Christmas tree farms Making dreams come true
VOL. 66 NO. 12 DECEMBER 2013
ALABAMA LIVING is delivered to some 420,000 Alabama families and businesses, which are members of 22 not-for-profit, consumer-owned, locally directed and taxpaying electric cooperatives. AREA cooperative member subscriptions are $3 a year; non-member subscriptions, $6. Alabama Living (USPS 029-920) is published monthly by the Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives. Periodicals postage paid at Montgomery, Alabama, and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER send forms 3579 to: Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, Alabama 36124-4014.
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14 Making magic moments for children Children struggling with chronic illness have a friend in Magic Moments, an Alabamabased group that seeks to build lasting relationships with children and their families.
24 Archery 101
If you’ve ever thought about taking up a bow instead of a rifle for your next hunting trip, our outdoor writer, John Felsher, has some tips for you.
At Fish River Christmas Tree Farm in Summerdale Steve Mannhard uses a motorized hedge-type trimmer to shape Cypress trees. PHOTO: David Haynes
32 Christmas memories Alabama Living readers, like everyone else, have special memories of Christmas. Read about some of those favorite memories and get in the spirit of the season!
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DECEMBER 2013 3
How to care for your farm-grown fresh christmas tree When a Christmas tree is cut, typically over half of its weight is water. With proper care, you can maintain the quality of your displayed trees. Below are a number of tips relating to the care of displayed trees: II Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems. II Make a fresh cut to remove a ¼” to 1” thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. II Don’t cut the trunk at an angle, or into a vshape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree. II Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6-8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don’t bruise the cut surface or get it dirty. II If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water. II To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand. II Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed. 4 DECEMBER 2013
II Keep displayed trees away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day. II The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake. II Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water. II Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake. II Use of lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying of the tree. II Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set. II Do not overload electrical circuits. II Always turn off the lights when leaving the house or when going to bed. II Monitor the tree for freshness. After Christmas or if the tree is dry, remove it from the house. II Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace. Information came from the National Christmas Tree Association
Safety for the holidayS Exercising care during the holidays will help keep your holiday season safe and accident free. holiday liGhtS Make sure all decorations are approved and marked “for outdoor use”. Inspect each decoration and replace any that have cracked, frayed, or bare wires. Check packaging for the maximum number of light strands that may be connected. Turn lights and other decorations off when you leave or go to bed. Send warranty and registration in to be notified of a product recall or safety concerns.
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holiday treeS Lower the risk of an electrical fire by cutting the base of your holiday tree so it can absorb water and by filling the tree stand with water daily. When selecting a live tree, avoid ones with dry needles, to reduce fire hazards.
extenSion cordS & decoratinG outdoorS GFCI outlets are your best protection against severe shocks. GFCI outlets are designed to disconnect power automatically when an item like an electric decoration comes in contact with water. Make sure the extension cord you use is rated for the products plugged into it and is marked for either indoor or outdoor use. Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strands protected from the elements. Extension cords can overheat, so avoid running near flammable materials.
• • • •
Space heaterS Keep heaters at least 3 ft. away from combustible materials, especially your bed. Never leave children unsupervised in rooms where space heaters are located. If you use an electric blanket, turn it off and unplug it when not in use.
• • •
children’S Safety Remember that others’ homes may not be childproofed. When visiting, take time to look around for any obvious hazards to children after arriving. Avoid giving young children toys that plug in, and keep all electrical toy use away from water.
Counterfeit electrical products may look authentic, but are not made to the same standards as certified products. Look for the UL, CSA or ETL-SEMKO certification marks. Warning labels should be free from errors and not conflict with other information on the package.
Safety after the holidayS
• • •
Holiday electrical decorations are meant for temporary use and should be stored promptly. Store decorations away from children, pets and water. Discard broken or faulty lights. * Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)
DECEMBER 2013 5
Don’t take the merry out of your christmas By Sara Peterson
Before your family puts up a tree or hangs the stockings this holiday season, start a new tradition. Put safety at the top of your list. Too often the twinkling lights people see are on top of a fire truck or ambulance—the result of holiday accidents that could have been prevented. Trees and lights are danger-prone holiday decorations. According to the United States Fire Administration, Christmas trees start an average of 260 house fires each season, resulting in more than $16 million in property damage. Another 150 house fires are sparked by holiday lights and decorative lighting, costing $8.9 million in damage. Typically, all of these fires
6 DECEMBER 2013
are more severe and damaging, resulting in twice the injuries and five times the fatalities per blaze compared to average winter home fires. Unsafe practices while putting up decorations are to blame for even more injuries. Nearly 6,000 individuals visit emergency rooms each year for falls that occur. Four thousand more are treated for injuries associated with extension cords. But safety steps don’t end with bright decorations. Gifts trigger injuries, too. Toys that are not used as intended or used without proper supervision lead to avoidable accidents. Electrical shocks, burns, or injuries from sharp, pointed, or moving
parts are to blame for many of these injuries according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. When it is time to deck your halls, take these precautions to ensure the safety of you, your family, and holiday guests:
Real or artificial, short or tall, Christmas trees are often the culprit for danger. Incorporate these safety guidelines in your decorating routine:
II Make sure an artificial tree is labeled “fire resistant.” Be aware that “fire resistant” does not mean “fire proof.” Exercise caution when it comes to your tree. www.alabamaliving.coop
II Make sure a live tree is fresh and green. Dry, brittle limbs and shedding needles are a breeding ground for sparks. Water a live tree regularly to prevent it from drying out.
The thrill of holiday presents is quickly forgotten when a gift leads to injury. Here are a few suggestions to keep children safe:
II Place any type of tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, vents, and radiators.
Make sure safety ranks at the top of your “to do” list this holiday season. Like the old Christmas song says, there is no place like home for the holidays—especially when your family is safe and your home is filled with good cheer.
Festive lights give homes a magical glow both inside and out. When decorating this season, a few simple safety tips can keep your spirits bright. II Do not overload electrical outlets. Most lights are designed to connect no more than three strands. Inspect the wires periodically to make sure they are intact and not warm to the touch. II Never leave lights on overnight or when no one is home. II Only use lights that have been approved by an independent testing laboratory. II Select gifts that are age appropriate for the recipient. Toys recommended for older children pose too many risks for younger children to use safely.
II Replace any strands that show signs of damage, such as bare or frayed wires, broken bulbs, or loose connections. Faulty lights can send an electrical charge through a tree and electrocute anyone who comes in contact with a branch.
II E d u c a t e c h i l d re n on electrical safety when using any new toy or product that requires an electrical connection. II Review all instructions and safety guidelines included with new products before you allow the child to use it. This ensures the safety of the child and protects the integrity of the product.
Sara Peterson writes on safety and energy efficiency issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation’s 900plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. SOURCES: UNITED STATES FIRE ADMINISTRATION, CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION
DECEMBER 2013 7
8â€ƒ DECEMBER 2013
In December call or 334-624-8741 or 334-624-8618. All proceeds from will benefit the Greensboro Area Business and Tourism Association, the Historic Magnolia Grove Foundation, and the Hale County Historic Preservation Society. DEC. 14
Athens plans Sippin’ Cider event
Magnolia Grove, one of the stops on Greensboro’s Porches and Parlors Tour, was the boyhood home of Spanish-American War hero and Congressman Richmond Pearson Hobson.
