Tag Archive | retirement

Crape Myrtle Trees – Front Yard Landscape

We were finally able to start our front yard landscaping project this weekend.  Our daughter came out, spent the night, and declared she wanted to be put to work!  Well, who can say no to that!!!!  Okay, then, we got to work!

Home Depot had Crape Myrtle trees on sale (regular $74, sale $49!!!  – whoa, great deal!!), so we bought three.  Two trees with white flowers, one with pink!  Here’s a picture of a full-grown pink Crape Myrtle – isn’t it beautiful??


The trees are only about 6′ tall – which is good because they were still heavy!.

We measured across the yard and tried to make sure they would be evenly placed, and then Megan dug three huge holes.  We dumped a bag of Miracle Grow soil in each, watered them good, and low and behold, we have landscaping!!!   The trees have softened up the yard already, adding some much needed green.


The fence will be in soon, and we’ll start adding bushes around the perimeter for more color!  I’ll keep you posted on our progress!  I’d love your comments about what you would do to your hardscape if you had the chance to start from scratch!

Have a great day!







Jan Hagel Cookies (Bumpy Cookies) – a Dutch treat!

When I was a kid (way too many years ago) my grandma made Christmas cookies from her German and my grandpa’s Dutch family recipes.  Some of our favorites were fruit cake (made with gum drops instead of candied fruit) stored in a rum-soaked rag, Pfeffernusse Cookies, and Jan Hagel, which we called ‘Bumpy Cookies”.

I’ve seen recipes for other people’s Jan Hagel, and I think that my Grandma may have adjusted it somewhat – I think the recipe we use is more a combination of both Pfeffernusse cookies and Jan Hagel together.  Whatever, they are yummy, and they scream “Christmas is Here” in our house!

Today I had help with the baking.  Our youngest grandson (almost 4) is spending the day with us, and he loves to help bake.  So, we got started (after a quick trip to the store to get ingredients I thought I had but didn’t).

As you can see, we started with a bit of a mishap when I tried to pour the flour too quickly.  Don’t you just hate it when that happens????


Here’s the recipe that we use (passed down from my grandma):

  •    4 cups flour
  •    2-2/3 cups brown sugar
  •    2 eggs
  •    1/2 cup butter/margarine (softened)
  •    4 tsp Baking Powder
  •    2 tsp Cinnamon
  •    1 tsp Nutmeg
  •    1/2 tsp Cloves
  •    1/2 tsp Ginger
  •    2 tsp Almond Extract

Mix all ingredients together until you are able to form small balls with the dough.  If it is too dry add some liquid such as orange or apple juice.  If too wet, add some more flour.  Roll into balls the size of filberts (I made mine a lot larger though) and place on Pam-sprayed pan close together.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (mine took 25 because the balls were the size of walnuts)


Although not necessary, after the cookies cooled I added a powdered sugar glaze over the top.

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract

Mix the powdered sugar, milk and Vanilla together.  If too dry add milk as needed (be careful because it will only need a few drops at a time)



Serve with a glass of cold milk. They also taste great with a cup of coffee in the morning.

They taste just like I remember them – the memories came flooding back!  Now if I could remember how my grandma and mom managed to keep Christmas cookies safe from us – they don’t seem to last like they used to!

What special Christmas cookies do you remember?  I’d love to hear about them and the memories they evoke!

Merry Christmas to you and all your family!   I hope that you are blessed with happiness and health in the new year!