference in stopping the spread if people just didn’t take an “it won’t happen to me” approach. Had I not had that tickle that disappeared, I would have infected my kids and my mom (who is over 70 with diabetes and a 2-time cancer survivor), in addition to Chuck.
  • If someone isn’t wearing a mask around you, do what it takes to get away from them. I asked them to have the man put his mask back on. If faced with that scenario again, I would ask them to unhook me and I would leave.
  • When people tell you this isn’t real or “something is fishy,” or any other conspiracy theory, put your hand up and refuse to listen. This negativity and craziness only serves to spread the virus and endanger lives.
  • Shut the hell up about fake Covid deaths. And Covid causes pneumonia. So if your friend/relative/acquaintance goes in the hospital with pneumonia, gets a positive test and dies, it’s Covid. And it’s not anything to be ashamed of. Perpetuating these conspiracy theories helps no one.
  • When people offer meals and help, if you become sick, SAY YES TO THAT SHIT! It made our lives SO much easier and they truly wanted to help. I’ve never felt so loved.
  • Anxiety is one of the worst parts of testing positive. Will I have severe symptoms? Will I infect someone I love who will have a serious case or even worse, die? Will I suffer some of the after effects like neurological impairment or blood clots or heart attacks? Will I end up on a ventilator or die? Have I infected someone unknowingly? A disease with so many unknowns makes you wonder about a lot of those unknowns and as with most anxieties, these become worse at night.
  • Covid-19 is not the common cold, no matter what asinine info Rush Limbaugh feeds his followers. And the reason information changes is that it’s a new (or ‘novel’) Coronavirus. Physicians are learning new things about it and therefore recommending treatments or disregarding treatments as new info comes to light. Stop trying to make it a conspiracy theory. This happens with new diseases all the time. We treat lung cancer a hell of a lot differently than we did years ago.
  • You spend a lot of time re-evaluating your priorities. Who and what is important in your life? Even if you have a mild case, the what-ifs make you think deeply. What do I want out of life? Am I on a path that leads to making those things happen? Because my story could have been a lot different.
  • People have been ridiculous enough to suggest I got this because masks don’t work. NO. The man I am 99% sure infected me did not have on a mask. For maximum effectiveness, we all need to wear masks. Had I not had one on too, I am convinced that my case would have been much worse. Wear the damn mask. It isn’t unpatriotic but it is selfish not to. And it’s SUCH a small act of love to protect your fellow man.

I wish everyone had our experience, but they don’t. I wish everyone had our access to testing and medical care, but they don’t. I wish people weren’t dying of this disease in exorbitant numbers, but they are. I do know that researchers and medical professionals learn more about this virus daily. Until we are experts on how to diagnose, treat and prevent Covid-19, it’s up to us to do what is in our power to prevent the spread. Wear the mask. Don’t gather. Get the vaccine when it’s your time but understand it isn’t instantly nor 100% effective. Care for those around you that have it, even if it means sending them a card or leaving flowers on their porch to brighten their day. I promise you’ll be making a difference.

Hazards of the Job

I’ve been known to go to some pretty great lengths to get photos for my clients. Just last weekend, in fact, I hiked 6 miles, roundtrip, to photograph a mother and her daughter on Arkansas’ most famous rocky outcropping, Hawksbill Crag. (Should you desire that, it will now cost $5,000, a new car & a significant portion of any stocks you own, but I’m glad I did it that ONE time.) Tonight, however, I thought I would have a fairly run-of-the-mill senior portrait session, ending downtown at sunset. I met Mary Margaret and her mom, Meg, in the Heights at the salon where she was getting her hair and make-up done. MM had noticed an area behind the salon, in an alley, that she thought would make a good background for some shots and I agreed. While she was finishing up her hair, I went down the stairs to look around. Rustic door, check. Large cactus against corrugated tin, check. Weathered iron stairs, check. Lots to work with in a small area – a photographer’s dream. Mary Margaret came outside soon and we got to work. I took a few shots to see what I liked best and at one point, said to MM, “Be careful not to back into that cactus!” I really liked the door as a backdrop so I had her pose in front of it and at one point switched from a zoom lens, where you zoom in and out with the actual lens, to a prime lens, which has a fixed focal length and requires you to move your body to get closer to or further from your subject. You know where this is going, right? I had been so conscientious to warn MM about the cactus and then I not only backed into it, but, in an attempt to get the perfect angle on this shot, actually sat my ass right down on it. OUCH. I may have cursed. I don’t even remember. I reached behind me thinking I would pull out one big cactus spine & get on with the session. I reached behind me, pulled out the big cactus spine and realized there were many, many TINY cactus spines that I had not seen when I initially saw the cactus. Now I had a few of them stuck in my hand (easily removed) & SO many of them stuck in my left butt cheek (not so easily removed). I pulled the ones from my hand and continued to shoot, trying to decide if this was something I could deal with later or not. Considering I would be riding SEATED in a car and I had now determined they weren’t just stuck on my jeans, but in my flesh too, I decided I’d probably need to do something immediately. And at that moment, all of my Discovery Channel binge-watching paid off. I remembered that during an episode of “Untold Stories of the ER,” a young girl had fallen backward onto a cactus and the doctor had begun picking the spines out, one-by-one, with a pair of tweezers. It didn’t take him long to realize this was not an efficient way to remove them and he remembered that his wife used hot wax to remove body hair at her salon. She came to the hospital with her wax and he was able to remove all the spines from the poor, terrified child. What luck! I’m at a salon! This is my plan now! Meg ran upstairs and asked Amy, the stylist I am forever indebted to, if my plan would work & she agreed it was worth a try. I finished up the photos and went upstairs, reminding everyone we needed to do this quickly because we were still going downtown and time was of the essence since the light was fading by the minute. KUDOS to Amy for her quick, thorough work and for not laughing uncontrollably when being asked to wax someone’s rear on a moment’s notice. I had removed all of the spines from my jeans but my underwear was, ahem, a lost cause, as they were stuck in the elastic leg trim. This was the first (and hopefully only!) session I have done commando. I’ve always sworn that endlessly watching the Discovery Channel would pay off but I envisioned solving a crime or escaping a kidnapper. I never saw it coming into play removing cactus spines from my ass while photographing a high school senior. When I was about four years-old, I went to an open house with my mom at a florist and I was enamored with the display of cacti just within my reach. My mom noticed this and said, “Noelle, don’t touch that cactus.” She turned her back and heard me cry. She said, “Noelle, did you touch that cactus?” And, of course, I said, “No.” The moral of the story is that karma can literally bite you in the ass 46 years later, so whatever you do, don’t touch the cactus. And don’t lie to your mother.

