Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Oh The FLAME Of It

A Cookie Cutter Education

by Cassondra Murray

It all started with a candlestick.


I’ve spent the past three weeks trying to figure a way out of this. But I made a tactical error when I commented on Suz’s cookie blog earlier this month. Then I told Donna and Anna Sugden about it when we met two weeks ago to plot books, and they wouldn’t let me out of it. They said I had to tell.


I’m not a cookie person, you see. I’m a cake and pie person. In direct opposition to the persona one imagines based on my blue-black fingernails and fondness for bladed (and other) weapons, I actually know how to make a decent double crust apple pie (been rolling my own crusts since I was ten) and a killer scratch German Chocolate cake from a 1930’s recipe that—hold onto your cholesterol levels-- uses 18 eggs.



In contrast, I don’t even own the recipe referenced in this article. The cookie sections of my cookbooks never see daylight. But I do have a fond memory of baking cookies, and had it not been for these cookies, my life might have taken a far different, and less productive, direction.


Oh, let’s cut to the chase, shall we? I would have ended up barefoot and pregnant.


It was a recipe for Salt Cookies.

Terri (not her real name) was my best friend in high school. She’d moved to our county with her mom, Sally, and her stepfather, when she was a sophomore and I a freshman. They’d moved all the way from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to rural southern Kentucky. Terri and I were the oddball girls at school, so we bonded. We both were interested in agriculture and art, and some of my fondest memories are of weekends spent with her, riding her horses, eating her mom’s amazing Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, and listening to Barry Manilow records.

I should tell you, first, that Sally was a bit more open minded than the average buckle-of-the-Bible-belt mother. Thank God.

It was Christmas break during Terri’s first year in Kentucky, and I was invited to spend the night so we could bake Christmas cookies. After a meal of something wonderful (Sally’s meals were always wonderful) Sally brought out a ginormous bowl of cookie dough and the box of cookie cutters.

Sally had all the regular cookie cutters. I suppose there was a star and a camel and maybe a reindeer. And I’m almost certain there was a Christmas-tree-shaped cutter. But those didn’t change my life. The one that changed my life was shaped like a candlestick. Sort of.

I’ ve done a Google search. After three hours, I’ve come up with poor imitations for the marvelous manufacturing mistake that was then, and remains today, my favorite cookie cutter ever.

In three hours on Google I found cookie cutters shaped like every state in the U.S., including one just for Michigan’s Upper Penninsula.


There’s one shaped like Canada.



There are cutters shaped like lips.

There are even Rorschach cookie cutters—in case you can’t decide what cookies mean to you, I guess….

There are shoes.

Okay, I’m stalling. Ahem. Back to the life-changing event.

At first glance, this cookie cutter appeared to be an innocent candlestick. You know, the kind with the roundish, saucer-like base, a large round, uh…..handle….on the side for use in carrying the candlestick from room to room, and as any cheerful holiday cookie cutter candlestick would, this one had a flame. Actually it was a double-tipped flame, with a slight indentation in the center. Quite realistic, actually. Can’t you just see the dribble of wax oozing down the side of the candle??????

Sally could.

Now, speaking of states, there were a few I had not seen at that point in my life. Since I was only fifteen, I believe that was entirely appropriate. NOW, I have seen a few more…uh…states…and I have indeed seen the state of which I speak. You might say I’m…well….intimate with it.

May I speak plainly for just a moment?

If it had been left to my hyper-religious mother, I would have gone through puberty and straight into relationships without knowing the first thing about said …uh … …relationships. I was carefully shielded from all knowledge of male-female…..interactions, and would have walked into my first encounter completely blind. If I got caught reading a romance novel with anything more than kissing, I was in trouble. Grace Livingston Hill was as far as relationships went. I’d worked cattle all my life, but was not allowed in the barn when the vet came to artificially inseminate the cows.

Now I can’t say what my mom hoped to achieve by keeping me in total ignorance, but I’ll tell you that in the late '70s, the health classes at my schools were not adding to my knowledge one bit. Myolder brothers had both graduated and gone from home when I was born, so I never walked in on one of them undressed. Never, in fifteen years, had I accidentally walked into the boys’ bathroom at school. Or the wrong locker room. I’d seen pictures of unclothed males.

But not in THAT state. THAT was a state I had not seen.

Are we clear?

Okay then.

So, the problem with cookie cutters is that they have no inner detail. There’s just the aluminum outline. Take a look at this lobster.
With just a drop of imagination, it could become something else entirely. Squint your eyes up a little and look at it. Can’t you imagine an angel with wings reaching heavenward?

And this candlestick cookie cutter was unfortunately….well, perhaps FORTUNATELY….simple. No actual sharp division between the, uhm, handle and the candle’s…..well…shaft. The metal two-tipped flame was sharp-pointed on the outside of the cutter’s form, but on the inside, it left the pale beige, soft, pliable, flexible…uh, the cookie dough flame tips a bit….well…..flatter. And more rounded. With an interesting tiny dip directly in the center of the flame.

See this cookie cutter?
Well, it's lacking. See that squarish, sharp pointy part at the base? Our cookie cutter didn’t have that squarish part. Nothing sharp about our cookie cutter....uh, you’ll have to engage your imagination here just a bit……ahem.

I’m pouring my third glass of Petite Syrah at this point, and doing a bit of yoga breathing, hoping, praying…please God, don’t let us get a thousand extra unique hits on the blog from readers we really don’t want to attract, Amen.…….oh, back to the subject.

Now Terri, having a mom like Sally, was far more informed than was I. But let’s just say I’m a quick study.

Here's a cutter that's a bit better, but still not as good as ours. The flame is too pointy....

Once the cookies were baked, and the cookie was no longer....well... flexible, the decorating began. So amid the candy sprinkles and glittery colored sugars, there were two adolescent girls, each with a glass of watered-down cheap wine, vinyl Copacabana on the stereo, and one liberated mom with a tube of white icing and an impressive catalog of dirty jokes.

