Friday Faves. Yes, I’m still hearting Carnival Spirit Alaska.

Today’s Topic:



I don’t know what was best…


Having a different menu every night……


Being able to order one or five appetizers…



Having attentive, happy servers…..(sorry, no pics of the servers, too busy eating and watching glaciers out the dining room window)


Leaving the tablesetting and dishwashing to someone else……


Eating all the dessert I wanted…..




All this was great.
But the best part was sitting with my guys and family at the end of the day,
sharing good food and stories of the day.


Let’s have one more dessert before we close for the day.
I’ll have one more piece of that chocolate cake over there.


All photographs and writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.


Friday Faves – Carnival Cruise Line Spirit North to Alaska

Ready. Set. Let's Go!

Ready. Set. Let's Go!

I’ve talked about our Alaska trip here and here.  But, I haven’t discussed life on the ship much.  So thought I would share a few some pictures from the ship.

Good Evening!

Good Evening!

First, let’s talk about our room.  We had a balcony room, which served us well.  Big J, Little J and I sleep with fans all year round.  Maybe because it’s muggy and humid where we live, but if air isn’t moving, the room feels so stuffy and  I get hot very quickly.  It also serves as white noise to help with sleep.  When we started planning for this trip, we tried to figure out how to get a fan on board.  Continental charges for luggage over 50 pounds, so lugging a fan wasn’t practical.  So, a balcony room was perfect for us.  It was nice to have a large glass area to look out to the water, and at night we propped the door open and had fresh air moving all night.  The waves served as white noise.  It might get a little chilly in the room and then we snuggled deeper under our fluffy cover.  We also sleep with lots of pillows and they kept bringing the pillows till we got it just the way we wanted it.

Hello. I'm waiting to snuggle with you.

Hello. I'm waiting to snuggle with you.


We had a lovely stewardess from the Phillipines named Abigail.  She was calling us by name by the end of the first day and had the sweetest smile.  She kept our beds straight and the bathroom clean during the day, and turned down the bed and left chocolates and a towel animal on our bed each evening.  Every evening we would find a different animal on the bed.  Little J always looked forward to seeing what the animal would be when we opened the door.  One night it was a monkey hanging from the light fixture!   You could go to a class that taught you to make the towel animals, or you could bring home a book with step by step directions.

Stop monkeying around.

Stop monkeying around.









Sometimes a cookie would be waiting for Little J, all wrapped up and ready to greet him with a smile.

Hello Little J.

Hello Little J.

 Big J and I had a king bed, thank goodness.  That’s what we have at home and anything smaller causes great consternation when it’s time for bed.  It could be all those pillows.  The room also had a built in seating area that could be used as a bed.  It was made up with the same bedding we had, and Little J was most comfortable on it. 

Little J's corner of the room.

Little J's corner of the room.

We had plenty of storage room, three closets and 4 drawers.  We could hang our clothes and put our suitcases in two closets.  The third closet had shelves and we put our folded clothes there.  We used the drawers for our jammies and personal items.
Vanity area.  Drawers for all of us.

Vanity area. Drawers for all of us.

Three closets.

Three closets.

Closets for all!

Closets for all!

Love a good shower.

Love a good shower.

The bathroom was very small but worked.  There were shelves to put your hairspray, toothbrush and makeup.  Nice clean fluffy towels and waffle material robes.
The place for beauty.  And sitting to think.

The place for beauty. And sitting to think.

Well, that’s all I can write tonight.  It’s been a busy, busy week and I see an early bedtime in my future tonight.  Maybe it’s all this talk of beds and pillows.  Have a good weekend!

All photographs and writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.


Friday Faves – Picnik.







I remember the first time I touched a computer. 1983.

I was working as an engineering tech for an oil company in Midland, TX.  BTA Oil Producers.  An IBM PC was brought in to the office.  One.  For the whole company.  You could only touch it if you had permission and training.  The floppy disks were about 12″ x 12″.   Well, maybe 5″ x 5″.  ANYway, I was one of the lucky ones who got to touch the computer.  The only software we used was WordPerfect and Lotus.  Was that IBM software?  I can’t remember.  I could create a mean spreadsheet with Lotus.

An engineer for whom I worked moved to Houston, and called me a few months later.  Because I was trained on the PC, he wanted me to come work for him.  I got a huge raise.  I was single, and one of my best friends lived in Houston, so heck, why not move?

