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A woman can do the choosing

10 May

Imagine this, amongst a toy-packed playroom, a young girl plays with her favorite doll, wrapping it in a warm, fuzzy blanket, feeding it a make-believe bottle. It is quite possible she is envisioning being a mother some day. Yet, what happens to this little girls dream when she discovers she has Turner syndrome? A condition taking away her biological ability to give birth.

In some cases, this is where mommy steps in.

Affecting one in every 2,000 female births, Turner syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality, that, in addition to ovarian failure, can cause neck, skin and heart abnormalities, along with mild hearing loss.

However, the advancements of fertility science can give a woman diagnosed with Turner syndrome, the ability to have a child.

Recently an English woman froze her own eggs so that her two-year-old daughter diagnosed with Turner syndrome, would have the opportunity to have a child one day.

But who would be considered mommy? The grandmother who would also be the biological mother, or the woman who would give birth, choosing to use her own mothers eggs? Things get even more complicated when she technically would be giving birth to her own half-sibling. The future babys father would be fertilizing his mother-in-laws egg, and even the babys aunts and uncles would be half-brothers and sisters.

Nonetheless, this is giving an unfortunate young woman the opportunity to fulfill her dreams. Its not like the mother would be forcing her daughter to use the frozen eggs. All this mother wants to do is give her daughter the opportunity to have a child if she chooses.

The baby would develop inside the mother, the mother would carry the baby for nine months and the mother would raise the baby into adulthood. She may not be considered the biological mother, but she is the one to which the newborn will call mommy.

Chromosomal abnormalities don’t have to select who can and cannot have children. Thanks to advancements in fertility science, a woman can do the choosing.

More information about Turner syndrome can be found on the Turner Syndrome Society of the United States website.

 
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Posted in Opinion

 

Lifes about sharing passions together, carrying one another and sometimes riding side by side

06 May

The sun was shining beautifully through the autumn colored trees. Crackling was heard below as the horses hooves were crushing fallen leaves, but other than that, the fall forest was quiet. There was no bothersome bugs pestering the two horses and two riders.

Google images

It was the perfect fall day for a trail ride, a trail ride where Penny and Amy Erickson shared their love for horses, discovered that a little encouragement can lead to an accomplishment and that accomplishment doesn’t have to be awarded with a ribbon or trophy.

“For so many years, our horse time together was centered around showing,” said Penny, rural resident of Roseau, Minn. “Our trail ride through Bemis Hill had proven there was a whole lot more opportunity for us to have great times with our horses.”

Submitted photo

Penny and her daughter Amy have shown horses for many years. According to the Horses and Horse Information website, there are a few general categories regional horse shows are divided into:

Penny and Amy did most of their showing in pleasure and equitation classes. But since then, the mother-daughter pair has shared their love for horses out of the show arena and on the trail.

On one particular trail ride at Bemis Hill, Amy brought her former seven-year-old 4-H show horse Lexi out on the trail. Penny says she was scared to death for Amy.

“This was the insane show horse that had scared trainers at a quarter horse show and broke her stall down at the state 4-H horse show,” said Penny. “How could we dare bring her to the state forest for a trail ride?”

Thoughts of what ifs kept rolling through Pennys mind as they continued to saddle up the horses.

Once mounted, Penny started leading the way on her little grey Arab named Casper.

Submitted photo

“My moms horse was a great leader for Lexi, especially when it came to going through water and doing out of the ordinary things,” said Amy, who currently lives in Thief River Falls, Minn.

Submitted photo

As their ride began, Lexi was scared of everything whether it was a campsite, picnic table or garbage can. Even Penny’s experienced trail horse Casper was tested by Lexi’s prancing. To calm the horses, they found it best to move forward at a steady trot.

A trot is a two-beat gait where the diagonal legs are moved synchronously, according to the Horses and Horse Information website.

While trotting straight down the trail, Lexi continued to snake her neck from side to side, seeking something to be afraid of. However, after awhile, Penny said that Lexi seemed to relax and Amy continued to quietly encourage her.

