Monthly Archives: March 2014

How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I am running in circles–darting from one “emergency” to the next. When a friend asks me what I have been up to lately–or even what I did yesterday–I find myself at a complete loss to remember anything that I have done.

What have I been doing? I often ask myself.

Movement not action

I know that I don’t lounge about eating bon-bons and watching television all day. I also know that I spend much too much time in my car running errands. And no matter how many loads of clothes I launder, there are always more to do.

Every single day I am surprised by how quickly time has passed.

I admit that I am a listmaker. I love to cross things off and check boxes. Yes, I am the kind of person who even puts things on a list that I have already done just so I can check them off.

Grocery store. Check.

Dry cleaning. Check.

Prescriptions refilled. Check.

Library books returned. Check.

I often wonder about the things I put on my lists though. Do these things really matter in the long run? Is this how I want to be remembered?

I realize that these tasks are all part of running a household, being part of a family, living in a community. I am not suggesting that they don’t need to be done or that they aren’t important.

I just wonder if there are other things that I might need to add to my list.



Pay attention.

Be thankful.

Would I be able to cross these off my list each day? And if I did add these to my list, how might my day be different? How might my life be different?

I suspect that if I added these to my list and actually did them, my other list of tasks might not get accomplished.

How do I want to be remembered? As someone who was a listmaker and a list-checker? Or as a woman who listened, loved, was attentive and thankful?

I will let you guess which one I choose. What about you?

How to Have the Perfect Vacation

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in." -Robert Orben How to Have a Perfect Vacation on

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.” -Robert Orben

Spring Break is finally here. We have escaped our normal lives and gotten away for a few days to lie about on the beach in Florida. Unfortunately the weather has not cooperated as we had hoped. But I have a secret. I know how to have the perfect vacation regardless of the location or weather.

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.


As simple as that.

Well, at least it is that simple for me. I am perfectly happy doing absolutely nothing: reading, watching a movie, chatting, napping, snacking…there are a lot of of us out there.

But then there are also those of you who are like my husband–someone who prefers to have something to do or something to see (at least on vacation). The idea of doing nothing all day is torture to someone like that.

Our first day in Florida was beautiful so of course the girls (two teens and me) headed straight for the beach to soak up as much sun as humanly possible. My husband joined us but kept suggesting a walk. Eventually he left us to do some exploring. Two hours later he returned with shells and several interesting encounters to relate.

Day two at the beach was overcast and rainy. The girls were disappointed at first and frustrated but soon realized that without the sun they were now released to do the thing they really wanted to do: nothing all day long. I was thrilled as well (we had all gotten a bit too much sun the day before). Even my husband managed to enjoy it.

Once you realize that you really cannot do much of anything, you just have to relax and give in to it.

There it is.


Having nothing to do and all day to do it in.

Once you release yourself (or someone/something releases you) from the pressure to do and to see and to go go go, you can really enjoy doing nothing.

So regardless of where you are or what your situation is, it is possible to have the perfect vacation. You do not have to even leave your own home if you can release yourself from the drive to do things. You do not have to have a full day–even a few hours will do.

So block off some time, turn off your phone, grab a book or a magazine, find a comfortable spot and settle in.

It is time for your perfect vacation.



Lessons from Miss Frances: On Living, Loving and Laughing

"Lessons from Miss Frances on Living, Loving and Laughing" on

Lessons on life come from many people.

I have learned a great many things from the women in my life. Generations of women: mother, daughter, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, friends, teachers, mentors, employers, . . . .

These women came from different places and different times. Our paths crossed perhaps for but a minute or we may have walked together for many years.

Not all of the lessons taught were ones that I wanted to learn–or for that matter, thought that I needed to learn. Many were learned the hard way.

The wisdom they shared ranges from the practical to the philosophical and includes: entertaining, parenting, graciousness, marriage, having a thankful attitude, being a lady, maturing spiritually, etc.

So, who is Miss Frances, you may ask?

Well, for the purposes of this series of posts let’s just say she is an old friend of the family. In all honesty she is an amalgamation of the many women in my life and as such, she is the wisest of us all.

I look forward to sharing with you on a regular basis lessons from Miss Frances on living, loving and laughing

Beach hat on a chair at the beach in "How to Make a Spring Break Survival Kit" on

How to Make a Spring Break Survival Kit

Spring Break is just around the corner and our family is heading to Florida for the week. Our seventeen-year-old daughter will be bringing along a friend and since this is likely our last Spring Break as a family, I wanted to make it a special time. We will be spending 8+ hours in the car, so I know we will need a survival kit.

