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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oil of Olay is the Secret to Beautiful Skin

Written by Lee

At least that's what my grandma would tell me. Her skin was awesome. Sure it looked kinda like it had been around for a while. Hell, she was 90 but I'll tell you, her skin was sooooo soft and really? Had minimal wrinkles.

I always told her that I hoped I looked as good as she did when I was 90. But I guess to look that good, I need to start using Oil of Olay. And I haven't. What's my problem?

Two years ago today, my grandma Anne, less than two months shy of 91, slipped away from us and headed to the next world. She was so strong, so vibrant, so happy, I guess I just assumed we would have her until at least 100.

I miss her.

When someone lives for 90 years on the planet, you just expect that the time they spent living and the impression they made in the clay of the earth would be so indelible and lasting that I could look around me and catch glimpses of my Grandma in the air.

But two years later I feel that her presence is not as available to me as I want it to be. When she first passed, I felt her. I knew she was just a reach away into the sky - her soul still lingering for all of her loved ones to feel. She didn't speak to me then - at least not her voice - but her soul spoke to mine and I knew she was still with us.

I wonder as time passes if the souls of the departed drift further to their place in the after-world making it harder to get in touch with them. I still have moments when I feel my grandmother's presence - but it's only when I am very very still. Which is rare.

So I am left with memories and stories and cookbooks to infuse my living life with her deceased one. And I want to do all that I can to feel her. The her that was living and such a precious soul in my life.

My grandma loved to bake and she gave me a Kitchen Aid mixer as my wedding gift. Whenever I bake, I think of her. I stand at my mixer watching the dough swirl remembering the cookies, cookie bars, 7-layer cookies, holiday cookies, Polish "kolaches", rum cakes, pound cakes, coffee cakes, birthday cakes and all of the smiles plastered on our faces after eating some of her yummy treats.

She was baking almost until the day she died. It was her gift.

I have some of her cookbooks now filled with notations in the pages marking what recipes she liked and the dates she baked it. From one of her cake books, I have learned that on 11-15-05 (my birthday) she made Ambrosia cupcakes and she decided they were "very good." And on 8-13-05, she baked a pineapple inside-out cake and deemed it "crumbly."

In the chaos of my life as a mama to three young kids, I must remember to find the time in between the hustle and bustle to slow down and honor my grandma's rich and storied life. And with three kids ready to bake anytime I am ready, I realize this is a perfect way to keep her soul close to us in a tangible way.

To me, she was "Grams" or "Gramma" and to my kids she was "GG Anne."

I miss you Gramma.

Now I must bake.

A recipe from GG Anne's kitchen:

GG Anne's Filled Coffee Cake

2 sticks margarine or butter
4 eggs
2 t baking powder
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 cups sifted flour
I can pie filling
1 t vanilla

1/4 lb. butter
7-8 oz. cream cheese
2 T vanilla
3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Cream margarine or sugar well. (My grandma preferred Imperial Margarine for all of her baking.) Add whole eggs one at a time. Add sifted dry ingredients, then add vanilla.
Grease 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 pan. Pour all dough but one cup. Place your favorite flavor pie filling on poured dough then spoon rest of dough on top. (Cherry Pie filling works excpetionally well with this recipe.) Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Frosting: Mix above ingredients and spread generously over top of coffee cake. Or if you don't want this heavier frosing, sprinkling some powdered sugar on top instead works just as well.

Enjoy this yummy cake with those you love.


  1. Thank you for this sweet post and the sweet memories baked in. Your affection for your late grandmother (and kids) is palpable. I know what it is like to have lost someone close and to feel time tugging their presence farther and farther away. I know what it is like to want to remember, to need to. Cheers to remembering, even when it is hard, and to "rich and storied lives" past, present, and future.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Lee - hope you're able to infuse all the moments of today with love, peace and a good GG Anne laugh. She can remind us all to take things a little slower and just be.
    I'm making her coffee cake on Saturday for Penni's 4th B-day. Or maybe I'll make it on Sunday for yours. :) Love you!!!!!

  3. Or send the Ambrosia cupcake recipe! We could always use some extra tried and true grandma-love on this important b-day weekend!

  4. Food is love. And grandmas are all about the yummiest food. My grandma is still alive and boy can she just take me back to boyhood when she makes her "toast fries." Basically just fried strips of bread sprinkled with sugar. Oh so bad for the body, but oh so good for the soul!

  5. Beautiful post. I only knew one of my grandmas, but, Lord...she was love!

  6. You forgot to list "Grandma's Love" as an ingredient, because Lee, IT.IS.THERE.

  7. Sounds incredible. I love that you have such wonderful memories, and are baking them up to serve to your little angels as well.

    Your description of the human soul, perfection.

  8. I can almost hear your grandma's voice coming from that real once again.

    I fully get the need to keep those memories keep part of THAT PERSON alive. It's scary to think that we could lose that somehow.

    Here's the thing, my friend. We don't LOSE their spirit or essence. We may overlook it while working, raising children and making it through the crazy days of our lives. But if we slow down, they.are.there.

    You feel your grandma's presence when you bake. It connects you to her. And you infuse part of her into your children and into the yummy product of your efforts. GG Anne is very much alive at those moments. And part of her, her legacy, is in you and your children. That, my friend, is a pure gift. One that death could never, ever take away.

    My heart hurts for you tonight, but I also smile in warm memory of a woman and a life WELL LIVED.

    Love you....

  9. make me think of my Moe. She died at 99.5 years old. She once told me that 100 was old & she didn't want to turn 100. She got her wish. I got 35 years with an incredible, hilarious, grandma I could write great stories about. There is always THE one. I'm glad you had one, too!

  10. Beautiful post Lee and how wonderful that YOU inherited those cookbooks. Someone who will appreciate and recreate her baked yummies... for your very own loved ones (and mine).

    The coffee cake receipe sounds absolutely delicious. Can't wait to try it.

    Right now, GG Anne is smiling down on you and guiding you through that cookbook my friend.

  11. My wonderful dad's mom had the most gorgeous skin. Wrinkles and all.

    She wore little white cotton gloves over her well lubed hands every night.

    I loved 'reading' her hands when I was little.

  12. Lee, this is gorgeous. What a way to honor her spirit - by baking DELICIOUS treats with your kids?!! It's awesome.

    And I sit here teary-eyed because as I read this, I thought of my Grandpa Ralph. And then I felt his presence like I hadn't in a long time. I think sometimes they're there, just waiting for us to notice. I could go on, but I'll stop.

    Just thank you. Thank you so much.

  13. Oh lady...I've been running all around, traveling here and there, behind on reading posts I never let myself miss. But that's fine because when I come here I end up sitting down at just the right time. My grandma was just here for a visit (to my parent's house). I want to hold on to her forever. I stood outside and watched her limp/walk to her car and listened to her say "I'll bring the lefse to Thanksgiving!" Then I came in and sat down and read this.

    I totally get it. I guess that's what I'm saying.

    Love you!

  14. Oh Lee, tears are streaming down my face. This one hits home. The Gram that this reminds me of is, thankfully, still with us but baking and cooking with her is a VERY important part of every holiday. Even though it makes me feel guilty to even think of it, let alone talk about it, when she passes her cookbooks filled with notes and stained from years of being used will make the journey to my home.


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