Labor Day weekend I met Joshie and Lauren in Atlanta for the Erasure concert at Center Stage. Before the show we grabbed dinner at the Vortex. If you enjoy a good burger in a place with

great atmosphere visit the Vortex! Trust me, you won't regret it.

We arrived early and were able to be up front the entire show. Josh and Lauren even touched Andy Bell, Erasure's lead vocalist, who began the show wearing a helmet and red blazer.

Keeping with tradition Andy shed his helmet and red jacket bearing his buff arms for the crowd.

Vince Clarke has been touring with Andy Bell for ages. Clarke plays guitar but has also authored many of the lyrics for Erasure's hits.
Although Erasure played a majority of the songs from their new album, "Tomorrow's World," they also played many of their classics, which made the entire evening worthwhile. That, and spending the evening making memories with family. Love you Harry!

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I attended the Hoover Ward for the first time since moving to Birmingham. I found it interesting Relief Society is scheduled the first hour and Sacrament meeting is the third. I was not aware wards still did that.

On the front of the Sacrament meeting program was printed a quote by Elder Dallin H. Oaks I wanted to share it.

"The Savior reminds us that faith, no matter how strong it is, cannot produce a result contrary to the will of him whose power it is. The exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is always subject to the order of heaven, to the goodness and will and wisdom and timing of the Lord. That is why we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord's will and in the Lord's timing. When we have that kind of faith and trust in the Lord, we have true security in our lives. President Spencer W. Kimball said, 'Security is not born of inexhautible wealth but of unquenchable faith.'"

So many thoughts came to mind when I read this quote. I have since pondered its meaning and how it applies to my life. I have questioned the Lord's will, His wisdom, and His timing. At times, I have even questioned the goodness of His plan. Yet reviewing certain aspects of my life I am so grateful my faith, no matter how strong or how inadequate, could not produce a result contrary to God's will for me. I am certain He, out of His love, has spared me much heartache and regret because He knew what was best and denied me blessings I thought I desired above all else. Although it is difficult for me to trust, I am grateful to God for times when I am able to glimpse His love and understand His ways truly are higher than my own.

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The Search is Over

I love makeup. I do. I love testing it. I love talking about it. I love buying it and I love wearing it. I am also a creature of habit. Once I find something that works I stick with it. For example, I have been wearing the same shade and type of powder since high school. Unfortunately, I have not had the same luck finding a blush that works for me. Since puberty, every blush I brushed across my cheeks left behind a trail of acne. Yuck!

That ended last weekend when I purchased a compact of Chanel's Joues Contraste blush. The shade is Rose Petale and I love it. I have been wearing it for over a week and so works!

A colleague suggested I try Chanel when I told her about my experience with blush breakouts. Her daughter, who has a skin condition, wears Chanel because it is the only makeup that works for her skin.

So...if you're looking for makeup that works for sensitive skin, search no further than your closest Chanel counter. Your pocketbook might regret it but your skin won't.

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A Day in the Sun

Every day Lauren sends me a photo of Baby Jett. Although they could never compare to being with him, these photos have become the highlight of my day. Today I received this photo of Jett, taken to commemorate his first day by the pool.

If he's anything like his father, Jett will be a fish in the water. If he's anything like his Aunt Amboo he will love being in the sun. I wish I could have been with him today. I keep telling myself I am working hard now so I will have more time with him later. I may be wrong but I pray I'm right. That our future will be filled with days like the sun.

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Selma! Oh Selma!

Last Saturday I crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge into Selma, Alabama, a place I have longed to see since childhood. Stopping at the National Park Service Welcome Center we spoke to a wonderful park ranger who told us about a short film, which we decided to skip, and pointed out a display of books available for purchase regarding Selma's history. Perusing the shelf's contents, I couldn't help but think of RaeRae and how, if she had been with me, she would have purchased one or two to read the remainder of the trip.
Although Selma has many wonderful buildings, far too many to photograph in a single day, we decided to spend time at a historic cemetery located on the outskirts of town. We walked the entire cemetery admiring the unique grave markers and the Spanish Moss hanging from the trees. I love Spanish Moss and was very disappointed by the lack of it on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Spanish Moss has always been mysterious and romantic, to me. It's wonderful living in an area so rich in history and natural beauty. Guess that's why its known as "Alabama the Beautiful."
Above, are photos showing two of my favorite grave markers in the cemetery. The last marker is unlike any other I have seen before. An iron fence surrounded the grave plot and a stone, engraved with the family name, marked the threshold beneath the entry gate. One day I would love to hire a stone mason to carve a beautiful and unique marker for my mother. Until then, I will continue to admire markers these standing memorials of past lives and love.

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Dear Mom-

Today we celebrated Mother's Day by having dinner at Mellow Mushroom with Lauren, Joshie and Jett. Did you know you have a grandson? You do. He is the cutest, smartest little man and he has captured our hearts.

