Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas is almost here!

Hi everyone!  I don't know about you but December has gone so fast for me.  I've been trying to balance my time between working a lot of hours, taking care of Mia and my household, and baking, of course!  I've spent a lot of late nights and early mornings baking and decorating all kinds of cookies lately.  Of course I've been making Christmas cookies as well as some other really fun designs, too!  Make sure to keep checking the facebook page for new pictures...I try to post them as often as I can.

So it's actually a miracle and I have no idea how this happened....but Rob and I have been totally done with our Christmas shopping for almost a week now!  That's right...DONE shopping by December 15th.  I can't remember a year where it's felt so stress-free and fun.  And it's funny because I've got more going on in my life this year than any other year before.

I took a break from gift wrapping on Saturday to whip up a batch of cookies that I've actually never made before.  I found this bag of red/white Hershey kisses at Target and thought they were so pretty!  I didn't think that the mint flavor would go well with peanut butter cookies (ewww!) so I used a chocolate cookie recipe that I had and adjusted it just a little bit and VOILA!  A soft and chewy and VERY chocolatey cookie with a mint flavored white chocolate kiss on top!  You know what's funny?  I wanted to make these because I envisioned them being so pretty...but I don't even like chocolate and mint flavors together.  So I made a few dozen of them double-chocolate kiss cookies by using milk chocolate kisses on them.  They don't look nearly as pretty....but this chocolate-lover was IN LOVE with these cookies.  I don't think that there's a bakery item out there that is too chocolatey for me!  I enjoyed a few(maybe more than a few) cookies and then it was back to the ribbon and wrapping paper!

And here's a sugar cookie that I designed for Mia's 1-year old classmates.  It's a 2-pack of cookies that look like starlight mint candies!  I'm obsessed with the simplicity of this cookie and the cute packaging and how it all came together. 

Let me take this opportunity to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas.  I hope that your holidays are filled with many cookies and sweets!  I'll be back to blogging more regularly right after the holidays.  Until then...HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!! 

(Please excuse any and all grammatical and spelling errors in this blog entry.  Honestly, I'm exhausted.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Borrrrrrn in the USA

Rob is a huge Springstein fan...hence the title. lol.

This blog post is really an important pay attention!

I don't know if you've been watching ABC world news with Diane Sawyer lately but they've aired several segments about products that are manufactured right here in America and how important it is that we, as Americans, support these businesses.  We are giving billions of our hard-earned dollars to China and other countries for the products that fill our homes.  ABC news surprised a family a few months ago and instructed them to empty their home of all items that weren't American-made.  You know what was left in their entire living room?  One vase and some fresh flowers.  That's it!  If you don't believe me just take a look around your own home and try to find 5 items that are made in the USA.  It's really quite shocking.

Now I know what you're can we help it?  Big Box stores like Walmart and Target have the best prices and the easiest availability on most everyday items....I get it.  Trust me, I really do.  I don't have a lot of extra money so I'm always searching for the best price and usually the best price is on items that are made overseas.  But usually the best quality is in the American-made products.  Just something to think about!

Here's the next dilemma.  I have a child so I'm well-aware that the Christmas gifts that kids love are the Sesame Street, the Super Heroes, the Disney stuff, etc.  And it's pretty much inevitable that all of those items are manufactured in China or somewhere overseas.  Just like most of you I want my child to have those toys that she's sees on TV or in the toy catalogs and I'm 99% sure that she'll have some of them under the tree this year.  What Rob and I have done, and what I challenge you to do, too is just to try to find one or two gifts this year that are American-made.  If every American spent just $64 of their estimated $700 Christmas shopping budget on something that is American-made it would help to create something like 200,000 U.S. jobs.  (Info. taken from ABC  I don't always believe in these types of statistics but I think it's obvious that your effort would certainly make a difference in this case.  Any time that consumers choose to buy American-made products it's a win for our country in one way or another. 

You may or may not know that Rob works for a local company called Channel Craft, a manufacturer and distributor of authentic American toys, games, and puzzles.  And what could be better than a "Made in the USA" company? Well duh....they're located in Pittsburgh which makes it even more awesome!  Channel Craft was featured on the ABC world news a few months ago where they toured the factory and interviewed some employees.  You can view the segment at the Channel Craft website 
Also on their website you can purchase some classic toys for your kids or some really cool puzzles for anyone on your shopping list!  I think it's important for kids to play with toys that aren't electronic and that spark their little imaginations.  Do you want your kids to grow up without knowing how to play jacks or jump rope?  I didn't think so.  :)

Also...please tune in to the ABC world news with Diane Sawyer this evening and every evening this week.  Channel Craft employees (including Rob!!!) will be showing Christmas purchases that they made of products that are American-made. Rob and I bought Mia a Step-2 playhouse that is American-made!   A lot of "Little Tikes" products are made in the USA, too.

