All posts filed under: HOLIDAYS

We have freedom, but we’re not independent

I have been a journalist for 25 years. In fact, this year marks my 25th year of being in the journalism industry in some area, starting in college at a local radio station and later as a paid intern at a newspaper. This also marks the 20th year of my college graduation.

In the last 25 years, I have covered a variety of stories, including homicides, fires and car accidents. I was good at establishing trustworthy relationships with law enforcement, but I have never really enjoyed covering spot news.

The Magical Power of Bringing Gingerbread Men to Life

By LaReeca Rucker It probably seems like I am quite the cook based on some of the social media posts I have made lately. Truth is, I’m not. But at one time, I aspired to be. As a person who has a lot of hobbies that I drop and pick up again from time to time, I have done everything from stamp collecting to salsa dancing. At one time, I convinced myself that I was going to be the next top chef. (Well, not really, but I was determined to master cooking.) For a while, I was obsessed with watching the Food Network. I purchased many cookbooks, and I was given many cookbooks as gifts. But truth be told, cooking – I learned – is much more than a skill. It’s a talent. It’s an art. And while I can generally read directions and sometimes create a dish that is a hit, I also sometimes miss. I’m an unreliable cook. However, this Christmas I was determined to make a few dishes for a family Christmas …

My Christmas Tree is Filled With Aliens, Robots and Monsters

By LaReeca Rucker The way you decorate your Christmas tree says a lot about your personality, as do the ornaments that we choose to adorn it. More than 20 years ago, I began collecting and making my own ornaments at Christmastime. I try to make and buy a few new ornaments every year to add to my collection. I started with porcelain cherubs, leaving some white and decorating others. Then I bought traditional Christmas balls and covered them in glitter, back when you couldn’t find glittery decorations like them. I have also made ornaments for my tree that feature pictures of my late pets. In the last few years, I have taken an annual trip to Hobby Lobby to select ornaments that I like. I also look in Walmart, Fred’s and other local dollar stores. Tomorrow, I plan to attend two Christmas craft events and search for more interesting ornaments to add to my collection. There are a few things that I am fond of and always on the look out for – aliens, robots …

Create a Little Magic in Your Life This Christmas With Simple, Elegant and Inexpensive Decor

It’s that time of year when we’re all supposed to believe in and create a little magic in our lives and the lives of others. One way we can do that is by decorating. I’m so grateful to have my own house this year. I’m also grateful to have all of my holiday decorations nicely organized, so it only took one day to put up my tree and put most of it in place.

How to Cope With Holiday Stress and Make Life More Enjoyable

By LaReeca Rucker This article originally appeared in The Clarion-Ledger and USA TODAY circa 2011. Cole Smith, owner of Creative Gifts in Jackson, feels his stress levels rise during the holiday season. As the owner of a wholesale gift packaging company, he sells materials like gift wrap, ribbons, tissues, boxes and bows. “My customers are predominantly female, and most of them are just like every other shopper,” he said. “They get in a panic after Thanksgiving realizing it’s Christmas.” It’s also a stressful time for Smith and his employees. A season dubbed the “happiest time of the year” can be anything but when work, finances, parties and perfection bring more worry than welcome at Christmas. “My little business is blessed to have many customers, but we are not Walmart,” he said. “My co-workers work part-time, and I’m very blessed they are hanging in there. They are hard workers, and it is stressful. “We have an attitude of one customer at a time. People can be rude and distract you, but we keep a smile on …

Fall into fun every year with festive decor

I tend to go a little overboard with my holiday lawn decorations. I’m no Chevy Chase, but I do like to have fun with decor. Here are pictures of my fall lawn decor at my old house. This year, I’m in a new house, and I brought the scarecrows out in September and kept them in my yard throughout Halloween and Thanksgiving. You can generally find these for sale for less than $10 each at Walmart, Fred’s or similar dollar stores. I added a new scarecrow to my collection this year. He is  currently guarding my front porch. In the next few days, I’ll try to make a new post about my current fall decor and include photos of my new scarecrow since I recently created a centerpiece and decorated for fall after putting all of my Halloween monsters back in the storage shed to live until next October. Have you done any creative fall decorating? If so, I’d love to see it and even feature it on my blog. Feel free to post a …

