Meet My Family, Uncategorized

A Traditional Carlos

By, Louisa Cambridge

We have a tradition in our family that when someone we love leaves our home after an extended visit, we say our last farewell, with a Traditional Carlos. A Carlos is nothing more than a wave that is maintained until the car carrying our guest(s) has driven out of our sight. This tradition was established back in the 1970’s by Jeff’s brother, David.

At the time, David was an aspiring actor, living in New York City. Often, he visited a friend named Carlos. When it was time for David to leave Carlos’ apartment, Carlos walked with him outside and waved. He waved as David walked down the sidewalk, maintaining the wave until the top of David’s head disappeared down a stairway leading to the underground Subways. This was how Carlos honored his guests. His way of expressing how important they were to him. David passed this tradition onto our family; in turn, Jeff and I passed it onto ours.

I have come to learn, that the joy and anticipation of waiting for loved ones to arrive, far surpasses that moment when you kiss them goodbye. This knowledge first tenderized my heart when my son Chris left the safe embrace of our home to join the Air Force. I learned the lesson a new when my son Andy left to join the Navy. Today, that same ache fills my heart whenever Aldon leaves… the aftermath of sending him back to Mississippi, to his parent’s loving arms.

This morning as I watched Aldon leave, I waved a Carlos. As our car rounded a corner, disappearing from my sight, tears filled my eyes. Retreating into my house, I sought solitude in my bedroom, where I could be alone with my thoughts and the pain throbbing in my heart.  Too fresh is the memory of my grandson’s embrace. I still smell traces of his Captain America cologne, which I bought for his birthday. My house is full of reminders of him, toys, little gifts he has given me throughout his visit; notes he has written. Now it’s time to be grateful for his sweet mom and dad, who so freely entrust him into our care. He must be released, like his dad and uncle before him.

Strange are the mysteries of life as they unfold… In my youth, I learned to mold myself into a parent, changing my focus from me, to my children. Then one day my children transitioned into adults and I sought after the Grace to release them into the world. All the time, hoping that I had performed my job well enough for them to fly on their own.

Fly they have!

I’m carried back to a holiday when Chris was home, taking leave from the Air Force. This was before 911 struck and we were able to join our loved ones at the airline gates. Jeff, Grandpa Kissell and I went to see Chris off. Once Chris boarded the plane and was out of sight, I saw tears come to Grandpa Kissell’s eyes. His outward display of emotion embarrassed him, but his words echoed my own, “He’s the first!”

When Aldon left our house this morning, he was unaware that his Uncle Chris was waiting for him at the airport, to surprise him. Nor did he know that, Chris was flying back to Mississippi with him to surprise his mom and daddy (Andy).

They’re on the plane right now…

At the beginning of this summer, Jeff and I waited for Aldon’s arrival with eager anticipation. As a family, we have gorged ourselves on laughter, good food and outings. Aldon and I rode Dude, saw Broadway’s, “The Lion King” and went to Six Flags twice. I took him swimming and he rode bikes almost every night with Baboo (Jeff). We celebrated the 4th of July, his birthday and Grandma and Grandpa Kissell moving in with us.

Always, when we gather together as a family, we reminisce over the past, reliving fond memories while discarding the bumpy roads that came our way. We hold each other close, clinging just a little bit tighter How painful that moment is when you kiss a loved one goodbye. The pain is strong, because the love is strong. It is in that moment of departure when your love is the most exposed.

This morning, as I waved a Carlos to Aldon, I felt a swirl of these emotions. After retreating to my room, I let my tears flow freely. Oh, how the well of emotion tugged at my heart! Yet, there was stillness in the moment. Comforting stillness…

In that stillness I saw a gift… It hovered over me, as well as within. The moment I acknowledged the gift, it seemed to swell and radiate a soothing light. I grasped it with hands of faith, holding it close to my heart so the light could fill my soul, ease the pain of separation.

Another memory!

I’ll hang on to this one for a while and let it continue to tenderize my heart, before placing it with all my others… the fragments of time I carefully store in my treasure chest. Marveling, how one little boy can completely melt my heart…

Furniture Restorations, Home Decor Ideas, Uncategorized

Repurposing a 1950 Kitchen Cabinet, Transforming Vintage into Something New!