Here is an article that gives some great American-made gift ideas:

Here's a link to the Channel Craft Facebook page.  Like them!!!/ChannelCraft

If you have any great American-made gift ideas, please share them in the comments section!!!  I'd love to hear 'em!
Thanks for reading and Happy Holiday Shopping to all of you!  Please remember to be nice to store employees and fellow shoppers :)  A smile goes a long way!


Thursday, November 17, 2011


No....2027 is NOT the number of cookies I've made this week...although it absolutely feels like it. 

2027 is the year that Mia will be turning 17.  Why am I writing about this you ask?  Well....last night I was working on an order for a girl's 17th birthday and my mind just started to wander...Will I still be doing this when Mia is 17?  Wonder what she'll be like or what cookies she will want for her 17th birthday.  Will she even like cookies???  Will she be an employee of my bakery?(I'm dreaming, I know)  How old will I be when Mia is 17?  45.  Will I have arthritis in my hands by then?  Probably.  I hope I can make her some nice birthday cookies even though I'll be so busy at the bakery and dealing with my ailment. 

So I yell out to Rob..."Do you think I'll still be doing this when Mia is 17?"  His response:  "I don't know." (Real communicative, Rob...thanks for participating in this conversation.)

Anyway....this customer requested girly shoes and purses for her daughter's birthday dinner.  I just couldn't make purses without matching wallets...and I've had these lipstick and nail polish cookie cutters that I've been waiting to use so I made some of those, too. 

Maybe these were my favorite....
Love the little clasp on the wallet

Wait.....I think these were my favorite :)
A very rushed and non-researched attempt at a Louis Vuitton logo. 

I also worked on some football cookies yesterday so here are the pictures of those...

AND....I made angel cookies this week and forgot to take a picture of them :( 

(Imagine a picture of beautiful angel cookies here:)

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

on cloud 9.......

How does the time get away from me so quickly?  My last blog post was BEFORE Halloween and here it is November 14th already.  Is it just me or is November seriously flying by?

Well's been a really exciting couple of weeks for me and for Give Mia Cookie.  I was so honored to participate in the "Knockout Cancer" event at the Galleria mall last night which was hosted by 96.1 Kiss FM.  If you've visited the facebook page then maybe you saw some of the pictures...did you see that super-awesome picture of me and Theresa from the Real Housewives of new Jersey?  No?  OK, I'll post it again here:

Don't we look like bff's??  LOL

I'm just so excited that I got to meet her!  I'm not ashamed to admit that I watch every season of "The Real Housewives" religiously.  
Anyway...back to business...I was so completely overly nervous for this don't even understand.  I've done countless events like this for the chocolate store but never for my own business!  I was scared that it wouldn't look professional enough, that the cookies wouldn't show well, that the samples wouldn't be well-received, etc.  You name it....I was nervous about it.  In the end I was so happy with how everything went.  The location of my table was great, the display came together really nicely, and most importantly everyone seemed to love the sample cookies and designs!  At one moment about an hour in to the event I just had to catch my breath and hold back some tears.  I just couldn't believe that MY business was being introduced to so many people. 

The wonderful comments and encouragement from everyone were truly overwhelming.  I need to thank Amanda and everyone else at the radio station for giving me a chance, thank you to all of the patrons for stopping by and supporting my business, thanks to my mom for babysitting Mia, and most importantly thanks to Rob for being such a huge part of the whole night.  Not many husbands will stand in front of a pink and purple business and hand out pink and purple cookie samples in support of their wives.  Hearing how he talked about my business made me feel like he was really proud of me :)  And hearing him talk about Mia is just the sweetest thing ever :)

And now it's onto the busiest 2 weeks of baking that I've had scheduled yet.  Wish me luck!  Here are some of the Thanksgiving designs that will be keeping me quite busy next week! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The first Giveaway winner!

