The Taste of Summer

Taste of Summer The Taste of SummerSummer is my favorite time of the year. The flowers have bloomed, bright colors are everywhere, and the grass is green. I love the warm days, sounds of crickets and frogs after a rain, and watching fireflies light up the yard at dusk. I don’t even mind swatting a mosquito or two. I exaggerate.

Most of all I enjoy the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available during the summer months. Some of the best foods are related to summer.


Many of my favorite memories are tied to food, and summer.

For a while, I’ve pondered the “Taste of Summer.” I know it may seem a little odd, equating food with a season, but indulge me.

Recently, I started asking everyone I come in contact with “What does summer taste like?”

I’ve gotten some really great responses from barbecue to homemade ice cream, iced tea, and watermelon, along with others in between. And they all have their very own connection to the season.

This summer I’m on a quest to find The Taste of Summer. I’ll taste summer, cook up a little summer and share it in words, pictures and recipes along the way.

So I’ll ask you…

What does summer taste like to you?



Projects Half Done

ProjectsHalf Done Projects Half Done

Last year I wrote a post about several project I’d left half done and were awaiting my attention. There were a couple of travel pillows for the Sugababies, a few large baby bibs for my grandson, along with throw pillows for the daybed, and a running belt. All were cut out, pinned and ready to be sewn.

The pillows and bibs managed to get finished, but I can not say the same for the running belt. It’s still waiting. (Insert eye rolling) 

Mr. Husband bought me a sewing machine for Christmas 2014, I went crazy cutting out, and pinning projects. I finished a few, and the other “projects half done,” just had to wait their turn. Well, nothing’s changed. I go through creative phases. Sometimes I want to sew, sometimes I want to crochet, and other times… who knows. It’s what every strikes my fancy.

Last July I think it was, I started a doll house for the Sugababies. I sanded it and got it ready for painting. And that’s as far as I got. I had VERY good intentions, really I did.

That doll house has priority status, for this summer’s projects to complete. It HAS to get done before I start ANYTHING else. In fact, I’m going to put a deadline on it. June 18, I will have the doll house sanded again, painted, and decorated with a picture to prove it!

Other projects on my list of things to get around to this summer include:

  • Create a patio garden
  • Organize the kitchen cabinets
  • Finish decorating my library/office
  • Research African American Cemeteries
  • Complete the book I’m working on

How do you handle completing multiple projects?


Through The Fog of Fuch’s Dystrophy

Vision Through The Fog of Fuchs DystrophyIn November of 2015, I was diagnosed with Fuch’s Dystrophy. That seemingly general diagnosis on a Friday, evening led to an appointment with a cornea specialist a few days later on Monday.

That Monday… Let’s just say changed my life FOREVER!

Fast forward six months May 19, 2016

It was my third or fourth appointment with cornea specialist Dr. Berry. We completed all the necessary preliminaries, and I was cleared for surgery and put on “the list.” As in the transplant list, to receive donor corneas.

Yeah, it took you by surprise huh? Imagine being told, “No, there are no drops to fix Fuch’s Dystrophy.” My only recourse is to eventually have partial cornea transplants, or as DSEK. This procedure removes and replaces the fifth layer of the cornea with donor tissue.

Fuchs’ (fooks) dystrophy affects the cornea — the clear front window of your eye. This disorder causes swelling in the cornea that can lead to glare, cloudy vision and eye discomfort.

-Mayo Clinic

After the initial visit, I started doing my research and trying to find out EVERYTHING I wanted and needed to know about this weird sounding disease.  I was surprised to find that every website about Fuch’s Dystrophy said pretty much the same, and that wasn’t a lot. But what I did find, was more valuable than I could have imagined or asked for, a Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy support group on Facebook.

This support group is  “For those who have or have family that has this inherited disease.”  I’ve learned more from the experiences of its more than 1,000 members through post and discussions. The members have truly been a source of comfort.

