Monday, November 30, 2015

Giving Better Than Receiving!

Ho,Ho,Ho, and a very Merry Christmas to all of my many friends and family. I believe that giving is so much more fulfilling than anything I could receive in this stage of my life. My Grammy's Gang series was a joy to write and then dedicate each book to one of my awesome, hilarious grandchildren.

My 6 grandsons and 1 beautiful granddaughter have enjoyed their own special book along with those of their siblings and cousins by reading them over and over again. Some of them are well-passed the recommended ages 3-7, yet still get a kick out of them. The youngest of the seven, Gabe, is just now seeing the entire series for the first time. Oddly, When Grammy Goes Away, is his favorite. It's a story of experiencing loss. I know he doesn't understand the implications, but I think he feels connected somehow. Hopefully when I do travel to the heavens, Gabe will remember my book, and be able to deal with my passing a little easier.
By participating in my Grammy's Gang Complete Series (7bks) Giveaway, you'll have the opportunity to win these wonderfully written, beautifully illustrated, developmentally appropriate paperback versions valued at over $50. The Giveaway is scheduled for Nov. 30 - Dec. 11. Entry form is just below Grammy's Gang photo on my blog.

Good luck to all and to all a good day!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Finally Found What I've Been Looking For!

In order to dispel the mystique surrounding the title of this post, I'll tell you what I've been looking for over the past 53 years, the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the entire world! But before I graciously gift you with the specifics, you need to know the wrenching details about my never-ending quest

In 1958 I was a resident freshman at Vincentian Academy, an all-girls school in North Hills, PA. Dolly, one of my first roommmates who hailed from the South Side which was a neighborhood not far from my hometown, brought along a cylindrical tin can filled with the most amazing chocolate chip cookies ever made. Her mother was the proverbial stay-at-home mom who loved cooking and baking for her hubby and their five children. When the middle child decided to attend highschool out of town, Mrs. Matonak made sure she would have something comforting during her first few weeks of adjustment. About ten minutes into our getting acquainted, Dolly offered us (Barb, Cecilia, and myself) a cookie. Of course we eargerly accepted and from that moment we were hooked! The cookies were round, golden brown mounds laden with tons of chocolately goodness. Every bite just melted in your mouth. Luckily Dolly invited us to take more, and, of course, we grabbed as many as our grubby little hands could hold.

For the next few years my addiction  was satisfied over and over again since Dolly's mom kept the supply coming every two weeks or so. But after graduation, the four freshman of 1958 left Vincentian to make their way into the world, thus leaving their home-away-from-home and those scrumptous cookies behind.

In 1968 I married and over time, set up a household, gave birth to three amazing children, and delved into cooking, baking, cleaning, washing clothes, ironing, shopping, and everything else that came along with being a wife and mother. I lost touch with Dolly and Cecilia, but remained close to Barb since we lived only a mile apart. We were very good friends until her passing in 2008. I miss her so very much.
Over the years, I experimented with a slue of chocolate chip cookie recipes from the one on the Nestle's Tollhouse package, to the ones I found in my Betty Crocker cookbook, to the ones printed in the newspapers at holiday time, to the ones my friends and neighbors said were the absolute best. However none came close to the ones Dolly's mom made.

I tried using all butter, half butter half shortening, all shortening, but  mine always came out either flat and crispy, or hard balls you could literally break a tooth on. My kids would eat one or two and then conveniently forget they were in the cookie jar. I usually ended up throwing them away. After years of defeat, I finally gave up and bought chocolate chip cookies from a local bakery, which by the way, were never as good as the ones I had at the academy.

About 18 months ago after 50 years, I reconnected with Dolly on facebook. After messaging back and forth, we decided to meet for lunch to talk over old times. Our first get-together was filled with laughter and tears, and we promised to keep in touch regularly. And although we talked at length about the tin can and her mom's famous cookies, somehow I never asked for the recipe.

By chance, while checking my Pinterest account last week , I discovered Karri from the Pacific Northwest and her Happy Money Saver blog and her recipe for Master Chocolate Chip Cookies At first I was skeptical since I'd been let down so many times. But when I saw the picture of her cookies, the memory of what Mrs.Matonak's looked and tasted like flooded all of my senses. I just knew my search was finally over. I printed out Karri's easy to follow directions, and after carefully completing each step, I was amazed at the final product. I filled a glass with cold milk and took my first bite and was immediately transported back in time to that day in 1958 when I first met three young girls and tasted the most amazing chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide world!


                                                                                                           Master Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm sure you'd agree that this one single picture is worth more than a million words! And speaking of words, if you'd like to learn more about our days at Vincentian Academy in 1958, I've written a book, Promises, which although set in the Fifties, deals with developmental and social issues tweens/teens face today. Any of you who were teenagers during that time, will enjoy reading Promises as well since going back in time can be both refreshing and theraputic.


Yes, I've finally found what I've been looking for! Whatever it is you need to find, my advice is to never, ever give up since it could be a mere second away from being discovered!

Monday, November 2, 2015

All I Want For Christmas...

Of course all of you can finish that line, 'is my two front teeth', and at 71 I'm so happy to report that I still have mine! But after many hours of serious consideration, my list  is finally ready to send to Santa, I'd like to share it with you.

All I Want For Christmas is...
* to wake up each morning thankful to be able to serve others another day.
* to read the morning paper and discover there are more positive articles than negative ones.
* to write stories for young children that have an impact on their growth and development.
* to hit the gym with as much enthusiasm as I can muster at my age.
* to enjoy lunch with a friend who remembers 'twisting' with Chubby Checker.
* to walk 'Shadow' through our neighborhood meeting and greeting our human and animal friends.
* to sit in the familyroom watching Dr. Phil while my hubby plays Sudoku without conversation.
* to receive a phone call from one of my seven grandchildren who want to share their day with grammy
* to pop leftovers into the microwave and call it 'dinner'.
* to get back to writing stories for tweens/teens about issues they are facing in their formative years.
* to spend five minutes in a steamy, warm shower without a care in the world.
* to play a game or two of hearts on the computer and win!
* to watch an hour or two of my favorite TV comedy shows and laugh hysterically.
* to read a couple of chapters of a 'who-dunnit' in bed and figure out just who the culprit could be.
* to wish hubby and Shadow goodnight with a kiss and a pet for both.
* to give thanks for the wonderful day and pray for peace in the hearts of eveybody on the planet.
* to turn out the light and have a restful sleep with sweet dreams filled with sugar plums and ice cream.

I know my list is quite lengthy, and perhaps I won't get everything I'm asking for, but as long as I receive a few of them, my Christmas couldn't be  merrier!

My one and only wish for my family, my friends, and all of you is that  your lists will include what will truly bring happiness. Being together, going to your house of worship, carrying on Christmas traditions, telling stories of holidays past, and sharing food and drink at a common table are the best gifts anyone could receive on Christmas Day.

Although a little early, I wish everyone, no matter your beliefs, a blessed and peaceful holiday from the bottom of my heart!