Martha s Original Christmas Cookie (biscuit) recipe

Sorry I had to leave out the apostrophes in the titles; no idea what I did, but this laptop is very touchy and all of a sudden began producing an accented è instead of the apostrophe. I am having trouble with the slanting line for fractions, too, (1é3) so have writtern them out. arrgghhhh

sigh . . .

First tray in the oven . . .

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

:Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper to save on cleanup and extra fat. Trust me, the cookies have their fair share of calories! And that is why I prefer to make recipes like this once a year for a feast, then get back on the straight and narrow; well, somewhat straight and narrow, if I have to be completely honest 🙂

I am adding my notes as I go along, but will put just the necessary items in a list at the bottom. That way you can copy them and print as you like.

It is a good idea to take the butter out of the fridge and let it soften to room temperature. I used Olivina, unhydrogenated margarine, as it stays soft even in the fridge.

In a medium sized bowl mix the following dry ingredients:
2 c flour
(Mum used white, so I did that when making the cookies as gifts in her name. Myself, I would be more likely to use whole wheat, maybe some rye, a bit of wheat germ, etc. But then they would be MY original cookies, not hers. 🙂
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
In a large bowl (I used my small bread bowl, but it is fairly large in size)
Cream two thirds cup butter, softened (or you can use margarine of good flavour)
Add two thirds cup golden brown sugar a third at a time, continuing to cream the mixture
Whisk in two large eggs and cream some more
Add 2 Tblsp milk and mix, then add
1 tsp. vanilla (we prefer the real vanilla, not the imitation)
Method:
Add the dry ingredients to the wet a half cup or so at a time, mixing thoroughly.
Fold in:
One half cu:p chopped walnuts
One half cup chopped almonds
Three quarters cup chopped maraschino cherries
Three quarters cup mixed candied fruit peel
One and a half cups sultana raisins
Stir until fruit is well mixed in, then drop by rounded tablespoons onto the parchment paper. These cookies do not spread, so can be fairly close together.
For smaller (and more) cookies, use rounded teaspoons of dough
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes – do not over bake! I suggest making a few as a test run first to be sure of the time. I baked mine for 12 minutes when I had tablespoons of dough and for 10 minutes when I had teaspoons of dough. Size does matter!
Remove to wire racks to cool, then pack into containers or zip lock bags for storing. Better hide some; they do not last long . . .

A closer view

Here are the easy and more readable instructions.

Martha s Original Christmas Cookies

Dry Ingredients:
2 c. flour
One tsp. baking powder
One half tsp. baking soda
One tsp. salt
Wet ingredients:
Two thirds c. butter
Two thirds c. brown sugar
Two large eggs
Two tblsp. milk
One tsp. real vanilla
Fruit and Nuts:
One half c. chopped walnuts
One half c. chopped almonds
Three quarter c. chopped maraschino cherries
Three quarter c. mixed candied fruit peel
One and a half c. Sultana raisins
Method:
Set Oven to 375 degrees F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease lightly with butter or margarine
Mix dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl
Cream wet ingredients in a large bowl
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ones, mixing well between each addition
Fold in nuts and fruit
Drop by rounded tablespoons on to cookie sheets, spacing fairly close together
Bake 8-10 minutes – do not overbake! Try a few first as a test batch, then adjust baking time for your oven and altitude.
Let cool on wire racks, then pack into containers or zip lock bags for storing
These are excellent hot from the oven with cold milk, as we would have them on baking day as soon as we were home from school and changed out of our school clothes.

Cookies cooling and snack plate set up

Cookies cooling and snack plate set up

Cookies cooling and snack plate set up

 

 

Life is what happens while . . .

. . . you’re busy making other plans . . . (John Lennon)

So there’s been a lot of life going on here, but first, thanks to everyone who has offered support and sent warm energy over the past weeks. I’m so sorry I haven’t replied to comments and, in some cases, emails. I’m still hoping to catch up soon, but a post is long overdue, so I’m doing that first. I think it may be a rather long one, so get your tea now 🙂

IMG_2522I was at the hospital a few days ago to bring cookies to the unit and on my way back through the courtyard, I saw that the Healing Tipi had been set up for summer use.

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The Nurse Practitioner who was the recipient of the cookies has become a friend; he told me about a Sound Healing – Tibetan Crystal Bowls event that was coming up. It was held in the Bikram Yoga Centre some distance west and south of where we live. It was an amazing experience; I’m very introverted and a bit awkward with groups of people I don’t know, so I went in, laid out the yoga mat I’d been given, and lay down to prepare for meditation. Matt Welke, one of the organizers of these weekly events, gave a brief introduction to the use of the bowls. We were invited to play one if we liked, but I chose instead to spend the hour in meditation and prayer for those I love and also for those who have requested it.

In 1997 I walked a labyrinth for the first time (not to be confused with a maze – you can get lost in a maze; a labyrinth has only one path; you walk to the centre and then back to the starting point). After I’d been ‘there and back again’, I sat nearby and meditated until all of the group had walked. I had an extremely intense experience of energy in my hands, to the point where they felt so swollen I thought the discomfort came from the pressure of the touching fingers. When I opened my eyes, though, my hands appeared normal and the feeling receded. On closing my eyes and resuming the meditation, the feeling returned, as strongly as in the beginning.  I was told later that I should consider studying Reiki.

I’m  sharing this experience because a similar thing happened while I was listening to the Singing Bowls and it was strongest when the largest bowls or a combination of bowls including one or two of the largest, were played.If this is something that interests you, I highly recommend attending a session. I can’t vouch for the healing effects, but my knees were much more flexible after I stood up and walking was easier. The trouble with attributing effects is that I’m currently using more than one approach. Still, the Bowls were pretty impressive. . .

IMG_2540 . . . as is this uniquely Canadian item. Who recognizes this?

