Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Decorating: Day One

My day began at 4:00 a.m. this morning. That's not unusual for me — I love the peace and quiet, and can accomplish more in those wee hours of the morning than I can the rest of the day.

But my list for today will take more than a few hours to accomplish — I woke up feeling inspired and full of energy, and decided it would be a perfect day to decorate the house for Christmas.

I've already removed most of my Fall decorations and taken them to the attic, and my husband helped me bring down some of the Christmas boxes, so I'm committed to finishing it today.

The mantel looks rather forlorn, with only the candlesticks and Fall candles remaining ...

And my Welsh Dresser in the breakfast area is bare, except for a few Christmas things I've already added.

The picture on the dresser is one I took of it last Christmas, and I will use the same ideas this Christmas.

Some people may think it's boring to do the same thing year afer year, but I prefer to think of it as honoring "traditions" — and I'd rather use old sentimental decorations with fond memories associated with them than buy new ones that are only for looks.

And speaking of sentimental ... these boxes in the dining room hold, among other things, our treasured nativity figurines.

Last year, I set the figurines and creche up before our six-year-old granddaughter Avery was here, and when she arrived and saw it, the first thing she said was, "Grandmama, you have the three kings in the wrong place!" And, sure enough, I looked at the picture from the year before, and they were, indeed, "out of order" from the way they were lined up the year before. I love passing these decorating traditions down to Avery ... and they seem to be important to her, too, which warms my heart.

I hope this finds you enjoying your decorating, or shopping, or cooking ... or whatever your day may bring your way.

I'm off to take on my day, and will look forward to sharing new pictures soon.

P.S. — I may wait for Avery to help me set up the nativity scene, so I'll be sure and "get it right."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Treasured Christmas Cactus

A few years ago, my husband's mother gave me a Christmas Cactus, and it has started blooming, just in time for Christmas.

For some reason, the cactus produces only two blooms on the same two stems every year, but aren't they exquisite!

My mother-in-law was a kind, gentle, and humble lady, who devoted her life to raising five fine children and taking care of her husband.

She loved to laugh, and was always doing for others, glorifying and serving the Lord.

Every time I look at these beautiful blooms on my cactus, it's as if she has stopped by for a visit, and it warms my heart and brightens my day when I remember the precious lady my husband called Mom.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

One of my favorite Christmas stories is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which was written by Barbara Robinson in 1972. The book was adapted into a television movie in 1983, featuring Robinson's teleplay and starring Loretta Swit.

I recently bought the DVD version of the original movie, and we watched it over the Thanksgiving holidays (my granddaughter Avery and I actually watched it three times!).

It tells the story of six delinquent children known as "the Herdmans," who were infamous around the community they lived in. Among other things, they lied, stole, hit people, ignored and/or cussed at their teachers and other people in authority, set fire to things, and, in general, caused trouble. All six also smoked cigars. I know that sounds like a terrible beginning, but remember the title of the movie is "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," and I promise you will have a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes before it's over.

The Herdman children go to church for the first time after being told that the church offers snacks. Despite protests from other church members, the Herdmans are given roles in the Sunday School's Christmas play, in which they tell the Christmas story in a very unconventional way.

It is such a heartwarming story, and I highly recommend it. A note on the cover states it is appropriate for ages 8 and up, but, as I said, Avery (who is six) and I watched it three times, and she loved it. The little Herdman girl, Imogene, who played Mary in the pageant, was my favorite, and Avery liked Ella Herdman best, who portrayed the Angel of the Lord.

I look forward to making The Best Christmas Pageant Ever part of our Christmas traditions, and I'm sure Avery and I will watch it again at some point during the holidays this year.

You can purchase the DVD on Amazon. Be sure you buy the original version starring Loretta Swit.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Thank you, Lord —
for one of Life's most precious blessings ...


For the Love of a Grandchild
(author unknown)

Child of my heart, heart of my heart,
Your smile bridges the years between us.

I am young again,
Discovering the world through your eyes.

You have the time to listen,
And I have the time to spend.

Delighted to gaze at familiar, loved features,
Made new in you again.

Through you, I'll see the future,
Through me, you'll know the past.

In the present we'll love one other,
As long as these moments last.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Wishes

Happy Thanksgiving ...

from My House to Yours

As we gather together this week of "Thanks Giving," I hope your days and your home will be filled with the love and laughter of your family, sweet memories-in-the-making, and fond recollections of Thanksgivings Past.

Let us all remember our soldiers scattered across the world who are away from their families and loved ones. May God bless them and keep them safe, and let them know we are ever mindful and grateful for their dedication and courage and the daily sacrifices they make for their country.