“This was such a good memory, not only because of the great day,” said Penny, “but also the great strides that were taken toward a lifelong pastime for both of us.”

Submitted photo

That day, Penny and Amy shared their love of horses together, but also discovered that horses too need a little encouragement to achieve an accomplishment.

If you have a passion for horses, check out the following links:

 

 
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Posted in Animals

 

A ‘fashionista’ for funky fashion

26 Apr

Twenty-two-year-old Tessany Becker, originally from Greenbush, Minn., is not the average handbag shopper. To date, she is the collector or shall we say fashionista of over 75 handbags.

“I think the most handbags I ever had was 87 or 89 or maybe 90. It was up there,” said Becker of her collection that started when she received a handbag as a Christmas gift from her sister at a young age.

Tessany Becker, a 'fashionista' amongst her handbag collection.

Becker’s selective, but yet excessively large collection, consists mainly of non-typical handbags, functional oversized bags and a few small clutches that are switched on a daily basis.

“Oversized bags are more versatile. They can dress up your outfit, dress it down and add drama,” said Becker, who says some can be worn as crossovers. “I love fashion and having or wearing something that stands out from the rest.”

This fashionista is not only one of a kind, but she can also remember where she has purchased each glamorous handbag.

“I really like shopping at thrift shops, vintage places, T.J. Maxx and Burlington Coat Factory,” said Becker. “I love finding the shops that not everyone goes to. If it’s under $30, I love it’s perfect.”

However, a few months ago when she was shopping at Macys in Fargo, N.D., she fell in love with a $110 Guess handbag, but she couldn’t imagine spending that pricey of a penny.

“It was the most gorgeous blue handbag I had ever seen,” said Becker. “I sat and stewed over whether I should spend so much on a bag, but when I went to visit it again it was gone.”

As if it were meant to be, the warehouse had one left in stock, and the Guess handbag made its home in Becker’s collection.

“Recently I found the same exact purse at Burlington Coat Factory for almost a third of the price,” she said.

Being a senior at the University of North Dakota, Becker has done her fair share of moving. She says that every time she rents a new place, she tries to downsize her handbag collection.

“I just feel that moving gives me a great opportunity to be a little more selective of which ones I want to keep,” said Becker, who is majoring in elementary education, and double minoring in English and middle level education.

And each new place brings about challenges of how to store the oodles of handbags.

A year ago Becker lived in an apartment where her room had a large walk-in closet. Instead of using it to hang up and organize clothes, her collection of handbags took over three-fourths of the closet, each individually hanging on its own hanger.

Becker likes to think of her collection this way: I like my money where I can see it hanging in my closet.

She also used this closet to display her collection of shoes and jewelry.

This year she has to be a little more creative because she lives in a smaller two bedroom apartment with a roommate.

“I used cement blocks to lift my bed and bought Rubbermaid totes to slide underneath,” she said.

Becker says she hasn’t been able to find handbags or even jewelry lately that seems to interest her. So, one of her new hobbies is making her own jewelry. She says eventually one day she would like to own her own boutique.

Becker’s mom, Marita Becker, a rural resident of Greenbush, Minn., is also a selective collector. Marita has been collecting eclectic antiques since her early 20s and actively uses her functional collection on a daily basis. She says interesting items with a use and story inspire her to collect.

Marita and Tessany Becker

 

 

Healthy habits reduce breast cancer risk between mothers and daughters

29 Mar

Mothers and daughters nationwide are beating the odds of developing hereditary breast cancer. The American Cancer Society says that five to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are caused by gene defects inherited from a parent. Sara Olson, wife, mother of two and daughter of a breast cancer survivor, is reducing her chances of developing breast cancer by focusing on a healthy lifestyle.

“First and foremost is to do self breast exams monthly and to know your body,” said Olson, rural resident of Badger, Minn. “Then I need to get my yearly physicals complete with my doctor.”

Having one first-degree relative with breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, approximately doubles a womans risk, and having two first-degree relatives increases a womans risk about triple.

Olsons mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2007 at the age of 50.

“My doctor has recommended me to get a mammogram 10 years earlier than my mom so at the age of 40,” said Olson.

