Pictured here is a 65 year-old nativity scene, or crèche, which Sr. Elaine Marie, bookkeeper at St. Anne’s received for a Christmas gift at nine years of age. As she grew up, she and her parents would set it up on their farmstead each year. More figures, such as a deer, Santa, some of the angels, and, of course a dog, where added to the original set over the years. Even after Sr. Elaine entered Religious Life in the late 1950s, her parents continued to put up the set at Christmastime. When they moved to live and work at St. Anne’s some years later, they brought it with them; her mom continued setting it up in her apartment here. Today, this crèche sets on top of a file cabinet in the main office here at St. Anne’s, where staff can be reminded of the miracle of the first Christmas.
Sometimes around St. Anne’s, we’ve said “It’s nuttier than a fruitcake around here.” Now, as Christmas approaches, these words hold true once again.
But during this ‘National Fruitcake Month’ we might ask: Just how nutty is a fruitcake? Recipes for this holiday treat vary. A variety of ingredients can be used, and substitutions may be made. The one caution given is that the original proportions be maintained when making substitutions (e.g., if you substitute mango for pineapple, use the same amount as that given in the recipe.)
Another thing to keep in mind is the need to make the cakes ahead of time. Fruitcake should age for at least a month.
Sr. Rebecca, our administrator, remembers her mother making up fruitcake around Thanksgiving. Her mother would wrap the cakes in cheese cloth that she had soaked in brandy and let them set until Christmastime.
Interestingly enough, fruitcake is baked on a low temperature, no higher than 325 degrees.
One shocking aspect of fruitcakes is that they can be eaten long after they were first made; one source mentions up to 25 years later!
Although fruitcakes have a reputation among some people as being something awful-tasting that you certainly don’t want around for Christmas, experiences at St. Anne’s tell us otherwise. A friend of ours, MaryAnn Votava, kindly brings us her delicious homemade fruitcake each December. Her holiday treat shatters any presuppositions one might have about fruitcake being unsavory holiday fare.
If you’re interested in more fun fruitcake facts, check out this site.
This past Monday was one of a few times during our five-week menu cycle at St. Anne’s that our residents are served cottage cheese, in some form. The evening’s selection was ‘cottage cheese with pear half.’
Our poodle, dodge, really enjoyed it, to our surprise. He was in the Sisters’ dining room at suppertime, and Sr. Christina allowed him to lick out her cup with its cottage cheese residue. He ‘really went to town’ with it, getting his nose down into the cup. He even moved it around a bit trying to get to the creamy remnants.
Although it’s doubtful that this dog is health-conscious, he was actually on to something! Cottage cheese has some definite health benefits.
For one thing, it has a good protein content, to give you energy, without tons of extra calories; it also offers amino acids. It has less calories than most other cheeses. Cottage cheese also is a source of calcium and phosphorus for your bones. It also has vitamin A, which helps your cells and B vitamins. Some other helpful trace elements are also found in Dodge’s creamy treat, including iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
Substituting cottage cheese for other proteins may help you lose weight. Being a dairy product with calcium and vitamin D, cottage cheese may also reduce risk of breast cancer.
There are a few concerns, though, to keep in mind with cottage cheese, including the sodium and cholesterol content, if you are on a diet for high blood pressure.
Have you ever wondered where cottage cheese got its name? You’re not alone; but answers aren’t that easy to come by. According to some online sources, cottage cheese is thus named because, in times past, it was made in cottages using leftover milk.
It can be enjoyed on crackers, in a salad, or even with a pear half, like we have it here, every fifth Monday.
Walking through the hallway outside our nurses’ office, I asked our residents in the med. line if they had celebrated St. Nicholas Day as children, putting out their shoes. To my surprise, none of them had. As a child, St. Nicholas visited our home every year on the eve of his feast in early December.
