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My grandma Ivys was my dad's mom. She was a petite, blonde, beautiful woman with so many talents and gifts. She was also a very savvy businesswoman. She owned her own beauty salon in Aberdeen Washington, back in the day when ladies would go and get their hair done every week. She had quite a few operators working for her, including at one time my mom, my cousin Gail, and a very young, very blonde little girl, who loved to go to work with her.
Thanksgiving weekend was always fun as a child. We would go to Ocean Shores on Wednesday and Thursday and be with my mom's parents, and then I would go to grandma’s Ivy's on Friday and get to spend the next three days working in her beauty shop and painting ceramics for Christmas gifts.
All of the ladies were so nice to me. I would get them coffee, put dimes in their parking meters, wash the combs, brushes, and fold the towels. There was so much to keep me busy. I especially remember the back room where grandma had an old soda machine that dispensed soda bottles. It was so fun to put my tip money in and choose what bubbly flavor I wanted. Is it possible that this is where my work ethic and love of crafting comes from? Learning that you work for what you have, and how satisfying that is? Learning to paint ceramics, and continuing that love of painting throughout my life. Did this bring me to the beauty of Polish Pottery? Is it why I cried a little painting at Manufaktura in Boleslawiec? Hmmm makes me wonder.


Grandma’s house had an enclosed breezeway between the house and the garage and that’s where we would paint. The garage had the kiln and all her forms, paints, and brushes on shelves. It was amazing to go in and choose what I wanted to paint. Sitting down at the table, having her show me how to prep the piece, hold the brush, and how not to mix the colors. I couldn’t wait to see how they turned out, and see my mom and dad's faces when they opened them on Christmas morning. I use pieces my grandma painted every Christmas. They are precious!
Eventually, grandma retired, sold the shop and moved from Central Park to Grayland, just a couple blocks from the beach. She started a new business making almond Roca and peanut brittle and selling it in gift shops in Westport and Grayland. This is one of the best things I know how to make! I usually only make it at Christmastime, but I have made it, and sold it at my kid's fundraising bazaars, and have taken orders and sold it to close friends. So in a way, I’m carrying on grandma’s business!
It is one of my most cherished recipes, and I’m happy to share it with all of you at this wonderful time of year. It’s a test in your stirring strength since you will be stirring for almost 1/2 hour total.
I am presenting it on this gorgeous 13 inches Frosty and Friends platter regularly $108.99 and on sale 20% off for $86.99. This piece is truly worthy of all your holiday baking and candy making goodies! Serve it with hot chocolate, or a nice cup of chai tea in one of these adorable Frosty and Friends mugs regularly $33.99 and on sale 20% off for $26.99, and it will be perfect!

All of the pottery pictured is available for purchase at The Pottery Avenue by Pangaea website at www.potteryavenue.com. Use the search button and type in the pattern name and it will bring up all of the pieces available in that pattern. Can’t find what you are looking for? Just send a message and Twila and her team will be happy to help you. Use discount code Twila or PAF for your 20% discount.

From my heart to yours, Smacznego!

Ivy's Almond Roca

  • 1 pound salted butter
  • 1 pound blanched almonds
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-ounce paraffin wax
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts

Please note... this recipe is not precise since all our cookware and stoves are different. I go by sight and smell when it’s done. It smells like toasted almonds but is a dark caramel color. Go too long or too hot it will burn, or break.

Place almonds in a pan cover with water and bring to a boil for 4 minutes. This loosens the skins so you can pop the nut out. Let almonds dry overnight or place in a 170-degree oven until they have dried. You don’t want them toasted.

Cover a large cookie sheet with foil and set aside. I put a cutting board or my marble slab under it. It will be extremely hot when you pour it out.

Place butter and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot. Grandma used an old pressure cooker, I use my Dutch oven. Turn heat to med-high and dissolve the sugar and butter for 5 minutes. Stirring constantly. Add the almonds. This has to be stirred the entire time you are making it, or it will burn. You are going to cook this until it is a beautiful dark caramel color and you will hear the almonds popping. It’s anywhere from 17 to 25 minutes after you add the almonds. Once the color is right, take off the heat, add vanilla, stir, and pour out onto your foil-covered cookie sheet.
Let cool completely.
Melt chocolate chips and paraffin wax in a double boiler and stir until smooth. Pour half of the chocolate and spread over your cooled almond Roca. Cover with chopped nuts. Place a piece of foil over the top and lightly press the nuts into the chocolate. With foil still covering, take a second cookie sheet and place over the top, and flip the almond Roca over. Repeat with the remaining chocolate and nuts. I let this sit in a cool place for a day before I break it into smaller pieces.
This may be my pop’s favorite Christmas treat! Enjoy!