Gail and Tom
Now that we are back to normal, wait, are we?
Where are you a year and a half later? Are you homeschooling? Are you working at home? Have you started a new business, a new hobby, new friends via zoom? Not too much has changed for Tom and me. We read, write, edit, do various work, and garden. Tom edited my revised historical novels with their artsy new covers. The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin and The Memorable Mrs. Dempsey will be out August 18, 2021, on the anniversary of women’s right to vote.
Gail’s upcoming releases.
We’re an hour from our New Jersey family, not that I’m complaining, but it might as well be another country. Life is busy, no dropping by, we must arrange get-together dates. We live on the way north, so we get visits from a family going that way. Travelers and the rest of the world must pass through the rolling hills of Connecticut to the upper northern New England states and Canada. Grandkids Ben and Stephanie are on their way to Maine, six hours north of us. The stop here cuts an hour off their trip. Grandkids are refreshing and fun.
“You had a long drive—would you like something cold to drink?” I ask.
Stephanie’s eyes sparkle. “Thanks.”
“Try this new one we found in Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious. SANPELLEGRINO Italian sparkling drinks Aranciata Rossa, it’s good and so sweet.”
Stephanie shakes her head and holds up her purple plastic water bottle. “Some fresh water and ice are fine, thanks.”
Ben holds up his gray bottle. “Me too.”
Spoil the grandkids, my mantra. Goodies—cookies, ice cream, popcorn—they love popcorn, anything but just water. I grab my colossal can of mega-sized peanuts, fill up small scoops, and hand them out. They munch the nuts and sip the water. It satisfies me for a minute. Feeding them supper—pizza, hamburgers and fries, dessert from the Portuguese bakery here in town, Pastéis de Nata, custard tarts with a rich egg custard nestled in shatteringly crisp pastry and chocolate chip cookies the size of your fist. That’s more like it.
These grown-up grandkids, Stephanie, nurse, Ben, mechanical engineer, like any friends I have, propose exciting subjects. Technological changes over the last sixty years. Unknown challenges. I’ve rewired. It’s a struggle, but each wrangle gets easier, even now whoever heard of plugging in a phone to recharge. What the heck? Batteries run life, like a hybrid car. Huh?
My most memorable decade, the 1950s and the polio epidemic summer, all the pools closed, the beaches empty. At fifteen, mother hurried me for my polio vaccine to a nearby doctor. Tom’s brother Will caught the dreaded polio. His right hand suffered from the crippling polio. According to the June 2021 AARP magazine, those who had polio can relapse in their elder years, like shingles from chickenpox.
I danced halfway through the ‘50s. My fav, the lindy, renamed the swing! Can you hear Tommy Dorsey piping in the swingin’ music? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers swirling and twirling.
Lilian August classic walnut desk
Ben and Steph, both homeschooled. Will they homeschool when they have kids? Maybe. We all agree there’s no simple answer for the best education. The evening ends too soon. That six-hour drive calls for an early rise. We don’t hear a sound when they leave. We’ll have another visit soon, delivering the classic walnut five-foot Lillian August desk to their new home. A gift from us.
How did you make it through with your crew? Who was the first person outside of your bubble that you hugged?
Breakfast Duchess-style: Eggs overlays, sausage, home fries very well-done, and whole wheat bread. We get one order and split. SO GOOD!
We passed the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 and I hope we will never pass another anniversary like it ever again. Tom and I recently had our first and second vaccines and we’re getting out a bit more too. We go for our morning walks and a few times a week we enjoy our favorite breakfast at our local Duchess restaurant in Fairfield, CT. It’s not very busy when we go and it’s nice to get back to a routine that is feeling more like “normal”.
Covid didn’t keep us down though, Tom and I have been busy revising my books Indigo Sky (soon to be re-released as THE MEMORABLE MRS. DEMPSEY) and THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN. Tom is the best editor I could ask for. I can’t wait to re-release both books with brand new covers, I’ll let everyone know when they come out.
Spring is in the air and soon our flowers will bloom and our backyards will be a lovely oasis. With that in mind, here are some lovely images of spring I painted a few years back. I hope these pictures give you hope for renewal and healing as we move forward. Enjoy!
Bridge to Tranquility
New England Peace
Waterfall at Lake Mohegan
Stay tuned for a sneak peek next month. 🙂
All the best,
Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter, and interior designer.
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Every year my family can’t wait for the famous Christmas Cookie Exchange. My sons and family bake dozens of thumbprint cookies and give them away, Well, that is after all the tweedles munch on the first batch, and dine on part of the second. I may have one or two cookies, I say rolling my eyes. Not only does my waistline expand this time of year, my clothes shrink.