I’m still not ready for the move; it won’t happen at the end of June; most likely now is the end of July. And it won’t be to the Crafties’ basement; I am moving back to southern BC, to Chilliwack where the oldest of my sisters lives. Or at least somewhere close to her. Anywhere from Abbotsford through Yarrow to Chilliwack will be just fine by me. I will be…

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Wan to see where I’m going?  Click here!

The first hospital in Abbotsford was built in 1922 and is where I was born some years later.  The town wasn’t called Abbotsford then; at least my birth certificate says ‘Matsqui’ on it. A lovely name, I think. Abbotsford was named after the home of Sir Walter Scott in the Lowlands of Scotland The hospital was replaced in the early ’50s and then again in 2009. I looked for a photo or two online, but couldn’t find one.

Anyway, the new plan is to find somewhere to live and so I’ve reached out to a couple of old friends who’ve lived in Abbotsford, then Chilliwack for over 30 years.

My plan always was to go ‘home’ to BC, but I didn’t expect to be able to go this year. So amidst all the re-structuring of my daily life, there is some joy, too. And that’s a good thing. I knew the decision was the right one for me as soon as I made it; a huge feeling of peace and relief came over me and the dark clouds began to lift. I’m not done working through the sadness, but it’s become easier now that I feel a sense of hope again.

Once settled, too, I’ll be able to visit my sons and their families, as well as some old friends in Vancouver and Victoria. I have’t been to the coast for over seven and a half years and that’s a long time.

In preparation for this move I went with the Crafties to their property where my container sits with some of my stuff. Boy, have they done a lot of work since I was last there (over a year): I should have taken more photos . . .

Their son has a small two storey cabin half finished:IMG_2543

This 16 foot square shed is nearly done, too, and is already in use for storage. On the south side (away from you)  will be a porch for sitting in the shade and taking a break.

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The outhouse was one of the first structures to be put up; here’s the view from outside and in . . . it’s all boards that have been salvaged from here and there.

Three views: the picnic area, the squirrel grove and the garden. The painted tires each hold a fruit tree. All the fruit trees and a sweet little weeping willow have survived the winter.

Before we had our cookout (using the barrel behind the table to contain the flames), Mrs. Crafty brought out some lovely hand-made soap for washing our hands. That’s it there; the round cake just left of the hand towel.

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Mrs. Crafty loves folk art and painting garden ornaments. Here are some she’s brought from home and a panther they found in a discard heap and rescued. It will be painted soon, too, and the other items will be placed in her gardens and along some of the deer trails, which are wide enough to walk on..

Behind this cute picket fence grows an assortment of flowers, domestic and wild, and above the garden hangs a hummingbird feeder. Bird and squirrel feeders are in several places here and it’s so lovely to watch the birds and critters that the feeders attract. The gate was made by Mrs Crafty from twisted branches she cut from small trees they were felling for firewood. The birdbath is a clay saucer I gave her when I realized I was not likely to have my dream garden, with a fountain at each corner.

The other three, and most of my clay pots, are going to a friend who used to be my manager when I worked at her Lewiscraft store. Later she encouraged me to take on the Assistant Manager position and after that, to move up to Manager. I loved so much about working in a craft store; ordering unique colours of yarn, teaching clients to knit and crochet while we stood in the niddle of the store, especially figuring out where a pattern had gone wrong for the more experienced knitters and crocheters.  When Mum was in the hospital before Christmas, she had a room-mate whose daughter remembered me from over a decade ago. She had knitted a sweater, arms and body, to the yoke in six months. Then, for over three years she struggled to complete the patterned yoke. In despair she brought it to the store; we went over each stitch together and found where the pattern was wrong! It was quite gratifying to find that all her family knew the story and knew who I was, just from that one day.

Can you tell that old wooden chairs minus their seats were used as part of the frames for these garden beds? The right hand bed is full of strawberry plants.

We have no idea what this plant is, but my sister thinks it may be cowslip:

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We were out there for over eight hours and besides taking a tour of the property, Mrs. Crafty and I went through over a third of the boxes in the container. The container has settled at the back, so some of the boxes had fallen and others had been placed with heavy boxes on top of half=full or light boxes, so the lower ones had collapsed somewhat. We are re=packing those into stronger boxes and organizing them near the front for easy loading come moving day. I am giving the container to the Crafties and they will store some of my things that are not sensitive to moisture for a couple more years. They will be able to store some of their tools and equipment in it, so it’s a good deal all around. Below you can see how much the container is listing . . . The bottom photo shows some of my boxes. The old bed frames and other things at the front belong to the Crafties. I remembered there being a lot more boxes, so seeing them was a good thing. Much more manageable that I’d expected. It’s helping, too, that I’m giving some of my things to Mrs. Crafty, like the yarns for afghans that are mostly or all acrylic. I’ve decided I’m switching to natural materials, or mostly so, from now on.

If I had a piece of property, I think I’d place two of these 40 foot long containers side by side, but about 30 or 40 feet apart, then roof over the space and the containers and build walls with large windows at the back and front of the large space. A large set of patio doors at each end and a floor would make it complete (and a wood-burning fireplace, of course). It would be easy to fit one container out with a bathroom and two bedrooms and the other with a kitchen, pantry and storage space. The central room would be workspace, gathering room, etc.Using salvaged materials for most of it, I think one could have a great cottae / workshop for about $10,000. I’d extend beams from the roof supports, too, to create a porch on either side. Solar panels could be set up nearby to power lights, etc. The neighbour has several set up next to where he lives and can run a washer and dryer, cookstove, small refrigerator and lights as well as his power tools. Very nice, I think.

The driveway out to the gravel road . . .

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. . . but we didn’t go back to town immediately. Because, in spite of my parents’ being sure that I would grow out of it, my love for horses is as strong as ever and I simply had to see the neighbour’s herd, or two of them, anyway . . . These are quarter horses and I was sorely tempted to hop on the grey and ride home . . . but common sense prevailed . . .

