Suzy & Spice

a pinch of this, a dash of that

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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.

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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 »

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!

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Random thoughts 09/12/09

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on September 12, 2009

I got e-mail from my cousin Teri tonight, and she mentioned that she still checks my blog for news occasionally. I’m surprised anyone still checks, because I haven’t been posting much lately, mainly because I don’t have a lot of time to devote to one particular subject.

I’ve had a lot of ideas but none that could be summed up briefly in a post that wouldn’t put you to sleep. So tonight I’m just going to share snippets of what’s been going on in and around me lately:

  • My good friend Lynn’s husband, Doug, died this week. He was only 41 and left behind a wonderful wife and two kids, Doug and Jake. They’re still in shock; pray for them. (Lynn’s mom died last year, so this must be doubly devastating for her.) Lynn and Doug would have celebrated 19 years of marriage next month. Bruce and I had only just met Doug six months ago, when Jacob was in the state spelling bee (he took 7th place). Bruce had met Lynn only once – at Dad’s funeral in 1997. But when we got together for lunch after the spelling bee, we all hit it off, especially Bruce and the kids. The boys are very smart, and it was obvious their dad was very proud of them.
  • Two couples from my church family lost sons this week. One died in a car wreck, and I’m not sure about the other, as that family had begun attending Fellowship in Little Rock and I had lost track of them. Losing a child comes with its own special kind of pain – pain that I can’t even imagine. Pray for the Holaways and the Carltons. Another friend from church lost a sister. Pray for the Palmers.
  • My high school typing teacher, Mrs. Seibert, died this morning. She was a unique character and well loved by her students. If you were on her good side on a particular day, you were a “dumplin’,” but if you messed up you were a “donkey.” No matter which name she called you, you knew it was a term of endearment. I can still hear the way she said it, in that throaty voice with a Southern twang. Click here to read a tale one former BHS student told about Mrs. Seibert last year. (You’ll have to scroll down a bit to find his March 12, 2008, post.)
  • We had to pony up $2,100 on car repairs this week, and the guy who fixed it recommended another repair that will cost at least a few hundred more. ARRGH! On the bright side, this was the first major repair we’ve had to have done on this car, which is eight years old (we’ve owned it for three). And a repair bill sure beats monthly car payments.
  • I haven’t posted about this because life was too hectic at the time, but I started working on a second degree this summer. My hope is to get a bachelor’s degree, or at least an associate’s, in business (so I can find a job in Batesville and we can be near my mom, brother and lots of other family). I took Accounting I at the local community college, and I enrolled in Accounting II but had to withdraw the first week of classes because …
  • In early August I started experiencing some heart problems related to my October 2008 diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse. They strapped a bunch of electrodes on me for 24 hours of EKG monitoring, but that didn’t tell them enough, so now I have a monitor that I keep with me for 30 days and record any “event” that I deem significant. Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you consider that they charged me more than $900 for it the minute it was in my possession), I stopped having the major pounding episodes within 24 hours of getting the 30-day monitor. I still have a couple of weeks to go, but the worries have stopped. All my “episodes” the past two weeks have been mild – no worse than the usual ones I’ve been having for a long time. I think most of the recent symptoms were stress related, partly because …
  • Bruce has been fighting a urinary tract infection and prostatitis for the past couple of months. We spent a few hours in the ER on July 3 (because it was a Friday before a holiday weekend and all his doctors’ offices were closed) after his temperature hit 103. He’s been taking antibiotics and another new drug (new to us) ever since. He’s been having to give blood and urine samples every couple of weeks.
  • One of Bruce’s maintenance meds, Cimzia, may soon become a thing of the past for us. We had been getting it at no charge because after he lost his job our income plummeted and we were considered a charity case. Now that he has started drawing Social Security, the drug company may drop us from the program. But even though our income has gone up a bit, we won’t be able to afford the once-a-month injections, which cost $1,800 (yes, $1,800 for one shot in the stomach once a month!).

