Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gearing Up for Christmas Baking

Happy Holidays! 
The holiday season is officially here. I am feeling anxious already, even though my family appreciates my baked gifts of Christmas tree cakes and Christmas tree cookies. A carousel of new ideas are circling my head as I create a new look for my 2013 treats. Below are the results of my 2012 baking endeavors. Come and visit often this month as I share my baking tips and tricks with you, step by step.

  2012 Cookie Trees and Christmas Tree Cookies
My love of Christmas trees is well known and extends into my annual December baking. Throughout the year I look for a new baking idea to use for my holiday treats.  Last year I invested in a set of graduated, star-shaped cookie cutters so I could create the standing cookie trees.
  2012 Christmas Tree Cakes
Friends and family have come to expect an annual Christmas tree cake. Yearly anticipation is created by changing icing colors and types of "ornaments" on my mini trees. In 2012, I was inspired by memories of the white Christmas tree of my Grandma Pansy and the silver tree of my Great Aunt Ethel.

2013 Christmas Tree Cakes
Pink candy canes, chocolate stars, and pink "ornaments" give a totally different look to these cakes. I decided that "less is more" for the sugar cookie star toppers.


2013 Cookie Trees and Cupcake Trees
I baked a batch of jumbo, regular, and mini cupcakes last week. The original plan said to bake the cupcakes, using green liners, then stack them right side up. My creative brain doesn't think this looks much like a Christmas tree, so I tried an alternate stacking method. First, I removed the liners and leveled the cupcake tops(made them flat). Next, I frosted them and stacked them upside down, jumbo to mini. However, the frosting between the cupcakes caused a sliding issue that a skewer failed to correct. Bill and Ashley, my husband and daughter, both pointed out that real trees don't grow straight all the time. Both of them were also happy to eat the end results! Oh well, back to the planning board on this one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meth Addiction: A Mom's Perspective

Thanksgiving is almost here and I'm having trouble feeling thankful this morning. I am dealing with an adult child who has drug issues, law issues, and living issues.

Watching my church-going, God-loving, straight A, National Honor Society, cheer leading, piano-playing, tap-dancing daughter turn into a meth-addicted high school dropout hasn't been easy. Her step dad, my husband, died in 2005 and I feel like this event is what started her down the path she has chosen to follow for the last seven years. The first year, her sister and I tracked her down late at night several times because she wasn't home by curfew. "I hate you!" became a familiar phrase. One day she attacked my minivan with her bare hands and put three dents in the cargo hatch. Every time I asked her if she was taking drugs, she became indignant, looked me straight in the eye and lied to me. One morning when she was "sick" I took her to the hospital and had her tested for drugs. The results were positive and there was no more lying to me. She completely and totally shut her sister and I out of her life. Her friends understood her. Her friends liked her. Her friends were...

Verbal abuse became physical one night and I ended up calling the police to remove my sixteen year old from my home. What a mess! I was too embarrassed to tell the truth about my broken nose. Who wants to tell people that their teenager attacked them and broke their nose? This was just the beginning.  One morning ,about an hour after I had taken my daughter to school and watched her walk across the crosswalk to the high school building, I received a call from the sheriff's department and the high school. My daughter and one of her "friends" had been stopped by law enforcement officers who were observing a local drug house. The police took the two young women to school and proceeded to call in a K-9 unit and have the lockers of both girls searched. Nothing was found so truancy was the worst offense that came out of this. Why wasn't this a wake up call for my child? It was a wake-up call for ME.

Today my daughter is living with her thirty-two year old fiancee in a broken down, dilapidated trailer with two nonfunctional cars in front of it. He has already been in and out of long term treatment(prison for addicts) and regular incarceration. This morning as I write this, I believe he is in jail in southern Missouri. My baby girl is going to court this morning. She is seven months pregnant, working as a waitress, and believes she will be incarcerated. I am helpless to assist her. She is twenty-two years old.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving: The Disappearing Holiday

Black Friday is going to start on the evening of  Thanksgiving Day this year.  In my opinion, Retailers are attacking what little remains of a holiday that has traditionally been devoted to family gatherings, football games, parades, being thankful, and having a day that marks the true beginning of the Christmas season. Employees of retailers are being forced to work at 8:00 - 9:00 P.M. on Thanksgiving Day. What a shame that sales driven, corporate giants are attacking the core of family values. What holds families together is TIME. Time spent together, sharing a meal, and telling stories, is the glue that holds families and friends together.

