Choose Joy – A Comfort Shower

One of my most favorite blog posts that I ever read was one by Ashley at
 lil Blue Boo. In this post, she describes “A Day to Choose Joy” in which her friends and family gave her a “Comfort Shower” when she was going through cancer treatment.
It was a beautiful luncheon on a beautiful day with beautiful friends who shared encouragement, laughter, love, and JOY!

Each guest brought “comfort” gifts including pajamas, magazines, sharpies, scarves, comfy blankets and clothes, teas, oils, books, snacks, devotionals, journals, and a cooler full of  homemade frozen soups!
Ashley is a designer and DIYer who offers lots of great ideas on her blog. Check out her beautiful website – you may want to follow her!
“Choose Joy” guides her daily. After her father passed away, she found these words written at the top of a devotional page that belonged to him. That saying let her know that, no matter what, everything would be OK.
I think I was able to relate to her because of losing her father and the cancer journey. For me, Choosing Joy is the only choice! That certainly doesn’t mean their aren’t bad days, it’s just that we choose to make the best of a given situation! Faith, Family and Friends make all the difference in the world!

Sweet Dreams – Sweet Ministry
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety…….. Psalms 4:8
You will find this verse at the heart of the Sweet Dreams Ministry of the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa. I was delighted to read an article in the April 2013 Missions Mosaic publication of the WMU about this sweet ministry.  It all began when Lisa Fitzgerald* made a cute pillow case for a young friend going through cancer treatment. Just ONE pillow case  – then just ONE pillowcase party and an ongoing ministry on it’s way to making thousands of pillowcases – to provide comfort and support to so many children battling cancer working through children’s hospitals in Birmingham, Memphis and Nashville.
Here is another sweet aspect of this story. The young girl who received the first pillow case seven years ago is now in remission (7 years later),  has a sewing machine of her own and is very active in this ministry.
The article concludes with a challenge to women’s mission groups to bring “sweet dreams” to even more children.
“This is a demonstration of how God can take an idea of a kindness intended for one person and multiply it to touch thousands of other people.”
Linda Humber – Director of FBC Ladies Ministry and Missions
For the full story, go to The Alabama Baptist
Who will take the challenge and provide more “sweet dreams” for children – through cutting, sewing, ironing, donating fabric and/or money?
*I’ve known Lisa since our single days at FBC way back when – what a way to use her talents to share the love of Christ!

Say It with a Cupcake!

One of my favorite cooking magazines is “Taste of Home” – never tried a recipe in this magazine that I didn’t like. “Taste of Home” has lots a good, basic recipes like this one for Caramel Apple Cupcakes!
Caramel Apple Cupcakes


1 pkg. spice or carrot cake mix (regular size)
2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples
20 caramels
3 T. milk
1 cup finely chopped pecans
12 Popsicle sticks
Prepare cake batter according to package directions; fold in apples. Fill 12 greased or paper lined jumbo muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until tooth inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a saucepan, cook the caramels and milk over low heat until smooth. Spread over cupcakes. Sprinkle with pecans. Insert a Popsicle stick into the center of each cupcake.
For my muffins, I actually made 24 regular size muffins, using the carrot cake mix. I used Granny Smith apples. To accommodate the extra muffins, I doubled the caramels and milk so that I would have enough to spread over each muffin.
I used muffins cups and I always spray the muffins cups lightly to prevent the liner from sticking to the cupcake. Here is one option to find cute cup cake liners Cup Cakes Swirl
Next, the packaging! Using cellophane, I wrapped each one like a caramel apple, tied with a ribbon and a “thank you” tag made on Print Artist – just a small token to say “thank you” to some ladies who went above and beyond the call of duty!
These cupcakes would be perfect for a bake sale – delicious and pretty – will have to remember this!