Yet, women are not destined to develop breast cancer if a close blood relative has the disease. Other environmental and personal factors can increase the risk of a woman developing breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society lists risk factors including age, race, environment and personal behaviors, such as smoking, drinking and diet that contribute to the disease.

These risk factors can be reduced in postmenopausal women if they establish healthy habits such as engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking alcohol in moderation, according to a study published on October 12, 2010, in the journal of Breast Cancer Research.

The studys author, Dr. Robert Gramling, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, defined regular physical activity to be 20 minutes of heart-rate raising exercise at least five times a week. A healthy body weight was having a body mass index of 18.5 to under 25 and moderate alcohol intake was defined as fewer than seven drinks a week.

“Doing regular exercise is the main prevention I do,” said Olson. “Walking has become part of my daily routine, walking 30 minutes daily.”

Engaging in one and a quarter to two and half hours per week of brisk walking, according to the Womens Health Initiative (WHI), can reduce a womans risk by 18 percent.

Maintaining a healthy weight and having a nutritious diet is also vital to Olson. The National Cancer Institute claims that after menopause, obese women have one and a half times the risk of developing breast cancer of women of a healthy weight.

“Eating healthy is very important,” Olson said. “Veggies and fruits are in my daily diet.”

Olson has also limited her alcohol consumption. According to the American Cancer Society, women who have two to five alcoholic drinks daily have about one and a half times the risk of developing breast cancer than women who drink no alcohol.

“Whether or not you have a family history, the risk of breast cancer was lower for women engaged in these three sets of behaviors compared to women who were not,” said Gramling.

Another factor Olson has taken into consideration is breast-feeding her children.

“They say breast-feeding children can help reduce the risk of breast cancer,” said Olson. “I have chosen to breast-feed both of my children and will choose to breast-feed my third.”

More information about breast cancer can be found on the following sites:

 
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Posted in Health

 

Who is your sister and what is your ritual?

11 Mar

Mothers, best friends, a group of friends, and sisters are a few people women create and sustain relationships with. A book titled “What Happy Women Do: Nail Night and the Unicorn Dance A Salute to Sisterhood and the Rituals That Sustain Us” written by communication scholars Carol J. Bruess, P.h.D. and Anna D.H. Kudak, M.A., say that sisters are the women we lean on, call on, and who show up when we need them most. Throughout their book, they refer to relationships between women as “signature sisterhood relationships” and to all women, blood-relatives or not, as sisters.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

In their charming gift book, Bruess and Kudak, faculty in the communication department at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., interviewed sisters who have created and sustained rituals with one another. Within the book, the authors have supported mini-stories with both primary and secondary research.

The book was inspired by the relationships with Bruess and Kudaks own sisters and also came about when they were writing their first book in a series, “What Happy Couples Do,” a book about how rituals help couples maintain their relationships over time.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Bruess said when they interviewed married couples she was struck by how many of the women were talking about the significant bonds and deep connections they also have with their female friends, their sisters.

“We set out to explore more intentionally the rituals of connection between women and found a rich, inspiring set of stories from women of all ages and at all stages about the powerful way happy women lift up and sustain the souls of other women,” said Bruess, professor of communication and journalism, and director of family studies.

Part of their book’s title: Nail Night and the Unicorn Danc are a couple of examples of some of the rituals. Kudak, adjunct professor of communication, said that some women get together and have nail night once a month and others hold onto a ritual they made up when they were a little girl. Their book describes the unicorn dance as a ritual two best friends execute every time they are together, even now in their adulthood.

Research shows, according to Breuss and Kudak, that play in adulthood is just as important for both our mental and physical health.

“Rituals between women remind them they know one another in a way that no one else does,” said Kudak. “Rituals also indicate a shared history that has stood the test of time.”

“Rituals say I care about you,” said Bruess.