An article posted in the group Corneal Dystrophy and Fuch’s Syndrome –The View From Our World validated everything I was seeing, and not seeing. For the first time, I could share with my family what I was experiencing and they could finally wrap their minds around my struggle.

On The List

Last week I had my pre-operation visit. Pictures were taken of the inside of my eye to make sure my retina is healthy enough to withstand the surgery. And indeed, it is. Dr. Berry, with all his optimism, said their office would now call the eye bank, and put me on “THE LIST.” The transplant list. Soon, I’ll get a call to schedule a date.

Just like he said, the call came, and my first transplant is scheduled for July 6. Pray for and with me that it be successful.

I knew from the start, this would be a transplant. But in my mind, I was thinking it’s just a surgery. And didn’t realize I’d have to be put on “THE LIST.” Unlike other organs, I’m not waiting for ‘the call.’ Through organ and tissue donations the Eye Bank is able to store corneas for needed transplants.

In 2015, 217 corneas were provided for transplants daily! That is AMAZING!!! – Eye Bank Assoc. of America

Becoming A Donor

I’ve been a registered organ and tissue donor since my early 20s. I’ve always thought it was important. Now I have a greater reason for being an advocate.

Being an organ and tissue donor, like giving blood saves lives, and restores a quality of life to those receiving transplants of different types, and degrees.

Many people have arguments against organ and tissue donation. But I’d like to present a strong argument FOR. Imagine if you will… someone being seriously ill, and all medical options have been exhausted. What if the ONLY option left was a life-saving organ transplant. Now imagine if you will, that someone was YOUR loved one!

How to become an organ and tissue donor:

  •  Register with your state donor registry, if available.
  • Designate your decision on your driver’s license.
  • Talk to your Family. To help your family understand and carry out your wishes, sit down with your loved ones and tell them about your decision to be an organ and tissue donor. They can serve as your advocate and may be asked to give consent for donation or provide information to the transplant team.

Tea Party Fit For A Queen

Tea Party Menu 1 683x1024 Tea Party Fit For A Queen

Recently, we had a bona fide tea party to honor our pastor’s wife, as a part of their 39th Pastor & Wife Anniversary. We wore spring dresses, hats, and gloves, and ate pretty tea party food.

More than 60 ladies attended, dressed in a great display of southern charm and sophistication, in true tea party fashion.

Related Article: Etiquette and History of Afternoon Tea

The idea for the tea party was my friend’s. ‘Mrs. P’ is a real life Martha Stewart type/renaissance woman. She cooks, decorates, and sews. Pretty much, she can bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan.

Although simple, the tables were beautifully decorated with teapots of different shapes, sizes, and colors. They created an ambiance perfect for tea with the queen, our queen that is.

My Favorite Menu Items

Everything was delicious, but I did have a few favorites. What is a good food post without recipes? I bothered ‘Mrs. P’ for her menu, and looked up recipes to match on Pinterest.

As you can see, the sandwiches were a hit with me. This tea party was so well received, everyone wants to make it an annual event. I am looking forward to the next one!




Six Life Lessons From A Mom of Five

Life Lessons Six Life Lessons From A Mom of FiveBeing the mother of five, and helping to raise a nephew, has taught me a few valuable life lessons. Following are six that stand out the most.

  1. Even with the same set of circumstances, there will always be a different outcome. Mr. Husband and I have produced five beautiful children. Each one, from the two of us, with vert different personalities, likes, dislikes, dreams, and goals.

Life lesson: Every life situation, even if every detail of preparation is the same WILL turn out differently! Recreating or duplication almost always never works. I’ve learned to be surprised and enjoy the outcome.

2. Preparation is key. It was going to be an awful day when I had to get everything, and everyone ready the morning of. Prior preparation of outfits, meals, along with knowing who needs to be where is essential! It has also kept me from losing my mind.

Life lesson: Although every situation is different, planning ahead for the things you can control helps to make life easier to handle. Flying by the seat of your pants will wear you out! 

