Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Special Children




Author Sharon Harris

On the program last night for a Memorial Service for Sprayberry Education Center's "Heavenly Stars", was this poem about what a child with special needs means to a family. As our sweet physical therapist, Jenny, read this to the group of families, staff and students, I was thinking about the truth of these words. I was also thinking that these words hold true for all children. God has entrusted Barry and I with two beautiful daughters - each special in their own way.

 


We learn from both of them. We grow from the experience of parenting both of them. Each of them is a gift - a blessing that we cherish and both of them have definitely taught us about real love. Their smiles and laughter are my favorite things in the world! So thankful for my two very special children!
 


 
 
 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Publix Day!

If you know me or read this blog, you probably already know that I love Publix! Wednesday is our Publix shopping day and I always look forward to it. I started shopping at Publix in 2005, the year of my transplant. When I first felt like getting out, grocery shopping was one of the first things I did on my own, so, I decided to make it a "road trip" and drive across town to Publix. I loved their variety, their customer service, cleanliness and, of course, the "Penny Item"! Now, I have a Publix store just around the corner!

If you are a Publix shopper, you probably know about all of that but did you know that you can create a grocery list online at www.publix.com ?

 
What an incredible organizational tool! The beauty of it to me is: 1) I enter my items as I think of them during the week- beats losing the piece of paper that I used to write them down on or having multiple lists, 2) It organizes the items by aisle number (when you set it up, you give your zip code so it is made for your store!) so no backtracking and you get through shopping faster, 3) It has a designed place for notes (for example, if you have a coupon, you can make a note of it),  4) You can access the weekly ad, coupons, BOGO - just click on the item and they go to straight to your list so you don't have to carry the weekly ad with you to the store - you get the idea - it is great!
 
Several people have stopped me in the store and asked about it and I have seen only one other person using the list, so I thought it was an idea worth sharing! Just another great benefit of shopping at Publix! By the way, the "Penny Item" A.K.A. Mystery Item today was Publix Saltine Crackers!
 
 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Best Brownie Pan Ever

 
Look at these perfect brownies (made by Elle). The way to making these perfect brownies other than being a great baker is this fabulous pan from The Pampered Chef!

 
Every brownie has the crusty chewy edge all the way around!! So, nobody's fighting over the brownies with the edge! We hosted a Pampered Chef Show with our sweet consultant, Carrie Hendrix, and got ours for free! If you are going to a Pampered Chef Show soon, this is a "must have" for your list if you like to bake. There are other uses for this pan such as mini lasagnas or mini meat loaves - we haven't tried those yet!
 
Check it out on Carrie's Website
 
Elle used a brownie mix which was delicious, but my favorite brownie recipe is from Paula Deen's "The Lady and Sons" Savannah Country Cookbook. It is my "go-to" brownie recipe - you can tell by looking at the cookbook page!
 
Lady Brownies
 
2 C. sugar
1 C. vegetable oil
4 eggs
6 T. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 C. self rising flour
1 C. chopped walnuts or pecans*
 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Blend together sugar, oil, eggs,cocoa and vanilla. Add flour; mix. Add nuts; spread into a greased 13 X 9 baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!
*I use pecans or leave out the nuts.
 
 
Bake your sweetheart a bag of these for Valentine's Day and tie it up with a pretty ribbon!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Early Intervention

 
Annie and her Big Sister, Elle
 
Tonight, when I was organizing Annie's closet, I reached up to put a box on the shelf and a photo album literally fell on my head. Instead of putting it back in place, I found myself looking at the pictures over and over an over again. It was Annie Bannie's (as we call her sometimes) first pictures taken at The Children's Hospital of Alabama. The photos brought both smiles and tears - what a long way this little one has come. On April 9, 2003, we didn't know what the future would hold but we did know who held the future!


Daddy and Elle visit Annie in NICU
 
 
Having an infant in the NICU 60 miles from home and a two year old(a very excited new big sister) at home was quite overwhelming. For me, having experience in the NICU as an Occupational Therapist was both good and bad. It helped me to understand alot of what was going on with Annie, but, in some ways, I knew too much!

