Trick or Treat!

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Does it make me weird that Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year?  I love a day dedicated to fun and adventure and pretending to be someone else.  There’s no pressure of producing a big meal for lots of people.  There’s no pressure of finding just the right gift.  How fun it is to be someone else for a day (or evening)!?!  And even if I don’t dress up, I absolutely LOVE handing out candy to supermen and spidermen, and cowboys and princesses and the occasional ghosts and goblins.

I have been told ghost stories my entire life.  Some of my favorite memories are of listening to my Mama’s mother telling ghost stories…and she knew a lot of them!  While I don’t believe in ghosts, I love that little tingle up my spine when I hear a good ghost story.  Here’s one of my favorites:

My great-grandparents lived in a house up in Tennessee that sat up off the ground on rock pillars.  You remember the kind of house…where on hot, southern summer afternoons, you could scoot up under the house and lie down in the cool dirt underneath.  It made the perfect playhouse, the perfect hideout, the perfect napping place.

Late in the evening, on certain evenings, a light the size of a man’s pocket handkerchief would come rolling out from under the house.  The light would roll out from under the steps, roll around the well, roll around the yard and eventually, roll back under the house.  This happened night after night.

 My great-grandfather got fed up with this annoying light, so he hatched a plan.  He decided he would shoot that light and do away with it once and for all.  He waited as the evening progressed.  Finally, the light began to make its rounds.  It rolled out from under the house, around the well, and as it rolled he took aim with his shotgun and fired.  The shot was good and that light flew into a million little pieces.  But the little pieces kept rolling and rolling and rolling until they rolled back together into a solid light the size of a man’s pocket handkerchief once again.

I have never personally seen that light-but I would love to.  I’ve only heard about it all my life.  I have seen a newspaper story about the light.  Does it still make its path from under the house and around the well and around the yard and back under the house? 

Possibly.

I like to think that it does….

 

One of my favorite Halloween treats doesn’t have a name that I know of.  It is wonderful, delicious and yummy.  It tastes like a Payday candy bar.  With chocolate.  What could be better?

All you do is mix a bag of candy corn, salted peanuts and a bag of M&M’s in a bowl.  Amounts are up to you.  If I make this, I have to have company over because I will eat the WHOLE thing.  And that’s something I don’t need to do!

 

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My very, very, very favorite picture of Emily and Erin at Halloween.  This was taken about 16 years ago.  Erin is an Alabama State Trooper (just like her granddaddy—that’s his hat she has on), and Emily is handcuffed to her as her prisoner.

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An Anniversary

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Tomorrow, October 17, is the 8th anniversary of our little bakery.  I call it “our” bakery because so many people have helped to make it a reality.

The bakery came to be at the lowest point in my life.  I was going through a nasty divorce, had lost my job, and thought that my life would never be a happy place again.  It was at this time that my friends Mike and Nikki Ogles offered to help start “Suzanne’s Bakery and Eatery”.

Mike and I have known each other since the first grade at Athens Bible School.  He was one of the boys that, during high school, would barge into the HomeEc room and eat what the girls had made for class that day.  Even then, we talked about opening a bakery together… some day.

“Some day” was October 17, 2005.

The bakery has been a first job for several teenagers around town.  Both of my daughters worked there and my nephew, Ethan, is working there now.  It has been a gathering place for family and friends and a lifeline for me.

It has taken a lot of hard work…more than I ever expected.  It has taken a lot of sweat and tears…more than I could have imagined.  And it has given me so much joy…more than I could have ever anticipated.

I have learned a lot…and I’m learning more every day.  I have made lots of new friends and have solidified my relationships with old friends.

And it has taught me that God is good, all the time.  Even when it felt as if the world had turned it’s back on me, God knows and sees and cares.

So, come and visit.  Eat lunch…or a piece of cake.  Relax and enjoy!

Thank you God, thank you family, and thank you friends.  It’s been a great ride, and I am ever thankful.

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We have cookie decorating parties…and have tons of fun!

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We play games, eat, and decorate cookies.

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At Suzanne’s, you can have your cake and eat it too!  Stop in if you can, and if you can’t…go ahead and drool!  I won’t tell!

A Wedding, Revisited

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A Wedding, Revisited

It’s been a year (yesterday) since  my oldest daughter Emily, got married.  Where did this year go?  I have thought a lot about her wedding over this last year and have come to a major realization.  I don’t know how people pull off an event like a wedding without the help of family and friends.  My parents went above and beyond the call with all they did to help this wedding happen.  My family and friends descended on my Grandmother’s farm the day before and the day of the wedding (and many turned out days, weeks, and months before) and turned that farm into a fairy tale.

If I thanked everyone involved on a daily basis, it still wouldn’t be enough.  Judge for yourself, if you’d like.

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This is my grandmother’s barn, ready for the wedding.  It was a rainy fall day, but the rain stopped and the sun came out right before the wedding.  So many of my friends showed up decorating, arranging wildflowers, placing candles and hay bales…so much work…so much fun!

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Did I say “on the cheap?”  Yes, we decorated with wild flowers and they were gorgeous!

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My brother performed the ceremony.

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My daddy gave the bride away.

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We decorated the back yard of my grandmother’s house for the reception.

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The bride’s cake.

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And the groom’s cake.

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One of my favorites from the wedding.

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They left the wedding in my Granddaddy’s pick-up truck.

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Of course, no wedding is complete without the required flower girl meltdown with the ring bearer looking on in amazement.

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The ceremony started at dusk and the reception finished up in the dark.  Here’s the happy couple at the barn after the ceremony catching a couple of minutes alone.

