Several years ago my daughter, Ashley, put together this collage of pictures of her and her brother, Jason, and presented it to me on Mother’s Day. It remains one of the best gifts I’ve ever received and makes me feel more than a little nostalgic for the days when they were little.
I’m so fortunate to be their mom, and they make me incredibly proud every day. I just hope I’m forgiven for sharing their bathtub photo!
My daughter and her family arrived at our home last Wednesday after driving straight through from their home in Illinois. The three grandkids slept much of the way, but their parents needed naps upon arrival.
Poppa (Studly Doright) entertained four-year-old Harper, while Garrett (14), and McKayla (12), accompanied me on some not-so-exciting errands so the house would be quiet for the “old folks.”
After the parents awakened I suggested we take the crew to the Tallahassee Museum, which is really part zoo, part zip-lining adventure, and part historical site. I’d been before, but Studly hadn’t, and none of our guests had ever visited this gem.
I’m always so nervous that my suggestions won’t go over well, and this one didn’t get off to a promising start. Harper balked at the entrance and had to be coaxed to continue, but after a cold lemonade and a bit of time on the playground equipment, she was all smiles.
Poppa decided that he and Garrett should give the tree-to-tree adventure a try, and the two of them set off to be fitted for harnesses and given instructions on hooking on to the safety lines. Poppa came to regret this quest, but Garrett took to the trees like a duck to water.
Somehow I forgot to take photos of the wolves, foxes, and birds of prey, but I remembered to have a good time.
Come, bring your flowers,
Your condolences, the
Awkward and the eloquent.
Bring offerings of food,
And sincere expressions
Of loving concern.
Those I love have lost
A husband, a father,
Grandfather, and friend.
A life well lived,
A loss deeply mourned
With grace and faith.
Early on Friday morning our son, Jason, texted us the sad news that his father-in-law had passed away. We’d known that “Jamie” had been battling terminal cancer, yet the news still hit us hard.
We never had the opportunity to meet Jamie, but Jason loved him, so as soon as we heard of Jamie’s passing I hurriedly packed a bag and headed west towards the town of Hemphill, Texas.
Even in the midst of her grief Jamie’s wife, Fran welcomed me into their home. She and her daughters, Pam and Liz (our daughter-in-law) are, separately, forces of nature–strong, beautiful, and independent. Together they are the best kind of formidable. I went thinking I could be of some help, but soon learned that these ladies had everything in hand.
I know they will have hurdles to overcome in the days ahead, and they are in my prayers. But I won’t waste any time worrying about their coping abilities.
My brain keeps trying to formulate a tale around Jamie. While I didn’t know him I feel like I have an idea of the kind of man he must’ve been. Maybe one day I’ll have the right words. He deserves the right words.
The Doright Family converged on Nashville, Tennessee, for Christmas. We rented a home on Old Hickory Lake through Home Away and spent four days in close quarters. I’m pleased to announce that not one of the twelve people present was harmed during our long weekend of enforced confinement. See, miracles do still happen.
As part of our Christmas gift our children arranged for a photographer to come out to the house on Christmas Eve to take family photos. The last family photos were circa 2002, so we were way past due.
Post-election depression has put a real damper on my Christmas spirit. I’ve shopped and wrapped gifts, partaken of eggnog, and watched hours of Hallmark Channel movies, but I’m really just going through the motions. A future with Trump in the White House seems too horrible for contemplation. Alas, barring a last minute miracle, that stark reality seems to be in store.
But I’m not a gloom and doom person at heart, so I’ve made a list of things that will definitely lift my spirits:
Hugs from the grandchildren
Large quantities of wine
Hanging out with my kids
Having my mother-in-law, Saint Helen, with us for Christmas
Many years ago my mother’s mother, Nanny Grace, gave me a book filled with her favorite recipes as a Christmas gift. It was then, and remains to this day, my favorite gift of all time. And even though I’m no cook, I have actually considered using her recipes on many occasions. Fortunately I always come to my senses and let someone else do the cooking.
A couple of weeks ago one of my cousins asked if I still had my recipe book, and if so, could I share it with her. And of course I thought, why not share it with everyone? So here are a few of the recipes my Nanny wrote out for me. Enjoy.
No Cook Chocolate Candy:
Rye Bread Capers:
Rye bread capers continued below:
Mexican Cornbread, continued.
Eagle Brand Fruit Cake:
White Fruit Cake:
White Fruit Cake, continued below:
Cinnamon Pound Cake:
Cinnamon Pound Cake continued below:
Millionaire Pie–I’ve actually made this as evidenced by the condition of the card, and it is so good.
Millionaire Pie, continued below:
Lemon Chess Bars
Lemon Chess Pie
Rice Dressing, continued below:
Potato and Cheese Casserole:
Potato and Cheese Casserole, continued:
Jalapeño Corn Casserole:
Jalapeño Corn Casserole, continued:
Cheese and Egg Soufflé:
Cheese and Egg Soufflé, continued:
What I love most about these recipes is having examples of my Nanny’s handwriting and a glimpse into her life. She was a beautiful woman. And she could cook!
Let me know if you try any of the recipes, or if you need clarification. Nanny would be so proud.
Today would have been my mom’s 79th birthday. She’s been gone for many years, and I still miss her every day.
Mom was a Christmas person. She didn’t do a great deal of baking during the year, but at Christmas she pulled out all the stops. She baked cookies and made candy and sweet breads. She made a sticky date nut roll that either came out perfectly or had to be peeled off the wax paper in gooey chunks. But she made it every year, always hoping for the best.
I haven’t had that date nut roll in years, but I’ve been going through my recipes this week and reminiscing. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to make Mom’s date nut roll, to see if I could make it come out perfectly, in her honor. Alas, I can’t find it. Maybe I never had that one.
I turned to Google and came up with this one, though:
Date Nut Roll
3 1/2 C. Sugar
1 C. Milk
1/4 C. Butter or Margarine
1 16 oz. pkg. Pitted Dates
1 C. Chopped Pecans
1 Tsp. Vanilla extract
-Combine sugar, milk, and butter in a saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves.
-Cover and cook over medium hear for 2-3 minutes to wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pan.
-Uncover and continue to cook without stirring until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (240°).
-Cool to lukewarm (110°).
-Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until the mixture thickens and cools.
-Sift powdered sugar on a linen towel.
-Divide mixture into two portions and shape each portion into two rolls, each
1 1/2″ in diameter.
-Wrap in towels.
-Let stand until set, then cut into 1/2″ thick slices.
As far as I can tell its Mom’s recipe; although, I don’t think she used a candy thermometer, and that probably explains why it only turned out perfectly about 20% of the time.
Will I give it a go and try to make this Christmas treat? I kind of feel Mom urging me to do just that.