Sunday, December 28, 2008

Return to "Normal"

Wish I'd Done That: As you are moving in all the new Christmas toys, put the same number of old toys away, or better yet, donate them to Goodwill. You'll keep organized, and you won't be overrun with more "stuff".

We just took LEA to the airport to return to Chicago for another round of grad school fun. We've loved having her at home since Thanksgiving, but I know she's looking forward to getting back to her friends and life up North.
We did lots of fun stuff while she was here, but I had more things I wanted to do. Time together is precious, and so I wanted to do all I could.
My house is a wreck! Is yours?
I feel very "undone" the day after Christmas with all the boxes, gifts and stuff lying around the house. I feel ready to put everything away right this minute, but some of us here like to enjoy the mess for a while longer. I try to curb my anxieties for a few days, but I feel like this afternoon might be a good day to sort, or something.
Before the kids went out last night, I caught them for a picture. My hair needed some attention (as always), but I seized the moment to be immortalized with the two I treasure most.

They are such great people, I can't believe God gave them to us.

AA had a mess coming home for Christmas. He was coming on the 23rd, but the roads around Fayetteville were bad, so he waited for Christmas Eve. His Jeep broke down in Tulsa, and had to be towed to B'ville, so he and Ace missed the Christmas Eve service at church. We've never not gone, so I was very sad.

LA and I went, and God was so clearly present. He spoke to the lowly shepherds about the birth of His Son. I'd never before thought about why He did. He uses the most common circumstance to speak to us. As we sang the familiar carols, He reminded me of how He uses the "lowly" to do His work. He uses even someone like me to minister and bless others. Awesome!

As you "clean up" after Christmas, be blessed by His gift to us that never wears out, or is the wrong size.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thou shalt call His name Jesus

Wish I'd Done That: Every Christmas Eve, we go to the candlelight service at our church. When we come home, we have some special snacks. Many years, some friends have come over to share with us. This is when we read the Christmas story. Mostly, we read the Luke 2 account. Do this without fail. Be sure your kids know that Christmas is centered on God's gift to us; His son Jesus.

Matthew 1:21:" ...thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins."

Before God created me, He knew all I would be. My failures, successes: all of it. In spite of that, He sent His son - the One who spoke the universe into existence - to die as a sacrifice for my sins.

"Immanuel" God with us. I can't put my mind around something so incredible. While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me.
Rather than worrying about getting the gifts wrapped, the pies baked or whatever, consider His gift to you.
A small baby - not one of us would have chosen to send our son to die for sinners. But God did, and Jesus came willingly.
He became one of us; yet without sin, and offered Himself as a gift for me and all who would accept.
Have a blessed Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Christmas Goodies

Wish I'd Done That: Read, READ, READ! I can't stress this enough. Your kids need to be read to from the moment they arrive here on earth! Read to them everything you can get your hands on. I really treasure those memories reading "chapter books" to LA every night before bed. The Secret Garden, Little House, etc. Nothing is better than that. I really don't think it's an accident my 2 kids are both voracious readers. AA is reading classics right now, and he doesn't even have to!

Grandma's Southern Living Fudge

As I've said before, Ace's family are sugar addicts. It's really no secret, so I feel comfortable sharing this with you. His mom has made pies, cakes and all sweet things his whole life; the family had a "cake break" at 3 p.m. every day - you get the drift. Aunt Bess makes the best candy in Arkansas, so I've got lots of competition and expectations when I join the family.

The cookies I make (see Wed.) fit right in with this madness, but I wanted to perfect some of the Perkins family favorites.

Enter Buttermilk Fudge. Sounds weird, but trust me, you will be in Heaven.....

I learned to make it when we first got married, and after a few years, I sent the recipe in to Southern Living magazine. I neglected to think ahead, however, and entered the recipe under my name, rather than Ace's mom's name. Hmmmm......

Anyway, the recipe was published, and I was thrilled. Kathy didn't care it was under my name, but I've felt really strange about it ever since.

Here's the famous fudge recipe. Be aware - addictive; both flavor and texture and superb!

