Birthday blessings…

Birthday blessings…

Today is my birthday.  I was born in a small town in the Delta of Mississippi, the youngest of four daughters.  When you get to be THIS old, you become a little nostalgic about your life:  your family…what you’ve accomplished – or didn’t accomplish – and whether or not you should just toss the proverbial bucket list.  I’m blessed.  I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I have a wonderful husband, amazing children and grandchildren.  I have precious family and friends scattered throughout the states.

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aptWe are happily settled in our apartment in the Chicago neighborhood of Ravenswood.  My youngest son and his family is a short 3 block walk away from our apartment.  Tonight, we will be there for my birthday dinner.  Quaint shops – and a Starbucks – are just a short walk away.  Thanksgiving dinner was here in our small apartment- all eight of us.  Doug and I cooked the ham, turkey and cranberry salad and everyone else brought the sides.  My three and five year old granddaughters decided they would rather be at the “grown-up’s table”.  We moved them there and everything was perfect.

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Doug’s ninety-seven year old mom went home to be with the Lord on October 10th.  It was a beautiful service in the Lutheran church where Doug grew up.  She would have loved the amazing blanket of Autumn flowers – accented with yellow roses – that covered the casket.  We miss her.

sch_noitems_leafI’m in the process of taking photos of our small apartment and will be sharing them soon.  In the meantime, we are enjoying our time with our family here before we head back to Iowa for a few weeks.

 

 

Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving…

My younger son and his precious family arrived on Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving in the midst of falling snow and a cold, cold wind.  I had not seen them for six long months and I was literally “bananas” waiting to grab my beautiful little granddaughters in my arms.  I was afraid my 15 month old granddaughter would not remember me (though we’ve talked on FaceTime).  I held her in my arms and she sweetly studied my face.  I smiled at her and said “it’s Grandmommy!” and she gave me an enormous smile which reached those beautiful blue eyes!  Needless to say, my heart melted.  I knelt down to embrace three year old granddaughter and planted kisses on her cheeks and sweet little head.  I kept saying “I’ve missed you so, so much!” and she said “I missed you too, Grandmommy!”  Again, my heart melted!

 

Thanksgiving at my daughter’s home was a wonderful time with two of my children, two of my other children (my son-in-love and daughter-in-love), six out of nine of my grandchildren, Doug and his sweet 95-year-old Mom and two granddogs, Kiana & Bernie!  There was a lot of laughter and a lot of really good food!  My daughter had purchased a 26 pound fresh turkey from a local farmer.  She brined it overnight before cooking it and the result was a moist, delicious turkey.  She prepared all the wonderful side dishes and three different pies which were excellent.  My daughter-in-love put together the large vegetable tray and made one of my favorites – a spinach-artichoke-garlic dip served with pita chips.  Delicious!  With Doug’s help, I made a cheese ball and baked dozens of different cookies the day before Thanksgiving because I knew once my little granddaughters arrived, I would just be playing!  Which I did!

A happy, blessed grandmother…

 

My daughter falling in love with her baby brother’s baby…

 

Doug and Mary, his sweet 95-year-old Mom, enjoying Thanksgiving with my family…

 

No better place to be than in the floor playing with my grandchildren!

 

In the midst of all the excitement and joy of being together, I had to pause and reflect for just a moment.  

I have so much to be thankful for and I truly am…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

ThanksgivingI received this precious Thanksgiving greeting card years ago from my firstborn’s firstborn.  It traveled all the way from Peru where my son was a missionary doctor.  He and his family lived and worked among the Quechua Indians for almost seven years.  They are back in the states now, thankfully for this grandmother.  The photo above was taken in the Sacsayhuaman ruins in Cusco, Peru, when I visited them.

I will spend ten hours tomorrow in a mini-van with my daughter and her family…seven of us…PLUS Kiana, the Hungarian Vizla!  We are traveling to Kentucky where I will spend a wonderful week with my son and his precious family.  My daughter and her family will travel an hour farther to spend Thanksgiving with my son-in-law’s family.  I can’t wait to see them all!  There is a pan full of “party mix” in the oven for the road trip and I’ve been stirring it every 15 minutes.  It smells delicious!  Why does riding in a car for so long make you hungry?!  😉  I have so much I’d like to do with my three beautiful granddaughters in Kentucky.  We’ll have to work hard to get it all done in a week!

