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Christmas Morning Looking Back

Shortly after getting out of bed on Christmas morning 2012, I looked in the mirror. I saw my ‘little girl self’ looking back at me. I smiled, then laughed. That image made me think of a photo of me taken at Christmas when I was about two and a half years old.

Yes, at that moment, I was my ‘little girl self’ once again.

Me and my doll, Genevieve, having tea on Christmas morning. December 1959

Me and my doll, Genevieve, having tea on Christmas morning. December 1959

Mom must have taken this photo of me. At least Dad and I think so.

We were celebrating Christmas with my Grandma and Grandpa Booth – Mom’s parents, in Salem, Oregon. While I don’t exactly remember this special tea party, after all I was just barely two and half years old, I do remember the tea set; the ‘my-sized’ table and chairs set; my other doll and the cradle; my grandparent’s piano, even the photo of the snow bound mountain hut and the Christmas card tree on the piano; and the special ornaments on the Christmas tree.

I am thankful to have this wonderful Christmas memory. Glad that my Mom saved this image for me.
This Christmas, looking back to that Christmas moment is priceless.
Another way I can still share Christmas with Mom.

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Remembering Aunt Shirley

On a warm morning in July, the call came. My cousin, Delbert, had called to let us know his mom had passed away.

Like with other families and extended families dealing with the uncertainty of Alzheimer’s disease, we knew this day would come. Aunt Shirley had battled dementia and Alzheimer’s. Now, her battle over, she was free. Free of the ravages of Alzheimer’s; how it stole her memory and how it stole Shirley away from her family.

A celebration honoring Shirley’s life was to be held on a Saturday in August. Followed by a luncheon.

While making plans to attend the memorial service I thought of the many times our families had been together. Great family times, with a great family. Warm, friendly, FUN, humorous and supportive. Love encircled each of us. The vast amount of love came from Aunt Shirley and Mom. Sure our respective dads loved us…. but love was in everything these women did…. the hugs, smiles, cooking, laughs and discipline. All of it let us kids know we were deeply loved and oh-so-cared for.

Whenever we had the chance to get together with their family there was great anticipation of seeing our “cousins” again. “Cousins” because actually our dads were the cousins. Considering that we were second and third cousins, however this technically works out, we were family. We had no other relatives in our area so when this family moved within 50 miles of us we were elated. We had COUSINS nearby.

Remembering all the fun times we had when our families were together and the wonderful food our moms fixed for us compelled me to make something to take to the luncheon. I instantly knew what I would take. A cake…. but oh, not just any cake. “Cheap Cake.” Some recipes call it “Economical Cake,” “Wacky Cake,” “Crazy Cake,” or “Depression Cake.” In our collective family it was called “Cheap Cake” because is was economical and “cheap” was faster to say. 🙂

I made a “Cheap Cake” using the same recipe that Mom had gotten from Aunt Shirley. I had never had that wonderfully dark chocolate cake before knowing Aunt Shirley. Now, I can never see a recipe for it, mix one up and bake it, or eat a decadent slice of it without thinking of her. She and Mom put together some fabulous meals for our families. And trust me, each of us loved to eat. A total of six growing boys and me, along with our dads and themselves to feed, those two women were busy.

Thankfully, they were great cooks too.

Just as they were great cooks, they were even better Moms.

Moms who loved their children with all their heart and soul. Each of them happy, strong, intelligent women. They wanted good things for their children and expected good from them in return. We knew we were loved.

Each time I make or eat a slice of “Cheap Cake” I will always remember Aunt Shirley. Her love for her family and her love of life.

Thank you and rest well, Aunt Shirley.

Recipe for “Cheap Cake”

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Another Pancake Experiment

Well, I had another recipe floating ’round in my head… I am nearly sure MOM put it there. She’s like that.

This time, a pancake with some chai tea in it…. I could almost smell the ingredients. All those wonderful spices.

But what kind of pancake base?

This time I tried a creamier, nearly custard type of batter. (Mom always LOVED a good custard.) I am not sure I hit the mark, but the pancakes were good. And I am sure that any further ‘testing’ will be appreciated by my husband. 😉

To my basic pancake recipe, I added another whole egg, 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Hindsight tells me I should have added some nutmeg… but I can do that next time. This time I was more concerned with the chai tea and how I was going to incorporate that into the batter.

