Making Another Holiday Cake

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A better Christmas cake than last week! December 31, 2018

I’m getting better at decorating these holiday cakes, now. Instead of trying to frost half green and half red, I just decided to frost all red, and make a green Christmas tree, outlined with cinnamon drops.

Happy Holidays Lights

It really looks much better than my previous one!

Making Frosted Christmas Sugar Cookies

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Some of my Frosted Christmas Sugar Cookies, December 27, 2018

I’m at it again – baking for most of the day today! It’s the holiday season, and I really would like my family and friends to enjoy some of my goodies.

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Some more Christmas Cookies, December 27, 2018

Today, I baked two batches of sugar cookies – from my great grandmother’s recipe. They are absolutely delicious, and even better when they’re frosted!

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Cookies cooling after taking them out of the oven, December 27, 2018

Only two of the larger gingerbread man-style cut-outs broke in half, so I did really well keeping everything whole. And, I definitely worked up a sweat more than once today, but the end product is all worth it!

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A tray of cookies after being baked, December 27, 2018

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Making Apricot-Nut Roll Pastries

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Today, I baked some apricot-nut roll pastries to continue celebrating the Christmas spirit! The recipe is one that my Mom had since the late 1960s or early 1970s from the magazine, Better Homes and Gardens. My first tray turned out a little gooey (see above), but I improved by adding more flour after that (see below).

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If you don’t really like apricots, the pastries are still really great! You just use apricot jelly to make them, and it causes them to taste quite sweet. They are really yummy, and my family and I love them!

Baking for Christmas!

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Christmas chocolate cake, December 2018

In the past week, I’ve done some baking for Christmas! Usually, my mom does the baking around the holidays, but with her death in March, I’ve done a bit. We all miss Mom and her lovely peanut brittle, fruit cake, and other goodies. She really should’ve opened her own bakery because she was so talented at baking.

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Chocolate-nut fudge, December 2018

This year, I tried my hand at the chocolate-nut fudge, and it turned out great! It was the first time I ever made fudge. I followed the recipe to the ‘t,’ and was very pleased with the results. My son really loves the chocolate fudge, and I’m happy he can enjoy some at these Christmas holidays.

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Merry Christmas cake, December 2018

I also baked two chocolate cakes, and decorated them with a Christmas theme. I baked one cake for my family and another for our elderly neighbors. Both cakes have a Christmas tree on them.  One cake even has a shooting star at the top – see if you can spot it! Hopefully, I can bake some cookies next…Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Holiday Image (Retrieved from Happymerrychristmaswishesz.com, December 20, 2015)

Holiday Image (Retrieved from Happymerrychristmaswishesz.com, December 20, 2015)

‘Tis the season for happy holiday wishes!  Those of you who are Christian, may you enjoy a merry Christmas.  May you enjoy happy holidays regardless of what faith you may or may not practice.

Building Gingerbread Houses! (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My son with his Disney-themed gingerbread house (November 28, 2015, Snellville, Georgia)

My son with his Disney-themed gingerbread house (November 28, 2015, Snellville, Georgia)

One is never too old to enjoy some holiday fun of building and decorating gingerbread houses, which is what my son and I did today.  WalMart now offers a large variety of gingerbread houses and cookies to decorate.  Just in the past couple of years, the many choices of gingerbread houses have exploded onto the scene.

Showing off my Hello Kitty-themed gingerbread house (November 28, 2015, Snellville, Georgia)

Showing off my Hello Kitty-themed gingerbread house (November 28, 2015, Snellville, Georgia)

This year, I bought Disney and Hello Kitty-themed gingerbread houses at WalMart, made by Brand Castle at BrandCastle.com in Bedford Heights, Ohio.  They were a little more pricey than the usual style, but for $3 more each, it was worth it.  The cookies not only came with frosting and candies, but also cardboard and plastic platforms.  The cookies were extremely well-packaged, and none of them were broken upon opening the boxes.

Examples of Character-Themed Gingerbread Houses by Brand Castle

Examples of Character-Themed Gingerbread Houses by Brand Castle

While we never create and/or decorate gingerbread houses that look nearly as nice as what the pictures on the boxes show, we always have fun.  And, another great thing about building and decorating gingerbread houses is that they can also be eaten – yet an additional way to enjoy our work!  Happy holidays!

“Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Pointsettia, December 2013

Pointsettia, December 2013

I would like to wish everyone the joy and blessings of the holiday season, and a happy and healthy new year.  Merry Christmas to those who observe the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Happy holidays to those who observe other religious celebrations.

Especially, I would like to recognize and thank my parents and the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. John Neumann Church in Lilburn, Georgia for all of your help and support to my son and I during the past year.  Thank you so much!

May God bless us all.

