Almost every morning my body wakes me up to I can see first light.
I just love to see it, especially out my window at home.
It is something sort of ancient in me. I love to see how the light colors day.
Right now, I am sitting on the terrace of my friends home, above Lago Maggiore in northern Italy. I have been on my #summeradventure2013 with my family.
Today is our last full day of vacationing. Tomorrow we turn towards home.
I read my pal, Stephanie Gunning’s newsletter this morning. She offers a challenge to make August a month of Self Expression which fits right in to my views for Laundry Line Divine. This website is a hub of self-expression for me and for the guests who post here. I am very attracted to people who express. The women of the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series, like me, are pressed to express. Even the people who comment on this site, especially in last week’s post about 6 word memoirs, are pressed to express. How I love the community of Laundry Line Divine.
This morning, as I greet the light and joy settles in to my heart once again, I am filled with gratitude for getting to live another day. Curiosity opens my eyes and fuels my steps to see what this day will bring.
Now the moon is rounding in to fullness again. Each of us are, no matter our exact location at this present moment, connected by light. Maybe that is the key to what wakes me daily, early and eager. I love knowing that wherever you are, we are both touched by this light.
That is one way I get my joy on. How about you?
With much love,
PS Here is a poem by Mary Oliver titled Why I Wake Early. She likes morning too.
“What is to give light must endure burning.”
I am slowly putting this page back together again after a bumpy few days.
Life is good and full to the brim. This website it under a bit of reconstruction.
If you would like to subscribe, to keep up with Laundry Line news, please fill out the tiny box up there on the right.
I will doing dancing to this song while you do. If all you see is a blank space here, hit your ‘refresh’ button up there on your navigation bar and a YouTube video will appear.
Here are the much awaited winners of the ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ blog drawing:
Corey Sprague and Lynn Amaral won a copy of my Rice Pudding recipe.
Lisa Millen and Angela Vuagniaux won a copy of Janet Elsbach’s brownie recipe.
Lorrin Krouss won an original letterpress print, first edition on archival paper, by me at PRESS as part of
the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers events.
And Peggy Barrett won Alana Chernila‘s The Homemade Pantry.
I am so honored to get to mail you these gifts.
Here is Peggy with hers. She is a long time reader of LLD. Thank you Peggy!
Look forward to more here on the Laundry Line. I have some new friends here, Jennifer Boire- who’s poem was posted here the other day and Miranda Hersey Helin, who’s Studio Mothers site feels like my home away from home here on the internet. And I still have some wonderful photos of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. I do have a new persona of ‘girl journalist’. Without the training, but armed with my camera and tiny notebook, I love to document events I am part of, which give me results like these.
My senses are flooded in December. Advent rolls in on a wreath of candles. My daughter was the Advent Angel at her former kindergarten, the scent of pine in her hair, a gently laid hand on the backs of tiny kinderchildren illumined by the candle flame they carefully dip towards to light their own candles.
Hanukah. We did not even have the right candles to fit our Menorah this year and we still managed to light our table well enough to see the latkes and pass the sour cream.
Now, nearly 2 weeks to Christmas and I have no choice but to give you this recipe that was Mom’s classic cookie. She and my Aunt Ruth, as you can see from the notes, baked it when I was a tiny kid in Chicago. Then, as I got older, I helped in the baking. Mom showed me how to press lightly on the baking cookie to make an indent with my finger. If it did not dent the cookie, they were firm enough to be done.
I have played with this recipe over the years. When Ben was a baby and I had lots of time to bake, I fooled around with the flour ratio…whole wheat, pastry flour or not, all unbleached to my current favorite of all whole-wheat pastry flour. Then the molasses, of which my family loves the flavor, so blackstrap, is the most satisfying choice there. And, gives me the feeling of some nutrition in these delicious cookies that I could eat for every meal.
During those baby years of Ben’s, Mom always sent cookies or arrived with dough, if she visited during hunting season on her own. I loved her cookies next to mine; she used a lot more flour in rolling them out, and usually did not color her icing. I would let her cookies sit over the holidays so I could enjoy Mom’s box all to myself with Ben in January.
There is a medicinal quality to these cookies. Ben used to be plagued with whatever stomach bug was wintering in our neighborhood. I could tell he had rounded the mending bend when he would dig in to the gingerbread cookie tin and sit with his back against the outside door, which was cool- his face still warm with fever and flushed…sucking on a gingie, hard and clove scented. Somewhere there is a photo of this. Maybe I can find it for you.
Then, there is the cultural aspect of these cookies. My Mother-in-law was Jewish. She had never, ever, made or even eaten gingerbread cookies. In her years here in Massachusetts, we would save the decorating of these cookies to Christmas day afternoon and no one enjoyed this more than Grandma Nettie. They were a sweet Christmas introduction for Nettie.
I gratefully submit to you this recipe, originally from Betty Crocker herself, issued in the early 1960’s. My notes are there as are Mom’s.
Here it is written out to print for yourself.
Yield 2 ½ dozen or so fat cookies
Add one extra cup of flour if you plan to cut gingerbread men
1/3-cup soft unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cup blackstrap molasses
Stir in 2/3-cup cold water
Sift together and stir in 6 cups sifted whole-wheat pastry flour
(This means sift it in to a bowl, and then measure out level cupfuls)
I like to sift the spices in to the flour before I go further here.
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
When your dry ingredients are all sifted and happy, mix in the wet stuff.
Chill the dough for an hour or more…like a week.
Pre-heat over to 350 degrees. Prepare your cookie sheets.
Roll out on to a floured surface. Flour your rolling pin and hands.
Have your cutters all washed and ready to go here.
Cut away. Place well apart on a lightly buttered or Silpat surface cookie sheet.
Bake until, when touched lightly with finger, no imprint remains.
Let cool on a rack.
Meanwhile, mix up the easiest icing:
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp. vanilla or lemon or peppermint extract. I like lemon.
1 tsp water or cream or milk to smooth icing. Add a tiny bit more if needed.
Ice the cookies and decorate with cut up dried fruits and all those lavish sweet things I never concede to buy, except when Grandma Nettie was around, we always had because she loved them so much.
I hope this weekend is sweet for you.
People keep telling me that this holiday will be hard without Mom.
It has been a number of years since Mom has mailed us boxes with all sorts of gifts and cookies all wrapped and lovely.
But, without her on the planet, I will continue to wrap my days with memories of favorite things Mom instilled in me.
These cookies are sublime with a cup of coffee and my sisters at a table.
Also enjoyable with tea, a dark tea with no fancy flavor.
Lunchbox-able, if you have any left when school starts.
And, in the shape of a farmer, delight my young friend who lives on a farm in Sheffield.
I can’t resist a smile from my Mom on this chilly day.