Project stirs up sour-happy memories

I’m an ambassador for my friend Sarah’s Project STIR, in which she’s telling families’ stories through their beloved recipes. See the description at the bottom of this post.

PickleQuotePamPickleJars1My Nanny’s homemade pickles were so sought-after, she limited her grandkids to one quart jar of them a day.

I’m talking about the grandkids who lived on either side of her: Keith, Judy, Dan, Mike and Penny. Not me, not my brother (we lived in California), not most of Nanny’s 15 grandkids – just the lucky five who lived on either side of her and Papa in their little rock house on Hilltop Road in Cave City, Arkansas.


Clay and Ila (Brewer) Taylor on their wedding day in Cave City, Arkansas, 1927.

The rest of us lived in other towns (or states) and only got the pickles during visits. I imagine we ate more than a quart when the herd converged on Nanny’s kitchen, though. (Would she have been able to stop us?)

Nanny looks a little surprised to be photographed in her kitchen in 1955. The picture was taken before most of her grandkids were born, but this is where most of us remember her.

My grandparents squeezed a lot of kids (seven), grandkids, spouses and great-grands into their little kitchen/dining room – on Sunday afternoons, on special holidays … heck, just any time we were able to get together. It was a loud, delicious holy mess of people and homemade food. Somehow, we all found a place to sit and eat: at the dining table, in the living room, on the back porch, on the front porch swing or the steps. In the hot months, we’d be out in the yard, especially when watermelons were in season (someday I’ll tell you about Cave City watermelons.)


Eating Cave City watermelons at Nanny and Papa’s, summer 1968. Clockwise from front left: Pam Taylor Hill, Billy Taylor, Mike Mullen, Kathy Taylor Skinner, Judy Mullen Walling, Penny Mullen Snyder, Danny Watson, Jimmy (“JT”) Taylor (my brother), Robin Taylor Vanness. Not pictured: Keith Watson, Suzy Taylor Oakley and the four cousins yet to be born (Teri Taylor, Chris Taylor, Tanya Taylor Harmon and April Taylor Burton).

Only recently, when my cousin Penny created a Facebook page in honor of our grandparents, did I find out just how special it was living year-round next to Clay and Ila Taylor.

My brother and I visited every summer with our parents, until we moved to Arkansas, and then we were there most Sunday afternoons. We have a cousin who’s still in Arizona, and most of the rest have been scattered around Arkansas all their lives.

But those five … those five lived the country life that harried urbanites only dream of nowadays.

Specific to the pickles, though … here’s what Judy said:

“Nanny would can pickles in quart Mason jars every summer. Dan, Mike, Penny and I would start begging for them before the jars would even seal. Then, after we wore her down and so we would have pickles through the winter and next spring, she would limit us to eating only 1 quart a day! She must have canned 100 quarts or more each summer! We had to help can them, too, but it was really not much work for us kids.”

Her sister Penny’s story is slightly different:

“Picking the cucumbers was not fun because they were down on the ground under the leaves. We had to wake up by 7 to pick the garden, but then we could go back to bed. Worst part was the dew was still on the plants and it made you so itchy. Nanny had two giant galvanized tubs and we washed all the veggies in one tub and transferred to the second tub for final wash. Of course the tubs were filled with that awesome water they had [from their well].

“We sat up the washing stations out beside the pump house under the big trees. Nanny always handled the cutting of them because we couldn’t even touch her knives. No matter what veggie she was working on, Nanny would tape up her right thumb with white medical tape to prevent cuts.”


“Nanny always kept a tea kettle of water hot on the stove,” Penny said. “This is one of her kettles and some of the canning jars. Notice the lines in the glass on the sides and the jars are squared on the corners. Nanny’s jars are probably 65 years old. I have some ball jars about 25 years old that were my canning jars. They have the lines but the corners are rounded.”

