Thursday, February 21, 2008


I love to save things,
old ticket stubs, maps, photos or pages from old magazines.

I recently found a way to use them!

When my husband and I took a trip to Italy a few years ago, he kept asking me
to paint him a picture of poppies. I never found the right motivation and so the
idea sat idle and the painting never got done.

Recently I came across an envelope, with pictures and maps of the places we had been together...
most importantly, Italy, where we fell in love,
the red poppies of Tuscany, Florence by train, and our favorite spot, Positano, where we rented a boat to travel to Capri for his 40th birthday...

then the gulf coast, New Orleans, the Bahamas, Mexico, a motorcyle trip to Gorham's Bluff in North Alabama (look for an article about that in an upcoming issue of Southern Beauty Magazine)

a family trip to the Bahamas with the kids,

then off to Paris, France, where he surprised me for my birthday, and Nice and Cannes, and along the coast of France via London, England, and flying out of Milan...

Vail, Colorado, Chicago, and New York.

A piece of all of these is meshed together on a painting to remind us of the first three and a half years of marriage together(we are a BLENDED family of six)

So I encourage you...
you horse lovers, get out those old programs and have a horse painted across them,
you fashion hounds...tear out line drawings of awesome dresses and have a big shoe painted across them!

take black and white photos and have them printed as line drawings and make a collage!

Just don't leave those memories in the drawer!

If you don't know how to start..I'd be happy to help!
Custom collages available by commission!
Gallery wrap 24X36 for $800.
You supply the memories!

Stuck? Find some Friends to HELP!

I paint with a group. I have found it to be such an incredible thing in my life that I hate it when the semester comes to an end.

This week we met to discuss our book, If you Want to Walk On Water, You Have to Get out of the Boat.

The week before, we set up still life arrangements and painted.
We call ourselves the Highland Artists and have started a BLOG for the group as well.

This past week we took on tulips and apples.

Our discussion really cut deeply....
and asked, "What are you doing with God's gifts?"
And most importantly... WHY NOT?
Fear is usually the number one reason.
We can't let fear stop us from achieving all that God set out for us.
So don't be afraid.
Step out there!

Every person has a different gift to accomplish God's purpose...
What can you do this week to use yours?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

ARTISTS- Check out the Cultural Alliance!

Today I spent the day with fellow artists, who are looking into the methods behind the madness of becoming a FULL TIME artist.

While everyone does it differently, the Cultural Alliance here in Birmingham has incredible resources to provide information to artists of all kinds. From visual artists and performers, to graphic designers and literary artists.

I have taken advantage of two of the many seminars offered throughout the county, and best of all, they are free of charge. (thanks to a grant from the Appalacian Regional Commission.

I attended the seminar entitled, Turn Your Passion Into Profits! during the monsoon of a storm a month ago at the Hoover Library, which was presented by Stephen H. Craft, Ph. D.

He provided insightful information on everything you need to know about creating a business to a room full of potential small business entrepreneurs who did not let a few weather warnings get in the way of their ambitions.

Today I attended Marketing Your Art, with Michael Bell and Bradford Kachelhofer with THE MODERN BRAND COMPANY.

It was an informative and inspiring look at yourself as artist.

It will be offered three more times before March 8 and provides insight on branding, website creation, determining your market, Print resources, and ideas for publicity and public relations.

Attendees are encouraged to use the website

and artists can post their information there for FREE as well, where they have created an extensive database of artisans at your fingertips.

There is also a new website that offers a wealth of information about what is going on in the artist communities state-wide.

If you are an inspiring artist or just LOVE THE ARTS...

it is the place to go to find the most current shows, exhibits, theatrical events, courses, classes and art related activities! If you need more information, go to

Be prepared to get out your calendar! You won't want to miss one of the events!

Written by Allison Puccetti Adams

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Why Are We So Unhappy to be Americans?

