Pickles, Pickles, and More Pickles

Something I really love is being in the kitchen. Today I decided to try my hand at Pickles. I decided to make a spicy Habanero pickle. My son in California loves spicy pickles and is known to have his favorite spicy pickles shipped to him (the shipping cost more than the case of pickles…YIKES!). So why not try to make my own and bring them to him when I visit.

I made an early visit to the Parker Farmer’s Market this morning and picked up my cukes, dill, onion and garlic. Then headed to my local market for the spices I’d need – whole white and black peppercorns, whole mustard seed, dill seed, coriander seed, bay leaf and fresh habaneros. I love that I was able to buy bulk, organic spices and veggies.

Next came prep – wash the cukes, then throw them in an ice bath for a couple hours – I heard this helps with keeping them crisp – we shall see. Separate the dill from the stalk and wash, combine my spices for my homemade pickling spice, make my apple cider vinegar brine mixture and let it cool to room temp, clean all my garlic cloves – 5 whole cloves per jar – lots of garlic, thinly sliced the yellow onion and cut the stems off the habaneros. Make sure to always wear gloves when working with hot peppers. Washed the jars on top shelf of dishwasher with no other dishes or detergent. Lids are simmered not boiled just prior to using.

I’m now ready to make up my jars – added a couple tablespoons of my pickling spices, one habanero, an onion slice, my fresh dill and a couple bay leaves then the cukes cut in 1- 2″ chunks. I ladled my brine liquid to cover the cukes, about a 1/2″ from top of the jar, added my lids and rings and gave it a good tightening. Placed the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes and carefully removed each jar and placed on counter.

Now I’m hearing that lovely pop, pop pop, as they seal. Woo hoo! I’ll let them set undisturbed overnight then move them to a dark cool cupboard for about 7 – 10 days before breaking open the first jar for a spicy taste test.

I’ll let you know the family and friend consensus.

Is the “Golden Rule” Alive and Well?

First, thank you for your patience with me and Pass the Umbrella. I’ve been under the weather for a couple weeks and boy, it was nasty. Much better now!

You all remember the movie “Mean Girls” right? It’s about a teenage girl, Cady, that moves to a new town and befriends a couple of kids that are in the “out crowd” group. They all get along great, until the popular girls try to “recruit” her into their group or the “mean girl” group. At the urging of her “out crowd” friends she joins the “plastic” girls to find out their deep dark secrets. Unfortunately, Cady becomes one of them and her friendships with her “out crowd” friends diminish. The movie does have a happy ending with Cady seeing how terrible she treated people and getting back to her nice girl roots. The “mean girl” group breaks up but the “mean girl” leader recruits others to follow her.

Mean Girls
Lindsay Lohan (Actor), Rachel McAdams (Actor), Mark S. Waters (Director), Mark Waters (Director)  Rated:  PG-13 
 Format: DVD

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Once a “mean girl” always a “mean girl” or should I say person. I think not. I’m sure we all grew up knowing that group of girls or guys that thought they were all that. And I’m sure some of those people in those groups still think they are all that. But most of those people grew up, and changed for the better. Right?

We all leave that school drama behind us and move on or so we think it’s behind us. But as adults it happens at work, at your kid’s school or sporting events. There’s that group again – that group who think they know all and control all. Ugh! This isn’t supposed to happen – we’re adults! But it is happening.

Recently, I was talking with a friend who has been in her job for a couple years and has known several of women she works with for 10+ years. She’s a very sweet person who always sees the best in everyone, and never has any bad words to say about anyone. She told me how a couple of her “work” friends were talking about going to a baby shower for one of the ladies at work (one she’s known from over 10 years). They openly talked about the fun they would have and the gifts they bought as she sat there listening, all the while knowing she hadn’t been invited. You see, she’s not in that clique of women at her job. There’s probably 4 or 5 women that basically decide who attends the after hours company social outings and if you’re not in their little group you aren’t invited. And unfortunately this is what happened to her – even though she’s known this pregnant women for years, she’s not in the “in” group, the little clique and she wasn’t included. She was very hurt to be treated like this. But I must admit I’m glad she hasn’t been pulled into this group of women because they really need to take a good look at themselves and ask – is the way I treat people, the way I want to be treated? Maybe then they’d see how they’re treating others outside their clique.

