Friday, November 28, 2008

A Beautiful Life

I know how fortunate I am to have had my beautiful grandmother as a wonderful role model throughout my life. She has been an inspiration to me always, and some of my most treasured memories of my childhood are special times that I spent with her. I remember thinking as a child that I wanted to grow up to be just like her. My grandmother wore beautiful suits, painted her nails and lips red, and wore high heeled shoes, and she always exuded class and sophistication. She went to work, came home and cooked dinner and still had time to spend with me reading or working on craft projects or telling me stories about her remarkable life. I remember sitting in her lap in front of the picture window at her house as she rocked me and told me stories about her sisters and brothers, her parents, her grandparents and growing up in Harlan. I was spellbound from an early age at these tales and hung on every word. And 40 years later, I'm still hanging on every word! My grandmother was ...and still is...a remarkable woman, and I am so proud to be her granddaughter.

Above: my grandmother on her 91st birthday. Above black and white photo: My grandmother, Aretta Lay Whitaker, and my grandfather, Paul Benjamin Whitaker, at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky in the 1940's.

On November 22, 2008, we celebrated her 91st birthday at her home with family and friends. When all the guests had gone, I listened as she talked about the wonderful, blessed life she has lived. As I listened to her reminisce about past times, friends and family, I realized what a testament she is to truly living and enjoying life. She has definitely lived it, learned it, and taught it! My grandmother, Aretta Inez Lay, was the second of eight children born to Albert Lay and Estella Rose Lay in Harlan, Kentucky. She grew up hiking and hunting with her father, learning to cook from her mother and enjoying the simple life they all lead in Harlan. She grew up and married my grandfather after meeting him at Green Mill Drug Store in Harlan, where she worked behind the soda counter. She had two children, taught kindergarten for 23 years, fought for economic and social progress in her community through MANY projects, served as a den mother when my father was a member of the Boy Scouts, volunteered as a "pink lady" at the local hospital, participated in a women's sorority that focused on community service, and still had time to make a beautiful and happy home and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

Those beautiful blue green eyes have seen so many changes in this world since her birth in 1917. She witnessed protests and crimes during the unionization of the mines in Harlan County in the 1930s and lived through the Great Depression, as well as WWII in which members of her family fought for our freedom. She could write volumes on the many things which she's had a first-hand account.

My grandmother continues to be a role model to me. At 91, she is still going strong and is as beautiful as ever. All my life, I have strived to be the kind of woman my grandmother has been throughout her life. She's taught by example, and if I manage to accomplish even half of what she has throughout her life, I would consider myself fortunate. She is beautiful, both inside and out, and has lived a truly amazing life...and she's not finished yet! She continues to be an example to her family and friends of what it means to live a full and blessed life. And we all feel very blessed to know her.

Grandmother blows out the candles on her birthday cake.

Grandmother Aretta Lay Whitaker with her brother, Albert Lay, Jr.

Grandmother Aretta with, left to right, Susie Mavinidis, Lakis Mavinidis, her son, Jay Whitaker

Grandmother Aretta with her nephew, Bill McSpadden, and his wife, Mary

My Grandmother with my aunt Vivian and me at my wedding in 2005.

Grandmother meets her first great-grandchild, Mary Addison, for the first time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Rolling Pin Fetish

I admit I have a problem. I just can't walk away from those beautiful old rolling pins! My husband wonders when the madness will end. Never, I say! As long as there are those brilliantly colored glass rolling pins (I actually have one that belonged to my great grandmother in amber color) and those gorgeous stoneware versions with the painted flowers, I'll never kick my habit!

I've found a great way to display my antique rolling pins. I picked up a wooden antique wine rack cheap, cheap, cheap at an estate sale and placed it on top of my antique ice chest. Instead of wine bottles, I placed my rolling pins in the slots, and it looks adorable! The accordian style racks are the best, as the staggered display allows each pin to be better seen. I've also placed some of my old rolling pins in dough bowls for a cute look, although it's a bit tougher to see the beautiful designs on those in the bowls. I recommend the solid, colored ones and wooden ones for that type of display.