MEANWHILE….
I wanted some berries for a topper for our pancakes. I grabbed the Marionberries from the freezer, put about 4 cups in a saucepan, 1/4 cup of sugar and a couple shakes of cinnamon. I heated them up real slow, while my other ingredients were coming together. When the berries were nearly finished heating I added 1 tablespoon of “Blackberry Cordial” that we purchased from “Stein Distillery” while on a mini-vacation in Joseph, Oregon

While the Marionberries were slowly heating up, I could get to work on other ingredients. First off, I toasted some almonds. One layer on a sheet of parchment, in a 375-degree oven for 13 minutes. After the almonds cooled, I put about a half cup in my Cuisinart food processor along with 2 heaping tablespoons of “5 Valley Chai” tea produced by “Mountain Tea Trading” that I bought from “Arrowhead Chocolates” while on our trip to Joseph. I ground the two ingredients to the course-side of a fine grind.

I used 3 tablespoons of the almond-chai tea grind in the batter of the pancakes. Cooked the pancakes, then assembled them. Pancake, Marionberries, Greek-style yogurt, a sprinkle of the almond-chai tea grind. Then my husband and I ate a creative breakfast at home.

Looking forward to refining this recipe and experimenting with yet another.

Mom would be pleased. 🙂

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Following a path….

Imagine….. walking in another’s footsteps.

Not just a few days ago or a few months ago.

But years ago. And then, centuries ago.

In mid-March, while on vacation with my husband, I felt the clock turn back to when Mom took my brothers and me on a summer vacation on the Northern Oregon Coast.

Mom took us to Fort Clatsop to see the place where Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery stayed on their historic expedition far into the Louisiana Purchase to the Pacific Ocean. She talked to us about the history, about the people, about the conditions.

After going through the fort buildings at Fort Clatsop, we walked along a path that lead to a narrow space that the Corps of Discovery used as a landing and launch area for their canoes. To think that just maybe we walked along the same path they traveled between their canoes and the fort they built for their stay.

All the while Jeff and I were at Fort Clatsop, I was remembering when Mom took my brothers and me there. Jeff and I were following a path that my brothers and I had taken with Mom and all of us were following a path made by Lewis & Clark and the Corp of Discovery.

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Weather or Not

Weather, from bad to good and everything in between. Another version of a ‘pay off,’ as we were treated to blue skies and sunshine after enduring more snow, wind, rain and even some hail.

Photos from our vacation of snow, hail, clouds, rain, sun breaks and blue skies and sunshine. After the storms we’d endured, this particular day we chased sun breaks and blue skies. Guess I’ll basically let the images do the talking….

Snowing at Seaside, Oregon

Warm and cozy in our hotel room, we watched the snow come down in Seaside, Oregon.

More snow at Seaside, Oregon

More evidence of the fact that it was snowing at Seaside.

Early morning the next day.

Early morning the next day.

Hail at Seaside, Oregon

Another storm…. this time hail. Yes, that is HAIL floating on the river. It came on hard and fast and created its own ‘rafts’ on the river.

Hail and snow on the beach at Seaside. Tillamook Head in the distance.

Hail and snow on the beach at Seaside.

Snow on the beach at Seaside, Oregon

Another vantage point. Snow on the beach at Seaside, Oregon. I’ve wanted to see snow on the beach and now I can say I have. — Tillamook Head is in the distance.

End of the Trail

“End of the Trail” statue at the turn around at Seaside. Explorers Lewis & Clark are depicted on the top.

"Starfish" street lights, Seaside, Oregon

Love the “Starfish” street lights at Seaside, Oregon.

Snow on the windshield

I know, I know… “Big Surprise!!” … More snow on the windshield of the car.

Blue Skies!!!

Later…. we were treated to blue skies, beautiful blue skies!!!

Snow, Blue Skies and Sun Breaks

Snow, Blue Skies and Sun Breaks!!! AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH….

Vista point south of Cannon Beach, Oregon

Vista point south of Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Looking south.

Beautiful scenery despite the look of the stormy weather to the south.

More snow in the coastal hills.

More snow in the coastal hills.

Blue skies and sunshine at Rockaway Beach.

Blue skies and sunshine at Rockaway Beach. What a treat!!!

Tillamook Cheese Factory with snow in the parking lot.

Tillamook Cheese Factory with snow in the parking lot. Real sloppy, wet snow.

The Payoff

Through example, Mom instilled in me a faith that “things will get better.”  She taught me that not all will be gloomy or be bad, even though it may seem as if.