Did you know that the right blend of red or pink and white sprinkles can make a somewhat acceptable flesh color?

Uh, here are some llamas.

Amazing all the cookie cutters you can find on the internet.

And can I just say that wax had never oozed so copiously down the sides of candles in my short experience? (Thank God. Otherwise I’d have a whole lot more issues to work through).

Where was Terri’s stepfather during this annual event?

He had sports on the television, turned up loud to compete with Barry Manilow.

That’s where I got my education. Not the one about polynomials or sentence structure or ribonucleic acid or quarks. I could get that stuff anywhere.

But in real life, for a real girl, it was this education that made the most difference.

For years Terri and I talked every few months on the phone, and I always asked about the cookie cutter. It disappeared for a time, when Terri was in college and during the years before she married. We mourned its loss.

In November I attended a memorial service for Sally. I saw Terri for the first time in two years. I don’t suppose Sally ever knew how deeply she affected this small-town girl, but I believe that now, she knows. I hugged Terri really tight and we both cried and she whispered in my ear, “I found the cookie cutter.”

This coming Sunday I’m driving to Lexington to bake Christmas cookies with Terri for the first time in twenty years.

I suppose we’ll make some stars and a few reindeer. After all, her little girl is only three.

Do you have a Cookie Cutter education of some kind?

What did you learn about life from friends that you’d never learn from school or books?

Where did you get your…uhm….adult education?

Will anyone admit to getting their education from novels?

Here’s a recipe. Not for cookies, but this recipe is my kind of yummy. Decadent and easy. Tastes a bit like a banana split. Gets better after it rests for a couple of hours. Looks beautiful for little effort. Very festive. People will make strange satisfied noises while they eat this. You know..THAT kind of noise.

I get requests for this dish every year about this time for holiday potlucks.

Punch Bowl cake
1 box cake mix (the moister the better. “Pudding in the mix” is best. White or yellow)
1 can Strawberry Pie Filling
1 package vanilla instant pudding
1-2 containers of extra-creamy cool whip (or real whipped cream if you’re energetic)
3-4 bananas
A few fresh strawberries for garnish
Bake the cake mix in a flat cake pan according to directions. Let cool. (Really. You HAVE to let it cool or it'll melt the whipped cream and pudding.)

Make the pudding according to package directions and leave in fridge until firm
Cut the cake into small cubes about 1-1/2” square.
Layer in a trifle dish in the following order: (you can use a big clear glass bowl—make sure you use a clear container because the layered colors are part of the point)
Pile in 1 layer of cake squares.
Spread with vanilla pudding.
Layer in sliced bananas.
Cover with thin layer of Strawberry Pie filling.
Add a layer of cool whip.
Repeat layers until trifle dish is full.
Top with whipped cream or cool whip.
Garnish with real sliced strawberries

Feeds a bunch. Double the recipe for an actual small punch bowl. Triple or quadruple for a real large punch bowl. But that will feed 50. Seriously.

Oh, I forgot! I'm giving away a Romance Bandits coffee mug to a guest who comments. I'll draw for the winner in a couple of days.

98 comments:

jo robertson said...

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!!! Did I actually capture the GH again?????

jo robertson said...

Honestly, I wasn't TRYING to capture him. I think he needs to rest up in the arms of Joanie and her Roman boys. But I was just surfing and, bless her heart, Cassondra posted her blog early. It's only 8:15 p.m. here in booo-tee-ful California.

Now I'll go back and actually read the post. Sheepish skulking away.

Joan said...

GR , JoMama LOL! Not GH!

Subliminal message there I'm thinking!

I'm right behind you to read the post...(I had high hopes)

Joan said...

Ok, this is weird but what jumped out at me, Cassondra was that you listened to Barry Manilow! Don't get me wrong I like the Barrister but never had the image that he'd be one of your favs.

I have a set of cookie cutters from my Mom. Some really intricate ones that never really taught me anything other than the (&^** dough gets all caught up in the design and NEVER comes out clean. I'll stick with simple shapes like Xmas trees, doggy bones and Mickey Mouse heads.

I'll sleep on it though and get back with you tomorrow..

jo robertson said...

Damn, Joanie, it's the typing thing. I've made that GR -- GH mistake before!

Cassondra, I'm still giggling and laughing aloud. That story is hilarious. Of course, my husband is watching Dexter and wonders what's so funny.

Men -- can't live without them, pass the beer nuts!

We MUST have a new mantra -- Banditas shall find and capture the cookie cutter! Cookie making will take on a whole new meaning. When Foanna's up and about, I imagine she'll have a whole bunch of puns to amuse us with.

Hmmm, I remember my 12th birthday party (I'm a leapyear baby, remember, so it was a big one). My mom allowed us to play spin the bottle and I was so excited because I had a huge crush on Ronnie H. and my bottle spin landed on him.

Off to the bedroom we went for our kiss -- what WAS my mother thinking??? But alas, my first real kiss was wet and sloppy.

Let's face it twelve-year-old boys rarely know how to really kiss.

I suppose that's why I've always loved my husband's kissing -- he's really good. Did I say really, really good. I don't know if I love his kisses because I love him or I love him because of his kissing! Never had anyone better.

Kissing is highly underrated!

jo robertson said...

Oh, and I have to add that I want to make some of those delicious-tasting candle cookies -- scatter some brown sprinkles on the base of the candlestick -- just for effect.

You're so, so bad, Cassondra. This blog still has me chortling. Well done, de Ho!

p226 said...

Wow... Cookie cutters.

Oh man could I just run with this one........

First off, I refuse to believe that any woman anywhere has obtained her "adult" education in any manner that does not involve a pillow fight with another woman in the wee hours in the morning.

You can say it's cookie cutters. You could show me the cookie cutters. You could provide filmed documentary of the "education" occurring, USING the cookie cutters.

Nope. Doesn't matter. Two girls... 3am..... pillow fight.

Much better than the way oh... 99.99% of us males obtain our "adult" education. We get ours from novels. Flimsy soft-cover ones. Short ones. With very little plot. And lots of photos.