Now, the other news: I have been unable to find my ‘toe-up’ sock that is still sitting at the first toe/ But I have been busy going through boxes and packing (and down-sizing for the first of what I think will be several times). While doing that, I found six skeins of this amazing mohair/wool blend with a little nylon for added strength:

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The colour reminds me of piles of autumn leaves and is more beautiful than the photos.

I have had this yarn for ten years, waiting to be inspired and finally inspiration struck! I decided to make a Pi Shawl. The pattern for this shawl was first created by Elizabeth Zimmerman and is loosely based on the mathematical Pi. You begin with 9 stitches on three double pointed needles, knit two rows, then usising yarn overs you double the stitches to 18. The next section is 4 rows of knitting. The next row you double the stitches again, to 36, then knit 8 rows . . . see how easy? It’s good to keep track of your rows with a stitch counter, though, especially with mohair or other fuzzy yarns. I haven’t located any  of my own counters, so I’m making marks on recipe cards, four verticals and one horizontal to  tie them into a group of five. So far, that’s working just fine. I am now up to 288 stitches and have finished 10 of the 64 rows called for in this section. I have seen this shawl knitted from smooth yarns and some knitters have done patterned knitting in each section between the increase rows. Those are stunning! Now, if I were truly ambitious, I would be considering knitting one using the Fair Isle patterns I love so much. Maybe one day, when I’m spending more time in a rocker by the fire . . . Here’s the work to date:

In the left hand photo, I’d hung the piece on a hook in the hallway, but the light wasn’t good enough. In the other two photos the work is flattened and the pictures were taken under different lights; I think the right hand one is closest to the actual colour. I’m using a circular needle now, so the work has assumed the shape of a bag or maybe a Rasta beanie… Soon I will put half the stitches onto another circular needle and the work will continue to go easily. I’m not sure how large this shawl will be, but I’ve only just begun on the third of the six balls and if I fold the work, it comes nearly to my elbows.

By the end of each day, we are generally tired and partly that’s from the emotional side of . through our mother’s things. Other factors come into it, too, but I won’t be posting about those. So we make our supper and watch some Netflix movie or tv series and I knit. Then it’s off to bed. A good distraction when I just want to turn off my busy mind for a while.

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These are not particularly healthy, although the recipe could be adapted. Our youngest sister found it and I made it up just as Mum used to do for Christmas. This is a double batch and made eight dozen, with some dough left over. No idea what happened to that…

I loved using my favourite bowl (which matches a larger one of Mum’s), Mum’s wooden spoon and my Aunty’s potholders. I felt as though they were just in the other room.

If anyone would like the recipe, let me know in a comment below and I will post it. It’s quite quick and easy to make; the longest part for me was chopping the nuts with a knife. If one had a nut chopper, it would go very fast. These were a great hit and the hospital bag of a couple dozen cookies apparently lasted less than an hour. Made me happy . . .

So . . . my day out in the country with no sounds but those of nature was most refreshing and renewing. I hadn’t realized how much i’d missed it until I was out there again. We had lovely weather, warm but not too hot (although while in the container we were both sweating heavily), with a light breeze to cool us off.  Jtust what I needed, that day . . .

I’m not sure when I’ll get to post again and it likely won’t be so long next time, but I’ll keep you updated on the move and settling in wherever I land.I wish you all a wonderful week / month / year. I’ve been reading your posts as often as possible, but have not been able to comment from my phone (forgot my password . . . again!). I’m still getting used to the laptop, but eventually it will behave itself and then we’ll see . . . Lots of big hugs to all of you in the Virtual Village.  ❤

 

3 quotes in 3(?) days/periods of time/weeks/??? Post #2

I think I should warn you . . . a cuppa won’t last through this post; best make a big pot of tea, coffee, whatever suits you today . . .

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Above is a half-grown magpie rescued by the Crafties. I was there visiting and had the joy of feeding it and holding it for most of the time I was on the front porch.

The Three Quote Challenge . . .

Well, I did warn you that it might take a bit for me to finish this challenge . . . 🙂 (and to learn more about it, visit Pauline & the 3 Quote Challenge and you can follow back -or forward- to some of the many others who are taking part). Pauline threw the gates open to volunteers, so feel free to join in. Maybe let Pauline (and Apple Pie and Napalm) know you are coming to the party . . .

Back in 1970 I had a wonderful woman doctor who introduced me to alternative approaches to health and healing. A few years later she had her license taken away by the medical association, not for causing any harm, but for “unorthodox practises”. Being a woman doctor AND unorthodox . . . oh, my!

Among the sources and ideas she shared with me was a book about Edgar Cayce, now widely regarded as the father of holistic healing and medicine.

His work has helped me ever since then and I have always had positive results from applying his recommendations for  physical healing. But it was his suggestions for mental, emotional and spiritual growth that have helped me the most.

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Canada Day, 01 July

 

 

 

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The past weeks have been very challenging for me; I took my Mum to the ER on the 13th of July. As it turned out, she had a serious inflammation in her lower left leg and both lower legs had been swollen for some time, something she was able to hide for quite a while. Since at first we were told it might be staph, or strep or a super-bug, my RN sister, who had been here for a visit just days previously, flew back to help me thoroughly clean most of the condo. It was a massive job, especially for someone who has been extremely sedentary for the past three years (that would be me . . .)

Once done the cleaning, my sister and I were able to get some much-needed organizing done, along with some unpacking. The place looked SO much better by the time she had to leave.

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See . . . ? The front hall, formerly half-full of boxes.

Mum came home on the 22nd, my sister returned on the 23rd, along with our last living Auntie and the Celebration of Life for my Aunty who passed away in April was held on Saturday the 25th. People brought photo albums and it was good to see new photos of my older family. Here are a few: IMG_9905

My maternal grandparents, around the time of their engagement and marriage, probably 1910 or ’11. They met and married in North Dakota, had two children, then moved, along with her parents and several siblings, to Saskatchewan.

