Author Archives: arjeha

A Tale of Two Cookies

Last week I wrote about our upcoming cookie exchange and I said I would write about the cookies this week. The first batch of cookies I made were Buckeye Brownie Cookies.

If you are familiar with buckeyes you know that they are peanut butter fudge balls that are dipped in chocolate with not all of the peanut butter covered, hence the name buckeye.

To start, I gathered all of mu ingredients and lined the cookie sheets with parchment paper.

As you can see, there aren’t many ingredients. The recipe starts with a box of brownie mix so that makes things easier. I followed the directions, put what I needed into a mixing bowl, and went to work. The batter is soft and sticky. I fount the best way to mix it was to use my hands so I use food preparation gloves. Makes things much easier and less messy.

Using a spoon I scooped some batter and used my hands to roll it into an ball, still wearing the gloves. I placed each ball on a cookie sheet and made an indentation in each one using my thumb. I neeced 3 dozen cookies so I made sure I portioned the batter into 36 cookies.

Now it was time to make the eye which was just peanut butter and powdered sugar.

I needed to roll 36 peanut butter balls so that I had one for each cookie. I placed one ball in each indentation and then it was off to the oven with them.

After baking they were ready for cooling and the final step.

They need some chocolate frosting, Now, you could use the bought kind but I prefer to make my own.

Although with the buckeye candy some peanut butter shows through, I cover the entire cookie .

Now they are ready to be bagged and shared.

Cookie number two was a Mexican Wedding Cookie also known as a Snowball cookie. Once again I gathered my ingredients an lined the cookie sheets with parchment paper.

I did use the mixer for this even though the batter is a bit stiff.

Again, I needed 3 dozen so I made sure I rolled out 36 cookies.

After baking and cooling a bit they were ready for the snow, powdered sugar.

Now I am all set for the cookie exchange. Hope my friends enjoy them.

I did say last week that I would share the recipes so here they are.

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Acceptance and Change

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference…

I am sure we are all familiar with the serenity prayer, but I wonder how we are at acceptance and change. Turn on the news and we are bombarded with stories that just make us shake our heads and wonder how one person can have so little respect for the beliefs and lives of others. I sometimes feel the world has gone crazy and wonder where all this is heading.

Are we becoming desensitized to what is happening around us? Are we so busy with the pace of our own lives that we don’t have time to think of others? Do we get caught up it the things we feel we need to do that we don’t even take the time to take care of our own well-being?

After I was asked to host SJT this month many thoughts started running through my head as to what topic I could/should choose for others to consider. I had to tell myself to slow down, take a breath, and relax. The topic will come to me.

This act of slowing down and letting a thought come to me made me realize that I had my topic. In this day of instant gratification we have become so use to getting what we want immediately and not having to wait. Thanks technology. Life doesn’t work that way. Whey we pray do we expect God to answer immediately. Do we get frustrated when our prayers aren’t answered yesterday? If God is patient why aren’t we?

Let’s face it. We are not fully to blame for this mindset. Marketing tells us in July that we need to start our Christmas shopping. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s cards and decorations all seem to be out at the same time keeping us in a frenzy. Buy now while supplies last. On line shopping services promise us next day delivery. We want and expect this.

How then do we slow down? We are constantly being told that faster is better. Although I don’t do it I know yoga offers breathing exercises that help us calm down and focus. Routines help me focus, feeding the cats… filling the bird feeders…turning off the TV…getting lost in a good book…working on a project.

I might have to accept that some things are not going to change in the near future, but that doesn’t that I can’t change myself and my outlook and not necessarily get caught up in the franticness of what is going on around me. Maybe the trick is to focus more on others and less on me.

The Prayer to St Francis tells us:

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

So, friends, I ask you how do you slow down?  What helps you focus on you well-being and that of others around you.  What little changes do you make in your life that can affect others?

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Cookie Exchange

I have mentioned before that once a month Kathy and I meet some of my retired co-workers for lunch. It is a way to keep in touch with friends I no longer see on a daily basis. Our December lunch is slated for next Thursday.

Last month when we were picking a date one of our group suggested that we have a small cookie exchange in December, nothing elaborate and strictly voluntary. By small I mean two or three cookies for each person instead of a plate with a half dozen or more. This way one batch of cookies should suffice. Multiple batches would not need to be baked to fill the orders. We would all get a taste of what others made as well as the recipe so that if we want more we could bake our own.