Back in the day, when my kiddos where in elementary, middle and high school and in sports the parent group/cliques were the worst. You had the PTA parent group, girl scout/boy scout parent clique, you had your neighborhood clique, your sport team group, your bunco mom group and I’m sure I’m missing several others. I can remember one of the sport teams we were involved in, had probably 3 or 4 different cliques of parents on it – the kiss the coach’s ass group, the we don’t like the parent’s that kiss the coach’s ass group, the winning doesn’t matter, everyone needs to play group and the rest of the parents group. It was quite interesting – we were all in one of those groups like it or not and there were some major clashes between group at times. Fortunately once we all noticed it was affecting the boy’s play and their relationships with each other, the group pretty much dissolved. Well, almost there were some hold outs in the kiss the coach’s ass clique!

The whole point of writing about “mean” girls/guys/people is to bring awareness to those who may not realize they are hurting others by their actions. I’m not saying every one needs to be best buddies, but it’s my opinion that we all need to be aware of how we treat others. It all goes back to the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Long Distance Grandma (LDG)

Hi My name is Cindy and I’m a long distance grandma!

I have 4 grandkiddos – 2 in California and 2 in Nova Scotia, Canada. I’ve always been a LDG, so I know nothing else. Hugs, kisses and cuddles are infrequent and birthday parties, baseball games and school plays are unfortunately missed. I must admit I’m so envious when I see grandmas and pas with their grands at the park, shopping or just doing little everyday things together. I always think to myself, “what a special bond they must have, I wish I could have that.” But I as I think on it a little more, I always conclude – I do have that a special bond. Maybe not as conventional as those I envy over but we do have a very special bond.

“Side by side or miles apart, grandchildren are always close to the heart.”

My oldest granddaughter, almost 17 (YIKES!! where did the time go) has spent a week or two each summer for the last 6 years. Those are such special times for us – we always do fun, crazy things, like the time we zip lined over Royal Gorge (crazy fun) or toured the Denver Performing Arts Center (educational fun), spent the day at the Renaissance Faire (magical fun) and then there’s always the movies and ice cream!


My grandson, now 13, has visited Colorado on family trips a couple times mostly because big sis doesn’t allow him to visit on “her time” in the summer, at least not yet. We were able to visit the Olympic Training center in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods and then explored the town of Manitou Springs, drinking spring water at each fountain throughout the town, Rockies games (which is tough on him since he’s a SF Giant’s fan) and ended our time together with, what else but ice cream!


We are able to see our youngest grands, age 8 and 6, quite often, we have all met in Disney World, once for Halloween – I was the Fairy “Grand” mother – and again for a special Mickey Christmas. And most recently our son and daughter-in-law surprised us by planning a trip to Breckenridge for a ski week. Skiing, dog sledding, coloring, puzzles, lots of laughs and fun, for sure! And guess what? Ice cream again the night before they flew home.


So I may be many, many miles from my grands, but we make the most of our time together and create the most wonderful, beautiful memories. We do have the most special bond!

“A grandchild’s hug lasts long after they let go.”


Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

After my husband and I did the 23 and Me DNA testing, we both found out we had some Irish in us. He more than me, so what better way to celebrate our new found heritage than through a day of Irish food!

My daughter started off our morning with Irish Boxty. It’s a traditional Irish dish made with potatoes.

An old Irish rhyme goes, “Boxty on the griddle, Boxty on the pan, if you can’t make Boxty, you never get a man.” LOL

She’s single and it turned out great so…we shall see.

Stay tuned for…

Irish Guinness Brown  bread (my sister’s recipe)

Shepherd’s Pie

Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Cream Cheese frosting

Rah Rah Black Sheep

 Is being called the “Black Sheep” a bad thing?  

According to Dictionary.com

Black Sheep – noun

a person who causes shame or embarrassment because of deviation from the accepted standards of his or her group.

Or the Urban Dictionary

black sheep . a term used to describe someone who feels left out in a family. Basically, the outcast of the family because they choose to do other things than live up to their parents’ standards.

Yes, the dictionary’s definition has negative connotations but let’s rethink this.

