Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Diverse Roles of Motherhood

When I arrived at her home this morning, here is what I found. A beautiful on the outside, frustrated on the inside young mother with two crying children. Thankfully, the youngest one was sleeping. It had been a long, sleepless night for her(check her blog for more info and a good laugh...thecoffeecottage.blogspot.com/)
I came to the rescue,with my energetic offer, to the two on her lap. I offered quite flippantly to put them both in the big red wagon and go for a long, fun walk. What was I thinking???? I forgot about all of the hills and valleys in the big neighborhood where they lived. But off we went with their excitement spurring me on. At least till we got to the third block of our journey. I stopped to take pictures of them and to catch my breath. I am sure the neighbor man out walking his dog wondered, why the lady pulling the wagon was looking like she had run a 25 mile marathon, when she had only been walking for 45 minutes. Truly, we did have so much fun, although next time we might take the double stroller instead. I left their home feeling like I just might have been the break they all needed.
I arrived home only to find something sitting on my stove top that I had never, ever seen before...three amazingly delicious, warm from the oven pies that my youngest daughter had made and brought home from "pastry chef "school. First of all, I never remember having three homemade pies in my kitchen at one time, but especially three that my, rarely-wanting-to-be-in-the-kitchen daughter, would have made. I was truly impressed! And, on this Tuesday another one of my mothering roles kicked in...I had to taste them. First rescuer...then taster...who knows what is next. I am sure all of you out there reading this find yourself wearing so many different hats in your journey of life. Some we like, and some we would rather skip over. I was willing to step in and help to encourage and praise her for the skill she had undertaken at school, how very heroic of me.
Fortunately, there was still some hot coffee in the carafe on the counter. What an unusual privilege for me to have such a delectable afternoon snack. I am still smiling...for two reasons, one that it tasted so good to me, and two that I had walked all that distance this morning pulling two little sweethearts in a big wagon up many hills. Oh, and one more role that I want to mention. My role of praying for my middle daughter as she begins a new job today, as a labor and delivery nurse many states away. I count it an honor to fulfill the roles given to me, on this last Tuesday of September.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Few Days of Family Time at the Beach

A coastal storm, high winds, piecing rain...is this what you picture when you think of a stay at the beach in the end of September? No, I must admit, it was not as I had planned. But, it was by all accounts, a joy and a blessing to spend time together, the 11 of us at the beach during the last few days. I took this picture on the boardwalk, at 8:00pm, in wind so strong that I had to brace myself to stand up straight. As you can see, there are not many brave souls strolling the boardThe next morning we all braved the winds and light rain, to walk on the boardwalk and the beach. The waves were higher than I had seen them in a long time. Thanks to the "Meitei"carrier, the newest member of our clan, remained warm, dry and totally comfortable through it all. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to have our three daughters together again...rain, sun or whatever the weather.
We had the beach to ourselves this morning and the children loved every minute of it. As did the guys surfing in the background.
The storm and the ocean are a powerful combination, reminding us, in a small way what those in the gulf have been dealing with, in the last few weeks. Definitely, a force to be reckoned with. I am going to share with you, a few of the highlights of our stay. A few of the recipes I used in cooking for a crew of 11, and some of the ways we found to pass the time, when the weather turned out to be different than we had thought. For now, the laundry is waiting and many things need my attention.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This Evening's Majestic Sunset

After being out of town for a few days, I arrived home this evening only to be greeted by this magnificent sunset. It is so interesting to me, that I had the privilege of being able to photograph such beauty, especially in light of what I had just finished reading in a book that I had with me during my time away.
In the book it says, "If the moon were only 50,000 miles away from earth instead of 250,000, the tides might be so enormous that all continents would be submerged in water-even the mountains would be eroded.
The earth revolves in its own orbit around the sun, making the long elliptical circuit of about six hundred million miles each year-which means we are traveling through space at nineteen miles per second or about 68,000 miles per hour." "Consider the sun. Every square yard of the sun's surface is emitting a constant energy level of 130,000 horsepower(that is, approximately 450 eight-cylinder automobile engines) in flames that are being produced by an energy source much more powerful than coal.
The nine major planets in our solar system range in distance from the sun from 36 million to about 3,664 million miles, yet each moves around the sun in exact precision, with orbits ranging from 88 days for Mercury to 284 years for Pluto. Still, the sun is only on minor star among the 100 billion burning orbs that comprise our Milky Way galaxy. If you were to hold out a dime at arm's length while gazing at the night sky, the coin would block out 15 million stars from your view, if your eyes could see with that power. Creation discloses a power that baffles our minds and beggars our speech. Small wonder that David cries out what he does in Psalms 8." This is from the book "The Ragamuffin Gospel" by Brennan Manning. Somehow, tomorrow's issues that need to be dealt with, seem so insignificant, thanks to God's beautiful reminder...a majestic sunset.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Celebrating The Many Blessings of Autumn

