Monday, January 30, 2012

MORE Favorite Things 101-111

Just when you thought it was safe to click on the link.  HA!  Yes...more favorites.  This could go on all year, you know.

No, really, it could.

I have been a little remiss over the past few days in writing, because I've gotten all caught up in this little website called "Pinterest" (  Of course, you have to have an invitation to join (which is easy enough to obtain...OBVIOUSLY...because they let me in) and it is a little bit challenging at first to figure out.  I say that only because it was a little bit challenging for ME to figure out. 

The purpose of Pinterest is to take all of those really cool ideas that you used to put in a folder for later but never got around to on an online bulletin board (or 32).  Each of your boards is named whatever you want it to be named (just scroll to the bottom to add new boards...this took me a week to lie) and you can edit the boards if you do something boneheaded like put "30 Ways To Get Underarm Stains Out Of Your Laundry" under recipes.

Of course, "pinning" those 30 ways was a bit well...nasty...though.  To put it under "recipes" is just doubly heinous.

I have boards for many things including a couple of the ones that they originally stick on there for everybody.  There is something called "My Style" which I assume is supposed to be for pinning all of those great outfits that you could put together to look cute. 

Yeah, I deleted that bad boy.

I added ones for "Someday..." for wedding ideas for Jill's future "big day" although I don't see that day coming anytime soon.  On one hand,..."yay!" because I can't afford it at this point in time, and I don't see anybody chasing her with gazelle-like intensity (to paraphrase Dave Ramsey).  On the other hand "boo" because several in her class are either already married or headed in that general direction and there's always that nagging fear that she will one day just marry something just because it's time.    


Anyway, I've been on Pinterest a lot (which is "pin" for like what you do to a bulletin board and "interest" like what interests you) entirely too I'm trying to take a break and get back here and write a little bit.

About other things I like.  Yeah, that's different.

But here goes...

101. Pinterest

Yeah, bet you saw that one coming, yes?  I've already described it...but I will attempt to show you a few things that were on there this week.

copycat olive garden salad dressing
Homemade Olive Garden salad dressing.  (ROCK ON.) 

Favorite place in Paris!
Someone (not me...I didn't pin this one) said that this was his/her "Favorite place in Paris."  Hey, what's not to like about Paris, right?

Can't wait to make this come summer
Or this?  C' know it's awesome.

So, check out Pinterest and follow my boards. Or not.  Chances are I'll be ripping off (er..."pinning") stuff off yours anyway.

102. Pink Carnations

I am a Phi Mu (note the use of the word AM instead of WAS) and our flower is the pink carnation.  These were in the flowers at our wedding, and if I see them...I smile.  I realize that a lot of people see them as funeral flowers...but me?  I see them as happy reminders of a point in time when I was young, thin, and had the world by its tail.  Or something like that.

103. Peanut Butter

I have been attempting to be faithful to a healthy diet for the past 18 days.  Yes, I'm counting.

There have been a few times that have been difficult...and more often than not, they involve peanut butter.  Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein...but it is also an excellent source of carbohydrates and fat...two of the very things I'm trying to escape.

Peanut butter is best with chocolate...but it is also very good with apples.  Apples are good, yes?  (FYI: Apples with peanut butter...much better.)

I have always liked peanut butter...and I'll admit that Jif Extra Crunchy is my favorite.  Creamy is fine...but I need some texture.  Obviously, a LOT of texture.  Hopefully, peanut butter will fit into my diet someday in a way that isn't over the top crazy...but since I could actually eat it out of the jar with a spoon...abstaining is probably going to be in my best interest.

104. St. Augustine, FL Family Reunions

When I was younger (and at least once while I've been older...), I've attended family reunions in St. Augustine.  My father is one of thirteen children, and when you have 36 first cousins...a family reunion is like a gathering on steroids.  It was even bigger than that because the oldest cousins were having children the same age as some of the younger cousins.  And so on. 

With that many children being born and was inevitable that some of us have the same name as our cousins.  Including me.  I have an older cousin named Karen Marie (I was Karen Leigh)...and since she was born to one of my Dad's sisters...she had a different last name.  But we didn't win the name duplication prize...

That would go to the name "Michael" shared by my cousins Michael Augustine (Mike) and Michael Davis and my little brother, Michael (also Mike) Toner.  Yes.

