Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Favorite Spot

This is my favorite spot in the whole world...the "booth" in Nancy's kitchen. Who among us doesn't remember spending a few hours hunkered down with Nancy here, sharing a Tab? My favorite thing to do after school was to drop by her house, let myself in with a yell of, "Hi, Nan...it's me", and spend the next hour or two in the booth with her, just talking. Once ensconced in the booth with our Tab and gummy bears, we were ready to solve the problems of the world...and a few of our own. We gossiped for hours about everything from school, cancer and politics to what was on sale that week at Kohl's. Sometimes we just laughed until our sides ached. Oh, how I will cherish the memories of the hours spent with Nancy in that little booth.I guess Nancy's wall stencil says it all...

Aaron showed me his newest addition to the kitchen and I love it. He hung the "Please help yourself to a can of Tab in Nancy's honor" sign right next to the frige (which he does plan to continue to keep stocked with Tab). I remember finding that pink Tab hat at Walmart after Nancy lost her hair the first time and how excited I was to bring it over to her.
Got a "booth memory" of your own to share?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nancy's Turtle Cake recipe

Sherrill Weisman asked if I would post Nancy's Turtle Cake recipe and, after much searching, here it is. It is clipped from an old newspaper that it appears our Mom sent to Nancy in 1986...maybe the York County Coast Star? The article says that the name of the cake comes from those delicious chocolate-covered pecan turtle candies. The chocolate layers have a caramel and pecan filling and chocolate frosting...yummy! Everyone always loved it when Nancy made this one. Here goes:

for Cake:
1 package German chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 pound caramels
1 cup (or more!) chopped pecans
In mixing bowl, combine cake mix, butter, water, oil and 1/2 can condensed milk. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Pour three cups of the batter into greased and floured 13 by 9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in small saucepan combine remaining condensed milk and the caramels. Place over low heat and stir until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth. Spoon over baked cake layer and gently spread evenly. Sprinkle with pecans. Top with remaining three cups of cake batter. Return to oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes longer or until cake starts to pull away from edges of pan. Cool. Spread with frosting. Optional: Sprinke frosting with more pecans (what's a few extra calories?).

for Frosting:
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
6 Tablespoons evaporated milk
1 package (1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
In small saucepan, place butter, cocoa and four tablespoons of the evaporated milk. Place over low heat and stir until butter is melted. Combine with powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth, adding as much of remaining milk as necessary for proper spreading consistency.
*Mom made a note in the margin suggesting using a little less milk for a thicker consistency.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Well, a week ago my plan was to skip Christmas decorating completely this year but it seems I've changed my mind. Every morning when I wake up but before I get out of bed, I look at Nancy's picture on my dresser and "talk" with her for a few minutes (call me crazy but I swore myself to honesty on the blog). And this morning, after our "talk, I jumped out of bed and felt, all at once, like whisking all the sadness out of the house, and taking down the Christmas boxes. Nancy loved Christmas decorating and her house was always a fairyland at the holidays so I guess she was telling me it is OK to decorate without her.

I just got in from the yard, where I get many of my Christmas decorations...I cut boughs of pine, holly and cedar , gathered some pinecones, and clipped the bittersweet that was climbing up an old tree. It felt so good to be outdoors. I have to remind myself of how lucky I am to live in Maine where the evergreens and berries grow with such abundance.
Yesterday, I made my first visit to Nancy's house since she left us and visited with Aaron for awhile. While I was there, Dawn Emery from the American Cancer Society stopped by with some baked goods for Aaron. She has been a wonderful friend and support through all this. She keeps reaching out to us even though her own boyfriend, Ian, is going back into the Gibson unit for more chemo for his cancer on Monday. He was in a room down the hall from Nancy when she was there. And, in another room nearby, was the sister of a dear teacher friend of mine whose sister is also fighting ovarian cancer. I guess cancer touches every family in some way and remembering that makes me more committed than ever to continue to relay each year with "Tufts Teal Warriors" in Nancy's memory. On that note, I want to remind everyone that my son, Rob, is going to be running the Boston Marathon this spring (April 18-19) to raise money for cancer in honor of Nancy and other members of our family who have been touched by cancer. As some of you know, our family is positive for the BRCA2 gene which causes breast and ovarian cancer. Please check out this link and consider donating to Rob's run; his goal is to raise $3750. for the Brigham & Women's Cancer Foundation.