Nanny had been canning food for so long (“She never wasted anything,” my mom said) that she had developed a system. Penny still remembers some of those rituals:

“Nanny was really particular about her jars. She sterilized them in the big white wash pans on the stove. I still have some of her old jars. I can always tell them from others because they have lines going down the side. …

“I can just picture Nanny right now wiping down the tops of the jars with her rags that were bleached the whitest of white. She wanted all the salt and alum off the top so the flat and ring would seal properly. Then the entire jar was wiped down with a different rag.

“The cucumbers were always cut, only by Nanny, in one quarter spears or [halves].”

I certainly loved those pickles, but I didn’t know until recently just how many of us salivated – and puckered – over them.

“I still feel my jaws pull a little at the mention of those salty sour pickles,” cousin Pam said.

I know the feeling.

I don’t remember Pam ever drinking the juice, although she apparently did when I wasn’t looking: “Who didn’t love drinking pickle juice!?! Still pucker at the thought.” (Apparently one cousin did not get the pickle-loving gene: Teri said she would rather eat a spider.) But Pam’s sister, Robin, and I would practically race each other to the jar to see who could drain it first.

Pam and Robin’s mom also made awesome pickles, even though she once said hers weren’t as good as Nanny’s. I beg to differ. It’s been a lot of years since I had one of Aunt Donna’s pickles, but I remember that they were really, really good.

Sure, they weren’t Nanny’s legendary pickles. But they were good.

My mom must have been intimidated because, even though she has Nanny’s recipe, which looks well-loved on the sheet of lavender notebook paper below, neither of us can recall her ever making them. (It’s probably a good thing: Her handwritten version is missing an ingredient: alum.)


Mom has a lot of recipes without titles, but we know this one for sure.

Nanny’s great-grandson David had no such qualms about the recipe. He thought everyone should be able to make his Nanny Taylor’s pickles. He loved them so much he shared them in the church cookbook one year.

His mom, Penny, said:

“Mount View ladies auxiliary decided to make a cookbook and sell them to raise money. Everyone in the church was asked to submit their favorite recipes. I asked the kids about it, and David chose as his favorite ‘Nanny’s Pickles.’ He was so proud! I have always loved church cookbooks because they contain ‘tried and true’ recipes usually handed down. Nanny’s pickle recipe sure has been passed down and has stood the test of time.”

NannysPicklesMtViewCookbookI was thinking about trying to make Nanny’s pickles, but then Penny’s next comment intimidated me a little bit:

“My kids always loved any kind of pickle, especially David. Our mother was able to replicate Nanny’s recipe so the grandkids could eat ‘Nanny’s pickles’ they heard about all their lives. After Nanny had her illness and was in [the nursing home], she would come to Mother’s house most weekends. One time I got the bright idea to make the pickles recipe. Of course Nanny told me every step. These pickles weren’t even half as good as Nanny’s or Mother’s. But the kids loved them and drank the juice like it was soda.”

And then there were Aunt Bee’s pickles. Remember, no one had the guts to tell her they were awful. :-)

But Project STIR is all about family memories and heirloom recipes. Maybe it’s time my mom and I got over our pickle-making phobia and got together for a batch.

Pass the Mason jars, please.


Project STIR is a series of documentary films launched on Kickstarter. The films will follow Abuelitas, Nans and Mamaws passing down heirloom recipes in kitchens around the globe, including countries such as Panama, New Zealand, Turkey, Croatia and England – and United States, of course. Click here to learn more about how to be involved, or simply follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

And I can’t let you leave without mentioning that Sarah has partnered with The Pack Shack, a very worthy organization that feeds those in need (with the help of folks like you and me). Click here to see what I wrote about The Pack Shack recently. (It includes a fun video.)

Follow me on Twitter @OakleySuzyT.

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Preserving family memories through Project STIR

ProjectSTIR-websiteI was going to use this video (below) in Monday’s post, but as I got to thinking about it, I realized that it’s just too wonderful to force it to share space with my own family’s story. I also want to honor my family by spotlighting it solo. Hence, separate posts.

Maybe I’ve just grown super-sentimental as the years have gone by, but my friend Sarah’s new Project STIR has really served to stir things up for me emotionally. It has helped me connect in new ways with my cousins (online) and to reconnect with some of the memories of my family through recipes and food stories.

