Life Memoirs miranda lambert

The Junk Gypsies and Me

A little over a month ago I told you that I had been selected to be on the Junk Gypsy Book Launch Team.   I received a digital watermarked copy of their new book, Junk  Gypsy: Designing a Life at the Crossroads of Wonder & Wander by Amie and Jolie Sikes, published by Touchstone Books of Simon & Schuster.  As a chosen member of their team, I was asked to read the book and post about it on my social media.  So I did!

What a cool thing to peruse those beautiful pages, knowing that I was one of only 100 people given the privilege!  Being asked to write posts about the book was not a chore!  It was a natural outflowing of the honor of being selected and jaw-dropping amazing-ness of the book’s beauty and quality!  (Did I just make up a word?)

Not only did I get to read the book earlier than Joe Q. Public (or Joann), I got to join a Facebook group where the other members of the book launch team posted their impressions of the book as well.  We all became sisters in a sense, and the Junk Gypsies would even reply to our posts!

Then the best thing of all happened.  The Junk Gypsies posted a flyer of their upcoming book signing appearances and one of them happened to be at the Pink Pistol in my hometown, Lindale, Texas!

For those of you who don’t know, the Pink Pistol is Miranda Lambert’s store and boutique where she sells not only her music, tee shirts, and other swag, but also her signature wine, clothing, jewelry, and household items.  It’s a tourist destination in itself, run by her parents and located in a new building in the heart of Lindale’s new Cannery development.

Miranda and the Junk Gypsies have had a longstanding relationship that began years ago when she was just starting out as a musician.  The JGs designed her guns & wings logo, decorated her first tour bus, did a makeover of her Airstream trailer and later, her mother’s, and decorated her wedding venue.  And of course, I have known Miranda and her parents since she was in the third grade with my son.  I taught Miranda in high school and my son and she graduated from high school together.    I also worked occasionally at her store before it was the Pink Pistol.

Anyway, I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to meet the JG girls again!  I was sure they wouldn’t remember meeting me at Miranda’s concert in Tyler in 2006 or at a Cause for the Paws event a few years later, or at their Round Top store after that, but they did!  When I finally got to the front of the line and introduced myself and told them I was on the book launch team, they remembered my name!

Made my day!  They were so gracious!  We had our picture snapped, and then I made my way out, but not without speaking to Archie, aka Amy Allen, their model, and then their mother Janie.  I also introduced my mother, who had come with me, to everyone.

My beautiful mom and me.

I floated out the door and continue to walk just a little taller.  They remembered me!  And I love them even more.  If you haven’t checked out their book yet, do it!  It’s full of beautiful pictures, the story of Junk Gypsy, how-to instructions, and inspiration.  You can get it on Amazon here, or you can get a SIGNED copy at their website here.

The swag they gave each of the book launch team members!

What an experience!  What an honor!  What is even better than this whole experience, though, is knowing that my personal decorating style is now on trend.  Junk is cool!

Keep on reading, and keep on junkin’!


home decor Life miranda lambert

Junk Gypsy, a Book, and Me

Ever heard of the Junk Gypsy Company?  Who hasn’t heard of these two beautiful sisters who turned their backs on college-degreed careers and made a life for themselves out of hunting, repurposing, and selling junk?  From selling their wares in a booth at First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas to hosting their own HGTV series, running a store in Round Top, and making over homes and Airstreams, Amie and Jolie Sikes, along with their parents, children, and Jolie’s husband, have created a junk dynasty.  And now you can read all about it in their new book, Junk Gypsy:  Designing a Life at the Crossroads of Wonder and Wander available through Amazon.

I’ve been a fan of the Junk Gypsies since I learned that they were working with my former student Miranda Lambert, having designed her guns and wings logo and designed and carried out a makeover of her tour bus.  I visited their website and I was hooked.  I joined the Blacktop Rambler Cafe forum and ordered more than I could really afford from their Gypsyville online store.

