Monday, February 15, 2016

"Vintage" Holiday Cookie Recipe

As a child I was fortunate enough to attend a fabulous Montessori preschool.  My memories of this place are warm and fuzzy, colorful and bright, inspiring and fun.  One of the very best parts of the program is that we got to cook.  Often.  And it was real food.  I remember making fried rice, ice cream and cookies.  Lots and lots of cookies.

Fortunately, my mother saved all of the recipes that the school sent home.  Each is illustrated and written out by hand.  I don't have the original copies of the recipes (hint hint Mom) but I did write a few down before I made my way out into the world.  When I was 23 and about to move into my first apartment, my mother and I sat down with her recipe box and copied down some of my favorites.  The Casady School Montessori Cookies made the list of all time best recipes.

Growing up we made these cookies throughout the year.  For Valentine's, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and of course Christmas.  As a teenager, my friends would come over for cookie decorating parties.  It didn't matter how old we got, we still loved baking and decorating cookies with red hots, sugar and sprinkles.

The other thing that made these cookies so special was that my creative mother collected cookie fabulous cutters.  We had them in every shape and size for nearly every occasion.  The best ones were bought from the Hallmark Store.  Even now, almost 40 years later, they have a very distinct 1970's plastic smell.  When my mother moved, my brother and I packed them up and peacefully divided them between our households.

So, by now you are probably wondering what is this amazing recipe.  Of course I'm going to tell you! It's super simple which one would expect since it was made by 4 and 5 year olds.  Generally I do use the almond extract but if you have concerns about allergies, it may be omitted.  Enjoy and happy baking!


1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
food coloring - optional

Cream butter for 5 minutes.  Add sugar and cream for another 3-5 minutes until lightened in color.  Add eggs one at a time. Scrape down bowl as needed.  Mix in vanilla and almond extract.  Now is the time to also add food coloring.  Make it fairly dark as the color will lighten with the addition of flour and during the baking process.   Mix flour in 1/2 cup at a time.  Scrape down bowl.  You will have a very thick dough.

Divide dough into half or thirds and wrap in wax paper.  I find it best to shape dough into flat discs - it's easier to roll out after chilling.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.  On a floured surface roll out to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut and decorate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of your cookie.  If you are using a convection oven reduce heat to 325 degrees.  Baking time remains the same.  They should be a very light brown in color on bottom.

Save one for me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A walk down (blog) memory lane

I haven't visited my blog in months.  Not sure why I felt the urge to do it today but I did and now I'm here and feel like I need to write something.

During the last hour, I've clicked on links, visiting blogs that I used to read on a daily basis.  Some still update regularly, a few shuttered just this year and even more just stopped posting 3 or 4 years ago.  Our web life has increasingly become focused on images rather than the written word.  I do love instagram but I miss the intimacy of the blog post.  I miss the tutorials.  I miss the personal journey.

Blogs are still out there and many are quite good.  Perhaps it's time to explore some new ones and update my favorites.

As for me, I've been busy working at Pennington Quilt Works and became the Bernina specialist, a job that is fascinating though a bit overwhelming.  It's great to be in a creative atmosphere surrounded by so many talented women (and a few men).  And I've started sewing again, making lots of mini-projects.

I can't promise many blog posts from me.  At the beginning of the year I had this fantasy of writing every day or a few times a week but that hasn't worked out so well.  I always felt like I needed a picture to go along.  But now, I think writing will do.  If you want to see what I'm doing, pop on over to instagram and search for stitchingpink.

Good night and happy stitiching!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spools of fresh fabric

The quilt store is filled with gorgeous fabric - I've done my best not to be tempted but yesterday I finally gave in. This is a Moda collection by Basicgrey aptly named "Fresh Cut."  I couldn't decide which fabrics to bring home so I purchased a layer cake of 45 fabrics. I knew instantly what I would make with these beauties - Spools by Thimble Blossoms. 

The last few weeks have been consumed with cleaning out my fabric stash. I've passed along quite a bit because either. My tastes have changed or I've realized that I'm never, ever going to complete the project for which the fabric was intended.  Then there are fabrics that I know should be tossed or donated or sold, but I just can't stand the thought of parting with it.  It's either too lovely or I'm sentimentally attached to it.

