In the Middle of the Night

 

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There was just silence that night. Snow fell continuous but with a quiet voice. Lying on my side, I slept in a dreamy slumber. My husband was out plowing all night, so I’m deeply surprised that I could sleep. My cat Smokey was restless, scampering up and downstairs, instead of his usual sleep on our bed. Whenever Tom is out plowing, the cat patrols up and downstairs, with a determination that’s unmatched. Once he arrives home, our ebony black friend greets him with vigor and then goes to bed.

 

 

 
I dreamt in a tranquil state. Suddenly I heard a loud noise! It jolted me up and I wearily glanced at the clock,  a blaring red 2:00 am shined at me. What in the world? I asked myself. It was my car down below in the driveway, starting up! Light rays glowed over the driveway, projecting shadows on my ceiling. I sat there propped up in bed in disbelief!

 

 

 

 
Half asleep, I lay there thinking that it was just a dream. I quickly went back to sleep dreaming of crazy cars in my driveway and flashes of light streaming from vehicles. When I awoke at 4:30 am, I trudged downstairs, pretty much forgetful of the occurrence. As I padded to my coffee pot and stretched my arms up, I sleepily glanced out my kitchen window. No car was there! I blinked and double checked. Sure enough… my eyes were truly seeing that my car was gone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thrust my pink plush robe on and slipped on my big boots and jacket. The detective in me came to life, as I ventured outside to see if there were any clues around the house.  Frosty air sent shivers up my spine. Clutching our big spotlight flashlight, I spotted huge boot tracks embedded in the snow, right to our doorstep. A little voice within told me to walk around the house. The mysterious tracks wrapped around our house leading to the side dirt road. This led me to believe that the intruder/ thief came from this dark road.

 

 

 

 
Frantically I called the state police, who police our little town. It takes some time for them to arrive, which is quite unsettling in an emergency. I never got a phone call back or a visit but it’s okay and I’ll explain that. There I was in disbelief that this horrendous act could actually happen in my small town. I had left our house unlocked for Tom because he knew he would be tired from work and not want to wrestle with his key.

 

 

 

 

Two hours later while my anxiety was through the roof and I was waiting for the police to call, I messaged my mother in law for support. She’s always been there for me and this was no different. Awhile later, Tom called. He told me to call back the police and cancel. In the middle of the night, he  had gotten the plow stuck a mile up the dirt road. Unfortunately he had to walk down in the dark and cold to our house. Coy dogs chanted their calls and the night was pretty dark as he made his way down the road. Hurriedly he took my car to get back to the shop in order to grab the other vehicle.

 
What’s the lesson from this story? Don’t jump to conclusions right away. Write your wife a quick note that you have the car. Lock the door when your husband is away at night and make sure he has the key.

This proves that a little nail biting excitement does occur in a small town! Now I have a story to tell and I’m relieved that  my car is here! This story has a happy ending and I’m thankful for that!

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Wintry Wednesday

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This is the second significant snowfall in the last two days. On Monday our school called a snow day, like hundreds of other schools in New Hampshire. This day we went to school and shortly after, soft snow drizzled from the sky. As the day wore on, it piled up and made the road look greasy and difficult.

 

I came home with soggy boots and a wet coat after spending several minutes scraping the car off of heavy snow. I slowly made my way home, just five minutes up the hill from school. That’s a blessing, that I don’t have far to travel to work!

As I turned the key in the lock, I could hear our kerosene monitor flip on in the kitchen. A band of warmth hit me as I came in and of course I was greeted by our town crier, my black cat Smokey. I went right to work because the  stove needed stoking and wood piled in our rack.

Glancing out the livingroom window, the snow piling up was inspiration for a few pictures…just in case I forget all this in June!

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

 

 

Our Backyard Game Trails

This morning as I glance out my kitchen window, I see mounds of glistening snow everywhere. A two foot high drift frames our driveway. A tall pine tree stands guard on the right, several feet from our dwelling. Beyond the yard a quaint little pond rests with ice frosting and weary cattails still standing from last year. Just skirting the ponds edge is something pretty special and a source of many magical moments with binoculars. It’s a game trail leading from our woods.

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This is a good view of the trail. To the left sits our pond and the trail skirts by the sturdy oak and across the road into the woods.

 

 

A week  ago I busily raced home from grocery shopping. It’s quite a process, the store being 20 minutes away and the effort of shopping, packing the car and coming home to put away goods is redundant. Yet this day, I had a grand gift waiting for me! As usual I backed my car in the driveway because it’s easiest taking the bags out. As soon as I lulled the engine and turned it off, something within me knew there was something on the trail.

 

 

 

 

Peering through snow frosted trees were seven deer. There’s a lone apple tree there and so I speculate that they dig under the snow for dropped apples. They all stood there, basking in the winter background unaware of my presence in the car. I rolled my window down and simply gazed. Four deer were adults and maybe does but my husband ( my expert) wasn’t with me so I really don’t know. Three young deer were in the mix following the elders’ lead.

