Christmas Cookies Anyone?

386741_2668163541909_324005759_nThis is the first Christmas I will not be baking cookies. When my mother was ill my sister and I took over some of the baking and that is when I found my love of baking Christmas cookies.

The year my mother had her first heart attack dad bought the Tastykake Christmas cookies and they eventually became a part of our Christmas cookie tradition growing up, the box they came in right next to moms delicious cookies. My mothers favorite to bake were butter cut out cookies and peanut butter. We were no Martha Stewart or I guess in my day it was the Galloping Gourmet when it came to decorating. But we had fun. We never used icing, instead mom used a egg yolk mixture and then we topped it off with an assortment of sprinkles and candies. There were more types of cookies she would bake and we would always help – eating the broken ones or the ones that were burnt around the edges.

404543_2760139881260_50935956_nAs I got a home of my own I added Butter Drop Ins, Angel Pillows and Santa’s Whiskers to my cookie collection. I would store cookies for weeks until Christmas using all the proven techniques to keep them fresh.

As the children grew they ate them as fast as I could bake them. We would also give away containers full of cookies. One year I took them out to the ambulance company that came and helped me after I passed out. Then there were the years I shipped them to my  husband and son when they were deployed. Over the years my kitchen became a bakery filling my home with aroma of fresh baked cookies.

When our son moved out of the house and life got busy with jobs and other commitments I only baked the families favorites and started to buy German cookies and Scottish shortbread that are now easily available. What is Christmas without the traditional Lebkucken, Christmas Stollen, and Scottish Shortbread that melts in your mouth?

9693_4837674018315_186367325_nOur daughter loves to bake as much as I do, but we are both finding out bakery cookies are just as good! So now we go to Wegmans and stock up on German Lebkucken, buy our favorite cookie – Oreos with the red stuffing and choose a few Christmas cookies at our favorite bakery. We are also blessed with my sister who still loves to bake and will bring over our mothers Butter Cut Out Cookies and friends who will not have me go without cookies.

Although I have never met a cookie I did not like I am at that age where I have to watch what I eat. And with my biggest cookie fan no longer here to enjoy the delicacies I bake, I find it is time to lay aside my baking sheet and wooden spoon – for now. I am sure once grandchildren bless my home I will once again fill my home with the aroma of cookies baking.

405158_3610376136635_1392016750_nSo now what do I do since I am not baking? Glad you asked…now my life is filled with craft and sewing projects. Instead of a messy kitchen table I have a messy craft table. The aroma of baking cookies has been replaced by the aroma of my Scentsy Warmer that fills my home with Christmas Joy.

What is your favorite thing to do for Christmas, is it baking, cooking, or crafts?

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Thanksgiving Traditions

Norman-Rockwell-Thanksgiving-thanksgiving-2927689-375-479Here I am getting ready for the second holiday season without Tom. In 35 years of marriage we have only missed two wedding anniversaries, two Christmas’s and one Thanksgiving and one New Year. Not bad for a military wife, but then he only served active duty for part of our marriage before serving the rest of his career in the PA National Guard. Lets face it, although I am proud of the National Guard and all the work they do in their states and across the sea, it is a lot easier being married to a weekend warrior then a full-time soldier.

In that 35 yrs we have made some new traditions while keeping some of the old traditions. When I was growing up we did not have many old family traditions.  Coming from a military family and a grandmother with “itchy” feet my father’s family was thrown to the four corners of the earth. My mother being from Germany never celebrated Thanksgiving so it was a new experience for her. My father was raised in the depression had a very difficult life so I always thought it was his dream to have the traditional Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving.

Dad would always buy the biggest turkey, no matter how tight the household budget. He would cook everything in that turkey including the bone for his turkey soup. To this day I cannot eat stuffing, turkey soup or homemade gravy after I helped him one Thanksgiving – he literally used all the “extra’s” that come with the turkey, for flavor he would say, but that did not encourage me.

Now mom on the other hand was not a turkey connoisseur , I can still hear her say why do we have to eat turkey? But always wanting to become American she adapted. I am sure dad taught her everything she needed to know to make the best roast turkey this side of the Atlantic Ocean. She never did understood the concept of eating turkey only once a year. I always assumed they compromised for Christmas by having ham instead of turkey or the Christmas goose.

