Friday, November 25, 2011


a loving hand will be laid upon your shoulder
and this brief message will be given:
Billy Graham

that "someday" was today for my dear, sweet dad.
today, God laid his hand on my father's shoulder and whispered "come home".
for 9 long weeks, he fought to stay with us.
if i listed the complications that wracked his body,
you wouldn't believe me.

 it wasn't that he was afraid to die. 
for he knew exactly where he was going
and who he would be with.
he would finally be home...with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
with his family and many friends who had gone before him.
(click HERE to read a birthday blog about my dad:)

 i know they are falling all over themselves to greet him...
Perry, Emery, Jack, Doc...just to name a few.
and Pork Chop...
yes, Pork Chop...the man he worked with for many years,
who loved my dad,
who watched my dad, a man of faith, live his life for Christ every single day...
and knew that my dad was a true man of God.
i believe that
the real believers know how to reach others by example.
that was my dad.
i'm not sure why Pork Chop came to mind...
except that story is a perfect example of the kind of man he was.
reaching out to others.
i learned a lot watching him with Pork Chop and so many others like him.
Pete is another example of someone my dad reached out to.

my dad fought to stay on earth to live one more day 
with his beautiful bride of 61 years,
 to have one more cup of coffee with her in the morning,
gazing out at the backyard he loved so much.
to be there for his four daughters,
to treasure his many grandchildren and great grand-children.

 i just love the quote at the beginning of this post.
it is by a true man of God also.
i read it in a book i bought this week to give my dad for Christmas.
it's called Billy Graham in Quotes and I can't tell you 
how wonderful this book is.

as if Billy Graham hasn't already reached many people, he will reach so many more with 
this book, because it is so simply written yet based on scripture.
i can't stop reading it...the comfort it is bringing me today is priceless.
this book covers more than 100 subjects, every feeling and sentiment,
many different trials and life's more difficult moments...

my dad would have loved this book.
now i think it's my mom who will treasure it.

...just as i treasure all of the friends i have made through this blog,
who take the time to stop by,
read, comment...even when i have checked out and don't respond back.
i can only hope i get my head straight and 
that all changes in the near future:)
mostly, i treasure the prayers i know have been sent up for my dad...
and i will be so grateful if you continue to remember my family...
especially my amazing, wonderful mother...
who will undoubtedly be the subject of a blog post someday.
i think it will be a post that talks about what it means to
not only SAY your marriage vows, but what it means to LIVE them...
as my mom my dad's side until the very end.

i'm sorry to write this on thanksgiving weekend.
but that's life, isn't it?
we need to always remember to be thankful in all things...
most importantly for those we love and those who love us.

i don't believe we lack faith when we grieve.
as he also says in this book...
when we grieve, we simply are showing how much we have loved.

Billy Graham has another quote in this book...
it really does say it all.
we could all replace his name with the one we love.
here it is:
"Someday you will hear that Billy Graham is dead.
Don't you believe it!!!
I shall be more alive than I am now.I will just have changed my address.
 I will have gone into the presence of God."
Billy Graham

 i know my dad is also in the presence of God.
while we will miss him terribly, 
he is now in his perfect heaven...without any pain...
waiting for the rest of his family to join him someday.
and because he was a faithful husband and father,
because he raised us as God's children,
he knows we WILL be with him someday.
 thank you dad...for everything!
  i love you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

little things...special moments

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."
~ William Arthur Ward

don't you love that quote?  
i hope you've all had a wonderful Thanksgiving day...
regardless of how or where it was spent.
there is always something to be thankful for.
i am especially reminded of that this year...
which made me grateful for the
simple day that we enjoyed.
the simple little things that made for special moments.
things like this...

 a beautiful day.

 cooking with my girls.

 (taste tester:)

southern fried thanksgiving dinner...

special guests...

and let the decorating begin...

wishing all of you a simple, blessed and beautiful Holiday season!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Becoming a Interview with a Ballet Dancer

around here, a BIG part of the Holiday season is the
NUTCRACKER. kidding, right? :)
my oldest daughter is the ballet dancer in the family.
 Taylor is 16 (almost 17,,,YIKES:)
she has been cast as the
SUGAR PLUM FAIRY and grown-up Clara in this year's production.
last year was exciting because she was the Snow Queen but Sugarplum?
that is a role every little girl who sees the nutcracker dreams of.
i guess you could say that on her list of
goals and dreams...that's a big one...and she's still young.
so her proud mama thought it would be neat to do a few features interview.
a peek inside a dancer's bag...and more if I can think of it:)
read on to learn how Taylor went from playing with her sugarplum barbie 
to putting on a tutu and turning into the SUGARPLUM FAIRY!

