Stay-at-Home Mother’s Day

 

TULIPS
Mother’s Day Tulips 2020

Mother’s Day in the age of coronavirus has taken on a different shade…

Even before this new 2020 reality hit us between the eyes, Mother’s Day was sometimes lonely. Empty nesters like me missed our adult children more than usual. Memories of sweet smiles and shouts of Happy Mother’s Day Mommy, followed by hugs, a homemade card and when older…perhaps breakfast in bed.

Who knew back then how fleeting those times really were? I just relished the moments as they happened.

My adult children weren’t always able to make the trip back to our family home for Mother’s Day – although they often tried and succeeded (probably because my birthday often overlapped!). This year – with all the unknowns and fears hanging over us – it seemed even harder to be apart. Perhaps also because there was no choice in the matter. FaceTime of course helped, but there’s nothing like an in-person hug.

During a long ago trip to San Diego, California, I bought a print made by Sally Huss, a local artist. It grabbed my heart at the time. My children were still teenagers. And I thought…yessss….

Today it has taken on a whole added perspective and an even bigger YESSSS…

sally huss049

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

Easter Time

Today is Easter Sunday.

In 2020, it almost seems like any other day. Being on the inside looking out.

In the interest – and satisfying the desire – of connecting to the familiar, I am re-posting an edited version of a 2018 blog post about Easter traditions and memories…

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When I was growing up, the Easter Bunny always left baskets for me – and my sisters and brothers – to hunt for on Easter morning. We each got straw baskets complete with the requisite Easter “grass” which ended up…everywhere.

Inside we’d find jelly beans, foil covered chocolate eggs, a chocolate bunny and those marshmallow peeps – which were just as bright neon colored then as they are now.

easter baskets

My younger sister and I often wore matching dresses and Easter hats. I actually got a kick out of the hat – I remember one had small red fake flowers around the brim. Patent leather shoes completed the look. It worked for my sister much more than me, as I’d just as soon run around the backyard and scoot up the jungle gym, Easter finery and all.

 

easter 1959040 copy

 

A few days before Easter we dyed hardboiled eggs different colors using the wire holders, still stained, from previous years. The kitchen table was covered in newspapers to limit the mess we’d make and the smell of vinegar permeated the air. When I was older I was allowed to drop a different color pellet into each cup and watch it dissolve.  Sometimes we used wax crayons to draw designs on the eggs before coloring them. We were each allowed about 6 eggs to decorate and we took our time.

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TV dinner containers…recycling in the ’60’s

My best childhood Easter memories were when my grandparents came for the day (or sometimes the night before and slept over). We’d play cards…Parcheesi…Sorry…checkers. We always saved the black jelly beans for Opa. Those were his favorite.

One last thing…

Easter is the subject of my most treasured book from childhood.

It has the sweetest illustrations and I love the comforting story. Nobody is perfect – not even the Easter Bunny. And sometimes things don’t go as planned…and it’s okay.

This book made the cut when we downsized. The paper jacket has long since disappeared and the binding is loose and fragile.

But precious all the same……

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To all who celebrate…Happy Easter!

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: February 14

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: February 14

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? …Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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This post is from February 14, 2019 in response to the photo a day challenge (which is the same this year: Hearts ) and Ragtag Daily Prompt: Intimate.

And, after all, it was Valentine’s Day.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Love and Hearts and Grandparents

 

If we have someone who loves us — I don’t mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side — then it’s easier to grow resilience, to grow belief in self, to grow self-esteem. And it’s self-esteem that allows a person to stand up.

Maya Angelou

 

from Grammy 1966

valentine's card 1967038
from Great Grandma 1967

I have much to be grateful for in my life. The love of family is at the top of the list. As a child…and then as an adult…I was well loved by my grandparents. Held up. Cherished. Accepted.

All four of my grandparents – and my one living great grandparent – took the time to write to me. Personal letters. Postcards. Valentines. Birthday cards….
I heard from them on a regular basis…knowing I was important in their lives. And not forgotten, even though we lived miles apart.

Treasured pages of handwritten news, stories, questions about my life and plans for the future….
Offering encouragement and understanding
And unconditional love.

