American Gifts

  • Alma Russ, Songwriter Contest Winner

    Contest Winner Bios Continued - whimsical music gifts, held our 3rd Annual Youth Composition and Songwriter Competition for ages 10 thru 18, with scores and recordings submitted on-line. Volunteer judges are music professionals, who review the students’ entries not only for prize placement, but with an aim to provide encouraging constructive comments. The competition is divided into 2 categories, Composition and Songwriter, each with a junior and senior division.

    Songwriter contest, violin gifts, American Gifts Alma Russ, very talented 3rd Place Songwriter Contest Winner has Violin Gifts

    The competition is national, so winning is not easy. We would like to announce 17 year old 3rd place winner, Alma Russ from Whittier, North Carolina. Ms. Russ is enrolled at Jackson County Early College and is on track to receive both her high school diploma and associate of arts degree next year.  She loves singing, playing fiddle and writing music.  Fiddle playing is her passion!  She first became interested in fiddle when she discovered Alison Krauss and started taking lessons at age 12.  Originally from Oxford, Florida, she moved to western North Carolina at 13, and has taken lessons from a number of instructors including most recently, Bobby Hicks.  She has two bands, The Colby Deitz Band and Dogwood Winter.  She also sometimes plays in other bands where fiddle is needed such as Ol' Dirty Bathtub, the Breedlove Brothers. She recently recorded fiddle for The Maggie Valley Band's upcoming album.  She also sings and plays claw-hammer banjo.  She loves to read, write stories, draw, paint and spend time with her family and pets (including two pugs, a chinchilla, and a pony).  She hopes to have writing as a career in one form or another in addition to a music career.

    Contest Winner, Alma Russ song, "Next Town"

    Congratulations Alma!!! We will look for your performances when we head toward North Carolina!


    Coming in the next two weeks - Violettes by Becky Screen Printed Banjo T-Shirts. Woman's styles will be available.

    Made from Becky's own art. T-shirts will say Pick Banjos......Not Fights

    All purchases support our Youth Music Competitions. Our Banjo Greeting Cards have been very popular. Purchase a set of 8 cards Here.

    Violin Gifts, American Gifts, Contest Winner Back of card says, Pick Banjos, Not Fights. The front of our shirts will say this.
    Guitar Purse Enter to Win Guitar Purse - You can be a contest winner too!
    American flag bags or purses; guitar themed gifts American Flag Purses (or Gig Bags) created by are unique guitar themed gifts
    Violin Player Please support Violettes by Becky work with purchases. Link here to HOMEPAGE.
  • Junior Composition Competition Tie for 2nd Place

    Maya Wood from Missouri & Sonia Nair from Oregon Tie

    for 2nd Place Junior Composition


    The Violettes by Becky Composition Competition is national, with 4 students entering from Oregon.  From Lake Oswego, Oregon, Sonia Nair tied with Maya Wood of Jefferson City, Missouri for 2nd place in the Junior Composition Division.

    Gifts for Music Lovers, Violin Gifts, Gifts for Piano Players Maya Wood, 2nd Place Junior Composition Tie

    Maya Wood is the daughter of Tim and Robin Wood and student of Helen Haynes Jefferson City Music Academy.
    She is a 7th grader at Thomas Jefferson Middle school and participates in Track, Cross Country, Orchestra, and Coding/Technology Club.






    Gifts for Music Lovers, American Gifts, Gifts for Piano Players Sonia Nair, 14, pictured with her sister, Nidhi Nair, 9. The two have performed a unique piece titled “Tidal Wave” based on the ever popular “Heart and Soul”. Sonia created the piece for the two of them, because her younger sister loved playing the melody with her sister’s fabulously creative piano part.



     In 8th grade, Sonia Nair has been studying piano for five years with teacher, Dr. Anne D. Young. From an early age, she became interested in composing music and recreating songs by ear. The rest is history. Outside of school and piano, her interests include competing in track and field meets, performing dance routines, participating in Girl Scouts, and spending time with her younger sister. Sonia also enjoys traveling with family, completing science experiments, cooking, and helping her community.






    Music Art Cards to Benefit Youth Music Competition

    The Youth Music Competition will earn 100% from card profits thru the end of May 2016, and 20% after that. Please support our work with card purchases at this LINK. You can buy a set of all the same or an assortment. We are currently working on more cards, and love requests.

    Gifts for Music Lovers, Violin Gifts Purchase Music Art Greeting Cards, Blank inside with Practice Tips on Back to benefit our Youth Music Competition.


