Mother’s Chocolate Pie

chocolate pie

Mother's Chocolate Pie
My mother, Lucille Leming, is a great Southern cook and is especially known for the yummy desserts she brings to our family gatherings. When I think about my favorite recipe that she prepares, it would have to be her Chocolate Pie. Her grandsons, Brian and Craig, and the great-grandsons would probably agree to that choice!
  • 2¼ cups milk
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ stick butter
  • Vanilla
  1. Bake a pie crust and let it cool. Separate the eggs and save the whites for the meringue.
  2. In a large microwaveable bowl combine milk, sugar, cocoa, flour, and egg yolks.
  3. Microwave for a total of 6 to 8 minutes in 2 minute increments. After each 2 minutes of
  4. microwaving, stir the filling well. The pie filling should be thick and creamy.
  5. Add butter and vanilla and stir well.
  6. Pour into cooked pie shell.
  7. Top with meringue topping below.

  • 5 egg whites
  • 10 Tbsp. of sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. of Cream of Tartar per each egg white
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  1. Beat, medium speed, till soft peaks form.
  2. Gradually add Cream of Tartar and vanilla.
  3. Beat at high speed till stiff, glossy peaks form.
  4. Immediately spread over Mother's Chocolate Pie to edge of pastry.
  5. Bake at 350º until peaks of meringue begin to lightly brown.


Carrot Cake

carrot cake

This recipe was a favorite of Vicki Turner’s maternal  Aunt Geraldine. Carrot cake has been a tradition for more than 30 years in her family for the Christmas holidays.

Carrot Cake
This recipe was a favorite of my mom's sister (Aunt Geraldine). Carrot cake has been a tradition for more than 30 years in my family for the Christmas holidays. Sometimes Mom and I would bake together but most of the time I baked.
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups canola oil
  • ¼ cup crushed pineapple
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 4 eggs
  1. Mix together, pour into two 9-inch pans and bake for 30 minutes at 350º.

Carrot Cake Icing
  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • ¾ stick of butter
  • tsp. vanilla
  • cup chopped nuts
  1. Cream together. Spread over cool layers.

6 Things You Can Do for a Summer of Happiness

sunshine girl

Summer of Happiness: Six Simple Things You Can Do This Summer to Let the Sunshine In
If your life could use a little lift, Todd Patkin says there’s no better time than summer to make small changes that will have a big impact on your outlook.

Summer is a time of warm temperatures, sunny skies, green leaves, neighborhood cookouts, family vacations, ice cream cones, and more. In short, it’s a season that’s full of opportunities for enjoyment—so why do so many of us drift through these warm weeks in the same hum-drum fog we’re lost in during the other three seasons? The fact is, most of us have become numbed by life, feeling that we’re victims of circumstance and simply trying to survive each day. So while a refreshing dip in the swimming pool might put a smile on your face while you’re submerged, your good mood usually doesn’t last long.

Don’t despair, though—you can influence your level of happiness to a much greater extent than you think. And the best news of all is that there’s no better time to start than during the summer.

“Most people don’t realize that happiness is a choice,” says Todd Patkin, author of the new book Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, “It’s true—happiness is learning how to live your best life by figuring out a better way to react to what happens to you. It’s the culmination of all of the little actions, choices, and habits that fill our days, as well as how we think about them.”

If that’s true—if your happiness really is determined not by what your life looks like but by how you look at your life—then why is summer an ideal time to start changing your focus?

“Life doesn’t completely stop in the summer, of course, but it does tend to slow down and give us more time to reflect on how happy we are with our lives, and to think about what changes we may want to make,” explains Patkin. “For many families, the daily pace is less hectic, and you’re more likely to spend time relaxing. Plus, since summer is a time of warmth, light, and growth, it’s naturally uplifting. Put together, that all means that over the next few months, you’ll have more time and (hopefully) energy to devote to making meaningful lifestyle changes.”

