To say these last few weeks have been a whirlwind would be an understatement. The shop has been hopping like Santa’s workshop. We have shipped out over 400 Christmas orders and packed countless baskets for customers in the shop! We have been truly blessed. Our community has shown great support this holiday season and we are exceedingly grateful!
One undertaking that was particularly exciting was the need to make over 300 jars of jam in one day. You read that right. 300! Everyone told us it couldn’t be done but with the jelly queen in the lead nothing much is impossible so we sat out to do it one morning. As we pressed on through our jelly task we talked of Christmases old. We remembered our Grandmother, Ruby, who was quite a jelly maker herself. Ruby didn’t care much for the Christmas season and the silliness that came along with it. She often wouldn’t allow the tree to be put up until just a couple of days before Christmas. Then it was to be promptly taken down after Christmas lunch. We laughed through our memories of Ruby making gingerbread men for us. I think the grandchildren brought out a softer side in her that her children had not known. She would let us help in the kitchen, she would bring us snacks on a “magic plate” and always had a reason to make us a special treat. It was during this reminiscing session that we got onto the topic of Christmas candy.
Now I am NOT an experienced candy maker. I have seen it done. I have practiced once or twice and it certainly tastes good but as far as candy experience I would rate myself as novice. There was a tale long ago of a spicy peanut brittle that had been created. The recipe had been lost. Like so many good recipes if you ask 2 people how to do it, you will get 3 opinions. All that remained were people who raved about it! As the jelly queen and I made jam we talked about trying to recreate this for a special Christmas treat. We tossed around ideas. If you haven’t tried it, the kitchen is the absolute BEST place to toss around ideas. It must provide clarity or maybe the smells are inspiring but either way we hatched a plan to attempt Holler Jalanero Peanut Brittle. So. It. Began...
Amazingly as we tried it out on people there began to be a little buzz. People loved it! We couldn’t make it fast enough. It was as though the brittle was touched by a Christmas Angel. As soon as we sat it out, it was gone. There were phone calls, emails, waiting lists and even texts from random numbers asking where they could get the buttery, spicy, nutty, Christmas delight. We have been truly honored by the response to our brittle experiment. Even as we have been tired and struggling for the Christmas finish line, it has added excitement to talk to people about their brittle experience. We have loved hearing from each and every one of you and can’t wait to see what surprises await us in the New Year!
If you are wondering, we did indeed get those 300 jars of jam made in one day. 301 to be exact! We have enjoyed Christmas stories and gifts from customers all brought on by brittle mania. We have heard from out of town travelers who stop in at Christmas time each year for hot sauce. People who have been sending sauce across the country for almost 20 years. We even sent a box to the North Pole! Yes my dear people a little piece of Fayette, Alabama went to the North Pole. I guess Santa likes hot sauce! Thank you for the treats and love. I was even presented with a special kind of old timey peppermint that is apparently just the right kind for soaking in whiskey to cure a cough or bad cold. NOW, I don’t know where this peppermint is manufactured or why I haven’t heard of this before but it would be rude not to try it! Whatever your Christmas brings to you I hope that peace, love, and joy are a part of it. Alabama Sunshine has been truly blessed by our customers this Christmas season and we send each and every one of you a heartfelt thank you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Now, as for me, I feel a slight cough coming on…..where did I put that special peppermint????
When Does the Milk Expire?
Somewhere along the way I realized something very interesting. I could mark the next major event in my life by when the milk expired. I walked past the cooler at Wal-Mart and exclaimed to my youngest, “OMG the milk expires before your sister’s birthday!” Not that I had forgotten the birthday at all. I knew it was coming. I knew the date. Something hit me that day about the date printed on that milk. It was stamped there, unchanging, no negotiation, time stood its ground and demanded my attention. I don’t know exactly when this started to happen but then I really began to look. The new year, birthdays, anniversaries, trips, Easter, Halloween, Christmas. Each time I looked at the date I would wonder at the passing of time. Time cannot be controlled. One of few things that man cannot take ahold of. No matter what happens in our lives there is one thing for certain, TIME is marching on. Sometimes this fact relieves me. Sometimes it seems cruel and sometimes it scares me.
I find myself at the doorstep of my second Christmas as a small business owner. I marvel back at the lessons I have learned and the knowledge I have gained. Some lessons I would rather forget although sometimes those are the most important kind. We have had days of great triumph and days of despair but time knew no difference. Someone asked me the other day if I was tired of the struggle. My reply after I thought a minute was “I don’t know if I am or not but time marches on just the same” The point is, whether we choose to try or choose to give up time knows no difference. Just as the milk is going to spoil by the date on the jug with or without our help we must decide what we will do each day not worried about waiting on time.
Eventually I let the expiration date on the milk inspire me instead of stressing me. Now I look at the date as a reminder that there are things to do and events to celebrate and one day doesn’t make or break us. What event in your life will happen before the milk expires? I encourage you to look. I almost always think of something when I glance at mine. Act today. Don’t wait, time isn’t waiting for you. Make this Christmas the one where you take full advantage of time and all it has to offer. Drink it in. every moment. This holiday season let the expiration date on the milk remind you what wonderful opportunities we have if we don’t fear time, but use it. Use your time wisely. After all, drinking the milk after the expiration date never tastes good.
Julie Smith Madison , co-owner of Alabama Sunshine