About Me

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I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and businesswoman with a passion for life. I try to keep my priorities in life straight - Faith, Family, Friends. I love to try new and challenging things, spend time with friends and family, sew, embroider and laugh. I run a custom apparel decorating business from my home. I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Oh, Fudge!


My hubby loves fudge. Each year at Christmas, I make one batch of fudge, his yearly treat. I hear it is good. I will take his word for it - I'm unable to eat chocolate in any shape or form. One morsel and I can except a headache for at least two days. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I decided many years ago it is not worth it.

Christmas 2014 Fudge and one of my grands
Sometimes family traits are passed on through genetics, so it must have happened with his "I love fudge" gene. Our granddaughter adores chocolate. Which is why I have begun making fudge more than once at year. She looks for any occasion to cook a batch of fudge. She turns nine this week and loves the process of creating: fudge, cookies, casseroles, crafts and messes. One day we hope she will enjoy the reverse process and clean up after she is finished. But that is another blog on another day...

Recently she asked if we could make fudge to share with her classmates for her birthday. Of course, I agreed - I look forward to spending time with my grandchildren, for any reason.

But, this week, when we should have joined culinary forces, I had a different priority: my mom. She has been ill and all my attention was turned to her. Mom is making progress in her recovery, but let's just say it was a week I would rather not repeat any time soon. It's distressing for her and a concern for me.

As a result, the process for making the rich, chocolate confection did not make an appearance on my "list of important things to do" until last night, following a concert at school.

After my coffee, I delivered it to my granddaughter's house early this morning and was paid generously with hugs.

Here is my favorite recipe, given to me many years ago by my friend, Ann.  Thanks, Ann!

Fudge:
Measure 4 and one-half cups of white, granular sugar in a heavy pan.
Add 12 ounces evaporated milk.
Bring slowly to a rolling boil, then boil for exactly eight minutes.

Remove from heat.
Add 18 ounces bittersweet chocolate morsels
8 ounces miniature marshmallows
1 stick butter
1 tsp real vanilla extract

Stir until melted.
Add 2 cups broken English walnuts (optional)

Pour into buttered 9 x 13 cake pan or two 8 x 8 pans.

Cool, cut, enjoy. Unless of course your body doesn't appreciate chocolate. In that case, make it for someone else and make them extremely happy.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lessons

Earlier this month, my father-in-law was laid to rest. We had a near perfect day for a man who lived his faith, had a passion for his family, farming, working hard and telling a good joke. It seems fitting that his funeral Mass and burial was on April Fool's Day with temperatures in the eighties. The Mass was one of the most beautiful I have ever attended.
     As we processed in to church the choir, along with the congregation, filled the church with melody. Robert, a member of that church choir for sixty-five years, must have been pleased. The building swelled with song. The family - his wife of sixty-eight and a half years; twelve of their thirteen children; their spouses; most their grandchildren; great grandchildren; one brother/wife; some cousins; scores of friends/extended family filled the church to almost capacity.  http://wcfcourier.com/lifestyles/announcements/obituaries/paid/robert-bernard-rottinghaus/article_66546603-5492-560b-9925-0eb92d465e2a.html

For a while I had a difficult time processing the relationship I had with my husband's father. Rick admired his father. They worked together on the farm for over fifty-six years. That's a whale of a long time. I know Rick learned many things from his father, too many to probably count. I know my hubby has a talent for looking at a problem (with equipment) and seeing the solution. To him, that is as normal as breathing. He doesn't even think about it. It's just there. And that is a great thing - to be able to fix anything.
    When our four kids were living here at home, I teased and said there were three rules to our household:
1. Your father can fix anything. And in fact, this one was close to the truth. He learned that skill from his dad.
2. Your mother makes the best cookies, ever. Well, I got by with this one until our youngest son took my chocolate chip cookies recipe and tweaked it until he took that honor. But in reality, it was a great feeling to see the result of his love of cooking/baking come to life.
3. When your mother is cold, you put on a sweater. As a young mom I was pretty thin. Everyone said, "You don't have enough meat on your bones to keep you warm." Since I became a grammie, that has changed and now I have enough flesh and stay warm with my built in furnace. And that heater isn't very well regulated.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. My father-in-law. He taught us many things. He was a very intelligent person, holding patents for several of his inventions. This with only an 8th grade education. He quit high school his freshman year to help farm. His mind never stopped; but it was pretty closed to new ideas as well, if they came from someone else.

And this was a source of contention between the two of us. I am pretty outspoken, always has been a personality trait that rests in both the positive and negative columns of life. As a result, we sometimes butted heads.

About four years ago we had the worst confrontation I ever had with an individual, well at least as an adult. His part in the screaming match was dementia, untreated, and being king of the castle all his married life. My part: thirty-plus years of pent up frustration and watching without speaking up. Well, the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan and poor Rick had to literally pull me out of the room. I continued to spew venom all the way home as I drove with more anger than I had felt in a long, long time.

I was angry at him and myself for my lack of control. I like to think I can keep my feelings in check. I found out, I can't. I took a good hard look at myself to figure out what to do in the future.
I prayed almost continually for guidance on this situation.

In my readings I found the story of Ruth and Naomi http://www.catholic.org/bible/book.php?id=8
and took heart with the proclamation made: "Your people will be my people and your God will be my God." The thought: he is my family took root. When I said, "I do," at my wedding in 1975, I took the entire family as my own. I couldn't pick and choose. After this epiphany, I began to pray every day for my father-in-law, for his comfort, for him as he walked the final few years of his journey. He was in his late eighties, and I knew his years were limited.

It's hard to be angry with a person when you keep them in prayer. I began to see him for all the good things he did. He loved his family, he loved our God, he even loved me, in spite of the fact my words often set him off. I know he was proud of me. I remembered the times he paraded his relatives and business acquaintances in my business to show them what I did. He acted as pleased with my work as if he had done it himself. He showed his affection in his own way.
And after much prayer I was able to see it for myself.
My love for him was strengthened when I put aside my ideas of how he should be and accepted him for the man he had become. When I planted a kiss on his cheek, it was with affection. When I asked him how he was feeling, I was anxious to hear his answer.

So when we said good-bye to him, I was able to say with deep affection, "When he met his creator I bet he heard the words: 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. You used everything I gave you.'"

May he rest in peace in the arms of Jesus.