Moma and Annie Bonding Time


It didn't take long for everyone in the NICU to realize that I was a medical professional myself but I always reminded them that I was Annie's Moma first and to please talk to me as her mother. So many questions - would she be able to walk? what were the long term effects of her respiratory problems? how would we manage her GI issues? How in the world would WE be able to change a trach? Spinal cord surgery??? And many, many more!
 
After 2 months and a day, we were headed home with oxygen and a trach.  Thank the Lord! But, what now? No nurses at our immediate disposal, no PTs or OTs, no doctors just around the corner, no case managers making sure we had everything we needed - how would we do it all?
 
Before we left the hospital, we were referred to Early Intervention! I cannot say enough about how much the Early Intervention Staff meant to our family in the days, weeks, months and even years ahead. Having PT, Speech and an Early Interventionist  come into our home (Annie's world) was invaluable. The Early Intervention Service Coordinator was so helpful in making sure that Annie got the services that she needed. She was able to help us access the appropriate resources.  They helped all of us become more comfortable with meeting Annie's needs through developmental activities, monitoring of her splints, stimulating her interaction, etc. all while keeping in mind the needs of the entire family! Involving that very happy and excited big sister was so important! Elle loved the Early Intervention visits because she always felt included.
 
Our Family - Christmas 2012
 
 And, when Early Intervention services ended, they were able to transition Annie's care to the Tuscaloosa County School System, specifically Sprayberry Education Center where Annie has been a student since her 3rd birthday. Our family is VERY  THANKFUL for the role that Early Intervention played in Annie's development, in our ability to address her special needs and in accessing resources that serve her best!
 
To Kim, Lisa, Marilyn and Nita - thanks so much - you meant so much to Annie and to all of us!
 
 
 




A Different Valentine Treat

 
Peanuts for your Valentine? This might be a fun option for someone who doesn't like chocolate. Why anyone would not like chocolate is beyond me but there are a few! This peanut bag was inspired by the tag, not the tag by the peanuts! This cute elephant just made me think of the peanuts!
 
These chevron print elephant Valentine Tags can be printed (6 per page) by clicking HERE for cute Valentine surprises for your friends! Perfect for your friends who are sports fan for taking to the arena, the stadium or the baseball field. It's getting to be that time of year!
 
These cute elephant tags could also be used for Valentine party favors of any kind! Just print and enjoy!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Our Bras for a Cause

 
Elle and I are participating in the DCH Foundation "Bras for a Cause" Fundraiser again this year. My entry, above, is "Praying for a Bright Future in Breast Cancer Research" is in honor of my girls (Elle and Annie) and in honor of my friend, Margie Hartley, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
 

 
Elle's owls above are interactive. Press the owl like a bag clip and it will "Hoot" - It is too cute! 
 
This 4th Annual "Bras for a Cause" is sponsored by The DCH Foundation. It is a fun, light-hearted way to raise awareness about a serious issue that affects so many in our community. It is a great way to show support for survivors or loved ones who have passed on from the disease while educating the West Alabama community about the importance of breast health.

Online voting runs from Monday, January 21st to Friday, February 1st. You may also vote in person at the Lewis and Faye Manderson Cancer Center from Monday, January 21st through Thursday, January 24th. The top 50 will then be moved to Coleman Coliseum for the 9th annual "Power of Pink" gymnastics meet.

Prizes will be awarded for the "Most Creative" and "People's Choice". A panel of judges will vote for Most Creative and the public will vote for People’s Choice.

For more information, please contact the DCH Foundation office at (205) 759-7349 or go to the DCH Foundation Website. You can also vote online at this site! Vote for our entries (#34 and #35) and/or any other entry - so much creativity - but most importantly it is the support of the cause that matters!
 
Check these bras out at the cancer center, online or at the Power of Pink UA Gymnastics meet this weekend. We'll be there! Hope to see you there, too!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook

 
This past fall, I really enjoyed the Friday Football Fare posts. I am all about a good "Game Day" recipe no matter what sport is in season. One of my favorite Christmas gifts was "The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook" by Southern Living and Test Kitchen Director Rebecca Kracke Gordon!
 