Many of my cousins have first or middle names after one (or more) of the original 13 children or the grandparents.  Or maybe they weren't named after them at all...they just ran out of names.  I suppose either theory could hold water. 

In fact, my sister, Kathleen has my grandmother's name "Dorothy" as her middle name.  So did my Aunt Dot, and my cousin, Marianna. 

To remember who everyone was and who belonged to who...I had to memorize the children in order and taught my siblings to do the same.  (Ann, Jacqueline (Jay), Dot, John, Patty, Walter, Jimmy, Eileen, Eugene (Butch), Eddie, Don, Donna (Cookie) and David).  This was especially helpful with those cousins with the same name.

I loved going to those family reunions as a child...and I enjoy keeping up with my cousins Lynne, Mark, Michael, Patricia, David, and Gerry and cousins-in-law Darcy and Kristin on Facebook.  Hopefully, we'll head back to St. Augustine for another reunion soon.  I for ready.

105. Crocheting

When I was somewhere around 10 or 11...Mr. Billy Daniel's mother taught me to crochet.  I practiced and finally learned to branch out a little bit...but I still enjoy sitting down and creating something beautiful.  Several years ago, I decided to crochet a blanket for everybody in the family...all in one year...for Christmas.  I did it...but it wasn't easy!  Especially since I was in college at the time.

Yeah, yeah, "several year ago" is relative.

I still enjoy sitting down and crocheting blankets although I do have one baby blanket that I  - no lie - started in 1989 when I was pregnant with Jill...and still never finished it.  I still have it...and one day I'm going to finish it. 

Hopefully, it will be by the time I have grandchildren.  Oy.

106. Queen Latifah

I absolutely love just about any movie that Queen Latifah (Dana Elaine Owens is her real name) is in.  She just seems like one of the most real people on the screen...and what's not to love about that.  She started out as a rapper...and moved into acting...and now producing.  All I the woman is well as a pitchwoman for CoverGirl. 

And for those of you who were in the Jr. High Glee Club in'll recognize that song. 

107. Def Leppard

I have been a fan of Def Leppard for a number of years...but it started when I was in graduate school (1986-88).  I would work all day...go to class...and would find myself up around 11:00 at night all jacked up on Diet Coke.  I would turn on my Def Leppard tapes up LOUD as I was leaving AUM and would be able to sleep when I got home.  I suppose just having the loud music (and the relief that the lectures were over) and some time to sing...made all the difference.

Most people don't realize that for at least part of Def Leppard's career...they have had a one armed drummer.  Due to a car accident, the drummer lost his arm and developed a way of using his feet and his good arm to continue as the band's drummer.  You can tell if you listen...but I love the fact that he overcame that adversity...and that the band encouraged him to do it.

Here are a few of the songs that I like the best.  The first is OBVIOUSLY going to be "Pour Some Sugar On Me"...probably still played at men's clubs and in pole dancing clinics throughout the United States.  (Ewww...but whatever.)

R.O.C.K.  O.N.

Or this one...
Animal.  Yes.

Or this attempt at a love song...

Hysteria.  Ah, it still rocks.  :)


Foolin'...and obviously before the accident... ought to watch this one just for the 1980s cheese factor alone.  I'm so serious.  But I do like the song. 

A few years ago, I saw the ultimate in "say WHO?" moments when I saw Def Leppard and Tim McGraw perform "Nine Lives" together.  It totally rocked. 

Ah, can't find the video...but here's the song.  But you get the idea. 

Love Def Leppard.  Rock on.

108. Jelly Belly Buttered Popcorn Jelly Beans

I realize that everyone has their favorites.  These are mine.  Big time.  I actually like most of the Jelly Belly jelly beans except for licorice and the cinnamon.  If you have not tried totally need to.  I've also realized that I'm not alone in having these as a favorite because they sell them in a package by themselves.  Yum.

109. People Who Beat the Odds

Much like the drummer in Def Leppard who continued on without an arm...I am a huge fan of people who beat the odds.  It is pretty much a common thread among many of the people that I admire, and one that I never undervalue.

I love watching Special Olympics athletes compete, Cinderella teams, and people who were counted down and out coming back for an encore.