Verses for Encouragement

When I was going through my treatment for multiple myeloma, my sweet friend, Jenny Benefield, gave me a box with these hand written Bible verses in it to provide encouragement to me during a difficult time. I still keep this box of verses on my nightstand so that I can refer to them in other times of need. This morning, as my Adult Bible Study (Sunday School) Class went over our prayer list, I thought about how many needs are around us all the time – illness, injury, loss, and more – so many people hurting, and I was reminded of how Jenny’s thoughtfulness uplifted me. They were simply handwritten on pieces of card stock and meant more to me than she will ever know. Thought I would share them with you – you or someone you know may need to hear these words…….
He tends his flock like a shepherd; he gathers the lambs in his arms…Isaiah 40:11
Love does not fail…1 Corinthians 13:8
The peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus…Phillipians 4:7
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…Phillipians 4:13
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint…Isaiah 40:31
He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge…Psalms 91:4
God is our refuge and strength, a timely help in trouble…Psalms 46:1
The Lord is my shepherd….Psalms 23:1
Come to me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…Matthew 11:28
The God of Jacob is our fortress…Psalms 46:7&11
Thanks, Jenny, for your encouragement. May I always be an encourager to others as you were to me!

What’s for Breakfast? A Breakfast Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? Have you ever tried the breakfast version? Actually, there are many varieties of breakfast pizza out there but here’s just one version….
Breakfast Pizza
1 refrigerated pizza crust
8 eggs, slightly beaten
Chopped green peppers
Small jar sliced mushrooms
1 pkg. chopped ham
8 oz. shredded cheese (or more!)
Press crust into pan. Spread chopped ham, mushrooms and cheese over the crust. Pour eggs over the top. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake according to direction on pizza crust package – until crust is brown and pizza is “set” in the center.  Serve with fruit and you have a great breakfast! 

For those who don’t like peppers and mushrooms, I left them off of one side. You can really make this pizza any way you want  – substitute sausage or bacon instead of ham. It would also be good with onions and/or red pepper added. The good thing about it is that you can have these ingredients “on hand” and make whenever! A great late Saturday morning breakfast or a quick and easy breakfast before work or school – enjoy!

Baseball, Hot Dogs and Apple Pie

 Well, college baseball season is underway with MLB soon to follow! Yea! We love baseball at our house. Just finished listening to my team win their 5th game of the season – Roll Tide!            

 What goes with baseball better than hot dogs and apple pie? Here’s a “double play” for you!
Have you ever had marinated hot dogs? Great twist on a regular hot dog!
Marinated Grilled Hot Dogs
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1splash Worcestershire sauce
1 dozen hot dogs
Whisk together the ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, and Worcestershire sauce.
Make 4-5 angled cuts down each hot dog with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut all the way through the hotdog. Completely coat the hot dogs in the ketchup marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
Grill outside or inside! I used my George Foreman grill.  Serve with condiments of your choice!
Sour Cream Apple Pie
2 C. all purpose flour
5 T. sugar
3/4 t. salt
3/4 t. cinnamon
6 T. sweet butter, chilled
6 T. shortening, chilled
4-6 T. apple juice, chilled
Sift flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture is crumbly. Moisten with just enough juice to form the dough into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Cut off 1/3 dough and return to refrigerator. Roll out remaining dough on floured waxed paper into circle. Line a 9 inch pie pan with the dough circle. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5-7 Granny Smith apples
2/3 C. sour cream
1/3 C. sugar
1 egg
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
3 T. flour
Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Whisk together sour cream, sugar, egg, salt, vanilla and flour. Pour mixture over apples and coat completely. Put apple mixture into pan, spreading evenly.
3 T. brown sugar
3 T. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
 1 C. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Mix all ingredients and sprinkle over filling.
Roll out remaining dough to form 10 inch circle. Cut into strips and arrange in lattice fashion over apples. Bake 55-65 minutes. If crust browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
I have made this recipe for many years and it is definitely a home run, maybe even a grand slam! It is my all time favorite apple pie. I think it’s the apple juice and cinnamon in the crust that makes it special. For most pies requiring a crust, I use the Pillsbury or Publix brand refrigerated crust, but, with this recipe, you have to make the crust from scratch because of what the juice and cinnamon add to the flavor of the pie. Warm right out of the oven – you can’t beat it!
Do you know the origin of the 7th Inning Stretch?
There are a few stories out there about the origin, but one popular story for the origin of the 7th Inning stretch is that President William Howard Taft at a Washington Senators game in 1910 was sore from prolonged sitting and stood up to stretch. Upon seeing the chief executive stand, the rest of the spectators in attendance felt obligated to join the president in his gestures………..This is the story Barry told me while we were enjoying our marinated hot dogs, listening to baseball and, of course, our apple pie. I had never even thought of how the “stretch” began.

