The Cookie Jar

In today’s electronic world, a cookie jar (as I understand it) is a storage place for computer cookies, which are small files placed on a user’s computer by a website they have visited.  One of the purposes of these cookies is to make surfing the internet a smoother experience because the computer remembers the sites you like to visit.

Cookies also monitor our online shopping and buying habits.  I suspect a cookie is responsible whenever I have been window shopping on the Amazon or L.L. Bean websites, then open my Facebook timeline and find the same items pictured that I was thinking about buying.

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However, these are not the kinds of cookies or cookie jars I want to write about today.  I have a tastier version in mind.

peanut butter cookies

When I was growing up, my family had a pottery cookie jar that sat on the kitchen counter.  It was burnt orange in color with a handle on either side, and it had magnolias on the front.  And for some reason, our cookie jar made a lot of noise whenever the lid was taken off or put back on.

Cookie Jar

Photo taken by Paul Bolinger, Denton, Texas

Our mother baked cookies sporadically, so my brother and I were in the habit of checking the cookie jar most days after school.  We were absolutely delighted whenever we opened the lid and found the jar completely full of homemade peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies.  I wish I had a picture of us with the cookie jar from those days!

Janet,_Jeff,_&_Rags

Because the cookie jar made such a loud and distinct noise whenever the lid was opened, it became a running joke in my family whenever we heard the sound.  Usually someone would call out, “Who’s in the cookie jar?” and then the guilty party would show up with a yummy cookie in hand and a smile on their face.

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I asked my mom recently if she still had the cookie jar and if she remembered where she got it.  She does still have it and she thinks someone gave it to her but she doesn’t know who or when.  It was in our kitchen as far back as I can remember so the cookie jar must be at least 50 years old.

Modern cookies jars are a fairly recent invention.  The early predecessors to cookie jars were the “biscuit jars” in 18th century England.  A biscuit was a scone or a small tea cake pastry served at tea time and stored in a biscuit jar to keep it fresh.

Afternoon Tea Scones | Blissfully Scrumptious

When the English first migrated across the Atlantic, they brought their biscuits and biscuit jars with them.  General stores and bakeries kept the biscuit jars on their counters filled with all kinds of baked goods.  Each day, women would make a trip to the bakery or store for whatever fresh baked goods were needed to feed their families.

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A Depression Glass biscuit jar passed down to me

During the Great Depression from 1929 – 1939, people had a lot less money and couldn’t afford to make daily trips to the bakery any longer.  There was a huge increase in home baking and people would store their baked goods in coffee cans or in empty cardboard oatmeal boxes.  It soon became apparent that there was a need for a more suitable storage container for cookies and other baked goods.

Early cookie jars were made of glass with metal lids.  The first known ceramic cookie jar was produced in 1929 by the Brush Pottery Company in Zanesville, Ohio.  The jar was green and had the word “Cookies” embossed across the front.

Vintage Glass Jar With Metal Lid | eBay

Image 0 of Country Store Candy Cookie Glass Jar with Metal Lid

In the early days, most cookie jars were fairly plain and often had a bean pot shape.  But it didn’t take long before cookie jars were available in all different designs and colors.  The years from 1940 to 1970 are considered the golden age of American cookie jars when almost every home had one sitting on their kitchen counter.

Cookie jars came in every shape, size and color and were produced as figures of people, household items, vegetables, fruits, animals, birds, fish, toys and cartoon characters.  There were also decorative cookie jars like the one we had, with flowers and other designs on the outside of the jar.

Vintage Cookies, Cookies Left Who, Chest Cookies, Cookie Jars ...

farm animal cookie jars cookie jars of farm animals cows

Cool Kitchen Stuff: Cute Ceramic Owl Cookie Jars for Your Kitchen

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Vintage Cookie Jars for Sale | Vintage Cookie Monster Cookie Jar ...

Leading cookie jar manufacturers during this time were McCoy Pottery of Roseville, Ohio and American Bisque of Williamstown, West Virginia.  There were many other well respected cookie jar manufacturers as well, including Hull Pottery, whose owners could possibly be distant relatives of my husband’s family.

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My grandfather’s cookie jar made by McCoy Pottery

When my children were growing up, we had a green and white Longaberger Pottery cookie jar.  Of course, it was a very popular kitchen destination during those years.  I still have it but it hasn’t had cookies in it for quite a while.  It simply isn’t as fun to fill the cookie jar when there aren’t any children around to check it for cookies.  Perhaps someday when I have grandchildren, I will be motivated to fill our cookie jar again.

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Like button boxes, cookie jars are often one of those sentimental items in families around which our memories are made.  Do you have a cookie jar in your family and a story about it?  Feel free to leave a comment.  I’d love to hear your stories and to see pictures of your cookie jars!

