Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Mind Turning 60

What's to love about turning 60? In my opinion, a whole lot of things.Tomorrow’s my 60th birthday, and I’m looking forward to it. Really I am, and for these 10 good reasons.

10. Ordering off the 55+ menu at IHOP will be easier. Five years ago, doing so made me feel like an imposter. Now I feel like I’ve earned it.

9.  The AARP has lowered their annual membership price to $12 in honor of my birthday. Thoughtful as the gesture is, I’m not taking them up on it.

8.  Tomorrow morning, I will be grateful for the ability to walk 6 miles pain free…even at my age.

7.  German Chocolate Birthday Cake! Need I say more?

6.  When people inquire about my age, and I tell them, with suitable self-effacement that I am 60, they will have all the more reason to respond, “You certainly don’t look your age.” (And this would be your cue to type something similar in the comment box.)

5.  Being 60 makes the fact that my mystery novel, set in the decade when I was in my 20s, is considered historical fiction a little easier to swallow. Mainly because I can wash it down with birthday cake. (See #7)

4.  On my official birthday, all those early Facebook birthday wishes will no longer feel like being pushed into old age.

3.  Once I’m 60, the Man of Steel, who hit the same milestone waaaay back in March, will no longer feel as though he robbed the cradle.

2.  The day will remind me of Mom’s 60th in 1988. Our son was 6, and our daughter was a newborn when the sibs and I hosted a gigantic surprise birthday shindig at her church in Le Mars. She was clueless, and the many friends and family members who gathered to honor her, was a glorious tribute.

1.  I’ll be celebrating my birthday with my family. What could be better?

I’d love to hear bout your 60th birthday memories in the comment box. If you don’t have any, see #6.

Dairy-Free Carrot Cake with Cream “Cheese” Frosting

The Man of Steel wants carrot cake for his birthday. This non-dairy version tastes unbelievably good.All the kids, their spouses and the grandkids, along with my sister and her husband, are gathering this weekend to celebrate the Man of Steel’s 60th birthday. That means he gets to choose his own birthday meal (chicken tetrazzini) and birthday dessert. He chose one of his favorites: carrot cake.

The only problem with that choice was that at least 3 people attending the celebration can’t have dairy. But, as a quick internet search revealed, someone invented dairy-free carrot cake. And as a trial baking adventure proved, dairy-free carrot cake is really good. So is the dairy-free cream “cheese” frosting.

I found the recipe for the cake and the frosting at the Go Dairy Free Website. The only alterations I made in the cake batter were to leave out the raisins…not my favorite and reduce the sugar. For the trial run, I made 1 small rectangular cake for a taste test and 2 round cakes, which went to a dessert auction at church. The birthday cake will be 3 layers of round pans. Warning: this recipe makes a very big cake.

Dairy-Free Carrot Cake


6 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Combine the grated carrots and brown sugar in a medium bowl and set aside for an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF, and grease and flour two 10-inch cake pans, three 8-inch cake pans, or two 8-inch cake pans +8 cupcake tins.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and briefly set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, and gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Stir the flour mix into the wet mixture, being careful not to over mix. Gently fold in the carrot mixture and nuts.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into your prepared pans. Bake as follows: 10-inch pans – 40-50 minutes, 8-inch pans – 30-35 minutes, Cupcakes – 20-22 minutes, or for all, until the cakes are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool for 10-20 minutes before removing them from the pan.
  6. Once the cake is completely cool, then you can frost it or drizzle with icing.

The Man of Steel wants carrot cake for his birthday. This non-dairy version tastes unbelievably good.Dairy-Free Cream “Cheese” Frosting


8 ounces vegan “cream cheese”
1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Using an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, place the “cream cheese” and margarine, and cream them together.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, and continue to beat the mixture until light and fluffy.

The Man of Steel wants carrot cake for his birthday. This non-dairy version tastes unbelievably good.

Top 10 Reasons I Love March 8

For more than 40 years, March 8 has been a favorite days of the year. Here's why.10. The pre-March Madness gives everyone something to talk about other than this year’s debacle of a presidential race.

9.  The sun’s up in time for an early morning walk.

8.  Plus this March 8th predicted high is 61°.

7.  No ice storm is predicted to follow the beautiful weather…as happened in 1990 that left most of the town without electricity and our family (the Man of Steel, a 1 1/2-year-old and a 7-year-old) moved in with friends for almost a week.

6. Easter is only 19 days away which means only 19 days to continue this year’s no snacks Lenten fast, which has thus far been an epic fail.