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My grandmother, standing, whom I never met, as she died in 1933. She loved her hats and I wish at least one and some of her lovely clothing, had survived the years. That’s one of her sisters sitting in the chair,


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My Aunty when she was young.

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My maternal grandparents and the first seven of eleven children. One died at birth and the girl with the black curly hair died at ten years. My Mum is the baby here, held by her mother. It was the day she and her next older sister (in the chair beside the eldest girl) were christened. The wee girl on the right, with her Dad’s arm around her, is my Aunty that I stayed with for so much of the past three years. Behind them is one of their early homes.

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This summer we have had very nice weather for the most part. Often coolish, rarely baking hot, just what I like. But not much rain and we could really use some. We had two thunderstorms this past week or so and I loved the light-show, but rain would have been most welcome . . . we seem tyo be teetering on the edge of a drought and that’s scary. The storm above was lovely to watch as it approached over the hill/berm to the west, but didn’t bring much moisture with it.

The Celebration went well and I met relatives I knew only by name and from hearing stories about them through the years. It was good to see others that I had not seen for more than six years, too. My cousin (the younger of my Aunty’s two sons, gave a beautiful eulogy, although he had a hard time getting through some parts.

By Tuesday, the relatives were all gone home again and life began to return to normal, or NiRmL, as I think of it these days.

Then I developed swelling in both my lower legs, a fair bit in the left leg. And then what looked like a pressure sore developed, then another, both just where my short socks’ elastic presses. Then the spots joined and began spreading around my ankle . . .

(hold on, there’s a reason I’m sharing all this)

But first, while looking for a quilting pattern, I stumbled upon this post, put up five years ago by Nan from Pots & Pins blog:  her recipe for Butter Cream Scones

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Of course, first thing I did was to mess around with it, sort of like the Water Rat in The Wind in the Willows, thinking to myself in a parody of said Rat, “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about with recipes. Simply messing,” I went on dreamily: “messing—about—with—recipes; messing—”

And so I swapped out 1/4 cup of the flour for 1/4 cup of wheat germ, and swapped 1/4 of the baking powder for an equal amount (more or less) of baking soda, then at the last minute I added a few drops of lemon juice to the cream . . . like I said, simply—messing about . . . and the results were beyond scrumptious; my Mum, whose appetite has not been what it once was, loved these, warm and buttered and topped with jam. The first batch was gone the next day, so I made another . . . Two of those were given to a visiting relative and the rest somehow—just—vanished . . . Yesterday we finished off the third batch and I plan to make more tomorrow. Yes, they are that good!

I have been thinking of other variations that are possible, too, but so far we are so happy with this one it’s all we want. But if the sugar was cut way back and grated cheese added to the dry mix, along with some chopped savoury herbs or maybe some jalapeno peppers chopped very fine . . . now that would be a perfect accompaniment to a winter soup or stew. Savoury cheese scones are wonderful served with butter and jalapeno jelly, too . . . Or the dough could be dropped into a pot of simmering chicken soup by the tablespoonful to make most excellent dumplings . . . or . . . Well, anyway, one must leave something for the cold winter months, mustn’t one? Besides, what I did instead deserves its own post, but won;t get one . . . it will simply have to be content with a mention here:

I sliced some fresh strawberries and cooked then with a little water and berry sugar, let it cool, then added more sliced berries and mashed them a wee bit with a strong fork. Ileft the pot on the stove to stay warm, but with the heat turned off. I heated the scones in the microwave, split them, spooned the berry mixture and syrup over  both halves, then topped with whipped Natrel lactose-free cream. A slice of berry as garnish, plus an attempt at artful garnishing with a spoonful or so of extra syrup, and we had a dessert fit for queens and empresses . . .

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So;,if you have the care of someone whose appetite needs tempting, I highly recommend these; we love them (if that wasn’t obvious already . . .)

Back to the Three Quote Challenge . . . sort of . . .

As some of you know, I’m not one for conventional medicine unless maybe if I were to break a bone or the like, or if I simply couldn’t figure out a problem . . . so I did some online research, seeing as how my reference books are all living in the Land of Somewhere still . . . and from those results and from my memory of treatments that have served me well over the years, I came up with a plan: I have begun walking daily, usually with my good friend C, who drives over most mornings to join me. This gives us both a chance to debrief about various events in our lives, which is so helpful.

I’ve returned to a veggie-rich alkalizing diet along with a few other tried and true alkalizers. No need to wait until I have an actual infection, I say . . .

In addition to walking, I am using castor oil on both legs, along with gentle massage. Yesterday I used wet packs of epsom salts and sea salt, dissolved in hot water. And today, when C dropped by with four mojitos for us (for today and tomorrow), she did some energy work on my foot, and there was much less swelling for the rest of the day and through the night.

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fresh Lime and Mint Mojito from The Tea Place

The Tea Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is the most fantastic food place I’ve eaten at in decades; My friend C took me there the first time and we’ve been there as often as possible since. The bubble teas are exceptional.

Last time C drove me around for several hours doing errands while we visited, we went to The Tea Place for lunch. There were salmon avocado wraps on the menu, but not the paninis I loved last summer. When I mentioned this to the owner, who was waiting on us, he immediately said that he could make that for us, and he did. Salmon, avocado and just enough wasabi to make its presence known. (this mix would be wonderful added to a green salad, making it into a full meal)The panini, along with a small bowl of Thai curry chicken soup, was as wonderful as ever. With it we had a fresh Lime & Mint Mojito, with slices of lime and sprigs of mint in each drink. Non-alcoholic, it was the most refreshing beverage I’d had in ages. I kept my mint to start my own plants (which is why C showed up yesterday with four more!) and by luck(is there such a thing?), I’d just purchased a bag of organic limes at the grocery store. I plan to try hot Mojitos this winter, too . . .

We finished up with a shared piece of Red Velvet cake and left happy!

If you are ever in Edmonton, I highly recommend at least one visit to The Tea Place (and no, they don’t even know I’m mentioning them; I just like to promote small businesses that are exceptional in nature and performance.)

