Martha
Martha

Happy Valentine’s Day to My Home

I’m in love with my home.

Yes, I have an actual Valentine, and I have four children who are my loves but my home also holds my heart.

It’s my hope that everyone could find a true love like this:

  • We love spending time together. There’s no place else I’d rather be than inside my home’s four walls with the ones I love.

  • My home holds everyone and everything I love under one roof. {disclaimer: my parents don’t live here but I love them just as much}

  • I’ve made mistakes with my home; too many to count. I’ve painted the wrong color, I’ve chosen the wrong chair, I’ve hosted the wrong parties. But still my house forgives and lets me continue to pull and tug at her windows and floors.

  • We’ve seen our share of therapy and made it through the tough times: plumbers for clogged toilets, roofers for loose shingles, glass repairmen, heating & air specialists, and sink hole fixers {to name but a few}.

  • We’ve shared all four seasons together…summer running through the sprinklers with the kids, carving pumpkins on the counter in the fall, hanging stockings on the mantel at Christmas and coloring eggs at the first sign of spring.

  • I may try to change my home from time to time {I know what’s best, right?}, but she loves me anyway despite my constant nagging and second-guessing.

  • Sometimes we watch some racy stuff together after the kids go to bed. Mostly HGTV shows like Fixer Upper and Beachfront Bargain Hunt.  There’s no jealousy involved; we’re just gathering ideas to try out on our own.

  • My home doesn’t seem to mind if we are hard on her. A height chart drawn right on the door casing? Done. Spray paint on the front of the house? No problem. That’s unconditional love right there.

  • There have been a few (thankfully not many) sad days at our house…mostly just fighting between siblings {sister runs around pinching brothers because she hates loves them so much}. Oh and the long nights of strep throat or tummy aches, how could I forget? Those things only make us closer.

 {imagine my surprise when I walked outside and saw this. scrub and scrub as they might, it has never quite come off. c’est la vie…} {imagine my surprise when I walked outside and saw this. scrub and scrub as they might, it has never quite come off. c’est la vie…}  {…and yes, they’re scrubbing in bike helmets; that’s a whole ‘nother story} {…and yes, they’re scrubbing in bike helmets; that’s a whole ‘nother story}

  • My home brings out the best in me. The best colors, patterns and fun sides all wrapped into one.

  • We’ve had fun together, from dinners with friends to birthday celebrations to sleepovers to the usual nights of homework & Disney Channel.

  • My home keeps us safe and warm and shielded from the daily grind of the universe. She’s got arms long enough to wave lovingly goodbye in the mornings, welcome us back in the afternoons & hold us tight all night long.

  • I plan on growing old right along with my home. We’ll just have to overlook each other’s wrinkles/cracks in drywall and gray hair/faded paint.

  • We’ve created a family and memories together that will last a lifetime. And we’ve got the scrapbooks & photo albums to prove it.

Thanks, home, for being you! I wouldn’t trade my {valentine} for anything. Your home can be your Valentine too.  All that’s required is love inside. And remember: don’t ever, ever go to bed mad! Even if we have to be separated someday, we will carry her with us wherever we go.

{after all, home is where the heart is}

 

Christmas Card Scrapbook

Ever wonder what to do with all the adorable photo Christmas cards you receive every year? I can’t bear to throw away friends’ and family’s cards, not only because I’m so sentimental (and a tiny bit of a hoarder) but also because I know how much time & effort (not to mention cash) is spent on them. I will admit though, I don’t always keep the cards that don’t have photos (sorry!), which is down to only about 10% of them. And I love to look back and see how much has changed: kids have grown, new babies have been added, hairstyles are different and in some cases spouses replaced! I’ve been saving them for over 20 years and there are some really good ones in my stash (definitely rehearsal-dinner-bribing-worthy!)! The cards themselves have improved a thousand percent. Remember when you’d have to print your photos and stick them either into or on top of the cards? That was a project of gigantic proportions that would take me days even with a small assembly line. Thank you, technology!

For the last few years I’ve been saving and organizing the cards into mini Christmas card scrapbooks. It’s quick, easy, inexpensive, takes up very little room and you’ll have all your cards in one place. The cover of the mini book will announce the year of the project.  Below is my step-by-step how-to.

