Memories of molasses and ginger

I come from a Christmas Cookie baking family – on my mother’s side.

I can never remember a year of Mom’s life when there were not crisp, thin, cut out sugar cookies – “plain” and with variations of flavor: coconut, black walnut or anise. It was her mother’s recipe, passed around that large family.

I do remember my Grandmother Amelia with plates of cookies. Hers were thicker and cut with very old fashioned cutters but the lovely taste was the same. One Christmas, her platter included brown cut out cookies. I expected a treat – perhaps chocolate… Oh my. So bitter. So very nasty.

oak leaves

Whenever I find the leaves of the Chestnut oak with their rounded lobes, so like that cookie cutter, I remember those brown leaf-shaped Ginger cookies! A survey of my siblings revealed we all remember them, and we all thought they were terrible!

My husband’s Aunt Dolly once returned from a visit to a cousin’s and brought this ginger cookie recipe to our home for a baking session. I’ve made this recipe for many years now; these cookies are delicious with fruit and I make them year round.

ginger cookie recipe

When I make them, I use Grandma’s® Original Molasses. Their Gingerbread is another favorite with family and guests. One Christmas, my niece made these cute little houses for dessert. Gingerbread houseWe were inspired by some at  King Arthur Flour, another pantry staple for me.

It is fun to have memories of a distant time and place triggered by something as simple as a pile of leaves from the park! I’m sure you have some small memory triggers too.IMG_7048


We didn’t go to the river park as much as we had hoped this fall. When the weather turned spring-like, we knew we must go right then. So we did! We stopped for sandwiches on the way for our lunch.

Our favorite table was out of the question with Mr. Wind raining leaves and acorns with great abandon. So we chose a lone table under a maple tree still holding on to a few leaves. After lunch and a bit of reading, the tree caught my interest. maple  I realized what a sheltering presence it is, hosting a sapling deeply rooted between the two trunks.  IMG_7028  Further up there were deep folds that might shelter a small bird in wind or rain or cold. Then even higher, a hole, probably made by a woodpecker which will surely be used by a squirrel or birds as a winter night bedroom. IMG_7031   Then, down at the ground, almost hidden by the leaves, I saw an entrance to a space… perhaps used by small creatures or perhaps by fairies…  IMG_7034   We lingered through the afternoon finally leaving to enjoy the setting sun coloring the tree tops on our drive home.

A Pondering: Did you ever hear songbirds at night in the fall? I learned that most song birds that migrate, do so at night. Amazing! Navigation by sun and stars to places the newly fledged birds have never seen – and they go without a guide or map. Amazing!

Making Connections

For me, one of the wonderful things about this time of internet communication is meeting people around the world. I want to mention two lovely Australian ladies whose blogs share creativity and kindness so generously.

Kerryanne English blogs at Shabby Art Boutique. This month she has started her 6th year of Simply Christmas entries. In the first post she introduced her beautiful 2015 Christmas Planner – free to download, which I was happy to do. In the next post, she wrote her thoughts on planning. Christmas Planner   I’ve been a planner, but somehow in the last couple of years, I forgot how essential this ingredient is for relaxed celebration. I find that planning – anticipating – can really add so much joy.

I used to keep wonderful records of menus and cookie baking marathons and gifting. I’m starting again to keep this record of joy sharing. Kerryanne is posting ideas for gifts and décor as well as continuing her Friday link-up parties full of inspiration.

Then, I would like to introduce Jennifer Reynolds – Jenny of ELEFANTZ. Jenny is always so generous in sharing her lovely talent in stitchery. She has also been gathering creative ideas for gift giving from other bloggers and kindly sharing the links.

While embroidery is an old and mostly abandoned interest of mine, I was inspired by her holiday table runner last year to create one of my own with fabrics available here.

design   And, I almost forgot – food – you will find tempting recipes at both sites! Have a look?

October’s passing

IMG_7000 Morning fog and the plaintive cry of the lone goat down by the pond – he’s the white spot down there. I think he mourns loneliness these days. I haven’t seen his buddy for about a year.

IMG_6998We have leaf lawns like old brown/gold shag carpets in every view.

IMG_7003 The deer are almost invisible now except for white tails as they bound across the yard. This one paused for quite a while before slowly going over the hill and down through the sluggish morning traffic.

IMG_7007  And then, all is glorious!

I found another poem by George Copper that speaks of the season. Here are the first two verses:

“Come, little leaves,”

Said the wind one day,

“Come over the meadows

With me, and play;

Put on your dresses

Of red and gold;

Summer is gone,

And the days grow cold.”

Soon as the leaves

Heard the wind’s loud call,

Down they came fluttering,

One and all;

Over the meadows

They danced and flew,

Singing the soft

Little songs they knew.

Since I first encountered Barbara Mahany’s lyrical writing in Slowing Time , I’ve been a visitor to her table. Her current post on the coming darkness of the long nights of winter ends with this thought: to “… wrap ourselves in the whole of the long night’s offering, the invitation to burrow deep inside our souls. and bring on the night candles, the flame, and the blankets.”  She writes of the long winter cozy that I do love with more candles, more soup and stew, more blankets and comforters, more reading and yes, more time outside. In the dark.

