The Art of the Gift- A Guide

The month of May always brings an onslaught of gift giving necessities with Mother’s Day, graduations and June brides. In our family, we even have several May birthdays compounded with Mother’s Day. I always refer to the second week in May, lovingly, of course, as “Hell Week”.

Here are some suggestions I have come across in my online search for mothers, grads, brides and birthdays.




Whether High School or College, I think The Every Girl’s Guide to Life by Maria Menounos is an exceptional gift. Her book is brimming with small the details that we have tried to instill in our daughters, but in that un-nagging, not bitchy, cool-big-sister sort of way.

She is not only a beautiful girl on the outside, but she lives her life from a unique, calm, beautiful center and her inner beauty is just as stunning.

Her advice, tips and ideas are brilliant and savvy for a young woman getting ready to conquer her world.




Since my first home is Texas, I will give a shout out to the King Ranch Saddle Shop for the perfect Texas Grad guy gift. They have an array of gorgeous, quality leather goods in a variety of price ranges. Their luggage is stunning, yet very practical. This would be an awesome gift for a Texas student going out a state. Classic and understated; proud to be a Texan.



If you are not a Texan, first of all, my apologies. Second, I will throw a little support to my island home, Martha’s Vineyard. Vineyard Vines has an amazing on-line catalog with great gift ideas that make shopping a breeze. They have a huge selection of collegiate  ties and tote bags, so your student can fashionably show support for their favorite school or alma mater.



Sure, couples make it so easy by registering for all of the things they think they are going to need. But, when there is that special couple and you want to give that special gift, one word: Tiffany’s.

When Larkin and I registered, we were that typical couple in ‘la la love land’ …clueless. Of course, I was 22 and did not really have a sense yet, as to what my home decor style was going to be. I just knew I wouldn’t be able to tack up posters on the wall anymore.

From one of my husband’s business associates, we received a tall, gorgeous crystal vase. At the time, I couldn’t possibly imagine where I would put it or how I would use it. Did crystal even match papasan chairs?!

Today, I love what that crystal vase represents and I cherish it. When I arrange flowers for that vase, I remember how far we have come. It strikes me that somehow, the person who purchased this vase for us, could foresee that we would eventually make our way. We would be the people who would come to use that gorgeous crystal vase. It seems to say, I believed in you.

Tiffany’s online has a great selection of various price point crystal vases and bowls. Their customer service is just as impeccable as if you had walked through their revolving door, under the Tiffany blue awning. You will find that special gift that tells that special couple: I believe in you.

Mother’s Day

If you are shopping for your mom, be thankful to have a mother to shop for. I have several loved ones in my life who no longer have that blessed opportunity.

Flowers: easy and always my personal favorite because I LOVE flowers. My kids know to have them sent in paper, because for me, arranging them is the gift. I always use 1800Flowers because they have gorgeous variety, they have wonderful customer service and they always kick back a coupon for future purchases.

You can even set up a calendar, inputting dates and addresses so you’ll never miss an occasion again. Here is the DIY tip of the day:  If you have a forgetful significant other, simply go to their website, set up your birthday/anniversary info and add his email address. He will receive a reminder in due fashion with ideas and suggestions. Crisis averted. You’re welcome.


When my daughter, Jordan, became of self-sufficient gift giving age, she always sought out gifts that had a dual, social activist benefit. (Sometimes, I do miss the whole “glittered pasta glued to crap” years.)

Coming from a Catholic school upbringing, which instills social justice, she became adept in finding organizations that would match gifts or donate a portion of purchased items, back to impoverished or struggling communities. Almost all of my gifts from her, come with a card stating that someone, in some far away land is receiving a bag of rice to feed a family. Or, the start-up money to plant a new crop. So my next suggestion is inspired from her. I always say your kids are your biggest educators.

Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy’s. Already, Heart of Haiti has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti, providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,500 people in the country.

Each item is a one-of-a-kind design and handmade by a Haitian master artisan from raw materials such as recycled oil drums, wrought iron, papier-mâché and stone. The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, jewelry and paintings and is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums and local gommier wood.  Heart of Haiti products are available exclusively online at Macy’ Most items range from $25-$60.


