Suzy & Spice

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Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

Random thoughts 01/10/10

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on January 10, 2010

I was writing an e-mail to a college roommate this afternoon when I realized that if she clicks the link below my signature and goes to my blog – which she’s likely to do because we haven’t been in touch since I started the blog – she will see very few recent posts.

So, even though I can’t seem to form a coherent thought lately, you need to know that I am not dead.

Random thoughts on a Sunday afternoon:

  • I’ll begin Accounting II on Saturday, Jan. 16, after withdrawing last semester so as to avoid a heart attack from everything that was going on in our lives (I mentioned the latest heart symptoms in my Sept. 12, 2009, random thoughts). I decided to try a Saturday morning class because I simply hate having to rush home from work, gulp down a few bites of something and rush to class, sit there for nearly 3 hours trying to stay awake and get home just before bedtime. Besides, I’m a morning person, and that’s when I do my best thinking (if you call me after 9 p.m. – or if you’re a former roommate [hi, Di!] – you’ll understand). My class this semester will be 8-10:40 a.m.
  • I finished reading In Cold Blood, although I never told you I finished it. I mentioned it in my March 22, 2009, post (a random-thoughts post that was a LOT more interesting than this one, and a lot less depressing than the 09/12 one, so check it out), and I finished it months ago, but now I have closure since I have told you about it. 🙂 The book was great, if creepy. Killers with no remorse. And it’s a true story. I read somewhere that when Perry and Dick were hanged, Truman Capote (the book’s author) became physically ill and had to remove himself from the crowd of onlookers. Interviewing the killers, retracing the events of the heinous murders, left a lasting impression on him, and he was never the same. I believe it was his last book.
  • And this year I finally started reading the book on which my favorite movie was based – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Since the first time I saw the movie about 20 years ago, I’ve been in love with Atticus Finch (Bruce understands – I think). I kept telling myself I needed to read the book, but when I checked for it at the local library, it was always checked out. After several months (maybe even a year) of checking, I finally inquired about it at the desk, because the electronic card catalog kept saying it was NOT checked out. They said it probably had met the same fate as a lot of the other classics: Someone simply took it and never brought it back. Before Christmas, I finally checked again, and they had 2 copies! (Bruce was an English major and has many, many of the classics, but we’re not sure whether this book is in one of the boxes-upon-boxes of books that we have packed, ready to move “someday.)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Part 2 (because the above paragraph was getting long and this really should be a separate post): So I’ve been reading it, along with dealing with the usual Christmas chaos, which this year included getting new windows installed all over the house (the “2 1/2-day” job took nearly 3 weeks!), and trying to read a little of my Accounting I book to refresh myself since taking a semester off, and being tired and going to bed early. And from the very first sentence of this long-desired book, I was hooked. It just draws you in immediately, this tale told through the eyes of a 5-year-old tomboy in a small 1930s Southern town. I have to say, though, that this is one of the rare cases in which I didn’t immediately start to think, “The book is way better than the movie.” The movie is just so darned good, it actually enhances the reading of the book. When I read a book after I’ve first seen the movie, I try not to imagine the actors as those characters. Most times, the actors are too Hollywood, I guess. But in this case, I am imagining Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus, and the kids who played Scout and Jem and Dill, and of Calpurnia and the schoolchildren and the neighbors. … I’m in chapter 10 or 11, and we haven’t even gotten to the rape trial yet. But it’s not slow reading. It’s written through the eyes of little tomboy Scout Finch, and it’s just delightful, because the actress they picked to play Scout is just perfect  – not Hollywood at all (please, if you know anything about the actress that will burst my bubble, keep it to yourself!). And Scout and Jem and Dill and Atticus – and even Boo Radley (Robert Duvall), even though the kids haven’t laid eyes on him yet – those are the faces I see as I read. Brilliant casting.
  • This bullet point is sort of To Kill a Mockingbird (hereafter referred to as TKAM), Part 3, but it’s technically about the author and not the book, so cut me some slack. 🙂 Did you know that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were childhood friends? In fact, Harper Lee was Capote’s research assistant for In Cold Blood. And her character Dill Harris in TKAM was based on old friend Truman. Some say Capote was the real author of TKAM, but others say it’s a ridiculous notion, the different writing styles being one clue among many.
  • (Link to info about the movie To Kill a Mockingbird.)
  • The next book I read may be Breakfast at Tiffany’s (by Capote), another book I’ve never read but I’ve seen the movie. I didn’t like the movie the first time I watched it – not in spite of Audrey Hepburn but because of her, or at least the character she played. Audrey Hepburn is delightful to watch, but I did not like Holly Golightly the first time I experienced this movie (I tend to judge people I perceive as flighty and irresponsible). Fortunately, my favorite song, “Moon River,” is a big part of the movie, so there have been times when I’ve popped the DVD into the player just to hear that beautiful Mancini tune. So, because of the wonderful song, I’ve grown to love the movie and appreciate the sadness and lostness of the main character. But I imagine this will be one of those times when the book will be much better. It has to be – Capote has written so many wonderful books, and the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (BAT?) is somewhat Hollywoodized, I think. And I want to know what the sad, lost Holly was thinking that early morning as she stood outside Tiffany’s looking in, after having partied all night in that iconic hairdo, dress and black evening gloves. All dressed up in party clothes yet all alone, and I want to know what she was thinking. A movie doesn’t give you that. (Unless it’s Ferris Bueller.)
  • Last year I decided to read more of the classics and am gradually getting around to them. I read slowly, and I tend to get sleepy when I find the perfect comfortable spot to read in, so it takes me a while to finish a book. But now that the holiday season is over, I won’t be watching Food Network as much, so I’m already reading more than I did in the fall. I tried some Solzhenitsyn (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich) and Upton Sinclair (The Jungle), but those are books I didn’t finish. I’ll eventually get back to Solzhenitsyn, but the only thing I liked about The Jungle (it’s a really gross expose on the meatpacking industry) is that it has caused me to eat less red meat! I think the problem with Denisovich is that I’ve read too many concentration-camp books (I had the same problem with the movie Schindler’s List); maybe I’m desensitized to the issue, or maybe it’s that nothing on the subject comes close to my all-time-favorite book, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (“No pit is so deep that the love of God is not deeper still!”). That is a book that I’ve read several times already but could read every year and never get tired of it. I’ve loaned my copy several times and just told the friend to keep it, then I go buy myself a new paperback copy. The tale of God’s light in a sea of darkness never gets old.
  • I’ve decided – officially – that Naps are a Good Thing. Because I finally have a job that allows me to take actual holidays off (I may never get used to that!), Bruce and I have spent a few long weekends at Mom’s lately (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s). Thanksgiving weekend, I took a long nap (really, a short nap but a long rest) every single day. At Christmas we were busier, so not so many naps, but New Year’s I got a couple of good breaks in, with the exception of the day that Mom was noisy in the kitchen and I got up cranky at her (don’t worry; I apologized). Just goes to show how important naps have become to my mental health. I turned 47 in November, so I am not a spring chicken anymore. For sure, Naps are a Good Thing. (I’m thinking of trademarking that expression.)
  • A soft bed, a warm puppy and a good book – who could ask for more?
  • I have written a set of “goals” – not New Year’s resolutions – for 2010 (it will include naps, although not in so many words). I didn’t get them posted by the time we rang in the new year, so it may be March before you seem them here! Or I may post them tomorrow – just depends on how tired I am when I get home from work.
  • And of course I’m supposed to be reading my accounting book!