 

 

 

This is our woods landscape leading to the pond. My garden sits entrenched in snow.

 

 

 

I wish I had my iPad or camera with me to snap photos. It was postcard material and a picture of beauty and tranquility. Suddenly our house door burst open and my husband came out to help with groceries. I’m thankful he does this, even though my back is stronger from physical therapy and exercising.

 

 

 

We watched them cautiously cross the road, taking their time. Two stopped dead in the middle and stood. I held my breath, for this slope in the road is dangerous and people fly down it going 50 mph. Along they went, one at a time, a parade of chestnut brown beauties and into the wooded forest across the street. Within minutes it was just a memory and they nestled among the trees for camouflage.

 
When I think of the yearly activity on the trail, I picture all our wild friends who trek it. Deer, turkeys, bobcats ( I saw one the other morning and thought it was a house cat, but with closer scanning I discovered the bobtail), bear, foxes, and porcupines. They all use it…as if to bid a good day and we silently soak it all in as they cross.

 

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A snowy scene this morning…to the left is the second game trail and across the road beyond the stop sign is a popular apple tree. 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s amazing that we have a second game trail bordering our opposite side of the yard. A few feet from our front yard bordering a dirt road, a trail weaves out of the woods and past our neighbor’s apple tree. Many deer make their way here and eventually climb up the steep ridge into the woods.

 

 
I wait with an anticipation that’s bubbling over and I’m expecting more fascinating creatures to pass by, on either trail. It makes Tom and I happy because we love nature and animals. As they cross for necessity, we watch with a steadfast curiosity. It’s like we live on a nature reserve and proudly reap all its rewards. We are so blessed to live here!

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul >3

Scrapbook Cookbook

 

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About ten years ago I revamped my recipe collection in a big way. First I threw out my dilapidated recipe box and hauled out recipes that I never used. Second, I found a cute whimsical Susan Branch cookbook kit with scrap booking pages and stickers. The book was cheap enough but cheaply made too, as I found out this year.

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Like many housewives who cook everyday, my recipe book started to show wear and tear. Then one day after making a delicious meal for my family, the books’ binding fell apart.  I busily shoved it on my little shelf in the kitchen and soon forget it’s desecration. Every time I reached for my recipe collection, the broken book with pages falling out reminded me that I had been doing this awhile and my book couldn’t keep up.

 

Last week, on an energetic whim, I set my mind to repairing and giving new life to my book. I searched our file cabinet and found a 1 ½ inch binder that one of the boys had used for school. I recycled it at the end of that year and put it in my stash of “ maybe I’ll use that someday.” I’m grateful for that because sometimes I throw things out in an organization fit.

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Next I found plastic page protectors to slip all the handwritten and computer copied recipes in. I highly recommend this step because we all know cooking can be messy and can stain and alter our nice cards.

 

What I especially love about the Susan Branch cookbook kit was that it supplied folders with heading for extra recipes. What I’ve always done is displayed my favorites, family favorites,my mom’s recipes,  Tom’s mom and dad’s and meme’s staunch winners on the pages and others can rest in the folders.

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I bought the cookbook scrapbooking kit on Amazon but you could do it yourself, if you have the supplies needed. You would need a 1 ½ inch binder, scrapbook pages, stickers, recipe cards, pouches for the miscellaneous recipes and page protectors. If you do buy the scrapbook kit, try to find one with a sturdy binder or buy the binder separately.

 

Now I can’t wait to cook and use my cookbook, that I gave new life to. It’s the little things that make me happy in the kitchen.

 

Good luck scrapbooking and happy cooking!

 

All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Lone Tree

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Taken from Pinterest.com

 

 

 

 

When my husband and I go for country rides on back roads, I always notice the lone trees. Usually the tree stands erect at the top of a hill, like a honorable man who has achieved so much and conquered his mountain of challenges. It’s perfectly tall and stretches its crooked branches like old wrinkly fingers, embracing the world.

 

 
There’s something majestic and spiritual about a lone tree.I feel quiet and humbled upon its sight and I always long to hike up to it to take in all it’s wonder. It’s beauty touches my heart and I feel a spiritual connection. Whenever I see an extraordinary lone tree, an emblem or picture, I wonder why it touches me so.It’s majesty is unexplainable! All I know is that I feel connected to it, it’s splendor and roots that dig deep in the ground.

 

 

 

 

The lone tree looks stately and pristine, resembling a proud grandfather overlooking his family from a distance. It proudly stands for strength and resilience…that tree, in its solitary state, has grown upward and out. Even though it’s all alone without a stand to thrive in with, it flourishes on its own accord. What a beauty it is!

 

 

Will you look at your neighborhood tree the same again? Do you notice the alone trees that you encounter?

