Happy New Year!

Say goodbye to the old and in with the old…tradition, that is.

Among the many traditions of the holiday season, one beverage was king to ring in the New Year in our household.  It still is.

Patio Punch.

Mom, or one of my siblings, would make this fruity concoction on New Year’s Eve and serve it up from our crystal punch bowl.

We spent the whole evening playing board games and card games with a glass of this deliciousness in hand. You know the glass I’m talking about.  The little punch bowl glasses that hold about 3 ounces of liquid…yeah, those.

The punch would last all night…well almost.

We’d count down the last seconds of the current year and clink our punch glasses together in celebration of the New Year.

Then, the very next night, we’d repeat the whole evening all over again…punch, board games, card games and all.

Mom and Dad were good sports to spend New Year’s Eve with us kids.

Our oldest BSF learned of Patio Punch before she was 2 years old.  It was one of the first recipes she helped me prepare.  And it left an impression.  She hadn’t even really had much juice as a beverage before Patio Punch, so after that first sip, she was hooked.

Because we had used 7-UP as our fizzy ingredient that day, and my 1 year old was just beginning to really talk at that time, Patio Punch became known as “UP” instead of Patio Punch.

To this day, the kids call Patio Punch by its new name…”UP”.

So, this year, as we ring in 2013, we will break out the “UP”, or Patio Punch, as it is known throughout my family.  It is tradition.

And I’m all about keeping the traditions alive…if you hadn’t noticed.

Oh, by the way, for the adults, a fizzy substitution of champagne or a little splash of vodka goes very nicely with a glassful of this punch.

Patio Punch

Ingredients
1 envelope Cherry-Flavored Kool-Aid
1 envelope Strawberry-Flavored Kool-Aid
2 cups sugar
2 quarts cold water
6-oz can frozen orange juice concentrate
6-oz can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 quart ice cubes
28-ounces ginger ale
OR
for an adult beverage, use a combination of ginger ale and champagne
or a combination of ginger ale and vodka

Combine Kool-Aid and sugar. Add water and stir to dissolve. Add frozen concentrates. Chill until serving time. Pour over ice cubes. Pour ginger ale slowly down the side of bowl.

A little side note…

We don’t own a punch bowl.  Never have and not sure I have room for one anytime soon. Therefore, we make our glasses of Patio Punch on demand.  I mix the Kool-Aid, sugar, water and frozen concentrates in a pitcher and keep it in the refrigerator to chill.  When someone wants some Patio Punch, I add ice to a glass and fill it up a little less than halfway with the Kool-Aid mixture.  Then, I add about the same amount of Ginger Ale or 7-UP to the glass and stir.  This way, we can have fizzy punch whenever we like.

Spirited Pancakes

Halloween is around the corner and my older, “boo-tiful” BSF keeps asking for pancakes….

for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We’ve had pancakes three times this week already.

So, while putting together a batch of pancake batter, I got a little creative with my spoon.

We’ve been practicing the alphabet letters daily and the spelling of the word “B-O-O” all month long, so it seemed natural to spell the word out with pancake batter.

I added a ghost to the mix, too, just for good measure.

With the remaining batter, I made a regular, round pancake and topped it with orange & black sprinkles.  Upon contact with the griddle, the sprinkles melted into the pancake to create a light sugar-coated crust.

When pancakes were requested yet again this week, I added some orange soft gel paste to the batter and spooned pumpkins onto the hot griddle. The results were an orange-hued pancake on the inside and a giddy and pleased kiddo at the kitchen table.

These pancakes were a hit with the whole household.

I used to make pancakes with a box mix, just to save time, but a couple of years ago, I began searching for a recipe that was more flavorful than a box mix, and that cooked up fluffy, delicious pancakes every time. I found it.

As well, I bought myself a modest non-stick griddle. Now, making pancakes is a happy affair. I don’t burn them…every…single…time…like I did when I made pancakes in a skillet on the stove.

Ah, the simple joys of life.

Happy Halloween…and Happy Pancakes to you!

Fluffy Pancakes

Ingredients

3/4 cup milk
2 T white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 T white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 T butter, melted
cooking spray, if needed

Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Alternately, heat a non-stick griddle to 350F degrees. Pour 1/4 cups full of batter onto the heated skillet or griddle, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

*You can create your own free-form designs using a spoonful of batter and your imagination.

My Source:  www.allrecipes.com

No Labor on These Days

Some of my happiest, most peaceful memories as a child come from our summer vacations spent in the woods.  My mother would prepare all summer long for the various escapes to our cabin in the cool, mountain pines.

Of our many trips to the cabin, some recollections stand out more than others….

Exploring the woods, toasting marshmallows at the campfire, waking to cold, summer mornings, chasing down and counting train cars, listening to the night radio waves, playing board and card games, drinking Crush soda, eating breakfast cereal directly out of those little individual sized boxes, tuning into the sound of raindrops during afternoon showers, picking wildflowers, studying the stars in the night sky, collecting lava rocks, riding our bicycles through the red cinder rock roads to the lake, skipping rocks, riding ATVs and just soaking up the sights and smells of the forest…These are all vivid memories for me.

Our family vacation season would invariably start on Memorial Day weekend and end on Labor Day weekend.  The bookend holidays were celebrated in the nearby small town with a rodeo and a much-anticipated parade.  Throughout the years, it became tradition for us to set up a spot and watch the parade action as a family.

Here are Mom and Dad waiting for one of the parades to begin.  I love the yarn ribbons in Mom’s hair and my Dad’s big smile.

This Labor Day weekend, we have no plans to leave town.  We are spending our time with precious friends and family, celebrating the symbolic end of summer, while swimming and barbecuing.  This has been my husband’s and my tradition, even before our BSFs, and so it continues.