Author’s note:  When my three were growing up, we used to play a memory game called “In Mama’s Cookie Jar.”   The first person would begin by saying, “In mama’s cookie jar there is a diamond ring” (fill in the blank).  The second person would say,  “In mama’s cookie jar there is a diamond ring and a ninja turtle…and the game would continue until the cookie jar was full of many things.  The person who could remember them all in order was the winner.  It was fun because we could play with two people or with lots of people, and some very funny things would end up in that cookie jar!

 

January Joys

I really like the month of January.  It’s as if the world takes a collective deep breath to rest and plan after the busy weeks in November and December.  It’s a time for new beginnings, fresh starts and hope for the future.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “with each ending comes a new beginning.”  January is the start of that new beginning, and the year ahead is stretching out before us full of new paths and possibilities.

new beginning quotes

There are certain rituals I enjoy and look forward to in January beginning with my adopted Southern tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck in the upcoming year.  My husband says we must eat 365 peas…one for each day of the year…and since this is a Leap Year, he insisted that we needed to eat 366!  Others have told me that simply eating black eyed peas, not matter how many, is enough.

Good Luck Black Eyed Peas | Recipe Redux | Wilmington's Nutrition ...

Some people like to make New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year.  I read recently that it’s better to make New Year’s plans or goals because we are more likely to follow through with those.  My goals for 2016 include finishing a second book and beginning work on a third, and learning to play the guitar.

Choosing a calendar for the New Year is still important to me.  I know a lot of people have fully transitioned to digital calendars, but I still like a hard copy too.  Whenever I open my new, unmarked calendar, I always wonder what the next year will hold for me and my family.

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Every year I buy an amaryllis bulb to plant after Christmas.  At some point in January, we get to enjoy its majestic, red blooms.  It was especially fun growing this beautiful flower when I lived in the Midwest and it was cold and snowy outside.  My houseplant collection usually increases in January because I’m missing the fun of gardening outside!

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Seeing movies is something we especially enjoy doing early in the year.  Once the Academy Award nominees are announced, we like to try to see all or most of the movies nominated for best picture before the night of the awards show.  This year, we’ve seen just two of the eight nominees so we have some movie watching ahead of us!  Chris Rock will be the host of the 88th Academy Awards and the show will be presented on Sunday, February 28th.

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In case you haven’t seen the list, here are the movies that are nominated this year for the Academy Award for Best Picture:

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

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Another fun January ritual for me is curling up by the warm fire with a good book.  I usually get new books for Christmas and when it’s cold outside, it’s a great time to catch up on my reading.  This includes the annual Old Farmer’s Almanac that Santa always seems to remember to put in my stocking.

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My Bible study group begins a new study after the first of the year and I’m especially excited about our new one on the subject of Angels and what the Bible has to say about them.  This month, I’ve also joined a women’s Bible study group and am enjoying that study which is about Women of the Old Testament.

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Making our travel plans for the upcoming year is something else we enjoy doing in January.  We already know we will be going to Enid, Oklahoma in April and possibly to Las Vegas in June.  I wonder what other destinations might end up on our 2016 calendar?

Finally, for those of us with more than a few trips around the sun, January is a time to pull out our bucket lists and see what kind of progress we’ve made.  Perhaps a couple more things can get crossed off the list this year!

Bucket List by Syndi Powell

As a friend of mine said recently, “January is a time to take stock and make plans.”  What plans are you making for 2016?

 

 

Be. Here. Now.

I work part-time in a local pharmacy and recently I was ringing up the purchases of one of our regular customers.  As I handed her the items she had just bought, she said, “It’s so refreshing to come in here because everyone is always fully present.”

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I smiled and thanked her for her purchase and then thought about what she had said during the rest of my shift.  When I got home that evening, I googled the phrase “fully present” to see what the vast, internet world would tell me it meant.

According to the book Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of buy dulcolax bowel prep kit Mindfulness by Susan L. Smalley and Diana Winston, the phrases fully present or practicing mindfulness mean “the art of paying attention with an open and curious mind to present-moment experiences.”  In other words, it means living in the moment without worrying about the past or the future.  The idea comes from Buddhist teachings but has attracted many practitioners from both within and outside the Buddhist tradition.

We were in stores more than usual last month getting ready for the Christmas holidays, and I remember on multiple occasions the cashiers ringing up our purchases and saying “thank you” without ever making eye contact.  Perhaps they were simply tired but they appeared to be mentally in some other place.  When the body language doesn’t match the words, the words seem hollow and less meaningful.

Being mindful is something I have deliberately tried to practice in my life because it seems both polite and the right way to treat others.  During the years when my children were growing up, it was often difficult to be fully present all the time.  While my body was there caring for them and their needs, my mind was often racing ahead planning and trying to figure out how I was going to get everything done that I needed to do each day.  I wonder how many special moments in the present I might have missed while I worried about the future?

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The reason both of my grandmothers played such an important role in my life was that they were both fully present whenever I was with them.  Their complete and undistracted attention made me feel very valued and loved by them.

Universal Heart Book Club: Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh on Mindfulness and its ...

Being fully present with others is even more difficult today in this world full of electronic devices and social media.  Something is always ringing, dinging or pinging to take our attention away from those who are in the flesh right next to us.  And, it seems to be becoming more and more socially acceptable to ignore those who are with us in order to pay attention to our cell phones or electronic tablets and laptops.  But it isn’t acceptable at all.

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There are still rules which define appropriate behavior and good manners.  The rules expect us to be fully in the moment with others in social situations.  What a gift we give to other people when we give them our full, undivided attention.  It tells them they are important to us, we appreciate them, and we want to hear what they are saying and thinking.

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In 2016, I am attempting to be fully present during my interactions with others.  That means not worrying about what happened yesterday or what I have to do tomorrow or what is going on with my electronic devices, when I have the chance to talk with the people in my life.

PrioTime: Mindfulness – focused awareness in the present moment

Do you think this is important and if so, how do you practice the art of mindfulness and be fully present?

 

Let It Go!

I bet you know people who just can’t seem to get their Christmas decorations put away on a timely basis.  Once, I knew a family who was so busy one year that they never put their decorations away at all.  So, they just left them up for the next Christmas season!

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This has never happened at our house…yet…but it did take us two days to get the decorations packed away in the attic and the house clean again.  We have an annual ritual where we clean before the decorations go up and again when they come down.  That way, we start and end both the Christmas season and the new year with a clean and orderly house!  I must say, the house looks pretty bare with all the colorful decorations put away.

Others must be cleaning and organizing too because the aisles in stores like Target and Wal-Mart are filled right now with boxes and baskets and bins good for organization and storage.  Since we put the decorations away, we’ve continued to go through closets and cabinets and drawers pulling out the clutter.  We should have a carload to donate before too long.

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Here are some ideas and suggestions for things to get rid of so you can get better organized in 2016.  It’s amazing how much lighter we feel when we get rid of the clutter and some of the pressure we have been putting upon ourselves to do certain tasks.  It’s true; we spend time on the things which are important to us.  If you haven’t gotten to it in a long time, chances are it really isn’t that important to you.... clear out the clutter and chaos so you can make living life priority

These are the things you might consider giving the old heave ho:

*Old clothes you’ve been keeping in case you get down to that size again.  Even if you lose weight, chances are they won’t be fashionable any longer.  Let them go.

*This includes all those dusty coats in your coat closet.  Keep the ones you wear regularly and donate the rest.

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*That giant pile of catalogs and magazines you’ve been meaning to read.  There will always be more of those.  Let them go.

*Old phones and electronic items you no longer use.  Some of those things can be sold for a little extra cash.

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*Broken items that you never seem to get around to fixing.  Throw them out or recycle them or give them to someone who likes to fix things.

*Craft supplies for projects you haven’t done.  Pass them to others who have the time, or check with a local fabric store to see what classes they are offering where you could use your supplies.

*Musical instruments that no one plays.  Give them away or sell them or learn to play them in the new year!

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*Yellowed linens and ragged towels.  If it’s been awhile, it might be time to upgrade to some new, pretty ones.

*Jewelry/perfume/nail polish that you never wear because you don’t really like it.  Perhaps you have a friend or family member who would consider a swap?

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*Furnace air filters.  We changed ours on New Year’s Day to (hopefully) lower our winter utility bills.

*Exercise equipment that no one uses.  This is the perfect time of year to sell it to those who made resolutions to lose weight and get fit.  Or, you could start using it again!

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*Old motor oil, paint and solvents from your garage.  Most oil change places will recycle the old oil for you, and many communities have places to donate old paint.  If you don’t have enough to donate, add some kitty litter and stir to make the paint harden before you discard.

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*This includes old oil in your car.  Does your car need an oil change?

*Expired medicines and vitamins in your cabinet.  Some pharmacies will take your expired medicines and dispose of them for you.

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*Old food in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  Most food has an expiration date to help you decide whether or not to keep it.

*Friendships that are toxic or feel like they are one-sided.  There are so many people out there who want to be and to have a good friend.  It might be time to get to know some new folks better.

*Things that you don’t really like but you keep around for sentimental reasons because they were given to you by a person that you do like!  I am very guilty of this last one but I’ve made some progress in this area!

*And finally, get rid of old anger and resentment that only makes you feel badly and muddies the waters of your relationships.

On your mark, get set, go!  Clean house and move forward into a happy new year!