3. Just wait for it. 

Life lesson: That rain or storm will soon pass over and the sun WILL come out again!

4. There will be lemons… Make lemonade! 

Life lesson: There will disappointments, disasters, and life storms. How you react, and deal with the situation is totally up to you. You have the option to wallow in pity, or make the best of the situation.

5. It’s okay not to have all the answers. When our children were little, I had the answer to most… okay some of their questions. And could fillibuster my way through the rest.  As they got older their questions became more complex and more difficult to answer.

Life lesson: There will be times when you don’t have an answer, don’t know anyone who does, and even Google can’t point you in the right direction. There isn’t always an answer or rational solution. And it’s actually okay!

6. Celebrate the small stuff!

Life lesson: It’s the little things our children, family members etc. will remember. Those little things impact our loved ones the most. Don’t believe me… try it.

There isn’t a MOM manual that comes with children. But growing and learning along the way benefits everyone involved!

Arkansas Literary Festival with Gabrielle Simone & Morgan Billingsley

Gabrielle and Morgan 1 Arkansas Literary Festival with Gabrielle Simone & Morgan Billingsley

You know that feeling, when you wake up excited about something you’re going to do that day? That was me recently!

I sprung out of bed (sounds cheesy I know), and did not do any of my Saturday chores. That could wait. I was headed to the Arkansas Literary Festival. To be more specific I was excited to attend a presentation of two young writers Gabrielle Simone, a seventh grader, along with Morgan Billingsley, an eighth grader.

The two young authors have co-authored two books The Perfect Present, and The Perfect Summer, with a third young lady Jackie Lee. Jackie wasn’t available, Morgan was Skyped in, and Gabrielle, a Little Rock native was in person for the event.

“You’re never too old to be a superstar in the making!! XOXO” 

Gabrielle’s English teacher, Mr. Tyler Eatherton conducted the interview style presentation. I was so very impressed with the ladies level of maturity. Although very young, they spoke and interacted with the intellect of 20-something young adults.

Mr. Eatherton asked if they’d consider being professional writers when they got older. Both said they have other interest they’d like to pursue, as well as continuing to write. Morgan made it clear “I consider myself a professional now.”

I wanted to give her a high five. You should have seen the huge grin on my face. Not many adults get it. And she so does.


Both Morgan and Gabrielle are currently working on separate projects outside of their co-authored books. They shared excerpts of stories they’re currently working on.

Morgan is influenced by writer author mom ReShonda Tate-Billingsley, along with other family members. Things her mom says, family activities, or something her bus driver does may end up in one of her stories, especially if she thinks it’s funny.

“She sends me back to the drawing board,” Morgan says of her mom, when she gives her writing to review that’s not her best. “She gives it to me straight.”

Gabrielle is also influenced by her mom, author Celia Anderson, along with family, friends and “All those writing prompts,” she laughs. She identifies with, and loves creating her wacky characters.


Writers block has not been a problem for Morgan, but explained she can be forgetful. Life is busy with school, volley ball, friends, and writing. It’s easy to forget that cool idea if she doesn’t write it down.

“I have a lot going on,” Gabrielle says. She plays several sports, and right now it’s basketball. Finding the time to write has been difficult. After the literary festival Gabrielle was off to a basketball game that afternoon.

Both young ladies agreed the deadlines are a dreadful part of writing.

LaTonya Gabrielle Simone Arkansas Literary Festival with Gabrielle Simone & Morgan Billingsley



The pair had sage advice for would be writers. I’m telling you, they are wise beyond their years.

“Don’t worry about grammar, just write and come back and fix it.” – Morgan Billingsley

“It’s all about your imagination. Don’t just write and give up, stick to it.” – Gabrielle Simone

When that thing you were so excited about, lives up to and fulfills your greatest expectations… It’s awesome. That’s how I left the presentation of these two young authors. I was so inspired!

Gabrielle signed my copy of The Perfect Summer… “You’re never too old to be a superstar in the making!! XOXO”

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?