Cousins

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My husband and I were commenting the other day and wondering why it seems to take a funeral; to get together with cousins that you have not seen in a long time. Another observation we made was how much laughter there could be at funerals.

It doesn’t seem like laughter and funerals go together but I must confess, around here they do seem to end up that way. This past week an aunt on my mom’s side passed away. She “went home” on Christmas day and her family knew she had the best Christmas ever.

We will be gathering to lay her to rest….and we will be gathering to remember the life she lived. I have a feeling there will be a lot of reminiscing with all the cousins that will be there. I also have a feeling that there will be lots of grins and laughter.

I think that at some points it will resemble a celebration of sorts. A celebration of life lived, a celebration of family gathering, a celebration of what makes family…family.

We will realize that family isn’t perfect and that is okay. We will remember the childhood nights spent at cousins’ homes and games played in those home. For those of us who grew up in our small town….we loved to go to the farm homes of our cousins.

There was always something exciting to do there. You could ride the pigs (when your uncles were not looking), you could stand on top of the cab of an old pickup in the grove and launch yourself onto a gunny sack swing and soar high into the air. There were board games to be played, games of Kick The Can and Moonlight Starlight Hope To See The Ghost Tonight.

You just knew it was a successful time when you went home in the back seat of your parents’ car feeling tired, having a cut on your shin from running into the cistern in the dark and feeling slightly sick from to much running in the heat and too much really sweet Kool-aid.

It was a carefree time to be a kid. There didn’t seem to be any big worries that we had. Some of our biggest concerns were, if we would be able to talk our folks into letting us stay overnight so we could have more time together. We also did our best to talk our folks into letting us each take a chicken home. (Even then I wanted chickens! …. and yes…we were successful on that one.)

There are so many wonderful memories of times spent with cousins on both sides of the family. I was fortunate to have a girl cousin my age on both sides. I went to school with them and spent my childhood years surrounded by cousins of all ages.

I can only hope that in the future my grandchildren will have those same close ties and connections with their cousins. I know they will be miles apart, instead of town blocks apart, but my prayer is that family ties stretch across those many miles.

I hope that someday when those future cousins meet to celebrate my “home-going” there is lots of laughter, lots of love and so many good stories to be told of time spent together at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Time where they played games, got into a little (only a little) mischief, and made memories that will bond them together for a lifetime.

 

 

A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.
Marion C. Garretty

Cousins are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.
Ed Cunningham

Baby Celebrations

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Sometimes things in life do not go quite as planned. We had this experience this past Sunday. We had planned for a beautiful sunny day to hold a Baby Celebration for my son and daughter-in-law and our soon to come grandson. What we got was a day that started out drizzly.

We had planned to set up tables and chairs outside and have everything ready to go by 11:00, so we could get started on the grilling of burgers and hot dogs.  What we got was drizzling till about 10:45, waiting till 11:00 to make sure it really was done dripping all over, and then scrambling to get things set up outdoors so we would be ready for the guests. We had planned to have this be a casual event; and it was a casual event so that went according to plan!

Lots of prayers were sent up, on my part, for there to be a couple hour break in the drippiness.  (I struggled with that prayer as we really need the rain in this area.) We did get a break and it was long enough to fit in everything we needed to.

The day, while not warm and sunny, was a wonderful day of celebration. Lots of laughter, joking, playing games (Corn Hole and Badminton) and opening gifts. It was a wonderful day to celebrate life, family, friends, and the celebration of a new life on the way.

 

There was plenty of food for everyone….(though the frozen fruit cup was a little bit chilly for the day). Grilled burgers and hot dogs, salads and a S’more table, more than made up for the slightly damp atmosphere.

 

We decided that we would still have our homemade root beer and floats. (It was National Root Beer Float Day on Sunday so we needed those floats!) They were great with the S’mores and no one seemed to mind having a chilly dessert.

 

I had bought the duck a few years back at a garage sale. At the time I purchased it I thought it was a floaty for a pool. I found out later it was a blow up baby bathtub! I am really glad I found a great use for it at the party. It made a great root beer and water bottle holder. (I must thank the mom-to-be for taking pictures of the set up…..I had totally forgotten!)

There was lots of mingling and catching up with family and friends during the afternoon. It was a time to retell old family stories and make new ones. I may be the mom of sons…but I am blessed by the women they have brought into our family! They were the drive behind the planning, food and decorations.