What You’ll Need:

-White cardstock paper for the front cover

-Cardstock paper in your choice of color for the back cover (I used green)

-Two large book rings

-Hole punch (I used 2 holes of a 3-hole punch, but a single-hole punch works too)

For the front, print out the cover I made by clicking here: Christmas Card Scrapbook Printable. Cut around the edges right up to the red color. Then cut the piece of cardstock for the back cover the same size. {Note about the front cover printable: for mine I printed the years on there but for the printable I did a tree design. For yours, you can either write the year on the cover or a sticker with a black Sharpie, or I will even make you a new one if you email me.

Christmas Card Scrapbook

If you have a laminating machine, laminate both front and back covers with fairly thick laminate.  If not, take the covers to Office Depot and ask to have them laminated (it’s very inexpensive). Afterwards, trim both down with scissors to the size of the red area front cover printable.

Stack all your Christmas cards in the order you want them to appear in your little book, then punch two holes in each. I do save Christmas letters and I fold them right up and punch holes just like the cards. Depending on the shape and size of the card, they will be turned different ways, and stick out above or below the covers. This is okay because in the end it makes the book look more interesting!

Punch two holes in the front and back covers. For fold over cards, go right ahead and punch holes through both pieces. Insert the rings into all the cards and covers and you’re done! Mine hold about 60 cards, which is a lot but will still work. You will just need to insert the front half of the book on the left side of the open rings face down, and the second half of the book on the right of the open rings face up,  close the rings then bring the book together. Make sure to lock the rings in place or you’ll be playing 52-card pickup.

Store your creation with all your other Christmas decorations. The rings are sturdy enough to even hang on hooks, which is the perfect way to store them.

So far I have 5 years’worth of these colorful little treasures. During the Christmas season I lay out the past year’s on the cocktail table. They are a great conversation starter.

Tune in next year to see if aunt Bertha is still wearing the same tacky Christmas sweater!

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The Kids’ Table at Thanksgiving

I come from a large extended family, and we’ve always had big gatherings for holidays. One thing you could always count on: there would be a Kids’ Table. For many years, of course, there was no question as to which table I would belong. I was oh so young and after all, it was the most fun table.  My cousins and I, including Cody who you’ve met on my blog, could talk about what we wanted, throw table manners to the wind, and eat 5 of my grandmother’s homemade rolls without anyone saying “you’re gonna spoil your dinner!”.  Never mind that the table itself was always some type of temporary folding table that came out of hiding when needed (along with matching folding chairs), or that we had mismatched plates and glasses (the adults got the fine china). It was our “fancy” table! Sometimes there was a token adult or two present, those that straggled in late or perhaps came unannounced (trust me, they were happy about their lucky last-minute good fortune).

Thanksgiving Kids' Table
Kids' Table Thanksgiving
{kids will feel extra special if you include their crafts on the table, as I did with my son’s mason jar ring pumpkin. All of the adorable melamine plates are from Pottery Barn.}

This isn’t to say we didn’t do our fair share of spying on the Adult Table. What were they talking about (whatever it was seemed kind of boring)? Did they have different drinks and food? Why is everything on their table so neat? The Adult Table consisted of, well, adults: my parents, aunts & uncles, and at either end, my grandparents. My grandmother rarely sat down though, as she always felt she had to serve us, constantly check the rolls in the oven, and keep cooking seconds, thirds & desserts. Now having four kids myself, I completely understand her plight. Her food was the best we’d ever tasted and we always wanted more, more, more!

Kids' Table Thanksgiving

Just being a part of the Kids’ Table is fun, but here are some ideas to make it even more fun:

  • Use craft paper as a table runner, set out crayons or markers, and let kids go to town drawing or playing tic-tac-toe. They can also use the paper to write what they are thankful for (not a bad idea for the Adult Table too!).
  • Set the table with holiday-themed plates (paper or not), napkins & cups.
  • Download a crossword puzzle app such as Crossword Hobbyist, then design one around relatives & special places…this provides hours of fun!
  • Use a website like Really Color to turn family photos into coloring pages.
  • Have kids write down what they are thankful for on slips of paper and place them in a jar. Read them aloud in front of the whole family later.
  • Set up a cookie or cupcake decorating bar.

