short & sweet

Every single year for over 30 years I have baked shortbread on or about the 11th of December.  Mr. Right’s birthday is the 12th.

I use my shortbread rolling pins.  I use the best ingredients I can find.  I will say that the shortbread I baked while living in Germany was by far the best ever.  I think the flour and the unsalted, organic butter were the secret.20151211_100611-1_resized (1)

Homeschool lesson for today:  Shortbread originated in Scotland.  First recipe printed in 1736 by Mrs. McLintock.  It is a type of cookie made from one part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour.20151211_100003-1_resized

Each year, I bake the cookies, cool them completely, wash every single bowl and utensil I used.  While I am washing, I open every window in the house to air out the delicious cookie smell.  I use cookie parchment and wrap the cookies into a tin.  Then I wrap them in Birthday paper and tie with a fancy ribbon.  Then I have to wait for the next day for him to open his surprise gifts.

Every single year, when he comes to that gift, he feels the weight and says, “Gee, I wonder what this is?”  He unwraps, takes off the tin lid and selects the perfect taste tester.  He takes a bit, closes his eyes, smiles and says, “this is the best shortbread I have ever tasted”.

Now, I don’t know if it is the best ever shortbread, however  I do know, no matter what is going on, weather I was healthy or not, busy or not………….the shortbread gets made.  Once, he was out of the country with the Army and I had to mail it early.  I have no idea what the heck it looked like when he received it.  It may have been just cookie dust in a tin, however he said it was the best he had ever had.

Somehow his Shortbread gift has become a tradition.  It reminds him of his grandmother.  He savors the taste.  He only eats one a day.

EEE GADS , I adore that man.  I would do just about anything for him and if baking a batch of shortbread once a year makes him happy…..

Oh sure, I could buy him any number of things. Lord knows I have tried to find the perfect gift to celebrate him.

It always, always comes back to one batch of perfectly made shortbread just for him.20151211_103439-1_resized

He knows he is loved and adored.  His grands tell him.  His grown kiddos tell him.  The dog reminds him how much he is loved.  Baking the perfect shortbread is one way I remind him over and over and over how much I love him.

Oh that and a beautiful, delicious, Blackberry Cobbler for dessert.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Right.  20151212_134136_resized_3

 

visions of …..

The last few days, I feel like a hyper active fourth grade child.   I run from project to project.  I outline a blog, scribble notes, jot down grocery lists, sew a little something, wrap a gift.  You get the idea.

I never feel like those wonderful bloggers who have their trees decorated and all is calm.  Well maybe it is calm, just for that picture?  Okay, I know they decorate a tree in September for great pictures.  They are not worried and fussing over the stormy weather or fingers crossed the pot pies turn out amazing for a cozy dinner.  They only work on one tree, one area.

I have visions of 8 camera people helping them.  Everyone jolly and friendly.  All hands on deck to help and offer up suggestions.  Oodles of money to spare.

I am starting to get the feeling.  You know?  Some of the gifts are sent, some of the decorating is done, the candles are in all the windows.  Baking has begun, birthday gifts wrapped….  still lots to do, however lots of things checked off the list.

My mind swirls.  Sometimes, I can’t calm down.   Sometimes, we all need to sit back and take inventory of all the things we have done.

When you replay the week, it is amazing what one does.

Gentle suggestion….. buy some cranberries to use in some vases.  Beautiful, cheap and looks like you are a decorator.  While you are out and about, stop by the hardware store.  Buy a painters drop cloth.  They are cheap and easy to cut and sew into a table runner.  Again, you will look like you know what you are doing.

We are in the middle of Advent….. time is ticking.  Please find time to pat yourself on the back for all of the things you have created this season.  ESPECIALLY if it is a safe haven for  you & your family.

hohoho

 

tag, you’re it

I don’t care for those Christmas package gift tags.  You know the ones?  They come packaged in that ridiculous plastic cardboard and once you finally gouge, rip, tear it open , they are everywhere, even though you only wanted to use two of them?  Normally priced at $2.49 for 50.  Me being the thrifty shopper bought them last year on the 75% off sale on December 27th.  So they are cheap, now sort of bent from storage and weird.