“What Happy Women Do” is a third book in a series, What Happy Couples Do and What Happy Parents Do, which are written by Bruess and Kudak. For more information about the authors, their books, and research, check out their website at http://www.whathappycouplesdo.com.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

 

 
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Posted in Rituals

 

Brides incorporate ancient tradition

01 Mar

Mothers often times pass heirlooms to their daughters to incorporate into a wedding outfit. These heirlooms could be something old, something new, something borrowed, or something blue. According to Weddingbee, an online site, this saying is based on an ancient English poem:

Something old, something new

Something borrowed, something blue

And a silver sixpence in her shoe.

Each item is a bride’s good luck token. A bride who carries all four items on her wedding day will have a happy marriage according to American tradition.

Anna D. H. Kudak, adjunct communication professor at the University of St. Thomas who has based her research in rituals in interpersonal relationships, says the tradition is common but what makes it important for mothers and daughters is that it is customizable.

“They can include items that are important to them, while also partaking in a broader ritual enacted by many others,” said Kudak who co-authored a book on traditions, What Happy Women Do.

Generations could pass on a handkerchief symbolizing something old to a new bride. Weddingbee states that something old symbolizes continuity with the bride’s family and past.

North Dakota State University student, Jenessa (Sjol) Fritel, kept a handkerchief with her on July 24, 2010, symbolizing something old from her mother, Julie Sjol. Fritel says the handkerchief was like having a piece of her great-grandma Louise with her on such a special day.

“I am sure it meant a lot to my mom since it was her grandmothers and she loved her grandmother very much,” said Fritel.

Travis and Jenessa Fritel on their wedding day, July 24, 2010. Photo courtesy of Nicole's Photos.

According to Kudak, not only is it important to have something old, but also something new representing the hope that daughters and their new husbands will be hopeful in their future together.

“It is important for mothers to communicate that hope to their daughters on their wedding day,” Kudak said.

Kathy Nelson, rural resident of Lancaster, Minn., was 100 percent supportive when her daughter, Chelsi (Nelson) Langehaug, wanted a custom-made wedding dress to wear at her wedding July 3, 2010. Langehaug claims that having a new wedding dress added to the excitement of the day.

“I associated the dress with a lot of happy thoughts and memories,” said Langehaug, currently a fourth-year NDSU accounting student. “Having a new wedding dress was a tradition I could start.”

Chelsi (Nelson) Langehaug wore a beautiful custom-made wedding dress on July 3, 2010, as she became Mrs. Mark Langehaug. Photo courtesy of Kathy Nelson.

At other times, a bride may borrow something symbolizing to the bride that friends and family will be there for her on the special day. Weddingbee states that something borrowed is an item from a happily married friend or family member, whose good fortune in marriage is supposed to carry over to the new bride.

As Sara Elzen walks down the aisle to become Mrs. Kelly Markham on October 1, 2011, she will borrow a beautifully blue and brilliantly designed sapphire and diamond necklace from her mother, Pam Elzen, a happily married woman and resident of Medford, Minn. Pam Elzen received the necklace as gift from her father, Bob Anhorn, at the age of 16.

Sara Elzen will wear a 35-year-old sapphire and diamond necklace on her wedding day. Photo courtesy of Sara Elzen.

“This necklace just symbolizes my family,” said Sara Elzen of the 35-year-old piece of jewelry.

Kelly Markham and Sara Elzen will become united in marriage on October 1, 2011. Photo courtesy of on3design.

Not only does this necklace symbolize something borrowed, it symbolizes something blue, representing faithfulness, loyalty, and purity for Sara Elzen to cherish on her wedding day.

“When a mother passes something down to her daughter on her wedding day, she is communicating several symbolic messages,” said Kudak. “She is telling her daughter, without words, that she supports her daughter’s marriage and believes in them as a couple, so much that she’s willing to part with something that is meaningful to them.”

 
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Posted in Rituals

 

Life lessons being shared among Mothers, Daughters, and Horses

18 Feb

Hobbies and passions that once interested a mother at a young age can be passed down to her daughter. Together, the two of them can learn valuable life lessons. A mother who passes her love for horses on to her daughter can teach her daughter that trust is crucial in every relationship, that owning a horse takes responsibility and that competition is not always so important.