{spray paint leaves from the yard (that the kids can collect) in gold, write names with a Sharpie & you’ve got a unique place card!


My grandmother’s passing left one lonely open seat at the table. Who would fill it? Since I was the oldest grandchild, I was the natural choice. My dad approached it like something akin to a presidential election. “There’s something we need to talk about,” he said, in a serious voice, long before the holidays that year. Normally this type of preface would throw me into a tailspin but I held it together. “Do you want to move to the Adult Table on Christmas Eve? We have room now and you’re the natural choice. But…you know you can never go back to the Kids’ Table if that’s what you decide.” Once made, the choice would be set in stone.

I’ll admit it was tempting for a second. I’d finally be let in on those adult conversations! But really it wasn’t a hard decision for me. I would forever remain at the Kids’ Table, where it’s okay to fall backwards in your chair, stick asparagus up your nose and set the table on fire (those things actually happened once, along with many other shenanigans).  My cousins and I often gather for a “Kids’ Table Reunion”, along with our children. The only difference is now we have two Kids’ Tables…one for the kids and another for the adults!

{our ever-changing chalkboard, next to the kitchen}
{so many cute turkey options are available!}

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours, at whatever table you’re sitting!

Therapedic Weighted Blanket

The Weighted Blanket Craze

Most of us have heard of the weighted blanket craze and how they are supposed to help relieve anxiety and depression as well as offering a more comfortable night’s sleep. I wanted to see for myself and when I saw this gorgeous navy from Therapedic I was sold. The softness is overwhelming!

Therapedic Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets help provide a deeper sleep (who couldn’t use that?) and they allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. They have a warm, comforting pressure that makes you feel like you are being gently hugged all night as you lull off to a blissful night’s sleep. The added weight in the blanket helps keep you steady and give you support to sleep peacefully, comfortable and relaxed.

Therapedic Weighted Blanket

This weighted blanket is reversible, allowing soft, soothing touch on either side—most blankets only have one “good” side! The exterior shell is removable and machine washable, for clean comfort night after night. The inner blanket is what contains the weights that are a combination of glass pellets and polyester fill. The quilted design of the inner blanket keeps the pellets evenly distributed and avoids over-weighting one side or the other.

The best way to choose a weighted blanket is to calculate about 10% of your own natural body weight. Thus, if you weigh 120 lbs, you would sleep best with a 12 lb. weighted blanket. This works best. You are less likely to lose your weighted blanket in the middle of the night, like you would with a general quilt or comforter.

Therapedic Weighted Blanket

I could not be happier with my weighted blanket. Over the last several nights, I have slept so much better, awake feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. Life is stressful this time of year, with Covid-19, the political climate, and taking care of my family (homeschooling a high schooler!). I don’t want a restless night of sleep to hinder me from being able to be the best ME I can be each day. Click here to get one of your own!

Therapedic Weighted Blanket

I highly recommend purchasing Therapedic’s weighted blanket for a great night’s sleep, napping on a porch swing or just a cozy blanket while reading your favorite book. Even my puppers Daisy and Buddy love it! And a pet’s seal of approval is good enough for me.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Therapedic; however, all opinions are my own. I only recommend products that I love and would use myself!

Wilde Mushroom Pate

Wilde Mushroom Pate

Just because I don’t cook a lot (hubby does most of it), that doesn’t mean I don’t know how. I’ve got some yummy dishes under my belt when I set my mind to it. I mean, my grandmother’s maiden name was Cook, after all, and she sure was the quentessential southern one at that.  My cousin, William Cody R. Miller (feel free to call him Cody!), got all those cooking genes. I’m telling you he can throw together a party for 20 from what you have in your pantry, and that’s even when you haven’t shopped in two weeks!

He’s seriously funny & talented and I want to share him with you. We grew up more like brother & sister than cousins. So he’s going to be joining me to provide some recipes (both southern & gourmet), stories from our childhood, a monthly anonymous advice column, some humor & more. I can guarantee you will enjoy him!

“Hey everyone! I’m excited to be here! For my first post, I thought I’d share with you one of my (and Martha’s) favorite hors d’oeuvres, “Wilde Mushroom Pate.” I like to give my recipes names after famous authors. Oscar Wilde was a playwright and author of the hilarious The Importance of Being Earnest.

