Archive for April, 2012

Cookies for Breakfast?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Appropriately it is early morning – time for breakfast.  I am sitting at my computer with a cat snuggling on my lap and a breakfast cookie and coffee at my side.  I’ll watch out for crumbs.  Back in the day when I worked, the IT fellow often reminded me that crumbs and keyboards were not a good combination.

I ate my first breakfast cookie about 11 years ago.  It was one purchased from the neighborhood grocery and dropped into my purse before I headed out on a trip to Italy.  A solo traveler, I changed planes in Germany, found the shuttle bus at the airport in Florence, with fractured Italian purchased a train ticket, and settled back for the final leg of my journey.  Having slept little and worried a lot, as I settled back into the seat on the train, I remembered the breakfast cookie in the bottom on my purse.

You know what happens to things in the bottom of your purse, right?  Well, conveniently I didn’t need to break the cookie into pieces.  Pieces awaited me.  I munched the cookie and gazed out the window at the beautiful Tuscan scenes that kept unfolding.  That cookie was not especially tasty, but it was food and I was hungry.

Since that first breakfast cookie, I have eaten many others; all were home baked.  Breakfast cookies are so handy to keep in the freezer.  You can take one out and by the time the coffee is ready, the cookie has thawed and there you have a quick breakfast.

I have tried various recipes – some better than others.  The recipe that I am now using and whose product I am now eating produces a cookie that is friendly to those with special dietary requirements.  No eggs; no milk.  It can also easily be changed into a gluten-free cookie.

This recipe came from

Breakfast Cookies

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 unbleached all purpose flour

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tbsp. real maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup chocolate chips or raisins

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl stir together the banana, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.  In batches add and combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Drop the batter in scoops (2 tablespoons) onto the cookie sheet.  Flatten with your fingers.  Bake until the edges of the cookies are brown.   This takes about 16 – 18 minutes.  Yield 12 large cookies.

Oh, so good – and good for you.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  My granddaughter who lives 20 minutes away will be celebrating a birthday soon and I’ll be baking her cake.  If you stop back next week, you can see what she has requested.





Do you remember May Baskets?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

When I was a small girl, I spent the week before the first of May busily making May baskets to leave on the front steps of my friends’ houses early on the morning of May 1.  These were creations that I made from construction paper.

My mother let pick flowers from the garden to put in the May baskets.  Since it was early spring, I was usually limited to bluebells, lily of the valley, violets or the last of the tulips and daffodils.  My mother would also buy me a bag of candy so that I could put a few pieces of candy in each basket.

I had no trouble waking up early on May Day since I had everything ready and was eagerly anticipating my trip up and down the block.  It was exciting to creep or sneak up to the door and leave my May basket and run off to get another basket to deliver.

May baskets over the years became a distant, but sweet memory.  Back in 1970, we had a 3 year old little guy and a two week old baby who found that sleeping at night was not his preference.  On May Day morning I  opened the front door to get the milk (yes, there was home delivery of milk back then) and there by the door was a May basket.  I was so surprised and with those  postpartum emotions pulsing through my body, I was just overcome.  I sat down and sobbed.  That gesture of thoughtfulness was wonderful.  It made my day and got me going.  I never did learn who gave me the May Basket.  It was a random act of kindness back before we even recognized random acts of kindness.

As my boys were growing up, I helped them make May baskets for the neighbors who all happened to be girls.  We used those plastic wicker baskets that strawberries and cherry tomatoes came in at that time.  The boys wove strips of construction paper through wicker.  I bought bedding plants that they put into small drinking cups.  Into each basket they put a potted flower and some small cookies that I had baked.

I coached them on how to be very quiet and not to talk or giggle when they went up to Irene or Jennifer or Stephanie’s houses to leave the baskets.  While they were delivering the baskets, I slipped May baskets on to the front porch for them to find when they returned.

This year I decided that I would make May baskets for the grandchildren.  Since two of them live 3 hours away, I had to enlist parental help with their baskets.  They have been delivered and secreted away.  I shall remind the tall people that the baskets need to be put out when they retire for the night on April 30.  I can drive to the home of  the grandchildren who live 20 minutes away to deliver the secret parcels.

I decided to make cone shaped baskets out of scrapbooking paper.

Using a pattern from the internet, I cut quarter circles and rolled them into cones.  It does take a little practice to get them rolled just right.  Since this was heavy paper, I decided I needed a hefty glue.  I had some glue for attaching pompoms and felt that I had used a few years ago.  I squeezed the bottle and nothing came out.  Squeezed again and nothing came out so I took the cap off and thoughtlessly turned the bottle upside down.  Oh, sure, then something came out all over me and the floor.

Time out for cleaning.  After I formed the cones, I let them dry over night and then assembled all the parts.

I crumpled colored tissue to put into the cones.  Since the long distance baskets would not have real flowers, I made one flower using some of the card stock and put a  pompom center on it.  I had long craft pipe cleaners to use for hangers and I had bought some butterfly lollipops to put into the baskets.

With a few pieces of candy dropped into the basket, my granddaughter’s May basket was done.

And so was my grandson’s basket.

I’ll make the same baskets for the grandchildren who live 20 minutes away substituting real flowers and their favorite candy.  I hope all the parents take photos for Grandma of the surprised faces on May Day morning.