Spring wreath

I like to make crafts because I feel more peaceful when I’m creating something. This is a spring wreath I made a while back for my front door. I created it by using an old wreath that I bought at a thrift store for $1 as a base. I hot-glued moss to the wreath to give it a more lively, earthy feel and color. Then I added a few craft store finds, like flowers and birds nest. I try to have a wreath for every holiday, and I usually put this one up during springtime. Save Save

My favorite flower

This is perhaps my favorite flower. Jonquils grew at the foot of the hill in my grandmother’s yard every spring, and when I see them each year, I feel renewed. It’s as if the world has pressed restart, and there’s an abundance of hope again. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Mississippi native Faith Hill answers questions via Facebook

“Mississippi Girl” Faith Hill took a moment last week to answer fan questions via Facebook. Here’s what they asked, and here are some of her answers: Q. What is your favorite Tim McGraw song? A. How could I choose? He has a million! “My Best Friend” is a really great one. Q. Faith, you are my inspiration to follow my dream of being a country singer! I’m a bit curious as to what your inspiration was? A. I was one of two people who listened to country music at my high school. I definitely wasn’t part of the “cool group” at the time! But when I saw Reba for the first time in concert, I wanted to do whatever it took to make it as a musician. Lots of hard work! Q. What’s your favorite gospel song? A. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Q. What is your favorite memory from the past shows at the Venetian? A. Other than the time on stage with my husband in front of such an intimate crowd, …

Check out these patriotic party ideas

I’m sure many Mississippians are preparing for a July 4 holiday gathering this week with family and friends. With a busy schedule, it may seem impossible to find the time and energy to decorate for your patriotic party, but I’ve collected a number of easy ideas for you that could help make your Independence Day party a fantastic Fourth affair. Check out the video above to see some of the following decorating tips in action. And if you have tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments section below. Ten simple and inexpensive patriotic party decorating ideas: 1. Hit up the Dollar Tree. Your first stop should be the Dollar Tree or anywhere with an assortment of holiday decorations at a low price. You don’t have to spend a lot if you’re being creative. Part of the fun is seeing what you can come up with on your own without dropping a lot of cash. 2. Blow it up. Red, white and blue balloons are cheap. Fill a few with helium …

Check out our St. Paddy’s Day Pinterest board, and get your shamrock on!

So, it’s almost time for the annual Mal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade in Jackson. It’s happening this weekend, and if you plan to attend, chances are you’ll want to wear something green. Check out The Clarion-Ledger’s St. Paddy’s Day Pinterest board, where we’ll be pinning St. Patrick’s Day attire, food, drinks, and other lucky ideas up until the big day. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Would you let your baby rock a mustache?

Log on to Pinterest, and you’ll find picture after picture of adorable babies with their noggins covered in some of the cutest crocheted hats you’ve ever laid eyes on. I spotted lions, skunks, mermaids, snowmen, puppy dogs, baby fishermen and even Rapunzel wigs while researching one of our latest Style stories. Photographers love the hats for props, and parents love them because it turns their itty bitty precious baby into something even more adorable – an itty bitty precious bunny rabbit or kitty cat. It reminds me of something I blogged about in 2006. A company called Baby Toupee was making hats with hair in them for babies to comically wear. You could get them fashioned after celebrities like like Bob Marley, Donald Trump and Lil’ Kim. I’ve also recently noticed that some company is making mustache pacifiers, so you’re baby can rock a stashe while he’s soothing his gums. Here’s our latest Style story about baby trends. Check out the gallery of photos. Hope you enjoy: Photographer Jennifer Sparrow doesn’t have to leave the …

Decking the deck, bottle tree, door and halls

I moved into a new rental home several months ago, and became very excited about getting to use Pinterest for decorating ideas. While I’ve implemented some of the things I’ve found on the site inside, the exterior of the house remained on my mind. Because we’re all individuals, we like to change things around a bit so that the decor suits us. For a while, I’ve wanted to paint the shutters and front door to give the exterior of the home a different look. After getting permission from the landlord, I finally managed to get the paint supplies needed, and within a short time, (with the help of a family member), we changed the home’s light blue shutters to dark green. The door was also light blue, but I used two different shades of brown to try to make the metal look like wood. After changing up the color scheme, it was time to begin decorating for Christmas. First I started with outdoor lighting, converting my bottle tree into a Christmas tree out front for …