What was I thinking?

They have weird designs.  I really don’t want to use weird shaped ears on elves any more than the next mom. The Santa’s that have mean facial expressions, really?  I don’t care for the 3 Christmas balls with glitter sort of on the top.  You know the ones I am talking about, gold, red and green with the three stripes of glitter on top.

To:

From:

I don’t like it.  Not one little bit.  I don’t want to buy /make the best gift in the land and then write        To: son #2    From: Mom

urgh, nothing sweet, kind, creative, loving or fancy about that.

The tags NEVER match my paper.  EVER.

The tags they do sell to match the paper, have an  incredibly little thin gold string, my fingers (apparently way too large to tie a knot) just can’t handle it.  I end up taping on the tag.

I admit, after a 2 or 3 hour session of wrapping gifts (let’s face it the first two gifts look amazing) that gift number 14 is a shirt, you don’t want to get a box and fancy tissue and you calculate the cost of the shirt and decide, um, I don’t need to go to all that trouble. (maybe that is me?)  So, I roll it up in paper, slap a tag on it and toss it in the pile.  urgh.

THIS year is different.  I stole, borrowed, came up with a way better solution. 20151202_194747-1

Throughout the year, have collected letters (on sale, of course).  Once I wrap a gift, I find a letter to correspond to the recipient and I either stick it on a plain tag or I put it directly on the box.20151202_203814

I am feeling quite puffed up about all this.  Seems rather Pinterest worthy.  haha.  So creative.  Beautiful.  Gosh, I am smart!20151203_215712

That is until the boxes arrive at their respective homes.  Beautifully wrapped gifts with a bunch of loose letters in the bottom of the box.  All the gifts have blank tags.   The adult kids will be saying to themselves…………..gosh, how creative.  This should be interesting.

So, I am hoping when our adult sons open beautiful Cinderella tiaras they smile and put them on.  I am also hoping when the grands open “hand made, cedar filled, shoe refreshers” they will say, “how thoughtful of grandmother to make these for my light up sneakers”.

Gosh, Grandma is creative.  We are so lucky. 20151202_200046 Tis the season!

 

 

Birthday girl

Today is our daughter in law’s birthday.  Our smart, beautiful, funny, girl.  20151130_112749-1

She is a fantastic mom to our Grand.  Just couldn’t imagine a better person for the job.  She is everything you wish for in a mom to your Grands.  He is thriving and such a pleasure to watch and be with.  All because his parents are who they are.

Okay, let’s talk hair.  She has gorgeous thick, rich, stunning hair.  She is the girl you want to take a picture of and take it to your hair dresser and say…………….THAT.  That is what I want my hair to look like.  Seriously, that thick and rich and healthy.

Did I mention she brings out the best in our son?  She has a way of making our son laugh and smile.  You know those smile lines?  Yep, she is the one who makes our son smile.  Okay, wait, if our grand is sitting in her lap, then our son smiles huge.  Okay, if you put her at a hockey game, with our grand on her lap and our son beside her, then they all three are smiling ear to ear! 20151130_112714

I loved going to get frozen yogurt with her.  I loved that she handed me a latte while I was rocking our boy to sleep.  I love how fast her brain works.  I love that she is decorating their home with charming touches.  I love that she has a sweet tooth. I love that she makes lunches for the week.  I love her beautiful eyes.

I want to wish her a very chilly December birthday.  Where we live it is chilly.  Not chilly where she lives.  70* near the beach in California is not exactly mitten weather.  However, it is chilly to her.  20151130_113015

We are so lucky she is our family.

Here’s to an amazing celebration of you!

Happy Birthday Monica!

 

home alone, cooking

One of the trickiest things about owning your own business and working from home…. being alone.  No one to chat with, share a recipe with, waste 4 minutes by the coffee center at work. It just gets weird sometimes.  Oh, I like my alone time, just gets a little quiet now and then.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a certain sweet hairy Golden Retriever is excellent company.  No really.  She listens when I complain and she watches with interest while I do paperwork.  She is always up for “let’s go out and get some fresh air”.  She waits patiently while I cook up a new recipe.  She is the world’s greatest taste tester.  Makes me feel wonderful.  99.9% of the time she is impressed and finishes the sample.

