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December 2010

May The

Joys of the Season be wiTh you.


Tues-Fri 9-5 saTurday 9-3

piano & organ cenTer during The holidays, we like To Take a MoMenT To Thank Those who MaTTer MosT: our cusToMers — pasT, presenT and FuTure.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! 2

December 2010

herrin, illinois

(618) 942-5115

Letter from the



like to think that like Santa’s bag, this holiday issue of Good Living in Southern Illinois is packed with beautiful surprises to give you a hearty shot of the Christmas spirit. We have collected images from beautifully decorated places in the area and interspersed them with stories that should warm your heart.

Take for instances the photographs we’ve captured from Etcetera in Marion. What a perfect name for a store with so much to offer. If you’ve never been there, it’s worth a trip just to gawk and lose yourself in the colors sights and aromas of the season. If you need more suggestions for the person who has everything, take a look at our gift guide of items made right here in Southern Illinois. I’m sure that many bottles of exquisite Southern Illinois wines find their way under Christmas trees both here and afar, but we tried to search out some more obscure ideas from local artisans. There’s no gift that we give with more pride than one made in Southern Illinois. Just for fun, we have included another trivia contest in this issue. At Christmas, our thoughts often turn to toys, and when our thoughts turn to toys they turn to Sam Cox at My Favorite Toys in the Carbondale Mall. We promise that Sam’s questions will be easier than the ones we offered last issue; you may know some of them without looking them up. All correct entries will be entered into a random drawing with the winner being awarded a $100 shopping spree at My Favorite Toys. Now that should help Santa finish off his Christmas list. Is your tree up yet? Ours is far from it; we’ve been pretty busy putting together a magazine. The story about bringing home the tree is meant to be both beautiful and informative. The trees at Stevens Floral are so extravagant and artistically dressed that it’s worth a trip, maybe to buy a new tree, splurge on some new ornaments, or maybe just steal ideas. If a real tree is in your future, we have some good advice from pros like Kevin Holloway from Wiswells and Peter Popit, an authority on live trees. For 22 years, Popit has planted his trees on his property after Christmas, making memories for years to come. Speaking of family traditions, Sherri Murphy has brought together several individuals with stories of their favorite holiday dishes. Sherri, who by her own admission, loves to eat and loves to cook, made this collection of personal stories a natural for this issue of the magazine. We hope you think so too. Don’t miss our story about Charles Clark, owner of Calico Country, and his efforts to help comfort the little cancer patients at Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis. The recent diagnosis and treatment of his precious little niece Anna, has made him painfully aware of just how alone even a very loved child can feel when facing the fear and pain of chemotherapy and all it entails. He has enlisted big hearts and busy fingers to help him provide children with comforting quilts and soft quilted hats. As Clark says, “There are a lot of good people in Southern Illinois.” We’ve kept with our tradition of bringing you gifts of thought from our favorite columnists. Gary Marx talks about giving thanks and being thankful, and new to Good Living in Southern Illinois, Billy Coffey has a whimsical story from his own family about finding Christmas. Last but not least Sherri Murphy reflects on her fears for her son, Jordan, as he left home to join the army. We join Sherri in asking for peace. Peace to our military men and women, making sacrifices for our peace. Peace to you and everyone you love. Peace on earth.

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On The Cover

Tom Azzarello of Carbondale snapped this photo of Crab Orchard Lake after a fresh coat of snow dusted the trees.

Variations on Four Themes


hese images represent my continuing exploration of the landscapes of Southern Illinois. For the past few years, I have been photographing what to me define this area; the natural beauty, the vast open spaces, the orchards and vineyards of Alto Pass, the majestic cypress trees standing guard over the tip of the state. As a Native-born Chicagoan, I was enthralled by what my senses encountered upon first visiting the area. Beauty can be defined in many ways and it probably does reside in the eye of the beholder. But what I beheld was so foreign and different to the beauty that is Chicago! Three hundred and fifty miles south, the skyscrapers of Chicago become the cypress trees of Horseshoe Lake. Acres of people in the “Loop” become crops of wheat and soybeans waving in the wind. Raise your head to the night sky in Chicago and you’ll see twinkling building lights; in Southern Illinois you’ll see the universe unfolding . It was all very new to me and remains so. The Russian Formalist Victor Schlovsky felt that Art should “de-familiarize”. That we become so accustomed to “see” something in one particular way that we are blinded to its essence. By showing something in a different way, i.e. by using infrared film, changing the normal color of something, suggesting attributes to a subject not belonging to them, we might take a closer, longer look and allow ourselves to experience the uniqueness and essence of the object. The difference forces us to re-interpret our world and adjust our sense of what we see and how we see it.


Thomas C. Azzarello Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Il 62901 I appreciate the Beauty that is there before us whether it be in the form of a tree, a horse, a skyscraper, a barn, or a person. However She would choose to appear. Just to borrow that quality for a fraction of a second, trip the shutter and sigh.

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------I want to see like a child again-when everything seen is a new thing to be experienced, defined, and appreciated for its uniqueness. Thank you for viewing my work.

PUBLISHERS Michael A. Thomas Gail Rissi Thomas EDITOR Gail Rissi Thomas COPY EDITORS Jan Catalina LAYOUT / GRAPHIC DESIGN

Michael A. Thomas

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tom Azzarello Billy Coffey Gary Marx Sherri Murphy PHOTOGRAPHY Michael Thomas Sherri Murphy Tom Azarello


PHONE NUMBER (618) 937-2019 Good Living in Southern Illinois is published quarterly. It is available free of charge through our advertisers.

Good Life Publications 309 East Oak Street West Frankfort, IL 62896

Features 7 Toy Trivia Contest 12 Bringing Home the Tree 16 It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas 20 Memories by the Mouthful 26 Anna’s Gift 30 We Need a Little Popcorn 34 Made in Southern Illinois 40 And the Winner Is ...

Departments 4 Tom Azzarello Variations on Four Themes 9 Sherri Murphy Peace on Earth 18 Gary Marx Grace 42 Billy Coffey The Wandering Wiseman

December 2010


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nce again, the Christmas season is here, and kids of all ages are imagining what toys might be in Santa’s bag. So what better game for Good Living In Southern Illinois readers to play than our “2010 Christmas Toy Trivia” Contest?

Gift Certificate





Here’s how it works: answer the twelve toy triva questions on this page and e-mail your entry, no later than December 16, 2010, to:

1. What local news anchor left the ABC station and showed up on a satellite network with her friend Timmy the Tractor?

GoodLifePublications@ Subject Line:Toy Trivia

2. This round toy could tell you the answers to your biggest questions such as “Will the Cubs win the pennant in 2011?”

Every entry with all correct answers will win a package of Silly Bandz and a collectible eraser (great stocking stuffers!) In addition, all correct entries will be placed in a giant Christmas cookie jar and one lucky name will be drawn. The winner will receive a $100.00 gift certificate from My Favorite Toys, the specialty toy store at University Mall in Carbondale.

3. Criss-Cross Words was the original name of this board game that earns points for each letter. What is the game?

So join the fun and you could end up being Santa for a day with your shopping trip to My Favorite Toys!

Win a



4. When Mr. Potato Head debuted in 1952, he really was a potato. The game provided you with funny face pieces, but not the potato. When Hasbro introduced the plastic Potato Heads, they included a son. What was his name? 5. The union of boric acid and silicon oil produced this bouncing baby ball. What is it? 6. Raggedy Ann has her own museum right here in Illinois. Where is it? 7. The stories of this little engine were first created fifty years ago by an Anglican clergyman, the Rev. Wilbert Awdry, as a way to entertain his young son as he recovered from scarlet fever. Who is the little engine?

8. A former semi-pro baseball pitcher, David Mullany, developed this toy while trying to teach his son how to throw a curve ball. What is it? 9. While on a train headed to New York, Alfred Gilbert witnessed workmen riveting steel beams and decided to create a construction play set made of steel with real nuts, bolts, gears, wheels and engines. What was the invention? 10. Son of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lloyd Wright, invented this famed building set in 1916. What was it? 11. Concert posters for the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan inadvertently promoted this toy. It won the Toy of the Year Award in 1967. What toy makes psychedelic patterns and mesmerizing kaleidoscope images even today? 12. In the movie “ET, the ExtraTerrestrial,” this toy was described as “the toy that keeps on giving.” In its first form, it was the character Santa Claus in full body form. This toy may also be described as the first interactive candy. What is it?

