Serendipity All Over My Foyer

I’ve been redecorating for-ev-er!  Seriously…I started with my office in October 2015 and I’m still reworking rooms.

Decorating is sort of a visceral experience.  There’s a certain amount of science that goes into it but at the end of the day it’s all about your gut.  And the size of your car!  You have to have room to carry the right piece home!

Jim and I just updated the foyer.  We weren’t planning this particular bit of redecorating…it just kind of happened.  A trip to Pier 1 also just kinda happened right before.  We both fell in love with this table (technically I fell in love with the 6 foot tall wooden giraffe first but he talked me off the ledge) and it fit in the car.  It was serendipity or something.

It would have been serendipitier if we didn’t have 40 foot tall walls in the foyer and no way to paint them.  I’m not a white wall kinda girl.  But I am  an ‘afraid of heights’ kinda girl.  Fear won out…the walls stay white.

Cabinet – Pier 1

Lamp – Christmas Tree Shop

Frames – TJ Maxx & Marshalls

Books – Save the Orphans Thrift on Legion

Framed art – Hobby Lobby

Photos – mine



Southern Pines – Revisited

I’ve talked about Southern Pines before…but it’s become one of our favorite day trips.  Jim and I drove down recently to explore and then just a short while later Candice and I made a day of it…

Nestled in the Sandhills between Pinehurst and Aberdeen, is the quiet town of Southern Pines. Founded in 1887 by steel magnate John T. Patrick, Southern Pines was originally intended as a health resort. Breathing in fresh pine air was considered quite healthful and many people in the area actually built sleeping porches which they used year round.

A wooden bench inside the historic train depot on Broad Street

Today Southern Pines is home to the Historic Weymouth House, built by railroad magnate James Boyd; the 1200 acre estate originally had stables, a tennis court, gardens and a 9-hole golf course. In the 1930’s his grandsons, James and Jackson, divided the house, pulling half of the structure by mule across the street and establishing what is now the Campbell House and home to the Arts Council of Moore County. James and his wife enlarged the original house and entertained the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner throughout the 1920’s and 30’s. Today the Weymouth House is open to the public and serves as Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities. The family donated 1,000 acres of the original estate to become the Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve. Somewhere inside the preserve is a 465 year old long-leaf pine tree, the oldest of its kind.

Candles in the shops on Broad Street

Also in Southern Pines are the historic Shaw House built in 1820, and the Sanders Cabin built in the 1700’s.  Both are classic examples of early settler’s homes.  And while you’re in the neighborhood plan to visit the Garner House with its handmade brick fireplace and authentic pine paneling.

From one of the many shops

Donald Ross, the famous Scottish golf course architect who built the acclaimed course at Overhills in Fayetteville, also built three courses in and around Southern Pines.  In Pinehurst you can still play a Ross course at the Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Pine Needles, Mid Pines, and in Southern Pines at the Southern Pines Golf Club.  During his career Ross built nearly 400 courses, and favored the sandy terrain here, which reminded him of his home on Dornock.  His courses are notable in that they often incorporated naturally occurring elements instead of the modern method of reshaping the land and introducing new elements.

I had to snap this…TENNESSEE!!!
Unique shop displays
Tortoise shell earrings…a small souvenir

    If golf isn’t your thing, try shopping the historic district on Broad Street. Both sides of the street are a consumer delight with everything from gourmet coffee, fine dining, antiques, and cutting edge fashion. The Sunrise Theater, built in 1898, began as a hardware store before being converted in 1940. Today the Sunrise Preservation Group offers all manner of entertainment: original release movies, concerts, live broadcasts and theatrical performances. And across the street is the historic train station, also built I 1898. Today it operates as the Southern Pines Amtrak Station so it’s both beautiful and functional. Southern Pines, with its charming shops, world renowned golf courses and rich history has something to offer every visitor.