Look at those lights!
Baking these cookies is a must. My neighbors will graciously accept our donations. Nothing like a cookie to make folks smile.
Family favorite Thumbprint Cookies (Recipe below)
Cookie tray Thumbprint cookies & Meringue cookies
Thumbprint Cookies: Gail Ingis’s recipe
½ pound butter (2 sticks) or 1 cup Crisco
2 egg yolks
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 bag of walnut meal (at Trader Joe’s) or ground walnuts
Mix ingredients (EXCEPT THE EGG WHITE)
Roll into approximately ½” balls then roll into the walnut meal, place on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 2 minutes, depress center with thumb, then finish baking approximately 12 minutes for larger cookie or 5-8 minutes for smaller cookie. If you like crispy, bake until edges are slightly browned. When cool, fill depressed center with the icing mixture: a combination of slightly warm water, vegetable food coloring and confectioners sugar to an almost pasty consistency. (Color for holidays if desired).
Enjoy! And Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Cooking! Eating!
Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter, and interior designer.
My current books to be edited and have cover updates.
Gail in red
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and The Holiday Season is usually the time of year when we love to add a bit of sparkle and color to our beauty regimens. Let’s get dressed up even though we might be spending this Holiday Season at home. Take pictures, videos, and hop online to celebrate with everyone. And what better way to look your best than by using healthy and clean beauty products. That’s why I’ve been using BeautyCounter for almost four years.
I want to share with you a brief history of BeautyCounter, founded by Gregg Renfrew, and why it’s revolutionizing the beauty industry.
Gregg Renfrew, Founder of Beautycounter
Gregg Renfrew: Like many of you, I’m a wife and mom—and, like many of you, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. As I applied sunscreen, lotion, and any number of beauty products on myself and my kids, I never thought for a second they might not be safe: After all, I thought, we live in a country that regulates everything. So imagine my surprise when I learned that when it comes to the personal care industry, that’s simply not the case. Companies are allowed to use harmful ingredients and make their own judgments about safety. And so I started Beautycounter, a company devoted to progress. Here you’ll find a wealth of empowering information about ways we can all make the world healthier, along with safer products you can trust. Because we all deserve better. Our vision is bold; real answers are never timid. Help us put truth back in beauty.
Our Mission To get safer products into the hands of everyone. Decades of studies indicate that serious health issues (including but not limited to asthma, cancer, and infertility) are on the rise and are due in some part to our ongoing exposure to toxic chemicals—whether it’s in the shower, on our commute, while we eat lunch at a local restaurant, or when we clean our kitchens at home.
There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today. Many don’t have any safety data. This is particularly true of those used in the skincare and beauty industry. What’s worse is that the Food and Drug Administration (the agency that regulates cosmetics in the United States) allows companies to use chemicals known to be extremely harmful in the products we put on our bodies and on our kids’ bodies every single day, day after day, and to make their own judgments about safety. It’s time for a change.
The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938. Over the past two decades, the European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products and restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. The United States has only partially banned 30 to date.
We deserve better, and we’re doing something about it. At Beautycounter, we’re committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what’s required by U.S. law: We’ve banned the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals through our “Never List
”— all while ensuring our products perform and that they’re as indulgent as any other shampoo, lipstick, or oil in the market. It’s not easy work, but it’s well worth it. This is about progress—not perfection. Because every little bit counts.
Learn more about the impact the environment is having on your health.
The prestigious and reliable Scientific American Magazine speaks: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-safe-are-cosmetics/
Gail Ingis is an interior designer, artist, and multi-published author. She is also a wife, mom, and grandma. She takes care of her skin using BeautyCounter. You can contact Gail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you in need of directions? No problem. You can find them at Walmart (and other stores too). Just follow the arrows. Go no later than 7:30 am, plan to be done by the bewitching hour—8:00 am.
Seniors are privileged on Tuesday’s from 6:00 am to 7:00 am. In case you didn’t know, we are seniors. No one is there except the folks that work there when they are friendly, smiley and eager to please, until the bewitching hour when no one follows the arrows. I had to wait in line for my turn to get into the isle because a man was taking up the space with his cart going the wrong way. Hopefully, he doesn’t drives his car the same way. I could tell right through her mask that the lady behind me made a face toward him. I said it’s okay, you go next when the man decides he’s done, just be careful as he comes out of the isle. I’ll come back later.
Tom and his cart
I needed a little notebook for my lists, and only a worker was in the stationary isle. I
asked if he had a pencil to try in the notebook spiral. I felt guilty because he turned one of the desks inside out to find one for me. I was impressed and thanked him lots. I told the young man to never mind because the spiral looked like it would work. He smiled and thanked me. Imagine that?