I was inspired to do this project in part by the monthly product subscription services (like Birchbox) that I have been seeing lately. I love the idea of receiving a box of gifts and samples each month in the mail. How fun is that?

I wanted to do something for the girls that would be fun, practical and special. Here is what I did.

First I decided on the color combinations with which to work. It made sense to me to find out what everyone’s favorites were. Below is an example of one of the combinations: navy and green.

Navy and green Scout bag monogrammed, navy bath sheet with white monogram and coordinating cup. "How to Make a Spring Break Survival Kit" on

Navy and green Scout bag monogrammed, navy bath sheet with white monogram and coordinating cup. "How to Make a Spring Break Survival Kit" on

I found a Scout bag locally and it has lots of pockets on the outside perfect for suntan lotion and all sorts of items. I bought a navy bath sheet (bigger and softer than a regular beach towel) at Target for about $10 and had the bag and the towel monogrammed.

I found an inexpensive navy, green and white beach cover up and coordinating double-walled plastic mug with a top and straw–perfect for taking a cool beverage to the beach.

Turquoise and fushia monogrammed bath sheet and survival kit. "How to Make a Spring Break Survival Kit" on

The next step was to put together the “survival kit” portion of the gift (in the white box above). I cruised through the Target travel aisle and found a variety of things that teen girls might need for a vacation at the beach: razors, lotion, hand sanitizer, SPF lip balm, sunscreen, nail files, snacks, etc.

Navy and hot pink Lilly insulated bag and monogrammed bath sheet and coordinating cup. Also includes items from the Spring Break Survival Kit.  "How to Make a Spring Break Survival Kit" on

Finally I purchased color-coordinated plastic sand buckets and added some survival items for the long car trip to Florida.

Snacks and games for the car portion of the Spring Break Survival Kit. "How to Make a Spring Break Survival Kit" on

M&Ms had to be included as well as Twizzlers, but I also added a deck of cards, Silly Putty and a Disney Princess coloring book with crayons. You never really get too old to color, do you?

The only things missing? Sun, sand and ocean!

What would you include in your Spring Break survival kit?

Hopelessly in Love with Spring


Charleston Spring, Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” –George Santayana

This may be true, but after these last few months of cold, I cannot help myself.

Welcome Spring.

Living in Charleston, South Carolina, I know that I have nothing to really complain about concerning winter. But even here we have had an unusually rough time of it. I also realize that by June, I will already tired of the 90+ degrees days.

But right now I have to believe in the promise of forsythia and dogwood and wisteria. As the sun warms my bones, I stretch and settle in like a cat napping in the sunlight.

The Love of a Dog

A dog's love

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” —Josh Billings

I remember sitting on the front porch of my house with my dog, Prissy, after an especially bad day in middle school. As I rubbed her head and told her all about my awful day and how she was my only friend, she looked at me sympathetically with her dark brown eyes and licked my face. At that very moment, she really was my only friend and I knew–without a doubt–that she loved me and always would.

If you have a dog, you will never feel unloved or unlovable.

There really is something special about dogs. They get under your skin and into your heart in a way no other animal can. Do not misunderstand me, I love cats too. I have had a number of cats as pets throughout my life and they are lovely–great companions, wonderful to snuggle up with, etc. And while I may believe that my cat loves me, she just doesn’t seem to express it in the way a dog does.

I went for almost fifteen years without having a dog as a pet. I didn’t realize at the time that I missed having one. When I was around other people’s dogs they seemed so smelly and dirty and noisy. Once I had a baby there was no way that I was going to add that kind of chaos to our lives.

Over the years our daughter begged and pleaded for a dog but my husband and I tried everything we could to distract her: cats, a hamster, frogs,….We finally caved in when she was in fourth grade. We found Charlotte, a rescue dog from Pet Helpers in Charleston SC and gave her to our daughter for Christmas that year. The two have been inseparable ever since. It was a wonderful decision for our entire family.

A girl and her dog

A girl and her dog

Several years later we decided to add a second dog to our lives–an English springer spaniel. My husband located one in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (for some reason we wanted one from our home state). When we went to pick up the 8-week old puppy, Hattie (named for her birthplace), we could not resist bringing home her only remaining litter mate. We named him Chester (after Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre).

These two turn four years old today. Charlotte, the chocolate lab mix, turned eight last month. I cannot imagine our family, our home, our lives without this crew.

Our lives have been forever changed by these dogs–for the better.

Do you have a story about how your dog has changed your life?

*Photographs by Amy Watson Smith. The images have been altered using the Waterlogue app.