This comprehensive book of tailgating includes: Countdown to Kickoff, Early Morning Warm-Ups, Cheers, Crunch Time, Best Bowls, Hot Prospects, Sideline Favorites and The Sugar Bowl! So creative!
 
So far, I've tried the Parmesan Chicken Salad from Hot Prospects, Peppered Beef Soup from Best Bowls (I made this and called it Irish Stew for the BCS Championship Game), and the Spicy Queso Dip from Crunch Time and all three were winners!
 
Beautiful writing and photography highlight tailgating traditions from all 14 SEC Schools! It includes Team Cupcakes, Team Deviled Eggs and Team Spritzers for each school.
 
Have you ever heard the 10 Commandments of College Football Fandom? Page 18 - Check them out! Commandment #10 - "Thou shalt not cover other team's bowl games, national championships, or Heisman trophy wins." ..................But you can always use their recipes!
 
This fabulous cookbook is available at Barnes and Noble . If you are a fan of tailgating, especially in the SEC, or, if you just like cookbooks and new recipes, it is sure to be a hit. I promise, you will love it. It will also make a great gift!
 
 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

One Year Anniversary

Lately, I have been thinking that I would soon be approaching one year of blogging! So... I looked it up and it's today! Taking some time to read by through my intial posts and all my pages as well as some of my blogs, I realized a few things:
1) My purpose is still the same. I am blessed to be cooking, creating, inspiring, celebrating, cheering and supporting! AND I still love sharing these blessings with others.
2) I have been very blessed to have over 16,000 page views. This time last year, I didn't know if I would ever have 16!
3) I have learned alot and I still have more to learn about blogging!
4) My most popular posts are about inspiring people. While some of them involve people who are no longer with us, it warms my heart to know that they touched you, too, just as they did me.
5) I love your comments - on Facebook, Twitter, Google or in person. Always good to hear that somebody is reading and is touched in some way!
 
So.....here comes another year! I will continue to share recipes, parties, stories, projects, causes, and, of course, more inspiring people!
 
Blessings to you all!
 
Matthew 5:2-12
And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. "Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 
 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stroll Down Memory Lane - T Shirt Quilts

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I have always wanted to make (or have made) t-shirt quilts for my girls. For months and years, I have been saving t-shirts that I just couldn't get rid of because of the special memories. It became a project for Granny (my Mother) - she read about different methods of assembly and talked to several people who had completed quilts and decided on what she thought was the best way. She pieced it together. Then she found someone to machine quilt it for us. The end result was a very special collection of memory's for both girls and one that they will treasure for a life time!
 

Elle, being the oldest, ended up with the biggest quilt which included shirts from Vacation Bible School, TPS Track Club, Englewood Patriot Run, Valley View Softball, Summer Baseball Trips with Daddy, T.A.R.G.E.T. and more!
Annie's quilt included Sprayberry Stars, Valentine's, Halloween, Big Al Kid's Club, American Girl, Achilles Kids, Kids Rock and more!
I would definitely recommend that you put this on your "To Do " list - it is a treasure! I smile each time I look at them, remembering so many fun activities they have participated in during their childhood. Guess I need to start working on one for the next phase of their life! So thankful for my sweet Mother who took the time to carefully assemble this treasured quilt!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Cookie Sheet - Iced Strawberry Cookies

 
These cookies made with strawberry cake mix cookies are sure to please - They are delicious! They are easy! They take less than 30 minutes to make! They are pretty! And only 3 ingredients that you can keep on hand for a quick and easy sweet treat!

Iced Strawberry Cookies

1 strawberry cake mix
2 eggs

1/3 C. oil
2 – 2 ½ C. powdered sugar

2-4 T. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Add cake mix, eggs and oil to combine. The dough will be thick. Roll about 1 T. of dough into a ball and place on cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 6-9 minutes until lightly browned on bottom. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before placing on wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, combine powdered sugar and milk and stir. Allow to harden before serving them on your favorite cookie plate!

