Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Once Upon A Time" Recipes

I am joining Cathy at A Bit Of The Blarney for her 'Once Upon A Time Recipe'.

This cookie recipe is one of my Swedish mother-in-law's recipes. My initial taste of Pepparkakor cookies was the first Christmas Ray and I were going together, we stopped in his house and his Mom was busy making sugar cookies, and she told us she had just finished a batch of the Pepparkakor if we wanted to try them. They were a beautiful color brown, and they were big flower-shaped cookies, and they smelled wonderful, and they tasted delicious, much better than the average ginger cookie.

I have tried making these cookies heart-shaped, and I've tried cutting the dough into gingerbread men, but they just end up looking like big blobs, so I have found that the symmetrical flower shaped cookie cutter works best with this recipe:


1 1/2 Cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
(Sift all these together and set aside)

1/2 Cup butter (cream until softened)
3/4 Cup sugar (add to creamed butter)
1 egg, well-beaten (add to sugar & butter mixture)
1 1/2 teaspoon dark corn syrup (add to creamed mixture)

Blend the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture by fourths.
Chill several hours.
Remove, place on lightly floured surface.
Roll out dough about 1/6 inch thick.
Cut shapes with cookie cutter and place on baking sheet.
Bake 375 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes.

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do!


My friend Helen is so good about keeping in touch with old friends and she is so good about helping us all get together with each other. Twice a year Helen organizes a reunion of grammar school and high school classmates. In the Fall she usually organizes the reunion in a restaurant, she reserves the place, she contacts all the 'girls', she collects the money and makes all the arrangements, she goes through old yearbooks collecting pictures of those who will be attending, she makes up name tags with our 'Senior Pictures' and maiden names to make it easier for us to match names and faces, she still has her yearbooks from all four years and she totes them along, she organizes a 'Christmas ornament exchange' between the girls, she organizes car-pooling for us, she encourages us to bring any old pictures we have of our school days, and she reminds us to bring recent photos of our family, and at the reunion she will hand out to each of us a list of our classmates home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses so that we can keep in touch throughout the year! Whew!
In addition to all this, Helen is constantly on the hunt trying to track down and contact even more classmates to add to the group, and every Summer Helen hosts another reunion for us in her home!

I just attended the Fall reunion a few weeks ago and it was wonderful! Such fun to reminisce, and to catch up on each others' lives and families, to celebrate our milestones, and so touching to share our heartaches and console one another, and nice to talk about future plans.

(Unfortunately I forgot my camera! But those who remembered were kind enough to post their pictures on Facebook, so I was able to copy a few.)

About thirty girls attended this reunion:

(Helen is seated on the far left of this picture in the black and white top.)

One of the girls had this picture of the school, the main entrance was for Seniors only:

Ann brought along her uniform!

And it still fits her!! Lucky girl!!

Here's Helen again, with Amada, Maria, and another Helen (Helen on the right very kindly gave five of us a ride to the reunion!)

The girls on the right are twins, Mary and Joan, and I went to school with them from fourth grade through Senior year in high school!

The food was delicious, reuniting with friends was so sweet, getting reacquainted was amazing, and the time went much too fast!

I think you might recognize the 'girl' in the middle of Jill and Anita, but...

...I'm not sure how many at the reunion recognized me! I guess I've changed a little!

(My Senior Yearbook picture, taken thirty-eight years ago.)

When we arrived we each dropped our wrapped ornament on a gift table, and as each of us exited we would pick out a gift at random. Helen feels it is such a nice reminder of our past and our friends as we hang each ornament on the tree and she is so right.
This year I unwrapped this beautiful angel ornament:

I don't know which former classmate chose to give this ornament because there was no card or tag enclosed, but I'm grateful to whoever included this ornament for the give-away!

Inscribed on the angel is this quote that was printed on the back of the box:

Good women ~
may we know them,
may we be them,
may we raise them!

I thought it was so appropriate for the gathering of these good women!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

'Wishing you all a very 'Happy Thanksgiving' ! I hope you get to enjoy good food and good company, and may this Thanksgiving be another added Blessing to your life!

I am so thankful for the family, friends, love and Blessings that encircle me. I'm thankful for my home and I'm thankful for having had the Blessing of two amazing parents. I'm thankful for my country and the freedoms I enjoy, and I'm thankful for our military. I'm thankful for all who labor to keep me and mine safe. I'm thankful that I have my children and grandchildren close by, and I'm thankful for the Blessing of being surrounded by extended family. I'm thankful for the wonderful memories I hold of loved ones that have passed. I am grateful for all the experiences in my life, the bad along with the good, for both the bad and the good have brought me to where I am supposed to be on this journey. I'm thankful for the gift of Faith, and I'm especially thankful for God's all-consuming Love.

