Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!  
I will be back in 2014...and we'll be "kicking it old school" for awhile....

Be safe.

Be blessed.

Be grateful for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Week Away

Where has the time gone?  Meant to post....really I did....but life kept me busy.  I am doing a MASSIVE cleaning/decluttering/organizing/simplifying project in my house (which my dear friend and decorator calls "The Gracious Home").  It is a HUGE project, but I am having a marvelous time...finding all kinds of things, which have been missing for ages.

Today, for fun, I got into a few cabinets (8 shelves worth) and wash, dried and reorganized.  8 shelves down today....only 18 more to go!  Plus 15 cabinets and 23 drawers.  (It's a great kitchen...the house was built in 1980 and has good storage.)
Four of the eight shelves I tackled today!

I was inspired not long ago to commit to something for the end of this year and all of 2014....Not to buy anything new (clothes, jewelry, decorative accessories unless there was a real need.  So, if my eating plan keeps working and I lose these last 15 pounds, new pants might be in order.  Otherwise, I am shopping in my closets!)  Organizing my house has shown me that we have a real abundance (stockpile) of things which are more or less unused... That's changing.  Some things we got rid of. Don't want them or need them.  Others have been cleaned, pressed or polished and are ready to go!

I am anticipating a 2014 with a lot of luncheons for friends and nicer dinners for my family as well as for our friends.  I think this coming year one of my tag lines will be "A Meal Should Be a Big Deal."  Cloth napkins, silver, crystal....Those things will be making a weekly/bi-weekly appearance, working their way into daily employment.  I can't wait to get started....

Have you started thinking about your New Year's resolutions yet?

Some of my great-grandmother's crystal is pictured below... She was born in 1861, married in 1888 and died in 1952.  Her name was Minnie Calhoun Ragsdale McMeekin.

Her mother, Elizabeth Louise Hunter McMeekin (1835-1921), was the first of four Elizabeth's in the line (my grandmother, mother, myself and my older daughter).


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Part 2

Today would have been Miss Betty's 90th birthday!  (For more on Miss Betty, check the Label list on the right side bar.  It's not up to date, but it will get you started...)

I have received some requests for the video of my walk back down the aisle where I curtsy to The here it is, along with a picture of a reenactment at the reception!

Thursday Thoughts: Friends And Family

Last night we had family over...but family that was not actually related to us.  Our church family!  I love, love, LOVE these folks.  We are all a part of a new church plant, Christ Anglican in Richmond (  We are a small group for now, but a loving group for sure.

It was just dessert...and very simple... but we had a marvelous time together.  My family is so blessed to have these dear friends be part of our larger family....

Only had time to take a few pictures before everyone started to arrive...

A little dark corner in the Butler's Pantry for those who want soft drinks

The other side of the Butler's Pantry, for those who wanted a little champagne,
straight up or with cranberry juice

Simple desserts and punch set out in the dining room

North Carolina Sweet Tea Punch (sweet tea, pineapple juice and ginger ale)

Simple, tiny cookies for any children that might drop by with their parents

Love, love, LOVE my glass plates... Perfect for any kind of party

Every time I use use these candelabra, I think of my precious grandmother

The corner cabinet and dining room table were my grandmother's as well...
Wonderful childhood memories!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wonderful Wednesday: Christmas Kitsch

Before I show you any more of my "elegant" Christmas decorations, I want to show you two of my "fun" pieces...

The Christmas tree cookie jar was a gift from my dear sister-in-law about 18 years ago.  We still love it and it is one of the first things to come out each year!  The Christmas radio is something I won at the Hallmark store last week, and I ADORE it!!!  I had just spent the week before, thinking of my grandmother's cozy kitchen and the vintage radio she had on the counter.  Then, voila!... I won this "Christmas countdown" radio!  Each day there is a cute message and there is also a place in the back to plug in your smartphone or MP3 player...for Christmas music all day long!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Thoughts: Pictures To Come

Been so busy....haven't had a chance to take any pics, but will post some tomorrow!  In the meantime, this is one I snapped a couple of years ago...Memories of my (now grown up) babies!!  The silver bell on the tree engraved Frances is for our middle daughter, whom we lost at birth in 1994.  The bell is in honor of the famous line from It's A Wonderful Life.  "Whenever a bell rings, somewhere an angel gets his wings."  It always brings me great joy to hang that ornament on the tree....and I keep it on a shelf with the girls' baby cups during the rest of the year...where it brings sweet memories as well.