Of course, the oil business being the oil business, the company for which I moved to Houston closed their doors three months after I arrived.  And bought a brand new couch from Fingers Furniture.  And signed a year lease on a brand new apartment.

Well, long story short, it all worked out.  And here I am 25 years later, sitting with a laptop in my lap, feet up on the couch.  Watching a flat screen TV hooked to a DVR while texting on my cell phone.  Editing digital picture files I took with a digital camera.  Shazaam, we’ve come a long way from that one sacred PC in the oil company office.

So I love taking pictures.  Alot of times, they look better in my imagination and my mind than on photo paper.  So then I need photo editing software to help improve my reality.  I know Photoshop is the Cadillac of photo editing software.  I’ve used it some and for me, it was overwhelming.  It could have been that I didn’t use it enough to get the hang of it, but for whatever reason, I never took to it.  So I looked around for some easier programs that would still give me good results.

Enter PicnikPicnik!

Picnik is a photo software editing program that you use online in your browser.  You can edit with  auto-fix, rotate, crop, resize, exposure, colors, sharpen, red-eye.  You can also create with effects such as black and white, fancy focus, gritty, sepia, matte.  That’s just a small listing of what’s available.  You can also insert text, put stickers or frames on the picture, and do touch-ups.  You can create collages and slide shows.  You can upload your photos from your computer, from Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, My Space, Photobucket, and many other sources.

You can use many of the tools for FREEFREE. If you want to use the premium editing tools, $24.95 a year will make you premium.  Airbrush, wrinkle remover, premium fonts, hair highlighting, detailed color correction are just a few of the premium tools.   You can use the free program at first and if you like what you see, upgrade to premium.

Picnik works for me.  I don’t feel overwhelmed trying to use it.  Sometimes I wish I could download Picnik to my computer, but on the flip side, I can work on my pictures anywhere I can access the internet.  I can start working on a picture at home, then finish it up during lunch at the office.  While we were on our Alaskan cruise, I found little internet cafes in the port towns where I could load my latest pictures, edit them on Picnik, then post them on this blog as clues.  Another neat feature is that Picnik saves a copy of all the pictures you save, so you can go back later and rework it, or download it again if you can’t remember where you saved it on your computer (no one but me does that I’m sure).  This is the history feature.  That’s been very handy for me.

Here’s an example of what I can do with Picnik.







EDITED PICTUREIMG_9884_0080_080fix



Well, there you have it.  One of the secrets of what makes me a legend in my own mind.  And by the way, Picnik did not pay me or ask me to endorse their product.  They don’t even know who I am.  I said when I started my blog that I would talk about some things that make my life better or more enjoyable, and Picnik is one of those things!  I am just an everyday Lifer who likes to take pictures.  Try it out for FREE and see what you think.

Chime in and tell me what you use to make your pictures look great.

All photographs and writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.

Friday Faves – Carnival Cruise Line Spirit Alaskan Cruise. Part 2.

PIMG_4409Well, we had a little bit of a rude awakening when we got back and settled in from our cruise.  Going from cold weather to hot weather, and breathing dry airplane air for seven hours put our bodies into shock.  All 3 of us are fighting sinus crude and I’ve been hacking my lungs out.  And how disappointing – Little J is off at church camp and Big J and I have free nights……to sit on the couch and use Vicks Vapor Rub.  For medicinal purposes only!!!

Anyway, here are some more pics from our wonderful trip.  Have you booked your trip yet?  PIMG_4119

I so enjoyed being on the deck and seeing beautiful scenery like this.


A beautifully set table was waiting for us each evening as we met family for dinner.


If you didn’t want a formal dinner, you could have sushi. 


Or, you could skip dinner competely and go to the casino.PIMG_3999

There were three swimmimg pools.  I think the water was heated, but there was no way I was putting a bathing suit on to find out.


Miniature golf was an option, but somewhat hard to play when the boat was sailing.  It was up on Deck 10 with no wind block but when you’re 11 you are better equipped to handle situations like that.


If you are into the real thing, there was a very cute golf pro who gave lessons.  I’m not into golf but I considered taking lessons!


 There was lovely artwork on each stair landing.


 Flanking the artwork were beautiful pieces of crystal.


 Even the door handles were fancy.


But nothing could touch the textures and tapestries of God’s creations.


It felt like you could stick your hands into the wispy clouds.


God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.











Friday Fav of your own? Link it here:
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All photographs and writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.