About 15 years ago, we hosted our first “Kids’ Table Reunion” with ALL our cousins. We must have had 20 in attendance at Smith Mountain Lake.  Martha & I put together a COOKbook, which contained a bunch of family recipes and this one was featured. It’s simple and delicious!

Cody Miller

{here I am, whipping up army-sized meals for our cousins’ reunion!}

Wilde Mushroom Pate

Wilde Mushroom Pate

  • 1 lb. of mushrooms (you can use any kind of dried or fresh mushrooms. I prefer a mix)
  • 2 cans of beef consume
  • 2 blocks of cream cheese, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-2 baguettes
  • Butter
  1. In a pot, combine mushrooms and consume. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
  3. While this is going, take a baguette (or two) and slice into 1/2 inch rounds, butter and put them under broiler under they’re crisp on the edges.
  4. When liquid has reduced, add cream cheese and stir it into the mushrooms, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Salt & pepper to taste.
  6. When completely incorporated, serve on baguette rounds and enjoy!

Wilde Mushroom Pate

This can be served hot or cold and will impress guests at any event, whether casual or fancy. You can also make it ahead and reheat in a crock for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

See you next time, with a funny Disney story!”

-Cody (contact me at codyrmiller@yahoo.com)

 

 

 

 

Style the Perfect Bar

Style the Perfect Bar

You’re the perfect hostess, but wouldn’t you love to enjoy the party too? One way to do that is to leave (some of) the bartending duties to the guests themselves. Don’t feel guilty…giving guests a little job breaks the ice for them and frees you up at the same time.Style the Perfect Bar

It’s nice to serve each arriving guest their first cocktail or refreshment the moment they enter (perhaps a signature cocktail), show them the food table, make an introduction or two and then let them pour refills from a self-serve bar for subsequent drinks.

Style the Perfect Bar

Here’s a quick how-to on setting up a well-stocked self-serve bar:

The Bar Itself

You don’t need a large restaurant-style bar to serve up a stylish one. Consider the above photo: this mimosa bar was staged on a small kids’ table.

Style the Perfect Bar

You may only have a tiny bit of space. No problem; all you really need are the drink itself, cups, napkins and perhaps a few stirrers. Ice can be kept below in a tub or cooler. You’d be surprised how much “bar” you can fit onto a little bit of surface!

Style the Perfect Bar

Sometimes all you need is a bucket of ice, insert the bottles and set the glasses nearby!

Style the Perfect Bar

Ideas for bars: small tables, bar carts, dressers, armoires, buckets, how about a vintage ironing board covered in a tablecloth?

The Location

People will always be able to locate the bar….there’s some type of “party radar” for it…so put it out of the main flow of the party. Many will tend to gather there, so you don’t need to make it so central that it clogs up the flow of the party. Depending on the number of guests you have, you may even need two bars (people don’t like to wait in long lines for a drink!). If you’re hosting an indoor/outdoor party, be sure to locate one bar outside.

Style the Perfect Bar

The Liquids

The basic, absolutely-necessary alcohol list:

The basic, absolutely-necessary mixer list:

  • Club Soda
  • Tonic
  • Coke
  • Diet Coke
  • 7-Up or Sprite
  • Ginger Ale
  • Orange Juice
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Grapefruit Juice
  • Low-Cal Flavored Mixers (our pick: Be Mixed)

Some nice extras to have:

Figuring out how much to buy is always tricky. But now there are online tools you can use! For example this one from Evite allows you to take into account number of guests, duration of party and types of alcohol served.  Evite Drink Calculator

Style the Perfect Bar

 The Extras

There’s all kinds of garnishes & tools you will want to have, if not on the bar, then nearby (you certainly don’t need everything on this list). Click to see my picks:

Style the Perfect Bar

Style the Perfect Bar

 The Finishing Touches

Finish off your bar with some flowers (nothing fancy; I like to stick some in an old wine bottle or mason jar. Pick some up at the grocery store or cut last minute from your yard). You could also lay a couple of big sunflowers on your bar. A string of pom pom fringe looped around bottles is a cute touch too.