I would make comments, but

Jay Leno puts it into perspective and makes us think about our country's negativity. That's right, Jay Leno!!

According to a web circulated email, Jay Leno wrote this; it's the Jay Leno we don't often see....

"The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true, given the source, right?
The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed, and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President. In essence, 2/3's of the citizenry just isn't happy and want a change.
So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, ''What are we so unhappy about?''
Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?
Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job?
Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time, and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?
Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state?
Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?
I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough.
Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and
provide services to help all, and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.
Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family , and your belongings.
Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes , an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss.
This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.
How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world?
Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.
Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S., yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.
I know, I know. What about the President who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The President who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same President who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The President that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keepi ng all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks?
The Commander-In Chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me? Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad?
Think about it...are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it be cause the "Media" told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day.
Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistanhave volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go.
They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.
So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want, but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds, it leads; and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells, and when criticized, try to defend their actions by "justifying" them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book about "how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way"...Insane!
Stop buying the negativism you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.
We are among the most blessed people on Earth, and should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative.
"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"
Jay Leno

This was circulated at least into our little corner of the world here in Alabama by:

Best Wishes
Henry Arnold
12 Chalgrove Gardens
London N3 3PN
Tel:+44(0)208 346 1674
Fax:+44(0)208 371 0607
Mobile:+447831 133111

Friday, February 1, 2008

Could you Praise God as you Bury your Two Year Old Child?

I have a new thing in my life...
a man I greatly respect.

As I went through a divorce years ago, our counselor asked me, "who do you respect?" I could not think of one person...except maybe some people I "thought might be respectful" but I didn't really know.

I have lived my life just going, doing, not taking much time to think about consequences...well... Until the past four years when I began to find myself after starting over.

I changed everything about myself...from the inside out. I found friends who had strong, core values. I found a church that I love to be at every single day of the week... that makes a difference each and every day in the world here in our back yard,abroad and for eternity.This comes from a girl who didn't even KNOW there was a church in Tuscaloosa when I was there in college...

Then I met my husband...Chad....who honestly was the first man I ever respected. I's not ALL men...just all of the ones I have know that I couldn't respect or trust. A sad but true statement.

At 41 though, I am beginning to see that my trust issues came more from my choices than in men in general. I have found so many God loving leaders in the Church of the Highlands, who stand strong on their faith and give their wives something to look forward to in life.

But before I get too far off subject...back to another person I can say proudly that I respect.
I was in tears listening to this broadcast of Rick Burgess, speaking about the God he loves as he buried his son.

I pray that God pierces your heart as you listen and that you are ready to make changes in your life. It certainly has sent mine in a different direction!


Featured On: MyFoxAL Rick Burgess of the Rick and Bubba show spoke on Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at the memorial of his two-year-old son, William Bronner "Cornbread" Burgess, who died on Saturday after drowning in the family pool.

His speech at the memorial, titled "A Father's Heart," was amazing. Not only did Rick have the strength to speak, but his message was incredible... a true testament to the power of God in his life.

Click here to go to YouTube's broadcast of his speech at the funeral

If you are a Christian, or if you are NOT, it is something you have to hear.
His ability to stand strong for a God he believes in as he buries his two year old son is life changing.

This should be a daily reminder for us to hug our family and tell them we love them each and every day.

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February is American Heart Month

I am including this in case you might want to make a difference today!
For every person who clicks on the link,

money will be donated, according to GRIT magazine, towards Heart Research.

Read on for more info!

Grit eNews is the electronic newsletter designed to bring you even more Grit-ty information and help keep you in touch with what's happening at Grit magazine. If you have any comments, story ideas or wish to contribute a brief story and/or photos to Grit eNews, please contact Hank Will at

Eat Red!
Organization touts cherries to help Americans eat heart-healthy red foods.
Published: December 18, 2007 @ 02:20 PM CST from the January/February 2008 issue of GRIT.

