Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mamaw Collier

Mamaw

A lot of people dread the holidays, because you are supposed to gather with family and not all families are warm and close. Mine is. I have always loved spending Thanksgiving surrounded by noise, love, and laughter. And then some more noise. This year, we were unable to travel to visit family for the holiday and celebrated at home, just the four of us. It was sort of awful, but not for the reasons I had anticipated. My Mamaw had a heart attack on Wednesday night. The outlook was not good. We spent the next two days waiting for news. I begged for a miracle. God healed her, but not in the way I was asking for. I would have chosen to see my Mamaw again, but He took her home last night.

I could write and write and write about all the wonderful memories I have of my Mamaw. She was a lot of fun. I cannot help but think that as we cope with shock and loss, she is probably laughing at us. While I mourn the earthly loss of my beloved grandmother, I am certain that she is singing gospel songs and dancing for Jesus. With the bass turned up. She is finally experiencing true joy.

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Why did I love my Mamaw so much? Because she did things like reenact her favorite scene from South Pacific on the beach in Hawaii – on video. She played her records loud. When I was in college, she’d come stay in her cabin in the mountains nearby and feed me. She gave me her gold hoop earrings just because I complemented them once. Her home was always warm and welcoming, and there was always a party to celebrate every birthday, holiday, and obscure occasion in between. She and Papaw took almost all of our families in during times of need and let us live in the basement. (John and I lived there between our wedding and his first assignment.) I loved Mamaw so much, because she loved and gave so much.

I am trying REALLY hard to focus on good memories to keep from being overwhelmed by sadness. I’ll leave you with a story that actually got me laughing when I remembered it last night. Five years ago, we all spent Thanksgiving together in Mississippi. There is an old plantation home, owned by my father’s side of the family, where we were staying. It is rumored to be haunted. Each night, someone in the family would claim to have heard  strange noises. I spent the better part of the weekend thinking it was a big conspiracy theory, that they were making up ghost stories just to scare everyone else. I especially had a hard time believing the ghost hype, because Neely was only a few months old at the time. I was up several times a night each night feeding her, and I’d heard nothing. The last night before we returned home, as I was returning to bed after feeding the baby, I heard it. A voice. Something that sounded like chains. I (bravely?) sneaked out of my room and happened to meet up with my dad and aunt on the landing. We followed the noise downstairs, and……..found Mamaw roaming the living room in her nightgown, moaning, dragging a length of chain behind her, and wearing underpants on her head. It was the best prank ever. I got pretty tickled last night wondering if I might be awakened by the sound of chains on the stairs, kind of as a last hurrah.

I love you, Mamaw. I know you’re taking heaven by storm and keeping ’em laughing. I just know it.

Handmade Gifts – Felt Dolls

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I adore handmade gifts. I love to make them. I love to receive them. There’s just something special about knowing that someone spent their precious time making something for you. I also know that we all have different talents, and everyone is handy in different ways. I think that’s why I love Etsy so much. I love looking through all of the incredible things that people all over this world have made.

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If you have a little girl to give to and have any sewing ability at all, I highly recommend visiting Gingermelon on Etsy. In her shop, she has the most wonderful patterns for stuffed dolls and ornaments. The instructions are very simple and easy to understand. All the stitches you need to know are illustrated in them. You can purchase the felt and safety eyes you need right from her Etsy shop. The only thing you have to go to the store for is embroidery floss, and a needle if you don’t already have one.

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I made Rapunzel for my daughter and niece last year. Two of my niece’s friends are getting this recent batch of dolls for Christmas this year. Aren’t they precious? I can’t decide which one is my favorite. Tinkerbell? Or maybe Snow White. They’re all so cute!

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Who do you like best? What handmade gifts are you giving this year?

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White Wine Bundt Cake

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On Sunday, I made a bundt cake to share with friends. Since I have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding approximately 42,016 times, bundt cakes always make me think of this scene…

Thankfully, my cake received a little bit better reception than poor Harry Miller’s did.

The best thing about this recipe? It’s super simple – just boxed mix with a few extras added in. Simple is good, because when I see a scratch cake recipe, I get heart palpitations. Mostly, it’s to do with the fact that I don’t like dirtying five bowls and 12 spoons to make one cake.

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White Wine Bundt Cake

1 box yellow cake mix (the original recipe specified to use Duncan Hines, but I’m a rebel and used Betty Crocker)

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 small box vanilla instant pudding (3.4 oz.)

3/4 cup water

4 eggs

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Pour into a greased bundt cake pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Glaze

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup white wine

In a small saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add white wine. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Pretty much every time I’ve been to the grocery within the last month, I’ve bought a can of pumpkin. I see them on the big display at the front of the store. I think, “Hmm…it’s fall. It’s a good time to start baking with pumpkin. I don’t think I have any,” every single time. I have amassed quite the collection of pumpkin.

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So last week, when I stumbled across a fun recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice Cake Doughnut Bites (try saying that 10 times fast!) on Pinterest, I made them two days later. Completely out of character. I have board after board of pinned recipes that I never get around to trying. I will say, I’m glad I baked these. I already had all of the ingredients on hand, except for Turbinado sugar. I dusted them mine powdered sugar after baking instead.

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For the sake of this post, however, I’m not calling them donuts. You bake these in a mini muffin pan, and they are more cake-y than donut-y to me. Everyone in my family looked at them and called them muffins. I wish they’d been a little more like donuts, since there’s only one place in this town to get a good donut. Krispy Kreme? Dunkin? Come to Minot, North Dakota! This is a cold place. I’m fairly certain you could make a killing selling warm donuts and hot coffee here. Especially if there’s a drive-thru involved.

Anyway, use that link up above. Click on out of here and check out the original recipe. There’s no good reason for me to re-type it. 🙂

Go bake with pumpkin! And if you have a favorite pumpkin recipe I might want to try to use up some of my collection, please share!

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