Visitors can enjoy Greensboro’s ‘Porches and Parlors’ The Greensboro Porches and Parlors Tour and Mistletoe Market will be Sunday, Dec. 8, from 1 to 5 p.m. Two house museums and four historic private homes representing a variety of architectural styles will be decorated for the holidays and open to the public. One of the museum tour homes, Magnolia Grove, is a property of the Alabama Historical Commission. The circa 1840 Greek Revival was the boyhood home of Spanish-American War hero and U.S. Congressman Richmond Pearson Hobson. Another stop on the tour is the Noel-Ramsey House, also known as the Old French House, one of the oldest structures in Greensboro and the only surviving structure that has ties to the Vine and Olive Colony. Built around 1822, the house is now owned by the Hale County Historic Preservation Society. In addition to the house tour, visitors can shop at the Mistletoe Market holiday bazaar of local arts and crafts and baked goods. Local choirs and musicians will perform at the Presbyterian Church throughout the afternoon. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Tickets for Mistletoe Market only are $5. The ticket office and Mistletoe Market will be at the Greensboro Elementary Gymnasium at 1801 South Street. Advance tickets may be purchased at The Partridge Berry at 1305 Main Street. For more information, please Alabama Living
Catch the holiday spirt on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and be a part of the festivities as downtown Athens celebrates its third annual Sippin’ Cider Fest. Participating downtown restaurants, shops and businesses will be open and offering their own batch of cider. There will be entertainment downtown and inside establishments. Merchants add to the occasion by offering special holiday activities, in-store demonstrations, Members of the Mayor’s Youth Commission and door prizes for dressed up as Charles Dickens’ characters guests and customers. for last year’s Sippin’ Cider event. The public is invited to sample a wide variety of cider in participating businesses. Activities that evening include free train rides, roasting marshmellows, decorating gingerbread men, children’s craft activities in the businesses, music and a special appearance from Santa. For more information, call 256-232-9040. JAN. 9
Famed country singer will perform at arts event The Coffee County Arts Alliance has announced that singer Suzy Bogguss will perform at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 at Elba High School in Elba. Bogguss released one platinum and three gold albums and charted eight top ten singles, winning the Academy of Country Music’s award for Top New Female Vocalist in 1989 and the Country Music Association Horizon Award in 1992. For more information, call 334-406-2787 or visit www. coffeecountyartsalliance.com. DECEMBER 2013 9
Resolve to create a better retirement plan By Kylle’ McKinney Alabama Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Another New Year is just around the corner, offering a new opportunity to improve your life in any number of ways with a wise New Year’s resolution or two. (No doubt, for most of us the possibilities are endless.) But one good idea for many might be creating (or updating) a long-term financial plan. According to a 2013 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “the percentage of workers confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement is essentially unchanged from the record lows observed in 2011.” Only 13 percent are very confident of being able to afford a comfortable retirement, while 28 percent are not at all confident. If you are among those with lower financial confidence and you haven’t started to save for retirement already, now is the time to begin — no matter what your age. If retirement is near, you’ll want to jump into the fast lane
right away. If you’re younger and retirement seems a lifetime away, it’s still in your best interest to begin saving now, as compound interest will work to your McKinney advantage. Experts agree that saving when you’re young will make a world of difference when the time comes to draw on your retirement savings. Don’t take our word for it. You can check out the numbers yourself. A great place to start figuring out how much you will need for retirement is to learn how much you could expect from Social Security. You can do that in minutes with Social Security’s online Retirement Estimator. The Retirement Estimator offers an instant and personalized estimate of your future Social Security retirement benefits based on your earnings record. Try it out at www.socialsecurity. gov/estimator. We encourage saving for retire-
ment, but there are reasons to save for every stage of life. A great place to go for help is www.mymoney.gov. MyMoney.gov is the government’s website dedicated to teaching Americans the basics about financial education. Whether you are planning to buy a home, balancing your checkbook, or investing in your 401(k) plan, the resources on www.mymoney.gov can help you. Another excellent resource is the Ballpark E$timator at www.choosetosave.org/ballpark. This online tool takes complicated issues, like projected Social Security benefits and earnings assumptions on savings, and turns them into language and numbers that are easy to understand. So turn over a new financial page in your life with the start of a new year, and get started at www.socialsecurity. gov. Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs specialist, can be reached in Montgomery at 866-593-0914, ext. 26265, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Alabama company expands online TV channel options for those with Internet access As more people look for ways to view video content online, a new group has launched eWave TV for anyone with Internet access. The Alabama-based Ariel Media Group launched eWave this year, and bills itself as “America’s first multi-channel online TV network.” The company has been adding new channels regularly, including an offering from Ashton Shepherd, from Coffeevilla, Ala., whose “Cookin’ Country” channel was launched in July. The company plans to have 20 networks available for viewing by 2014. Lori Cummings, CEO of Ariel Media Group, says the offerings are diverse and include music channels such as “My Muzic TV” and “The Beauty of Music.” Food lovers have a range of options as well, including Shepherd’s channel and “The Art of Kathy G.” “Living Rural TV” is for those who live in the country, farm and enjoy horses. Other viewing options include “Christian TV” and “Animalz TV,” which Cummings says is targeted “for those who love animals. ‘Animalz TV’ is a huge promoter of helping get rescued animals a new home.” 10 DECEMBER 2013
Cummings started the media group in 2007 with the goal of establishing the largest group of specialty networks that offer quality programming and shows for all age groups. The company also has plans to launch Pay-per-view options for special events, concerts and specials in the next “The Art of Kathy G” is one of the food-related few months. eWave TV offerings. Host Kathy G. Mezrano For more infordiscusses cooking, table decorating and entertaining. mation on eWave TV, visit www.eWave.TV. www.alabamaliving.coop
Your will: The overlooked bucket list item Of the trendy terms to come around in the past decade, “bucket list” remains among the most useful, says retirement planning expert Jeff Gorton. “As a neologism, I hope it endures because it reminds us of how precious our time is – and that it’s important to plan wisely,” says Gorton, a veteran certified public accountant and certified financial planner, and head of Gorton Financial Group. “Unfortunately, after some have listed their items and even checked a few things off, they forget about one important item that really counts after they’ve ‘kicked the bucket’ – their will.” Only about 40 percent of adults in America have a will, which is probably due to people not wanting to be reminded of their own mortality and that life will go on without them, he says. “But what’s the alternative? If you die without one, the state decides what becomes of your property, without regard to your priorities,” says Gorton, who also advocates his clients make use of a written income plan (WIP), a living document that helps organize financial priorities. Since so many adults don’t have a will, many don’t understand how they work. Gorton breaks down wills into
four basic parts: • Executors — Most wills begin by naming an executor, the person responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in the will. Duties include as-
sessing the value of the estate, gathering the assets, paying inheritance tax and other debts if necessary, and distributing assets among beneficiaries. It is recommended that you name at least two executors in case your first choice is unable to fulfill the obligation. • Guardians — A will allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children. Whomever you appoint, you will want to make sure beforehand that the individual is able and willing to assume the responsibility. For many people, this is the most important part of a will since, if you die without naming a guardian, the court will decide who takes care of your children.
• Gifts — This section enables you to identify people or organizations to whom you wish to give gifts of money or specific possessions, such as family heirlooms or a car. You can also specify conditional gifts, such as a sum of money to a young daughter, but only when she reaches a certain age. • Estate — Your estate encompasses everything you own, including real property, financial investments, cash and personal possessions. Once you have identified specific gifts you would like to distribute, you can apportion the rest of your estate in equal shares among your heirs, or you can split it into percentages. For example, you may decide to give 45 percent each to two children and the remaining 10 percent to a sibling. “You’re not legally required to have a professional write a will for you, but I highly recommend you get certified help because these documents are often contested by people who are unhappy with the decisions you made,” he says. “After working a lifetime for your assets, you deserve to have them go where you want after you’re gone, and your family will be grateful to you for not leaving them with the headache of trying to sort out your estate.”
Alabama’s public hunting lands are likely nearby By Adam Pritchett Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries
Hunting is a cherished tradition for many Alabama residents. For some, it is a way of life. Those people don’t list the seasons as spring, summer, fall and winter, but as turkey, dove, duck and deer seasons. For others, it is just a way to get out and enjoy nature. No matter what category you are in, public land hunting opportunities in Alabama are likely nearby. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) manages more than 756,000 acres of land available for public Alabama Living
hunting. These are either in Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), Physically Disabled Hunting Areas or Community Hunting Areas. The ADCNR owns approximately 81,000 of the acres and the Forever Wild Land Trust owns approximately 220,000 acres. Other government agencies, corporations and private landowners provide the remainder of the land, approximately 455,000 acres. Alabama’s WMA system was established to provide all types of hunting opportunities at a reasonable cost to the hunter. Prices continually increase on privately leased lands. With the purchase of a WMA license at $17, an individual has access to thousands of acres
across the state. There are currently 37 WMAs statewide and most provide the opportunity to hunt small and large game. Hunt dates, maps and regulations for each WMA can be found at www. outdooralabama.com under the public land hunting section. Alabama also has a trail of hunting areas for the physically disabled, which is composed of 17 sites. These areas have shooting houses designed to accommodate physical disabilities. The areas provide a quality hunting experience for hunters with a physical disability. For more information on public land hunting opportunities in Alabama, visit www.outdooralabama.com. DECEMBER 2013 11
Cherie and Skyler Ramage are ready for riders on the Christmas train at Thornhill Farm in Jackson County.
