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Monday, November 21, 2011

V.V.B.C. 2012 Book Club Reading List (Jan-June)


UPDATE: I am in the process of launching a new website that will be a resource for finding and sharing family traditions. Please sign up to be notified when it launches!
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www.traditionplace.com



For those of you who are new to the Vicarious Virtual Book Club, or V.V.B.C: This is an online "book club" that follows the reading selections of my "real" book club. This group allows the opportunity for anyone to have a book club experience without actually having to GO to book club! You can enjoy reading the books, hearing about the "real" book club's discussions, and commenting on books, if you desire.

You may enjoy the Vicarious Virtual Book Club wherever you are--no traveling to meetings! If you want to come to online book club meetings in your pajamas, feel free! No worries about what to wear! No membership requirements! No rules!

The V.V.B.C. is simply an opportunity to share your love of books with other like-minded individuals. This online book club blog gives you a place to interact, discuss, comment, and question. Anyone is welcome to join in.

My "real" Sister Chicks book club is also a very informal group. People come when they want, read the books they want, and participate in the discussions--or not! We have an average of about 15 at each meeting.  Some people come regularly, while others come only occasionally.

The Sister Chicks had a great list of proposed books from which to choose our next books! Each person who wants to make a suggestion, or two, has the opportunity twice a year. We present our book nominations briefly, then each of us votes for our 6 favorites. The top six vote-getters win.

We selected 5 books outright. The sixth selection ended as a tie. We agreed that one of those two sixth place books will be on our list, and the other will be the first book for the Sister Chicks' reading list for the second half of next year.

I don't post any discussion about the books for the Virtual Book Club until after my "real" book club has discussed the book. Here's the schedule for for the first half of 2012!

January 16    Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

February 13  Nearing Home by Billy Graham

March 19      Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

April 16        Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly

May 21         Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

June 18         Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


 

I probably LISTEN to about half of my book club selections on my iPhone. I download them from Audible. If you would like to hear audio samples of any of these selections, or get more information about Audible books, please click on one of the Audible links in the right border. 

Our nominated books were widely diverse, and there were a number of them that sounded really good. I'm sure I'll be reading some of our "runners up!" I will list all of the nominated books, and all of our previously read books, on a separate blog entry soon, for those of you who might be interested! 

Hope you'll join us for some discussions! HAPPY READING! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Welcoming Christmas in Hawkinsville

Welcoming Christmas in Hawkinsville


One of the things I like best about speaking for groups and retreats is meeting new friends! Last week I had the opportunity to share about my Nativity Collection in Hawkinsville, Georgia, at the Hawkinsville Garden Club's Nativity Luncheon. This fund-raiser helps the Garden Club fund various projects for the city. This Hawkinsville Garden Club has accomplished an impressive list of projects, and they have a number of projects in the works.

My friend and mountain neighbor, Ann Platz, (who was responsible for arranging this speaking engagement), and I, went to Hawkinsville a day early, to bask in gracious Southern hospitality at Opal Wilcox's lovely home on the Ocmulgee River. Opal and her son took us to dinner, at the local steak house, and by the end of the night, after lots of stories, it was hard to believe Opal and I hadn't been friends for years!

The next morning, while eating the sumptuous breakfast Opal prepared, the power went off! Fortunately, our food was cooked we were already dressed for the day! I showed Ann and Opal how to pull the emergency cords to disengage the garage doors from the electric openers, to raise the doors manually. We got the cars out, and headed for the fundraiser!

The lovely Clubhouse at Southern Hills was beautifully appointed with Nativities, and Christmas greenery. Each table's hostess featured Nativities as centerpieces. It was fun seeing the variety of decorations. There were some very lovely Nativity Figures and Sets. Although I have over 200 Nativities in my collection (many of which are small), I did not have any like those on display.

Signing two books that feature my stories, to benefit Wellspring Living,
an organization that confronts sexual abuse, and the forced prostitution of children.
Clubhouse at Southern Hills Golf Club, Hawkinsville, GA.
My hostess, Opal Wilcox's table, with several of her Nativity Sets.
Other tables and nativities are visible in the background.
Jim Shore's "The Journey That Changed the World" decorated one of the tables.
I'd never seen this set, in which Mary is depicted as an expectant mother!
Some of my small nativities. The tiny Guatemalan set, center front, started the collection.
Display with photo illustrations of two of my published stories.
Maasai Nativity from Kenya, Africa.
Photo of mother and child, dressed similarly, whom we met on our visit to Kenya. 
My largest Nativity Set, and one of my favorites!
I signed books after the luncheon, then did another book signing at Kimberly's Fine Antiques and Gifts, downtown. Kimberly's, owned by Jill Niblett is full of "treasures!" The shop with its beautifully restored, built-in fixtures, looks like it would be right at home in New York City! Jill and her father undertook the restoration in memory of her mother. If you're on I-75 near Perry, it's well worth the extra 20 minute drive to visit Jill's shop in Hawkinsville!

I enjoyed meeting many of the Hawkinsville Garden Club ladies, and their guests, and look forward to visiting Hawkinsville again, SOON! Thanks for having me!

(NOTE: I will be doing book signings to benefit Wellspring Living in December 2011. Currently, I am scheduled for Thursday, December 15th, from 4-7 at the Wellspring Treasures Store's Kennesaw location. I will post other dates as I get them. Please let me know if you'd like to order either the hardcover Chicken Soup for the Soul Gift of Christmas--$20, or Chicken Soup for the Soul Answered Prayers--$15. I will be glad to personalize the books.The full amount goes to Wellspring Living, when purchased from me, or from the Wellspring Treasures stores. Thank you!)