The thing is, if I'm going to take the time to sew, then I have to love the project.  Because my time is limited and precious.  And what I make should inspire me rather than make me feel blah. 

Happy stitching. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Jars and Coffee

These days it's all about Ball glass jars, chalkboards, vintage fonts and rustic interiors. And artisanal coffee.

I've been using Ball jars for years for jam and refrigerator pickles. They are inexpensive and indestructable. Who cares if they are trendy!  The new selections and accessories like this and this and these are awesome.

Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite food blogs and recently she reposted an entry about cold-pressed coffee so I decided to give it a go. But what container to use?  Of course, one of those wide-mouthed ball jars collecting dust in the garage.

And now I give you a picture of said jar filled to the brim with delicious coffee. 12 hours seems like forever. But as they say, good things come to those who wait.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Random rambling post about purpose...

Over the last few months my body basically said "enough."  I had near debilitating headaches for days and when I didn't, I was exhausted.  The whole experience forced me to rethink my approach to life, particularly how I managed stress, what kind of work I should do and how to be the best parent, spouse and friend. I've had lots of time to think. Think. Think.

For a while I felt like a failure. I kept fighting with my head instead of resting and allowing my body to recover. Many days spent feeling sorry for myself and pretty down in the dumps.

But over time I made peace with my physical condition and continue to do so everyday. The silver lining: I have a new appreciation for the suffering experienced by those living with chronic pain as well as the frustrations that come with navigating our complex healthcare system when you are not well.

Plus I've learned about myself.  For years I have been trying to make myself into someone else only to discover time and time again that it can't be done.

And if that's true for me, could it be true for others?  Can we really become someone other than who we are destined to be?

For example, my child.  Isn't she just who she is?  If I'm struggling to figure out life isn't she doing the same thing?  And she's doing it all for the first time while I've had 43 years to figure it out. Shouldn't I have more patience with her as she finds her way?


And if I'm doing the best I can given my own limitations, isn't eveyone else basically doing the best they can do given where they are in life?


That's not to say that I should just accept my own shortcomings and not work towards self-fulfillment and being a better human being. It's that maybe I shouldn't be too hard on myself when I stumble. And maybe I shouldn't be so hard on others when they stumble either. Because everyone is basically doing the best they can with what they've got in that moment. 

Well, at least this makes me feel a bit better about the world.

And then last night I came across this video presentation by an author who's visiting Lucy's school today and tomorrow.  And he said a lot of the things that I've been thinking about. The video is an hour long and at times silly but eventually he gets to the point.

Of course, he's a brilliant writer. And rather eccentric. Regardless, a lot of his talk resonated with me.

Yesterday I had lunch with a dear friend. I expressed that perhaps I was ready to go back to doing personal training. She paused, looked me in the eye and calmly said "Is that what you really want to do?  You need to give yourself time to heal. Really heal before you jump back in. Take this time to figure out what interests you."

Years ago I was presented with the opportunity to build a midwifery practice at a local hospital. The thought of it gave me panic because though I felt it was what I SHOULD be doing, it was not what I wanted to do. "What do you want to do here?" They asked.  "I want to teach," I eventually responded.

Not high school or middle school or grade school. But adults. And sometimes kids. And not in a traditional classroom setting. I wanted to share the knowledge I had with others. I also wanted to explore new skills and then teach what I learned others.

Teach. And mentor. And guide.

Because when I teach, it is challenging. It is rewarding when it "clicks" for a student. Because I love to write lesson plans and see them in action. Because I love to think and be excited about something and I want others to be excited too.

Which is why I loved nursing. And personal training. And giving sewing classes. 

And I enjoy people. Hearing their stories. Learning from them.

So what now. 

Rest. Rest. Rest. 

And then 

Teach. Teach. Teach.

Because isn't that what it's all about?  Learning and teaching. Sharing our wisdom. Gaining wisdom.

Well, for me that's what it's all about. Because it's what excites me and gives me purpose. It's what gets me up in the morning. And keeps me up late at night.

Thinking about thinking. And learning. And teaching.

It's just my thing. Who I am. And you know what, that's pretty awesome.

Be well.