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50 Things To Do Before I’m 50

I’ve always been a list maker.  When my childhood best friend & I were much younger, we would sit around the table in her family room and fill notebooks with lists.  Make-up we wanted, clothes we wanted, places we wanted to go & I distinctly remember us planning a camping trip that we never went on.  I also remember her wanting “Seven pair of jeans I REALLY like.”  What can I say?  We were under the spell of Seventeen & ‘Teen magazines and there was a lot of Hang Ten brand clothing on those lists!  I still love a good list & in December of this year, I will hit the big 5-0, which honestly doesn’t even seem possible to me.  I thought I would have a more productive year if I had some goals so I sat down one day & made this list, knowing I likely would not accomplish it all. I have kept the printed list in a folder and it’s been so rewarding to check some of them off & keep lists of others (like “read 25 books”). Strikethroughs have been accomplished!

1. Enjoy a beach vacation with my dad. (This one is about to happen.) 

2. Finally get the b & w fine art portrait of my kids that has been so hard to get.

3. Buy a fire pit.

4. Quit refined sugar.

5. Launch my fine art photography business on Etsy.

6. Actually begin my memoir.

7. Paint a large canvas. (I was an art major for awhile in college.  Get back to that.)

8. Read 25 books. (8 down!)

9. Climb Pinnacle Mountain.

10. Visit Albert Pike Recreation Area.

11. Visit Alley Spring & Jacks Fork River with Dad.

12. Visit Nashville & Franklin, TN with Dad.

13. Take a trip with mom to Natchez, MS.

14. Start immigrant/minority photography project.

15. Design a cross-stitch stocking.

16. Try 24 new recipes. (7 down!)

17. Watch all of Better Call Saul.

18. Finish the Jackson’s house portrait.

19. Buy 3 Radko ornaments from Ebay.

20. Buy 5 Old World Christmas ornaments from Ebay.

21. Lose 40 pounds.

22. Declutter the house, room by room.

23. Empty my work storage unit. (I have begun.)

24. Set up my office in the den area.

25. New deck on side of house and in rear. (Probably won’t happen until a few months after.)

26. Buy a new grill.

27. Hang outdoor globe lights in front of house.

28. Buy curtains for the living room.

29. Visit New Orleans again.

30. Design & make a necklace.

31. Paint a piece of pottery at Painted Pig.

32. Get a 3-wheel bicycle (trike?) like my Granny had.

33. Attend yoga regularly.

34. Make glitter letters for Christmas tree.

35. *Keeping this one to myself*

36. *Keeping this one to myself also*

37. Finish Mom’s Christmas wreath I started two years ago.

38. Collect all of the Nancy Drew books I don’t have.

39. Commission a Mike Savage painting.

40. Commission a 3rd small Joel Goldsby painting so I have a trio.

41. Put up my wallpaper.

42. Paint some maps.

43. Take a good portrait of Apollo.

44. Start a book club.

45. Take 100 photos that I can sell on my Etsy site. (22 down!)

46. Do 4 cross-stitch or needlepoint stockings. (One down.)

47. *Keeping this one to myself*

48. *Keeping this one to myself too*

49. Take a trip with Chuck for my 50th.

50. Spend another weekend at the Fredonia Hotel.

I also have a list of 101 Things to Accomplish in 1001 Days, inspired by Mackenzie Horan at Design Darling. Some of them overlap but I’ll try to share it soon. I truly believe in the “write it down, make it happen” approach to goals. I’m not feeling 100% today so I’m going to get off of here & try to check another book off the list.








An Open Letter To Donald Trump From A Hospice Volunteer

Mr. Trump,

Wow.  Over the past few months I have heard you make racist, misogynistic (that’s “cruel to women”, as your advisers must have told you by now), cruel & inappropriate comments in your speeches, one debate and interviews.  I’ve watched you disrespect immigrants, African-Americans, women, people with special needs & veterans.  Today, however, I saw part of a speech in which you thought it was funny to demean the TERMINALLY ILL.  This soundbite, Mr. Trump, proved to me exactly how callous & unfeeling you really are.  You are so narcissistic & out of touch that I honestly have no clue how millions of Americans could come to the conclusion that you have their best interests & those of our nation as a whole, at heart.

