Category Archives: Family

I love it that we are sisters.


My sister and I are so very alike; nearly identical emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. We are lovers and fighters. We react to most things with the same passion and enthusiasm. We share the same father, our paternal heritage runs deep into the hills of North Carolina, a troubled, poor, yet strong family line. Our unrelated maternal legacies hail from Kentucky where our two strong, loyal, persevering mothers were born and raised.

Tara and I took a spontaneous trip this month to Charleston, SC to celebrate her 39th birthday. What a charming, historic, beautiful place! My first experience exploring downtown Charleston is one I won’t forget!



Our cozy room at The Lodge Alley Inn.




We stayed here, too! Elliott House Inn on Queen Street.




Breakfast at Toast.


Charleston Harbor


Big as yo’ face biscuit at Toast.


Dinner at Husk. The best Manhattan can be found there.


Room with a view. We don’t recommend Room 16 at Elliott House Inn.


Charleston Firefighters – especially for Kat.

Rainbow Row


Rainbow Row – the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the U.S. (Thanks, Wiki!)


Perhaps a Charleston problem as well? Proceed with caution.

Local brew at Henry’s House.


A fun cooking class at Charleston Cooks. Blair is a fabulous chef!


We scored these at the Historic Charleston City Market.


I roamed around Asheville, NC the morning I was driving home from South Carolina to my home in Tennessee.




My Sunroom Makeover


Our house has an absolutely delightful sunroom that was being sadly neglected and under used. Here’s photographic proof:


I visualized a lovely, cozy retreat for myself with a funky vintage, shabby chic feel. Where to start? Naturally with a request to my go-to girls, the get-er-done gang: my mother Linda, my best friend since 1977 Tam, and Tam’s mother Wanda. Three days later they were in my driveway Sanford And Son style:

Tam immediately proceeded to chalk paint an old, brown, cobwebby desk she had dug out of her barn and this fabulous chair from my mom’s supply of vintage pieces.

The result:


That Tam is one cool not-so-shabby chick!

Mom and Wanda began working their brand of magic by bringing in pieces they had brought from Tam’s and their homes and a few gems they drug out of my garage and attic and some fantastic finds from Home Goods, Hobby Lobby, and my newfound addiction At Home. Have you been to an At Home store? Find one! Bargains galore!

The AFTER shots:




I enjoyed my special space for three hours after the Dream Team headed out on their two hour trek back to Kentucky. Angus likes it, too.



It’s also the perfect morning spot. 


Mothers Day is timeless.


Today is Mother’s Day 2015 and although I didn’t see my son, my mother, nor any of the other special women in my life in person, I have enjoyed talking with some of them and looking at these precious pictures.


When we were both wee ones – 1986




When we got to see UK play in the Music City Bowl, Nashville


That time he surprised me with a birthday dinner at Ruth’s Chris in Nashville.


My mother, Linda Baird 

Oh, how I miss Gran, Mamaw, and Nanny. 


Gran Hazel Johnson , me, Mamaw Ree Baird- December 1995


Todd, Jordy, me, Nanny Winnie Simmons, Tony, Tara – 1993


Nanny with a picture of her main man, – 1984


Mybeautiful stepmother Linda Simmons, Tony, Tara, me – Graceland. 1979

I was honored to know my Great-grandmother Hala Elizabeth McGahan Roy for 25 years of my life. Not many people can boast of a Great-great-grandmother, but Jordy had one for over six years. Grandma Roy passed away at age 100 in March 1993.  

Great-grandma Roy and me – 1990


Five Generations – my mother, me, my great-grandma, my son, my gran

I have been incredibly and bountifully blessed with extended mothers. A host of aunts on all sides of my family and special friends. Here are just a few… 

The Baird aunts – Velma, Myrna, Glenda, Pat, Linda (mom)

These two beauties on either side of mom have loved and supported me for well over 35 years. Anita Tucker and Wanda Mitchell

My two favorite reasons for Mother’s Day are also my two favorite singers.  

Jordy and Mom

My flowers and card from my hubby, Bradford   


Created equal

Glennon inspired me to share my feelings on this…..
When I first heard about the immigrant children coming into the US recently, my first thought was “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25: 35-40
As a Christian, these words of Jesus are familiar to me and his teachings are but one of the reasons I love him. As a mother and a human being, my heart mourns for the horrible plight of these innocent children and their mothers, who incidentally were created and born onto this earth the same way I was. Exactly the same way. As an American, these wordsGlennon Melton quoted in her blog post (see link below for entire essay)-“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

-these words humble me with extreme gratitude that I was born onto these United States of freedom and abundance of material things. I look around in so many areas, at so many situations, at my own heart and wonder where is the abundance of love for our fellow man, women, and children outside our loved ones and our own selves? I really want to be loving and unselfish and daily strive to do so even when it doesn’t look like I am. Who am I to think I deserve more love than any other person to whom I was “created equal”? God help me.


Practically Perfect White Cake & White Icing


Practically Perfect White Cake

I found it!  The best recipe for scrumptious white cake!  Well, I found a recipe that I modified into what I want white cake to be – moist, light, moist, tantalizingly delicious, and moist.  One of my soulmates, Shelley Haynes Heile, had a birthday in March. Her favorite thing in life is white cake with white icing.  It’s never too late (early?) to celebrate, right?  Okay, so Shelley and I don’t need an excuse to indulge in this blessed confection, but I’d been promising it for two months.