PHOTOS BY DAVID HAYNES
‘Tis the season for an Alabama-grown Christmas tree By David Haynes
hen our daughters were young, the Christmas the still fragile trees must be protected from wind, insects, disseason officially began for our family just after ease and competing weeds, which means application of fertilizers, Thanksgiving when we’d load up and drive to a tree fungicides and herbicides, along with regular mowing throughout farm. We’d select a tree, cut it down, and bring it home to spend the year. As they mature, each tree must be trimmed two or three the rest of the afternoon and evening decorating it with family times each year to produce that classic “O Tannenbaum” shape. Additionally, growers must plan carefully for their short retail ornaments accumulated year after year, as well as new ones every season, which lasts only about one month between Thanksgiving year made by the girls from popsicle sticks or cotton balls. Those trips to find a Christmas tree were a highlight of each through Christmas. This usually means hiring additional employholiday season. In fact, last year my older daughter took her ees and making certain they’re trained, arranging for vendors who provide food, drink or other amenities, setting up electronic point1-year-old son for his first trip to a tree farm. He loved it! of-purchase equipment, making sure Until recently I hadn’t given much the equipment needed to bundle and thought to what goes into making those tie down the trees is ready. Some farms experiences happen for families like have train or wagon rides, wreath and ours. But after visiting some Alabama ornament shops, Santa Claus and other Christmas tree farms and talking with holiday-themed entertainment activities, the owners, I came away with a new apall of which is aimed at making the expepreciation for the hard work and time rience of visiting their farm a memorable that goes into providing that centerone for families, especially the children. piece holiday decoration for households At Fish River Christmas Tree Farm across the state. Cherie Ramage displays items in Treehouse Shop. in Summerdale, Steve Mannhard uses a On the surface, it would seem to be an easy business endeavor, but it’s actually much like growing any motorized hedge-type trimmer to shape Cypress trees on a 20other crop, requiring long days of hard work, careful planning acre plot. He also sprays and cuts grass between the rows for weed control. “There’s always something that needs doing,” he told me. and good luck with Mother Nature’s unpredictable whims. Steve was still teaching school when he started the tree farm on Typically a Christmas tree farm opens for business around Thanksgiving. Families come to the farm, select a tree from his 40 acres back in 1981, but within a few years he left the teachamong acres of trees growing in long rows, then either cut it or ing profession after he realized the farm was a full-time job in itself. Each year he averages selling about 5,000 trees. The Fish River have the owners cut it for them and bring it home. But by the time that perfect tree is ready for the living room farm, which is close enough to the Gulf of Mexico to smell brine in it’s usually been tended, trimmed and watched over for three to the air, has five main offerings: the traditional model of the customer selecting and cutting a tree; living trees that are removed from five years by the tree farmer.
Leyland Cypress is the most popular variety
The growers I spoke with all said the Leyland Cypress tree was their most popular variety. These begin as seedlings that first must be transplanted into pots to grow under controlled conditions until they’re big enough to put into the ground. Once planted,
12 DECEMBER 2013
David Haynes is a freelance photographer and writer from Blount Springs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
the ground in a pot and can be later replantholiday season, they also offer free rides on ed after the holidays; hand-made wreaths a train built by Mr. Thornhill many years and garland; a nursery operation that’s open ago. This year they plan to offer a flocked tree year-round; and “Agri-tainment,” which he set-up service, in which they bring a flocked, described as holiday-themed entertainment lit and decorated tree to the client’s home such as having Santa Claus on hand, a petting zoo, train rides and concessions. and set it up for them, then remove the tree He also imports Frasier Fir trees, which and trimmings after the holidays. “Most of our business is from repeat cusdo not grow in the South. Other variettomers,” she said, adding that some families ies include Virginia Pine, Murray Cypress, are now in their third generation of coming Carolina Sapphire, Eastern Red Cedar and to the Thornhill Farm. “Some of them bring Green Giant Arborvitae. Steve Mannhard ties potted tree to stake at His Leyland Cypress are ready to sell in Fish River Christmas Tree Farm in Summerdale. a picnic lunch and just make a day of it.” The Back Home Tree Farm in Cottonjust three years whereas it takes up to four in North Alabama for the same tree. However, he said this is dale, located in the far southeast corner of the state south of offset by the fact that he has more issues with disease and insects. Dothan, was the smallest of the farms I contacted. Owners David And then there are the hurricanes. Steve told me Hurricane and Mary offer similar cypress and pine tree types. Mary told Ivan blew over about 20,000 trees in the sandy soil, each of me they are also fortunate to have a supplier who brings fresh which had to be staked and straightened by hand, a job that imported fir trees at several times during the holiday season. “We sell between 200 and 300 trees each year,” she said. They took a month of long days plus 10 additional employees for the have a “manageable” 20 acres planted in five plots, each of which job who were not in his budget. is replanted on a five-year rotation. As one year’s trees mature Flocked trees are new offering and are harvested, that plot is replanted to begin the cycle again, Nearly 400 miles to the north, in the tiny Jackson County she explained. community of Rosalie, perched astride one of the highest points They started their Christmas tree farm 16 years ago, but she on Sand Mountain at an elevation of about 1,500 feet, Thornhill noted that it took several years before they had trees ready to be Farm has been growing and selling Christmas trees since the cut and sold. Their customers come mostly from South Alabama 1970s. Started by Webb Gay and Joy Thornhill, it was one of and Georgia and the Florida Panhandle and their lower volume the early “select and cut” tree farms in the state. Mr. Thornhill allows them to remain an all-family business with Mary, David, passed away earlier this year and Joy told me that her daughter their son, Corey, and daughter-in-law, Leanna, working the farm and son-in-law, Cheri and Skyler Ramage, are taking over the without having to hire seasonal part-time employees. day-to-day operation of the tree farm this year. But she emphasized that their tree farm is still a full-time job Cheri said the farm averages selling between 2,000 and 3,000 that is labor intensive, “It’s just like a farm growing any other trees each year, most of which are the Leyland Cypress. They crop... it has to be tended year-round.” offer several other varieties, including living trees that can be The Southern Christmas Tree Association lists 11 tree farms replanted and imported fir trees. In the on-site “Tree House” in Alabama (www.southernchristmastrees.org/ALshop they also have wreaths, ornaments and other Christmas- Farms.html), but there are a number of themed items. other tree farms as well who aren’t Thornhill Farm offers complimentary hot cider, members of the coffee and hot chocolate. On weekends during the group. A Skyler Ramage trims this season’s Christmas trees.