Patkin knows what he’s talking about. After realizing that financial success, recognition, accolades, and atta-boys didn’t bring the fulfillment he thought they would, Patkin set off to identify the ingredients of a happy and contented life. And he’s found that surprisingly simple lifestyle changes and habits can make a tremendous difference in your attitude, mood, and outlook.

“If you take the following suggestions to heart, I promise that you’ll be a much happier person by the time the leaves start to turn,” Patkin asserts. “And don’t worry—most of these habits will take only a few minutes out of your day, and some won’t take any extra time at all. Plus, they’re activities the whole family can get involved in and benefit greatly from.”

If you’re ready to put a genuine summer smile on your face, then read on for six simple ways to up your contentment quotient:

Enjoy the weather: Exercise. No one except the most avowed couch potato can resist venturing out into the great outdoors when the sun is shining and the grass is green. Take advantage of the wonderful weather and up your activity level! Exercise will begin to relax you, make you feel stronger, and improve your sleep. It’s also a natural anti-depressant that will boost your attitude and outlook. And as time passes, you’ll gain the added bonus of being happier with your physical appearance as well.

“I think exercise is the single most important thing you can do to improve your life right now,” Patkin asserts. “It’s a fantastic energizer, and it actually opens you up to future change by invigorating your mind and body. And don’t worry—I’m not saying you have to start training for a marathon. Commit to walking just twenty minutes every other day to start out. Or if circumstances allow, take a walk in the woods or swim a few laps in the pool instead. Lastly, take your kids along—you’ll be instilling exercise in them as a great habit that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

Get some new sunglasses: Be easier on yourself. Most people tend to go through life as though they’re wearing glasses with prescriptions that allow them to focus only on the negative things: their failures, mistakes, worries, etc. This summer, put on a new pair of shades with a more positive prescription that enables you to focus on all of the good things in your life, too! The fact is, we’re all human—and thus fallible—so it’s normal to make mistakes. However, it’s not healthy or beneficial to dwell on them.

“Most of us tend to be out and about more in the summer than in the colder months, so really take note of all the positive interactions you have and compliments you receive,” Patkin urges. “For instance, let yourself bask in your family’s compliments when you grill a great meal and savor your neighbor’s praise of your backyard garden. Basically, extend to yourself the same love and kindness that you would to others you care about! Until you give yourself permission to break free of the cycle of self-blame and negativity that causes you to be stuck demanding perfection from yourself in every situation, you’ll never have a chance to be a truly relaxed, content, and happy person.”

Plan some fun activities: Play to your strengths. The days are longer, schedules are more relaxed, there are several holidays to look forward to, and you’ll probably be taking some vacation days. Resolve to spend some of that time developing your special abilities and talents! If you want to be happy, you need to recognize, use, and share your gifts. Each of us has been given special, unique strengths, and when we are using them, we’re happier and feel much better about ourselves—and the world at large is better off, too!

“If you’ve never done so before, sit down and make two lists: Write down your strengths as well as what you really enjoy doing,” advises Patkin. “Usually, many of the things on these lists will overlap. Then, make it a goal to spend more time doing these things that you enjoy and are best at. Focusing more on a hobby or personal interest you like is a good start, even if, like exercise, you do it for only twenty minutes every other day. After all, your kids get to go to special-interest activities and camps during the summer…so why shouldn’t you get in on the action, too?”

Smell the roses: Live in the present. There are so many moments to treasure throughout our lives, and they’re often especially vivid in the summer: the sound of your kids playing outside, the scent of the herbs in your garden, the feeling of sand between your toes and sun on your skin. The question is, are you really experiencing and enjoying these moments…or is your mind obsessing over the past or worrying about the future while only your body is physically present? If it’s the latter, you’re only exacerbating your anxiety and unhappiness by choosing to dwell on things you can’t control.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to truly appreciate the present moment,” Patkin shares. “And hopefully, this season will offer plenty of good opportunities to do that. Try to be aware of what your thoughts are ‘doing,’ and please don’t get discouraged when you find yourself going back to your old negative mental habits! In fact, pat yourself on the back because you’re noticing that you’re doing something you don’t want to do anymore. This is a fantastic start. By autumn, you’ll be closer to living the adventurous, wonderful life you were always meant to. Also, keep in mind that your children usually know when your mind is not 100 percent there with them. Don’t unintentionally make them feel less important in your life.”