At seven weeks he rolled over for the first time last night. Did I mention he is strong too? He has Joshie's chin but he's super long. His pants are big in the waste but short in the legs. I am praying he will be a UK basketball player some day. I already tease Joshie that Jett's going to be taller than him someday.

Although he has a few "friends" his favorite appears to be Worm. Worm makes several noises and, is now, shorter than Jett. He also enjoys watching the lights flash and blink on the star attached to the arch above his Baby Einstein mat.

Every time I am with him I can't help but think, "Mom should be here. Mom would love him and Jett would love Mom." You are missing out on so much. I wonder if you know?

In April I attended the Atlanta Temple Open House with Pamela McKinney Smith, your friend from high school. She contacted me on Facebook last year and we have been corresponding since. She is wonderful. I had a great time talking with her and she brought me your high school yearbook from your Senior year. I had no idea your nickname was "Dr. J." Joshie, Lauren and I had a few laughs looking at all the pictures. I wish you could have been with us.
The coolest thing, I think, about the closing, renovation and rededication of the Atlanta Temple was the temple was closed on my birthday and rededicated on your birthday. I wanted to be there so badly for the rededication but it wasn't meant to be. Instead I went to church and then to the cemetery. Since you passed I have tried celebrating your birthday in a fun and meaningful way. Last year I went to Gulf Shores where I got food poisoning. This year wasn't much better. I think from now on I just need to accept the fact that May 1 is going to suck for the rest of my life. Don't worry. I can handle it.
I just wanted to let you know this Mother's Day and every day I love you, I miss you and wish more than anything you could be with us.
Love you forever-

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The Three Amigos

For the past three years Dad's friends, Eek and Meek, have been regular fixtures on the Cat Farm during the planting and harvest seasons. There are two gardens on the farm. One is located behind the barn and the other is located behind the house. Initially, Eek and Meek planted the back garden and we planted the front. No matter what, Eek and Meek always helped us with our garden and vice versa. Due to Meek's health, Dad switched garden plots with the duo last summer so they wouldn't have to walk as far. Despite the distance, you could still find Eek and Meek in the back garden helping Dad weed or pick veggies.

Since last summer, Meek's health has improved. Unfortunately, his brother Eek is in poor health. We pray this will change and both will be around for long time.

I didn't identify Eek or Meek in the photo above. Can you guess which is which?

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A Bit of Lil' Bit...

is missing. Doctor Long shaved Lil' Bit's belly and sections of her front legs during her operation last month. Lil' Bit joined her older sissies, Mary and Zu, in the big girl's club when she was spayed last month following her miscarriage of two kittens. We all agree Lil' Bit is too little to carry kittens and to prevent further heartache we decided it was time.

Lil' Bit is the first female feline we've spayed whose legs have been shaved during surgery. In my opinion, she resembles a poodle which has prompted the nickname "poodle cat." In an effort to document this awkward time in her life I took this photo. I will always remember it as a time when bits of my Lil' Bit were missing.

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Displaced Maiden

My Dad is a fan of lawn ornaments. I am not sure where this comes from but he has a few positioned at various locations around the porch. These lawn ornaments were acquired when we lived in Lilburn where they were stood around our swimming pool. Josh and I tease these ornaments are Dad's "little friends," which I'm sure Dad does not care for but goes along with anyway.

This maiden once stood in the center of a bird bath. I have to admit, I was not a huge fan of the bird bath or the "naked" lady (Josh and I realized the maiden was clothed but teased Dad she was naked anyway) that adorned our front lawn. Over time, however, I enjoyed watching the birds roll in the dirt, only to hop in the bath water to cleanse their feathers.

I'm not sure what happened to the bird bath, but the maiden is still with us. Standing on a tree stump at the base of our steps, she is a displaced maiden, stripped of purpose, sans the bath. In a moment of spontaneity I decided to photograph her. Of all the lawn ornaments, she is my favorite. I'm not sure how long she will be with us but none of us will ever forget Dad's "naked" lady in the bath.

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Six Weeks

Precious baby boy. You joined our family six weeks ago transforming lives and hearts the moment you entered our world. Everything about you is miraculous. Since I've been home we've spent a lot of time together. I have enjoyed every second, excluding yesterday when you spit up on my crotch and then urinated on my side giving me the look and smell of a hobo who walks around wearing black sweats with a huge white patch on the crotch, leaving all who see the bizarre location of this stain questioning how and why its located "there." No worries. I don't blame you. I'll blame your Dad. :)

Everything about you is getting bigger. Your hands and feet, your smiles, your legs and arms, and much to my dismay, your poop. Luckily, I have only changed one of your poopy diapers but, let me tell you son, one is enough. Please don't ever poop on my watch again.

Apart from the dirty diapers and spit up, you are an absolute delight. Your birth was like a catalyst resulting in a resurrection of life for our family. After three years of loss and, what seems continual grief, you have given us a reason to rejoice and, for that, I will always be grateful.

I love you little man. I have enjoyed spending this past month with you, watching you grow and develop. Your parents love you dearly and absolutely want the best for you in all things. Always remember that. Your Aunt Amber is the coolest member of the family outside of your parents. Always remember that too.

