Aunties M & Em

Thoughts on Faith, Family, Food, & Fun!


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Christmas Movies & Cookies

Here in the Midwest, we were hit with the first winter storm of the season…complete with freezing mist and a little snow last night.  At my house, we got about 1/2 inch of snow, with the balmy high temperature of 7 degrees.  I spent today with Hallmark Christmas Movies, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Christmas treats.

But it didn’t start out that way…this weekend was supposed to be our family get-together with Mom’s side of the family.  We were going to drive up Friday night; I was going to start the marshmallows and make the dough for a treacle tart.  Saturday I was going to make the tart, S cookies, and cut up the marshmallows…and then spend the afternoon celebrating Christmas with my immediate family, aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandma.

Yeah.  That didn’t happen.  The freezing mist moved into the area Friday afternoon, and my normal 45 minute commute from St. Louis’s Dogtown neighborhood turned into 3 hours of sitting, rolling, and sitting again.  By the time I got home Friday night, I had just about cracked up, and even if the roads had really been safe, I was in no condition to even be a passenger – I really, really don’t like driving in icy conditions.  And my drive time was peanuts compared to some of my other coworkers and friends!  Anyway…

So the travel plans changed to Saturday, and I was going still make the S cookies at the very least.  Until the whole family looked at the weather forecast and then the current conditions.  Mother Nature cancelled Christmas!  Well, okay, that’s dramatic.  Steven and I decided to make the most of the day before more freezing rain set in, and we were able to finish our Christmas shopping yesterday instead of today – yay!  By the time we went to bed last night, our church had decided to cancel services to keep everyone safe, so I knew I had a very relaxed day ahead of me today.

I woke up early, oh, say 4:30 a.m. and started watching Hallmark movies.  Every so often, Lori Laughlin would be featured with a Countdown to Christmas moment (7 days to go, y’all).  In it, she talks about holiday baking and how there is one particular apple pie that has to make every year…even if she was stranded on the moon, she’d figure out how to make it.  Lori goes on to say that it’s her way of still connecting with her dad, even though he has since passed away.

That simple statement had me thinking.  What is the one recipe I have to make every year, no ifs, ands or buts?  For me, it’s S cookies, which are a Nelson tradition…come heck, high water, or freezing rain, I will make S cookies.  I even made a batch shortly after our wedding (our anniversary is December 23), and mixed them by hand because I didn’t have an electric mixer of any kind.

But just why do I have to make them?  I had never really thought about it before…other than it’s just not Christmas without them.  But it really resonated with me when Lori said that when she makes the pie, it still connects her to her father.  It got me thinking, and I realized it’s one way for me to connect with my Grandma Nelson, Dad’s mother.  She passed away when I was two, so I didn’t really get to know her.  But she taught my mom how to make them, and in turn, Mom has taught me.

em-grandma-nelson-circa-1979

Em & Grandma Nelson, circa 1979

 

 

I wish I’d been able to know her…I know she was a great lady, and I would have loved spending time with her in her kitchen.  But I am so grateful that the people in my life who did know her tell me and Gregory (and my cousins for that matter) stories about her and my grandfather.

Unfortunately for you, dear reader, I won’t be sharing the recipe with you.  You’d have to be part of the Nelson family, either by blood or marriage, in order to learn…Dad doesn’t even know how to make them!  Mom and I didn’t teach Jessi until she and Greg were married…and she’s doing a splendid job of keeping it in the family!  I don’t know how far back that tradition goes, but I’m not willing to monkey around with tradition!

So now I’m ending this crazy winter-weather weekend with more Hallmark Christmas movies (why does A Royal Christmas have to start at 11 p.m.??  I can’t stay up to finish!) and sharing these thoughts with you.  Lori Laughlin shared one of her favorite things about the holidays, and it’s the same as mine: baking and making Christmas cookies and treats!  I love the comforting process of mixing the dough, forming the cookies, and sampling the broken ones (all in the name of quality assurance!).  And while homemade marshmallows are a new tradition for me, I love watching the sugar syrup and gelatin transform into luxurious marshmallow crème, and knowing that I made the perfect topping for my hot chocolate.

Merry Christmas to you all…and I hope Mother Nature doesn’t interfere with anyone’s Christmas plans from here on out!

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I Believe in Love

The Relay For Life was held recently and it was a wonderful event!

So much love and support for cancer survivors, caregivers, family, and friends.

D & J Cancer Crushers

Mother and Daughter Cancer Survivors

Debbie Jessi 2016

Survivors and Caregivers

survivors caregivers 2016

Hubby and I are wearing our orange Believe t-shirts. Our purchase helped Relay team, D & J Cancer Crushers, to raise funds for research, education, support for those fighting cancer, etc.
The orange is to honor my mother, who is fighting kidney cancer.

John Marsha orange for kidney cancer 2016

Love was the word of the day.

Be sure to tell your family and friends like family that you love them. Tell them every day. You never know how many opportunities you’ll have to do so.