I'd love to hear others' ideas on how to display these great old treasures!!

The photos above are courtesy of The photos below are of my own display and rolling pins at our B&B.

Please share ideas! I have more pins to display!!!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Laundry Room Remodel Completed!

Today has to be one of the most exciting days we've experienced here at the Little Young House in quite a while! While some people may get excited over new cars or expensive vacations, all it takes for me is a new washer and dryer and a remodeled laundry room to thrill me! I've lived without a washer and dryer for the past three months since we had water damage in the B&B. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to run an inn without a washer and dryer?!?! We actually closed our doors for a few weeks during the worst of the remodel -- we had to tear out old plaster, the floors and ceilings, pull out cabinets, etc. After living in a state of chaos and our guests not having access to our front parlor, today the madness ended. They delivered the washer and dryer early this morning and I've been working since to get a few things on the wall, get the supplies loaded back in the cabinets, and....yes...doing some laundry. That inaugural load was something to behold, believe me!

Anyway, here's the photos of the new room. You can't really appreciate it unless you've seen the photos of the water pouring from the ceilings and the sheet rock falling down...but I can't seem to find those photos at the moment (maybe I'm trying to forget). I still need to put curtains up and do a few final touches like some decor on the cabinet tops and painting the doors to the porch, but for the most part, it's complete.

Here's the room right after the floor installation, before being swept and scrubbed.

Molly checking out the dryer vent. Look at all that space! Wow!

The new counter tops look great, and our new laundry sink is extra deep for hand washing clothes or giving Max a bath! Molly is admiring them, too. She's thinking...nice!

Here come the appliances! The guys from Bradford Appliance admitted they'd never had their picture taken when making a delivery. I explained I was the most excited new appliance owner they'd ever meet!

Isn't that the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? Okay, well maybe not for you, but for me, it's up there with JFK Jr. and red sunsets!

Appliances in and the room doesn't seem so spacious anymore. But I can handle it.

Cleaned, a little decor in, and I'm ready to do some laundry!

The first load in...what a beautiful sight! It was especially exciting because it was the comforter from our bed, and it's HUGE! There was room to spare in the washing machine!

Gotta have something cute to look at, right? Check out my dancing frog lamp. Sooo adorable. Anyone have any ideas on how to hide cords? Those are light bulbs in the basket...they won't be there permanently. ;-)

Cross stitch by Jean Durham and a pitcher and tray we received as a wedding present.

A few more little touches...still more to do, but looking better!

Michael is especially proud of the faucet he picked out. It's a sprayer that pulls out so that we can...spray.

One final look. When the curtains are in, it will look better, but it looks like a thing of beauty to me right now!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Step in the Journey

Posted by Paula

Today, despite recovering from a horrible week-long bout of asthma, I was able to get out a bit and get some very important things accomplished! After a week of laying around in bed and a three day hospital visit, it feels good to make some progress! Michael and I went today to be fingerprinted and have a criminal records check for the adoption process. I admit, I was expecting to have to put my fingers on an ink pad and roll them across the little cards like you see the criminals do in all the old cop shows, but I was amazed! It's all digital! No ink! No black fingertips! What progress! I was relieved that neither Michael nor I have a criminal past (we weren't really expecting anything to show up, but there's always a chance Michael could have a deep dark past...Ha! --- He told me his "Butler High School" reputation just hadn't got around. This is so funny in so many ways). Anyway, another step accomplished on the road to adoption! It feels great!