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y husband said this to me calmly, avoiding direct eye contact, merely looking in my general direction, he continued. "Now don't get upset... he's thought this through. Actually he's been looking into it for quite a while. He's smart-he's not going to sign up officially until the position he wants is available..." I think he continued to talk and tried to convince me that joining the Army was a good idea, but my mind immediately went to battle fields, and funerals and other horrors that war brings to the doorsteps of otherwise peace-loving families. I don't remember his

words after the initial statements. They really weren't important. I began focusing on MY WORDS-the words I was planning to use to convince my son NOT to sign on the dotted line and allow Uncle Sam to dictate the next several years of his life. (I hated to even refer to him as UNCLE because I did not want Sam to be considered a part of my family.) My husband and I have reared three boys, and I will admit, it has always been a secret fear of mine that one of them would have to fight in a war. When those smoothtalking recruiters would call our home and ask to speak with one of

photo by Sherri Murphy

“Sherri, I need to talk to you... Jordan’s joining the Army.” them, I would kindly thank them for their service to our country, but would inform them that I would not be forwarding the message on to my son. I don't think they really knew how to respond to me, but I was not concerned. I tried to block their attempts of reaching any of my sons and luring them in with promises and grandiose offers that would be too good for an 18-year old boy to refuse. It worked...for a while anyway. Unbeknownst to me, my 23-year old son, a talented photographer/ graphic artist who also loved to compete in Mixed Martial Arts was feeling very unfulfilled, and had December 2010


been exploring different avenues for his future. One particular position in the Army was appealing to him, as was the desire to become a part of something larger than himself. He waited until the position came open, and began the process to fulfill his heart's desire to serve our country and use his gifts at the same time. We threw a big shindig for our middle son, to honor his departure from life as a civilian into the life as property of the US Army--we invited his friends, our friends, and family, as we gave him our "blessing" (mine was a bit forced) and offered prayers, and hugs and words of encouragement. It wasn't until later that evening, as the guests had said their last goodbyes and he was standing proudly within a small group of his closest friends, that it really dawned on me--my world as I knew it, was about to drastically change. I walked over to give him a hug and I began crying uncontrollably. He held me even closer, and offered an even tighter hug of consolation, but even he knew there were no words--not his, nor mine that could ease my mind. We just stood there holding each other. I finally dragged myself to the car and went home. As I walked inside my house, my legs were as heavy as my heart and I found it difficult to even climb the top of the stairs to my bedroom. When I finally was able to lay my head on my pillow, I began what would become a daily ritual--a prayer for peace. I prayed for peace for Jordan- that no matter what he was asked to face, endure or ac10

complish, he would feel peace inside- that powerful peace that only God could give. Peace that has nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding him. I asked for peace for my own soul that knew I could not live in a state of fear and panic throughout his time in the Army. And peace for the troops already serving in various parts of our world protecting the peace that has recently come to an area. That word continued to return to my lips---PEACE. The following day we traveled to St. Louis to witness his "swearing in" and we were allowed to take photos and enjoy a nice lunch and conversation. I gave him a letter with several prayers that I would be praying, beginning with a prayer for peace. I told him I would write to him every day. He smiled. He knew I would keep my word. We hugged him, held him. Told him how proud we were of him. He smiled and assured us that he would be fine. Then he left to begin his 10-week basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. The ride home in the car was nearly silent, as his father and I were surely playing out different scenarios in our heads. His were more than likely full of pride with a bit of reservation - mine filled with much reservation and a bit of pride. I didn't have much of an appetite over the next few days as I knew a child I loved would soon be experiencing the wrath of angry drill sergeants that would be bound and determined to make an ARMY STRONG man out of my son in just a couple of months. I feared he would be homesick, or have regrets or get hurt.

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I continued to pray. "Peace to Jordan- God, let him feel your presence. What ever he is going through- let him feel your peace." One of his very first letters home was a literal gift to this mother's soul. I tore open the blue-grey Army stationary and while my heart beat wildly anticipating his words, I felt a calm come over me that really has not left in nearly a month. In his letter, he wrote about his experience in the gas chamber. The dreaded gas chamber. It mattered not if they were the strongest in the platoon, nor did their age or gender become a factor, the gas chamber had no mercy on its visitors. They all dreaded this visit. The gas burns the eyes, nose, mouth and skin, and causes extreme nausea. No one exits this building without the same effects. As I read the words he penned, I cried...but this time, they were tears of joy. "Mom, you know that peace that you pray for me to receive? Well, I have received it. Even before I went into the gas chamber, I felt totally calm and collected. I think it was good for those around me to see someone like that. They needed to see someone with courage. I think it helped them." I can sense the pride in what he has been able to achieve in such a small amount of time. I can also recognize the growth--the transformation from a young man into an Army Man. "I love who I am becoming as a person. My buddy and I always talk about how this is making us better people. Inwardly, I am growing and strengthening daily, and the Lord

is more evident than ever. I am so glad I followed my heart on making this decision. ARMY... one of the best things I've been through." No other words could have been more comforting to this mother's heart. God had heard my prayers. He sent His peace to earth again. Just as He did over 2000 years ago. My prayers for peace will continue to be offered on behalf of my son regardless where his Army service takes him, and I know how powerful that peace will be. I will pray for the peace of all the soldiers serving their country in many areas around the globe, and also for their families whose hearts weigh heavy with worry and fear regarding their safety. As I read the Christmas story again this year, yet another meaning will spring from the pages of the New Testament from the pen of the disciple Luke. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, PEACE, goodwill toward men."

At participating


Sherri Murphy (r), with her son Jordan. Sherri writes several popular blogs and is a motivational speaker. She resides in West Frankfort, IL.

December 2010


Graphic by Michael Thomas


oesn't it seem like people are putting up their Christmas tree earlier every year? Some say it is because they can't wait to get it up and start to enjoy it, others that they can't wait to get it over with. Regardless of what kind of tree a family chooses, how it's decorated or what goes on before and after, it becomes the focal point of the Christmas season in our home. The traditions surrounding the ritual become so engrained in us that even slight variations can cause us to fear


losing a little of the magic. Selecting a tree and all it entails is an image that was put in our heads by Currier and Ives, and we picture ourselves on a cold blustery day soon after Thanksgiving. Not only is it the coldest day in the year, of course, but in our mind’s eye, we are bundled up in the sleigh while sturdy horses, (Heck let’s make them Clydesdales) drag all of us through the drifting snow, while the tree sweeps a pattern in the stark white countryside over the hills to our home. Laughing and

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teasing, we trim the tree beside the fire with our traditional popped corn and crisp, cold apples for dinner. Somewhere in the background, Nat King Cole croons, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Or maybe it's a little more like dragging a box out of the cart on the Wal-Mart parking lot only to find that it's a little too big for the trunk. Later we sit cross-legged on the floor and finally resign ourselves to the fact that two of the B and one of the E branches are missing. All of the lights were still working perfectly last year when we

put them away, but it looks like one more trip back to the store tonight. Not right now though. The pizza delivery guy is at the door and, somewhere in the background, the Rams are breaking the hearts of the Saints fans. We hope. There are three options available for the Christmas tree: artificial, cut-your own and live. Artificial Trees “It's all about the glitter and the glitz,” says Linda Stevens, owner of Stevens Floral and Framing in Marion. “Glitter really sells this year.” Stevens obviously knows a thing or two about artificial trees and how to dress them in dazzling sophisticated fashion because her store is full of them. Although they do sell the trees decorated or unfinished, customers browse the exhibited trees daily, picking what they want from the glittery, brightly colored butterflies, dragonflies, flowers, spirals and stars. “We rarely sell a whole decorated tree as is,” Stevens says. “We have before, but we can hardly keep them decorated, customers pick over them so fast. We have had everything ready the first part of October; at least that's what we try to do. A lot of people are out shopping for their Christmas decorations that early.” Most of the trees at Stevens are decorated by theme or by color. “Some people decorate their tree to coincide with the colors in their room,” Steven says. “And you would be surprised how many people have more than one tree, even four or five or one in every room.” Even if you aren't sure what you are looking for, the trees at Stevens are like a library of unique Christmas tree ideas, where you can go to browse. Everything from elaborately lighted-

With nearly every color of artificial tree available, a buyer should have little trouble in creating a Christmas masterpiece that is unique. These dazzling creations are on display at Stevens Floral and Framing in Marion.

palm trees to slim rustic trees decorated for sportsmen in hunting and fishing themes may give a customer a new direction in Christmas decorations that he or she may never have hit on otherwise. Other trends in the newest trees may not be as sinister as they seem to be, but simply a better way of showcasing the beautiful ornaments. “We have quite a few black trees,” Stevens said. “Those are good because when a tree is really laden with ornaments, the usual green of the tree doesn't conflict with the color scheme. The black tree underneath the decorations isn't noticeable at all.” Cut your own trees But if a freshly cut Christmas tree is the only option acceptable to your family, they are still available throughout Southern Illinois at markets and some tree lots operated by civic and school organizations. We're happy to inform you that the home grown cut Christmas tree businesses still exist,

although they are much fewer and farther between than they were even a few years ago. Perhaps one of the best known and oldest tree farms is Wiswell's Christmas Trees in Williamson County. Stacy and Kevin Holloway are owners of Wiswell’s Christmas Trees located on Route 148 between Johnston City and Herrin. Kevin worked for Wiswell for several years before buying the business in 1997. Of the 58 acres of land, about 40 are planted in pine trees. “We sell both Scotch Pines and White Pines,” Holloway explained. “But we only flock Scotch Pines since they have sturdier branches and can support the flocking and the ornaments. A flocked tree never has to be watered and will safely last much longer than an unflocked tree.”