Friday Faves – Carnival Spirit Alaskan Cruise.

So once there was this girl named Lone Star Lifer.  She lived in a hot part of Texas.  Every day it was hot, hotter, hottest.

Through a series of family events, Lifer got to be a part of a family Alaskan cruise.  To where it is cool, cooler, coolest.  COLD.  In the summer.   There are also mountains and trees.  Also lots and lots of water, of which there is a great lack of in Texas.

So Lifer, Big J and Little J got on a big bird with metal wings.


We, along with about 599 strangers, sat in small seats, drank some soda pop out of plastic glasses, and flew through the clouds.


Here was our home away from home.


Little J was quite the cruiser.


Lifer could see glaciers from the deck…


And beautiful scenery almost every time she heard the dinner bell ringing as she walked to the dining room.


Breakfast was plentiful, and already prepared when Lifer got up in the mornings after sleeping deeply with the sound of the waves wafting through the open balcony door.


Speaking of food……



And she saved room for dessert.


Sometimes two.


Then she would go back outside and look at God’s handiwork some more.


A West Texas high school friend took Lifer’s family on a field trip to the Mendenhall Glacier.


See the pretty purple flowers.  The Alaskans are sad when the flowers show their purple blossoms, because that means summer is almost over for them.

Here is Lifer’s family in front of the glacier.  Notice we have cold weather clothing on.  In July.  It was heavenly.   Also, it covers up the 9 pounds we’ve put on in the 3 days we’ve been on the ship.


See Lifer and Big J smile.  The week was so relaxing and fulfilling mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally.    Cruising is IT, baby!


This cruise was the first vacation Lifer and Big J had taken in 10 years.   That’s a story for another time.

Today will no doubt be really hot where I am (heat index predicted 105 degrees) – maybe where you are too.  So here is one more cool picture.


More pictures later as I get them loaded.
All pictures property of Paula Parks, Lone Star Lifer.

P.S.  Elaine and Bennie correctly guessed where I was.  Get in touch with me and I will send you a fabulous Alaska souvenir.

Click here for Part 2 of my Friday Fave about our Alaskan Cruise.

All photographs and writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.

Friday Faves – Dian Malouf, Part 2.


In the Spring of 2006, I found a little box in my mail.  I opened it to find a beautiful silver ring with the Alamo on the square front of the ring.  I didn’t order it.  There was no card inside the box.  I was stumped.  I called my friend Lana to see if she had sent it.  Nope.  I asked Lana’s mom if it came from her.  No way.  I knew Big J wouldn’t send something like that to me. 

I finally discovered that it came from the Dian Malouf office.  Since first buying my Go Girl ring in 1999, I had corresponded and talked by phone to Dian, her daughter, and the Malouf office staff.  In one note, written a year before, I said I had just begun working on my research for mysidealamocr application for the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (no comments that I am STILL working on that), so it was known that I have a great love for the Alamo.  I LOVE wearing the ring and have gotten so many compliments and comments through the years.

I want to be Dian Malouf when I grow up!  When I’m discussing the Go Girl ring and her other jewelry, I describe Dian as a Renaissance woman.  She designs jewelry, writes books, takes photographs.  She grew up in South Texas near the Mexican border.  Combining that upbringing and love of the area, she authored two books about the ranchers and families who settled and care for that region.  Not only did she get those ranchers to talk to a woman, she convinced themto let her take their pictures.  The photographs in the books are hers.  I mean, her recorded interviews are in the collections in the Archives of Women of the Southwest at SMU.  How cool is that! 

           Her jewelry is so distinctive.
  diamond1My good friend JBM wears Dian’s jewelry and she said the jewelry is easily identifiable by others when she is wearing it.  Dian mixes silver, gold and beautiful gems or stones, finding inspiration in nature, the environment, different cultures, animals, history.  She really has something for everyone, from the sedate to the outrageous sublime.   All of her jewelry is made in America – that’s important to her. spring

She’s covered everyone with her endearings jewelry.  She took the Go Girl ring design and added new wording.  See if you find yourself in this list:
           baby                                                                                  bonita
                                      chula                                                                    cowgirl
                      darling                                diva
                                                         honey                            girlfriend
    madre                          mamacita                      mimi
                                 mom                                                                                               nana
                        princess                                         sister
To really set off the ring, ring guards with pink, green, blue and purple stones are available to frame your ring. 