As an ambassador for Sarah’s project, I get to tell my own story, but before that I want you to watch her first video, which she has been using to promote her project. Then Monday I’ll share with you my Nanny’s pickle recipe, some photos and some of my family’s happy memories. (I sure wish I had a video of my Nanny that I could share with you, and I can assure you that if she were alive today, I would totally have her on camera making her strawberry cake … or her white beans … or her pickles.)

Please watch Sarah’s four-minute video, read the Project STIR description below and come back Monday for my story. (My post will go live at midnight tonight. If you subscribe to Suzy & Spice updates, you will receive an email whenever there’s a new post. See sidebar at right.)


Project STIR is a series of documentary films launched on Kickstarter. The films will follow Abuelitas, Nans and Mamaws passing down heirloom recipes in kitchens around the globe, including countries such as Panama, New Zealand, Turkey, Croatia and England. Click here to learn more about how to be involved. 

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Ode to a cuppa joe

Disclaimer: I am not a poet, and this is not poetry. (This will be shocking news to some, I realize.) I’m just trying to find little wisps of joy in my everyday life. And a cuppa joe produces a giddy kind of joy on an otherwise mundane day.

Besides, the only kind of award I could win with my “poetry” is a spot in the Bad Poetry Contest hall of fame. If they had a hall of fame. (Do they?)


The trouble with TV
It is two-dimensional
Ask my dogs.
Folgers, Maxell House
Even “Hal and Duke”
Can’t make me want a cup of coffee.
They can’t make me a cup of coffee.

But my pals at MorningSide can.

They know me.
No whipping cream, save the sleeve
(While saving the planet)
Grande, whole milk, the real deal.

The aroma as we waft to my car
On the air of a precious Friday morning
Makes me want to stop right there and sip.
No … slurp!
It makes a workday morning seem …


The aroma can turn a steaming cup of brew
Into liquid gold.

It can turn a cuppa joe into
A transcendental experience,
Spur me to write bad poetry.

Behold, the elegance,
The power,
Of a good brew.

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I’m ready for my close-up

NormaDesmond_closeupI’ve been a bit out of pocket lately and thought I’d better check in, lest you forget me.

I haven’t forgotten you.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t gone this long between posts since January. Starting a second blog has had its pluses and minuses. Time management has been one of the challenges.

It isn’t that I’m out of ideas. I’ve made several attempts at posts for this space, but for various reasons I haven’t finished. I’ve been:

  1. On deadline (I had to prepare to teach a session on self-editing for Arkansas Women Bloggers University).
  2. Sick.
  3. Tired (so what else is new?).
  4. Out of town for three days (AWBU).
  5. Blogging for Arkansas Women Bloggers, Tweeting from the conference, learning stuff, eating.
  6. Working at my day job.
  7. Running errands on my lunch breaks (when I usually try to write, read or listen to webinars).
  8. Zoning out instead of doing anything productive at home (except for the nights I stayed up late working on my presentation).
  9. Various combinations of the above.

We got home Sunday evening from the conference, and my first post for the Arkansas Women Bloggers site was due. I’m Blogger of the Month for September! I took a little nap first (I was not only tired but sick), then I got up to write the post. I turned it in on deadline: at 11:59 p.m.! :-)

I’ve been feeling the ARWB love the past few weeks. First, I was honored to be invited to lead a session at the conference, then to be Miss September. (Hence, the headline – a reference to a famous movie line. Did you catch it? Also, since Baptist Health followed me around with cameras a couple of years ago, I’ve been known around the house as Diva. It’s OK, though; Bruce has his own special title: Diva Driver.)

No, I haven’t forgotten you, and I wanted to make sure you knew that I’m committed to being consistent here but just have been close to burnout a few times lately.

I’m tired, but my commitment to Suzy & Spice is still strong.

Stay tuned for an announcement about some things I have in the works. I hope you’ll be as happy as I am about them.


