Suzy & Spice

a pinch of this, a dash of that

Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Thankfulness, Day 7

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on November 21, 2010

Yesterday was too busy and I was too tired when we got home at 9:30 last night to post my thankfulness (people, I spent 2 1/2 hours at Walmart yesterday!). In fact, I didn’t even think about posting until this morning. So the date on the post will be a day late, but this is for Saturday, Nov. 20.

And … I have pie crusts to make before church this morning, so this one will be short and sweet.

Yesterday I was thankful that all but one of my football teams won this weekend. The Batesville Pioneers whooped up on Monticello in Round 2 of the state playoffs; Notre Dame whooped up on Army at Yankee Stadium (cool!) and the Hogs beat Mississippi State in double overtime. Alas, my alma mater, Arkansas State, lost to Navy earlier in the evening on TV.

I love college football season, and I’ll be sad when it ends. But, hey, I guess we have a few weeks left, what with bowl games and all.

And I love my mama for letting us watch on her nice big HDTV.


Posted in family, giving thanks, sports | Leave a Comment »

A month for giving thanks

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on November 14, 2010


I’m starting this two weeks late, but I’d like to spend the rest of the month counting my blessings, naming them one by one (or two), and posting them here daily.

The Batesville Camera Club’s theme for the next meeting is “Things I’m Thankful For.” We’re to take pictures relating to that theme and share them at the Dec. 9 meeting (see details in my Nov. 13 post).

And, while I didn’t take the picture I will post here (as soon as it’s available from my niece Catie), it illustrates what I’m thankful for on Sunday, Nov. 14.

Today, I’m thankful for my new sister-in-law, Lisa.

She is a direct, specific answer to one of my most-heartful prayers. No, she’s an answer to two prayers. Aww, I could probably stretch it to three:

No. 1: When I began getting to know Lisa a couple of years ago and suspecting that my brother may end up marrying her, I quickly realized that she’s a very special woman. She’s a great mom to her kids and now a great wife, stepmom, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law to my family. I’m thankful for a wonderful sister-in-law. I had prayed that we would be close as family members.

No. 2: My best friends live in California, and I see them every few years at best. I had prayed for a good friend locally. And, while I don’t expect to magically become BFF’s with Lisa (friendship takes time and can’t be forced), I see a good future for us. JT, you treat her like a queen, because I want her to stick around for a long time! Since Bruce and I moved here in May and JT and Lisa were busy expanding his house so that Lisa and two of her three kids could move in (they got married in July), we’ve all been busy and Lisa and I haven’t spent a ton of time together, but not for lack of desire.

No. 3: Today, over lunch, the subject of walking or running came up. I was so excited about the decision we made, I can’t even tell you how the conversation started. Result: Lisa and I are going to be walking buddies and then running buddies (she wants to run a marathon – I told her I’m good for maybe a half-marathon). I have gotten way overweight and have realized that in this stage of my life, accountability is going to be the key factor for me.

I have been successful with weight loss (at least temporarily) in the past with other methods – sheer force of will and a formal support program (Weight Watchers, more than once), but I no longer suffer from the delusion that I can do this on my own.

I also know that my obsession with food is a form of spiritual bondage. I’m working on that, too. (I told Lisa, though, that when I’m working out I tend to make better food choices. It’s psychological.)

With the accountability, it helps that those who are going to be holding my feet to the fire are like-minded spiritually. Lisa and I talked a lot about God as we did our brisk three-mile walk this afternoon. He has worked on the heart and character of each of us over the years – in different ways but for the same reasons: to make us whole and to mold us to his character, so that we can bring honor and glory to Him.

Besides Lisa, I have to thank the Lord for Betsy. Sweet Betsy has already become a wonderful friend this year. When Bruce and I sit in our “normal seats” at church (when we don’t decide to move outside our comfort zone and sit with people we don’t know), we sit behind Betsy and her husband, Tommy (he plays in the worship band, so they have to sit in an easily accessible spot). They came to our party last week, and she even brought homemade cookies!

Despite the fact that she is petite (a good, swift puff of wind would blow her away), Betsy likes to eat, but she likes to eat healthy. I do, too, in theory, but I’ve been so hit-and-miss with that over the past few years. She has already encouraged me just by her example.

But even more, she and I talked about running last weekend. I told her the reason I had chopped off my hair and bought running shoes was that it’s time to quit messing around and get fit again. She told me some positive changes she has made over the years, including cutting out soda pop. (I’ve been a diet Coke fiend but have cut back quite a bit this year already.)