 

Photo a day challenge – Hearts

RDP – Intimate

 

Sunshine’s Macro Monday: A Cruciferous Christmas

Inspired by Sunshine’s Macro Monday #22
One of the many memorable parts of spending Christmas 2019 at my daughter’s home was her amazing cooking and baking.

The menu: extensive (even included a cheese course!).

The vegetables: fresh…and, in this case…the nutritional powerhouse cruciferous variety.

I decided to document.

brussels sprout

The roasted Brussels sprouts (along with cousin cauliflower) were seasoned to perfection and enjoyed by all.

 

Holiday Highlights

Inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo: Holidays

The challenge for this week is to bring out the magic that you find in the season and share it with one another!

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A good friend of mine has a saying: Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a season.

I would further elaborate.

It can bring out the goodness in people. The willingness to share with those less fortunate. The willingness to share an extra smile. Doing what they can to brighten someone’s day. Bringing real meaning to the greeting Happy Holidays.

I spent the week of Christmas in Washington, DC at my daughter and son-in-law’s home. Surrounded by love-infused holiday festivities…marked by delicious meals, cookie decorating, present opening, cooking and baking side by side. Playing pretend with my grandson. Reading stories. Building Lego cities. Singing Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

One night we all went for an early evening walk…parents, grandparents, 3 year old and two dogs.

A holiday season highlight…a once a year magical moment.

house lights
Let’s go look at the lights!

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light night

 

 

 

Photo a Week: Christmas Memories

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Christmas Memories

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE ONE OR TWO OR MORE PHOTOS OF YOUR CHRISTMAS AND/OR HOLIDAY MEMORIES.

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Christmas memories fill up my photo albums. All the best ones involve my family…when our children lived at home and we celebrated together.

Choosing just a few was indeed difficult…

One of my favorite memories was the year my son was a fast moving – very curious – toddler. At the tender age of 13 months, he was able to dash from one end of the living room to the other, quicker than we could catch him.

The Christmas tree presented a special challenge that year…as he was fascinated by those shiny things hanging from the branches. As well as the colored lightbulbs strung on green wire. Which he could unscrew, shouting HOT! HOT!

Barricades were in order…until we removed them on Christmas morning.

christmas barricades
1988

Which presented the perfect opportunity for ornament inspection and removal…while daddy and big sister were opening their stockings and getting their pictures taken.

christmas 1988
1988

However, nine years later….he was the expert at hanging the ornaments up ON the tree.

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1997

One more special memory.

 

 

 

 

Nostalgic Cookie Sing-Along

Inspired by:

Lens-Artists Challenge #75: Nostalgic

…I look forward to seeing the nostalgic moments that are most special to you. Past holidays, times with family and friends, travel moments, or just something that reminds you  fondly of days gone by – it’s your call. Give us a small peek into the things you’re nostalgic about.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #76: Music

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Get out the red and green sprinkles!
And the tiny chocolate chips!
Cookie sheets!
Cookie cutters!
Start the music!

It’s Time!

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When I was raising my children – and by the time each was around 2 years old – we made Christmas cookies together as a family. Simple cream cheese sugar cookies.

We used the same aluminum cookie cutters I used when I was a child.

Our tradition? I made the dough the day before so it was easier to roll out.
My daughter – and then my son – learned how to use a rolling pin and press a tree or bell shape into the flattened dough.

1992 t
Let the decorating begin!

Creativity was serious business.

The teenage years sparked unique decorating ideas such as the occasional anatomically correct gingerbread man. Ahem. All in good fun though…

Every year we were accompanied by the Sesame Street Christmas Sing-Along album pumping through the speakers (yes, we had speakers in the kitchen!)…and the clicking of the Canon camera.

My husband, I and the “kids” continued this annual family tradition for over 25 years…always accompanied by Big Bird, Cookie Monster (of course!) and the rest of the gang.

Cookies in the making. Oven warming. Four voices singing – the muppets’ lines memorized to perfection…

It’s that time of the year
When we all want to hear
A Christmas sing-along…

Or

Count, count, count — counting the days,
Count, count, count — counting the day…
I’m counting the days, ’til Christmas day is due…

(just a sample taste of this fabulous album – released in 1984 – just in time for our family).