“‘Team Greiner’: UB’s Champions” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Me with Carol and Bill Greiner at UB Graduation, Amherst, New York, May 1993

Me with Carol and Bill Greiner at UB Graduation, Amherst, New York, May 1993

When I think of Carol and Bill Greiner, I have fond memories of my interactions with them while I was an undergraduate student at the University at Buffalo (UB).  Studying psychology, political science, and music performance at UB for three and one-half years provided me with many opportunities for interactions with the Greiners.  It enriched my life to have them there, to be excellent role models, to experience their interest in and compassion for students.  As I walk down my nostalgic memory lane, I can accept and be happy with the interactions that I had with the Greiners at many university events, though I will always feel a sense of “unfinished business” due to the things that I was unable to bring myself to say to them.

For that, I wish I had been more mature, more open, more able to trust that I would receive a response from them that I desired.  Of all of the wonderful events and experiences that I had as a student at UB, there was one situation that occurred about which I was unable to speak with them – being the victim of a crime on campus.  I still wish I could have had more time to speak with them, and be able to open up to Carol about it, in particular, but at the time, it was too recent, too painful, too embarrassing and humiliating.  It took me years to fully address and come to terms with what had occurred, and to receive the support that I needed.  And, it was years later when I was able to disclose to Carol, anonymously, about my experience, which was helpful, but still not the same as speaking about it in person.

Something in me needed Carol to know what I experienced; I had hoped the Greiners might be able to implement programs or policies that would have better-protected students such as myself who had experienced what I did.  Never having shared about what it was provided no potential for change, improvement, or support for other UB students who had the same experience.  Perhaps, one day, I will not feel that sense of regret and loss about being unable to speak with the Greiners about the traumatic and life-changing crime that I experienced in my last semester as an undergraduate student at UB.

I first met Bill Greiner when he was the University Provost and I was a freshman, just taking flight as a student at UB.  He was at an event that welcomed students who were new to UB; my parents were there too, and my mom encouraged me to speak with him, and I did.  At first, I was intimidated about speaking with him, though when I did, he made me feel comfortable and welcome; he made me feel understood, appreciated, and respected.  The highlight of the event, in fact, was personally speaking with Bill.  I still remember the confidence he instilled in me in only a few minutes of conversation that I would do well and be successful at UB; I appreciated that.

Within two years, Bill was appointed President of UB.  That semester, I saw and spoke with him again at Homecoming.  At that time, the Homecoming parade was organized at the Main Street Campus in Buffalo, and the floats were driven to the Amherst Campus.  I was a representative of the UB Irish Club for Homecoming that year, in 1991; and was pleased to see and speak with Bill there.  His presence reflected his interest in and concern for students; that was evident and obvious, and again, was something for which I was appreciative.  As time progressed, I determined that these qualities were infused in his character and personality.  He did not just go to some rare event on occasion; he was actively involved in attending and participating in UB events, many of them, jointly, with Carol.

That year and the next, I saw both Bill and Carol at the Homecoming football games; and I saw and/or spoke with Bill on at least three other occasions on the Amherst Campus during my last semester.  On one occasion, I saw him while he was being interviewed in the Plaza by a TV reporter; on a second, I overcame my nervousness and visited Bill at his office, taking many gladioli from my family garden; and on the third, I spoke with him as we happened to be leaving Capen Hall at the same time one evening.  ‘Team Greiner’ was always there, doing more than their part to make UB even more of a success.

The Greiner Family, Susan with Husband, Daniel with Wife, Bill and Carol, Stephen with Wife, Terry with Partner, September 1992

The Greiner Family on Bill’s Inauguration Day as UB President; Susan with Husband, Daniel with Wife, Bill and Carol, Kevin with Wife, Terry with Partner; Sept. 1992

In my last semester at a senior at UB, Bill was inaugurated as President, and I saw alot more of the Greiners.  In fact, I saw them at so many events that I looked forward to seeing and speaking with them, and I actually expected them to be at the events that I attended.  It seemed that everywhere I went, ‘Team Greiner’ was there, too.  The supportive actions of Bill and Carol toward UB, and the students, faculty, and staff were warmly-welcomed and appreciated by so many.

In September 1992, Bill’s Inauguration Week as President of UB provided opportunities not only to speak with Bill and Carol, but also to experience the happiness and joy of those events with them.  There was a Roman Catholic Mass performed at St. Joseph’s Church, right next to the UB Main Street Campus in Buffalo to essentially “kick off” Inauguration Week.  I made every effort to attend because it had been the night before that I had experienced crime victimization at UB; I was already traumatized from it, but did not realize or deal with it.

Additionally, at St. Joseph’s Church following the mass, I was also able to meet and speak with certain other members of the Greiner Family, including his sons and their wives and/or significant partners.  It was wonderful to have the feeling that the qualities of both care and compassion so evident in Carol and Bill had also been transferred to their admirable offspring.  In speaking with their adult children, one immediately knew that they did a fine job at parenting.