DECEMBER 2013 13
Making dreams comefortrue
struggling with illness
By Lori Quiller
ost little girls wear shorts and T-shirts on the weekends, but not 6-year-old Anya Montelara of Wetumpka. Her standard weekend attire is a little pink dress imprinted with Disney’s stable of princesses on the front, a row of frilly ruffles on the bottom and a pink tiara headband adorned with crystals. “I have a tutu, too,” she said, looking up from her drawing pad just long enough to flash a keen grin across the table. “She does,” agreed her mother, Jaime Montelara, “and she’d wear them all every day if we’d let her. She’s our little princess.” But little Anya isn’t like most 6-year-old little girls. She’s special, and not just because she’s a burst of energy like her 8-yearold brother, Nick. Anya was born with tibial hemimelia, a rare congenital anomaly in which a child is born without an intact tibia bone. Tibial hemimelia is estimated to occur in about 1 in 1,000,000 births. In Anya’s case, she was missing the tibias in her left and right legs. 14 DECEMBER 2013
Because Anya was also born without connective tissue at her knees and ankles, the physicians at Children’s of Alabama advised her parents that amputation of both of her legs at the knees and the use of prosthetics would be Anya’s best option for a f u l l life. She was only 4 at the time. “We heard about Magic Moments through Anya’s prosthetics group, Alabama Artificial Limb and Orthotics Services in Montgomery. One of their marketing execs saw a Magic Moments exhibit at a conference and told them about Anya,” Jaime said. Magic Moments is an Alabamabased non-profit organization devoted to granting the wishes of the state’s chronically ill children and their families. But, according to the organization’s executive director, Joyce Spielberger, Magic Moments’ aims are much greater than just granting wishes. “Magic Moments is not just about fulfilling the dream of a child struggling with illness. We do so much more. Because we are the only wish-granting organization devoted solely to children in Alabama, we are able to establish deep and lasting relationships with the children and families we serve,” Spielberger said. “We grow and strengthen these relationships through programs such as our annual Family Camp, minor league baseball nights and ice cream socials for our previous recipients throughout the year. We are not just about the single magic moment, but rather we become a lasting support network for those we serve.” Both parents agreed that the organization’s positive impact on the Montelara family came at a perfect time. Raising a young child with special needs is not only stressful to that child, but the family as a whole. Anya’s wish was to visit Disney World in Florida. www.alabamaliving.coop
All “wish” children who visit Disney stay the week at Give Kids The World Village, a 70-acre, non-profit resort in Kissimmee, Fla., that creates magical memories for children with lifethreatening illnesses and their families. The village provides accommodations, donated attractions tickets, meals and more for a cost-free fantasy vacation. Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 122,000 families from all 50 states and more than 74 countries and exists through private and corporate donations. “Magic Moments paid for everything and made all the arrangements. The volunteers at Give Kids The World Village are incredibly special. They know exactly how to work with the children and families. All the volunteers are on four-hour shifts, and most of them are retired from Disney. There was always some kind of activity for the families and children,” Felix said. “And ice cream for breakfast was mandatory!” Anya and Nick laughed. It’s true. GKTW launched its Ice Cream For Breakfast awareness and fundraising campaign this summer in celebration of National Ice Cream Day. Anya and Nick certainly didn’t mind the sundaes. GKTW hosted an abundance of activities to keep the families active during their stay, such as Village Idol, a talent show in which Anya and Nick did their first on-stage performance together – an interpretative dance to the theme from the movie Star Wars – and a visit to the wish tree – a tree that drops special “wish pillows” for children to store their wishes in. But this trip wasn’t just for the kids. GKTW also hosted a 10th anniversary vow renewal for Jaime and Felix, with Anya and Nick standing with their parents in the ceremony. Another member of the Magic Moments team is Kaitlin Bitz, the statewide coordinator, who coordinates the wish moment from start to finish – from connecting the child with a volunteer, or Magic Maker, to checking in with the family after the wish has been granted. “One of the best parts of my job is hearing the feedback from Magic Makers as they interact with these kids and get to know these families and share in on the special experience that is a magic moment,” Bitz said. “My favorite part is getting to know these families. I go to the hospital and spend all day visiting with families, listening to their stories, bringing them goodies and making sure they’re taken care of. These families have gotten so used to their only interaction being with doctors and nurses and people not meeting their eyes because no one knows what to say to a parent with a sick child.” For the Montelaras, the magic made a lasting impression, and one the family would love to share with others. “We are planning to go back in January and volunteer as a family,” Jaime said. “Anya and Nick are looking forward to giving other children the type of experiences we had while we were there. It’s the only place we’ve ever been where we aren’t different from anyone else because everyone who is there is there with special needs children. The whole family is celebrated so the kids that didn’t have special needs were getting a lot of attention and realized they were special, too. We’re so grateful to Magic Moments for giving us this special time that we want to give something back to other families.” A For more information, go to www.magicmoments.org.
Anya Montelara, brother Nick and parents Felix and Jaime.
Anya was treated to a trip to Disney World by Magic Moments.
DECEMBER 2013 15
New cookbook urges families to
‘come home to supper’ I By Jennifer Kornegay
t’s something we all know: Sitting down and having dinner as a family is important. It’s the perfect opportunity for talking and listening, for connecting and strengthening bonds. Several studies have even suggested that eating the evening meal together, without TV and other distractions, can impact children’s development in various positive ways. So, it’s what we need to do. But how do we do it? Alabama’s Christy Jordan answers this question with her newest cookbook, the aptly titled Come Home to Supper. “Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or working, we are all always rushing around,” she said. “For so many, the idea of putting a good meal on the table and everyone sitting down to enjoy it seems Christy Jordan and her latest cookbook an impossible task. But with the right tools, it’s not. My heart has been in en- Come Home to Supper couraging people to do this and in giving them practical ways to do it.” The author of the popular blog highlighting “Southern Plate” published her first cook- the extraordibook by the same name in 2010. In South- nary that can ern Plate, most of the dishes fall into the be found (or “comfort food” category, and that’s by de- missed) in seemsign. “When I started the “Southern Plate” ingly ordinary blog, it was because I love writing and moments. writing about my family and the wonderIt differs from ful heritage I have in them,” Jordan said. “I Southern Plate a bit in its approach, but not realized that a lot of these ‘heritage’ recipes, in its goal: to get people cooking for their the ones grandmoms used to make, were families. The recipes are easy to make and in danger of being lost.” budget friendly. “This new cookbook feaPeople used to get their cooking edu- tures more modern-day things; it’s what I cation at their mother’s or grandmother’s feed my family,” she said. side. Today, that’s changing. “So many peoThe book also points out why we need ple are finding themselves as adults and not to re-think some of our Southern notions knowing how to cook,” Jordan said. “So I about food. “In this book, I talk about how started showing how to cook the recipes we don’t have to cook the amount of food we grew up with, step by step with photos our mamas made,” she said. “We don’t have and explained in easy terms.” The South- the budget for it, and we don’t need it beern Plate cookbook is full of these classic cause we are not as active in our daily lives dishes. as generations past had to be. I grew up Come Home to Supper hit bookstore eating a meat, three sides, a bread and desshelves last month. In its nearly 300 pages, sert for dinner, but that’s not practical now.” Jordan shares the recipes for some of her She’s also cut back on the sweet stuff. family’s favorite meals. She also shares fam- “The first cookbook had lots of desserts; ily stories, ones that underscore the value in my house, we now eat dessert maybe a in spending real quality time together by couple times a week, so this book doesn’t 16 DECEMBER 2013
have as many.” Jordan’s sunny disposition shines through her writing on her blog and in both books, but this past summer, an accident threatened to dim her light. “While on vacation in Arkansas, I was thrown from a horse and broke both my legs. I had a concussion and don’t remember anything about the day,” she said. “For over a month, I could not put weight on either leg, so I wasn’t able to cook at all.” When she was finally able, Jordan got back in her kitchen and whipped up some chicken and dumplings, one of her daughter’s favorite meals. “The whole family ran in the kitchen and descended on it!” Jordan said. “I know my family loves my cooking and that makes me happy. I want others to feel that, too.” But Jordan’s true mission goes beyond arming busy moms (and dads) with the information they need to put delicious meals on their tables. She’s teaching people not just how to preserve tradition, but why tradition matters. And not just how to get your spouse and kids to “come home to supper,” but why it is so important that you do. “When people ask me ‘What do you like to cook?’ I say, ‘Whatever my kids want; that’s why I do it. That’s how my mom did for us. It is how I pass down our heritage and values,” she said. “Every day, the four of us go our separate ways, and if we didn’t sit down together every day, we’d lose each other. I really believe that. So I tell people to sit down with your kids every night and talk, and let them talk. It’s how you learn who they are becoming, how you stay close. The best part of the dinner table is not the food on it, but the people around it with you.” A