A mother and daughter who share a common interest and passion for horses together create special bonds with not only the horse, but with each other. Being able to share a hobby with a mother or daughter, is something not every woman experiences.

Creating a special relationship with a horse takes a lot of time, patience and trust, getting to the point of becoming a companion and not just a rider. For a horse to know the rider has their trust in them is very important. Together, horse and rider can create an extraordinary bond that some may term inseparable.

Forming a relationship between a mother and daughter also involves the same qualities of time, patience and trust. In mother-daughter relationships, the daughter is often the one being the rider at a young age, and the mother can be compared to a horse, carrying her daughter through adolescents. When time comes, a mother and daughter too can reach the point of being each others companions.

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One woman is busy managing a business, while her daughter is studying occupational therapy at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. However, the two of them still find time to share their passion for horses together and have learned that trust is important in not only their relationship, but their relationship with horses too.

These two horse-loving women are my mom and sister, Lisa and Abby Wicklund.

Lisa’s passion for horses started when her dad and grandpa bought her first Shetland pony, a little palomino named Frosty.

“I have always loved horses for the gentleness, grace and beauty they carry,” said Lisa. “For me, horses are relaxing and have a calming effect.”

At about the age of four, Lisa had her daughter on the back of a horse.

“Abby first started out on her dad’s team roping horse, when her feet wouldn’t even reach the stirrups,” said Lisa.

What started as riding in the wooden coral at home grew into a desire to compete. Throughout the years, Abby has competed in rodeos, barrel racing, Minnesota State Horse Shows and much more.

“During the summer months, I compete in performance shows with Barney and barrel race with Sammy,” said Abby, owner of the two registered quarter horses.

However, one memory they recall didn’t involve competition; it involved one bitter-cold winters day, a grey horse, a rope, a sled and a trusting relationship.

“Abby wanted to go sledding, but there was one problem, there wasn’t a hill to be found,” said Lisa. “You see, rural Badger is about as flat as a pancake.”

Bundled up in their winter gear, the two of them walked knee deep through the snow, with each step taking them closer to their awaited adventure. As they approached the horse pasture, they shook a bucket filled a quarters way full with grain, and called Snickers name. Not only did an overly friendly, in-your-face, 6-year old grey gelding come galloping through the snow, but five others followed almost saying, don’t leave me out.

After saddling the 15-hand grey pony up, my mom claims she was hesitant to crawl on Snickers’ back because he hadn’t been rode since fall. But she had trust in him. Once mounted, the ride went smoothly, for both mom on the horse and Abby on the sled.

“There was no buck, but it sure felt like it once in awhile,” said Lisa. “Snickers was pretty well behaved for never pulling a sled before.”

Whether it’s with her horses, or her relationship with her mom, Abby feels that trust is the most important part of having quality relationships.  Even if it means trusting her mom won’t let go of the rope wrapped around the saddle horn or Lisa trusting Snickers to not buck her off.

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Sometimes a mother does more for her daughter than simply pass on a love for horses. Sometimes that mother may be able to teach her daughter about grief and how to overcome challenges that life brings about. Through times that involve making responsible decisions, a mother can be there for her daughter.

This happened to 17-year-old, Taylor Langaas, when she had to make the decision of putting one of her horses down two years ago and claims it was one of the saddest days of her life; however, her mom, Becky Langaas, was there for her every step of the way.

This brought Becky and Taylor’s relationship and passion for horses to another level, a level where they as mother and daughter created companionship.

“I remember when I had to make the decision to put my favorite horse, Bobcat, down,” said Taylor. “She had heaves a lot during the winter because of the hay and any dust was hard on her lungs.”

Taylor said that every year it kept getting worse and it finally got to the point that it was hard for Bobcat to breathe, even during the summer months.

Becky Langaas, Taylor’s mom and an avid horse lover, said having animals means responsibility and tough decisions along the way.

“In Bobcat’s case, Taylor did the most unselfish thing she could do by putting her horse’s needs first,” said Becky. “I have always told Taylor that life isn’t always going to be fair, but you just have to make the best of it good and bad.”