Last year, we at St. Anne’s had an 18-year old German girl, Antonia Kerl, stay with us for about three months. This included St. Nicholas Day. On that occasion, she did a program for our residents on “Christmas in Germany,” sharing German food and customs with our residents. For the December issue of our newsletter, The Broadcaster, she also contributed a little article, featuring St. Nicholas as our “Saint of the Month.” It ran as follows:
St. Nicholas was born in 270 AD and died on December 6, 343. He was the Bishop of Myra (what…
This morning’s first [substantial] snowfall of the season had everyone talking here around St. Anne’s.
While this included a number of complaints, there is something about the first snowfall; it creates a special mood.
Below, we will share some memories of our residents and staff regarding the first snow fall, or of winter in general. If you have any antidotes of your own that you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment.
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As a kid, I loved [the first snow]. You could have fun and play in it. Jack
We would wear snow pants to school, but once we got there, we had to take them off because we had to wear dresses at school. Patty F.
I can remember my dad calling upstairs to tell me “There’s no school” because of winter weather. That was great. It meant that we would either read, embroider or cut out lawn figures from plywood. Sr. Elaine
We always heard that the angels were having a pillow fight when it snowed. Sr. Christina
I used to make snow men and snow-mobiling and sleigh-riding. That was fun, too. Norma
I remember when I was in third grade, the winter before the flood of ’97. There was so much snow we could sled right off our garage roof right into the snow. Mandy
I remember the big storm of ’66. The snow came over the eaves trough on the house. My brothers shoveled a tunnel through this massive drift and we all went outside to play. Paulla
Where does one find 120 buttons? On the front of a Priest’s cassock? (Imagine buttoning one of the buttons wrong and having to do it all over again!) On a princess’ dress? On a display of buttons in a store?
Well, how about an accordion? During coffee and cookie time after Mass the other morning the topic of accordions came up and Dennis Feist asked: how does a person know what buttons to play? There are so many of them. There can be anywhere from twelve to 120 buttons in the left hand on an accordion.
Chuck Gust, an avid accordion player, and Sister Elaine, a player, too, began to explain that it really is not hard at all. One gets used to what buttons to play in the left hand to harmonize with the keys on the right hand accordion piano keyboard. Not over night, of course. Over time one does not even have to think about this because it comes so spontaneously.
An accordion is a musical instrument that uses pleated bellows and a bank of metal reeds to create sound. Most designs feature two keyboards with buttons or keys located on either side of the bellows. The musician expands and compresses the bellows while playing the melody of a song on the right hand keyboard and, at the same time, playing the bass chords on the left side to musically coordinate the song.
Now the buttons on the left side of the squeeze box as some call it, or wrinkle machine as my dear Dutch Uncle Jake called it, are arranged in chord progression as many songs are written, at least the old time waltzes, polkas, schottisches, two steps. Often a song will, for example, begin in the left hand with the C chord, then the F chord, followed by the G7th chord. Or, maybe begin with F, then Bb, and C7th. The left hand accordion buttons are already arranged in that pattern. Then, a row of buttons has C major, C minor, C seventh, C diminished. Again, already arranged in that pattern. We’ve got it made!
So, whether it’s an accordion with 12, 80, 120 bass buttons, just coordinate the keys and the buttons to enjoy a harmonized musical delight.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve received a number of pumpkin donations from a few different sources. One of them had been sitting with our scarecrow, Henry, in the front entrance. Another was carved as a jack-o-lantern for enjoyment at Halloween time.
We also received many small pumpkins, which the school children at St. Michael’s and a couple other local catholic schools had decorated. They were really cute setting in our activity room during our Halloween party and in the days that followed.
This past Monday, we cut, baked, peeled, mashed, and strained a few of these, freezing eleven quarts for future use in baking. The rest of the full-sized pumpkins were spared (temporarily, at least) for decorating our chapel around Thanksgiving.
In order to keep them from rotting, we have been keeping the pumpkins cool. For a little while, some sat outside, near the building in back. They have gradually all been making their way to the garage to avoid freezing.
This growing congregation of pumpkins has diverse demographics; it includes three white pumpkins and a square one, along with the more customary orange variety. They will indeed enhance our chapel decor on Thanksgiving Day, although they look a bit odd congregated in their present location.
If only we could get our congregations at Mass, Protestant Services, and resident activities to grow as quickly!