Nana July 4

Nanaw/Grandma’s Sugar Cookies

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Nanaw always ready to jump into whatever crazy adventure Holly and Amanda suggest next.

Why is it when you say the word mother-in-law people tend to roll their eyes and grit their teeth?  I mean they have even made movies about mothers-in-laws.   However, this is not the case for me.  I was blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law, Barbara Denney, aka Nanaw/Grandma.  When Barbara (whom I call MomDenn) was only 38 years old she became a grandmother to my first born, Holly.  Yes you read that correctly. She was 38 years old when I had Holly at 17 years old. 

From the moment Holly was born, Barbara jumped into the role of Grandma wholeheartedly.  I don’t know why that surprised me as she did raise the best son ever, my husband Carl.  Holly was Barbara’s whole world and with the birth of every grandchild after (Amanda, Little John, Taylor, Zachary, Bryson, Braydon) her role as Grandma/Nanaw just continued to flourish. Barbara has given her life to raising her children and loving her grandchildren. 

It never ceases to amaze me the things that my daughters, Holly and Amanda can talk their Grandma into.  And she rarely ever says “no” to the girls (a fact that her husband, Clayton, reminds her on a regular basis.)  Every Christmas Barbara would bring all her grandchildren together to make cookies and her sugar cookies were hands down the children’s favorite.  Even to this day the girls love their Grandma’s sugar cookies. 

It just so happened when I dropped by Barbara’s house this week, she had just finished making a batch of cookies to deliver to the grandchildren.  Lucky for me, I was able to grab a few photos of her cookies before her deliveries.  And lucky for me she had two spare cookies for me to enjoy. 

Barbara has been using the same sugar cookie recipe for years from a recipe that her daughter, Cindy, my favorite sister-in-law, gave her in 1991 (photo below.)  Sugar cookies in our family are made for almost every holiday and we top them off with buttercream icing.  So many memories have been made with all the grandbabies decorating cookies , eating spoonful’s of buttercream and making a huge mess with flour.

One thing I have learned over the years is that the mess made by the grandbabies can be cleaned up but the memories made making the mess will always be a big part of the grandbabies lives.  I would encourage you to make a batch with your children and grandchildren.  Its okay if they get a little messy and eat a little sugar. Just think how much fun they will have.

Nanaw’s Sugar Cookies or so good!!!

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Buttercream icing is the perfect addition to Nana's sugar cookies. Buttercream icing to a sugar cookie is like frosting to a cake.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream You may have to add another tablespoon of milk if icing is two thick
  • 3 drops food color If you want colored buttercream


  • In a medium bowl (I use stand mixer), cream room temperature butter with a mixer until smooth and fluffy.
  • Gradually mix in powdered sugar until fully incorporated.
  • Mix in vanilla extract.
  • Pour in milk and beat for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add food coloring, if using and beat for an additional thirty seconds until smooth and desired color is reached.

Nanaw’s Sugar Cookies

Recipe by Cooking with Aunt PamCourse: DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 cup of softened butter

  • 1 cup of sugar

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

  • 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 2 eggs


  • Mix thoroughly the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy.
  • Blend in the flour, salt and baking powder.
  • Cover and chill for at least one hour
  • Roll chilled cookie dough on a floured surface (I use parchment paper) until about 1/8 inch thick.
    Use cookie cutter to cut shapes.
  • Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake 6 to 8 minutes until lightly browned.
  • If you top with buttercream icing, cool cookies completely before adding icing.
Amanda’s girls weekend in Nags Head, NC for her 35th birthday. I love how Barbara can hang with the young gals.
Nanaw’s Recipe book from 1991 which she still uses today.
Barbara and Clayton working their bus ministry in the 1970s. I just love this picture.


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