Thankful Thursday – Special Children

Author Sharon Harris

On the program last night for a Memorial Service for Sprayberry Education Center’s “Heavenly Stars”, was this poem about what a child with special needs means to a family. As our sweet physical therapist, Jenny, read this to the group of families, staff and students, I was thinking about the truth of these words. I was also thinking that these words hold true for all children. God has entrusted Barry and I with two beautiful daughters – each special in their own way.


We learn from both of them. We grow from the experience of parenting both of them. Each of them is a gift – a blessing that we cherish and both of them have definitely taught us about real love. Their smiles and laughter are my favorite things in the world! So thankful for my two very special children!

Publix Day!

If you know me or read this blog, you probably already know that I love Publix! Wednesday is our Publix shopping day and I always look forward to it. I started shopping at Publix in 2005, the year of my transplant. When I first felt like getting out, grocery shopping was one of the first things I did on my own, so, I decided to make it a “road trip” and drive across town to Publix. I loved their variety, their customer service, cleanliness and, of course, the “Penny Item”! Now, I have a Publix store just around the corner!
If you are a Publix shopper, you probably know about all of that but did you know that you can create a grocery list online at ?
What an incredible organizational tool! The beauty of it to me is: 1) I enter my items as I think of them during the week- beats losing the piece of paper that I used to write them down on or having multiple lists, 2) It organizes the items by aisle number (when you set it up, you give your zip code so it is made for your store!) so no backtracking and you get through shopping faster, 3) It has a designed place for notes (for example, if you have a coupon, you can make a note of it),  4) You can access the weekly ad, coupons, BOGO – just click on the item and they go to straight to your list so you don’t have to carry the weekly ad with you to the store – you get the idea – it is great!
Several people have stopped me in the store and asked about it and I have seen only one other person using the list, so I thought it was an idea worth sharing! Just another great benefit of shopping at Publix! By the way, the “Penny Item” A.K.A. Mystery Item today was Publix Saltine Crackers!

The Best Brownie Pan Ever

Look at these perfect brownies (made by Elle). The way to making these perfect brownies other than being a great baker is this fabulous pan from The Pampered Chef!

Every brownie has the crusty chewy edge all the way around!! So, nobody’s fighting over the brownies with the edge! We hosted a Pampered Chef Show with our sweet consultant, Carrie Hendrix, and got ours for free! If you are going to a Pampered Chef Show soon, this is a “must have” for your list if you like to bake. There are other uses for this pan such as mini lasagnas or mini meat loaves – we haven’t tried those yet!
Check it out on Carrie’s Website
Elle used a brownie mix which was delicious, but my favorite brownie recipe is from Paula Deen’s “The Lady and Sons” Savannah Country Cookbook. It is my “go-to” brownie recipe – you can tell by looking at the cookbook page!
Lady Brownies
2 C. sugar
1 C. vegetable oil
4 eggs
6 T. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 C. self rising flour
1 C. chopped walnuts or pecans*
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Blend together sugar, oil, eggs,cocoa and vanilla. Add flour; mix. Add nuts; spread into a greased 13 X 9 baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!
*I use pecans or leave out the nuts.
Bake your sweetheart a bag of these for Valentine’s Day and tie it up with a pretty ribbon!

Thankful Thursday – Early Intervention

Annie and her Big Sister, Elle
Tonight, when I was organizing Annie’s closet, I reached up to put a box on the shelf and a photo album literally fell on my head. Instead of putting it back in place, I found myself looking at the pictures over and over an over again. It was Annie Bannie’s (as we call her sometimes) first pictures taken at The Children’s Hospital of Alabama. The photos brought both smiles and tears – what a long way this little one has come. On April 9, 2003, we didn’t know what the future would hold but we did know who held the future!

Daddy and Elle visit Annie in NICU
Having an infant in the NICU 60 miles from home and a two year old(a very excited new big sister) at home was quite overwhelming. For me, having experience in the NICU as an Occupational Therapist was both good and bad. It helped me to understand alot of what was going on with Annie, but, in some ways, I knew too much!