Me with Greiners at UB Christmas Concert, Amherst, New York, December 1992

Me with Greiners at UB Christmas Concert, Amherst, New York, December 1992

As Bill’s Inauguration Week progressed, I attended what I recall as being a symphonic concert on campus to celebrate his achievement; it was beautiful.  And, I also attended Bill’s Inauguration as the 13th President of UB, an event for which I remember arriving very early because I wanted my choice selection of seat, as well as to scope out the best locations to take pictures to add tangibility to my fond memories.  Again, I had opportunities to see and speak with members of the Greiner Family.

Following the actual Inauguration was a reception that was held in the new Student Union building, one of many major projects that Bill influenced and completed at UB.  By this time, I really felt a connection with the Greiner’s and their family.  I had seen and interacted with them at several events, and believed that I could trust being more openly, emotionally vulnerable with them.  I had particularly wanted to share about the crime that I had experienced only a few days prior to the Inauguration.  I tried to do so at the reception, separately, with Carol, and with Terry, one of the Greiners’ sons, but I could not bring myself to do it.  I had psyched myself up for it, but talked myself out of doing it, and have always regretted it; it was just too painful and traumatic.

As someone who was active in numerous UB clubs and groups, including ethnic/language-related groups and student government, I received invitations to attend the Student Association’s Christmas parties for two consecutive years, in 1991 and 1992.  On both of those occasions, I saw Bill and Carol, but spoke with them only at the second such event.  By then, three more months had passed, and I had mentally-buried and not dealt with the crime that I had experienced.  It was also at this event that I asked Bill if he would write a recommendation for me.  He asked me to see that he received my resume, said that he would write a recommendation for me, and he did.  I still have and cherish it.

Prior to finishing the last of my classes as an undergraduate student at UB in December 1992, I again saw and spoke with Carol and Bill at a Christmas Concert, held in the Ellicott Complex, my group of dormitory buildings on the Amherst Campus.  Following the Christmas Concert, Carol was very warm toward me, much as always, and spoke with me about alot in a short time.  She made me feel important, valued, and accepted; she showed to me much warmth, understanding, and compassion, like one would receive from a good mother, and much as I do with my own son.

I felt such a connection with Carol during our conversation, and remember wishing that it could last forever.  I needed the warmth and compassion of someone; and I privately thanked God for her, and for her to have treated me as kindly and lovingly as she did.  Interestingly, Bill was somewhat of a sour puss that evening and I could tell that he did not want to talk, though I did not allow that to dampen my happy holiday spirits.  I remember wondering how anyone could seem so grouchy after such a wonderful and festive holiday concert.  It was a different side of him that I had not yet experienced and had not expected, but accepted on that occasion.

The last time that I interacted with the Greiner’s was when I returned to UB for my graduation in May 1993.  I had completed my coursework for my two baccalaureate degrees in December, moved to and was working in Manhattan, and came back to participate in the graduation ceremonies.  I’m glad that I did, and I have many wonderful memories of celebrating my accomplishment with many of my student colleagues as well as my family.  Seeing the Greiners again at this event showed me how much I had grown in a few months of having finished my studies, though it also left me with a longing and nostalgia for maintaining a connection with them.  It was difficult and painful to let go.

The final time that I saw the Greiners was at SUNY Day in Albany in 1999.  SUNY Day is a day that is arranged for student delegates of State University of New York system to go Albany, New York – the state capitol – to meet and speak with state government representatives, receive tours of their offices, and hear lectures.  At the time, I was taking undergraduate courses at Buffalo State College to complete my social studies teacher certification, and I was a student government representative to the event.

It was at SUNY Day that I met former Assembly Member Sam Hoyt from Buffalo; he invited me to intern in his Buffalo office, and I later did, having an outstanding experience.  It was also on this occasion that I only saw Bill and Carol from a distance in a conference room as I was already seating in the back with my group when they entered with several UB student athletes.  It was good to see them again, if only from a distance, and to know that ‘Team Greiner’ was still hard at work for UB.

I lost touch with the Greiners many years ago.  They were people with whom I had hoped to maintain a connection, and to share about the traumatic crime that I had experienced.  There was one occasion more than four years after I was victimized that I got the courage to go to the Greiners’ home.  At the time, I worked just down the street from them at Key Bank.

This time, I had resolved that I would tell them about it, and had hoped and prayed that they would welcome me, but they were not at home.  They had the power and influence to make change at UB to help other students who were survivors of traumatic crimes that occurred on campus, as well as to help see that such crimes were prevented and students were educated about them.  I never got the chance to share my ideas with them.