  • Samantha Shuma Wins Junior Songwriter Contest

    Bio for Songwriter Contest, Junior Division Winner

    Guitar Purse, American Gifts, Gifts for Music Lovers Samantha Shuma wins 1st place in Violettes Songwriter Contest



    Samantha Shuma, age 13 from McKinney, won 1st place in the 3rd Annual Violettes by Becky Songwriter Competition, Junior Division. Samantha is a songwriter, vocalist, mandolin player, and actress. She started instrument lessons at age 5 and voice at age 6. After studying violin, piano, and guitar, she fell in love with the mandolin. She now takes both acoustic and electric mandolin lessons. She plays Bluegrass, Rock, and Pop, and is involved in musical theatre. Samantha wrote her first song 2 years ago. “I like to write about my thoughts and feelings being 13. Sometimes, it is difficult to find songs for my age, so I write them.”



    Samantha won for her original song "Hooked". She wrote song lyrics with music. Contest entries were judged on emotional impact, individuality and creativity, meaningful lyrics, and melody.

    Samantha regularly appears in live shows through the McKinney and Frisco School of Rock performance programs. She also travels across the country to attend music intensives like Acoustic Music Camp, Hill Country Acoustic Music Camp, and Camp Bluegrass. Samantha likes to shoot and edit videos for her music. This summer, she will be taking songwriting camps and a studio recording camp to learn more about creating sound tracks. “I enjoy performing, especially my own songs, and my goal is to have a successful career in the music industry,” expressed Samantha.

    Music Art Cards to Benefit Youth Music Competition

    The Youth Music Competition will earn 100% from card profits thru the end of May 2016, and 20% after that. Please support our work with card purchases at this LINK. You can buy a set of all the same or an assortment. We are currently working on more cards, and love requests.

    Gifts for Music Lovers, Violin Gifts Purchase Music Art Greeting Cards, Blank inside with Practice Tips on Back to benefit our Youth Music Competition.
  • Carli Tuttle, 2nd Place Songwriter Competition Winner

    2nd Place in Songwriter Competition from Melbourne Beach, Florida

    gifts for music lovers, guitar purse Carli Tuttle wins U.S. Music Corp. guitar

    The Violettes by Becky Annual Youth Composition and Songwriter Competition is national, so winning is not easy. We would like to present Carli Tuttle, 2nd place senior songwriter winner. Thanks to U.S. Music Corp. for the donation of her guitar. Carli hails from Melbourne Beach, Florida.

    Carli Tuttle, 16, attends Melbourne High School where she is the FCA Worship Leader and is a performer in the Melbourne High Masquerade Musical Theatre. She won a songwriting competition in Nashville last summer at Annie Moses Band Fine Arts Summer Academy and was given the amazing opportunity to perform her original song at the legendary Bluebird Cafe. Her favorite subjects in school are History, English, and Anatomy. She also plays volleyball for her high school varsity team. Carli started guitar lessons at the age of 8.... She also plays the piano, electric guitar, and ukulele. She started writing songs when she was 12 years old. Carli loves encouraging her siblings to sing and play instruments. She has 3 brothers and one sister.


    Music Art Cards to Benefit Youth Music Competition

    The Youth Music Competition will earn 100% from card profits thru the end of May 2016, and 20% after that. Please support our work with card purchases at this LINK. You can buy a set of all the same or an assortment. We are currently working on more cards, and love requests.

    Gifts for Music Lovers, Violin Gifts Purchase Music Art Greeting Cards, Blank inside with Practice Tips on Back to benefit our Youth Music Competition.

  • Violin Gifts, Human Gifts Guest Blogger from Berlin

    Human Gifts More Important than Violin Gifts

    Let me introduce Paul Brody who is on the Violettes by Becky Board helping to spread Violin Gifts. Paul is my brother. He helped come up with the Violettes name meaning little violins. He takes the violin gifts to boutiques in Berlin, Vienna and Paris to sell. He is part of the backbone of the Violettes by Becky Annual Youth Composition and Songwriter Competition. But he is also spreading human gifts helping the refugees that are pouring into Berlin.


    Guest Blogger, Paul Brody, from Berlin:

    I live in Berlin, Germany where thousands of refugees live within a few miles radius of my apartment. 

