Thursday, January 26, 2012

Random other stuff---

Other happenings this year-

~Announcement on Christmas Eve of upcoming birth of 5th grandchild!
~Fun new gadgets in my craft room- Cricut Create (having LOTS of fun with this already) and Sizzix Embosser (the little purse-looking machine). Also got a personal laminator and a book-binder (spiral) for Christmas! I would love to just work my day job 2 days a week and play with my crafting toys the rest of the time!
~Remodeled kitchen. I had hoped to post "after" pictures by my birthday, but it is still a work in progress. My personal contractor/designer had that little setback in the summer (shoulder surgery). But I'm really liking all the details. The island is wonderful! I hope it turns me into a better & more frequent cook...
~I have been VERY flattered to be "commissioned" by some friends to be crafty for them: Tina S. brought me some yarn for a scarf she wanted, and I'm working on photograph-letter name pictures for Sarah R.'s twins! I LOVE this!

Things I would still like to do:

~Drive a Jeep, the kind with a roll-bar, with a cloth top
~Go to a movie by myself
~Make a homemade, cooked banana pudding (found a new tasty-looking recipe in Southern Living magazine)
~Visit/help out at Rice Depot
~See the Trumpeter Swans at Magness Lake, with camera in hand
~Teach adult literacy (after retirement???)
~Grow a butterfly garden
~Ride in a limo :)
~Re-learn how to play at least a scale on the flute

And, finally, a little thought about the "bucket list" concept. I have had people seem to criticize this, as though you shouldn't need such a list if you are satisfied with your life. My experience this year validates my theory that having something, even very little things, to look forward to counteracts those times when you feel like you are low on seratonin (that's the "happy" stuff, isn't it???). Overall, this has definitely been one of my most enjoyable years in a long time! And it's been great fun to have people out & about comment on my "adventures." I highly recommend chasing some adventures- and then documenting them for the rest of us to enjoy, & encourage you on your journey.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


55. YURT!!!

Ever heard of a YURT? Can you guess what the name stands for? (See below) My friend, Toga Tuite, stayed in one a few years ago and posted a great picture. Then, a few months ago, Brian's boss found and planned a stay at a YURT in Arkansas. Didn't know there were any here! When you Google "yurts in arkansas" you will find some at Lake DeGray and some near Lake Ft. Smith, called StoneWind Retreats. We chose the latter and spent last Saturday through Monday there. I was SO excited to see what this was really like- and it was even better than I expected! It was much bigger than I expected. And I thought the walls were probably solid, not tent-like, as they turned out to be. Here is what the outside looks like:
It is similar to camping, except you have this instead of a cookstove:
And this instead of a trek to the community showers:
And this instead of a campfire (that was the only almost-negative):
And this, instead of a sleeping bag:

Throw in temperature controls, wrap-around deck, hot tub, DVD player & available movies, internet access, ... Can you tell I LOVED this experience??? It is so wonderful when the actual experience lives up to, and even exceeds, the anticipated fun! This may have to be an annual pilgrimage. We highly recommend it for a time when you want to run away from home!

ANSWER: YURT stands for "Year-round Universal Recreational Tent"

PS Here is the website, to make your reservation-making even easier!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

An enjoyable new theater experience

54. "Les Miserables" and The Young Players at Benton Royal Theater

I have worked with a lot of talented high school and younger actors over the past few years at the Royal Theater in Benton. They have their own, student-only productions throughout the year, but I have never managed to see one of their shows. Daphne Shoppach is a class-act lady that I have gotten to work with several times, and she is directing "Les Miserables- School Edition" this weekend. I've never seen this show, so this seemed like a perfect time to do 2 firsts in one. Though not too excited about the outing, Brian graciously accompanied/drove me to Benton last night. It was a sell-out crowd and these young people did an amazing job! To me, much of the music in this show is not very lyrical, more like rapid chanting on a few pitches. I don't know how they all stayed together or memorized such a huge amount of words or found their pitches or... But they were all VERY professional and the set changes and all the little details were very precise. I did finally recognize several songs, and even got a little teary-eyed at the storyline and the drama. I give them 2 thumbs up!

Better photography ahead

53. Digital camera course

We bought a Nikon D40 camera in November, 2008. Bedford gives you a coupon book that includes a free digital camera course when you make your purchase there. I've been meaning to get around to that for all these years! Today, I finally did it. I took a 2-hr. "Digital Crash Course" this morning. The nice little teacher guy had as much trouble setting up his Powerpoint presentation as Tri-District women do... but we finally got started after a 20-min. delay. (Seems like if the class started at 9:30, maybe you could check your AV equipment by at least 9:15- hmmm. But he was very nice.) I did learn several new things about all digital cameras, and played around with some of my camera's settings. I definitely know a little more about what all the little icons mean, and I got some good inspirations for setting up interesting shots. Primarily, I am inspired to get the instruction book out and do a little reading :) And maybe check into taking Royce West's photography class at church.