Heart and Soul-


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After spending Easter weekend in West Virginia visiting family, Dad and I stopped by my Aunt Linda's house on our way home.

Ginger, Linda's daughter, lives close to her mother and dropped by so we could see Allison and Brian Parker. Allison is in pre-school and Brian Parker is nine months old. A year had passed since I had seen Allison and although she's grown, she's still the same sassy, classy girl I remembered.

We talked about everything from dinosaurs, to Disney princesses, to her three-story Barbie house (complete with an elevator), to art (which is her favorite subject in school) to future career ambitions, which currently include becoming an astronaut or vet, I think.

Last fall, Allison was a cheerleader and is very good at it. She is also a very good big sister who is surprisingly generous when it comes to sharing her toys with Parker. She also tells her brother she loves him often. Needless to say, Brian Parker is a very lucky little man.

Before leaving I decided to take a few photos of the adorable duo. This photo (below) is my favorite. Joshie and I had a red Radio Flyer wagon but it wasn't as fancy as Allison's. Instead of plastic ours was comprised of wood and metal. It definitely did not have a fold-up seats that offered back supports. Modern toys are nice but I prefer eighties vintage classics.
The idea of planning a family reunion was also discussed. In the last year, three baby boys have been added to the Kidd family, i.e. Brian Parker, Alec (pretty sure that's his name), and Jett. It's nice Jett will have so many cousins, close in age, to play with at family functions. Reunion or not, I look forward to the day when Jett, Allison and Parker can play together.

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Fifteen Going on Thirty-Two

This afternoon I discovered the desk I used as a child sitting in the corner of the apartment below our farmhouse. Tokens of my childhood were stored inside. An envelope addressed to myself, with the warning "Don't read until you are 18," caught my attention. I gingerly opened the envelope to find a letter I had written to myself seventeen years ago to fulfill a Personal Progress goal. Dated September 13, 1993 it reads:

Dear Amber,

I've just been looking through my Personal Progress and I chose to write a letter. You shouldn't read this unless you are eighteen. Right now I'm 15 yrs of age and I'm pretty sure my plans for the future are going to stay the same but they may change. After I graduate from high school I plan to attend BYU for my pre-med. My major will be biology and my minor will be drama. After I graduate from BYU, I plan to attend the U of Chicago to get my degree in Cardiology.

Hopefully, I will graduate with honors and then find a good paying job so I can help my husband support my family.

I want to have only 2-4 children and I've already picked one boy name and it is Coty. I love that name and it will be appropriate if we live out West.

Spiritually, I hope my testimony will grow and strengthen and that one day I'll be able to teach Young Women like my teachers teach me. I love going to church and I'm glad my brother has the chance to pass the sacrament. One day I want to be able to say that I have lived a good life and Heavenly Father would be proud of me.

Well I guess I should close. Thanks for remembering to read this letter and good luck on your journey to womanhood.



Obviously, my life has evolved into something quite different than what I planned. I did, however, graduate from BYU but not with a degree in biology. I did obtain a secondary degree but not in Cardiology. For three years I had a fantastic paying job but am not sure how much longer that will last. I have not married and do not have 2-4 children, "only."
Although, my life didn't turn out as I planned, the life I have is not a bad life. However, I wonder if my fifteen year old self would be disappointed or pleasantly surprised at the life my thirty-two year old self is living. I guess I'll never know.

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For over a decade I have been searching for information regarding my cousins who are pictured in the photo above. They are my Uncle Danny's children. Unfortunately, Uncle Danny has been estranged from his ex-wife and children for over a decade and is mum when it comes to their personal information which is essential in locating them. I thought about posting these photos on Facebook to see if any of my LDS friends might recognize them but decided to try blogging first. This is the information I have, which is not much.

My Uncle Danny married Loisann Bierman in the Los Angeles Temple. Loisann was from the Los Angeles area. I have no idea how they met since Danny did not attend a church school or university and grew up in Georgia. They had six children. They are from oldest to youngest:

Kerry "Harrison" Elliott

Clairalyn Elliott

Jeremy Jason Elliott

Benjamin Elliott

Valerie Elliott

Sherilyn Elliott

It is rumored they may have changed their last names when their parents divorced. They may have adopted their mother's maiden name, Bierman, or taken the name of a step father. That remains unclear. It is also believed Loisann and the children resided in the Chattanooga, TN area during the mid-to-late 1990's. Despite my efforts I have discovered very little.

If anyone has any information regarding these individuals, my cousins, I would appreciate the opportunity to contact them and renew my relationship with them.

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I'm So Excited...

about seeing the Pointer Sisters in concert tonight! I am less than an hour away from hearing hits like Automatic, Fire, Jump, Slow Hand, and Neutron Dance. Hits my Mother played by the pool, in the car and especially during road trips. She loved them and I love them too. Their songs remind me of the fun we used to have and good memories we created together. I wanted to see them in concert but this is really for my Mom who didn't have the opportunity in life but who I pray will be with me in spirit.