    While talking with my son about the latest ISIS atrocities, we mention that his grandmother, my Mom, was a refugee from 1939 Nazi Vienna. We always said, “If it weren’t for the luck of her family escaping Hitler, we

    Violin Gifts, Gifts for Music Lovers, Violin Purse My Mother loves our Violin Gifts!

    wouldn’t be here.” The emphasis was always on the threat. But in light of the refugee situation in Berlin, and hearing stories from so many of our friends volunteering to clean living quarters, donate clothes, and teach German, we looked at each other and saw our well trodden thought in a new light. “If it weren’t for those who helped Grandma get on the Kindertransport  headed for England, and for those in England who took care of her, we wouldn’t be here. 

    The next day I walked to the Wilmersdorf City Hall, where over a thousand refugees lived in rooms that weren’t currently occupied by government employees.

    It took me fifteen minutes to walk around the building to find the proper entrance. Laundry, milk and produce placed on window sills to keep cool in the Berlin winter, and second hand children’s toys were scattered around three sides the building. 

    I showed my passport to the guard and signed in. A soccer game was in full swing in the football field sized back court yard of city hall. Jump rope and hop scotch and teens huddling in circles filled the corners. I listened to the symphony of echoing children’s play, took in the mini world of those who had come from a place I thought little about until this year. 

    Images of news flashes blinked in my head: skies of Syria,  bombs falling, beheadings, neighborhoods turned to rubble. And here they are. The unlucky lucky ones. What stories were contained in these young people spending their day like a million other kids in Europe? 

    Then a girl, about 13 years old zipped by with big curious eyes under her headscarf. She gave me her best, Guten Tag. I nodded shyly. Then I felt tears well up in my eyes. That girl could be the same age as my mother when she was welcomed into a children’s home, then adopted by a Quaker family until the end of the war. 

    Why should this have to be? This insanity in the world? Why wasn’t that girl in her small town in Syrian enjoying an after school ice cream with her friends? But that’s a useless thought. She’s here, and we’re helping. And that’s all that matters. 

    During each visit to the city hall "home", those working in the main office quoted higher and higher numbers of refugees in Berlin; and we emptied, cleaned, and set up new rooms in the Wilmerdorf City Hall. 

    A good part of the fourth floor was cleared out for class rooms for both kids and adults. 

    The board of education department in former East Berlin donated a forest of DDR school desks that had been in storage since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. We lugged them to the fourth floor, washed them, and scraped the rock solid gum off the bottoms.

    I met a great cross section of Berlin volunteering at the city hall. Retired school teachers, lost souls looking for a mission, Marshal Plan workers, a film maker, the president of a well known architecture firm, and countless students. But the one that stays in my mind the most is a young woman who went about performing even the most dreadful chores with ease, even laughing. ======>>>>>>>

    We were carrying boxes of winter clothes, shoes, and bedding from the massive basement, where refugees from my mother’s generation were supposed to have hid, to a room upstairs where the Syrian refugees could rummage through.

    I asked her if she was a student. She giggled, “No, I send text messages to Angela Merkel.” 

    “That’s a funny. I should use that too!” I responded. 

    “It’s not a joke. My job is to keep up with the news and if anything thing seems important, then I distribute the information to Merkel and a few other important politicians via cell phone. I’m in charge of keeping them up to date on an hourly basis.”

    “So you really send Angela Merkel text messages?” 

    “I really do!” she smiled. 

    “Well, would you please tell her that I’m sorry that we spied on her cell phone, and hello from Paul the American trumpeter living in Berlin.”

    “Will do,” she said. 

    Months later, when visiting my sister Becky in Knoxville I found out that when she wasn’t busy working on her company, Violettes By Becky, she’s volunteering to help refugees as well. 

    “Refugees in East Tennessee?” I asked. 

    “Of course” she responded. “85,000 refugees are authorized to be resettled in the US in 2016 (up from 70,000 for the past 4 years). This means we find them a place to live, a job, and help them assimilate. We give each and every one of them community. But for now, there are no Syrians getting thru the vetting process. It takes many years to be approved. Only 1/2 of 1% of all refugees are 'resettled'. ”

    Gifts for Music Lovers, Violin Gifts, Violin Purse Paul with our Mom and my kids in Berlin in 2005. Different times.

    Gifts for Piano Players, Piano Purse, Gifts for Piano Teachers

    Now you can give human gifts and Violin Gifts! Visit Violettes by Becky today.



  • Larry Long Talks About Loving Classical Guitar Music

    Cool Purse -un 37 is Proud Guitar Bag Owner

     One of Violettes' Gift Ideas for Music Lovers

    Classical Guitar Music, Gift Ideas for Music Lovers, Gifts for Guitar Players Larry, Classical Guitar Music teacher, was given one of our " Gift Ideas for Music Lovers ". Purchase our Man Bag to hold mic., spare strings and picks.