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And what wedding is complete without some last minute advice to the groom from the new mother-in-law?  Poor Blake…the one fellow in a family of women.  I am so glad that he and Emily found each other.  He’s a keeper!

Thanks for looking at these pictures.  It was a wonderful night.  Thank you, friends.  Thank you, family.  We couldn’t have done it without you.

Old People, Grandchildren and Alabama Football

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I love listening to a good comedian.  By good comedian, I mean a person with the ability to make me laugh out loud when I am sitting by myself.  It also means someone who can tell a funny story without embarrassing me so much with language that I miss the joke.  Why some comedians feel that they aren’t funny unless they use the worst language imaginable is beyond me.  I like a comedian that I wouldn’t mind listening to with my kids.  But, I digress.  I said all that to say that Bill Cosby is number 2 on my great comedian list.  (Tim Conway is #1 by a mile, should you care.  If you don’t know who Tim Conway is, I am sorry for you!)

Bill Cosby once said, “these grandparents that grandchildren adore so much – what with the candy dishes, emptying out their coin purses, and overall providing unconditional love are not the same people we, parents grew up with. Our parents were disciplinarians, strongly opinionated parents. Now they are just old people trying to get into heaven.”

I have thought this about my parents for the past 23 years.  That was when their first grandchild (Emily) was born and their personalities were sucked away by aliens and replaced with new personalities…personalities that I did not recognize.  Never does this hit closer to home than during an Alabama football game.  My entire family are huge Bama fans.  My daddy is the type of fan that has been known, if Gary and Vern (THE most horrible sports announcers in the history of sports announcers) are announcing the game, to turn down the sound on the TV, turn up the radio and listen to…(key the trumpets)…Eli Gold call the game.  Granted, it’s a magical feeling to hear Eli Gold get excited over a great run and touchdown and hear him yell…”score one for the good guys!”

When my siblings and I were growing up, we were not allowed to make noise during an Alabama football game.  If we made too much noise, we were sent outside to play.  I remember spending many Saturday afternoons out in the yard because I always have (and always will) have a problem with being quiet.

But, now there are grandchildren.  These people could bring a New Orleans jazz band through the middle of the living room, complete with confetti and gymnasts during the Alabama/Auburn game, and my daddy would sit and smile and never say a word.  Who is this man?  What happened to the person that raised me?

Granted, being the firstborn of their children I felt that it was my job to train my parents correctly.  I must have done a fantastic job, because they are numb to the things their grandchildren do.  Noisy?  Who cares?  Needy?  That’s what they are there for.  No one gets sent out into the yard any more.  No one is told to pipe down during the game.  It’s chaos.  Pure and simple.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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This is my parents and me.  Back before they lost their minds the first time and had other children.

Happy Birthday!

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This past Friday was my birthday.  I don’t say that to illicit warm wishes…just to say that my birthday causes me to be a little more nostalgic than usual.  More than anything, I think about Mamaw.  My daddy’s mother.  This coming Thursday is her birthday.  I was 6 days short of being exactly 50 years younger than her.  On the days that I remember how old I am, I know exactly how old she would be.

When I think of my grandparents the first word that pops to mind is…cousins!  There were a whole lot of us.  I wasn’t the oldest or the youngest…just somewhere in between.  And that suited me just fine.  There was always somebody to play with… usually enough for a baseball game.

I remember sleepovers at my grandparents’ house with at least 4 or 5 cousins together.  I remember massive Easter egg hunts.   I remember Christmas eve dinners with a house full of relatives.  Eating until we were stuffed, then watching the radar on TV to see just where Santa was and what time we would have to go to bed so Santa wouldn’t pass us by for being awake.  I remember creamsicle popsicles in the freezer on hot summer days, fish fries, laughter, and always the feeling of belonging somewhere and the feeling of being loved unconditionally.

One of my favorite things Mamaw cooked was a chocolate bundt cake.  It had the most wonderful fudge frosting.  I remember being just tall enough to see over the kitchen table to where that glorious cake sat.  I also remember peeling the frosting off the backside of that cake and how delicious that chocolatey yumminess tasted.

But, my very favorite thing that Mamaw cooked was a black eyed pea and butterbean mix.  I don’t know what kind of magic she worked on those peas and beans because I have tried to replicate it many times and have failed every single time.  I remember sitting under the big trees in their front yard helping to shell purple hull peas.  Mamaw’s thumbs would be as purple as the pea hulls she shelled. 

There are so many memories, but I won’t bore you with that.  Birthdays do that to me every time.  And, it has been a fantastic birthday…I’ve celebrated all weekend.  I have eaten well and laughed a lot.  And will actually finish up my birthday celebration with a family dinner next Saturday during the Alabama/Texas A&M football game.  (That is, unless Coach Saban calls needing my help on the sidelines.  That is always a possibility.)  If that is the case, the dinner will be postponed until another time.

Family is a wonderful thing.  Enjoy yours.

Today’s recipe reminds me of summertime at my Mamaw’s house.  There was always creamsicle popsicles in the freezer.  That cold, orange-y goodness takes me back every time.

 

Orange Creamsicle Cake

 

1 box orange cake mix                             1 cup sour cream

2 small boxes orange gelatin                   16 oz. Cool Whip

½ cup vegetable oil                                  ½ cup orange juice

1 ½ cup milk                                              1 ½ cup sugar

3 eggs                                                        1 tsp. orange extract

Mix 1st 5 ingredients.  Bake at 350 in 2-9” cake pans.  Cool completely.  Mix orange juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Add orange extract.  Mix in sour cream.  Fold in Cool Whip. 

Cut each layer in half, making 4 layers.  Frost between layers, then frost top and sides.  Delicious!

 

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This is me with Mamaw and Daddy Dave.