FakingBalanceCoverA special note: If you need a few good laughs, check out fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers member Lela Davidson’s new book, Faking Balance: Adventures in Work and Life. It came out yesterday, and I got a copy (autographed!) when she spoke Friday night at our conference. I’ve been reading her first book, Blacklisted from the PTA (same link as above), because I like to do things in order (I’m weird like that). But I know that Faking Balance is going to be just as good as Blacklisted. (Her second book, Who Peed on my Yoga Mat? is on my nightstand ready to go.)

Happy reading!

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Live on Periscope: Gallery 246 ribbon cutting

Bruce I had a grand time this afternoon looking at beautiful art and chatting with the folks in our hometown as we got ready to cut the ribbon on a new art gallery in downtown Batesville, Ark.

To make things official, we had representatives from the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce (of course) and Mayor Rick Elumbaugh on hand.

I’m not a real artist, but I got to practice the “social media art” (I just made that up) of Periscoping during this fun event. It was only my third time to broadcast live with Periscope (a Twitter app), and I have to say I think I’m getting better at it. I held the camera steadier and maybe didn’t ramble quite as much as I did the first two times. (At least until the end, when we were gathered outside to wait for the official photo to be taken. Then I rambled.)

Here’s the video (14 minutes long), followed by some photos I took with my phone. (Note: Periscope doesn’t have a landscape mode, so this is shot in portrait mode. Maybe they’ll read Michael Hyatt’s recent post and get with the program!)

Sorry I didn’t get a shot of the storefront, but I’ll try to do that soon. At first I didn’t realize it was the store that used to belong to my dad’s cousin, Charles Insell (who passed away two years ago this month). It was The She Shop for several years, then Charlie’s Angels (a children’s store), then another retail store, and now an art gallery. Here’s a pic of the interior at the front of the space:

Gallery 246 interiorSome funky, fuzzy snakes that I just liked because they’re whimsical:

fuzzy snake artAnd a closeup:

funky fuzzy snakes closeupA girl who took advantage of the face painting (you’ll see her in the video getting the butterfly painted on). Her brother horned in on the first photo, but then she insisted he get out of the shot so I could photograph her alone. :-) Oh, brother!

girl with butterfly face paintThe face painting was courtesy of the multitalented Deborah Davidson, who also painted these:

Colorful paintings Deborah Davidson

I wish I could show you more photos, but I was so busy with the Periscope broadcast that I didn’t take as many still photos as usual. You will just have to drop by the gallery and see all the beautiful art for yourself.

And, hey, if you need some nice pieces for your home or office, I betcha they can help you out.

Gallery 246
243 E. Main St.
Batesville, AR 72501
(870) 668-3631

Follow me on Twitter: OakleySuzyT

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Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup

VegetableBeefSoupOne of the great things about my mom is that she has always gone out of her way to give her kids everything we needed and much of what we wanted (within reason). (I guess that’s a mom’s job, right?)

One of those ways is with food. Of course she baked whatever birthday dinner and cake we asked for. When I was younger, she always made spaghetti for my birthday, with her own special twist — she added a package of chili seasoning and made it spicy and Mexicany. For many years, I thought that was how spaghetti was supposed to taste!

And she always makes me a chocolate cake — from scratch, not from a boxed mix.

Love you, Mom!

Mom practicing her supermodel pose. (Coalinga, Calif., June 2006)

She’s older now and doesn’t cook as much since Dad died, and I don’t eat so much pasta, so we haven’t done the birthday spaghetti in a while. Also, my day falls on or near Thanksgiving, so my birthday dinner is likely to include turkey leftovers and apple or pecan pie. (I can totally deal with a pecan pie as a chocolate cake replacement!)

Let me just give you the bottom line: Everything my mom cooks is delicious.

Probably because the main ingredient is love. (Sorry, I’m not trying to be corny; it’s just true. She’s my mom!)

And because she doesn’t cook as often as she used to, when she does it’s something special.

Recently I got a hankerin’ for her vegetable soup, and her version is always better than mine. So, what did she do? She made a big ol’ pot of it for me. (Yes, for Bruce, too. I shared.)