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taken from Pinterest.com

Vanilla Twinkie Bundt Cake

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I made this cake for a special family dinner we had in January. We were preparing for our son to return to college and I wanted to make a special meal for the occasion.

Vanilla Twinkie Bundt Cake
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, optional ( I didn’t use this)
2 cups sugar
½ cup vegetable oil, I used Canola oil
3 eggs & 4 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk

1.Preheat oven to 325 F. Prepare Bundt pan by spraying or greasing. Set aside.

2.In a medium bowl sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3.In another bowl mix butter, vanilla and vanilla paste together until smooth. Slowly pour in sugar until well combined and fluffy. Mix with dry ingredients.

4.Add Canola oil and beat until incorporated. Beating eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.

5.Carefully add ⅓ of flour into wet mixture, alternating with ⅓ buttermilk until all flour and buttermilk is added. Mix just until smooth.

6.Pour batter carefully into bundt pan, smoothing over the top.

7.Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

8.Remove and cool for 45 minutes. Then flip cake out of pan. You may have to go along the sides with a knife.
Marshmallow Cream

1 stick butter, softened
1 71/2 ounce marshmallow creme or Fluff
1 tsp vanilla

Beat until creamy. Transfer to piping bag or ziploc bag with corner snipped. This is a messy process so keep a damp kitchen cloth handy.
To Assemble Cake

This is messy, as well, so do it over a baking sheet to catch crumbs. Flip cake over. Cut 6 or 7 deep holes in the bottom of the cake. Be careful not to go all the way through. This is a challenge but after careful consideration, I successfully did this.

Once the holes are made, using your hands, burrow down and connect the holes to form a tunnel. Be careful not to puncture cake.

Clear the cake from the holes and discard.

Now start filling holes with cream filling. Do not overdo this because cake could burst open.

Once holes are filled, carefully flip cake over. Dust with powdered sugar.

Eat and enjoy!

 
Taken from the kitchenprepblog.com
http://thekitchenprepblog.com/2014/05/very-vanilla-twinkie-bundt-cake.html

 

 

 

This was a delicious cake! All the fuss and assembling was worth it in the end!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

Baking Tips

 

 

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I have never been formerly taught the art of cooking and baking. As a young woman, it never interested me and I only associated it with tireless house wives who considered it a chore. In seventh and eighth grade I had Home Economics classes and that was my first true introduction to it all. We made simple dishes, no bake cookies and rice krispies bars and I have a fleeting memory of cooking pudding on the stove.

 

 

 

 

My present baking knowledge is from observation of others and from trial and error by myself. I guess it’s true what some people say, that no matter how old you are, life is full of learning opportunities. Recently I wrote a post highlighting my friend Michelle’s exciting career as a baking instructor at King Arthur Flour. I asked her to share some useful baking tips for others and I ended up thoroughly surprised that I didn’t know some of the tricks.

 

 

 

Michelle informed me that most people’s mistakes with baking is using too much flour. People are always asking her why their bread comes out like bricks and pizzas like hard frisbees.  The key is using less flour. While many experts will tell you to measure in cups, King Arthur Flour encourages bakers to weigh the flour. A cup of King Arthur Flour weighs 4- 4 ¼  ounces.  By weighing flour and not using volume, you’ll be accurate with the amounts.

 

 

 

Another tip Michelle shares is when measuring flour, don’t pack it in the cup. ( if you are still using cups and not weighing) Instead, sprinkle the flour in loosely and level with a knife at the top. When I think of this, I think of the act of packing brown sugar in a cup. You want to do just the opposite because if you pack it, you have too much flour.

 

 

 

I have the King Arthur Baking cookbook and I noticed when browsing recipes, a commonality is the note of avoiding over mixing. I already knew this tip from blueberry muffin recipes. Michelle says to be careful not to overmix cookies, cakes, and muffins. If you mix the batter too much, there will be too much gluten. If you want tender baked goods, DO NOT OVERMIX!

 

 

 

 

A hint for amateur pie crust bakers, keep your butter cold when adding to your flour mixture. Also Michelle reminds us that using melted butter instead of softened makes a negative difference. For example,  when baking cookies make sure you leave out the butter overnight so it softens. Melting the butter will change the consistency. When you cream the butter and sugar you are supposed to put air bubbles in. If you use melted butter instead, it’s very hard to get the air in it. I didn’t know this, amazing fact!

 

 

 

 


Now that we learned some valuable baking tips…let’s get out there and bake! Use these techniques and see how much better your cakes, cookies and breads are! Share these tips with your family and friends and always have fun in your kitchen!

 

 

This weekend I’m baking a chocolate cheesecake for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday and old fashioned whoopie pies shaped like footballs for the Super Bowl. Go New England Patriots!

 

 

 

This is a heartfelt thank you to Michelle for her gift of time for the interview and her kindness.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

 

 

 

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My Vanilla Twinkie cake with marshmallow fluff inside