Art, History, & Inspiration

Torri Richardson painting 1024x1024 Art, History, & Inspiration

Recently, our youngest daughter Torri has been working hard on creating art work to enter into the Arkansas Young Artist Association spring competition.

She’s spent a lot of time drawing, painting, and looking for inspiration for each piece. As an 11th grade high school student, she’s thinking ahead about college, scholarships, and careers. You guessed it, she’s leaning towards art.

Seeing her passion and commitment to her work, I talked with Danny Campbell, chair of the Art Department at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. That conversation led to her signing up for Portfolio Day, along with their upcoming High School Pre-College Art & Design Program in June.

I expressed my interest in taking her on a tour of museums this summer. Without hesitation Mr. Campbell suggested Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Mosaic Templar’s Cultural Center, both in Arkansas. He also handed me a flyer for the Kinsey Collection opening April 8, at MTCC.

Kinsey Collection Photo Art, History, & Inspiration

Torri and I were in attendance of the opening of this amazing collection of African American History. I don’t know what expectations we had of the exhibit, but we came away being inspired, and having a greater appreciation and pride for our history.

Little Rock is the 21st city of this traveling exhibit since 2007. During this time, more than 5 million people have had the opportunity to view the collection. In December it will open in Hong Kong!

“We don’t assume people don’t want to see it. Not only are we valuable, we have to own it, and project it.” -Bernard Kinsey

Bernard Kinsey and Torri Richardson 1024x959 Art, History, & Inspiration
Bernard Kinsey, and Torri Richardson

This exhibit is a mix of original and rare art, artifacts, books, documents and manuscripts that weave together a perfect story of African American achievements and contributions.

Some of those artifacts I was so intrigued by included Dr. Maya Angelou’s typewriter, a book of poems by Phyllis Wheatley, along with love letters written by Zora Neale Hurston. I’m drawn to other writers, and literally ogled these treasures.

Maya Angelous typewriter  1024x848 Art, History, & Inspiration

“Our People matter… These people came from good stuff. When you feel you come from good stuff, you walk different.” – Bernard Kinsey 

Documents of the earliest known black baptism (1595), and the first recorded black marriage (1598), both of St. Augustine, Florida moved me in a way I’m unable to put into words. Mr. Kinsey said it best…

“You’ll see things [in the collection] you won’t ever see again.”

If you have the opportunity to see this collection in person, drive, hop a train, fly or walk… You will not be disappointed.

Rules of Group Texting

Group texting 1024x524 Rules of Group Texting

Like most people, I hate receiving group text messages. For the most part it’s because people just don’t understand the “RULES.” This list was developed through my experiences and disdain for the practices carried out in group messages.  These also apply for group texting apps such as GroupMe.

1. How to respond: If you have a response intended for the sender of the message and not the group, respond to them personally in a separate text.

Only respond to the entire group, if your message will benefit everyone.

2. Use a disclaimer: The sender of the group text should make a simple statement at the beginning of the message such as “This is a group text,”  just as a reminder to the group.

Continue this until all of your friends GET IT!

3. No side conversations: There is NO need for back and forth side conversations in a group text between just two people about a completely different subject. The group isn’t interested, and doesn’t want to be distracted by the constant chiming of their cell phones.

Share contact information with the party you’re interested in carrying on a conversation with, and see no. 1.

4. Don’t respond to unfamiliar numbers: If you receive a text from a unfamiliar phone number minutes, or even hours after receiving a group message DO NOT reply “Who Is This?”

It’s a very good chance you.don’t.know them! And it’s awkward.

5. Respond at a descent hour: If you are one of those people who are über busy and only respond to text late at night, or early the next morning be mindful of others.

Everyone may not be in the same time zone, or appreciate getting a text in the middle of the night. Or at the crack of dawn.

6. Mute the conversation: If push comes to shove you can always mute the conversation.

Do group text make you want to pull your hair out? What are your group text pet peeves?

Not Spring Cleaning

Desk top 1024x845 Not Spring CleaningI finally got rid of my old mouse. Now I’m wondering what took me so dang long? I was agonizing over, and playing with it, just to make the thing cooperate some of the time. And wala… just like that, a brand new mouse, that follows my movements makes me want to sit down, and write this blog post!

I probably would have suffered with that mouse for months more, but Tish Bullard’s Emerging Entrepreneur tele Workshop  got me started de-cluttering, cleaning, and organizing my home office, to be more creative and productive. She also suggested adding simple things to our space like flowers, and inspirational quotes to make the space more inviting.

That motivation is spilling over into other areas of our home.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m definitely NOT Spring Cleaning! 

Spring Cleaning [springklee-ning]

a complete cleaning of a place, as a home, done traditionally in the spring of the year.

Spring Cleaning is so, not what I’m doing. Note the definition. I don’t want to completely clean my house, or anything else for that matter. Just the thought of it gives me hives.

