Sunday, May 29, 2011

May Flowers


Today, I'd like to share with you some of the pictures that Greg and I have taken of the lovely flowers that are presently blooming in our local Appalachian Mountain region.  These are photos from our own back yard and beyond.  (The flowers in some of these pictures include those of my mother Jean Botts and those of my brother Nick Botts and wife Lisa, as well as several others.)

 For me, during this time of year, there's no place like home!


Positive thought: Take time to smell the flowers!

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, June 5), Becky

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Courtyard Restaurant


Let's do lunch!

Today, I'd like to tell you about another great place to have your noon-time meal (Monday through Friday, 11:00AM-2:00PM).  The place I'm referring to is The Courtyard Restaurant in Kingsport, Tennessee.  At first glance, you might think you're entering a tea room, but it is actually a restaurant.

It is beautifully decorated, Mediterranean style, both inside and out by the owner, Kathy Gilliam, including the artful painting of the interior walls (with the exception of a couple of birds).  You know for certain that it is spring with the lovely flowers that abound throughout the restaurant.  There are also whimsical touches, from the pint-sized chef that greets you at the door to the charming, cuddly-looking bear inside.

You feel serene as you sit at your table and enjoy the easy-listening music, mingled with the peaceful sound of water cascading in the nearby fountain.

The menu is sure to delight anyone, from business people to the whole family.  It includes chicken salad croissant, Kathy's quiche or casserole creation of the day, the hardy roast beef hogie, soup, and Mandarin orange salad, to mention a few.  Be sure to top it all off with coconut cake (their best-seller!) or some other "sweet ending."  ( Kathy and her son do all of the cooking.  The restaurant has been there for eleven years, so they must be doing something right!)

A couple of weeks ago, when my mother and I ate there, we enjoyed the chicken pecan quiche with garden salad (Mama) and the vegetable wrap with potato soup (me).

                                                      Kathy Gilliam, Becky, Jean Botts

Just for a while, you can leave the busy world behind as you relax and enjoy a delicious meal.  On the front of the menu it says, "Fine Dining in a Relaxing Atmosphere."  With that, I would have to agree.

Carry-outs, ranging from individual meals to whole cakes, etc. are available.
The Courtyard is available for parties, showers, business meetings, etc. after hours and on Saturday. (Their meeting room holds 50 people.)

The Courtyard Restaurant
201 E. New St. (on the corner of Commerce and New Streets)
Kingsport, Tennessee

Positive Thought: Have fun this week!

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, May 29), Becky

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pet Portraits


If you've been following this blog for a while, I guess you know by now how fond I am of animals.  Greg and I have had pets of some kind for most of our lives since childhood.  Right now, we have two adorable four-year old cats, Kallie and Mitzi, that we adopted from our local animal shelter.


                                                          Photo of Mitzi and Kallie

I have taken my love of animals and turned it into a business.  I paint portraits of pets in pastel from photos my customers send me.  Each portrait comes complete in a free 16" x 20" mat which fits into any standard 16" x 20" frame.  I believe my prices are reasonable.  In addition, there is a discount on multi-pet portraits.  I have been doing portraits for several years now, and my work is guaranteed.  I regularly give a percentage of any of my pet portrait commissions to the local animal shelter of my customer's choice.

    Pet Portrait from Photo (Glare in this photo is from the plastic sleeve that protects each portrait until it's framed.)                        

Most of the pet portraits you see here on this blog post are examples of commissioned work that I have done in the past.

Please e-mail me if you are interested in having a pastel portrait done of your special pet.  We'll work together to make it into a treasure you and your family will cherish for years to come.

FYI: e-mail address:

Positive thought: Support your local animal shelter.  (Please contact them to see what they need.  Ours even appreciates old newspapers for the dogs.)

Thanks for visiting!
Until next time (Sunday, May 22), Becky

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Main Street Cafe & Catering

Welcome Back!