Have yourself a ‘Sippi little Christmas

When Madison resident Cathy Halford’s youngest daughter Ashley moved to Birmingham, she took her love for Mississippi with her. “I decided to make an ornament for her in the shape of Mississippi,” said Halford, a lifelong crafter and billing coordinator for a Jackson law firm. “I put a red heart in it to indicate Madison, her hometown. She loved it.” Then Halford had a Mississippi epiphany. “I thought maybe other people would like to show off their hometown and state,” she said. “I was right.” Today, she operates an Etsy business making handcrafted, state-shaped ornaments. Her husband cuts them out of wood, and Halford creates a 6-inch piece, decorating it with beads to create a mosaic. “A red, heart-shaped, acrylic gem is placed on the hometown,” she said. “I found out that people love their state and are proud of their hometown. Some are buying them for friends and family as a reminder of their home. I also think they make a great welcoming gift for someone moving into a new area.” You can find …

‘Hey y’all,’ take a look at these Mississippi arts and crafts

I recently attended the Handworks Holiday Market at the Mississippi Trade Mart and saw a lot of interesting handmade creations that inspired me to begin decorating for the holidays and thinking of special Christmas presents that I could make for friends and family. Here are a few things that stood out to me. At the end, you can see what I picked up at the event. I didn’t catch the name of the artist who creates these unique jewelry pieces by combining elements of vintage jewelry, but I think they are spectacular. And I love how she attaches them to old photographs to emphasize their vintage appeal. I was hoping Santa would bring me the interesting necklace or pair of leaf earrings above. Check out these wooden angels made by Mississippi craftsman Billy Lay. I love the colors he uses and his vision of using simple pieces of wood and cut tin to form the body of an angel. Perhaps that’s a door knob used for the head? Here’s a set of Mississippi-shaped pottery dishes by …

My wreath-making adventure and other hall-decking ideas

I just got finished decorating for fall, and now it’s time to decorate for Christmas, so I decided I needed a wreath for my front door. I searched Pinterest for wreath-making ideas and and found many creations made from a variety of materials. Here are some that gave me inspiration, and at the end, you can see what I created. A Bright Idea – This colorful bulb wreath was first spotted on a blog called Layers of Meaning that also offers other holiday decorating ideas. Pine Comb Wreath – This is simple, but with all the right touches. It is featured in an Internet article on the Better Homes & Gardens website called Creative Christmas Wreaths that offers a few other unique ideas. Burlap Wreath – There’s a step-by-step guide with instructions for this one on the Craftaholics Anonymous blog. Green Trio – I really like the way that these simple wreaths in descending size are displayed with ribbon on this door. The idea was pinned from a blog called Stina Ballerina. A la Natural …

Would Norman Bates approve?

Last week, I went blonde for our office Halloween party. Today, I thought I’d delve a little darker into the Halloween spirit. This tree dress that I refashioned using an old shift dress from a thrift store and upholstery fabric from a craft store, seemed like a fitting Halloween ensemble, even though I wear it year-round because I like tree prints. I guess I’ll be wearing it tonight at the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Screen on the Green showing of Psycho. It sounded like a Halloween night event worth checking out. Update: A picture from the event: Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

I would never ever ever dress like Taylor Swift

Today, is the annual costume contest at work, so I put together something from my closet that appears to be a costume. I didn’t really want to be a witch again, and I didn’t find a costume in the costume store that appealed to me this year, so I just decided to be a blonde. Being blonde is my costume. I’ve had people guess that I am everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Betty from Mad Men, and even one of the Flintstones characters. Many, many people today guessed that I was Taylor Swift, but I can assure you that I would never ever ever dress like Taylor Swift. Nothing against her. I’m just a little too old for that. That would be like one of the male editors here dressing like Justin Bieber. Kind of creepy. Nope. I’m not anyone in particular.  I’m just a blonde, because being blonde is an alter-identity in itself when you have been a lifelong brunette. Any hair color change can make you feel like a different person. Sienna Miller …

How will you degrade your dog this Halloween?