Get More Goodness
Get to know Christy Jordan and find more of her delicious recipes on her website, www.southernplate.com. Come Home to Supper is available through amazon.com and bookstores. www.alabamaliving.coop
DECEMBER 2013 17
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DECEMBER 2013 19
Worth the Drive
Zack’s Family Restaurant: Visit the kinfolk you never knew you had By Jennifer Kornegay
n a particularly sunny autumn Tuesday, I was sitting you don’t have to play favorites. Just grab the little basket with by a window in Zack’s Family Restaurant in Dothan, both cornbread and a cheese biscuit and scooch things around polishing off my plate of country-fried steak, veggie ‘til you’ve made room on your tray. Next, you pay a reasonable casserole, mashed potatoes and field peas and wrestling with a $9.50 (that’s including tax) for your meal, which comes with a weighty decision: Should I eat the rest of my field peas, or stop big ole drink. and get started on the nanner pudding? Once you pick your spot in the dining area that’s filled with My pondering was interrupted by the guy sitting behind me lively chatter, a waitress brings you your drink, which is a nice as he chatted with his friend. “My dad ate here yesterday and touch since there’s no way you could have carried a cup full of couldn’t eat his dinner last night. He does that every time he liquid and, by now, zero room on your tray. comes here, just gets too full,” he said. Giant sweet teas and a comfort food feast in a “this is where It was a fortuitous break to my concentration, since it pro- the locals eat” atmosphere is an experience that lots of restaurants vided me with some much-needed perspective. “I will not be like around our state can claim to offer, but owner Zack Whaley ex‘guy behind me’s’ dad,” I plained what makes his exclaimed to no one but places special. “We opme. “I will exercise self erate under the philosocontrol. I’ll put my fork phy of providing quality down, pick my spoon up, food, quality service in and eat only two bites of a quality atmosphere for the pudding.” Why? Bethe families that come cause I’m strong. And here,” he said. “That’s why else? Because I have why ever yone here a chicken roasting with makes you feel welcome 20 cloves of garlic in the when you walk in. We crock pot at home, and are happy and appreciaI’m definitely eating my tive that you came. We dinner. may be feeding you, I may be a bit more but you’re making our disciplined than “guy living, so we’re thankful sitting behind me’s” dad, for you.” but I understand why, Zack’s in Dothan wants its customers to feel like family. Whaley added that at a place like Zack’s, he he wants each of his tends to over-indulge. This casual, no-frills, meat-n-three place customers to feel like they are family, like they are at grandma’s serves your favorite Southern staples, and its food is so popular, house. “I want them to relax and enjoy themselves,” he said. And it has two other locations: one in Slocomb and another in En- who doesn’t get a little stuffed when visiting grandma? Just throw terprise. on a pair of stretchy pants, and you’re ready to have lunch with It’s all served buffet style. You grab a lunchroom-line plastic the kinfolk you never knew you had at any of the locations of tray with rounded edges and slide it along the three metal bars Zack’s Family Restaurant. A as you browse and then choose from a bevy of foods that take a Zack’s Family Restaurant long time to cook, but mere minutes to dish out on your plate, 1495 Headland Ave., Dothan 334-673-9225 classics like baked chicken, fried chicken, country fried steak, colOpen 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. lard greens, mashed potatoes, fried okra, vegetable casserole, field Check zacksfamilyrestaurant.com for Dothan peas and more. You may think you have plenty, until the kindly the daily menus and addresses of the Slocomb and Enterprise locations. attendant spooning out veggie casserole asks, “What else you want sweetie? You get more.” Other choices include gravy or not, and if you do go with gravy, which kind you prefer: the brown or the white, speckled with black pepper. You also have to pick Jennifer Kornegay is the author of a new children’s book, “The Alabama Adventures of Walter and dessert; pies, white cake with chocolate icing or banana pudding Wimbly: Two Marmalade Cats on a Mission.” She are options. The long list of meats, sides and sweets changes daily, travels to an out-of-the way restaurant destination in Alabama every month. She may be reached for but it’s all always fresh, tasty and served with a smile. comment at email@example.com. For your bread (because you obviously still need more to eat), 20 DECEMBER 2013
DECEMBER 2013 21
Growing a philanthropic garden By Katie Jackson
ift-giving season has arrived and, with it, the challenge of finding just the right gift for everyone on your list, especially those hard-to-buy-for folks. Thankfully, you can find a perfect gift—and plant seeds of goodwill and holiday spirit—by shopping for a worthy charity. Contributing money, supplies and/or time to an important organization or cause is an easy and meaningful way to celebrate the season, and there are plenty of charities that provide you ways to spread gardening cheer. For example, make your dollars “grow locally” by donating to (or volunteering at) an area community, school, after-school or senior-center garden. Other local nonprofits in need may include county Master Gardener, Junior Master Gardener, 4-H or garden club organizations as well as botanical gardens, parks, arboretums and food banks in your neighborhood or community. Make a difference across the state by choosing a charitable organization that supports gardening, agriculture and sustainable food production throughout Alabama such as the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, Agriculture in the Classroom, End Child Hunger in Alabama and many others. If you want to have a national or an international impact, the options for garden-related charities are almost endless. Among the ones that are particularly garden oriented are the Garden Writers Association’s “Plant a Row for the Hungry” project, the Seed Savers Exchange and the American Community Garden Association. And there are organizations such as FarmAid, Local Harvest, Heifer International and many other food, farming and conservation organizations dedicated to helping take care of people, plants and our environment and natural resources across the globe.
Katie Jackson, who recently retired as chief editor for the Auburn University College of Agriculture and Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station is now a fulltime freelance writer and editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
22 DECEMBER 2013
December Gardening Tips d d d d d d d d d d d d
Protect poinsettias from drafts and direct sunlight and keep the soil in their containers moist, but not too wet. Living Christmas trees that you want to plant in the yard after the holidays should be kept well watered and away from fireplaces or heaters. Plant fruit and nut trees, shrubs, roses, spring bulbs and grape vines. Spot-treat weeds, such as dandelions and wild garlic, in the lawn. Mulch roses and the rest of your garden. Wash the dust off off leaves of houseplants. Prune hardy deciduous and evergreen trees and summer-blooming shrubs. Plant seeds for winter or cool-season vegetables. Plant pansies or other cool-season annuals. If the weather is dry, don’t forget to water lawns, shrubs and young trees. Keep bird feeders and birdbaths full. Begin planning for your 2014 garden.
In addition to direct donations, you can also give someone on your list a membership to a gardening organization that is near and dear to their hearts. Or you can contribute toward or establish a scholarship fund that will help educate the next generation of gardeners or help pay for children or adults to attend garden and farm training sessions. Of course you don’t have to limit yourself to garden-related organizations. Just pick one that has special meaning to you or your gift recipient. If you need help choosing just the right philanthropy or want to make sure the one you pick spends your dollars wisely, do an online search for charities (I used the search term “how to find a worthy charity” and came up with several sites) or get help through your local public library, many of which have printed information on various charities or can help you with computer searches. So go ahead, shop till you drop for a worthy charity that you want to support with your money and time. You’ll not only be able to feel good about your generosity, you’ll probably be able to use it for a tax deduction! A
DECEMBER 2013 23
Nearly anyone can learn archery, but proper equipment is essential By John N. Felsher
any sportsmen take up archery because they grow bored with long-range rifle hunting and want a bigger challenge. Some hunters yearn to recapture a piece of a vanished time while others simply want to expand their hunting opportunities. Alabama archers may start hunting deer about a month earlier than gun hunters. Depending upon where they hunt, archers in Alabama may hunt deer from Oct. 15, 2013, through Feb. 10, 2014. In addition, archers may access more lands. Some public areas only allow archery hunting. Bow hunters can often safely and quietly target deer in small suburban woodlots where firing a magnum rifle at daybreak may cause quite a neighborhood uproar. “I started rifle hunting for deer in 1996 and bow hunting in 2000,” said Katie Pugh, an avid bow hunter from Lowndesboro, Ala. “When moving from rifle hunting to bow hunting, an archer needs to work more on the ability to control scent and become stealthier. Archers must get closer and wait for the right shot at the right moment to put a deer down quickly.” Even an experienced whitetail hunter can’t simply buy a bow and a few arrows off the shelf with any great expectation of hunting success. True, archers use essentially the same skills as rifle hunters to bag deer, but shooting a bow requires considerably more ability and practice than firing a rifle. Plus, archery equipment works best when customized to the shooter. Improper or ill-fitting equipment could greatly diminish accuracy and effectiveness. John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer and photographer who lives in Semmes, Ala. He’s written more than 1,700 articles for more than 117 magazines. He co-hosts a weekly outdoors radio show. Contact him through his website at www. JohnNFelsher.com.
Joella Bates demonstrates how to use a longbow. PHOTOS BY JOHN N. FELSHER
24 DECEMBER 2013
Joella takes aim with her compound bow.