Historic Savannah

Four hours and twelve minutes from Fayetteville is the historic city of Savannah. Founded February 12, 1733 by General James Oglethorpe, who designed the now famous ward system of streets and parks, the city was originally created as a buffer colony to protect South Carolina from Spanish occupied Florida. During the American Revolution the city was occupied by the British until the Americans won the war, and Eli Whitney…famous for inventing the cotton gin, lived and worked in Savannah as a tutor on the Mulberry Grove Plantation. In January of 1861, after 13 of the Southern colonies rejected ties to the Union over State’s rights and the issue of slavery, Georgia became the fifth state to secede from the Union.

Today downtown Savannah is a thriving marketplace rich in history and culture.  The River Walk is part is the jewel of their historic district. Many of the buildings date back as far as 1817 when Savannah was the leading Atlantic cotton seaport. The Cotton Exchange, built in 1887, and the row of red brick buildings soon became known as “Factor’s Row’ or ‘Factor’s walk’ after the cotton factors (brokers) who traded cotton along the river banks.

Today the entire district is thriving with hotels, restaurants and retail shops for the history enthusiast. While the cotton ships are long gone, the river bank is now a docking station for colorful paddle boats and historic sail boats. Just south of the River Walk are 22 of the original 24 squares designed by Oglethorpe…9 of these squares are fabulous parks with amazing statues and their own historical points…like the park bench Forrest Gump sat on to tell his amazing story. At the corners of Abercorn Street and Oglethorpe Street is the Colonial Park Cemetery or ‘The Old Cemetery’.

Established in 1750, it’s been estimated more than 9000 people are buried here, including many of the 700 people who died in the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1829. During the Civil War Union soldiers stabled their horses in the cemetery and desiccated many of the graves…looting them for valuables and altering dates and names. Most of those grave markers are now attached to the eastern wall.

Five miles south of the River Walk is the Bonaventure Cemetery made famous in John Berendt’s best-selling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

The Bird Girl, statue made famous by the book cover, was sculpted by Sylvia Shaw Judson in 1936.  A family in Savannah purchased on of the four bronze castings, named it ‘Little Wendy’ and placed it in their family plot in Bonaventure.  Now it’s on loan to the Telfair Museum and can be seen at the Jepson Center for the Arts.

French for ‘good fortune’ Bonaventure was established as a formal cemetery in 1847 by Peter Wiltberger and is the final resting place for some of Savannah’s most notable figures:  Conrad Aiken – poet and 1929 Pulitzer Prize winner, Johnny Mercer – a singer and songwriter who penned hits like ‘Jeepers Creepers’ and ‘Hooray for Hollywood’, many of Savannah’s founding members, and veterans of the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II.  The grounds are breathtaking and the grave markers are some of the most interesting and often reflect the life’s work of the deceased.  Noted artist John Waltz sculpted dozens of statutes used throughout the cemetery and the grounds are sprinkled with a liberal dose of live-oaks and Spanish moss.

Granny and Her Chickens

Granny had a chick coop.  Behind the weathered door and rusty hinges were the greatest wonders and eight-year-old could ever behold.  Inside, the air hung heavy with two mingling scents, the acrid ammonia of chicken poop and sweet musky corn feed.  The feed was dried corn kernels chopped into tiny slivers.  I was weirdly obsessed and ran my fingers through it as we marched from the barn to the coop each morning.  Years earlier momma’s first cousin twice removed, Marvin, fell into a rock grinder while he was working in the coal mines.  I knew the rock grinder and the corn grinder were wildly different, but every time I looked at the neatly shredded corn…I thought of Cousin Marvin.

Granny’s chicken coop

Inside, the coop walls were lined with rows of matching boxes for the hens to lay in.  The patinaed wood was a silky-smooth grey outside, and a chaotic poof of straw inside.  The hens…were the bane of my existence.  The eggs beckoned to me and I watched Granny slide her hand under each feathered bottom and scoop up a perfect brown egg.  But as I approached the nesting boxes the hens…leaned.  They watched me with a practiced side-eye as they leaned slightly away from me, as if to say ‘we don’t trust you’.  My little eight-year-old psyche was fragile enough, now a flock of unruly hens were implying that I was somehow sketchy.  I wasn’t the one sporting a sharp beak with which I could peck…say a small girl…to death!