    Responsible for bringing classical guitar music to East Tennessee, Mr. Lawrence (Larry) Long is full of excitement talking about his journey as a prominent player, composer and above all teacher. And what fun his stories are to hear!

    First he tells that he presumes his classical music training came from playing in the crib at age 3 when his Mother would have soap opera shows on in the next room every day. In those days all the intro and background music was classical!

    The family moved from Sevierville to Knoxville for his Dad's grocery store business, and Larry grew up working

    gift ideas for music lovers, gifts for guitar players, American Gifts Larry and His Guitar

    in grocery stores during the summers "learning the value of hard work". Larry had started music with the public school music program in Knoxville choosing to start on French Horn in Elementary, changing to Trombone in Middle School and Tuba and the upright Bass in High School. He credits a high school career day with guiding him to decide on a music education major at UT Knoxville. His senior year in high school, Larry went to the All State Band with the Tuba, staying with a family during the program. Their daughter owned a guitar that was never used. Larry asked his Dad to buy the guitar (for $25) when he came and picked him up, and Larry taught himself all the notes in the back seat on the way home. That summer after his senior year, he wanted to concentrate on learning the guitar and take lessons rather than working long hours in the grocery store. His father went thru the roof!! At that time, everyone with long hair was strumming on a guitar, and it was associated with taking drugs. So, asking this of his father was almost like asking if he could take drugs. It was a big NO.


    Off to UT Knoxville for Music Degree

    Attending UT was great, as Larry got much personal attention from some great teachers. The composition teacher was also conductor of the Knoxville, Symphony - Mr. David Van Vactor urged Larry to join the symphony with his upright bass.  Another teacher urged Larry to answer a guitar teacher ad, even though he had only been taking lessons for 3 weeks! And another told him to join the Army Band in Europe to get some experience!

    • - Teacher Interview: Larry showed up to the Guitar Teacher interview in a suit and a tie after only having 3 weeks of lessons! This was at the biggest private music school in the country headquartered in Knoxville. They taught lessons for every instrument, but they didn't yet teach guitar. The owner invited all 20 of the guitar players up into a big bedroom. Most of the guys had long hair and genes. Some of them had 20 and 30 years of experience on the guitar. The owner pulled out a music stand and put music on it. Larry was the only one of them that could read music and he got the job!
    • - Experience with the Army Band (1958 to 1960): Larry joined the 76th Army Band, the #1 band in Europe stationed just outside of Paris. (In 1960, they moved to Germany). Larry could play any instrument that was needed. They played all over France and it was hard work. They started marching where the US Army had liberated the first town on one coast in WW II. They marched thru the town, then on to the town that was liberated next, and so on. Several guys in the group didn't drink and had to stay behind. In each town the mayor would give them a toast with wine. By the end of the long marching, they were exhausted but happy. Larry played trombone, french horn, and bassoon, flute and piccolo parts on an electric guitar when it was needed for one concert.


    Meeting Segovia: After graduation from UT, Larry played upright bass in the Knoxville Orchestra, but liked guitar so much that he taught guitar. In 1962, Segovia came to play with the Knoxville Symphony. That very week, Larry had signed up for classical guitar lessons, but hadn't had his first lesson. In his symphony suit, he walked up to Segovia and asked him which of his 3 guitars he was going to play that evening. Segovia called his wife over who brought his guitar. Segovia handed his guitar to Larry to try! That was a thrill he never forgot, and the concert was an inspiration for learning classical guitar music. Larry took lessons with C. Ivan Maracle from Toronto. Larry says a problem with electric guitar is you always need an accompanist. So classical guitar was very attractive. Larry knew that if he were going to teach classical guitar, students would have to hear it (since there was no you tube in the day). So Larry brought the Guitar Society to East Tennessee. He eventually had 90 guitar students, and had to quit his symphony job after 9 years. He taught Guitar students at UT Knoxville in addition to in a studio private lesson students.

    Gifts ideas for Music Lovers, Gifts for Guitar Players, American Gifts Larry and his wife, Birdie have hosted traveling guitar visitors from all over the world.

     Guitar Society: Larry founded the Oak Ridge-Knoxville Guitar Society bringing in world class classical guitar players. They all stayed at Larry's house for some southern hospitality. Larry was President/Program Director from inception in 1971 to 2002. They had 9 concerts a year, and his wife was an expert publicist producing big crowds. Birdie wrote careful articles for the newspaper with personal performer interviews and gave announcements to several radio stations. Professional Guitar Players coming in from all over the wold usually doesn't happen if you don't live in New York, LA, Boston, Chicago, Paris, London...