This morning when I saw Betsy, she asked if I had done any walking this past week. My first thought was, “Oh, crap! Why did she have to ask me that?” I fumbled around with an excuse, but later I realized that on the only day I had daylight, I did walk. It’s too dark to walk by myself in the mornings, and this past week it was too dark each evening when I got home (what with my class, visiting a sick friend in the hospital, working a bit of OT).

That is why I am so very, very grateful for Lisa. Now I will have someone to walk with each day, and then run with when we get to that point.

But back to Betsy: Even though I was uncomfortable answering her question, I’m so glad she asked. Betsy cares enough to stick her neck out. She had the courage to try to hold me accountable.

After all, isn’t that what I said I needed the most?

God is good, and he has given me two special women to walk this journey with.

Thank you, God, for Lisa and Betsy.

Posted in Batesville, camera club, family, fitness, inspiration | Leave a Comment »

Happy birthday, Lynn

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on November 7, 2010

I don’t even know where to begin.

Which means you may get a lot of random thoughts in this post. I’m just going to start with what’s on my mind at this very moment:

We had a party yesterday.

Lynn, Suzy and Salsa

Yesterday was Lynn’s birthday, and because she and her son Jacob were driving down for Friday night’s season-ending BHS victory (Go, Pioneers!), we decided we’d finally have our “housewarming” party and combine it with birthday cake.

We had an incredible time, and Lynn took a few pictures (I didn’t even get our camera out). Jacob shot a multilingual birthday video for our friend Becky (sorry, it’s Rebecca now), who lives in Nashville and couldn’t be here. Rebecky’s birthday is today. We told her Happy Birthday in at least four languages (thank you, Desiree, for the Pig Latin!).

Bruce had worked diligently to hang the family photos that had been leaning against the wall in our hallway. I don’t think anyone even looked at the photos during the party, as we didn’t do a “home tour.” People just started coming in and sitting around the music area, chatting and then eventually pickin’ and grinnin’.

We had everyone but Lynn and her boys out of here by Razorback game time (they had an hour’s drive home, so they missed a good bit of the first half). Mom called just as they were leaving and invited us over to watch. So after the kitchen cleaned itself up (not!), we went to Mom’s. I was nearly numb with tiredness (I’d say exhaustion, but it wasn’t quite that severe – Bruce may dispute this, but I didn’t stress out as much over this party as I have with previous ones). And Mom hadn’t been able to come to the party because she wore herself out cleaning out her storage building.

So we went to Mom’s to watch the Hogs beat South Carolina. Go, Hogs!

I could barely walk by the time we got home, and I went straight down the hall toward the bedroom to turn on the electric blanket and the heating pad. I noticed that Bruce had hung all three of the framed photo collages that had been leaning against the wall. I had barely noticed because I had already warned our potential party guests that there was so much to do at the house, we might not have pictures hung.

Bruce, nevertheless, worked to get the hallway done.

And last night, as I walked to the bedroom in my bleary-eyed state, I happened to look at all his handiwork so I could thank him for his hard work. The last one on the left, just before the bedroom door, was one of the aforementioned collages.

I said something like, “You do know that this last photo collage is of people chosen by the photo-frame manufacturers?”

“What?” he said, walking down the hall toward me.

“These are pictures of people inserted by the makers of this frame and collage.”

“Oh. I thought they were your nieces and your childhood friends and relatives.”

I had bought Mom the collage several years ago, but she was expecting me to fill it with family photos. I never got around to it.

At least it’s not cluttering the floor in the hallway anymore.

Posted in family, food, friends, fun, home, moving, music, sports | 1 Comment »

Pepper and The Big Blur

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on October 15, 2010

Bruce thought he’d try his hand at photography this week. Our favorite subject: the Spice Dogs. Here’s a pic of Pepper, our 3.9-pound Min Pin …

Pepper, age 6

… and then there’s Salsa, our 14-pound bundle of energy. I can’t recall a photo of her that isn’t blurry. She’s a Manchester terror – er,  terrier – who NEVER slows down unless she’s getting a belly rub, her favorite thing in the world. (Pepper’s favorite thing: FOOD.)

Salsa, nearly age 6 (we think)

Salsa and Pepper, the Spice Dogs. They’re half the inspiration for the name of this blog (see my very first post for the rest of the story).