A bit of nostalgia I never tire of revisiting.

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Cookies!
Decorated or about to frosted!

Both in pictures and in song.

Pie Tales

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I’ll bring an apple pie!

A few weeks ago, our new friends who live down the hall invited us to share Thanksgiving dinner with them and their extended family. We were honored. Also grateful, as we were not going to be able to spend it with our adult children and their families.

It’s an unusual kind of apple pie...I warned my friend. The apples aren’t peeled. There’s no top crust… I also have to make it gluten free.

She was fine with whatever I wanted to make.

It is also huge…filling a lasagna pan.

At Thanksgiving, there is no such thing as moderation. Ever. Especially when it comes to pie. The turkey? The stuffing? And all the rest?

Just the path to pie.

In Thanksgivings past there were always at least 3 kinds of pie at my table…to go along with family shenanigans and card games (as shared in my 2018 Thanksgiving story). I miss all of it.

The most popular? “Hearty Apple Pie” – each slice 2 inches high by many inches wide.

Well, it has been a few years since I made this pie. After downsizing and moving and spending Thanksgivings by ourselves, there was no need to make one until now.

I still had the old family recipe.

As I assembled the ingredients yesterday, I thought…what could go wrong?

First step: substitute gluten free flour blend for the real thing. Press into the pan.

pie crust
Dough pressed into pan

Doesn’t quite look the same, but should be fine in the end. It’s PIE after all.

Next step: Core the apples. Can’t mess that one up.

apples cored
Cored apples

 

Next step: Slice apples in the food processor.

Um…the food processor doesn’t work. I tried a different outlet. Nope. My husband and I tried several variations of blades and positioning of the “pusher assembly” and the cover. Still nothing.

Find the directions! 

A fuzzy memory rose to the top of my aging brain. This was the new(ish) food processor we had gotten about 10 years ago. It had replaced the nice simple one from 1978. Back when there were no complicated safety features. When it was your own fault if you stuck your finger in when the blade was running. Back when you popped the blade in, snapped on the cover (the only safety feature) – added the apples through the hole in the top…and voila! sliced or chopped results.

Much simpler.

Not anymore. The current small appliance companies are in the business of saving us from ourselves. Which, in many cases, is necessary. As it turned out, there were 3 different steps and clickings into place that I had to perform before even one apple could be sliced.

I was annoyed for 2 reasons. First that I had forgotten what to do and second, that it had become necessary to make devices so complicated that I had to remember this sequence in the first place. (probably a third reason as well – that I was turning into the old fart I never wanted to be…complaining about newfangled stuff…).

Anyway, after much huffing and puffing and locating the directions…success.

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Next step: Mix with lots of yummy spices. No holding back here.

mix apples
Apples mixed with spices!

Next step: Transfer to the waiting piecrust.

ready to bake
Ready to Bake

(fyi: covered apples with brown sugar, almonds and dots of butter which look like cheese…but aren’t)

After baking: Extra Large Apple Pie ready to share.

baked
Ready to Eat!

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

(where there’s no such thing as moderation)

 

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #74: Moderation

Photo a Week: Traditions

Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: Traditions

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE ONE OR TWO OR MORE PHOTOS SHOWING A TRADITION YOU HAVE.

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Did you check the bathtub?
Look in the closet!
Behind the couch!
Under the table!

When my two children were growing up (and even when they were grown up and home for a visit), Easter morning meant hunting for Easter baskets.

During the Easter Bunny era, it involved more and more intricate hiding places as they got older. The thrill of the hunt was paramount.

The E.B. had to get extra creative (hence the bathtub)…or else the search was over in ten seconds.

After all, the E.B. filled four baskets with carefully selected jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, candy eggs and small stuffed bunnies. As the years went by…basketball cards, little books, stickers, trinkets & puzzles were added…

…so let’s make it a challenge! (thought the E.B.)

The E.B. was usually successful…and a sweet family tradition was born.

 

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1989

 

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1993

The sister and brother team eventually figured out where to look…every time.