Let me repeat the demographic you felt it was ok to joke about – the TERMINALLY ILL.  Terminally ill people have been given the heartbreaking news that their life is ENDING.  There is no realistic hope left or they have made the courageous decision to forego further treatment because the disease has progressed so far.  Many of those people will be placed in hospice care, some in their homes, some in hospitals and others in nursing homes.

I have a few questions for you, if you will oblige, and you will because you have no platform, in this instance, to interrupt me:

Have you, sir, ever been with someone while waiting for a doctor to come in & tell them if a tumor is benign or malignant?  Have you been with someone and felt the palpable anxiety in the room while you or your loved one waited to hear if their disease has progressed? Because I have.  And it isn’t funny.

Have you ever sat with a dying person so their caregiver could attend their child’s school program, church or an event that the patient might also like to attend but cannot go because they are too weak to even lift their head?  I have. Many times.

Have you ever comforted an Alzheimer’s patient who suddenly realized their caregiver, one of the only constants remaining in their brain, is gone temporarily & you are there instead?  I have. It’s heartbreaking.

Have you ever sat with a terminal patient while their spouse went for an MRI to see if they too have terminal cancer?  I have. The stress on them is unimaginable.

Do you have any idea what it is like to get your nutrition through a tube because you are terminal & can’t eat real food & likely won’t ever again?  I didn’t think so.  I haven’t either, thank God. We are fortunate.

Have you ever had the indignity of having someone help you into your adult diaper because you can no longer make it to your toilet?  Your toilet that isn’t gold, by the way.  I haven’t but I have been that helper and it’s humbling.

Have you ever volunteered for a “volunteer vigil”?  That’s what it’s called when someone’s death is imminent & they have no relatives or friends to hold their hand when they die? None.  No one.  They are going to die alone.  I haven’t had the courage to do that yet but volunteers across America do it every single day & the furthest thing from their mind, as that person takes their final breath, is electing you.

I’m not sure what is more disturbing —- the fact that you actually made the remarks or the fact that there was an audience applauding as you did.  You said, and I quote:

“I don’t care how sick you are…”

“It’s over.”

“You’ve received the worst possible prognosis…”

“Hang around!  Get out & vote!”

Terminally ill people don’t “hang around”.  They attempt to cherish every last moment with their families & friends while trying to stay coherent & fight the pain.  They won’t be thinking of voting, Mr. Trump, and they won’t be thinking of you.  I realize the kind of people you surround yourself with.  They will make excuses for your inexcusable behavior & demean Hillary in response.  They will spout some bullshit about how you’re going to make America great again.  Mr. Trump, the America I live in is great right now.  It’s great because of citizens who are compassionate & care for their fellow citizens, terminal & living & not because of narcissistic bigots like you.

But I can promise you, Mr. Trump, as a relatively healthy person, that in November, I WILL get out and vote.


Noelle Buttry

(Note:  I would have included the video, but does he really need anymore airtime?)

TCU v. Arkansas: Where To Eat & What To Do



Amon G. Carter Stadium, Texas Christian University, Ft. Worth, TX

This weekend TCU and Arkansas meet in Fort Worth for the first time since 1991, when they were Southwest Conference rivals.  Coaches Gary Patterson & Bret Bielema have faced each other before in 2011’s Rose Bowl, which ended with the Frogs victorious over Wisconsin & sealed a perfect season for the Frogs & future NFL QB, Andy Dalton.  I’ll be rooting for the Frogs since my daughter is a senior at TCU, but I’ve lived in Arkansas for 20 years so any victory will be a little bittersweet.  Unfortunately, my family will not be able to attend because the following weekend is Parent’s Weekend & we will be there rooting for the Frogs against Iowa State.  However, I’m sure there are a lot of Razorbacks heading down I-30 to Fort Worth this coming weekend and I thought I would share some of my favorite places to eat, drink and hang out when we’re in Fort Worth, Texas.

I have heard several radio personalities mention Joe T. Garcia’s (2201 N. Commerce St.) as a place to include on your culinary tour of Ft. Worth and they are not wrong.  Joe T’s serves two things:  fajitas & enchiladas.  Don’t let that deter you from eating there.  There are numerous sides, great salsa and the tastiest margaritas.  Order a pitcher – you won’t be sorry.  In addition to the food, the restaurant itself is a visual treat with fountains, gardens and a sprawling outdoor seating area.  On weekend nights, prepare to wait.  In fact, no matter what meal you choose to eat there, I would recommend arriving as early as possible.  Parking is a challenge at times so I highly recommend an Uber to & from.  Joe T’s is located in the Stockyards and if you have time, it’s a really fun area to explore.  Each day at 11:30 & 4:00 real Texas cowboys will drive a herd of Texas Longhorns down the main drag. You can even attend Cowboy Church, if you’re still around on Sunday.


The Stockyards, Ft. Worth, TX

Other places to eat in the Stockyards that I can recommend are Riscky’s BBQ (140 E. Exchange Ave.), Love Shack (burgers by Ft. Worth chef Tim Love – 110 E. Exchange Ave), and Lonesome Dove Western Bistro (a more upscale eatery from Chef Love-2406 N. Main St.).


Woodshed Smokehouse, Ft. Worth, TX

If you’d like to stay closer to the TCU campus, there are several options for good food.  My favorite is Woodshed Smokehouse (3201 Riverfront Dr.), another Tim Love creation.  It’s barbecue like I’ve never had.  Very interesting flavors, great sides and the atmosphere can’t be beat.  It sits on the banks of the Trinity River and has both indoor and outdoor seating.  Parking is a challenge so take advantage of the valet.  Game day will be crazy at the Woodshed but it’s definitely worth it and you can have a cold beer while you wait.


