Archive for March, 2012

Snickerdoodles – a Vegan version

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Nothing can top the aroma of snickerdoodles fresh out of the oven.  That cinnamony sugary smell makes your mouth water and summons small ones into the kitchen for a taste.

These snickerdoodles recently went over the river with me on a visit to my grandchildren who live 3 hours away.  I returned.  Needless to say, the cookies were  just a memory when I left.  As I have said several times, this family follows a vegan diet so these are vegan snickerdoodles.  Everyone loved them especially Daddy, my son.

And here is the recipe.

3/4 cup vegan margarine such as Earth Balance

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup soy or almond milk

2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together the margarine and sugar until fluffy.  Add the vanilla, soy milk, and 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch and mix until incorporated.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, and cinnamon.  Stir.  If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add a splash of soy milk.  It shouldn’t be sticky though.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Form the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and flatten slightly.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden around the edges, but still soft on top.  Transfer to a rack to cook.

When the cookies are cool, if desired, melt chocolate chips along with a little shortening.  Dip half of the cookie into the chocolate mixture and place on rack to harden.

Yield 3-4 dozen.

I always try to acknowledge the source of my ideas and recipes.  I have had this recipe for a couple of years.  Unfortunately I have no idea where I found the recipe.  I even did a search on the internet to see if I could find this one, but no luck.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Spring Break is over for my grandchildren.  They all stopped by for some play and fun.  I’ll talk about that next week.

Hope that you visit Grandma in the Mailbox again.





What’s ON your refrigerator?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I think of my refrigerator as a giant bulletin board.  I have a calendar affixed with magnets.  Usually there is the beginning of a grocery list or the reminder – DENTIST 7:50AM Tuesday.  Eeks.

That formerly was the “decor” of the frig.  Then the craze for magnetic refrigerator poetry came upon us.  Since I am a gardener, someone gave me flower poetry.

I found this rather difficult to use – shuffling through the box trying to locate an ‘s’ for a plural or an ‘ed’ to make a verb past tense.  I never succeeded in writing a poem.  I felt fulfilled if I could paste a sentence on the frig.

Later someone gave me a set of Italian refrigerator poetry.  I was preparing for a trip to Italy.  I found that helpful to put some words on the frig and then review them as I did the daily openings and closings.  Alas, that set is buried somewhere in the basement.  And that is unfortunate since my granddaughter is learning some Italian and would have use for it.  HOWEVER, we learned upon my last visit to her house that her refrigerator door in NOT magnetic.  Perhaps that is the trend with new appliances.  My appliances are past their prime.

As grandchildren came along, I started putting the latest pic of each on the frig to give me a morning smile or warm feeling.  Then followed the works of art.

I enjoy seeing the pictures and the momentos and the letters from my grandchildren.  One does wonder how long to keep these items up.  That train that I love has been on my frig for years.  It is a real keeper.

When my older granddaughter was about 3, I came upon a magnetic ‘paper’  doll that she could dress when she sat on the floor as I did the dishes.  This set has gone through two granddaughters and is in good shape for future users.

The girls have enjoyed dressing the girl for the beach and dance class and bed.  This is called Dowling Magnets Wonder Board Dress a Doll and is available at

If you have read many of my blogs, you will recall that I have a squirrel named Andrew Henry that I dutifully feed each day. I introduced Andrew Henry in a blog post on 2/16/2011.  When the grandchildren visit, he gets more peanuts and more corn that any squirrel needs, but Andrew Henry happily eats it all.

A few months ago I saw something that I decided just ‘had’ to grace the front of my refrigerator so I bought it.

It is a squirrel that comes with changeable outfits – all magnetic.  The squirrel can be a hippie, a Zorro look-alike, a cowboy, a pilot, Santa, or St. Patrick.  I confess I have so much fun changing his outfits.  My grandchildren like him too.  Today my grandson decided to make him half cowboy, half pilot.

My sons haven’t rolled their eyes – yet anyway – about Mom and her new squirrel.

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week I will give you a yummy recipe for vegan snickerdoodles.  My taste testers who live 3 hours away have given the recipe 4 thumbs up.

Hope you stop by again to visit.

I have joined two book clubs.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I had never been a member of a bookclub – ever.  Now I am a member of TWO bookclubs.  Each of my granddaughters and I have started granddaugher/grandma bookclubs.

The book club with my 9 year old granddaughter is named the Missouri/Illinois Stars.  We have meetings during grandma visits and via telephone calls.  (My 7 year old granddaughter and I only started our club a few weeks ago so you will hear more about it at a later date.)

The first book I read in the Stars book club was one I came upon when visiting. I found myself awake while the household slept.  I spied a book that my granddaughter had been reading.  The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu so I picked it up and read a few chapters.  Boy, it was good.

My granddaughter loves Greek mythology; as a former Latin teacher, I favor Roman mythology.  She and I like to compare our gods and goddesses.  This book is a tale filled with Greek gods, sick and shadowless children and a plot to overthrow the Lord of the Dead.  Charlotte Mielswetzski (pronounced Meals. Wet. Ski.) and her cousin Zachary (nicknamed Zee) are trying to save the children.  Charlotte and Zee had to go to Hades to save the children.  How does one find the entrance to Hades – down a nondescript corridor in the Mall of America and through a nondescript door with a nondescript sign NO ADMITTANCE.

My granddaughter and I talked about what each of us liked in the book.  Then she said, “Grandma, you need to read the next books.  This is a series.”  That’s right it is – The Cronus Chronicles, three books about the adventures of Charlotte and  Zee.