NOTE: I started writing this on Tuesday, 11 August, but now it’s Wednesday 🙂

I got up this morning and there was almost NO swelling in either foot or leg! I was able to walk faster, so we went nearly a quarter block further in our 15 minutes, then turned around to come back. There is a wee bit of swelling in the left foot now, as I’e been at the computer for a while and the position I work in is not optimal. But I;ll put it up for a bit after we eat.

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This is the Mountain Ash tree that I can now walk past in our 15 minutes; it’s gorgeous, but I’m wondering (based on the number of berries) if we are in for a hard winter . . .

We also pass by the most beautiful, inspiring flower garden on our walk and one day we stopped and crossed the street to photograph it. It wasn’t until C commented that I saw the fenced veggie patch in the middle and towards the back.

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What a wonderful way to use a front yard instead of planting a hay crop, then working to keep it three inches tall . . . I know the photos don’t do it justice; use your imagination . . .

All right, I hear you! on to the Quotes . . .

Edgar-Cayce

There are many quotes from Edgar Cayce that have meant much to me over the years, but I’ll only share two today:

There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it doesn’t behoove any of us to speak evil of the rest of us.

It’s so easy to point fingers and criticize; so much better to hold out a helping hand or at least put that hand to better use.

I first came across this in reading a book about his work, but I don’t think it originated with him. Worth thinking about, in any case.

The other quote has been my favourite for over forty years:

Be content, but not satisfied.

To me, this means finding a way to be happy where you are, whatever the situation, while at the same time doing what you can to improve things, make progress, however you want to put it. I had sort of forgotten about the ‘be content’ bit and so began my slide into a too-long stay in the unhappy land of Overwhelm.

Another lesson learned, and about time, too. Pauline, the Contented Crafter, has taught me quite a bit about contentment on a daily basis, whatever your situation, and I think sets a great example in her practise of not getting up in the morning until she has found something to be grateful for. I need to do this myself, I think.

Well, there’s another post coming with more quotes. In the meantime, how about some music?

A beautiful acoustic love song: The Beat of You with Iain Bayne of Runrig, Paul Eastham of Coast and Douglas Chisholm of Wolfstone.

A bit more rockin; is Hopeless Wanderer by Mumford and Sons, from their latest album, Wilder Minds. Cute banjo segment, I thought. Wilder Minds, indeed . . .

Delta Blues, a couple of hours of old style classics.

Glenn Gould’s Bach – The Goldberg Variations

John Prine in 1980 singing about the horrors of strip mining: Paradise. This one’s more like a home video, but cool to see him as a young man. Here’s another of my favourites by him: Hello In There. So true . . . old age and loneliness . . .

An old favourite is Al Stewart singing Roads to Moscow

A bit of fun is called for after that . . .

Hush Little Baby

  • cello:Yo-Yo Ma
  • vocal:Bobby McFerrin
  • violin:Mark o’Connor
  • contra bass:Edgar Meye

and although I’ve posted this before, here it is again:

Ave Maria – Bobby McFerrin teaching a Master Class

bet you won’t be expecting this one . . . Come Together

but you will be expecting at least one song by Runrig, right?

A fun start to this, an impromptu blues jam, with great guitar by Malcolm Jones, during the sound check, segueing into The Cutter

You won’t be surprised to learn that attending a Runrig concert is high on my bucket list, may they play so long . . .

Well, that’s it for now, my friends . . .

Living in the Moebius Loop . . .

. . . I wonder if that’s possible . . . some times in life sure feel like it. Maybe that’s what happens when you knit a Moebius scarf? I did, once, and loved it! No photo for you, sorry; it’s in a box ‘somewhere’ . . .

Aunty and I returned from the hospital on the 11th of February. On the 12th I developed a mild but persistent bronchitis, my old response to being stressed and overextended. I’m happy to say it’s only an occasional cough now. The yo-yo weather hasn’t helped, either. Yesterday, we were up to +15C; today, when I had to go out, it was +1C. No such thing as climate change, luckily . . .

20150315-111354.jpg Keira (whom I named); one of the Crafties’ two Teacup Pomeranians.

My next oldest sister came for a short visit, which was very nice, even though we didn’t have much time to visit. She’s an RN, so I was glad to have her here for advice on supporting my Aunty and Mum more effectively. I wish she could have stayed longer, partly because the following week our Mum turned 92 and four days later Aunty turned 95. Their longevity secrets? So far as I can tell, those consist of living a plain life, eating moderate simple meals and being fairly active well into their 80s.

20150315-111817.jpg With Mum’s birthday dinner my youngest sister and I shared these (on my part mostly in honour of my friends from Tassie, Narfie7 and Stevie-boy. The bottlecap collection is small, but growing . . . and I now have collected all but one component for my contribution to their Sanctuary. Quite different from all the lovely buntings that have already arrived, but I hope mine will find a place somewhere, too. Mr. Crafty has volunteered to help me with one bit or it would be a two-year project, for sure . . . remember, my friends, Anticipation 101 😉 😉 😉 . . .

We are still not moved into the condo, due to a combination of Unfortunate Events (I was wondering the other day if my life story was written by Mr. Lemony Snicket; that would explain a lot . . . but in the end things turn out all right.

20150315-114228.jpg Since Mum doesn’t want more ‘stuff’, I usually give her a couple of lotto tickets. This year I was lucky to find a cute card to go with them. Inside, it said:

20150315-114450.jpg Cute, eh?

Anyway, I’ve been going between my Aunty’s and my friends the Crafties. Since I plan ahead and take on small, simple projects (my nose is now longer than Pinocchio’s), I have been working on the CAL (Crochet-A-Long) project with Selma (Eclectic Home & Life) and her group. But, optimist that I am (on alternate Thursdays) I am making THREE blankets! That group is done (but my blankets are not) and now we are on to making a ripple stitch project; mine will be a pillow. But I digress . . . the blankets are the main reason for most of this pile:

20150315-160908.jpg What I take with me: 3 bags of yarn + projects, clothes and laundry (I don’t have a card for the machines here anymore), any food my Aunty won’t eat while I’m gone. The crafting stuff is the biggest deal, though.