Hi everyone and thanks for participating in the very first giveaway from my blog.  I had so much fun reading your posts about your childhood costumes.  I laughed so hard and it brought back some great memories.  A Popple?  Seriously awesome. Raggedy Ann?  My mom made me that costume, too!  And I had completely forgotten about it until I read that post.  Next year I'm going to make PICTURES of your costumes a defiinite requirement :)

Back to business...I used and the winning number was lucky #5!  Erin McMinn is the recipient of this collection of Halloween cookies.  Congratulations, Erin!  (And great costume, too!)

The contest was just a small way of me saying THANKS for reading the blog and following my crazy business.  I'll definitely do more giveaways in the future so stay posted!

Happy Halloween everyone!  I'm up to my ears in black and orange icing for the next 2 days...I'll post pictures of all of the Halloween cookies soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Hi everyone!  Getting excited for Halloween?  Need some festive cookies?  I'm here to provide!  I'm doing my first ever "Give Mia Giveaway"!  It's a chance to win 1 dozen decorated Halloween cookies made with love by yours truly :)

Here are the "official" guidelines for this giveaway:

  • Entries will be accepted for 24 hours ONLY!  The entries will begin at 4:00 pm EST on Wednesday, October 26th 2011 and will end at 4:00 pm EST on Thursday October 27th 2011.  Entries received after the specific time period will not count. Sorry, procrastinators!
  • Prize:  1 dozen assorted Halloween cookies...sorry... no customization allowed
  • How you will receive the prize:  If you live locally in the Pittsburgh area then we can set up a time where I can deliver the cookies or of course you could pick them up, too!  Otherwise, the cookies will be shipped via FedEx or Priority Mail on either Thursday the 27th or Friday the 28th. I can't 100% guarantee delivery by the 31st depending on where you live...but I'll try...I promise!  I can only ship to U.S. residents!
  • Only 1 entry per person...but if you're the chosen winner and you decide to have the cookies sent as a gift to someone else...that's cool with me! 
  • The winner will be notified via email, I'll post it on Give Mia Cookie's facebook page, and I'll post it on the blog, too.  Basically...I'll find you :)
  • Email addresses will not be used for any other purpose other than to notify the winner
  • The winner will be chosen randomly using 

To enter:  It's simple!  Just leave a comment on this blog post answering the following question:

"What's your favorite or funniest Halloween costume
from your childhood?"
and don't forget to include your email address, too!!

OK, so I guess that's all you need to know!  Good luck! And I can't wait to read about some of those funny costumes :)  Don't be year I dressed up as a stick of gum. Yes, seriously.

Want to share this contest with some friends?  That would be super-nice of you :)  It's easy to share this on your facebook wall....simply click on the facebook icon at the bottom of this post!'re the best!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Give Mia Cookie's 1st Charitable Contribution!

I'm a true believer in giving back.  Period.  In the few short months since I've started Give Mia Cookie I've had such amazing and extraordinary feedback and support.  My family, my friends, and total strangers have reached out to encourage me, help to spread the word about my business, give my products a try, comment and "like" my photos on facebook, and even by reading this blog!  It is beyond exciting for me to see the number of blog views increase post by post and every single comment that I receive on facebook really drives me to keep going.  Because trust me...every day of doing this cookie business is a challenge and I need all of the help that I can get!

My best friend Mike recently asked me to do a donation for an organization that he supports whole-heartedly, The Best Buddies of Pennsylvania.  The Best Buddies organization supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and gives them amazing opportunities to grow and learn.  Please take a moment to check out their website!  They always have great events going on and chances to volunteer your time and/or donate money.  This particular event is the "Life is Sweet Chef Showcase"  Hmmm....Life is Sweet....I'd say that cookies would be a good fit!

I was so interested in making a donation, but so hesitant at the same time.  I have a serious problem underestimating myself and not believing that people would actually be interested in my product.  Mike had mentioned a cookie basket for the Chinese auction and my immediate thought was "No one is going to put their tickets in for my basket!"  And then I had a panic attack thinking about my lone basket sitting there at the end of the event because no one wanted it.  But then Mike promised me that he would put his tickets in for my basket :)  What a great friend!