I can't believe I just typed this comment.

I'd better hit "post" before my back-space key kicks into overdrive.

Cassondra said...

Hmmmmm. The blog with the pictures is above the text. this is weird.

Cassondra said...

There we go. I cut and pasted. But there's still another post above it. Hmmm.....blogger strikes again.

Jennifer Y. said...

LOL...my comments are on the other post...LOL

I will move them.

Jennifer Y. said...

Awww...what a great and funny story. I am not much of a cookie cutter person.

I don't really have a story like yours to share...I probably knew more than most of my friends growing up...I was probably more like Sally thanks to the books I read...LOL...but I didn't share that knowledge with others...LOL.

So I will admit to getting some of my adult education from romance books...I started reading them in my early teens and while I knew the basics from school classes, some of those books opened my eyes to a whole new world.

Cassondra said...

Joan said:

Ok, this is weird but what jumped out at me, Cassondra was that you listened to Barry Manilow! Don't get me wrong I like the Barrister but never had the image that he'd be one of your favs.

I've actually always appreciated Manilow. When I was this age, I was already doing music gigs all over the southeast, and if you've ever seen Manilow perform live, you know he's a consumate professional--every ounce of energy goes into the performance. I loved that.

Now my tastes run to a bit harder rock, and I don't actually own any of his music, but any good lyric and good melody I still appreciate. It's become trendy to dis Barry Manilow, but I don't care. He's a talented guy.

Cassondra said...

Jo said:

But I was just surfing and, bless her heart, Cassondra posted her blog early. It's only 8:15 p.m. here in booo-tee-ful California.

I didn't mean to. Based on the number of posts, I'm thinking I accidentally posted teh blog with no pics--while I was editing it. Don't know how I did that, but that's what I'm guessing. Oh well...a bonus for the GR seekers. (grin)

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

First off, I refuse to believe that any woman anywhere has obtained her "adult" education in any manner that does not involve a pillow fight with another woman in the wee hours in the morning.

Read and learn dude. Read and learn. Pillow fights never taught me anything about boys. Lots of giggling, but nothing....uh...rigid.

Cassondra said...

Jennifer y said:

So I will admit to getting some of my adult education from romance books...I started reading them in my early teens and while I knew the basics from school classes, some of those books opened my eyes to a whole new world.

Me too Jennifer!

I knew what was supposed to happen, but I never figured out exactly how I was supposed to enjoy it too, ya know? Those teenage boys, well, they have a ways to go as far as the girls are concerned....

Sheesh. Didn't mean to open such a kettle of worms. DONNA AND ANNA, SEE WHY I WAS SCARED TO DO THIS BLOG??????

p226 said...

Didn't mean to open such a kettle of worms.

Do ya hear that? That's Sigmond Freud cackling in the afterlife.

Christine Wells said...

I'm snorking so hard I can't type!!! Back later.

doglady said...

p226 that's where you men WISH we ladies got our "adult" education. You are now privy to the REAL sources. So pay attention! Actually, my best friend in high school was the quarterback of the football team. He was handsome and extremely intelligent and all of the girls were all over him. I'd known him since we were both 12 so he was no big deal to me. We were genuinely friends and we talked about everything and I do mean everything! He was an excellent source of information about what teenaged boys were thinking. I read romance novels so I had a pretty good handle on just about everything else. Now I was actually the boring chick who waited until she got married to have sex, but Lee was the impatient type so I at least got to hear all about it before I actually had to do it. He is a very successful businessman now and has a gorgeous and very sweet wife.

Tawny said...

Congrats JoMama!!!

and, OMG Cassandra ROFLMAO your post had me giggling so hard.

OMG tooo funny! Okay, trying to get control of myself here and... um, cookie cutters. Yeah, I have a bunch. We stick with the standards though, you know, stars and stuff. Nothing phallic, mores the pity (I obviously need new cookie cutters).

Education... its all in the books, babe :-) I've been reading romance since my pre-teens and had the unfortunate belief that if its written down, its fact. I almost feel sorry for my first serious boyfriend. Did I mention an unfortunate habit of saying 'thats not how its done in the books!'

and P226... ahhh, the memories of pillow fights. You know, the ones that involve wearing just a sleepshirt and maybe kneesocks? Lots of giggling and falling down on the bed... oh yeah.

not *g*

Cassondra said...

Oh, Doglady!

What a great story!

Cool that you had such an amazing friend. And it sounds like he was, and is, a genuinely nice guy.

Snork on how men WISH women learned about this stuff. (P226, sorry!) Too many of us learn from the first guy we're with . That's never a good way.

p226 said...

Ahahaha, Tawny.... that was just cruel!

I have tears running down my cheeks from laughter... and.... bitter disappointment.

Cassondra said...

Tawny said:

I almost feel sorry for my first serious boyfriend. Did I mention an unfortunate habit of saying 'thats not how its done in the books!'

OMG TAWNY! Snork!

Snork again!

That poor boy.

But inquiring minds want to know...did he ever get it right?

p226 said...

Wait wait wait wait...

Cassondra, you just illustrated a point I missed from Tawny's comment.

There's a freakin MANUAL?

Cassondra said...

Tawny wrote:

and P226... ahhh, the memories of pillow fights. You know, the ones that involve wearing just a sleepshirt and maybe kneesocks? Lots of giggling and falling down on the bed... oh yeah.

not *g*


Oh, Poor P226! I hope you like us. Or at least enough to tolerate this blog article and the comments.

And you can see why Tawny is a Blaze writer....ahem...

Cassondra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cassondra said...

P226 said:

Wait wait wait wait...

Cassondra, you just illustrated a point I missed from Tawny's comment.

There's a freakin MANUAL?


Uhm...I think she means that's what we're WRITING. You know--that stuff I wasn't allowed to read. The romance novels. The ones where the girls enjoy it too....

p226 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
p226 said...