I have a passion for taking discarded items and turning them into something new. Something that is beautiful and useful. Whether the item is an antique, vintage china or a child’s toy from the 1950’s, I see a finished product that fills me with excitement. For years I’ve worked on furniture restorations. Stripping off old finishes, sanding the pieces by hand, removing hardware and glass, to get to the prized wood. That is how I stumbled across Annie Sloan’s, Chalk Paint, at an antique mall I used to frequent in Grapevine, Texas. Every time I browsed through the mall I was drawn to the colorful, creative booth. One day I went to the store specifically to purchase one of Sloan’s books and some paint for a project, when I ran into the booth owner, David. This sweet man spent over an hour teaching me about the paint and its application, as well as Sloan’s other products. I bought the book, “Paint Transformations,” several cans of paint and other products I needed, to transform an old, 1950, white kitchen cabinet I planned to use as my linen closet in my master bathroom. Here are the steps I used to transform and preserve the cabinet:

1. First, the prep work! I began by taking the cabinet apart. When I do this, I like to take pictures as I go alone, to refer to when I start to put one of my projects back together. Once the doors and hardware were removed, I chipped away lose paint and sanded the cabinet down. This cabinet was riddled with natural distress, scratches and gouges in the wood that were reminders of its history. The last step to prepping was to wash the surfaces I intended to paint, using Dawn liquid dish soap well diluted in water.

2. I used wood glue to add the decorative appliques to the cabinet doors. The appliques I purchased from “do it yourself Chic!” an online store ( You have to wait a few days to proceed, until the appliques, which are soft when you glue them, turn hard.

3. Once the appliques were ready, I painted the center pieces the color Aubusson, the door handle pieces Old White

4. I painted the doors and the entire exterior of the cabinet with French Linen. I also like to paint the back and underside of a piece, to preserve the furniture’s longevity.

5. Next, I added dimension to the appliques, by applying a “wash” (explained below) using French Linen. Once the appliques were dry, I washed the doors, the center appliques and cabinet’s exterior in Greek Blue.

6. How I applied the wash:
*First of all, I protected my hands with a pair latex gloves.
*Second, I had more control of the color if I only worked small sections at a time. As I went along, it was easy to blend the sections together.
*I begin by using a small, craft brush to apply small streaks of the full color. Next, I sprayed the paint with water using a spray bottle.
*With a wet cloth, I rubbed the color in. The great thing about this technique is, if you want more color you add it. If you need to dilute the color you use more water. If the color dries in an area (Annie Sloan’s paint dries fast) you simply mist it and rework the color.
*I keep a big bowl of water by me, which I dip the cloth in often, to keep it nice and moist.

7. Using a small, artists brush, I applied along the edges of the doors and the edges and corners of the frame work, the color Greek Blue, diluting the paint with water to get the look I wanted. I also rubbed the color in places with a dry cloth to smear and remove harsh edges. In other places I kept the edgy look.

The interior is painted Duck Blue

8. I painted the inside of the cabinet with the color, Duck Egg. The outside of the cabinet, including the back and bottom side, I washed in Greek Blue, using the same technique I used in step 8.

9 . Finally, the finishing touch, applying the wax. First of all, make sure your hands are protected. I wear the thick Playtex gloves made for washing dishes. The wax eats through anything thinner. Also, be sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area

10. For this step, I used Annie Sloan’s White and Dark Wax. Applying the dark wax by itself can be tricky! David taught me how to use a light coat of the white wax first, then apply the dark wax on top of the white. Next, rub the wax in using a clean cloth. If the wax starts to dry before you have your desired look, simply apply a small amount of the light wax and rib it in. I give the wax just a minute or two to set, then immediately start to buff it into a sheen using a sock. Like the wash, work the wax in small segments, at least until you get the hang off it. This prevents the wax from looking blotchy, unless, of course, that’s you want. Also, it’s the Dark Wax that gives the piece that vintage, antique look I love.

I also wax the appliques. This gives them a polished, antique appearance. The Dark Wax also highlights the marks and scars that tell the furniture’s history, along with a polished, antique sheen.

11. For this particular piece, the hardware was vintage, so I’m guessing original to the cabinet. I washed all of it. The pretty, hinges, I used rust remover on. They looked dingy and gray, so I brought them to life using Annie Sloan’s, Gilding Wax, in the shade, King Gold. After I drilled the doors back on the cabinet, I applied the Gilding Wax on the heads of the screws.


This beautiful cabinet, now serves as the linen closet in my bathroom.

Horse Stories, Uncategorized

Lone Star Park & The Kentucky Derby

Horse StoriesMay 5th, Jeff and I joined my good friend, Julie, her husband and our other horsey friend, Tommy at the Lone Star Park, a horse racing track in Grand Prairie, Texas.  It was the day of the Kentucky Derby race and Julie and I, huge derby fans, couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate and watch the race, than at Lone Star.

Julie & Me
Tommy & his brother Dennis riding the horse
Dennis, works at Lone Star

We weren’t disappointed!  Despite an enormous turnout, we found the park surprisingly  manageable.  Upon entering the park, we were greeted by a stand selling derby hats.