I decided to go with a fall theme and I'm so so happy with the end result.  I made caramel chocolate pecan cookies, molasses cookies, and of course SUGAR COOKIES, too!  The basket came together really nicely (I've been making chocolate gift baskets for over 10 years so I have TONS of practice in basket compilation).   All in of my favorite projects yet.  As I continue to grow this business I hope to be able to contribute to lots of great causes and feels really great!   The event is tonight so please keep your fingers crossed that someone OTHER than Mike wins my basket.  And if you happen to be attending this event....pleeeeease drop some tickets in to win this!  Thanks :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apples to Apples

(Have you ever played that game?  Apples to Apples?  Serious fun.  Especially at the Lake. When you're drinking.  And telling stories about S.O.F.    Shout out to my cousins lol!)

Mia has begun to talk ALOT lately....and one of her favorite words is apple!  When Rob picked her up at school the other day she just had to show him all of the apple posters on the walls and say "apple" like a hundred times.  It's just ridiculously cute. 

Mia's favorite word has lead me to blog about one of Rob's absolute favorite desserts EVER.  Apple Dumplings!  Now let me tell one....NO ONE makes an apple dumpling quite like Rob's Grandma Hogue... or apple pie or applesauce for that matter.  She's an apple queen!   I've made my share of pies and pie crusts and I must say that they're one of my least favorite things to bake.  I get so nervous rolling it out because you're not supposed to touch it a lot or it totally loses it's flakiness when it bakes.  I can never get the shape of my pie to hold form so it has big dips and mounds on the top.  I've come to realize that pies are not the thing to bake of you're aiming for perfection in how it LOOKS. 
Here's a picture of an apple pie that I made in 2009 at Lake Chautaqua.  We had an apple tree in the backyard and it yielded really nice apples that year!  Notice how I had to cut out shapes to decorate the top of the pie (it's a sailboat and birds lol) was a sign of my future!!!

I'll just stick to cookies and leave the pies and dumplings to Grandma Hogue and Trax Farm!  We went to Trax Farm on Monday morning so that Mia could climb on the pumpkins and try some apple cider and just experience the very best parts of the Autumn season. Our shopping cart quickly filled up with all things apple!  We shared an apple turnover doughnut, bought apple wine, apple cider, and Rob couldn't pass up a 2-pack of apple dunplings for $2.99.  I don't think he's ever eaten a dumpling that wasn't made by his I knew what the end result would be....but we bought them anyway.  I was really looking forward to enjoying dessert later that evening. It's very rare for me to have a dessert at my house that I didn't make....and usually when I eat my own cookies, cakes, etc. I'm so super-critical that it's hard to enjoy them.   

Mmmmm....we had this ice cream in our freezer and it is the PERFECT pairing for any type of apple dessert.  I seriously LOVE this ice cream and that's weird because I usually only like chocolate frozen desserts.  GO BUY THIS ICE CREAM.  For real.  You won't be dissapointed. 

Edy's Slow Churned Caramel Delight
Anyway, we baked the dumplings for 25 minutes at 375 degrees and the house smelled divine :)  Add a scoop of ice cream, sprinkle some cinnamon on top and voila!  A perfect autumn dessert. 

Isn't this the cutest little white baking dish?  $1.99 at IKEA...I just HAD to have it and I never knew why.  NOW I KNOW!  I's a "dumpling for 2 baking dish!"

Must. Sprinkle. Cinnamon.

 Rob had a glass of milk with his (yuck) but I drank some apple cider!  Come to think of tea would have been a good choice.  Maybe next time.

My review?  Trax Farm made a pretty good dumpling!  The crust was flaky and not too doughy on the bottom.  The apple was perfect...not mushy at all and still very flavorful.  It was lacking some sweetness which I think I'm used to from Grandma Hogue's secret cinnamon drizzle...but the ice cream made up for that!  Overall I'd give it a B+. 

Rob's review:  "It's not my Grandma's."  Well....duh.....I knew that was coming.

And YES...I'm still baking sugar cookies these days...I promise that the next blog will be back on track!  I just get so side-tracked!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Turtle Cookies!!

