“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.” - Coco Chanel



So. I've been busy. Snowed under. And actually have been to snow country. I've missed visiting with ya'll. I'm hoping to get on track and be here more often. Sorry to have been scarce of late.=)


As usual, I had to take the "arms flung in the air happy" picture on the slopes in Breck (the locals call it this).


Modis. A grand restaurant right on Main Street. Exquisite art and beautiful food.


Downtown is colorful. Snow was piled high and I stayed in complete awe the entire visit. Maybe it's the snow, but I can safely say that Breckenridge is the most gorgeous place I've been in the United States.

I promise more soon...details on how I was sure I was dying my first day there....=)


I Officially Have Go-i-tis

First, a non-relevant statement to this blog. I am SO thrilled when I get comments!

Today began early. Now ending late. I'm bone tired. And I have desperate wanderlust. I love my blog and I wish to post daily. Sometimes it just doesn't happen. My brain is bouncing around when all I am trying to say is blogging completes me. When I'm not blogging I'm thinking about it. But life intrudes and I can't make it happen as often as I like. Then I get grumpy and everything that bugs me mushrooms. Right now I want to go to another planet...I mean continent.=)

Shall I dream a bit? Hhhhmmm. If I could fly away to anywhere of my choice today, it would be to China. I really want to walk on the Great Wall. Or India would be grand. I want to pose in front of the Taj Mahal with my arms flung high and wide, like in all my other pics in other countries. Istanbul...here I come. Well, in my mind anyway. I really want to get lost in the marketplace. Let me see...one of those thatched roof huts on stilts out over the water in Aruba would be amazing. Tomorrow, please. Also include a massage therapist that comes to the hut. And place the table in front of that wide door with the view. Ahhhhh...

Gotta go. Need to browse around on Expedia for ticket pricing. Bye bye, now.


Small Town America

Columbia, MS Courthouse

Today has been another of those "live-over" days. I just spent the evening at Back Door Cafe listening to my daughter Tayler sing incredible love songs. Our friend Eric played acoustic guitar and they did a couple of duets. How did I ever get so lucky to end up in "small town America" Columbia, Mississippi? There are only 6600 people in our small city, yet we have an amazing fine dining establishment. For Valentine's Day diners, there were pristine white cloths, fat, ruffled edged camillias and glowing votive candles on each table. Owner/chef Fran Ginn invited Tay to do the entertainment and the ambiance was perfect. Just one more reason my love for Columbia escalates often.

My weekend started Friday with my friend Lori and I spending a quiet evening enjoying homemade chicken veggie soup, strawberries and cupcakes. Last evening I baked, mini and full sized cupcakes then dipped some strawberries in white chocolate. The strawberries went on top of the chocolate iced cupcakes and I added those little heart shapes with writing to the top of the minis. This morning started with delivering mini cupcakes to my friends, the staff at Hardee's.

After breakfast I rode with friends Lisa and Ashley to the coast to pick up Ash's costumes for the high school musical coming up. We drove the beach, crossed the new Biloxi/Ocean Springs bridge to Ocean Springs to buy muffins at Bayview Gourmet, then had coffee at the Roasted Bean in the Beau Rivage. My reservations for dinner were at 8, so we headed home.

I really can't imagine another city of this size having so much to offer. Columbia High School has a musical each year that is highly anticipated. (Tay had the lead the year she graduated.) The band wins "state" each year. (My three were all a part of it. Tyler began his public career of drumming in the 6th grade. Tay played clarinet and Tyren trumpet and french horn.) And that's not even mentioning sports. (Tyren went to state 3 years running playing tennis.) It's "cool" to be in the musical and band here, as well as sports. That was not the case in my high school.

All this and I haven't mentioned my place of worship, the absolute best perk of the entire city. Cultured friends, award winning high school, fine dining and Woodlawn Church.

Heaven's to Betsy I love this well-rounded small town!


Morning Joy

(View from my window this very morning)

On my morning jaunt to my coffee maker, there is a large picture window in the living room framing a massive camellia bush. This time of year, an involuntary smile beams with each passing. My camellias are blooming. There are literally hundreds of blooms on this bush and all of them just for me.

How well I remember the first Valentine's Day as a single lady. I would literally cringe thinking of "that day" coming. How vivid the memory of leaving work and going to the mall is. I bought myself a wonderful gift, my very first fountain. Somehow in our minute minds, we build up these expectations over silly things that absolutely do not matter. At that point in my life, Valentine's Day was a glaring reminder that I was a failure. I was one of those who had the table set in bold red for 2 solid weeks. I baked a heart shaped, strawberry flavored cake each year and celebrated wildly. And the arrival of this day which I wrongly assumed was for couples only, made me as crazy as a sprayed roach. There are many Valentines in my life and it's my duty to celebrate with them. My children and sisters now receive my adoration.

My co-workers got the biggest laugh over me buying my own gift, but it was the beginning of a healing process. I was my own Valentine! Come the next year, I purchased a red wheelbarrow for myself. Again, a gift for me. Every year I get extremely wonderful gifts (exactly what I want!). And the good Lord above sends me the biggest bouquet of all, a full blooming camellia bush in my very own front yard.

It's quite special being His Valentine.=)


Bonsoir=Good Evening (in French=)


I'm not sure if I actually listed this in my New Years Resolutions, but a lifelong resolution has been to learn French. Tay has started me on the alphabet twice, to no avail. She is what I call fluent, with which she promptly disagrees. In my book, if you can converse with someone in French for an hour and you love to pour over books of "french verbs", you are fluent. She vehemenently denies it, but continues to liberally converse.