This works for me because with just Kathy and me we don’t need several dozen cookies. My biggest dilemma was what kind of cookies to bake. After some thought I decided to make some buckeye brownie cookies and some Mexican wedding cake cookies, one batch from me and one from Kathy.

The buckeye brownie cookies are one of my favorite. After all, you can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter. The wedding cookies are a type of shortbread cookie rolled in powdered sugar.

Now, I have seen instances where people put all of the ingredients into a mason jar and attach the recipe. I like this idea, but the purpose of the cookie exchange is to get ready made cookies as well as the recipe. But, I decided, what if I put the recipe and maybe a candy cane in a jar and gave that along with the cookies to each couple.

I didn’t have mason jars and I didn’t really want to take glass anything to lunch. So instead I found directions for some mason jars that will do the trick. I can put the recipe in the jar with some candy canes and I won’t have to worry about them breaking. Hope my friends like this idea.

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An Unplanned Purchase

33 minutes. That’s enough time to take care of the dinner dishes and clean out the litter boxes.

Kathy walked by about 10 minutes later. 29 minutes yet.

Hmm. I must have misread when I checked.

Dishes are washed and put away. Time to clean the boxes.

A quick glance. Wait. 40 minutes left. How can that be? I told Kathy that due to my fantastic deductive abilities I deduce that we have a problem. While I am telling her this beeps sound indicating everything is finished. No way. I went to check. It had stopped. All lights were off. I lifted the lid and checked what was inside. Clothes were soaking wet.

Great. We have a dead washer. We couldn’t dry the clothes with them being as wet as they were. I set the washer for drain and spin and turned it back on hoping this would get some of the water out of the clothes so that we could throw them into the dryer. It worked.

Needless to say, beside shopping for Thanksgiving dinner necessities we were shopping for a new washer as well.

It has been years since we bought the one we have so we had no idea what was out there. We found out. I think there was a bit of sticker shock when we started looking. Prices ranged from $500 to $1000 plus. Some were computerized. Some still had buttons and dials. Some were Wi-Fi accessible. Huh? Why would I need that.

The salesperson stated that many of the younger generation liked to start the wash while they were on they on their way home from work so it would be finished by the time they got home. Others didn’t feel like walking downstairs to start the wash so they just used their phone to turn the machine on.

Me, I don’t load the machine unless I am ready to turn it on at that time. I also don’t leave the house while the machine in running. I guess that is just me.

Anyway, after looking, comparing, and talking, we decided on a machine we liked. I will be delivered on Friday. Good, since the wash basket is piling up.

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Was Wondering, Now I Know

Well, it’s over. Finally, no more campaign ads on TV. To be quite honest, I was getting sick and tired of all of the negativity.

But now what? With all of that air time devoted to political ads how would stations fill the void? Gee, if only that money spent on TV ads could be put to better use like maybe helping those in need. I digress.

It will be at least a month or two before ads for the primary elections begin. I would hate to see TV stations going bankrupt because of lack of revenue.

I needn’t have worried. I now know what the replacement ads will be. I guess it makes sense since time is short. Money has to be made. Sales need to be announced. Consumers must be parted from their money.

Things we don’t want or need must to be made to look like things we can’t live without. Short supplies of items must be mentioned so that things fly off the shelves.

Tis the season for Christmas shopping commercials.

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Thanksgiving History

I was going to wait until later in the month to write this, but since i am searching for an idea I chose to make this my topic for today. Thanksgiving is not too far away. I am looking forward to that big meal of turkey, stuffing and all of the finings. By then I will have had at least two Thanksgiving meals, but that’s OK.

I am sure that most of us know the story of Thanksgiving and its origins, but I thought I would look a little more closely at the history of why and how we celebrate.

Did you know…

  • George Washington, in 1789, called on people of the U.S. to acknowledge God for affording them “an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness” by observing a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer”. It became a yearly tradition in many communities.
  • Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863 during the Civil War when President Lincoln asked his fellow citizens “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise….”
  • In 1941 Congress designated the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day, thus creating a federal holiday.
  • Native American harvest festivals had been celebrated for centuries. Thanksgiving, as we know it today, began in the early 1600swith the most widely known celebration being that of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, who feasted for 3 days with the Wampanoag people in 1621.
  • Turkey has become the traditional Thanksgiving fare because once it was a rare treat. During the 1830s, and 8- to 10- pound bird cost a day’s wages. I think in some stores it still does.

Anyway, these are some fun facts to mull over as you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast.

