tis the season or just one of those days…

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought,
doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Dr. Seuss


(sterilizing The Mayor’s things in the wake of her departure / Julie Cook / 2018)

Let’s face it…we all have those days when we feel like a giraffe with our heads
stuck in a pot of boiling water.

Perhaps you’ve never looked at it that way before, but admit it, it makes perfect sense.

Maybe you’re not exactly frazzled.
Maybe you’re not terribly overwhelmed.
Maybe you’re not running behind.
Maybe you’re not stressed.
Maybe you’re not tired.
Maybe you’re not a bit melancholy.
Maybe you’re not a bit stretched.
Maybe you’re not a bit depressed.
Maybe you’re not overly busy.
Maybe you’re not apprehensive or anxious.

Maybe you’re none of those…

Maybe it’s because you’re totally overflowing with the love and joy that has come to you
from this season…as in you’ve had one too many cups of the bourbon-laced eggnog
and now you’re delusional…
or you actually managed to grab a-hold of the true meaning of Advent and this Christmas to be.

Or if the truth is told…maybe… just maybe…
you’ll admit that you’re really feeling a few of those heavier things…
Actually, maybe, you’re feeling more than a few.
Maybe you’ll admit to the truth…
you’re feeling all of those and then some!

Hence a giraffe with its head stuck in a pot of boiling water.

So good, we are now on the same page.

I was tackling the laundry yesterday in the wake of The Mayor and her two closest aides
recent visit…

When I thought that I really wanted to cook some little something that seemed
holidayish and festive.

But time…
Where was the time?

Now I’ll happily tip my hat, any day of the week,
to all those women out there who have superpowers in that they
can work outside of the home, clean their house, wash all the clothes, run all
the errands, shuttle the kids, finish the presentations and reports,
cook festive holiday goodies, complete all the shopping, decorating and wrapping
while still making time to go to the gym, write greeting cards, read a book, and post
the latest decorative things they’ve accomplished to Pinterest or Instagram.

And if your name is not Martha Stewert, you probably haven’t done half of those things,
let alone two or simply even one to the utmost of your ability.
And no fair if you have a maid, a nanny, or a small army of assistants following you around.

I actually do think that I was once able to accomplish much more when I was a
younger woman who was working outside of the house while tending to all things of the house
and raising a husband and a child.

I have no idea as to what has happened except that I simply got old.

But by George, I was determined to make something festive today if it killed me.

Every winter, I have to haul the citrus trees, that I keep in large pots
outside throughout the late Spring to early Fall, to the basement when freezing
temperatures arrive.

One tree that I’ve had now for many years has gotten so big,
that I was left with no choice other than to sacrifice it…
I can no longer move it, even with the hand trucks,
so it will be the guinea pig.

As the question remains, can a citrus tree survive a winter in Georgia?
I’ll let you know.

But the Meyer lemon tree that is now happily safe and sound in the basement,
is loaded with ripening lemons. It’s not looking too good as they don’t like
an abrupt change in climate but the looming question…
what am I to do now with all those lemons??

I opted for a tried and true southern favorite recipe…something that makes me always think
of my mom…
That being lemon squares.

Not the most festive perhaps but they are relatively easy and certainly tasty.

And as I do tend to gravitate to the melancholy this time of year as I find myself
missing those who are now no longer present in my small world…
mother’s lemon squares were calling.

Mother wasn’t known for her cooking or baking prowess, but those things she did
manage to succeed with while being in the kitchen are now treasured.

So the lemons squares it would be….

But where was her recipe…


(just one small pile of old cards and notes)

It’s amazing how over the years I’ve amassed such a plethora of old, spotted and stained
envelopes, note cards, papers, and even old receipts all covered with the scribblings
both of myself, family and friends.
A myriad of recipes which have been meant to be tried, tested and savored…
and yet with the advent of all things internet…it’s almost too easy to click
a button rather than dig through the drawers, books, and cabinets seeking that one
lost recipe.

Finally, I found what I had written down from my mom’s recipe…
but as to where her original handwritten card currently rests eludes me…
but this would have to do. Yet I had already moved to a different recipe as I couldn’t
find this one in time.

So as this is the time of year for gifts and gift giving…and since I use to share a lot more
about cooking and recipes when I first started this thing called a blog—
here is a copy of mother’s recipe along with the one I mismashed for today’s
Lemon’s squares…

Merry Christmas!!


(mother’s recipe)

Ingredients:
For the base:
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
2 cups sifted flour (I like King Arthur’s unbleached)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
For the filling:
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
the juice from 4 lemons (1/3 cup but I actually used just shy of a 1/2 cup)
grated lemon peel from the four lemons you’ll juice
(grate them whole before cutting and juicing)
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
(it is a nice rounding out of the often harshness of fresh lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a 9×13 pan—I spray baker’s joy on the bottom and then line the bottom with
parchment paper that I cut to fit. I then spray the parchment paper
(you can use butter and flour if you prefer)

Set the prepared pan aside.

In a mixing bowl sift the 2 cups of flour and the 1/2 cup confectioners sugar—
using a pastry blender, cut in the softened stick of butter until the mixture looks
like grainy sand—and holds together when handling.

Press this mixture down into your prepared baking dish.

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until lightly
browned and puffed.

Cool while you prepare the filling.

In a bowl stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar, the grated lemon peel, a dash of salt,
1/4 cup of flour add the lemon juice, extract and then the beaten eggs until all
is incorporated.

Pop in the oven and cook an additional 25 minutes.

The filling will puff and might slightly brown just a tad.