Tonight I invested in French for Dummies. The decision to purchase this CD set is based on the fact that my knowledge of New York City came from a NYC for Dummies book. Tay will rip me a good one explaining that I have to start with the basics, etc. I want to learn full sentences first so I can say gorgeous French things to her in Dirt Cheap or Wal-Mart! She will have none of it. So...I'm learning from cd's and plan to shock her good and proper.

Check back. I'll let you know how it goes.

Anna Grace Farmer...The Butterfly

(News! I have been published for the first time. Hooray! The following article was published in the February issue newsletter of New Beginnings, the Anna Grace Farmer Adoption Center in Tupelo, Mississippi.)


Simply put, she was a rare, incredibly beautiful butterfly. A minister made reference to this at the service celebrating her too-short life span of 8 months. He explained that it felt as if we all had nets and were forever trying to “catch” her. She would come close and we would shower her with love and adoration, so desperately wanting her to stay. Then she would flit away, just out of reach in the ICCU where her family would stand at her bedside and ask God for a miracle.

Anna Grace Farmer, along with twin brother Wallace, was born October 7, 2003. Her beaming parents were Tonya Wallace Farmer and Clayton Farmer of Columbia, MS. Maternal grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas L. Wallace also of Columbia, and paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Clelly Farmer of Poplarville, MS.

Phones rang incessantly the day it was found out there were to be twins. Soon, a pediatric cardiologist was to give some disturbing news. While still safely ensconced in her mother’s womb, a heart defect was detected. HLHS (Hypolastic Left Heart Syndrome) would require a series of surgeries upon her arrival into this big world. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania specialized in caring for newborns with HLHS, and her parents, along with maternal grandparents, moved to the big city for the much awaited birth of the twins. A very short 18 hours after her birth, Anna Grace went in for the first of her multiple surgeries.

As autumn approaches, a special generation of butterfly is born. The monarch, born to the “Methuselah generation” lives to be seven or eight months old and performs the incredible feat of flying from Canada or the United States to the center of Mexico, up to 2800 miles. Even on cloudy days, their mere half ounce body stays on track with an internal compass, covering some 50 miles per day. They return stateside during spring.

Though Anna Grace had an inconceivably short life span, her mark is domestically and internationally lasting. The Anna Grace Farmer New Beginnings Adoption Center in Tupelo, MS places children with a bleak future into Christ-loving homes. The New Beginnings home for unwed mothers has a direct connection for placing babies that have been saved from abortion.

On an international scale, a water well has been dug in honor of Anna Grace Farmer in Lome, Togo, West Africa at the Institut Biblique de Togo (Togo Bible Institute). This well supplies fresh water to the local village and to the bible school which carries the Word of God into eleven countries in the nether regions of Africa.

The legacy of this tiny butterfly has spread far and wide. Children are taught to love God and are raised in God-fearing homes as a direct result of her life. The plan of salvation and Jesus’ love is taught to those abroad who would never otherwise be exposed.

God has smiled on the Farmer family and they now have Gracelyn Alexis, a beautiful, rambunctious daughter who will soon be two years of age. Big brother Wallace celebrated 5 years in October. A bronze of a little girl with arms uplifted and butterflies lightly resting on her, marks the place Anna Grace was laid to rest. On any given day you will find a couple of small cars and a dinosaur in the lap of the bronze that big brother Wallace has left for her to “play” with.

The 5th year anniversary of her passing was celebrated last May with the announcement of the fresh water well to be dug in West Africa. Wallace and his Sunday School class released balloons to “heaven” for Anna Grace.

Anna Grace is proof positive that though your heart may not be perfect, through God all things are made new. And though it seems impossible, a lasting effect can be had from imperfection being made perfect through Him.

Amazing that such a small life can bring such beauty to the earth and have such a profound influence on the world, be it the half ounce butterfly or the short life of Anna Grace Farmer.


Volcano...from Anthropologie


This is my present, to me, to celebrate Tyler's birth...day. I know I know. But I deserve a present! I did good rearing him! Every time I have crossed the threshold of that store I've carried one around. I walk past the display where one is always burning and I draw a deep breath. Speaking of displays, no one holds a candle to these stores. Ha. Like my pun? I am absolutely on overload with each visit. It's more than a lowly, design-hungry mortal can bear. I overdose.

Knowledge that anyone who walks in my back door will ask "What's that I smell?" is a deciding factor. A book or some funky kitchen item usually takes precedence. Not this time. (Truth is the red jar did me in. They usually only come in cobalt blue.) Good marketing move all you Anthro marketers.

Volcano from Anthropologie. Oh yeah baby. That's reason enough to plan some entertaining.


A case of those were in the fridge when I arrived for the birthday weekend. Smiles are easy when you realize a tad of your entertaining skills have been passed on. I walked in to a sparkling apartment, candles lit and music playing. (I am glad he left a hamper of clothes in the laundry. Makes me still feel needed to do a little something for him.) His apartment is crisp and modern, exactly as you would imagine it if you are acquainted. Being a mother, I look around to see what, if any of my everyday existence has colored his life. I realize having reared him, it's inevitable. I still seek the validation.

He loves books. He devours graphic arts magazines. He is a "right brain". He soaks up anything cultural. He is consciously kind. Fine dining is a must. He has an instinct to always be original, be it dress, decor or design.

"Original" sums him up. And is exactly what I set out to do some 288 months ago.

Happy 24 Tyler Marcus Swanner.