Break out the barbeque: Strengthen close relationships. Summer is known for cookouts, pool parties, and front-porch sittin’. Don’t be “that family” who always keep to themselves—try to host at least one or two events between June and September and invite the people you love over for some fun. The truth is, it’s worth putting work into improving your relationships with your family and friends all year round, because the quality of your bonds with the people closest to you can make or break the quality of your life.

“Also, I’d like to specifically mention one relationship you need to focus on in particular: your relationship with your spouse or significant other,” Patkin says. “You must put as much time and effort into this relationship as you do your house, your car, or your job. Celebrate your spouse every day. Trust me: This can make such a great difference in your relationship, because when your partner feels as special as he or she did in the early days of your romance, he or she will feel just as loved…and the spark of your relationship will stay alight. Summer is a great time to pick a bouquet of wildflowers, plan a romantic getaway, or purchase tickets to an outdoor concert that you’ll both enjoy, for starters.”

Smile and say hello: Be friendlier. Yes, spend more quality time with the people who are most important to you this summer, but also continue to make new connections. You’re not the only one who ventures outside your front door more often in the summer—so make a conscious effort to be friendlier to others you encounter, too. Introduce yourself to the family next to you at the pool or beach, for example, and say hello to folks you pass while walking in the park. (You’ll also be setting a great example for your kids.)

“Extending simple human kindness to others can make a huge difference in their lives…and in yours,” Patkin promises. “You see, everyone on Earth is carrying some sort of burden. You can’t make their pain, stress, or grief just disappear…but you can be what I call a ‘lamp lighter’—someone who makes others feel just a little bit lighter and happier on their feet, if only for five seconds. When you make friendliness a habit, you’ll attract kindness and smiles in return…and you’ll feel great about yourself for making a positive difference in the world!”

“These suggestions are meant to be a starting point for you,” Patkin concludes. “My hope is that you’ll incorporate these habits into your life and experience a more sunshine-y summer…and that you’ll remember this season as the beginning of your journey toward happiness. It’s true—what may seem like small changes in your actions and attitudes really can make a huge difference in how you experience the rest of your life!”



# # #

About the Author: Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In, grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wonderful wife, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter.

About the Book: Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-9658261-9-8, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and at




My Chef Nancy’s Johnston Mac and Cheese


This is one of my Mom’s “rotation of five” recipes.  She learned it from their Irish maid as a little girl.  She called the cheese “rat trap cheese”.  It’s a different mac and cheese, but simple and comforting.


My Chef Nancy's Johnston Mac and Cheese
  • 8 oz package of elbow macaroni, cooked to al dente per package directions
  • 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese (Mom used Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp, cut into cubes; don’t use processed cheese.)
  • 1 stick butter
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Butter a 1 ½ qt. casserole dish. Layer pasta, cheese and butter dots in pan, ending with cheese. Salt and Pepper each layer. Fill pan ½ way with milk. Bake t 350 until it bubbles.


Learning to Cook: A Tribute to Our Mothers

FW's publisher Joyce Beverly cooks with her grandmother.