2 Cups sugar

1/2 Cup butter

2 Tbsp corn syrup

1 Cup buttermilk

1 tsp soda

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 Cup chopped, toasted pecans

Combine sugar, buttermilk, butter, soda and corn syrup in a buttered Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches soft ball stage, or candy thermometer registers 234 degrees; remove from heat. Cool to 180 degrees. Stir in vanilla. Beat at high speed of electric mixer until the fudge begins to thicken and lose its gloss. Stir in pecans. Pour out on waxed paper; cool. Yield: 1 1/4 pounds

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mom's Famous Sugar Cookies

Wish I'd Done That: From my friend, Linda, at the Taste & Spit: keep a bucket in your car with kitty litter, your scraper, icee defroster stuff, a candle, matches, flashlight and small camp shovel. You are ready for winter's worst!

Mom's Sugar Cookies

Yes, I know. You have the best sugar cookie recipe. However, trust me when I say that I've got that one covered. Mom made these for us for every holiday, and she brought them to school on our birthdays, too. She shaped them with a big coffee can, so each kid got a really big cookie. Since I had only 13 kids in my class, Mom personalized each one with their name. She was famous in Mullinville for those things. The cookies roll out amazingly well because they use powdered sugar, rather than granulated.

1 Cup oleo, softened
1 1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 Cup
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
Cream oleo and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; blend well. Chill covered until very firm. (Don't skip this step) Overnight is best. Roll out to desired thickness. Cut into shapes. Bake at 400 degrees for 6 - 8 minutes, until very slightly browned. You may also roll dough into walnut-sized balls, roll in sugar and flatten with a glass bottom. Bake as before. Frost the cutout cookies.
Start a tradition with your little ones this year. Let them in the kitchen to decorate, eat the dough, and generally make a big mess. You won't be sorry!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Goodies

Wish I'd Done That: Buy your kids some Christmas pjs. Then, on Christmas Eve, you'll have something for them to unwrap when they are clamoring to open a gift. Wrap the pj's in paper you'll easily recognize, and place them together somewhere under the tree. Then you can say "yes", and you'll be a hero when they get to open a package. Your kids will be all cute and Christmas-y on Christmas morning for your pictures!

Cranberry Salsa
These are the little Christmas goodies I'm giving to the project leaders and staff of the Taste and Spit today. They just turned out so cute, I can't stand it! I found these little jars at Hobby Lobby, and filled them with - - - Cranberry Salsa! Julia, our Children's Director at church, gave me this recipe last year, and it's a sure winner. Serve this over a block of cream cheese with some really great wheat crackers, and you've got a unique appetizer everyone will enjoy. The gorgeous red is an asset to your table, too.
Julia's Cranberry Salsa
1 bag fresh cranberries, washed
2 jalapenos, seeded (or just one, if you're a wimp!)
1 bunch green onions, chopped in a large chop
1/4 Cup cilantro (opt)
3/4 Cup sugar
1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
Chop first 4 ingredients in food processor. (yea, I finally get to take it out of the back of the cabinet!) Add remaining ingredients. Chill overnight. Drain, and top a block of cream cheese. Serve with crackers. Makes enough for 3 blocks of cream cheese.
I made cute little recipe cards to put on these jars for my friends at work. They are great! Hope you like the salsa.

Tulsa, Tea time, and Tiny cookies

Wish I'd Done That: My friend Donna suggests a great idea for cleaning up the place. She puts the timer on for 10 minutes. The kids race to see how much cleaning/picking up they can get done in that amount of time. Another friend suggested using music; 3 songs would be about 10 minutes. It's a game, it's to music, and the house gets picked up/cleaned!

Tulsa Tea Time

Mom, LA and I escaped to Tulsa last week to investigate a tearoom there. Dragonmoon is a fun girl place with lots of great food and an assortment of teas from around the world. We all tried different lunch foods; they change daily. My turkey soup with stuffing dumplings was a hit with all of us. I had some quiche, too.
The 3 cup teapot we tried was "Blue Sapphire", a tea from South Africa. Really great, and they brewed it twice, so we got lots of tea. It really hit the spot on a sleet-spitting day.

For dessert, a sugar cookie filled with chocolate ganache, a nutmeg log, and a "shooter" of pumpkin mousse. Just enough sweet after a wonderful lunch.
Here's the blue sapphire tea in their adorable cup. Take some time out and enjoy a cup of tea.
Dragonmoon is on Harvard in Tulsa, just north of 21st Street.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Guest Blog

The blog's been on a tiny hiatus this week, but I'm back today with a special guest blogger: my daughter, Lauren. She's appeared in the blog before in my anecdotes; you may remember her as WordGirl, LA, or the grad school kid. Lauren's been home from school for a few weeks and offered to blog today.