110. L'Occitane Rose Lotion

L'Occitane (pronounced least in Birmingham, Alabama) sells some really great products, and they are mighty proud of said products as reflected in what they cost.  In the summer of 2007, my sister's stepdaugher, Aurore, came over from France to spend several weeks with us.  When I would go in to tell them goodnight, I would smell Aurore's lotion...and asked for it from my sister for Christmas.  I still love that lotion and use it every night before I go to bed. 

111. Letters and the U.S. Mail

I don't know about you...but I love getting mail.  Not bills.  Mail.  Cards or letters that someone has chosen to take the time and expense to send me.  I keep them all.

Every once in awhile when I am feeling low, I'll get out those letters and reread the sentiments.  I'll laugh at the worries that I once had that are so far in the past that I am just grateful.  I'll smile at the sweet words that someone who has gone on to be with Jesus has written me...and I'll feel that they are where they were here instead of where they are now. 

I know that the postal service raises its rates every so often...and if truth be told...are we surprised at this?  We now send our notes electronically or deliver our cards in person.  We can stop our junk mail and credit card offers by calling a 1-800 number and many newsletters...and magazines...are available online.

I still make it a point to use the U.S. Mail every week on what I loosely term "Write a Friend Wednesday."  I usually write whoever the Lord prompts me to write...and I hope that they enjoy getting mail as much as I do.

If that's possible.

Well, look...because I couldn't got eleven instead of ten tonight...

Anyway, thank you for reading this list...and the next couple that I'll have coming over the next week or so.  Those of you who are enjoying the blogposts...thank you for letting me know.  It really means more than you know.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

10 Things I Wish Parents Taught Their Children

When I was a kid, I never doubted that I was loved...but I understood that certain privileges came with adulthood.  Some households fed the children first to get them out of the way and allow the adults to eat...but that wasn't the case with me.  I was given a plate and told to fend for myself.  And I did.

Over the years, families have become increasingly more and more kid-centered.  We've evolved from "children should be seen and not heard" to "you are not going to speak to my Princess like that" over a few generations.  All of those Princesses are being unleashed on the world right now, by the way.

Can we all collectively go "O.M.G.!"

Frankly, I am not going to deny the fact that I'm a wee bit guilty.  I mean, I used to bring lunch for my daughter at school every Friday for years (she was in high school), and I would have brought it to my son as well except that the school put in a cafeteria and stopped the Mommy Brigade in the foyer of the school halfway through his 9th grade year.  I have bought things we didn't need (not at the level at some I've seen...but still...), paid for trips that were probably not fully desired or appreciated as they should have been, and bought cars for both of them and have paid for gas and insurance.  I did most of this because it was just what we did.  We really didn't think that much about it.

I thought that by not taking them for big vacations and buying everything that they wanted when they wanted that I was somehow exempt from the disdain that I held for others who were giving their 6th graders cell phones.  I realize that some people do that now...but it wasn't as common back in 2002 when I was rolling my eyes.
Never mind that some of these kids were extremely involved in activities and had two separate households to keep up with because the parents had divorced.  Or that I had no business whatsoever judging what other parents saw fit to do.  I don't have to answer for those kids...or those outcomes.

I thought I was holding the line. 


As my children have gotten older, I've realized that I did some things right...and some things a little less right than I'd like to admit...but I will.  And it's okay.  I'm still amazed at how incredibly awesome they both are.  Since they are both technically adults at 19 and 22...I feel like I can render a rational assessment.

Here are the ten things that are springing to mind tonight.  I'll be honest...#10 is what inspired this blogpost.  I'm sure I'll overlook something obvious and include something random...but if you read this blog from time to know that this is pretty much the way I roll. 

10. If your child is over the age of four...teach them to get up and  let an older person have their seat if an older person is standing.  (If they are under four...they should be on your lap.)

Recently, I watched three pre-teen girls take the bench at a restaurant (I was waiting for a to-go order) while their mother and grandmother both stood up. 

Excuse me? 

I was sitting there, and I was so stunned that I got up and offered the grandmother my seat.  I can only hope that the girls were paying attention...but they were probably too busy updating their Facebook timeline on their iPhone to notice.

Yeah, SEE...that whole "judging" thing comes pretty easy to me.  Mercy?  Not so much.