Well hell! You guys need to change your covers. Lose the pretty pictures with the hotties and dudes.

Flat olive drab cover.

The title should be printed in all caps in black or red text. Bold. 30 point font.

FM-27732-6E
FIELD EXPEDIENT BRUNETTE - OPERATIONS MANUAL

It'd have to be part of a series.

FM-27733-5M
BRUNETTE - FIELD MAINTENANCE

But if I know you guys, the manuals would be classified!

Cassondra said...

Y'all, I think P226 has come up with a new marketing angle for our genre....

Tawny said...

But inquiring minds want to know...did he ever get it right?

Sadly... no. Maybe if he'd actually READ a few of the romance novels I kept pointing to as reference LOL. But then again, romance heroes have a certain level of, shall we say patient control, that young men seem to be lacking *snicker*

P226... Romances, dude. All the wonders and knowledge in the world is right there inside a romance novel.

Hmm.... this gives me a plot idea.

off to jot that down

Jennifer Y. said...

ROFL!!!

Tawny said...

Oh, Poor P226! I hope you like us. Or at least enough to tolerate this blog article and the comments.

And you can see why Tawny is a Blaze writer....ahem...


ROFLMAO

Sorry, P226... that was prolly mean of me, huh? I just couldn't resist. Honestly, my only pillow fights involved my brothers and an unfortunate earring incident that kept me from wearing hoops for a few years.

flchen1 said...

Yeowch, Tawny--that earring incident sounds painful...

Congrats, Jo!

Cassondra, what a post! I'm with Jennifer Y and the rest of you who got educated from all those very interesting books. Not much in the way of discussions or cookie making... (I can't imagine having such a talk with the moms of my high school friends--aack!)

And p226, I'm so sorry to disappoint, but some of us missed out even on the pillow fights. A horribly dull life we led. In a convent, with no pillows and full-length granny-style flannel nightgowns. Maybe I need to buy these manuals of which you speak...

Cassondra said...

JOMama said:

We MUST have a new mantra -- Banditas shall find and capture the cookie cutter!

Hey Jo, this could be like our own Holy Grail--the Monty Python kind--we could go in search of it.....

Cassondra said...

flchen said:

And p226, I'm so sorry to disappoint, but some of us missed out even on the pillow fights.

Hey flchen! Congrats on hauling home the motherload on the giveaways recently!

I had my share of pillow fights I guess--with my cousins and at slumber parties, but I was maybe 9 years old when I quit doing that. I'm not entirely sure what convinces males that we somehow get an education doing that....

Oh, wait. Do you suppose guys actually believe those movies they watch????? I seem to remember some pillow fights in the few of those I've seen.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Cassondra! You shouldn't make me laugh so hard, it hurts! I'll split something!!! Oh, snork, snork, snork! I'm laughing too hard even to pun! Seriously, that's bad, bad, bad!!! And the wax!!! Oh, Mama!

Actually I learnt a lot of stuff from romance novels way before I did it in real life. I was ahead of myself with reading and behind myself with what most other girls were getting up to, sadly. I remember being totally grossed out the first time I read a Harlequin and he did a tongue kiss. Ugh! And then a few years later when I read about the hero using his tongue for something else - distinctly remember the book, Rosemary Rogers's Sweet, Savage Love. Oh, I just couldn't believe that! No sane person would EVER do that!!!

Yes, I think you could definitely say romance novels were my sex education manuals!

Oh, the cookie cutter!

Helen said...

Cassondra I loved the post and I hope the cookies you and Terri are going to bake together bring back lots of fond memories.
Congratulations Jo on the GR.
I learn't a lot of what I knew back then from girlfriends there was also a mother and daughter night that I went to with a girlfriend and her mother because my mother was busy. I have 3 sisters no brothers so most of the real facts I learn't from my first real boyfriend who is now my husband and we were both young so I guess we really learn't together so it was fun and of course I have been reading romance for over 30 years and I have defiently learn't a lot from them thanks to writers like you who have the courage to put it into stories that I enjoy so much.
Thanks all romance writers and a wonderful husband and some great girlfriends for a wonderful life time lesson.
Have Fun
Helen

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Uh yeah, my education came from books (I wish I had known a Sally in my youth) and I was sorely disappointed when I encountered the real thing, that was not the way it was done in books. I started work at 17 in a bookstore. This was the era of how to books including sex. Got my eyes opened in a hurry!

Buffie said...

Oh, what a fun post!!! You had me giggling from the get go! I have to say that it touched my heart to hear that you and Terri will be making cookies again after all these years. And Sally sounds like a mom who was having fun with her child and her child's friend. She probably didn't think that evening shaped you in any way, but like you said, she knows now.

Gannon Carr said...

OMG, that's too funny! I can't picture my mom or any of my high school friends' moms making cookies like that. Note to self: must add candlestick cookie cutter to collection!

I'll join the club who learned quite a bit from the romances I read. Who knew they'd be so useful?!

Enjoy your cookie decorating with Terri. I'm sure you'll decorate some in honor of Sally. She sounds like she was a very special and unique mom! What a blessing for you to have known her.

Take a picture of the most "life-like" candlestick cookie! LOL!!

Kirsten said...

Cassondra, that was sheer poetry! And the most beautiful part of your post is that there were several times I had to really stop and think--what the heck is she alluding to? Where's the dirty joke in that? Wax for example. It took me a long time to understand the wax.

Pitiful, I know.

And yes, I got every little bit of knowledge from romance novels until, well, let's just say late in life. I had thought, as a young lass, that I would use my vast knowledge to jump early into the waters of love. Sex sounded like so much FUN that I was dying to give it a go. But I found, to the relief of my mother, that book learnin' ain't the same as the real thing. The real thing was much more intense and scary than I had given it credit. So I waited a long time, and I'm glad I did.

At the risk of asking a too serious question--did anyone else worry that their sexuality was somewhat, er, warped by all those novels? There was a lot of forcible sex, rape, and violence in the books I took my education from. I sometimes wonder how I turned out so, ahem, normal.

