Friday, December 23, 2011

Images of Christmas Past and Present

Today, I'd like to share with you some personal photos that Greg and I have taken through the years as we've celebrated Christmas, as well as some photos we've taken this year, in the weeks leading up to this Christmas.

(Note: Apologies to my readers for being late with my blog post this time, but I've had a few technical difficulties which were beyond my control, which I'm happy to say have now been fully resolved.  Thanks for your patience. On with the show!)

Hope you enjoy the photos!

                                                         Our First Christmas Together

                                                       House in the Snow No. 1

                                                     House in the Snow No. 2

                                                A Christmas Open House-Lucky Us!

                                           Decorated for Christmas at Mama's House

                      Christmas Cuties of Carl and Linda Honeycutt and Ashley Honeycutt

                                                    One of Our Christmas Cuties

                                                     Greg, Awaiting Christmas Visitors

                                                Table, Ready for Christmas Guests

                                                         A Few of the Guests

                                                    Checking out the Food


                                                               Opening Gifts

                                                                A Holiday Reveler

                                                 Guests, Discussing the Decorations

                                                      All Decked Out for Christmas                                             

Positive thought: From our home to yours, Greg and I both wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, blessed New Year!

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, January 1, 2012), Becky

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas at Allandale Mansion (and the Brown House)


The Allandale Mansion, an elegant Geogian, antebellum-style house is known as Kingsport, Tennessee's "White House."  Around 1950, Harvey and Ruth Brooks had an architect design this fabulous house, although there was already a smaller house on the property when they first purchased it.  The earlier house was named the "Brown House" because Dudley Brown and his family had lived there.  Mr. and Mrs. Brooks simply had the architect incorporate part of the Brown House into their new home.  The Brown House is presently used as the Allandale office area.

I knew that the Brown family was related to my husband Greg (whose middle name is Brown), so I asked him to tell me all he knew about the Browns.  He told me that Dudley Brown was his great-grandfather who had a family of eight.  The Browns were on his father's side of the family.  He said that his great-grandfather liked to raise and sell horses on his large farm.

                                                              The Brown House

The Allandale Mansion, many of its furnishings, several outbuildings, and twenty-five acres were left to the City of Kingsport upon the death of Harvey Brooks.  The city maintains the property and uses it to benefit the public, just as Mr. Brooks wished.  Now, it is used for public events, tours, weddings, dinner parties, etc. at reasonable rates.

The first weekend in December, the house is open for its annual Christmas (self-guided) tours, complete with holiday refreshments.

                               The above: Floral designer Christian Barclay's lovely creations

Greg and I were at Allandale today (Saturday, December 3) and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. The staff, including curator Rod Gemayel, were friendly and very helpful.  I even asked one of them if the place was haunted.  She replied that none of the staff had ever seen or heard anything strange, but it's an old house, and some people do believe that it is haunted.  (You just might want to go see for yourself!)

Allandale Mansion
4444 West Stone Drive
Kingsport, Tennessee
(423) 229-9422
Open to the public year round
Closed Dec. 24, 25, 31, Sat., Sun.
See web site above for rates and more details.

Please note: The next blog post will be Sunday, December 18.

Positve thought: Holiday activities can be educational and fun!
Thanks for visiting! Becky

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Finding the Extraordinary in the "Ordinary"


Do you think of this time of year and, sometimes, even your life as being dull and drab?

Actually, things are how you choose to see them.  It's all according to your perspective.  It's really true that seemingly "ordinary" things that are, for the most part, overlooked, are quite extraordinary if you just consciously become more aware if their existence.  This can make life more interesting and enjoyable.

The following photos that Greg and I took hopefully illustrate the above idea:

Luckily, I just happened upon an animal adoption event at the Kingsport Petsmart.  The Kingsport branch of the newly formed SBK (Sullivan County, Blountville, Kingsport) Animal Center had some animals there on Saturday for people to see and adopt.  For more information on the Kingsport branch, please see F.Y.I. below.  (Our two cats came from the Kingsport shelter, so I have a special place in my heart for the shelter and the people who tirelessly work there.)