This concludes another portion of our semiregular feature, Random Thoughts. Tune in again, when you may hear Suzy say, “Has it been that long since I posted?”

Posted in books, dogs, fun, health, holiday, inspiration, journalism, movies, music, reading, work | 1 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 »

Sweet Potato Waffles

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on November 21, 2009

Waffle lovers, try this recipe by my favorite Food Network chef, Alton Brown.

I made these a couple of Saturdays ago just for the sake of trying a new recipe (you know how much I love to do that!), and they were yummy for my tummy. Bruce liked them, too, although he is not one to rave about such simple pleasures as a breakfast waffle.

I like that the recipe uses sweet potatoes, which are so good for you. You can’t really taste the sweet potatoes – they simply give regular ol’ waffles an extra depth of flavor.

Of course I’ve modified it just a bit, as I often do.

Sweet Potato Waffles

1½ cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour OR 1½ cups all-purpose and ½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup milk
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup melted butter
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

Cooking the potatoes Alton’s way: Put cubed sweet potatoes in a steamer basket. Place the basket in a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of steamer. Allow potatoes to steam for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Mash cooked potatoes and set aside.

Cooking the potatoes, Suzy’s version: Cook sweet potatoes in a pot of water until tender (the way you normally cook them – you can even microwave them). Mash and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, combine sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, butter and grated orange rind. Stir this mixture into flour mixture, and thoroughly combine.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold egg whites into batter, 1/3 at a time. The batter will be thick (mine wasn’t that thick, but they turned out fine). Pour batter onto a preheated, oiled waffle iron, and cook until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. (Makes 8 waffles.)

