What to Bring Forward

Instead of making a list of things that I need/want to change, I'm making a list of what I did in the past year things I would like to see continue in the coming year. It makes more sense to start from a list of what worked than what didn't. A long time ago I read a book called Organizing from the Inside Out. One thing I remember from the book was the encouragement to look for what worked and start from there. A long time ago when I was feeling anxious about what I wasn't getting done, Jan Conwell reminded me to remember what I had done. I had not given myself credit for cooking, food shopping, laundry, etc. Things you just consider part of the machinery of keeping house. But it actually does take time. 

Some positive things from the past year: 

  • Did a presentation on Izannah Walker dolls via Zoom to a DC based doll club which went pretty well. It also helped solidify my own knowledge and give me some ideas about Izannah's work. 
  • Learned to use ZOOM! 
  • Hosted Zoom meetings with some other crafter/artists. 
  • Painted imperfect art using a drawing app on my iPad when it was challenging to create at all.
  • Made phone calls from my car, looking at a beautiful landscape. (Phone calls are hard to do uninterrupted at home).
  • Made delicious soups.
  • The heated garage and a gas fireplace, blessed my life this year. Reminds me to continue to make changes in my home to serve us better. We made some choices which increased the usable spaces in our house which was maxed out while people worked from home and my older son had staff working with him as well. 
  • Took advantage of medical protections available, which meant more freedom. 
  • Made a mini quilt. It was fun to try something different. 
  • I accepted some things that didn't work. Or won't work. This is a positive thing. 
  • Had to speak up in some scenarios and did. 
  • Resigned from a committee which was having meetings when I couldn't attend. 
  • Pushed for some things my older son needs. I will always have to do this. 
  • Ate a LOT more veggies. Go me! 
  • Weeded out and organized my fabric stash (a huge job!) 
  • Had a tomato garden in a very hard year. 
  • Continued decluttering and getting rid of stuff I'm not using. 
  • Bought a beautiful painting by a lovely doll artist friend who resumed painted during the pandemic.
  • Bought a boat to use at the lake (so glad!) 
  • Accepted that the 10 year couch was well, worn OUT. Ha! Bought something serviceable and didn't wait for perfect. 
  • Made an Izannah Walker doll using the molds I made from my antique doll. 
  • My youngest son graduated from college, moved home for the summer and then to NYC.
  • Left some expectations for myself behind. Just being realistic! 
This was good to do. It helps me to see that in a very hard year good things happened, too. I will bring these forward with me into 2022.  Of course I have a list of things to get rid of and stop doing. That will be forever.  ;-) 

 

GOOTH!

I hadn't realized how "at home" I had become until about a month ago, after getting my booster, I drove to an antiques mall about an hour south of here. I hadn't driven alone for any distance other than camp for two years! 

2020 and 2021 were hard years for the world and hard years for me personally. It is hard to lose both your parents about a year apart. It is hard to lose caregivers we knew our son was safe with. They moved away. Getting out of the house for any length of time except weekends was a challenge. 

So, one of my goals is simply to "get out of the house" more. The acronym is GOOTH.  Get Out of the House.  But in a good way! This has been a challenge for for a number of reasons - the pandemic has been one, and also the lack of consistent staff for my son who is autistic. But it's doable if I am creative and plan ahead. 



The pandemic has been super hard in a number of ways for everyone, but especially my son who has a harder time understanding why things changed. But it has also offered up some things we might not have thought to try, or which wouldn't have been available before. The Zoom Book Club offered at the Bangor Public Library is one example. Libraries have had to really work hard to meet their mission in these times, and online access has been key. The book club has ended up being a social time for my son, and also a bridge to doing some things in person, with support. The pandemic (and past book clubs led by teachers in school) opened an opportunity to interact with people. A win!  We will take it! 

Another gift was the ability to connect with people (artists) via video/zoom to share what we are working on. Kind of a 21st century quilting guild. How lucky we are to have this resource! Even if the pandemic disappears, we can still get far-flung friends and artists together. I had to do these things in the evening when my husband was home, but what a great thing to be able to do. It's a virtual GOOTH.

Some other ways to GOOTH?  I can get in my car, plug in my phone, and talk to a far-off friend at a beautiful spot. I can drive to a different town and check out different antiques malls on a weekend. Antiquing is a very mindful and relaxing activity. I can drive to visit museums. Maine has a number of good art museums and galleries within two hours of driving. When there are not virus spikes, I can take a class in quilting or rug hooking, etc. Join something. Now that we are vaccinated/boosted, my son and I can do more community outings, too. 

GOOTH! 