Until a couple of years ago, I hadn’t realized that the reason I like her version so much is that she uses tomato juice as the liquid base, whereas I’ve always used broth (chicken, beef or veggie). Also, when I shop for the ingredients, I buy generic tomato juice with as little added sugar as I can find. Not mom. She insists on Campbell’s (no, I’m not paid to say that).

“I’m telling you, it’s the best tomato juice,” Mom says. :-)

She may insist on a particular brand of tomato juice, but the vegetables are adaptable to your preferences and what’s in season. The last time she made it, Mom used all fresh veggies (from our local farmers market) except for the frozen corn. She often uses the frozen mix that has broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, but not this time. She also forgot to buy potatoes, so the most recent pot didn’t include them. We decided we like it just fine without those, though. In fact, I think this was the best pot of veggie soup she’s ever made.

Play with the ingredients until you and your family like it, or, if you crave variety, make it a different way every time! If you’re vegetarian, I suppose you could use beans or tofu instead of the beef, but we’ve never made it that way. (Sorry, we’re carnivores.)

Some notes:

  • This isn’t seasoned a lot (just salt, garlic powder and a bit of black pepper), so if you’re expecting something exotic (like Mexican spaghetti), you won’t get it here. This is plain ol’ comfort food, and it’s delicious just the way it is. Bonus: It’s nutritious!
  • Amounts are approximate. This isn’t so much a recipe as it is an ingredient list.
  • My mom’s name is Dorothy, and her nickname is Dort. Hence the recipe’s name.
  • I’m trying a new recipe plugin that gives you a printer-friendly option. Please let me know how you like it or if you’d like to see more info; I’m not using all its features here.

All right, your mouth must be watering by now, so let’s get this recipe rolling.

Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup

This recipe will feed a bunch of hungry people. If you live alone or have a small family and don't like a lot of leftovers, it's perfect for freezing for another day when you don't feel like cooking.


  • • 2 pounds ground round
  • • 1 large onion, chopped
  • • 1½ quarts tomato juice
  • • 3-4 medium yellow squash, sliced
  • • ½ pound okra, sliced
  • • 16-ounce bag frozen whole-kernel corn
  • • 1 small head cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • • Garlic powder, to taste
  • • Salt, to taste
  • • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • • Red potatoes, cubed
  • • Frozen vegetable medley (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
  • • Green beans


  1. Crumble ground round in skillet. Add onion, and cook until meat is browned. Drain, then add garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer to large soup pot, and add tomato juice and vegetables.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
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Reflection and direction


This chick has a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see her husband’s collection!)

Today I want to share a couple of neat things that have been happening and a couple of teasers about things to come, all mooshed in together.

I almost called this the Weekly Wrap-up, but I don’t think it would be fair to you because the info is mostly about what I’m going to do coming up.

Here are the highlights:


As I wrote last week on my other blog, To Well With You, I read an awesome book that’s the kick in the fanny I’ve been needing to get to work in earnest, with laser focus, on the clutter in my house. It was one of those “10 things you need to know about me” revelations that I don’t like to admit. I’ll write a book review this weekend — I promise — that will include before-and-after pictures, but the one above is a teaser. It’s my pitiful closet exactly seven days ago. By the end of that day, my closet was awesome and I’ll share that photo with you when I review the book.

In the spirit of reflection and direction, though, I’ll say that the book has caused me to think about why I can’t seem to get rid of stuff, and it has sent me on the path to permanent change in that area — a very positive direction that’s long overdue.

But why am I telling you this now? I have to save some of it for the book review, right?

Besides, it’s time to go tackle my dresser and the two bookcases that flank it. They are piled with stuff, mostly books and magazines. That’s today’s laser-focus project.


The farmers market series I put on hold seems to be back on.

It turns out, through a miscommunication, the Batesville-area farmers never received my questionnaire, and thus I didn’t have enough information to write about each of them. But now we’re getting the momentum back; next Saturday you’ll get to meet Garden Girl, and we’ll go from there.