Style the Perfect Bar

Style the Perfect Bar

Above all, have fun with whatever you do, and your guests will too!
Happy Party!

Hopping Down the Bunny Trail

Happy Easter! I posted this a few years ago and am recycling it while we are all at home.

————–

Kids love Easter and our little bunnies are no exception. They are still little, but I wanted their Easter baskets to be something special. I happened upon these bright buckets at Lowe’s one day (for about $6 each) and knew they would be perfect to hold all the treasures the Easter Bunny would bring this year. {Update: Similar buckets can be found here.}

The lady at the checkout counter looked at me incredulously when I told her why I was buying the buckets. She remarked that I would have to get a “lot of toys and candy to fill up those things.” Little did she know that they would be filled with mostly “grass”! {Sidenote: I hate to admit she was right, but these really were a tad too big!}

I lined the buckets with “grass” made from brightly colored cardstock paper that was run through our industrial-sized shredder at work (it makes crinkle-cut shreds). You can also make small quantities of paper with small shredders from office-supply stores. As you’ll see in just a moment, we had enough grass to plant a small yard, which I would not recommend unless you plan to single-handedly bring back multi-colored shag.

I filled the “baskets” with lots of fun items from the $1 section at Target (I even managed to squeak by this year without including any candy…don’t worry, they had plenty from friends & family!). I cut out colorful flowers and glued them onto paint stirrers (also from Lowe’s) to add a bit of height to the baskets. Our kids used them as wands and rakes to scoop up their grass. They became somewhat dangerous as the day wore on so they were retired to the “later” pile (the wands, not the kids).

After church we went out for Easter lunch and the cutest centerpieces were on our table. What fun to put Peeps and jelly beans in the vases! They didn’t last long…our kids took one look at them and the Peeps were history within minutes. So much for the no-candy Easter!

Our three-year-old got a haircut on Good Friday and his hairdresser (yes, he already has a hairdresser) surprised him with this cute-as-a-button homemade bunny cake. It was as delicious as it was pretty. I had a hard time making it out of the parking lot without biting off an ear. Don’t think the kids wasted any time in getting to know this wabbit weally well!

Egg-coloring (real) and hunting (plastic) was big at our house this year. I’ve never seen a prettier bunch of eggs than this, the first-ever batch colored by my little rabbit fu fu’s (when I was younger I used to recite that riddle over and over, standing on my grandparents’ hearth. Maybe I was doing a rain dance of sorts and didn’t know it, since I ended up with so many rabbits?).

A tiny part (and I do mean tiny) of our Easter grass explosion, or tumbleweed, as depicted here. Honestly the kids loved the grass more than any of the other toys, proving once again that the packaging is often better than the product. As they say, the grass is always greener.

 

 

Vintage Brooch Necklace

Easy DIY Spring Necklace

All dressed up and nowhere to go?  Use the extra time to make an easy, unique necklace to dress up a t-shirt now or wear to a party later this summer. It’s always a good idea to keep looking your best, so you’ll feel your best, even if nothing’s open and there aren’t any events planned (at least for the time being)!

I bet most of us have two things needed to make a necklace in less than 3 minutes: a chain and a brooch (aka pin). Or if you don’t, then your mom, aunt or grandmother has these items. With these two items you can make a necklace in no time flat.

Vintage Brooch Necklace

My favorite vintage brooch, an oversized bright & cheery yellow flower.

Vintage Brooch Necklace

Choose a simple or decorative chain; short or long. There’s no right or wrong!

Simply thread the chain through the pin backing on the brooch. Make certain that the pin itself is locked securely or the brooch could slide off.

Vintage Brooch Necklace

 

Vintage Brooch Necklace

This statement piece is all you need to complete your outfit and inject a little sunshine!

Vintage brooches are easy to find and fairly inexpensive, if you or yours don’t have any in your jewelry box. Check out eBay, Etsy, antique stores, yard sales and flea markets. Options range from bright flowers to chic rhinestones.

Vintage Brooches

Some of my own vintage brooches, collected from both of my grandmothers, eBay & yard sales. I especially like the enamel flowers, and the little green dragonfly always catches my eye. 

Have fun with it! You’re guaranteed to have a necklace that’s one-of-a-kind.