Did you grow up cooking at the knee of your mother, aunt, or grandmother?  Did you learn the tricks of perfect biscuits, cookies and cakes?   For many of us, this is exactly how the love of cooking is sparked.  For me, not so much.   My mother, Ann, was a brilliant and creative woman.  She could look at a designer dress, create her own pattern and sew it all for much less money—and all she was missing was the tag.  She would spend evenings hand-smocking dresses for her little girls.  Mom was an amazing beloved middle school teacher whose students flocked to her funeral years later.   As a cook, however, Mom had her revolving five entrees.  They were all accompanied by an iceberg lettuce salad and a stack of white Wonderbread.  Catalina dressing for Dad and Wishbone Italian Dressing for Mom and the girls.  She did teach us all the love of good food, though, and I think my sisters and I learned to cook because Mom (and Dad) loved and appreciated it when we did cook.

FW’s publisher Joyce Beverly cooks with her grandmother.

I think about the pierogies my Granny made for us a couple of times a year.  They were delivered with a stick of “real” butter to brown them in.  The kids loved the cheese pierogies, Dad loved the sauerkraut and Mom loved both.  Now, I would love to enjoy any of them, but most of all I would love to know how to make them.  That really thin dough my Granny would roll out by hand; no fancy pasta makers in those days.  I have tried, but mine are just not the same.  The recipe, the experience, is gone.  Not long ago I asked my father’s sister if she would teach me and she, too, doesn’t have the method or recipe.  I now know what an absolute act of love those pierogies really are.

Do you have recipes of your mom, grandmother, or aunt?  Are they in that little box with the rooster on it or red gingham?  If so, what are you doing with them?   Life has gotten busier for all of us.  Our day normally does not include a big open time frame to plan and cook the meals of yesteryear.  You are now the owner of this information, and it will cease to exist if you don’t pass it on to your kids and their kids.  We have the convenience of fast and sometimes healthy food created for us quickly and easily.

Get your kids involved with cooking.  If they are blessed to have a grandmother with them; share, share, share.  Share the gift of cooking and the love of your family’s heritage.  Studies have shown that introducing kids to cooking early allows them to taste new things sooner and they are more likely to have a more diverse palate if they are involved in the shopping and cooking.  My 2 ½ year old nephew, Louie, visited us during Easter.  I propped him up in a chair on the other side of my island and we went to town.  Louie’s job was making the salad, all the while popping spinach leaves and mushrooms in his mouth.  Not sure he really liked the mushrooms, but I did notice the next night when we had make your own pizza night, mushrooms were a part of his creation.

If you are the steward of the family recipes, here are some ideas of how to save  and pass them along.  When a child marries or goes off to their first home, create a recipe book of the family recipes along with their own favorites.  If you are the mother of a son, do the exact same for him; it is not just girls who need to know this!  In this day and time men are often responsible for the meals.  Make a plan to digitize your family recipes.  Some of my favorite recipes are those handwritten by my mother and father.  Dad’s sourdough starter remains on my pegboard of recipes to this day, but is now protected by a plastic sleeve.

As a tribute to our mothers, this month we are honoring them with recipes they have taught us.  Thanks to all of our contributors this month who have put their heart and soul into these recipes and memories.




Georgia’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2012

baby crawl

The Social Security Administration today announced the most popular baby names in Georgia for 2012.  Emma and William topped the list.

The top five boys and girls names in Georgia for 2012 are:


1)  William

2)  Mason

3)  Jacob

4)  Michael

5)  Jayden



1)   Emma

2)   Ava

3)   Isabella

4)   Madison

5)   Olivia

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced last week that Sophia and Jacob were the most popular baby names in the U.S.  How does Georgia compare to the rest of the country?  Check out Social Security’s website — — to see the top baby names for 2012.

While having fun with baby names on, people may want to create a my Social Security account; a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits.

More than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients can now access their payment history, benefit verification letter, and earnings record instantly using their online account.  Social Security beneficiaries also can change their address and start or change direct deposit information. People age 18 and older who are not receiving benefits can sign up for a my Social Security account to get a personalized online Social Security Statement. Social Security’s online services continually rank among the highest rated for websites in the United States.

In addition to each state’s top baby names, Social Security’s website has a list of the 1,000 most popular boys’ and girls’ names for 2012 and offers lists of baby names for each year since 1880.