By: The Cherry Marketing Institute
Red goes well with February, the month of Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, and it’s become customary to wear red during the month. Health and nutrition experts say we need to eat red, as well, to help protect our hearts.

Discover the power of eating heart-healthy red foods during the first National Eat Red Week, February 4-10.

Why eat red? Science suggests the pigments that make up the red color in many fruits and vegetables like tart cherries and tomatoes are powerful disease-fighting antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation associated with atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.

A recent study from the University of Michigan revealed that cherry-enriched diets in animals lowered total blood cholesterol levels and reduced triglycerides (fatty acids), major risk factors for heart disease. With more than 80 million Americans living every day with some form of heart disease, scientists are increasingly studying the heart health impact of the foods we eat.

“We’ve always known fruits and vegetables were ‘healthy,’ but now we’re beginning to better understand precisely why,” says Dr. Steven F. Bolling, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center who also heads the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory.

“Researchers are uncovering the unique potential for plant compounds, like those in cherries, to affect multiple heart health factors. For cherries, we’re learning the benefits may come from effects on both cholesterol levels and inflammation.”

Dried cherries are certified by the American Heart Association. To help raise funds in support of the American Heart Association’s mission, for every person who visits to learn more about the heart-health benefits of cherries, a donation will be made in their name (up to $5,000).

Cherries are being hailed by nutrition leaders as one of today’s hottest “Super Fruits.” According to Doctor of Public Health, registered dietitian and author of the newest edition of The SuperFoodsRx™ series, The SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients, Dr. Wendy Bazilian, cherries have quite an untold story.

“Most people don’t realize tart cherries are loaded with antioxidants, as many as blueberries in fact, and are linked to many potential health benefits including reducing risk factors for heart disease,” says Dr. Bazilian. “What’s especially great about these cherries is that they’re available year-round as dried, frozen and juice. And, they’re versatile enough for just about every eating occasion from breakfast to snacks to salads.”

That’s good news for those seeking foods with health promoting properties. A recent survey revealed most respondents would prefer to eat or drink foods with health promoting properties, with heart-health topping the list, if they knew it could potentially limit the amount of medication they needed to take.

Science suggests tart cherries may have potential health benefits including reducing pain related to arthritis and gout. Cherries are also one of the few food sources of melatonin, a potent antioxidant that may help improve the body’s natural sleep patterns and aid with jet lag. To learn more about cherries visit to view The Cherry Nutrition Report, the first compendium of peer-reviewed studies on the benefits of cherries.

You also can find new cherry recipes, menu ideas and more information on where you can buy red tart cherry products.

The Cherry Marketing Institute is an organization funded by North American tart cherry growers and processors. CMI’s mission is to increase the demand for tart cherries through promotion, market expansion, product development and research.

Berry Good Oatmeal
Cherry Quick Tip: Stir dried cherries into your favorite hot cereal. Even an on-the-go packet of instant oatmeal gets a big nutritional (and taste) boost from a handful of cherries.

2 cups lowfat milk (1 percent for nutrition analysis)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup mixed dried berries and cherries (red tart cherries, blueberries and strawberries)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1/2 cup lowfat milk (1 percent for nutrition analysis)
4 teaspoons chopped toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)*

Bring 2 cups milk and the salt to boil in a medium saucepan.

Stir in dried oats; then stir in dried berries and cherries and cinnamon. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

To serve, spoon oatmeal into bowls. Pour 2 tablespoons milk over each serving. Sprinkle with brown sugar and, if desired, nuts.

Yields four 1/2-cup servings.

*To toast nuts: Heat oven to 350°F. Spread nuts in a single layer in a baking pan. Bake about 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool nuts before chopping.