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Beholding Holy

Thank you, Fran, for leading us on this spiritual journey. Today, Fran asks us to consider what is “holy” and the part holiness plays in our lives.

Coming off of All Saints Day, I can’t help but think of what our priest said in his sermon on Tuesday. It was nothing earth shattering for I have heard it many times before from many different sources. Many bible versus imply the same thing. “We are all called to be saints.”

True, not all of us are destined for canonization, but all of us are called to be the best we can be and live our lives in ways that help others.

On rare occasions, we might find ourselves in the presence of someone who is truly holy, a person who is destined to be canonized a saint. I had that honor. It is something I will never forget.

The year was 1995. The date was June 17. The place was Mahanoy City. At that time Mother Teresa was making a visit to all of the Missionaries of Charity convents. Her last stop was to be in Mahanoy City. This was my hometown. The church was across the street from my brother’s house. I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so Kathy and I didn’t give a second thought to not going.

We got there too late to get into the church for the Mass, so we were ushered down to the hall to watch it on TV. After Mass Mother Teresa came out on the church steps to address the crowd in the street. We left the hall and went out in front the church to see and hear her.

This little, soft-spoken woman began speaking and there was silence in the street. It took on a holy atmosphere. You knew by listening to her that here was a special woman. I don’t know how many in the crowd thought she would one day be canonized a saint by the church, but no one could deny the power and holiness of this small, stooped woman. Her message, “Families that pray together stay together.”

I believe that to some extent this holiness in found in all of us and can be found in any place. Yes, churches are holy places, but what about outdoor shrines? What about a walk through the woods while in meditation? What about doing simple chores around the house?

Yes, we are all holy and we need to realize it. Think of how different this world would be if we thought of ourselves and everyone around us as saints.

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Lost in Pittsburg

I was in Pittsburg over the weekend at our annual PCTELA conference. Because it is a 6 hour drive for me to get home I decided to stay an extra night instead of leaving after the conference ended. The older I get the less I enjoy driving in the dark.

Anyway, it has become a tradition that a friend of mine who also stays and I go to Saturday evening mass and then go out for dinner. I found a church about 2 miles away from the hotel and a restaurant that was about 5 miles form where we were staying.

We had no trouble finding the church and getting to mass. Getting to the restaurant, however, proved to be a different matter.

I punched the location into my GPS and we took off following turning where we were told to turn. We arrived at a complex of some sort, We saw the back of the restaurant and just had to get to the front. I was directed to turn right. I got to the stop sign and did as I was told. We ended up on the road that would take us back to the hotel. We saw the front of the restaurant but couldn’t get to the parking lot from where we were.

What to do. We thought that if we took the first right off the road we could circle around and get back in. No such luck. We ended up on a road that would take us to Erie. Time to replug our destination into the GPS.

We had to travel the road to the first exit off of it, get off, and then get back on going back toward Pittsburg. Following the directions got us back to the same complex with the same direction to turn right.

This time, however, we noticed a little alley between two buildings. To be honest, we did notice it the first time but didn’t give it a thought. Now, we turned in there and sure enough we were where we wanted to be. We were only 15 minutes late.

Anyway, the food was delicious, the company was great and enjoyed catching up with each other.

In case you are wondering, after dinner we made it back to the hotel in about five minutes.

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Sijo

The other day I went out to get the mail. As I walked down our yard toward the mailbox something caught my eye and I just had to get a picture. The picture just screamed sijo so here it is.

Delicate purple flowers contrasted against a clear blue sky.
Their sweet fragrance carried by a gentle breeze fills surrounding air.
A true harbinger of spring; but wait, it is mid October.

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Game Day

Our group of retired school employees is always looking for activities for our members to participate in that are either free or cost very little. Today we held our second “Game Day” at one of the local libraries. We billed it as a social gathering, no cost, and a chance to learn a new game.

Different people brought games and those there could choose which game they wanted to play or learn. We didn’t have a large turn out, unfortunately. Only 7 people showed up. But we who were there had a blast.

One of the women brought Quiddler. This was not a game I was familiar with. Three of the group opted to play this.

Since Kathy was part of this group I asked her to explain how the game was played to me on the way home. Sounds like it was fun and interesting. I tend to like word games.

I took Continental Rummy. Three people wanted to play this so I joined this group to explain the rules.

This is a fun card game played with two decks of cards. The game consists of 7 hands. Each hand requires a different combination of sets or runs needed before a person can lay their cards down.

As I said, we really had a good time and are looking forward to our next game day. Hopefully, more will attend and join in the fun.

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