Baby shower ideasBaby-shower ideasI think this is the best baby-shower idea ever: Hand-painting onesies. I helped co-host a baby shower with friends this past weekend and early in the planning stages a couple of the gals said, “We have something you’ve never seen before and everybody is going to love it” — and they were right. At the shower, we set Painting craftsup a couple tables and offered the guests plain newborn white Baby showeronesies with a variety of paints, markers, brushes and stencils. At first there was palpable art anxiety as women who declared they had no talent or skill whatsoever were a bit apprehensive about producing a work of art, but soon everybody was designing and creating like pros. It was a great icebreaker and mixer — and of course the mom-to-be ended up with some adorable clothes and great memories. You also could turn the onesies into a baby quilt or frame the painted sections for unique and personalized wall decor. It so reminded me of birthday parties when my now-20-something-daughters were young and we’d turn them loose outside with paints and T-shirts — remember making stamps out of sponges? The baby shower, however, was a little more restrained. But no less fun.

Valentine’s Day Gifts

See's Red Satin HeartSee's best Valentine's candyForget eggs Benedict and mimosas — the contents of a See’s Candies Red Satin Heart make the best Valentine’s breakfast. Ever. My favorites are the lemon and raspberry truffles, the luscious and buttercreamy Bordeauxs and the milk molasses chips. Yes, indeedy. I’m telling you that See’s is the most-accessible best candy ever. Your local mall probably has a See’s kiosk set up this weekend — it’s the one with the six-deep crowd gathered around it today. Be a Valentine to yourself and indulge. Just save the Rum Nougat and the Dark Chocolate Butter for me, please. Visit for more.

My son-in-law, a high-school art teacher, is one of the best artists I know. He does pottery, drawings, prints, etchings, Jason Behel artworkJason Behel artworkphotography and just about anything else he decides he wants to explore. He’s a big, bald sort of scary-looking guy who you’d never suspect could create such beautiful and whimsical art work. Such as this Valentine’s Day card he made for his wife/my daughter. He made it from heavy cardstock and treated the outside to resemble a piece of finely worked leatherwork. When you “unlock” it, the card opens to reveal an intricate cutout scene of their little Jason Behel artworkfamily — the two of them and their 10-month-baby who’s also known as Cutest Grandbaby Ever and Capt. Adorable — and a heartfelt message. It made my daughter tear up. And ask him why he’d made her arms so long. A minor detail (and she does sort of have long arms). Anyway, I wish I had a tenth of this talent. Also, I wish that they could move right next door to me and he could spend all his time doing art that would sell for enough money that would make them comfortably happy and they could take care of their families and we could all sit around all day eating See’s candy and being extremely grateful for our good fortune. Also, I wish everybody a happy Valentine’s Day — which seems a little more attainable.

Christmas Gift Projects

carolyns-scarves-005My younger daughter Carolyn is a master at recycling and reusing when carolyns-scarves-004it comes to making gifts. She is so creative and talented — proof that genetics skips a generation because she did not get those characteristics from me. Inspired by Natalie Chanin’s how-to guide “Alabama Stitch Book,” Carolyn’s latest project is making these tea towels* from thrift-store T-shirts. She shops for the colors she wants, then cuts out the solid pieces of fabric from the shirts and plans her embroidery and reverse-applique designs. We recently spotted towels just like this in a Birmingham gift shop for $25 — she’s got less than $1 in each towel and the embroidery goes fast, so making them is definitely a money-saver. Plus, I think it’s her therapeutic stress-relief. These are so wonderful that I’m counting on her to make my old age rich and comfortable. Isn’t it nice to know that your children will take care of you?

And if you haven’t seen a copy of Natalie Chanin’s book, you’re missing out. It would make a wonderful carolyns-first-bandana-0021Christmas gift for any crafters on your list. Natalie is a fashion designer who returned to her northwest Alabama roots several years ago. Her company specializes in gorgeously hand-quilted clothing made from recycled fabric. Check out her Web site at to learn more. Carolyn’s first project out of “Alabama Stitch Book” was this past year when she tried her hand — literally! — at making this bandana. She’s gone on to make several for family and friends out of old and vintage T-shirts, including one she made for her sister, Liz, from the blue T-shirt Carolyn was wearing on the day Liz’s first baby — Nolan Thomas Behel — was born. I remain in awe of my children’s talent and imagination. Who would have thunk it back when it was a struggle to get them to finish their homework???

* Tea towel — a Southern term for a pretty cotton or linen towel used exclusively for drying delicate dishes and silverware