When Greg and I visit historic Jonesborough, Tennessee's oldest town, we often enjoy having lunch at one of our favorite places, Main Street Cafe & Catering which is owned by Herman and Beverly Jenkins.  A great description of the cafe comes from the Main Street menu, and I quote, "Located in the old 1930's United States Post Office building with its original pressed-tin ceiling, hanging globe lamps, and hardwood flooring,  Main Street Cafe offers to you indoor and outdoor seating for an enjoyable relaxing atmosphere full of the charm Jonesborough is known for."

Their varied and extensive menu includes homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, quiche, a large array of desserts, and fresh ground coffee.  Also, they serve freshly-brewed beer from the local Depot Street Brewing Co.  In addition, Main Street Cafe sells wine by the glass.  Be sure to check out their daily specials.

Greg and I visited Main Street Cafe just a couple of weeks ago.  Although we love the cozy indoor dining area, we decided to dine outside since it was such a warm, pretty day.  After we'd placed our order inside,  we went outside to our table on the front patio to enjoy the sights and sounds of Jonesborough while waiting for our food to arrive. Soon, the waiter brought our meal.  (He was friendly and helpful, as were the other members of the staff that we encountered.)  Greg enjoyed a bacon cheddar burger and French fries, while I ate a large "garden delight" salad (with several ingredients, including sunflower seeds and raisins) and delicious loaded potato soup.

Besides being a cafe, Main Street has both on and off premise catering.  They have a reception/banquet facility, "Old Quarters," in their "rustic elegant 1890's building overlooking...Jonesborough."  They cater weddings/receptions, private parties, dinners, special occasions, and business meetings which can include flowers and decor.

Be sure to see their impressive website for more details, including excellent photographs of weddings and parties that they have catered, etc.  Also, there is an elegant wedding album on display at the cafe that you're sure to enjoy.

Final thought: When you visit Jonesborough, be sure to visit Main Street Cafe & Catering.  You'll be glad you did!

Main Street Cafe & Catering
117 West Main Street
Jonesborough, Tennessee
Cafe (423) 753-2460
Catering (423) 753-0353

Positive thought: Happy Mother's Day to all mothers on their special day, including my own special mother.

                                                                Photo by Greg Arnott

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time (Sunday, May 15), Becky

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Appalachian Mountain Coal Art

Welcome back!

I mentioned in an earlier blog post (Please see the April 10 post.) that I take pieces of genuine Appalachian Mountain coal and make them into mini works of art.  In today's post, I'll explain in more detail how I go about creating my coal pieces.

First of all, I go to one of our local coal companies in Southwest Virginia to collect the coal I'll need for my projects.  The people there are kind and accomodating as they always give me a handful of coal which I need for my artistic creations.

Just recently, I talked with general employee, Steve, at Rick Begley Coal & Construction about the coal they have, and he told me that their coal comes from both deep and surface mining.  They have two types of coal, stoker and lump.  I use the stoker coal for my jewelry and magnets, and the lump for my paper weights.

                              End-of-Season Coal Piles at Rick Begley's Coal & Construction

After I get home with my raw material, I wash it thoroughly to get rid of any dust, and oil (which was put on the coal to keep down excess dust).  When I decide what I'm going to make the pieces into, I use my own secret process to form the coal into the size and general shape I need them to be in.  Then, I either hand paint (using a very small brush!) or decoupage my own design on each one, unless I'm going to leave the piece plain.  Next, I glue on any backs or whatever is needed.  Finally, I coat each piece with a protective medium and put them on my own cards, etc.  I always try to sign or initial each piece that I've worked with.

A lot of work goes into the manufacturing of my coal art, but I try to keep my prices affordable.

One of my local coal art outlets is the Clapboard House in Wise County Virginia.
The Clapboard House
P. O. Box 1489
Wise, VA 24293
web address:

Please contact me if you're interested in buying any of the coal pieces on this blog post or you'd like a custom-designed piece or have a question.

F.Y.I.: e-mail address:

Positive thought: May everyone you meet be followers of The Golden Rule!

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time, (Sunday, May 8), Becky