Back to my visit to Nancy's yesterday...I ended up taking almost 100 photos of the many projects that Nancy has done around her "cottage" over the years. I can't wait to post them on this blog and share with you the stories behind each one. Some are pretty funny and many involve paint, glue guns and ladders. I also borrowed Nancy's well-worn recipe notebooks; I hope to share some of her favorites on the blog and, maybe someday, when I've got lots of time on my hands (?) in a printed recipe book to "publish" for everyone.
This little blog now has two followers...the newest being our cousin, Kathy, from Connecticut. The picture doesn't do her justice (there isn't one!) but it's exciting to me none the less. Well, the glue gun is hot now...smokin' actually...so it's time to log off the blog and get back to holiday decorating. Here's a final thought for all of you who are Christmas shopping this weekend:

"Shopping with your husband is like hunting with the game warden."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Two Crazy Crafters

I found another really cute blog as I was surfing the Internet last night and forgot to credit it in my last entry for the vintage Thanksgiving picture I posted. The blog is called Two Crazy Crafters and can be found at http://twocrazycrafters.blogspot.com/ They are a mother and daughter from Missouri who share their love of crafts and vintage things on their blog...lots of good photos for holiday decorating inspiration. Here is one from today's post:Love the pink McCoy vase and the non-traditional Christmas decorating colors.
This morning, I am off to Aaron's for a visit...my first to Nancy's house sinced she passed...not sure how that will be. I want to borrow some of her favorite recipes to share with you on this blog and photograph some her recent crafts and favorite things for you. (I feel a little like a female version of Jimmy Olsen - if you're old enough to remember him- cub reporter.)
The new blog actually has a "Follower" now...my first one and it's my own son, Rob. Makes me feel like a real blogger. If you want to follow this blog, click on the followers button on the left sidebar...it will make my day!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Well, we made it through our first Thanksgiving without Nancy...not easy but we did the best we could. Aside from missing her stories and laughter, I gotta say...Nancy, we really missed your rolls. Here's what I mean...Nancy's rolls were like this:
and this...
and mine were like this:
One bright spot in the day was enjoying baby Anna on her first Thanksgiving. How about those legs? Hank's turkey didn't have legs as plump as Anna's! Is she cute or what?
So, we reach deep into our hearts to find things to be thankful for this year...new life and old memories that we will keep close in the days to come.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcome to My Sister's Cottage

I decided to start this new blog as part of the healing process after the loss of my amazing sister, Nancy, to ovarian cancer on November 14, 2010. For three years, Nancy and I wrote a blog together called "It's Always Something", as a place to reflect on Nancy's cancer journey and share family memories. That blog is still up at http://cheryllawsonsblog.blogspot.com/ but, sadly, the final entry has been written. Over the past few days, I have missed blogging and come to realize that writing helps me express my grief, especially writing about Nancy and the things she loved.

Nancy lived in Maine, in a beautiful cottage by the sea called "Summer Star". She loved to decorate her home, celebrate holidays, make things, tell stories, bake, travel, read, and laugh. So, with Nancy as my muse, "My Sister's Cottage" will focus on 'home' and all that that means. I'd like to share ideas for making do and doing it up big...with as many photos as I can find to inspire you. Topics may include cooking, collecting, creating, decorating, entertaining, organizing, sewing, simplifying, shopping, traveling, and reading. There are links on the right side of the page to some of my personal favorite blogs; there really are some incredibly talented women out there.

Welcome to My Sister's Cottage...enjoy!