We did have a really good laugh when my daughter-in-law shared that my grandson had been quizzing them on their way here about what happens at a baby shower. He was firmly convinced that this was the day the baby would arrive and we were all going to be together to witness the birth and have a huge celebration! He wanted to know all the whens, whys, and whats on how that was going to happen. I am not sure what they actually told him…but it still makes me grin.

In the end….the day was perfect in it’s weather imperfection. It was a celebration that did not hinge on circumstances like foggy damp rain. It did not hinge on “if everything went according to plan”. In the end…the day did go as planned….people had fun, we celebrated and we enjoyed being together.

It was a day that celebrated family, life, new beginnings and love.  It was a day that celebrated blessings and what they really are. When it all comes down to it I guess that is what really matters…..and it was good.

 

The best times are always found
when friends and family gather round.
Unknown

If you so choose,
even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities.
If you so choose,
you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.
Ralph Marston

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ralphmarst564358.html?src=t_unexpected

Making a List, Checking it Twice….

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Melt in Your Mouth Cookies

I am wondering if you started humming or singing as you read that title?  I can never read those words without putting the tune with it and singing them.  It is definitely the season for making lists I am finding.

In fact I have several lists floating around here at this point.  There is the Christmas wish list that has all our kids and grandkids names on it; complete with things they would like.  Then there is the Christmas dinner list….the one with the menu.  To coincide with that list is the grocery list; with those last minute items that I forgot the last time I went to the grocery store to get the Christmas dinner stuff.

We should also not forget the list for the Christmas Eve party at my folks house. That one contains the food items I need to bring, the gifts we must not forget to take along and other random items that need to journey to their house.

Then there is the list for the things I need to finish up.  Things like getting the bedrooms upstairs ready for kids to stay overnight. Turning the water on upstairs is also on the list. Oh, and we mustn’t forget that the list should also remind me to finish purchasing and then wrapping the presents that need to get under the tree before Christmas day.

I also need to make tags for those gifts that are under the tree. My gift tags have never had names on them…..only stamped images. We started doing things that way, back when the boys were little and could not (or would not) leave their presents alone. Once they started getting married I thought I could put names on the tags; but they all insisted the nameless tags were a tradition….so I need to stamp some tags…..soon!

On one of my lists it reminds me that I need to finish the Christmas cookies that I have started. Today, I could check a couple of those cookies off my list as I finished piping the frosting star on them.

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Thumbprints

The two I worked on today are called Melt In Your Mouth cookies and Thumbprints. Both of these cookies are real favorites of mine. (To be really honest there are very few cookies that I have met that I have not liked!)

Just in case you are looking for one more cookie to add to your holiday baking; I will share the recipes with you today.

 

 

Melt In Your Mouth Cookies
1 cup butter (do not substitute)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
Milk (a few drops if needed)
Frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter (melted -do not substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla
green food coloring to make light green color

Cream butter and powdered sugar.
Add vanilla, flour, and cornstarch.
Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet.
Bake at 350º for 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and make a thumbprint in the center of each cookie.
Return to oven and bake another 8 minutes.
Cool and fill center with frosting.
NOTE:  I like to use a #21 star tip and decorator bag to pipe a frosting star on top.

Thumbprint Cookies
1 cup butter (do not substitute)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks (reserve egg white)
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Frosting:
1 cup butter (do not substitute)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Red food coloring to make a light red

Blend butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients.
Roll into 1 inch balls and dip into slightly beaten egg whites.
Roll in finely chopped walnuts
.
Place about 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.
Bake 5 minutes at 350º.
Remove from oven and make thumbprint in center of each cookie.
Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes.
Cool and frost.
NOTE: I like to use a #21 star tip to pipe a frosting star on top of these cookies.

It is a good feeling to check things off my lists. I do find having them makes it easier for me to relax through this busy season that requires lots of preparation and planning. I think it might be because I know I am not forgetting something. I do find it is also helpful to contain my lists in one notebook. That way I only have one thing to keep track of.

It makes it easier for me to focus on what is important when I know the little things are taken care of or will be taken care of in good order.   It makes it easier to focus on the joy of the season and the anticipation of family gatherings.

So I am making my lists and checking them twice….    I am wondering what little tips and tricks do you use that make your busy holiday season run smoother?

And what are some of your favorite cookie recipes?  Please feel free to leave a link to your blog if you have some of these posted there! Cookies and tips and tricks!  I would love to check them out.

“The best way to get through any challenge is to step back,
look up at the sky, breathe deeply in and out,
smile if you have to…
then dive in.”

Waylon H. Lewis