To read about this year’s winner for the biggest jump in popularity and to see how pop culture affects baby names, go to

Bev’s Cheese Strata and Hot Curried Fruit

Bev Turnbull and Virginia Gibbs

Bev Turnbull and her daughter, Virginia Gibbs

by Virginia Gibbs

My mom, Beverly Turnbull, was a Southern lady and a wonderful cook.   At special holidays like Easter and Christmas, our family would gather to enjoy a scrumptious breakfast of cheese strata and hot curried fruit.   The strata was prepped the day before, making it easy to pop in the oven and make the holiday special!

My mom, Beverly Turnbull, was a Southern lady and a wonderful cook. At special holidays like Easter and Christmas, our family would gather to enjoy a scrumptious breakfast of cheese strata and hot curried fruit. The strata was prepped the day before, making it easy to pop in the oven and make the holiday special!






Bev’s Cheese Strata and Hot Curried Fruit
  • Bev’s Cheese Strata
  • 10 slices of white bread with crust cut off
  • ⅓ cup butter (softened)
  • 3 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Finely chopped parsley and paprika
  1. Spread bread slices with butter. Cut each slice into 4 strips. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish. Alternate layers of bread and cheese, ending with cheese layer. Beat eggs and add salt, dry mustard, cayenne pepper and milk. Pour egg mixture over the bread. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Take out of refrigerator and let it sit 1 hour. Bake at 350º for 40-50 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley. Enjoy!

Hot Curried Fruit
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • ¾ cup of light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 16-ounce can of pineapple chunks (save syrup)
  • 16-ounce can pear halves (drained)
  • 16-ounce can peach halves (drained)
  • 10 maraschino cherries Nutmeg Cinnamon
  1. Melt butter in skillet. Add sugar & curry. Add pineapple and ¼ cup of saved pineapple syrup to skillet and simmer until sugar is melted. Arrange remaining fruit in buttered, shallow 1 ½ quart baking dish. Pour sauce with pineapple over fruit. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon. Bake 1 hour at 325 deg.

2013 Mother of the Year ~ Brenda Byrd

Congratulations to 2013 Mother of the Year Brenda Byrd

Fayette Woman and the Citizen are very proud to announce the winners of our 2013 Mother of the Year Contest.  We recieved so many wonderful letters and it was difficult to choose a winner.  But, we are happy to announce the winner in our 65 and over age group is Brenda Byrd.  Brenda was nominated by her daughter Brandi Gregory.  Brandi’s nomination letter is posted below.  We look forward to delivering the Fayette Woman Swag Bag full of glitter and love from our wonderful sponsors to Brenda.  Happy Mother’s Day!

I would like to nominate my mom, Brenda Byrd for Best Mom of the Year.

Brenda was the oldest of four. Her father passed in a tragic accident when she was seven. Therefore, she has always been another ‘mom’ to her younger sibling as she grew up. She was always a mom when she didn’t have to be, but chose to, to keep her family going.

My mom was married and had my brother and me later in life. She always worked full time and managed to have dinner on the table each night, and a much love to give, even though she was exhausted.

When I grew up and had three children of my own, my mom insisted she take care of the kids while I was at work. She has bent over backwards to make sure my kids are loved and want for nothing. There is nothing like a “Nana’s” love. Believe me, there were times when my children pointed out when they wanted something, that Nana would do it! To this day, at least once a week she cooks for my family. There have been hard times when we couldn’t afford much and I would come home to a pantry full of food, a home cooked meal waiting on us, or enough money laying there to pay the bills. Because of her, I have wanted for nothing also.

My mom through all of this also took care of her elderly mother and my father’s mother as well. They both were not in good health and she was the one scheduling and taking them to every doctor’s appointment, family function or church activity. My mom has always made a way for everyone else, even when it meant neglecting herself. She is the most selfless person I have ever met. She eventually moved in with her mother, because her health deteriorated so. Mom was by her mother’s side when she passed away in her home, where she would be comfortable and be at peace.

