Ten dozen pretty decorated cookies for family and friends!
I’ve missed baking and decorating cookies. During the Christmas holidays, when I normally take on this special project for friends and family gifts, my right hand was hurting too much to even consider decorating so many cookies at once. So, for that reason, I took a pass on the project and hoped to take it on for Valentine’s Day. Happily, my hand is quite a bit better now, and I was able to bake and decorate about ten dozen cookies over the past few days.
This is also the first time that I have made cookies for Valentine’s Day gifts, and I must say that I like decorating them for this special holiday as much as I like decorating them for Christmas. I opted to stick with heart shapes to help keep things a bit more simple. After baking the first large batch and experimenting with different ways to decorate them, I quickly discovered that one particular cutout shape was by far my favorite. So, for the final large batch, I only made cookies with that shape – a medium heart cutout with a pretty scalloped edge.
These are vanilla-almond sugar cookies and are so tasty, even without icing. I also add a little almond flavoring to my royal icing before thinning it for piping and flooding the cookies. The heart flowers are quite simple to do. Just layer three dots of flood icing on top of each other, then drag a toothpick from top to bottom through the center of each one in one slightly curved motion. I varied the heart flower designs on most of the cookies, just to see what each different combination would look like, and there are many combinations that I like in the bunch!
Here are the results of this year’s big cookie project! I had so much fun that I’m thinking about doing Easter cookies this year, too, if I can find some cute cutouts soon.
Last Friday, which normally would have been my weekly day out with my mother for lunch and doing something fun with her afterward, I once again found myself leaving the house to grab a quick bite of lunch, then run some errands of my own. I left the house about the same time that I would have normally left to go pick up Mom, too. It didn’t feel weird to run this schedule on this day, but rather, it gave me a little sense of comfort to do it. Perhaps this will pass over time if/when my weekly schedule begins to change, but for now, it just felt good to be back to what felt normal to me. Life has most definitely not been normal for the past two months, and every day that things feel even just a tad bit normal right now is a huge blessing, for sure.
I just grabbed a Whataburger (with cheese) nearby and ate it in the car, rather than opting for a lunch visit to the steakhouse where Mom and I so often ate. Dining there is going to take a little bit of working up to for me, I think. It’s just too soon for that. Mind you, neither of us ever actually ate steak there either. I usually had a bun-less burger and a salad, and she had a tasty chicken dish. The food there is great, so I’m sure I will return there with someone else over time. Anyway, my Whataburger was quite tasty, especially since I even ate the bun with it, something that is definitely not on my low-carb eating plan. I’ve given myself a pass on the diet a bit during all of this, but honestly, I’m ready to get back on my eating plan again, too. I’m feeling the carb bloat and I don’t care for it now. I’m ready to get back to normal in this aspect again, too.
After I enjoyed my burger while listening to some good tunes in the car, I headed out to run several needed errands, including some errands for the estate business. But after a few of the more critical errands were done, I ended up at Wally World to pick up a couple of Valentine’s goodies. I had one special gift in mind for a non-family member and wanted to get it purchased before they got terribly picked over – some pretty pink roses, specifically from Wal-Mart. I needed a good end to a previous story that took place when Mom died, and I knew just the sweet lady who would love and appreciate such a gift.
After Mom died, we had to wait six days to have her funeral service. This gave out-of-town family members that wanted to come for the funeral sufficient time to get here. We also had a family wedding planned for the Saturday after she died, and none of us wanted to change anything about the wedding, despite how hard it was for some of us to “celebrate” that weekend. We just put on our happy faces and did the best we could, and it was a sweet wedding.
On the Thursday before the wedding, while other family members were busy with wedding preparations, hubby and I went to the “best” florist in town to order the flowers for Mom’s funeral. The roads were still slippery in many spots from the winter storm that had moved through right after Mom died, so I was glad to have him drive. I had already been on the phone the day before with several florists in town to see who might have some nice pink roses for the casket piece and the “Mother” and “Grandmother” easels, but I was having no luck at all. Finally, after talking to the “best” florist’s designer on the phone, I agreed to just meet her at their shop and discuss options, given that it was late in the week and good flowers were scarce at best. To make a pretty long story short, hubby and I then went to a nearby Wal-Mart to see if they had any decent pink roses for the florist to use. We found eight dozen pink roses for $9.99 a dozen and took them back to the “best” florist in town for the floral arrangements.