And for the record, I've never had a pillow fight with other girls (or women) at 3AM. Sorry p226!

p226 said...

And for the record, I've never had a pillow fight with other girls (or women) at 3AM. Sorry p226!

Why.... why do you ladies insist on ruining this for me?

No no no. I refuse to believe it. Lies. All lies. Part of the Great Pillow Fight Coverup conspiracy. Yes... that's it... a global coverup.....

Suzanne Welsh said...

Cassondra, What a great post to start my day off...LOL. I have a set of cookie cutters, but even after a few bottles of wine none will look anything like your candlestick cutter!!

I had an older brother who had half the football team and most of the basketball team as friends, especially Billy B. Sigh. I wish I could say I actually had...er...hands-on...so to speak experiences with Billy, but alas, just big day dreams. Heard lots of stories though from all of them.

As for education, mine definitely came from romance novels. My mom tried to censor my reading only once in my life. She told me no to reading "Love Story" until I was 16. (I was 14 at the time.) The next week she found me reading "The Godfather" and I was well past the infamous pg. 49....so she handed me "Love Story."

"Might as well read it, too." was all she said. :)

Joan said...

Good morning, all.

I have to join the crowd in that romance novels were introductions to what the "dream" reality could be. (Anna, I remember Sweet Savage Love too....and er, how MUCH I liked it)

While my mother had all those cookie cutters, she never used them to illustrate anything. I can still remember her coming into my room when I was 12...out of the clear blue sky...and telling me the news (or process or course of events LOL) and breezing right back out.

Left me with my mouth hanging open and a overwhelming horror of "my parents did WHAT?"

I've sinced gotten over it. *g*

And poor, poor p226. Tsk...the things you boys think.

Bonnie Ferguson said...

That recipe sounds delicious! :)

terrio said...

Holy Toledo I should have gotten here sooner. LMAO!! This is hysterical! We had cookie cutters but not that kind. I'm sure I'd remember that. But my mom and grandmother both would have thought they were funny. They might not have made it to the cookie tray though. LOL!

I had the fortune of being the youngest child in a very full neighborhood. By the time I was 10 there wasn't much I didn't know or hadn't seen. Close up.

Everything else I learned in the romance novels as I too started reading them in my pre-teen years. Maybe reading and getting the idea the first time should be special is why I waited so long.

Should have waited longer. Dang it.

Terri - which is my real name *g*

Donna MacMeans said...

Hmmm...using cookie cutters for sex education...could be interesting. I told Cassondra that if she posted her cookie cutter story, I'd blog on my Christmas cookie experience, the one with the "danglely parts." But more on that later in the month.

I'm not sure how I learned about the graphic details of the birds and bees. My mother should didn't tell me. My older brothers sure didn't tell me. I read a lot throughout my life, but sadly not romances. Hmmm...must have been during those college pillow fights *g*...

MsHellion said...

Oh my, I'm crying...that's hilarious, but sad too. *HUGS* I'm sorry to hear about Sally, but so glad you met a woman like her. That was so wonderful...and I'm so glad you and Terry will be making cookies together. *LOL*

My sex education came from romance novels. Specifically Janelle Taylor's First Love, Wild Love.

My mother (a YEAR LATER, mind you) gave me a book about sex, a 58 page tome with sad drawings and lots of bolded instructions like: "Do not have sex until you're married" and "Pre-marital sex is wrong, wrong, wrong. And dirty too." I didn't have much use for this book. It didn't have any positives about any sexual activities, even masturbation--so I didn't have a lot of use for this book.

I too come from a Bible belt area; and my mother was 45 when I was born--so I know exactly the mother you speak of.

Cassondra said...

Anna C. said:

Actually I learnt a lot of stuff from romance novels way before I did it in real life. I was ahead of myself with reading and behind myself with what most other girls were getting up to, sadly.

Me too, Anna. But I don't think I'm sad about it. I had plenty of angst as a young teenager without the extra that would have brought.

In particular because of the very strict belief system in which I was brought up. The guilt would have undone any positives that might have come from being...uh..active...too early.

Hmmm. Trying really hard not to get this blog popping up... uh..sheesh...on google for the wrong reasons.

Cassondra said...

helen said:

Cassondra I loved the post and I hope the cookies you and Terri are going to bake together bring back lots of fond memories.

I think we're going to have a wonderful time. She has a couple of other girlfriends from her days working on horse farms, who are driving in from towns around Lexington to meet us. So it'll be four girls--well, I guess we're women now--and I suspect her husband will keep the three-year old daughter busy with the tv in other parts of the house. (grin)

p226 said...

Hmmm...must have been during those college pillow fights *g*.

I KNEW IT!

You guys can't keep The Great Pillowfight Coverup a secret forever!

Cassondra said...

hrdwrkdmom, I think those books must have been lacking! Isn't it funny about that era of enlightenment? You can learn a bunch from how to books, but only if they're written with honesty, not with some idealized vision of how it's supposed to work.

The interesting thing is, that of course I'd read some romance novels by the time I met my husband. And with all my former boyfriends things hadn't really...well...worked out. Once I got to know my husband I realized that those guys actually hadn't cared anything about me really. They'd played the game up to the point where it got them what they wanted, but not one of them actually cared about ME and how I felt about the experience. When I found the guy who cared more about me than he did about his own experience, that's who I married. At that time, the only reading I had access to that suggested the woman should enjoy physical intimacy were....da da da DA....romance novels.

Hey, we're usually ahead of our time. (grin)

Cassondra said...

Buffie said:

And Sally sounds like a mom who was having fun with her child and her child's friend.

Buffie, that's exactly what Sally was doing. She was just having fun. She had the most glorious sense of timing for anything sacrilegious. It was just so freeing to think about stuff that way. And as I said, she had a great catalog of dirty jokes, so give her the icing gun and candy sprinkles, combine that with the dirty jokes, and you got safe, fun enlightenment for young ladies.

Way safer than learning stuff on the streets.....

