Saturday, November 24, 2012

Remember that Cliché about Lemonade?

Our family members have some serious food allergies.  This problem has been a source of physical suffering-both acute and long-standing.  It has caused anguish and anxiety.  Some pretty cruel and ignorant (meaning uneducated) comments have been made in response to these allergies.  But it hasn't been all bad-no, not at all.

Without my son's allergy to milk, I doubt I would have learned how to cook. It has actually been fun to learn the chemistry of cooking so I could figure out how to make allergy-free recipes for every day and holidays. People have said they love my Christmas cookies, and yet those cookies are all entirely milk-free.

In their concern to protect, our family members are careful when preparing food for holidays. Lots of conversation happens about what to bring and how to cook it. Innovations abound and all in the name of love, cooperation and a desire to be together. True we might miss pumpkin pie (which just isn't the same without eggs and cream), but we've learned to make wonderful, allergy-free pumpkin muffins that every one enjoys.  The important thing is that everyone can eat the holiday feast and that the allergic people and those who love them (which is all of us!) are not anxious about a potential trip to the ER. Safety tastes much better than butter.

This year during our Thanksgiving Day activities, I was blessed to learn that the care and concern was being passed to the younger generation. Years ago I made these little acorns from leftover plastic Easter eggs.  (Directions at the bottom of the page). 

They open and are kind of silly and cute, so we thought we would

make a treasure hunt for hiding surprises and  treats.

  The older cousins set aside treats for the younger who were arriving after dark, asking, "Grannie did you make sure these are allergy-free?"

After a full table at dinner, we decorated gingerbread houses.

An austere Italian Alpine cottage...

and a Tuscan villa with roof tiles scattered from a sudden storm...

Notice the snowman below...

Joey had a plan for a driveway with a pretzel/candy car, a yard and a fence. He was pleased with it, but congratulated Jack more than once on making what he thought was the very best house.

It's true, Jack and Andrea had the extravagant touch...

Here are Karl and Rosa working together...

We loved Karl and Rosa's 1st Wedding Anniversary Gingerbread House. They put a candy cane heart like the one Karl is holding on both slopes of the roof.  So cute!

But the best part was that everyone could touch every candy and not worry.  

Who knew that when I put those few allergy-free candies and treats in my little, homemade acorns this year that I'd find a harvest of such treasures as peace, compassion and consideration? 

How to make the acorns for your own treasure hunt:
Save plastic Easter Eggs. Target has some that have sort of flat bottoms that work well for acorns. But it doesn't really matter.  Get an old, discardable paint brush, tacky glue, hot glue and hot glue gun, brown buttons, one pipe cleaner, yarn, scraps of felt.
Water down the glue a little so that you can paint it onto the outsides of the eggs, one at a time. When it begins to tack up, (a few minutes), begin to wind the yarn onto the egg starting at the top and making sure that you don't cover the ridge that makes the plastic egg fit together. Let this dry. Repeat with the other half of the acorn. I used thicker yarn for the top to simulate the acorn top. Make as many as you'd like.

Cut felt oak leaves and use embroidery floss to stitch down the center to give texture.  Group these and hot glue to the top of the acorn. Glue a button on the bottom half of the acorn and make a felt or pipe cleaner loop to fasten if you wish. The acorn will shut because it was designed that way when it was still an egg =).  Cut a tab from the felt scraps about 1/2" wide and 3/4" long. Glue this inside the acorn at the back (opposite where you are putting the button) to form a kind of a hinge.  

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