I love to bake loaves of pumpkin bread. It is part of my welcome to this, my favorite season. I have tried many different recipes over the years, saved some of them and discarded others. This one I found on the internet under "Moist Pumpkin Bread " recipes. I must admit it lives up to it's name and it will be a keeper in my file. If you are looking for a recipe that makes a big portion of batter and truly is moist and delicious, go to www.cooking-mexican-recipes.com/pumpkin-bread-recipe.html . I added lots of chopped walnuts and raisins because that is our preference. It is a mild tasting pumpkin bread, another one of our preferences.
As I was baking the pumpkin bread, the aroma took me to a very special home in the country, that we visit every November for Thanksgiving Day. Just walking onto the grounds brings the sights, smells and feel of Autumn alive. The smell of pumpkin pie that has been taken from the oven, greets us as we enter the home. All of the grounds surrounding this old farmhouse, built in the 1800's, seem to celebrate the season of Autumn and the beauty of country living. Some of my friends who have moved to the Florida and Texas, truly do miss this time of the year.
And for many years, the family's beloved dog is there to greet us. It all goes together, fallen leaves, cool tempetures, cozy wood stove, and lots of hot coffee...so many reasons that this season fits my personality. My prayer is that I will take time to stop, and notice ALL of this beauty before the cold winter arrives.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Treasured Recipe From My Mother's Collection

I have many of them and I treasure each one. Recipes that she wrote out by hand, at my request. My mother was, and continues to be, a very good cook. For many years, her daily life was spent in the kitchen, preparing food for her big family, her extended family or her dear friends. She loved reading cookbooks, preparing food, serving food and giving food. She did not use the numerous shortcuts that I have created for me and my family. Thinking back over the years, I often wonder how she found time to do all that she did, and without a complaining spirit. What a lady!! Carrot cake continues to be one of her favorite desserts, and this one had mandarin oranges in it, which she claimed gave it more moisture and flavor. I agree.
I use my small bundt pan that makes eight cakes. I think they are the perfect size to give as gifts. I set them on a small saucer, sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with cream cheese icing. This recipe freezes well.
I like this small, elegant glass pedestal and dome that I found at a local "grocery- home- garden " store. One of the small bundt cakes fits it perfectly. A rose from my garden, with the stem wrapped in plastic wrap, almost completes the look.
Add the dome, and a homemade "happy birthday" tag and it is ready to give. Actually, just baking the cake and eating the cake is really all the matters. For me, the memories of my mother baking this cake always brings joy to my heart. Thank you mom, for ALL that you taught me in the kitchen and out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Favorite Season is Almost Here

Today I pulled into this beautiful roadside market to purchase my first pumpkin of the season. With camera in hand, I surveyed the brilliant colors that were before me. The reds, golds, oranges and browns were everywhere. Sweater weather has finally arrived.
The only thing that could have made this scene better, would have been a bench and a hot cup of cider with a cinnamon stick.
My camera just could not capture the beauty of this moment.
Although there are still some remaining remnants of summer, today I sense that Autumn will soon be here. Wood burning stoves, football games, and leaves turning colors, all aspects of the coming season that I look forward to.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Martha" Might be Disappointed

It was 8:30am and my guests were to arrive at 9:30am...what could I possibly serve with the hot coffee and tea? What could I serve that only took a few minutes to whip together but, looked liked it took more time. Oh, yes, it also had to taste good. Out came the packs of "Endenmann's Little Bites". The chocolate chip, blueberry and brownie mini muffins, that all came in one big box from Costco. A gift from a dear friend.
I gathered together some of my glass plates and a few lace doilies in an effort to dress up these little bites. Since most of my quests are females, I know they prefer just a little something sweet, with their coffee or tea.
To dress them up a bit more, I pulled out, an already started container of " Pillsbury " Whipped Cream Cheese Icing, from my refrigerator, and a jar of jumbo sugared daisy sprinkles, that I had purchased one time at Ollies. I took a small ziplocked bag and filled it with the remaining cream cheese icing, cut a tiny piece off of the corner of the bag and proceeded to put a small dollop on each tiny muffin. Then I took some of the pastel colored daisies and put one on top of each muffin. This entire process only took a few minutes, but I think the finished product looked so nice.
Quick, easy, inexpensive and yet, pretty...my way to have guests in for coffee and tea. What a fun way to introduce some of our family to our new little granddaughter. Don't you think "Martha" might be disappointed in my "oh, so simple approach"? If you are ever in a time crunch, give this idea, a try.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Grandfather's Joy

