Nothings Ever New — It’s All Been Done Before

Fifteen months ago my family received a devastating blow when we learned that my father had stage 2B pancreatic cancer. He was 74 at the time, in seemingly good health, and had been working on losing weight by living a healthier life style for about six months prior to his diagnosis (adding insult to injury).

Being an avid journaler you’d think I’d have written volumes on my feelings, thoughts, concerns, etc. but the fact is I haven’t written anything. I haven’t been able to separate myself enough to put pen to page in anything more than an angry outburst or two. For a year I watched as my father went through surgery, chemo, radiation, and physical therapy and slowly saw my once vibrant, robust dad become a weak, frail, empty shell of who he used to be. Heart-wrenching doesn’t begin to convey the emotional toll it took on the family.

In January of 2017 my father weighed 230 pounds. In April when he was diagnosed he was around 200. Today he is barely 160 and continues to lose weight. He is 5’10” and was never thin. Even as a boy he was considered chubby, but never really fat. He carried his weight well. I can’t say that now. In fact to see him from the back or the neck down, I doubt anyone who knows him would even recognize him.

We knew with the diagnosis that the prognosis was not good. Five years tops was what we were told. Of course, who believes that. Hope takes over and no matter what your head tells you, your heart won’t believe that “my father is going to die from this.” No matter how weak he’s become, no matter how much weight he’s lost, I still kept telling myself, “This can’t be happening. Not to my family.”

This afternoon around 2 p.m. my mother knocked on my front door. I knew immediately this was not going to be good. As I walked to the door, I took a deep breath, telling myself to calm down and be strong. My mother couldn’t look at me but just said, “I wanted to make sure you were home. I’ll get your dad.”

She walked to the car and helped my father out of the car. He nearly fell when he stood up, his legs not strong enough to hold him up. My mother grabbed him, steadied him, and led him to the door. I helped him up the stairs, gave him a hug, and out of habit asked, “How ya doing Dad?”

“Pretty terrible.” he said without looking at me and went into the house.

My mother followed him, without looking at me and told him to sit in the chair in the great room. She sat on one couch, and I sat on the other.

Once we were all seated my mother looked at me for the first time and said, “We don’t have good news.”

I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, but told myself I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t break down and make this harder on them. I had to be strong. I did everything I could to push the tears deep inside me.

“We had the appointment with the oncologist this morning, as you know, and the news isn’t good. Your father has seven large tumors consuming his liver. He has three options, but no matter what he decides to do, the doctor said he doesn’t have more than 6 months.”

At this point I went numb. My mother continued talking about the scans that were done, the test results they received, the options of heavy-duty chemo that wouldn’t buy him more time but would make him sicker while hopefully stopping the cancer from spreading or clinical trials or doing nothing. I sat there, I think asking questions at appropriate times, I don’t really remember. All I remember is glancing at my father in the chair and watching as he stared bravely straight ahead, emotionless.

When my mother was done going over everything the doctors had done and said, I turned to my father and asked, “So what do you think you want to do Dad?”

He cleared his throat and said, “I’m not sure but I don’t think I want to be sick for the remainder of what time I have left.”

I then asked more specific questions about the chemo and what it would do to him and about the clinical trials. My mother explained how the chemo would make him lose his hair, lose more weight, make him even more tired than he already was, and make him sick. It wouldn’t buy any time. As for the clinical trials, well those needed to be checked into to see if he qualified for the type of cancer he had but were only an option if he did the chemo. Again, the trials probably would not buy him any time.

I didn’t know what to say. My mother picked up on my silence and offered that my father was very concerned about all of us. That he wasn’t upset with the prognosis for himself, but rather for how those he was leaving behind would be affected. At that my father said, “I haven’t been that great a father, but I know this is going to be difficult.”

At that the tears could no longer be contained. I told him that he was a great father and there were so many wonderful years that we had together that not having him around … well would be unbearable.

All the while this was taking place, all I kept thinking was: I’m not the first person who’s been told that their father is dying. I won’t be the first daughter to lose her father. My mother won’t be the first woman to lost her husband. My children won’t be the first grandchildren to lose their grandfather. My father isn’t the first man to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This has all been done before. So why does it feel so utterly horrible? Why can’t I come to terms with this? Why do I feel like I’m the first person to go through this? That my pain is so much worse than anyone elses? That this is far too much pain for anyone to bear?