Fifty Thanksgiving memories stretch backwards in my mind and make me smile as I take each event filled occasion out of storage, dust it off, and savor the Thanksgivings of the past. Money cannot buy anything as priceless as my precious memories. Not all of them were good, but everyone of them holds a part of my family history. The Thanksgiving after my husband died, I packed my daughter Ashley up in my van and drove to Aurora, Colorado. My sister Nan and her family gave me a safe haven to heal and feel safe that Thanksgiving. The last Thanksgiving with my Grandma Pansy holds a special place too. We met at my brothers house in St. James, Missouri that year. I still have the photos that show four generations of Tucker women, standing surrounded by husbands and children. One more shopping day can't take the place of Thanksgiving family time for me. In the last few years, I spend Thanksgiving Day with my parents  and then Friday or Saturday is spent cooking my own Thanksgiving feast for my children and grandchildren. Thanksgiving is evolving as my children, marry, have children, and I remarried. However, time spent together is still a precious commodity and last year my grandchildren arrived to see a beautifully decorated Christmas tree and a golden turkey sitting on a platter, surrounded by cranberries, green bean casserole, and candied sweet potatoes.

You can probably tell that I am not a Black Friday shopper. However, Black Friday is a family tradition too. I know many women who band together with their mothers, sisters, friends, and go shopping all night. Again I will say, Time is the glue that holds families and friends together. I do go shopping on Thanksgiving weekend. Usually I am buying replacement light bulbs, new ornaments, or other decorations because my family's tradition is to decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend. Again, I am spending TIME with my family getting ready for another holiday season. In my opinion, Corporate America is blurring the lines between holidays and eroding away traditional holiday boundaries.

I know there is aways another side to every issue in our society. However, I am thankful that I have the freedom to voice my opinion in a free country. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Buyer Beware or Buyer Be Aware?

Buyer Be Aware

Bargain shopping is one of my specialties and keeps me comparing prices constantly. Price gouging for almost new items has always been around, but it seems to be topping new heights on some of the more popular auction and Buy It Now shopping sites. The websites aren't doing the price gouging, but their merchants seem to be. Remember the old adage, "Buyer Beware" ?

My Experience

I was shopping at my favorite online store yesterday because of the two $14 blouses I purchased four weeks ago.  My original purchase price was $36 which included the shipping cost. The blouses were so figure flattering and their cost was so budget friendly,  that I wanted to purchase one  more. However, my wish list blouse was out of stock and there wasn't any back order notice. Drats! So I surfed my way to another online shopping spot where I could browse through gently used, name brand blouses. Imagine my surprise when I found the exact blouse that was on my wish list. However, the price wasn't budget friendly at all. Even though the blouse was pre-owned, it's price with shipping, was a bargain busting $33. My mouth literally fell open.

Online Budget Buys
About a year ago, a coworker and friend told me about the great bargain shopping purchases she had made by going through the Clearance and Sale sections of nationally known, online stores like: JC Penney, Target, Dillard's, and Kohl's. After hearing about her bargain shopping experience, I started checking out online store sales and found that I could buy name brand clothing items for as little as $8 each. Topping off this pleasant surprise is the fact that many online department stores offer free shipping when you spend $50. This is my kind of bargain shopping.   Another online shopping option is to use a comparison shopping website; two of my favorites are and .

Thanks for reading about my shopping experience and I hope that my story will help you in your online shopping adventures.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Pet Themed Bake Sale Idea

A Great Approach

The text message from my friend,Donna, read "Hi ole friend of mine!!! I was thinking about how talented you are in the kitchen and I was wondering if you would support the Protect Every Pet bake sale. Let me know if you have time since this is short notice.” How could I turn down an appeal like that?

Pet Themed Cookie Idea

Making rolled sugar cookies and cutting them into assorted shapes make me happy and since I like to be happy, I own a cookie cutter collection. My newest addition to this collection is a 2.5-inch cookie cutter shaped like a bone. I bought this cookie cutter because the shape reminds me of the dog biscuits that I feed to my furry, four-legged children. I decided that I wanted to make sugar cookies shaped like dog treats and frosted with white icing. I whipped up a batch of my favorite sugar cookie dough and began to bake trays of yummy cookies.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Equipment: two large mixing bowls, measuring cup for dry ingredients, measuring spoons, electric mixer, flour sifter, wooden spoon, rolling pin, waxed paper, spatula, baking sheet(s), cooling rack(s).

Makes about 3 dozen 2.5” – 3” cookies  

Note: Do not substitute margarine for the butter. It makes a big difference in how your cookies taste!

1/2 cup salted butter, softened              1 cup sugar                               1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract                      3 cups flour, sifted                   

1 teaspoon baking powder                    1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large missing bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well blended. In a separate bowl, stir together sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture, in small amounts, and beat until dough is mixed well, but not forming a ball. Now you will use your hands and start kneading the dough in the bowl until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. Be patient. Divide the dough into 2-3 portions and shape each portion into a flat circle. Cover and chill for 20-30 minutes before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 325°F (softer cookies) - 350°F (harder cookies). Roll one portion of dough out on waxed paper to ¼ inch thickness. If dough tries to stick to your rolling pin or hands, put a very small amount of flour (dusting of flour) on the rolling pin. Cut your cookies and space evenly them evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 – 12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes before removing to cooling rack. Cool cookies completely before frosting.


·         Do not use dark baking sheets; they will over brown the bottoms of your cookies.