With my sincerest best wishes to you and your family
for the best Thanksgiving Celebration ever!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Vicksburg Historic Getaway" Sweepstakes

The Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau is currently sponsoring an exciting online sweepstakes to celebrate the holidays.

The lucky winner of the sweepstakes package will win a trip to historic Vicksburg, complete with a luxurious bed and breakfast stay, a gift basket from local merchants, a $100 gift certificate to the Outlets at Vicksburg, and tickets to our our Tapestry event, a month-long April celebration of Vicksburg's historic homes and places.

The sweepstakes runs until November 30th, and the winner will be announced by December 1st, in time to include the trip in your family's holiday gift basket.

Make plans to catch the holiday spirit in Vicksburg this season and click on the link below to enter to win the "Historic Vicksburg Getaway!"

Historic Vicksburg Getaway Sweepstakes!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fallen Leaves

We are enjoying an especially beautiful and lingering Fall season here in Mississippi. Everywhere you look, the roadsides and fence rows are ablaze with God's glory.

I was pleased to capture a little of that beauty last week on the Natchez Trace near Ridgeland, Mississippi (you can click on the link if you would like to read that post).

Today, I would like to share a few pictures I took while walking around our yard yesterday afternoon. It is that time of year when leaves are falling and are finding their way into every nook and cranny of our yard, courtyard, and patio. And while, overall, they make everything look "messy," I discovered that up close they are truly amazing little works of art.

I find it hard to comprehend how these Crape Myrtle leaves managed to nestle themselves around the holly berries in this picture (you can click on the picture to enlarge it, if you'd like to get a closer look) ...

Wouldn't it have been interesting to watch them fall during a time-lapse video!

A few more Crape Myrtle leaves stubbornly cling to their branches ...

This little leaf was resting on a birdhouse, and caught my attention as I walked by ...

As did this one, nestled in a clump of Liriope ...

This Sycamore tree is behind the fence in our backyard and its dinner plate-size leaves are littering the flowerbeds.

But upon closer inspection, there's no way you could call this beautiful leaf "litter!"

I found this pretty red leathery-looking leaf in a flowerbed. It was the only one I saw like it ...

Our Burford Hollies have an abundance of colorful berries this Fall ...

I plan to use some of them for my Christmas decorating ...

The afternoon sun was highlighting the white feathery plumes on our dwarf Pampas Grass plants. I love the way they contrast with the trees in the background.

Japanese Maple Tree

This lantern hangs on the path leading from the courtyard to our backyard, and, even though the lantern is a little out of focus in the picture, I like the Christmas Camellias and Crape Myrtle trees in the background.

These are just a few of the things that caught my attention as I walked around the yard. Now, when I look out my windows and see the "messy" courtyard and patio strewn with leaves, I will remember these pictures and enjoy the leaves while I can. Soon, the trees will be bare and the landscapes drab as winter sets in, and I'll be wishing for some color — even if it is "untidy" fallen leaves.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


While recently organizing some of my picture files on my computer, I came across this picture ...

I captured it on a trip through the Louisiana Delta a couple of years ago, and love the way the tree is silhouetted against the silo in the background.

Finding that picture inspired me to look for more "silhouette" pictures, and I would like to share a few of my favorites:

Bridges spanning Mississippi River at Vicksburg,
with kudzu in the foreground

Dogwood Tree in Vicksburg National Cemetery on a cloudy Spring day

My favorite tree — a magnificent Gingko in the National Cemetery. I love the contrast of its massive trunk against its breaktakingly beautiful Fall foliage.

Although the next picture is of a shadow cast by an iron fence on a path in our yard, it could also be considered a "silhouette."

Here are two hummingbirds I captured in silhouette ...

This old iron gate at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg, caught my attention ...

I captured this horse enjoying a run in his pasture, and like the contrast of the white mark on his face against his silhouetted body.

Seeing these pictures has inspired me to be more aware of silhouettes during future photo shoots, so, hopefully, I will have more to share soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Tribute to Billy Graham

Mr. Billy Graham turned 93 on November 7, 2011. In his new book, Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well, he says, "I never thought I would live to be this old."

In honor of Mr. Graham reaching such a memorable milestone, I would like to share a slideshow I created featuring pictures I gathered from the Internet, which depict his life from the early years of his ministry to the present.

[Turn your speakers on, if you would like to hear the music]

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

May God bless you, Mr. Graham.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Autumn Dogwoods

To every thing there is a season ... and I think Dogwood trees are just as lovely in the Fall as they are in the Spring.

Some of the oldest and most beautiful Dogwoods in Vicksburg are at the Old Court House Museum, and that's where I captured the following pictures.

I love the stately old courthouse in the background ...

Here are a few close up pictures I captured of the dogwood seed pods, heavy with raindrops ...

Only God could turn this ...

into this ...