Monday, November 26, 2007

True Inspiration

My daughter takes a wonderful clogging class at a little dance studio down the road. This is her second year. When the new season started this fall, we didn't buy her new shoes. I kinda thought she'd be okay for awhile but felt it looming in the distance. It was one of those vague things that hangs around the back of your mind like fog and never really materializes. I just kept forgetting!

Until about 3 weeks ago when sh
e started complaining that her toes hurt. The signs for used clogging shoes had disappeared from the studio walls by then and I had heart palpitations just thinking about the cost of new ones. But I knew we had to do something - my daughter started taking off her shoes in class and was clogging in socks!

So my husband made a several calls and found a discount place south of town. Of course we got lost trying to find the it, making illegal u-turns on dirt roads and frantically getting directions on cell phones. They closed at 5:00 and we got there one minute before.

Fortunately the proprietors were an older couple who didn't mind staying
open a little longer for frantic parents of a clogger! They were so nice. For 25 years they had their own clogging team that toured the east coast. With great expertise they fitted her little happy dancing feet. As a bonus, they not only had the clogging taps in stock, but hammered them on for us in the back! We were so relieved and my daughter was hopping around like a jumping bean from excitement (she does that a lot!)

With such a huge weight lifted from my shoulders, I stopped for gas on the way home. As I was standing there enjoying the crisp fall air and watching the sun set in the distance, I happened to notice the sign beneath the gas prices that usually announce the store discounts on sodas and potato chips. Here is what it said...


I took a deep breath of the chilly autumn air and said a prayer of gratitude for such blessings. Not just for the shoes or for the wonderful couple that we just met, but also for the owners of a gas station who choose to inspire rather than promote. And how amazing it was to see such true inspiration at the end of hectic day.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Blessings

We had the most delightful Thanksgiving day yesterday! When I woke up, the coffee was already made. I slowly poured myself a cup, savoring every moment of this special day. My husband and daughter were playing Lego Star Wars, so I got out my beads and strung a new necklace. I checked on my blogger friends then we went for a walk.

It was a fabulous morning - the sun was shining, it was 69 degrees with a soft breeze. Fall leaves were floating down from the sky and spinning lazily in the street. We finally have bright beautiful leaves - golden yellows and rich reds. It was so wonderful and I got some great photos - I'll be loading them onto Sunniviews this week, the series will be called Fall Finale.

After getting ready, we drove over to my aunts house in Chapel Hill for our family get-together. It was wonderful to see everyone! The table was beautifully set for our Thanksgiving feast and the food was scrumptious. We had an expert turkey maker and an expert turkey carver along with all the yummy accompanying dishes: buttery mashed potatoes and rich gravy, stuffing, green bean and lima casserole, sweet potatoes, corn, a special family recipe of mac and cheese, homemade cranberry sauce and fresh rolls. Oh my, it was so good. Oh, it was so, so good. We were stuffed.

Afterwards we played cards (UNO and Euchre), told jokes and stories, laughter filled the air. We settled our bellies with strong, rich coffee and nibbled on dessert: pumpkin pie and apple crisp with french vanilla ice cream.

Then it was time to
say goodbye and make quick plans for Christmas. As we drove home, my daughter sleeping soundly in my lap, the radio playing soft and sentimental music, my husband and mother-in-law talking quietly in the front - I watched the drying fall leaves scuttle in spirals across the highway through the dark. My heart became wide open, expanding beyond my body, beyond my soul, so that I had the most incredible feeling of love and gratitude. I closed my eyes and envisioned myself circling my arms around the whole world in a great loving embrace. And on this Thanksgiving, I was truly thankful.

From the Toymaker's November Newsletter:
Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of
your thankful thoughts.
-Alan Cohen

And so it is.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wonderful Whimsical Whirligigs

We recently went to the Whirligig Festival in Wilson, NC. My parents had a booth selling wonderfully designed folk art. My incredibly talented dad makes these great wooden marble chasers and bird houses and my amazing artist mom paints them! Their booth was called "Manspace"... (your not the boss of me!)

The Whirligig Festival started 3 years ago and was inspired by Vollis Simpson, a local artist who creates these huge, intricate whirligigs out of scrap metal. This year they had more vendors than ever.

We set up early on a Saturday morning and, since this festival is in November, it was quite chilly. But the sun was bright and the nippy wind made all the whirligigs spin with delight. Our booth neighbors included a husband and wife team selling a wide array of bright, colorful tye-dye clothing (of course my daughter had to have a zip up sweatshirt... but tye-dye looks so cute on kids, doncha think?) and an older couple selling sailboats and propeller airplanes made out of tin cans.

The hamburger joint down the street had refreshments for our four-legged friends, a real live pirate show complete with swordfighting and whip tricks played every hour (my daughter's favorite, of course), and music stages at 3 locations kept us entertained the whole weekend. As an added bonus, the had tons of blow-up jumpy rides for the kids!

We had so much fun setting up, talking to folks and demonstrating how the marble chasers work. The kids loved them and it was surprising to discover that many people had never seen a marble chaser before. Our family is originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania - the Amish country, and we've been playing with wooden toys like this for ages. So, it was pretty interesting to see everyone's reaction.

But I will tell you my most favorite thing about the Whirligig festival was watching a local artist paint a mural of the festival on a huge canvas. He looked like an artist of old - decked out in an oversized button-down smock with a ponytail. He was amazing and it was fascinating to watch the progress of the painting.