Nutrition Facts per 1/2-cup serving:
219 calories
3 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat)
0.04 g. trans fat
40 g. carbohydrates
8 mg. cholesterol
9 g. protein
3 g. fiber
214 mg. sodium
10 percent vitamin A
20 percent calcium
6 percent iron


I am amazed to find, that even in Alabama, there are students who do not know anything about the woods.
I share this article with you in an attempt to have you think about who owns our forests. Surprisingly, it is NOT corporations. It is rare, but in Alabama, more than 70% of the forests are owned by private landowners, families like yours and mine.

I teach an art class and one of our topics is "nature". I urge you to get out and find a leaf, do a texture drawing with a child, share a walk in nature. It will do you and the person you share it with good. It may even spur you to creativity.

Each year in October, the ATFA Leadership Conference is held to help landowners and non-forest landowners learn more about the resources available through the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association.

I read about the conference in a publication at the end of last summer, and while I had attended more than twenty different tours, workshops and meetings about forestry, I had never attended this leadership conference or any meetings conducted by the Alabama TREASURE Forest.

I had always thought that the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association was some special “group” of people who had those “signs on their property”. I approached the sign-in table with caution, and was pleasantly surprised when I was handed a huge red binder and introduced to the Executive Director, Mr. James Malone, and his wife, Joan, who quickly made it clear that this organization was open to anyone with “A Spirit of Thanksgiving, Encouragement and Inspiration”. Joan Malone serves as Program Coordinator. This was her topic of introduction, describing it as the Essence behind the Essence.

The following is taken from her Devotion during the Conference Oct. 4-5, 2001.
“A Spirit of Thanksgiving, Encouragement and Inspiration”

Thanksgiving means to express gratitude.

Expressing gratitude to God….for our natural resources and the first original seed God placed in the vegetation and trees that are still reproducing for us today.

Expressing gratitude for the calling He has placed on our lives to be good stewards over the land.

Expressing gratitude for the movement that is going on across the land, which is renewing respect for the land and for one another.

Encouragement means to spur one on; to stimulate, giving hope and promise; to give courage.

Inspiration means to influence, move or be guided by divine inspiration; to motivate people to work. To breathe into and upon and through!

As I sat there listening to her message, it amazed me that I had never been a part of this particular group. Sure, I had attended seminars on the value of timber, walked through managed pine forests, learned about building roads and make-shift bridges, knew a bit about BMP’s, and SMZ’s, had attended teacher training workshops at Auburn and Camp Beckwith (although I am not a teacher), had learned little things here and there to make your property more functional and more profitable. But here was the glue that made all of those things make sense.

Their pride for their mission and the passion in which they delivered their message was addicting. I was eager to learn, not only how to manage my forest land, but eager to determine how my little piece of earth could be used for something bigger than just a piece of dirt that grows trees. And immediately I felt that this group of family “stewards” could help me accomplish such feats.

The overall purpose of the Conference is to identify willing potential leaders for the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association in all sixty-seven counties of Alabama and to equip those committed leaders.

Before any of us even showed an interest or were committed to “lead”,
We were provided with a clear understanding of the purpose and objectives of the ATFA.
We were given a clear understanding of:
the ethical and monetary value of landowners helping landowners,
steps to organizing a chapter,
effective meeting management techniques,
resources and tools available to the chapters,
the art of delegating,
involving political partners at the local level,
communicating the many values of our forest resources and value of Private Forest Landowners to society,
and TREASURE forest Certification (which to my surprise, was NOT a requirement for membership).

In fact, you don’t even have to be a landowner to join. You must simply enjoy the outdoors and the practice of good stewardship of any land.

A simple statement from a talk organized by Mr. Mike Tidwell with Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA), said it all, “There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart……..pursue those.”

And obviously, this conference did catch a few hearts. By the end of the two days, we had assembled a group of Baldwin County residents who were asking the same question, “Why don’t WE have a chapter?”

Mr. Malone’s response was, “Well, it looks to me like you have enough interest here to get one started. Call our office next week and let’s see what you can do.”

And thus was the beginning of our new chapter, the Baldwin County Chapter of the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association. And after a few planning meetings, then an election of officers, we started off with a BANG!

