Archive for June, 2012

4th of July Cookies

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

This band of strolling musicians spent some time at my house recently.  We had a cousin play date.  They all selected favorite musical instruments and paraded through my house, then outside and around the house – clanging the cymbals and humming the kazoos through a variety of tunes.  The “quiet house on the corner” was turned into a noisy den of fun.

When it was time for a break (for my ears), everyone sat down for some lemonade and 4th of July cookies.

When I started thinking about what cookies to bake for the gathering, I knew I wanted something that would be red, white and blue for the upcoming birthday of the United States.  I have an old and often used recipe for ice box cookies from Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook that would work perfectly.  The recipe is below.

I needed some red dough, white dough and some blue dough.

I had decided to make free-form red, white and blue pinwheels.  I divided the dough into three portions – two larger portions and one smaller portion.  One large portion was left white and one was colored red.  I used Wilton concentrated paste food coloring since that produces a bolder color than liquid food coloring.  The smaller portion was colored with blue paste food coloring.

After the dough had chilled, I rolled the red and white into rectangles placing the white atop the red layer.  I shaped the blue portion into a narrow strip and placed it on the other layers.  Then the dough was rolled up jelly roll fashion and put into the refrigerator to chill.

After the dough chilled, I sliced it into 1/4 inch thick slices and placed them on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.

After they came out of the oven, presto – 4th of July cookies.

And here is the recipe which in the cookbook is called Christmas  Cookie Slices.

1/2 cup sugar                                    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup butter or margarine         1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg                                                      1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Mix sugar, softened butter, eggs and vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients.

Divide dough and add coloring.  Then cover the bowls and refrigerate for several hours.

Roll the red dough into a rectangle about 8 X 9 inches.  Roll the white dough into a rectangle about 8 X 9 inches and place it atop the red layer.  Pat the remaining dough into a strip about 2 X 9 and place at the edge of the white dough.  Roll the dough up in jelly roll fashion.  Wrap the roll and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400.  Cut the roll of dough into 1/4 inch slices and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes until the cookies are slightly browned at the edges.  (I baked mine for 7 minutes.)

Yield about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Yummy rich buttery, sugary cookies to enjoy with ice cream or lemonade.  I have some tucked in the freezer to be used as treats on another  day.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next Wednesday is the 4th of July.  I plan to head out to our town’s parade.   I do like parades.  I hope that you stop back in a couple of weeks to see what my grandchildren and I have been up to.  Don’t forget to fly your American flag on the 4th of July.  Enjoy the holiday.

4th of July Postcards

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The 4th of July is only a few weeks off.  I shall not be with my grandchildren that day so I am going to send to their mailboxes 4th of July postcards.

These postcards come from my favorite source of cards:

Fourth of July Facts

On each card I’ll include a historical fact about the 4th of July or the American flag.  I’ll pick something that will interest each child from these random bits of information.

On July 4, 1776, the United States was born.  We celebrate its birthday each year as the 4th of July with parades, picnic, speeches and fireworks.

In 1776 the new nation of the United States was comprised of 13 states or colonies.  The population of all 13 states put together was 2.5 million.  At the census in 2010 the population of the city of Chicago was about 2.5 million.  Imagine all the people living in Chicago spread out among the 13 states.  They weren’t very crowded.

The American flag has a star for every state.  The first flag sewn by Betsy Ross had 13 stars – one for each state.  When a state joined the union (the United States), another star was added and a new flag came into being.  Illinois became the 21st state in 1818.  In 1819 the new flags had 21 stars.  Missouri became the 24th state in 1821.  The United States needed another new flag – one that would have 24 stars.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the leaders of the new United States, wanted the wild turkey to be  named the national bird.  However, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams voted against the turkey.  They suggested the bald eagle.  The bald eagle became the national bird of the United States.

Fourth of July Riddles

Whenever my grandchildren receive a post card from me, they expect to see a riddle on it.  I have some riddles and will put one on each child’s post card.

Why did the duck say “bang?”  He was a firequacker.

What did one flag say to the other?  Nothing.  It just waved.

What’s red, white, blue and green?  A patriotic pickle.

Why did the British soldiers wear red coats?  To hide among the  tomato plants.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week is recipe day.  I decided that I wanted to bake some 4th of July cookies for my grandchildren.  Stop by to see how they turned out and get a copy of the recipe.  See you again soon.



Let’s Go Outside to Play

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

When my grandchildren come to visit during the summer, it is always fun to go outside to play.  Those indoor toys and games will still be there on rainy days or when the snow is falling.

When the cousins have a play date at my house during the summer, we frequently walk over to the nearby school to play.  Sometimes we play hide and go seek in my yard.

I decided that this year we needed some new games to play in the yard so I headed off to the library for help.  I came home with two books that gave me several suggestions that I think will be lots of fun.


Tag, Toss and Run is a recently published book of lawn games.  It was written by Paul Tukey and Victoria Rowell.

The cover states that there are 40 classic lawn games – with variations.

I think that Crab Soccer looks like fun.  The basic idea is to score goals while moving like a crab.  It is for ages 5 and up and at least three players are required.  (I find that the information about Ages and Players is very helpful in weeding out games that won’t work for my group.)  The players scuttle around on feet and hands with bellies up, in a “crab walk” fashion.  I think if I tried this position, a call to 911 would be required.  The participants cannot touch the ball with their hands, except for the goalie.  A large ball, the bigger the better, is kicked toward the goal.