Becoming a interview with Taylor Dutcher:
~How did you first learn about ballet?
T:  I have been going to the ballet with my mama since i was a little girl.
I think i saw my first nutcracker when i was two years old and LOVED it!
It was performed by Ballet Florida and every year
we would go to the nutcracker and sit in the front row.
  I would watch the ballerinas and then go home and pretend to be a dancer.
Then i would ask for every ballet barbie there was and everything pink that
reminded me of ballet. 
I was three years old when i took my first little ballet class and we could bring our
favorite stuffed animal to the class.  I didn't bring a stuffed animal...
i brought ballerina barbie:)

~What is your favorite role that you have danced?
T: I  really like the role i am dancing now as the Sugarplum Fairy.
i also loved performing Lilac Fairy from Sleeping Beauty.
 (lilac fairy)

~What role would you like to perform someday?
T: Wow, there are so many roles I would love to dance, but what really comes to mind is performing the  role of Odette (the white swan) from Swan Lake. I just love the dramatic music, and the beautiful scenes with the swans.

~What is your favorite ballet?
T:  I like many ballets, but  I would probably say  Sleeping Beauty.
I tend to like the classical, story ballets.
They are traditional and still so beautiful, from the dancing to the music,
and I love bringing something new, especially since I loved this story  as a little girl.

~Do you do anything special in the days and hours leading up to a performance?
T:  Well, in the days leading up to it, i try to get a good nights sleep,
drink a lot of water, watch the carbs, stay limber and not do anything
that could cause an injury (like rollerblading:)
In the hours before, i try to stay calm and focused.  some dancers are chatty and 
stay relaxed by goofing around...i'm not like that, especially if I have the lead.
you feel the pressure and responsibility more so i just try to empty my mind and think about what i need to do.  One of my past instructors, Andrei Bossov from the Bossov Ballet told us that we do not BECOME the character...that we PORTRAY the character, bringing our own personality into it to make it enjoyable for the audience.  So i do try to get into character by using what i know i have to do and who i am.

~Do you enjoy doing lifts?
T: yes, if i feel prepared and have confidence in my partner.

~What would you like to work on, to improve?
T:  Hmmm...I would like to work on my flow of movements, artistry, making it look effortless.
To me, that is a huge part of the beauty of ballet.
(opening night)

~What is your favorite style of dance?
T:  Definitely Vaganova, a Russian style of dance.

~Corps or Solo?
T: I prefer solos.
~Teachers who have really made an impression on you?
T:  My current teacher, Christophe Maraval from Naples Academy of Ballet is WONDERFUL!
Also, one of my first teachers, Donna Morgan who was at Ballet Florida.
Also, Andrei Bossov from Bossov Ballet and Rebecca Rodriguez from Ballet Met.
I've had so many great teachers and you can almost always learn something new, no matter how much experience you have.

~What do you wear to class?
T:  black leotard, short black wrap skirt, tights, pointe shoes, pink belt.
if it's chilly...legwarmers and a sweater during warm-ups.
~What would you ultimately  like to accomplish in the ballet world?
T:  Well, I would like to audition for a position with a company after high school and hopefully work my way up to a position as principal dancer.  
Along, the way, I would get my degree but somehow I see myself always being involved in the dance world.
I used to dream of being a Rockette but since I stopped growing at 5'5", that put an end to those plans:)

~What is your training schedule like?
T:  I take classes 6 days/week, sometimes twice daily because i go in the morning to practice for an hour or two and then go back for class at night.  The evening classes are anywhere from 1 1/2 hours-4 hours and saturdays from 2 hours-5hours, depending on rehearsals.
There is not much time for  social life but Iove it!