Down the road a bit is Torchy’s Tacos (928 Northton St.).  This chain is taking Texas by storm.  Great food, excellent queso & good service.  You can choose from a LONG list of tacos, including the Democrat & the Republican, but I highly recommend the Fried Avocado.  My daughter would tell you to get the Trailer Park and make it “trashy”.  It’s ALL good though.  The line will be long but amazingly by the time we order, someone has always vacated a table & we sit right down.  They also serve alcohol and there is outdoor seating as well as indoor so if it’s crowded inside, just go out the back door and there are picnic tables outside.

If you’re just feeling like a sandwich, but a darn good one, try East Hampton Sandwich Co. (1605 S University Dr.).  I HIGHLY recommend the Meyer Lemon Chicken Sandwich.  It’s truly my favorite sandwich ever, but many people swear by the Lobster Roll too.  It’s rare for me to leave the Fort without hitting East Hampton.  I’ve even been known to put one in a cooler and bring home when we don’t have time to eat there.

Kincaid’s Hamburgers, Ft. Worth, TX

Feeling like a burger and a shake?  Try the original location of Kincaid’s (4901 Camp Bowie Blvd.) in a charming, older section of Ft. Worth, complete with cobblestone streets.  It’s located in an old grocery store.  The burgers are old-fashioned & the shakes are thick & tasty.

Paris Coffee Shop, Magnolia District, Ft. Worth, TX

Breakfast/brunch options are plentiful in Fort Worth.  In the historic Magnolia District, not too far from TCU, you’ll find a classic diner, Paris Coffee Shop (704 W. Magnolia Ave.).  You won’t find much here reminiscent of Paris but you will find a good breakfast and a lot of locals.  Occasionally, even a few cowboys.  Closer to the University, McKinley’s Bakery (1616 S. University – Suite 301) serves up not only a delicious array of baked goods & pastries but one of my favorite breakfasts in Fort Worth, the “paleo breakfast”, which consists of bacon & eggs, avocado and a bowl of the freshest berries.  If your hotel is downtown near Sundance Square there are two great brunch spots I have dined at, Bird Cafe (155 E. 4th St.), which has both excellent food and great atmosphere, and Taverna (450 Throckmorton St.), which is good for any meal but serves a rich, delicious Vanilla French Toast that I sometimes crave.


Sundance Square, Ft. Worth, TX

If you’re there on Friday evening and want a great steak, as many visitors to Texas do, I can recommend the following restaurants:  Grace (777 Main St.) – upscale modern cuisine & huge wine list.  Bob’s Steak & Chop House (1300 Houston St. – inside the Omni Hotel) – just good steak and potatoes with their signature carrot, too.  Capital Grille (800 Main St. – no connection to Capital Grill in LR) – excellent steaks and seafood in a classic, upscale atmosphere. We had Thanksgiving Dinner here last year & it was REALLY good.  Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse (812 Main St.) – steaks and seafood in an upscale atmosphere, downtown Ft. Worth.  If sushi is your thing, try Blue Sushi Sake Grill (3131 W. 7th).  It’s good food, beautifully presented.  If you’re in the mood, have a fishbowl drink with a friend.  You can also try a “TCU Tower” (sushi), unless you’re an Arkansas fan & don’t want to curse yourself.  This restaurant is right on the edge of the Cultural District and West 7th area, which is also a fun area to explore with three world-class museums: The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth,  The Kimball Museum and  Amon G. Carter Museum of American Art.  If you have extra time on Saturday, you can visit one of these museums and you’re still just down the road from TCU, when game time rolls around.


The Kimball Museum, Ft. Worth, TX

Enjoy your stay in Ft. Worth.  We feel so thankful that we have been able to explore & enjoy both the city and it’s people for the past four years.  You’ll have a great weekend & hopefully if your team loses, at least you’ll have eaten well.  If they win, you’ll have the best of both worlds.




Family & friends will undoubtedly laugh for a few minutes when they see that *I* am writing a piece on patience.  It’s not something I’m known for in my personal life.  In my professional career, as a photographer, I often hear “You are so PATIENT!” when I’m photographing a newborn who doesn’t want to go to sleep or a toddler who needed to go to sleep about two hours prior. That’s entirely different though, because I’m being paid to be patient.  My kids are just supposed to do what I ask, right?  They are now 20, 15 and 13 and if I could do it over I would be so much more patient, but wisdom comes with age and I fear that ship might have sailed.  That, however, is not really the kind of patience that I’ve been thinking about lately.  It’s a far different form & in this respect, I think that Chuck and I are doing just fine.

Have you noticed lately the pressure that people put on kids to get it right and get it right early in life?  The pressure comes from grandparents, teachers, coaches, other parents and yes, sometimes us.  My generation wants to raise children who are socially-conscious, philanthropic, mannerly, gifted, good readers, musicians, scientists, engineers, doctors and good LORD, healthy eaters —  in a nutshell, “successes in the eyes of adults”, but they want visible evidence of this at age 6 or 8 or 12. (I fear one day I’ll be reading about kids taking the ACT in kindergarten “just to see if little Johnny gets any right!”)  Grandparents want all of this because how our kids turn out is generally construed to be a reflection of how they parented us. Besides being utter bullshit, that’s just so irrelevant in the grand scheme of life.  I’d like to present some examples of ways we can just CHILL, lead by example & let our offspring come to conclusions that make them better humans on their own.