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Grand Daddy

Not only is he a great father he is a terrific Grandfather. I'm sure there will be many more but I love this picture for several reasons. This picture was taken after I had tried to comfort Jett, who was only fussy because he was hungry. As soon as I picked him up Dad was insistent I hand him over so he could hold him. I have to admit I was a little surprised. It was my last evening with Jett and I assumed I would have preference. Dad is so good with him though. I can already tell Jett loves him and there is no doubt the feeling is absolutely mutual.

Although I am not thrilled about being released from my current assignment, I am looking forward to spending time with my Dad and Baby Jett. It will be so nice taking Neville for walks each day, hanging out with Mary, Zu and Little Bit, planting the garden, and feeding the catfish. I am also looking forward to hanging out with Joshie and Lauren.

Kentucky is such a beautiful state, rich in history and culture. I am fortunate to have such a beautiful home to return to. I am also grateful to have a father whose willing to welcome me home no matter what my circumstance.

I love you Dad!

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Sunday School

Allow me to introduce you to the students in the Sunday School class I taught until yesterday. From L-R: Savannah, Natalie, Michael, William (Will), and Addie. Savannah is Natalie's friend and was just visiting for the day. Two of my students are not present in the photo. I could brag on them but I'll spare you. Simply put, I will miss them.

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Mug Rug

Last night at Craft Club we made Mug Rugs. A Mug Rug is a smaller, quilted version of a place mat; large enough to place a mug and a snack on but, again, smaller than a place mat. The quilting style is a more contemporary form fashioned after Japanese paper placement. I'm not exactly sure what that means but it sounded good when I heard it. This quilting style is more flexible. You don't have to sew in straight lines or cut the fabric a certain size. Anything goes! For someone who has difficulty with both its a great alternative to traditional quilting.
I found the fabric at Hobby Lobby. They were arranged in fat stacks. I had to buy four fat stacks in order to get all the patterns I wanted, which means I have a lot of fabric left to make many more Mug Rugs. Unfortunately, I don't have a sewing machine to make them with. I think, however, I will add a sewing machine to my Christmas wish list for 2011 so I can practice making Mug Rugs whenever I wish.
If you are interested in making one for your home, tutorials are available through the internet. One that I found interesting is located
Happy sewing!

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Red Fish Grill

Friday night I had dinner at Ralph Brennan's Red Fish Grill on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. As the sign boasts, Red Fish has been voted the best seafood restaurant four years in a row, and for good reason. I had the best fish I have ever eaten in my life at this restaurant on Friday night.
I ordered the signature dish, the Red Fish. It was absolute perfection. The blend of spices and flavors made every bite delightful. I used to eat pizza every time I went to NOLA but I'm afraid after Friday my heart belongs on Bourbon at the Red Fish. It's just that good.
The atmosphere was fun. The manager, Brent Applewhite, was attentive to our every need and the service was spot on. I couldn't have asked for a better experience.
So, the next time you're in the Big Easy and looking for a bite to eat. Walk on over to Bourbon Street for a dining experience that is hard to beat. If its a Saturday afternoon, you just may see me there. Bon Appetit!

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The Celestial Tree

The Celestial Tree stands in Gulfport near the railroad tracks, its branches stretching and reaching up and out enveloping space and sky. Declared a Mississippi Asset it is registered on the Mississippi and Louisiana state registers. The tree is rooted on a lot near the railroad tracks. According to the owner, on whose land it stands, the tree is about four hundred years old. It has survived the effects of physical and metaphysical forces; a relic of Mississippi's past. I found its beauty and fortitude inspiring. When I imagine the Tree of Life I picture a tree similar to The Celestial Tree; grand, majestic. These surprising discoveries bring an element of surprise to my days creating memories I will cherish long after I leave Mississippi.

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For Steph

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Every Saturday morning from 10:30-11:30 I become someone else. From the moment I remove my shoes to enter the classroom I become Kauai, which means "jewel of the islands." The keiki hula class meets the hour before us and I often go early to watch them dance. I'm not the only one. Melissa comes early to watch them too. This morning we had a combined class. It was so fun! Normally, five to six keikis show up for class but this morning there were only two.
In the begining there were four in the adult class but Kayla or "Kai" dropped out. The other students in the adult class are Bretta who is standing just to the right of me and Melissa who is standing on the other side of Bretta. Both of them are really cool. Bretta just moved to New Orleans and will probably be dropping the class also. Unless other adults join the class, our class will be limited to two. Kumu Kathrine, who is sitting "Indian-style" on the floor has scheduled a recital for April 30 to coincide with the May Day holiday. Each student is supposed to do a solo. Can you imagine? I just hope I'm still around to dance for it.
Hula is so beautiful. Its the perfect combination of sign language and ballet. The dancer tells a story through hand movements. The manner in which the dancer moves their hands determines the tone of the story. I love ballet but I think hula fits my personality more; a little less formal and a lot of fun. More to come..

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Decisions. Decisions.