 

Jimmye Laycock

Jimmye Laycock: Legendary W & M Football Coach

My interview with legendary William & Mary football coach Jimmye Laycock, as published in The Olde Farm Magazine in 2019. Coach Laycock (“Y.E.” as some of my contemporaries affectionately called him) was a larger-than-life-personality when I was on campus in the late ’80s. Speaking with him for this article in late 2018 was a huge honor, yet made me somewhat nervous. You see, he didn’t know that my friends and I had sneaked/snuck into the football locker rooms late one night (we lived in “Lodge 1”, which was a stone’s throw away, so it was practically part of our house?). I never disclosed that to him, but even if I had, I suspect he would have still come across as the same easy-going, approachable & revered favorite of our Tribe. 

_________________________

A legend at the College of William & Mary and beyond, JImmye Laycock remains down-to-earth and humble about his many accomplishments. For starters, he had the 3rd-longest continuous head coaching tenure in NCAA Division 1 football history, having coached from 1980 until retiring in 2018, and with a winning record (249 games) to boot. Laycock graduated from W & M himself in 1970, where he played quarterback under such legendary coaches as Marv Levy & Lou Holtz. His teams have seen two semi-final appearances and in 2010 he recorded his 200th win as an FSC head coach, becoming only the 3rd person to reach that mark. He and his wife Deidre, a sports psychology consultant at W & M, live in Williamsburg, where he plans to continue residing into retirement. They have four children and two grandchildren. He spoke with us about his favorite football memories, golf and his top three bucket list for retirement. 

Jimmye Laycock

When did you start playing golf? 

As a kid, my brother and I played with my uncle. We lived on 3 or 4 acres and would practice there and also at the Loudon Golf & Country Club. I lettered in all the sports in high school but somehow found time to play golf my senior year. Currently I’m playing to an 8 or 10 handicap. Now that I’m retired I’d like to get into it more competitively, including coming to The Olde Farm more. (Note: Laycock in fact earned 12 varsity letters at Loudon Valley High School, where they retired his football jersey and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.)

What is your favorite event at The Olde Farm?

I love the whole atmosphere at The Olde Farm, but the Blue-Gray is my favorite, for the competition and the people. As a member of the Gray, I enjoy playing with my old friend (former Gray General) Lanny Wadkins. In one tournament, there was a little pressure as Lanny & I were playing against Billy Palmer & Jim Ferree. We ended up beating them and I may be prouder of that than some of my coaching accomplishments! Lanny I go back many years, as his first wife went to W & M. He was actually the emcee for the dedication of the Laycock Football Center at the College in 2008. 

How do golf & football compare?

There are many similarities between football and golf. The mental game is important in both. Most of my career I’ve coached mainly offensive plays. Like with golf—there are no defensive plays to it.  In both sports, you can practice and practice yet never get as good as you want to be. With both, you shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes, and in both sports, be aggressive. 

When you began your career at W & M in 1980, you were the youngest Division 1 head coach, at age 31. What major changes have you seen on campus since that time?

The facilities have changed a lot, from the stadium to the new football center. In 2004 we hosted the national semi-finals against JMU. We had to bring in portable lights and the game was a sellout. Students had to stand in line for tickets. It was because of that game that we ended up getting permanent lights and turf. That was a turning point in our facilities. (Note: the mascot has also changed over the years, from Indians to Tribe to the newer Griffin, while the program is still referred to as Tribe Football.)

What are your most memorable coaching moments or seasons?

So many stand out but what meant the most was at the 2018 University of Richmond game when 400 of my former players came and went out on the field at halftime when I was recognized. And all the letters and emails I have received from people telling me how I influenced a part of their lives. Coaches Levy & Holtz even wrote personal letters. 

Twice we’ve played in (and won) the Epson-Ivy Bowl in Japan which were both incredible experiences for our team.

In 2008 when W & M named the new football center after me (the Jimmye Laycock Football Center), that was quite humbling. Coach Levy and old friend Coach Frank Beamer came for the dedication.

I’m proud of the fact that there are currently two head NFL coaches who have played for me (Mike Tomlin of the Steelers & Sean McDermott of the Bills).

