Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Sweet Ebony!

In Loving Memory of Ebony Shandrell Degraffenried
May 4, 1984 - February 9, 2008

Today is what would have been the 28th birthday of a precious friend to our family, Ebony Degraffenried. Ebony's Mom, Pearl has been a part of our family as our cherished sitter since Elle, who is 11, was 3 months old. When sweet Ebony graduated from Central High School, in 2002, she joined her Mom every day in taking care of Elle and Annie. Her sweet, loving spirit was just what our family needed - the team of Pearl and Ebony were heaven sent to us!

First of all, Ebony had been through many trials of her own. Thanks to the commitment and dedication of her precious Mother (and Father), she survived against all odds. When Ebony was born with multiple medical problems and her parents were told she wouldn't make it, they had a different idea. They took her home and cared for her, never believing she wouldn't make it. Long story short - Ebony grew up to be a lovely young woman - approximately 20 surgeries in her life time didn't keep her down. Ebony was always smiling, in spite of whatever obstacles she was facing. She was a talented young lady - singing, drawing and writing. She wrote beautiful poetry.

We are so thankful that she came into our life. She believed in Annie. Pearl treated Annie much the way she had treated Ebony - always believing she could do whatever she wanted to do. So did Ebony! They certainly contributed to her growth and development in the time they spent with her encouraging her in her developmental journey! As for Elle, Ebony was another playmate to her. Ebony would spend hours with Elle - painting, drawing, cutting, coloring, reading, etc. Elle told me yesterday that Ebony taught her to draw beautiful flowers! She was always singing and would sing to both girls. Who knows? Maybe that is where Annie got her love for music.

On February 9, 2008, Ebony was called to be with the Lord in Heaven. Every time Pearl walks in our door to this day, it seems like Ebony should be right behind her. We know that Ebony is in a special place and that her beautiful voice continues to sing in heaven. Not long after she passed away, Elle looked up to the sky and spotted a very bright star. She said that was Ebony's star - a very bright, shining star, indeed!

Sharing an excerpt from a gift that Ebony gave to us, she said to Elle "You show me how to 2 smile and how 2 be a princess, to Annie "You show me how to be strong and don't let problems stop me from doing what I want to do" and to me, "Mrs. Carla, I want you to know you show me how to be strong and don't let problems get me down. You are a strong woman and the world needs more people like you!!!!"

Well, dear Ebony, I believe that we could say the same to YOU!

If Ebony were with us today for her birthday, I would love to make her favorite Lasagna, so I thought I would share the recipe with you!  She loved her Lasagna! Hope you enjoy it as much as she did!

Ebony's Lasagna
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) package cottage cheese
  • 1 pint part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (16 ounce) package lasagna noodles (no boil type)
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. In a large skillet, cook and stir ground beef until brown. Add mushrooms and onions; saute until onions are transparent. Stir in pasta sauce, and heat through.
  2. In a medium size bowl, combine cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and eggs.
  3. Spread a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 inch pan. Layer with uncooked lasagna noodles, cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese, and meat sauce. Continue layering until all ingredients are used, reserving 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover pan with aluminum foil.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Uncover, and top with remaining half cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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