Shelley & Tracy - Seniors at RCHS 1985-86

Shelley & Tracy – Seniors at RCHS 1985-86

Tracy & Shelley - 25 Year Class Reunion 2011

Tracy & Shelley – 25 Year Class Reunion 2011

Now on with the business at hand. CAKE!


-2 1/4 cups cake flour –  I use Swans Down Cake Flour but oddly, their cake recipe isn’t my favorite
-1 cup almond milk, at room temperature
-6 large egg whites at room temperature
-1 teaspoon almond extract
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
-4 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 ounces) softened


-Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees.
-Grease or spray two 9-inch round cake pans (I use coconut oil)
-Sprinkle greased pans with flour
-Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds (I cut some rounds out of wax paper).
-Grease/spray the wax paper rounds, place them in cake pans, and dust with flour

-Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measuring cup/bowl, and whisk until blended
-Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed.

photo 1

-Slice butter and add the pats to the flour mixture a couple at a time while slowly mixing.

photo 2
-Continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs and all flour is moistened

photo 3
-Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed  for 1 1/2 minutes.
-Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more.

-Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl.
-Return mixer to medium-high speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

photo 4
-Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread and smooth batter.

photo 5

-Place filled cake pans on middle oven rack.
-Bake 23-26 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
-Let cakes rest in pans for about 3 minutes.

photo 1 (2)

-Cover wire racks with greased wax paper or parchment paper.
-Loosen cake from sides of pans with a knife (if necessary), and invert onto wire racks.
-Let cool completely, about about an hour or so.

Lovely, cooling cakes

While cake is baking or cooling, whip up some frosting from scratch, like this:

Lighter-Than-Air Cake Frosting


– 3 egg whites

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1/4 tsp almond extract

– 1 cup granulated sugar

– 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

– 1/8 tsp salt

– 1/3 cup water

In a large glass or metal bowl, add the egg whites and extracts, set aside.  In a saucepan, mix the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and water; stir well and bring to boil until the sugar dissolves. This creates a sweet, syrupy concoction.

Start beating your egg whites and extracts on HIGH while slowing adding the hot syrup. Beat for 4-5 minutes with a stand mixer or 7-8 minutes with a hand mixer. Gorgeous, fluffy peaks will form.

Beat frosting mixture on high!

Hello there precious, fluffy, marshmallowy icing!

This frosting recipe makes enough to frost a three layer cake. Since my cake recipe is for a two layer cake, I had to eat the remaining delicious, fluffy, marshmallowy frosting with a spoon over the next couple of days as any self-respecting baker will do.  Fill a pastry bag or decorating tool with the light, airy frosting or easily smooth onto cake with a knife or spatula.  I used a Pampered Chef Frosting Spreader on this one.

Happy birthday, Shelley!

Happy birthday, Shelley!

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”


Vivian \v(i)-vian\ as a girl’s name, is pronounced VIV-ee-en. It is of Latin origin, and the meaning of Vivian is “lively”.

“Lively” certainly describes my three-year-old niece, Vivian Kenley Brazell. She packs heat and has a menacing stare that would make Clint Eastwood tremble.

Do ya feel lucky, punk?

Vivian is helpful. She was so willing to assist me in blowing out my birthday candles last Friday.

Brax, Tra, and Vivi making wishes.

But a girl’s got her limits.  When Uncle Brad asked if he could have some ice cream, Vivian matter-of-factly replied, “No,” with a look to back it up.

Sugar and spice and everything nice.

She isn’t wasteful.  Not one drop of ice cream left to spoil. Or for Brad.

Goldilocks and Baby Bear’s porridge?

Vivian really wants to mind her parents. Who am I kidding? No, she doesn’t.

Sneaky Diva

But what a charmer!  Vivi looked at me and said, “I love you to the back of the moon.”  That’s way more than to the moon and back.

Tricked out for ‘Toddlers & Fedoras’

Oh, yes, there’s plenty of spice preserving that spunk!  But for those times when the sugar melts, so does your heart. Auntie loves you, Vivi-Kenz!

Nanny – a good and faithful servant


Philippians 2:3-5
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

Reminiscing with Dad in Pigeon Forge, our family Christmas time. Our thoughts and conversation always turn to Nanny, who left our world at age 95 but will never leave our hearts. Dad told me this heart stirring story that completely epitomizes his mother, my Nanny – Winnie Davis Hartley Simmons, mother of ten – abandoned by her husband, the father of their ten children, when the youngest was nearly two years old.

1940s Hampton, TN – Nanny started out on foot to Elizabethton to see a dentist. A six mile trip but a neighbor picked her up and drove her into town.

At Nanny’s – Hampton, TN 1993

It was very common practice for those with automobiles to give rides to carless friends. Nanny was in pain and needed some teeth pulled. Her exchange with the dentist went like this:

Nanny: How much does it costs to get teeth pulled?
Dentist: $2 per tooth with Novocaine.
Nanny: How much without Novocaine?
Dentist: $1 per tooth without Novocaine.
Nanny: Well, Betty Jo (her little daughter) needs shoes so I’ll go without the Novocaine.

My sister says my hands are like Nanny’s. Oh, that the same would be said of my heart.