20150315-161541.jpg A book belonging to Mr. Crafty that is now on my Want List; very well written.

20150315-161856.jpg Guess who?

20150315-162009.jpg Meet Herbert, snuggling in Mrs. Crafty’s hands. You can’t tell yet, but he’s a Ringnecked Dove. There are two cages of doves in the basement; I loved waking to their soft cooing as they were fed early each morning. Good memories; my sons’ Dad raises a variety of pigeons and doves which end up all over the world.
So . . . about that crafting stuff . . .

20150315-163635.jpg here are the three blankets side by side on the couch, which is over six feet long.
I haven’t begun the ripple pillow yet, but . . .

20150315-163844.jpg Ms. Selma can be most seductive. The pattern is here (scroll down; it’s below one of the bunny photos) and excellent instructions for the Magic Ring are here. These bunnies take only a few minutes to make and are SO cute! This one will adorn the most recent project of all . . . (I can hear you, you know!)

20150315-165009.jpg When my RN sister was here, she brought some yarn for our Aunty to use to knit a tuque for my sister’s first grandson. Unfortunately, Aunty hasn’t been able to knit for the past couple of years, partly due to diminished eyesight, so I volunteered . . . since my pattern books are ‘somewhere’, I am inventing my own pattern. Surprised? Thought you would be . . . 😉
I am going to use the bunny because, to misquote Ol’ Blue Eyes, “you’re no bunny ’til some bunny loves you”.
BTW, if you have too much time on your hands (Narfie!), Selma’s got links to patterns for a variety of Easter bunnies, also knitted Easter baubles, and ALSO the recipes for the treats she makes each week for the CAL class. Sadly, no treats for me and no convivial times with fellow crafters/learners . . . but I’m still having fun!

You may hear from me again before Easter, but in case not, know that you are each in my thoughts and prayers and that I wish you and your families the loveliest of holidays.

Always remember, ‘some bunny’ loves you all and you are each ‘some bunny’ to me ❤

Thanks for all the comments and support. I'm still planning to reply.

Another Update

Hi, everyone! I started this a while back, then later did a lengthy update. When I tried to cancel adding a photo, WP froze and lost all the update. I gave up for a while after that. But no doubt you are wondering what’s up around here . . .

The original bit:
First, thanks so much for all your comments, support and thoughts in general. I’ve been super-stressed and feeling overwhemed for a while now. I think I’ve turned the corner now, though. It’s been challenging, but many have much larger challenges; I didn’t mean to sound quite so “poor-me” as I obviously did. So . . . back to ‘keeping on keeping on’ 🙂

Still haven’t found a container and flurries are forecast for later this week. Not likely to get snow that sticks, luckily.

In the meantime . . .

Mum has been given three months notice, which is not an eviction and requires no reason to be given. That’s good, as it means her perfect rental record will remain clean.

Also, she will be allowed to give one month’s notice so long as we are out by the end of January.

Mum is looking for a place to buy, as that will be cheaper than renting in the long run. But she’s keeping an open mind.

So . . . big changes coming up, eh? Good thing most of the packing has been done already. 😉 I’ll continue with that next week

That morning:

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It was gone a few hours later. Whew!

On Thursday the 6th of November four small towns in Alberta had record high temperatures; the highest was 19.6C.

On Friday, the evening news warned us of a big cold front coming down from the North.

On Saturday, we woke to:

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and by evening it looked like this (from my Aunty’s east-facing suite)

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and

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and this (from Mum’s west-facing suite):

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Meanwhile, progress continued in fits and starts; a shipping container was located and purchased, to be delivered (I thought) in the afternoon of Monday, 03 November. However, several failures of communication occurred (is Mercury retrograde or something? It seems to be speeding backwards lately . . .)

These will give you an idea of what I’m talking about:
http://www.google.ca/images?q=shipping+containers+image&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ei=_NZfVOPfNOqUsQT9l4DQBg&ved=0CBMQsAQ#

In the end, after several phone calls to/from Mr. and Mrs. Crafty, who were waiting to open the gate and direct the truck, we learned that it had been booked for the following day . . .

So . . . back they went the following day (a drive of an hour or so each way). Again, they waited outside, this time in steadily cooling weather. More phone calls . . . turned out the truck, making its first delivery of the day, had gotten stuck in deep mud somewhere near Lloydminster, way north of here. At first, there was hope that the driver would be able to get unstuck, return to the yard (south of the city), load my container and deliver before 5:00 pm. Didn’t happen that way, so we re-scheduled . . . to tomorrow, Monday the 10th, when the temperature is expected to be between -12 and -15C. But it will be the first load of the day, so is expected to arrive about 10:00 am.

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This morning, facing east.

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The eastern balcony . . .

On Friday, the 14th, with temps expected to be between -10 and -17C, the Crafties will pick me up at 8:00 am and we will go get the 26′ U-Haul truck, proceed to my storage units, load up anything I can live without ’til spring and then drive north to the property. We hope to be able to back up to the container, extend the ramp right into it, then hustle everything inside. If all goes smoothly, we will drive back to the city, return the truck and then spend the remainder of the day warming up, crafting and watching a movie or two while enjoying some take-out. No-one will want to be cooking by then!

Remember the wee Bavarian afghans I am making for my grandchildren? The first two are in a box on the balcony, but here are the latest two:

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Pretty, aren’t they? I haven’t finished the large ‘Violets in the Snow’ one, or the (meant to be equally large) multi-coloured one or the smaller multi-coloured one. I have one more white and blue afghan to make, then three more for related babies (related to me, I mean). 😉

By the way, I managed to re-pot all our houseplants and pruned the Happy Hibiscus, too.