A few years ago my daughter was faulted for not sending a thank you note (within a week, no less) after receiving a generous gift.  Never mind, she was present and thanked the giver when she received it and never mind that she was leaving on a 5-day vacation the next morning.  She was “ungrateful.”  This year she went on a trip of a lifetime to Scotland to see one of her best friends and more than once I got comments like, “I hope she knows how fortunate she is” or “I hope she thanked you for that”. I have endured many years of snide comments from grandparents about my children being unappreciative or “not living in the real world” because they didn’t immediately express thanks without prompting.  Please tell me what child lives in the real world.  They’re dressed as Batman and Elsa, for God’s sake.  That’s what childhood is.  I guarantee you I didn’t send out any handwritten thank you notes without my elders lording it over me.  And I can damn sure say my grandma never instituted “manners lessons” as part of sleepovers.  Don’t misunderstand me.  We should teach our children manners and respect and ask them to write thank yous but the most important job that we have as parents is being the example of what to do.  We should thank them for things they do and show appreciation of and respect for them.  They should see US writing thank you notes (not FOR them; our own)! If we do that, treat them with a modicum of respect (& fight the urge to call them ingrates) and we are PATIENT, then it will pay off and as adults, they will be the mannerly, respectful humans we want.

My children never had a party where everyone brought something for charity and we took pictures and facebooked it and reveled in the fact that we were raising perfect, socially-conscious humans.  They had normal birthday parties with cake (sugar & gluten!) and hot dogs (preservative and nitrate-filled, even!) & they received gifts because, guess what?  IT WAS THEIR SPECIAL DAY.  No one died, no animals were injured (well, except for the hot dogs) & so far they don’t have criminal records.  When my kids were small my mom would collect blankets and fruit and take the kids around downtown to pass them out to the homeless during the holidays.  I was dragged along on many occasions & what was intended to be a lesson in giving generally resulted in what felt more like being held hostage by a tv preacher.  Once it was forced upon the kids as a tradition and requirement, it lost its appeal.  She cannot grasp what went wrong, but it simply became forced.  We have done several things throughout the years to show our children it’s important to give.  I always give when homeless people ask, no matter what I might think their circumstances are (because they have less than we do) and we most always adopt a family at Christmas.  These are things that children can see & learn from without feeling like something is being shoved down their throats.  I have strong feelings about littering so my three were always made to pick up after themselves at the ballpark or swimming pool.  I hope they take this lesson into their elder years and I am being patient but there is no need to go out and adopt a damn mile of highway and put their name on a sign to influence them to respect their surroundings & give ourselves glory in the process. 

The impetus for thinking about all of this was my daughter’s resurrected love of reading.  At the elementary school they attended, my kids participated in the accelerated reader program which is not a bad thing in theory but for a period of time all I heard, especially from one of my son’s teachers, was “They must read!  Early and often!  Twenty minutes a night AT LEAST!  If they don’t read now they will never read!  Oh, but they have to read stuff on this list, that’s at their level….” Yeah.  Notsomuch a way to get a boy to read.  (I shouldn’t even GO to the time Wyatt’s teacher asked if he had read any Judy Blume.  Apparently “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret” was on his level and I’m sure nothing excites a 3rd grade boy about reading like learning what it’s like to start his period.  SERIOUSLY.)  I digress.  As my kids grew, electronics became more popular and they never really became the voracious readers I had hoped for.  It was delightful to see my daughter enjoying a rekindled interest in reading and acquiring books. What worked was being a reader myself, surrounding her with books and yes, patience.

A similar thing happened with my son and baseball.  In the fall of 2014, he wanted to quit.  I know – I’ve heard it all:  “Quitters never win!  He’ll never go back!  He’ll lose his ability!”  (At 12?  Washed up?) I convinced my husband it was OK to let him quit.  He sat out two seasons.  He rarely mentioned baseball.  But this spring, three days before tryouts for the Babe Ruth league, he announced he would like to try out.  He made the team and he’s so into his fantasy baseball team right now it’s almost funny.  We didn’t pressure him, we didn’t beg him and we were patient.  He just had to come to the conclusion he was wasting talent ON HIS OWN.  And if he hadn’t decided to come back, would the world have stopped turning? 

So my challenge to you is to force less, lead more by example and be patient.  Let’s stop trying to create perfect humans.  Let’s let go of a little control and let them have some idle time if need be.  Let them be treated like a queen or king on their birthday.  And let’s not discourage them by labeling them as lazy, phone-obsessed, ingrates when you aren’t given the praise you think you deserve.  I can tell you that the reward you get from seeing kids decide things on their own is so much greater.

A Good Man Gone….