Bruce and I are wacky for, with and because of these two goofy animals. We’ve even got my mother crazy because of them. One Saturday morning a few weeks ago, she called and said she wanted to come over and see her babies. “Sure,” I said (I assumed she meant Bruce and me). When she arrived, I quickly discovered that she meant the fur-babies.

Never thought my mom would act that way over a dog.

Gotta love ’em.

Posted in dogs, family, fun, home | Leave a Comment »

Give thanks

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on October 14, 2010


I wasn’t planning to post tonight, but I ended up online and just had to take two minutes to say this:

Wherever you are in your journey, whatever circumstances you’re in  – whether difficult, easy or somewhere in between – take a moment to stop and thank God for your life.

Life is precious. Be grateful for every breath you take.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12

Posted in family, God, health, inspiration | Leave a Comment »

Out with the old

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on July 25, 2010

This is the reason I haven’t posted in so long.

We’ve been in our house in Batesville for about five weeks now (after staying at Mom’s tiny house for five weeks).

I’ve been dying to update everyone about all that has been going on in our lives (my new job, family stuff, new church, community events), but the house has overshadowed most of it. We’ve been ripping down wallpaper, washing off the old glue, unpacking boxes (a few at a time) and trying to find time to sleep and enjoy a little bit of family fellowship. After all, family is why we moved here.

After we moved in with Mom on May 8 (just 5 hours after I took my accounting final [I made an A in the class, by the way]), we drove back to North Little Rock every weekend to haul more stuff up here, clean and make repairs at that house.

(Speaking of the North Little Rock house, tell all your friends about it! We want to sell it: Click here to see the real estate listing.)

You can’t really tell by the photo above, but the carpet was mint green and the wallpaper was several decades old. Another thing this picture doesn’t tell: This floral wallpaper (and the paneling) encompasses not only the hallway and the “den” area but the kitchen and dining room. That’s a lot of flower.

We replaced the carpet before we moved in, then we started ripping down wallpaper. Bruce has nearly finished painting the walls a nice kitcheny green (darker than it looked at the store, but we can live with it for now). Then we’ll tackle the bathrooms. Betcha can’t wait to see those photos! (Wait until you see the pink-tiled bathroom with the pink-flowered wallpaper.)

Hey, friends, I want to tell (and show) you all about it, but it’s bedtime for this sleepy girl. I’ll work really hard to post again soon. I have nearly a month before classes start at my new school, UACCB (I’ve declared a banking and finance major now that I’ve started my really great bank job), so I need to post a good update before I get too busy with my studies.

Hope all is well with you all, my friends. Post a comment and say hey.

Posted in family, home, moving | Leave a Comment »

Who says you can’t go home?

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on April 27, 2010

After 24 years away, I’m taking my hubby and my puppies and moving home to Batesville!

Jon Bon Jovi sums it up for me …

I will tell you more about our plans after the semester ends (May 8th) and the CCFA walk is over (May 15th). There will be lots to tell!

Posted in family, friends, home | Leave a Comment »

Fighting Crohn’s disease

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on February 20, 2010

Anyone who has read this blog in the past couple of years knows that Crohn’s disease has been a major part of my 12-year marriage to Bruce (he was diagnosed in December 1998, just before our first anniversary). (Click “Crohn’s disease” in the category cloud at left to read some of the archived posts.)

Bruce has had three flare-ups in the past 11 years, the most recent of which started three years ago and lingers still.

Crohn’s has taken Bruce’s job, a lot of our money and a good deal of our energy (I never thought I would be this tired at 47!).

With a disease like Crohn’s, you feel helpless much of the time. Its cause is a mystery, its cure nonexistent. Today.

Tomorrow, we will find a cure.

Today, we are working toward that cure, not as scientists but as advocates – for education, awareness and research.

Because, in some things, we are not helpless. We have choices. We can decide.

I have decided to fight.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I made myself a goal for 2010. This year, I’ve committed to helping bring to Arkansas a chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.

The nearest CCFA chapters are in Dallas, Tulsa, St. Louis, Nashville and New Orleans. A little too far to drive, if you ask me.

CCFA is dedicated to finding a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and “to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases.” Read more about CCFA’s mission here.

It is one thing when your 39-year-old husband is diagnosed with such a devastating disease. It is another when your cousin’s 10-year-old son is given the same diagnosis.

Ten percent of the more than 1 million Crohn’s sufferers in the United States are children, including my young cousin, Spencer. He was diagnosed last summer. He’s 11 now, and his little brain has had a lot to absorb in the past several months.