I’m going to share my mom’s totally awesome vegetable soup, which she cooks up for us occasionally, but first I want to shop for a good blog plug-in that will allow for printer-friendly recipes. I tend not to print anything I don’t have to (saving trees and ink), but I do like to save online recipes in a printer-friendly format so that they’re easy to follow from my laptop or iPad.

I’ll keep you posted. You won’t want to miss this recipe; the ingredients can be adapted to your particular tastes and whatever veggies are seasonal. (But the most delicious ingredient? My mom makes it for me whenever I ask, just because she loves me. :-) )

Until next time, here’s hoping you have an awesome weekend!

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10 things you need to know about me, Part 1

This is the first in a 10-part series of things you need to know about me. Also, I’m reserving the logo for other series on ‘10 things you need to know’ about other stuff. (This could get fun!)

10 ThingsLogoI follow a weird guy named James Althucher on some social media channels. I read his blog and sometimes listen to his podcasts; he pops up in my Twitter feed occasionally.

James definitely thinks outside the box, and he’s an odd combination of brave and vulnerable. I think that’s why his work resonates with me.

Here’s one of his “33 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer”:

Don’t be afraid of what people think. For each single person you worry about, deduct 1% in quality from your writing. Everyone has deductions. I have to deduct about 10% right off the top. Maybe there’s 10 people I’m worried about. Some of them are evil people. Some of them are people I just don’t want to offend. So my writing is only about 90% of what it could be. But I think most people write at about 20% of what it could be. Believe it or not, clients, customers, friends, family, will love you more if you are honest with them. So we all have our boundaries. But try this: for the next ten things you write, tell people something that nobody knows about you.

I tend to be pretty honest; I calls it how I sees it. That doesn’t mean I open my mouth at every opportunity to express an opinion; sometimes I remain silent. But it means that, when I do open my mouth, it takes a lot of work not to blurt out what I see, how I feel.

I hold back a lot, especially in public forums such as social media, for a few reasons: 1) I don’t have the energy to fight a losing battle, 2) fighting on social media is usually a losing battle; it’s just not the place to have a decent, intelligent, mutually respectful conversation and 3) I realize that I’m not always right. (Shocking, I know.)

So I hold back.

But one of my goals is to be brave, and I feel a lot safer doing that on my two blogs.

Here (and here), I can express my opinions, take my time in explaining (or not), and not fear being interrupted by blowhards.

So here, today, I’m taking up James Altucher’s challenge to “tell people something that nobody knows about [me]” (although the people really, really close to me won’t be surprised):

If I had my way, I would be a happy homemaker, a domestic diva, instead of working in a bank. I’d bake pies, cakes and cookies, make quilts, can vegetables that I’ve grown in my garden, plant flowers all over the yard and have people over for swim parties all the time (if we had a pool). I would be the Martha Stewart of the South. You wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the crafts I would make; all my friends would have homemade totes and sock monkeys for Christmas and so many crocheted scarves they’d hate to see me coming (if I could crochet), and we’d all be fat from all the sugar and butter in the Christmas desserts and birthday cakes and “just because” goodies.

I’d spend my spare time (!) volunteering for all the causes I’ve neglected since I had to quit full-time freelancing and get a “real job.” I’d wear bluejeans and shorts and running shirts and flip-flops.

I’d go on mission trips to Guatemala and Kenya and Haiti and anywhere else I could go, all because my time would be more flexible than it is now.

Of course I’d have to be independently wealthy to do this.

Which means I’ll have to keep at the writing.

Good thing I love it.

What about you? Tell us one thing nobody knows about you. We’ll keep this going for 9 more rounds, so be thinking about what you want to share. Be brave, my friend. We can keep a secret.

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A step outside my comfort zone

NietscheQuoteAs a member of the Arkansas Women Bloggers, I get opportunities to do things I’m not always comfortable with. I actually seek out opportunities to step outside my comfort zone, because I think it’s the only way to grow.

Staying comfortable and lazy is the easy way out, my friends.

Today, we women were given the opportunity to share our opinions with a marketing group that hires some of our bloggers, and the topic was flowers (specifically, buying from big retailers).