There is an art to finding, purchasing, wrapping and delivering a beautiful gift. If you have a “go to” arsenal, you will never be caught off guard in finding the right gift. But, more than “right”, it should always be meaningful. “The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.”  ~Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur

The added bonus of the above suggestions is that they can all be purchased from home, lying in bed in your pajamas. Just as I am doing right now, prepping for “Hell Week”. I think even Pierre would appreciate my “manner”.


Derby de Mayo

Kentucky Derby! Cinco de Mayo!

What’s a southern Latina to do?

The Tequila Julep

Muddle 10 leaves of mint and half of a lime cut in wedges 

1/2 shot simple syrup or tablespoon of white sugar

2 shots of Herradura Anejo Tequila


top off with Topo Chico Agua Mineral

Inspired by Jordan Stallings (alchemist/filmmaker/activist)

Prepared by Larkin Stallings (nightclub sage/the most interesting Man in the world)

Viva la Derby!

TCM Tuesday

It is Turner Classic Tuesday and here are my picks for this week, including a birthday movie tribute for Audrey Hepburn.


May 1, 2012

11:00 AM

An Okinawan translator introduces U.S. occupation forces to the joys of local life.Dir: Daniel Mann Cast: Marlon Brando , Glenn Ford , Machiko Kyo .C-123 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

The 1954 Tony for best play and won the Pulitzer for Drama that same year. Apparently, Marlon Brando’s performance was so convincing as his asian character, that theater managers reported moviegoers requesting refunds because Brando was never on-screen. 

9:15 PM

A Cuban fisherman believes his long dry spell will end when he catches a legendary fish.
Dir: John Sturges Cast: Felipe Pazos Jr. , Harry Bellaver , Spencer Tracy .
C-87 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

I am a huge Spencer Tracy fan, thus the recommendation. Although Hemingway, himself, was not a fan of Tracy’s portrayal of his infamous literary character. Academy critics disagreed and Tracy was nominated for an Oscar.

May 2, 2012

4:00 PM

A phonetics instructor bets that he can pass a street urchin off as a lady.
Dir: George Cukor Cast: Audrey Hepburn , Rex Harrison , Stanley Holloway .
C-172 mins, TV-G, CC, Letterbox Format

Totally obvious, I know. But, just try and NOT imagine Stewie of “Family Guy” as Rex Harrison. ‘Tis difficult. But, cheers to Seth MacFarlane for basing a cartoon character after such a cultured, well…character. Always a classic, but it does bother me a little that Hepburn’s voice had to be dubbed. 

May 3, 2012

10:45 AM

An answering service operator gets mixed up in her clients’ lives.
Dir: Vincente Minnelli Cast: Judy Holliday , Dean Martin , Fred Clark .
C-126 mins, TV-G, CC, Letterbox Format

If you have never seen a Judy Holliday movie, you will either totally love or hate her. I weigh in on the “love her” side . I think she created the Hollywood version of the “dumb, actually smart,you can’t fool me blonde”.  I feel that Melanie Griffin was most likely influenced by her, although she has never told me that directly. Holliday re-created this role from Broadway, where she won the 1957 Best Actress(Musical). Sadly, this was her last film.

May 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Audrey Hepburn! 

No “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or the usual Hepburn films, but, hey…it’s Audrey! Simply fabulous.

10:00 AM

A headstrong girl fights the strictures of the Catholic church in Europe and the Belgian Congo.
Dir: Fred Zinnemann Cast: Audrey Hepburn , Peter Finch , Dame Edith Evans .
C-152 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Generally considered Hepburn’s personal favorite of her movies. 

2:45 PM

An aging American tycoon overcomes his inhibitions to court a young Parisian.Dir: Billy Wilder Cast: Gary Cooper , Audrey Hepburn , Maurice Chevalier .BW-130 mins, TV-G, CC, Letterbox Format

One of my sister’s personal favorites! Cary Grant was offered Cooper’s role, but turned it down because he thought himself too old to play against Hepburn. (Psshaw! Too old? Never, Mr. Grant, never!) Four years later he would star with her in “Charade”, also NOT airing today.

5:00 PM

A blind woman fights against drug smugglers who’ve invaded her home.
Dir: Terence Young Cast: Audrey Hepburn , Alan Arkin , Richard Crenna .
C-108 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Ranked #55 on AFI’s “100 Years, 100 Thrills” list. Stephen King claims this as one of the scariest movies of all time, calling out Arkin’s performance as “the greatest evocation of screen villainy ever”. A great, even, stylish thriller. Hepburn picked out and bought her own clothes for this film in Paris. Thus, there is not a costume design credit. Tres chic.