Steve Christie played for me and later went on to be the placekicker for the Bills. After he set a record by kicking the longest field goal ever made in Super Bowl history (54 yards), he sent me the ball. That was quite special. 

Jimmye Laycock

You’ve had 39 incredible seasons at W & M. Why not wait until #40 to retire?

I turned 70 this past year and never felt I would coach into my 70s. Plus I wanted to stop on a high note. The program is in good shape, and we’ve got lots of top players returning next season. The program will be in good hands with Mike London, who coached the defensive line under me from 1990-1993. 

What are your plans for retirement?

I have three basic goals in retirement: 1. Beach in August; 2. Tailgate in September; and 3. Golf in October. I’ve honestly never experienced any of those. Football is year-round and very restrictive timewise. I’m looking forward to the flexibility. I also want to spend time with my four children and see my grandkids. My son is a captain in the Army…I’d love to bring him to The Olde Farm. 

What is something about yourself you’d want people to know?

I am who I am–what you see is what you get.

 

Editor’s Note: I will always love going back to W & M football games, but they won’t be the same without Y.E.

 

King College Chapel

My Sport Was Piano

My sport was piano. I played tennis in high school, and I love to skate (roller & ice), ski (water & snow), ride bikes and swim. But when I was growing up, my sport was piano.

It doesn’t sound like much of a “sport”, except for being a workout for your fingers. But it requires the same discipline. When I was five, I remember telling my parents I wanted to be able to play like the pianist at our church, who played beautifully. They let me start taking lessons, with the understanding that I had to practice.  So I practiced at home on the same piano my mom had learned on starting in 6th grade (and I still have it!).

I’ve had many wonderful piano teachers over the years (Mrs.: Upchurch, Hannah, Gimmel, Peaks, Kuehnert, plus a “Mr.” who shall remain nameless but I wasn’t too fond of…and a few more whose names have escaped me). I never went without lessons until college and even then had a couple of teachers on a limited basis. All of my teachers had their own great style and taught me something different. I’m so thankful to my parents for making me stick with it during the rare times I wanted to quit.

A new day for practicing. Starting off with “How Great Thou Art”.

By the time I got to high school, I was practicing at least two hours each day. My parents & Granny (the ones subjected to it most) always claimed they loved hearing me practice, even with mistakes (and there were many). I loved practicing; it wasn’t a chore for me but it had to be done just like in a traditional sport if I wanted to improve.

And you can’t just plop down at the piano and play the song over and over. You’ve got to warm up with scales, finger exercises, or chords. Then you need to practice hands separately. On top of that is using a metronome to master the timing (my mom and I joke to this day about one of my teachers who would ask me, without fail, every week if I had a metronome). At last, you can begin to put the song together in small chunks until you can string the entire piece together with few mistakes. Finally, committing it to memory is paramount.

There were recitals and competitions…lots of competitions at lots of different levels, requiring exacting notes. One little slip and you could lose many points.

King College Chapel

The beautiful piano on the stage at King College Chapel. I had lessons in the basement and  many recitals on this stage. My daughter Janie has recently had voice recitals here too!

On the other side of the coin, I accompanied the chorus when I was in high school, which was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had! Under the direction of the amazing Virginia Duff, we traveled all over to perform. My favorites were the Broadway musical shows she would put together. Such great memories with her, the singers and the music.

Hymnal

My favorite hymnal–it’s falling apart! You can find one here.

Over the years I’ve practiced of course, but I’ve let a lot slip, much to my dismay. If I had the time I could easily sit and play for hours, because it’s entertaining and relaxing for me. My kids don’t see it that way…they flee to the upstairs where they can’t hear (too loud, music is too old, etc. etc.).

I’ve always said playing the piano is like riding a bike because there is so much muscle memory associated with it. I used to be able to just sit down and rattle off my old tunes. Now, not so much. So I’m embarking on practicing my oldies but goodies.

Grundy Church of Christ

The inside cover of my hymnal-from my childhood church. 

I love playing hymns so that’s a good place to start. Much like I was when I was 5, I hope I can see an improvement in the weeks to come and move on to some bigger pieces. Here’s hoping practice makes perfect!

Get back to an old hobby you used to love. You’ll probably be able to pick back up right where you left off!