    Meeting Mr. Sakellariou: One of the visitors Larry welcomed to perform in the Guitar Society was George Sakellariou. Just before he arrived, someone gave Birdie a free pass to a psychic. Jokingly, Larry said he'll go and he did! Amazingly enough, the psychic told him that he would meet someone from California that would make a big difference in his life!! In walks Mr. Sakellariou, a student of Segovia, faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. This man became a lifelong colleague and friend. He later volunteered to  record much of Larry's music. Larry has composed and arranged volumes of music. Larry gave me a copy of his Mel Bay book, "Conversation Pieces", consisting of all original classical guitar solos by Lawrence Long for the beginner and intermediate player to enjoy. It comes with a recording of all songs by renowned classical guitar player, George Sakellariou. The recording below is a "Toccata" from Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor arranged for classical guitar by Larry, played by Mr. Sakellariou. 

    Larry Leaves a Legacy : Mr. Long is very proud of all his students and can remember 18 students who played guitar in college some of whom were on music scholarships. and 13 of his students who became guitar teachers. If you  google Lawrence Long on you tube, you will find many people playing recordings of classical guitar music written by him, some of whom, his students. Of all the awards and citations Mr. Long has been awarded, he is most proud of the "Who's Who Among America's Teachers" Award.

    What Else? I see some interesting Civil War prints on Larry's wall. Larry and an art professor at UT Knoxville started a civil war group. They made Civil War presentations up and down the east coast. While Professor Dick LeFevre, who eventually produced 32 (stunning and "neutral") Civil War watercolor collages, was the MC, Larry performed music with or without a full band on original Civil War instruments. Larry arranged the music, which was partly background in the presentation, and partly highlighted. He fondly remembers performing with such talented performers as Multi-Instrumentalist, Rachel Schlafer-Parton.

    Gift Ideas for Music Lovers, Gifts for Guitar Players, American Gifts Win Guitar Bag - Great as a Gig Bag or a Man Bag
  • Ode to My Wife: Cool Music Purse -un 29

    Artsy American Gifts for Music Lovers

    Cool Music Purse -uns, Steve Morley and his wife, are both our number 29 because Steve commissioned wearable music art from Violettes by Becky as a Xmas gift for his wife; and a woman who plays trumpet is obviously "cool". So I asked this thoughtful husband to write an Ode to His Wife for our cool person blog series. HERE IT IS from Steve about his wife, Brenda------

    I'm sure most everyone views his or her spouse as a unique individual. Not to take anything away from any of them, but my wife, Brenda, is—in my opinion, at least—particularly unique. Her interests and pursuits include farming, raising small livestock and gardening; health and nutrition; painting in pastels and oils; and playing the pennywhistle, trumpet and flugelhorn. Take my word for it: she's good at all of them, from painting “plein air” scenes of the outdoors she so loves and breeding top-notch Shetland sheep, Cashmere goats and French angora rabbits (whose wool she shears, cards and spins into fine yarn) to researching and preparing high-quality, nutrition-rich food and playing trumpet and flugelhorn in a local church orchestra and a 30-piece brass band. In the past few years, though, playing her horns has taken on special significance.

    American Gifts, Gifts for music lovers, Music Purse Great at music and art, Brenda needs an artsy Music Purse!

    Brenda's grandfather was a professional artist and illustrator, and between her exposure to his work and her own natural aptitude for art, she developed into an artist of considerable skill. Once her daughter went off to college, she determined to take art more seriously, and in the decade or so since then, she's developed into a fine pastel and oil painter. While art has been a constant in her adult life, Brenda had a passion for the trumpet from a young age and, through her college years, she ate, slept and breathed (well, duh) the wind instrument. Adult life, as it turned out, would take her in a different direction, away from the upstate western New York dairy farm where she grew up, and away from the trumpet for many years. Finding, and developing, her voice on the horn again is a full-circle occurrence, which is a large part of why it means as much to her as it does. Every spare minute she has (and with all her pursuits, spare minutes aren't always that plentiful), she's in the small room at the back of the modest but cozy farmhouse we live in, doing trumpet warm-ups and exercises, or even just prepping for practice by "buzzing" into her mouthpiece for a minute or two; I've learned to quickly recognize this odd, vibrating sound, which initially would prick my ears up as though a giant mutant insect had gotten loose in the house, sending me on a momentary mental search for a much larger fly swatter than we actually own.

