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The Gift of Memories

I have been spending the last few years trying to sort through John’s, my and our girls’ stuff, our parents’ and ancestors’ things, and family items.

We are extremely fortunate to have many mementos that we have accumulated over the years, and items that go back many generations on all branches of the family tree. Some of the lessons that I’d like to pass along are the obvious ones, which bear repeating. Others you may not have thought about.

# 1 Label all your pictures, on the back, when you can! Don’t use pencil or ball point pens, if you can avoid it. Use thin point permanent markers. Test the ink on the edge of the back of the photo. There are photos that I have been shown over the years, and ones that turned up in boxes, and drawers. Many of the pictures are obvious who they are of…some are not at all. Memories vary in their accuracy also. Even photos that the subjects of seem obvious to one family member, are not so obvious to another. We’ve had good help from some extended family members in identifying subjects and places. But there are going to be “family” photos that we cannot identify at all. Don’t let it happen in your family!

# 2 Either make a list, or individually put notes, with special pieces of glassware, china, or tools. I followed John’s mother, Harriet, around the house one day, making notes on all sorts of pieces of glassware, furniture, etc. I had it listed by whom in the family it had belonged to, and what cabinet it was in or where it was in the house. But they moved. She moved twice. Some pieces I can match up. Some, I cannot.

When we do not know if a piece of pottery has been in the family for six generations, or if it was something that Harriet bought at a Yard Sale or Flea Market, we say: “It’s an Heirloom. It was my Grandmother’s”. John’s father’s mother used to put notes inside items. They would say a few lines about the history of the item. Often, the note would also say who she wanted to have the item when she was gone. This worked very well.

His aunt and uncle gave a lot of items to the people that they wanted to have them, while they were alive. That way they could tell them about the items, and see the people’s pleasure in receiving the gifts. Many items she would label. Elizabeth, our oldest daughter, and I tried to take pictures of items, and then label the picture. It does not always work. We still have a lot to identify. But we are making progress. If you have copies of these photos off the premises, it also helps if there is a fire, or theft.

#3 The greatest gift that you can give to your family is their past. Do not be embarrassed about how you look in a video; do not be afraid of how your spelling or sentences read. Have your family run a video camera at Christmas. Tell them about the quilt that Great Aunt Annie made at her church group. Show them the piece of hand blown glass that their Uncle Donald blew, and how he could make scientific hand-blown glass. Identify the plane that Grandpop used to hone the kitchen cabinets in the house he built. If the family isn’t home for the holidays, take pictures of your bowl for baking bread; the rolling pin that was your great great grandmother’s; the china cabinet that was rescued from your parents’ house fire. Don’t just say “Great Great Grandmother’s”. Say the name. And say if you mean your Great Great Grand, or your son’s, or your grand-daughter’s. It makes a difference!

Make copies of the photos that you take of the items. Label them. Send them. Don’t worry that they are not in a fancy scrapbook. Don’t wonder if anyone will care. Do it. Give your descendents your memories.

My grandfather used to say: “It’s all memories”. Don’t wait to share those precious memories and remembrances.

With all the flooding, fires, earthquake producing rubble, and other disasters occurring daily, this all seems naïve and rustic.  And many people won’t care about their past.  But, at some point most people would say that they wish that they had more memories from their elders.

John’s health has limited his mobility the past few years, and has restricted mine.  You would think that would have helped with downsizing, but it is not so.

We are on a motivated path to try to catch up with the memories and reduce the “stuff” before someone else has to try to figure it all out.  Britta has also gotten her household items out of storage, and is working on unpacking and editing her things.

Watch for downsizing notes and offers of items for sale…in SouthEast Tennessee and Northwest Washington State. Donations will be leaving the houses and memories will be added to the blogs.

Join us on the journeys and make sure that you work on saving the memories before its too late.

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The Shop and the Greenhouse are Permanently Closed.

We are working on downsizing…a wide variety of items. I’ll be posting ways to find us on eBay, Etsy, Letgo, and Various Facebook local area Yard Sale sites.

I do post on the Facebook page at “Antiques at Morgan Lane” and “Morgan Lane Enterprises – the Shops at Morgan Lane”.  Also, general postings on the page for “Organic Greenhouse at Morgan Lane”.

The “Sleipnir Morgan Horse Farm” Facebook page and my Facebook page “Georgia Denman” are also active and ways to find us.  We still have many Morgan Horses, several trained and/or started, to finish yourself or by your trainer.

Visit us online…

But, please remember that the Shops are Permanently Closed.

My favorite Christmas/Winter Holidays Cookie:

Cranberry (- Nut) Drop Cookies

From the collection of Georgia Denman

Ingredients:

½ c. butter or margarine

1 c. granulated sugar

¾ c packed brown sugar

¼ c. milk

2 T orange juice

1 egg

2 1/3 c. All-purpose flour

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

1 c. chopped nuts (optional) When I use nuts, I use chopped walnuts

2 1/2 c. coarsely chopped cranberries

Directions:

Cream butter and sugars together.

Beat in the milk, orange juice and egg.

Mix together the next four (dry) ingredients.

Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture a cup or so at a time, and mix well.

Stir in nuts (if using) and cranberries.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on to greased baking sheet.

Bake in a moderate oven (375°) about 12 minutes, until lightly browned on bottom and edges. Makes about 6 ½ dozen.

Other than the cut out cookies, these say Winter holidays to me. If I only made one cookie this would be it.

