Archive for September, 2012

Thumbprint Cookies

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

My granddaughter who lives 3 hours away once told me that her favorite kind of cookie was thumbprint cookies.  Ah, ha, that gave me inspiration for the type of cookie to bake and take along when I recently went to visit her to celebrate her 10th birthday.

From my peanut butter and jelly sandwich experience with her and her brother, I knew that she prefers red raspberry jam.  Her brother is partial to  apricot.

When I walked into their house, I had a plate thumbprint cookies filled with raspberry and apricot jam.    Sampling soon began.



This recipe  is so versatile.  It can produce a buttery cookie, a vegan cookie or a gluten-free cookie with simple substitutions.  I have made and tasted each option.  They all were tender, delicate, and really delicious.

Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup margarine or butter *

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour **

1/2 cup chopped pecans

jam of choice or frosting for filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the margarine/butter.  Add sugar.  Mix well.  Stir in 1 cup flour.  If using a mixer, add remainder of the flour 1/4 cup at a time by hand.

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls.  Roll the balls in the chopped pecans.

Place the cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.  Using your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon make a depression in each cookie.  Drop 1/4 teaspoon of a favorite jam into the depression.  You can also leave the depression empty and fill with frosting after the cookies have cooled.

Bake 12-18 minutes in the 350 oven.  When I make them, they are usually golden brown and done after 15 minutes.  Yield: 20 cookies

Allow to cool on wire racks.

* To make these vegan cookies, use a vegan margarine such as Earth Balance.

** To make the cookies gluten free, substitute gluten-free flour and 1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for the all purpose flour.

These cookies disappear quickly when I take them to my grandchildren.  Everyone wants to try “just one more.”

Thank you for stopping by to a visit at Grandma in the Mailbox.



Putting Memories Together

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

I have talked about Grandma Camp – the activities and the adventures and the fun.  I like to  put together a memory album for my grandchildren so that they can look over what we did and years from now remember the fun.  Actually my grandson usually pulls out the albums from the previous years each June before we have our first camp.  He looks at what we did and decides what he wants to do all over again.

I have just completed an album for my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away.  We had two camp sessions during the summer so there were  many photos to put together for the album.  Having put albums together for the past three years for all the grandchildren, I have learned a little something about photo albums.  I search out albums for 4 X 6 photos.  I like the ones with sleeves to slip the photos in.  They seem to be made in two capacities – 60 and 160.  Gr, rr 60 is not enough, and 160 is too many.  Live with it, Grandma.

First of all, I spread the photos out and select the ones that I want to use in the album.

I cut out 4 X 6 rectangles of colored paper to slip into the album to serve as fillers and to hold blurbs that describe the photos.

Then to put the album together.  I laid it out in chronological order and composed some descriptions to accompany the photos.



I enjoyed reliving the Grandma Camps as I put the photos into the album.  I remember some of the  fun times and hilarious comments of my grandchildren.

And finally I selected a little photo to slip into the cover.  A photo of the three of us.  And here is the finished product.

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week I’ll have a delicious cookie recipe to share with you.  It is a recipe that can alsoeasily be turned into a vegan version or a gluten-free version.  I hope that you stop back again for another visit.


Who Lives Here?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

When my10 year old granddaughter was just about two years old, I had an idea for a book that I would make for her.  Who Lives Here? I wanted a book that would help her to learn to recognize the homes of her grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousin.  A learning moment as she and her mommy or daddy looked at the book with her.

I accumulated photos of the houses of  the various relatives.  Then armed with scrap booking papers and card stock, I started assembling the little book.  I also purchased laminating sheets and some comb binders.  At that time I was still working and luckily was able to avail myself to a laminator and a comb binder/punch in the office.  Those items made the project easier to do and the end product much more attractive.

First, there was a dedication to my granddaughter using one of her princess photos.

Then I laid out the pages using printed scrap book paper and coordinating cover stock.  I laminated the photos so that my granddaughter could touch the pages and not leave sticky finger prints behind.  Yes, sometimes there are sticky fingers.

On this page I inserted a photo of her younger cousin as a clue since she had never seen the home of her aunt and uncle and cousin.

Of course, I had to have a photo of my house for her to see.

On the remaining pages I included a photo of her home and photos of all the other grandparents’ homes.

On heavier card stock I set up the title page and the back cover.  I punched all the pages with the binder punch and bound them together.  And, voila – Who Lives Here? was finished.

I made a similar book for my other granddaughter.  Her book featured photos of people rather than homes.  It was entitled Who Am I? I included photos of her parents and grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles.  Also I included photos of the various families’ pets.

These were such fun projects for me.  They took a little time, but the happy, warm feeling I had when they were finished was well worth the time.  The granddaughters used them and then when they were followed by little brothers, the fellows could look through the books – often with the help of a big sister.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope that you stop again for another visit.  Next week I’ll talk about putting memories together.

The Grandma Gazette

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

There is a new newspaper in these parts.  It has no advertisements.  Circulation is limited – 4 grandchildren and 2 friends.

The Grandma Gazette debuted in March.  All of my grandchildren can now read.  I wanted to communicate with them.  They are  too young for email accounts.  I have a twitter account; they don’t.  I decided to write a newspaper for them.  I cover family news, cat news,  and I include riddles, of course.

I call it The Grandma Gazette. The masthead carries the paper’s motto – All the news that Grandma can remember.  My 10 year old granddaughter thinks this is really funny.  She is probably the only one who catches me in “senior moments.”

I set the newspaper up in Word using columns.  I have a header for the date and masthead information and a footer for the pagination.  Below is a sample page from the first edition. (Sorry about the small size, but – well, that was all I could get to paste into the blog.  If you click on the thumbnail, you’ll get a larger version you can read.)


In June the newspaper talked about softball.  All the grandchildren play so I included photos of each of them at one of their games.  In August my 10 year old granddaughter celebrated her 10th birthday so there were various photos of her all the way back to year #1.  Her grandfather also celebrated a birthday in August, and I was able to get some photos of him taken when he was the age of the grandchildren.  They had never seen those, and they were surprised to learn that Grandpa was just like them – he played with his sister, his grandma baked treats for him, and he got into trouble sometimes.

September’s issue which has not yet come off the presses will be about school.  I’ll include photos of the schools that they each attend since the children who live 20 minutes away and the children who live 3 hours away have never seen each other’s schools.   I also plan to have a photo of the elementary school that I attended and my first grade photo – Grandma with her long braids.

In October there will be another birthday to celebrate  with photos of the birthday girls and maybe even a photo of  Halloween costumes they have worn in the past.   November brings another family birthday to celebrate.  Of course, December will have a Christmas issue with photos of my Christmas tree and Snow Village and a memory or two from past Christmas celebrations.

I print the newspapers out so that each grandchild gets a copy.  With the help of the parents the newspaper often magically appears on the front porch outside the door – delivered just as the local “big people’s” newspaper  is delivered.

This is so much fun for me.  I just love  putting together The Grandma Gazette. My grandchildren love receiving the newspaper.

My grandchildren who live 20 minutes away have both tried their hand at their own newspapers using Mom’s desktop computer.  It was fun helping them with the spelling as they each worked on their first issue.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope that you stop by again for another visit.