A few years later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was my time to take care of her. It was hard for her, because she has always been so used to taking care of everyone else. Mom came through with the loss of one of her breast, and heavy chemo treatments cancer free.

The one thing that I want you to know, through all of these struggles, through all of the sickness and hurt, if there was ever one person, be it someone she knows personally, or one that she does not know and was made aware of, she has always given. There have been families she has made sure they had gifts to open at Christmas. There have been those she has provided clothes, meals, food, appliances and even a car.

Are my parents wealthy? Not by any means! But not once has that ever stopped her from giving. This is my opportunity to let the rest of you all know what I am fortunate enough to know and others are too. That my mom, Brenda Byrd, is a mother to many and no matter what, she is Mother of the Year not only this year, but every year.

Thank you so much!

Brandi Gregory

2013 Mother of the Year~ Delphina Banks- Jones Turner


Being a “mother” means so many different things.  We learn that every year when we read the nominations for our Mother of the Year Contest.  So many families in our area are blessed with caring women that teach , love  and grow families.  Delphina Banks-Jones Turner is our choice for the winner of the 2013 Fayette Woman and Citizen Mother of the Year contest for the age group 40-64.  She was nominated by her so Bryson Jones.  Congratulations and Happy Mother’s Day !

My mother is the single most inspirational woman in my life.

When I was a young child, my parents got divorced leaving the burden of caring for three young children entirely on my mother. Since the day my father left, my mother began to make sacrifices.

My siblings and I all played sports, and even though they were extremely expensive my mother made it a point to keep us involved in the things that we loved. A lot of the time my mother could not afford to go watch us play as we played travel athletics. In order to keep us playing, she had to send us with other parents on the team and stay at home.

When I ask my mother about the struggles that she went through as a single parent, she explains that even though Peachtree City was an expensive area she knew it was the only place where we would have the opportunity to make something of ourselves. As I progressed as a young child into a teenager, I became more aware of the struggle that my mother was going through.

Now my older sister was in college while I was in high school and my younger sister was in middle school. She no longer had young children but the struggle continued.

Then came the stresses of how she was going to put her children through college. Through sacrifice and determination, my mother was able to help my sister earn a degree from Birmingham Southern University in 2007. I am walking across the stage in May earning my Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism from Mercer University. In the fall, my younger sister will be attending the University of Arkansas on a full scholarship to play volleyball.

It is more than apparent that my mother has successfully raised three children, and she did it alone. President Abraham Lincoln once said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Every success that I have had in life, I owe to the woman that I call mom.

Delphina Banks-Jones Turner is the greatest, smartest and most determined woman I know, and there is no doubt in my mind that she deserves to be Mother of the Year.

Bryson Jones



Simple and Spectacular Spring Decorating


Radiant flowers, butterflies, and birds let us know that spring is in bloom all around. What better way to transition into spring than by bringing some of nature’s brilliant décor inside the home? The warm weather brings an abundance of beautiful blooms, perfect for creating lovely spring floral arrangements to adorn your entryway, living room, and dining table. Similar to how the signs of spring seem to pop up unexpectedly, you can mimic mother nature by displaying bright, colorful centerpieces; beautiful, bold bouquets; and playful, whimsical touches to several different areas of your home. Read on to discover some simple ways to spruce up your house with the most telltale signs of spring.

Creating flower arrangements is one way to invite spring into your home. One easy DIY idea includes creating a dynamic-yet-dainty display by filling small glass votives or mint julep cups with small, bright blooms and displaying them on a dramatic two-tiered cake stand. For another attractive cake stand-filler, create several small- and medium-sized twig nests and fill them with small speckled eggs and faux birds. Place the smaller nests on the highest platform, and larger nests on the lower ones. Then, add branches, leaves, bits of ribbon, and pastel-colored flowers to fill in the gaps between the nests. More fun flower arrangement ideas include placing a bouquet of bright, blooming tulips into a clear or translucent takeout box and setting it on a breakfast bar, or filling a rustic aluminum watering pot with hydrangeas and peonies and placing it on your front porch.