And I am so thankful for the Blessing we will be welcoming into our family this April! Our son and daughter-in-law just called us last night to tell us that Mia will be having a little sister!

It's a girl!

Here she is in her sonogram picture ~ Jayden thinks she's praying!

Well, she looks like she's peacefully sleeping anyway.

Erik and Lori are thinking of naming her Sophie Rose. I hope they stick with that because I really like it. Actually, Erik & Lori want to name her Sophie, but Mia keeps saying, "Our baby's name is Rose"! So even though Mia's middle name is Rose they are thinking of also giving Sophie the middle name of Rose because Mia has just been so adamant that her name is Rose (we're lucky she's not getting a little brother because she said if it was a boy his name was going to be 'Shiny'!) ~ if they decide to stay with the name 'Sophie Rose' for this new little life, we'll have two little 'Rose' buds to love!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Random Act Of...Well, Maybe It's Not Culture, But I Think It's Cute!

This may be a far cry from 'Handel's Messiah', but this video put a smile on my face!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Random Act Of Culture

Mixed into the crowd of shoppers at Macy's in New York City were 650 members of various choirs including the Opera Company of Philadelphia. At noon they all started singing Handel's Messiah!

Seeing and hearing this just made my heart happy.

'Can't stay feeling 'blah' and 'blue' after seeing and hearing this! Thank You, God.

Battle The Blues

I've read that many people find themselves in a deep state of depression during the holiday season. Research has found that depression is enormously demanding both emotionally and physically, and fighting depression is a huge battle. Mental health professionals say you must make a commitment to yourself if you are going to win this fight. While I don't think I'm depressed right now, I do feel like I'm just a mess. I am so disorganized (or is it unorganized?), whatever, I'm it. And while I wouldn't characterize myself as being in the depths of despair, I am feeling sort of 'blah' and 'blue', and I do feel like a roller coaster of emotions at this time of year, and I do feel physically and emotionally drained. So I was happy to come across this advice.

Helpful tips to ward off depression:

1. Commit yourself to exercise, force yourself if you must, exercise is a mood elevator.

2. Eat small, and eat often, nurture yourself with nutrition, and don't forget to indulge yourself once in awhile.

3. Identify the causes of your depression but don't dwell on them. Release your feelings, talk to a good friend or two, or if you don't feel that you can pour your heart out to anyone , pour your heart out to yourself. Keep a journal.

4. Express yourself through art, writing, drawing, even doodling can be cathartic. Or concentrate on a favorite hobby, that too can be very therapeutic.

5. Reach out. Sometimes the last thing we want to do is reach out and help another when we are feeling even too helpless and hopeless to help ourselves, but helping others can be the best medicine of all. Volunteer your time at a local nursing home, hospital, school, or homeless shelter. Or start a collection to help those less fortunate, at the holidays or any time of year you could collect toys for children who would otherwise do without, or maybe a food drive donated to families in need.

6. Start a project. Nothing too big or overwhelming, make sure it is a project you can finish. Don't commit yourself to tackling the job of finally getting all your photos into albums, just commit to going through a few old photos and finish one small album, don't clean and organize your whole desk, just clean out one desk drawer, and don't try to tackle cleaning out your whole closet, just find three things you can live without and donate them.

7. Count your Blessings. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we have much to be thankful for. Take pen and paper in hand and list all the positives in your life.

8. At the holidays remember that less is more. There is no rule that says you have to 'go all out' every year. Let this be the year you commit to scaling back. Don't take out every decoration from storage, do the bare minimum when decorating. Decide this year that you will gather in the kitchen to bake cookies together (instead of slaving over the stove by yourself making a big meal), and then order a pizza and enjoy it along with your fresh-baked cookies sitting at the table with your family and friends. Do a buffet instead of a formal 'sit-down' meal. Decide on the traditions that mean the most to you and your loved ones and concentrate on those few.

9. Socialize. When feeling depressed it is easy to cocoon yourself away from the world, but that only serves to further descend you into the gloom cavity. A few hours spent with friends can go a long way to lift your spirits.

10. Be prepared to seek treatment. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to seek help from a professional.

And I'm going to add this one ~ PRAY. No matter which Faith you follow, no matter if you are attached to an organized religion or not , pray. I'm a big believer in the power of prayer, or rather, I'm a big believer in the Power of God, and I'm a big believer in the empowerment He bestows on us when we seek Him.

How do you battle the 'blues'?