Then I met them!  I doubt if they would remember, but I was at Miranda’s concert in Tyler in 2006, and when I walked up to the will call window to get my meet and greet pass, the Junk Gypsy girls were standing right in front of me!  Me being me, well, I had to speak to them.  I introduced myself and said something inane about their jewelry, but they were polite to this crazy lady.  I also met Blake Shelton there at the Lambert’s tailgate party that I crashed.  In my own defense, I have known the Lamberts since their and my children were knee high to a grasshopper.  My son was in the same class as Miranda, and my daughter was in the same class as her brother. Blake and Miranda had just begun dating.

The next time I saw the Junk Gypsies was at a Cause for the Paws event, hosted by Miranda to raise money for a local animal shelter.  I actually had a conversation with Amie about the way their art pieces and style was being copied by others.  Who knew they had started a trend in junking and bohemian fashion?  She was so cute dressed in her striped 70’s flared jeans and vintage band uniform jacket.  (if I recall correctly)  And she was sweet, too.

The last time I saw them in person was in Round Top during Antiques Week soon after opening the Junk Gypsy Headquarters, an amazing store and showplace, and worth the trip!

You can imagine how thrilled I was to be included in the Junk Gypsy Book Launch Team!  The book does not disappoint.  It is the world of Junk Gypsy at your fingertips:  biographies, personal insights and tidbits about the family, beautiful photographs of projects and places, and ideas and instructions for redoing and repurposing junk!  If you are a fan of junk, or the Junk Gypsies, you must. Go. Now.

Go forth and buy.  If you want an autographed copy, the Junk Gypsies are touring around the country for specific book signing events.  I plan to be at the one in Lindale, Texas on October 15, getting my copy signed!  I hope to see you there!


miranda lambert teaching writing

Small Town, Big Impact

“Everybody dies famous in a small town,” sings Miranda Lambert in her hit tune.  Small towns dot the landscape of Texas and every other state, and rarely get the attention they deserve.  You won’t hear names like Van, Lindale, Mineola, Gladewater, Big Sandy, Mabank, etc. as often as you hear Dallas, Houston, and Austin, but those small communities are every bit as important as those big cities.  Even more so.  After all, Miranda Lambert herself hails from the small East Texas town of Lindale, Texas, population 5000, more or less, “population plus one minus one,” as she sings.
It is the small town that forms the backbone of America, safeguarding the values and mores of our society.  It is where city people go home for the holidays or move to retire from their bustling city lives.  Being from a small town is a big deal these days; small town folks are proud of their roots, thanks to celebrities who sing the praises of the towns they grew up in.
Like Kacey Musgraves, who grew up in Golden, Texas, and went to public school in nearby Mineola.  LeeAnn Womack and Neal McCoy hail from Jacksonville, Texas.  Blake Shelton is from Ava, Oklahoma.  Sissy Spacek grew up in Quitman, Texas, while Tommy Lee Jones was born in San Saba, Texas.  Former President Bill Clinton was from Hope, Arkansas.  The list goes on and on and on.  There’s something about a small town that breeds greatness in some people.
I saw it here in East Texas a couple of Saturday nights ago in Gladewater.  Founded in 1873 at the intersection of state highways 80 and 271 by the Texas and Pacific Railway Company, Gladewater experienced a population boom when oil production began in the 1930’s, growing from about 500 to over 8000.  After the oil boom the population decreased to between 4000 and 6000, where it remains today.  Lumber, agriculture and a thriving antiques business have made the town what it is.  The people of Gladewater are a dedicated bunch, obvious Saturday night during their annual downtown Holiday Open House.
Lola Beth May, an antiques store owner and camping friend of mine, invited me to set up a book signing in her store Saturday night.  I agreed, not really expecting much in the way of sales, but wanting to spend time with my new friends in her store.  I was not prepared for what I witnessed.
As I drove into the downtown area, I was greeted by festive lights and bundled up pedestrians crowding the sidewalks of historic buildings.  I turned down the side street where The Screen Door Antique Mall is located, and wondered if I would be able to find a place to park.  The street was packed!
After I set up my table with my book display in the front of the antique store, I greeted visitor after visitor who dropped in to shop or just to say hello to the shop owners and taste Lola Beth’s homemade potato soup.  I was surprised and honored to sell several books to folks who wanted to support a local author with their pocketbooks.
Lola Beth May and her (and my) friend Marilyn Johnston.  Love them both!
Other small towns could learn from Gladewater’s annual Holiday Open House.  What a wonderful way to promote small businesses and foster community spirit!  Hosting the event into the evening lends a magical atmosphere with all the lights and gives families a fun night out.  Being situated on a busy railroad provided a thrill to children and adults alike every time a train barreled through, blasting its familiar horn.  Carriage rides and a giant Christmas inflatable provided photo opportunities as well.  Lola Beth even had a lighted Christmas village set up in one of her front windows, allowing me to witness the wonder of small children who passed by.
Thank you, Gladewater, for your welcoming spirit and wonderful support.  Thank you, Lola Beth and Mark May, for welcoming me into your store and your hearts.  I look forward to getting to do it again!
That’s me at my table!  Photo by Lola!
What about you?  Do you hail from a small town?  Please share!
miranda lambert teaching

