While working on a project that involved cotton candy the other day I tore off a tiny fluffy piece and popped it into my mouth. The sweetness took over my senses. My salivary glands kicked in and I was wrapped in the euphoria that comes along with that moment of sugary delight.
And then it was gone.
In an instant.
It made me stop dead in my tracks and think about all of the sweet moments in my life that melt away without me consciously paying attention to them.
Sugar cookies are a tradition to last the test of time. Decorated with colorful icing and sprinkles, weather eaten or hung on the tree, will warm everyones heart.
Ever since I was a wee little nipper, sugar cookies dressed with icing have been a Christmas time tradition.
My sister, Marcey, & I would put on our little aprons, push up our sleeves and bake our little hearts out.
We would adorn our family tree with the cookies that we had baked and decorated along with candy canes, bows and strings of cranberries & popcorn that we had strung by the fire…
…dressed in our matching stretch & sew outfits that mom had so lovingly made for us.
Just kidding, we didn’t always sit by the fire.
I can still remember the thrill of unwrapping the precious cookies from past years. We would eagerly tear their tissue paper cocoons open and hang them on the tree. The cookies became a growing collection…a connection of the past to the present – an ongoing documentation made of sugar and flour and each precious year frozen in time .
These memories will be forever baked into my sappy nostalgic mind and my sister’s too. We still remember those special moments as if they were yesterday. Marcey can probably remember the time, temperature and exactly which stretch & sew outfit we happened to be wearing. I can still remember the colors of the icing, how many dragees I snuck into my mouth and what outfit I painted onto each cookie.
We both have the minds of an elephant. It can be both a blessing and a curse.
In honor of nostalgia, I decided to rally the troops for a day of memory making, baking, icing, decorating and just plain fun.
My mom, sweet baby sister and darling little *ahem* (they’re taller than my sister) girls couldn’t wait to get started. It doesn’t take much to create a day full of sweet confections and memories that will last a lifetime.
Just gather some sugary bobbles to decorate with,
cookie cutters and baking sheets,
paintbrushes for painting the icing onto the cookies,
and straws for making holes in the cookies to thread ribbon through.
Our day started with Nana and Sweet Cheeks diligently
making the icing.
Sassafrass got busy making the cookie dough.
After the dough chilled, we all took turns rolling,
and cookie cutting.
Nana was in charge of making the straw holes in the tops of the cookies before they went in the oven.
And then after the cookies cooled…
the creativity began.
Paintbrushes make a fabulous tool for applying icing to your cookies.
My sister has Celiac Disease so she wore rubber gloves to ensure that she didn’t absorb any gluten.
Perhaps next time we’ll make a gluten-free version as well.
Imaginations can run wild with a rainbow of icing and a few sprinkles at your finger tips.
A little ribbon tied through a cookie can make a most adorable ornament.
And a day spent in the kitchen making a big ‘ol mess with those you love can make a most lasting memory to enjoy for years to come.
What are you waiting for?
Go bake some memories!
Warmest holiday wishes to you!
Nana’s Sugar Cookies
Recipe Type: cookies
Author: Wenderly | Wendy Hondroulis
Serves: 3 dozen
Sugar cookies are a tradition to last the test of time. Decorated with colorful icing and sprinkles, weather eaten or hung on the tree, will warm everyones heart.
3 cups flour (plus more for dusting)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 400° F
Sift dry ingredients and set aside.
With *hands* mix butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add sifted flour, baking powder and salt and mix with hands until incorporated.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
When ready to use dough, sprinkle falt surface with flour and roll dough with a rolling pin until it’s a 1/4 of an inch. Cut into dough with cookie cutters, (poke hole with straw if you want to hang cookies on tree) place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet or silpat baking mat. Bake in a pre-heated 400° oven for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Repeat process until all of the dough has been used. Let cookies cool completely before icing them.
*Note: For the icing we just followed the recipe on back of confectioners sugar bag and added food coloring.
I’ve just returned from a most fantabulous weekend spent at Joshua Creek Ranch in Borne, Texas indulging in
the enchanting landscape,
and the magical moments that come with surrounding yourself in the magnificence of Mother Nature, fresh air and some good girl bonding time spent chatting over a smoking gun.
Why should the boys always get to have all the fun?
Georgia invited a few of us gals to join her in a Girl Hunter adventure so that we could walk in her boots for a weekend.
And that we did.
All the while learning about her love of cooking the wild game she hunts herself. It’s not just a sport. It’s a way of living. And loving what you do. And Georgia wanted to share it with all of us. I found it to be very poetic and soul satisfying, not to mention nourishing on so many levels.
When’s the last time you’ve put any thought into what you are putting on your plate? And even more importantly into your body. Honestly I hadn’t really given it the deep thought it deserves until Georgia started the conversation. It’s truly fascinating to think about.