I am attending a Mardi Gras ball tomorrow evening. I have attended this ball for the past two years. The first year I wore a black halter dress accented by Birds of Paradise flowers. My hair was half-up, half-down. The second year I wore a solid navy dress with a rhinestone pendant on the bodice and ruffles on the skirt. My hair was swept up in a French Twist. This year I am wearing a Kelly green Greek-style dress. Unlike the past two years, I am having my hair done prior to the ball. Before going to my appointment tomorrow afternoon I need to decide which "do" I want to do.The first looks a little more "Greek" to me but my hair is not as long as the model's and I'm afraid the effect will not be the same should my hair fall short.

Angelina wowed Oscar crowds last year when she appeared wearing her hair swept halfway up with lose curls cascading down her back. She was absolutely stunning. I know I am NO Angelina but I'd love to see if I could pull the second "do" off.
So, I am taking a poll. I may not get any responses but I thought I'd ask, just the same. I miss getting input on little things like this from my girlfriends. In lieu of discussing it over dinner, I am posting my options here and asking my friends to comment.

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Pleasantly Surprised...

was I, to see Tommy Hilfiger's new ads sporting Basset Hounds especially now that we have Neville. I'm not sure why, it just makes me feel like owning a Basset Hound is more fashionable, more En Vogue. I suppose, technically, Neville is Dad's but I'd like to think of him more as the family dog. Either way, the Basset Hounds in this advertisement are adorable. Neville would be right at home in a model's lap if he wasn't too busy trying to roll over so she could scratch his belly. I can see it now. Don't think Tommy's photographers would like that. Then again...

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January's Addiction...

was Rice Krispy treats from Starbucks. I'm not a huge fan of Rice Krispy treats. Years had passed since I had eaten one. Then one day I was in Target. I was hungry. I wondered over to Starbucks to check out their snack selection and that's when I saw this light, fluffy, yet still crunchy, treat. It looked good but tasted even better. I was hooked! For weeks all I wanted was a Rice Krispy treat from Starbucks. Lucky for me, there's a Starbuck's at the intersection in front of the office. I soon discovered however, the Starbuck's on Highway 49 in Gulfport has a better selection. By the beginning of February the addiction had vanished. I'm certain it will soon be replaced. By what? Who knows? But thank you Starbucks for satisfying my cravings through my Rice Krispy treat addiction. Should it return, I now know where to go.

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Fatsumo Sushi...

is the best sushi I have had since moving to the Gulf Coast. My favorite is the Miami roll. I'm sure the other rolls are tasty but the Miami is the only one I've tried. I always order the same thing too; miso soup, the Miami roll, and a Diet Coke.
Fatsumos is a wonderful alternative to the fried fare and poboys the Gulf Coast is famous for. Dining out has been a challenge for this and other reasons.
I also like the name which brings a smile to my face each time I say it.
Sushi that makes me smile. Fatsumos.

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A Dream is a Wish...

your heart makes, when you're fast asleep. In dreams you can loose your heartache. Whatever you wish for will be. Have faith in your dreams and someday. Your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving. If you keep on believing. The dreams that you wish will come true."
Yes, I know the lyrics by heart. Some of the words may be wrong but this is how I remember them. I have always loved the song Cinderella sings as she gazes longingly toward the castle from her bedroom window. Some may think its cheesy. Others may say its naive. I say its inspirational and uplifting.
Whenever I get discouraged I think of this song. Whenever I'm doing chores and feel like Cinderella I sing this song.
On February 15, 1950 Disney introduced Cinderella to the world. Although Aurora will always be my favorite I can't see Cinderella without thinking of my cousin's daughter, Rylee Grace, who loves Cinderella. With blonde hair and blue eyes, Rylee Grace is just as pretty as the Disney princess.
Happy 61st to Cinderella! May you continue to inspire the hearts of girls and women dream.

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Cheveux Royale

One of my favorite movies is Steel Magnolias. My freshman year of high school I was cast in the play as M'lynn. Although I wasn't thrilled of being cast as the "mom," preferring the characters of Truvy or Annelle, I did enjoy learning the script which is filled with classic one-liners that continue to solicit laughs from me even though I have heard them hundreds of times. The prevailing themes of family, close friendships, love and surviving grief fill those experiencing the hardships associated with loosing a loved one with hope and strength.
In college I conducted a study on beauty shops. I discovered people tend to trust their hair stylists more than their church leaders, family members, trusted friends, etc. It makes sense when you think about it. People tell their hair stylists everything.
My Grandma Kidd and my Great-Grandma Elliott loved getting their hair done. Every Saturday my Grandma Kidd would have her hair rolled and picked for the week. I love getting my hair done too.
My first Halloween in Biloxi, Amanda and I decided to attend a costume ball in Ocean Springs. I thought it would be fun to have my hair done for the event. Searching the internet I found a place I thought would be interesting to try. Thus, my introduction to Her Majesty's. I loved it! It was like stepping into Truvy's shop but in twenty-first century Biloxi.
I had such a great time I decided to return to have my hair done for a Mardi Gras costume ball I attended a few weeks ago. Sarah did a wonderful job. She's young, smart and very talented. I wish I had the time and money to retain her as my personal stylist. If you are looking for someone to style your hair in the Biloxi area, Sarah would be an excellent choice for anyone. If you go enjoy it. I do.