I’m moving a jacket up to the kitchen so I’m more agreeable to respond to the drawing to step outside to watch the dawn create silhouettes of my tree friends. Stars and planets visible without the canopy of leaves.

You’re invited out into the wonder! IMG_6993

October Sheltering

Our bluebird friends are visiting their old nest box again. Other birds are invisible to me as they chatter and investigate trees for holes and shrubs for cozy places for winter nights.

The squirrels are frantic, running here and there with acorns and black walnuts from across the street, burying them, then futilely patting leaves on top.

The deer are dressed for hunting season in deep, drab coats. They wander the yard aimlessly having eaten all the apples and pears they could reach or their squirrel friends tossed down to them.

Overhead the geese fly and chat about moving south or staying in place.

I imagine that you, dear reader, are adding cozy touches to your home and securing it against the winter to come. I’ve dressed the beds in layers of blankets and comforters, added afghans and quilts and pillows to couches and chairs and made a number of batches of applesauce – my wintry comfort food! This week I also pulled out my old potpourri crock pot to warm up the house with cozy scent.

2015-10-22 Spices, apple peels and core, water and time = delicious scent.

A scent I didn’t know I missed came to me the other evening as I opened the door – wood smoke. Someone had a fire going in their home. Now I miss the scent of burning leaves and wood from old fashioned barrels and pits and stoves as I venture out in the cool of the day. Our long ago neighbor cooked and heated her home with wood.  I remember there was always a curl of smoke from the chimney and the scent of hearth on the air.

One of my long term projects is finally finished and adding a cozy touch in the guest room and a smile to my face whenever I look in.  yo-yos   My years long project of scrappy yo-yos is finally sewn together! It was my birthday gift to myself to complete it. I remember when I was very young that we had a yo-yo coverlet.  The fun of it and the weaving in and out of little fingers stayed hidden in memory until I saw this style had a revival of sorts. Mine is only bed warmer or foot cozy size although my sister pointed out that I can always add to it!  560 little circles gathered and stitched together. yo-yos  I rather enjoy the repetitive hand sewing as a winter activity. The nostalgia of it drew me to the book shelf and my favorite childhood story book. story book   It is certainly the worse for wear having entertained quite a few children since I received it as a gift and lived for a while in a dark attic before coming back to me. I don’t have many things from my childhood so I am delighted to have this book. The illustrations are wonderful.

Take a peek.    story book   Yes, the naughty Gingerbread Boy. There are many classic stories in it but my all time favorite is a mysterious, creative and delicious adventure which is probably totally responsible for my need to always have butter on my pancakes. I loved this little family!   IMG_6869




October’s annual party


Many mornings seem to burst through foggy hours, other days, it is a slow revealing. This nearby farm is always a lovely sight. No horses visible in this frame, but they are usually wandering the fields adding to the rural beauty. The other amazing thing not seen is the morning traffic. It was there, of course, which gave me the opportunity to focus on the view with my camera.


The winds are invisible as well, but they seem ever present, blowing away the dust and heat and bugs of summer. The trees yield to the wind and shake off their leaves – their past – sometimes blighted, sometimes chewed, always worn out as they prepare to settle into a time of rest and rejuvenation. And too, I love the change of light in autumn. I’ve gone to the reservoir two evenings this past week to revel in the sunsets.

sunset 1

It was great pleasure to have picnic dinners roadside to such beauty while the wind rustled a symphony from leaves and branches. Geese were the trumpeting chorus!

sunset 2

I do hope you have a special place or at least a view of the wonder of all that is autumn.

A day for musing

A quiet day, much of it spent almost nose to the ground picking up wood shaken from the trees in wind and rain. I’m mindful that this is minor damage and very grateful that our saturated ground was spared the hurricane hit. But it is a tiring chore.

So I’m sharing a brief September trip to Ithaca, home of a dear family member. As I have noted a number of times, I’m smitten with the bird cams sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology located on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

During a leisurely breakfast, we watched the live-streaming of the historic inauguration of Cornell’s new President, Elizabeth Garrett, the prelude to Homecoming Weekend. Although there were many events planned on campus, we managed to evade them all and see the things really important to Elaine :) The field light post where the hawklets were born and fledged was the first stop…

lamp post

It was lovely to stand and look around at the sights we watch on the bird cam. Then it was off to Sapsucker Woods to see the cams at the feeders and on the pond. feeders    sapsucker woods pond

It was a brilliant late afternoon and a luxury to sit on the well placed bench with family and enjoy this peaceful place.  Later we were off to the fabulous Zaza’s to celebrate my upcoming birthday. There, after a wonderful meal,  I met my new dessert love – Affogato al Caffè – “Freshly brewed espresso poured over creamy vanilla gelato”, and, available as de-caf! Such a satisfying day!

sapsucker woods pond

Misty morning view

There was a strange soft fluttering in the tree, like delicate lace waved by a fairy. My imagination runs rampant in early morning mist and in the time before coffee. web

The real thing is magical. web

Perhaps it was a fairy, there is no sign of the spinner of such fine thread nor the lace maker of this scalloped wonder.web