“Of course, a lot of people go out to the field to pick their own. We cut it for them, and if they buy one of our stands, we’ll put it in the stand and

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make sure it’s leveled the way they want before they take it home. If they want to bring the stand back every year and they buy another tree, we’ll do that for them every year.” Another service that Holloway provides is shaking the tree of loose needles before it goes home with the customer. This is done by placing the cut tree on a machine that gently shakes the tree with rapid but very effective movements that jostles the loose needles onto the ground. Holloway offers a few tips that may save the buyer a lot of aggravation. “If you are going out to the field to cut your own tree, always bring a tape measure. Know ahead of time

those you get off the super-market lot because many times those trees were cut weeks before they were sold. But you still have to keep your tree watered. We recommend adding ‘Tree Life’ to the water. We experimented with it and it seems to help keep the needles on longer.” Allen Tree Farms and Wreaths near Buncombe is another venue that offers the experience of cutting your own tree. Although they do not offer flocked trees, they do have a Christmas Shop, which sells wreaths, grave blankets and roping. Elizabeth (Allen) James, owner, is proud of the fact that they have been in the business of selling Christmas trees and related items for several decades. “We cut the tree for you, clean it up and wrap it in netting for the trip home,” explained James. They even offer a special service for those who really want a hands-on experience. “Our insurance won’t allow us to let our customers bring their own chain saw to cut down a tree,” said James, “but we will provide you with a bow saw if you want to cut your own.” Live Trees

Kevin Holloway of Wiswell’s Christmas Trees uses a machine to shake off loose needles in preparation for flocking.

how big a tree will fit into your room. Trees out in the field look smaller until you bring them home, then they ‘grow’. Our trees will last longer than


With the growing interest in keeping the environment as green as possible, more and more people are buying live trees at Christmas. Margie Rehagen, manager of Plantscape Nursery in Herrin, sells many balled and burlapped trees during the holiday season. “Balled and burlapped is an industry term that means the root ball is still attached to the tree and the entire ball is wrapped tightly in

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burlap. There are only two varieties of balled and burlapped that we sell, White Pine and Norway Spruce,” said Rehagen. “White Pine, a long needled pine, can be kept inside from right after Thanksgiving until after Christmas. It does very well inside. Norway Spruce has shorter needles and is only good for about two weeks inside. Most other varieties of pine trees do not do well indoors.” In fact, Rehagen says it is very important to let the tree rest inside a unheated area before bringing it into the house. Acclimate the tree in a garage or on the porch for 48 hours to bring it up to a warmer temp before bringing it into the house. Reverse the procedure when taking the tree out of the warm house to be planted outside. In other words, avoid exposing your tree to sudden and extreme temperature changes. Most experts recommend that owners pre-dig their hole while the ground is still manageable. Dig a hole twice the width of the ball. Save the dirt. After Christmas plant the tree and pack the saved dirt around the ball. It is not necessary to cut the bag. Water the tree with a slow steady trickle of water for about an hour. Peter and Ellen Popit of West Frankfort have been buying and planting live Christmas trees for over two decades. “We began doing this in the mid-1980’s,” said Peter. “We have bought 22 trees, all white pines. Six trees did not survive, including one that was uprooted in a storm.” The Popits have learned from experi-

into a large tub once you bring it into the house, Peter recommends that you measure the diameter of the tub before buying your tree. “You don’t want to bring home a tree and then discover that the ball is too big for your tub,” he advises. He is also very aware that the ball will add height to the tree so his rule of thumb is to buy a tree that is no taller than what you can reach with hands stretched straight overhead. Still, a bagged and burlapped tree that stands six and half to seven feet tall will weigh about 200 pounds. So help and a dolly are probably essential to move the tree into the house. Standing beneath one of the their Christmas trees from the 1980’s, and surrounded by Scotch pines from other Christmases, Peter and Ellen Popit of West Frankfort enjoy seeing the little extra work of using live trees at Christmas give them many years of pleasure.

ence that live trees require a bit more work than others, but the efforts are worth it. They now have several beautiful pines along their property line that not only act as a windbreak but also provide a bit of privacy. “ I purchased my last tree in 2008, simply because I ran out of places to put any more trees,” said Popit. “I spend about $30-40 more a year on a tree, but I have a lot more to show for it over the years.” “It’s also fun to remember which tree went with which Christmas,” said Ellen. Since you will be placing your tree

Peter also advises keeping the ball wet by checking the water every other day or so and place the tree where it will get plenty of light. “I treat it like a house plant,” Popit says. “Rotate the tree every few days so that the tree gets equal amounts of sunlight on all sides.” Popit has been able to keep his trees in the house until March using this system. So even if “Bringing home the tree” is not the warm fuzzy scene we may have seen on a Christmas greeting, it’s still an important event in the excitement of anticipation, the first personal hard evidence that Christmas is coming. It’s not about the best way or a right way to celebrate. It’s all about the tradition. If it’s one that you’ve played out for years, or if it’s one you are creating this year, adopt it. Embrace it. It’s the best part of the season.

Stevens Floral and Framing

2402 Williamson County Parkway (Next to Black Diamond Harley-Davidson) Marion, IL Phone: (618) 997-1551 Hours: Mon-Sat 9 AM - 8 PM Sundays Noon - 5 PM Wide variety of artificial trees & trim

Allen Farms Christmas Trees & Wreaths 2695 Allan Road Buncombe, IL 62912

Phone: (618) 658-5678 Hours: Closed Mondays Tues-Sat. 9 AM - 4:30 PM Sundays 1 PM - 4:30 PM Scotch Pine Available No Flocked Trees Wreaths, Grave Blankets, Roping also available.

Wiswell’s Chrsitmas Trees

14779 Christmas Tree Road Herrin, IL 62948 (618) 983-5114 Scotch Pine and White Pine Flocked Trees Available Hours: Closed Mondays and Tuesdays Open Wed-Fri Noon to 5 PM Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM Sunday Noon - 5 PM

Plantscape Nursery

720 North 33rd Street Herrin, IL 62948-1160 (618) 942-4865 Hours: Monday-Saturday 8 AM - 5 PM Sunday 12-5 PM

Changing Seasons Landscape Center

Rt. 13 3915 W Ernestine Dr Marion (618) 997-6897 Hours: Monday-Friday 9 AM - 6 PM Saturday 8 AM - 6 PM

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Teamsters Local # 347 • (618) 932-3191 President: Terry Rawson • Vice President: Tracy Davis Secretary-Treasurer: Rosi Miller • Recordiing Secretary: Jerry Cunningham Trustees: Terry Gossett Stan Patterson Charles Mazur

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uthor, Harlan Miller once said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could put Christmas spirit up in jars and open a new jar of it every month? Nice idea, but I don’t think anyone has done it yet. If there were a possibility they have—and if I were going to go looking for it—I think I would go to Etcetera in Marion. If you’ve been there, you understand what I mean. And if you haven’t, then you need to go. You’re bound to leave with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head.


A walk through the store is like browsing through a Christmas fantasyland. Not a fantasyland that you want to traverse with large purses or small children, but like a display that you might buy a ticket to see, with so much to look at and absorb that you really don’t know where to start. From the resplendent snow-white tree to the 18th Century reproductions of the Nubian figurines, there is nothing ordinary about these holiday decorations. Whether shopping for a gift for

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that discriminating someone on your shopping list or simply attempting to capture the holiday spirit, owners Mark Alexander and Michael Heilig have brought a world of Christmas ambiance to Southern Illinois. Go and enjoy the wonderful aroma of the holiday coffees and the beauty of the season. Oh, and don’t forget to look up. The ceiling is decorated too.

A candy case for grown-ups, this wide assortment of chocolates takes decision-making to an art form. Luckily, assortments can be boxed for the ultimate yummy stocking stuffer.

Individually boxed Waterford fine crystal heirloom Christmas ornaments, made from mercury glass, are an example of the unique items available at Etcetera.

(above) This beautiful bedecked white tree is the Christmas centerpiece of the store.

(above) Owner Mark Alexander watches Stacy Olson gift wrap a purchase. (right) A variety of gourmet coffee flavors picked especially for the Holidays include Butter Cookie, Cinnamon Holiday, Highlander Grog and Cinnamon Hazelnut Praline.