“People who shoot ill-fitting bows will always struggle with accuracy,” said Joella Bates, a five-time archery world champion from Waverly, Tenn. “A bow with a proper draw length for a given archer will shoot more accurately and cause less fatigue than an improperly sized bow. I highly recommend that anyone who wants to start bow hunting go to a reputable archery shop to get measured for the proper draw length bow.” Sportsmen today may choose from essentially three types of bows: longbows, recurves or compounds. Light and powerful, traditional longbows resemble medieval weapons that turned the tide of battle against armored knights centuries ago. Generally shorter than longbows, recurve bows somewhat resemble longbows, but power arrows by the reverse shape of the bow. By far, most modern hunters use compound bows, which fling arrows with sets of cams and pulleys. These devices can achieve astonishing arrow speeds, power and accuracy. Archers can add such devices as multiple sights, stabilizers and other accessories to compound bows to hunt anything from carp to elephants. “If someone had told me 30 years ago we’d be using the stuff we’re using now, I would have said, ‘no way,’” said Dan Hart of Huntsville, Ala., who shot for the University of Florida archery team in the early 1970s. “Compounds were just coming onto the market when I started shooting a bow. I highly recommend someone shoot a compound bow to start. A compound is much easier to shoot than a recurve.” Once archers buy whatever bow type, they must practice frequently to hone their proficiency at placing arrows in a precise spot at a given range. Practice as if hunting. Wear the same clothes and shoot from the same positions with the same equipment as if hunting. Alabama Living
“Bow hunters need lots of practice regardless of the equipment they are using,” Bates said. “Practice in a hunting situation. Someone who hunts from an elevated stand should practice from an elevated stand at the same height to keep the draw length the same and look through the sight at the same angle.” With Christmas approaching, sportsmen may find an entire introductory package complete with a bow, a few arrows, a sight and a quiver for about $400 to $500. Archers should also consider buying finger and arm protection, an adjustable release aid and a laser rangefinder. Misjudging a shot by just a few yards could result in a miss. Archers may also invest in exercise equipment to develop their upper body strength. Some devices use surgical tubing to create a sort of mini-bow. Archers pulling on these devices work specific muscles required to shoot bows. “One of the biggest hurdles many beginner archers must overcome is a lack of upper body strength,” Bates said. “People use different muscles pulling back bows than doing just about anything else. I recommend using a Bowfit, which simulates the same motion one would use when drawing a bow. People who shoot bows frequently usually do so from one side of their bodies. That could cause uneven muscle development and some spinal issues. People should exercise both sides of their bodies. They can exercise with a Bowfit while watching TV without releasing arrows.” While not every archer will become a world champion, just about anyone can learn the sport. After making initial investments for bows, arrows and other essentials, archers can practice practically anywhere for little cost. Then, they can get the jump on unpressured deer before others take to the woods. A
Tables indicate peak fish and game feeding and migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour before and an hour after. Minor peaks, half-hour before and after. Adjusted for daylight savings time. a.m. p.m. Minor Major Minor Major
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DECEMBER 2013 25
Cookies Cook of the Month: Betty Jeffreys, Joe Wheeler EMC
Butterscotch Chip Cookies ½ cup butter 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 2 eggs 2¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda 1 6-ounce package butterscotch chips 2 cups crushed potato chips
Cream together butter, sugars and eggs. Mix well. Sift together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture to creamed ingredients. Add butterscotch chips and crushed potato chips. Roll into ball about one inch in size. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. My son Brian entered the Navy in October of 1983. At Thanksgiving I finally got to talk to him for the first time since he was at boot camp. He said he could only get a package if whatever was in it was enough for everyone. There were 500 in his unit. I got busy baking. I made and shipped to Orlando 2,500 cookies (five different kinds). The butterscotch chip cookies were voted best by the Navy unit. When Brian made it home on leave I had to bake a batch just for him. Every Christmas since then the cookies have been on top of the Christmas cook list. — Betty Jeffreys PHOTOS BY MANDI PHILLIPS
Mary Tyler Spivey is a graduate of Huntingdon College where she studied History and French but she also has a passion for great food. Contact her at mspivey@areapower. com.
26 DECEMBER 2013
ookies for school friends, church cookie swaps, and neighbors are a great way to say “I’m thinking of you” this holiday season. Thank you so much for all the cookie recipe submissions; this was our most popular submitted theme this year! I hope you will get the whole family in the kitchen and try out some of these yummy recipes. And of course don’t forget to make a special batch for Santa on Christmas Eve. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe.
Monster Cookies 3 eggs 1 cup sugar 1½ cups peanut butter (crunchy) 1 cup M&M’s 4½ cups oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips 2 teaspoons soda ½ cup butter 1 cup brown sugar ¾ teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients together with mixer. Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees. Bake only 10 minutes. Do not over bake! They will cook some while they cool. Jenny Day, Central Alabama EC
Nanny’s Tea Cakes 2 sticks oleo 4 eggs 2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder 3 cups self-rising flour 1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients together. Spoon onto cookie sheet. Use a teaspoonful spaced several inches apart. Bake at 300 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes. I cook mine on wax paper. Watch to see how you like them: Light colored means they are soft and brown means they are hard and crispy. Mary Adams, South Alabama EC
Pumpkin Spice Delights
Miniature Pie Cookies
8 ounces cream cheese 2 sticks oleo 2½ cups flour
Orange marmalade Finely chopped pecans
1 14-ounce package Pumpkin Quick Bread and Muffin Mix ¾ -1 cup raisins 2½ teaspoons cinnamon, separated
2 teaspoons apple pie spice ½ cup butter or margarine, melted 1 egg ¼ cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix cream cheese, softened oleo and flour. Refrigerate. Mix the marmalade and pecans together in a small bowl. Roll out the dough and cut in very small circles. Put a small amount of marmalade mixture on the circle in the center. Fold over and crimp the ends of the pie with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. To make crispier or more brown, put under broiler.
In small storage bag, mix 1½ teaspoons cinnamon and raisins. In large bowl, combine quick bread mix, raisins, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and apple pie spice. Add egg and melted butter; moisten all dry particles. Shape into balls. In large storage bag, mix sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Put round balls in sugar mixture to coat (about 4 or 5 at a time). Place balls on cookie sheet and press down lightly with spoon. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are set. Makes about 2 dozen.
Sara Jean Brooklere, Baldwin EMC
Calli Pittman, Joe Wheeler EMC
DECEMBER 2013 27
Million Dollar Cookies
1 package of Kraft caramels Ritz crackers 50-60 pecan halves depending on how many caramels are in the bag
Ghiradelli candymaking and dipping chocolate or Almond Bark, chocolate plastic wrap
Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Fill a cookie sheet with Ritz crackers. Unwrap Kraft caramels and place one in center of each cracker. Place in oven for 5-15 minutes. Watch carefully until the caramel is soft enough to wrap slightly around the edges of a pecan pushed into the middle. Avoid heating until the caramel completely melts. Pull the cookie sheet out of the oven and press a pecan into each of the caramels. Make a note of the time your oven requires so you can set the timer for the remainder of the cookies. Cool crackers on a piece of plastic wrap stretched out on your counter. Repeat the process with the remainder of your caramels. When the caramels have firmed up, melt the chocolate according to the package directions. Dip each cookie into the chocolate with a spoon or tongs and place back on the plastic wrap. Cool and enjoy. When I have used all the caramels but have crackers left I sometimes use a spoonful of peanut butter with a pecan. No need to melt the peanut butter. A nice decorative touch is to make stripes of white chocolate on top of the cookies or dip some of the cookies in white chocolate and stripe with dark chocolate.
Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies 2¼ cups flour 1¼ teaspoons of baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt 1 cup of butter ¼ cup of sugar 1 large egg 1 egg yolk
1½ teaspoons of vanilla 1¾ cups of milk chocolate chips or a mixture of your preference of dark, milk, and semi- sweet to equal the same
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Whisk until it begins to brown (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and pour into mixing bowl to cool. Once cooled, beat butter and sugar. Add egg, yolk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to mixture. Mix in chocolate chips. Chill the dough in freezer for 45-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet or spray. Drop approximately 1 tablespoon of dough. Bake approximately 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Jennifer Hobbs, Southern Pine EC
Amy Patterson, Tallapoosa River EC More recipes at AlabamaLiving.coop
You could win $50! Upcoming recipe themes and deadlines are:
February March April
Pasta Dishes Deadline: December 15 Bacon Deadline: January 15 Freezer Meals Deadline February 15
Please send all submissions to: Recipe Editor, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124. Or e-mail to: recipes@areapower. coop. Be sure to include your address, phone number and the name of your electric cooperative.
28 DECEMBER 2013
Editor’s Note: Alabama Living’s recipes are submitted by our readers. They are not kitchen-tested by a professional cook or registered dietician. If you have special dietary needs, please check with your doctor or nutritionist before preparing any recipe.