Wheelbarrow Races – I had forgotten all about trying these back when I was young.  Ages 4 and up.  Players 4 and more.   The person being the wheelbarrow walks on his hands while a partner holds his or her legs.  It is a race to the finish line.

Another book I found at the library is Mom’s Handy Book of Backyard Games by Pete Cava.  The book was published in 2000, but these 101 games don’t go out of style.

Multiple indices are an interesting feature of this book.  One index lists the games by age level.  Another lists games that require no special equipment.  The final index lists games requiring equipment by the equipment required.  These allow you to navigate the book more quickly.

Sardines is a game I know we will try.  It is for ages 5 and up.  This is Hide and Seek in reverse.  One person is It.  The other players count to 20 while IT finds a  place and hides.  When a player find It, he doesn’t say anything, but hides with It.  The rest of the players do likewise until the hiding place becomes packed – like a can of sardines.  The game continues until the last player finds the hiding place.

Marbles Baseball for ages 7 and up.  Two players are required.  The game requires a flat surface like a driveway or sidewalk.  The players  mark off a large square and then a smaller square in each corner.  The square in the lower left-hand and right-hand corners are marked “single.”  The upper right-hand corner is marked “double” and the upper left-hand corner is marked “triple.”  A circle between the two upper squares is marked “home run.”

Players take turns “batting.”  Kneeling about 3 feet from the playing surface, the batter rolls a marble or a small ball onto one of the squares or the circle.  Anything that lands outside the square or circle is an out.  Whoever scores the most runs is the winner.

Walk the Plank is for ages 3 and up.  Two players are  required.  The equipment needed is a rope or tape and children’s binoculars.  To play,  the players lay the 20-foot rope or tape in a straight line.  One at a time, the players take the binoculars and, looking through them the wrong way, try to walk the length of the rope.

Someone trying to walk while gauging distance through the wrong end of binoculars can be a hilarious spectacle for other players.

There are many other games in these books that might be just right for your grandchildren to play.

I’m all set for the upcoming play date with these and other games tucked in the pages of these helpful books.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Soon it will be time to celebrate the birthday of the United States.  I have some 4th of July postcards that will be traveling to my grandchildren’s mailboxes.  I hope you stop back to look at the postcards.




Do you like The Wiggles?

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

I recall the first time I heard The Wiggles.  I was riding in the car on a visit over the river to my son’s house.  My granddaughter who was about 4 at the time asked her daddy to play a particular CD in the car stereo.  I could not understand what she was asking.  It sounded something like “wiggle.”

My son pushed PLAY, and the car was filled with a group of Aussie voices AND my granddaughter AND my son belting out “Rock-a-bye Your Bear.”  The song was followed by another.  I had a concert all the way to the grocery.  That was my introduction to The Wiggles.

I suppose you have heard that 3 of the group are planning to retire – Greg, Murray, and Jeff.  (No more “wake up, Jeff?”)  They will be replaced by new Wiggles who have in the past played the parts of Dorothy the Dinosaur, Captain Feathersword, and Wags the Dog.

I soon fell in love with The Wiggles.  Both sets of grandchildren loved them.  When I had Grandma School with my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away, almost every week we would watch part of a DVD from a Wiggles concert and we would dance along to “Can You Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist” or “Hot Potato.”   We always had “bend and stretch” time in Grandma School and sometimes it was while we lisened to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”

Before lunch we listened to “Fruit Salad” and then went into the kitchen and got out all the ingredients so that we could have fruit salad – yummy, yummy – for lunch.  I searched the internet and came up with a recipe for “Crunchy, Munchy Honeycakes” that we baked together one afternoon.  (I have included the recipe below.)

Oh, my, the Wiggles toys that each family had –  so many officially licensed Wiggles toys – Sing and Dance Guitar, Sing-with-Me Microphone, finger puppets, tee shirts, books, CDs and DVDs.  I recall one day the Jeff finger puppet was missing.  It was a nap time favorite of my grandson.  We looked high and we looked low for Jeff.  If Jeff wasn’t found, tears would follow.  Under the sofa Jeff was hiding.

Alas, my grandchildren are growing up and their tastes in music and entertainment have changed.  I would happily watch “The Wiggles Movie” in which Wally steals Greg’s magic wand when he is trying to become a better magician, but my grandchildren veto that and suggest a Pixar flick instead.

Both sets of children went to see the Wiggles perform.  The grandchildren talked for days about the concerts.  We had to reinact some of the songs and dances.  And now the last round of  United States concerts for the original Wiggles is taking place.  My grandchildren aren’t interested, but I am. I would love to see the Wiggles in person.  I checked and learned they are performing in Rosemont, IL in July.  Alas, there is no way I would drive the mad house of Chicago expressways to get to Rosemont to see the Wiggles.  Guess I’ll have to check out the CD of the final concert and some evening I’ll stir up a batch of Crunchy Munchy Honey Cakes, watch it, and sing along to “Dorothy the Dinosaur” or “Shaky Shaky” or “Wiggly Party.”

Crunchy Munchy Honey Cakes

3 cups muesli flakes (some varieties have raisins – if your crew doesn’t like raisins in cookies, look for the plain version)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup self rising flour (or 1 cup regular flour + 1and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)

8 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons honey

3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 325.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine muesli flakes, sugar, coconut and flour in a bowl and mix well.  Heat butter, honey and milk until butter is melted.  Pour over dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on parchment. paper.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Yield:  30 cookies.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  All the grandchildren will be at my house in a few weeks.  I found some great books at the library with lawn games and fun activities for the out of doors.  Ever hear of crab soccer?  I’ll tell you about the game and others next week.  I hope you stop back again.