Christmas Charity
When my brother and I were growing up, our parents made sure we understood the importance of giving to others. I remember in grade school they encouraged us to set aside some of our allowance money for the Lottie Moon offering at church or for the Salvation Army bucket outside Wal-Mart. I’m thankful that they taught me about giving when I was younger. Watching my parents give to others made it much easier for me to be a giver myself once I was off on my own—even on a grad assistant salary. I’d like to share a few of my favorite charities with you; feel free to tell us about your favorite charities in the comments.

826 National
826 is a national chain of community writing centers; it was started by one of my favorite authors, Dave Eggers. 826 chapters offer free after-school tutoring, in-school writing seminars, and writing workshops for elementary through high school aged students. Their goal is to work with local schools to encourage writing and creativity in children. Each 826 chapter features a storefront with a quirky theme; my 826 in Chicago is called “The Boring Store” and conceals a secret spy organization. Other chapter stores supply superheroes, robots, and pirates.

I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent volunteering at 826 Chicago—they’re truly a valuable service for kids who might not get enough attention at school. But if you don’t live near an 826, you can always give monetarily. And here’s the big bonus: 826 is always good about sponsoring unique fundraising programs. The Chicago store has a yearly mustache-growing contest, and 826 national usually releases several fantastic books a year to fund their programs, including some recent titles, The New Kings of Nonfiction and My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead. My favorite fundraiser took place last week; 826 teamed up with one of my favorite online art galleries,, to release an edition of affordable artwork.
Kiva is a fairly new grassroots organization that lends money to entrepreneurs in the Third World. Donors can give as little as $25 per loan and are able to choose which recipients they’d like to give to. So you can support only the specific projects or entrepreneurs that you want to—from computer schools in South America to soda salesmen in Africa to farmers in Asia. Entrepreneurs have their own pages with their pictures, brief stories about their businesses, and information about the local loaning organization that they receive the loan through. After the loan is collected, entrepreneurs repay their loans at an incredibly low interest rate in small installments, usually spread out of the course of the year. These payments are deposited into the donors’ Kiva accounts; they can then choose to reinvest the money in other projects or withdraw the money. Donors also receive periodic emails that update them on the entrepreneurs’ progress.

The above picture is Guzman Velazquez; he's the first entrepreneur I loaned to on the site. He's using his $775 loan to open a computer school so the people in his town in Paraguay can train for technology jobs. Guzman received the loan a few months ago and has already made payments on it. I’ve enjoyed using Kiva because it’s easy to give in small amounts and it’s gratifying to see exactly who you’re giving to. Kiva is also completely transparent—they publish the default rates of all their partner organizations and keep donors well-informed.

Christmas Gift Ideas
One fun way to be charitable during the holiday season is to combine charity giving with gift giving. 826 books make great gifts; Kiva has a store that sells calendars, shirts, and other goodies, including these totes.

You can also buy Kiva gift certificates that allow others to donate to entrepreneurs of their choosing.

Another great gift is Good Magazine. When you buy a subscription, the entire price is donated to a charity of your choice ( and 826 are both options).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Goodies

Wish I'd Done That: While traveling to Grandmother's house for Christmas, give kids an old "pocketbook". When LA and Double A were little, my Grandma would get her old "pocketbooks" and fill them with all sorts of goodies. (I suspect this is how she cleaned out her junk drawer, but anyway....) She stuck something in every pocket, nick and cranny. The kids spent hours digging through those things. It really works, and Grandma had a blast doing it.

Here's a simple appetizer to take and serve anywhere. My "foodie" friends at the Taste and Spit were impressed with this, and that's saying a lot! Enjoy!

Terri's Crostini

One loaf french bread - the very small diameter ones

Slice thin and toast slowly in a 300 degree oven, about 10 minutes.

Feta cheese (or blue cheese, or Gorgonzola, etc.)


