Monday, March 25, 2013

Mason Jar Monday #3 In Stitches

Some bristle at historic vignettes of women clustered about the perimeter of a quilting frame, enjoying gossip and the companionship of a "bee" while men alone are trusted to push the plow.
Not me.

Others scoff at days past when school girls learned domestic trade in "Home Ec" classes, leaving male counterparts to wrangle with and create bigger, braver things from table saws. Not me!

I'm glad my own grandmothers weren't out in the field, targets of a charging bull, or that I wasn't given a chance to saw off my own fingers. Had those gory events occurred, I wouldn't be here now, sewing away, anxious to pass this gentle skill to the four lovely young ladies I call granddaughters.

I think you can be satisfied that women are no longer bred for the purpose of keeping men in hand sewn britches and home made stew, yet still covet, for ourselves, the territory of learning to thread and pull a needle at the knee of an attentive grandmother. That is where I learned to sew and that is where my granddaughters will too. Some tasks simply are proprietary to women, and men have no business snooping around, attempting to probe the secrets of our sewing baskets! We carefully tuck them away between use because they hold not only what we need to create beauty right now, but also the expectation that someday our own will reach deep inside the same place to carry forward our legacy to a next generation.

I don't have a sewing basket that evokes nostalgic memory of me sitting fireside, mending an army of family socks. Wish I did. But don't. My stuff spills inside and out of cardboard shoe boxes, plastic bins and rusting tins. Here a needle, there a thread, everywhere a scissors and not a plan inside my head!

My gift to my granddaughters is a promise. In two parts. From pretty patches placed within, I will teach each one to sew. We'll fashion doll quilts first, finding threads and notions my own mother held and often used. The timeless jars belonged to their great-great grandmothers, originally filled with fruit of backyard plots during the first of five generations I have known and loved. While we stitch, first one row, then two, then three....I will do my best to make each grand-lady come alive once more. My granddaughters will know from where they came and by whom they arrived.

I will elicit a promise in return. Tell and do, someday, the same, describing vintage jars with hand stitched nesting birds along with vivid tales of ladies past who bequeathed to them the gentle art of sewing......

Click here for Mason Jar Monday #1 and here for #2

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bunny Munch Baskets

When my grand-bunnies show up for our family Easter dinner they are ready for a hoppin' good time! That part never changes. But other things do. Last year's outdoor scavenger hunt, for example, won't work with snow still on the ground. And this time Christy wants to host the family, sponsoring an inside egg hunt for all of the little cousins. Each of us will contribute a few things. One of mine will be a Bunny Munch Basket for each child. These were born of the impatience kids have for sitting at the dinner table with adults, waiting for the real fun to begin. A simply made edible basket filled with appetizer fruit or veggies, attended by a folded paper napkin, might be all we need to get something healthy inside of our little sugar-bunnies!  

I made the basket from a Pillsbury Seamless Crescent Sheet tube. Cut the dough to a square 2" larger than the diameter of a 6 ounce individual ramekin (or similar oven proof baker). Roll the dough to measure 3" larger than the diameter.

This cup is 3.5" across and the completed dough is 6.5" square. Use kitchen shears to round all 4 corners. Invert the cup on a foil covered baking sheet, then coat it generously with cooking spray. Drape the dough gently over the cup so it falls like a tablecloth. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove the bread from the cup, turn it right side up, and bake for another 4 minutes so the inside browns lightly.

When cooled, fill basket with a Romaine lettuce bed topped with berries, pear slices, cantaloupe flowers, baby carrot sticks, yellow grape tomatoes, cucumber chunks, etc.

Nestle a bunny folded from a white paper cocktail napkin following directions at

And for the "big kids" I'm planning a game based on a treasure trove of 50 really, really cute Easter jokes compiled by my grandma blogger friend, Lisa, at Grandma's Briefs. I'm going to print out all of them, cutting the questions from the answers. Each contestant will get a scramble of a dozen jokes and answers. The first one to match all of them correctly will win a nice little prize. And it just occurred to me that maybe we could celebrate April Fool's Day a little early if one person got a set of jokes with no answers that matched! Hmm...wonder who my "victim" could be? And should I let everyone else in on that joke ahead of time....the 51st one of the day? Need to give this idea some serious thought!

Hoppy Easter every-bunny!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Prizes and Pretzels!