The first event was held at Smithfield, a property near Stockton, which is owned by our newly elected President and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Smith.

It was fascinating to hear the story behind the beautifully manicured forest that stood before us. It was originally purchased as cattle land, but deer flies soon changed the direction for the owners. In the 1960’s the timber was cut, bringing 75% of the purchase price for Mr. Smith’s father, who then owned it.

In 1975, his father died, and the property was managed by the Smith boys who helped their mother run the family farm. And with the help of the county forester, Mr. Robert Dismukes, they groomed the land. It wasn’t always an easy task, with a number of setbacks, Hurricane Frederick being one of them. They lost 100% of the oaks on the property as well as a number of pines. They experienced a lawsuit that developed with a salvage company that marked trees without their knowledge. They lost a number of trees to drought or disease. They dissolved a former hunting club and began doing their own pine planting.

In November of 1979, Smithfield Farms, Inc. was established as a family business. Davis Forestry of Monticello, Ark. introduced hardwoods and in 1981 the home was built.
In 1982, 30 acres was cut and planted in Loblolly pines. In 1998, that harvest was thinned. As we bumped along the dirt lane on the back of the trailer, Mr. Smith was able to show us how every fifth row was cut, then the adjoining rows were thinned. We witnessed first hand, acreage that had been burned, and that which had not. There were huge fields planted in oats and rye. Immediately there was a rumbling on the trailer about what had worked for some and what was preferred by others.

He even shared plans that were never carried out. There had been a plan for fruit trees, but the harsh weather had been a factor. He also shared that he had little luck with Saw tooth Oaks.

The property now has a lake with three year old bream and bass that came about as a collaborative effort with a neighbor. They share the property with their son and daughter, and their grandchildren, who are also learning to love the land.

After the tour, Mrs. Smith had an incredible lunch prepared with barbeque, pasta salad and an incredible caramel cake.

So here, in one tour, we have witnessed all of those things that the Malone’s talked about at that meeting less than a year before.

We saw hospitality, we experienced stewardship, a love of the land, a responsible landowner sharing his experiences.

This article was published in the Treasure Forest Association publication 2002. and written by Allison Adams.

About Allison

Allison's work can be purchased by calling her at 205-914-2400
and can be seen at gallery in SOHO Square, Homewood

Allison will have a show of crisp, colorful, summer fun paintings in Fairhope, Alabama in March, 2008.
She is currently looking for representation along the Gulf Coast, in Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and the Florida Panhandle.

You may contact her at

Allison is an
She recently wrote the history of Birmingham for Indigo Publishing Co.'s Jan. 2008 release of Birmingham-Hoover Sketchbook. Her illustration of the Birmingham Train Station that was torn down in the name of progress is featured in that book.
She is also the author of Southern XYZ's Alabama Edition and A Gathering of Angels.
Allison is working on a cd of original songs.
Her son, Brent, has performed on radio at the age of 8, was on NBC13 at age 11 singing and playing harmonica, won third place in the Alys Stevens Stars Fell On Alabama Competition at age 11, is a contender in the America's Got Talent show with one more audition left to date, and is working on a cd as well. He plays guitar, piano, harmonica and sings his original songs. Brent is 14 years old.
Allison graduated from the University of Alabama and worked in the commercial/healthcare field of interior design. She was a board member of IIDA and served as the Southeast Regional Vice President for ASID while in college. She has worked as a coloration consultant/wallcovering designer. She uses her ability to visualize color and pattern in the creation of custom paintings for designers.
REALTOR BROKER- RELFE-WELDEN REAL ESTATE (Specialty: Gulf Coast vacation homes and rentals, Hunting Property- West Alabama, Birmingham Residential Property)
Other interests:
Past President of the Baldwin County Chapter of the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association.
Delta Delta Delta Sorority
Junior Women 100- Emmett O'Neal Library
Highland Artists