Cassondra said...

Gannon carr said:

Enjoy your cookie decorating with Terri. I'm sure you'll decorate some in honor of Sally. She sounds like she was a very special and unique mom! What a blessing for you to have known her.

Take a picture of the most "life-like" candlestick cookie! LOL!!


Thank you gannon. I know we will have a great time. Crossing fingers that my husband doesn't come home with a cold from his medical job (very busy this time of year--potential for getting sneezed on by a little kid with pediatric whatsitosis is very high)cuz that would knock us out of the visit.

The thing is, we never left any evidence before. Don't know if we would now or not. The stars and Christmas trees all went into the "give away" boxes. The...uh...evidence....well, we ate those.

anne said...

Your cookie cutters are so delightful and original. Love them all and especially the Canada one. So cute. I learned a great deal from romance novels since I was innocent and this was a great introduction. Friends who imparted their experience was helpful and at times entertaining as well.

Cassondra said...

Kirsten said:

And the most beautiful part of your post is that there were several times I had to really stop and think--what the heck is she alluding to? Where's the dirty joke in that? Wax for example. It took me a long time to understand the wax.

Pitiful, I know.


Kirsten, no, it's not pitiful at all. I must have read through this post a hundred times and tried to figure out "did I say enough, did I say TOO MUCH? OMG! What if the Bandit lair starts showing up in search engines as a site for the gross and icky??? Don't want that!!!!" Don't want the comments that go with that, ya know?

It was an editing nightmare and after I read through it again this morning, sans Petite Syrah, I wondered if anybody would even get the allusion!

At the risk of asking a too serious question--did anyone else worry that their sexuality was somewhat, er, warped by all those novels? There was a lot of forcible sex, rape, and violence in the books I took my education from. I sometimes wonder how I turned out so, ahem, normal.

Kirsten I don't think this is too serious at all. It's a great question, and it's one of the criticisms we face with our genre, you know? Either it's too much fantasy or it's too much something else....well....I think for young women, it would be lovely to have everything we read teach us how it actually "should be". (what committee gets to decide that, btw?...shudder) But I think that would warp us too. Like Tawny said with her first serious boyfriend "but that's not how it happens in the books!" (grin)

I don't think anything will prepare us for the real world entirely, because no matter what we read, each individual's experience will vary from that. I figure those books warped us in a way. But at least they warped us out in the open--with female sexuality sticking its toes out the dark closet where it had been shut away for centuries. We're moving so fast these days that I'm not certain anything more than a year or two old could stand up to a "warpage potential" critique.

I think those we grew up on were far better than the "don't talk about it, don't go there" books before them. I guess with each generation of writers, we take steps forward, rather than the leaps required by the ideal.

It's startling to recognize that only 30years ago, females had come very little distance from the victorian sensibilities required a hundred years before. If forced sexuality was what it took to get me and my generation talking about sexuality at all, then I guess I'd have to say, "warp me baby." The alternative was to remain where we'd been.

I think that much of the world still fears females' knowing what we want. Every step we take into the light--real steps--not those "shoulds"--the unrealistic ones espoused in social commentary--is a good step I think.

What the mainstream reads and how they come to believe it "should be" is, to me, a real step. I think if we hadn't read those '70s era forced rape books, nobody would be reading our books now.

This is what made my time with Terri and Sally such a gift to me. I could go home and when asked what we did I could say "we baked Christmas cookies." If my mom had known about the innuendo taking place while baking, I would not have been allowed to go back there. Anything that gets sexuality and the female enjoyment of it out into the light, to me, is a good thing, even if we stagger a bit as we take those steps out of darkness.

Cassondra said...

Siz said:

I have a set of cookie cutters, but even after a few bottles of wine none will look anything like your candlestick cutter!!

Suz, you just need a bit of practice. Go back to the blog page and practice on the lobster a bit. Squint your eyes up a little more. I bet with a bit of judicious knife wieldage on the formed dough you could see new potential in your cutters. (grin)

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

No no no. I refuse to believe it. Lies. All lies. Part of the Great Pillow Fight Coverup conspiracy. Yes... that's it... a global coverup.....

Poor fellow. Might I suggest renting a few of your films from a store where the streets have more light? (grin) Sorry to disappoint you....

Cassondra said...

Joan said:

While my mother had all those cookie cutters, she never used them to illustrate anything. I can still remember her coming into my room when I was 12...out of the clear blue sky...and telling me the news (or process or course of events LOL) and breezing right back out.

Left me with my mouth hanging open and a overwhelming horror of "my parents did WHAT?"


LOL Joanie. Parents don't have the best timing do they? You've gotta wonder what set your mom on her path to tell you the truth RIGHT THEN. Poor thing. I bet she'd been worrying and building up to it for days or something, and you were there and finally she got the nerve!

Cassondra said...

Bonnie said:

That recipe sounds delicious! :)

It IS delicious Bonnie. The lovely part is it's fast and easy. It gets expensive though. A double recipe of this can run toward $20. It's the pie filling. $3-4 per can in my part of the country. But what the heck, it's the holidays!

Cassondra said...

terrio said:

But my mom and grandmother both would have thought they were funny. They might not have made it to the cookie tray though. LOL!

Oh, Terrio. NO worries. Ours CERTAINLY never made it to the cookie tray. Part of the education was...well... uh....ahem...

eating those particular cookies. Ya know?

Sounds like you had a very cool family! That's excellent.

Cassondra said...

Donna, can't wait for the story about the dangley bits. (grin)

And I've actually gotten some plot ideas out of this discussion too!

diane said...

What a fantastic variety of cookie cutters. Love them all.
The ultimate education was at summer camp. I went for over 4 years and this was for the entire summer each year. That provided me with an excellent background and education from the girls in my bunk and the boys we met were something else if I recall correctly.

Cassondra said...

Whoops, Suz, I mistyped. You're Siz in my response. Sorry!