Granny and mom sitting on the front porch (c.1975)

More often than not, I left the coop with a bruised ego…and eggless.  But feeding the chickens was really my forte anyway.  Chicken feed went into anything Granny had laying around…and nothing ever went into the trash.  Empty coffee cans, old sauce pans, well-made pie tins all got a second life as a chicken feed scoop or holder.  So early mornings usually found me carrying a pan full of chicken feed trying not to trip over rocks before I’d spread feed around for the hens.

Officially, there was no ‘right way’ of feeding the chickens.  If the feed was anywhere they could get to it, and they went everywhere, they were happy.  But I had a carefully developed system based on days of careful observation.  The chickens walked bent with their heads to the ground constantly searching for anything edible.  When they found something, or thought they found something, their pace doubled which alerted the other chickens who all came running.  So instead of haphazardly tossing feed about, I laid it in a large spaced “X” pattern.

In my mind this gave an advantage to the smaller or dumber chickens who weren’t as fast or as good at finding lunch.  If a chicken sped up and started to eat and other chickens saw this and flocked (pun intended) to her, they too could graze at carefully spaced intervals…each one sufficiently far enough from the first so as to avoid irritating anyone but still close enough that as they were run off from the initial feeding spot there was no chance they wouldn’t stumble onto a spot of their own.

Darwin may have coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ as part of some trumped up evolutionary theory, but I like to think I invented the first special ed. program for chickens and invented the concept of accommodations.


Photo Shoot – Candice & Kaci

This was all about the pith helmet.  I found it in a thrift shop and decided we were going to do a grand safari inspired photo shoot around the helmet.  But…it had to be elegant and it had to be a period shoot.  I hadn’t seen Out of Africa (yet) so the shoot was sort of my interpretation of the movie.

I also had this crazy idea that i could make wooden bracelets so i found myself at Home Depot buying all of these bits for the drill…which did NOT work.  I ended up using a jig saw to cut them, then a belt sander to smooth the outer circles.  Did I mention it was about 109 degrees on the patio while I was sanding and sawing my way to African authenticity???

I also made Candice’s necklace…so much easier than the bracelets.  I bought the wooden disks at a craft store, stained them and used the dremel to drill tiny holes in them after I’d laid them out in a simple pattern.  I used some kind of black waxed thread to tie them together, then tore a piece of black taffeta and attached it to the back to fasten the necklace.  And..i did it all while sitting at my desk watching a movie…in the A/C!

Both dresses are from a local thrift shop, Kaci’s shoes are mine, Candice wore her own.  We shot this at the old train depot in Normal Oklahoma.

Thank you ladies for indulging me!

Atalaya Castle


if you stick around long enough you’ll notice a theme to our adventures….they almost always involve the residence of some rich person who died mid-century.  We don’t plan this.  We don’t literally scour the internet for abandoned/neglected homes of the rich and famously dead.  It just kind of works out that way.  My mom actually suggested we visit Atalaya when we told her we were going to Myrtle Beach for the weekend.  She and my dad lived in MB when they were first married…and I was born there!


To be fair…while Atalaya was built and owned by the very wealthy Archer Huntington…it’s not opulent in any way.  In 1927 Anna Huntington, his wife and a famous sculptor, contracted tuberculosis and Arthur purchased four adjacent rice plantations near Myrtle Beach to build a winter home for her.  Arthur was a brilliant industrialists by day and a scholar of Spanish culture by night.  Atalaya (AH-tuh-lie-yuh) means “watchtower” in Arabic, and is designed to resemble  the real Atalaya Castle in Spain.