On December 4, I will fly from Kentucky to Dallas for ten sweet days with my youngest and his family.  With a two year old granddaughter and a three-month-old granddaughter, I will be in grandmother-heaven!  I was visiting with my two year old granddaughter the other day on Skype and mentioned that I couldn’t wait to play with her.  She promptly picked up her Dad’s iPad and carried me into the playroom with her…setting “me” down in the little chair beside her!  I was playing with her!  I loved it…

Wishing each of you a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  May you have safe travels and make wonderful memories that will last a lifetime…

Over the river and through the woods…

Over the river and through the woods…

Over the river and through the woods, to Aunt Penny’s house we go…

Actually, it was eleven hours by interstate and the prairie farm backroads of Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas…but the end result was definitely worth it!  It had been two long years since we’d all been together in one place…my children, my grandchildren and myself. Not since the summer of 2010 when we all met in Chicago.  At that time, my oldest and his family were returning home from almost 7 years on the medical mission field in Peru.

Thanksgiving 2012…and all my precious grandchildren

We all drove from three different directions to meet in Memphis…where I had grown up…where my children were born and, sadly, where their father is buried.  My children’s paternal Aunt Penny and Uncle Mike graciously hosted our family in Memphis…along with their three sons, wives and four grandchildren.  Thank you, Aunt Penny and Uncle Mike!  We love you!  My oldest and his wife are host parents to a fourteen year old South Korean foreign exchange student this school year so this was her first Thanksgiving. Altogether, there were 27 of us there for the Thanksgiving feast!  It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and I found myself wishing more than once that their Dad could have been their with us…no doubt he was in spirit.

On Friday night, my niece Sharon and her husband joined us for a fun Corky’s Barbecue dinner.  Delicious food and fun fellowship!  Sharon and Tommy’s son and his wife and their two children stopped by to see us.  They were headed to the Christmas tree lighting at their church so they couldn’t stay for Corky’s.  It was so good to see them!

I loved watching all my grandchildren playing together and sometimes pairing off by age and interests.  It thrilled me to see the love (and talent for) art in all my grandchildren as well as the love of music.  Four grandchildren are superb on the piano and one plays the violin beautifully.  (I know I sound just like a grandmother – what can I say?!  It’s true all the same.)  The love of books and reading was evident as well.

I was in grandmother heaven until it came time to say goodbye to each one…then I was a crybaby.  Now, it will mean flights to see my sons and their families…and waiting until we are all together again.  Thankfully, for my daughter and four of my grandchildren, I can just get in the car and drive 14 minutes.  😉

To see more of the Thanksgiving crazy fun, enjoy the slideshow below!  Just click the arrows to forward or reverse pics.

 

 

P.S. For those of you who asked for them, the cookie recipes are now at the bottom of the previous post! 😉

Note:  The Thanksgiving song above is here.

Baking and packing…

Baking and packing…

Tomorrow I will be up at the crack of dawn and on my way South with my daughter and her family.  Today, I have a “million” things to do.  I must finish baking the goodies that I am taking for Thanksgiving…in addition to running a few errands and packing.  I baked one and a half dozen banana bread muffins that probably won’t make it to Memphis…with seven of us in a van for eleven hours!  I baked three dozen of my son-in-law’s favorite peppermint cookies.  He’s driving most of the way so I’m sure he will enjoy snacking on a few of those on the way to Memphis!

Peppermint Cookies

I also baked a double batch of my favorite molasses cookies!  Those I will have boxed up for the trip and for the Thanksgiving reunion.  I made a large batch of trail mix (m & m’s, peanuts and raisins) and divided them into little “snack bags” for the trip.  Easy to reach for that way.  If they make it to Memphis, they will stay in the van since Penny’s grandchildren are allergic to nuts.

As I finish this post, there is another favorite in the oven:  Cream Cheese Pound Cake.  I love the smell of almond and vanilla filling the apartment right now!

Wishing each of you safe travels and a joyful Thanksgiving with your families and friends…

Trail Mix Baggies

Molasses Cookies

Cookie Recipes…

Dianne’s Favorite Molasses Cookies

2 & 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 level teaspoons baking soda (don’t heap these)

2 tablespoons hot water

1/2 cup Crisco soft shortening (make sure it’s fresh!)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup molasses (I use Grandma’s Molasses – unsulphured)

1 egg

6 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup seedless raisins (or more if you’re a raisin lover)

Start heating oven to 400 degrees. Follow directions closely for the best cookie! SIFT together the flour, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Dissolve soda in hot water. Mix the Crisco shortening, sugar, molasses and egg until creamy. Mix in flour mixture alternately with the cold water; then mix in the dissolved soda and all but a few raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoons – 2? apart – onto greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with remaining raisins. Bake 12 minutes or until done. Makes about 2 dozen.

 

Favorite Peppermint Cookies

2/3 cup Butter flavored Crisco

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy canes

Cream Crisco and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed.  Beat in egg.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Blend well into creamed mixture and stir in crushed peppermint.  Shape into small balls.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 11 – 12 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets.  Makes about 36 cookies, so I usually double it…they’re so good.  Don’t wait too long to get the cookies off the pan or they will harden and it won’t be easy!

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