Christmas in July


As a confirmed winter-lover, I’m already enchanted with everything about December.  No gilding necessary. But hot weather for a long stretch makes me wonder if autumn will ever arrive again.  Here comes Hallmark with their annual tradition  – Christmas movies in the summer.  This year they’re calling it *Gold Crown Christmas.  *Turner Classic Movies also has the holiday spirit.

Here on the warm West Coast, we’re planning our own (very) small Christmas In July celebration.  Decorations: A tiny, battery-operated tabletop tree already arrived from eBay.  Assembly time, one minute. Supper: Each of us is choosing one dish we love most from Christmas Past.  There’s a strong possibility our meal will consist entirely of carbs.

Gifts: Spending limit $5.  That’s ONE gift to buy for under $5 and we’ll draw numbers to see who gets which. I see myself at Target at that department in front of the store where grandkids linger and items run about $1 to $3.99.

The Grand, newly teen-aged and busy with her rock-star crushes, asked if her mom ever had a crush on an old guy? Yes she did, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, among others. This Christmas-In-July, The Daughter plans to introduce The Grand to Bing, starting our afternoon movie watching with White Christmas.

*Heads up – Hallmark kicks off on June 29th in case you’re recording, with movies too numerous to list. 

*Turner Classic Movies has Christmas in Connecticut on July 4th, Holiday Inn on the 5th and Meet Me In St. Louis on the 17th.

White Christmas is on Netflix anytime.




Barnwood Builders save American history one log at a time.

I have a crush on these guys. If you love stories about old buildings getting another life, if you like This Old House, meet Barnwood Builders.

Host Mark Bowe and his bearded crew out of West Virginia proudly call themselves hillbillies.  My people. They sound like Daddy and a bunch of his brothers hanging around together, only instead of picking guitars on the front steps, they’re carrying hammers and swinging axes and giant mallets.

The merry Barnwood Builders hop out of their trucks at the site, drawling and punning (really corny puns.) Mark and Sherman and Graham and Tim and Alex and Johnny not only display impressive skills, they’re instantly likable. Together they disassemble or put back together old barns and pioneer cabins, preserving original logs from the 1800’s for re-use.  Along the way, they show us how the people who built these early cabins and barns lived inside them. We learn about the labor and skill that went into the originals.

The Barnwood Builders offer the gift of sincerity, which is often missing on television. They spend long sweaty (or freezing) days treating American history with respect and tenderness.  They know  when deconstruction can only be handled with old-fashioned hand implements and when it’s safe to call in their forklift master, Johnny Jett.  Johnny’s an artist with heavy machinery.  He picks up several hundred pounds of logs, removing crumbling lumber from the side of a cabin and laying it down gently so the crew can get to the precious hand-hewn beams that form the core.  I cheer with the guys when Johnny sets a massive beam down on a dime.

They act like best friends who genuinely like each other.  They laugh at their own bad puns and silly wordplay, then turn misty-eyed while completing an especially tricky move, disassembling a pioneer church, retrieving the original bell from its falling-down tower and presenting it to members of the congregation who stand watching at the site.

Any day now I expect Pa Ingalls will show up to help these Little House On The Prairie neighbors build a village.  Check out Barnwood Builders on the DIY* network and watch these artists help preserve American history one log at a time.

* I see they’re also listed on Great American Country and Discovery Channels.  Not sure of schedules but I set the DVR to record the new ones and watch the others On Demand.* Thanks to whichever vintage house site on Instagram introduced me to these guys.

Father’s Day







Daddy.  Reverend Raymond D. Jones.  Brother Ray.

Daddy was the sheriff of Mayberry with a deep Southern drawl and a Bible in his hand. Tall and good looking and enormously likable, he was in possession of both the strength and the patience of a natural leader.

Musical.  Charismatic.  Genuinely kind.  Taught us to plant things, how to dig up baby potatoes, how to sing harmony in the car.  The latter is important when what your family does is sing gospel harmony.

Daddy’s teaching methods were transparent but effective.  To learn our parts, he started us off with the cowboy songs we loved and transitioned from Tumbling Tumbleweeds to What a Friend We Have In Jesus.

Headed to the radio station in Columbus Georgia, 1945.  Sister Fern might not enjoy this photo of her with eyes closed and curls springing loose, but I like it. Sorry, Mother. We’ll make it up to you next Mother’s Day.




Love the Tonys

Love the show, the presenters, the annual visit to festivities on the other coast. In my opinion this is by far the cleverest award show.  The opening number with Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles was worth the price of admission.  Here at home there was fun finger food on the coffee table.  Chicken, water chestnuts and I don’t know what all in those lettuce wraps.  Tiny quiches, baby pizzas and other party bites we crave. Good show.  Good viewing partners.  Good food.  Bring on the next award show.

Denim Love

Moving clothes around for summer. How many blue denim shirts does a person need? Evidently this many. All are years old. They never go to storage. They’re in the closet all seasons. Five are for everyday. The top one’s church denim. Note ruffles and fancy stitching. Denim love means never having to say “enough.”

I started wearing men’s shirts in my teens, adopting the ones Daddy was ready to toss.  From then on, a bit of fading and a few worn-thin spots never bothered me.  On to vintage stores and thrift shops in every town I head first to the men’s racks to find old denim.

It’s a safe enough addiction/hobby for now.  At some magic number in the future, maybe I’ll stop and reconsider, but not today.

Tony Awards – Great Grazing Opportunity

Tony Awards are Sunday, June 10th and I wonder which platters will fill the coffee table by late afternoon.  We munch our way through  awards shows and special events. The person who plans the menus (daughter) is a passionate cook who likes to experiment. She reads every food publication (only a slight exaggeration) and watches Food Network and Cooking Channel, then surprises us with her choices. Anyone wandering by is welcome to fill a plate, even if you don’t stay for the show.

Grammys, Emmys, Oscars, the Super Bowl, all get special bites.  These appetizers become Sunday supper.  We grazed our way through the Billboard Music Awards recently (picture above) with a menu featuring flatbreads with various toppings and nachos with chunky goodness sprinkled all over. The small bowl held a lime crema for drizzling. (Food Network recipe, Guy Fieri’s, she said.)

My favorites are Jalapeno Bites. They’re snappy little creamy things, cheesy and puffy. I could  finish a whole platter myself.  They showed up on Mother’s Day and were gone in minutes. (Recipe from Trisha Yearwood.)

The Tonys are special.  I never miss a minute.  I’ll be in the big red chair ready for grazing.