Serve with butter and maple syrup. YUM!

After you make these, which are perfect for a holiday brunch, let me know how you and your family liked them.

Posted in baking, food, holiday, recipes | 2 Comments »

Portrait of Christ

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on April 12, 2009

Most artists dance to the beat of a different drummer, and painter David Garibaldi is definitely no exception. On this Easter Sunday, as we celebrate the great sacrifice of our Savior, check out this 5-minute video, Portrait of Christ. (Turn on your speakers, and click the play button in the middle of the video screen.)

Then be sure to check out his Web site.

Posted in art, God, holiday, inspiration | 1 Comment »

Salsa killed the Easter Bunny

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on April 11, 2009

We found the Easter Bunny (or perhaps one of his offspring) on our back patio this morning. Dead. There was no basket of brightly colored eggs, marshmallow Peeps or other evidence of tomorrow’s happy holiday. Just a dead baby rabbit, lying there with its eyes open. So maybe it wasn’t the real Easter Bunny. But the timing is awfully suspicious.

Bruce doesn’t think Salsa did it – this time (remind me to tell you about the other time). I’m not so sure. She was the one who had been out running around like a demon before Bruce got up. And she has killed before.

It doesn’t matter who did it. The important thing is that we discovered it before it started to smell like a dead bunny. I don’t know if I would have been able to scoop it up if it had been stinky. I am known to gag at such atrocities.

But it was fresh yard-kill – so fresh that I was half expecting it to move when I touched it with the shovel. Its eyes were wide open, after all. Thank the Lord, it didn’t move.

I triple bagged it (hey, there really is an appropriate use for plastic bags!), knotted the bags tightly, placed Little Bunny in the car and took him to the local animal shelter. The woman there didn’t bat an eye when she came to the door. I said, “My dog killed the Easter Bunny,” and she simply replied, “I’ll take care of it for you.” She took the bag, I expressed my appreciation, and she closed the door.

Thank you, North Little Rock Animal Shelter Lady. You spared me a lot of unpleasantness.

So was it the Easter Bunny, or one of his family members, in that plastic bag?

Report back to me if your colored eggs don’t show up tomorrow morning as expected. Then we’ll know for sure.

Posted in dogs, holiday | 2 Comments »

Worship Fully. Spend Less. Give More. Love All.

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on January 3, 2009

I’ve been behind on reading my favorite blogs these past few months. I wish I had run across this video that Alison posted a couple of weeks before Christmas, but its message is relevant any time of year.

After you watch it, visit Advent Conspiracy and get inspired.

Happy New Year (and happy anniversary to my sweetie and me – 11 years today!).

Posted in family, frugal living, God, holiday, inspiration, reaching out | Leave a Comment »

Merry Christmas

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on December 25, 2008

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Merry Christmas, world!

I’m sitting at my mom’s back window, looking out at the beautiful, crisp, clear morning. The sky is blue, the trees are green and there’s still frost on the ground. It’s a beautiful winter morning.

Last night I got sleepy at 8:15, and Mom said I couldn’t go to bed yet (she’s mean). She said if I stayed up with her, she’d get up early with me. I told her there was no need for that because I love having the quiet morning to myself before everyone (except Salsa) gets up. I take the girls outside for their morning potty break, lift Pepper back onto the bed (where she crawls under the covers with Bruce), and then come back in and savor my cup of coffee, all before the sun comes up. (Mom finally let me go to bed last night at 9:45, when she saw me lying on the floor half-asleep). This morning, Salsa and I did a quieter-than-usual version of our morning wrestling match. We played tug of war with a toy — no running around like fools before everyone gets up.

Routines are different here at Mom’s. She doesn’t have a fence, so we can’t let the girls go outside and potty by themselves. We have to leash them and walk them until they decide to do their business. It’s usually pretty quick with Salsa — when she needs to go, she goes. With Pepper, we have to let her walk around a little, then turn her circles and find the exact right spot — all the while saying, “Go potty … go potty … go potty.” It’s not as fun when it’s cold outside.

So, while I wait for my family to get up (my brother’s house is within hollerin’ distance, and I can see from Mom’s window that they’re still not stirring), Salsa and I will go sit and watch the Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon. (Oh, and someone may have already cut into the chocolate pie for breakfast, but I’m not saying.)

Yes, this Christmas is much more relaxed and wonderful than last, even if last year, in my somewhat-depressed state, I still tried to remember the reason we have Christmas in the first place.

Please, as you go about your day, remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who was born simply to die for us and give us a better way to live.

I love you, Jesus.

Posted in dogs, family, God, holiday, inspiration | 2 Comments »