Cookie Cutters That Will Last for Generations

Ecrandal Cookie CuttersI am a huge fan of cookies that are artistic expressions.  There are people out there that do their work on cookies and not on canvas.  The Cookies look so Beautiful!  I have a board on Pinterest that has 719 pins of these types of cookies. 

There are many cookie artists out there that I admire for different reasons.  One is Ali Bee’s Bake Shop.  She has some of the most beautiful and creative cookies I have ever seen.  Some of my absolute faves are the old fashioned LARGE Christmas Ornament Cookies. 

She is magnificent!  Look at the detail!  There are lots of tutorials on her site as well.  So that leads me to my actual subject of this post. 

Because of these fabulous cookies I started making a few here and there.  NOT as beautiful as those by any means.  And because of that I developed an addiction to buying cookie cutters!  I was not able to find the BIG ones anywhere and finally saw something about Ecrandal.  This is a magnificent cookie cutter business.  It is owned and operated by a family and each cookie cutter is made by hand by a real person here in the United States!  When they ship the cookie cutters they come with a personalized note!!

Cookie Cutters 025I was so pleased to get this note.  It made me think they  LIKE me!  It made me think that not all businesses are impersonal.  The most fabulous part of this is that the cookie cutters are sturdy, hand-crafted and will last forever!  You can make cookies with your kids and then pass them down or buy them a set. 

I will post pictures if I ever actually make these cookies.  I should have time this year to at least give it a try and hopefully make them beautiful.  Happy Baking Ya’ll!


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Things are ALWAYS Interesting in the Alzheimers Patient’s Mind!


So what would you think about this if you found it?  This is a daily occurrence in my household!  I don’t know where the misfire of brain cells happens but sometimes all is well and sometimes I find LOTS of random things in weird places.  I have NO idea where the playing cards are.  I also have no idea why the Long John Silvers Vinegar is in the card box.  I don’t know why the lid to the pot was in the dog food bin, nor do I know why my shoe inserts were in the buffet in the dining room.  I don’t know why EVERY PEN we ever had ended up in a box next to the kitchen table or why the scissors go missing ( all 4 pairs) and end up in a secret ( not so secret now that I know where to start looking).  There are hundreds of stories like this.  I am sure you have some too if you have a parent with alzheimers.  Feel free to share them here!

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Key West or Bust……………… OR How To Drive Cross Country with your Mother who has Alzheimers!



For the next several weeks I will be telling you a few of my stories about a trip I decided to take while my Mother could still remember it.  WELL that was a fantasy!  She didn’t even know who SHE was by the end of the first day!  Hopefully this story will inspire others or at least let them know they are NOT the only ones out there trying to do the best they can while learning to cope with a truly insane situation!  ALZHEIMERS !

As you may have read, about a year ago my daughter Victoria moved to Key West.  Since the day she left my Mother has been asking” have you heard from Tori?” , ” I would sure like to see where Tori lives” ,  ” Why don’t we go visit Tori?”   When I say asking I mean ASKING!  OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER, because she has no memory of asking 10 seconds ago.  So I got this idea in my head to take her to see where Tori lives.  I also thought since we had lived 19 different places as I was growing up we could go by some of those and let her see them too.  My husband and traveling companion Robert called it the farewell tour.

Day one: We drove to Nashville, Tennessee.  We had rented a transporter wheelchair to make this easy.  (we thought)  So here we are in the German Town section of Nashville at the German Town Cafe.  I thought some yummy German food ( my Mother ‘s maiden name was Baumeister) would be a great beginning to our trip.  SURE.  So imagine my surprise when they had no German food at the German Town Cafe in GERMAN TOWN beyond some spatzel and cabbage that came with the duck breast!  On top of that we asked if they could just give us a half order for my Mother.  They absolutely refused to do that because they want all of the food to look the same????? WHAT ??? I kept insisting that we would be happy to pay full price just don’t give us a full order.  AGAIN refusal.  Then I said can you give us half of it to go?  Then you can give half to the homeless folks in the neighborhood.  HE was incredulous!  NO homeless people at all in the area.  BULL$hit!!!  As we were walking to the restaurant there was a homeless lady pushing her shopping cart right down the street next to us.

Then………..things………………….Strange!  Spooky Strange!   My mother went somewhere I had never seen her go.  She was in some alternate reality, some parallel universe!  She was agitated and wanted me to call her mother or sister to see if she could stay with us.  She wanted to know if it was ok not to be home early. Some how she allowed us to call Victoria who told her it was ok to stay out with us.  THIS HAD NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.  CREEPY to have your Mother who in so many ways isn’t even your Mother any  more go way out there into the other realms of the Universe.  That totally freaked me out!  We stopped at the first hotel we could then my husband went to the liquor store and bought some wine!!!