Hubby wasn’t home when my parents were over, he came home about 30 minutes after they had left. There was nothing he could say. What could he say to make me feel better? Nothing. I sat on the couch the rest of the day, staring out the window. Hubby checked on me periodically, trying to find words, but there were none. The one thing that he said was he didn’t know which was worse–losing someone quick and unexpected or watching someone die over a period of time. Of course I think watching someone dwindle away is worse, but that’s probably because that’s what we are going to have to do for the next several months now.

I have always found it interesting that everyone always feels that what they are experiencing is either better or worse than what everyone else has experienced. The pain and suffering one endures from injury or sickness, is worse than any anyone has ever faced. But in reality, is it?

I know what I’m going through is not unique. Thousands of people die every year from cancer. Thousands of families go through the pain and anguish of losing someone they love. Thousands of lives are changed forever more, never to be the same again with the death of someone close to them. Honestly though, this is no consolation. This pain is unlike anything I’ve ever felt. Losing my grandparents was very hard, losing pets seemed almost unbearable, losing friends was sad and painful, but my father…I have loved him for 50 years and I can’t imagine going into my 51st without him.

At the moment I am finding it hard to find anything to be “Simply Grateful” for, but one thing I will be FOREVER GRATEFUL for is my father and all the years we have had together, good and bad. I hope I can find the strength to make the most of the time we have left.

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Since the 4th

The 4th was a wonderful day of family, friends, food, and fireworks. I thought I was being clever by having Hubby, the kids, myself, and my parents all meet up at Planet Fitness for their FREE Pizza Night, but in the end I did just as much work (if not more) as I would have had I cooked dinner. Instead of dinner I made 6 appetizers for late in the evening and 6 desserts for after the gym. Two days in the kitchen cooking — so where’s the time savings?

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We did several of these lanterns. What fun and a lot safer than fireworks.

Oh well, when don’t I want an excuse to try a few new recipes and make a few old favorites? That would be never!

Now I’m enjoying the first true harvest from the garden and working on my first canning project of the 2016 garden season. Check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener for July 6, 2016 Garden Harvest.

July is still hot and humid, great for the garden, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Too Many Choices

When I try a new recipe, quite often I will make several variations in the hopes that one will be the “clear winner” that the entire family can agree on. In a perfect world, this might happen, but I don’t live in a perfect world.

Every time I make more than one sauce, dip, flavor, or basically give the family a “choice,” the results are all over the spectrum. Hubby will like one, Grace will like another, Zeb will like them all, and I’ll either not like any of them or one that no one else does.

Is this one of Murphy’s Laws or something? I swear, for as often as this happens, there has got to be some rule in the cosmos that I’m not aware of, but a victim of each and every time.

Knowing that offering choices opens the door for someone, everyone, to shoot down one or all of my attempts, sounds pretty stupid when I think about it. Really now, how often does Hubby give me options when he heads out to mow the lawn.

It’s not like he asks, “Do you want me to cut it on the diagonal, straight up and down, across, or perhaps mow your name in it this time?” No, he just goes out and does it. Well, actually Zeb mows the lawn, but when Hubby did mow the lawn, he never offered me any options.

Seeing as no one else thinks to give me “choices,” why is it I feel compelled to do so?

Well, let me tell you why?  I want everyone to like what I make. Is this so wrong?

Maybe not, but at the same time I need to keep myself grounded and not get my feelings hurt every time someone gives me their honest opinion and tells me they don’t like what I’ve made. Most days I can handle a little constructive criticism. There are some days though…

The day I spent, or two days really, making roasted pork tamales I made three different sauces to serve with them. Check out my post https://simplygratefulcooking.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/tamale-sauces-in-tillys-test-kitchen/ at Simply Grateful Cooking. Once again, true to form, the family could not agree on a clear winner. Still, this could actually work out in my favor in the long run, because although they could not agree on which one was the best, they liked all of them. This means I pretty much have three different meals in my arsenal to serve. I certainly won’t be serving them all in the same week or anything, but if I make tamales once every month or so using a different sauce each time, I doubt the family will get tired or bored of this meal,

So, I guess offering choices can work in my favor every once in a while too, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

The First Day Of Christmas

Most people believe that the twelve days of Christmas begins on December 12th or 13th and ends on Christmas day December 25th, when in fact the first day of Christmas is December 25th and ends January 5th.