Mr. "Bud" Shell

Mr. “Bud” Shell

I grew up in the bootheel of Missouri – endless rows of rice, soybeans, cotton and corn with towns interspersed here and there. There wasn’t a whole lot to do on the weekend during our teen years.  The normal Saturday night involved grabbing a bite to eat (at the Hickory Log if it was a first date, Sonic or McDonald’s if you were single or had been an item for awhile) and hitting the Dexter Twin Cinema for your choice of whatever two movies were playing.  After the movie ended, you had to get creative.  Some people went “parking”, some gathered on parking lots to hang out & I often ended up at Bud Shell Ford.  Yep, a car dealership.  Way back in the eighties you could drive through the car lots at night and check out the cars.  I don’t think I missed too many weekends of seeing what Bud had on the lot.  A new Thunderbird?  A Mustang? A convertible Mustang?  The newest, most luxurious Lincoln, with keyless entry on the door?  SUVs weren’t a big thing yet but you could always buy a new Ford Aerostar if you needed room for the family.  We would pull in and explore the lot like it was an amusement park.  ONE of us – I’m looking at you, Michael Hurley – may have occasionally changed his wiper blades out with ones from a new car, but I’ll never tell.  My dad, Norm, had a great relationship with Mr. Shell since Norm always, and I mean ALWAYS, drove a Lincoln.  I knew if my dream of having my own car ever came true, I would likely drive it off of this lot. I had, by this time, lowered my 5th grade expectations of getting a Ferrari like Magnum P.I.  I remember visiting the showroom with my dad when his car was getting serviced and Mr. Shell would stroll through in his Tom Landry-style hat and & ask if Dad wanted to take whatever car he was enamored with at the moment for a spin or even take it back home for the day.  Mr. Shell was a smart businessman and a darn good car dealer.  He knew if my dad took something home that he’d be back the next day to sign the papers. I’d love to know how many car deals Mr. Shell made in his lifetime because the number he made with my dad alone was substantial.

On one of our trips to the dealership, we pulled in and I went immediately to the used section with the sparkly blue & silver pennants,  because I knew that was where any car I ever got would come from.  It would be well-worn & marked way down!  For a while after I turned 16, I borrowed my grandma’s or stepmother’s cars but by this time I was really itching for my own set of wheels.  I couldn’t drive worth shit, but my friends had started getting cars & it was a matter of pride & freedom to a teenager.  Dad had told me he would spend $1200 on my car.  Back in those days, that meant a pre-owned Ford Escort with significant mileage, an AM radio & more than a few dents, so I wasn’t too excited.  On this evening, I remember my laying my eyes on my dream car, right there in the used section at Bud Shell Ford, parked under those sparkly blue & silver pennants.  It was a 1985 Cutlass Supreme – light blue metallic with navy leather top and shiny wire wheel covers.  In my eyes, it was perfection.  Perhaps not a Ferrari but sometimes a kid in Southeast Missouri has to compromise.  I went straight to the sticker to see how much it was —– I knew it was more than $1200.  It was $7500.  Just a little over budget, but less than a Ferrari!  That night, I vowed that somehow, someway, that car would be mine.  In reality though, I thought that car was so beautiful that it would be gone in a couple days.  However, every time I visited the lot for weeks it was there.  I touched it, peered inside it, hoped against all hope that Mr. Shell would somehow lower the price to $1200.  I mean, it didn’t seem to be going anywhere at $7500.  I swear it seemed like that car sat there forever, just waiting for me to drive it home.  Dad would  laugh when I talked about it & remind me that he wasn’t spending over $1200.  Then March came.  The highlight of my year was always attending the Missouri State Beta Convention in St. Louis.  This year was my senior year and I had applied for a scholarship to attend Missouri State University in Springfield.  All the applicants were interviewed at the convention and the winner was announced before we came back home.  I knew college would be a stretch for my dad and I hoped to help him out by getting a scholarship, but this one was a long shot – I wasn’t valedictorian or salutatorian.  In fact, I was ranked 6th.  No one gives full-ride scholarships to people ranked 6th, right?  Except this time they did.  I got that scholarship, which, in 1988 was worth about $25,000.  It covered tuition, room and board, books and later, even a couple dinners a week at the on-campus Pizza Hut.  Dad wasn’t going to have to pay a dime if I kept a 3.5 GPA.  I’ve never been so excited to tell my dad anything.  Because I knew it was going to lift a weight off of him and I knew that now, if by the grace of God it was still there, that car was MINE.  I was sitting in the hallway of the downtown Marriott in St. Louis (now the Hilton) & I called him from the room phone that I had stretched out into the hallway.  I’ll never forget the yell he let out and the pride in his voice.  Then I asked.  “Hey, remember that car I want at Bud Shell?  Think we could go look at it?”  He thought that was a fair deal and the next day we drove to Dexter and Patti, the saleswoman who later became Mr. Shell’s wife, got the keys and took us to my beautiful, blue Cutlass.  I just thought we would sign some papers and leave but this is where I got introduced to the art of the deal.  My dad made an offer.  Mr. Shell countered.  My dad made another.  Mr. Shell followed suit.  He seemed like such a nice man and surely he could see in my eyes that this car meant EVERYTHING to me, right?  Everyone was so serious and all of these numbers were flying around and it got down to my dad offering $6925 and Mr. Shell offering $6975.  My dad said he couldn’t offer more than $6925. Mr. Shell said $6950.  I remember thinking that this was where I would hear “SOLD!”  But my dad wouldn’t budge.  Would not budge.  I felt tears welling up and I remember so distinctly saying to my dad, as my voice cracked, “I’ll pay the $25.00 difference!”  Dad said (& I could have seriously hurt him at this moment), “It’s the principle of the matter.  I’ve made my final offer.”  Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. (Will it help if I cry, I wonder?)  I bit my lip.  It was agonizing.  At that moment, that car might as well have been a Ferrari that came with Tom Selleck because I wanted it so bad.  And then it happened…….”Awww, hell, Patti, sell it to him!”  I could have hugged Mr. Shell.

We won!  I won!  That moment will stay with me forever because right there in that showroom, a dream came true.  I don’t know if Mr. Shell knew what he did that day, but he made me the happiest girl on earth.  It was the first of a few cars I purchased from him before we left the area, but every time I’m home and I find myself at the intersection of Highway 25 and Highway 114, I get a little smile on my face thinking of all the memories I carry with me from that car dealership… first car, my first sports car, my first family car (Taurus wagon) and many nights spent looking at cars with my friends.

