Paper Trail

Honestly, Kids, sometimes I long for the days when letters were on paper….

With online banking to pay your bills, and emails/texting to touch base with family and friends, will hand-written letters become totally extinct?

I think it’s a pretty good possibility.

Although I’m glad to see most of my bills being paid without a stamp, I really hate to think that the fun mail will someday stop.

People don’t really write letters very often, now. In some ways, it’s understandable – email is so much quicker and more convenient. But there’s something beautiful about a little envelope with your name handwritten on it. 😀

When I was quite young, my grandmother helped me compose a letter to a cousin who lived far away. I had never written a real letter before. Nana suggested that I first scribble something in pencil on a piece of scrap paper, but I wasn’t sure how to begin. She encouraged me by saying:

“Just write as if you are talking to the person… as if he is sitting right there beside you!”

That worked like a charm. Next, she gave me a sheet of good paper and (drum roll, please!) my grandfather’s special pen – the “fancy” one he kept in a little stand on the bureau. Talk about feeling like a grownup. 🙂

Probably the most faithful and prolific letter-writer I’ve ever known was Sir Beads’ Mom. Her letters were little treasures. She always used pretty stationery and usually, it was scented! I swear the lovely fragrance of those letters would spread to all of the other mail that arrived on the same day. It made opening the bills a pleasure (well, almost!).

Her letters were written in a beautiful script and she often tucked in a photo, or a newspaper clipping, or a recipe she’d copied especially for me, or snippets of yarn from an “in-progress” sweater, or scraps of fabric from a dress she was sewing for one of my girls – just so I could see the colors and textures she had chosen. It was fun to feel part of the project in that way.

I miss those letters. They brightened up even the sunniest of days! I did save a lot of them. They’re part of our family history, after all.

I wonder if emails between family members will survive through the ages. Will they be stored on tiny discs? Will they be accidentally erased during computer crashes? They definitely won’t have the little surprises tucked inside . . .

This week’s question is:

Do you have old hand-written letters that you have saved? Do you ever hand-write a letter, now? Do you save emails? Are you ok with a totally paper-less society?

Ok, that’s more than one question! 😉

But you know what I mean…. Lol



Sour Cream Coffee Cake and History!

There can be all kinds of history in a recipe box!

Take this for example.


It’s written in my mother’s handwriting, but there’s more! Look at the stains on it. Mum made this coffee cake many times and the stains are a testament to the afternoons this piece of paper rested on the counter as she measured and stirred. But there’s still one more bit of “history” with this recipe . . .

If you turn the paper over, you have this:


It’s one of my 5th grade history tests! Let’s just say it’s from decades ago, ok? It appears I was studying the civil war when my mother needed a piece of paper to scratch down a new recipe. I’m certainly glad she happened to grab one that was marked a “hundred” – especially since it’s survived this many years and will probably be passed on again – no need to have future generations see a test with a lower grade. 😉

I wrote the word “Mama’s” on the recipe when she gave it to me after I got married. Isn’t it amazing that something so ordinary can have so much meaning years later? This paper is a tangible link to the past. It tells of a young mother who is spending some of her days baking treats for her family. It tells of a 10-year-old child, who is studying and taking tests on American history. It seems to me that this recipe might be cherished by a young woman many years from now, not just because it’s good coffee cake, but because the piece of paper is a connection to her own ancestors – something that will allow her to know them a little better and to imagine what their lives were like. I wish I had more items like this from even further back in our family. Now that we so extensively use computers, the internet and email, it’s likely that handwritten recipes, notes, and maybe even “written” school exams will become a thing of the past, but I hope not.

One thing is for sure – the coffee cake is delicious. I’ve transcribed it for you below. Maybe you can make it before the summer heat keeps all of us from wanting to use the oven. 😉



Sour Cream Coffee Cake

One Bowl Recipe!

Sift together on wax paper:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a bowl cream together well:
1 stick butter (left out for 1 hour to soften a bit)
2 eggs (left out 1 hour to bring closer to room temperature)
1-cup sugar

Next add dry ingredients alternately with ½ pint of sour cream to the creamed mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

In a cup – mix well: 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with ¼ cup of sugar. Set aside.

Measure approximately 1 cup of chopped nuts and set aside.

Grease a tube pan. Add ½ of the batter to the pan, then ½ of the cinnamon sugar mixture, then sprinkle ½ of the nuts, then the rest of the batter, the rest of the cinnamon sugar mix, and finally the rest of the nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.