~Okay, tell us a few facts about YOU...likes or dislikes, favorite music, shows, movies...stuff like that...
T:  Okay, the music on my ipod is mostly country and broadway.
I prefer old movies and my favorites include anything with Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, especially My Fair Lady, Charade and Rear Window.  My favorite show/movie...Phantom of the Opera, hands down! 

well...there you have it, straight from a 16 year old who hopes to be a professional ballerina 
I've seen interviews like this and thought it would be cool to hear from my own daughter:)
next up...What's in a Ballet Dancer's Bag?
bet you'll be surprised by some of what we find:)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Nutcracker Cookies....

what are NUTCRACKER cookies?
our latest favorite...or one of our latest favorite cookies.
or maybe it's the cookie dough we love.
either way...they are YUM-MY!
okay...y'all know i have a real life SUGARPLUM FAIRY living in the house...
so as if the Nutcracker wasn't a big deal before...
now it's HUGE!
so when Ms. J made cookies last night...
double chocolate m and m cookies...
with red and green m and m's...
i decided to name them nutcracker cookies.
they are just so simple...
and SO GOOD...
and look really good all packaged up.
there you cookie idea that is a sure thing.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into eight pieces
3/4 cup M&M’s
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, place the chopped chocolate and the butter. Microwave for one minute at 50% power. Stir. Microwave again for one minute at 50% power and stir well. If the chocolate is not fully melted, continue microwaving in 30 second intervals at 50% power until the chocolate and butter are well combined (don't overheat the chocolate or it can turn hard and unusable). Let the mixture cool slightly, about 2-3 minutes until it is at room temperature or just slightly warm (but not hot).
In a large bowl, combine the chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined. Gradually mix in flour mixture on low speed. Fold in M&M’s.
Grease baking sheets with cooking spray. Drop dough onto baking sheets by tablespoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop) spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. If desired, place five or six M&M's on top of the cookie dough balls (even perched slightly on the rounded sides). Bake the cookies until they have slightly flattened and there are a few cracks on the surface, about 13-14 minutes.
The cookies will still be soft. Let the cookies sit for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.makes  2-3 dozen...
unless you eat half the we did!
Recipe Source: from

okay, i know these are no big deal...
but my point is, we tweaked a recipe we like, changed the name...
and VOILA!
a new HOLIDAY cookie:)

(tomorrow my sugarplum fairy is getting her wisdom teeth pulled.
HELLO ice cream!!!!!:)

Monday, November 14, 2011

blogging from an airplane at 31,000 feet.... case you haven't noticed, I haven't been around much lately. (I know...what's new?) I've been up north, trying to help out my dad (STILL in the hospital...poor guy!) And my mom...what a trooper. Someday I'll fill you in but let me say, When they took their marriage vows, They meant every word!:) But I'm coming home and since we just flew through A NASTY bit of turbulence, I thought I'd write. At 31,000 feet. Might distract me. The flight was delayed to a flight attendants Personal emergency and from bad storms we have to Fly around. Apparently the pilot cut it close because we did NOT Fly around those clouds:) Do you like flying? I hate it. Truly hate it! But I will never stop because that's how the world Rolls these days and we have to roll with it. But in case you didn't get it, I HATE it!!:) However, I have Jordan to hold my hand... My trusty iPod with my country playlist, My iPad...magazines...and snacks:) I like to think my glass is half full... Most of the time. But today? Today has been a test. There is some lady in front of me doing aerobics or something. My tray is literally wobbling Because of her. People are coughing their brains out and the rest are sneezing NONSTOP. Did I mention there is a couple with 4 (FOUR) cats? Did I also mention I'm allergic? So count me in with the stuffy nose group. The guy behind me can't seem to get up without Grabbing the back of my chair...and about tossing me Out of it. Hve you ever noticed how guys do that? Just get up already! And maybe if you stopped drinking you wouldn't be running To the bathroom every 5 minutes. Let's see...the lady next to me ordered coke... But I got it. All over my sweater. (the flight attendant spilled it on me.) Okaaaayyy...this is getting better and better. Were getting in an hour and a half late... But at least I get out of making dinner:) Ahhh...the JOYS of flying:) Okay...enough already. As long as the pilot lands this baby safely, That's all that counts,right? Oh I forgot, the 3 people behind us are trading horror stories About the worst, most turbulent, nauseous flights they ever flew on. That's good...freak the rest of us out with your LOUD voice. much longer.  Okay,okay...I'm done! Time to move on and do something productive. Like pick out a Christmas card, make a few lists... Fun stuff like that:) Catch you tomorrow! Suzanne XOXOXO

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