    American Gifts, Gifts for Music Lovers, Music Purse Brenda in the brass section. Gifts for Music Lovers is our specialty!

    Life on a working farm is serious business, and having grown up on one forged a seriousness in my wife as a girl and, later, an adolescent who had to complete her farm chores before she could get back to her waiting trumpet. She's a hard worker, not afraid of hefting a sledgehammer to pound a fence post into the ground or reach inside a ewe who's having trouble giving birth. It's her choice to operate our small non-commercial farm, which she does out of a deep commitment to raising high-quality food and living in as natural a manner as possible. (See below for more on this.) She's equally serious about her horn playing, approaching it with the same discipline that takes her outside twice a day to feed and care for her flock, facing sweltering heat in the Tennessee summers and rain, ice and snow in the wintertime. The payoff is perhaps bigger, and more personal, when it comes to the horn: she's now a private student of a top L.A. studio trumpeter, a member of the Brass Band of Nashville and plays weekly with the praise orchestra at a church south of downtown Nashville. She's about to make her debut with a local pop/rock party band, something she's never done before. As a former pro musician myself, coming from a rock background, that tickles me to no end. Compared to her nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, it's easy for me to feel like a sloth. That probably doesn't tickle me all that much . . . but it doesn't stop me from being very proud of her.

    Music Purse, American Gifts, Gifts for Music Lovers Brenda wearing angora sweater made of wool she harvested herself!

    When it came to finding a special Christmas gift this year, finding something related to the trumpet was a no-brainer. Finding out about Violettes by Becky this past fall was a streak of amazing luck. While Becky’s inventory didn't include any horn-themed products, I had a hunch she would know just what to do, and that hunch proved correct. She offered several creative possibilities and carefully considered my feedback on them. We arrived at a design idea for an elegant and yet playful trumpet-adorned purse that Becky executed beautifully, investing not just skill and creativity but real passion and heart into the final product. At 57, I still have some of that kid-like excitement about Christmas, but this year I'm more excited about the custom-made purse I'll be giving to my wife than I am about anything that will be setting under the tree with my name affixed to it.

    Thanks a million, Becky, for being a part of what I'm sure will be a memorable Christmas in our home. And to my wife—Merry Christmas with lots of love!


    1. Violettes: I myself am a "foodie" and gourmet cook so I like to hear more about food and nutrition. I have met people so into health and nutrition that they only eat uncooked vegetables. Some people are adamant about getting interesting grains into their meals . . . What is her style of nutrition?

    Steve: Brenda is very practical, and often finds herself with limited time for meal preparation, so she generally keeps things basic, but tasty. She focuses on the most important food groups for health and nutrition —protein, vegetables (typically garden-grown or organic) and healthy fats (nuts, olive oil, coconut oil and quality real butter). She raises a significant portion of our meat—lamb, goat, rabbit, duck, chicken—to be confident about what’s gone into the animal and certain it was healthy, happy and humanely treated. We supplement with grass-fed, organic beef and sausage from the Farmers’ Market. It’s pricey but we figure it’s an investment in our long-range health. Fish is served less often, and effort is taken to buy wild-caught salmon or types of fish less likely to be mercury-contaminated. We also get our own free-range eggs, and those are a staple food item. She is keen on avoiding refined sugar (as well as any kind of processed foods), so she will sometimes make a fruit cobbler or pumpkin pie using agave syrup and turbinado sugar in limited amounts, and making the crust with combinations of non-wheat-based flour. We don’t avoid wheat altogether, but try to limit it. We sweeten drinks, cereal, etc., with stevia and good honey most of the time.

    2. Violettes: Farming and gardening can be labor-intensive; does she have time to cook, too? What are typical dishes or favorite dishes that she makes for dinner?

