Trees & Cookies

I am one of those individuals who carries on the traditions that were set upon me as  a child.  The ornaments on my tree were the ones my mother made when I was a child so I didn’t cut myself on the glass ones that she had (in an interesting twist of life, when I moved out, as I began a search of wooden ornaments similar to the ones my mother had on her tree, she told me she was going to split them up between my sister and I.  My sister doesn’t have the best track record of keeping things so I called her and told her she never had to get me anything for Christmas ever again if I could have all the ornaments…. she said sure, she didn’t want them [this still puzzles me to this day, but good for me!], added with some that I made, or some that just naturally fit with my theme… I like think that my Christmas tree’s theme would be an old fashioned as the painted ornaments have homes, churches, dogs, rocking chairs, Wise Men, the 3 Bears, Raggedy Ann & Andy, ice skaters, carolers, snowmen and Santas.  Mixed in are ornaments from my youth… ones with my names on them, ornaments given to me by my maternal grandmother, a cherished one from fifth grade where my room mothers made us ornaments with our names on it along with the bands that were popular in 1983 (Van Halen, The Who, Billy Joel, Pat Benetar, Journey, Def Leppard and Quiet Riot), some NY Giants ornaments, a few NY Yankees,  and added in recent years are ornaments reflecting the birth of my children (the infamous “baby’s first Christmas”… my daughter has 3, my son just 1, can you tell who came first???) and ornaments they have made in school or purchased for me as gifts.

My husband dislikes my tree… or at least he mocks me all the time stating that there are too many ornaments on it.  I think it’s just the right amount as I don’t lessen the ornaments on the tree, and I have branches with nothing on it.  See for yourself.

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And the ornament that I always have on the tree first and take off last… poor Fido.  As a little girl I always felt sorry for poor Fido being stuck in his doghouse on Christmas.  So to make him feel special I started having his as the ornament on the tree the longest… and the tradition continues…. sometimes I envy Fido in his doghouse… filled with peace and quiet.

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Another tradition in my house is baking Christmas cookies.  As a mother with a full time job, my mother helps me out by baking the Peanut Blossoms (peanut butter cookies with the Hershey Kisses on top) and Russian Tea Cakes (aka Snowballs) with my daughter while I work.  I get to do the fun ones, the cut out cookies. I use to get quite extravagant with my decorating – and use to even use my mom’s gingerbread boy to make NFL players…. the official Matt Bahr cookie was made for several years… One of these days I really need to ask her for that cut out… I haven’t found one like it when I’m out and about.

The problem with some recipes though is that they don’t always pass the test of time.  I think they change the way they make items, honestly, so where a recipe was made perfectly 20 years ago, doesn’t necessarily get the same consistency now.  So finding a good sugar recipe was my task.

First I tried using the Pilsbury Sugar Cookie dough and just cut out my cookies, these were good, but at times very frustrating.  For a few years I made these and then made my Great Grandmother’s Drop Sugar Cookie recipe which had sour cream in it.

Which leads me to the recipe I discovered on Taste of Home last year when I thought… maybe I should see if a cut out sugar cookie recipe exists with sour cream in it.  It does.  And they are WONDERFUL.  They stay nice and moist and the icing recipe with it is what I used and is incredible (I don’t even add mint flavoring to the green or banana flavoring to the yellow).  I split the recipe in half as last year I had a ton leftover and felt guilty wasting so much.

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Above are some of my children’s masterpieces (2 of which have disappeared since this picture was taken 10 minutes ago). Here is the recipe:  Sour Cream Sugar Cookies, if you try it I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

For all who celebrate – have a very Merry Christmas!  If you don’t, enjoy the peace and quiet and hope you can still seize the day to spend it with someone you love!

Peace!

 

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Memory and Music

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All my life I have been told what a fabulous memory I have, but there is an unknown method to my madness – all my memories are tied in with music. There is something in my head that links everything together – and often I can hear a song and re-iterate everything in minute detail of what happened.