I never thought I would ever embrace technology.  I find that I use it more and more. It keeps me connected and I don’t feel so alone.

I read about, buy and print patterns.  I belong to a couple of on line craft groups.   I receive pictures of our grands on a daily basis. I Christmas shop. I study and learn on a daily basis. Yes, technology pushes my swing.

Here is an idea that I jumped all over.  Two friends from different states wanted to cook together.   What? Fire up the internet and count me in!  I may have scared them with how anxious and excited I was to be included. oopsie.

One chose a recipe, new to each of us.  Then we dug in.  We procured the ingredients, fired up the stove and tied on the aprons.20151202_104345

Then we share thoughts and pictures (of course) on how it all came out in the wash.20151202_114045-1

I like having homework.  I like working towards a goal & having a delicious outcome is a charming bonus.  Sharing with a couple of girlfriends?  Complete and wonderful WIN!

This challenge was Black Bean Burgers and Salsa Verde.

Here’s is a bit of what I wrote about mine:20151202_104516-1

The aroma of roasting jalapenos and tomatillos makes your house smell like you know how to cook. .Making your own Salsa Verde takes your ordinary dinner up a notch.  The colors are bright and smart,  just as I would describe the taste……..flavorful, a touch of tang and heat and messy enough to use paper napkins.  5 star….

20151202_175435

Next recipe to share and talk about?  As I type this, I can smell the Tuscan Baked Beans cooking away.

Maybe home alone, cooking isn’t so lonely. Maybe one needs alone time to create amazing food?

 

planting kindness

In the days following Thanksgiving, each year my Grandpa would find a reason to drive “into town”, alone.  He just said he had an errand to run.

He would come back with a Poinsettia plant for my Grandma and my mother.

Without fail, every single year.  I have no idea when the tradition started, it just was a part of our holiday décor.

greenhouse full of bright red poinsettia
greenhouse full of bright red poinsettia

Home school lesson for today:  Joel Robert Poinsett, who was an amateur botanist & the first ambassador to Mexico, first introduced poinsettias to the United States in 1825.

My sisters both love the vibrant leaves.  One sister loves the shocking red and the other sister loves the white.  Seems everyone has a preference.

In our church, during this Advent season, the communion rail is decorated with oodles of poinsettias that are given in someone’s name or to celebrate an anniversary.

On November 28th each year, my friend would receive a poinsettia.  Her dad would celebrate his birthday by bringing a beautiful plant to her, her sisters and her mother. Each year a gift from him to his girls.

Sadly, this year, he passed away before he could fulfill his tradition.

I worked it over in my mind.  Several times.  Oh sure, thanks to the internet and FTD, I could have a similar one sent to her clear across the country.  I wanted to make her smile.

However, receiving the plant from her father was “their” thing.

So Mr. Right and I came up with an idea.  We went “to town” and purchased a beautiful poinsettia.  Vibrant and lush, healthy and cheerful.   I tied a tag onto the plant. 20151128_162659

Merry Christmas.  Love, Craig

Then Mr. Right drove me to a retirement/assisted living facility.  I bustled in.  My jaunty scarf a flying.  I met the happy receptionist.  I said, I would like to drop this off.  She said who is it for?  I said, someone who doesn’t have visitors.

She was thrilled and said she KNEW just the perfect lady.   She thanked me profusely and wished me a very Merry Christmas.

Made me wish I had half a dozen more.  (Mr. Right said, next year, lets donate 6?)  gosh, I love that man………………

I then sent a picture to my friend.  I wanted her to feel the pure goodness of something her Dad would have loved.

She joined me in buying a plant for a lady that had been extra kind to her. 20151128_162708

Random Acts of Kindness………………just when you thought you were doing a good deed and making others feel good……………happiness & grace spills all over you.

May the month of December bathe you in Grace and Goodness.  May you find creative ways to spread a little of that grace and kindness around.

We could all use a little more kindness.