Since I decided to sign up for the cause back in January, I’ve had a lot of time to think about all those I know who have been diagnosed with different types of cancer. Living in a small town as I do, everyone knows one another a little more than usual. Maybe not all relationships are personal, but you know someone who knows someone and on and on until, yeah…I know that person. There are too many of those cancer connections. Too many people who have been diagnosed, who have died, who have died too young. Take for instance the little twin brother, who loved the color orange, who so bravely battled brain cancer, but lost his fight at the tender age of 5. Or the retired school teacher, who shared her vast knowledge with so many of her young students, taken so suddenly by an advanced form of leukemia, cutting short her retirement time with her loved ones. And the hunting buddy of my husband, in the prime of life, so suddenly stricken with an aggressive form of cancer, taken from his young son. My neighbor, the pillar of strength of her family, won the early battle against pancreatic cancer, and lost the war to liver cancer. My cousin, in his early 40′s, a vigorous, healthy, talented musician, died of colon cancer. My grandfather, died of lung cancer. My grandmother, died of endometrial cancer. The list goes on and on…..
And then there are those who seem to beat the odds. They defy that cursed disease, and overcome it. Like Nic, one of my son’s classmates. Diagnosed with kidney cancer at 8 years old. Had his kidney removed, underwent treatment, and celebrated his 5th year of being cancer free last summer! And there’s Drake, another at a tender age of 8, with a brain tumor. Today, he’s cancer free. And my friend Cheryl, diagnosed with breast cancer in November. Tumor removed, treatment completed, prognosis is good!
Yay, for the victories!!! It’s time for someone to even the score. Cancer has had the upper hand for far too long.
Today, it’s my honor and pleasure to introduce you to one of those people who are beating the odds. My friend….Cheryl. I’ve known Cheryl for about 27 years now. Our husbands were best of friends growing up, so we had no choice but to become friends as well.
Cheryl is one of the most true, giving, caring and unselfish people I know. Cheryl is a cowgirl, and she loves her horses.
She shares that love with her grown daughter, Julie. The two of them together, share their love of horses with all others who have that same love of God’s creatures as they do. Throughout the years, she has hosted an array of preschool groups, scouting groups, and those seeking to learn a little bit more about horses and farm life. What initially started out as a young woman being able to finally get the horse she always wanted and dreamed about as a young girl, has developed into a full fledged farm….complete with cows, goats, donkeys, ducks, rabbits, chickens, quail and even peacocks. Cheryl’s daughter Julie has a deep rooted passion for things feathery, furry, and four-legged. It is because of her daughter’s love of all of God’s creatures, that over the years she has added on to the menagerie of creatures in their care. She saw the love her daughter had, and she nurtured it. But there is one thing that is different about her farm, or Ro-Duz Ranch as it is properly named (which means a person always on the go), and it shouldn’t come as any surprise. Her ranch is home to all of the cast-offs, the unwanted, the ready for the slaughter house animals. She and her daughter take in those animals that no one wants to care about any longer. They give them a safe place to live, give them love and attention, and a genuine since of being one of God’s special creatures. Take the horse that was left out to pasture to have 9 foals in 11 years. I’m not up to speed on horse stuff, but anyone or anything having that many babies in 11 years can’t be too healthy for a body. They got her, all skin and bones, and nurtured her to where today, she’s thriving and giving rides to children who come for their horse camps. I’m told she’s a gentle soul.
Cheryl not only takes in the unwanted animals of the world, but she also takes in the kids who are neglected, or cast off by their families. She once took in a foster child for an extended period of time. And more recently is playing ’mommy’ to a little girl, who has the misfortune of having parents who do not realize what a precious gift they have been given. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and never asks for anything in return. She is a wonderful mother to her two children, and a perfect example of how to love and care for all of God’s creation…..both 2 and 4 legged.
Cheryl not only stands up for the abused, cast-off, neglected, and unwanted, but she is also standing strong against her breast cancer! She is winning the battle. She has gone through her surgery, and her treatment with grit and determination like the true cowgirl that she is. She going to win this one, and I’m going to be cheering her on all the way!
These cookies that I made were inspired by her unending devotion to her animals, her daughter, her son, and for everything she does to nurture that love of horses in my daughter. Cheryl, these are for you…..giddee up, cowgirl!!!
I know you don’t normally equate cowgirls, horses, and westerny stuff with pink, but this isn’t an ordinary collection of cookies. Number one, pink is the breast cancer awareness color, and more importantly, these are special, just like my friend.
I’ll spare the mixing and rolling out of the dough, as I’m sure there have been many of those done by now. But I do want to show how I made my cowgirl cookie since I didn’t have a gingerbread person with a cowboy hat.
|Using gingerbread cutter, cut out the head shape…..|
|Attach piece with the cut-away section to the top of the gingerbread cut out.|
Vanilla Almond Butter Cookies
4-1/2C all purpose flour
1C butter, softened
1-1/2 C sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla butter nut flavor -McCormick makes this
1/2 C sour cream or 1/2 C cream cheese
Cream butter and vanilla until mixed well.. Beat in flavorings, egg, and sour cream. Add flour. Mix until it comes together in a ball. Roll and cut.
Bake at 350* 10-12 min.
My icing recipe:
Meringue Powder Buttercream
1/2 cup water + more to get consistency you want
5 T meringue powder
3 T Crisco shortening
6 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. butter flavor
Place meringue powder and 3 cups powd. sugar in bowl of electric mixer and mix together with paddle attachment. While motor is running, slowly stream in water. Mix until completely combined. Turn to high speed and whip until stiff peaks form. Add flavorings and mix well. Add rest of sugar and shortening and really whip it for 3-4 minutes more.
Add more water, while whipping, a little at a time to reach your desired consistency. (I always add more water)
You may have to adjust these measurements for your climate, especially meringue powder and Crisco. I live in very humid LA, and these measurements work for me.