8:45 PM
12 ANGRY MEN (1957)

A jury holdout tries to convince his colleagues to vote not guilty.
Dir: Sidney Lumet Cast: Henry Fonda , Lee J. Cobb , Ed Begley .
BW-96 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Ranked #2 in AFI Courtroom Drama. I think it is a perfectly made film, and quite economical, as well. It was shot in an astounding 21 days for $350,000. Henry Fonda is sublime and although he couldn’t watch himself on screen, it is noted that he knew the film was stunning and praised Lumet for his work.

 May 5, 2012

4:00 PM

The Japanese Army forces World War II POWs to build a strategic bridge in Burma.
Dir: David Lean Cast: William Holden , Alec Guinness , Jack Hawkins .
C-162 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

If you have the time or room on the DVR, my husband recommends this. I have never seen it in its entirety, even though it has Obi-Wan Kenobi in it.  In comparison to the above film, said “Bridge” cost $250,000  and was built before anyone was even cast. Not so economical…or safe; Director David Lean almost drowned on set, swept away by a current. Actor Geoffrey Horne saved his life. This film won Best Picture in 1958 over “12 Angry Men”.

3:00 AM

Co-stars have an affair while filming the story of a doomed love.
Dir: Karel Reisz Cast: Meryl Streep , Jeremy Irons , Leo McKern .
C-124 mins, TV-MA, Letterbox Format

It is freaking Meryl Streep! Show your respect for the greatest actress of our time and set your DVR’s!

May 6, 2012

1:00 PM
JANE EYRE (1944)

A governess at a remote estate falls in love with her brooding employer.
Dir: Robert Stevenson Cast: Orson Welles , Joan Fontaine , Margaret O’Brien .
BW-96 mins, TV-PG, CC

Just one of the many adaptation’s of Charlotte Bronte’s classic. Jane Eyre fan=DVR.

5:00 PM
MARTY (1955)

A lonely butcher finds love despite the opposition of his friends and family.
Dir: Delbert Mann Cast: Ernest Borgnine , Betsy Blair , Esther Minciotti .
BW-94 mins, TV-PG, CC

This is a movie that, today, would win the audience award at a film festival. And, in 1955, it did. It was the first American film to win the Palm d’Or at Cannes. The first time I saw it, I could not wrap my head around Borgnine as a leading man.  Yet, I fell in love with his character and this film instantly. He did win the Oscar for his portrayal of an everyman looking for true love. 

May 7, 2012

9:00 PM

A young couple from dueling street gangs falls in love.
Dir: Robert Wise Cast: Natalie Wood , Richard Beymer , Russ Tamblyn .
C-153 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

What can I say…I’m a dancer. The choreography is amazing. The first film to win Best Director for two directors, Wise and Jerome Robbins. This wouldn’t happen again until Joel and Ethan Coen shared the award for “No Country for Old Men” in 2007. Elvis Presley was the first choice to play “Tony”; Audrey Hepburn to play “Maria”. Now, that would’ve been a totally different movie!

I hope you enjoy the classics!


are you reading that book?

It’s Friday!  After a nice week of birthday celebration, it’s back to business.

Are you reading Fifty Shades of Grey? I am planning on starting it this weekend. In comparison, I’m late to the party, I know. But, everywhere I go, I hear women talking about this book. I feel like I HAVE to read it, now. It reminds me of the fifth grade when you had to keep up with Judy Blume books, just so you knew all of the important stuff, like, “the bases”.

Let me know your thoughts, opinions. I’d love to hear what some of my like minded women (& men!) are thinking about this read. It will be like our own little blog book club.

Since it’s Friday, here is a little laughter to get the weekend started. Enjoy!

Reflections at 46

Reflections at 46

This is me.

Those silver highlights running through my hair are from endless grocery store runs, dinner on the table every night, science projects, Halloween costumes and birthday parties fit for a king.

Those lines on my forehead are from late night fevers, broken bones (some unnoticed for a day or two), stitches, college decisions, and the constant question: Am I doing this right?