Every so often during the night I would here her whispering………..Debbie………….debbie………. d e b b i e ………..  CREEPY!  The next morning she was fine.  There was no talk at Shoney’s where we went for breakfast about needing to call her mother.  THANK GOD!  So on we went to Chattanooga.

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Getting Ready for a LONG Road Trip!

Hornet Travel Trailer

Sometime after I retire at the end of February we will be embarking on a long trip. This is something I have dreamed of all of my adult life. My ex-husband and I had this conversation numerous times but there was NEVER any money to do this kind of thing. I am not exaggerating when I say he would get stuff out of the thrift store dumpsters and sell it at garage sales to make money because he couldn’t keep a job. He had all kinds of interesting ideas that would never happen so this trip was just a dream for many more years.

When I married my current husband of 20 years we had no money-NONE. He worked at the zoo training elephants and I worked at the Houston Park District. Maybe we made $40,000 between us but we had insurance to pay, house payments, child support to Robert’s ex wife. On Thursday before payday we would float a check at the grocery store……knowing it would not clear before we could get the paycheck in the bank the next day and we would either buy groceries or go on our BIG SPLURGE of the week and go to the Chinese Food Buffet and pig out on a myriad of yummy food. Either way it only lasted until the next day when we were back to 29 cent a pound chicken. 10 pounds for $2.90!

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Over the years things got better. MUCH BETTER! Robert and I worked and saved and worked and saved. And now we can relax a bit and travel more. So in February when I leave the Joliet Park District after 17 years as part of an early buyout, before I start one more project, I am going to take a few months off and travel. We are going to go visit Victoria in Key West, We are going to go to state parks that we have never been to before and we are going to take off our watches and only look at a calendar (which I have lived by for 17 1/2 years) when we need to put another reservation number on it.

Travel Trailers

Yesterday was a FUN DAY. We took our Grandson Christopher with us to look at Travel Trailers. He was so excited when we told him that YES, he could go in all of them. He LOVED this experience almost as much as I did. There are bunks of all shapes and sizes for 11 year old boys to sleep in, dream in and play games in. There are all manner of fun things for Grandma too! Some have Islands in the KITCHEN! Heck, I don’t even have an island at my house. Some have granite counter tops! I don’t have those either. Some have 2 bathrooms! NO KIDDING! 2 bathrooms in a travel trailer. Such fun!

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Looking for Peace

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I am forcing myself to write something! I am sitting at my table in the dining room thinking about the trip to Hawaii and how peaceful and calming it was to stand at the Lavender Farm and look out across the fields and see what seemed like all of Maui and take in the silence. Virtually no cars, no traffic, no people noise. The silence of peace.
That is the kind of peace I am looking for in retirement. At least on a somewhat more regular basis. A balance of peace and excitement would be nice and that is what I am working on now so that when February rolls around there will be fun, excitement and peace.

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Photo Friday ………………Fall is on it’s Way!


I have had the privilege to manage Pilcher Park Nature Center for the past 17 years. I love Pilcher Park and I love Nature! I am now ready to go see the rest of the world. My heart will remain here but on February 28, 2014 I will be turning my keys over to the new Nature Center Manager. May their journey be filled with as much fun as mine was!

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Photo Friday ………….. Butterflies and Flowers for you….

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Pilcher Park in Joliet, IL has a beautiful meadow hidden in the woods. You won’t find this one from your car. You will have to go to the Nature Center and walk on the Pilcher Interpretive Trail from the Nature Center to the Greenhouse. You will find this gem on that path.

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Among the coneflowers, Queen Anne’s Lace, Wild Bergamont/Monarda/Bee Balm and other prairie plants you can see how beautiful this meadow is:

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Photo Friday Flower………….. Pink Thistle

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When driving back home from Bryce Canyon National Park we saw an amazing field of pink thistle. It was so beautiful. Not only that but there was a storm coming in and that made for some beautiful clouds over the mountains. When the storm hit ……… it REALLY hit! We ran for the car but not before I got this amazing shot:

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A HUMMINGBIRD Moth! Then we ran to the car and sat while it hailed on us and wondered what we were going to tell the rental car company about the hail damage. But when we got out………..there was none. Happy Friday all!

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Photo Friday Flower……….. Rose

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There are so many beautiful roses in this world. When we lived in Texas folks used to go rose rustling all the time. They would go to old cemeteries and find old plants and take cuttings and propagate them. I never had much success with that. I am much better at rustling a fan or two of an old Iris at a cemetery. Whether you rustle them or buy them they can add some fabulous color to your garden.

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Have a Sunny Day Friends……………..


This is a sunflower from our Organic Community Garden here in Joliet, Illinois. I thought I would post it today to give everyone a chance for a sunny day!

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