One such moment came when I was in 10th grade, studying for my Enriched Biology Exam to finish up the first semester of school.  As I studied I listened to my Huey Lewis and the News album “Sports” and the next morning as I took my exam – as I had Biology first period of the day – as I read the questions and answered them, I had each and every song going through my head… especially the songs “Walking on a Thin Line” and “Finally Found a Home”. I ended up getting an A on the exam and yes, I attribute that grade to Huey.

But so many other moments of my life I can relive in vivid details because of the wonder of music.  When I hear “More Than Words” by Extreme I’m taken back to my senior prom and dancing with my date.  When I hear “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, it was the song playing when I kissed my now-husband for the very first time.  Anytime I listen to “Chicago’s Greatest Hits ’82-’89” makes me think of a trip I took to London when I was in school.  When I hear “Stay the Night” I remember standing outside of Windsor Castle, and “Along Comes a Woman” reminds me of all the many sights I saw in the week I was there and the surrounding area.  Another popular song at that time was “Been Around the World” by Lisa Stansfield and I remember standing on the corner as I bought one of the BEST pairs of shoes (I got them at a Peter Lords and the brand was “Bubbles” and they were just these comfortable canvas shoes that went with EVERYTHING), anyhow, I remember walking down the street and that song came on and I remember thinking… Wow… here I am, all around the world, and I couldn’t find my baby as my boyfriend was across the ocean!  Tacky I know – but I was a junior in high school, what did you expect? One more set of songs that makes me think of my London trip was the Violator CD by Depeche Mode, though I didn’t really hear any of the songs on my trip, it was the official cd of everyone on the trip.  So a few years down the road, when I got my 5-changer cd player, I purchased the Violator cd enjoying the great songs on the cd – “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy the Silence” but I still think of that trip.

Flash forward a few years and during my college years I loved the popular 90’s Swedish group Ace of Base.  Overall in life I have a thing for Swedish groups, or at least the really popular ones as I love ABBA and Roxette as well.  But with Ace of Base they had that blending of dance along with great vocals and I just loved their music.  One song in particular was “Beautiful Life” – the intro is just incredible when you stand solidly between the two speakers with the sounds going back and forth beating throughout your entire body.  I so love the beginning of that song.  Forward ourselves a few more years into the future, my then fiancé and I are trying to find the ideal wedding spot.  Where we ended up having it had  a dance floor with speakers tilted around it so that the music was incredible while on the dance floor, yet those sitting at the tables could carry on a nice conversation.  So the salesperson goes and turns on the stereo player so we can hear the speakers and lo and behold what do we hear?  “It’s a Beautiful Life… O-O-O-O” – I was sold right then and there.

I could probably write a never ending post about how my memory works with songs… and I know I have more stories because my co-worker looks at me like I’m nuts all the time because I have all these precise details of situations that pertain to a song I heard at the moment.  My husband cracked up at me just 2 weeks ago because the 80’s on 8 (with SiriusXM radio) had a 1987 countdown 2 weeks ago and I was in heaven.  They were in the top 5 when we heard it on our way to his uncle’s house as I said… this was a great summer of music – I wish I could listen to the entire countdown because I just know “Alone” by Heart was going to be on it.  The very next song was “Alone” (it was song #2).  My husband somewhat sighed in disgust as I had correctly predicted a song on the countdown – I just laughed… 1987 was the final time my family had gone camping – and whenever we went camping it always rained.  I remember sitting in the pop-up tent I slept in (on my inflatable raft/air mattress) listening to the countdowns that weekend.  When all was said and done, I’d counted about 10 songs that I thought were on the countdown for that July 4 weekend… as I did listen to it online and had forgotten a few of the songs that were in the lineup.

Music is a huge part of my life.  For the longest time I use to have this inner debate with myself as to what would be worse to be – blind or deaf.  And over the years I have come to the conclusion that it would be far worse to deal with deafness than blindness… it would kill me to never be able to hear music again – but I would still be able to imagine what something looked like if someone described it to me. Just my opinion.

Do you have songs that allow you to recall a moment in vivid detail?

Daily Post Prompt Always Something There to Remind Me