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Although it doesn't look this way now, the project I started tonight at Relief Society Craft Club should resemble the wreath in the photo above when I am finished. I'm not sure how long it will take (one of the Sisters said about two hours) but I am sure it will take me a little longer.
The wreath consists of a 10" foam ring and pages from a paperback novel of your choice. I selected pages from the third Harry Potter. Distress Ink is used to antique or distress the pages and hot glue secures the folded pages to the foam base. Sounds easy right?
Now all I need is a glue gun and some extra time.

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The Seashell Church

Traveling west on US Highway 90 from Ocean Springs to Biloxi stands St. Michael's Catholic Church. When I arrived in Biloxi (May 2008) the church was in need of repair. Some of the glass was broken, plaster was peeling off the roof, and the angel had been removed. As you can see, the church has been restored.
Every Sunday on my way to church I enjoy seeing cars fill the parking lot, spilling over onto the access road, which the patrons use for additional parking.
I appreciate its unique design; from the seashell-shaped roofs to the funky bands of glass to the menacing angel wielding a sword; all a reflection of Biloxi's connection to the seafood industry.
Although the church took a hard hit during Hurricane Katrina I am grateful it survived the effects of the storm. Its contribution to Biloxi's physical landscape is undeniable. Like the perfect shells that adorn its roofs, the St. Michael's Catholic Church is a Gulf Coast treasure.

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Hangin' On...

by a tooth. That's what Dad is doing inside this giant gator mouth. The gator sits outside Souvenir City, a pink and green two-story building that occupies a portion of my view to the east. Although I have never been inside, I have been dying to get a photo taken inside the gator mouth.
Today, I asked Dad if he would mind. Luckily, he obliged. Its a good picture of him.
I'm also glad he was able to come down. The weather isn't as warm as I hoped it would be but the sun is shining and it was a lovely afternoon for a walk.
We strolled west along the beach to the old harbor before turning east for Souvenir City. Weather permitting we may walk again tomorrow. Either way, I am looking forward to an enjoyable week with some great company.

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Spa Isbell

Finding a hair stylist is never easy for me. Its one of the things I hate about moving. Once I find someone I trust, its difficult for me to let go and move on. Even after moving from Washington to Biloxi I flew back to D.C., the first year, to have my hair done every other month. Although I loved my stylist I could no longer afford him, in addition to, lodging expenses, cab fare, etc.
So, I began searching for a temporary replacement. For almost a year I went to a place in Mobile. It was fine. Great location. Friendly staff but too often I left unhappy with the results.
I decided to resume my search. Surfing the Internet, I found fantastic reviews for this place in New Orleans, Spa Isbell. One of the reviewers had even posted pictures of her hair. It was gorgeous! She said she flew from New York to New Orleans just to have her hair done by one of the stylist. Sound familiar?
Hopeful, I dialed Spa Isbell and made an appointment. I'm glad I did.
Housed in a historic building on Magazine Street (Lower Garden District) the atmosphere hearkens of cool salons in any major cities. All the stylists are women and they all have killer hair. A very good sign when searching for a new salon.
Two things I appreciate is their sensitivity to time, meaning I am in and out, instead sitting for five hours or more in a salon when I would rather be showing off my hair. Second, their prices are reasonable. Paying to have my hair done in D.C. was equivalent to a car payment. Ridiculous. Here it isn't.
The only thing I wish they would do is offer me a drink; have a cold Diet Coke on hand for me to sip while I'm waiting. The place in Mobile always had Diet Coke, which is one of the things I did like about them. Don't get me wrong. It doesn't make or break the place. Its just something I would like to see, and if they are opposed to offering Diet Coke, than bottled water would suffice. Something to make me, their client, feel more "at home."
If you find yourself looking for a great stylist on the Gulf Coast, I guarantee you will find one at Spa Isbell. Tell them I sent you.

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John Barry

John Barry (1933-2011)
Three days ago the world lost a musical genius. Although you may not recognize his name, I am certain you are familiar with his work. Barry, a native of York, England, wrote the scores for most of the early James Bond films. He was responsible for collaborating with DuranDuran on the music for A View to a Kill which I consider to be one of the greatest decisions ever because it produced some of the greatest music ever.
In addition, he wrote scores for Dances With Wolves, Out of Africa, and the theme song for Somewhere in Time.
Thank you John Barry for filling the world with beautiful music to live and love by. You will live on because your music will never die.