You don’t have to be a hunter (or even a girl for that matter) to sink your teeth into this eloquently written story of a Wall Street business girl turned chef who lives off the land. This story can be applied and appreciated by all.
I can assure you that you haven’t seen the last of this Girl Hunter.
Do yourself a favor. Go ahead and unleash your inner Girl Hunter today.
You’ll be glad you did.
I know I am.
Here’s the official Girl Hunter trailer, take a peek.
I have a friend who’s expecting a little sweet pea, a sweet pea prince if you will, in less than a month.
Her name is Maria and she and her husband, Josh, have the most beautiful blog called Two Peas & Their Pod. They whip up the most fabulous food! I met Maria through twitter and had the pleasure of meeting her in real life last fall at Blogher Food. Let me tell you, she is the sweetest little sweet pea you’d ever want to know.
And so now she’s expecting…
a little sweet pea of her own.
What was once two…
now becomes three.
A group of bloggers have gotten together to celebrate Maria and her soon-to-come sweet pea with a virtual baby shower!
I knew right away that I wanted to design some baby cards for the special occasion. But not just any baby cards…sweet pea baby cards.
I had such fun coming up with all of the sweet pea designs.
Especially the baby sweet pea bib,
and tiny itty bitty sweet pea onesie.
Kinda makes me miss my little sweet peas that are now BIG sweet peas. *sniff*
All you need are some simple supplies. Some craft glue, sparkle glue, silky string, tiny little beads,
a hole punch, some letter punches,
and colored and patterned papers and linen fabric (no pictured).
Mix all those goodies together with some good old fashioned imagination
and you’ve got yourself a perfect little sweet pea card package that can be used as thank you notes by mama or put into a frame to decorate the nursery!
Can’t WAIT to meet your precious little sweet pea prince, Maria! I’ll be sending you your bundle of cards to enjoy just as soon as possible!
Sometimes life’s lessons have a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it.
Life can be sneaky that way.
I like things to be orderly and neat and structured and organized. It makes me feel like I’ve got some kind of a grip on my own little piece of reality.
I love to reflect inward.
I walk through my mind shaking a finger at so many of the things that I don’t like about myself. I second guess my gut instincts and mock the gifts that I have been given. Usually nothing seems to be good enough inside my private thoughts about myself. I didn’t realize just how much I do this on a daily basis until this past weekend.
I traveled long and far to attend a phenomenal food blogging event called Big Summer Potluck. It wasn’t just an event, it was more of a retreat. I knew that it would be fabulous. I attended the same event last year and came home a different person. I wasn’t expecting to have an even more cathartic experience this year…however, I did.
The weekend was an intimate gathering of people who came together to share their passions for food, photography, writing (in my case storytelling) and well, much, much more.
I realize that all of you reading this may not be bloggers, let alone food bloggers. But I decided that what I learned over the weekend was far too important not to share and could be embraced by anyone and everyone who is willing to listen.
* “Don’t listen to the “editor’s” voice in your head.” ~ Shauna
We all have that don’t we? The you’re-not-good-enough-don’t-even-try…”red-pen-slashing-voice” (thank you for that visual, Shauna) that holds you back from really “living“? Well silence it. Fill your head with the story that’s unfolding in front of you. That’s what I’m trying to do now and it’s amazing.
* “Writer’s live every moment, twice.” ~ Shauna
Woah. That’s powerful. You don’t have to be a writer for this to be true. We all live moments over and over in our minds. Memory is a tremendous gift. Use it wisely.
* “Loosen your eyes enough to just…see.” ~ Penny
Fascinating how this pertains to life…not just photography. I’ve noticed that often times I do narrow my vision, hyper-focus if you will… it then turns into tunnel vision. I miss so much that way. From now on I will try to keep my eyes “loose” and open.
* ” Don’t just take pictures, make them.” ~ Penny
Once again, whether you are striving to become a photographer or taking photos to remember life. Don’t simply take them, wait…don’t be afraid to trust your gut. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable and wait for the moment to make them.
While soaking in the words of wisdom I couldn’t help but to be enamored with the windows in the space. I chuckled when I looked through my photos and realized that I had basically only taken pictures of the windows.
Throughout the day I was unknowingly looking outward to capture the view. To silence the internal “editor’s voice” and embrace all of the wonder that life out there has to offer.
It’s a splendid feeling. I highly recommend it.
Go on, embrace yourself and all that life has to offer.
I was sleepwalking around the house holding on to my huge, very hot cup of coffee for dear life when I came upon this…
I mean could you resist that sweet little face?
As we reached the end of our driveway I instantly began to relax and knew that a walk was a fabulous idea.
Thank you sweet Oakley.
Things have been rather crisis oriented lately.