Regretfully, I didn’t wear mine, not being sure what to expect.  Thankfully, I love to wear sun hats.  But I’ll never make that mistake again!  Not only will I wear my hat, but my derby dress too.

These women (a mom & daughter) looked so beautiful, I was thrilled when they said I could take their picture!

It seems there are fewer opportunities for adults to don a costume and embrace pure fun.  Derby day at Lone Star provides such an opportunity.  All around us women wore beautiful dresses, topped with elaborate hats.  Many men wore suits, with ties and pocket handkerchiefs matching the color of the woman’s dress.

Many of the hats were very creative

There were families and friends with plenty of little ones running around.  Girls in matching sun dresses and hats.  Some of the little boys dressed to.  We saw everything from t-shirts and shorts, to attire suitable for a wedding.  And the creativity!  Some folk’s put a great deal of thought and planning into their attire, like a Halloween costume.

Immediately, after Jeff and I arrived at the park we found Tommy, then I headed straight for the rail along the front of the track.  It was such a surprise when I found the rail almost empty.  If you are a horse person, it is an absolute thrill to stand at the rail, feel the thunder of hooves, smell the horses, dirt and hear their snorts as they bolt by.

The starting gate, with 1 – 10 filled with horses.

It is also a thrill to watch the horses cross the finish line.  They’re, soaked in sweat and high-strung from anaerobic exertion.  Nostrils flared, eyes wild, veins protruding, like roadways on their lean forms.  Jockey’s riding in the back are covered in mud.  Their horses too, from the front runners hooves flicking the mud their way.

I took this video of the first race I watched.

While I ran to the rail, Jeff stood in line and bought our drinks.  He usually looks at the program and places a few bets (I’m talking a dollar or two).  He’s good at this.  On an average, he usually wins back just a little over the amount of money, we put into our visit.  Meaning the entry fee, drinks and food.  However, the lines on derby day were long, so we decided to wait.  Good choice!  Amazingly, a hour or two later the lines were shorter and Jeff was able to place his bets.

About 45 minutes before the Kentucky Derby Race took place, we sought out the paddock area, where they saddle and show the race horses before the jockeys ride them to the track.  Amazingly, the area was almost clear.  We were able to set up chairs in the shade with a clear view of the large outdoor screen that would show the race.

For horse people, the excitement preluding this race is equivalent to the excitement one feels just before a concert, when your favorite performer is about to walk on stage.  I couldn’t help myself… Bounding from my chair I quickly went to the front of the rail, where I could see and hear the screen better.  Several other people were doing the same.  We grinned at each other with a knowing understanding… the short moments of this race are one of a horse lovers favorites.  For me, it’s not just about winning, although that is the icing on the cake, it’s about the majesty of the horse.  It’s power and grace in full motion.  Filling me with continues wonder, over how a small girl can harness that power and ride such a beast.  Moment’s later Julie was by my side and the race was on…

The Kentucky Derby Live!

The icing on the cake was ours… JUSTIFY won!  As is often the case, Jeff won the exact amount of money, we had put into our visit.

After the race, we collectively left Lone Star and headed back to Fort Worth for dinner.  Next year, I’ll proudly wear my derby dress and hat.  Allow myself some of that fun we adults don’t get very often; at least not in public.  On the other hand, on the top of Julie’s and my bucket lists, is actually going to the Kentucky Derby… Humm….. I already have my hat and dress!

My derby dress & hat, accompanied by my cat, Allie

If you enjoyed this post, check out my post on the Kentucky Derby party I hosted.

Lone Star Park is a great place to bring the entire family!  If you’re visiting Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington or an adjoining city, consider going to the park.  Wear plenty of sunscreen and sun hats.  Come hungry, because there’s hotdogs, pizza, nachos and other such finger foods.  If you prefer air conditioning and a little more upscale menu, make a reservation for a table upstairs, where you can watch the track.


The tables upstairs allow you to eat your meal in the comforts of air conditioning, while watching the races.

For more information: (972-237-1197)



When Did I Stop Playing in the Rain?

When did I stop playing in the rain? The lines are so gray and blurred I can’t remember. Certainly, I encouraged my children out the door, clad in swimsuits with umbrellas in hand. the way my mother did when I was a child. I loved playing in the spring and summertime rainfalls when there was no thunder or lightning. Thinking back, I can’t remember ever joining my children, which is sad. I’m pretty sure I watched them from a window indoors. It was my garden and horses that opened my eyes to enjoying the rain again. As I stubbornly worked to finish a job I began despite a deluge falling from the sky. Watching my horses run and skip through the pasture in play, hanging their heads over the fence curious to see what I was doing, summoning me to play too. When my husband and I first bought our place in Colleyville, I had a delightful experience in the rain, that taught me an important lesson. I wrote a story about it later. It’s called, “Morning Rain.” Hope it brings peace to some of you too!