By Saturday morning, all three floral arrangements were done and delivered to the funeral home for weekend visitors and our family visitation the next day. They were decent-looking arrangements but definitely not the best work I had seen this particular florist do. When we arrived at the funeral home on Saturday to preview everything before opening up Mom’s room for visitors, we noticed another easel in the room that was sent by hubby’s company, and to my horror, it had pink roses that were dead. The florist that delivered the easel did not leave any identifying information as to where it came from either. It was just unreal. The folks at the funeral home were livid but did not know who to call about it, since the company that ordered it was closed for the weekend. We informed them that it was the company where my husband worked, and he tried to get in touch with the human resources manager by cell phone to ask her where it came from. She did not return his calls or texts over the weekend either.
Finally, on Monday morning, hubby got in touch with another woman at the company who finally got the HR lady to tell where she ordered the flowers, and shockingly, it was from the same florist we had ordered our own arrangements from! The florist actually played dumb on Saturday, claiming to have no clue where those dead roses came from as they delivered our flowers to the funeral home. Unbelievable. The man at the funeral home, along with my dear florist friend from the Houston area, got the florist to re-do every single floral arrangement they had done, including the ones we had ordered, as they had received their fresh roses on Monday morning. My friend was instrumental in reworking the pieces, and she spent most of Monday morning helping the florist rework all four arrangements. They were all just gorgeous, too, and when I finally saw them just before the funeral on Monday afternoon, I got very teary. My Mom was finally going to have pretty flowers at her funeral, and that made me happy.
Despite the fact that this part of the story really did have a fairly happy ending, it still felt a little bittersweet to me because of the stress it caused at a bad time, and I felt that I needed to add one more piece to it for Valentine’s Day to complete the story properly. We have the sweetest little lady living next door who no longer drives and is shut-in most of the time. She has family members here that are good to care for her, but we have enjoyed having her live next to us for many years. She was not able to come to Mom’s funeral but sent a nice memorial instead. She also called me a couple of times to check on me through it all. So, I decided that she needed some pink roses for Valentine’s Day, and decided to just head back to Wal-Mart for them. Once again, I sifted through the many pink roses in the store until I found a bunch of nice ones that were just beginning to open up. I grabbed a cute box of chocolate candy to give with the flowers and a couple of cards, then headed for the checkout.
Before I finished running the rest of my errands that afternoon, I went back to the house, put the roses in a small vase, added the packet of preservative, and delivered the goods to my little neighbor. She was so surprised and grateful, and I got the best hug I’ve had in quite some time from her, even as we both had a few tears in our eyes. I told her how much I appreciated her as a friend and neighbor, and she said the same thing to me. She also commented about how most people don’t enjoy being around older folks and prefer to “do for the kids, rather than the old people.” Her comment caught me off guard, but my immediate reply to her was that I did not feel that way and that I loved her very much. It made me just a bit sad to hear her say something like that, but I know it is true for many people. I have always had elderly people in my life, it seems, and I just do not understand the animosity that many people seem to feel toward the elderly these days, even people my own age.
I witnessed first-hand the many struggles of our parents as they grew old and feeble. I’ve even written about this here at times. I’ve felt my own frustrations with our aging parents, too. But now that my journey in caring for aging parents is done, I have no regrets that I can think of right now. It was hard – very hard – and it was worth it all to help them end their earthly lives well. I’m glad that I have no regrets in the decisions I made, especially over the past decade where my mother was concerned. If I had regrets at this point, it might be hard to move on, which is already hard enough to be sure. There are some struggles that they just had to battle for themselves as we just had to sit by and watch, and this is the hardest part of caring for the elderly, the feeling of helplessness that we are so often faced with in their physical and emotional struggles. I wrote of my desire to become more solidly grounded in my faith here some time back, and watching these struggles is precisely why I feel I have work to do in this area. Those will be hard days, and I want to be rooted in a firm foundation when they come.
“Flowergate” was a very trying ordeal that I did not ever dream I would face when planning my mother’s funeral, but perhaps the gifting of pretty pink roses going forward will be an enduring legacy from it all and will help me to always remember my sweet mother in each and every gift given, even if I just pick them up from Wally World. 😉