There have been health issues, life changes, exciting beginnings, sad endings, cranky cars and sleepless nights. In the midst of it all, Wenderly (the blog) turned ONE this week! Needless to say, life got in the way and I was totally oblivious to the fact that Monday was the big day until about 8 o’clock that evening.
Which is shocking because lately I’ve been so on top of things.
Take for instance yesterday. I went to the library to check out the audio version of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey. When the librarian looked over her glasses to ask me for my library card, I realized sheepishly that I had left my library card in the car. How do you like that for irony?
Story of my life.
As my footsteps set into rhythm, my mind began to relax and I realized that the birds were happily chirping a serenade that I hadn’t relished for months. It reminded me of my very first post but a year ago.
With Thanksgiving patiently waiting but a week away, I find myself slipping into a state of consciousness that seems as familiar to me as my favorite pair of pajamas. There’s just something so tranquil and peaceful about Thanksgiving. Mother Nature has mysteriously cast a sleepy spell over her landscape as the sun hangs low and lazy wrapped in a thick gray blanket of sky. I find myself slowing down and turning inward for a rest.
Even as a little girl, I would find refuge in the warmth of my house after spending so many long days dancing in the sun.
It’s as if I have permission somehow to stand still long enough to reflect and appreciate and relish life; to taste the memories that are tucked away in my mind; and to see the new ones that are being made in the moments before me.
Still to this day I remember looking forward to the beautiful Thanksgiving table that my mom would so lovingly set. Each piece of the table had a meaning, a memory or a story to tell. The linens, the dishes, the recipes – they had all been gathered…gathered through the years and passed along to the next table, to the next generation who would come together and reflect and remember all the “who”‘s and “how they came to be”‘s.
So now I find myself gathering.
As I set the table and make the place cards.
As I carefully fetch and clean my grandmother’s etched glasses.
And place them ever so carefully, next to my dishes.
As I tenderly fold the napkins which so cleverly hide…
the crisp dollar bills that are tucked inside for all to find.
Just as my grandmother did and her mother before her.
And I become aware that I am gathering the cherished memories and the moments as well as the dishes and the place cards.
I realize that I am setting the table for the memories of tomorrow.
I find peace in knowing that we will all be gathering here at the table – the ones who are present as well as the ones who have passed.
Gathering around the Thanksgiving table, set with love by the hands of many.
Wishing you a blessed gathering this Thanksgiving.
Life is like a box of crayons, you just never know what you’re gonna create.
Nothing reminds me more of this than back to school… and the countdown has officially begun.
School will start two weeks from today. I have forms to fill out, checks to write, supplies to buy, more forms to fill out, more school supplies to buy and in my spare time, suck the life out of every last moment of summer that I possibly can.
I’m exhausted, are you?
It’s a bittersweet time at my house. Summer is a favorite season full of sunshiny swimming pool days and cool firefly filled nights. But we all know that the fun has to end and that schedules must resume as signs of “back to school” creep up.
This transition is always a rude awakening until we can wrap our lazy summer day brains around the idea and embrace the traditions of school fast approaching.
Part of the tradition of “back to school” at our house is of course school supply shopping and a first day of school outfit. I’ve cherished these traditions since my very own first day of school years ago. I loved that my skin was kissed by the sun and my hair bleached from the hours spent swimming in chlorine. I loved the feeling of wearing new crisp outfits and shiny new shoes.
I loved the endless possibilities that were unfolding in front of me as I entered a new school year full of new teachers and friends. New & exciting experiences.
I would relish in having a new backpack and smooth new paper, new pencils and crayons.
And OH, oh the crayons. My favorite.
I could get lost in a box of crayons for hours upon hours, even days. All of the perfect points neat and tidy, standing at attention. The rainbow of colors waiting eagerly for a chance to add their color to the picture. The feeling of holding that crayon as it touches the paper and leaves its’ trail of glory behind.
It makes me dizzy & giddy just thinking about it.
What color to choose? Purple pizzazz? Inchworm green? Razzle dazzle rose? Or perhaps robin’s egg blue.
The possibilities are endless. Abundant. Profound.
So as I’m running around like chicken with my head cut off. Or I’m moping because summer is coming to a close. I will remember that all good things must come to an end, and new possibilities start with a new beginning.
As I was on my knees digging in the dirt in the blistering heat the other day, something occurred to me between fantasies of jumping into a cool pool of ice cubes.
It became clearly obvious to me that my garden parallels my life.
Watching a drip of sweat roll off my forehead and splash onto my hand I thought back to Spring.
Aaahh, refreshing Spring waking up from a deep slumber. The garden was literally coming to life all on its own. I never even had to lift a finger. Everything was fresh and green and full of new life and zest. Everything just flourished on its very own.
And there wasn’t a weed in sight.
I’ve had times in my life like that. Periods of refreshing and easy self growth. No weeds. They are few and far between, mind you, but I have had them.