The booth was so colorful and fun and the food was delicious. As far as I'm concerned, any festival that serves funnel cake loaded with powdered sugar and fresh Starbucks coffee is a success in my book! We had a ball...

(You can read more and view more pics from the Whirligig Festival on my mom's blog.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rockin' Girl Blogger

Wow - I've just received the coveted Rockin' Girl Blogger award from Nan at On My Porch. Thanks, Nan! What an honor!

I told my daughter that since I'm a Rockin' Girl Blogger that she's my Rockin' Girl Daughter. Since we just happened to be watching "School of Rock" and dancing around the living room, she was pretty happy!

I'd like to pass this award on to Chocolate Girl at Keeper of the Chocolates, the best mama in the world, and Alexandra at Silver Bell Cottage, the best baker in the world.

Keep Rockin' girls!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mystery of the Monkey Coconut Solved

I have cracked the mystery of the monkey coconut! As you may have read on my State Fair entry, I purchased a scrumptious pina colada in a monkey coconut that can be used as a bank once you're finished with the drink. Everyone who has seen the monkey coconut has fallen in love with it and it now seconds as a sort of Budda in my office. Whenever we get frustrated or stressed out, we rub monkey coconuts head gently and chant, "oh, Have-Fun-Monkey-Coconut, give us patience!". MC also keeps my Zeldaloo's Mermaid company - this lovely little treasure I purchased at an fair while visiting New York.

So, my sister saw a picture of monkey coconut and was dying to have her own. What a great Christmas gift it would make! I started searching the internet and found a few on ebay but they were way too pricey. I thought about calling the fair organizers and seeing if I could get a hold of the people who ran the booth. Then I had an even more brilliant idea and called the 800 number printed on the bottom of my treasured little coconut!

As it turns out, the monkey coconut can be purchased from Topshelf Marketing, a Drinkware Catalog. But you can't buy just one. Oh no, minimum purchase is 36 MC's for $4.50 each. I tried to think of 36 people in my life who might actually want a Have Fun Monkey Coconut for Christmas. Then I wondered if anyone might want to go in on a purchase with me. Since I had trouble with that, I wondered if I could resell them on ebay for a profit. Honestly, they appear to be a hot ticket item.

So, as I continue to debate the purchase of the monkey coconut, take a gander for yourself - here is the link. And if anyone out there has any other connections to reasonably priced monkey coconuts, I'd be grateful for the info!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Peaceful Donuts

How lovely is it that our local Krispy Kreme donut shop is located on Peace Street? Could there be anything more perfect then a fresh, tasty donut and a rich cup of hot coffee early on a sunny morning, placidly placed on a street named Peace? I would say that's just about as peaceful as it gets! Makes me want plop down below the sign amidst the delicious smells of frying dough and meditate.

The neat thing about this particular Krispy Kreme is that it's one of the main distribution sites, so you can watch the donuts being made. We love watching them travel on the assembly line, evolving really, from just a piece of blobby dough to its final confection.

I have to say that I've always had a struggle deciding between Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts. KK has the delicious glazed creme filled donut while DD has the scrumptious powdered vanilla creme. Difficult decision. But luckily this is not one of my daily obsessions - yes, so many other things to fill my mind with, but sometimes it's just fun. Especially on a bright sunny morning on Peace Street!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fun at the State Fair

A few weeks ago the North Carolina State Fair came to town! It was so much fun - I absolutely love the fair. There is such an air of excitement and fascination that no matter how crowded or hot it gets, I always find something interesting around every corner.

This year was no different. One of my fa
vorite things were the larger-than-life farm animals that were painted by local high school art classes. They were really creative, beautifully designed and extremely colorful. They reminded me of the art projects held by large cities like the Cow Parade and our own Raleigh Red Wolf Ramble.

In the agriculture building, we saw the largest pumpkin, a record breaker in NC this year at over 1,100 pounds, which was pretty surprising considering the drought. They also had a booth where you could milk a cow! Quite an experience for my daughter! The most hilarious thing was when a mama pig started to feed her piglets. I heard this squealing and laughing coming from a distant cage. I managed to get a video of one little piggy struggling against his siblings for a little lunch. Too funny!

We headed to the Village of Yesteryear and watched a real potter spin the wheel and create a beautiful vase. My daughter also decorated and stuffed her own doll which they sew together with a foot-pedal sewing machine (one of our favorite places, she now has three dolls!) I also enjoy wandering through the garden competition booths. This year they had one based on Alice in Wonderland with a purple planter called "Tea Thyme" containing flourishing thyme and teapots, two colorful Mad Hatter chairs on either side and stacks of teacups in the back. So cute!

Another treasure I found was the "Have Fun" monkey coconut. It came with a refreshing pina colada and a straw practically the size of my daughter. The best thing about the monkey coconut is that it can be used as a bank once you're finished. In my office, we decided that the monkey coconut would do better as a shrine to having fun and staying positive. So, the monkey coconut keeps my mermaid company.

I also love all the fun food, but I can't have too much. Last year I tried a fried snickers bar and it just about did me in! Holy heart-attack on a stick, batman! I shied away from the breakfast on a fork and the BBQ sundae and decided on some fresh fried fish, which was scrumptious - along with my monkey coconut pina colada, of course, and we shared a little funnel cake!

And, my absolute favorite thing that I save until just before we leave, a relaxing ride on the ferris wheel! Just delightful!