Moma and Annie Bonding Time
It didn’t take long for everyone in the NICU to realize that I was a medical professional myself but I always reminded them that I was Annie’s Moma first and to please talk to me as her mother. So many questions – would she be able to walk? what were the long term effects of her respiratory problems? how would we manage her GI issues? How in the world would WE be able to change a trach? Spinal cord surgery??? And many, many more!
After 2 months and a day, we were headed home with oxygen and a trach.  Thank the Lord! But, what now? No nurses at our immediate disposal, no PTs or OTs, no doctors just around the corner, no case managers making sure we had everything we needed – how would we do it all?
Before we left the hospital, we were referred to Early Intervention! I cannot say enough about how much the Early Intervention Staff meant to our family in the days, weeks, months and even years ahead. Having PT, Speech and an Early Interventionist  come into our home (Annie’s world) was invaluable. The Early Intervention Service Coordinator was so helpful in making sure that Annie got the services that she needed. She was able to help us access the appropriate resources.  They helped all of us become more comfortable with meeting Annie’s needs through developmental activities, monitoring of her splints, stimulating her interaction, etc. all while keeping in mind the needs of the entire family! Involving that very happy and excited big sister was so important! Elle loved the Early Intervention visits because she always felt included.
Our Family – Christmas 2012
 And, when Early Intervention services ended, they were able to transition Annie’s care to the Tuscaloosa County School System, specifically Sprayberry Education Center where Annie has been a student since her 3rd birthday. Our family is VERY  THANKFUL for the role that Early Intervention played in Annie’s development, in our ability to address her special needs and in accessing resources that serve her best!
To Kim, Lisa, Marilyn and Nita – thanks so much – you meant so much to Annie and to all of us!

A Different Valentine Treat

Peanuts for your Valentine? This might be a fun option for someone who doesn’t like chocolate. Why anyone would not like chocolate is beyond me but there are a few! This peanut bag was inspired by the tag, not the tag by the peanuts! This cute elephant just made me think of the peanuts!
These chevron print elephant Valentine Tags can be printed (6 per page) by clicking HERE for cute Valentine surprises for your friends! Perfect for your friends who are sports fan for taking to the arena, the stadium or the baseball field. It’s getting to be that time of year!
These cute elephant tags could also be used for Valentine party favors of any kind! Just print and enjoy!

Our Bras for a Cause

Elle and I are participating in the DCH Foundation “Bras for a Cause” Fundraiser again this year. My entry, above, is “Praying for a Bright Future in Breast Cancer Research” is in honor of my girls (Elle and Annie) and in honor of my friend, Margie Hartley, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Elle’s owls above are interactive. Press the owl like a bag clip and it will “Hoot” – It is too cute! 
This 4th Annual “Bras for a Cause” is sponsored by The DCH Foundation. It is a fun, light-hearted way to raise awareness about a serious issue that affects so many in our community. It is a great way to show support for survivors or loved ones who have passed on from the disease while educating the West Alabama community about the importance of breast health.
Online voting runs from Monday, January 21st to Friday, February 1st. You may also vote in person at the Lewis and Faye Manderson Cancer Center from Monday, January 21st through Thursday, January 24th. The top 50 will then be moved to Coleman Coliseum for the 9th annual “Power of Pink” gymnastics meet.
Prizes will be awarded for the “Most Creative” and “People’s Choice”. A panel of judges will vote for Most Creative and the public will vote for People’s Choice.
For more information, please contact the DCH Foundation office at (205) 759-7349 or go to the DCH Foundation Website. You can also vote online at this site! Vote for our entries (#34 and #35) and/or any other entry – so much creativity – but most importantly it is the support of the cause that matters!
Check these bras out at the cancer center, online or at the Power of Pink UA Gymnastics meet this weekend. We’ll be there! Hope to see you there, too!