Around that time, and due to being unable to speak with the Greiners about my concerns, I decided to take my concerns to their son, Terry, at his office in Buffalo.  I am an individual who likes to get things accomplished, and to do so personally, and therefore, my aim was to personally-share information with him about what I experienced and request that there could be some way that improvements related to it could be made for other students at UB who had the same or similar experiences.  It took so much courage and initiative for me to go to Terry’s office, but he turned me away, did not speak with me, and did not accept me into his office.  I was devastated, and felt re-victimized all over again.

I do, however, fondly remember the many events and interactions that I shared with Carol and Bill; and I prefer to remember those.  At the time of my writing of this article, it will have been nearly four years since Bill’s death.  When I read the news about his passing in the UB alumni magazine, it was unexpected and saddening.  To Carol, I mailed a sympathy card, expressing my condolences.  I am sure that such a great man is missed by those who knew him, especially his family, who took priority in his life, much as family should.

So, I would like to think – at this time of the holidays – that Bill is looking down over us and helping us to spread holiday cheer to each other.  I would like to think and remember that he would have been right in the mix of all that, and would not have missed it for anything.  Thanks, ‘Team Greiner,’ for all you have done for me, and for all of your unfathomable support to UB.  You are UB’s unsurpassed champions! 🙂

References:

“Bill Greiner.”  Wikipedia, 2013.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Greiner

DellaContrada, J. (2009).  William R. Greiner Dies.  Buffalo, NY: UB – University at Buffalo: News Releases.

State University of New York at Buffalo Graduation, May 1993.  Buffalo, NY.

Special Note:

This article was also published by both the UB Alumni Association on LinkedIn (December 2013).  Mountain View, CA: LinkedIn; and by the State University of New York at Buffalo business group on LinkedIn (December 2013).  Mountain View, CA: LinkedIn.

“A Kid’s Fun Way of Decorating a Gingerbread Man!” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Gingerbread Man Cookie Decorating, December 2012

Gingerbread Man Cookie Decorating, December 2012

There are ways of decorating cookies…and then, there are ways of decorating cookies!  Each year for the past several years, my son has frosted, decorated, and candied gingerbread houses and/or gingerbread men.  Being no expert at baking these large gingerbread creations, I have purchased them from stores or either St. Nicholas or Santa Claus has left them as gifts for my son for St. Nicholas Day or Christmas. 

My Son Frosting and Decorating a Gingerbread Man Cookie, December 2012

My Son Frosting and Decorating a Gingerbread Man Cookie, December 2012

In the past, I had pretty good luck with buying gingerbread houses in which all of the pieces are fully intact.  Last year, however, I had no such luck, and we ended up decorating quite a broken-down gingerbread house!  This year, I believe that St. Nicholas must have sensed that, and brought my son a giant-sized gingerbread man cookie to decorate, instead. 

My Son Enjoying his Gingerbread Man Cookie Decorating, December 2012

My Son Enjoying his Gingerbread Man Cookie Decorating, December 2012

So, on an enjoyable vacation day before Christmas, my son frosted, decorated, and candied his giant gingerbread man.  I was so happy that the cookie remained whole and all in one piece during shipping!  Hurray!  Placing the cookie on a large plate, the candies in a bowl, and snipping the edge of the frosting pouch, my son set to work. 

My Son Taking Pride in his Gingerbread Man Cookie Decorating, December 2012

My Son Taking Pride in his Gingerbread Man Cookie Decorating, December 2012

After frosting some parts of the gingerbread man, he selected and placed the his chosen candies on the cookie.  He repeated this process a few times before completing his decorating.  And, wallah!  He decorated a wonderfully festive and delicious gingerbread cookie which we allowed some time to set up and later sample.

The Giant Gingerbread Man Cookie Decorating is Complete, December 2012

The Giant Gingerbread Man Cookie Decorating is Complete, December 2012

Once he was finished decorating, my son kindly allowed me to eat a hand of the gingerbread man, and, so far, he has already eaten the remaining three appendages of the poor guy.  Lol.  I must say that the cookie hand of the gingerbread man was very tasty and sweet, albeit somewhat hard, although that is the main reason, thankfully, for the entire cookie staying in one piece.

The Finished Product, as Displayed Prior to Consumption, December 2012

The Finished Product, as Displayed Prior to Consumption, December 2012

I would like to thank the “Create a Treat Ltd” company, located in Brampton, Ontario, Canada for making this lovely, giant gingerbread man cookie, and for including the candies and frosting, as well as for packaging it so well to prevent breakage!  St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, moms, parents, and kids throughout North America have doubtlessly enjoyed so many of your baked creations.  And, I, for one, am grateful that they have been made with such care and expertise.  The photos included within my article are a reflection that my son is grateful, too.  Merry Christmas!