NO, not that kind of turtle (were you expecting to see little green creature cookies?)  I'm talking about chocolate turtles!  As many of you may know I have worked for a chocolate store for a realllllllly long time.  Over 13 years to be exact.  And you know what question I get asked ALL the time?  "Are you totally sick of chocolate since you work around it all day?"  The answer...."Ummm, no.  Are you crazy?"  It's true...I've never ever gotten sick of eating chocolate...and trust me, I've eaten my fair share. :) 

The other question that people ask me quite often is..."What's your favorite chocolate in the whole store?"  I'd like to state that over the years I've tried every single thing in this place (it's called job research...hello!) but I always seem to go towards the same two things:  milk chocolate pecan slowpokes and pecan caramel truffles.   The traditional "turtle" is pecans, caramel, and chocolate...but here at Betsy Ann we call them slowpokes. Clever, huh?  And let me tell you....if you've never had a Betsy Ann truffle in your   Simply. Amazing. You.Get.The.Point.  So I can

So my mission was to translate my favorite chocolate candy into a cookie and the result was INSANELY yummy!  I found these at Target...perfect!
caramel bits!  No unwrapping needed!

Here are my caramel chocolate pecan cookies!  And guess what....I'm sharing the recipe with you...just scroll down! 

1 cup softened margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
approx. 1 cup Kraft caramel bits (I ate a handful to make sure they were ok... lol)
approx. 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I ate a handful to make sure they were ok... lol)
approx. 1 cup chocolate chips (I ate a handful to make sure they were ok... lol)

Preheat the oven to 375.

DEFINITELY line your cookie sheets with parchment (the melted caramel will stick to the cookie sheets and it's not easy to get off!) 

Using your mixer, cream the margarine and sugars until fluffy and then add in the egg and vanilla.  Beat on medium until well-mixed. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the margarine mixture and mix well.  Mix in the caramels, chocolate chips and pecans with a wooden spoon and stir until combined.  Drop the dough in rounded tablespoons onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for approximately 11 minutes(I use dark cookie sheets so depending on which kind you use the baking time may vary) until the cookies just start to brown.  Allow them to continue to bake on the warm cookie sheets for 5-7 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.  Try to keep from eating a really hot cookie because the caramel WILL burn your mouth (Obviously I'm speaking from experience...ouch!).   Store cooled cookies in an air-tight container and they will remain soft and chewy!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Canadian Sweet-Tooth vs. a Fun Funky Cupcake Balloon

As I was working on last week's cookie designs I thought..."I can't wait to blog about this!"  I feel like a real blogger :)

So...I got a cookie order back in early September for a birthday party this past weekend.  The customer had sent me a link to a picture of a party balloon called the "Fun Funky Cupcake Balloon" and asked if I could replicate it onto a cookie.   I must admit that I was somewhat nervous to click on the link.  Replicating any design onto a cookie can be quite a challenge...color matching, getting the shape just right, making regular-sized details really small to fit onto a cookie, etc.   Not to mention that the customer has something to directly compare your cookie to...and expectations run very high.  I clicked on the link and saw the balloon and my first reaction was " problem!  I can totally do that!!" 
 A few weeks went by and every once in awhile I would take another look the balloon and try to make a game-plan for these cookies.  I knew that a lot of colors would be involved and there would need to be a series of steps to complete them properly.  The thing can only plan so much...and when the time came to actually make them I was feeling the pressure.  In my "game-plan" I planned for each cookie to require about 13 steps.  Well.... 27 steps later PER COOKIE...I was really pleased with the end result.  It was a lot of color mixing, a lot of details, but truly...a lot of fun.  I couldn't replicate the balloon exactly because some details just don't translate well to a small cookie and they would make it look really crowded.  I think the general idea of the fun and funky balloon really shined through.

Now...onto a separate order from last week.  About mid-week I got an email from an old grade-school friend (St. Val's!!) who was throwing a surprise 30th birthday party for her husband in three days.    As for cookie designs, Rachael left it pretty much wide open other than wanting some 3's and 0's.  She gave me the following details:  Ryan is...a. Canadian  b. a dentist   c. obsessed with their golden retriever.  No time to game-plan on this was straight to production.   The cookie designs just kind of got created one by one...I hand-cut alot of them without any sort of template...which is awesome because the design isn't limited to the shape of a cookie cutter.  One thing I did NOT plan for was that a lot of the cookies that I decided to make were really large and I had only made a double batch of dough and there wasn't time to make any more...soooo....when all of the cookies were baked I literally had three extra to mess up on.  3!  Usually I set myself up with AT LEAST 12 extras...especially if it's a new design that I've never done before.  Talk about pressure.