Thankful Thursday – Something to Think About

“I Am Thankful” was originally printed in Family Circle Magazine in November 1999. I just ran across it at
It is certainly something to think about!
Stephanie is “full of great ideas” for sharing inexpensive and simple home decor and craft ideas. Check them out at the link above!

A Very Special Art Show

Painted with fingerprints of one of Sprayberry’s Multiple Needs Classes
There’s a very special art show is town! Sprayberry Education Center will host it’s 9th Annual Art Show and Silent Auction on Thursday, February 21, 2013, at the Northport Civic Center from 6:00 – 7:30 P.M.
Enlightened Art by Gifted Students
in the Tuscaloosa County School System
Extraordinary Art by Students
 in the Multiple Needs and Autism Classes
Little Hands Art by Sprayberry Preschoolers
Sprayberry Staff Art
Community(Youth and Adult) Art by Friends of Sprayberry
Little Hands

Multiple Needs

Multiple Needs


The Sprayberry Art Show was initiated 9 years ago as a way for ALL students to offer creative expression while raising funds for the PTO. ALL artwork is available for purchase through silent auction with bids starting at only $15. Admission is FREE and delicious food is provided, catered by Robertson’s BBQ. If you are in the Tuscaloosa/Northport area, come join us for an evening that is sure to be a treat for everyone. There is sure to be a treasured piece of art for everyone made by some very special students, staff or friends.

This year’s art show is dedicated in loving memory of Madison Nichole Ryland, a Sprayberry student who passed away in January.
Madison’s parents are Jessica Wilson (Chris) and John Ryland (Terri). Madison’s Mom is a former Sprayberry PTO President and was very instrumental in the establishing the Sprayberry Art Show!
We love you, Madison!

The Spice of Life

Finished off a jar of “Emeril’s Italian Essence” from Chef Emeril Lagasse, last night when making spaghetti with meatballs. It was “store bought” but I remembered that I once made a recipe of Emeril’s Original Essence so I found the recipe on Food Network’s website, made it and I’m passing along the recipe. 
Emeril’s Essence
 2 1/2 T. paprika
2 T. salt
2 T. garlic powder
1 T. black pepper
1 T. onion powder
1 T. cayenne pepper
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried thyme
Combine ingredients thoroughly and store in airtight container. It is a “perfect blend of herbs and spices to compliment fish or fowl, meat or pasta.”
 For lots of recipes using the essence, go to Emeril’s Cooking
Spice it up!

Celebrate – The Magazine!

Need some party inspiration? Here’s a great source! Just picked up the Winter edition today, and, just like all the rest, it is jam packed with the greatest ideas – game night, supper club, Sweet 16 party, baby shower, just to name a few! 


–> <!– .nav_about, .nav_about a { color: #f2de0d; } // –> Celebrate, the magazine by Phyllis Hoffman. is a beautiful magazine that showcases life’s important events. The magazine offers inspiration for baby showers, holidays, weddings, anniversaries and many other special occasions!

Every issue if filled with creative ideas, recipes, menus, tips, invitations and so much more! The pictures are beautiful and there’s very little advertising!

                    For more information, visit the website: Celebrate!

You can subscribe to the magazine and/or their newsletter, get a digital version or follow on Pinterest! Many opportunities to be inspired by the great work of Phyllis Hoffman! Enjoy!