The puffiness under my eyes from the late nights of waiting to hear that car in the driveway, or hear that boyfriend or girlfriend NOT go in your room, roughly 3,240 school mornings (never late!) the shared tears over broken hearts, bad decisions and sappy movies.

The smile lines around my mouth, as I watched Christmas mornings, prom pics in the front yard, graduations, college acceptances, fearlessness, gumption and leaving home to conquer the world.

The laugh lines around my eyes are the evidence of true living. Laughter is my default mode. I am thankful to have them; there to remind me of how much fun it has been. God, how we laugh.

Today I celebrate 46 years and I am thankful for every one.

For my birthday, I am so pleased to have my Pilates mentor and trainer, Joseph Vargas, PhD, guest post this wonderful piece on aging.

Aging gracefully.  

If by that we mean, “Just let it happen, don’t fight it”  then, hell, no!   I ain’t going down without a fight! Aging chronologically is inevitable and should be welcomed.  After all, we should all get better with age, right?  But, the truth, “getting better with age” does not just happen.

Getting better with age psychologically is the result of examining our lives (previous decisions, choices, actions etc.) and learning from them and honing ourselves into “better”.

Getting better with age physiologically means makes wiser and wiser choices as to how we fuel and exercise this gracious and forgiving vehicle which we inhabit all the years of our lives; being smarter and appropriately more attentive to it than in our wilder days (or should I spell that “daze”?).  Ah, good times ,yes.  And, even better times can be here now and in our future.

Whenever you see someone who’s “older” and looks fit and whose posture (both attitudinal and physical posture) is striking, you can BET that it didn’t “just happen”. Those individuals were interactively involved in this dance we call the aging process.  And, their dance was graceful, not by default, but by their persistent and vigorous, strategic pursuit, awareness and daily action at many levels. “Aging gracefully” is no accident; it occurs purely by intent and commitment and execution.

If you don’t believe me, next time you see someone who has “aged gracefully”, just ask them and you’ll see, hear and, more than likely,  be inspired.

 So, engage dear ones. Engage.

Be well, be joyful and be prosperous,


TCM Tuesday & Babs is 70


Tuesday, it is all about Barbra Streisand in honor of her 70th birthday. 70! She is still like “buttah”. Six of her films kick-off my Turner Classic Tuesday’s week of classics. Happy Birthday, Barbra!


CST schedule

Tuesday April 24/Wednesday April 25

7:00 PM

A fiery liberal fights to make her marriage to a successful writer work.
Dir: Sydney Pollack Cast: Barbra Streisand , Robert Redford , Bradford Dillman .
C-118 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

Hubble. The opening credits are probably my favorite of all time, even with that 70’s disco font.  And that last scene, her gloved hand, combing through his hair.  You just want a different ending every freaking time! One of my favorite movies ever.

9:15 PM

Comedienne Fanny Brice fights to prove that she can be the greatest star and find romance even though she isn’t pretty.
Dir: William Wyler Cast: Barbra Streisand , Omar Sharif , Kay Medford .
C-157 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Streisand’s film debut. She won an Academy Award  for her performance, but had to share it with Katherine Hepburn (The Lion In Winter); the only tie in Oscar history.

12:00 AM

A troubled man talks to his suicidal sister’s psychiatrist about their family history and falls in love with her in the process.
Dir: Barbra Streisand Cast: Nick Nolte , Barbra Streisand , Blythe Danner .
C-132 mins, TV-MA, CC

Streisand’s real life son, Jason Gould, plays her son in the film. Don Johnson was the original actor slated to play the lead; of course, he was dating Streisand during pre-production. Their relationship had ended by the time she made the film.

2:30 AM

When a bookworm gets a prostitute evicted, she moves into his apartment.
Dir: Herbert Ross Cast: Barbra Streisand , George Segal , Robert Klein .
C-97 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

Streisand wanted Sydney Poitier (who wouldn’t!) to play the male lead, but the studios balked, claiming audiences were not ready for an interracial couple in a major comedy. That would’ve been amazing!

4:15 AM

Musical biography of Fanny Brice and her tempestuous marriage to showman Billy Rose.
Dir: Herbert Ross Cast: Barbra Streisand , James Caan , Omar Sharif .
C-138 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Filmed under duress, maybe? Producer Ray Stark had to sue Streisand to make this film after she refused and still owed him one picture, under contract. The film was generally panned by most critics and is pretty hit or miss, depending on your true love for Babs.