·         Make sure your baking sheets are cool before you put another batch of cut cookies on them to bake. Hot cookie sheets will affect the baking time.  

Frosting Recipe

The frosting will be smooth and shiny when dry; it will be completely dry in about 30 minutes.

Equipment: medium bowl, dry ingredient measuring cup, measuring spoons, sifter, cooling rack(s), and waxed paper.

Note: Before starting, place cooling racks on top of waxed paper.

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted               ½ teaspoon clear, or brown vanilla         3 Tablespoons milk

In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, a little at a time. Stir until all ingredients are mixed well. Apply icing to cookies with a small spatula, spoon, or butter knife. Place icing in center of your cooking and spread to the edge of the cookie. Place the cookie on a cooling rack. (This can be messy, so a damp cloth will be useful.) Allow frosted cookies to dry for at least 30 minutes before packaging.


Pretty Packaging

 As I placed the freshly baked cookies on the cooling rack, my thoughts went to packaging. Hmmmm... How could I pack the cookies attractively so that they would sell better? Mentally I sorted through 5 or 6 ideas that I had seen online recently, but the final idea was to wrap the iced cookies into individual packages of 4 with plastic wrap.  After packaging the cookies, I cut 18" lengths of black, curling ribbon, tied pairs of ribbon around each package, and curled the ends of ribbon.  I was completely happy with the product of my baking, frosting, and packaging!


Protect Every Pet

Protect Every Pet (PEP) is a 501c3 non-profit corporation that was formed to provide affordable spaying and neutering services for companion cats and dogs. PEP is also working on funding to provide TNR (trap neuter/release) services for feral cat populations in their area of rural Missouri.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Seeking a Hair Care Winner?

Hair Help Wanted
Customer is seeking a beauty salon that schedules appointments within three days and doesn't want to sell monthly tanning memberships. Other qualifications: budget-friendly, customer-friendly, and less than five miles from home.

Are you seeking a new beautician? I hate switching stylists, but money concerns have made this an absolute necessity. Another aspect of my search is that my husband and I are looking together. Our local phone book provided a list of three salons that are close to home and are not specializing in nails, in coloring, or in spa treatments. The next steps in our personal search are listed below.
  • Ask acquaintances for a recommendation - My husband made an appointment with the first salon on the list and he gave me a glowing recommendation.
  • Call and ask about pricing - My retired husband did this for me.
  • How soon can I get an appointment? I could get an appointment for the next day.
Late afternoon of the next day I drove up to the salon. Appearances are important to me and the salon was immaculately clean with attractively arranged displays. My personal impression of the owner?  I was dealing with a professional who wanted to please me. She asked me about my hair style, examined my hair cut, and then asked me if I wanted to change anything. My complete appointment took about 30 minutes and  I was very pleased with my appearance. I felt like we had found a hair care winner.

The pricing was budget-friendly,$12 for a cut, the owner/ stylist was customer-friendly, the salon was less than five miles from home, AND appointments could be scheduled within three days. Our decision? We will be going back next month.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk is an acquired taste, however I believe that this recipe will convince you that buttermilk can be quite tasty. Welcome to the buttermilk side of life.


  • Two 9-inch pie plates
  • aluminum foil
  • electric mixer,or hand whisk
  • measuring spoon set
  • dry measure measuring cup set
  • one large mixing bowl
  • one medium mixing bowl

  • Two 9-inch piecrusts
  •  unbaked 3¾ cups sugar
  •  ½-cup flour ½-teaspoon salt
  • 1-teaspoon vanilla
  • Six eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1-cup buttermilk


Note: If you are using glass pans, lower the oven temperature 25 degrees.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place piecrusts in two 9-inch pie plates.
Place six eggs in a medium bowl and beat just until combined. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the eggs, butter, buttermilk, and vanilla, while beating with your mixer or hand whisk, until well combined. Pour into the piecrusts. Cover the pies loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning. Remove the last 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean – check them after about 45 minutes. Let cool one hour before serving.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Creative Writing versus Informational Writing

Poetry is what comes easily to me. Somehow the words just form into lines, the lines into stanzas, and the stanzas into a poem. Its there, its almost an organic process. Poems have formed themselves inside my brain and all I had to do was sit and type. An hour or two later, a new poem was born.

Creative writing has always been almost as easy for me. Now I'm trying to write articles for a website and I feel very amateurish. Not a fun place to be. I have been doing a lot of reading, taking short courses, and trying to educate myself about this new type of writing that I am attempting. Stubbornness can be a positive character trait. Although I think its usually referred to as perseverance in this context.

Have you tried something new lately? Feel free to share with me.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Beginning Blogger

Blogging is a new adventure for me. My goal with Bonham Buisness is to be interesting and informative while sharing my writing, my interests, and my daily life with you.  Sallee

Well I have completed my first week of blogging and I am enjoying the outlet for my writing. I am jumping around from topic to topic, but my mind actually works like that all the time. Widely scattered topics are the outward indicator of my inward thinking. Sallee