25a. I consider this sort of an update to first #25 (Famous Actor Sighting). Thursday night, Tommie & I went to Lakewood Methodist Church to see Dino (Karsonakis) in concert. He is a very flashy pianist that has played Christian music for decades (he will turn 70 this summer). Though my mother doesn't believe this, I have never been able to play his music :) I was curious to see what he did in concert. This particular concert was apparently scheduled just one week in advance, and promoted at the host church & by way of mouth. I didn't see or hear anything about it, but Brian got an email notice from one of his baseball teammates, whose son is the music director at that church. Just a few degrees of separation there :) Dino is still very dramatic, but he was surprisingly nice and engaged the audience constantly. He played several classical songs, and then broke into "Sunday School" songs and had us sing along. We sang "Do Lord" and "This Little Light of Mine" and "Deep and Wide," complete with hand motions. We also sang some good old hymns, in nice harmony. I enjoyed this concert much more than I expected to!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pay it forward, behind you :)

52. RAOK- pay for the car behind you at McDonald's

I've felt kinda bad that most of my firsts have been just for selfish fun. Really, I do occasionally do the good deed, but if I blog about it, I'll lose a star in my crown, right? :) However, this one is considered blog-worthy 'cause it's easy to do and you should try it, too!

My preschool speech therapy children were a bit trying today- I swear you can tell the phase of the moon by walking in a preschool class! So, I decided to do a Random Act of Kindness to redeem the morning. Drove through McD's for lunch, praying that God would put someone in line behind me that could use a treat. A woman drove up behind me (with a handicapped mirror-tag even!). I asked the money-taker how much her ticket was- a whopping $5.07! Haha :) So I paid it and watched in my rear-view mirror as the cashier handed the customer the paid ticket. The sweet lady in the car then honked at me (in a friendly, appreciative way) and waved. Hope that was a treat that she really needed at that moment. Bet she repays the favor some day.

-For some weird reason, I felt nervous about doing this! Bet it'll be easier next time. And probably cost more, too :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

New places to eat this year

51. Restaurant firsts

I decided to lump all of the restaurant firsts, at least the ones I can remember, into one post, with some food critic editorializing thrown in for good measure. Here they are:

*Dogtown Coffee & Cookery in NLR- hopefully, by now, most NLR residents have had coffee or a meal here. It is run by the son of some friends of ours, Hank & Liza Godwin, and seems to have caught on VERY well, very quickly. They have great food, including a salad that I really enjoy. I haven't had coffee from there yet, but plan to soon.

*Brown's Country Store in Benton- I think I mentioned this one when Brian & I went to Arkadelphia to the Henderson House. HUGE buffet. Food was fine, but not necessarily a place that I will need to visit again, though I'm glad we finally ate there, as I have wanted to try it for many years.

*Trading Post Cafe at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs- we had a fun outdoor BBQ dinner here, at Micah's recommendation. The food was good and the atmosphere was great. And, of course, the view all around the place is amazing!!!

*Houston's in New Orleans- dee-licious! Definitely want a "re-peat" of this restaurant, in N.O. or anywhere else we find it.

*Ed & Kay's in Benton- this was a recommendation from David Wallace and he was right about how good it is! David & Roberta & Brian & I went to a play at the Royal Theater in Benton and we actually got the "boys" to decide on the restaurant. Great home-cooking, with lots of choices, and AMAZING desserts!

*Smokin' Buns in Jacksonville- several of our friends at Trinity Fellowship had raved about this place, telling us you had to get there really early to avoid the crowd. We don't need convincing when it comes to restaurant crowd avoidance :) We went with Bob & Patsy Beatty and had a very good time. Food was very good and so was the "fellowship."

Those are the only ones I can remember at the moment, and, of course, I still have a little over 3 weeks to try more new spots. Recommendations are welcomed :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Peabody Duck Parade

50. Watched the Peabody Hotel Duck Parade

Today, Brian & I and all 4 grandsons, as well as their parents and Adriann W. and the cute little Joel Winters family, went to the Peabody Hotel in downtown LR to watch the Duck Parade. This was a first for several of us in this group.

We started with a brisk, chillier-than-expected, multi-block walk, because we were too "frugal" to pay for parking :) Then we staked our claim to a spot along the red carpet duck walkway and waited for about 15 minutes. Soon the Duckmaster arrived and gave us a little history lesson regarding this one-of-a-kind spectacle. Soon the "five little ducks" (yes, Jude & Cale & I sang the song quietly) disembarked from the glass elevator and waddled (a little faster than we expected) around the duck pond on their red carpet, climbed up the red carpet stairs and paddled into the water. Their brunch awaited them and they put on a cute little show swimming around and just being duckish.

Next we boarded the trolley. This is always extra fun in December because the trolleys are decorated with lights and wreaths and garlands. I think the inside is always nice, with the pretty wood of the seats and the fun of turning your seats around backward when you get to the course-reversing spot along the route. Our conductor today was having a lot of fun! We all sang Christmas carols, and, at one point, he had a lady come by with mistletoe to encourage you to kiss your seatmate (or someone near you, preferably someone you knew). At one stop, he let the kids come up and step on the floor button that rings the bell. All 3 walking grandsons did it and had great fun. We rode the trolley across the river from LR to NLR and back again, finally departing at a stop (thankfully) near our cars.

SO fun to share this first with all these people! If you haven't ridden the trolley, especially in December, be sure to remedy that oversight soon!!!