But I don’t mind tiding and sprucing things up a bit. Since cleaning and organizing my work space, I’ve wanted to sit down to write, create, and think there! I’ve even dug up a few blast from the past that have sparked an idea or two.

I almost got derailed several times. A few old pictures and art projects took me on a nostalgic journey of when our children were younger. I put them all in a designated place, and kept it moving. I have one more book shelf to get around to.

My desk and work space has been an inspiration to branch out into the house. More specifically the kitchen.

I’d like to organize the kitchen cabinets, and drawers. We recently purchased new storage containers, and cabinet is in need of better organization. I’m proud to say my pots and pans are good, but the lids need a system. And there are three drawers that are stuffed and running over.

That’s enough to fill an entire Saturday! It’s not going to be a quick, but Pinterest has helped be find the following post to get me started to:

Do you have any projects lined up for NOT spring cleaning?


My 16 For 16

Untitled design 4 1 1024x768 My 16 For 16I often thought about my life goals, and what I would put on my bucket list. I’ve seen other peoples list that seem to be miles long. Just thinking about a list of 100 or more life goals is so overwhelming!

The only way to tackle a list of goals big or small is the same way I’d eat an elephant.

One Bite At A Time

Of course I have goals, but even the thought of having dozens of things to accomplish, and not knowing the expiration date is a little more than I want to think about.

Instead, I’ve narrowed things down to just doing what I can this year. And next year… I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

As I thought about it a little more, It dawned on me. Why not create a list of 16 things I want to accomplish in 2016? And that’s exactly what I did. As I complete each one, I’ll come back to this very post and mark it done with a picture.

I’m three months behind. I’d better step on it!

  1. Start an Indie Publishing company. In progress
  2. Publish at least one children’s book.
  3. Visit the Grand Canyon. It was absolutely AMAZING! GCNP16 1024x896 My 16 For 16
  4. Visit Petit Jean Mountain State Park. For years,I’ve wanted to hike there during the spring to see the waterfalls. This year it’s happening!
  5. Go camping.
  6. Create a patio garden in the backyard.
  7. Have a real live photo shoot with makeup, wardrobe, the works!            May 14, two days before my birthday, I attended a tea party. The dress I wore was perfect for a photo shoot, and I took advantage of it. It wasn’t as elaborate as I had envisioned, but it was perfect. The pictures on this blog are the results, what do you think?
  8. Host a tea party/ladies brunch.
  9. Host a writers workshop for kids.
  10. Set up several little free libraries.
  11. Have a book drive.
  12. Have a Nunnie camp with the Sugababies.
  13. Eat sushi with my daughters.
  14. Visit the Crater of Diamonds.
  15. Plan a get away with ONLY Mr. Husband.
  16. Open for incoming ideas.

To say I’m excited about the year ahead and its possibilities is an understatement. Do you have a bucket list, life goals? How do you tackle them?

Southern Teacakes and Fond Memories

Teacakes Southern Teacakes and Fond Memories

I have a love affair with food, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!

Good food seems to be front and center for good times and celebrations. Food has given us a reason for large and small family gatherings. For me, those gatherings are priceless.

Particular foods conjure up warm and fuzzy memories, especially those of my grandmothers. Both of them were excellent cooks. My father gave me the BEST complement a few months ago. As he was inhaling my candied yams he said, “Your sister may look like your grandmother, but you cook like her.”

That was the best compliment ever!

We called my dad’s mom My’Dear, and she was an excellent homemaker. She cooked, sewed, crocheted, and gardened among other things. And she was great at them all! One thing in particular that comes to mind when I think of My’Dear is her teacakes. *Insert deep heavy sigh.*

This morning teacakes and My’Dear were heavy on my heart and mind. I was not going to let the sun go down with out making a batch. Armed with Paula Deen’s Southern Teacakes recipe I went to work.

Teacake dough Southern Teacakes and Fond Memories

I took creative license and added 1 tsp of Cream of Tarter to punch it up a bit. Another thing I didn’t do was put the dough in the refrigerator to chill, roll out, cut and then bake. I didn’t have time for all of that.

I used the spoon drop method. Unlike other cookies, teacake dough is stiff, and doesn’t rise and spread. If you’re not going to roll out the dough and cut it with cookie cutters, be sure to flatten your cookies.

Using a plastic cup, I sprayed the bottom with cooking spray and mashed the dough to flatten the cookies.

My teacakes look a little different, and even have a little something extra. But like My’Dear’s, they turned out great!

Happy Baking… Always La Tonya.

The #Blogproject – Forward Go

Forward go The #Blogproject   Forward GoI wanted to title this post… I’m done! But it’s just the opposite. Although I’ve completed the project of setting up a brand new blog from start to finish, it’s time to get busy!

It has been both a fun experience, as well as a challenge. Finding information on “how-to” was not difficult at all. There are tons of books, articles, websites… devoted to developing blogs, and websites. I was blessed in finding information I could digest, follow, and implement without too much trouble.