Communicating with her mom about horses is like second nature, because Becky has been around horses since she was a young girl.

Becky was first introduced to horses when her great grandparents bought her first pony, Misty, when she was 6-years-old. For as long as she can remember, she has loved and admired horses.

“I can remember at 4 or 5 years old drawing tablets and tablets full of horses and cutting them out and hanging them on my walls,” she said.

According to Becky, the best thing about sharing a love for horses with her daughter is teaching Taylor responsibility, determination, and the opportunity for her to set goals for herself.

“She has made a tremendous step with her horses,” said Becky. “I am very proud of her.”

Pictured here is Taylor with one of her horses, Candy.

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The sun was shining beautifully through the fall colored leaves. The sound of leaves were heard crunching below the horses hooves, but other than that, the forest was quite. There were no bugs pestering the two horses and two riders. It was a perfect fall day for a trail ride. A day that a mother and daughter understood that life brings about happiness in other ways besides winning a trophy.

As the mother and daughter followed each other on horseback on a narrow trail through the woods, nothing else seemed to matter. Before long, there trail ride through Bemis Hill was complete and they both felt a great sense of accomplishment.

“For so many years, our horse time together was centered around showing,” said Penny Erickson, resident of rural Roseau, Minn. “This experience and this day had proven that there was a whole lot more opportunity for us to have great times with our horses.”

Penny and her daughter, Amy Erickson, showed horses for many years. But since then, the mother-daughter pair has shared their love for horses out of the show arena and on the trail.

Amy and Penny at a North Dakota Quarter Horse Association Show.

On one particular trail ride at Bemis Hill, Amy brought her former 4-H show horse, a 7-year-old appendix mare named Lexi, out on the trail. Penny says she was scared to death for Amy.

“This was the insane show horse that had scared trainers at a quarter horse show and broke her stall down at the state 4-H horse show,” said Penny. “How could we dare bring her to the state forest for a trail ride?”

Thoughts of what ifs kept rolling through Penny’s mind as they continued to saddle up the horses.

Once mounted, Penny started leading the way on her little grey Arab named Casper.

“My mom’s horse was a great leader for Lexi, especially when it came to going through water and doing out of the ordinary things,” said Amy, who currently lives in Thief River Falls, Minn.

As their ride began, Lexi was scared of everything whether it was a campsite, picnic table, or garbage can. Even Penny’s experienced trail horse Casper was tested by Lexi’s prancing. To calm the horses, they found it best to move forward at a steady trot.

While trotting straight down the trail, Lexi continued to snake her neck from side to side, seeking something to be afraid of. However, after awhile, Penny said that Lexi seemed to relax and Amy continued to quietly encourage her.

“This was such a good memory, not only because of the great day,” said Penny, “but also the great strides that were taken towards a lifelong pastime for both of us.”

That day, Penny and Amy reconnected a bond they once shared, but a special trusting relationship with Amy and Lexi was also created.

Penny says that when you have a special relationship with a horse, they totally understand and are always there for you.

Plus, they are so fun to ride in the woods and watch out grazing in the pasture,” she said. “There is a very peaceful feeling when the horses are in their stalls, eating their grain. It just makes you feel that life is good.”

As for these two women, this trail ride showed them they can continue to share the love for horses together away from competition, and that sometimes an experienced horse may need to lead an inexperienced horse in a direction to overcome fear. Sometimes a little encouragement is all it takes.

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These mothers have been able to help their daughters with life lessons, through raising horses. The stories also illustrate how life is not about competition. These mothers and daughters have shown that life is about trusting one another and creating lasting relationships. About sharing passions with one another, carrying each other at times, and at others, riding side by side.

 
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Posted in Animals

 

A mother-daughter love for chocolate

12 Feb

Whenever I get the chance, I try and make a trip back home to Badger, Minn. commonly known as the mallard capital of the world.

As one of many college students, home to many of us is a place where we can bring our piles of dirty laundry, eat a few home-cooked meals, and spend time, like the old days, with our family and friends. Home to me also involves helping my parents out at their small-town hardware store, Northern Ace Hardware, located in Greenbush, Minn.