1941 Recipe Contest

1941 Clipping from American Weekly Housewife's Food Almanac

While going through pictures I took of my great-grandmother's recipe box this clipping from 1941 caught my eye. Recipe Contests were not a new thing.  So many of Grammy Grace's recipes had names attached to them, such as "Hermits - Mrs. Freese" or "Hannah Thompson's Rolled Oat Cookies."  In "How National Cooking Competitions Changed the Way We Talk About Recipes", Sarah Baird links cooking competitions to women's quest for autonomy. 
"Cooking became a means of celebrity for women, and to that end, a celebration of not only their creativity in the kitchen, but the pure, adrenaline-pumping pleasure of competition. 

Cooking morphed into something that was—quite literally—valuable for women, putting cash in their hands and fire in their bellies. Without even knowing it, national recipe competitions became a quietly feminist act."

In 1941, a $5 win in a recipe contest would be the equivalent of almost $100 today. In 1941, married women with children didn't often work outside the home, so these competitions offered a way to make a good thing happen in life, if not a living. But a win like this might offer something else for women of that time - that they independently had worth in the world. And that "women's work" had value outside the home. 

Here are the cookie recipes by Mrs. Freese and Hannah Thompson. Mrs. Freese and Hannah Thompson, 80 years later, I salute you! 





More of Grammy Grace's Old Cookie Recipes

I've been searching for THE perfect molasses cookie recipe. I have a good one. But it's not exactly as soft as the ones I like made at a local store. Usually, I just buy their cookies, because I don't need a thousand cookies hanging around my house. 

Anyway, I remembered that in Grammy Grace's recipe box there were several molasses cookie recipes. She died long before I was born. She didn't write down specifics in her recipes, because I guess specifics were a given back in the 1940's, and many cooks cooked by instinct and long experience. 

I think this collection was from around the 1940's as there was a clipping with a date of 1941 in it. I'm going to start with the Molasses Cookie recipe which has no sugar. I bet that was a wartime recipe, because sugar was rationed, so clever cooks learned to use molasses. Molasses was a consistent order in their supplies list, some of which she also saved. If you try any of these recipes, report back! 

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! 














Not Feeling Christmasy?
Remember Christmas in 5 Ways

I repost this because *I* need to read it.
But it seems to resonate with others, too.
Especially this year. 
God bless you all.  



(This is a repost from Christmas 2011, but I thought it bears repeating). 

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that
 he was not feeling very Christmas-y. 

I replied, 
"Define Christmas-y."

I'm not trying to discount his feelings.  What I mean is,  


"What makes you feel like it's Christmas?"

When we don't feel Christmasy it's because we're comparing our "now" with some memory from the past or some image that's presented in society.  And often it doesn't measure up.   Sometimes we have real reasons that we're feeling the Christmas blues.  Maybe we're lonely or depressed.  Maybe we're overwhelmed and harried.

Many years ago, when my son who has autism was small, I had to adjust my views of Christmas.  In my growing up, Christmas was about a big toy opening fest on Christmas Day.  I thought I would bring that to my family tradition when I had kids.  But my son at the time had no interest in toys.  So shopping for Christmas presents was painful.  It highlighted that the path we were traveling was a different one, and I didn't know the way.  Sometimes I still feel that twinge when I walk the toy aisles.  Going to Christmas events was either impossible or very hard when my son was young.  My husband and I spent quite a few family Christmas parties off in another room sitting under a blanket with my son, who was completely overwhelmed   I was sad during this time.  And I felt lonely.  This wasn't the expected path.   I had to come to terms that the Christmas season for us was going to be different from what I had envisioned  It wouldn't be a recreation of my childhood Christmases. (Edit added in December 2021 - my son really enjoys presents and Christmas now! He especially loves family gatherings.)


Here's the manger scene 
as set up by our son with autism....
I'm not changing it. 



Yesterday I saw a friend at the grocery store who wasn't going to be able to do all the things that Christmas brings because of a busy work schedule.  My suggestion to her?

Pick 5 Things to Do

Pick 5 things to do that if you don't do them it doesn't feel like Christmas.  And forget the rest.  That list will be different for everyone.

Here's our list:
  1. Get a Christmas tree and decorate it as a family.
  2. Listen to and sing Christmas carols.  Pandora.com is great for this.  Type in your favorite Christmas carol, your favorite artist and listen to lots of wonderful Christmas songs.  
  3. Hang lights.   This year we hung some colored outdoor lights that remind me of the giant ones that used to hang at Granddad's house when I was very small.
  4. Make cookies and/or cinnamon dough ornaments.
  5. Read the biblical Christmas story at Bible Gateway.   Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20.  
Of course, there's more.  I didn't put presents in, and we do that.   But you get the idea.  Make a list that is YOUR list of what preparing for Christmas means.  For some people, it means putting up 12 Christmas trees around their house.   For others, it means volunteering.   