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In the spirit of this tradition, I have decided to take these twelve days and make the most of them. The twelve months before Christmas didn’t seem to allow for enough time to get all I wanted from the season or do what I wanted do, so these twelve days are my way to make up for what I missed.

Yesterday, the first day of Christmas (December 25th), I made the most of the day by enjoying every moment with my family. It actually began on Christmas Eve afternoon by sharing some time with my parents and lasted through Christmas Day. Hubby, the kids, and myself spent as much time as we could together, leaving cell phones and computers turned off, concentrating instead on being together.

There were presents, but that isn’t what we focused on. We ate all our meals together, watched holiday movies, listened to Christmas carols, and spent time remembering holidays past. It was wonderful and exactly what the holidays are supposed to be. We each gave of ourselves, making time for each other, and making moments to hold on to for the rest of our lives.

On the first day of Christmas, my family gave to me — Christmas day together merrily.

Something As Simple As Tying A Tie – A Random Act Of Kindness

Having a son with special needs can be challenging, heart-wrenching, bittersweet, and sometimes just downright difficult. Yet, most of the time I’d have to say it is no different than having a “normal” son. Although I have never had a “normal” son, my daughter does not have special needs so based on my experience with her, Zeb is “normal” in most senses of the word.

Probably one of the most difficult aspects of having a son with Down Syndrome is watching how other people react to him. Supposedly our society is now being conditioned to be “tolerant.” What is that, really? Well, from my experience I can tell you that tolerance when it comes to Zeb means ignoring or avoiding him. When this isn’t the case, he endures staring, pointing, laughing, or worst of all that “pity” look with a little shake of the head.

I also just love it when I get that “look” from people as if they “understand.” They understand nothing. Unless they have had a child with a handicap, and even then every one of our experiences are different, they have no idea what life is like for a person with a disability, let alone the family that takes care of them.

Zeb though is very lucky. He does well for himself. Although we do not believe he will ever be able to live on his own completely, he can go out to movies by himself and nearly every Saturday night I drop him off at Barnes & Noble where he sits in the cafe for about two hours listening to his iPod, drinking pop, and enjoying some independence away from mom and dad. Many young adults his age with special needs will never be able to do even these seemingly simple independent acts.

When I drop Zeb off at the bookstore, he goes in by himself, finds a table, and gets himself settled. I do not go in with him or even check on him until I pick him up a few hours later. He has a phone that he can call me on if he has any trouble, but (knock on wood) for the past several years he has not had occasion to do so.

For the most part there have never been any problems leaving him by himself. Once or twice when I picked him up he was quiet and withdrawn. When I talked to him about it I found out that either people at another table were staring at him making him uncomfortable or teenagers had made rude comments to him. I comforted him and explained that some people are just mean or rude and tell him to do his best to ignore them.

What else can I do? The world is not going to change and I cannot expect it to. I have done my best not to force my son on the world, but at the same time I don’t think it is fair that I keep him locked away. He has a right to experience as much of life as he can, regardless if people accept him or not.

Fear is a terrible thing. It hinders a persons ability to think, reason, and understand. There is nothing worse than walking through a store with Zeb next to me and watching as a mother grips the shoulders of her child and pulls them far out of our path, as if their child might catch “it.” Thankfully Zeb doesn’t understand their actions or pretty much even notice. A case where ignorance is definitely bliss.

There are occasions, wonderful occasions though when a person will come up to Zeb and strike up a conversation or stop him to comment on how nice he looks. This absolutely makes Zeb’s day/night and he floats on Cloud 9 for hours and remembers these experiences for days. He refers to the people that take the time to acknowledge his existence as his buddies or even friends.

At Barnes & Noble there are several “regulars” that Zeb sees week after week and some of them have taken to stopping by his table, shaking his hand, asking him how he is, and engaging in conversation with him for a few minutes. They are sure to say goodbye to him when I pick him up and smile and tell me to have a good night. No pity, no fear, no tolerance, no difference. These experiences touch me and prove that there is understanding and acceptance out there.

Saturday night when I went in to Barnes & Noble to pick Zeb up, I noticed that his tie had been tied incorrectly. Hubby ties it for him, but ties it while it is hanging on a door knob. The back portion of the tie was hanging about 4” past the front portion of the tie. I looked at him and said, “I’m sorry Buddy, I didn’t notice that Daddy hadn’t tied your tie right.”