For My Girl Miranda

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard about Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton’s divorce after only four years of marriage.  As one of Miranda’s former high school teachers and one of the two teachers she chose for the Teachers Count poster campaign and invited to the sold-out Nashville Rising flood relief concert and her private engagement party in 2010, I have been asked several times about my reaction to the news.
That’s me on Miranda’s left.
Like everyone else, I couldn’t believe it at first.  I had hoped their relationship was different from the usual celebrity marriage.  I know her parents, who have had a solid marriage for over thirty years, and I know that Miranda’s expectations were to have a similar relationship to theirs.
Me and Miranda at the Texas State Fair in 2009.
 But the pressures on celebrities must be great, and even greater for celebrity couples, especially if both are superstars who have responsibilities and appearances that keep them apart for weeks on end.
Me and Miranda before one of her concerts at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth.
I’m not surprised, but I have to admit that I am disappointed.  I had hoped Blake and Miranda would prove the doubters wrong, that others could look to them as an example of true love and commitment as their marriage endured, and as they rose above the chaos, criticisms, and challenges of their careers.
My son Matt and I after her first concert at Billy Bob’s Texas.
Miranda with another one of my students in my classroom in 2002.
Miranda with Blake at Cause for the Paws in Tyler, Texas.
But no matter.  I still love you, Miranda.  I love your music, which I will continue to listen to and purchase, although many of the songs are bittersweet now. But how much more difficult are they for you as you must continue to sing them night after night?  I am still very proud of you and the way you have handled yourself under the microscope of public life.  I pray for your happiness and continued success, and I am confident that you will get through this and become stronger than ever.  Of course and as always, I am here for you if you ever need me.
“Mama, I’m okay out here, I’ve seen how hard the world can be.  My step is sure and I know my name.  I’m strong just like you prayed I’d be.  I’m strong just like you prayed I’d be.”  from Miranda’s Kerosene album
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Waiting your turn. . .

The other day on the way to work I had to stop for a red light.  Only the red light wasn’t working.  It wasn’t even blinking.  Something had caused a power outage on that road and none of the lights were working.
But amazingly, all the drivers on that four-lane intersection were able to proceed without a problem.
We had learned to take turns. 
This assortment of drivers, some on their way to work, some on work missions, some no doubt visiting loved ones, some just going shopping. . .we all drew on something we learned as a preschooler.
We take turns.
It was an amazing experience.
Each car inched up to the line and waited its turn before proceeding.  It was orderly and civilized, something totally unexpected in a world gone crazy with violence and me-ism.
When it was my turn, I moved my car to the line, watched the cars to my front, left, and right, and then pressed the gas at the appropriate moment.
There was no road rage, no speeding, no jumping ahead.  Everyone waited their turn.
Just like in school at the water fountain or in the lunch line.
Maybe there is hope for this world after all, if everyone still can learn to wait their turn.
What about you?
Have you witnessed anyone waiting their turn lately?