What does Walmart have that makes us a shopper there? Can’t usually beat the prices. And their knockoffs in various departments are terrific, and I’m not talking about clothes, but feminine things, vitamins, over the counter meds, and more.
Guess what they have lots of . . . bleach.
Lots of bleach
My current books
From the army to the skies – Jay Gerber never backs down from a challenge.
My big brother, Jay Gerber, is my spokesman for his memoir. You guessed it, I’m writing his story with him.
Jay has accomplished more in his 87 years than most people could in two lifetimes. But he’s not done yet! He wants to get it all down in a book – all his adventures, and he asked me to write it.
It was the beginning of him becoming a mature teenager—oh, I know that’s an oxymoron–but the high school at Carson Long Military Institute taught Jay a thing or two. Then off to college, then into the army, then back to university and successful completion of medical school. He did a short stint as a podiatrist but was too busy making movies, flying, then sat in his own Piper Cherokee 180, and filming football for NFL Films. Not necessarily in that order. And somewhere in-between he married a gorgeous blue-eyed blond, My fabulous, amazing sister-in-law and friend, Barb.
His love for flying and football always took center stage, and his knowledge in technology and photography is embedded in his DNA.
Jay has earned many accolades over the years.
At seven-years-old, he built his own planes from balsa wood and tissue paper. It all began after a trip with Dad to the 1939 World’s Fair Aviation Exhibit. He built the planes while I watched as he glued the pieces together and smelled up our shared bedroom. No, we don’t remember getting a hit from the glue. Back then, the glue was handy to put things together. Then he added rubber bands and threw the planes up in the air till they ran out of the twisted rubber bands and crash-landed. He didn’t care if they got damaged—he fixed them and threw them back into the air again. I asked Jay to build one for me so we could fly them together.
This model planes grew in size, then he installed engines and even created a control shift like the stick shifter in Dad’s 1938 Plymouth. He landed the plane by doing something with that stick, remote control is what it’s called. The planes kept growing until he eventually bought a ready-made plane that he sat in and flew. Jay was fortunate to own a Piper Cherokee 180 and then a Cherokee SIX 260. He certainly earned his wings including the private instrument, commercial, and twin ratings.
He sold the Cherokee SIX to a ham radio retailer. As part of the sale, he received a ham radio station. This led to his extra class license as an N3AW and a ham radio contest station where he competed in many worldwide phones and CW [Morse Code] contests.
“Very few people build their planes anymore. Many of these ships come pre-built as carbon fiber fuselages and foam core covered wings…and are beautiful…we have to do a lot of work to install all the motors, radio equipment, and servos (surface control devices) which are very costly,” Jay said.
And at the ripe young age of 72, Jay learned to play the piano. Well, it’s about time he learned. I’ve been playing since the age of 7. I asked Jay was he jealous of me playing the piano? “Nope” because he played clarinet and sax, and had a band when he was in college.
Of course, what would retirement be without adding a few rounds of golf into the mix as well? Leave it to my brother — he’s an expert on the links too.
He’s been honored by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) for his brilliance in all the above. For most of his career, he worked for the NFL in their film and technical division.
Franco Harris, Steelers running back & President George Washington
Jay is also the guy who filmed the famous Immaculate Reception play during the Steelers and Raiders divisional playoff game on December 23, 1972, at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. At the airport, there’s a statue of Franco Harris, who caught the football, next to one of George Washington. You all know who that is, right
The time Jay and I spend together is the best part of writing this book. All the memories of our childhood, teenage adventures, and the joyful and poignant changes that adulthood brings. Through it all Jay has always been my big brother. My first hero. And my dear friend.
Jay filming for NFL Films
This is us!
Gail (Gerber) Ingis is an artist, interior designer, and published author. Her historical romances Indigo Sky and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin are both available on Amazon. Gail is currently writing a memoir with her brother Jay S. Gerber. He’s a man that rose from rags to riches, find out how in his memoirs, maybe by the end of this year.
My current books
We picked a good day to prune our aged cherry tree. Lots of healthy exercise and well worth the work. After we finished the tree we made the cheesecake.
We did a much better job pruning the cherry tree than we did with the cheesecake!
The Cheesecake recipe that I’ve been making for fifty years was the best, I thought.
Then my almost 24-year-old grandson, Matt, began baking. One Thanksgiving, maybe three years ago, when it was dessert time, he pulled his work of art from the refrigerator and set it on the counter in all its glory, as a centerpiece, like a jewel in the crown, surrounded by dirt cake, thumbprint cookies, tiramisu, and Aunt Madeleine’s handmade chocolates.