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mouths, and the words just tumbled out, right there next to the yams.


e’d just arrived from out of town and sat down with Mom for dinner. She led us in grace. “Thank you, God, for this food, for bringing Pam and Gary here, and next time maybe they can stay a little longer so they can paint the storm windows. Amen.” Mom, bless her heart, has always had a place setting for divine intervention, and she’s not above dishing out a bowl of guilt at the dinner table. Saying grace used to be such a simple thing. In my family it was an established prayer that seemed to be imprinted on our genetic code. I don’t remember having to learn it, as we did the other prayers. I seem to have been born with the words already in my head. “Bess us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts …” We never really had to think about the words. We just sat at the table, bowed our heads, opened our 18

If you ever had to think about the words, if you ever lost your place — because, say, you burst into laughter because cousin Ed looked at you funny — you could never pick up the thread. That’s because the traditional meal prayer that I knew wasn’t made up of words so much as comforting sounds and a reassuring rhythm. Later, Mom purchased salt and pepper shakers with the grace prayer printed on them. I suspect she was worried about cousin Ed coming to dinner again. But at some point, the grace prayer in America underwent a fundamental change, and it morphed into a sort of freestyle, ad-lib event, which has plagued dinner tables across the land ever since. I’ve traced this phenomenon back to the 1970s, which, coincidentally, was the era of disco, which, I will point out, is to blame for everything that is wrong in America today. I’m just saying. Anyway … What we have now — not only at Catholic/Christian tables, but at tables across the religious spectrum, from pagans, Muggles and animists to agnostics and atheists — is sometimes a no-holds-barred extemporaneous babble that could be about anything. I’ve witnessed it delivered in strange ways, without thought or

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meaning or substance, sort of an adult version of that childhood satire, “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub.” Sometimes, it’s not about giving thanks at all, it’s all about asking for stuff. “Please, God, guide our vehicles home safely tonight, and if you have time tomorrow bring us some world peace.” Now, pass the potatoes. Sometimes it’s strictly secular and has nothing to do with asking for blessings or giving thanks. It’s about politics or the weather or why we’re all gathered here together, as if we didn’t already know it was all about the turkey and the dressing. “Dear Lord, let there be enough cranberries for seconds.” And sometimes God isn’t mentioned at all. I plead guilty to this. One Thanksgiving I was called upon to say grace, and I began by explaining the traditional Quaker form of prayer. In other words, silence. It was not so much about saying grace than an attempt to listen to it. Not everyone got it. We’re not all comfortable with the quiet. So there were a few nervous giggles, and for a moment I thought cousin Ed had showed up. I’m not arguing for a return to the old prayer, whatever that may be in your home. I have never been a fan of rote recitation and mumbled incantations. But I’m also not a fan of the stand-up routine. So maybe

what I’m arguing for here is a reexamination of the purpose of the dinner prayer. The roots of this dinnertime tradition — almost universally — are imbedded in the idea of giving thanks, and in honoring the things we take from creation that give us sustenance. The prayer, no matter how it is voiced — or experienced in silence — has to do with gratitude and taking a moment to reflect on our connection to food, to nature, our environment. I have no idea if prayer works. I don’t know if any plea to the deity is actually heard and answered. My faith may be particularly weak when it comes to prayers that ask for stuff, but who am I to say? It works for my mother, who has graced my life all these years. We painted her storm windows. But I know prayer can’t hurt. And if all we get out of it — no matter what form it comes in — is a sense of shared community and a sense of wellbeing within ourselves, then it’s indeed a wonderful thing.




Prairie Living is Affordable for ALL Income Levels

NEW IN 2010! Prairie Living expansion of 50 additional apartments. Open summer 2010. Prairie Living at Chautauqua 955 Villa Court Carbondale, IL 62901 Managed by BMA Management, Ltd

Gary Marx is a displaced Illinois writer now living in Kansas. He has worked for more than 30 years at newspapers including The Southern Illinoisan and the Kansas City Star. He is now an adjunct professor of journalism at Park University. Contact him through his website,

December 2010



ake a trip with me, if you will, into a Norman Rockwell painting. You know the one. The family is gathered round the table that is set beautifully for the big holiday dinner, as the perfectly groomed family members are all smiles. Grandpa is dressed in his Sunday best and stands proudly behind Grandma, clad in her simple church dress covered by a crisp white apron as she presents the perfectly browned turkey to the hungry, but well-mannered kinfolk eagerly waiting the moment to devour the bird. Of course, I’m certain that is only after grace was offered and each had shared all the blessings they had received in their most grateful tone. 20

December 2010

That depiction of a holiday meal has set the bar and crushed more spirits than Jolly Ole Saint Nick could ever dream of lifting. I find myself frantically attempting to prepare the perfect meal for the holidays, while creating family traditions to rival those of my childhood. But recently it dawned on me that the traditions I hold most dear, especially those surrounding holiday meals, really had nothing to do with perfection at all. My memories of Christmastime include memorable meals that may have included very simple dishes, but because they were served year after year, the feelings those dishes evoke are always good. It matters not if much talent or time is spent in the kitchen. Your dressing may be grandma’s secret recipe from scratch, or it may be prepared quickly from a box on the stove top, but either way, we’re making memories...literally. I asked several southern Illinois cooks to join me and share some of their best dishes that can be served during the holidays that also tap into their own holiday memories, and may also create some new traditions for you to share with those you love. My own mother and I started making pizzelle cookies a couple of years ago, to bring back my lategrandmother’s tradition and to introduce the recipe a new generation of great-

grandchildren she did not have the pleasure of meeting. And they were just as good as I remember. So, I share this recipe for pizzelle cookies in memory of my beautiful grandmother, Amelia Maragni.

With floured hands, roll 2-3 heaping teaspoonfuls of dough into a ball. Place dough balls slightly off center - just a tiny bit backclose lid and cook for about one minute. It is okay to

BREAD PUDDING Nancy Wilburn, West Frankfort


Sherri Murphy, West Frankfort

open lid to see if they are done- it will not affect the cookie to check a few times. They should be slightly golden brown.They lift very easily off the griddle with spatula. Cool on flat surface, then start stacking them.

First, you must have a pizzelle cookie maker. But don’t despair if you do not own one. These cookies can also be made on a cookie sheet for the same great flavor; they just won’t be as pretty. You will need: 6 eggs 1-cup butter 1 1/2 cup sugar 5 cups flour 5 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. anise oil Beat eggs and sugar well. Add melted cooled butter. Add anise oil, and then dry ingredients. Mix well with a mixer on med. speed till smooth.

These are delicious served just as they are or sprinkle with powdered sugar for snowflake effect. They can be formed to make a waffle cone for ice cream, but you will need the proper form for this. Wrap warm cookies around the bottom of a cup, let it cool, then it will be perfect to fill with ice cream, drizzled with chocolate...yummmmm. Thank you Grandma!

Another memorable recipe passed down from one generation to another is a deliciously moist bread pudding shared by Nancy Wilburn, a West Frankfort Elementary School teacher who has been making her mother’s recipe for many years. “When I make this dish, I always think of my mother [the late Vertis Vaughn}. She would take it to all the church functions.” Not only is this recipe enjoyed during the Wilburn family holidays, it has been a special request for potlucks, church socials and was also one of the the most requested dishes by the West Frankfort athletes for their sports banquets. Nancy recently prepared this dish for me and I can honestly say that it is THE BEST bread pudding recipe I’ve ever tasted! Extremely moist, without being soggy. A subtle blend of mild

December 2010


flavors. This would make a perfect Christmas brunch entree, or breakfast or dessert, an afternoon snack, midnight get the idea. This is comfort food at its best!


Charay Brewer, Anna, IL

BREAD PUDDING 1 loaf of white bread 4 eggs 1 1/4 cups sugar 4 cups milk 2 tsp. vanilla 1-stick Parkay Margarine 1/2 cup raisins (optional) VANILLA SAUCE 1-cup sugar 2 Tbs. cornstarch 1 cup boiling water 1 stick Parkay Margarine 1 Tbs. vanilla Break bread into pieces and put into a buttered (or sprayed) 9x13 pan. Add raisins on top (if desired). Beat eggs, then add sugar, milk and vanilla. Pour over bread in pan. Take spoon and push bread into milk mixture. Sprinkle cinnamon over top and dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. (Place on top of cookie sheet to avoid spill over). *This will rise while baking, but will fall after removed from oven. Sauce directions: Mix sugar and cornstarch in 2 qt. pan. Gradually add boiling water. Cook until sauce is thickened. Remove from stove. Add butter and vanilla. Stir until well blended. Pour sauce over baked pudding and add cinnamon on top if desired.


Charay shares one of her favorite traditional holiday recipes from her menu, Squash (or Pumpkin) pie. She also shares a funny story about a not-so-perfect holiday creation. “ I serve this pie at every holiday dinner and it is my son Eric’s favorite. Many years ago when he was little I made it and forgot to add the sugar. It tasted “different” but every piece was eaten anyway. Now he never forgets to remind me to add the sugar when he knows I’m baking his favorite pie!” You can substitute canned pumpkin in this recipe but using fresh pumpkin or squash is well worth the effort. Feel free to try some of the large winter squash in this recipe. Wash the pumpkin or squash and cut it in half. Remove the strings and seeds. Place in a large pan, skin side up and

December 2010

bake at 325 degrees for about an hour, depending on size, until it is tender and begins to fall apart. Scrape the pulp from the shell and put it through a ricer or strainer to remove excess water. Line a pie pan with an uncooked pastry shell and brush with egg whites. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix until well blended: 2 cups cooked pumpkin or squash 1 ½ cups evaporated milk ½ cup brown sugar ½ cup white sugar ½ tsp. salt 1 tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. ginger ¼ teaspoon nutmeg 1/8 tsp. cloves 2 slightly beaten eggs Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes or longer, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Delicious served warm with whipped cream!

STRAWBERRY APPLE CIDER Christine Steed. Benton, IL

“Each year, my family gathers together for Christmas dinner. While all the stories we share and the details of our lives might change, we can count on one thing remaining just as it was the year before. When we step through the door out of the cool December air, we will be greeted with warm hugs and a cup of my mom’s Strawberry Apple Cider. She has served it every Christmas for the past ten years and it’s something we all look forward to as much as the children anticipate their presents! 8 cups apple cider or juice 1 10 oz. pkg. frozen sliced strawberries 1 4” cinnamon stick

1 t. whole cloves Put cider in slow cooker. Put cloves and cinnamon stick in cheesecloth and add it to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours. Add frozen strawberries for the last hour. Discard cheesecloth. You can discard strawberries or leave them in. Your choice.

ASPARAGUS ROLLS Lisa Laird, Marion, IL

Note: If you do not have cheesecloth, use a tea infuser ball and put the whole cloves inside. The strawberries and cinnamon stick can go straight into the cider.

It’s always nice to have a favorite “go-to” appetizer recipe for the holidays. Lisa Laird, who works at Heartland Regional Center in Marion, shared her most requested recipe, not only at the holidays, but also anytime of the year. Simple, yet elegant. This one may end up being your family’s next new holiday traditions. “ I learned how to cook after my mother passed away by watching my friend Lori cook and lots of Martha Stewart and of course my Grandma December 2010


and Grandpa Parmele. It’s amazing to know that when I was 22 I could barely make a box of Mac ‘N Cheese. I was determined to learn to cook so I watched everyone cook everything. This was before food network, which would have come in handy back then. But now I try new recipes all the time and am lucky to have a husband who will try anything I make, even if it’s a disaster and we have to start over.” This Recipe is the Perfect Holiday recipe to take to any party and to serve as a light appetizer at your Dinner. ASPARAGUS ROLLS 1 bunch of fresh asparagus (thin) 1 block of cream cheese or a small tube of garlic flavored cream cheese 1/2 pound thinly sliced deli salami sea salt pepper Parmesan cheese 1. Take one asparagus and bend it, it will snap where it needs to be cut off. Cut the remaining spears in the same place. 2. In a pot of boiling water plunge the asparagus for 1 min (longer if thicker asparagus is used) 3. Immediately place the asparagus into a bowl of ice water to shock it, which stops the cooking process and keeps it bright green 4. Dry the asparagus with a paper towel and season with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese 5. Take a slice of the salami and spread a thin layer of cream cheese over it 6. Take an asparagus spear and wrap the salami/ cream cheese around the spear. Stack on a platter, chill 15-30 min and serve. So, what are you waiting for? Start making some mouth-watering memories!


December 2010

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December 2010



December 2010

There is a lot of suffering that goes on at Cardinal Glennon. The 190-bed not-for-profit medical center in the heart of St. Louis has been in the business of treating children with complicated and life threatening diseases for over 51 years. One of those children, a recent patient, has unknowingly brought the spirit of her fan club to the medical center. The love and concern they feel for little Anna is overflowing to touch the lives of the children being treated for cancer at Cardinal Glennon.

“Anna had no symptoms of illness, so we waited a few days to see what would happen. The nodes changed shape, but were still obvious. After blood work and scans, Dr. Ploegman sent us to St. Louis immediately. We learned that Anna had tumors in her lungs and kidneys, miraculously none in her spinal fluid or bone marrow. Since then we have been on a roller coaster of doctors, tests, hospital stays, complications from chemo and a low immune system.”

Anna Lamczyk with her parents Tony and Kristen.

Two and a half year old Anna, daughter of Tony and Kristen Lamczyk, was diagnosed earlier this year with T Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Kristen remembers that day only too well. “It was September 17, our 5th year wedding anniversary,” she says. “About a month before Anna was diagnosed, I noticed enlarged lymph nodes on the side of her neck after her bath one evening. They felt like large stones under her skin. Fearing the worst, I took her to our pediatrician, Dr. Paul Ploegman, the next morning.”

(Photo provided)

The Lamczyks' lives changed dramatically. Suddenly they were parents like so many others they saw repeatedly at the hospital. They all have something in common, mainly the gaunt, haggard look of disbelief that they are stumbling through this nightmare. Anna's extended family has been the support system for the long ordeal she has been going through. Her aunt, Tamara Willmore and her uncle, Charles Clark, are two of her biggest fans, lavishing surprises and attention on her whenever they are able to visit with her in the hospital or when she is home. Charles

Clark is owner of Calico Country with a store in Carbondale and another in West Frankfort, which is managed by Kristen. It was Uncle Chuck who accidentally hit upon the idea that started the project that is generously providing homemade quilts to little patients at Cardinal Glennon. “When Anna was first diagnosed, we were all just devastated,” Chuck recalls. “I remember the first time that I went to the hospital to see her, I was struck by how many sick children were there by themselves. There was no parent or adult in the room to comfort them and just be there for them. That really bothered me.” Kristen too felt the pain of seeing little patients like Anna who did not have an adult to stay with them. “It is so heartbreaking to see children alone in a hospital,” Kristen says. “When they are crying in the room next to you, it is so difficult to keep from going in there and checking on them yourself, You just want to make them feel loved.” “When I came home, I was just so frustrated,” Chuck says. “ I had all this negative energy; I needed to do something. So I went to the store that night, and I stayed there and made a couple of small quilts. The next day I showed the quilts to a few of our regular customers.

(Photo provided)


he colors are vibrant. The fabrics are soft and smooth. The stitches are sewn with love. The handmade quilts that have made their way into the children's rooms at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis are gifts of care and compassion from women in Southern Illinois who do not know the recipients of their gifts, but only know what it is like to love a child and offer comfort to one who is suffering.

December 2010


Of course a lot of them knew Anna and Kristen, and they began making quilts. It was kind of a natural progression.”

Non-Hodgkins, and has a much higher cure rate than some. After her first round of treatment, the Lamczyks were greeted with the good news that her CT scan was

dolls and using her doctor's tools to fix anyone nearby. “Anna will have a life long relationship with Cardinal Glennon,” Kristen explains. “Chemotherapy can have some long term effects on the body. The medical staff will monitor her growth and development long after she is a patient and after she is an adult.”

“We had always taken part in the Linus Project every year at the Paducah Quilt Show,” he explained. “People walk around there all day visiting the exhibits; they're tired. Sometimes they have a little time to kill. We just have scraps of fabric available and of “Tony and I have course our machines wonderful famiare there. We invite lies,” she adds. people to sit down “Tony is not for a while and sew always able to be on a quilt. Someone with us because might start one and he has to work, someone else might A less than happy Anna reluctantly poses on a pile of quilts donated by friends so it often falls finish it, but by the and family in southern Illinois to other children at Cardinal Glennon Chilto my mom and end of the week we dren’s Medical Center in St. Louis. (Photo provided) dad who are able might have 40 or to spend the time 50 new child-size during regular quilts, and we would hospital stays. I don't know how I clean, and the tumors that were donate them to St. Jude’s. We all could ever go through this alone.” present on September 17, were no began talking about donating quilts longer there. In spite of the fact to Cardinal Glennon for the staff that the news is so good, and Anna “And there will be more quilts,” to give out to the cancer patients promises Chuck. “The staff has has responded so well to the treatthere. We had a meeting with the ment, she has completed little more been delighted with the donations, staff, and they loved the idea. than 30 days of a three-year plan to (which at this writing numbered well over 100) and we are commitCustomers began meeting regularly remaining totally cancer free. ted to continue this effort.” about two days a week at both the There will be more chemo, more Carbondale and West Frankfort “There is a three year old boy on stores. Calico Country supplies the side effects, more spinal taps and the floor, who has recently been scans. There will be more trips to machines and the fabric. The quildiagnosed with Leukemia,” Kristers provide the labor and the love. Cardinal Glennon and more long ten says. “He has been incredibly hospital stays like a recent one upset, with good reason. When he where unexplained high fevers kept “It gave us all a way to channel our is calm and resting, he is always the normally bright eyed, playful energy, and feel like we are doing wrapped in his new quilt from little girl and her parents in a hospisomething to help.” tal room, at times in isolation. Anna Calico Country.” spent most of her time sleeping Thankfully, Anna's Lymphoma is instead of taking care of her baby 28

December 2010

December 2010


We Need A Little

Text By Gail Rissi Thomas Photos by Michael Thomas


f course I have no idea why God created popcorn, but I think that after he did, he popped a big bowl of it, sat back and said, “This is really cool.”