Cassondra said...

hellion wrote:

My mother (a YEAR LATER, mind you) gave me a book about sex, a 58 page tome with sad drawings and lots of bolded instructions like: "Do not have sex until you're married" and "Pre-marital sex is wrong, wrong, wrong. And dirty too." I didn't have much use for this book. It didn't have any positives about any sexual activities,

Oh, Hellion, isn't that funny? Well, not funny, but funny how they figured out that you were figuring it out, so they better do something to STOP you from thinking it might be fun. Oh, talk about warpage. Glad you found the romance novels first.;0)

And so glad you had so little use for THAT book your mom gave you. Hmmm. Nice, and sad at the same time, to hear that I'm not the only one with such an upbringing.

Cassondra said...

Anne said:

Your cookie cutters are so delightful and original. Love them all and especially the Canada one. So cute. I learned a great deal from romance novels since I was innocent and this was a great introduction. Friends who imparted their experience was helpful and at times entertaining as well.

Aren't they funny Anne? I had a picture of the Rorschach cutter, but it didn't make it from my laptop to the desktop so I lost it and couldn't use it on the blog.

It's weird but by the time I got to high school and had gotten super-involved with Vocational Agriculture, all my good friends were boys! But that didn't mean they were the kind of friends that would tell you stuff like this! Well, maybe I was just too scared to ask. But they would have made a joke out of it--they were just figuring it out for themselves after all.

A group of girlfiends is a good thing to have when you're a young woman. Thank goodness Sally filled that gap for me.

Cassondra said...

diane said:

The ultimate education was at summer camp. I went for over 4 years and this was for the entire summer each year. That provided me with an excellent background and education from the girls in my bunk and the boys we met were something else if I recall correctly.

Oooooo. Diane. Summer camp. Would LOVE to hear more about THAT education and the "something else" boys. (grin) Sounds like you went to camp all through high school--which is when everybody is figuring it out anyhow.

Anna Sugden said...

I'm ROFLMAO(and scaring my two cats!). Oh man, Cassondra, you really did that story justice!

And P226 - just as I get my laughter under control, you come up with that manual! So do you not need one for blondes and redheads?

I'm another one who got my education from romance novels, though I have to admit, my REAL education came from Sex and the City. (Those gals really discussed everything!) My mother was Persian and very innocent (I remember trying to explain what the Sex Pistols album "Never Mind the Bo**cks" meant!). And no-one else I knew was into talking.

The recipe sounds gorgeous.

Have a wonderful time with Terri!

Cassondra said...

Suz said:

As for education, mine definitely came from romance novels. My mom tried to censor my reading only once in my life.

Ah, Suz. My mom would STILL censor my reading if she'd the power to do so.(sigh) I just keep her distracted when she comes to visit--distracted meaning AWAY from my bookshelves and all the horrible ungodly material thereupon.

Cassondra said...

Anna S said:

I'm another one who got my education from romance novels, though I have to admit, my REAL education came from Sex and the City. (Those gals really discussed everything!)

Oh, Anna, I've seen only a few episodes of that show and I loved it! We just don't watch tv. If I had to choose one series I'd love to have ALL of, it would be this one. I want all the seasons, to watch beginning to end. I've got a few seasons of Buffy. That would be the other one--the rest of those. Hmmm. Maybe I should hit Santa up for a season of SITC. Every time I see the boxed sets, they're so bloody expensive. They don't ever come down in price. I'm gonna have to give in and pony up the money and stop waiting I guess. (grin)

Cassondra said...

Anna S said:

And P226 - just as I get my laughter under control, you come up with that manual! So do you not need one for blondes and redheads?

Anna, I'm thinking that's what he meant by it'd have to be a series....but maybe not. After all, he's already assigned numbers to the Field manuals--Operations manual and Field maintenance must be in production. (grin)

Cassondra said...

Oh, and what I want to know is how one determines whether the Brunette is "field expedient" or not. I'd think that'd be a key point..... ??????

Joan said...

Cassondra said: You've gotta wonder what set your mom on her path to tell you the truth RIGHT THEN.

Well, it was either the copy of "Sweet, Savage Love" or she found out my BFF and I had found a box of books under her very genteel mother's bed. I vividly remember a book on "positions" including one called missionary....

Hm, religious text, I guessed.

LOL.

p226 said...

Bah.... pesky blogger won't let me embed images into my comments.

So you'll have to click it to view it...

http://www.criticalstop.com/fm.jpg

p226 said...

Oh, and what I want to know is how one determines whether the Brunette is "field expedient" or not. I'd think that'd be a key point..... ??????

How am I supposed to know? YOU people claim to write the things! You tell me!

*G*

Cassondra said...

P226 wrote:

http://www.criticalstop.com/fm.jpg

ROFLOL!!!!

That's FANTASTIC. BANDITAS WE HAVE A COVER!

I'm thinkin' we'll need up change that date a bit though. (Grin)

terrio said...

That cover is too funny. I'll admit I've done the pillow fight on more than one occassion but I don't remember learning anything other than to duck quicker.

Cassondra said...

Terrio said:

I'll admit I've done the pillow fight on more than one occassion but I don't remember learning anything other than to duck quicker.

Yeah, me too Terrio. And that with enough force applied, even a pillow HURTS.

ruth said...

Your blog today is certainly the ultimate in originality and entertainment. Romance novels always whetted my appetite but I waited until I was really reading in great depth. Those cookie cutters are not your everyday variety, Keep them for fun.

Cassondra said...

ruth said:

Those cookie cutters are not your everyday variety, Keep them for fun.

Ah Ruth, there's the thing. I don't actually own ANY cookie cutters! I found these pictures on the internet. (grin) If I can, I'm going to take a picture of Terri's candlestick cutter on Sunday. ;0)

Cassondra said...

Oh, I meant to mention this:

Jo said: I suppose that's why I've always loved my husband's kissing -- he's really good. Did I say really, really good. I don't know if I love his kisses because I love him or I love him because of his kissing!
Kissing is highly underrated!