There is a clip in a movie “Avalon” which is a movie about Polish Immigrants that reminds me of my mother. Change the accent to German and I can almost hear my mother say “I don’t understand this holiday…we don’t eat turkey all year why do I have it eat now”.

movie clip ~ I will never understand this holiday

So our Thanksgiving holiday was a table filled with all the traditional Thanksgiving Day foods and our family of 5 would eat leftovers it seemed for weeks, although I am sure it was only days afterward.  My sister and I would normally argue over who was to wash or dry the many dishes dad left for us.  Dad would say you can tell a good cook by how many dishes and pots he used…well if that is true, then my dad was a master chef!

Tom comes from a traditional American family, big dinner of turkey and ham, tables filled with food that everyone brought, family gathered around, cousins running all over the place, along with a kids table, I am sure. He was amazed when I told him I was not that fond of turkey. Poor guy did not realize he was not going to have turkey for Christmas, ham would become our  traditional Christmas dinner. He never complained as long as he had his homemade pumpkin pie, his favorite holiday pie. Being newly married and wanting to impress him since he said his mother never made homemade pies I made my Aunt Marty’s pumpkin pie from scratch…from then on I would bake all my pies from scratch using love as my secret ingredient. For 35 yrs, we would have pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and one year I surprised him and made him one for his birthday!

The only time we did not have turkey was for our first Thanksgiving, we had chicken. This was before you could buy turkey breasts or smaller turkeys. I would start baking my pies the day before and instead of homemade stuffing we had stove top. Although I do remember the first time I made homemade stuffing I burnt it…don’t ask me how, I followed the directions and sticking to my convictions I used store-bought broth instead of making my own.

It is time to make new traditions but keeping the many happy memories of the past Thanksgivings.  I remember my parents, my brother and Tom with tears, laughter, and smiles. My traditions are not like the Norman Rockwell pictures or from what is shown in holiday movies.  But like how all traditions are started, both my old and the new ones my children and I will make together, they all start from the love I have for them.

My children and I will still have turkey with all the trimmings and instead of pumpkin pie this year I am making a pumpkin roll. Instead of football it will be watching all the traditional Christmas movies, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, It Happened On Fifth Avenue”, “Christmas in Connecticut” and to keep things silly “A Christmas Story”. 

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? I would enjoy hearing about all the different ways we celebrate, including my Canadian friends.  For my friends across the world, do you also celebrate a thanksgiving holiday?

Remembering Dad

Dad and PattyFather’s Day ~ 2014

Before I was born my father had wanted to name me Patrick,  assuming I would be boy.  Since my brother and sister were already named for his father and closest sister, he wanted to give his next child a name he always liked.

After I was born there was a uproar about my name though. My father decided Patricia would be just as good a name as Patrick. Besides he had always liked the nick name Patsy. But my grandmother had wanted to name me Elizabeth Grace after her little girl who died in infancy.

We all know who won the argument and I was called Patricia. The story goes that my grandmother had come up to help my mother before and after I was born. After it was decided on what my name would be she got so mad at my mother and not only refusing to talk to her, she would not even hold me. Actually I have a picture somewhere of her holding me with a scowl on her face.

My mother told me that she was alright with the name Elizabeth, it was the middle name that had her in a tizzy. Grace…such a pretty name right?

My mother just in this country for a little over 1 year, was still learning the English language, thought my grandmother wanted to name me Elizabeth “Crazy”. She thought Grace was the word for crazy! Of coarse my father loved to tell the story and would add, “little did we know the name would have fit Patty perfectly”! Once my mother understood she told me she always regretted the misunderstanding of not realizing why the name meant so much to my grandmother.

My poor mother, although she was blamed for me not being Elizabeth Grace, it was in fact my dad who put his foot down and wanted his Patricia. I quickly became Patty, although I was never told why I was never called Patsy.  On occasion he would call me Patsy, and I might add he was the only one who was allowed to do so. He did not call me that often, but when he did it was always with a joke, a smile and a twinkle in his eyes.

He died suddenly when I was 14, four days after his birthday. I never had the chance to speak with him adult to adult, or ask him about his life as a young boy leaving home to help support his mother and sisters. When I started to learn about World War II in school he would fill in the gaps from the history books, teaching me “what the history books would not”. Those were some of the best talks I had with him.

Dad saw things during his tour in Europe in 1944-1945 that we will never be able to comprehend. Those things had haunted him all of his life. He never again found the peace in his life that was lost on the battlefields of Belgium and the Rhineland.

Growing up we had good times and bad times. Through it all we knew we were loved. I had the privilege of having him for my father, although I only knew him for such a short time.