Hardware genes have been in my family for many years. My grandpa owned the store for over 40 years and my parents, the past 25.

This past Saturday, in-between helping customers and stocking shelves, my mom and I were busy preparing for an appliance sale beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday morning. As much as we both enjoy working there, when 2 p.m. rolled around, we were both ready to get home.

And relax.

But, relaxing to my mom and I is not sitting back and putting our feet up in a reclining chair. Relaxing is opening up a cookbook, preheating the oven, and stirring up something tasty.

Last Saturday, we were both craving chocolate cupcakes.

Since we didn’t have the time to make cupcakes from scratch, mom opened up her fully-stocked pantry, and carefully chose from an array of options. When I say an array of options, I literally mean as in walking into a grocery store. You name it, she has it.

After some time of listening to pots and pans clanging and hearing an occasional canned good plummeting onto the hardwood floor, I started to wonder if my mom would come out alive.

Miraculously, she did. (A few extra words may have been said in-between.)

She set on the counter products from King Arthur Flour: Deliciously Simple Chocolate Cake Mix, Chocolate Fudge Frosting Mix, Red Heart Cupcake Papers, and Cupids Curse Sprinkles.

And so the baking begins.

Out comes the stainless steel bowl, a whisk (we would normally use a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer), but a whisk is what the recipe called for), cupcake tins, and the rest of the ingredients.

Into the stainless steel bowl goes four farm-fresh large brown eggs. Every week, my mom receives a phone call or more often gets a little blonde haired visitor peeking around the corner of her office asking her how many dozen eggs she would like.

“Nothing can compare to these eggs. When I use them to bake with, everything just gets fluffier,” said mom.

The water and oil get poured into the bowl and I begin whisking; after what seemed like 20 minutes (it was more like 30 seconds), my arm starts feeling like a slowly dying hand-held mixer.

With a frothy mixture before our eyes, we then add in the chocolate cake mix and whisk until a smooth and creamy chocolate mixture appears.

Something seemed like it was missing. The recipe said it was optional to use miniature chocolate chips or chopped nuts. An ingredient was optional? I thought, chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles? Why not add some more chocolate? Is there such a thing as too much goodness? In went a cup of Nestle Toll House semi-sweet miniature morsels.

My mom started filling the rich looking (and rich tasting) batter into the bold and festive paper liners, filling them effortlessly but yet so perfectly making sure one would not be fuller than another.

As I opened the oven door, a wave of 350°F heat bellowed around my face. What followed for the next 18 to 22 minutes, seemed like eternity.

Beep, Beep, Beep. As the convection oven timer goes off, my taste buds start to water. I look into the oven to see perfectly baked chocolate cupcakes, lined with vibrant red and white Valentines papers.

We let them cool in the tins for about 10 minutes, to later finish cooling on a wire cooling rack. Temptation hit us, and soon we couldn’t tease our senses anymore. We gave in.

As my mom takes a bite out of an unfrosted, warm cupcake, I hear from my mom, Mmmm (silence). That’s (more silence), that’s heavenly.

And of course, I have to take a bite too.

Once the decadent chocolate cupcakes were completely cooled, we used a KitchenAid Hand Mixer to whip the good stuff (shortening and butter) into a smooth, creamy mixture. Then we added the contents of the frosting mix, milk, and vanilla and beat again until a light and fluffy frosting formed. (We added a little extra milk because the frosting was a little stiff).

I could feel temptation beginning again. I told my mom, “We can’t just frost the cupcakes without at least trying the frosting first. What if the frosting is not good? Then the frosting would ruin all the cupcakes.”

So I tasted it. Melting in my mouth was an irresistible rich frosting, not too overly sweet. It was heaven.

To add the final touches, we used an Easy Accent Decorator made by Pampered Chef, a gadget that makes frosting a piece of cake.

This tool works wonders. We have used it for piping frosting on desserts, as well as for many other things such as deviled eggs or twice baked potatoes. The decorator comes with six different tips making decorating artistically simple, and a cap to store leftover icing conveniently in the refrigerator.