While researching costumes for an article this year, I ran across a few interesting pet costumes that I’m sure would satisfactorily humiliate your dog this season. Exhibit A. –  Bacon Dog. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not really sure why bacon has become a popular costume for adults, children, babies and pets, but this poor dog has been degraded and brainwashed into believing he’s nothing more than a piece of meat. He should be safe trick-or-treating as long as he has a reflector on his collar and doesn’t get in the path of any larger, hungrier dogs, who mistake him for breakfast food. You have to love Dog Dinosaurs. Doesn’t your “put-him-in-your-purse dog” look much more ferocious wearing the body of a tyrannosaurus or stegosaurus? At least one night out of the year, he can cover his tiny frame and pretend he is a flesh-eating lizard of death before his person paints his toenails pink or makes him wear a lame T-shirt that reads something trite like “Woof!” Sad Bride is really bumming me out. She …

Crazy costumes for kids

I recently had to research popular costumes for 2012 to write a Halloween feature story. The article talked about costumes for kids and adults, but we didn’t cover babies and pets. So I thought I’d take this time to show you a few costumes I found on buycostumes.com that made me laugh. I’m not sure if it’s too late to get your baby or dog one of these, but if so, there’s always next year. Astronaut Baby was one of the cutest choices I came across. If the right movie producer gets a look at this one, I’m sure we will be subjected to a comedy about a baby who crawls away and onto a U.S. spacecraft. He’s then sent up in space with a crew of astronauts who must juggle between making sure they survive the journey and changing dirty diapers. Larry David must write this script. I’m not really sure why bacon has become a popular Halloween costume in recent years, other than the fact that bacon is a food that is loved by …

Cuckoo for tutus

Raymond resident, Hope Campbell, is the reigning Mrs. Mississippi United States of America. Her 3-year-old daughter Emma Addison also digs the glitz and glam of the pageant circuit. The little beauty queen will appear on the TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras at 9 p.m. May 30. Winning a sparkly, rhinestone crown isn’t Emma’s only motivation. She loves fancy, frilly costumes, whether she’s competing or not. “Emma is a fan of wearing tutus around the house,” said Campbell, a mother of three and Mississippi College graduate student. While the classic ballet tutu has been around since the 1800s, it’s lately become a mainstream fashion must for little girls who want to emulate fairies, ballerinas and princesses. A quick Internet search reveals many companies that specialize in tutu sales, such as Sunny Girl Tutus, Miss Priss Tutus, Little Diva Tutus and Cutie Pa Tutus. Etsy craft sellers are also touting the trend by sewing layers of tulle to make an extra buck. Tutus have also become a favorite for photographers who use them as props. “It’s just …

The vow

Megan Robinson, 24, and Peter Huwe, 25, met in a Mississippi College chemistry class and, eventually, discovered some chemistry of their own. On June 30, the couple will tie the knot in Gulfport, and they hope to be $25,000 richer thanks to the E! Online Say Your Vows Wedding Contest – a promotion for the movie The Vow that opens this weekend. “A couple of weeks ago, I was watching E!, and I saw a commercial for the contest,” Robinson said. “It said write the vow that you would say to your fiance on your wedding day. The next Thursday, I got an email saying that we are one of the finalists out of thousands of entries.” Peter and Megan are one of five couples vying for cash, a wedding gown, bridesmaid dresses, wedding bands, registry gifts and a honeymoon in Los Cabos. Huwe, who is quadriplegic, broke his neck in 2005 in a diving accident. Megan’s vow reads in part: “I have always said, what you lack physically, you make up for 100 times …

Just pin it

Chances are you Facebook, you Tweet, but do you Pin? As Pinterest.com, a visual bookmarking site that launched in March of 2010, continues to grow, an increasing number of Mississippians are describing it with the words “addictive” and “obsession.” Users pin images that are linked to other websites, sharing everything from craft and décor ideas to wisdom, travel and food pins on boards they create. “As long as you see an image on a page, you can pin it,” said Shawn Rossi. “Users can pin anything, from family photos to business presentations.” Rossi collects her future Pinterest projects on a “To-Do List” board. “We just bought a 1983 Prowler travel trailer from the ’80s, and we’re going to renovate it,” she said, recalling one of the ideas she found on the site. Natchez resident Shannon Jex compares the site to a SkyMall flight catalog “There are a million products in that little magazine,” she said. “Few of them have anything to do with one another, but you find yourself wanting one of each. I draw …