Christmas Traditions: My Mother’s Cookies

Every Christmas when I was growing up, we made Christmas cookies. A wonderful sugar cookie made with lemon extract and decorated with colored sugar and cinnamon hots. My children learned to make these cookies when they were growing up, then my grandchildren learned too. This year, my daughter Liz and her children, Hayley (14) and William (11) made Christmas cookies with me on Christmas Eve, after having a ham dinner together. What fun! Oh, the memories it brings back and the joy of making more memories. We used many of the same cookie cutters that Mom had and gave to me, horns, curlicues, birds and hearts.

I love looking at my mother’s writing on the recipe card. I have no desire to make a new one. I hope this one lasts for decades into the future. My only alteration of the recipe is to roll the cookie dough a bit thicker than 1/4″. It makes a moist, “fatter” cookie. Cooking time 10 to 12 minutes.

It appears the the lobster (center cookie) had his tail eaten. Who did it? I will not confess. Nibbling while cookies are hot out of the oven is part of the tradition!

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Dad and Mom sailing on Indian Lake. 1970s.

Dad (James “Gene” Rier) and Mom (Louise Johnson Rier) loved to sail on the Sailfish. When I was small, Dad built a sailboat they both enjoyed on Indian Lake.

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Dad sailing with my brother David in the Bucks Harbor Race, 1981. This is one of my favorite photos of Dad. Now that’s a happy face!

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As kids, my brothers and I spent many hours on the Sailfish, and we continued to sail as adults.

Me sailing on Indian Lake about 2006.

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My son, Jason, sailing on the Sunfish, summer 2018.

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This year, as in other years, the Passamaquoddy Yacht Club taught children ages 10 to 17 the basics of sailing. Wonderful to see!

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Me completing the boat captain course in Rockland, Maine. 2012. Now that’s a happy face!

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Related post:

Growing Up in the 50s and 60s, We Knew How To Have Fun!

 

Noni MacBride’s Blueberry Cake

Whenever our family visited Dr. Bob and Noni at their home in Lubec, there often was fresh blueberry cake in the kitchen this time of year. Mom made it too over the years. Now when I make this cake and the delicious smell wafts through the air, I am filled with memories. Noni’s blueberry cake recipe was published in my favorite old cookbook of Lubec recipes (1988). It’s one of my most valued cookbooks.

I made this cake for family visiting this week. There will be another before August is over.

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Of course, I alter recipes a bit for the times. I use real butter, not oleomargarine, and substitute organic sugar for white. I cook it in an 8″ x 8″ pan so it’s nice and thick, wicked moist, adjusting the cooking time.

In my family, great recipes must be handed down. I taught my grandchildren how to make this blueberry cake. This is my eldest granddaughter, Hayley, learning how to make Noni’s cake in August, 2012. She was eight. Hayley won a blue ribbon and first place in the cake section at the Machias Blueberry festival.

Hayley baking 2012.

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My grandson Odin, age six, won a blue ribbon for a two-crusted blueberry pie in 2010 and for several years afterwards. See that awesome story here.

 

 

Me and Muriel Watts

my second mother. I’ve known Muriel all my life. She and her husband Phil and their son, David, were always in my life. Phil is gone now, my Mom and Dad gone too, but my memories of our two families together are vivid.

Every summer, our families lived at Indian Lake in Whiting, Maine. We swam, we sailed, we fished, we spent hours/days boating. We started water sports on a surfboard behind the family boat. The first time Dad took me out on the surfboard, I was four or five. Soon after take off, Dad lost his grip on me and I slid between and under his legs into the water.  I remember my surprise to see Dad’s legs fly by. When David and I were eight years old, we learned to water ski. We had to keep up with my older brothers. Soon we were slalom skiing.

David and I explored the woods, tented out, and built a tree house with my brothers, David and Jimmy. It was a fine treehouse on the point, with a porch and a great view out over the lake toward the island. The Watts’ lived in the next cove over. When David and I wanted to get together, we went outside and called like loons. It was the signal that breakfast was over and it was time to hit the lake. On rainy days, there were card games and puzzles. There was no phone and no TV. It was a glorious time in our lives.

Recently I visited Muriel at Avita of Stroudwater, in Westbrook close to Portland, with David’s wife Kate. Muriel has Alzheimer’s disease but her memories of life long ago are as vivid as mine. We talked about all of our antics and fun at the lake. In the photo of us together, I was talking about the old photos of Mom and her before they were married, out on a picnic with the Border Patrol guys. She grinned and said, “We girls were trying to get away with some fun without our parents knowing!” We cracked up laughing. Precious moments.

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Mom, far left, Muriel on the right. They were picking cranberries with the Border Patrol guys some time in the late 1930s, or early 1940s.

I have so many photos of our families at Indian Lake. I shall have to pull them out of storage under my eves and scan.

But, for now, if you want to see the fun we had on Indian Lake, watch the old 8mm movies: Growing Up in the 50s and 60s, We Knew How To Have Fun!  

Summer Lilies

for Mom and Dad. And, my beloved niece, Jessica Marie Rier, who would have turned 42 years old this year, had she not been taken from us at age 5.

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A summer breeze blows. I pull a bit of long grass around the stones. And, think of my mother, father, and niece, and how love never ends.

The 1980s: Dad, Mom and Gordon.

Left to right: Dad (James “Gene” Rier), Gordon Ackley and Mom (Louise Johnson Rier). Gordon’s Model A (or is it a Model T?) is in the background. Gordon was the manager of the shop at Rier Motors for many years, as far back as I can remember. He was part of our family. I miss them all dearly, but it is nice to see them together smiling on a sunny day!

Related posts:

The Beginning of A Business in Machias Maine. Rier Buick. 1949.

After 23 Years in Business, Dad’s Car Dealership Burned to the Ground.

My Dad, James “Gene” Rier: Maine’s Dean of Gas Engines. 1985.