So the cookies are cooling on the racks and Rob goes into the kitchen and he's giving them really funny looks.  I could just tell that he's trying to put the puzzle together and thinking "WHAT ARE THESE SHAPES??" He knows that I'm stressed about this order a little bit so I can tell that he's afraid to say anything.  But finally he says...."Katie....I think you need to make more dough and re-cut these hockey sticks because that is NOT what a hockey stick looks like."  So I say... "Thanks, Rob...but they're toothbrushes, ok?"  He saw the maple leaves and thought I was making Canadian hockey cookies...he was truly concerned and that was nice :)

Back to the cookies...the decorating went really smoothly...THANK GOD!  I darkened the red, green, and blue so they were a little bit more masculine and less primary.  I decorated the 3's and 0's with some masculine designs, the beer bottles were somewhat tedious but I thought they came out OK, the teeth came out awesome...simple and straightforward, the toothbrush bristles were cool-looking, and the plain red maple leaves kind of anchored the collection by being simple and bold. Oh..and I thought the "I <3 my Golden Retriever" bumper stickers came out really good.  They were actually my favorite of the whole group!

So the moral of this blog is....that cookies can be ordered in totally different ways.  The customer may have a specific design in mind...or they may leave it totally up to me!  There may be plenty of time to think about it...or maybe just a couple of hours.  However the orders may come in, I thank you for trusting me to make them for you.  I'm having so much fun!!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Wow...the cookie business has been busy lately!  I haven't posted pictures on facebook lately because....well...I'm just as annoyed as everyone else with the new facebook changes.  I tried to upload pictures for 2 hours one night and they just wouldn't load.  I guess I'll try again soon and maybe facebook will be nicer to me.  In the's a riveting blog post about a classic game that I happen to love....BINGO!
I got a call to do some Bingo card cookies for a client's mother-in-law's 80th birthday party.  I was so excited because making cookies that are outside the box is really fun for me.  I only wish that I'd had enough notice to do a couple of trial runs to get a better final product....but regardless I'm  pretty happy with how they turned out.  Just so you know for future reference...I am so so so so picky about cookie details that I usually end up hating the way that designs turn out.  If I had the time I would probably re-make every order at least 5 times! 

Getting back to BINGO, I have some really great memories of playing Bingo with my Grandma Stell, who passed away years ago.  She was the coolest grandma who worked at a bar and taught me how to play cherry machines, played the lottery daily and promised to take me to Children's Palace to pick out any toy that I wanted when she won, and would agree to a weekend trip to Atlantic City with just a moments notice.  You could say that she was a gambler :)  And we all loved her for it.

Stell and my mom loved to go to play Bingo at the local firehalls and was sort of their mother-daughter time together.  Can you imagine...time with your mom where you were never interrupted by cell-phone calls or emails or text messages?  Those were the days....  I was so thrilled to tag along when I was 12 or 13...the thought of winnning $ at that age was like a dream.  Stell had the embroidered Bingo bag full of Werthers Original candy, cans of Coca-Cola that she would sneak in(oh wait, that was the movie theater where she used to sneak in soda.  I think it's totally legal at Bingo),  a good-luck slot machine keychain, and of course the many many colors of Bingo dobbers (is dobber a real word?).   My grandma and my mom taught me all about the different Bingo pattern games...postage stamp, X, small frame, DOUBLE postage stamp, etc. lol. And let's not forget the elusive COVER-ALL game at the end where you're heart is pounding when you're waiting on one number for 4 calls...and then the lady at the end of the table with 76 bingo cards in front of her wins. Damn.  Sooooo close!

I haven't been to Bingo in awhile....but I bet if I call my mom right now...she'd know exactly what firehall is having the early-birds and big jackpots tonight :)  She would pack up her slightly more fashionable Bingo bag that just doesn't get used enough these days and she would meet me in a heartbeat.  She is so much like her mother...and I love her for it. 

These cookies are dedicated to Stell...who never saw her 80th birthday...I love and miss ya!

By the way...I-19 was always my lucky Bingo number....what is yours?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My house is under attack!

It's almost fall...I'm not a huge fan of this season although I know that many of you are.  As much as I love  wearing Uggs, Steeler football, and baking apple pies, fall brings one of the greatest annoyances in my life...ACORNS.  Sounds crazy I'm sure, but if you've ever been to our house this time of year you know why I hate acorns so much.  My house is literally under attack 24 hours a day from falling acorns...and here's the culprit:  Note: I put a standard-sized garden gnome next to it so that you could realize the size of the tree...and then I thought....who knows how big a "standard-sized garden gnome is" lol. Whatever...the picture was already uploaded.  You get the point.

