Thanksgiving Thankfulness

Being retired has many perks if you take advantage of them. I’ve had a few years experience with this now, so I think I may have gained some wisdom. One key is to let go of some old traditions and embrace new ones with gusto.

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Thanksgiving is about family. Whether they are about memories of past family times together or about spending time with friends, it’s all about being thankful and humble for all that we have been given. We were all raised with family traditions at Thanksgiving that seem ‘sacred’ to the way the holiday should be spent. But this year amongst the joys of new babies and the sadness of loved ones passing, the busyness of trying to sell the business and retire, and gather 20 family members in one locale, the task was just too big and unrealistic. You see, the reality is, grown children have other families and the need to make their own traditions. The younger crowd has begun racing in a Turkey Trot before the massive amounts of food to be consumed. Little ‘C’ ran/walked (maybe some stroller time?) and got her own medal. You go girl!

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Even as grandparents we have to learn to share…and for me that is as hard to accept as it is for a three-year old with a favorite toy! But this year we managed to gather all but 4 of the clan! Pretty good considering one couple lives in Illinois! And, it was all rather unexpected. Dan and I had planned to celebrate with my sister Beth, as everyone else had other plans. Talk about Thanksgiving Thankfulness!

First off, I let go of the traditional sit down dinner with the family china and preparing enough food to feed two other families. I was to plan a ‘low key’ holiday meal. I have to say, some family members were skeptical I could do this. Next, I ditched the extensive bowls and plates of appetizers. Guests were to come at 1 pm and we would eat a supper at 2 pm. Finally, since there was no sit down dinner where we could share what we were thankful for the past year, I came up with a new idea. Instead, everyone filled out a tiny card with what they were thankful for and we placed them in little acorn place setting cardholders and put them around the serving counter. Festive looking!dsc00790

This Alternative Thanksgiving may just become a new tradition. Babies crawled and played, football was watched while eating, and turkey sandwiches with all the fixings became the main meal. Everyone was spread out eating wherever they felt most comfortable. dsc00778Beer flowed, wine tasted, water guzzled, and sparkling cider bottles were emptied. The only tradition we could not do without was Aunt Beth’s Pumpkin Pie (s). Four pies were just right!

We thank God for all our family and friends. We give thanks for all that He has provided for us and ask for opportunities to serve those less fortunate. Dan and  I are especially grateful for our newest granddaughter. What a joy she is and we look forward to seeing who she becomes. The two little girls are the bright spot in our lives! Blessing to you all.

 

Cake Pops!

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Halloween Delights

Cake Pops are fun to make, fun to eat, and low-calorie because they are so tiny! You literally eat 2 tablespoons of cake! I discovered just how wonderful these bite-size delights were about 2 years ago and I have been perfecting them ever since. They are not quick treats to make, but fun to make none-the-less. You can make them for baby and bridal showers, graduations, birthdays, and all the major holidays. The chocolate candy coating comes in dozens of colors and some are even flavored. My favorites include Salted Caramel, Dark Cocoa, Key Lime, and the Orange. Have I tempted you yet? Here’s how to create your own confectionaries.

Step 1
First things first: buy a BabyCakes, cake pop maker! It looks a little cake-pop-cookerlike a waffle iron in that you place a tablespoon of batter in a well and as it cooks it rises into the top section that also has indentations. You can find these appliances at craft stores and even some large grocery stores. They come with foolproof recipes that include vanilla, chocolate, lemon poppy-seed, and even red velvet cake to name a few.

bakingBatches make from 24-36 to dip later.  You know, if you’re going to the trouble to get all the stuff out, you might as well prepare extra! I use a disposable frosting bag to drop a tablespoon of batter into each well. I have used just a regular old kitchen spoon too, but it was messier and took longer.

Step 2
In craft stores you will easily find Wilton brand candy discs for melting, but I haven’t had much luck with them, so I use candies by Merckens that I get from a specialty store called Do It With Icing. It melts well and tastes like real chocolate, not plastic. But if it’s easier for you, try the Wilton and see if you like it. You will also need to pick up lollipop sticks. They come in a couple of sizes—you choose. I prefer the shorter ones.
After the cchoco-discsake is done, remove from the little machine and cool a few minutes. Then dip the end of a stick into chocolate candy coating that has been melted. Push the stick into the pop and let it set—about 15 minutes. At this point you can freeze the cake pops and dip at a later date. You can freeze them with or with out the inserted stick.sticks

Step 3
Now comes the creative part! Basically you are going to melt your chocolate discs, dip the cake pop in the chocolate, decorate, and set them to dry. Not hard, but time-consuming.
The crucial part here is getting the chocolate melted correctly. I place chocolate colored discs into a hearty microwave safe mug and nuke it for 30 seconds at a time. Stir in between and repeat until creamy. There is a product called Paramount Crystals that when sprinkled into the heated candy discs makes for a creamier consistency. These little waxy flakes are oily and blenddipping with the chocolates giving you a consistency that will allow the coating to drip off the cake pop so you can decorate it. Frankly, I think this is a must especially if you use the Wilton candy melts. After you dip the pop, tap it on the side of the mug to let the excess drip off. Add some fun sprinkles or marble your colors. For easy cooling buy a drying

styrofoam ring (like you make a holiday wreath out of), and stand the pops upright to dry. You can use it over and over again.

I do these with both kids and adults and it is always fun. It’s a great party icebreaker or way to entertain kids for a holiday treat. If you individually wrap them they are great for bake sales and fundraisers.