The Dian Malouf website recently did something really nice.  They posted on the site that they were going to give away one Go Girl ring a month for 3 months and they did.  I got to read a couple of the thank you emails from those who received the rings and they were so thrilled and touched that Dian’s office helped them.  I hope you will find an opportunity to own a piece of Dian’s jewelry or read one of her books.  On the website you can find dates for trunk shows and stores that carry the jewelry line.

Well, I guess you have gotten the message that the Maloufs are one of my favs – Friday or any other day. Hope they will soon be one of your favorites also!



All photographs and writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.

Friday Faves – dian malouf’s Go Girl Ring


I have a long history with one piece of jewlery. A Go Girl ring, designed by Dian Malouf. She originally designed the ring as a tangible sign of support for girlfriends who were going through cancer treatments. I first wore my Go Girl ring in December 1999 for a dear friend, Patricia, who was fighting Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I bought a ring for her and one for me, and by the time she died in February 2000 there were approximately 25 women wearing the Go Girl ring for her. 

Lovely Patricia

Lovely Patricia

I continued to wear the ring for a year after Patricia died, I couldn’t bear to take it off.  It was my lifeline to her and I feared the bareness I would feel when I removed it. I finally put it away, but pulled it back out in 2002 for my college roomie and dear friend BC. Patricia, BC and I were members of the same church and BC was a Go Girl for Patricia. Patricia’s Go Girls wore their rings for BC, and new friends were added. BC had a good outcome from her lumpectomy and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

One of BC’s Go Girls was our college friend Lana who lived in Memphis. In the fall of 2004, Lana was diagnosed with lung cancer. She never smoked so this was a total surprise. Those of us with Go Girl rings who knew Lana put them back on, and many of Lana’s Memphis friends also got rings. Lana died in July 2006 and there were many Go Girls from all over at the funeral. You can read about Lana at: .

Prayer hands for BC

Prayer hands for BC

I had not even had time to think about removing my ring after Lana’s death before BC was again diagnosed with breast and a second type cancer in September 2006.She had to have a lumpectomy and radiation which took us through the end of 2006.  There were many Go Girls with BC when she rang the bell at the end of treatment.

Cake at BC's bell ringing!

Cake at BC's bell ringing!

 So it’s been a quiet couple of years. I’ve been wearing a lovely Alamo ring, also designed by Dian.  More on that next week.  And then, I got a phone call in February of this year. My precious childhood friend PW called me to say she has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. We grew up together in West Texas.  Our folks were good friends so we often played together.  We also attended college with BC and Lana. PW was a Go Girl for BC and Lana, so of course the rings have been pulled out for her. I call her The Younger as she is three years younger than me. She calls me The Older. paulagogirlPW lives in Georgia, so it is a comfort to me to put on my ring every morning and think of her.  My friend BC says “shooting arrows of prayer upward” *as a Go Girl said to her* and that’s what I do each time I put on my Go Girl ring.  PW has had surgery and is currently undergoing chemo; we are hopeful about her outcome.  I would be grateful for your prayers in her behalf.



When I look at my Go Girl ring, I don’t see the illness, sadness, disappointment that sometimes comes with wearing it.What I see is the way friends surround someone in crisis and lift them up with support and prayer.  I see the way that Go Girls can all be linked in the world, no matter how far away we are.  I see the hope that flows from loving relationships and the healing from being a part of a group that loves as hard as they can.  I see how touched and honored each friend has felt to know there was a special group of women who went above and beyond to make sure the honoree knew she had the Go Girls behind her.  I see my friend looking at her ring and knowing she is never alone. I see my connection to my friend no matter where I am.

Now, the Go Girl ring is not strictly for support in bad times.  Dian says she wants “women to believe in themselves.”  I’ve given a ring to each of my nieces graduating from high school to remind them I’m rooting for them to succeed.  You could give a ring to someone getting married, starting a first job, becoming a mommy.   If you would like to have your own Go Girl ring, give a Go Girl ring as a gift, or start your own Go Girl support group for someone,  you can find more information herepinkgogirlcrClick Jewelry, then  Endearings. The best way to order a ring is to call the company directly at 214-520-3123. When I order from them, I receive my items quickly. The only thing  that might cause a slowdown is if they don’t have your size ring.

Tell ’em Lone Star Lifer sent ya!


Next week’s Friday Faves: A continuation of the dian malouf thread.


All photographs and writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.