*Click here for printable copy of this recipe*

I made these for a party earlier in the week and have already had a request from my daughter for her to take as a snack to her DNow weekend! I see this being a great recipe for any "girlie" party because they are pink. They are great for Valentine's - you could form the dough into a heart! I think they would also be great for an Easter basket! Or any day! Enjoy!

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Painting a Crimson Town Orange and Blue

 
This time last week, no one had any idea what our community was about to experience. On Saturday, a hunting accident took the life of 13 year old Will May. How did I know Will, you might ask? I didn't know Will personally but I wish that I had known him. Thanks to social media, I have read some pretty awesome tributes to this young man - always smiling, a helper, a friend, a big brother, precious boy, child of God, wonderful spirit, loving way, awesome cousin - just some of the kind words spoken about Will! We are talking about one 13 year old boy who made such an impact on others - in fact, I don't know anyone else who could paint this crimson town orange and blue.
 
See, Will was a very committed Auburn Football fan living in Tuscaloosa. To honor him, friends and family donned their best orange and blue attire (or in most cases borrowed some orange and blue attire) on the day before and the day of his funeral service. And the best part, not just friends and family but friends and family of his friends and family! Outside his own Rock Quarry Middle School, Northridge cheerleaders donned orange and blue ribbons, Hillcrest High School, Hillcrest Middle School and ACA basketball players added orange socks to their uniforms - these were just the ones I've seen - I know there were more. Hundreds, even thousands of people have gathered over the past few days to remember the life of young Will May  in one venue or another. It was said to be the largest crowd ever for a funeral service at First United Methodist Church. I remember that the funeral service of Bear Bryant was held there. Wow!
 
Today, I am thankful to live in a community who supports others in times of great need and for the life of Will May who is inspiring people across generations, denominations, organizations and communities. His legacy will live on in the hearts of many others. May we all strive to be described with the same words of character that have been used to describe Will!
 
Please pray for Will's parents, Guy and Beverly May, his sister, Meg, and all of his family and friends during the days ahead!
 
Just for Will - War Eagle!
 
Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cookie Favorites

 
Just didn't get around to my Christmas blogs - caught up in the hustle and bustle and the addition of computer issues, so bear with me while I share some of my Christmas "goodies". My cookie trays for friends included (from the top) White Chocolate Dipped Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies, Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies, Lemon-Coconut Snow Balls and Candy Cane Snow Balls! The White Chocolate Dipped Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies were my personal favorite!

 
I delivered the cookies on silver trays, wrapped with cellophane, tied with tulle and a silver cross ornament! Before you get too impressed with the silver trays, I found each and every one of them at thrift stores - didn't pay more than $2.79 for any of them - most were under a $1! More than one friend tried to return the plate! Cellophane and tulle are two things that I try to keep on hand - you never know when you will need to make a pretty package for a special celebration!

 
The ornament was simply a silver ball with a packaged sequin cross sticker from Hobby Lobby!
 
White Chocolate Dipped Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
(Southern Living Big Book of Christmas)
 
1 C. butter, softened
1 C. light brown sugar
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 T. vanilla extract
2 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 C. sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins)
1 1/2 C. chopped pecans
1 1/4 C. uncooked quick cooking oats
3 (4 oz.) white chocolate baking bars, chopped
3 T. shortening
 
Beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beating until blended. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in cranberries, pecans and oats. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls 2" apart onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
 
Microwave white chocolate and shortening in a medium size microwave safe bowl on HIGH 1 minute or until chocolate melts, stirring once. Dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate, letting excess drip back into bowl. Place dipped cookies on wax paper; let stand until firm.
 
Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
 
1 box red velvet cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 C. canola oil
2 T. flour
4 oz. cream cheese
2 T. butter
1 t. milk
1 t. vanilla
2 C. powdered sugar
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make cookies, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil and flour. Scoop onto lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until tops look cracked. Cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling by beating the cream cheese and butter with mixer. Mix in milk and vanilla, then beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Place 1-2 T. of filling reaches the edge of the cookies. Makes about 15 sandwiches.
 