On the last page of the survey was an opportunity to leave an audio or video clip of our opinions. Well, I wasn’t wearing makeup, and I will go only so far outside of my “zone” on a Saturday morning with only one cup of coffee, so I opted for audio only.

I was awkward and rambly, and the first take had a lot of “um’s,” so I recorded it again without so many um’s (I think). My goal is to be able to do these things without 10 “takes.” (Recovering perfectionist, remember?)

Here it is, my friends, followed by a request and a challenge:

  1. Tell me what you think. Is there hope for me as an internationally renowned speaker? (Just kidding, but I do want your critique. KEEP IN MIND: This is not a professional gig; I was not trying to be “perfect”; I was trying to be real.)
  2. Do something today that takes you outside your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be huge; just do something.

Also, have I got a deal on some nandinas! If you’re interested (I have several), leave a comment here or call, text or email me. Keep in mind: At this price (free), you’ll have to help me dig them up. :-)

Next up for me: Download the Periscope app, which those blogger chicks have been talking about lately but I’ve been reluctant to try. (We’re even having a workshop on it at Arkansas Women Bloggers University next month!). Another step outside the “zone.”

When today is over, report back. What did you do that stretched you even just a weensy bit?

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Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie

CoffeeQuoteLettermanWhen we lived in North Little Rock, I used to indulge occasionally in a delicious coffee drink from a tiny little smoothie hut less than a mile from my house.

The first time I drove up to the window, I looked at the overwhelmingly large menu and asked for a recommendation. The clerk said his favorite was Java the Nut.

Clever name, so I asked him to elaborate.

Coffee, frozen yogurt, banana, peanut butter and (wait for it) nonfat milk.

Well, there you go. Can’t be all bad if it contains nonfat milk, right?

Let’s talk about fat for a moment. I’ve been doing research for about 18 months on fat (the good kinds) and sugar (pretty bad).

The right kind of fat is actually good for us — our bodies need it. Sugar, in every instance I can think of, is bad. Sugar = inflammation, blood-sugar spikes, cravings, carb addiction, conversion to body fat, weight gain … not good.

I could give you a list of books and other resources, but I’ll save that for later, except for this post from one of my faves, Dietitian Cassie. (And, yes, I put butter in my coffee.)

Today’s post is not about winning you over to fat or getting you to eliminate sugar from your diet … except that if I could get you to start thinking about all the processed foods with added sugar — and just maybe get you to make a few small changes (natural peanut butter, for instance) — I would consider that a small victory for today.

For right now, I’m going to give you a recipe that I’ve modified from one at The Lean Green Bean, which offers a version with regular milk or even a nondairy beverage.

Their version contains three ingredients: coffee, milk and protein powder.
Here’s my variation, which I made up after my run this morning. (Did you know that eating protein within 30 minutes of exercise is good for your muscles?)

I’m giving it to you straight — the way I prepared mine this morning — but you can vary it to your tastes and comfort level with fat. :-)

Suzy’s Coffee Protein Smoothie
(With a nod to Tropical Smoothie’s Java the Nut)

The Lean Green Bean version, referred to as a “shake,” calls for coffee ice cubes, but I keep my brewed coffee in the fridge (I hate to waste), so I simply used my ice-cold coffee rather than going to the trouble to make (and wait for) ice cubes.

  • 5-10 ounces brewed coffee, cold (or 5-10 coffee ice cubes)
  • 8 ounces heavy whipping cream or full-fat milk
  • 1 scoop of high-quality whey protein powder*
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 tablespoon natural, organic peanut butter (no sugar added)

I used my Magic Bullet and whizzed the liquids and the protein powder first, then I tasted it before adding the banana and the peanut butter. (I kept having to add more coffee so it would actually taste like a coffee drink.)

Once the protein powder was well incorporated, I sliced the banana into the container, added the peanut butter and processed until smooth, probably about 30 seconds.

*I used Dr. Mercola’s Pure Power Protein in vanilla — also comes in chocolate, banana and strawberry.

So … make it and tell me what you think!

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? Please share in the comments.

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