The sense of accomplishment I felt after completing one task after the other was AMAZING!

One of the last tasks I completed was adding social media icons. I started with SitsGirl’s How to Add Social Media Icons to Your Blog. I turned to Youtube when I started experiencing a trouble. Just reading the directions was leaving me disconnected. I needed to see and hear someone go through the process. That’s when I found Monica Stone’s Tutorial: Adding Social Media Icons To Your WordPress Blog.

That was just what I needed!

After downloading icons, moving them to a folder, adding them to the media file, and adding the Crafty Social Buttons plugin… I was stuck again.

Finally, I clicked… clicked… and realized the widget was simple enough without the hoopla. I just added the URL links for each social media account, chose a look… And WALA, social media icons!

To say I’m excited is an understatement! I’m looking forward to sharing with you topics that include Adventure, Blogging, Books, Crafts & DIY, Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Writing & Publishing, and who knows what else.

Join me on this new journey, and let’s see where it takes us.



The #BlogProject – Design & Inspiration

the blog project 2 The #BlogProject   Design & Inspiration

Excited does not begin to explain my feelings for the transformation of my blog thus far. I am most proud of my header. Although it’s temporary, nonetheless I am bubbling over.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very pleased with the header so far. The font, Magnolia Sky, is absolutely me, and of course the picture is me as well. On the second or third header redo there was a tagline. A little blah, and it didn’t really do it’s job. According to Best Blog Designs: How to Stand Out in a Crowded Online Space

“A tagline or slogan will instantly tell people what your blog is about.”

It just wasn’t there yet, so I’m still working on it. Actually I’m trying to decide if I’m going to use a tagline at all.

Second, I’d like a better picture for the header. The first picture I chose was not inviting at all. It was more like a scarecrow, in that it would only keep readers away from my blog instead of drawing them to it. I’m really inspired by a picture of Nikki Giovanni (the one in the middle).

In looking through pictures of myself, mostly selfies, I realized I don’t have a descent picture for my blog. I was planning to have a real photo shoot with makeup, wardrobe, the whole nine yards for my birthday in May. Why wait? A new #blogproject gives me the perfect reason to make it happen.

I am the worst when it comes to posing for pictures, I never know what to do with my hands. My daughter’s friend Being Ella Marie, says she’s not a model, but is my inspiration for this impromptu photo session

Before I move forward and get started on new tasks and  I’m taking to heart Francesca’s advice from How To Create an Inspired Blog Design.

“Find five blogs you can stare at for hours. , Determine what is it about these blogs that you enjoy. Write down what it is you love about these sites and what aspects you’d like to see on your blog.”

My to-do list for the next couple of days:

  • Create Blog Topics. Come up with up to eight blog topics.
  • Evaluate Colors
  • Design a footer

I really have my work cut out for me. Again, come back to check out my progress!


The #BlogProject – Getting Started

the blog project getting started The #BlogProject   Getting StartedWelcome to my brand new blog Always LaTonya. My initial plans were to work on the blog until March 15, then launch with major hoopla and fanfare.

Saturday morning I had this great shower idea.

I can still have an “Official Launch,” but why not post about the journey of building my blog along the way. Instead of writing a huge post on how I got to March 15, I’ll post about the process step by step. A #blogproject if you will.

Although I’ve blogged since 2009, I haven’t started a brand new blog since then. At that time I didn’t have a clue at what I was doing. Today, I know a little more than I did six and a half years ago, however so much has changed. I’ve changed. After doing a little research I came across Sits Girls How To Blog: 21 Fundamentals Every Bloggers Need. This was just what I needed!

March 1, I registered my brand new domain name, and purchased hosting services. It was nerve wrecking! It took months to come up with a name for my new blog, and it was important to have the perfect name.  So far I’ve installed several plugins suggested in 15 Best Plugins For Your WordPress Blog.

My to-do list for the next couple of days include:

  • Find a WordPress theme I love.
  • Write a slamming About Page.
  • Create an awesome header.

I’ve narrowed my choice of themes to three… Button, Sugar & Spice, or Twenty Sixteen. I’m not sold on either just yet, but I’m getting there. If you come back, and the look is different, know that I’m still trying to decide.

Sits Girls How to Perfect Your About Page has been my guide while tackling my About Page. Did I mention that site has a ton of great information! My last about page was a little generic, and brief. I’ve grown as a blogger, and I want that page to reflect it.

In looking for a tutorial on how to create a WordPress header I came across Julie Stoian of Fabulous Blogging  Her post Creating A Header Image for Your Blog  is simple and detailed enough that a non-coding person like myself can understand. When I complete this task, I might be feeling myself a little. Although I’m doing all the work on my site myself, it’s important that it doesn’t look like I did it myself. You know, like a wannabe designer threw something together.

With Julie’s tutorial and video Create a Header Without Photoshop, I’m sure to make a statement. It looks like I have enough work to keep me busy for the next few days. Keep coming back to check out my progress.