Baby B’s worldly entrance is approaching and sadly, not many friends and family members have even seen the evidence — the baby bump!
We’ve read the beautiful letters to Baby B by his mother. But Baby B’s aunts wanted to make sure that family and a few friends got at least a glimpse of that baby bump. So they planned a drive-by baby parade. Guests were invited to drive in our driveway and around the circle where the parents-to-be sat in white rocking chairs in the sun and visited with each car, one-by-one. It turned out to be a perfect fall afternoon, and the perfect way to visit while still wearing masks, staying socially distant and keeping everyone safe outside. The cars were fun to see — a convertible, a jeep decorated with blue and white balloons, a truck, and lots of mini vans and CRVs! As cars pulled up to visit, many rolled down their window and presented a children’s book. Anna and Jeb opened them in front of each guest and took a few minutes to chat. Before they left, I gave each car a small box of treats to take home.
Since we had it at my house, I was in charge of decorations. The sisters picked out a cute invitation featuring an old blue truck, driven by a raccoon, with a large deer, bear, fox, and other woodland creatures riding in the truck bed. I remembered the large toy truck that Mike’s mother had when she was little, and I filled it full of stuffed woodland animals that I had. Anna’s weekly “Letters to Baby B” column in the Gazette gave me another idea. I had a set of wooden alphabet letters that we found in my grandparents’ attic. I’m sure that they belonged to my Grandfather Hawkins — they dated around 1899, and he was born in 1902. They were well played with and scribbled on with pencil, and some of them were missing, but I was just looking for a letter B. Sure enough, the B was still there, and to my delight, it had a little boy peering through it! I scanned it into my computer and sent the image to my friend Emily who makes delicious decorated cookies. Her idea was to cut out the cookies shaped like a B, and print the image on rice paper and then apply it to the icing. She put them in a little cookie bag tied with a blue ribbon and it was adorable. I also cut out a new wooden block for Baby B using my dad’s jigsaw and glued the colored paper print onto the wood. Finally, I made masks for the parents-to-be: a camo mask for Jeb, and a pretty mask to match Anna’s dress, using old eyelet lace and peach-colored fabric I found in my closet.
We had fun coming up with other ideas for the treat box. Anna’s sister Jill made banana pudding. She used Magnolia Bakery’s decadent recipe with lots of whipped cream, bananas and mini vanilla wafers, and placed them in small glass bowls with lids, labeled “Anna-Banana Pudding.” Sister Alice, with the help of her kids, made delicious Monster Cookies — big cookies made with oatmeal and peanut butter and full of chocolate chips and blue and green M&Ms. I made my Chocolate Teddy Bears and labeled them “Baby B’s Best Brown Bears, Made by Grandma Bear.” We completed the box with a baby blue can of Spindrift — Anna’s favorite sparkling lemon water — plus some chocolate covered almonds, a woodland animals napkin and a spoon, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, and little copies of “Letters to Baby B.”
Entertaining during this COVID time is a challenge but it can still be lots of fun — and special!
Chocolate Teddy Bears
Cream together in large mixer bowl:
2/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Blend in and mix well:
Combine and add to creamed mixture:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend thoroughly. Chill until firm.
To make bears, roll out balls:
1 – 1 1/4-inch ball for body
1 – 1-inch ball for head
4 – 1/2-inch balls for arms and legs
2 smaller balls for ears
1 tiny ball for nose
4 tiny balls for paws
Flatten large ball on cookie sheet. Slightly overlap medium ball onto body. Arrange arms and legs. Draw eyes and mouth with wooden pick. Bake for 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees until set. Makes 12.
4 1/2 cups brown sugar (2 pounds)
4 cups white sugar
1 pound butter
6 cups peanut butter (68 ounces)
8 teaspoons soda
1 Tablespoon vanilla
18 cups oatmeal (42 ounce box)
2 cups M&Ms
2 cups chocolate chips
Mix in order given in very large bowl. Use ice cream soup to dip onto lightly greased cookie sheet, 6 to a sheet. Flatten with a sugar-coated glass. Bake 9 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 6 dozen huge cookies.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.