Spencer has probably done more research on Crohn’s than many adults have. He’s super-smart and ultra-aware. He knows stuff that an 11-year-old boy shouldn’t have to know about himself and his body. Not yet.

But maybe Spencer will be the guy to find the cure someday.

Meanwhile, he’s part of the movement to bring a CCFA chapter to Arkansas.

On Saturday, May 15, at 5 p.m., we will walk for Crohn’s and colitis. Read more here about the Little Rock Take Steps Walk. It will be a casual stroll (less than a mile) in a family-friendly, festival-type atmosphere.

To join Team Taylor Trotters (Taylor is the maiden name of Spencer’s mom, her sister and me) or to donate, click here. Our team goal is $5,000. Every donation of $5, $10 or more will help us reach our goal.

To all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, sibling, future sibling-in-law and friends around Arkansas: April or I will be contacting you to walk with us, but feel free to post a comment below (or click the above link and join) if you’re ready to get on board now! (And if you are a designer, we need help with a T-shirt design. We’ll have Team Taylor T-shirts, but we haven’t gotten that far yet. We’ve been busy working on tomorrow’s Walk kickoff party in Little Rock.)

2010 is the year that Arkansas will establish its very own chapter of CCFA. Be a part of it!


Posted in Crohn's disease, family, health, volunteering | 7 Comments »

Take steps to stamp out Crohn’s disease

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on December 27, 2009

On May 15, 2010, I will walk in the Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis Walk. Take Steps is the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s evening walk and celebration and the nation’s largest event dedicated to finding cures for digestive diseases. It is a 2- to 3-mile stroll to raise money for research, bringing us closer to a future free from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. More than 1.4 million U.S. adults and children are affected by these digestive diseases.

Your donation will help support local patient programs and important research projects. Because my husband, Bruce, has suffered from Crohn’s disease since 1998 and my cousin’s young son was diagnosed several months ago, this cause is very important to me, and I appreciate your help as we fight for a cure.

If you would like to do more than donate money, considering joining me at the event. There will be food, music and children’s activities. The more money we raise, the closer we will be to making life more manageable for patients who live with these diseases every day.

Please join me May 15 at Riverfront Park in North Little Rock or click here to donate to my efforts to support CCFA in finding a cure.

To read about some of Bruce’s struggle with Crohn’s disease, visit some of my previous posts: November 2007 and December 2007.

Thanks for your prayers and support.


Posted in Crohn's disease, family, health, medical | Leave a Comment »

Cranberry Salad

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on December 6, 2009

My Aunt Judy wanted my family’s Cranberry Salad recipe, so I thought I’d share it with everyone (for you Fellowship North folks, just look in your new  cookbook; it’s on Page 97).

My former sister-in-law started making this several years ago, and I have insisted we have it at Thanksgiving and Christmas ever since. Even when we decided not to do a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, I told Mom I was still going to make the Cranberry Salad and Aunt Pearl’s Potatoes (we love the potatoes even though we have no idea who Aunt Pearl is); it’s the only time of year I get to eat either of these dishes.

Bruce and I were just discussing how we should  try to come up with a different name for the cranberry side dish. Calling it a salad might lead one to think of a green salad with cranberries sprinkled throughout (I actually do love a green salad with dried cranberries and almonds or walnuts, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette – but this isn’t it). Calling it a congealed salad would cause some to dismiss the recipe without even trying it (it sounds like something your grandmother would take to a church potluck). The best way is to go about it, then, is to eat it for the first time and fall in love with it, as I did!

On one of our local radio stations the other day, the morning hosts took a survey: canned cranberry sauce or fresh? I was surprised at how many loved the canned stuff. I was never much of a fan, although Dad liked it and we still put out a can of it every Thanksgiving and Christmas, even though Dad has been gone 12 years.

To those of you who swear by the canned stuff, I challenge you to try this:

Cranberry Salad

3 cups water
1 large OR 2 small packages cranberry, cherry or other red gelatin
¾ cup sugar
1 bag (about 2 cups) fresh cranberries, crushed in food processor or chopper
1 medium orange, cut into small pieces
2 medium apples, unpeeled but diced
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup pecans, chopped

In large glass bowl, microwave water until boiling; add gelatin and sugar. Mix. Let cool but not congeal.

Mix in other ingredients, and pour into loaf-size pan or individual custard cups (or both). Refrigerate until set.

Click here to download a PDF version of the recipe.

Posted in family, food, holiday, recipes | Leave a Comment »