Lemon Coconut Snowballs
(Southern Living Big Book of Christmas)
 
1 C. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 t. coconut extract
1 t. vanilla extract
2 1/4 C. all purpose flour
1 1/2 T. grated lemon rind
1/2 t. salt
1 C. sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
 
Beat butter until creamy; gradually add 1/2 C powdered sugar and extracts, beating well. Add flour, lemon rind and salt, beating until combined. Stir in coconut. Cover and chill dough 30 minutes. Shape dough into generous 1" balls; place 1" apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden on bottom but pale on top. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool 5 minutes. Place 1 1/2 C. powdered sugar in a bowl, and roll warm cookies in powdered sugar, coating well. Cool cookies completely on wire racks. Roll cooled cookies in powder sugar again, coating well. Yield: 2 dozen.
 
Candy Cane Snowballs
 
3 C. powdered sugar
1 1/4 C. butter, softened
2 t. vanilla
1 egg
3 C. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 C. finely crushed candy canes, divided
1/2 C. granulated sugar
2-3 T. milk
 
In a mixing bowl, beat 1 1/2 cup powdered and butter until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Slowly add to mixing bowl, beating until combined, about 1 minute. Stir 1/2 C. finely crushed candy canes in by hand. Roll dough into small balls using just under a teaspoon of dough. Roll balls in granulated sugar to coat and place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
 
While cookies bake, stir together remaining 1 1/2 C. powdered sugar with 2 T. milk. Add just enough milk to form a glaze. Drizzle over cookies and top with remaining crushed candies immediately.
 
These cookies were great at Christmas but will be good any time of the year! Make them now or Pin them to your Pinterest board for next year!
 
Happy Cookie Baking!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Championship Apple Pie

 
Championship Apple Pie

1 pkg. Pillsbury pie crusts from dairy section (or Publix brand)
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp. flour
6 c. sliced apples
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter
Combine sugar, cinnamon, salt and flour in mixing bowl. Arrange apples in layers in 9 inch pastry lined pan. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over each layer. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Dot with butter. Put top crust over filling and press together edges around pie. Cut slits for escape of steam. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.
 
I used a 3rd crust to cut the "Script A". This was our dessert for the National Championship Game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish! We're having alot of fun in Tuscaloosa right now, celebrating #15! Roll Tide!
 
 
 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Happy Birthday to Me!



It's not my actual birthday but the day that I was given "A Second Chance at Life"! Exactly 8 years ago today, I was at UAB Hospital in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, anxiously awaiting my bone marrow transplant. I had been warned that it would be a rather uneventful day - the build up to it was far worse than the transplant itself. In fact, the transplant was nothing more than a 45 minute blood transfusion! They brought a bag of my frozen stem cells (which had been collected months before) into the room, thawed them out and hung them from an IV pole for the "transplant" - that's it - nothing more - nothing less!

Without the transplant, I couldn't continue to live my life - with the transplant, I could live my life a while longer - "it's a treatment, not a cure" that I heard over and over and over.

Fast forward to January 2010 - "you could be in the small percentage of patients with multiple myeloma who are cured with an autologous transplant" (Autologous transplant means using my own bone marrow)

So....why did this work so well for me and not for some? I can't explain it! I do know that I had excellent medical care, the most awesome family, the greatest friends and a God who has blessed me beyond measure!

My prayer is that the "rest of my life will be the best of my life" (Billy Joy quote) and that I will make the most of every day and live according to the purpose that God intends for me! Jeremiah 29:11



Today, I am thankful for that 45 minute procedure that just may have been a TKO (Total Knock Out) for me - for the UAB Bone Marrow Unit, for DCH Cancer Treatment Center, for my wonderful, supportive husband, for my beautiful daughters, all my family and friends who have been my cheerleaders along the journey, the healing power of my God and my second chance at life!

 
Kari Jobe "Healer"