A recent conversation:

Charlie: (pouting, petulant)
"Oh Noes! You mean these toys aren't for cute lil ole me? Some other cat is gonna get 'em?"

Me: (annoyed, but still in love)
"Oh Yeses Charlie, you greedy little ball of flufferoo! I think I've already spoiled you well above and beyond the call of duty! Those snakes are for the winner of our cat toy giveaway!.......

Both of us, in unison:

Wish I had a photo of the historic moment when the cats Polly is owned by became winners of our catnip toy snake giveaway but my camera doesn't move that fast! Last night I carefully folded each printed comment and placed them inside a box. Sat down at the table and summoned Charlie, my "officially certified raffle master." No answer. Rattled the box loudly. No answer. Dumped the slips out on the table in a raucous manner, but before I could call his name again, a blinding flash of white fur skidded across the surface, sending one - just one! - of the slips air-borne with the swift accuracy of a champion hockey puck. Off the table it flew, hotly pursued by Charlie, who landed with a solid thud right behind it.Yep, I'd say we had our winner! Never thought it would be that easy or obvious!

Polly, Charlie and I will mail your cat toy prizes to you and Handsome, Lucy, Baby Boy, Chuck, Jonathan, and Daisy as soon as we have your mailing address! And to everyone else - on behalf of 62 beloved pets! - THANK YOU for commenting and entering my very first giveaway. It won't be my last. Only this topic is my last - I am DONE with snakes! DONE! Done looking at their beady little button eyes and DONE shoveling stuffing (and catnip) down their skinny throats!

The grandkiddoes and I have moved we're into something else -

Once in awhile what really happens at grandma's isn't all smiley faces and sunshiney success. Sometimes we just tolerate each other - and deal with the imperfect fruits of our labor in our own way. Such was the case yesterday at Grandma's Pretzel Making Workshop.

Arose at 5 AM to knead dough that promised the same crusty, tasty pretzels I helped make as a volunteer in the Kindergarten classrooms of my daughters. Perfection on a plate. Easy to make from staples everybody has on hand. What could possibly go wrong?.....

While we wash hands and push up sleeves, Nick chats away about his personal experience with pretzels. So warm and good. Enjoyed by the entire family "at the mall." :) Nick knows his pretzels and he's pleased to be in grandma's kitchen making them for himself.

Busy little hands struggle to make smooth ropes of dough that stretch the required 18" for a tradtional twist. We roll 4" lumpy stumps. Fat on one end, skinny on the other. Learned long ago from a parenting mag not to jump in, grab, and re-do. I make the best of it, personally charmed by the plump chubby knots I tie to salvage a dozen floppy strings.

Baking. Ten minutes. After five, pretzel tops begin to burn. Oops. In the chaos I'd forgotten the egg wash. Who could blame me? Well....Nick. "Those don't look like the pretzels we get in the mall."

He won't eat them.

Take a bite myself. Hmmm...chewy...but bland. Good thing I'm resourceful. Drizzle honey followed by a good shake of cinnamon. Bree takes a long skeptical look. "Too sticky!"

She won't eat them.

Gather the troops back in. "Grandma made a mistake, guys. We're gonna try again." Flour everywhere. On sleeves, faces, the floor, and both the dog's ears. "When's mommy coming back?" asks Sae, and I wonder the same thing as I watch the last of the dough roll short and stubby.

I tie more knots and prep for baking while the pretzel team gathers to watch Caillou and I speculate that he's the little culprit who's encouraging them to whine and complain about everything today!

Recruit Nick to apply the egg wash. He loves his projects and usually jockeys for the best position. Today he covers three or four knots, puts the brush down and declares, "Grandma, this isn't any fun." Joins the others to find out what happens after Caillou says he doesn't like swimming lessons and isn't going back there any more.

I finish the job with a flourish of salt and slide the last sheet into the oven. Find myself agreeing, "This isn't any fun," and wistfully wondering again, "When's mommy coming back?"

But the mood changes when she does appear. I present each grandkid with a take out box stuffed full of wobbly knots. They insist that mommy try one, proudly describing how they were made, exclaiming that they had a great time with grandma.

Maybe it was just me. It had to be. All is forgiven. Oh, except for one thing! -the part where Sae rolled out his dough rope and paused to excitedly observe, "Grandma, this looks exactly like a SNAKE!"
Oh Noooooooooooes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!