Mom helped me to see the good side of things. To look on the bright side.

When Jeff and I left for our ‘second honeymoon’ in mid-March celebrating our six-month wedding anniversary the skies seemed gloomy and the Blue Mountains donned a new blanket of snow. The mountains were absolutely beautiful, yet the day before had been a sunny, glorious day. We headed south to catch the freeway. To the east was snow….. to the west… SUN. Luckily, we were ready to head west. Off to the Oregon Coast.

Pulled Pork Sandwich and a Session Black at Full Sail Brew Pub

Amidst sunshine, clouds and rain and after three hours of driving we arrived in Hood River for lunch. A much anticipated lunch at Full Sail Brewery. The three hours plus of a few days of anticipation I endured for their pulled pork sandwich and a Session Black had paid off. Ahhh Bliss. Well worth the anticipation.

We traveled on and arrived in Portland, got checked in to our hotel and made arrangements to meet cousins from my side of the family for dinner. We had a great time. Lots of catching up and laughing. After driving in more late winter inclement weather we were having some wonderful family time.

The next day we made a trek to a local mall so I could make another anticipated stop… this time at Teavana, to accommodate one of my favorite habits, tea drinking. Again, it was raining, but now after a quick and early lunch in the car we were headed to the coast.

More rain. Well, this is Oregon. 🙂

Snow in the Coast Range on March 12Driving out Highway 26 we experienced a variety of weather. Clouds, overcast skies and rain, then more rain. Yet it was a pleasant drive with scenery I don’t remember seeing before. Maybe, I had not been on this highway.

Then, while driving over the Coast Range the rain got thick. Then thicker. Then turned to snow. SNOW in the Coast Range on March 12th. No worries, both Jeff and I had driven through plenty of snow before.

Be careful. Be aware. Drive on.

I had not personally seen snow in the Coast Range for several years when my brother and I had driven to the coast early one May. I knew it snowed in the Coast Range, I’d seen it on the news from Portland.

Through all the variations of weather, mostly winter-like, we made it to our destination … Cannon Beach.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon... from inside Mo's Restaurant

We sat inside Mo’s Restaurant anticipating our first seafood of our Oregon Coast trip, watching the stormy, almost angry surf. As you already know, the rain was falling. There were also lots of clouds and some wind. The tide was high and the ocean seemed as if it wanted to come inside to get out of the weather too. As we waited for our food we watched as some travelers were getting soaked in the rain. Some were even on the beach taunting the waves. I was nearly certain that someone would be overtaken by the crashing waves. The waves did not really seem to want to play.

Ahhhhh…. our food had arrived. Another payoff for enduring something less than delightful. I had anticipated CRAB — in the form of a crab melt. Jeff was rewarded with a bread bowl filled with chowder. We were about to eat while watching the storm from inside, not being out in it. Now, after driving through all that rain and snow and slush, our payoff had arrived.

A greatly anticipated lunch at Mo's, Cannon Beach, Oregon

Nearly a “Spring” break.

Well…. I have taken a break… a “Spring” break, from writing my blog.

I say “Spring” because Mother Nature is taking her time getting Old Man Winter into his hibernation. Sure, we’ve been teased with some ‘spring-like’ days, but the rainy, snowy, cold, wet days are not over. They seem to alternate, these ‘spring’ and ‘winter’ days.

I took a break when my husband and I took off for a trip to the Oregon Coast. We began our second honeymoon on our six-month wedding anniversary. Yes, we already had our second honeymoon, even though we’ve only been married six months. Where is it written that we wait and wait and wait for our second honeymoon? Nowhere, that we know of. Besides, we don’t have to pay attention to such a rule anyway.

We had made reservations to stay one night in Portland, then head to Seaside and Cannon Beach, then to Astoria to tour the northern coast, on to Vancouver and Camas, then back home. Just us. A lovely way to celebrate our marriage.

Weather made our trip even more interesting. Seems like Mother Nature and Old Man Winter had conspired to offer up some variety for us. Again alternating from Spring to Winter and back again. Over and over and over.

However, Jeff and I took this all in stride…. just as my Mom would have. This is Oregon, this was the middle of March… the midst of the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. We had no control over the weather… but we did have control of if we’d let the alternating seasons dampen our spirits. We chose to thoroughly enjoy our trip no matter what.

For our positive perseverance we were treated to some glorious weather… each type enhancing the scenery and the memories we were making of our second honeymoon. Our “Spring” break.