9. Unless you win a lawsuit (or at the dog track, heaven help us), inherit it, or invest comes from WORK.  (Theirs or yours.) 

So many parents these days want their children to have plenty of experiences growing up...from amazing trips, to camp, or mission trips.  Even churches are now scheduling white water rafting trips that cost $75 for a few hours of fun or a trip to a really good concert to try to hold the kids' interest in church.  Christmas is a massive explosion of consumer goods, cash, and gift cards.  They live in apartments in college that have all of the amenities of home...and in some cases are even newer and better than what they grew up with because it is in a "safe" location or because that's where they want to live.  Cars are purchased because "everybody" gets a new car when they turn 16, right?

Wrong.  What we are doing is setting them up for a huge disappointment when they get out of college and they have to live on what they make.  Unless, of course, you want them living in your basement or on your dime.

Don't even get me started on those that take longer than four years to finish college unless it is a specialized curriculum like engineering, nursing, or accounting...simply because the major was changed repeatedly.  My solution to this is...take some time then get yourself back in there and finish up.  Co-op?  Even better.

Our kids both went to work at age 16 because we knew it wouldn't kill them.  And it hasn't.  What it has done is made it possible for us to say "no" to something and give them the privilege of saving up for something they want.  Shockingly, they tend to take better care of what they buy with their money.

Which is as it should be.

However, if it is money that they are taking from Mom and Dad then Mom and Dad get a chance to have a "say" in how those funds are employed...and pretty much about everything.  When they pay their own way...they get to make their own decisions.  Hopefully, getting away from this "input" will be one more incentive to get them out of college and gainfully employed. 

8. If your Daddy doesn't like a boy you are dating, or if your Mama tells you that something about a friend makes her uncomfortable...that is not a suggestion for your consideration.  Move on.

I saw the movie "Courageous" the other night...and the agreement that the Dad makes with his daughter to have input into who she dates is only for her own protection...not to keep her away from "her future husband."  Puhleeze.  How much baggage do women carry around because they believed a liar, a self-centered jerk or someone unworthy of them?  Just because a young man pays attention to them does not mean he's worthy of their attention.  Dads have an amazing "idiot radar" that God gives them when they bless them with a daughter.

And just because a girl is really sweet doesn't mean that Mama doesn't know she's trouble with a capital "T".  We also know when our daughters are being "used" or if the character of the friend is highly suspect.  Word gets around.  We just don't always tell them what we know.

7. Just because you live in the house, does not mean that you are free from the responsibilities of running it.  Someone has to take out the trash, load and unload the dishwasher and mow the grass.  And that someone does not have to always be Mom and Dad. 

And no...getting a maid is really not an option for most of us.  Plus, if you don't want their roommates to lock them in the bathroom until they clean it because it is their turn (true story...but I'm not saying who...except that it wasn't me)...they may as well practice at home where it will be appreciated.  (And probably rewarded.)

6. Dream big.  Don't take the easy road. 

Many kids graduate from high school and have no idea what they want to major in when they get to college.  Others start out with a general idea, but the reality of professors who pick off freshmen for sport, time management problems, and the realization that they really do have to study a lot in certain majors...sends them scattering for alternatives.  My thoughts?  They should spend time in high school shadowing other people through internships, work, or just following successful people around for a day. 

And then when they get to the end of the road of their education...we need to tell them to think big.  Don't just consider what they are comfortable with doing...think of all alternatives.  Travel.  Serve.  Go.  Enjoy.  Before long...a mortgage, significant other, children and other obligations will make those things all but impossible.

5. Date nerds.  They will one day rule the world. 

Nerds also have less baggage, a deeper appreciation for their relationships, and a better chance of making a good living.  They also know how to work for what they get.  That will carry over into their relationship with your Precious. 

Plus, nerds generally peak late...which is good.  Often, the guy or girl who is all the rage in high school or college finds that those really were the best years of their life. 

In this way, life really is somewhat fair. 

4. God is real and it is possible to know Him.

The Bible can be confusing, people will always disappoint you, and the whole point of it all may not make sense.  Tell them to keep seeking.  He will meet them where they are.  Don't forget to pray for them.

3. For the majority of your life, you are going to have to worry about what you eat. 

You may as well not start them out eating chips, cookies, and fast food.  You're just making it harder on them later.  Better yet...get them in sports and have them join a gym when they are in high school.  It will give them an incredible head start.