6:45 AM

A woman goes to outlandish extremes to make her husband rich.
Dir: Peter Yates Cast: Barbra Streisand , Michael Sarrazin , Estelle Parsons .
C-90 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

Streisand shows her slapstick, Lucille Ball chops. Silly and light-hearted, this film shows that no one should take themselves too seriously, even Barbra Streisand.


Thursday April 26

9:00 AM

A young gigolo returns to his southern hometown in search of the lost love of his youth.
Dir: Richard Brooks Cast: Paul Newman , Geraldine Page , Shirley Knight .
C-120 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Tennessee William’s classic play. The film was first offered to Elvis Presley, but his manager, “Colonel”  Tom Parker turned it down. He didn’t want Elvis playing a bad guy. But, busting out into song with a ukulele or at the casino pool was a good career choice?! 

12:45 PM

A dying plantation owner tries to help his alcoholic son solve his problems.
Dir: Richard Brooks Cast: Elizabeth Taylor , Paul Newman , Burl Ives .
C-108 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Talk about the show must go on. Taylor’s husband, Michael Todd was killed on the first day of shooting and she continued on, using her emotion in her acting. Tennessee Williams’ adaptations had all been filmed in black & white up to this point, but when Newman and Taylor were cast, director Brooks insisted on color. He knew the public would flock to see her famously violet eyes and his baby blues. If you made a drinking game based on knocking back every time “Maggie” says “Big Daah-dy” in her southern drawl, you’d most likely be in full blackout, by the end of the film.


Friday April 27

8:30 AM

A neurotic southerner steals her sister’s husband then vies with her for another man.
Dir: John Huston Cast: Bette Davis , Olivia de Havilland , George Brent .
BW-97 mins, TV-PG, CC

I love Bette Davis movies, period. Especially, when she is a bitch.  Nobody does it better and, in this film, she does not disappoint. I also love when she plays opposite, George Brent, with whom she had a tumultuous love affair. Their on-screen chemistry is riveting. Personal fun fact:  I could listen to George Brent read the phone book.

Saturday April 28

4:45 PM

A fading southern belle tries to build a new life with her sister in New Orleans.
Dir: Elia Kazan Cast: Vivien Leigh , Marlon Brando , Kim Hunter .
BW-125 mins, TV-PG, CC

“STELLA!” Truly, an acting orgy. Three Oscar-winning performances, with some of the most powerful acting captured on film.   My favorite scene: Brando slamming down his chicken in the dinner scene with Leigh and Hunter. He goes from stoic to crazed anger in less than a second. Stunning. (Brando in a fitted tee; also stunning.) The film was shot in only 36 days. And, God bless Vivian Leigh, who suffered from bipolar disorder, often confused her life for that of Blanche Dubois in her later days. 

Sunday April 29th

1:00 PM

A bogus preacher marries an outlaw’s widow in search of the man’s hidden loot.
Dir: Charles Laughton Cast: Robert Mitchum , Shelley Winters , Lillian Gish .
BW-93 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

This movie terrified my husband when he was a child, so, of course he made me watch it one night. Mitchum is totally creepy in this very dark, disturbing thriller.

3:00 PM

A British military officer enlists the Arabs for desert warfare in World War I.
Dir: David Lean Cast: Peter O’Toole , Alec Guinness , Anthony Quinn .
C-227 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

I have Netflixed and DVR’d this movie so many times and have never seen it from beginning to end!  Maybe because there are no female speaking roles. It is the longest film,  227 minutes, without any speaking by a woman. I will try and give it another go. “Tis I, Pee-tra O’Toole!” (Sorry. A short homage to SNL’s Bill Hader.)

Monday April 30

11:15 AM

A widow generates small-town gossip when she falls in love too soon after her husband’s death.
Dir: Curtis Bernhardt Cast: Barbara Stanwyck , George Brent , Warner Anderson .
BW-94 mins, TV-PG, CC

Brent in another dashing leading man role. Stanwyck, one of the most underrated actresses of that time period, gives a fabulous performance in this sophisticated, not overly dramatic romantic film. 