And here is an updated picture of my White House Christmas tree on the entry hall table.  I was missing a few ornaments when I photographed it before.  The tree has ornaments from the year we were married (1989) on!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cozy Christmas

We're tucked in, all warm and cozy on this icy, rainy Sunday.  One Christmas party down (30 people from my husband's office last night) and one to go (church friends on Wednesday)... Love, love, LOVE this time of year.  I'll add pictures this week of Christmas around Bellevue.  (Yes, our house has a name. And it does have a beautiful view...but it's also a bit of a madhouse at time, so the name really fits!)

Our Christmas tree in the corner of the library...
9 ft of memories from the past 50+ years!

A tiny tree on the entrance hall table with nothing but White House ornaments.

Close-up view

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Find: Worth Watching

I played hooky yesterday afternoon and went to see The Christmas Candle, and I am so glad I did!

Make this part of your holiday season.... You won't regret it.  (And remember, this is Susan Boyle's first attempt at acting.  She tries, but she does look a bit uncomfortable during much of the movie, just like Carrie Underwood did in The Sound of Music. But, like Carrie, she has a wonderful voice...and her rendition of the show's theme song is amazing! (December 8th UPDATE: Susan Boyle has just come out with an announcement.  She has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Not sure if that affected her acting or not, but I think her statement about her condition was beautiful.  It's here.)

Merry Christmas!  This is the season of the birth of our Lord and Savior.  If there ever was a time to believe in miracles...candle or no candle...this is it!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tuesday Thoughts: More On Thanks

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We did...always do, because we always spend it with dear family and friends....  Mostly the same traditions, but this time there was the addition of a new (to us) restaurant for our "traditional Friday Italian dinner."  Back on the eating plan!!

Speaking of family, have you had the chance to see Philomena yet?  Starring the incomparable Dame Judi Dench and the amazing Steve Coogan, this is a "don't miss."  Both deserve Academy Award nominations (with Dame Judi for Best Actress and Steve Coogan for Best Screenplay)!!

P.S.  The woman who plays Jane in Philomena is starring as Elizabeth Bennett Darcy in a most interesting BBC series, coming this Christmas.  A follow-up to Pride and Prejudice!  Looks VERY interesting if you ask now I just need to figure out how to see it in the US!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Thanks: A Special Friend

I have two very special friends in Richmond....Mark and Yolie.  Through those special friends I made another very special friend a few years ago, the incredible Sally Lloyd-Jones.  Sally's name is probably very familiar to many of you, for she is the author of The Jesus Storybook Bible and many other wonderful books.

Today I spent part of the afternoon visiting with Sally and Yolie, and (as always) we had a wonderful time together.  I am so THANKFUL for good friends like these women!

If you are looking for a special Advent/Christmas present, I highly recommend Sally's Song of the Stars.  Check it out here.  And check out the second video, as well...It's a great interview with Sally about Christmas and the book!

I hope you all have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving!  More next week...


Monday, November 25, 2013

More On Monday: Fabulous Advice

Image from Memos: The Vogue Years, Diana Vreeland

From the new book based on Diana Vreeland's memos during her time at Vogue.

Truer words have never been spoken!

This is my book of the month, and I recommend it highly for your Santa list!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Find: Being Fit

More on manners next week....

Today is Fitness Friday!  I am really working on my eating and exercise plan, and wear my Body Media Fit pretty regularly, but since it's worn on the upper arm, it's pretty bulky and can be uncomfortable.  But, you can also "hide" it sometimes... (Another downside is that you pay about $7 per month for it to hook up to its online/mobile site.)

The FitBit really intrigues me.  I don't want to spend money needlessly, but I am wondering if it's something that might work better for me?  Do any of you have one?  Check out the video above and let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: More On Manners

Sorry....  I will get to the fun manners moments in another post.  Have to get this off my chest first.

This is something that has been getting on my nerves since 2005...the first time I can remember it happening to me.  It has become more and more common, and I think that people are even being trained to do it.

Photo from Google images
It is wrong.

It is insulting.

It needs to stop now.

I have a name.  We all do. Two names (or more!) as a matter of fact, a first and a last.  You may call me by either, but do not call me "Mom" (unless you are one of my children or one of their close friends.)  What is it with that?  Nurses, school personnel, etc.  "Mom says Judy has been running a fever."

Really?  You don't see my name on the chart?  I do.  It's there.  You don't remember my introducing myself to you, over and over again....even inviting you to call me by my first name?  Did that several times, too....

It's like the staff in hospitals and nursing homes who start right off calling their elderly patients by their first names.  And they wonder why the patients don't respond...or don't respond cheerfully....  To that generation (and to mine, to a great extent), respect means Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. until you know the person better.

We've already lost so many communication skills because of the wonders of electronic communication.... Let's not lose the personal.  Find out what the other person's name is.  Use it. Please.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday Thoughts: Manners Matter

I am going to spend the rest of the week on manners/etiquette. Seems to be a fading concept in modern society....  We need to bring it back!

