Reunion … not me, I don’t go to reunions. That is how I felt for many years. On graduation day in June forty years ago I walked out of the auditorium with my diploma and fell off the planet. I did not want to go back and I left my high school memories behind. I did not stay in touch with one soul, went off to college, got on with my life and did not return until summer 2013 which I wrote about here. After that visit to my hometown I decided to attend my next reunion. Why? I’ve asked myself that question too. I think it’s a combination of things. As time marches on our lives are constantly changing and so is our perspective. I think there is comfort in reconnecting with those who knew us as children and teenagers during a simpler time.

Unsure if I was ready so see my classmates as grandparents, I looked forward to the evening. Many of us attended school for 12 years beginning at age five learning our ABCs together in first grade. Yes, there was a time in America when children did not attend nursery school, pre-K and Kindergarten. Since high school we have come so far and encountered numerous experiences … college, love, career, marriage, children, grandchildren.

For me it was a weekend drive while others flew in from California, Illinois, Colorado, Florida and New York to attend our class reunion. Uncertain what to expect of this long-awaited evening, my first emotion was relief ... that the lighting in the room was dim! I picked up my name tag with my class picture and began greeting classmates not recognizing any faces. Could we really have changed that much? Yup! Those tags were essential to identifying our former pals. The years melted away as we reminisced and caught up with each others’ lives. It was a nice evening and no doubt I had more conversations with classmates than in four years of high school. Everyone looked great and more importantly, everyone seemed happy, successful and in a good place. We surely have come a long way since our high school days. The evening was the perfect bookend to my high school memories.

                    Understand that friends come and go but with a precious few you should hold on.
                    Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get,
                    the more you need the people who knew you when you were young. 
                                                                                                                                          Kurt Vonnegut

Add a Pumpkin Pie Cookie at each place setting on your Thanksgiving table as guest favors.


Pumpkin Pie Cookies
Triangle Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Burnt Orange with AmeriColor Super Red, AmeriColor Egg Yellow and AmeriColor Chocolate Brown
Royal Icing for detail tinted Light Brown with Wilton Ivory and AmeriColor Chocolate Brown
Royal Icing for detail tinted with AmeriColor Super White
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
Wilton Decorating Rose Tip #101
Wilton Decorating Star Tip #106
[Design inspired by Callye’s Mini Pumpkin Pie Cookies at Sweet Sugarbelle]

To make cookie shape, use circular container and cut out large circle.
Using a clean ruler divide dough into 8 slices with a pizza cutter.
Outline cookie with #2 tip in orange icing.
Flood cookie with orange icing. Let sit 45 minutes.
Pipe pie crust with rose tip #101 in brown icing.

Pipe dollop of whipped cream with star trip #106 in white icing.
 Let dry overnight.





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Be ready when you tour The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York to spend an entire day there because there is so much to see. Baseball buffs will want to read every word on every single exhibit and if so, get there when the museum opens. We spent seven hours there up until closing time and dashed out for only 30 minutes for what else….a hot dog. My best advice is to visit in the off-season and not during the crowded summer months, as viewing the exhibits and reading the captions could be challenging. During a Friday in mid-October the museum was busy but not so much to hinder our viewing of the exhibits.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Hall of Fame which opened in 1939. The building was enlarged more than once but is nothing grand and looks small from the outside. A simple brick building on vintage Main Street, there are three floors of exhibits starting with the beginnings of baseball to present day. The baseball movie on the second floor is a must-see and a fun place to begin the tour. Besides trophies, jerseys and gear, all donated by the players themselves and collectors, they have Joe DiMaggio’s locker and oodles of other really cool stuff. No surprise there is one corner dedicated to ‘the Babe.’ If you love baseball statistics the lower level is the place to be wowed and the individual plaques of the Hall of Famers are displayed on the first floor. Be sure to allot time for the gift shop which stocks some unique merchandise.

Don’t forget to visit Doubleday Stadium two blocks from the BHOF in the center of town. It opened in 1920 and the grandstand was built in 1939 by the WPA. It will transport you back in time to the early days of baseball. The final scene in A League of Their Own was filmed there.