2. Never take people for granted.

I think that this is pretty universal...but how many kids don't get to really know some of their relatives or their parents' friends?   I love that my friend Carrie's girls always come down and sit and listen to our conversation when I am visiting.  I like that my other-daughter, Lauren, calls me from time to time just to get my take on something. 

I love that Jill has "other-mothers" that love her.  She knows it and loves them in return.  Had she not gotten to know them...she would have missed an incredible blessing. 

1. Love.  Just love.

There is no reason for any girl to run down another girl no matter what she may or may not have done.  There is no reason for any boy to tease another boy or exclude him because he is not as cool as they think they are.  There is no reason for kids to prey on the perceived weaknesses of others. 

Sadly, they learn a lot of this by watching their parents.

The kids I've admired the most are those that never say anything unkind about others and treat everyone with value.  They don't worry where in the "pecking order" a certain person is...they are going to love that person anyway.  They aren't fake...they just believe that everyone deserves favor.

If parents taught their children only one of these things...I'd hope that it would be to love.  In would change the world.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Favorite Things 91-100

As I've been doing these lists, I have been awed at how many things just pop in my mind and make it onto another sticky note that may or may not eventually be yet another list.  Hope you don't mind this going on awhile...

91. L.L. Bean

I realize that "The Preppy Handbook" went out of style in say 1983, but one thing that it did do is introduce me to L.L. Bean. My stepfather, Ralph, was also an avid fan of this company that has been around for some 100 years.  Just so you know, their items are guaranteed, and if you are inclined to test'll find that it is true.

After being a customer for (OMGosh!) 30 years and counting...I can say that I probably always will be.  I know that I spend most days "styling" in their black big girl stretch pants that are shipped free to me because they give free shipping all of the time.  Of course, I got free shipping anyway because I have the L.L. Bean credit card that also gives me free monogramming and $10 coupons from time to time. 

As I mentioned, I actually tested the "fully guaranteed" thing about a year ago.  We received one bookbag that Jill wore out...but she had also dealt with being a bit defective from the I sent it back.  I included two pair of slippers that had also worn out prematurely.

All were replaced.  Okay, technically, they gave us a gift card to replace them.  But we did.  These folks are for real.

I don't know anyone who makes a better bookbag, blanket, or pair of black big girl stretch pants than these people.  You can order from them at

92. Forgiveness

I realize that this is a big global concept...but it is also one of my favorites.  Each of us has things that we've done that we wish we hadn't done in this life...and being forgiven is among the most wonderful things to experience.   A few years ago, after a sermon at church, I made a list of people that I needed to apologize to and a list I needed to thank.  I went down both of those and tried to be as faithful as I could to it.  The only part I made myself promise to do once I was done...was to also forgive myself.

Some of us are carrying around garbage or "baggage" as we like to call it because someone has either dumped on us or we have just been incredibly stupid.  While I am not advocating that we should just do whatever and then "let it go"...I will say that sometimes the wisest course is just to say "enough."


Forgive those who have hurt you.  Accept forgiveness from anyone who asks it of you.  And most importantly...leave your baggage at the foot of the cross and forgive yourself.  Life is too short to carry any unnecessary baggage.  Or to cause anyone else to continue to carry theirs. 

93. World's Finest Chocolate

When I was in junior high and high school, I was in the band.  To raise money for our many needs...including trips, instruments nobody could afford without selling a kidney, and I'm sure many, many other important things...we sold "band candy" twice a year.  It was actually World's Finest Chocolate and the name was totally accurate.

It was very tasty chocolate with almond pieces...and the wrapper always had a coupon on it that was generally worth at least part of the purchase price.  Total win-win.

Yes.  Just Yes.
Every once in awhile I will see a bar of World's Finest Chocolate...and if I do...I'll buy some.  I mean, I used to buy a lot of what I was selling anyway.

94. Poo-pourri

A lot of you just read that and went...say who?

Okay, Poo-pourri is a product that has the following on its label: "Spritz the bowl before you go and no one else will ever know." 