Toasted pecans (or walnuts or almonds)

Top crostini with cheese. Sprinkle on nuts and drizzle with honey. Be prepared to accept compliments! Very simple, but really great! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hurricane Warning

Wish I'd Done That: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". This may seem a strange parenting tip, but trust me, if you are a pregnant person, take heed. Many times, when LA was a newborn, Ace and I would be tempted to disturb her in her sleep or just being happy time. We soon learned to leave her alone if she was happy. When kids are happy, LEAVE THEM ALONE. Don't change their diaper, wake them, move them, whatever......Trust me, you'll be glad you listened to me someday....

Tomorrow, TU plays in Tulsa for the conference championship. This is joyous. However, you may remember that also tomorrow is our Open House. Poor planning. It wasn't that I didn't think the Hurricane would make it there, but I naively hoped the game would be played at night.
So, I'm going to miss the great event, which may never happen again in my lifetime.
Oh well, I struggle......

Great stuff about TU:
Great student to professor ratio: I think it's about 10/1.
No grad students teaching classes.
Great scholarship opportunities.
Located in a super town.
Good student athletic teams, if you're a sports buff.
Small classes.
Top 100 university in the US.
Wonderful reputation across the US.
And the best thing about TU:

Lovely, wonderful alumni......

Have a marvelous weekend: Go TU, beat ECU!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving Re-hash

Wish I'd Done That: To protect my floor while my two babies ate, Ace made me a 4 X 4 foot sheet of hard plastic to put under the highchair. It was easier to wipe up than the carpet in my dining area!

Please pray for Sharon today; she's off for chemo treatment #2. Give her peace, strength and protect her from nausea.

It was just the four of us on Thanksgiving Day since Ace's mom was still in the hospital. Ace carved up his smoked turkey - we hadn't ever done the whole-bird-on-the-table thing before. He liked doing it!

I kept waiting for that bird to go flying across the table, but Ace persevered, and he successfully carved the bird up!

LA did my flowers; they still look great today.....We had a lovely, family day of food, football and sitting in front of the fireplace.

2 days until the Open House! Bring your friends - there's going to be a door prize this year!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Counting Down......

Wish I'd Done That: Take advantage of your local library's story hours. You'll get a break (of sorts) and your kiddos will learn how fun books are. Let them check out several afterwards, and spend an hour going through them. You're promoting reading, and they'll sit in your lap!

Three days until the Open House! We've done a TV ad, and put an ad on the Women's Page of the B'ville paper........Planning the goodies today, and decorating tomorrow. Gosh, what fun!

LA is home, and that's so much fun. She's on trimesters at DePaul, so she's off til after the New Year.

I came home from a haircut, and walked in to a house that smelled fabulous! I didn't realize what a blessing that is! I guess I haven't experienced that since I lived at home and Mom was cooking. I could really get used to this.....

She's making my brother's famous soup: Headrick's Hamburger. It's great, filling, and smells terrific!

Headrick's Hamburger Soup

1 lb. hamburger

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup cubed carrots

1 cup cubed potatoes

4 cups tomatoes (2 cans)

1/4 cup rice

3 cups water

Italian seasonings, to taste.

(LA adds corn, and green pepper; whatever she has available)

Salt and pepper

Brown hamburger with onions. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 1 hour. Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Open House

Wish I'd Done That: Buy (or make) a Christmas calendar for your little ones. This will make the time go faster until the big day. I made the ones with a treat or a very small toy behind the door. You can buy them almost anywhere now, and that would be easy! Let your kids count down the days until all the excitement!

Christmas Open House
Only 5 days until our Open House for We have some really great savings for all who attend. I'm making some treats, and there will be hot cider to ward off the cold. Do your Christmas shopping with your friends. If you have one of our invitations, (or if you mention this blog!), we'll give you 10% off your whole order!
This painting is great framed in an antique gold. I've got it in my bathroom. Your mom and/or sister would really like this!

This one below is on sale Saturday. You'll be able to buy 3 16 X 20's for $90, plus an extra 10% off! A $115.50 value, you can get 3 for $81! That's a great buy, and the prints are easy to mail, too.
Buy this one (remember, they are double-matted), for all your friends with little ones, or those who are pregnant. We sell so many of these - they are really a unique and wonderful gift for babies.
All three of the larger sizes are on sale if you buy 3 of the same size, so come see what's new.
Laura has done 2 new prints, so you'll want to check those.
We have gifts for everyone; men, grandma, sister, mom ~ even something for yourself.....
Come by and get started on your Christmas shopping, or just stop by to visit - we can't wait to see you!