AND . . . while I love the Golden Goddess chai that Wendy from Quarter Acre Lifestyle introduced us to a while back, making it is a bit fiddly for me. So here’s what I’ve been making:

20141109-160941.jpg
I start with some kefir, thanks to the most Diligent Dorcas. This goes into a Magic Bullet container, but you can use your blender, stick blender or what-have-you . . .

Throw in a banana, then a teaspoon or more of nutritional yeast, a shake or two each of ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. I use about a quarter teaspoonful of each, but you can adapt amounts to taste. Add some honey or your favourite sweetener and top up with kefir. Blend well and enjoy. If you like it quite cold, add a couple of ice cubes before blending. If you want it hot, I’d say pour it in a pan and leave it on the stove for a few minutes. I haven’t tried that yet myself . . .

Have a great week, my friends, and remember . . . “Choose Joy” as one of The Contented Crafter cards says.

a quick note and then the recipe for Feather Buns MMmmmmm . . .

Hello, my friends in  this Virtual Village . . . if you have emailed me and not seen a reply, don’t worry; I’ll be getting to them by later next week at the latest . . .

In the meantime: by popular request, here is the recipe for Feather Buns (and/or bread, of course). There’s nothing much more frugal and deliciously so, than baking your own bread. This is good enough to make me want an outdoor oven so I can enjoy it in summer, too . . . And if you have kids, let them help with the punching down (helps to oil the hands first, then make a fist and punch right in the middle. Great fun!). They can be given a bun-sized piece of dough to form, making a roll for themselves to enjoy later on. They might even want to shape one for Dad (or Mum) to have with their supper or tea. That’s how I learned . . . by the time I was making bread alone (about age 12), I’d been changing diapers for a couple of years, so I knew exactly what a baby’s bottom felt like. LOL That’s the best guide to achieving perfect texture and resiliency in bread dough. 😉

Our wee tins are a great size for a child to make a loaf of their own, too.

My older son was at a YMCA summer camp one year when he was about 10 years old and came back all enthused about having made bannock (a quickbread dough wrapped around green willow sticks and then baked over the coals from a campfire). So I asked if he’d like to learn to make bread. A hearty ‘yes!’, so I taught him, just as I was taught, and he made all our bread for a couple of years, ’til we moved back to the city.

I have this recipe courtesy of my friend Debbie (AKA Mrs. Crafty) and she got it from her mother, Shirley H., who passed away last year. (in case, like me, you put notes about provenance on your recipe cards for later when your memory is a bit sketchy) 🙂

I’ll put the ingredients at the end without the notes to make it easier to read. The notes on ingredients and procedure are mine, of course.

Feather Buns

IMG_5829 IMG_5828

In a large heavy bowl (like our bread bowls, if possible, but use what you have) put

2 c. lukewarm water (I like to fill the bowl with hot water beforehand for a couple of minutes; it seems to help the yeast grow a bit quicker; especially if your room is a little cool.

add 4 tsp. sugar and mix,
then sprinkle 4 Tblsp. Yeast over it and let stand for 10 minutes.

Next, add:

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cup melted margarine (or use butter or your preferred oil)
3 eggs, beaten well

Mix thoroughly (I used our heavy wooden spoon for this).

Start adding 8 cups of flour (this recipe calls for white; I used about 4 cups whole wheat and the rest white, mostly ’cause I ran out of WW; if I’d had any wheat germ, I’d have thrown some of that in, too; ditto nutritional yeast. LOL);

Mix thoroughly to make a soft dough.

Then: fold in flour until the dough isn’t sticky. If you’re a Mum, it should feel like a baby’s bottom. If you’re not, use your best judgement and imagination . . . 🙂  )

Cover (I used a teatowel wetted thoroughly with hot water, then wrung out. The extra warmth is good, and the steam keeps the top of the dough from getting ‘crusty’.

Let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. Make sure your bowl is a large one, or else halve the recipe. Seriously . . .

IMG_5823

Punch the dough down and make loaves or buns (or both). Grease your pans before putting the dough in. I used margarine (cheaper than butter), but you can use oil or whatever works for you.

IMG_5824

When I made this, I had a dozen good-sized buns, three large loaves and two tiny ones which could have made an extra large loaf. I was guided by how many bread pans we have and also what would fit in the oven in two loads.

IMG_5830 IMG_5832

Let rise in pans ’til double and then bake at 375° F (about 190.5° C) ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

IMG_5827

As mine wouldn’t all fit in the oven at once, I turned the oven on low just before I punched down the dough in the bowl. I put the buns (in our large rectangular casserole dish) and the two tiny loaves into the warmed oven to rise as above (I’d turned off the oven, of course, once it was warm, but not hot). I left the three large loaves on the counter where it was cooler and covered them with the teatowel, this time wetted with cold water and wrung out. This was to slow the rising of the second lot.

IMG_5826 IMG_5835

Once the first batch were done, they were left on a rack to rest for a minute and the second lot were popped in to bake. Then I greased the tops of the first set with Mum’s pastry brush and margarine (again, use what you like or even leave plain for a crustier finish), then turned them out to cool.

IMG_5838

When the second lot were baked, same thing: let rest a few minutes, then butter (or oil) and turn out of the pan to cool. If you leave them in the pans, they tend to ‘sweat’ a bit and this can lead to them moulding earlier than usual. Not nice . . .

IMG_5836

Ok, here’s the straight ingredient list, in order of adding:

2 cups lukewarm water
4 tsp. sugar
4 Tblsp. yeast
Let sit for 10 minutes (the yeast should be foamy)

________________

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cups melted margarine
3 eggs, well beaten

Mix thoroughly, then add:

___________________________

8 cups flour. Mix well, then
add more flour to make a non-sticky dough.
Cover and let rise to double in size.

Pre-heat oven to 375° F or 190° C.

Grease pans.
Punch down dough.
Form rolls and/or loaves.
Let rise in pans.

Bake  ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

IMG_5839

Make your favourite hot drink. Tea is especially nice with this, though.