I have always felt pretty much that way about popcorn myself. When I was a kid, my mom was a real popcorn professional. Saturday nights at out house brought some of the most comforting traditions a kid could want, not only back to back TV shows, “Have Gun Will Travel,” and “Gunsmoke,” but the accompaniment of freshly popped popcorn, usually my choice. Decisions were hard back then. Would it be plain popcorn? In those days, plain meant that we still drizzled it with real melted butter. (So why hadn’t we all suffered massive coronaries by the time we were 12?) Once in a while it was sprinkled liberally with Parmesan Cheese, no doubt a result of my mom growing up in an Italian household. My mom was one of those mom’s who even made 30

December 2010

popcorn balls, something I never really appreciated. They took too long to make, were too messy, too sticky and too hard to eat. But the real tough decisions were nights, often while Lawrence Welk was still dosi doing around the dance floor with a blonde middle - aged babe, when my mom would stand in the living room doorway with the magic pot in her hand and ask. What kind do you want? Chocolate

or pink? Yes, she was the queen of the special popcorns, long before we ever saw them at carnivals or in expensive candy shops. The pale pink, candy coated, buttery corn was good, but I can honestly say my circle of friends from kindergarten through college coveted the rich chocolate popcorn. Best of all, as an adult, I have perfected her recipes, and am happy to share them with the world.

Chocolate Popcorn


he chocolate sauce for this recipe is a beautiful thing. You can make a tiny batch of it if you want it for something other than popcorn. Make any quantity you need, just always using half as much water as sugar. My father used to be a soda jerk when he was a high school kid, and this is the simple sundae sauce they used over ice cream. He was the one who decided to pour it over popcorn. I also use it for a glaze drizzled over cream puffs, éclairs and cakes. It’s a great recipe, but I cook it just a shade beyond soft ball stage and test it both with a candy thermometer as well as adding a drop to a glass of tap water to make sure it is done enough, otherwise you’ll be eating it with a spoon. The finished popcorn should be completely dry. Don’t forget the butter. As with most candy recipes, a candy thermometer is essential to determine when the mixture is done.

Pop a large bowl of regular popcorn. We never used microwave and always used yellow, however I just do it the way my mother did. I think she told someone once about 4 quarts popped. We fill one very large aluminum mixing bowl about three quarters full. If you don’t have a large enough container to mix it in, cut the recipe in half. Salt lightly. In a large saucepan mix together: 2 cups of sugar and 3 teaspoons of cocoa. Add 1 cup of water. Stir while cooking to soft ball stage to 236 degrees on a candy thermometer. To test for correct consistency, drop a bit of the chocolate sauce into a glass of water. If it stays together without dissipating in the water or stringing, remove the sauce from the stove and add a tablespoon of real butter. Pour in a slow stream over popped corn stirring constantly and turning the bowl. Keep stirring and tossing until you can hear and see that the popcorn is beginning to dry. Try not to eat the whole batch while you watch Gunsmoke. December 2010


Pink Popcorn


or some reason, my mother was never much for making green, yellow or blue popcorn, although as a kid I probably thought it would be cool. As a result, I don’t do it either. But this one is easy. You can take the chocolate sauce recipe, leave out the cocoa and add a couple of drops of red food coloring and a spot of vanilla. Voila! You’ve got a popcorn that looks like the stuff they make and sell for big bucks in theme parks and gourmet food shops. Only a very little food color is needed. You want a pale pastel. Much more appetizing. And....Don’t forget to add the butter.

can add walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts or cashews for variety. I usually only add a few pecans. Place in a large stainless steel or aluminum pan and set in a 200-degree oven. . In a large saucepan cook 1-cup (2 sticks) butter. I use real butter. 2 cups light brown sugar, ½ cup light Karo Syrup and 1 teaspoon salt to soft ball stage (see chocolate popcorn sauce. Again, I

Poppycock: One year at Christmas, we were gone for the holiday and let some friends stay at our house while they visited here. When they returned home, they sent us a tin of homemade poppycock as a Thank You. I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted, and had to have the recipe. It’s the kind of treat that my son asks me NOT to send him because he loves it so much. Anyway, I don’t think they’ll mind my sharing it with you. Thanks Ron and Pat Stanczak from Waukegan. Most importantly, don’t forget to add the baking soda at the end. It makes all the difference in the world. Pop 3 to 4 quarts regular yellow corn (Measure after popped.) You 32

leave it for about a minute beyond soft ball.) Remove from heat and stir in 1 level teaspoon of baking soda. Stir until butter mixture becomes very airy and changes consistency. Pour in a steady stream over warm corn and toss until well covered. Place back in 200-degree oven for about 45 minutes, removing every 15 minutes to stir and toss again. Remove from oven and cool completely before storing in tightly covered tins or bags. Corn may become sticky if exposed to air. Enjoy!

December 2010

White Chocolate Popcorn A couple of years ago my sister happened upon a recipe for white chocolate popcorn and we became so obsessed with it that we nearly wore it out and made ourselves sick on it before we broke the habit. It probably made the rounds as recipes do, but we’ve always been surprised at the number of people who haven’t heard of it. This is a really easy one. Pop one full-sized bag of regular microwave popcorn. Pour into a large bowl and sift out kernels. In a microwave safe bowl, melt 2 to 3 squares of white candy coating, white chocolate or almond bark. Melt slowly starting at about one minute, then adding a little more time if needed. Candy should be the consistency of milk and if it is too hot it will become chunky and unusable. You can NOT add water or milk to thin it. Drizzle over popped corn, tossing with a spoon until it becomes dry and coated. It may not look like there is enough melted candy to cover, but it spreads over the corn and covers well. Serve it to friends and family and be ready to make more. So we think that although you may not be stringing kernels of popped corn on string to decorate your tree this year, popcorn certainly owns a place in a fun and tasty Christmas. And with these variations, you can please your family, wow your friends and bag inexpensive and unique gifts for everyone on your Christmas list.

December 2010


“Made in Southern Illinois”

Make These Gift Ideas Unique

. “Cute-Up” That Kid

Co-Owners Kristin Korn and Chelcee Brown of MADE for ME by K & C in Herrin offer customdesigned clothing for newborns up to 6 Toddler. Personalize items with their name for even more fun. This 2-pc Girls’ Set features Santa Applique with matching Ruffled Pants! Pants feature an elastic waist for easy on and off.

Give a Bear Hug Immortalize A Pet

Do you know someone who is crazy for their Calico or gaga over their Great Dane? Surprise them with a piece of engraved glassware featuring their pet. Jenifer McLain, owner of Glass by JenRuss can take a snapshot of the animal and transform it into a keepsake of lasting beauty. Call for pricing. Available online at: 14262 No. 9 Blacktop West Frankfort 618-932-3035


December 2010 or call 618-791-6181

Snuggle up with a Teddy with several varieties of cuddly Teddy Bears from Rosehill Creations in New Burnside. These bears are available in a variety of colors, styles and fabrics. Prices: $35-$45 Web:

Quilted Handbag and Matching Wallet

are made with exquisite Ring in the New Year attention to detail by with this old-fashioned door Cheryl Clover of “Clover Ridge Creations”. chime from “Straight More than just an empty From The Heart.” bag, there are plenty of Wooden beads compartments for all the bounce on strings things a busy lady carries announcing each with her. The matching visitor that enters your home. Sharon wallet has a compartment for your checkbook as Ricketts’ beautiwell as places for credit ful tole painting adds cards, coupons, etc. charm to those who decorate Price: Handbag $40 with an Early American flavor. Matching Wallet $15. Price: $35. Available at The Country Porch in the Available at The Country Marion Mall. Porch in the Marion Mall.

Pamper Someone with a “Bit of Magic”

Shop Silver Moon Skin Care in Carbondale for locally handmade herbal soaps, lotions and creams, salves, insect repellents, itch relief remedies and product lines for facial care, babies and pets. They claim natural ingredients and “lots of love and a little bit of magic” go into their products. Silver Moon Skin Care’s Perfectly Peppermint Foot & Leg Cream is a substantial peppermint and tea tree with this whimsical wall hanging by Sandy Clark of cream made with the extract of a flower called Arnica “Something Special”. With snowmen, candy canes and known to relieve muscle aches, tension and bruising. a friendship star, this will chase away the winter blahs $12.00 per 4 ounce jar. Available at The Anthill Galwith lots of cheer. Price: $44. Available at The Country lery in Cobden and at Rendleman’s Orchard Store in Porch in the Marion Mall. Alto Pass as well as various festivals and craft fairs.

Capture That Old-Fashioned Christmas Feeling

December 2010


Bottled Sunshine

What would the Holidays be without a little holiday cheer? With dozens of wineries in Southern Illinois, there are plenty of brands to chose from. We like these two, both made from locally grown grapes. Cache River Swamp Water from Cache River Winery is their top selling table wine and Honker Hill Red is an up-and-coming semi-sweet. Available at their respective wineries as well as at some local retail outlets.