I hope you’ll forgive us, Mr. Shell for those wiper blades.  It was Michael.  I swear.

Chicken Artichoke Casserole

Insanely good chicken artichoke casserole

Insanely good chicken artichoke casserole

It’s been ages since I’ve updated. Right after the last post I was sidelined by my 11th kidney stone. Not fun. It took a month to attempt to pass it, finally have it removed surgically and then recover. I’m back to my old self now and Chuck & I are one a mission to expand or stash of recipes & add a bit of variety to our weekly menus. I found this recipe for Chicken Artichoke Casserole in a magazine & although I’ve never been someone who loves casseroles (or even really liked them at all), the ingredients in this spoke to me and I decided to try it. Very glad I did! It’s not at all hard to prepare and it’s very much like having a nice, creamy artichoke dip for a meal!


2 cups uncooked bowtie pasta
2 cups cubed, cooked chicken (I used breast cutlets & they worked fine.)
1 can (14 oz) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup 2% milk
1 garlic clove, minced (I used the pre-minced from a jar.)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup onion and garlic croutons, coarsely crushed (I used Texas Toast Butter & Garlic because Kroger didn’t have onion & garlic.)
Olive oil for cooking the chicken.

1. I cooked the chicken first by browning it in a few tsp. of olive oil in a skillet. After cooking thoroughly, I cut it into pieces.

2. Cook pasta according to package direction. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, artichokes, soup, cheese, mayonnaise, milk, garlic, onion powder and pepper. Drain pasta; add that to chicken mixture.

3. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle the top with croutons. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

We ate ours with fresh French bread which I think made it even better!

Golden Globe Glamour…….and not.

I always love live-tweeting awards shows with my friends and bonding via the mutual love of tearing down those who are insanely successfully and make more money than most of us will ever dream of.  Hey, whatever makes us feel good.  That said, this was a less-than stellar awards show in terms of fashion, in my opinion.  Now, I know it’s usually a little more casual than the Oscars, but for God’s sake people, please at least look like you weren’t startled out of bed.  I’ll start with my favorite attire of the night:

462073237_10_gallery_mainThis is a horrible picture of her gown but when Margot Robbie walked out on the stage to present in this she looked like absolute perfection.  She wore that low cut well.  And I liked the hair with the dress.

1389576217_olivia-wilde-lgI love Olivia Wilde and I know, I know……you think she’s intentionally channeling Angelina Jolie here.  Who cares?  She’s pregnant, elegant and I thought this was stunning on her.462081789_10_gallery_mainEvery single awards show, I love Kerry Washington.  This was a simple way to show off a baby bump.  Pure elegance.

462072717_10_gallery_mainMonica Potter.  I liked this.  I thought she mastered the art of simple yet stunning.  There wasn’t much of this on the red carpet tonight so I found this look refreshing.  A bit of gold, some simple black and perfect hair to go with it.

462081759_10_gallery_mainSosie Bacon, daughter of Kyra and Kevin looked so elegant and mature in her muted gown.  I thought she deserved a shout out for having such classy taste at a young age.

1389580693_julianna-marguiles-lgJulianna Margulies.  She can be hit or miss.  I was on the fence for awhile but I ultimately put her in the “win” category.  It’s elegant and a bit of Old World Hollywood, which is always refreshing to see on the carpet.  And she is just radiantly beautiful no matter what she has on.


Robin Wright.  I know there was a moment during her speech where a little side boob was visible and at times it appeared to be a little loose but she has an incredible body for it and the back was stunning.  Wide open but so attractive on her.  And she just looked radiant and happy.  I like it “a lot”.  Isn’t she radiant in this close-up?

462133321_gallery_mainNow for the LOSERS!  Whew!  This was hard to narrow down to less than 25.  So much horrid fashion on the carpet this evening.  It wasn’t so much a lack of taste, though that was certainly present.  It was more like no one cared!  I mean, take Kaley Cuoco……

462133035_gallery_mainShe seriously looked as if she slept over at Courtney Love’s house and grabbed something off of Courtney’s closet floor after waking up horribly hungover.  Why???

1389575689_drew-barrymore-lgHolla, everyone!  It’s time to get those Valentine’s Day cards if you haven’t yet!  Just a friendly reminder from Drew Barrymore!

1389576278_sandra-bullock-lgNo.No.No.  This looked like something that would have been in a blister pack of Barbie clothing in the early 1980’s.  Complete with matching shoes.  And the hair looks like something you would wear for your kid’s soccer game, not an awards show.

1389577207_emma-watson-lgI don’t have a photo of the horrid back of Emma Watson’s frock but it looked like something that was more “running of the bulls” and less Golden Globes.  Ole!

1389576025_julia-roberts-lgNope, Julia.  You’re classy.  You have style.  You missed the mark here.  It looks as if she was late finishing her shift at Olive Garden (twins to support, you know!) and just slipped a gown on before taking off her white button-up shirt.  I mean, I don’t even understand why someone would design this dress let alone buy it.  I’m torn on her hair.  I like it and yet I think it looks a bit like her husband wanted her to dress up and play teacher.

1389575904_jennifer-lawrence-lgShe’s adorable.  America’s new sweetheart.  Rocking the pixie cut.  Not so much this dress.  It looked like perhaps at the last minute the following conversation took place:

J Law:  “Bye dad!  Heading to the Globes!”