Accept Your Un-Christmasy Feelings    

Accept that in this year, you may feel like the tired shepherds away in the fields working the graveyard shift.  You may feel like Joseph trying to find a place for his family to sleep in a strange city. Or like Mary, waiting and wondering what is to come.  Perhaps you're the harried innkeeper trying to wedge in another paying customer.  Or maybe you are like old Simeon and Anna, who had been waiting a long, long time for the birth of the promised Messiah.

Christmas still came for all of those people,
despite how they were feeling. 




Three Years of Letting Go

I didn't know three years ago that I would be losing both my mom and my dad in the midst of a pandemic (but not from Covid). My dad passed away in 2020 and my mom passed away in 2021. Mom's condo has been cleaned out and sold. Dad's house is in the process of being sold, and final family contents removed. It's a season of letting go. Thanks to my oldest sister it may also be a finding process.  She found a cardboard portfolio of drawings I did in high school. Something to keep.

My youngest son is moving to NYC area.  I'm glad he is able to set a course and follow it, and sad to see him go. But I am thankful he can do it. Letting go. 

While preparing pies for Thanksgiving I was looking through some of my mom's cookbooks and this page from the Bible fell out. I put it on the fireplace mantel. Something to keep. Two paintings from Dad's house came home with me. Something to keep. 

Onward. I will decide which threads to pick up again and which things to let go of. I will reconnect with some creative things I was working on before the "three years of letting go" started. And some things I will let go. This is a good sentiment for right now, though. 



Pie Reports - and This Is Not a Cooking Blog

Despite recent posts, my blog is NOT a cooking blog. But to serve me in the future, I tuck recipes I don't want to lose here as a kind of notebook. If you read along, that's fine. 

In the next town there is a truck stop called Dysart's which has fed generations of my family. They are well known for many of their dishes, but the blueberry pie is outstanding. They hav a very funny video that went viral a few years back - watch it here and laugh! Over 8 million views! The wife's expression is classic! 

Usually for Thanksgiving, I make a couple of pies and I buy a couple of pies from Dysart's. I missed the ordering window this year, so ended up making all the pies. Next year I will be sure to get my order in *before* the order deadline. Anyway, you can find more recipes at this link:  

http://dysartscomeeat.blogspot.com/p/recipes.html

The blueberry pie is particularly good.  I used frozen berries and poured off some of the juices. Maybe a little too much. But it was still good! 

Blueberry Pie

5 cups blueberries
2 tsp. lemon juice
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. corn starch
2 tbsp. butter
2 pie crusts (recipe below)

Place bottom crust in a 9 inch pie plate. In a mixing bowl combine sugar, flour, corn starch and spices. Mix well.

Place the fruit into a bowl. Work dry ingredients into the fruit. Pour into pie crust and dot with the butter and sprinkle the top with lemon juice. Place top crust over top and fold edges under. Press down on edges to bond the 2 crusts together. Cut a slit in the top crust to let steam out.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 min. (fresh fruit). Add 30 min. for frozen pies. Pick pie with knife to check if fruit is tender. The pie filling will bubble up through the holes you cut. The pie should be done.

Betty Feeney Pie Crust

3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups Crisco
approx. 1 cup cold milk

Mix flour and salt together. Add Crisco and mix with a pastry mixer until mixture looks like small peas. Stir in cold milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the right consistency and all the flour is moistened (you may not need all of the milk).

Divide dough in half and place each on separate sheets of plastic wrap. Roll and flatten into 5 inch disks. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 20 min. (up to 2 days, or frozen up to 1 month). Remove and let sit at room temperature before rolling out to desired thickness on a lightly floured surface, handling gently. 

==========

I made this custard pie by Small Town Woman and YUM.  I had issues with baking the pie crust ahead of time. Will need to look into that, but the custard part is delicious. I was thinking you could just make the custard, and sprinkle ginger snaps on top.  Mmmmmmm. 

https://www.smalltownwoman.com/old-fashioned-silky-creamy-custard-pie/


Folks said this Chocolate Cream Pie was good. I like mine a little less sweet and more chocolate-y, so may look at this again. 

Pumpkin-Molasses Pie - this was pretty good. Maybe I would bump the egg quotient up a bit. 

I didn't make this, but it's an excellent chicken pie!  Again, from Dysart's. 



"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden