An old friend, Teresa, reached out to me through this blog the other day. She and I worked together about 20 years ago and she moved to another state and we lost contact.
Anyway, we’ve been emailing back-and-forth, catching each other up on our lives. In those “chats”, she mentioned that she still has the roasting pan that I gave her as a wedding present and sometimes when she uses it (she uses it to make oodles of things – Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas prime rib roast, Easter and even for brownies!), she thinks of me! What a lovely thing to say!
So, that got me to thinking – don’t we all have gifts that keep on giving? What I mean is that don’t we all have gifts that when we use them or look at them they remind us of the giver?
I’m so very blessed in that way because even though we lost quite a lot of stuff in the fire, in fact almost everything, through the generosity of family and friends, we are surrounded with gifts that keep on giving!
One of my favorite gifts is the cookbook above. My niece and former blogging partner, Tiffany, gave me this cookbook in December 2008. We had just moved home to our brand new home, the rebuild after the fire. We’d been displaced for 13 months, living in a highrise condo in downtown San Diego in order to be near my office. We moved “home” on December 12th in 2008 and I spent the next week in non-stop shopping marathons preparing for the onslaught of family arriving the next week to spend the Christmas holiday with us.
You see, everyone, and I mean everyone, was so excited about our new home and wanted to share the first Christmas in our new home with us. So, it was a crazy, busy time filled with love, laughter and joy.
Anyway, I’ve always loved to cook and had a collection of cookbooks, plus self-made, 3-ring binders filled with favorite recipes and recipes handed down from family and friends. I lost all of those in the fire. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d ever recover any of those cherished recipes, because my other siblings don’t cook (at least not often!).
Tiffany spent a year, contacting friends and family, asking them to contribute recipes to this book. What she was looking for were recipes I had made for them. She was able to track down several family favorites with the added bonus of special contributions of other favorite recipes, too. She made this beautiful cookbook through an online company that is, sadly, no longer in business, so I can’t share the link with you!
In this cherished book are recipes I’ve already shared on this blog:
- Dorothy’s Stuffed Mushrooms
- Lite Oriental Chicken Salad
- Carole’s Corn Chowder
- Summertime Layered Salad
- Spinach Casserole
- The Casa Bella Swedish Pancake Factory
- Tiffany’s Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Garden Vegetable Tuna Casserole
- Dad’s Doctored Hamburgers
- Gail’s Potato Chip Cookies
- Crazy Chocolate Cake with Homemade Chocolate Frosting
- Peach Pineapple Dump Cake
- Best Ever Oatmeal Cookies
- White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Rum Sauce
There are many more…those are just the ones I’ve posted on this blog so far!
Also, in this book is a beautifully mushy dedication page. In it, Tiffany says:
For Carole, a wonderful cook and entertainer who makes every meal a memory. I hope you enjoy a few recipes that family and friends contributed to your cookbook. Although you have lost so much, one thing remains forever; the memories of great family, friends and food that you cooked beautifully from the heart. I hope you enjoy this recipe book full of special recipes that were collected by many friends and family. Without their help, I would not have been able to do this. Thank you for teaching me to love cooking and entertaining as much as you do! With much love and gratitude for all you do and to many more yummy meals together…I love you! – Tiffany
To me, her gift is a gift that keeps giving. Because every time I use it, I think of her and the love she put into this project. And, every time I make one of the recipes from this book, I think of the person that contributed the recipe. So this gift gives back to me twice!
In my new home (well, it’s actually five-years-old now), I’m surrounded by gifts that keep on giving to me:
- Every time I decorate for Christmas, I think of my mother, who showered me with Christmas ornaments that first Christmas (2008) in our new home.
- My home is filled with my father’s artwork – paintings and sculptures of unimaginable beauty – and every day I think of my dad who passed away in 2013.
- Family and friends have given me photos to replace ones lost in the fire and those are scattered around my house.
- For Christmas in 2007, my niece, Erin, sent me a handmade scrapbook that she made. She was really young at the time, 14, and their family had just made a visit to California (they live in New York), so she spent months and months working on that scrapbook to send to me for Christmas.
- Firefighters found our wedding album and other scrapbooks and saved them from our burning house along with some of my father’s artwork, a cabinet that belonged to Charlie’s aunt, a saddle which belonged to Charlie’s uncle and other knick-knacks here-and-there that have no monetary value, but great sentimental value. Every time I look at them, I think of their bravery in entering our burning home, in smoke so thick you couldn’t see without special equipment. Were they thinking, as they made their way through our house, “what can we save for this family that is going to lose this house because we can’t save the house?” Can you imagine that? I had one of the firefighters tell me that they are trained to look for things that might have significant emotional and sentimental value to fire victims.
- A week after the fire in October 2007, my friend, Kathy, showed up to help us rummage through our ruble with a wheeled cooler filled with ice and water bottles, a couple of shovels and an industrial broom. And although we used them that day, all of these were gifts for us to keep. Every time I use the cooler, I think of her and that day. Every time I use one of the shovels or brooms, I think of her.
- Every time I see how many people have pinned my Coffee Banana Protein Smoothie to their Pinterest boards, I think of my brother, Glenn. He sent me that beautiful bouquet of sunflowers for my birthday that year and I used them in the photo for the post. I often wonder if that post would be as popular without those gorgeous flowers. Since Pinterest is a visual medium, probably not!
All these are gifts that keep on giving to me because every time I use them or look at them, sweet memories flood through me, reminding me of the person and the circumstance. I could go on-and-on; but if I do, this post will never end!
Oh, and there’s one more gift that keeps on giving every time I use it. It’s this blog. Without Tiffany, this blog wouldn’t exist. She encouraged me to become a blogger and patiently worked beside me teaching me the finer points of the backend of blogging. A child of the internet, she helped her baby boomer aunt zoom through a learning curve so steep, I thought I’d never “get it”.
But, “get it” I did and, for her gift, I’m truly grateful.
(other posts about stuff various things)
- Vanessa’s Rainbow, Tim Tam and Vegemite
- Operation Swallow Adios
- The Pink Ruffled Skirt
- The Squish Factor
- The Baker’s Hat and Other Musings
- Rainbows, Charlie and the Amazon Elves
- An Irish Blessing (or two…)
- Did You See a Cow Today?
- 6 Balloons
- The Cloud Chasers
- Lost in LA
- Carole Hears a Whoo
- Make Your Own Kind of Music
- The Bird Feeder and the House Finch
- The God Complex