One way you can create a stunning spring-themed table arrangement is by stacking the interior of a wide, cylindrical glass vase with brightly-colored fresh vegetables, then filling the rest with flowers. You can use asparagus, kumquats, or even large red lettuce leaves as filler. In a separate small vase or cup, arrange a bouquet of brightly colored flowers in water. Place the flowers inside of the cylindrical vase so the vegetable filler is pushed against the walls of the vase. The filler will hide the smaller vase or cup and become the base of a beautiful arrangement. The bright, green asparagus stalks provide a lively base for an arrangement of pink roses and hyacinths. If you chose kumquats as your filler, use a bundle of cheery yellow tulips as your coordinating flower bouquet.

If you have truly caught spring fever and are looking for a more drastic décor update, try brightening up your entryway, breakfast nook, or bedroom with a fresh coat of paint. Choose a color that reflects the freshness of spring (think cool cucumber green or soothing blue), and then play up the renewed space with matching table runners and napkins, throw pillows, or accessories. Adding a simple pair of sheer curtains to a sunny room will filter the light and create movement as they dance in the spring breeze. Nowadays, sheers come in a variety of barely-there pale colors, as well as patterns like stripes and oversized polka dots, so finding a window dressing that works with your décor is easy. Add a jute rug and grouping of flower prints mounted in simple wooden frames to add charm to the room and help it to “sing” spring.

Channel the fresh feeling of spring into your home through simple floral arrangements, garden-fresh table centerpieces, and sometimes even a gallon of paint. From small and simple updates to total room makeovers, freshening up your home for spring is a fun and enjoyable undertaking, and one you can look forward to through every changing season.





Smart Design Tips to Maximize Small Spaces

small spaces

If you’ve ever strolled through Ikea’s showroom in downtown Atlanta, you’ve probably been in awe that designers can fill and decorate every inch of a 600 square-foot living space while still preserving the room’s visual balance, interest, and functionality. It’s not as much of a challenge as you might think, though. Whether you are struggling to make your tiny spare room look organized and spacious, or you are contemplating an entire condo makeover, here are a few insider trips and tricks to keep your small space looking (and feeling!) like it is fit for a king.

In a small room, where design options are limited, it is very important to decide on a main focal point – typically the space by a window or a wall. Fill the focal point space with a bold piece of furniture, such as an armoire or a pair of dramatic bookcases, and then position more modest accent pieces throughout the rest of the room. To play up the illusion of openness, consider adding clear Lucite chairs or a glass table as accent furniture. If your taste is more traditional, use a neutral color palette to make the space feel larger. Incorporate tasteful, interesting pieces that don’t overwhelm, and be flexible to seasonal changes and inspirations. One way to corral clutter and still stay organized is by storing items in cottage-style baskets or modern, sleek boxes.

Drawing the eye upwards to the ceiling to make the room seem larger is one design trick that is commonly used by designers who are working in smaller spaces. Two tried-and-true ways to accomplish this is by installing floor-to-ceiling windows (or simply dressing existing windows with floor-to-ceiling curtains), and by using vertical stripes to lengthen the height of the room. Layering curtains is less of a commitment than hanging striped wallpaper, and can give the illusion that there are large windows behind the curtains instead of a large, empty space with one small window. If the focal point of the room is the window, layering a variety of curtains can add depth and color without overwhelming. Layering curtains is similar to peeling an orange in that the outermost panels should be a thicker, heavier fabric, and the innermost panels should be lighter, breezier fabric. As always, when choosing panels, you have to consider the color scheme and décor in the rest of the room. If the room is mostly neutral with a few pops of color and accents, then choose your outermost curtain panels to match one of your accent colors, and your innermost panel to match a neutral hue.