I guess that’s enough depressing news. What’s something cheerful I can tell you? Um …

  • I’ve been baking again. That makes me happy! 🙂 (I have to tell you, I feel a little guilty about the happy thoughts, in light of all the sad news around me this week.)
  • Bruce’s birthday is Tuesday (9/15). He’ll be 50! Mom, J.T. and I pitched in and got him a 12-string guitar. He’d been wanting one for a long time, and we gave it to him early. He’s been so happy playing that thing; he has played it just about every day since he got it. And I found the perfect T-shirt to go with it. It has a little stick man playing the guitar and smiling hugely, and it says “Life is good.” The shirt came in just one color: green, which is Bruce’s fave. And the skinny little stick man looks just like him!
  • On the recommendation of my cousin Pam, I checked out a great book from the library: “Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces.” It’s the sequel to “Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens.” It has made me start thinking about growing plants (both flowers and vegetables) that I’ve never grown before. I went to the local garden center first thing this morning and just walked around and took notes, then I went to the library and checked out some gardening encyclopedias and I came home and started doing some Internet research. Oh, but before that I bought a couple of pretty pots and a couple of new mums. I bought a pretty little pot and a little bronze-colored mum for the kitchen, and it looks so sweet in there, because …
  • We got new kitchen counter tops this summer. Yes, after 10 years of looking at those 1972 green counter tops that we had been planning to replace ever since we bought the house, we finally had the money to do it, because …
  • We refinanced the mortgage and used a little bit of the equity to make a few home improvements. We not only replaced the counter tops, we bought paint. Bruce is painting the kitchen cabinets white (before-and-after photos to come, but not until it’s all finished and beautiful), and we painted the laundry room, because …
  • We got new linoleum downstairs in the laundry room, spare bathroom and hallway. Maybe I’ll post before-and-after pictures of the laundry room when I’m not so tired. It looks great down there, too. The old flooring was also from 1972 (gold and dirty). The laundry room was yellow, and now it’s blue (my favorite color) and white, and it looks so clean and bright. I replaced the really old curtains with a nice, crisp white pair. I love it!
  • Our women’s group at church is starting a new Beth Moore Bible study on Monday. I’m so excited, because it’s about my favorite book of the Bible: Esther. The last Beth Moore study I got to participate in was on Daniel, and it was awesome! I can’t wait to dive into “Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman.”

And that is where I’m going to end this post – on a happy, positive note. Because, despite all the hard things that have happened this year, I know I can still put my trust in the One who said, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

God is good.

Posted in baking, Crohn's disease, flowers, friends, God, health, home, medical, music, reading | Leave a Comment »

Maple almond-butter cookies

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on August 23, 2009

also your first look at my new countertops!

Have a cookie and a smile.

Friends, baking with healthy ingredients can be a delicious way to satisfy your sweet tooth, I am here to tell you.

You may be skeptical of the recipe I’m about to give you, but try it before you rush to judgment. Ever since I ran across it on the blog I discovered recently (while trying to find a description of Sucanat, an ingredient mentioned occasionally in Clean Eating magazine), I had been dying to bake these almond-butter cookies sweetened with maple syrup. Today I finally had the opportunity.

Not a stick o’ butter, a teaspoon of refined sugar or even a drop of egg is included in these cookies. And, trust me, after seeing the movie Julie & Julia a couple of days ago  (and watching Kate & Leopold on TV that night), “rich, creamery buttah” was on my mind!

But these cookies are a healthy alternative to the baked goods I usually make. I am not quite of the Paula Deen and Julia Child variety (“You can never have too much butter”), but I definitely like the stuff.

So I was happily surprised when Bruce and I sampled the first cookie a few minutes after I pulled them out of the oven.

And, just so you know, I’m adding Sweet & Natural to my blogroll at right.

The blog is right up my alley. In fact, it’s the blog I had imagined I might someday write, if I had the time (and money) to experiment as much as the author does with different ingredients and recipes. I have long wanted to come up with a way to turn my love for baking into something healthy.

I bake because it gives me a sense of “home and hearth” (and, frankly, because I like the accolades I get when someone tastes my sweet confections), but all too often my recipes are laden with unhealthy ingredients, simply because it’s easier to find those recipes.

But I am no longer willing to settle for that for my family or for myself. We all (except Bruce) could stand to lose a few pounds and clean up our eating habits. And, as Ashley of Sweet & Natural has proved, you don’t have to trade taste for healthy.

I have a heart condition that the doctor says he doesn’t think is caused by overweight, but who really knows? There’s no clear-cut cause for mitral valve prolapse that I’ve been able to discover.

And because I’m 30-40 pounds overweight (I know, I know, I don’t look that heavy, but my height disguises some of it) and have been having more noticeable palpitations and shortness of breath lately, it’s time to stop dabbling in healthy eating and get serious. Being overweight puts extra strain on my delicate little heart valve.