Around Alabama Christmas Lighted Boat Parade Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are pairing together once again to present this 28th annual parade. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Lulu’s at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, the parade will travel down the Intracoastal Canal, passing The Wharf, rounding Bear Point and heading toward Ono Island where it will make a turn toward Perdido Pass. The parade will then circle Terry Cove and back to the Perdido Pass Bridge where it will end at Zeke’s Landing Marina at approximately 8:30 p.m. Personal boats are welcome to
1-31 • Theodore, Magic Christmas in Lights Bellingrath Gardens and Home, extended holiday hours 8 a.m.-9 p.m; lights go on at 5 p.m. More than 3 million sparkling lights in more than 1,000 displays across the 65-acre estate. Admission: Adults $15, Children 5-12 $7 and children 4 and under are free. Pre-purchased discounted tickets available at www.bellingrath.org 4-8 • Montgomery, 8th Annual Interfaith Nativity Exhibit. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3460 Carter Hill Road. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, the display will be open 1-8 p.m. and Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. www.montgomerynativity.com
7 • Stockton, Christmas on the River. Lower Bryant’s Landing on Hwy 225, 3-9 p.m. Lighted boat parade, arts and crafts, bake sale, silent auction, children’s games, live music, Christmas carols and special guest Rose Gilley performing. Parking: $2. Boat entry: $10. Information: Linda O’Bryan, 251689-6987 or email@example.com
7 • Bridgeport, CUBB 25th Annual Christmas Parade. Downtown Bridgeport, 11:30 a.m. This year’s theme, “An Observance of Pearl Harbor Day.” Information: Dot McDonald, 256-495-2502 7 • Frisco City, Revive Frisco Christmas in the Park. Jones Park, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 4th annual arts and crafts show. Contact: Nickey Gaston, 251267-3180 or 251-564-6633 or Rhonda Norwood at Lasting Creations/Fabric Store, 251-267-2118 8 • Dothan, Victorian Christmas. Landmark Park, 1 p.m. Experience Christmas past with mulled cider, hot chocolate, a circuit riding preacher, old-fashioned decorations, turn-ofthe-century desserts and music. Free admission. Sponsored by The Joy 94.3 FM. Donations accepted for the Wiregrass United Way Food Bank. Contact the Park: 334-794-3452 10 • Albertville, 2013 Lights of Love Celebration Hospice of Marshall County, 5:30 p.m. hospitality hour, 6:30 tree lighting ceremony. Sponsor a light bulb in honor of a loved one to be on the Christmas tree, located prominently in front of the facility, for $10. Sponsor a light and memory card bearing the name of the honoree for the indoor tree for $25. For $100 you may sponsor a light, memory card and commemorative ornament bearing the name of the honoree. Information: HMC office, 256-891-7724 31 • Pell City, New Year’s Eve Party with the Silk E Smooth Band. Pell City Center Gym, 9 pm.-1 a.m. The Silk E Smooth Band is one of the hottest Motown, R & B, big band and variety acts around. Heavy hors d’oeuvres, coffee, tea and water are
To place an event e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. or visit www. alabamaliving.coop. You can also mail to Events Calendar, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124; Each submission must include a contact name and phone number. Deadline is two months prior to issue date. We regret that we cannot publish every event due to space limitations.
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participate as long as there are slots open and charter boats are also available to hold your private or company Christmas party as you watch other boats pass along the parade route. Additional information on the parade route, viewing stations and registration are on the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber website, www.mygulfcoastchamber.com, or call Lauren Turner at the Chamber, 251-9686091. Charter boats are available through the Orange Beach Fishing Association, 251-981-2300.
included. Admission: $80 per couple, $45 per individual. Contact the box office: 205-338-1974 31 • Andalusia, New Year’s Eve Domino Drop on the Square. Fun for the entire family. Come out early to enjoy music beginning at 10 p.m. through 12 a.m. Domino drop and fireworks at midnight. JANUARY
9 • Elba, Suzy Bogguss Concert. Elba High School, 7 p.m. Suzy Bogguss is an awardwinning singer/songwriter and one of the most acclaimed female country singers of the late ‘80s and ‘90s. Performing country, traditional folk and western swing. Adults $25, students $23. Information: David Deal, 334-406-2787 or www.CoffeeCountyArtsAlliance.com
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DECEMBER 2013 29
How To Place a Line Ad in Marketplace
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30 DECEMBER 2013
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Ads are $1.75 per word with a 10 word minimum and are on a prepaid basis; Telephone numbers, email addresses and websites are considered 1 word each Ads will not be taken over the phone. You may email your ad to email@example.com; or call (800)410-2737 ask for Heather for pricing.; We accept checks, money orders and all major credit cards; Mail ad submission along with a check or money order made payable to ALABAMA LIVING, P.O. Box 244014, Montgomery, AL 36124 â€“ Attn: Classifieds.
DECEMBER 2013â€ƒ 31
Making Christmas Memories Teddy bears of love
Our Christmas tree is special beChristmas is by far my cause it is surrounded by a teddy bear favorite time of year. We celebrate from K-Mart for every year we have many traditions in my family and when my been married. We consider Christhusband, Steve, married into us, he had to get mas time to be a time of spreading used to them all. Every year I go see a production of God’s love so instead of spending the Nutcracker Ballet and every year Steve willingly attends money on ourselves we bought a with me. Last year was extra special because we were able to take our oldest daughter for the very first time. bear to add to our tree; my little Our longest standing tradition is having Christmas dinner at my Cub Scouts got concerned that we mother’s home. Our family has gathered around the same dining had no gifts under the tree, so we room table on Christmas Day for 90 years. My mama always makes added empty wrapped boxes to her famous dressing. Well, famous to us anyway because we have end that question every year. to wait a whole calendar year for it. She makes triple the recipe, — Tony and Pat Diliberto, just so we can have leftovers for a week. It’s funny that my faGulf Shores vorite memories of Christmas don’t involve any gifts. I guess what remains is time spent with the ones I love the most. Thanks to our readers who shared their favorite Christmas memories and traditions with us. Here are a few that we received. — Mary Tyler Spivey
Waiting for reindeer
Every Christmas Eve, we set the table for a special family dinner and decorated it to the hilt. Then our kids set out cookies and milk for Santa as well as colored sugar (a few drops of red and green food coloring) for the reindeer. Before the sun is completely set, we sprinkle the colorful sugar on our lawn with a small can of fresh corn for Santa’s reindeer (we live by the woods). While the kids and I are out front doing this, my husband sneaks out the back door and jingles some bells. It always fools the kids because it sounds as if there is a sleigh somewhere in the air! They get really excited and dash inside! While eating dinner we all hope to catch a glimpse of any reindeer by spying out our window! On Last Christmas Eve, we had an unexpected visitor show up. Imagine our laughter when my son exclaimed that Rudolph had eaten all the reindeer food and turned himself into a little black pig! —Lula Peacock, Baker Hill
We have a few special Christmas traditions. One is, we don’t eat anything peppermint until the day after Thanksgiving. This way, peppermint marks the start of our Christmas Season. This recipe for our Peppermint Pringle Cookie makes it wonderfully soft and gooey on the inside with crispy delightfulness on the outside. The second Christmas tradition consists of always putting up our vintage 1950’s aluminum, revolving Christmas tree. It has been in my family since my childhood and it is not Christmas without it. When the first batch of our Peppermint Prinkle Cookies are ready to eat, we enjoy them under our ethereal holiday tree. So few joys can compare to the taste of cool peppermint and warm gleaming PREPARATION: PEPPERMINT sparkles of glistening silver branches, deHeat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookiePRINGLE COOKIES baking sheet with parchment paper for easy lighting ones eyes and filling the soul Ingredients: (makes about 40 two-inch removal. with pure Christmas Love! cookies) 1. Place flour and cocoa powder in a bowl and whisk to — Violet Grace Houston, combine; set aside. cup all-purpose flour 1/ 3 7 oz. chocolate, 65% cacao Pea River EC 2. Place chocolate, butter and Nutella in a pan over a pan 2 tablespoon natural 2 tablespoon unsalted with water on low heat and stir until ingredients are melted unsweetened cocoa butter and combined.; set aside. powder 1/4 cup Nutella 3. Place eggs, egg white and sugar in a bowl and beat until
the mixture is light in color, thick and fluffy in appearance and with large bubbles (mixture will resemble pancake batter). Add in peppermint extract and beat to combine. 4. Gently fold chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined. 5. Gently fold in flour mixture until no streaks appear. 6. Chill dough for 20 minutes. 1 teaspoon peppermint extract. If 7. Place powdered sugar in a large bowl. Remove chilled you don’t have peppermint dough, using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon drop dough extract, add one cup of into bowl with powdered sugar. Push dough around to comcrushed Hershey’s Peppermint pletely cover it in powdered sugar. Place covered dough balls Kisses into the dough (after the on parchment lined baking sheet one inch apart. flour is mixed in). 8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. 1 cup confectioner sugar Let cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes. Using a spatula, press cookie flat as they will have puffed up in the middle. Lay under your Christmas tree and look up while www.alabamaliving.coop eating! ENJOY! Violet Grace Houston
Add Nutella instead of butter. That way I can trick myself into thinking they’re a bit healthier! Nutella? Yes, Nutella-it doesn’t leave a flavor behind and it helps add a powerful punch of moisture to the cookies. It actually gives them their gooey brownie-like center. That dear friends, is my magical secret ingredient to a fantastic-ly delicious pringle cookie!