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is a wonderful month. Why? First, because it is NOT January.
In February Americans celebrate the President's Day holiday but not before joining the world in celebration of the other holiday, Valentine's Day. It is due to the later holiday, February is often recognized as the month of love.
I love calendars. I always have. I love buying calendars with themes. I love buying calenders that have a page for each day of the year and once the day is through you rip it off and throw it away. Personally I prefer tearing my page off the following day when I arrive at the office. Its the perfect way to begin a work day; by ripping something. It makes me feel like I have accomplished something that required little to no effort at all. A delayed sense of gratification for a tiny pleasure I could have enjoyed the day before.
I also have a single calendar sheet for the month that I mark on. I especially enjoy striking a fat blue line through a finished day, after ripping the page off my other calendar. Progress!
The third calendar in my office is for show and was a gift from a loved one. So, I do not mark on this calendar, PERIOD. The theme is horses and is a sweet reminder of our shared love for this majestic creature.
The fourth calendar I keep at home. Like my third office calendar, the fourth is aesthetic.
This year I purchased a Planet Earth calendar for my office. It wasn't my first choice but I have owned so many calendars over the years that I am running out of themes. One Mary Engelbreit calendar is enough, even if it was eight years ago.
My "house" calendar is Gone With the Wind. Although my Mom hated this movie I LOVE it and I LOVE my calendar. Clark Gable as Rhett Butler is so sexy. I love everything about him and I especially love seeing him everyday in my kitchen. The picture for the month of February is shown above except the calendar includes a quote from the movie.
I love you more than I've loved any woman. I've waited for you more than I've waited for any woman.
So, in celebration of the new month and in recognition of its designation as the month of love I share Rhett's declaration of love with you to enjoy. It may be fictional, but its still beautiful and worth repeating. Happy February everybody!

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Dear Mom

Today I learned the Atlanta Temple, which has been closed for the past two years for renovations, is scheduled to be rededicated on your birthday! I only wish you were still here to share it with me. I think of the Atlanta Temple as "our" temple because of the work we did there together. The memory of that day I will cherish forever. I only wish we could have attended the temple more often together.
Today also marks the third year since your passing. I can't believe its only been three years. It seems like an eternity since I last saw you. In addition, so much has happened since I last wrote. Joshie and Lauren are expecting a baby! And guess what? It's a boy! They plan to name him after Grandpa Kidd and Uncle Clyde so his name will be Jett Edward Kidd. That means he will have your initials JEK. I hope you appreciate that.
You should see the nursery. Its perfect! Josh and Lauren decided on the Beatles Yellow Submarine as the theme. A huge yellow submarine floats on the wall above the crib, while Bonkers with green apples perched atop their heads hide in the corner. I absolutely love it and am very proud of them for being creative for and loving parents to a baby they have yet to meet. Needless to say, we are all very excited about the new addition to our little family and we all wish you were here to enjoy him too. My biggest regret is that baby Jett will never know his Grandma Kidd although Lauren and Josh have your photo hanging in the nursery. Its a lovely black and white one of you and Josh. I think you would like that.
Baby Jett is due to arrive on March 12th. It will be interesting to see if he comes early, on time, or a little late. I am hoping he arrives a little early so I can swing a rotation to see him but we'll see.
Another bit of news that I haven't shared with you, through letter, is the arrivals of Little Bit and Neville. Little Bit is a stray kitten Josh and Lauren rescued. They brought her to the Cat Farm and she's been a companion to Mary and Zu ever since. She may be little but she is all heart and she LOVES Mary and Zu. Her playfulness is a breath of fresh air and I know you would absolutely adore her.
Neville is a Bassett Hound whom we all love. He smells terrible but is so well behaved. His absolute joy in life is to be rubbed on his belly. He also enjoys wizzing on everything. Taking walks with Neville is a breeze because he stops every five minutes to urinate on something. Despite the body odor and his relentless urge to piss I feel lucky to have him at the farm and look forward to seeing him again.
Speaking of the seems I will be spending more time there than I anticipated this summer. My time in Biloxi is coming to a close. I knew it was a possibility but didn't anticipate it would happen this early in the year. I have no idea what I will do regarding future employment but hope when this door closes God will open either another door or at least a window. We'll see. If nothing else, having time off will afford me plenty of opportunities to spend time with the baby and help Dad out on the farm. Dad has plans to plant a big garden this year and it will be nice to help him with that. In addition, I can manage the "livestock" (Dad reference for Neville and the cats) and work on my tan.
There are so many more things to share. I would like to think, however, that you already know about them because you are still actively involved in my life. I don't know if I imagine it but sometimes I think I feel you near. Its not great but it beats the complete aloneness I felt before. I hope with time that sense of closeness increases.
Today and every day you are in my thoughts and prayers. I pray wherever you are, you feel peace and more love than we were capable of showing you. I love you Mammy and miss you more than I can say. I can't wait to see you again but until that day I am going to LIVE. No more moping and doping around my apartment. You didn't bring me into this world to waste my life. You brought me here so I could live and grow and progress according to Heavenly Father's plan so when my time on earth is through I will have no regrets. That is my goal. I want to take full advantage of the life you gave me to live. I have a long way to go and a lot more to accomplish but I hope wherever you are I am and will continue to make you proud.
Love you forever-

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Taj Ma Toliets...

are a contemporary addition to the Mississippi Gulf Coast post Hurricane Katrina. I wish I could take credit for coining the phrase Taj Ma Toliets but that belongs to someone who will remain anonymous.
The Taj Ma Toliets can be classified as new construction. They were not here when I arrived to the Coast almost three years ago. I think the design is interesting. The entrance is Palladianesque with a central rounded arch sandwiched between two flat arches, one on either side. Pretty impressive for beach bathrooms. Its unfortunate, between hurricanes, the economy and the recent oil spill, they are not being utilized as anticipated. Perhaps 2011 will change that. One can always hope.