He just shook his head and began putting his iPod away. I went on and told him that I’d fix it for him, but I didn’t know how to tie a tie, but I would go on YouTube next week and figure it out so this wouldn’t happen again.

Zeb smiled and told me, “That’s okay.”

As I stood waiting for Zeb to put on his suit coat a young man at the table behind us asked, “Would you like me to fix that for you?”

Surprised we both turned and looked at the young man. Zeb is quite shy when it comes to most strangers, but with men he is more comfortable than women. He looked at his tie and then shook his head yes. Overtaken by emotion I nearly choked when I said, “This is so nice of you.”

The man was in his early 20’s, from the books and papers on his table I assumed a college student, and by himself. He stood up and accepted the tie that Zeb had removed from his neck and handed to him. The young man put the tie on his neck, over his t-shirt, and began tying it. It took him two tries to get the lengths of the tie right (this tie is very difficult to judge because it is a thicker tie) then carefully loosened it from his neck, pulled it over his head, and helped Zeb fix it back around his neck.

This random act of kindness that young man performed for Zeb means more to him than anyone could possibly understand. The first thing he did when we got home was to run in the house and show Hubby how his tie looked. Hubby looked at it and said, “That’s not how I tied it.” Hubby had tied a Windsor knot and the young man hadn’t.

I explained to Hubby what had happened. Hubby told Zeb to take the tie off and offered to retie it. Zeb grabbed onto the tie and held it close to his chest defensively and flatly said, “No.” To Zeb, that tie will never need to be retied. He will leave it tied as the young man tied it because it meant that much to him.

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What that man did for Zeb goes much deeper than just tying a tie – he treated him with kindness, with compassion, with respect, things that Zeb never takes for granted. This made Zeb’s night, and probably his whole week. For me this act will be something I remember always because for one moment Zeb wasn’t ignored, pitied or feared, he was accepted for who he is and seen as a person – not as someone with Down Syndrome, and for this I am forever – Simply Grateful.

Summer Canning II

The past month has been a whirlwind of gardening, harvesting, fruit picking, canning, but most of all adjustment. Upon returning from our cruise just about a month ago, our lives were thrown into upheaval when Hubby’s work schedule went from working 24-hour shifts Tuesdays and Thursdays and 8-hour shifts Friday through Monday to working 8 o’clock Monday morning until Friday afternoon 4 p.m. straight, as well as Saturday and Sundays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. I don’t even want to figure out how many hours that is.

This new schedule is hard on the family, but mostly hard on Hubby. Because of issues with his aging parents, the relief his father used to offer him Monday thru Friday is no longer in the cards and unless Hubby sells the business or business improves so he can hire a new employee, this is what our life is going to be like until further notice.

Hubby being gone so much you’d think I’d have time to do so much more than usual, but this is just not the case. Because he is gone so much I want to have everything around the house done so when he eventually does come home, he doesn’t have anything to worry about. This means all the chores and responsibilities that were once Hubby’s are now mine. Some things can be delegated to the kids, but Grace has her summer job and Zeb has school.

Still, the garden and other summer chores/activities will not wait so we push forward making the best of it. What else can we do?

Last week the garden harvest was very good and continuous. Each day I was able to harvest either beans, peas, cucumbers, and even our first few cherry tomatoes. All this picking has meant more canning projects added to my to do list, but before I could start these, I had to clear off the counter from canning projects earlier in the week.

Here is what my counter looked like after canning raspberries, blackberries, and another batch of pickled beets.

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From left to right — recipes to follow:

Mixed Fruit Juice Concentrate

Blackberry Seedless Spread

Blackberry Syrup

Raspberry Seedless Spread

Layered Blackberry/Raspberry Seedless Spread

Cran-Raspberry Jam

Cran-Raspberry Syrup

Raspberry-Blueberry Preserves

Raspberry-Jalapeno Spread

Pickled Beets

With raspberries and blackberries off my Summer Canning To Do List, I was set to begin on my Garden Canning To Do List, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Too Much Time On My Hands

Sitting here on the patio the scent of hyacinth over-takes me.  The temperatures were in the low 60’s this afternoon, but with the sun hidden deep beneath a wall of clouds, it feels chillier than that. A blanket draped over my legs and another hung over the back of my chair just in case the breeze becomes too much, ensure that I should be able to sit out here for at least another hour — until the winds pick up and the rain that is forecasted finally gives the garden a much-needed shower.