By, Louisa Cambridge

Thunder and lightning boomed across the sky, illuminating my room, disturbing my sleep. Another loud crack bellowed and the sky released a deluge of rain. I snuggled deeper into my pillow, wondering if we were getting a classic, Texas, thunderstorm. My house was quiet; husband, still sleeping, seemingly untouched by the noise. I wondered if my children were awake too and like me, snuggling into their pillows hoping to fall back asleep. My thoughts turned to my horse, Rose. She hated thunderstorms! Recently, we had bought our property based on a barn where we could keep her in our backyard. We had only recently moved her to her new home and I was worried that Mother Nature’s racket was upsetting her.
Another, menacing crack of thunder pierced the silence. Rolling over I checked the time; four o’ five in the morning. My spirits dropped, it’s too early to get up! Yet I was awake; wide awake. With my eyes shut, I listened to the measured sounds of the rain pelleting my house, with slivers of lightning periodically lighting my room. Again, my thoughts turned to Rose and I was filled with concern, wondering how she was fairing in her stall. Careful, not to disturb my husband or the sleeping cats at the foot of our bed, I slipped out from under the covers, padding in my bare feet to fetch the hooded cloak I wear when it’s raining outside. Our house was quiet and very dark as I donned the cloak, pulling the hood over my head. Slipping into my rubber boots, with a carrot and umbrella in hand, I left the warmth of the house stepping outside to the back porch.
Despite the dark and rain, a tangible peace had settled upon our land. I walked across the backyard, holding the umbrella over my head, sloshing through deep puddles that had already formed. The worst of the thunder and lightning had dwindled, allowing the rain center stage. The only sound breaking through the noise from the rain, was the crunch of my boots against a gravel walkway leading to the barn. I was certain Rose could hear me approaching, yet she didn’t nicker her usual greeting. It wasn’t until I opened the barn door and stepped inside, that she raised her head happy to see me and nickered, as if to say, I’m so glad you’re here!
The barn was cozy and dry, very inviting, with an earthy smell of hay and horse mixed with rain. Rose, not a bit disturbed by the storm, nuzzled my hand for the carrot. Breaking it into small pieces, I fed it to her, enjoying the way she begged for each bite. After the last bite was devoured, I fetched a pail, carrying it into her stall. Setting the pail to rest upside down by a gate separating Rose’s stall from the pasture. I sat on the pail, staring at the pasture through the cross beams of the gate. Rose continued to nuzzle me for bits of carrot. Eventually, she grew bored from her fruitless effort, and turned with a sigh to hand her head over the top of the gate.
Together, we looked into the dark, for several minutes, simply still. From the stillness came that inner small voice, with the Lord’s words, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Immediately, peace entered my soul. His words ministering to the day-to-day issues I was facing in my life. Issues as tremulous as the onset of the rainstorm, leaving me ragged with worry. Thunder rumbled off in the distance. I thought of His words, “Be still and know that I am God!”
There is rest to be found in being still.
Roosters started crowing off in the distance. Their off-key harmony was amusing. A few minutes later threads of pink appeared in the eastern sky. As if a conductor had cued an orchestra, birds begin to sing. My pasture looked how I imagine the Yorkshire Dales in England might look like on such a morning. Rich, vibrant green grass, sodden with rain. A fine veil of fog blurring the lines to the fenceposts and jumping standards, softening the land.
Rose had moved to a corner of her stall, hanging her head close to the ground, her eyes half shut, lower lip loose. Her body was silhouetted against the early light. Her white blaze literally glowed against the contrast of her chestnut fur. Walking over to her, I wrapped my arms around her neck, burying my face in her mane. Her body was warm against the morning chill. I stayed with her for several minutes, taking in her sweet horsey smell. And then I noticed… the first streaks of dawn. One of the Purple Martins had left his nest and was perched on the rim of the birdhouse. Another, just peeked its head out, as if evaluating the rain, which had dwindled to a light mist. Daylight was near, but its appearance was an evasion upon my seclusion with my horse. I wasn’t ready to part with the memory of the morning-night!
Kissing Rose’s nose, I bid her goodbye and left the barn, making my way back to the house. As I slipped inside, the house was still quiet, my family soundless, including the cats, who hadn’t moved since I left. Carefully, I crawled back into bed, cuddling close to my husband. Reflexively he wrapped an arm around me. I felt myself surrendering to sleep, holding the memory of the barn, the future for the day. It would be a lazy day, we had nothing planned, we could rest. Outside, the rain fell harder. Its rhythmic beat was soothing. I drifted off with my mind full of His peace.