1:15 AM

A classical musician from the slums is sidetracked by his love for a wealthy neurotic.
Dir: Jean Negulesco Cast: Joan Crawford , John Garfield , Oscar Levant .
BW-125 mins, TV-PG, CC

The gorgeous music is actually performed by Isaac Stern and when you see close-ups of the violin, you are seeing Stern’s hands playing. John Garfield was a very popular actor at the time of his sudden death at the age of 39. His funeral was mobbed by thousands of distraught fans. But, today, you hardly hear of any big John Garfield fans or see his face memorialized on posters or purses with the likes of  Marilyn Monroe, James Dean or Humphrey Bogart.




Spring Fling in The Heights

You’re invited to Shop Heights 19th Street for our annual Spring Fling! Join us for an afternoon of Family Fun and an evening of Relaxation and Live Music. Shop all your favorite stores on 19th Street and enjoy complimentary refreshments and fun activities for the whole family. Relax as the sun starts to set with live music and more. This is a free event and all are welcome. Come help us celebrate SPRING!

We all live in communities that we can support. The small businesses in our neighborhoods, our towns, our cities all need our help to thrive and grow. Do you shop local? Eat local? Spend local?

“One of the greatest things an individual can do to support his or her local community is to patronize its locally owned businesses. Compared to their national competitors, local independent businesses recycle more money back into the local economy and give greater support to a community’s nonprofit and civic needs.” – BALLE (Business Alliance for Living Local Economies)

Mother Nature Network-The Benefits of Buying Local

I love living in The Heights in Houston, Texas. There is a true sense of community that we all share along with a unique pride that Heights residents celebrate, and celebrate well.

We enjoy the best restaurants, live music, art, antiques, clothing, home decor, hardware, nurseries, yoga, Pilates, opera…even, burlesque classes to which, I’m dying to drag my sister. (C’mon, Jen!)

In our timeless tract of the 4th largest city in the nation, we are charmingly hip. Urban and small town. Historic and modern.

A great place for Living Lola.

A great place to come shop, sip and stroll.

Turner Classic Tuesday

Today is Turner Classic Tuesday. Set your DVR’s and treat yourself to the greatest classic movies ever made.

And, no, Robert Osborne is not my boss, nor do I have any affiliation with Turner Classic Movies.  Just an affinity for the classics.

Here are some of Lola’s picks for this week. You can view the entire schedule at  




17 Tuesday

2:45PM LADY L (1965) A beautiful laundress rises through European society. Dir: Peter Ustinov Cast: Sophia Loren , Paul Newman , David Niven . C-109 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Sophia Loren and Paul Newman…need I say more.

18 Wednesday

10:00 AM PRIDE OF THE YANKEES, THE (1942) Baseball legend Lou Gehrig faces a crippling disease at the height of his success. Dir: Sam Wood Cast: Gary Cooper , Teresa Wright , Babe Ruth BW-128 mins, TV-PG, CC,

Ranked #3 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Sports” in June 2008.                                                                                                                      

19 Thursday

3:15 PM WASP WOMAN, THE (1959) A cosmetics executive’s search for eternal beauty turn her into a monster. Dir: Roger Corman Cast: Susan Cabot , Fred Eisley , Barboura Morris . BW-61 mins, TV-PG

The Tagline: Horror Of The Winged Menace ! I love 50’s horror.

4:30 PM ILLUSTRATED MAN, THE (1969) A man’s tattoos tell frightening tales of the future. Dir: Jack Smight Cast: Rod Steiger , Claire Bloom , Robert Drivas . C-103 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

Written by Ray Bradbury who agreed to the movie if Rod Steiger was cast. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this film has the record for longest time applying make-up each day, at 20 hours. 

20 Friday

3:00 PM DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, THE (1959) A young girl comes of age while hiding from the Nazis. Dir: George Stevens Cast: Millie Perkins , Joseph Schildkraut , Shelley Winters . BW-180 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Audrey Hepburn turned down the role because she felt it too painful because of her own war experiences. Also, at 30, she felt she was too old to play a teenager convincingly and do the film the justice it deserved.  Spoiler alert: well, yeah…you know.

21 Saturday

6:00 AM PETRIFIED FOREST, THE (1936) An escaped convict holds the customers at a remote desert cantina hostage. Dir: Archie L. Mayo Cast: Leslie Howard , Bette Davis , Genevieve Tobin . BW-82 mins, TV-G, CC,

Film also stars Humphrey Bogart, his first big break due to Leslie Howard insisting on Bogart getting the film role. Bogart honored him by naming his second child with Lauren Bacall, Leslie.