The second book was The Siren’s Song. Charlotte was ultramegagrounded by her parents when she returned from the Underworld.  An educational cruise along the eastern coast of the United States turned into an adventure in the Mediterranean Sea.  Charlotte took Poseidon’s trident and was saved by a giant squid while her parents were sleeping in a trance brought on by a siren’s song.

The 3rd book, The Immortal Fire, sends Charlotte and Zee to Mt. Olympus to save the world.  Charlotte has a chance to eavesdrop on a gathering of Olympian gods that included Apollo in gold lame shorts and tee shirt roller skating around Zeus’ palace and Athena engrossed in doing Sudokus.

These books were so good.  As an adult, I enjoyed the subtle humor that the author sprinkled throughout.  The books are long.  The final one was 500+ pages, but they go very fast and held the attention of this grandma as well as her granddaughter.

My granddaughter said that I really needed to read a Percy Jackson novel.  Since I like the Roman gods, I wanted to skip to that series by Rick Riordan; however, I was told that I really need to read the first one first.  Boy, such an orderly plan.  The Lightning Thief was really good.  I liked the part when oops, during a scuffle a hole gets ripped in the very top of the St. Louis Arch.  Percy had to jump into the river, but since he is the son of Poseidon (sorry to let you in on the secret), he was not harmed and didn’t even get wet in the water.

By the way I also watched the movie.  I liked the book better.

In our bookclub we do read a variety of books.  My granddaughter suggested Bloomability by Sharon Creech.  This is the story of Dinnie, a girl who goes to Switzerland with her aunt and uncle who run an international school.  She met many kids – different cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs.  But deep down they were all the same.  Dinnie learned that life is full of bloomabilities – possibilities.  Everyone – granddaughters and grandmothers and everyone else has bloomabilities that can enhance and enrich their lives.   Since the setting was on the border of Switzerland and Italy, many people spoke Italian.  My granddaughter thought it was fun to learn the Italian phrases as Dinnie learned them also.

The next book my granddaughter recommended was 11 Birthdays by Wendy Moss.  Remember the movie Groundhog Day?  Well, the same concept is here.  Amanda and her friend Leo share the same birthday which they lived over and over until they learned how to break a spell they were under.

I found a terrific book that I have recommended for us to read.  It is The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone.

Much of the activity in this story takes place in the Art Institute in Chicago – in the Thorne Rooms which are in the children’s area.  In the book Ruthie and Jack find a small key.  When Ruthie holds it, she becomes 5 inches tall.  When she drops it, she returns to her original size.  Jack can only be made small if he holds on to Ruthie when she picks up the key.  They find ways to get into the miniature rooms to explore.  They even meet people from the pre-French Revolution days and from the Salem witch trials.

I took this book and a book about the Thorne Rooms with me when I last visited my granddaughter.  I was so excited about this book.  It was so much fun to read. I told my granddaughter about it.  She walked over to the book shelf in her bedroom and pulled a book from the shelf – The Sixty-Eight Rooms. She has the book.  Neat.  She said that a lady at the bookstore recommended it to her.  I am eager for her to read it so we can talk about it.

Her daddy told me that he thought she was planning to read A Tale of Two Cities next.  He was kidding, right?  Don’t you think he was?

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.

What is ON your refrigerator?  Over the years many different items have graced the front of my frig.  Now something so cute lives there.  I hope you stop by to check it out.





March brings…

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Spring – Your weather forecaster on TV has been telling you that Spring began on March 1.   That is the first day of meteorological spring.  The majority of us say that Spring begins on March 20, the date of the Vernal Equinox.

Spring Training – Our favorite baseball teams (professional and college) are training and warming up in Florida and Arizona and other warm states to prepare for their seasons.  The major league baseball season will get an early start this year with a series beginning on March 28 between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics in Toyko.

March Madness –  The end of basketball season with tournaments for high school and college teams.  The term March Madness was first used by Henry V.  Porter in 1939 to describe the excitement in the Illinois State Boys Basketball Tournament.

The Ides of March – Well, perhaps most people don’t think of the Ides of March.  I do since I was a Latin teacher.  March 15 is the Ides of March, the day when Julius Caesar heard the warning from the soothsayer, “Beware the Ides of March.”   This was the day that Caesar was stabbed and killed by those fearing his rising power base.

March 24 – National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day   I just threw that one in.  I am not a fan of chocolate covered raisins, but I saw this in a list of “special” days in the month of March, and it made me smile so I thought that I would include it.

March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day  This is the event we all think of in March.  Of course, I’ll be sending something to my grandchildren’s mailboxes.

Postcards again.  These postcards are from my favorite source


On each card I’ll include a “fun fact” about St. Patrick’s Day such as these:

No wild snakes live in Ireland.

The Irish flag has 3 vertical stripes green, white, and orange.

The country of Ireland is about the same size as the state of West Virginia.

The Guinness Book of World Records states that the highest number of leaves found on a clover is 14.  I have a difficult time finding the 4 leaf ones.

Of course, you all know that this grandma sends riddles.

What is a nuchcerpel?   Leprechaun spelled backwards.

What happens when a leprechaun falls in the river?  He gets wet.

Why did the elephant wear red sneakers on St. Patrick’s Day?  His green ones were dirty.

Why do frogs like St. Patrick’s Day?  They are always wearing green.

Why did the leprechaun cross the road?  To get to the pot of gold.

Knock knock.  Who’s there?  Irish?  Irish who?  Irish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

These riddles came from a great source of ideas and crafts for children

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  Enjoy corned beef and cabbage, or soda bread or Irish stew or your favorite traditional food on St. Paddy’s Day.   And I hope that no one pinches you for not wearing green.

Please stop by for another visit.  I’ll be talking about my Granddaughter/Grandmother book clubs.  Such fun.