He was far from perfect; he was a man who lived through many difficulties, being a young boy during the Depression, he had left home to support his family. He also witnessed the horrors of the brutality of what one man was capable of doing. Some of the problems and trials were of his own choosing, yet he was a gentle man, a caring man, and a man of courage. Dad was just a troubled soul – trying to find his place in this world.

Dad held many jobs one of his first jobs as a young boy was with the CCC.  After that he also worked a short time with the Ringling Brothers and Bailey Circus, if memory serves me right he told me his job was to help set up the tents.  He was a diesel mechanic and a draftsman. But his most memorable career would be his service to his country for 25 years, with the United States Army.

And that is how I like to think of him. As a soldier and a father who loved and cared for his family the best way he knew how.

Happy Father’s Day Dad ~ “Sarge”!

dad 1

Childhood Christmas Memories

Christmas Fort Bragg
I am the cute on in the middle! We are all wearing our new Christmas pj’s.

 This Christmas was full of memories. The memory of my first Christmas with Tom.  The Christmas’s when the children were small.  I can still see my son at age 6 months as he sat under the tree.  His eyes were as big as saucers and he giggled as the lights blinked. Our daughter had her first Christmas with palm trees while we were stationed in Florida.  The doll Tom purchased for her was bigger than she was!

But my first memory of Christmas was when I was 5 yrs old. Dad was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC   the first place I also remember living.  It is here I got my first bike although I think it was for my birthday and not Christmas.  Christmas was reserved for baby dolls for my sister and me, and a Texaco or Hess truck for my brother.  Along with games,puzzles, coloring books and crayons, doll houses and stuffed animals.  Dad loved to get us the musical ones from Radio Shack as we got older.  Although I loved my dolls I always remember playing with my brothers Lincoln Logs and playing with his GI Joe, my Barbie did not have a Ken doll, instead I took my brothers GI Joe (back when they were made the same size as Barbie) and married him off to my Barbie.  My Barbie was an Army wife! 

As we got older the gifts changed, coloring books for paint sets and dolls for perfume, make up and girly things.  But one thing never changed our Christmas pj’s.  That was the gift we could always count on.  The one thing we always received until well in adulthood were pajamas.  Picture me newly married and for our first Christmas we went to my mother’s house and presented our gifts and lo and behold I had my Christmas pj’s. After mom passed away I think getting my Christmas pj’s was one of the things  I missed the most from that first Christmas without her.   And as traditions go my children also received pj’s every Christmas until my son got too old cool for them and my daughter  prefers to choose her own.   Now I await grandchildren so I can continue the tradition of buying Christmas pj’s from them.

Now as I am older in years and mature in my faith there is another gift that I can always count on and not just at Christmas.  It is the gift of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Savior.  All those years ago a little baby was born that changed the world.  Today His gift of Salvation is a gift we can always count on.

May you carry the gift of Jesus in your heart all year-long.

Moving Day

This picture found on the internet creator unknown

Moving day that turned into a moving weekend!

We moved our son on Friday to his new apartment.  And lets just say, we are not as young as we used to be!  

Friday morning saw a nice sunny and cold day.  With the help of friends and his sister he moved all of his belongings to his new apartment.  He recruited his sister who had her things packed and ready to move into his larger bedroom, so she was more than willing to help.  Two years ago our son moved back home after losing his job.  Thankfully he found one quickly but stayed home to save some money and now he was ready to leave again.  When he moved back so did all of his belongings.  Our attic filled up quickly as did our den and living room and bedroom as we re-arranged our belongings to accommodate his.

I got home from work on Friday afternoon all  fired up to re-arrange the house back.  That was short-lived as we soon realized we are no longer 20 or 30 or even 40 anymore!  But Friday night we managed to move the larger pieces of furniture and in the process my daughter broke her tv stand and I broke my desk or I should say they fell apart on us.  Lesson learned –  buy better quality!

Saturday was spent moving all the little things from one room to another and today was spent putting it all back together.  Now as you know I was raised in the military and spent time as a young military wife so  moving was a way a life.  Noticed I said young and was

When I was a young wife I had a whole house unpacked and ready for living within 2-3 days while taking care of young children.  Now at a more “mature” age, I find it is an accomplishment to move a few things around and still able to stay awake at 8 pm!

We would move one piece of furniture and take a 1 hr break, move another piece and take a nap. It took me all afternoon today just to move my fabric/craft containers and crafting table to my husbands new “museum” that is now home to many of his antiques.  Of course watching tv was a nice distraction.  Especially since I was watching the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl

Our house is almost back to normal and we have more to do. So the next few days I will be catching up on all of your blogs and see what you have been up to.  I think I am going into withdrawal – I missed having my evening tea with all of you.