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I’ve spent the day pondering all the worthwhile tasks I could be doing with the time I have while nursing my torn meniscus.  Pondering…that’s all.  Whenever I think about actually doing anything, I can’t find the gumption to go any further.

I admit it, I am a procrastinater.  Unless there is a deadline, a specific date and time that something absolutely has to be done, I cannot bring myself to doing it.  To say I work well under pressure…yes, that would describe me.  Give me an hour to complete a task that should take two and I breeze through it without thinking twice. Give me a week to complete a task that should take an hour, and well, typically I won’t even start it until there is nothing else I could possibly do other than that.

I don’t like being a procrastinater and yet I can’t pull myself out of this funk I’m in to do much of anything other than fret about all the things I should be doing/could be doing/would be doing if I didn’t have so much darn time on my hands!

It’s just after 5 o’clock and everyone is inside taking a nap.  Hubby came home from work, ate dinner, then headed upstairs for a nap.  Zeb came home from the gym, ate dinner, then went to his room to check his eyelids for cracks.  Grace came home from work, took Bell for a walk, ate dinner, and then went to her room to “relax” which is sleep in Grace-speak. I have sat home all day, alone, waiting for someone, anyone to come home, and then when they do, they all take a nap. Needless to say, I am a bit bitter here.

Contact with anyone other than Bell today has taken up less than an hour of my time.  Heck, I spent more time making dinner than anyone has spent with me.

Bell on the other hand, well she can’t seem to get enough of me.  She has brought me every stick she could find in the yard and chewed them to bits wherever I might be sitting.  There a shreds of wood all over the great room, office, dining room, kitchen, and especially out here on the patio. She has also confiscated every garden glove from my gardening bin, which I inadvertently left open after retrieving a trowel to break up some dirt for a pot earlier today. If I don’t go on a gloving expedition, I’ll be out every pair of garden gloves I own.  Not that this would be any great loss as Bell seems to think chewing a hole in at least one finger, usually two, is standard procedure for garden glove care.

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No one will probably get up until after 7 p.m. at which time I will be ready to wind down and start thinking about going to bed.  Hubby will sit with me for a few minutes before heading to the gym; Zeb will get a glass of something to drink then retreat back to his room to play his video game; and Grace will sit with me wherever I am but will have her mind completely preoccupied with texting her boyfriend (why she bothers sitting with me, I don’t even know).

Being laid up is difficult enough without feeling if I didn’t make dinner, I’d probably never see anyone.

Yep, it’s been one of those days.  A day where I’ve had way too much time to sit around and feel sorry for myself.  A day when I feel totally alone, except for this fuzzy dog sitting between my legs on the lounge chair, gnawing on my garden glove, happier than a pig in slop that I’m not gardening, washing dishes, folding laundry, dusting tables, making beds, or sweeping floors.

It’s funny, but when I’m busy I don’t notice how much time I spend alone and it doesn’t seem to bother me.  Take me off my feet for a few days and I’m ready to lock all the doors and windows and hold the family hostage until they can convince me I’m more than just the cook around here.

I know what I’m feeling.  I’m feeling sorry for myself. So much so that tomorrow this sitting around and nursing my knee is going to have to stop.  There is something to be said for maintaining my sanity at the cost of a little aggravation in my knee.  For the good of the family I think it’s best I find an easier way to mend my torn meniscus. Or else they are just going to have to actually spend some time with me which with the “mama’s not happy so whatcha gonna do about it” attitude that has replaced my usual cheery self (okay, cheery might be a stretch), I’d go with the get off your duff and do something.

For the moment though, I am doing my best to enjoy the chattering of the birds, the scent of freshly cut grass, and the solitude that once is gone I’ll miss — and for this I am trying ever so hard to be — Simply Grateful.

A Much Needed Reminder

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” ~ George Washington

So Grace began a beautiful card she brought to me this afternoon along with some flowers.

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It never ceases to amaze me how wise beyond her years Grace is.  At 18 she is intuitive enough to know that sometimes even mom’s need affirmation that they have done something right.  When I look at Grace, I know that for all my short-comings, with her I definitely did something good.