Last week I wore a portable EKG monitor for 24 hours, and I will get the results in a few days. Even if the doc doesn’t report any serious concerns, it’s still time to quit messing around and cut out the unhealthy fats and sugars. It’s a process that will take some time, some retraining of taste buds and a lot of commitment – but it’s well worth the journey.

Friends, even if you don’t have any health issues and you don’t feel the need to “clean up” your eating, try these cookies. It will be worth your time – and the effort it takes to find the ingredients you may not keep in your pantry routinely (natural almond butter, real maple syrup, whole wheat flour).

I have made a couple of tiny modifications, but I don’t think the author would mind. See her original recipe here.

Maple Almond Butter Cookies

1/2 cup natural almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, combine almond butter, maple syrup, canola oil and almond extract until well blended.  In a separate bowl, mix together pastry flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, along with chopped almonds, and stir until just combined.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, flatten to about 1/3 inch and place onto cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes.  Makes 18 cookies.

Posted in baking, food, health, home, movies | Leave a Comment »

Happy Father’s Day

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on June 21, 2009

As I was microwaving my cup of coffee this morning (a pot will last me several days), I was thinking about the phrase, “can’t live without,” as in “I can’t live without caffeine.” (I was imagining how much better my heart health would be without it, and remembering how hard it has been to give up caffeine in the past. But I’ve done it, and survived.)

I’m sure that in my past I’ve uttered sentences that included such a phrase. “I can’t live without chocolate,” for instance. But really I can’t think of a thing that I absolutely cannot live without.

I lost my dad – my hero – 11 years ago. When he was in bad health and we knew we wouldn’t have him for many more years, I thought about his future death a lot. I wasn’t sure I would be able to go on without him. He and I were very close.

But I did. I survived. And I’ve made a new life – even a good life – without him.

As painful as it is, you go on.

While I can’t say now that I consciously think about him every single day, he is definitely with me every day. In my decisions, in my character, in my work ethic, in my aptitudes, in some of my physical attributes – even, unfortunately, in some of my less-than-admirable traits. I inherited a lot from dad, the good, the bad and the ugly (including his toes, his nose and his inability to tolerate stupidity, one of the traits I’ve worked hardest to overcome!).

We have the same sense of humor, something I hadn’t thought much about until recently. Yeah, we could always make each other laugh (as well as make each other smile). But as I was making up a new word the other day (Bruce and I do that a lot), it occurred to me: Dad used to do that. He’d create a phrase (“That’s too big enough”) or mispronounce a word to make you giggle (“burple” for purple). He did it naturally. I never thought of my dad as a “goofy” guy, but he certainly could be goofy.

Kids loved him, and he loved kids. He had phrases for them, too: “curtain-climbing rug rats” or “tricycle motors,” for instance. You knew when he called your kid a rug rat that he meant it in the most endearing way. At church, he often had someone else’s child sitting in his lap during the service. Or at family gatherings, he’d pick up a kid and talk to him like he was an adult. No baby talk like the women do. Not that he tried to talk politics with them or anything – he was definitely silly with them.

My dad grew up poor, so his teeth were bad and he had to get dentures when he was in his 30s. Once, when my cousin Gary was 2 or 3, he was sitting in Dad’s lap, facing him, and Dad pulled out his top plate. Gary was fascinated with that, so Dad told Gary to take out his own teeth. Gary kept trying, but it just didn’t work! That was one of Dad’s favorite memories of Gary.

My cousins Teri and Tanya lived next door to us for a few years. They called Uncle Benny their “fix-it man.” Any time something broke, no matter what it was, they’d bring it to Uncle Benny because they knew he could fix anything.

He could even fix a broken heart.

Many times when I suffered a severe trial of life, the only salve was having my dad’s big, strong arms around me. He may not always be able to change the circumstances – and sometimes he knew he shouldn’t even try – but having his arms around me always comforted me. With Dad, I knew I was loved unconditionally. It’s how I can at least try to fathom the love God the Father has for me: I first experienced it with my earthly father.

And, just as my heavenly Father is always with me and in me, Dad is in me. (Of course, not in the same way, but an earthly father’s love was created in the Heavenly Father’s love.)

Dad is so much a part of who I am.

When I’m out pulling weeds or mowing the lawn, planting flowers or just standing in the yard admiring the greenness of the grass and trees and the chirping of the birds – Dad is with me.