Then I thought of Spring turning into Summer and of the few little weedy rascals that peep through the ground and are easily pulled out before they grow too big and the roots grow too deep. Maintenance is slim to none. The plants just take off and drink up the sunshine and grow…and blossom.
Once again, there are times in my life when things just clip clop along and bloom and flourish with little or no work.
But, as summer progresses plants began growing and eventually start crowding one another. The temperature keeps climbing into the dog days of summer and the hotter it gets the more that the plants need watering. And all of a sudden, I find that I have no choice but to spend my day weeding because there are almost as many weeds as flowers and the flowers demand to be “deadheaded” (no that doesn’t mean that they needed a good dose of Jerry Garcia or a tie dyed tee shirt). It means that the flowers that have died on the stem need to be pinched off so that the energy of the plant can be used to grow more flowers rather than use all of its’ energy to keep the plant alive filled with dead flowers.
Sounds hauntingly familiar. There have for sure been times when the “weeds” take over, not to mention that I have to take the time to stop and pinch off the old so that the new can grow.
It’s amazing what flits through my head as I’m dripping in sweat and coated with dirt isn’t it?
And what about those pesky weeds?
As I sat there pulling and digging all 4,324 of them I got to thinking. It was so much easier after a refreshing rain to pull the roots all the way out of the ground. The soil was loose and forgiving.
Very true of real life isn’t it? Sometimes we may try to pull weeds during a drought only to be even more frustrated when the stubborn roots won’t easily release.
And let me tell you, there’s just absolutely no reason to bother pulling a weed unless you get the whole root. Trust me I know, I’ve learned the hard way. Whether it’s my flower garden or my soul garden, if you don’t take the time to pull the whole root of the weed, it will just grow right back.
The blasted little buggers.
I’ve also noticed that the bigger the weed the longer the root the deeper it goes. Therefore the work involved to eradicate the root takes more time and patience.
The smaller surface weeds, while annoying and plentiful, are much easier to get rid of as long as your willing to pay attention to them. Sometimes just a little *roundup* is all you need.
As I sat there weeding and sweating and thinking, I found that there was something very comforting and soothing about my realizations. Something strangely satisfying about the parallels that were being revealed to me through nature about life.
I’m aware that I have so much more to learn but for now I’m happy with the realization that sometimes I just need to stop and weed my soul garden after a cool rain. Take the time to get the whole root and have the patience to deadhead the old flowers to make room for the new.
After an afternoon of “weeding” and “deadheading” both of my gardens look & feel like this.
While in the midst of all of the fabulous 4th 0f July festivities this weekend, it occurred to me that I have now been a “blogger” for 3 months.
Yep, it’s true.
Roughly 12 weeks, 2 days, 9 hours and 23 minutes of raw, uninterrupted adrenaline pumping through my veins. But who’s counting?
I launched this little blog of mine on Easter morning April 4th. I must say that I was in no way prepared for the incredible adventure that has unfolded in front if me thus far. From the first moment that I had clicked the publish button to post “We’re Expecting” to sharing with the world how we sadly became “Empty Nesters” it’s been a magical fairytale. Don’t get me wrong, there are many long hours and hard work involved. Not to mention the humongous messes in my kitchen, sticky surprises on my little point & shoot camera and the looooong hours of trying to perfect a post. But I must say that I’ve truly never been happier. I find myself whistling while I work and retiring each day with my soul fed.
Who could ask for more?
Looking back at my adventure, I find myself dazzled and amazed by all of the fantastic people and experiences that I’ve had in only three months. I was honored to have been chosen by Amy of She Wears Many Hats to receive a “beautiful blogger” award. Amy is a very talented and wonderful fellow blogger as well as a new-found friend. I entered and won a grilling contest that Robyn of Our Homeschool Home hosts on her fun blog. I embarked on a journey with My Yanni to Meet Ree the Pioneer Woman at her book signing in Charlotte, NC. An experience I’ll never forget.
And then there are all of you amazing readers, supporters, family and friends that I owe many thanks from the bottom of my heart! Without all of your enthusiasm, encouragement and comments I would be lonely and wandering.
Thank you all so very much.
From the bottom of my heart.
This little blog of mine has not only introduced me to new and exciting friends and experiences but it has also reconnected me with dear “old friends” such as Diane of MomoFali. And by “old” I mean we knew each other in college and have been reconnected through this mysterious and wonderful world of blogging.
And we were in college but a few mere years ago, o.k. decades ago, but once again who’s counting?
The point is, life is short.
Follow your heart.
Do what you love.
And fabulous things will happen.
And aside from meeting and marrying My Yanni, giving birth to my 2 wonderful daughters and of course drinking my first cup of coffee in the morning, this blogging thing makes me feel like this…
For me it’s only been 12 weeks, 2 days, 9 hours and 23 minutes…