Another way to bring drama to a small space is to amplify the lighting. Floor lamps, table lamps, and sconces will brighten up dark entryway corners and make vacant bedrooms feel warm and cozy for guests. In smaller spaces, where the amount of accessories is limited, choose lamps that are interesting and unique to give the space personality and flair. Pair lamps with colorful shades, or give basic shades a mini-makeover by adding some DIY accessories like tailored ribbon edging or a rustic burlap flower. Another trick for magnifying light in a small space is by using mirrors to reflect the natural light in the room. When hanging a mirror in your guest bedroom, entryway, or dining nook, be sure to place it across from a window or lamp so that the maximum amount of light will be reflected back into the space.

Whether your room’s footprint is large or small, maximizing its space with smart design tactics. By planning for a focal point, increasing the vertical height of the room, and amplifying light, any space will feel twice the size.


Fayetteville Nurse Wins Battle Against Colon Cancer

Beth Phillips carries the torch for cancer survivors

Beth Phillips carries the torch for cancer survivors

Fayetteville resident Beth Phillips, RN, was only 47 when she was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer, making her three years younger at the age of diagnosis than the recommended age to start colonoscopy screenings.

“People assume when they hear the words, ‘colon cancer’ that it is a disease that only affects older adults,” said Phillips. “That is not the case. There are people right here in our community who were diagnosed in their forties and even younger, including myself.”

Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Every year, an estimated 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I don’t know if there’s a word for what I had felt, but it was totally unexpected,” said Phillips. “As a nurse, I knew my prognosis was not great. However, I thought: I’m not a statistic, I’m a person and I’m going to fight this any way that I can. One step at a time is all you can do.”

To get better, Phillips had to undergo a colon resection, complete hysterectomy, pelvic radiation, 24 rounds of chemo, a liver resection and removal of right kidney, ureter and part of her bladder. Phillips now shows no evidence of the disease, runs a colorectal cancer support group and encourages others to get screened.

“The inconvenience of a colonoscopy is nothing compared to the treatment of stage four colon cancer,” said Phillips, who spent her 25th wedding anniversary in the hospital. “Colon cancer should not be a taboo topic. Talk about it with family and friends. Find out if you have a family history and urge others to get screened.”

According to the CDC, 60 percent of deaths from colon cancer could be avoided if everyone who is 50 years or older would be screened regularly.

“Many people have precancerous polyps or even colorectal cancer and don’t know because it doesn’t always cause symptoms,” said Jonathan Bender, M.D., medical director of the Piedmont Fayette Hospital Cancer Center. “It is important for those 50 years and older to be screened regularly and those with a family history to start screenings at an even younger age.”

Phillips, who had no family history of the disease, says life has changed since she was diagnosed in 2007.

Diet plays a big role in fighting colon cancer, Beth says.

“It was hard to adjust to my ‘new normal,’” said Phillips. “I don’t have as much energy now and I eat differently.  Diet plays a huge role in colon cancer recurrence and so, eating right is a must.”

Phillips, who holds a master’s degree in counseling, started a support group with Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Fayette about a year and a half ago. The group, which has grown to about 20 members in attendance, meets every first Monday of the month at Piedmont Fayette Hospital.

Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Fayette offers other free services and programs to anyone affected by cancer at any phase in the cancer journey. Professionally-led programs include education, relaxation and stress reduction, movement and exercise, expressive arts, meditation, support groups, individual nutritional and psychological counseling, cooking demos and social events.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer may include blood in the stool, stomach pain, aches or cramps that don’t go away and weight loss for no apparent reason. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. Those experiencing symptoms should consult a doctor.

For more information about colorectal cancer or Cancer Wellness at Piedmont Fayette, visit


Beth Phillips with husband, Chip, and children, Corey, Claire and Chad