    Steve: During gardening season, Brenda is often extra-busy, though the farm—not counting maintenance—isn’t extremely time-consuming on a daily basis. It’s the combination of farm work, upkeep and meal preparation along with her other pursuits that creates her time constraints. Salad is a staple (using a base of shredded cabbage and carrots, perhaps kale or parsley when lettuce and spinach are out of season); we will sometimes have potatoes or pasta (sometimes gluten-free, sometimes buckwheat, sometimes regular), but more often she will go easy on carbs, especially simple carbs that bump your glucose levels up too quickly and too high. We’ll have brown or black rice, a mixture of quinoa and millet, or maybe buckwheat. Brenda likes to make soups and stews year-round, and makes a thick, yellow split pea soup that’s great over any of the grains/grain substitutes mentioned above. She likes to make roasted vegetables, which include chunks of white and sweet potatoes, onions and brussels sprouts tossed into a pan with oil and seasonings. One of her special dishes and a family favorite is Duck Paprika, which has a flavorful sauce that I think includes curry. Her homemade spaghetti sauce is excellent, using tomatoes she’s grown and canned. She’s creative about using whatever’s on hand, again an outcome of time limitations and the desire for simplicity. She’s not hugely into cooking most of the time, but she is hugely into eating healthy and usually simply, so that is what drives our menus. It might be salmon patties, meatloaf burgers or simple baked rabbit or chicken with side dishes, or perhaps a one-dish meal like a stir-fry over rice. When the time and inspiration are available, she’ll experiment with things like black bean brownies, coconut-cacao squares or crackers made from almond flour and seeds. When milk and eggs are especially plentiful and need to be used, I might get surprised with a batch of pudding—always certain to bring a big smile. Our way of eating may often be simple, but it’s rarely boring.  

    Music Purse, Gifts for Music Lovers, American Giftsss, Steve Morley, excited to gift his wife the special order Music Purse. Visit Violettes by Becky for Gifts for Music Lovers!
  • American Gifts from Cool ( Guitar ) Purse -un 28

    Health Foods, Painting Sunrise and her Guitar Purse

    Miss Lauren DiCalvo had one of those American Gifts of growing up with soccer and music lessons like my own 2 children. She is an athlete, a health foodie, and loves her guitar purse. She recently finished her major in Exercise Science at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

    Guitar Purse, Gifts for Music Lovers, American Gifts Bohemian style Lauren, chose to model her Black Elegance Guitar Purse which she loves. This is one of our more popular music purses ordered again and again by stores. If you need gifts for music lovers, find unique wearable art for the eclectic fashion dresser at Violettes by Becky.
    1.Violettes: You were a soccer star in high school? Did you play soccer or other sports in college?
    Lauren: I did play soccer all throughout high school but I tore my ACL my senior year. When I went to college at Florida State University I decided to try out for the club team, but I could feel that my knee wasn’t ready for me to start playing again. Finally, a few months after that I started playing intramural soccer with my sorority and I tore my ACL for the second time. Tearing my ACL that first time was a blessing in disguise because it was the initial spark for my interest in medicine.

    2.  Violettes: You are currently applying to medical school? Do you know what kind of medicine you hope to practice and why?
    Lauren:  I still don’t know exactly what kind of medicine I want to get into in the future. I think it will become more clear as I continue to learn and gain experience in different fields of medicine. I do know that I would like to practice a more holistic form of medicine that encompasses lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise in both preventing health problems and in curing the body of those health problems.

    3. Violettes: You are quite a health food eater and cook. How did you get into this, and what is the most interesting dish that you fix?
    Lauren: My very first roommate in college, Ashley Mancuso, got me into eating healthy foods and cooking. Everything I learned and know about the kitchen I credit her and her amazing ability to whip up the most amazing meals from any combination of ingredients. I’ve made some pretty delicious dishes in the past, all of which I created myself, but if I had to pick one dish I would say my chili because my brother loves it so much that he asked for the recipe and has made it himself. That is a huge success in my book.
    An off and on Vegan, Lauren cooks a lot with grains. She throws Goji Berries in her salads and loves using organic ingredients including quinoa.

    4. Violettes: What are your favorite hobbies or pass times? Tell us a little about them.
    Lauren: I love being outdoors. Some of my favorite things include: going to the gym,

    Bohemian Style, American Gifts, Guitar PUrse    Lauren ready for a concert with stylish                     Guitar Purse in tow.

    snowboarding, wake boarding, hiking, running, and being on the water. I also love reading, painting, singing (especially in the shower), and watching football (especially college football — Go Noles). Finally, I’m a pretty big nerd in the sense that I can talk for days about the intricacies of the universe and I love Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Ring.

    Doesn't sound nerdy to me Lauren - sounds like all American Girl plus one with a few extra American Gifts. (American gifts are my SEO keywords today!) Lauren loves to go to the beach with a friend and paint the sunrise. She had an art class in high school, and loves painting abstract nature scenes with acrylics.

    5. Violettes: Do you listen to a lot of music? Who are your favorite bands, musicians, artists? Do you have favorite songs?
    Lauren: I like such a variety of music that it is difficult to answer this question. I love country music, classic rock, reggae, Jazz, Disney, and so much in between. Currently, my favorite shower songs are all of the songs from the Wicked the Musical album (I’m obsessed). I’ve also been listening to the Vance Joy album lately. The music I listen to really varies with the seasons and the weather (in South Florida those two rarely go hand in hand).