Thursday, November 3, 2011

San Antonio: The Venice of Texas

San Antonio: The Venice of Texas

Ed and I just returned from a wonderful weekend in San Antonio! I had been hearing, and reading, about San Antonio and the River Walk for years--and, of course, knew about the Alamo--but had never been to that part of Texas. The purpose of our trip was to see Blake's football team, the Georgia State Panthers, play the University of Texas San Antonio's Roadrunners. It was the perfect opportunity for a mini-vacation!

Ed had a last minute conflict, so I ended up flying to San Antonio a day before him, since we had a room for Thursday. I arrived mid-morning at The Riverwalk Vista, a 17-room hotel in an historic warehouse building. I was able to check into my room early, so I shed my luggage, picked up brochures and maps, and headed out to explore the city.
View from Riverwalk restaurant. The bridges reminded me of Venice, Italy.
Since our hotel was on the River Walk, I started there. I was thrilled to find a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory directly across the river! I immediately purchased several decadent-looking chocolates to save for later. I wandered through the shops and restaurants on the river, for several blocks in each direction, then hopped a city bus to the Historic Market Square. I enjoyed "people watching" as I perused arts and crafts from local artists, as well as from Mexico, and Central and South America. I bought a Mexican tin Nativity Set in a small tin box.
Mural 
Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery, adjacent to the Market Square, had been recommended to me by a Georgia State fan at the Quarterback Club Luncheon. I enjoyed a late lunch there. I chose the Chilaquiles Famosos from the breakfast menu, which I am going to attempt to duplicate at home! Everything was delicious! (Crisp corn tortilla strips scrambled with eggs, topped with ranchero sauce and aged melted cheddar cheese, served with refried beans, tortillas, and Carne de Puerco en Chile Cascabel--pork tips in red sauce.) I had excellent service from the wait staff, was serenaded by roving musicians, and enjoyed amiable conversation with diners at adjacent tables.

Mi Tierra Musicians
Mi Tierra also has a bakery. The display cases were filled with a wonderful assortment of Mexican pastries and candies. Again, I chose several of their sugary treats to take with me!

I arrived back at The Riverwalk Vista just in time for their freshly baked afternoon cookies. After a brief rest, I walked to tour the restored buildings in San Antonio's first neighborhood, and visit The Shops at La Villita Historic Art Village. I also saw the Arneson River Theater.
Mustang Grey's My favorite shop in La Villita
I ate Mi Tierra leftovers for supper in my hotel room, then pulled out my chocolates and pralines, and indulged in my own private "Sugar Coma Tour of San Antonio!" (I've been trying to attend a Broke Socialite Sugar Coma event in Atlanta for two years, but keep missing them due to conflicts!) This stash of candy lasted for four days! I rationed it, and did not eat it all in one sitting--just so you know! LOL!
My goodies from Mi Tierra and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Shop!
Clockwise from top left: Coconut praline, caramel type fudge,three-layered liqueur truffle,
champagne truffle, pecan praline, and a square of chocolate covered toffee
Early Friday morning, as I was dressing, I realized I had left all of my pants, except for some leggings, hanging in my closet at home! OOPS! That meant I wore black leggings with everything the entire weekend (which worked well with my black cowgirl boots!)

When Ed arrived, we set out on foot for The Alamo. We took a self-guided audio tour of The Alamo, then walked to the River Walk and had some appetizers while sitting by the River, to tide us over till our evening reception.
Ed and Jamie at the Alamo!
Supper was a reception hosted by the Georgia State Alumni Association at the Rio Rio Cantina on the River Walk.


Beverly Hogan and Jamie Wyatt with Carolyn Curry at Alumni Reception

(Note my leggings and cowgirl boots! LOL!) Photo by Amanda Scott

After the reception, we took a barge tour of the river, then got a bird's eye view of San Antonio from the top of the Tower of the Americas.
Alamo Dome from the Tower of the Americas
Saturday Morning, we attended the Georgia State Alumni Association Brunch at the Hyatt Regency, then we boarded a bus for the game at the Alamo Dome. Unfortunately, the Panthers lost in overtime.

Ed and I waited to see Blake after the game, then went back to the River Walk to eat supper, Ed paid a Mexican quartet to serenade us with a love song. After supper, we watched the Coffin Parade on River Barges, in honor of Halloween, and Mexico's Dio de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead.) Then, after walking around the city for a bit, it was back to our hotel to pack for our 6 a.m. flight home.


Video of Coffin Parade on Barges, River Walk, San Antonio, TX 

We had a wonderful weekend eating Tex-Mex across San Antonio. Our hotel location on the River Walk was perfect--a block from the Alamo, and a half a block from the team's hotel, where we ate and caught the bus to the game. Ed especially enjoyed learning more about the history of San Antonio and the Alamo.

San Antonio was clean, safe, and a lot of fun! Prices were reasonable. Dinner at Casa Rio, the oldest restaurant on the River Walk, was less than $20 total--for more food than the two of us could eat! We'd love to visit San Antonio again! In the meantime, I'm ordering more candy online!

video
Video of our view While Eating Supper on the River Walk at Casa Rio

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