J Law’s dad:  “Awww hon, you look beautiful, but that dress is missing something.”

J Law:  “What can we do to add interest??  I’m America’s sweetheart!”

J Law:  “Well, I’ve got some ‘lectrical tape in my toolbox.  Let’s see what we can do….”

Another one I don’t understand.

1389577069_amy-adams-lgI could handle this so much more if it was ALL the color of red that it is on the bottom.  As it is, it looks like it was designed for someone who couldn’t decide of they are an Alabama fan or an Arkansas fan.  And her boobs are way too small to pull this off.  Lord, Amy annoys me.  And yet she’s a hell of an actress.

462073645_gallery_mainI HATED this.  I thought it was Battlestar Galactica meets Britney Spears.  I thought it was horrid.  Too much of everything and not enough of something.  Show us a better side at the Oscars, Elisabeth Moss.

I could keep going.  But that’s enough of my snark.  I’m sitting here in ripped jeans and an old Fred Thompson for President sweatshirt so you might take my opinions with a grain of salt.  It did make my night to see Matthew McConaughey win.  Gotta love a man in green velvet.

O, Christmas Tree!

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the fact that you can have eight houses on a block that all decorate for the holidays differently.  Of those eight imaginary houses, there’s a good chance I’m going to like five or six or well, ALL of them!  When I was a child, Christmas was a time of wonderful celebration in our home.  Decorating the tree was an event and my dad loved to have lights outside.  I was always drawn to blue Christmas decorations and wrapping paper and I was completely mesmerized by homes that were decorated in solid blue lights.  My grandma, God bless her soul,  would never decorate with blue lights and discouraged me from buying blue foil wrapping paper because “That’s all for the Jewish people, honey.  Let’s leave that for them. We don’t celebrate Hanukkah.”  I’m not sure how she explained the fact that our town Christmas decor consisted of large blue tinsel arcs  with yellow lanterns attached to the light poles.  They lined Main St. & the main thoroughfare that ran through our small town, Highway 25.  Those blue decorations were beautiful in my young eyes and the one Jewish family in our town must have been especially proud.  Yes, one.  Needless to say, I now go overboard on  the blue paper and decor and we have a bubble light candolier that resembles a menorah to such a degree that it prompted Wyatt, at three years of age to ask with a very puzzled expression, “Mama, is we Jewish?”

We are putting our fraser fir tree in it’s stand tonight and hope to start decorating it tomorrow.  I’ve never been much on trees that look like they were decorated by a designer.  Ours is a hodgepodge of vintage Shiny Brite and polish ornaments, antique russian clip-ons, Old World Christmas birds, Christopher Radko ornaments that Chuck and the kids get me each year and my favorite, ornaments that we have picked up on vacations to other cities. Several years ago Target had beautiful, multicolored glass garlands and I bought several.  Those add a uniqueness to the tree & our finishing touch is an “angry” paper angel that Brooks, our youngest, made when he was about 4.  Hopefully by the end of the week I will have photos to post but until then, I thought I would share some lovely trees I found online.  They’re all different yet all festive and beautiful.  Enjoy and be inspired!

This is the most beautiful tree I’ve seen lately!  If you are not following Michael over at Inspired by Charm, you should be. This is just one of the beautiful trees in his gorgeous farmhouse.IMG_7633-687x1024A similar tree that just happens to be in the White House……love those glass balls!  Makes me happy just to look at it.  Almost Dr. Seuss-like!

8d99a42c35fe3d0569092f24bf8ea6a9This one has a coastal vibe & since I consider the beach my second home, I love it.  The unique blue-grey of the ornaments strikes a chord with me.fce2669b024019a8dbeb2d0f737bad0b

I absolutely love to get a heavy snowfall during the Christmas season.  Living in Arkansas, we are not always guaranteed one but when we do it’s neat to see outdoor trees sporting lights with a layer of snow on top.  They’re almost ethereal!cd59607141f5b4bdfddfaa10de9a3be0163b52095e3e1aced07c8e2f1bfbee46

Last year, there was a snow-covered tree outside our condo in Keystone, CO and I loved going down to the hot tub each night (soaking my torn ligament) & relaxing in the green glow.  (My grandma would have approved of their choice of green lights!)  Right across from the condo was this tall, heavily adorned tree.  We could go out on our balcony and enjoy it every day because it was right across from us!IMG_0247IMG_0239Someday I’d love to do a tree in shades of red, white and blue.  This is another tree from the White House and I love the way it seems to be dripping with ornaments. Isn’t it cool how they used red and silver and just put a few blue accent ornaments?

WHC08-EastRmTree_s3x4_lgThis tree reminds me of my youth.  Bubble lites & icicles, which were my dad’s favorite things.  My dad could adorn a tree with icicles better than anyone!6018360b63b27642cc665ae3b5004ea3This tree is very different and being a lover of color, I’m surprised it jumped out at me but I love the simplicity and the sense of calm this room has with the white tree. The marshmallow strands and the logs in the fireplace add to the feeling of coziness.7fd27ca294ade81167dde4173da89cd7Of course I love this tree.  It’s got a hefty dose of blue!  I love having a small tree or two in addition to the main tree and this one would be perfect in an entryway or the corner of a kitchen.  I think it’s so creative that they used a silver punch bowl to stand it in!eea3c0194bb45d78ead1fc31d2909955Soon I will post photos of our tree(s).  What’s your favorite color scheme for bringing your tree to life?