Wishing you all a very Blessed and 'blues-free' season!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Okay, Back To The 'Fairy Floss' Of My Life ~ Day 4 ~ Animal Kingdom Park

('Fairy floss' is an English term for cotton candy, isn't that cute? And I think 'fairy floss' goes along well with a post about Disney World [with Tinker Bell and fairy dust and all]!)

Reflecting on Veteran's Day and reflecting on the sacrifices of so many men and women does make me much more grateful for the freedom I enjoy. And it makes me that much more grateful for my many Blessings. And it makes me that much more grateful for the 'fluff' and 'fairy floss' of my life. And it makes the memory of this family trip even more endearing to me.

We were so lucky on this trip with the weather, clear skies every day, lots of sunshine, temperatures in the seventies and eighties, and LOW humidity! My brother and sister-in-law live in Orlando and they said it was brutally hot the week before we arrived and the week after we left. We were hoping we'd get together with my brother's family this year but it didn't work out, so we'll have to make a definite plan for next year.

Beautiful Florida sunrise:

Our son Erik and granddaughter Mia weren't due to arrive until late afternoon so we headed over to the Animal Kingdom Park early:

We enjoyed an early safari tour:

Here's Jayden trying to get a closer look at...

...these beauties!

Then Jayden and I decided to pass up this roller coaster ride:


Jayden found ways to make his own fun trying to replicate some of the African art that was around (he even attracted an audience and had them all laughing)!

I did have fun on the tube ride though! And I came prepared with a poncho so I didn't get too wet this year!

Ray and I took Jayden to the Dinosaur Park (while Katie, Brian, and Ellie went on to enjoy some of the more scary rides):

(In this picture you can see that the roar of a dinosaur gave Jayden a scare!)

Then we went to a little amusement area within the Animal Kingdom Park with kiddie rides and games that reminded me of an old-time carnival.

Here Brian and Jayden have a little target practice:

We stopped for an outdoor lunch and there were lots of hungry ducks and birds that came right up to our table. This duck stayed at Brian's feet the whole time!

Then we went back to the hotel to enjoy the pool for awhile...

...before going to the bus stop to greet Erik and Mia!

Jayden is so happy to finally have her here!

Fun braiding Mia's hair (it's been a long time since I've been able to fuss with a little girl's hair!):

I was so afraid that Mia would be missing her Mommy too much (our daughter-in-law Lori is expecting again, and she wasn't feeling well, and her doctor thought it was best that she didn't make the trip with us this year. Lori very kindly allowed Mia to make the trip without her!). While Mia did miss her Mommy and she did ask for her, she did very well the whole time! She had a constant smile on her face and she was a joy!

We headed back to Downtown Disney for dinner.

One of Mia's favorite rides (Alice's Tea Cups) in the Magic Kingdom Park was closed this year for renovations, but we found a 'teacup' for her to ride in Downtown Disney!

And we all enjoyed a delicious dinner at Fulton's Crab House (a big ferry with great nautical decor and wonderful food!):

Our table was up this staircase:

And we had our own little alcove, which was very nice and very private:

We laughed at this big 'fresh crab' over Brian's head!

The kids stayed occupied coloring and drawing until the food arrived:

(And because I know my friend Jill is interested, I remembered to take pictures and I have included our meal choices in this post, everyone else can skip to the end!)
The meal started off with crisp flatbread served with Fulton's famous crab boursin dip:

Then Ray had scallops...

...and crab legs:

I enjoyed the best lobster bisque...

...and delicious crab cakes served with a cucumber salad:

Ellie had baked chicken and potatoes:

Katie and the kids opted for chicken fingers and potatoes:

Brian and Erik shared a giant platter of lobster and crab legs and a pan of crisp potatoes!

Jayden was not impressed with the lobster!

I think Jayden's favorite part of the whole meal was his root beer served in a glass bottle! Now he was very impressed with that!

We were all so full but desserts at Fulton's are so good we didn't want to pass it up. Katie, Ellie, and I decided to share a chocolate chip cookie sundae (but even with the three of us sharing we couldn't finish it!):

Ray had a fruit medley sorbet:

Erik had key lime pie:

Jayden enjoyed a 'make your own sundae' for dessert...

...while Mia enjoyed a big cookie!

Downtown Disney has so many nice shops and so many great restaurants, and it was nice to walk around for awhile after eating so much!
Here's Mia posing with her favorite Disney Princess (Sleeping Beauty)...

...and posing in front of her favorite window display:

Here's Jayden in front of his favorite window display!

With a FULL stomach, and after such a full day, I was happy to get 'home' to our hotel room and get to bed! (I've always said that Disney is such a FUN vacation, but it is not a very relaxing one!)

Tomorrow Epcot!