For years I struggled with feelings of inadequacy because of psychological games my parents continually bombarded me with.  Eventually I pulled myself from their toxic grasp, yet still allow myself to fall victim to their abuse because for some reason I believe that’s what “a good daughter” should do.  Grace, who has witnessed this for years and now sees it for what it is, tries her best to “make it better.”

No matter how bad I think things might be, all I need do is look at my husband and children and I know, my life is good and regardless of what my parents may say, so am I.  Some days, however, I do forget.

Today Grace gave me a much-needed reminder that what I do matters and so do I, and for this I am — Simply Grateful!

Holiday Break Farewell at the Dessert Oasis

Today was the last day of Grace’s holiday break from work and school. Tomorrow she returns to work and next week she starts back at college.

It has been a nice couple of weeks having her home more, spending time doing some of the things we haven’t had time to do, and enjoying just having her here in the house.  Most of the time I don’t see Zeb or Grace when they are home from work or school, but I know they are here.  Knowing they are in their rooms, close by, is a comfort I will miss when they are gone.  I know that this time is fleeting, and making the most of it is one of the most important things in my life.

To make the most of this last day together, Grace invited me to go with her to a cafe’ out in Rochester, Michigan. Rochester has a downtown area that runs about three blocks consisting of small, independently owned unique businesses.  I guess I’d have to say it is rather a yuppie area, not someplace I typically frequent, but definitely someplace very fun to visit.

Being that the weather was a bitter 7 degrees this morning when we ventured out, we knew that walking Main Street was not going to happen.  Instead, we planned a relaxing morning at The Dessert Oasis and then lunch.

The Dessert Oasis is one of those cafe’s like you’d see on television.  The walls were brick, the floors were hardwood, the ceiling was lined with track lighting and drop down lanterns, the room was long and narrow, filled to the brim with tables, couches, and chairs, and filled with the smell of fresh coffee.  It was quaint and welcoming, absolutely perfect for sitting around and chatting.

We ordered latte’s and chocolate muffins and made ourselves comfortable on a couple of couches.  Our order was delivered to us, freshly made and steaming.

Caramel Latte on the left; Cinnamon Latte on the right.

Caramel Latte on the left; Cinnamon Latte on the right.

The latte’s were wonderful, but the time we spent together was even better.  Being invited to share Grace’s last day of vacation with her made this one of the absolute highlights of the entire holiday season.  She is 18, driving, has a boyfriend, works full-time, goes to school full-time, and yet made time for her dear old ma, and for this I am — Ever So Simply Grateful.

Starting The New Year Right – Fruit Filled Pastries

I lost my Little Grandma (my father’s mother) when I was seven years old.  I still remember her vividly though and have many wonderful memories of her.  During the holidays especially I am reminded of her and many of the wonderful recipes that she handed down.  Many of them have become a family tradition and recipes that I hope to pass down to my children and grandchildren.

One recipe that is requested by family and friends alike are the fruit filled cream cheese pastries that were a specialty of my grandmother’s.  They are a bit labor-intensive, but well worth the effort.  The trick is to make sure the dough remains chilled, as it gets sticky if it isn’t.

Cream Cheese Fruit Filled Pastries

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  • 4 Cups Flour
  • 1 Pound Butter
  • 2-8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1-4 oz. Cream Cheese
  • Fruit Filling or Preserves

Blend flour, butter and cream cheese by hand until well blended.  Set in refrigerator overnight.

Next Day:

Cut off a portion of dough about the size of a fist.  Roll this dough out as thin as possible on powdered sugar.  Cut into wedges, as in a pie.

Put 1/2 tsp. of filling on wide end of wedge.  Roll wedge from wide end.

Place pastry on parchment lined cookie sheet with edge of roll under pastry.  Bake on 2nd from the top rack for 15 to 17 minutes at 375.

I went through five 8 oz. jars of home canned preserves with this recipe.  I made peach-pineapple, plum, and tart cherry pastries.  I have used store-bought poppy-seed filling in the past, and they were excellent as well.  Any thick filling will work.  Definitely expect some of the filling to ooze out the sides, but enough remains to make these pastries a wonderful addition to any dessert tray.

Knowing that a part of my grandmother lives on in spirit in the traditions and recipes that we enjoy every year during the holidays and throughout the year is important to me.  This recipe especially makes me feel close to her, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.