I must admit there are times in my life where I have felt like the “black sheep” whether it be in my family, at work or even with a group of friends.

Like when…

…I was 13 and my dad passed away, …I married at 18 and started a family,…I went thru a divorce, …I moved away from the family 20 years ago,…I couldn’t help out  a family member financially, … I’m overlooked at my job, …I’m not included in an outing or conversation with friends.

Does it or did it hurt to be ousted, to be left out? Yes!

Were some of the situations out of my control? Yes!

Have I since talked it out and put them behind me? Yes!

Was I really a “black sheep” as defined above? No!

I put that label on myself as did others. Maybe some people continue to consider me the “odd” one, the “troublemaker”, the “different” one of the family or group. Who knows?  All I know is that in those few situations I mentioned above, the people that I really care about and those who truly care about me have talked out whatever differences we had and in mine and their eyes they see I’m not the defined “black sheep”.

In my mind, a “black sheep” is not what is defined in the dictionary.  

My “Black Sheep” definition is…
a person who stands out and stands up for who they are and what that believe in, no matter what others may think.  A leader!

So go ahead and think of me as the “black sheep”! I will wear that title proudly.

Rah Rah Black Sheep!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever

It’s Saturday and the family is looking for cookies. So I whip up the family fav…Chocolate chip. Now growing up my go to was the Nestle Toll house cookie recipe that was until I happened to stop by at my Aunt’s house one day about 40 years ago, yes that’s 4-0, FORTY. She had just finished baking cookies and wow I can still remember the smell of freshly baked cookies as I entered her house. Of course I had to have one and after one bite of my cookie I knew I must have this recipe. Crispy on the outside but soft on the inside and ooey gooey chocolate dripping on my chin. oh man, so yummy.

I needed this recipe, but with our kids running around could we find a piece of paper? NO, but she did find an envelope, so I wrote down the recipe with all good intentions of transferring to a recipe card when I went home.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Well as of today 40+ years later, that cookie recipe is still on the same envelope which I still pull out every time I bake these yummy chocolate chip cookies. And yes, Nestle Toll House Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips are still my go to chips. I do omit the coconut and nuts for my family and they are still the best! Plus it will make about 6 dozen and they freeze very well.

The Bite

Since that day 40+ years ago, my aunt has found out she was celiac and couldn’t enjoy her cookie recipe but I have found a product that she can use instead of the flour, its called Bella Gluten Free All Purpose Baking mix. You use it cup for cup as you would regular flour and it’s the best. It’s produced in Colorado but it’s available on Amazon for all of you not in Colorado. Try it…


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If you’d like the recipe to enjoy the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe ever, please comment below and I’d be happy to send it.

I’d love your feedback.


Happy International Women’s Day

Pass the Umbrella is happy to celebrate and support International Women’s Day. In the United States, the Women’s day movement was first organized in 1908 but became an annual movement in 1910. In 1975 the United Nations adopted March 8th as International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter – let’s all work to make this world gender balanced and a better world in general.

Please share my umbrella in support. Let’s Pass the Umbrella around the world. Simply share and tag your friends in any city, state and country and add where you’re sharing from.

My Journey Begins…

Well here I go, a first in my life, actually publishing my thoughts, ideas, basically whatever is on my mind. Scary but exciting.

To be honest, I heard the phrase “Pass the Umbrella” recently on a reality show – yes I know CRAZY but since I heard it I couldn’t stop thinking of what “Pass the Umbrella” meant to me. The phrase really took over my thoughts.  How could I “Pass the Umbrella”, how could I make a difference?  If I can help just one person  by passing on an idea, an inspiration, anything, how awesome would that be?

Watch for my first “Pass”

Follow me at


My Journey Begins…

Well here I go, a first in my life, actually publishing my thoughts, ideas, basically whatever is on my mind. Scary but exciting.

To be honest, I heard the phrase “Pass the Umbrella” recently on a reality show – yes I know CRAZY but since I heard it I couldn’t stop thinking of what “Pass the Umbrella” meant to me. The phrase really took over my thoughts. How could I “Pass the Umbrella”, how could I make a difference?If I can help just one person by passing on an idea, an inspiration, anything, how awesome will that be!

Stay tuned for my first “pass” .