Our New Business Blog

I've been home the last couple of days due to illness, and I've been bored. I don't do well with bored. I MUST find something to do. So...I created a new blog for our B&B business. Go visit. Subscribe. Follow. Please! I'll post our favorite recipes, house projects, our neverending list of B&B responsibilities. I'll need encouragement. Don't let me down! Find the blog at

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Family Genealogy Project

Posted by Paula

I've been researching my family's genealogy for about 17 years, and I've made a lot of progress with it. When I was first out of college and living in Knoxville, I would attend genealogy seminars and conferences as often as I could. Usually, I was the only person under 60 who attended. I loved it! There's nothing like sitting in a dusty archive room and finding a clue that reveals something about an ancestor's life. It's like working a never ending puzzle, and I thrive on it!

Since Michael and I have been married and our lives have been so hectic, I took a little break from doing research. I've missed it, but I'd work on it a couple of times a year for a day or two just to say I'd done SOMEthing. I'm trying to make it more of a priorty again, as I enjoyed it so much.

Below is the list of names I'm researching. If anyone out there has any genealogy research on any of the listed sirnames, I'd love to chat to see if we're researching the same lines! Please contact me!!

Argyll, Atheling, Bolten, Boucher, Boyd, Bradley, BRUCE, Bryant, BUSSELL, Butcher, Campbell, Cranston, Cunningham, Demautlent, Dethirlstane, Drummond, Dunbar, Duncan, Empson, Estice/Estes, Fitzwalter, Fleming, Foley, Fotheringham, Gibson, GRANT, Gwilim, Hamilton, Hatfield, Holland, Hunter, IRVIN, Langston, LAUDER, LAUDERDALE, LAY, LESKO, Lindsay, MacDommnal, MacEchdach, MacFergusso, MAITLAND, McFarland, PETTUS, PHILLIPS, RAGLAND, REITENAUER, RIDENOUR, ROSE, Seton, SEXTON, Stewart, WEBB, WHITAKER, WHITEAKER.

Quite the list, I know. I've capitalized those I'm most interested in gathering information (or those with the closest ancestors. The primary countries to which these lines tie are England, Scotland, Wales, France and Germany. My Campbell line apparently ties to the Cherokee nation.

Would love to share info if any are working on some of the names, as well!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

An Adoption Journey

Michael and I are excited. We have began a new journey, a new chapter in our lives. We are in the process of adopting a baby, and we are thrilled. We began this journey a few months ago. Finally coming to terms with our inability to conceive, we researched different adoption agencies and felt led to Bethany Christian Services. Bethany has 75 offices across the country and three in the state of Tennessee. We are working with the Nashville office and have completed both the informal and formal applications, have gone through the orientation process, and are currently working on our home study.

I felt it important that I begin a "waiting" journal, written for our baby that we will share with him/her when they are old enough to discuss and understand their adoption story. It's been an exciting thing for me to start, to write letters to my child, to tell my child all the things Michael and I are doing in order to bring him/her home. We have already selected baby names and have moved on to discussing the nursery...all the things the agency tells you to do while on the waiting list. Somehow it makes the waiting a bit easier.

In the next few weeks, we'll go through the home visit. Representatives from the agency will visit our home, inspect it, and let us know if it is fit for a child to live here. This is the step that frightens me the most! I've tried to walk through the house and look at all the things that could pose a hazard to a child, and HAZARDS ARE EVERYWHERE! Everything from my Victorian hatpins, poisonous cleaning supplies, and our staircase frighten me! Okay, I can do something about the hatpins and cleaning supplies, but we'll have to live with the staircase. Our yard isn't fenced in, and we live on a busy road. Scary. I've never looked at our home through the eyes of a mother, and what I see has scared me to death. We're going to fail the home visit!!!!! Thankfully, they're sharing information with us that will help us to make our home safer. Even with those studies, I'm not sure we can baby proof this house! How do families do this?!?!

With all the joy and excitement we feel, there is one more feeling that we can't escape. Complete and utter terror! What if we don't do everything we need to do to provide the baby a safe home in which to live? Do all expecting parents go through this? Does it get easier? Is there some kind of baby safety expert that we can hire to help us?!?! If so, please share!!