5.  Every teacher friend has a twinkle in the eye in anticipation of spring break.

4.  Nineteen years ago, my mom, siblings, and I were amazed by how many people remembered Dad and came to his funeral.

3.  Nineteen years ago, the Man of Steel agreed to share his birthday with Dad’s funeral, so in future years  its anniversary wouldn’t fall on the anniversary of my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding day.

2.  Every March 8, I get to ask the Man of Steel if he remembers that his twin is celebrating a birthday. That joke never gets old…at least for 1 of us.

1.  March 8 is the Man of Steel’s birthday, which means our family gets to celebrate the birth of the best man I’ve ever know. Happy #60, Hiram!

What do you like about March 8? Leave a comment.

Party Time at Camp Dorothy

family, birthday, Camp Dorothy, grandmaHey-ho, Camp Dorothy fans. This is your friendly camp activities director here with the promised update about the camp namesake’s 87th birthday party. First off, the camp activities director wants to give credit where credit is due. So readers should know that the birthday bash was not the brainchild of the camp activities director. Rather, the event was planned and executed to perfection by the camp director’s older sister.

Speaking of older sisters, the above photo catches older sister Dorothy and her younger sister Donna in a rare display of affection. As in they are actually touching. Only a side hug, to be sure, but still a big deal because we are not a family to engage willy-nilly in any sort of touchy-feelyness.

So the photo is quite a coup. Though the photographer had plenty of time to prepare for taking the picture. Because the sisters, one with her walker and the other on the arm of her nephew, evoked memories of Tim Conway’ Little Old Man routine as they moved into side hug range.

The camp director digresses. Back to the party, held on Labor Day Sunday, which was a rousing success. 30 people, including the camp’s namesake, four generations of family, and several friends, were in attendance. The birthday girl was the oldest party goer at age 87. The youngest was her great-grandson 5 months of age. She enjoyed an afternoon filled with conversation and, as far as the camp director could see, never stopped smiling.

Once the party was over much of the crowd–including Camp Dorothy’s namesake–went to her son and daughter-in-law’s house for supper. The birthday girl made a beeline for her favorite chair at their house, sat down, and made full use of her “queen for the day” status, expecting her children and grandchildren to wait on her hand and foot. Though we drew the line at cutting her toenails.

Queen Dorothy was worn out when her daughters took her to Vintage Hills and tucked her in bed for the night. The next morning she was smiling and ready to go when her oldest daughter picked her up for breakfast at her son and daughter-in-law’s house. She stayed through lunch, playing countless games of Uno and several rousing rounds of Catch Phrase.

Finally, smiling and sleepy, she called it a day. The camp director visited her a couple days later and found her still smiling. Then the camp director pulled out a package of thank you cards and announced it was time to get to work. Another Camp Dorothy update will be forthcoming when the cards are done, and she starts smiling again. Don’t hold your breathe. It could be a while.

Top Ten Things to Dislike About Getting Older

A recent birthday led to this top ten list about what to dislike about getting older.

I recently celebrated a birthday. Not one of those momentous ones with a zero at the end. But getting close. Getting very, very close. Close enough to get me thinking about what’s to dislike and like about getting older. This week’s list hits the dislikes. But you’re invited to come back next week to see what’s to like about getting older too.

10. Getting older means not being able to eat as much as and that more of what’s eaten makes its presence known in uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing ways as it makes its merry way through and out of the digestive system.

9.  Some people–and this may or may not include the author of this post–become less patient as they get older. Especially with a spouse–who may or may not be the Man of Steel.

8. Replace the word “patient” in #9 with “flexible.”

7.  No matter how fit and trim a person is, aches and pains increase with age.

6.  As do trips to the bathroom in the night time.

5.  The older a person is, the harder it is to learn a foreign language.

4.  Year by year, the number of opportunities a person “has missed it by that much”–to use the words of Maxwell Smart–increases. That realization is a source of sadness for opportunities missed that had the potential of accomplishing great good.

3.  Getting older does not mean people worry about their children any less.

2.  Being older means more times when a person’s heart torn in two when moving away from dear friends or when dear friends move away.

1.  Being older means saying final good-byes to loved ones more and more frequently with each passing year.

What do you dislike about getting older? Leave a comment.

Three Birthday Pancake Thoughts for Thursday

Ruth Dorothy

The little girl on the left is Mom’s sister, Ruth. The little girl on the right is Dorothy.