Right now I have a date with my comfy chair and  I do think a heating pad is calling my name. 

God bless you week!

Happy New Year

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Happy New Year to family

Happy New Year to friends

May you each enjoy the blessings

That our Lord God sends

And trust in His guidance all along the way

As you begin a brand new year on this happy day! {Thena Smith}

 

Wishing all of my family and my friends ~ {old and new} 

Gods blessings through the New Year as all your dreams come true.

Your journey is just beginning  full of  expectations and hope.

May all of your tomorrows bring you good health, happiness and

priceless treasures from the heart.    Patty ~ Jan 1, 2013

Daily Prompt: My Hero!

The daily prompt yesterday from WordPress was to tell you about our hero.  So, I thought of the people who I thought were my heroes and found that I admired them, but would not classify them as  a hero or heroine.

So who then is my hero?

The new saying that many heroes today do not wear capes but combat boots is true in my case.  My hero is my husband and yes he did wear combat boots, although his military career has nothing to do with why he is my hero. 

He took a shy young woman – me – and taught me to independent.   He is a silent man of few words but he expresses his care for me in many ways.  He doesn’t shower me with poems or romantic words, he showers me with attention. Even after 33 yrs of marriage we still hold hands. He is supportive of my dreams and goals and is always uplifting me.   When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, he loved and cared for me in his own special way, whether it was emotional support or doing something as simple as cooking dinner and cleaning up afterward.

He is the father of my children, our protector and our provider.  He has given us a stable home and food on the table.  We are just an ordinary family getting through the ups and downs of life.  He has not done anything out of the ordinary, he did not become a millionaire, nor did he set the world on fire.  But he created a loving home for me and our children.  He also is not perfect {although we let him think he is!} but he is Godly, a true man of God who has taught me about God not by words but by living his faith.

Some days I may not show appreciation for him.  I take him for granted for he is someone I can always depend upon.  As I wrote this article I have decided to tell him more often how thankful I am that God joined our lives together. That today, tomorrow and forever he is “the one who my soul searched for…and who my heart loves”… {adapted from Solomon 3:1-4}

He is a special man – a man of few words but a man with a heart of God.

Patty Tom 1979 (2)
Newlyweds Tom and Patty along with our first dog.

Busy Hands

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might” Ecclesiastes 9:10
 
As a young mother my days were filled with everything from diaper changes to kissing boo-boos and from endless piles of laundry to bedtime stories.
 
There were many days I wondered if what I did mattered.  Every day was filled with nonstop activities and housework; it was a busyness that consumed my days.  No matter how I tried to find balance between children, a husband, and every day issues it always seemed something needed done with not enough time in the day to complete it all.
 
Now as my children are grown and I have been happily married for 32 years I can see everything I did mattered, even cooking leftovers to make that dollar stretch a little bit farther. Over the years like all of us, I wore different hats and still do today; the hats continue to change in all seasons of life.
 
God entrusted to me; my husband to honor and respect, my children to nurture and raise in a Godly home and to build that home into a refuge of comfort and happiness for those I love.  What I do matters to my family, friends and those whose paths I cross and may never meet again by helping in my own small way. Hands keeping busy doing what God calls me to do.
 
As wives and moms we know juggling is no easy task and as an Army wife it also meant being a single mom, sometimes with no advance warning.  But we all did it and today many military families today struggle with loved ones deployed to far away places as they raise children alone and lonely dreams fill their nights.  Hands are kept busy building tomorrows children and waiting for loved ones to come marching home.
 
Some days I may fall short and when I do I have Christ ready to catch me and my family to encourage me.  I am secure in the knowledge that I am right where God planted me.  Through the years I knew what needed done and I did it with the mighty strength of the Lord.
 
As wives and mothers we all have our roles and responsibilities and whatever work “our hands find to do”  we are to do it with all of our might.  And wherever our lives take us ~ and whatever we do, we matter to the lives we touch.
{Patty Beggs 2012}

Where Does The Time Go?

Our son – 1 week old

This year our son turned 31. Like all other parents, we ask ourselves, where did the time go?

It truly does seem like yesterday that we were bringing him home from the hospital, in his little Steeler onesie.  He was so tiny yet so big.