In fact, I think of him most when I’m outside doing something like that. He loved the outdoors, and I feel so close to him when I’m out there reveling in God’s creation. I even use his big leather work gloves and some of his tools. When I bought my first little house, he bought me my very own toolbox – and a coffee pot (although I’ll admit the coffee pot was mostly for him; I had not acquired the coffee habit yet. And he would cringe to know that I keep my brewed coffee in the fridge and microwave a cup each morning. But I can’t tell you the times I’ve sipped a morning cup of coffee and wished we were out on the deck together watching the sun rise and the squirrels frolic).

He showed me how to do little things around the house and how to take care of my car, although he was always there when the job was too big for me. When I lived in California after college, he couldn’t be there in person, but he could tell me how not to get cheated by the professionals. After I moved here, he would get in his pickup and drive to me to fix whatever he could. And I think he enjoyed letting me be a part of it, even when I was more hindrance than help. Mostly I got to hand him the tools or hold the flashlight. But I loved doing that for him, and with him.

When Dad was fixing my car or something in the house, I’d never know how much physical pain he was in. Oh, I knew he was in pain, but I never knew how bad it was until later, when he was back home and Mom would tell me how much it took out of him.

Dads just do that for their kids.

Often – very often – I wish I could ask his advice. When my brother, JT, wonders how to solve a problem, he often asks himself, “What would Dad do?” I wonder the same thing in so many situations.

My dad was really smart. He didn’t have a college degree, but he didn’t need one. He probably got the equivalent of a master’s just by being a voracious reader. And his doctorate was from the School of Hard Knocks. He was good at figuring things out, and he’d figure out a lot of things just by reading a good instruction manual.

But Dad wasn’t just smart, he was wise, and what we most benefited from was his daily use of the original Owner’s Manual – the Bible.

His favorite book was James, and one of the passages that describes him best is from James 2, verses 14-16:

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

Dad would give you his shirt if you needed it, but what I remember most is the endless hours he gave up for people who needed his time and expertise, especially farmers. He was a mechanic by trade, having a reputation as one of the best around in many categories. He would drive miles and miles to help someone whose tractor wouldn’t start in the snowy weather or whose hay baler had malfunctioned in the middle of harvest (I once rode with him to Jackson, Tenn., to deliver a piece of equipment). He knew these things were a part of a family’s livelihood, and he took them seriously.

Yeah, we waited dinners for him a lot of the time – or gave up and ate without him. He was out of the house by 7 most mornings and often not home until 7 or 8 in the evening. And, yes, we sometimes complained that he was giving to others the time he should have been giving to us.

But in the giving to others, he did give to us.

He gave us – me – a legacy that will last my whole life. And I would never want to live without that.

Other posts that include my dad:

Happy birthday, Dad (July 11, 2008)

The power of a flower (June 14, 2008)

Daddy’s girl (Dec. 23, 2008)

Our fathers (March 28, 2008)

Posted in family, God, home, inspiration | 3 Comments »

Random thoughts

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on March 22, 2009

My fans (all three of you people who read my blog) have been admonishing me to publish something. I haven’t posted in a while, but not for lack of wanting to. I’ve just been extremely laz — err, busy.

So, while I wait for my mom’s tax return to finish printing, I’ll grace you with some of the fascinating things I have been doing, thinking or saying lately:

  • After two weeks of working on it in spurts, I have finally finished Mom’s tax return. No, you cannot borrow money from her. Because she helped her children so much last year, there is nothing left to loan. Thanks, Mom. We owe you.
  • I chopped off my fingernails the other day to get better at the little game on my new cell phone that I am obsessed with (the game, not the phone), and it didn’t make one bit of difference. Even with nails cut to the nub, I am still pitiful at batting a little ball with a paddle at a bunch of electronic bricks.
  • I make up little songs, sometimes to amuse Bruce, sometimes to amuse myself. Frequently these little ditties are about the dogs. Almost all of them are about what I happen to be doing at the time I sing them. If Bruce isn’t amused, he doesn’t let me know it. He makes up random funny songs, too. We’re weird together.
  • I would love to be in a musical. Like South Pacific, The Music Man, Oklahoma! or my favorite, Camelot. Or how about The Sound of Music II: Suzl, the Forgotten von Trapp? I would be great in that! Not that I can sing.
  • Although Saturday night was an exception (I went to bed at 7:30), I have been staying up until nearly 10:30 lately! (I don’t think I’ve adjusted to daylight saving time yet.) Still, unless you’re my mother, my brother or my husband, or you’re bleeding from both eyes, don’t call me after 9 p.m., even on weekends. I will be mad at you.
  • It’s spring! And I pulled weeds this weekend (both days). And when I got tired of pulling the little suckers, there were still a BUNCH of them left. Today after I got tired and decided not to pull any more weeds, two neighbor boys rode their bikes up to my driveway and asked me if I had any work for them. Now I’m $10 poorer, but my rose bed looks a lot better. They want to come and mow the lawn in a few days. I think I’ll let them. (Note to self: Restock the Popsicle stash.)
  • I LOVE seeing kids take some initiative and get out and earn some money instead of sitting on their bee-hinds in front of the TV or a computer.
  • The dogs finally got baths today. This hadn’t happened since (don’t tell anyone) November. Salsa didn’t like it, but she didn’t bite me once!
  • My friend Lynn, whom I wrote about a few weeks ago (yikes, it’s been nearly three months!), is going to share the Basket-A-Month with me this year. Next weekend is the pickup. SPRING VEGETABLES! FARM-FRESH EGGS, HOMEMADE PASTA! SOURDOUGH BREAD! I’M YELLING BECAUSE I’M DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY!!!!! And Lynn said she’d bring me some of her asparagus and a couple of good recipes. Double happiness!
  • Baseball season is almost upon us, and I’m thinking of Travelers and sunshine. And hot dogs, which absolutely must be consumed at baseball games, no matter what.
  • I’m reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which I started reading in college but never finished. My favorite journalism professor recommended it, although it was not required reading. I didn’t do a lot of extracurricular reading in college. I was too busy with the school newspaper and reading for classes. But I’m enjoying this book once again, and I’m determined to finish it this time.
  • I have new flip-flops. They’re black. Well, they’re sort of brown now, because of the weed-pulling.
  • I’m supposed to be making a blackberry-jam cake for my neighbor, who’s going to pay me for it, but she didn’t give me a deadline and I keep putting it off. It’s the pressure. She had one at a friend’s out of town, and it was to-die-for delicious, and I’ve had to Google to find a recipe that seems to approximate what she had. So, pressure. Which makes me procrastinate.
  • More pressure: My church is doing a 25th-anniversary cookbook, and I’m supposed to provide a recipe for my “signature” dish, and I can’t decide whether to share my recipe for carrot cake, which I make money from, or be selfish and keep it to myself. My other cake recipe that gets rave reviews is from Paula Deen, and I want to make sure we won’t be violating any copyrights before I share it. It’s called White Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Filling. It’s lick-the-bottom-of-the-pan good. I don’t think I’ve shared photos of it that I took when I was making business cards year before last. So let’s end this on a happy foodnote:

white_chocolate_cake1

Click the comment button to share some of your own random thoughts.

Posted in baking, baseball, books, dogs, flowers, food, friends, fun, home, nature | 4 Comments »

Pipe dream

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley on January 31, 2009

kitchen-pipe

I was turning off the dishwasher this morning (to save electricity, I turn it off when it reaches the drying cycle), and I stepped in water.

I just knew I was going to have a dishwasher repair bill in my near future. But it was simply a pipe under the sink that had rusted through. My finger felt a little opening along the bottom, but when I started twisting it off, it broke in two in my hand.

Thank goodness the nearby Stanley Hardware opens early on Saturdays. They always take really good care of me there. When I left, they said they’d see me again today (“You’re doing plumbing; you’ll be back” – they were quite confident), and I so wanted to prove them wrong. And I did.

Making the repair, I had a moment when I thought I had bought the wrong-length pipe and would have to return to the store (and eat crow), but I was able to make it work! It was fixed in less than 5 minutes. I didn’t even have to dig out a wrench.

And this $8.27 plumbing problem had unplanned but happy consequences. It made me take a good look around at the house. I realized it had been several weeks (ok, months) since I had mopped the kitchen floor. After I swept and mopped, I got a lot more done (vacuuming, taking the rest of the Christmas decorations downstairs, paring down our collection of cleaning products and corresponding empty containers, and more).

And tonight I’m updating our budget. Bruce got word last week that he has been approved for disability, a process that took only five months vs. the 2 years we expected it to take. We’ve even gotten a check already. An answer to a lot of prayers (a big thanks to those of you who said them). So now we can start digging ourselves out of the hole.

I’ll go get the shovel.

Posted in frugal living, home | 5 Comments »