2 large eggs 1 egg white 3/4 cup sugar
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Southern Occasions CO O K B O O K
Great for the holidays!
Holiday Pecan Cake 2 cups softened butter 3 cups golden raisins 2 cups sugar 3 cups sifted allpurpose flour 6 eggs 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel 1 tablespoon vanilla 4 cups chopped pecans
366 PAGES Southern Occasions
CO O K B O O K
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at at time, beating well after each. Add lemon juice, peel and vanilla. Toss nuts and raisins with ¼ cup flour. Sift remaining flour, salt and baking powder together. Gradually add flour to creamed mixture, blending thoroughly. Add nut mixture. Spoon intongreased 10-inch tube pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 50 minutes. Cool. NOTE: Cake should be baked 3-4 weeks before use and stored covered in refrigerator, as aging improves flavor . Variations: For a sweeter, more moist cake, combine ¼ cup orange juice, ¼ cup lemon juice and ¼ cup sugar into a syrup and pour over cake while it is still warm. Dorothy Lowery, Pioneer EC Alabama Living
DECEMBER 2013 33
Our Sources Say
And bad breath, too!
have mentioned Danny “Bobo” Lazenby in earlier articles. I played baseball with him at the University of North Alabama in the 1970s and softball with him in Birmingham for a number of years. He had a wry way with words. One of his sayings is, “People are funnier than anybody.” And they are. When people don’t like someone or something, they blame them for things they could not logically be responsible for. Surely you have noticed that in people. Likewise, when facts don’t fit the result people want, they make up results whether or not the facts support their conclusions. Combine the propensity of people to make up facts and blame others for things outside their control, and it is certainly understandable why some issues move beyond common sense. In that regard, I recently read an article on a study by the University of California, Berkeley, which found a connection between rising temperatures and spikes in violence. The study found, “…remarkably similar behavioral changes showing that whether the subject is domestic violence in Australia, peasant rebellion in China or property crimes in the United States, blood seems to boil when shifts occur in normal rainfall and temperature levels.” Lead author Solomon Hsiang states, “This helps us better imagine a world where we experience anthropogenic climate change. We don’t often think about how these changes touch our everyday lives.” The study found higher temperatures result in increases in assault, domestic violence, rape, murder and acts of aggression. For every deviation in base-line standard temperature, social violence increases 4 percent. Hsiang notes that with the U.S. experiencing 2 million violent crimes a year, climate change could result in an exponential increase in crime rates. Hsiang comments that the two to four standard deviations in temperature predicted by climate models could increase global conflicts by as much as 50 percent. Hsiang states, “We don’t want policymakers to sit and wait around for all the details. We know these things are linked, and we can make policy decisions based upon them.”
Marc Levy, deputy director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and a co-author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment reports on Human Security, says, “They get a very, very clear signal. The conclusion is inescapable that humans are sensitive to climate stress. Looking systemically at the risks posed by rising temperatures, it adds up to a fairly alarming portrayal.” The Administration is doing its share of finger-pointing, too. President Obama stated, “For the sake of our children and the health and safety of all Americans, I’m directing the EPA to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants.” EPA Director Gina McCarthy, in announcing regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants stated on Sept. 20, 2013, “It is not just the elderly who suffer from air pollution. So do children – especially children in lower income and urban communities. If your child doesn’t need an inhaler, then you are one lucky parent.” What could be scarier? Carbon pollution is killing polar bears, causing floods and droughts both, and causing storms like Superstorm Sandy. Now, according to Mr. Obama and Ms. McCarthy, carbon pollution is causing respiratory problems with the elderly and our children. Now, a report says that carbon pollution increases our chances of being assaulted, raped or murdered. And it might cause cavities and bad breath, too. It is odd is that the IPCC fifth assessment indicates that global temperatures have not risen as projected by models (although it is confident they will soon catch up) and may not be rising at all. Carbon and carbon dioxide are the essence of life that we all exhale and not some poison that will kill us. To my knowledge, carbon dioxide has not been directly tied to respiratory problems with anyone, including children. Yet, we must act now to reduce carbon pollution and increase our basic cost of living for the sake of our children, if nothing else. People are funnier than anybody. They blame a lot of people. They make up a lot of stuff. Too bad they have so few facts on their side. I hope you have a good month. A
Gary Smith is President and CEO of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative
36 DECEMBER 2013
Our Sources Say
Shielding your home from the elements Weatherization offers added comfort and savings As we approach the winter season, I thought it might be a good time to remind everyone of the benefits of weatherizing your home. A properly weatherized home will provide you with energy savings throughout the year, not only during the winter season. However, to ensure that your home stays cozy all winter long without wasting energy, consider weatherizing your home before temperatures begin to drop. Weatherization not only helps keep warm air from escaping your home, it also lowers your monthly power bills. In fact, homeowners who weatherize their homes may reduce their heating consumption by an average of 32%, as determined by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Program. Studies show that about one-third of the average home heating-and-cooling energy costs are due to air leaks. Primary leak areas include window and door frames, fireplace chimneys, attic trapdoors, and pipes that penetrate attic walls and floors. To test windows and doors in your home, you can make a simple “draft detector” by attaching a piece of tissue paper to the end of a hanger. On a windy day, hold the coat hanger in front of the suspected leak. If the paper moves, then you probably have an air leak. Three common and excellent ways of weatherizing your home to prevent heat loss due to air leakage are caulking, weather-stripping, and insulation.
Caulking is beneficial for several reasons. It can reduce energy loss, control moisture damage, add soundproofing, keep a home cleaner, and help control radon gas infiltration. Caulking can be fairly labor-intensive for the average homeowner, but the benefits are well worth the effort. For large projects, you might consider hiring a contractor.
Kevin Chandler is general manager, Alabama District Customer Service, for the Tennessee Valley Authority.
36 DECEMBER 2013
Weather-stripping should be done around windows and doors, especially those that are used frequently. Available in thin spring metal, vinyl, or foam rubber, weather-stripping can be purchased either by the roll or in a kit, and can be installed easily by the average homeowner with a minimal amount of skill and tools. Double-pane windows and doors are another option for avoiding heat loss, although some experts believe that these are less cost-effective than the simpler options of caulking and weatherstripping.
Insulation is another highly effective weatherization method. By properly insulating key areas within your home, you can improve your home’s ability to keep you comfortable. Studies from the Energy Information Administration show that insulating floors over unheated spaces, such as basements and crawl spaces, can save as much as 8% on heating and cooling costs. Insulating attics and floors can be a relatively simple task for the average homeowner, although insulating exterior walls most likely will require the services of a contractor. There are several types of insulation on the market, each with a specific application, so do your homework before you buy to determine which product suits your particular situation. Examples of insulation include: · Batts and Blanket – ideal for unfinished attic space and underneath floors · Loose-Fill – poured in or blown in, the latter requiring the skill of a contractor (both can be used to insulate an unfinished attic) · Rigid Board – designed for use on basement walls, exterior and interior walls, and foundations. When used indoors, rigid board must be fire-treated. Some types of insulation come with a vapor barrier attached. Remember to install these with the vapor barrier side toward the living space. Do not use vapor barriers between existing and added insulation, because moisture gets trapped, reducing the insulation value and possibly causing structural damage. For more information on using energy wisely, contact your local electric cooperative or visit www.energyright.com. A
36 DECEMBER 2013
DECEMBER 2013 37
Alabama Snapshots 1 2
Christmas morning Submit Your Images! FEBRUARY THEME:
“My favorite vintage photo”
SUBMIT PHOTOS THROUGH OUR WEBSITE: alabamaliving.coop/submit-photo/ OR SEND COLOR PHOTOS WITH A LARGE SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE TO:
Photos, Alabama Living, P.O. Box 244014 Montgomery, AL, 36124 RULES: Alabama Living will pay $10 for photos that best match our theme of the month. Photos may also be published on our website at www.alabamaliving.coop. Alabama Living is not responsible for lost or damaged photos. DEADLINE FOR FEBRUARY: Dec. 31
38 DECEMBER 2013
1. “Archer ringing his bell from Santa’s sleigh” SUBMITTED BY Barry Ladd, Andalusia 2. “Keishaun, Quinton and Zyon show off their Christmas presents” SUBMITTED BY Sheila Henry, Stevenson 3. Emma Kate Oden SUBMITTED BY Diane Battles, Centre 4. “Jordanna likes her present!” SUBMITTED BY Stephanie Roden, Sardis