I was introduced to this product while traveling with my aunt, mother, and daughter to New York in December 2008.  I have a hard and fast rule when there are a lot of people sharing a hotel room...and it is this..."if you need to GO need to go downstairs to the lobby."  I expressed this to my aunt who told me that she'd comply...but it really wasn't necessary.  I didn't understand it until I got a bottle of my very own a few weeks later for Christmas.

Want to give a gift that you're fairly certain they won't have?  Here you go. 

As for me, I carry mine in my purse, and if I am in what can only be referred to as a "situation..." I don't worry.  I have my handy spray.  Trust works.  There are other scents including "No. 2" and a few others that I've seen made by the same company. 

95. Will Ferrell Movies

Well, I'll admit that he's made a few that I can do without...but for the most part I love Will Ferrell movies.  Granted, I have watched so much "Elf" in my lifetime that it is entirely possible that I may have been brainwashed by now.  But I also loved "Talladega Nights" and "Anchorman" as well.  I knew I liked Will Ferrell back in the day when he and Cheri Oteri were cheerleaders...for the chess team. 

Yes. know that's funny...

But one of my favorite Will Ferrell moments was when he sang "Leather and Lace" with Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and Foo Fighters)...

Awesome.  C' know it is.

96. Orbit Sweetmint Gum

I know it seems a little bit bizarre to pick out a specific gum...but this one seriously is my favorite.  It tastes like peppermint...but not that cloying peppermint flavor that Altoids have...more of the kind that Girl Scout Thin Mints do.  Yeah.  That one.

What I like about this gum is that the flavor lasts for a really long time.  I should know.  I load up and then will wear out a piece of gum.  I can't wear the gum out like Coach Gene Chizik (Auburn) can...but I'm close. 

97. Pink

I realize that some of you reading this are thinking I mean the singer...but nope...not really.  I'm talking about the color.  I love every shade of pink from the palest pink that was once on my First Response pregnancy test telling me that Jill was on the way to pink that is so dark that it is a red wannabe. 

I love pink.  Which was really fortunate for me since I was a Phi Mu in college.

Ironically, in college, we wore red jerseys and had adopted the ladybug as our "mascot" in addition to the formal "Sir Fidel" that Phi Mu national touted.  That has changed as pink has become far more mainstream than it was when I was younger.  I suppose we can thank the 80s for that.

In the 70s...where earth tones and psychodelic orange and purple were a close was pretty much relegated to baby clothes, cotton candy, and Pepto-Bismol.  It took MTV to really sell pink as a fashion statement...and by the time I graduated from was one of THE colors.  And it hasn't been thrown from its perch...yet.

Which is, of course, as it should be. 

98. People Who See More In You Than You See In Yourself

In my life, there have been people dotted along the landscape of my years drawing breath that have seen more in me than I've ever seen in myself.  I had a third grade teacher that I only had half of the year because we moved mid-year from Jackson, Mississippi after my parents divorced.  She realized that I was reading at a really high level and that I was blowing through the SRA Reading Labs at an alarming rate.  As such, she ended up going to the fourth and then the fifth grades to keep me busy.  The funny thing? For years...and I do mean YEARS...she would always remind me how smart I was.  Even when I'd quit believing in myself.

Several years later, my friend, Lisa, and I were having lunch one day while we were talking about what we wanted to do that would surely be more fascinating than whatever we were doing at the time...and I told her that I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do.  She told me that she saw me as a teacher...which was a shock to me at the time.

Of course, a few months later when I was offered the chance to teach banking classes, I remembered her words and thought I'd give it a whirl.   That "whirl" turned into ten years of teaching banking classes to over 500 students.  It gave me the chance to remind people who had been out of school for awhile that they should go back...and many did.  I was also proud that one couple met in my class and ended up getting married.  They now have four children (pregnancy two was triplets...with no fertility drugs) and both are still speaking to me...which totally rocks.

Recently I've had people tell me that they like to read what I write and have encouraged me to stay at it. 

And so I do...grateful that they care enough to let me know. 

99.  Tim Hawkins

I don't know if you have ever heard this guy...but he is a Christian comedian that is absolutely hysterical.  He came to our church last year and I had the pleasure of laughing uncontrollably.  Hope you will as well...

Hilarious, yes? 

100. Writing

This one is because it is incredibly obvious that to omit it would be incredibly lame.'s getting late.

Thanks for reading the first 100 favorites!  Check back soon!