    American Gifts, Gifts for Music Lovers, Guitar Purse A Joyful Lauren, a #NOLA Fan at recent Florida State Graduation: another one of our American Gifts - football and accessible college.


    Guitar PUrse, Gifts for Music Lovers, American Gifts Loving on her beautiful Dog.
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  • Kelle Jolly, Singer and Ukulele Player, is a Knoxville Celebrity

    Ukulele Player, Costumer, Award Winning Singer Kelle Jolly

    I heard the name of singer and ukulele player, Kelle Jolly; for some time; but it wasn't until my brother, writer and composer Paul Brody arrived from Berlin to write a radio piece that I made an effort to hear her perform. As it turned out the event that we were to attend had a last minute cancellation. Finally, by coincidence, I stopped by WDVX(wearing a Guitar Purse of course) to get a parking pass, and low and behold, there was Kelle Jolly with her ukulele ready to perform for the Blue Plate Special. Plan change...her voice was a sweet dream.

    1. 1. Violettes: Wow, what a voice! Did you have some voice coaches growing up? Where did this come from, besides obviously being born dripping with talent. Who did you learn from?

      merican gifts, Gift ideas for Music Lovers, Guitar Purse Kelle Jolly, singer and ukulele player performing with her husband Will Boyd.

      Kelle Jolly: I don't remember a time when I did not sing. My parents sang to us around the house. I guess it was just a natural thing to pick up. And I did not have a choral program at my high school in Decatur, Ga. I have a B.S. in Music Education from South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC. I chose music because I had scholarships to play mellophone and French Horn in the band. I have not studied voice with anyone since college.

    2.  2. Violettes: How did you get into fashion design? Did you take any courses in it?
    3.  Kelle Jolly: I thought I could sew at the age of 3. I knew I wanted to be an artist or an architect. Fashion combines those interests, expression of art plus mathematics and science. I have never taken a class for it. But maybe I should. For two years, I entered my wearable art in the Dogwood Arts Festival Wearable Art Show. One year I was awarded the Emerging Artist Award. It motivated me to keep creating. I love costumes. Once, I designed a dress for a period documentary, LOST STATE OF FRANKLIN. It was the dress for the Bonny Kate character. Right now I am exploring Steampunk designs.

    4. 3. Violettes: You are always dressed and styled (hair) so tastefully for your performances, that I have seen (from photos on-line). I couldn’t fix my hair for an event to save my life – is this just a natural talent also? Or did you have some formal training? It makes sense for fashion to be part of a music degree, as musicians have to present themselves as a package. Kelle Jolly: Most of the time I style my own hair. Sometimes my friends braid it for me. I'm pretty thrifty. It saves me money to style my own hair. You're not really making money if you have to spend in order to perform. I try to keep my cost low by sewing my own clothes and doing my hair.

    5. 4. Violettes: You won the Community Shares Artist Change Award – What kind of change did you represent?
    6. Kelle Jolly: I didn't nominate myself. I wouldn't say that I deserved it. But I guess that others felt that I did. You can't assume how your God-given talents will affect people. All you can do is try be a light.

    7. 5. Violettes: You have a television program now. Can you tell us about it?
    8. Kelle Jolly: For about 5 years, I have been co-hosting a community access show, WHAT'S GOING ON WITH ROBERT MINTER. We interview Knoxvillians who have information to share with the community about events and current affairs. I enjoy it because I have made lots of new friends through it.

    9. 6. Violettes: What time and what channel?
    10. Kelle Jolly: Our time changes every 6 months. So a new time will be announced. The channel is Community Television. Or you can watch it online at

    11. 7. Violettes: Do you have any specific plans for special projects or events in the future that you can tell us about?
    12. Kelle Jolly: I was recently hired by WUOT to host a new vocal jazz radio show, JAZZ JAM WITH KELLE JOLLY. It comes on every Friday at 8:00pm. I play local, regional, national and international jazz vocalists, classic to modern. It is pre-recorded, so I like to host listening parties in the community so I can enjoy it with the audience. Radio dejaying is fun because you can do it with your pajamas on. And no one knows. Thank you for the opportunity to share Becky.  See Kelle Jolly in her element in this video –


    Gift Ideas for Music Lovers, Guitar Purse, Gifts for Guitar Players If you are a Ukulele Player, you'll love our Guitar Purse which is also a Ukulele Purse! Just ask us to remove two "pegs".




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