One of those truly "treasured" moments in a man's life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Family "Favorite" Snack

This quick and easy recipe I have made over the years. It came from a "Taste of Homes" magazine and was submitted by Carla Lee, Devils Lake, ND.
With only a few ingredients and a short amount of time, it is easy to whip up. This time,it was for my neice away at college.
We like the combination of salty and sweet that this snack provides.
Here is a way that you can give these as a gift. I used a bit of hot glue to glue the box top pieces to the inside of the box. Then I used a hole punch to punch holes in each side. I knotted a ribbon through each hole and attached a card to the ribbon. I proceeded to put the box in a shoe box and mailed it to her at school. I put the crackers in a ziplock bag and put them in the cracker box. They keep well in a tightly covered container, although when you are in school, treats never last for a long time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Comforting Reminder For My Day

"The call to be still, to stand silent, to cease striving, comes in the context of a life in chaos. A life surrounded by land slides, tidal waves, and earthquakes. Whether the chaos is enviromental, political, relational, emotional, or simply organizational, there is a river, the psalmist tells us, that flows from the throne of God. A river that remains clear and refreshing, undisturbed by the upheavals. A river whose stream brings gladness. The gladness we can have in the midst of turbulent times, the peace that flows like a river, is the nearness of our God. He is with us when our world caves in around us. When the once-stable mountain of financial security now quakes. He is "our refuge and strength". Ken Gire's book..."Reflections from the Word".

Monday, September 15, 2008

Today's" Cookie Class" at YTI

Today our daughter came home from her class carrying these cookies that she made. In her second month of pastry chef classes, she has been learning to make many delicious foods. This is certainly an area for her to use her gift of creativity, and I enjoy observing the process.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thoughtful Reminders That Say "I Care"

Years ago there was a poster hanging on the wall in my daughter's room. It said " the smallest deed is better than the grandest intention". At the time I remember thinking about that and realized that it held a truth that I did not want to forget. In our busy, sometimes stressful lives, how easy it is to think about someone and whatever they are facing, but not taking the few minutes of time to let them know that, we care. The small deed that we thought about doing just falls by the wayside. Below are a few very small ideas, that might relay to someone, that they do matter to us, and we are thinking about them, whether it is a birthday, a hospital visit, a bout with the flu, or whether it is only to say, "we are thinking about you". Personally, I can remember many of those special occasions where a little reminder, in some way or the other, was given to me. I can confirm the fact that "good things do come in small packages". So unexpected, so out of the ordinary and yet, so meaningful.
I would love to send those I know and love, bouquets of flowers with each hospital visit or each cancer treatment, or each bout with the flu, but since that is not always possible, this seems to convey the same sentiments. I save all of my empty "Tylenol", or vitamin containers, then fill them with flowers from my garden, or I purchase a few stems from the florist, then add a bow and a homemade card. It costs less than some cards and does relay a heartfelt message.
I like to give gifts that I would like to receive. This is one of them. A cylinder packet of powdered peach ice tea tied onto a bottle of water. Perfect thing to set on a co-worker's desk the day of their birthday. An afternoon glass of iced tea...how sweet! Truly though, it is the thought that counts, not the nature of the gift. I gave this combo to my husband last week, at work. He enjoyed his afternoon tea, but more importantly he loved the "I care" reminder, from me.Chocolate cookies and milk...what could be better? You can purchase small boxes of milk at the grocery store. If you are pressed for time, you can even buy some delicious, tiny, chocolate chip cookies at the store. Add a cellophane bag, a ribbon and a small note. Tiny gift...big "I care" reminder. An afternoon snack from you. Actually, the simplest and most thoughtful gifts are always straight from the heart, and can make the difference between an ordinary day and an extra-ordinary day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