I believe in love!

Remember that home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home!Auntie M


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I Believe

Believe.

John and I are anxiously waiting for our Believe t-shirts to arrive. These shirts were designed to be worn in support of Dominic’s other grandma, GBelieve w Dominicrandma Debbie, who is dealing with breast cancer. We chose orange t-shirts to support awareness for kidney cancer which my mother, Dominic’s Grammy, is dealing with (she’s also a breast cancer survivor). We also wear the t-shirts to honor Dominic’s Mama, Jessi, a thyroid cancer survivor.

I believe that cancer sucks.

Thinking about the Believe t-shirts got me to thinking about what else I believe in.  Here is a list of some of the things I came up with.

1.  I repeat… I believe that cancer sucks.

2.  I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

3.  I believe that every life, born or unborn, is precious and deserves to be loved, nurtured, and cared for.

4.  I believe we should spay, neuter, rescue, and adopt animals that have no home.

5.  I believe less talking and more listening would solve a lot of problems.

6.  I believe we should tell our family (and our friends like family) that we love them; and we should say it every day.

7.  I believe we should speak a blessing on our children and on our spouse when we part ways in the morning.  A simple “God bless your day!” may make all the difference.

8.  I believe singing and laughter are important parts of each and every day.

9.  I believe in having breakfast for supper, leftover birthday cake for breakfast, and ice cream at any time of the day!

10.  I believe that children are precious gifts from God. We must love them and protect them always. We must remember that they learn by doing and accidents happen…the old adage, “It’s no use crying over spilled milk,” is really, really true. Relax and enjoy!

11.  I believe that trust in God and the love and support of family (and friends like family) can help us get through just about anything.

12.  I believe that a positive outlook is important for health and well-being.  If circumstances are dire and it’s hard to be positive, see #11.

13.  Lastly, I believe in the power of prayer. And that cancer sucks. Let’s all pray for a cure.

Remember that home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M


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Good girls!

This article was in my drafts folder for over a year!  Yikes!  Many of our readers already know this story but I thought I’d go ahead and post it.  🙂

Having rescue dogs in our lives has changed us forever.

Lady, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is truly a bright light!  She was rescued from a puppy mill where she had many, many puppies.  I found her online and we were so happy when we were chosen to adopt this senior sweetheart.  The good folks at Partners For Pets rescue in Troy, IL took good care of her and we are so thankful to have become her forever home.

Lady wasn’t house trained and was very skittish, especially around me.  We wondered if a woman in her past had abused her in some way.  We’ll never know.  She’s so much better now!  She has a heart condition which she takes medication for, but she loves our family and we love her!

Lady 09-26-15 edited

Cassie, a Yorkshire Terrier, came to us through our niece, Jenna.  An older couple had Cassie since she was a newly weaned puppy.  She’s registered with the AKC and everything!  Cassie was already a senior dog when her fur-mom died and then her fur-dad went into a nursing home.  Poor Cassie was left alone in their house for weeks (with only someone coming in to feed her and let her out).  Jenna and her hubby took Cassie in but she had already developed separation anxiety and she was so upset when left alone during the day that she would potty in the house, even in an appropriately sized crate.  Needless to say, she was miserable.  When Jenna asked me if Lady needed a fur-sister, I said yes!  She still has separation anxiety issues, but we love her and are so happy to have her as part of our family.

Cassie 2014 cropped

Both girls love to take walks and sleep with us and love on everyone!  We can’t imagine life without them.

Please remember to “Adopt. If you can’t adopt – Rescue. If you can’t rescue – Foster. If you can’t foster – Donate. If you can’t donate – Educate.” There is so much to do and there are so many wonderful cats, dogs, and more who need your help.  Our local rescue is P.A.W.S. (Protecting Animal Welfare Society).  Check out all they do and take a look at the many dogs and cats they have available.  🙂

Remember that home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M

 


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Long Time, No See

Oh my goodness, it’s been just over a year since I last posted here!  Holy-moly!

There is so much to tell…and I will tell it all…but first… I AM A GRANDMA!!!

Greg and Jessi’s son, Dominic, was born last November and he is perfect!  We are all so completely in love with him!

Dominic Grandma N

In March, I went part time at my job so I could be the morning Grandma sitter and I couldn’t ask for anything better than to see him every day!

The other big thing in my life is that last August 1st – oh wow, that was one year ago today! – I started a Low Carb High Fat way of eating.  This has been so good for me!  I was borderline diabetic and that went away in the first six weeks!  I have fibromyalgia and the pain has decreased considerably – without the two prescription meds for it that I had been taking!  I lost weight and just generally feel better!

