(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
"I loved teaching and I loved the children," she said. "Before Conner was born, (her one a half year old son) I was sure that I would go back to work. I took a maternity leave in February for the remainder of the school year. Then I took a leave of absence for the next year because I could not stand to leave him. When it came time to go back again, I still wasn't ready so I made the decision to stay home with him."
Both Jennifer and her husband, Jeremy, are Manila natives. She is the daughter of Rick and Dianne Sparks and he is the son of Loy and Donna Jackson.
Mrs. Jackson is a 1993 graduate of Manila High School and received a degree in education from UALR in 1998. Her husband is a pharmacist and district manager for WalMart.
They returned to Manila after graduation. Family is very important to the Jacksons and she was happy to come home. Her sister, Angie Gipson, also lives in Manila. Her son is seven weeks older than Connor.
"My mother said she waited 10 years to have grandchildren and then she was blessed with two," she said.
The Jacksons are members of the First Assembly of God Church in Manila. Mrs. Jackson leads the children's choir and the couple does a puppet ministry with the children.
As much as she loves being at home she decided a few months ago she wanted a hobby. She admits that she can't sew or draw so she and a friend attended classes to learn to make jewelry.
She discovered that she loved making jewelry. She decided to turn her hobby into a business to do at home during the hours while Connor is sleeping or after he goes to bed at night. She named her new business Jenz Trenz and specializes in mother's bracelets, kid's bracelets, and custom beaded jewelry.
She is getting ready to show her jewelry at the Little Bit of Christmas coming up at Arkansas State University.
Jackson combines her love for jewelry with her creativity to design pieces that are trendy, yet unique. Using her imagination and originality, she creates exclusive bracelets, earrings, necklaces and other accessories. She is now making specialty bracelets including team bracelets (show your school spirit), breast cancer awareness bracelets, and salvation bracelets. For each breast cancer awareness bracelet she sells, she donates a portion of the sale to the Breast Cancer Foundation.
She finds it very rewarding to create new items.
"Each piece is hand strung using a variety of beads, including Swarovski crystals, Bali sterling silver beads, glass beads, charms, and an assortment of sterling silver balls. An assortment of toggles and clasps are used to fasten the piece," she said.
The mother's bracelets make a beautiful keepsake as well as the personalized baby bracelets.
Her new business is on the web. The address is www.jenztrenz.com. She has some of her jewelry on sale at Delta Drug in Manila and is looking for other businesses that would like to display it. She also said people are welcome to call her at home at 561-8038. Eventually she may consider doing home shows if anyone is interested.
Chicken Pot Pie
1 package (16 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces) Campbell's condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 can chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 package (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook vegetables according to package directions; drain.
2. Meanwhile, in 20-quart saucepan over medium heat, add hot margarine, and cook onion until it is tender, stirring occasionally. Add soups and milk; stir until smooth.
3. In 12x8 inch baking dish, combine chicken, cooked vegetables and pepper. Add soup mixture and chicken broth, stirring gently to mix.
4. Unroll crescent rolls without separating pieces. Firmly press perforations to seal. Cut dough lengthwise into 8 strips, about 3/4 inch wide. Arrange dough strips over chicken mixture to form a lattice, cutting strips as necessary to fit. Press ends of strips to baking dish.
5. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cover edges with foil after 20 minutes of baking if pastry browns too quickly.
1 box vanilla wafers
2 boxes Jell-O vanilla instant pudding
2 cups milk
2 (8 ounce) bowls Cool Whip
3 bananas (sliced)
1. Blend vanilla instant pudding, milk, and one bowl of Cool Whip in large mixing bowl.
2. Layer bottom of 9x11 inch bowl with wafers and 1-1/2 bananas.
3. Pour half of the pudding mixture over wafers and bananas.
4. Place another layer of wafers and remaining bananas over the pudding mixture.
5. Pour remaining pudding mixture over this layer.
6. Spread remaining bowl of Cool Whip over top of the pudding.
7. Crumble about three wafers and sprinkle over top of pudding.
2 cans crescent rolls
2 Granny Smith apples
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 can Mountain Dew
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Peel apples and cut into 8 slices per apple.
3. Roll one slice of apple in each crescent roll.
4. Place in sprayed 9x13 inch baking dish.
5. Melt butter; add sugar and cinnamon. Mix well. Pour over dumplings.
6. Add one can Mountain Dew.
7. Bake for 40 minutes.
1 box German chocolate cake mix
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 stick margarine
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (16 ounce) bag Brach caramels
6 ounces chocolate chips
1. Unwrap caramels, place in double boiler with 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Melt completely.
2. Melt margarine in microwave until softened -- not to complete liquid state.
3. Mix dry cake mix, margarine, and 1/3 cup evaporated milk together; add pecans.
4. Spray 9x13 inch cake pan with Pam and put 1/2 of the above mixture in pan.
5. Bake at 325 degrees for 7 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips, pour melted caramel sauce over top, spoon remaining cake mixture over this.
7. Bake at 325 degrees for 14 to 18 minutes. Let cool before cutting.