6:00 PM CAPE FEAR (1962) An ex-convict plots to destroy the district attorney who sent him to prison. Dir: J. Lee Thompson Cast: Gregory Peck , Robert Mitchum , Polly Bergen . BW-106 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Peck and Mitchum are riveting in this creepy thriller. In the last fight scene, Peck actually punches Mitchum, but the scene continued. Mitchum said he went to his dressing room and collapsed, having never been hit so hard!  You can’t mess with Gregory Peck.

8:00 PM CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) A blue-collar worker’s encounter with a UFO leaves him a changed man. Dir: Steven Spielberg Cast: Richard Dreyfuss , Terry Garr , François Truffaut . C-135 mins, TV-MA, CC, Letterbox Format

R2D2, from Star Wars fame, has a “cameo”. The droid is visible, upside down, as Jillian first sees the mother-ship up close from her hiding place in the rocks.

12:45 AM LOGAN’S RUN (1976) A future police officer uncovers the deadly secret behind a society that worships youth. Dir: Michael Anderson Cast: Michael York , Jenny Agutter , Richard Jordan . C-119 mins, TV-MA, CC, Letterbox Format

Remember Ross’s inner dialogue on Friends? “She was the one that wanted to rent ‘Logan’s Run,’ the sexiest movie ever.” (Quick Trivia: Name that episode of Friends!)

22 Sunday

12:00 PM MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936) When he inherits a fortune, a small-town poet has to deal with the corruption of city life. Dir: Frank Capra Cast: Gary Cooper , Jean Arthur , George Bancroft . BW-116 mins, TV-G, CC

A fabulous Capra feel good movie. Look for Bess Flowers as an extra in this movie. Nicknamed “Queen of the Hollywood Extras” Flowers appeared in over 700 movies, 21 were Oscar nominations for Best Picture, of which 5 won. This makes Bess a record holder for an actor appearing in the most Best Picture winning films. 

4:00 PM IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967) A black police detective from the North forces a bigoted Southern sheriff to accept his help with a murder investigation. Dir: Norman Jewison Cast: Sidney Poitier , Rod Steiger , Warren Oates . C-110 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

The movie’s line “They call me Mister Tibbs!” was voted as the #16 movie quote by the American Film Institute. Also, frequently cited as Sidney Poitier’s favorite of all the films he’s done. 

6:00 PM SUMMERTIME (1955) A schoolteacher is surprised to find love on a Venetian vacation. Dir: David Lean Cast: Katharine Hepburn , Rossano Brazzi , Isa Miranda . C-100 mins, TV-PG, CC,

One of my go to films if I’m sick in bed or on a rainy afternoon. Watch for the canal scene; when Hepburn falls into the canal, one of her eyes became infected. That infection stayed with her the rest of her life. Also, her wardrobe: Classic Hepburn Style! This movie is divine inspiration for Living Lola. 

A “chick-less” Easter

Our home has had more than its share of big Easter celebrations with riotous, roller derby style egg hunts, chocolate meltdown overdoses and even an impromptu golf lesson that turned into a trip to the emergency room and 12 stitches.

Yep, I did it. I laid my husband out cold with a Big Bertha Callaway driver, Easter Sunday 1994, in front of about 30 guests, including small children and the elderly.  It was just like when David took down Goliath. With a lot more blood.

This year, in honor of our new Empty Nest freedom, Larkin and I jumped in the Prius (Gas is $4.19 a gallon.) and set out for the open roads of Texas. We packed up our puppy, Juliet, playlists of road tunes and set our destination for a fabulous Texas diner. Larkin and I are simple people. (The key to being together for almost 25 years.)

Last year, when Texas Monthly Magazine came out with their list of Texas’ best diners and places for pie, we knew immediately how we wanted to spend some of our new free time. Eating.

It was a gorgeous day for a road trip and a perfect way to spend our first “kid-less” Easter holiday. We hit Austin, Georgetown, Round Rock, Round Top, Brenham and Hutto, Texas.







Hutto, a 100-year-old town, home of the Texan Cafe and Pie Shop. Texas Monthly did not disappoint. Chicken Fried Steak, as big as the county, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, Pork Chops, Mac ‘n Cheese, with green beans and peas for color. All of the Texas food groups were represented.