Working up an appetite before we dig into the cheesecake.
I’ve been baking almost my whole life. I’ve made my share of delicious cheesecakes. Yeah right, my cheesecake is nothing compared to Matt’s. The best I ever tasted. The best. I asked him for the recipe, but alas, he couldn’t tell me, he had made a promise. He said the person who gave him the recipe said that it was an old family secret recipe. A SECRET? Whoever heard of such a thing? And this mysterious person made my Matt promise that he would never reveal the magic ingredients. Imagine that!
“But I’m your Grammy,” I said to Matt. “Surely it would be acceptable to give me the recipe.”
“Nope,” Matt replied. “I’m sorry, Grammy but a promise is a promise.”
A couple of years went by, and I asked Matt again if he would share?
“The person that gave me the recipe has passed away,” he replied. “But nope Grammy, a promise is a promise.”
Well, I resigned myself to my fate. I would never get that recipe. But you know what? Matt impressed me with his solemn vow to the person who gave it to him.
Springform into action!
The other day I FaceTimed with son Rick and Matt was home. I was curious, so I asked Matt what kind of pan he uses to bake his cheesecake.
“Spring-form pan,” he said.
“Oh good, that will be much easier for me than my trusty pie plate.”
I told Matt that I had just made a cheesecake—it was good but the sour cream topping was a little too soft when we ate it five hours later. I refrigerated overnight and it firmed up more to perfect.
I decided to bake another one this week and use my regular two packages of cream cheese but this time I’ll add a cup of sour cream to the mix rather than use it as a topping.”
“That’s what I do,” Matt said.
Aha! He didn’t tell me his recipe, but his agreement got me all excited,
So I tried to guess at his recipe. I tried to solve the cheesecake mystery but unfortunately, I didn’t crack the case! The cheesecake that I took out of the oven collapsed on me. I added the sour cream to the batter instead of smearing it on top. And so it fell in the center and it was also browned the top like a grilled steak. It tasted pretty good but it wasn’t MY usual cheesecake. This is what happens when you try to be a cheesecake sleuth!
My original, trusty, fifty-year recipe is here below for your perusal. Gail’s Cheesecake. I’m not so secretive with my recipes.
Crust for Cream Cheese Cake
This was my attempt at trying to guess at Matt’s cheesecake and as you can see it didn’t turn out right. I had to cover the top with some fresh sour cream. But it’s tasty.
Use 9” pie pan
12 full Graham crackers
3/4 stick of butter, melted
Roll out crackers or use a blender, brush some butter on the pan first
then put the crumbs in the pie plate and add melted butter.
Blend with fork and spread. Then take a smaller pie plate to even out shell
If using for other pies: bake 10 min at 400 degrees
There’s nothing like enjoying a bite of cheesecake with your sweetheart.
Gail’s Cheese Cake
1lb cream cheese (2 packs eight oz each)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg, 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
Mix 15 minutes on 1 speed. Add to pie shell & bake 375, for 20 min
½ pint (or 1 cup) sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix 10 min on 1 speed, add to the hot pie. spread on top. Turn up the oven to 400 degrees, Put the pie in the oven for 5 minutes. Let pie cool. Then refrigerate. Do not cut for three hours. Best if the pie is placed in the refrigerator overnight.
No springform pan, all the butter leaked out leaving the graham cracker crust too hard. I still have my good old 8″ pie pan.
Gail Ingis is an artist, interior designer, and published author. Her historical romances Indigo Sky and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin are both available on Amazon.
My current books
That’s Tom on the left. 🙂
It’s a scary time out there for all of us, especially those of us in our golden years. We’ve been through a lot in our time, war, unemployment, illness, divorce, death of loved ones, but we continue to march on because that’s what we do. We are the generation who have learned to make the most out of every day we have. And these days, it’s even more important. Like everyone else, we want to do our part and stay healthy and not overburden the medical system. We’ve done all our shopping and stocking up on supplies. Although it’s tempting to get take-out food from restaurants, it’s probably better to cook at home. Except we couldn’t help getting our breakfast “to-go” this morning from our favorite eatery: Duchess Diner in Fairfield, CT.
Breakfast Duchess-style: Eggs over easy, sausage, home fries very well-done, and whole wheat bread. We get one order and split. He gets the bigger portion. SO GOOD! – Duchess Diner in Fairfield, CT.
We will keep going on our morning walks, and we decided to have some alternate fun beginning in the garden on those almost warm and sunny days, maybe take out our favorite swing. The plan is to give our little Honda Insight a fresh waxing and make it sparkle.
