Wednesday, March 11, 2009

GOTCHA! by Terri

On August 17th, 2006 Jerry turned 50. In the spring of that year the kids & I began plotting the Ultimate Surprise Birthday Bash for him. It all started when we were looking through Lori & Jon's wedding photos. We came across a photo that we have nicknamed "the missing man formation." At each family gathering Jerry & his siblings always take a "sibling" photo in age order. In the missing man formation a space is left for the missing sibling. Seeing that photo made me realize that the Ultimate Surprise Birthday Bash would not be complete unless all of Jerry's siblings were present. Jerry was the third of six children and they had not been all together in 13 years! With this is mind the kids and I began plotting our big surprise. As soon as I mentioned our plans to Jerry's youngest brother Earl and his wife Karen they volunteered their home as setting for the day. I sent out a save the date letter to each of his siblings asking them to come to Texas at the end of August to help Jerry celebrate his big 5-0 at a Texas Style Bar-B-Q Picnic. One by one I began hearing from each family until all had agreed to come.

As we got closer to August we realized that Jerry was starting to get suspicious! So Dave decided that the only way to throw him off was to plan a second smaller party closer to his birthday at Mom & Dad's home. It too would be a surprise. We would invite friends and family that were not invited to the family Bar-B-Q. I e-mailed his siblings and asked them to call Jerry on the evening of August 14th with their regrets for missing his birthday party. This party was a huge success and totally fooled Jerry! He didn't have a clue that a second party was in the works. Several of his siblings called on the 14th with their regrets for missing this special birthday party. It was so hard to keep a straight face while I listened to their calls.

As the last week before the party arrived, I began buying the food & decorations for the big day and hiding them at Earl & Karen's house. Several family members generously helped me cook the food we would need for the day. On Friday after cooking all day, Kathy & I made a quick last minute trip to Costcos for all the stuff that couldn't be bought til the last minute and delivered those items and the food to Karen's. Burning a "stinky" candle helped hide the yummy smells of all the food I had cooked.

The biggest concern I now had was how to get Jerry to Karen & Earl's in the middle of the day on a Saturday. Earl came up with the solution. On Friday night Earl called & asked Jerry to come over on Saturday to help with a project for Karen. He needed to drill a hole in Karen's marble desk to hide the computer chords. He suggested that I come along and we'd eat lunch & then swim afterwards.

We arrived at the party right on time. Jerry immediately walked over to the desk to get started on their drilling project. One family at a time came strolling out of their hiding spot in Karen & Earl's bedroom saying "I hear you need some help drilling a hole." They came out in order of distance from Colleyville. Those living closest came out first. Only when Aleta & Larry who live in New Mexico came out of the bedroom did Jerry finally realise that something was up! The expression on his face was priceless when Dale & Carolyn who live in Florida came walking out of the bedroom. That's when I said "GOTCHA". It made all the plotting and hard work worth while. We had pulled off the Ultimate Surprise Birthday Bash!

Walk with God!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Family Traditions . . . by Terri

Over 20 years ago I taught at Young Children's World, a mother's day out program in our community. One Christmas a fellow teacher gave each of her coworkers a tiny box of the most delicious candy I have ever eaten. She called it "Butterthumbs." It was a homemade version of Butterfingers. She generously shared her recipe with me. Since that Christmas it has become a family tradition of ours to make "Butterthumbs". Some years our Christmas season is too busy to make this special treat, but whenever possible we make it.

"Butterthumbs" has very few ingredients. However, it is rather complicated and you must have at least 2 people to make it. Always in the past Jerry & I have made this candy together without any help. That changed in December 2004. Our daughter Lori was getting married on December 31st and she had decided in honor of her new last name - Sweet, she would have a Sweets Buffet at their wedding reception.

So, on the Saturday before the wedding Jerry & I passed that tradition on to our children. Just as we were getting started Dave's best friend Caleb arrived and couldn't resist pitching in to help. For the first time ever Jerry & I had help making this special treat!

I thought you might like to try making our favorite family candy . . .

In Heavy Saucepan Combine:
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup Light Karo Syrup
1cup water

Mix above ingredients together and boil to 300 degrees ”Hard Crack”. 
Remove quickly from heat.

Butter iron skillet completely.

While Karo mixture is heating:  Place 2 cups of “smooth” Peter Pan peanut butter in the center of a well buttered extra large iron skillet.

When candy reaches Hard Crack pour it out onto peanut butter. Stir with wooden spoon quickly and thoroughly before it cools down.

Dump peanut butter mixture out onto aluminum foil and pat into a ½” to ¼” thick form (be sure to butter your hands to keep them from burning).

Using very sharp cooking scissors, cut into ¾” strips then cut strips into 1” pieces. After pieces have cooled, set out on wax paper. (This step works best if done by 4 or 5 people since the mixture hardens before one person can get the whole mixture cut. In the past we have tried cutting with knives - but you just can't work fast enough using knives).

Chocolate Mixture:
Melt 4 or 5 pkgs. High Quality Almond Bark in double boiler. Dip candy using candy dippers into chocolate mixture, allow excess to drip off, place on wax paper and let chocolate harden. Best if left undisturbed for 24 hours. Store in cool but not cold airtight containers.

Candy dips best if placed in layers in air tight container and allowed to rest overnight before dipping. Use wax paper to separate the layers.

Walk with God!