When it’s finished baking, remove the pan and place it on a cooling rack,
allowing the pan to cool down.

(here is where some suggest putting the pan in the fridge to cool for at least two
hours but I just let it rest on the counter)

When cool—I dust the top with powered sugar—
I use a small mesh sieve that I shake over the pan
which adds a nice light dusting.

Next I use a bench scraper to cut the bars or you can use a knife

So before you’re hung up to dry, have yourself a merry little lemon square…

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:7

LEAVE IT ALONE!!!

“How did it get so late so soon?”
Dr. Seuss

“Daylight saving time:
Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the
top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”

Anonymous


(Disney’s Peter Pan)

And God said,
“Let there be light,” and there was light.
God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Genesis 1:3-4

24 hours is 24 hours no matter how you slice it.
Day.
Night.

So will someone please tell “them”—whoever the them are…to please
stop messing with the time!!!!
Just one or the other is all I ask…

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day.

2 Peter 3:8

Don’t you have places to go?!

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

Dr. Seuss

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(images of a female Ruby Throated Hummingbird / Julie Cook / 2014)

I must say, I am a bit worried.
I’m actually more than a bit worried.
Today is October 12th.
The season of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere.
It should be cold.
It should be blustery.
The leaves should be changing.
The days should be growing shorter.
I should be wearing a sweater, jeans, shoes

Instead. . .

Thunderstorms still linger
Temps are in the mid to upper 80’s
Leaves are slightly changing but mostly falling off
Humidity is high.
I’m wearing a T shirt, shorts and sandals.
And there is still a hummingbird hanging out in the yard.
Hanging out like its got no place to go.
Like its got nothing to do.
Like its got no “family” to tend to.

Hummmm. . .

Out of the regular 4 to 5 hummingbirds that annually call our yard home between April and, well, up until about two weeks ago, all birds have flown the proverbial coop except for this lone little girl.

Ruby throated Hummingbirds are suppose to head south this time of year.
Yes, I realize that this is actually the South, but I’m talking way south—as in across the Gulf of Mexico on over to the lower Yucatan Peninsula.

These tiny birds are known to fly over that vast expanse of ocean known as the Gulf—500 miles worth over nothing but water, all without stopping—in order to “winter” in a more tropical climate.

Somehow, I don’t know how, but I fear this little girl must have missed the final all call when her clan decided “it was time.”
Perhaps she was out front checking the freshly planted mums and snapdragons when her family was out back by the feeders packing their bags.
Maybe she was still asleep and missed the wake up call on the morning of the “exodus”
Maybe she thinks it’s still Summer as the weather is anything but changing to cooler times.

Whatever the reason she lags behind. . .
I hope she will soon figure out she must make haste to a place which will offer her a mild and temperate climate.

“My little sisters the birds, ye owe much to God, your Creator, and ye ought to sing his praise at all times and in all places, because he has given you liberty to fly about into all places; and though ye neither spin nor sew, he has given you a twofold and a threefold clothing for yourselves and for your offspring. Two of all your species he sent into the Ark with Noe that you might not be lost to the world; besides which, he feeds you, though ye neither sow nor reap. He has given you fountains and rivers to quench your thirst, mountains and valleys in which to take refuge, and trees in which to build your nests; so that your Creator loves you much, having thus favoured you with such bounties. Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praise to God.”

As he said these words, all the birds began to open their beaks, to stretch their necks, to spread their wings and reverently to bow their heads to the ground, endeavouring by their motions and by their songs to manifest their joy to St Francis. And the saint rejoiced with them. He wondered to see such a multitude of birds, and was charmed with their beautiful variety, with their attention and familiarity, for all which he devoutly gave thanks to the Creator.

Having finished his sermon, St Francis made the sign of the cross, and gave them leave to fly away. Then all those birds rose up into the air, singing most sweetly; and, following the sign of the cross, which St Francis had made, they divided themselves into four companies. One company flew towards the east, another towards the west, one towards the south, and one towards the north; each company as it went singing most wonderfully; signifying thereby, that as St Francis, the bearer of the Cross of Christ, had preached to them and made upon them the sign of the cross, after which they had divided among themselves the four parts of the world, so the preaching of the Cross of Christ, renewed by St Francis, would be carried by him and by his brethren over all the world, and that the humble friars, like little birds, should posses nothing in this world, but should cast all the care of their lives on the providence of God.

The story of St Francis preaching to the birds

You are one of a kind, which makes you a stand out

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
― Dr. Seuss

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(lovely Black Skimmer on the beach, Henderson State Park, Destin, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

We are each formed and made as a unique and individual creation.
We are not produced as multiple items, as poured from a single mold, nor cut out cookie cutter style with each one made just like the one before it–nor are we laid out assembly line style, piece by piece like the piece before that.

We are each a unique creation.
Even twins, triplets and those of multiple births may share many of the same characteristics, DNA and molecules yet each is a unique individual as each has a unique personality.

Therefore we are each unique and in turn special.
One of a kind.
Priceless.

Hear that what I say. . .we are each one of a kind and therefore priceless.

Not worthless.
Not less than.
Not useless.
Not to be thrown away.
Not to be written off as a nobody.
One of a kind.
A stand out.
Necessary.
Valuable.
Precious.

The Creator of the Universe has proclaimed that:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you. . .”

Jeremiah 1:5

You–so wonderfully and skillfully known, formed and made.
You who are precious to a loving and masterful Creator.

Feel free to stand boldly tall–to stand out
for you, dear child, are one of a kind.

Priceless.