exploring, preserving: past, present


Saturday Upside…Change Creates Butterflies

Yesterday was my final day of work at Elm Creek School. I have been the principal there since September 2008, and have been very blessed to work with a wonderful group of teachers, educational assistants, and support staff. The building itself is a kindergarten through grade 12 school with a daycare and nursery school operating out of it, with 30 staff members and almost 200 students. It’s a vibrant place to learn and work, and I had a lot of mixed feelings yesterday while walking through the building. I enjoyed watching the continued Christmas activities of the students, with afternoon movies and games and skating. I very much enjoyed the annual delicious and lovingly prepared Christmas banquet for the high school, a full-meal-deal served at the church nearby: turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, caesar salad, buns, butter, dozens of different desserts, coffee, tea, juice, water, and incredibly enjoyable company.

Elm Creek School

One of my colleagues gave me a bookmark which stated “without change there would be no butterfies”. Though I may be feeling the loss of a wonderful workplace, colleagues, students, parents, and community, changing to a new position in a different division offers new opportunities. Change is good.

Our school’s theme this year is “Seize the Day”, with four sub-themes encouraged of everyone: to Play, to Choose Our Attitude, to Be There, and to Make each other’s Day. Though I may not be continuing my school year with Elm Creek, I will continue to “seize the day” and enjoy the change that comes with it.

Thank you, Elm Creek, for a wonderful time these past (almost) five years!


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Baking is Good Therapy – 14 Dozen Chocolate Lady Fingers

Baking is definitely therapeutic for me. It’s something I’ve been doing for three decades, and there is a familiar pattern of preparing ingredients, contemplating adjustments to tried-and-true recipes, waiting and watching for baking to complete, smelling familiar smells in the house…. Smells, motions, recipes all have so many memories tied to them.

On Friday I baked 14 dozen chocolate lady fingers. This is one of those “tried and true” recipes handed down from my mother who got it from her family, but origin is long forgotten. The original recipe is one of those “bake in a moderate oven until done” oldies-but-goodies. I’ve baked it often enough that I’ve finally written down the best temperature and time for baking (provided in brackets in the recipe below). It’s also one of those “makes anywhere from 12 dozen to 20 dozen cookies” recipes (depending on the size of the cookie cutter used). Though it’s quite possible/easy to cut the recipe in half, I never have. It’s tradition, tied to memories with my mother. Baking with mom always came with wonderful conversations filled with her own childhood memories. Memories of memories.

I provide the lady finger recipe with original measurements of ingredients and instructions. You will also note that the recipe is brief in its description (no details on what to add, whether to whip eggs or not). Really, it’s also tradition just to “dump” all the ingredients into one big bowl and mix. Works well every time. The first instruction, “make a soft dough”, refers to some flexibility with the amount of flour depending on humidity. In dry, cold Canadian winters, the 6 1/2 cups of flour is the perfect amount as long as you’re sprinkling flour on your countertop during rolling. Too much flour and the cookies become tough and dry.

lady fingers

These cookies are good iced with a very simple icing (icing sugar and water), or you can mix up icing sugar, a bit of milk, and a little vanilla for flavour. I would encourage you to simply taste the cookie without any icing as the cocoa and cinnamon in this recipe are distinct in both the smell and flavour of it, enjoyable without any embellishment.

Chocolate Lady Fingers
2/3 cup honey
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup cocoa
1 cup cream
1 cup margarine
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
6 1/2 cups flour

Make a soft dough. Roll out – not too thin – and cut in fingers. Bake in moderate oven (350) until done (8-10 minutes, make sure cookie is still soft to touch). Ice.

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The Connecticut Tragedy

Some of you know that I have more than one blog. This Preservings blog focuses on the art(s) of cooking, baking, crochet, quilting, soap-making, gardening, … all things that my ancestors had skills in that I hope to grow in myself. This blog also focuses on preserving memories – of my family, of myself, for my family, for myself.

My other blog, “Joy of Education“, started because it was tied to a course I am finishing for my M.Ed. degree. Though it started because of coursework, I knew that it too would in a sense “preserve” my identity as an educator and my thoughts on education.

Though it may not seem appropriate (to some people) for my “Saturday Upside” to be tied to the current social media storm surrounding the Connecticut school tragedy, I do believe that my recent post on the tragedy – and the Joy of Education – is one that can tie in to the concept of finding “upsides”. It is by no means a trite attempt at finding the positive in the CT tragedy, it is not an attempt at finding any positives there. It is a sharing of my own thoughts regarding joy, education, and life itself.

I share the link to this post with respect for those who lost their lives Friday morning (may they Rest In Peace), with hope for the future, and with hopeful joy of things to come.