I’m participating in another LCHF challenge starting today and we were all asked to share three recipes that we feel like we couldn’t live without.  Here are mine:

1.  Fathead Pizza – I’ve tried several low carb pizza crust recipes and this one is the best!  Thank you to hubby, John, for perfecting the technique and for developing our pizza sauce recipe too!
John’s Pizza Sauce
8 oz. can tomato sauce (3/4 cup)
1 tbls Lonzerotti’s Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
one packet Stevia, to taste
Cook together until thickened.
1/4 cup = 4 g carbs

2.  My own Ice Cream – inspired by LeeAnn’s recipe at Cut The Wheat and Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream recipe.  Currently I’m obsessing on…
Coffee Ice Cream
3 eggs
3/4 cup sweetener of choice (I usually blend together two or three kinds!)
pinch salt
1 T instant coffee crystals, heaping
2 T vanilla
2 T vegetable glycerin
2-1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp zanthan gum
Beat eggs until buttery-yellow color.  Slowly mix in sweetener.  Add salt and coffee crystals.  Add vanilla, glycerin and mix well.  Add cream.  Lastly (while still mixing), sprinkle in the zanthan gum.  Freeze.  OMW, this is soooo good!  To make mocha, add 3 T cocoa powder with the coffee crystals.  🙂
1/2 cup serving = approx. 2 carbs

3.  Cauliflower Salad – our non-low carb family members also love this!
2 lbs cauliflower cut/broken into small pieces (approx. one medium head)
1/2 to 1 lb bacon, fried and crumbled (we cut the bacon into little pieces before frying)
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/2 cup sweetener of choice (adjust to your liking…I find that we like it less sweet now than before!)
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
In a large salad bowl, combine cauliflower, bacon, and cheese. In a separate bowl combine all dressing ingredients. Toss together… enjoy!  This is best if made at least several hours before serving.
Makes about 16 one-half cup servings.  1.5 carbs per serving

Mostly I eat pretty “boring” meals… I like to keep things simple, but I go to these three recipes quite frequently.

Next time I’ll tell you about the wonderful event we’re going to attend later this month!  I’m so excited!

Remember that home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M


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On becoming a Grandma-to-be

grandmother granddaughterFor years before we ever had a baby-to-be in our family, I was looking forward to being a grandma.

As a child, I loved both my grandmothers very much and loved spending time with them. There was little need for them to discipline me because I wouldn’t have said or done anything to make them angry or sad. It was a fun and happy time. Pure love.

When I grew up and had children of my own, my mother just naturally became a wonderful grandma. She had, and still does have, a beautiful way of reaching them and teaching them through unconditional love.

When my children became adults, I began to look forward to the time when I could have that kind of relationship with a grandchild.

You know how when you’re trying to get pregnant, there are pregnant women everywhere – reminding you that you’re not pregnant.

I felt a similar hurt. Every day I was on Facebook, at least one of my friends was posting photos of their grandchildren or a cute little saying about how wonderful it was to be a grandma. Some days I wanted to scream. Don’t misunderstand me… I was really, really happy for these grandmas. I really was. It just began to wear a little thin. I began to tell myself to quit hoping so maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much.

As I shared in a previous post, Greg and Jessi tried for two years before getting pregnant. Jessi knows first-hand what that felt like. When I found out that Jessi had been feeling this way for so long, I felt for her empty arms and that empty place in her heart that was just waiting to be filled by her own child.

Once we knew of their struggles, we all began to pray. I believe in the power of prayer and it was something we could do to help.

Now, thank the Lord, Jessi has their own child growing inside her! And we all continue to pray for a safe delivery and healthy baby.

Now, I’m beginning to let my own guard down a little and have hope again.

Now, when my friends or cousins or my own mother tell me how wonderful it is to be a grandma, I listen better, and I smile.

I’m a grandma-to-be. I hope I can be for my grandchild what my grandmothers were to me.  🙂

My heart is full as I write this. Let’s always remember that home is where the heart is…and there’s no place like home.
Auntie M


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It’s a surprise!

happy balloonsThe day our son and daughter-in-law came and surprised us with their good news was a wonderful day indeed!

So… What was the big surprise? Are you ready?!

I’m going to be a GRANDMA!!!

Greg and Jessi are going to have a baby!!!

Say what?  It took me a few seconds to comprehend the full meaning of this.

I mean, they had been trying for two years and had been told by a fertility specialist that it was impossible for them to have a child.

Impossible, that is, without donor eggs, hormone injections, and IVF.

And now they’re showing us a photo of a pregnancy test that says, “Pregnant”?Baby Nelson first test

Without all that scientific and medical involvement?

WOW!!!

Wow!  And thank the Lord!  This is a real answer to prayer.  🙂

I can’t stop smiling!  🙂

Then we were instructed…um…asked politely NOT to tell anybody for a month!!!

I could understand it. They wanted to have their first ultrasound to make sure everything was OK.

But, a month?  Well, as it turns out, the time went pretty quickly.  And the baby is perfect!Baby Nelson first ultrasound

They don’t want to know the baby’s gender until he or she is actually born. So there will be another surprise announcement then!  😀

Me…a Grandma.

Grandma Nelson.

Sounds pretty good!

BTW, is it just me, or does it look like the baby is in a heart?  ♥  🙂

Home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home!

Auntie M