“The house is dominated by a square tower, which housed a 3,000 gallon water tank.  Rising nearly 40 feet  from a covered walkway, it bisects Atalaya’s inner court…..The living quarters consist of 30 rooms around three sides of the perimeter, while the studio, with its 25-foot  skylight, opens onto a small, enclosed courtyard where Anna Hyatt Huntington worked on her sculptures. Pens for animal models, including horses, dogs and bears, are situated adjacent to the open studio. The building also features hand-wrought iron grills designed by Mrs. Huntington, which cover the exteriors of windows. These and shutters were installed for protection against hurricane winds”


The entire structure is made of stone and there’s a fireplace in nearly every room because the house was situated just a hundred feet or so from the water’s edge.  Winter winds whipping inland from the Atlantic had to be unbearably cold.  It was relatively warm when we were there and I still couldn’t help but think how cold the house felt.  Imagine stepping onto the icy stone floors in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom!!!





Fayetteville Welcomes Roller Derby

  Daville Roller Derby (DRD) is the brainchild of what’s affectionately referred to as ‘The Five Star Ambassadors’.

In June 2013, Devon and Tanea Murphy, Brandon and Nikki LaShure, and Christina Poland formed the initial board.  From there, they took tentative steps in establishing Fayetteville’s first dual roller derby league featuring women and men.   Forming a single competitive team in and of itself was a lofty ambition, but their agenda spans years and stretches into the farthest parts of the Fayetteville, NC Community.

“Our players come from the community, so first and foremost we want to give back to our community.”  Devon, the coach of DRD and the nucleus of this tight knit group stresses to his players and volunteers the importance of celebrating the community and giving back in appreciation of their support.  “We love to skate and have that contact with the fans, but we also want to make sure that we can always give something back – through our charity events for the Fisher House and for the local deaf community.”  Establishing DRD as a non-profit organization was an integral part of the team’s plan to work with and for the local community. “Most derby teams would like to be non-profit but not all teams are capable.  Securing that state and federal status just allowed us to do so much more for Fayetteville and our charities than most teams can do…it was an easy decision.”

DRD is currently comprised of three teams with plans to add a junior league in the near future.  The first team established was The Villains, their male team.   Devon is quick to point out it’s still a work in progress.  “Roller Derby has been a female dominated sport since 1935 so it’s more difficult to entice men and get them past that stereotype.”  They also pull from a predominately military community and lose skaters when they move.  The second team established was The Vixens.  “Female skaters want to belong to an organization; they want to belong to something meaningful.”   Lastly, they have a co-ed team which pulls skaters from the two existing teams.

Roller Derby was initially dominated by theatrical behavior and provocative costumes.  As more competitive skaters emerged the landscape changed and the campy nature gave way to serious athletes.   DRD has made a concerted effort to avoid the circus-like behavior of most recreational leagues, “We wanted to establish a strong foundation and let the league grow from there.”  Devon plans to take the league to the next step this summer by applying for membership with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).  WFTDA allows the team to compete on a nationally ranked level and sets them apart from the dozens of recreational leagues and stay goal oriented.  “DRD operates on a ‘bone deep’ motto.  What we do, we do to the core, to the bone.”


Swampdog Sweethearts

In 2010, the Swampdog staff took a simple idea and turned it into something revolutionary:  The Sweethearts.

In lieu of a simple dance team, the Sweethearts serve as the face the Swampdogs and ambassadors in the community.  The girls attend various events throughout the year sharing information about the team, handing our schedules, and answering a million questions from the younger fans about mascots Cookie and Fun-Go.  They also work throughout the ballpark and help to set it up for home games.

Jeremy Aagard, General Manager of the Swampdogs, encourages the Sweethearts to look for volunteer opportunities and to be more actively involved with their community.

“It’s the same message we deliver to the players – we require the players attend four public appearances…our thought is if we’re not active and supportive of the community there’s no way we can ask them to be supportive of us.”  In encouraging the Sweethearts to act on civic responsibility, the Swampdog program is enriching their lives by allowing them opportunities to plan charitable events, gain public speaking experience and build a relationship with their own community.

Visit the Swampdogs and the Sweethearts at Fayetteville SwampDogs:

J.P. Riddle Stadium
2823 Legion Rd.
Fayetteville, NC 28306-3225

For more information about the Fayetteville Swampdogs or the Sweethearts, please visit or call 910-426-5900