There is plenty of time for you to put together a May basket surprise for someone special – a child, an elderly neighbor, or a special friend.  It will add a sparkle to their day.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week I’ll give you a recipe for breakfast cookies.  They are tasty treats for children and for Grandmas and everyone else.  I always have some in the freezer for a quick breakfast.  I hope you visit again.

Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Etna Erupt

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

While my grandson and granddaughter who live 3 hours away were visiting at my home during Spring Break, my grandson wanted to know if we could have Grandma Camp.  I suggested a science experiment, and he thought that was a great idea.

We would make volcanoes and have them erupt.  I told the children could choose the color of lava they wanted – any color.  My granddaughter thought teal and sunset orange would be great colors for lava.

We started by molding volcanoes out of white sand around plastic cups.  We let them rest overnight so that the volcanoes could harden.  Then the children landscaped their volcanoes.  

When the volcanoes were ready, we put the recipe for lava into them.  First, 1/2 cup of warm water was poured into the plastic cup.  To this was added about 6 drops of dish washing detergent and several drops of food coloring – any color or any combination of colors.  Two tablespoons of baking soda were dropped in the the liquid and this was all stirred together well.  Almost time for the action.  The final ingredient, 1/3 cup of vinegar, was poured into the mix and voila.  We had eruptions. We had lava.  Wow, what colors.

After the eruptions had settled down, my granddaughter reminded me that we were going to make flower coronets for her to take home.  This was truly going to be an experiment because I had never done this before.

We cut hyacinths from my garden.  While the children broke the individual flowerlets from the stem, I cut lengths of floral wire.  Then the children began stringing the bits of hyacinth on to the wire.

Oh, the coronets smelled so sweet as they grew.  When they were finished, I put ribbon streamers at the back so they would stream down from the coronet.

My granddaughter modeled one of the coronets.

And my grandson was eager to show his completed work.

We tucked these fragrant headdresses into a cooler and set out to go over the river to their home.  The  flower head-wear lived for a week by spending each evening in the refrigerator.  I’m sure this is a Grandma Camp experience that they will remember for a long time and next spring will request a repeat.

Thank you for stopping by to visit Grandma in the Mailbox.  Do you remember May Baskets?  Oh, back when I was a small one, I spent the week before May 1 busily preparing baskets for all my friends.  I’ll talk about these next week.  I hope that you stop back again.

Spring Break Fun

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

The grandchildren recently had their Spring Breaks.  The ones near and the ones far away had the same week of vacation so we were able to have lots of fun.

Another grandma and I picked up the grandchildren who live 3 hours away to bring them back to our houses for a visit.

When I was young, I really enjoyed the stories about Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox, Babe.  I asked my grandchildren if they knew about Paul Bunyan.  My 9 year old granddaughter said that she had “heard” of him.  Her 6 year old brother just shook his head no.  I tried to sketch out the story for them because we were going to visit Paul on our way to my house.

For a couple of years I have wanted to drive to Atlanta, IL, to see the BIG Paul Bunyan eating a hot dog.  I know, I know, Paul usually eats stacks and stacks of pancakes, but it appears that he liked the occasional hot dog.  Atlanta, IL is located on old Rt. 66.  Like other cities and villages along Rt. 66 Atlanta wanted a “carrot” to attract visitors to the village.  As I read about Atlanta, IL, on the internet, I saw that they had the big Paul who stands 19 feet tall and also an old-timey restaurant serving among other things luscious pies and a transportation museum.

It was just a little jog on the map to stop in Atlanta so we did that on a Saturday afternoon at 4:00PM.  Unfortunately the Palms Grill Cafe,  the restaurant with the slices of pie that had us salivating, was closed. Alas, no cherry or pecan or peach pie that I had read about.  Add to that another unfortunately because the transportation museum was also closed.  We were able to look in the window at the motorized bicycle and the old, old tricycle.

Paul – Paul was still there.  His head was not through the clouds, but he was really tall.

We stood on his feet to have our photo taken.  No complaints from Paul about standing on his toes.

Cousin play dates always mean two things – craft time and dress up time.  I still had the tree that had been a Valentine tree.  Its branches were bare so the children gathered at the craft table and colored rabbits and chicks and eggs to turn the tree into an Easter tree.


“May we get out the dress up clothes now?”  Of course, so the big tub of clothes came up from the basement.  The girls went into my bedroom and shut the door telling their brothers not to disturb them because they not only had to find their outfits, but they also had to “do their makeup.”

The boys always dress quickly.  There is a stash of baseball shirts and Illini- wear from when the daddies were young.

Here we are breaking all the rules about playing wiffle ball in the house.  But you have to find some way to pass the time waiting for your sister.

The girls appeared wearing the first of several outfits that they modeled for us.  They enjoyed posing and then ran giggling back to the bedroom to change and to touch up their make up.

Then it was time for hide and go seek outside with Grandma being “it.”  There were a couple of super hiding places that caused me to wander around the yard looking and looking.

We ended the cousin play date our favorite way – making ice cream sundaes.  Ice cream and toppings, but oh, oh, Grandma forgot to buy whipped cream.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week I’ll finish the Spring Break visit talking about the eruptions of Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Etna and  about some beautiful hyacinth creations the children made.

I hope you stop by again for another visit.