Today I see a young man, a soldier and a youth leader.  In the days past I remember a baby who hated to sleep, he was always afraid he would miss something. He enjoyed being with us and never liked to be away from us for long.  But as he grew up he would be the one always going somewhere – from one adventure to the next.  Recently I told him, don’t tell me when you travel,  just let me know when you get home!  If there is a path to walk, mountains to climb and people to meet, he is there.  He inherited my dad’s “itchy feet”, always wanting to see and do what is around the next bend.

One Year Old

When he was a baby one of his favorite games was “sack of potatoes” that is when daddy would sling him over his shoulders like a “sack of potatoes”.  Another game was being attacked by the “mad washcloth” during bath time.  His squeals of laughter would fill our home.

Thoughts go back to seeing both daddy and son sitting together on the recliner watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play.  Today they go to the games and it is just as special as when they sat together, cheering their favorite team on the television.

When he was three years old we were stationed at Ft Gordon, GA where we

In Bosnia with the children
from the school his unit adopted

bought Tommy’s first set of BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform).  Tom was recently promoted, he then presented our son with his old Specialist 4 insignia.  Wherever we went on post there would always be soldiers who would salute him and make a fuss over the young soldier who out ranked them, bringing smiles to a little 3 yr old boy.  Today, he is the soldier, serving his country and bringing laughter and smiles to children all over the world.

We also share plenty of mother and son moments, when Tom would go out on TDY (temporary duty) we would make a day of it, finding new and interesting things to do, along with ordering order pizza.  So much that it became a family joke that Tom did not have to worry about the milkman coming around when he was not home, he had to worry about the pizza man! 

We also share an appreciation of movies, books, music and travel.  And we both like to laugh ~ but today his is a quiet laugh with a twinkle in his eye that fill our lives.

From his first steps to his first day of school, to the bittersweet moment of his basic training graduation and first deployment to the joyous occasion of his college graduation ~ it has been a honor to watch our baby boy grow into the young man he is today.   We thank God every day for the blessing of being Tommy’s parents.

Graduation Day!
First Grade
Little League
Wacky Teen
Hiking at the Gorge in Ithaca

Saying Goodbye

Today we say goodbye to my aunt. Although she still lived in her own home, I had been taking care of her for the past few years.  It was the house she and my uncle built with their own two hands.  She even showed me a picture when they had cardboard walls because they did not have enough money to separate the rooms with real walls.  They purchased the land for $50.00 and built the home they would share through many joys and heartaches, laughter and tears.

I never had the chance to really know her.  Our family had what  my mother called “itchy feet”.  My family could never stay in one place for long.  We all thought somewhere in our genetic pool we had gypsy blood in our souls.  So my family was made up of Soldiers and wanderers, dreamers and curious seekers of what is around the next bend.  Except my aunt.  She married and stayed in the same area for over 60 yrs.  She did not inherit “itchy feet”.

When dad retired from the army and we eventually moved to Pennsylvania I was already 14 and more interested in boys, music and having fun than to get to know my aunt and grandmother.  Relatives came and went, I grew up and married, then my husband re-enlisted in the Army and off we went.  As we settled back in Pennsylvania, responsibilities of raising our children, work, caring for my mother in law and my own illnesses never brought the time I needed to know my aunt.

About 5 years ago I started to help her out as her health started on a decline.  She was unable to drive or do errands so I was able to spend more time with her as I took her to appointments and did her shopping.  She would tell me stories of dad and the family I never knew along with her growing up years.  Most of my father’s family were mountain people, but my aunt along with my grandmother loved the beach.  I found out that she had a love of dolphins and had quite the collection.  The appreciation of the beach and dolphins live on through my daughter and sister.

She is the last of her generation in my family.  She survived the depression as a young girl, moving from place to place because her mother, raising her children alone was unable find work, she worked in a defense plant in Baltimore, MD during WWII, she worked outside the home before it became the norm and raised a family. She was not perfect, made mistakes and lived her life on her terms.  She could be stubborn most times, set in her ways and obstinate. (those that know me, may say the apple don’t fall far from the tree!!) She was also a woman of faith who knew and loved Jesus as her Savior.

I did not know that much about her, but I did get a glimpse into the person she was.  So I am thankful for the past few years. I was able to know my aunt a little bit better, to know a part of my father I never knew and saw the past through her eyes.

Although I only knew her for a short time, those that knew her best will keep her in their hearts and remember her with a smile and a tear as they remember the person she was.

“As long as we remember those we love they will never truly die but live forever in our hearts” ~ memories are our greatest treasures.  ♥