So This Is What It's Like To Be A Grandma

This sign graces the wall of my powder room. It makes me smile everytime I see it. The last few days brought this saying to life. I have had the joy of spending lots of hours with my grandchildren, some more than others, but all in all, it continues to be so very memorable to me. This evening my husband asked me if I have been spoiling them during their time with me. I don't think so, although time will tell.At fourteen years of age, Rick taught me how to have ice cubes stick to one's tongue, sometimes many at a time. Must admit, I never thought of that , at least not in the last 40 years. I think that might just be one of those things that "stays at Grandma's"(except for all of you that might read this posting).
Another concept I am picking up in my role as grandma, is that things are NOT always as they appear. I may look at a situation involving my grandchildren, and think how very sweet they treat each other. Well, not to be. In the 15 minutes that I gave them to play together in the same crib, I noticed true love and kindness coming from brother to sister. So much so that I took a picture of the tender moment. The moment after this was taken, he proceeded to push her out of his way so that he could retreive the toy that she had at her feet. Another one of those moments that will stay at Grandma's house. Probably, because I remember all to well, doing the same thing to my younger brother many years ago.
When it is quiet, and you are not sure where they are and what they could possibly be up to...you had better expect anything. Really, it was only a few minutes, and I did not know he was in our bedroom. I walked in, calling his name, and here is exactly what I found. An adorable two year old that had been in his grandfather's closet and had found his size 11 sneakers. His facial expression tells all, he was caught in the act. I still smile when I see this picture. Yes...there are many things that happen in this newly found role that I find myself in...things that will stay at Grandma's house. And Grandma, or Maw Maw, as they younger ones call me, will treasure them all in her heart, because she is aware of how very fast time flies. Before she knows it, they will be all grown up.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Very Precious Gift

A tender, cherished moment in a mother's life.
Words are inadequate to describe this grandmother's joy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Small Hospital Gift

It is a little girl. Pink roses from my garden seemed to be the right thing. "Cinnamon tea rolls" with pink sugar on top was also my choice to be included in my first visit to see her. They have always been a favorite of my family. Simple, not time consuming and yet, sooooo delicious, my kind of baking.
On a sheet of parchment paper, I roll out the crescent dough to a rectangle, sealing all of the perforated edges. I then spread 1/2 of a 8 oz. container of Philadelphia Cream Swirls package in Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Spice over all of the rectangle of dough. I sprinkle my cinnamon/sugar over the top of the cream cheese. I crush my bag of honey roasted almond slices and sprinkle those on top of the cream cheese and cinnamon/sugar.
I start on the wide side , using the parchment paper and roll up the dough. When it is in one long roll, I make 1 inch slices with my sharp bread knife. I put each piece in a sprayed, small muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees for 15 mins. or until light brown on top.
I cool the pan for 5 minutes and then remove each roll onto a serving plate. I make a glaze with powdered sugar, a drop of vanilla and some lowfat milk(enough to be able to drizzle it over the rolls). This time I sprinkled some pink sugar over top of the rolls, just for fun. I know that my daughter will want to share these with her nurses. She had many nice things to say about them and how kind and helpful they were to her.

The Wait is Over

It is only 8:30am and I went into the family room and found Rick sitting on the recliner reading to his brother and sister. It was a tender moment in time. No, he is not going to school today. It is a celebration day for all of us. We have already been to the hospital early this morning. We have already welcomed tiny "Mackenzie Mae" to this world. In this aspect of our lives, the wait is finally over. We are all thrilled!! Rick's lap can hold one more in the future. What a wonderful big brother he is!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Three" Fun" Events In My Sunday

This bouquet graced the front table in our church today. I was enthralled with it's beauty. The dear friend who grew the brilliant, red dahlias, was sitting directly in front of me. I am always impressed with her floral arranging talent, and I am sure she must tire of me telling her. Today was one of those times. She said that they were called "dinner plate dahlias" because of their size. She surprised me by telling me I could take the bouquet home with me this Sunday. I was thrilled! Three or four friends tried to take it from me as I was leaving church. How much fun to have these flowers to brighten up my kitchen counter. Thanks, Jo!
The name of this flower is perfect...it would cover up a dinner plate with it's size. What a gorgeous shade of red!
Another one of the fun events of my day, was when I was reading through my "Coming Home" with Gooseberry Patch cookbook and I came to the section about the county fairs, candy apples, blue ribbons, bonfires, and mulled apple cider. I love the Fall season! I look forward to this time of year with it's brisk evenings and it's shorter, cooler days. I found some recipes that I want to try like the "Italian Sausages with peppers and onions". I happen to be related to someone who excels in making this sandwich. Oh, the memories........

Finally, I stepped outside my front door this evening, to water the two big planters on my porch, and I was awestruck by the beauty of the site before me. What a perfect way to end my day. As my dad used to say, "red at night, sailor's delight". Hope you enjoy the feeble attempt I made with my camera to capture the majesty of this sunset. Last night I captured a rainbow and tonight, a sunset. Blessing upon blessing...how thankful I am!


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