Amen, Jo. The thing is, I've always had this question too. Was that kiss good because of the chemistry with THAT GUY? Or is the CHEMISTRY because of the great kiss?

I'm thinking the chemistry is the necessary pre-existing ngredient. I've had some very well-executed kisses that did nothing for me in terms of spark. But a great kiss never hurts the cause!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh Cassondra, You'd love my mom. She's one of the best sources of romance novels and risque jokes in the whole world. (Did I mention she's a retired nurse, too? Which explains a lot!)

My kids thought it was great that their grandmother had her own albums of Lynnard Skynnard and Eric Clapton!

Trish Milburn said...

Cassondra, what a hoot of a post. I hope you have a great time making cookies with Terri.

Cassondra said...

Suz:

I wanna trade families with you! Nurses and hospital techs have the BEST stories. Names changed to protect identities of course.

Trish:

Thanks! And I suspect we'll have a fantastic time. Thanks for leaving the deadline cave long enough to read my angsty post!

Keira Soleore said...

Cassondra--OMG! You knew your future (and fortune) as a romance writer was written in that cookie, right? Snork!

I'm dead last here today. Maybe I can snatch the GR in between going from Jo-mama to a Bandita other than me.

Cassondra said...

Kiera, LOL!

I guess fate knew it anyhow. Took me a long enough time to get around to it though!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Hey P226, look what I found!

http://hrdwrkdmom.com/romance_bandits/image1.jpg

Cassondra said...

hrdwrkdmom!

OMG! That is hilarious! Did you google pillow fights? This is most excellent. And it's archived right here! Ah well. I guess there's a whole other world out there and I exist in blissful ignorance. Sigh. (grin)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Yep, I googled pillow fights and the nat'l enquirer, pulled the pic and copied it on the enquirer front page

p226 said...

Ahahahahah

hrdwrkdmom, that's awesome! I KNEW IT! KNEW IT KNEW IT KNEW IT!

Ok. So where are each of you ranked in the PFL? Any title contenders?

Let's hear it.

Keira Soleore said...

Dianna, fab!! :)

catslady said...

So many things I could comment on - I got to see Barry Manilow on stage but in his younger years - I'm afraid the new version just doesn't do it for me (is it botox or a face lift? lol).

My oldest daughter just took over the cookie making for the first time - something I'm more than willing to pass her way.

And I've gotten my adult education from just about every where (a lot of it from my husband since I was married at 18 and it's been 38 years).

Cassondra said...

Alas, I'm afraid I'd be at way down at the bottom of the Pillow Fight rankings.

Hmmm. I see some positives though. That belt buckle could serve as body armor.

Cassondra said...

catslady said:

I got to see Barry Manilow on stage but in his younger years - I'm afraid the new version just doesn't do it for me (is it botox or a face lift? lol).

LOL! Old rock stars--I agree it's way better if they just let themselves get old like the rest of us. When they try to fix it, it's never pretty. And he was probably at the peak of his career when the whole cookie making incident happened. I saw him perform live in the U.K. for the royal family. It was an incredible concert. Amazing performance.

Caren Crane said...

Oh, my, where to start? *g*

First, pardon my silence, but it will be an everyday occurrence. My Dreaded Day Job has locked me out of the Lair! Actually, it's worse than that. I can stand with my nose pressed against the glass (read the blog and everyone else's comments), but I can't join the party (no commenting for me)! I greatly enjoyed watching everyone else have a good time today, though. (Did the bitter seep in there? I'm afraid it did.) :-(

Anyway, Cassondra I do, indeed, own a candlestick cookie cutter. No Canada, but I do have the candlestick. Single flame, though. *g* And I knew EXACTLY what you were alluding to as soon as you mentioned the double flame. Almost lost it with the wax! *g*

Yes, we have had all sorts of fun with cookie cutters over the years, my sisters and I. Amazing what can happen to those bells and leaping reindeer and whatnot. *g*

I didn't get any adult ed from cookie cutters, though. That came from my sisters. I think my mother must have educated my oldest sister, but then she left the rest of us to our own devices. Of course, my oldest sister and *especially* my next older sister were quick to share.

Joan, it was Sweet, Savage Love for me, too. Man, was that a shock after years of Barbara Cartlands and that one magical kiss at the end of the book! *g* Then, of course, there was the copy of "My First 500". This book had entries like: "102 - 124 - swinging party in Santa Barbara" followed by a description of the various partners, pairings (or triples or quads) and who did what to whom. The narrator was supposedly female, but none of us believed that. In addition to the titillation of this incredibly pornographic novel in our young teen hands, I'm certain it had been shoplifted from our local pharmacy, which made it even more illicit (like it needed help!).

P226, the pillow fights had nothing on that book! Dang, I hadn't thought about that in years. It did, however, incinerate my naivete. I became quite blase about all those things I had never done. The reality, when it rolled around, was rather dull in comparison!

Cassondra said...

Caren said:

Yes, we have had all sorts of fun with cookie cutters over the years, my sisters and I. Amazing what can happen to those bells and leaping reindeer and whatnot. *g*

Caren, we missed you in the lair. How DARE they lock our Posh T out!

Interesting that your mom felt the need to tell your older sister the lowdown, but do you suppose she expected the sisters to then pass it on down the line? I'm glad they shared. That's what sisters are supposed to be for, right?

And I can honestly say I'm glad I didn't get ahold of a book like "My first 500" when I was that age. Not sure my psyche would have survived that! (grin)

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, I think my mother really felt like once she had done the education one time, the information would make the rounds. It did! *g*

As to the psyche, now you know what's wrong with me. *eg* In fairness, she did buy my younger sister and brother some great late-80s "What's Happening To Me" type book that explained all the pubescent body changes and discussed sexuality *and* had anatomically correct pictures (in cartoon form). Yes, I did snitch this and do some fact checking. *g* Not sure what the middle two of us were supposed to do for information, though!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I had to retire P226, when you get a certain age and body type you tend to look and feel like the pillows and you just have to give it up. :-D