  1. To help Mom celebrate her 86th birthday yesterday, I treated her to lunch at Village Inn. She ordered pancakes.
  2. While she ate the pancakes, she told me about her sixth birthday, 80 years ago exactly. “It was my first day of first grade. My first day of school ever. The older kids–and they were all older kids–spent every recess giving me birthday spankings. It was awful.”
  3. As she ate she looked at me and said, “Do you know what I really want for my birthday? I want to go back to Pipestone and have Mom make pancakes for me.”

Who knew birthday pancakes could reduce the daughter of an 86-year-old woman to tears?

Top Ten Reasons Midsummer Is Great for Birthdays

birthday ful

10.  One of your earliest memories is of the pool party birthday when you turned five. Granted, it was only a kiddie pool with six inches of water in the side yard. But it was great fun. And as the photographs of the event show, you look pretty good in your swimsuit.

9.   There’s never any homework to finish before the party begins.

8.   In the same vein, parties never have to break up early because there’s school tomorrow.

7.   Sometimes, your birthday coincides with your vacation, and you get to celebrate in far away places like Alaska, Idaho, Washington state, or your aunt and uncle’s farm in southwest Minnesota.

6.   Even though you live in a four season state like Iowa, birthday meals can be eaten outside.

5.   There’s no need for fancy decorations on a cake when everywhere you look, God has decorated July with flowers.

4.   Fresh-picked sweet corn is on the birthday meal menu.

3.   Because July is smack dab in the middle of peach season, your birthday cake can be fresh peach pie.

2.   You can use the coffee house gift card at your favorite coffee shop to order not just coffee, but iced coffee…and then sit at a table outside to enjoy it.

1.   Your sweetheart can ride a motorcycle to the store to purchase the most hilarious Modern Family gift bag ever in which to place the coffee house gift card he bought. Then he can hide both bag and card under his shirt to sneak it through the kitchen where you are cooking sweet corn for supper. That’s a Phil Dunphy moment if there ever was one.

Three Thoughts for Thursday


  1. Many, many thanks for your kind birthday wishes. You sure know how to make someone feel like queen for a day!
  2. Did you know that styrofoam packing peanuts are like crack to mice? Don’t ask how I know this.
  3. The world feels so empty without James Garner in it. Wish the kids were here so we could honor him by laughing through our favorite James Garner flick, Support Your Local Sheriff. What’s yours?

Photo Source

85th Birthday Card Shower a Stunning Success

Dorothy's 85th

Many, many thanks to everyone who sent Mom a card for her 85th birthday. The card shower was a stunning success with mail coming from all over the country and from every era of her adult life. For example…

  • Many of her nieces and nephews (a large group as Mom’s side of the family is a prolific bunch) sent cards.
  • Several of Dad’s cousins (he was an only child, so no nieces and nephews there) and their children also sent birthday greetings.
  • So did friends and neighbors for her many years in LeMars,
  • and her eleven years in Boone.
  • Most touching of all were the many, many cards from students from her first year of teaching sixth grade in Roland, Iowa in the late 1940s. Not only did her former students send cards, they recalled anecdotes and described their lives since then.

How do I know what was in them? Because Mom felt it necessary to spread the love by requiring my presence as she opened each piece of mail. Once she read then, she passed them on and expected a comment about each one.

Which I did.

Because I’m such a good daughter. And because the sooner she was finished with the cards, the sooner we could dig into the homemade German’s Chocolate birthday cake (dairy-free version) made for the occasion.

Unfortunately, the cake’s all gone or I’d offer you a piece.

But the cards are in a neat stack for Mom to peruse whenever the mood strikes her. Your cards were truly a gift that keeps on giving. Again, many, many thanks for participating.

Camp Dorothy Card Shower in the Works

Baby Dorothy 2

Camp Dorothy’s namesake has a birthday coming up.

She’ll be a wee bit older than in the picture above which was taken in 1929, some months after her birth on September 3. Which happened to be Labor Day in 1928 when Dorothea Lorraine Hess made her debut appearance at the Pipestone County Hospital.

This September 3, 2013 Dorothy will turn 85.

So the Bro, Sis, and I are organizing a card shower in honor of the occasion. Though Mom’s not much of a letter writer anymore, she still loves to get cards. She reads them over and over, until she squirrels them away in stacks, where they wait for me to find them months later and discard.

But I digress.

Here’s the big question. Would you help make Dorothy’s 85th birthday extra-special by participating in the card shower? If you need Mom’s address, please leave a comment, and I’ll send it to you in an email. And I’ll do a post after the big day to let you know how the shower went and what Dorothy had to say about it.

Right after we watch Judge Judy, of course.