Let's back up a few decades to when I was a many of you may know I grew up in this house my entire life.  I have many great memories that include an awesome tire swing, jumping in HUGE piles of leaves, and filling buckets with acorns by picking them up one by one. Wait, is that last one a great memory??  Oh I know why I remember it so dad used to pay my sisters and I a penny per acorn that we could collect.  Come to think of it I'm positive that he never counted them and I'm pretty sure that my sisters stole my share of the $ anyway.  Sneaky parents.  Nonetheless....this giant beautful oak tree in our backyard has given me so many fun memories to cherish.  We have always had families upon families of cute little squirrels that have lived amongst it's branches, it's been a home to cardinals and blue jays every spring, and the acorns have been a source of food to so many beautiful deer in our neighborhood.  

Fast forward to 2011....this. tree. is. on. my. last. nerve.  The roots are so huge...we've had to add many yards of soil to our yard each spring just to attempt to cover them and grow grass again.  Every attempt = fail.  Those lovely deer that live in our backyard for the constant food supply do not back down to our dog we can't leave Layla outside for the fear of them ganging up on her or giving her fleas and ticks. The leaves clog the gutters, the birds fight with eachother, the squirrels dig holes, and the acorns....ohhhh....the ACORNS.  I'm not exxagerating when I say that some of these things are the size of golf-balls.  When a strong wind blows through the oack tree, the back of our house and our deck get pelted with acorns.  It's so loud and it's somewhat scary.  Sometimes they hit the windows and I'm convinved that some little squirrel is throwing them at us. My in-laws babysat for us one evening last October and they thought that someone was shooting at our house.  We have an annual outdoor pumpkin carving party for all of our neices and nephews...we jokingly said that the kids should wear helmets.  It's really not a bad idea to be honest.  Not only do the acorns attack us by air but once they've landed on the ground it's a whole new type of attack...we can't even walk on the grass....we roll like we're wearing roller skates.  Poor poor Rob rakes them up and then shovels them into lawn bags.  The bags weigh at least 95 pounds and there's usually at least 5 bags of just acorns!  Plus all of the leaves!  Again....this tree is just driving me nuts (no pun intended).

Last year I tried to embrace the fall and even the acorns, too.  I collected a couple hundred of them that had their cute little hats still attached and filled large vases to display on my mantle.  They really were beautiful and a gorgeous fall decoration I must say.  Until a week later when I was showing them off to my mom and dad and noticed tiny little worms crawling all through the vases!  Gross!!!  The attacking acorns had infiltrated my house!!!  So I gave up...and we went back to really hating that tree.

Just this month the acorns have begun to fall again in full force since it's been so dry here in PA.  We had to hang Mia's new swing in the front yard to keep her fragile little head safe from the acorns, Layla has completely surrendered and the deer have taken ownership of the yard, and the squirrels sit on our patio table and eat the acorns ... so not to make the mess of the fallen shells in their own home...but to drive Layla crazy at the sliding glass door and so I can clean up after them at each meal and snacktime. 

This week I got a little bit sad.  I really don't want to hate this tree anymore.  I want to get back to that place where I think it's a strong and beautiful fixture of this home.  I want Mia to have good memories of it, too.    I sorted through the huge lawn bags of acorns before garbage night this week (I probably looked like a total lunatic) and collected a couple hundred acorns and "hats". I did a little research and learned how to dry the acorns and kill all of the bugs and germs...and then I went to work.  I had these mirrors that I bought at Ikea years ago just lying I got out the hot glue gun and got a little crafty.  After finishing two mirrors I even have enough acorns leftover to fill some vases for the mantle :) 

I have a new appreciation for my aging tree.  I've realized that although it won't create the same memories for Mia, she will have brand new ones that are hers and hers alone.  She'll always remember that we made everyone wear helmets at the pumpkin carving party starting in 2011.  She and I will make some new "acorn art" each autumn season. And I may even bring back that classic tradition of paying her a penny per each acorn that she can collect.  My dad can front the money. 

After a lot of discussions with friends and family about new homes and new housing plans lately... it's got me thinking that I have a renewed love for my home and all of the memories and experiences that have been created here.  You just can't buy things like that.  As for the deer and the squirrels and the birds and the chipmunks and the racoons and even the skunks...I'm embracing that my backyard is home to them, and that they are happy here, too :)