We finished these cupcakes off with a light sprinkling of Cupids Curse.

For a special treat, mothers and daughters ca  take part in a King Arthur Flour baking classes held across the country.

If you like reading my post, check out one of my favorites, the King Arthur Flour blog, found at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/.

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Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cupcakes

You will need:

4 large eggs

2/3 c. vegetable oil

1 1/3 c. water

Contents of cake mix

1 c. miniature chocolate chips or 1 c. chopped nuts, optional

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place Red Heart Cupcake Papers into cupcake tins.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, oil, and water. Add the mix and stir until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and/or nuts if you are using them. Fill each paper liner 2/3 full with batter.
  3. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until cupcakes test done. Remove cupcakes from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes; then remove from pan(s) and cool completely on a rack.

For Frosting:

½ c. butter, softened

½ c. shortening

½ c. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Contents of frosting mix

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening until fluffy.
  2. Add frosting mix, milk, and vanilla and beat again.
  3. Fill Easy Accent Decorator, made by Pampered Chef, with chocolate frosting.
  4. Pipe frosting on top of cooled cupcakes.
  5. Sprinkle with Cupids Curse Sprinkles.

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About King Arthur Flour®

According to the King Arthur Flour website, King Arthur’s primary focus since 1790 has been producing America’s purest, finest flour. They are headquartered in Norwich, Vermont with a staff of over 160 employees. King Arthur Flour, America’s oldest flour company, is one-of-a-kind because it is flour that has never been bleached or bromated.

King Arthur’s mission is to support and seek to expand all aspects of baking by being the highest quality product, information, and education resource for, and inspiration to, bakers worldwide. Our foundation is our good King Arthur flours, and our commitment is to the highest standards of excellence, value, and integrity in everything we do.


 
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Posted in Food, Rituals

 

Introduction

11 Feb

I got the idea to start this blog because I feel every mother and daughter has a story to tell. And, one of my passions is writing. A passion I never knew I had until about four years ago. To be able to sit down with a person and let them tell me their story, so in return I can share it with others, is one of my favorite things about writing. Transferring the spoken word and often times faintest memories to print, is a way of preserving untold memories.

According to an online article found on Pioneer Thinking, “Past literature shows that the mother-daughter relationship is considered the most significant of all intergenerational relationships,” says Dr. Mudita Rastogi, associate professor of psychology at Argosy University/Chicago and a licensed marriage and family therapist.

This blog is not only a way of preserving history between mothers and daughters; it is a way for all mothers and daughters to read about the many women in this world who share similar, but yet unparalleled stories.

My mom and me have a special relationship.

Growing up I always found myself wanting to do the things she was doing, whether it was planting the onion-like gladiola bulbs in the spring (our favorite flower) or even horseback riding past sunset because we couldn’t get enough of the cool, crisp summer air or decorating cakes together because we both have a passion for baking and cooking.

Needless to say, I always wanted to be like my mom.

I hope this blog will bring relationships closer between mothers and daughters and for women to appreciate the special bond they share. Let this blog inspire you to start a tradition that can last a lifetime and let other stories I write bring happiness to you.

Mothers can oftentimes be the most influential person in a daughters life. Being aware of the relationship a mother and daughter have can bring about joy and happiness.

I would like to share with you a tribute to our mothers I found from an online article titled,The special relationship between a mother and daughter and the sacred bond that they share:

A Tribute To Our Mothers

For all of us daughters and that is me, who are fortunate enough to still have their mom around, I want to pay tribute to you. I want to promise to you, my mother that I will raise my own daughter with respect, courage, strength, compassion, wisdom, and love that you taught to me. I will be there for you when you grow old and you need me, just as you have been there for me all of my life. This is a tribute to all moms and the beauty in each and everyone of us.

If your mom is no longer with you today and you have a daughter, love her like air, hold her as much as she lets you, say I love you to her as much as you want to, never think that you are forsaken and know that each daughter thinks that her Mother is the center of her world so cherish that, it is one of gods most precious gifts. To all moms out there spread the love!!!!!