Ignore the old wives’ tales about not eating hot bread (designed to keep kids out of the fresh bread so there would be some for dinner 😉  ); punch a hole in the side of a bun or slice off a good bit of heel from one of the loaves. Slather with butter and then home-made jam (store-bought if you must . . .).

IMG_5843 IMG_5842

Enjoy.  I insist!  🙂

And here’s a great bolshie song by a wonderful bolshie song-writer and singer, Malvina Reynolds. Have a listen while you enjoy the fruits of your labours . . . I don’t think Malvina wrote this one, though. That’s Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger on Pete’s tv show, ‘Rainbow Quest’ singing and playing along with her . . .

The Little Red Hen

Not much new here… but after feeding you all that heavy stuff…

I thought it was time for something lighter and more nutritious . . .

Mum’s been reading in the kitchen all day, so I haven’t wanted to do the dyeing yet. I don’t know if the fumes are toxic or not, but would rather err on the side of caution. So I’ve been on the computer most of the afternoon instead of going out to the store. It’s supposed to warm up to -11C tomorrow, so I’ll go out then. We are nearly out of bread and I’m a bit anxious about using the bread machine after my last fiasco . . . I thought at first I’d make some biscuits, but when Mum didn’t want any, I made this instead and was quite impressed that it turned out . . . PERFECT!!  I love this brown rice (Lundberg’s Brown Basmati), but sometimes it’s had a bit too much water left at the end of the cooking; then I have to cook it some more and wait for it to dry off a bit; somehow it always seems a bit gummy after that (not like that stops me eating it!)  😉

By thee way, the Lundberg family pioneered growing organic rice in the States. They were far ahead of their times.

Four Lundberg Brothers

These are the four Lundberg brothers, Outstanding in Their Field!

But tonight it was everything I wanted; dry, fluffy, slightly chewy but not too much, and just that bit aromatic . . . so I had a bowl with butter, garlic powder and soya sauce while I waited  for the other dish to cook. You know, I think a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid is a great part of the secret . . . and using the correct burner on the stove (I think a couple are a bit old and not heating to the proper temperature when left on the ‘lowest’ setting.

IMG_5012[1]

Now this is what I really started to tell you about (but the amazing rice distracted me):

What was it, you say? Well . . . I’m calling it ‘Mish-Mash’. When my kids were young and at home, I made soup from leftovers and whatever was in the cupboard on a regular basis. I called that soup ‘Cupboard Soup’. I thought this was going to be more like that, but it wasn’t. And it, too, is PERFECT! How unlike me . . .

I found ‘pork bones’ at the grocery the other day – a package for $1.22 and it looked like a fair bit of meat on them, too. Now, I didn’t eat much (or any, sometimes) meat for many years and the only pork I ate for longer than that was bacon as a treat at Christmas. But this was a frugal deal not to pass up.

I dredged the bones in flour with salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic salt in a used bread bag, then  dropped them in my old heavy pot where waiting for them was bacon fat from my breakfast yesterday and as much olive oil, too. I browned them while I chopped half an onion fairly small along with the end of a stalk of celery plus some celery leaves from the new stalk. those were tipped in and stirred around, then I added enough cold water to come a third of the way up the pot, brought it to a boil and let it simmer for several hours. Then it was let to cool and popped into the fridge.

This afternoon I got it out, started it heating and sliced three carrots, unpeeled (I only peel stuff that has skin too hard to eat, like winter squash). After those were added, more water went in, then a cup of the green split peas left over from making the Risi e Bisi. Brought to a boil again, I tasted it, then added a dollop of soya sauce, turned the heat to half-way and left it to simmer away while the rice cooked. After I ate my bowl of rice, I chopped a quarter head of cabbage into squares about an inch or less on each side (no, I didn’t measure them! Really!! But I knew you’d ask . . .)

Since the rice was done, I used that pot’s lid to cover the big pot. Not a perfect fit, so of course some dripping onto the stove top ensued, but hey . . . at least I can improvise as needed. I have a lid somewhere for that pot (it was our soup and popcorn pot lo, these many aeons ago), but have no idea if it’s here in Edmonton at the apartment, in storage here or in storage in BC. Oh, the life of a Gypsy Collector . . .

Anyway, back to the FeedReader and commenting near and far . . . I had the timer going, luckily or I’m sure I’d have had burnt whatever for supper. 😉

What I DID have was this:

IMG_5011[1]

A bit more butter (I filled up the round butter container and this time cut off the corners to make an octagonal shape that wouldn’t smear at the corners, then get on the lid; well, I had to do something with those bits, didn’t I? A shake of salt and pepper, more garlic salt and cayenne, a sprinkle of soya sauce and back to the computer, where the Mish-Mash distracted me mightily from the screen. I think this would be just as good without the meat, if one was vegetarian or vegan (you couldn’t add the butter, then, either). Maybe I’ll try that another time. For now, it was just right for this slightly cool evening (indoors, I mean).

Before I post, I wanted to say that I was sad to hear that Shirley Temple died yesterday evening (10 February) at her home. She was 85. It seemed so strange, hearing that on the news tonight when I was watching ‘Heidi’ only a few days ago with my crafty friend. It’s one of the few films I feel lives up to the original book. I haven’t seen her in ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ yet, but now I see that’s on YouTube, too. Also ‘The Little Princess’ . . . nice to have something to anticipate, right?  🙂

If you haven’t seen it, and like old films (this one’s from ’37), it’s on YouTube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPaNtPbeuWQ  This is the colourized version. It may be posted in the original, too; I didn’t look for it yet. What I love most, I think, is the Grandfather’s hut in the Alps. I’d give a lot for a home like that . . . goats and all.

ShirleyTemple 03 Grandfathers Hut

See what I mean? I want this near the sea, with an orchard and a garden like Narf7‘s.

ShirleyTemple 01

Not sure where this one is from, but I think it’s so cute . . .

ShirleyTemple 02

Heidi and The Grandfather