Very moist. Definitely store in one layer, or separated in layers by waxed paper or aluminum foil in plastic container or tin. They will stick together if not layered separately.

Colorful and a bit tart. These are great with a cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa or a glass of milk.

Scotch Shortbread

Scotch Shortbread

Always use real butter for this recipe!

Ingredients:
1 c. sweet (unsalted) butter
½ c. confectioner’s sugar
2 c. sifted All-purpose flour

Directions:
Cream butter and beat in sugar gradually.

Mix in flour well.

Turn dough out on a baking sheet and pat in to a circle (round) about ¾” thick and 7” in diameter.

Pinch the edge of the shortbread all the way around and prick all over with a fork.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least a ½ hour.

Bake in a moderate oven (375°) for 5 minutes.
Then reduce the heat to 300° and bake about 45 minutes.

The shortbread should be gold, not brown, when done.
While still warm, cut in wedges. Small wedges. This is very rich!

Yields 16 small wedges.

Rolled and Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Very tender and delicious cookie dough, from my great aunt’s (Annie Oschman Youch) favorite cookie recipes.

Ingredients:
1 c shortening (Crisco)
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
2 t. baking soda
4 t. baking powder
1 c. buttermilk, you can make a substitute by adding 1 t. lemon juice to milk. Let stand a few minutes and stir before adding.
6 c. flour
1 t. salt

Directions:
Cream shortening with sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Dissolve baking soda and baking powder in buttermilk, and add to shortening mixture.

Sift flour with salt and add to the batter a scoop at a time. Mixing until well blended.

Add more flour if necessary.

Divide dough in to 2-3 portions and roll out each to desired thickness.
Place on a greased cookie sheet.
Decorate with colored sugars, sprinkles, etc as desired.

Bake in a 400° oven until golden brown.

Pepparkakor
Gingersnaps
Swedish Spiced Cut Out Cookies

These are our special Christmas tree and gift cookies. I use this recipe for our Gingerbread men, Gingerbread women and Gingerbread animals and shapes Cookies.

When our girls were young, we used to make these for on our Christmas tree and then in later years for a separate Gingerbread Christmas tree.

To hang on the tree, make a small hole in each before baking. A nail works well for making the hole. Make sure that you do not put the hole too close to the edge. After the cookies have cooled, use yarn or wide string for hanging.

This recipe makes 25 dozen small cookies or approximately 11 dozen large cookies.

The dough can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. So, you do not have to make all of these cookies at once.

Put in tins or plastic tubs (air tight) and store in a cool, dry place.

These are a historic Swedish Christmas Cookie.

Decorating:
Can be decorated with icing. We tend not to do that. We decorate with currants, or small pieces of cut-up raisins for eyes, ears, and buttons or silver balls. We do not usually sprinkle toppings on these, but you certainly could. I say ‘usually’ because depending on the age of my baking helpers, we do interesting ideas for decorating.

These are a crisp cookie. I have a great recipe for soft Gingerbread, but this is not a soft cookie.

Ingredients:
10 c. all-purpose flour (spoon tightly in to cups, but not packed down)
1 lb. butter, or margarine, softened
3 c. sugar
1 ½ c. water
2 T. Ground cloves (or to suit your taste)
2 T. Ground ginger (or to suit your taste)
2 T. Ground cinnamon (or to suit your taste)
1 T Ground cardamom (optional – I do not use)
Note: I use a lesser amount of cloves, about the same ginger, and more cinnamon.
1 T. Baking soda
2 T. dark corn syrup

Icing – see later note.

Directions:
Put flour in a mixing bowl.
Combine butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
In a small saucepan mix 1 ½ cups water and remaining ingredients (NOT icing), Bring to a boil and pour over butter and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add flour about a cup at a time, blending well after each addition.

Store, well covered, overnight in the refrigerator. Dough will be quite soft, but will stiffen overnight.

Roll a small amount at a time, on lightly floured surface, to 1/8” thickness.
Hint: Pastry cloth and a stockinet rolling pin cover rubbed with flour and excess shaken off are a useful help; but not necessary. I use waxed paper and a lightly floured wooden rolling pin.

Cut with cookie cutter(s).
Hint: Use about the same size cookie cutters for each cookie sheet for even baking.

Decorate with currants (Note: Baking Currants are actually usually Zante raisins, a tiny very flavorful raisin) or cut bits of raisins for eyes, etc.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheets in moderate (375°) oven 6 minutes, or until well browned. Let cool on the cookie sheet.

Decorate with Icing (Optional)
Icing
Ingredients:
2 c. confectioner’s sugar
1 egg white
1 t. lemon juice
Hint: use fresh squeezed lemon juice without pulp.

Directions:
Blend ingredients.

Let cookies stand until icing is firm prior to putting the cookies in containers.

Molasses Cookies
John’s Grandmother (Mary Ann James Davis’) Recipe
Often requested

Ingredients:
1 ½ c brown sugar
1 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 c. Molasses. She used Brer Rabbit. Grandma’s is an ok substitute.
1 c. boiling water
5 c. flour
1 level t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt

Directions:
Cream brown sugar and shortening, and add eggs.
Add 1 c. Molasses and beat well.
Add 1 c. boiling water to blend.
Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Add to the other ingredients a scoop or so at a time.
Drop by teaspoonfuls on to greased cookie sheets.
Bake in a moderate oven (375°) about 10 minutes.

To make this recipe as cupcakes use 4 cups flour.