The only difference is that this year, we will take in the Labor Day Parade.

However you spend your Labor Day weekend, stay safe and enjoy the special memories you create.

Happy Labor Day!

 

Patriotic Parade

Oh, how I enjoy a good hometown parade.  As a child, if there was a parade to attend, I was ready to go. I could almost always count on candy being thrown and plenty of great people watching. My proximity to the street was maximized by plopping down onto the best available curb seating. No lawn chair or seat pad was required. Those otherwise comfortable seating options would’ve created undesirable friction between me and the parade action.

As I was chatting with my dad about what we were doing this 4th of July, I mentioned that the family hiked over to the neighborhood next to ours to watch their 4th of July Parade.

We found a nice shady spot under a big oak tree.

It was smaller than last year’s parade with less than 10 cars winding around the neighborhood. Participating, there were a police SUV, an ice cream truck, a couple dozen walkers and a crew of very excited kids riding their festively decorated bicycles.

My dad told me that he always looked forward to the parade in town when he was a kid. He had a bicycle that he tricked out with all kinds of embellishments. There were twisted cords on every spoke. For the 4th of July, there were red, white and blue cords.  For other holidays, he would switch them out for a different color effect, such as all green cords for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which was a big day of celebration in his town of many proud Irish.  He hung streamers from the handle bars. He mounted three different horns, including one under the bike seat. He had shocks on the front fork, which made the fork longer. He was very proud of his bike and what he added to it. He couldn’t wait to have a car so he could do the same.

It is no wonder why I love parades so much.

Today, many adults and kiddos rode their bicycles in the 4th of July parade near our home. It was so neat to see their spirit and creativity. One kiddo added red, white and blue pinwheels to the ends of his handlebars. Another had a red, white and blue mylar banner attached to the front of her bike with training wheels.

The fanciest contribution was this one.

It made me smile.

I hadn’t heard about my dad’s childhood bicycle until today. The fact that my father, who contracted polio early in life, had a bike that he rode and rode in style was a joyful story to hear. I love hearing these tidbits of memories and moments from years past. The memories keep building. Just like these from today. Happy 4th of July, y’all!

4th of July Jello Jigglers

After such an awfully hot and humid 2011 summer season, I am rejoicing, to anyone within earshot, that the cooler weather this summer is an absolute surprise and a pure joy.

Now, I’m not talking about cooler weather such as that experienced in the Rocky Mountains at this time of the year.  Rather, I’m merely talking about temperatures below 100 degrees.

This is cause for celebration.

What better way to celebrate an occasion, any occasion, than with Jell-O?

When I saw this festive idea in my inbox, right before the 4th of July, I knew we had to try them out.

I got my BSF in the kitchen to help.  Since we spent a couple of days preparing and creating these treats, the excitement and anticipation grew in the eyes of my lil’ BSF.  In my book of moments-to-savor, this is golden.

These red, white and blue stars sure look pretty, if I do say so myself, and they taste light and sweet.  I think we’ve found a new traditional treat for our 4th of July celebration.

The details for making these jiggly, festive gelatinous delights are right here.

 

Remembering Mom

Good Morning to You, Good Morning to You

We’re All in Our Places

With Bright Shining Faces

This is the Way to Start a New Day

As a child, my mother would greet us, first thing in the morning, singing this song to us. She’d draw open the curtains, turn on the lights, and wake us up.  It was endearing and annoying all together.  She needed us awake and up for the day.  We wanted to keep sleeping in the dark.  What was most special about this is that her own mother sang this morning song to my mother each morning.

It is Mother’s Day and I’m thinking about my mom an awful lot.  This is our first Mother’s Day without her.  I really miss her.  More than words can express.

I have a burning desire to capture what memories and feelings I can preserve of my mother.  This blog is one place where I will document the special traditions, recipes, quotes, readings and projects that I remember from childhood and were nurtured by my mother. I continue to draw inspiration from her. Here, too, I will document our new traditions, adventures, projects and special memories for my BSFs.  I’m learning as I go. My hope is that this will be one of the greatest gifts I share with them.

Needless to say, I sing the Good Morning song to my BSFs in the morning.  I wonder if they will do the same with their babies someday.  If they do, they will know that many loving generations of mothers in their family did the same.

As she would say, and truly, “What a gift.”

 

May Day, May Day

Nothing reminds me more of May Day than the mention of homemade fudge.  Back in the day, my brothers, sister and I used to prepare handmade paper baskets or cones on May Day, fill them with popcorn and homemade fudge, and deliver them to our nearest and dearest neighbors.  Every May 1st, my mother was so enthusiastic about our mission.  She approached this day with a whole lot of love.  I can only imagine that she was reminded of her childhood days, doing this with her own mother.

While she made the goodies, we kids would decorate, cut, staple and tape together our May Day baskets or May Day cones.  When everything was readied, she sent us out to the neighbors’ homes to secretly deliver our gifts.  Well, that was the intention.  We would sneak over to each neighbors’ house, ring the doorbell, drop the goods and RUN.  Part of the fun was the anticipation of getting caught, coupled with the exhilaration of NOT getting caught.

This year, my older BSF (Bright Shining Face) helped me make a batch of homemade stovetop fudge.

We popped popcorn in the Pro Popper stovetop popper.  Geesh…That’s a whole lot of POP in one sentence.

We rolled pretty scrapbooking paper into cones and stapled handles to them.

We filled the cones with pieces of fudge and popcorn and we carried on the tradition for another generation.

I’ll wait until the BSFs are a little older before we go undercover and incognito.  In the meantime, we will enjoy the simple pleasures of the process…and maybe a little piece of fudge.

Thank you, momma, for making this May Day tradition so special in our home.

I think my neighbors thank you, too.