Breakfast Duo for a Champion This bowl and matching mug are made out of local clay from Southern Illinois and are microwave and dish-washer safe. Produced by CMS Ceramics of Carbondale, they sell for $25 each. Artist Chris Scamehorn created these beautiful pieces and can be contacted by: e-mail: website: phone#: 616-560-1548

Unbottled Sunshine Catch the sun with this Prairie Style Southwestern Suncatcher made of 66 individual pieces of glass and bevels that send rainbow prisms throughout the room. Available from Ruth Green at the Glass Haunt in Benton. Price:$319 (618) 439-9481

For The Person Who Needs More Fiber in Their Life Fiber artist Mala Jones makes wool jackets, hats and purses from new and recycled wool clothing that has been hand dyed to achieve desired colors. Her passion for producing fiber art and hand-made clothing began at a young age and by her teenage years she was making her own clothing. Items Available at the Rend Lake Artisan Shop, Whitington. Prices vary.


December 2010

Shop Local

The Perfect Gift for Less-Than-Perfect-People

Vicki Lee Gingrich of Tunnel Hill creates dolls that are “Less-Than-Perfect-People” because people are always less than perfect. Using aircured clay to create faces and hands, Gingrich spends 80-120 hours to create each doll, including their clothes. Each doll has a name and a ‘story’ that is revealed to Gingrich during its creation. Each doll is meant to be played with and are thus ‘quite sturdy’. Prices: $200 - $400. Available at the Rend Lake Artisan Shop, Whittington.

local foods gift box Your Co-op local restaurant gift card Several to Choose From handcrafted cheeses Your Co-op a share in Community Supported Agriculture Local Farmers handmade crafts by local artists SIU Craft Fair locally made soaps Your Co-op Fair Trade coffee & chocolate Your Co-op membership in public & community radio WSIU & WDBX DIY equipment rental gift card Murdale True Value handsewn gifts Your Co-op local wine & beer Westroads Liquors Neighborhood Co-op Grocery 1815 West Main Street, Carbondale 618.529.3533 Get ���� �tuff when you �h�p ��c��!

Vase Value

This vase by glassblower Cameron Smith of Murphysboro is a wonderful decorative item as well as a functional vase. Price: $80 Available at the Rend Lake Artisan Shop, Whittington.

December 2010


December 9 and 10 Very Merry Christmas Tour, at 7 pm., at Marion Civic Center December 10 S'more Stories with Santa at 6 pm. At the Community Building at Veterans' Park, Mt. Vernon. December 11 Breakfast with Santa at 8 am. At the Community Building at Veterans' Park, Mt. Vernon.

November 27. Nutcracker Suite,, 6 pm. by Afton Waldon Dance. at Marion Civic Center, Marion.

December 4 - Harrisburg District Library Holiday Open House Tour 11 am and 4 pm. In Harrisburg.

November 29 - Christmas Concert Southern Illinois Concert Band 7:00 pm — Christian Church, Zeigler (Grant & W Maryland St)

December 4 Metropolis Christmas Parade. 1:30 pm. In Metropolis. December 4 Murphysboro Hometown Christmas. Festival of Trees, home tour, open houses with refreshments and door prizes, Matinee movie with Santa and more, in Murphysboro

December 3 A Christmas Carol. 7:30 pm. by Nebraska Theatre Caravan at Shyrock Auditorium, Carbondale . December 3,4. 5 Madrigal Dinner 6:30 pm. (12:30 pm. on the 5th) at Southeastern Illinois Community College, in Harrisburg. December 3,4,5 Irving Berlin's White Christmas, at 7:30 pm and December 5 at 2 pm, by Pyramid Players, at Marion Civic Center December 3,4,5,10,11,12,17,18,19 Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair. Du Quoin Fairgrounds. December 3 thru 31st. Candy Cane Lane 5 pm. In West Frankfort. December 4 Annual Christmas Parade at 5:30 pm in Downtown Mt. Vernon 38

December 4 Twentieth Annual Lights Fantastic Parade. 6 p,m. Carbondale December 4,5 11,12 Santa Train 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm. 5 pm. In Marion. December 4 & 11 Christmas Bazaar, 8 am.- 4 pm. Union County Museum, Cobden

December 11 Away in a Basement: A church Basement Ladies Christmas, 2 pm and 7:30 pm. at Shryock Auditorium, Carbondale. December 11. Photos with Santa. Noon to 5 pm. Brewer Building in Herrin. Free. Bring your own camera. December 11 Annual Christmas House Tour, Candlelight walk and caroling, bonfire, cookies, visit from Santa, 1 to 6 pm. at Pope County Museum, Golconda. December 10, 11. A Dickens Dinner at 7 pm. John A. Logan College Conference Center. December 12 Olde Tyme Christmas, 1800's decorations with period music and refreshments, 1 to 4 pm. Fort Massac State Park, Metropolis

December 17 Christmas Concert December 6 - Christmas Concert Southern Illinois Concert Band Southern Illinois Concert Band 6:30 pm — State Fair Exhibition 7:00p — Immanuel Baptist Church, Hall Du Quoin State Fairgrounds Benton (516 N Main) December 7, 8, 9, 10 Lunch served at the historic, seasonally decorated Mitchell House at noon on Cedarhurst Grounds in Mt. Vernon

December 2010

December 17, 18 Christmas in the Park. Drive through thousands of traditional Christmas and religious themes and live scenes after dark at Veterans Park in Mt. Vernon.

Be Sure Not To Miss These Special Holiday Events OPEN DECEMBER 3rd

Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair at the Du Quoin

Candy Cane Lane

will again light up the holidays in West Frankfort. Organized by Frankfort Community High Shool Art teacher, Tim Murphy, the lighted Christmas scene has expanded to include several blocks around the neighborhood on East Clark Street. Candy Cane Lane begins at the corner of Lincoln and Main Streets. Follow the candy cane markers to view over 300 Disney and storybook characters illuminated by over 60,000 lights. The display will be lit from 5 pm. to 10 pm. on weekdays and 5 pm. to 11 pm. on weekends from December 3 December 31.

Fairgrounds. The three mile drive through the Holiday Lights Festival begins on November 27 and runs through December 30 with entertainment at the exhibition hall for the first three weekends in December. A feature of the event is Children's Corner, where children can play, make crafts and enjoy a train ride. There’s also a good selection of handcrafted and juried items, food, beautifully decorated trees and Christmas decorations Approximately 1 million lights make up the decorated drive. Weekend entertainment includes The Pickin’ Chicks, the Pinckneyville Jazz Band & Chorus, Kimmy Jo Moles, The John A. Logan Community Band, The Southern Illinois Concert Band, Damon Waller, Kateena Le Forge, and The Blend. Call 1-800-455-9570 for specific dates and times.

The Santa Train is coming to Marion. On December 4 and 5 and December 11 and 12, at 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, and 5 pm. The train will depart from the Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad Station at 514 North Market in Marion. The train travels to the North Pole Village to pick up Santa. Tickets available online or at the Marion Train Station. Visit the website at www. or call 618-993-1769 for more information.

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December 2010




ell, the first Good Life Publications Online Trivia Contest has ended and the winners have been drawn from our pool of geniuses. We hope that every reader who gave it a shot learned something about trivia. As for ourselves, we learned something about Trivia Contests. First of all, we learned not to make the questions so hard. We thought everything was just too easy to find on the Internet. But, according to results and random comments, I guess that’s true only when you already know the answer! Anyway, we promise to make our future efforts less work and hopefully more fun. In fact, I think that’s the case with this issue’s trivia questions all about toys. We let Sam Cox, owner of My Favorite Toys and Toy Wizard that he is, make up the questions. One lucky winner, chosen by random drawing from the entries with correct answers, will win a $100 shopping spree at My Favorite Toys—and that’s BEFORE Christmas. In fact, each correct entry will win some free stocking stuffers. (Find details 40

Our Trivia Contest Was Full of Surprises

and questions on page 6.) We felt, as the contest progressed, that two of our questions were confusing or ambiguous, and although almost every eligible entry with correct answers had them correct anyway, we counted all answers correct for #1 and #4 and entered those contestants into the drawing The Wham-O Corporation got a phone inquiry from one determined contestant from Marion who could not find the answer to how many hula-hoops were sold in 1959. The answer was not on the Internet simply because we were looking for when the 100th million hoop was sold, not a total for the year. Our bad. Evidently even the good folks at Wham-O could not find the answer either because our reader never heard back from them. Ginger Hogan of West Frankfort did know that the 100th million hula-hoop was sold in 1959. She may have even used one when she hula-hooped on the Benton Public Square for over 3 and 1/2 hours to tie (with another girl) for first place

December 2010

in a contest. To avoid prolonging the contest any longer, each girl was given the first-place prize of $20.00. “They actually thought the contest would last about 20 minutes,” said Ginger. “It lasted a lot longer.” Now ready? Drum Roll Please. First place winner was Lisa Fralick from West Frankfort who will be enjoying some great Italian food with friends and family at the beautiful Bella’s Trattoria at the West Frankfort Country Club. Second place winner was Steve Henderson from Zeigler, who will be enjoying Southern Illinois’ famous Italian Village Pizza, celebrating 50 years of good taste in Carbondale this year. Congratulations to you both and thanks to all for playing. =========================