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Laissez Les Bon Ton Roulette

I saw the woman on the left for the first time last Thursday when I went to retrieve my Mardi Gras costume from Josette's, the greatest costume shop I've ever been in. I was immediately fascinated by her hair, dress, makeup...everything. She reminds me of Pauley Perrette's character Abby Sciuto on my favorite show, NCIS.
Although I didn't speak to her then, Amanda and I ran into her at the Les Badineurs ball last night. She not only dresses cool but she is cool and mysterious in a way I will never be.
She embodies, in my opinion, a very distinct subculture that is deeply rooted along the Gulf Coast, especially in New Orleans. A subculture who borrows from the history of its people. A people who've inhabited this area for centuries but whose genesis began in Spain, France, Germany, the Caribbean and the West Indies. A history that involves pirates and voodoo. Its evident in the skull and cross bones, the feathers, beads and fleur-de-lis that accent their clothes and embellish their bodies. Although hints of this subculture can be found all over the world, from now on, whenever I see it, I will think of the Gulf Coast and its people.

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I'm Not an Addict...

it's just a phase, I'll get over it, one day, but for now I am loving Ore Ida's Three Cheese Bagel Bites. They are perfect for someone like me who craves pizza but can not find a decent slice anywhere on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
My sister-in-law, Lauren, served these at my brother's surprise birthday party last November. Since then, I have been searching the frozen foods aisles of Rouses, Winn-Dixie, and Wal-Mart. I finally found them at Winn-Dixie.
Priced a little over $2 they are an inexpensive alternative to eating a pizza out or even ordering one in. If you are looking for a cheap, easy way to satisfy a pizza craving look no further than Ore Ida's Bagel Bites cause Ore Ida's Bagel Bites are all right.

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This afternoon, while standing in a check-out line at Winn-Dixie, I decided to purchase the February 2011 issue of O magazine. I have never purchased a copy of O before. NEVER. I normally thumb through the outdated editions lying around during pedicures or hair appointments, after perusing the latest edition of Cosmo, Elle, Glamour, Vogue, People, or even Southern Living. O never appealed to me as an age appropriate magazine for single, sophisticated thirty-somethings. However! This evening my curiosity got the better of me. Maybe its the new year, maybe its the full moon or perhaps its a sign I'm aging, who knows? But after reading through the February's issue of O, I have to admit, I really enjoyed the upbeat tone of the magazine's contents. Instead of focusing on dieting, exercise and sex, the O magazine focuses on healthy, holistic living minus the obsession with beauty, fashion and men. The articles are informative and thought provoking without being risque or edgy. O magazine is a welcome alternative to, well, the alternatives.
February may be the first issue I've purchased but I'm certain it will not be my last. Imagine that!

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I became entangled in Disney's animated film classic, Tangled. I'm so glad I did. I loved it! Every minute. The songs were fun, the animation was great, the characters engaging. I loved Maximus, I loved Rapunzel, I loved the chameleon, but most of all I loved the theme of light and its connection to familial and even romantic love. Light was used to heal. Ultimately, light guided Rapunzel back to her family saving her from a life on enslavement and despair.
My favorite scene in the entire movie is depicted in the photo above. The idea of launching thousands of floating lanterns into the night sky is beautiful. I would love to see something like it one day. Perhaps Disney will construct a Tangled theme park where annually thousands of glowing lanterns are launched into the night sky for hopeless romantics like me. Perhaps I will make this thought a dream because "way down deep inside we all have dreams."

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Good News!

Today I received confirmation I have officially paid off ONE of my student loans!!!! Although I still owe way more than I care to think about, but constantly do anyway, I am excited to have this over $13k loan paid off. I have been making significant payments on this loan since August 2008 and am so relieved, I'm done. Now I can focus on the remaining amount. If all goes as planned, I hope to have another loan paid off by May.
Sharing this may seem trivial, but to me they are HUGE. I hate being in debt. I hate feeling obligated financially to anything or anyone. My goal is to rid myself of this burden as quickly as I possibly can. Since completing my graduate studies, paying off my student loans has been a top priority. I long for the day when I can make decisions free of financial worry or obligation. I yearn for a time when I can focus my energies on buying a home and a new car or investing in a small business such as a bee and berry farm. Until that day, I will be marking time and paying dimes to free myself of that ball-and-chain known as student loans.

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