And, my God, the PIE. The creamiest Coconut Cream pie we have ever had. They have a sign inside the restaurant that says “Pie Fixes Everything.” Indeed, sometimes, it does. The toasted coconut on top of the pie did wonders for me.

Riding out our “pie high” through the back roads of the Texas Hill country, we stopped and took pictures, read the historical markers and even risked our lives by pulling over to the side of the road for the time-honored tradition of taking Texas Bluebonnet pictures.

Getting the perfect spring bluebonnet picture is two-fold. One, don’t get killed by the cars, pick-up trucks and 18 wheelers that are careening down the highway at 90mph. Two, attempt to get a shot that doesn’t have someone else in your frame. Yes, Texas is big. But, THAT many people are out, on a gorgeous day, propping up their cute, Easter outfitted kids (or dogs) amidst the glory of the Texas state flower. And, risking their lives, as well.







It’s a Texas thing. You haven’t lived on the edge, until you have swerved to the edge of HWY 290 at 75mph, just to shoot bluebonnet pics.  Just like you haven’t had a Stallings’ Family Easter, until you’ve nearly knocked your husband’s eye out, from your back swing.

Relaxing from the road trip, we reminisced about that Easter while watching The Masters Golf Tournament, yesterday. Larkin’s golf clubs safely stored in the trunk of his car. Locked.


Stand tall

Nne Ekeogbede via Pinterest

Last month, I began my Pilates certification on the apparatus known as the reformer. When I have completed my training, I will be able to teach Pilates. And possibly qualify for the “B” team of Cirque du Soleil.

This is not my first certification rodeo. I am certified in floral design, feng shui and even have a throwback aerobics certification from the 80’s, before they used headset microphones.  I have sat through classes in yoga, meditation, cooking, aromatherapy, brain aging, buddhism and most recently, blogging and web design.

A “Jackie” of all trades.

My Pilates trainer, Joseph, has become my guru and mentor throughout this process. I train with him everyday and, quite honestly, he is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He is my “Mr.Miyagi.”

A few weeks back, I was working with him on the teaching dialogue of body alignment and I said, “Stand up straight.” Joseph gently corrected me, saying we are not built to stand straight, but to “stand tall.” Obviously, we each have our own curves and sinewy lines, while standing tall and correctly.

Wax on. Wax off. Stand tall.

I am a posture nazi. My daughter was 5’8 when she hit middle school and there was no way in hell I was going to let her shrink her shoulders and play it down. I wanted her to rock it like she was on the runway at NY fashion week. My kids have fond memories of me walking up behind them and jabbing “my bony finger”, as they lovingly recall, into the middle of their back. That was all I had to do when I wanted to correct them in public. At home, I just yelled, “posture”! Too bad I didn’t have “stand tall” in my mother’s arsenal, just yet.

There is so much metaphor to this simple correction. I find it creeps up in my day-to-day. When someone cuts you off in traffic, don’t honk or get angry, stand tall, take the high road, let him pass. If you’re working on something challenging, take a deep breath and stand tall. It’s just one day, you can do anything for one day. If you are unhappy in you current place in life, stand tall. Grab hold of your courage and take small, considered steps you need to better your position and take control of your life.

On the command, “stand up straight”, you immediately lift your chest, draw in air and hold your breath. How can you accomplish anything in this state?

Standing straight represents the inability to compromise or open your mind to alternative opportunities that may present themselves. You will not be able think outside the box. Hell, you are not even breathing!

When you “stand tall”, there is a feeling of centering calm that washes over. And, you are breathing. You have the ability to bend, be flexible and make the necessary corrections to whatever challenges come your way, mentally, emotionally or physically.

This week, I have not been at the top of my game. We have been hit with a lot of family issues which makes for challenges in managing my time and emotions. I realized I was trying to stand up straight to weather it all. I had to be my future self, the Pilates instructor I intend to be, and remind myself to breathe and stand tall.

Wax on. Wax off. Stand tall.

I didn’t plan to start my blog and start Pilates training concurrently. It just happened to all fall in place at the same time. I guess if I had just stared in the mirror at the studio, concentrating on standing with straight posture, I wouldn’t have really heard Joseph when he told me to stand tall.

But, then again, he is Mr. Miyagi.