The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook

This past fall, I really enjoyed the Friday Football Fare posts. I am all about a good “Game Day” recipe no matter what sport is in season. One of my favorite Christmas gifts was “The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook” by Southern Living and Test Kitchen Director Rebecca Kracke Gordon!
This comprehensive book of tailgating includes: Countdown to Kickoff, Early Morning Warm-Ups, Cheers, Crunch Time, Best Bowls, Hot Prospects, Sideline Favorites and The Sugar Bowl! So creative!
So far, I’ve tried the Parmesan Chicken Salad from Hot Prospects, Peppered Beef Soup from Best Bowls (I made this and called it Irish Stew for the BCS Championship Game), and the Spicy Queso Dip from Crunch Time and all three were winners!
Beautiful writing and photography highlight tailgating traditions from all 14 SEC Schools! It includes Team Cupcakes, Team Deviled Eggs and Team Spritzers for each school.
Have you ever heard the 10 Commandments of College Football Fandom? Page 18 – Check them out! Commandment #10 – “Thou shalt not cover other team’s bowl games, national championships, or Heisman trophy wins.” ………………But you can always use their recipes!
This fabulous cookbook is available at Barnes and Noble . If you are a fan of tailgating, especially in the SEC, or, if you just like cookbooks and new recipes, it is sure to be a hit. I promise, you will love it. It will also make a great gift!

One Year Anniversary

Lately, I have been thinking that I would soon be approaching one year of blogging! So… I looked it up and it’s today! Taking some time to read by through my intial posts and all my pages as well as some of my blogs, I realized a few things:
1) My purpose is still the same. I am blessed to be cooking, creating, inspiring, celebrating, cheering and supporting! AND I still love sharing these blessings with others.
2) I have been very blessed to have over 16,000 page views. This time last year, I didn’t know if I would ever have 16!
3) I have learned alot and I still have more to learn about blogging!
4) My most popular posts are about inspiring people. While some of them involve people who are no longer with us, it warms my heart to know that they touched you, too, just as they did me.
5) I love your comments – on Facebook, Twitter, Google or in person. Always good to hear that somebody is reading and is touched in some way!
So… comes another year! I will continue to share recipes, parties, stories, projects, causes, and, of course, more inspiring people!
Blessings to you all!
Matthew 5:2-12
And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Stroll Down Memory Lane – T Shirt Quilts


I have always wanted to make (or have made) t-shirt quilts for my girls. For months and years, I have been saving t-shirts that I just couldn’t get rid of because of the special memories. It became a project for Granny (my Mother) – she read about different methods of assembly and talked to several people who had completed quilts and decided on what she thought was the best way. She pieced it together. Then she found someone to machine quilt it for us. The end result was a very special collection of memory’s for both girls and one that they will treasure for a life time!

Elle, being the oldest, ended up with the biggest quilt which included shirts from Vacation Bible School, TPS Track Club, Englewood Patriot Run, Valley View Softball, Summer Baseball Trips with Daddy, T.A.R.G.E.T. and more!
Annie’s quilt included Sprayberry Stars, Valentine’s, Halloween, Big Al Kid’s Club, American Girl, Achilles Kids, Kids Rock and more!
I would definitely recommend that you put this on your “To Do ” list – it is a treasure! I smile each time I look at them, remembering so many fun activities they have participated in during their childhood. Guess I need to start working on one for the next phase of their life! So thankful for my sweet Mother who took the time to carefully assemble this treasured quilt!

The Cookie Sheet – Iced Strawberry Cookies

These cookies made with strawberry cake mix cookies are sure to please – They are delicious! They are easy! They take less than 30 minutes to make! They are pretty! And only 3 ingredients that you can keep on hand for a quick and easy sweet treat!

Iced Strawberry Cookies

1 strawberry cake mix
2 eggs

1/3 C. oil
2 – 2 ½ C. powdered sugar

2-4 T. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Add cake mix, eggs and oil to combine. The dough will be thick. Roll about 1 T. of dough into a ball and place on cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 6-9 minutes until lightly browned on bottom. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before placing on wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, combine powdered sugar and milk and stir. Allow to harden before serving them on your favorite cookie plate!

*Click here for printable copy of this recipe*

I made these for a party earlier in the week and have already had a request from my daughter for her to take as a snack to her DNow weekend! I see this being a great recipe for any “girlie” party because they are pink. They are great for Valentine’s – you could form the dough into a heart! I think they would also be great for an Easter basket! Or any day! Enjoy!