ANSWERS 1. In a (parody) of Frederick Goodall painting, who’s famous mother is seated at a table with a little girl? James McNeill Whistler

2. In the poem by Shel Silverstein about a room that needs cleaning, what is the name of the lizard in the bed? Ed 3. At the end of “The Last Lecture”, what does Randy Pausch say will happen to you if you live your life the right way? The dreams will come to you. 4. How many hula hoops were sold in America in 1959? The 100th million hula hoop was sold in 1959. 5. What is the name of Pillsbury Poppin Fresh’s pet dog and cat? Biscuit the cat and Flapjack the dog. 6. If you are in Clarksville, TN, standing at the intersection of Route 48 and 7th street, what sits directly to your north? Austin Peay State University 7. The singing duo Trout Fishing in America “just want a cup of coffee”. What do they want it made in? A proper copper coffee pot. 8. Of the original five members inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame, which was the last to die? Ty Cobb July, 17, 1961; Honus Wagner, Dec. 6, 1955; Babe Ruth, Aug. 16, 1948; Walter Johnson, Dec. 10, 1946; and Christy Mathewson, Oct. 7, 1925. 9. Which two United States presidents were elected to congress after they served their terms as president? John Quincy Adams (House) and Andrew Johnson (Senate) 10. Although he has long passed away, where would you go if you wanted to see Roy Rogers’ famous horse Trigger? Branson, MO. (The Roy Rogers Dale Evans museum in Branson was the long-time residence of Trigger, but the museum closed its doors recently and all assets were auctioned off. Fortunately, Trigger did not have to move far. You can see him at the RFD-TV Theater in Branson.) 11. What is the profession of comic strip character Charlie Brown’s father? A barber 12. What famous American entertainer was born at 500 13th Street in Corning, Iowa? Johnny Carson December 2010



hat you see to the right is the last remnants of the Coffey family’s most cherished Christmas tradition—the Wandering Wise Man. Dropped earlier this afternoon by two very excited hands and onto the ceramic tile of the bathroom floor. May he rest in pieces. In order for me to fully explain the enormity of this event, I need to tell you about before. About three Christmases ago, when we were unpacking lights and ornaments and garland. And, most importantly, our manger scene. My daughter was the self-appointed Nativity Setter-Upper, and it was a task she approached with the utmost holiness and care. Animals were positioned first, then shepherds and angels, Mary and Joseph, and then Baby Jesus. The wise men came last. 42

December 2010

Three of them usually. But that year, there were only two. We rooted through boxes and overturned ottomans and scoured the dark places beneath the television stand. Nothing. Which meant Daddy had to climb back into the attic with a flashlight and a prayer. Both worked. I found him upside down and backwards in a corner guarded by a hairy-looking spider. Problem solved. But then a thought occurred to me. One about how we all seek Christ but sometimes get turned around and lost, and how it’s important to keep looking anyway. I put the wise man in my pocket, walked downstairs, and said nothing. A while later my son happened to walk down the hallway and see the wise man in the middle of the floor along with a note—Have you seen Baby Jesus? By the time he ran back into the living room to summon the rest of the family, it had moved again. This time to my daughter’s bedroom. “Guess he fell out of the box when we put the Nativity back in the attic last year,” I said. “Now he’s gotta find Jesus before Christmas.” Thus the Wandering Wise Man was born. He has miraculously emerged every year since in the weeks before Christmas, moving daily— often more than once—from room to room in search of the Savior. It is as far as I can tell the best idea I’ve ever had. The kids are so engrossed in his progress that come Christmas morning they head to the Nativity first and the tree second, just to make sure he’s reached his destination. Earlier tonight the wise man appeared by the sink in the bathroom, where he was found by my daughter. In her excitement to spread the news, she knocked the figure to the floor. He shattered into a hundred pieces. She did, too.

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I found her on the bathroom floor cupping as many shards as she could find into her hand.

Snow Day

“I broke the wise man,” she sobbed. “I ruined everything!”

In this debut novel, Peter is a simple man who lives by a simple truth--a person gains strength by leaning on his constants. To him, those constants are the factory where he works, the family he loves, and the God who sustains him. But when news of job cuts comes against the backdrop of an unexpected snowstorm, his life becomes filled with far more doubts than certainties.

Uh-oh. I gathered her off the floor and passed her to my wife, who took her to the living room for some rocking chair therapy. I snuck away long enough to swipe another wise man from the Nativity, scribble a new note, and place both at her bedside. She found them a while later. Christmas was saved. I checked in on her a bit ago before heading off to bed. Beside the wise man was a note written in seven-yearold scribble: Dear 2nd wiseman thank you for showing up. I’m so sorry for hurting your friend. I smiled. Both at the words and the little girl who wrote them. Then I took a pen from my pocket, turned the note over, and wrote a reply: Please don’t be upset. Everyone makes mistakes. We’ll always love you, the wise men. I’m pretty sure that note won’t mend her broken heart, but it might be enough to get the needle and thread going. Sometimes that’s all you can hope for. Because the lessons that count the most also tend to hurt the most. Lessons like the one my daughter learned today. No matter how careful we are, we still break stuff. And not just wise men. Hearts, promises, trust, and dreams, too. No matter how hard we try, we still make a mess sometimes. We still shatter the sacred and the special, leaving nothing but the shards of what was once whole that we’re forced to pick up through our tears. Thankfully, the One whom the wise men seek doesn’t believe in everything being ruined. He’s in the business of putting together and making new. And like my daughter’s wise men, He’ll always love us. 44

December 2010

A Novel by Billy Coffey

With humor and a gift for storytelling, Billy Coffey brings you along as he spends his snow day encountering family, friends, and strangers of his small Virginia town. All have had their own battles with life's storms. Some have found redemption. Others are still seeking it. But each one offers a piece to the puzzle of why we must sometimes suffer loss, and each one will help Peter find a greater truth--our lives are made beautiful not by our big moments, but our little ones. (2010, Faith Words Publishing. Available locally at Barnes & Noble in Carbondale.)

Billy Coffey lives with his wife and 2 children in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. A product of his small-town locale, Billy counts as assets his rural authenticity, unwavering sense of purpose, and insatiable curiousity--all of which tend to make his front porch a comfortably crowded place. Snow Day is his first novel. You can also find him at his website:

December 2010


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at the Following Locations: Aaron M. Hopkins, Attorney ................... pg. 43 Antique Annex ........................................ pg. 11 Baldwin Piano & Organ ......................... pg. 2 Banterra Bank ....................................... pg. 29 BFJ Interiors ....................................... pg. 23 Cache Creek Animal Resuce ................... pg. 25 Cache River Winery .............................. pg. 31 Calico Country ..................................... pg. 8 Coleman-Rhoads Furniture 23 Cooks Portable Warehouse ............ Back Cover Decorating Den .................................... pg. 25 Dr. Dale Brock, Optometrist ................... pg. 33 Dr. Seb Pagano, DMD.... ...................... pg. 45 Dr. Stephen Ponton Foot Clinic........... pg. 19 East Main Market ............................. .... pg. 46 Etcetera ................................................ pg. 41 Franklin County Chiropractic.......... pg. 19 Gandy’s Auto Body ............................... pg. 25 Good Life Publications ........................ pg. 29 Honker Hill Winery ............................. pg. 47 I B E W. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p g . 1 4 Image Graphics ..................................... pg. 45 Italian Village Pizza ............................. pg. 37 Jackson Pools & Spas ............................ pg. 47 JenRuss Glass Design............................. pg. 24 Kreative Kitchen Design ..................... pg. 46 Martin’s Catering ............................. pg. 39 McDonald’s 11 Mike Riva, Attorney .............................. pg. 45 My Favorite Toys ................................. pg. 6 Neighborhood Co-Op ............................ pg. 37 Paul Lawrence Insurance...................... pg. 33 Pizza Mikes ............................................ pg. 47 Prairie Living at Chautauqua................. pg. 19 Ramey Insurance ................................ pg. 25 Shelter Insurance .................................... pg. 29 Sisters Three ........................................... pg. 43 Stevens Floral, Glfts & Framing .............. pg. 45 Southern Illinois Bank ............................. pg. 13 Southern Illinois Surgical Appliance ...... pg. 24 Stotlar Herrin Lumber ......................... pg. 33 Tange at HQ............................................ pg. 41 Teamsters ............................................... pg. 15 Tom’s Place ............................................ pg. 47 Walker’s Bluff 2 Week’s Chevrolet ................................. pg. 25 West Frankfort Aquatics Center ........ pg. 31

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December 2010


December 2010

Good Living in Southern Illinois Vol 3. No. 4  

People, Pride and Places of Southern Illinois

Good Living in Southern Illinois Vol 3. No. 4  

People, Pride and Places of Southern Illinois