Saturday, October 29, 2016

Totoro Family Recipes: Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs

For as long as I can remember, I have loved the idea of decorated sugar cookies: the variety of shapes, the colorful icing, and the whimsical decorative elements.

And every year since the kids were old enough to help me in the kitchen, circa 1992, I have made a batch of holiday cookies. I've tried a variety of recipes (although the one in this cookbook is the current favorite), watched numerous YouTube tutorials, and performed LOTS of culinary experiments. Somehow... my cookies never quite measure up to the gorgeous creations on the Food Network Channel.

My cookies don't measure up BUT... my girls create masterpieces.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Decaying Beauty

Autumn wins you best by this: its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay
~ Robert Browning

For more inspirational photos this week, please visit Wordless WednesdayImage-in-ing, and Through my Lens.

Make Way for Ducklings

Make Way for Ducklings
by: Robert McCloskey
published by: The Viking Press
copyright: 1941

I'm not sure how I missed reading this delightful picture book when my children were young, but my grandchildren will be well-acquainted with its charm.

It is a sweet story of two ducks, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, who are searching for a place to live and raise their expected brood of ducklings: "But every time Mr. Mallard saw what looked like a nice place, Mrs. Mallard said it was no good. There were sure to be foxes in the woods or turtles in the water, and she was not going to raise a family where there might be foxes or turtles."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Reflections on 2016 Readathon

Yesterday I participated in Dewey's 24-hour Readathon for the first time since 2010.

It was a last minute decision. Less than 24 hours before the official start time, I reviewed my Saturday agenda and realized I was free most of the day. I've talked for months about reading more fiction, but fail to follow through. This seemed the perfect opportunity to jump-start a new reading routine.

I originally selected eight possible books, a combination of Halloween and Christmas, short stories and full-length novels. Obviously I was in the mood for thematic literature, just uncertain as to which holiday.

I set my alarm for 6:00am, but indulged myself another ninety minutes sleep. I began reading at 8:15 ... about an hour after the official start time. I decided to begin with a collection of Victorian Ghost Stories and focused on that genre for the entire day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.
~ Pablo Picasso

For more inspirational photos this week, please visit Wordless WednesdayImage-in-ing, and Through my Lens.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Totoro Family Recipes: Graddy Pralines

Dad's handwritten recipe
My dad was not a chef. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I remember him showcasing any culinary expertise: carving the Thanksgiving turkey; carving the Christmas Prime Rib; cranking homemade ice cream on the 4th of July; turning the marinated chicken quarters on the Weber Grill; and making a double batch of pecan pralines in December.

I don't know where the recipe originated or even why it was special to Dad, but about a week before Christmas he would begin his annual candy-making ritual.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Totoro Family Recipes: Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Several years ago I decided to add variety to our traditional Christmas cookie platter.

I originally found this on All-Recipes. However, I wanted to make it more festive for the holidays, so I changed a little here and there, to the point that this could almost be considered a Totoro original.

This recipe makes a LOT of cookies - between 60-65! I often make the entire recipe and freeze half  OR... I half the recipe.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Open Door

Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors
where there were only walls.
    ~Joseph Campbell

For more inspirational photos this week, please visit Wordless WednesdayImage-in-ing, and Through my Lens.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Boston and NYC: Final Week

Upper East Side brownstones
I am writing this post from my familiar spot on the couch at home.

Yes, my month-long holiday has come to an end, but what a glorious month I experienced!

My husband joined me for the final week in Boston, and then we spent three days in New York City before heading home.

I still believe vacationing for a month is the perfect way to travel. I was able to see all the sights I wanted to see while not running myself ragged. And I left still wanting to stay a bit a longer. That is far better than overstaying my welcome.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Totoro Family Recipes: M&M Cookies

If I had to choose one recipe to fully represent our family kitchen... it would be M&M cookies.

I fondly remember helping my mother decorate the tops of these colorful morsels.

I relished the opportunity to share this tradition with my eldest when she was old enough to participate (I think the first attempt was when she was about 18 months old).

And we now have three generations of Totoro women making these traditional cookies for the holidays.

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