Happy Birthday, Ed! That’s his granddaughter Carley. She’s hanging out with him for a while.
Runners and walkers love to come to our neighborhood to enjoy the views and the ever-changing spectacular designs of God. We also get visits from foxes, bobcats, coyotes, and packs of deer, eight of them were on Ed’s lawn the other morning. I guess they heard it was Ed’s ninety-fifth birthday and came to offer good wishes. Maybe they were the ones who tied the birthday balloons to the lamp post? (Psst…actually it was Diane, who lives down the street.) Ed is made of sturdy stuff too! He was a navy man in WWII and he walks every morning, our inspiration.
I’ve done a few things in my life too. In 2009 I decided I wanted to write the love story about the artist, Albert Bierstadt. And I did, not before taking enough workshops and courses that would have given me a Masters in writing. I’m eighty-four and I’ve written two historical romance novels (yes even us old folks remember what it’s like to fall in love). And, now, I’m writing my memoir. What a trip down memory lane. Some of it is fun, some not so fun. But that’s the thing about life, you take every day as it comes. Yes, Tom and I are holding hands and are doing well.
I did mention we were going to do something funt? Today was Hat Day! I wish you all good health and happiness in these coming months. May this time bring us closer together and may we make some good memories pitching in to do our part.
Farewell till next time.
Gail Ingis is the author of INDIGO SKY and THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN. You can find her books on Amazon.
My current books
Editing, editing, editing
How can anyone be a writer if all they know is what a noun and a verb is – oops, I mean – are? I didn’t know the difference between an adverb and an adjective when I began this journey, and if it’s not visual, forget it, I’m an artist after all. So, how did I manage to write Indigo Sky in 2015? I had lots of advice and help along with a little paper crumpling, file deleting, and even some foot-stomping. A lot has happened since then. I’m more comfortable with adjectives, verbs, nouns, and the combination thereof.
Here’s a shocker: If you think that adverbs only modify verbs – think again – they can also modify adjectives. We all know this stuff because we use it every day, but the point is that many of us, myself included, don’t know how to break it down and explain it. So given that I’m a life-long learner, I decided to add “grammarian” to my to-do list. That’s why I ordered Elizabeth O’Brien’s book with the hopes that grammar would become my friend and serve as my road map to becoming a better writer. A writer who can write . . . anything. Uh, oh, there are those elusive ellipses. Hmm, maybe I should have used an em dash? Sigh . . .
And don’t holler at me if I forgot a comma somewhere, Grammarly didn’t help me with this post, and that’s probably the reason.
Thanks for reading – and remember: I before E except after C and in words that sound like neighbor and weigh.
Indigo Sky and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin are both available on Amazon. Please remember to write a review – like everything else – folks only buy after they’ve read the reviews. Reviews are easy, they only need one or two lines, a title and of course, you probably know that 5-star is the best.
I’m writing this on Thanksgiving Day sitting in the Claus home in my sister-in-law’s den loving the space in this place, especially the kitchen. As an interior designer since 1969, I couldn’t have done any better with this home. Joyce got it right—function and beauty are in perfect harmony.
The smell off roasting turkey is everywhere. It’s kind of smothering me. I like turkey, but I don’t like to be smothered by anything—except love, of course. I may have to go to my room, but the turkey smell will probably follow me upstairs.
Around 2:30 pm today, twenty-eight relatives will descend upon this beautiful home—aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins—and of course—the brothers Karamazov aka the Claus brothers. (I’m married to the one on the left (wearing the bright blue hoodie) in the picture above.
The Claus brothers are here early to organize the seating,
Mother Claus, a great lady we all adored, is looking down from Heaven. The last time this great, big family got together was in 2011 for Mother Claus’s 100th birthday. Sadly she left us in 2012 at the age of 101. But what a legacy she left us: the love of family and the importance of family gatherings and God’s love washing over us all!.
Yes, the Claus name is pretty awesome isn’t it? Well, they certainly live up to that name. 🙂
We are missing two of Mother Claus’s grandsons, and their brood, for today’s celebration. Guess those statistics are not too bad considering everyone else who will be here for the turkey dinner and camaraderie.
Before the festivities begin, I’m getting in some writing time. My next book follows the life and love of Mia Baldwin, Allie Baldwin’s younger sister. (My follow-up book to The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin). Like the Claus family, the Baldwins are a loving clan; family gatherings mean a lot, especially during the Holiday Season.
I think Mother Claus would have enjoyed the Baldwins and I hope you do too.
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays.
The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin is available on Amazon.