                                                            Featured Photos


SBK Animal Center
2141 Idle Hour Rd.
Kingsport, Tennessee
(423) 247-1671
Mon.-Sat.-12:30-5:30 PM

Positive thought: If you look for the good, the positive, the unique, the beautiful, you'll surely find it!
Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, December 4), Becky

Saturday, November 19, 2011



In my Sunday, April 3 blog post, I emphasized the importance of being thankful.  Gratitude can bring more things into your life for which to be thankful.

Here's a simple prayer of thanksgiving that I remember from childhood:

Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.

                                                               Painting by Swan

Going to my grandparents' home was always special.  That's the reason that I love the following poem:

At Grandma's House

I like the taste of turkey
Any time throughout the year
But it never
seems to taste as good
As when Thanksgiving's here.
Could be it's all the trimmings
That are cooked with it to eat-
But I think it's
eating at Grandma's house
That makes it such a treat!
-Author Unknown

Here's a great gelatin salad recipe you can use all year round, but it's especially nice at Thanksgiving because of its fall color (orange).  (Strawberry or cherry Jell-o would be perfect for Christmas, and so on.  Just use your imagination, for this recipe should work with any flavor of Jell-o.)

Cottage Cheese Salad

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1 pint cottage cheese
1 small carton Cool Whip
1 small box (3 ounces) orange Jell-o

Serves 6
-Mix pineapple, cottage cheese, and Cool Whip.  Fold into mixture the orange Jell-o powder.  Let stand overnight before serving on leaf lettuce.


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends!
For everything thy goodness sends.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

There are so many things for which to be grateful.  What are you thankful for this year?  You might want to make a list. 

I've started mine.

I'm so thankful for:
All of my loved ones, including Greg and our "children" Kallie and Mitzi.
The lovely area in which we live.

The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.
-Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)


The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway-
Thanksgiving comes again!
-Old Rhyme

Positive thought:  Make every day a day of thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks for visiting! Until next time (Sunday, November 27), Becky

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Eliminate the Negative, Accentuate the Positive


Today's blog post contains ideas on how to have a more positive life.  (Please see the 4/3/11 and 8/20/11 blog posts for previous positive-living ideas.)

(Please note that I am not a professional advisor, nor do I claim to be an expert on the human psyche.  However, in this blog post, I am merely expressing my opinion based on study and observation.)

                         Does your garden look like this, with weeds and dead or dying plants?

Sometimes, eliminating can be just as important as acquiring in order to be happy. Some things, like negative situations, need to be changed in order for us to live a more positive life.  For example, if  a person dislikes his or her job, it would be beneficial to find another job, thereby eliminating the undesirable one.  If doing a certain chore like house cleaning is not to one's liking, saving up money to get someone else to clean the house would be a great option in order to eliminate an unpleasant part of one's life.  Plus, the cleaning person benefits from getting an extra income!

                                              Get rid of the stuff that no longer serves you.

Similarly, if someone is making your life miserable, you might want to consider limiting your contact with this person.  In fact, he or she might even be physically or emotionally abusive.  Don't ever let anyone put you down or push you around.  That's not necessary for you to put up with!  No one has the right to abuse, bully, or harass you.

 However, two wrongs don't make a right, so I'd never advise retaliation.  I'd never lower myself to their level.  Instead, I'd avoid people like this whenever possible.  Don't hate these people, just send them love from afar!

There are many great books written about abusive types of people such as Toxic People by Lillian Glass and The Gaslight Effect by Dr. Robin Stern.  I believe it's helpful to try to understand what makes these people tick.

Also, having someone to talk to like a trusted friend or a couselor might be a good idea, if needed.

It's important to surround yourself with positive people who love, respect, and encourage you, as you, hopefully, would them.  If you don't have anyone in your life who treats you in this way, you might want to make new friends!  Your life should be so much better and happier when you do.

                                          A well-cultivated garden makes all the difference.

There are some excellent books on positive living which include having positive relationships.  I'm particularly fond of books by Joel and Victoria Osteen such as Joel's Your Best Life Now and Victoria's Love Your Life.

In general, if you look for the good in others, you can usually find it!

Today, Greg and I enjoyed being at my brother and sister-in-law's (Nick and Lisa Botts) house to help celebrate our nephew John's and his great uncle's birthdays. They were both born on November 13, 70 years apart.

                                                         John Botts and R. H. Milhorn

Positive thought:  Make a new friend this week!
Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, November 20), Becky