Here's a fun vintage newspaper article about my early days teaching Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers! (Very vintage...I believe a bad perm is involved....)

Have a great day!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday: Making A Difference

Today I am rebooting....recommitting to the healthy eating (and exercise) I had done so well with last winter and spring (but strayed from last summer and this fall).  It's important for me to get ahead of this before the holidays, so one thing I am adding to my healthy routine is a daily cup of Matcha.

I am not talking about the Matcha leafs that you can steep for green tea, but the ground up Matcha that gives you all the health benefits.  And, to me, the latter tastes much better than the former!  If you are not familiar with Matcha, here is a little tutorial from one of my favorite tea places, Teavana. 

After you view the "Making Matcha" video, you can keep watching for other videos on Matcha Lattes and Smoothies!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Fun: Vintage Palm Beach (Meet Lilly's Mother!)

You don't want to miss today's New York Social Diary, and more of my friend's family photo collection.  This is vintage Palm Beach....  You'll visit a plantation outside of Charleston at Thanksgiving time and travel south to Palm Beach to meet Lilly Pulitzer's mother, Lillian Bostwick McKim Phipps) and see Bing Crosby relaxing with friends (sans toupee).
Photo courtesy

My friend and his family have been so good to share this collection with the world! (He is the little blond boy on the left in the family walking away from the helicopter.)  One of the things that shines through in these photos is the warm, personal connection between people.  So, today....put down that smartphone or tablet, step away from the computer and go call a friend...or better yet, see one in person!

Have a great weekend,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Wishing I was back in Atlanta, lunching at the Swan Coach House.
Over the decades it has not changed one little bit.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Thoughts: Better Late Than Never

Technically, it's almost Wednesday, but I wanted to share this.  It will be a brief post.  Don't want to say too much.  You need to make up your own mind.

As readers of this blog know, I watch Downton Abbey online as it's shown in the UK.  So, I have completed Series 4 as of this week.  (There is still the Christmas episode to come.)  Here is what I can say, without being too spoilerish.

1.  The costumes were lovely this season.  Award-winning.  Especially the last episode (at the fair/festival).  And that's the best thing I have to say about the shows this year.

2.  Much of the season (episode 4 on) was dark and, in one instance, extremely violent.  It turned me off completely.

3.  I hate to say it, but for me, Downton Abbey has "jumped the shark."  I wish they had concluded it last season.  The final episode of this season had some good things happen, but I simply no longer cared.  Julian Fellowes took the wrong fork in the road this year.  There were some interesting (and handsome!) new characters, but only one or two showed any promise in the new storyline...

4.  Be warned....There are very specific things written about the series online, so don't do any Googling if you don't want any spoilers.  (Re: #2 above.... There are people in the UK boycotting the series because of this.)

If you watch it in January, let me know what you think!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Musings: Back In Business

Happy Monday to you all!  I have missed being with you...and apologize for my absence.  So much has been happening and I have flown thousands of miles in the past three weeks.  As soon as I can, I will post some pictures and thoughts.

One of the places I visited (locally) that was so much fun, was Schuyler, Virginia.  Home to one of my favorite writers (and Virginians), the wonderful Earl Hamner, Schuyler is in one of the prettiest parts of Virginia, due west/northwest from Richmond.  But our tour didn't start in started right here in Richmond!  Mr. Hamner lived a few blocks away from where I live now, when he was at the University of Richmond ("Boatwright University" in The Waltons) when we took our sister and brother-in-law on The Waltons "tour" to Schuyler, we started on Willway Avenue, Richmond!

If you are ever in the Charlottesville area, it's not far....and you must go!  (If you come from Richmond, take Hwy 6 and go the back way.  When you get to Scottsville, you can stop and have breakfast or lunch at the famous Lumpkins Restaurant.  We had a lovely morning visiting with Mrs. Lumpkin herself...89 years old and in better shape than women half her age!!!)

Lumpkins Restaurant and Motel, Scottsville, Virginia
(Cash only...but the prices are dirt cheap.... Great food!!)

Main hall of the Walton's Mountain Museum

Recreation of John-Boy's room

Models of the Baldwin Sisters' house and the Walton's house

The Kitchen

The Living Room

The "Recipe Room"

Miss Emily and Miss Mamie always served properly.  Love the silver julep cups!

The real Hamner House, across the street from the museum

The beautiful church where the Hamner family worshipped.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Prepping" For Atlanta

I will be in Atlanta this weekend, acting as part of the production team for Vivien.

PLEASE come see this show...It's amazing!!  The LA Times called it one of the "10 Best" of the Year when it debuted.  Here's the info....

Follow me on Twitter or Instagram for more... Judith will be doing a meet-and-great after each show, so come meet one of the stars of The Young and the Restless!