After you have overdosed on baseball, take a walk around the neighborhood across from the museum at the tip of Lake Otsego. There are quaint, historical homes. End your day with a delicious Italian dinner at Toscana or Nicoletta’s just down the street.

These Cheesecake Brownies are a combination of my Deep Dish Fudge Brownies recipe and a cheesecake topping borrowed from Food Network. The result is a moist and delicious brownie.

Cheesecake Brownies
3/4 cup Butter, melted & cooled
1½ cups Sugar
1½ tsp Vanilla
3 Eggs
3/4 cup Flour
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

Grease & Flour 8” square pan. Use large spoon or wire whisk to mix ingredients.
In a separate bowl mix Flour, Cocoa, Baking Powder & Salt. Set aside.
Mix melted Butter, Sugar & Vanilla. Add Eggs and blend well.
Add Flour mixture until well blended.

Cheesecake layer
8 oz Cream Cheese
1/3 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 Egg

Cream Cheese until smooth and creamy. Add Sugar and Vanilla.
Add Egg until well blended. Set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup brownie batter and set aside.
Pour brownie batter into pan. Pour the cheesecake mixture evenly. Drop the reserved brownie batter in large dollops over the topping. Using a spoon swirl to create a marbled effect.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until brownies pull away from side or cake tester comes out clean.
[Cheesecake Topping from Cheesecake Brownies at Food Network]



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Autumn in New York

We recently traveled to upstate New York along the Hudson River which is beautiful this time of year. Far away from the traffic of New York City the Catskills burst with the reds, yellows, oranges and coppers of the season. It made for a scenic drive and if you are a history buff you will enjoy touring the marvelous sites in the Hudson River Valley, all in close proximity.

Bridge over Hudson River

Hyde Park, New York is the birthplace of our 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt who led our country out of the depths of the Great Depression and during WWII. His childhood home Springwood, the FDR Presidential Library and his gravesite are situated at one location. Unlike contemporary presidential libraries which are grand and modern, the FDR Library is a modest stone building which opened in 1941. It is the only presidential library built and occupied by a sitting President. FDR had an office there which he utilized during his hometown visits.

FDR Presidential Library

 Sit and Chat with Eleanor and Franklin

Springwood - Home of Sara Delano Roosevelt, FDR & Eleanor Roosevelt

Val-Kill is the home of Eleanor Roosevelt, our most famous first lady. During their marriage Eleanor and Franklin lived with his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt. Can you imagine?  Eleanor resided at Val-Kill when Franklin was in Washington DC and it became her permanent residence after his death. This charming home on a creek is where she and Franklin often entertained, picnicked, went swimming and discussed what else … politics.  The Stone Cottage, situated on the same property was a guest house.

Val-Kill - Home of Eleanor Roosevelt

Stone Cottage at Val-Kill

Top Cottage, situated atop a hill in the woods was a peaceful getaway for Franklin. It is the site of the famous hot dog picnic attended by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (a/k/a Queen Mother) of England in 1939. FDR met with other dignitaries there too on the stone patio, including Winston Churchill.

Top Cottage
If you enjoy seeing how the top one percent lived during the gilded age, then the Vanderbilt Manson is a must-see. This country cottage is just one of several ornate homes built by the famous Vanderbilt Family. The property extends for hundreds of acres along the banks of the Hudson River.

Vanderbilt Mansion
My favorite was the Wilderstein Mansion, a Victorian mansion overlooking the Hudson River. It was the home of Margaret Daisy Suckley, a distant cousin, companion and confidante of Franklin Roosevelt who resided there until her death at age 99. FDR’s famous dog, Fala was a gift from Daisy and she was with the President when he passed away in April 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia.

Wilderstein Mansion

After you have fulfilled your historical cravings, I suggest a visit to the Culinary Institute of America, the elite academy for future chefs situated on a beautiful campus. Tours provide a first-hand look at culinary classes that whet your appetite, so be sure to book a reservation at one of the three restaurants on campus where dinner is beautifully prepared and served by CIA students.



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