A Little Sign

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Have you ever been on vacation or a get away and stumbled upon a surprise, a gentle reminder of God’s love? I have,  on my camping trip with Theo, my mother in law and friend. As far as I’m concerned the gift was no coincidence…

 

I sat on a metal folding beach chair when my right foot skated across a smooth surface, a rock. It was partially hidden in the shallow depths of the sand. I love finding special rocks and the few times that they are unique, they are secretly stashed in the folds of my pocket for the trip home.

 

This particular rock was not only smooth and beautiful, but a heart shape! It’s not the only heart shaped rock I have stumbled upon, for years ago I found a big rock that my mom painted for my garden and last year a pinkish heart rock that decorates my shady garden. It seems that I’ve started collecting heart shaped rocks simply by fate. 

 

This heart was a sign from God for a few reasons. I believe he coaxed me to find it so that I was reminded of his presence and His love. It also served as a reminder to drop anxiety and relax during the trip. I’m grateful for these signs, for they just appear suddenly when I seem to need them. I’m always on the look out for them, for if I’m not paying attention it may just pass by without meaning. Be on the look out for little signs from Him, however how small. There’s always a reason and you must figure that out for yourself.

I must mention in the wake of Charlottesville and recent terrorist attacks, I’m thinking of how the news focuses on all the evil in the world. Please remember to focus on the love that people freely give to each other instead of the evil and hate that occurs! Our steady army of people who refuse to give in to hate stand strong with an unwavering faith in good. God’s love lives in all of us who believe and fight for love and peace! Blessings and peace to you all.❤❤❤

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I think an amazing sunset is one of God’s pure gifts!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

What is This?

Does anyone know what this rusty object could be? A few weeks ago I was weeding around a stump in our front yard. I planted flowers there and wanted to clean it up. As I pulled grasses and weeds, I pulled on this object that was immersed in the core of the rotting  stump. At first I guessed that it was a type of bottle opener but the more I study it, it doesn’t seem to be. It was made in Taiwan and almost looks like the narrow end was broken off of something. Perhaps this object was part of a machine but how did it get in a rotted stump?

 

 

 

 

I love a good mystery that’s why I enjoy ancestry immensely! It’s fascinating to wonder about what people did long ago,  especially in our house that was built around 1890. Once I found a few pieces of old China dishes buried underneath my garden. Long ago families dug trenches on their property to dump discarded items and apparently there are several on our property. Last summer Tom found a site where he was building his garage. Coincidentally the old barn stood on the same spot and when it was torn down, many objects were buried there. Tom found old chains, tires, milking instruments, animal bones and a rusted jewelry box to name a few.

 

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I’m keeping this piece of history, even if I may never know. It’s a curiosity that will rest in my garden, keeping me wondering and connected somehow to the past. Let me know what your guess is.

 

An update…I just googled ” old bottle opener” and found this image. Could this be the same?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

Delicious Apple Carrot Zucchini Muffins

 

Pour a second cup of coffee with these yummy muffins!

 

Every year I bake zucchini muffins for my family. They are easy to put together and my family loves them. Just yesterday I was browsing zucchini recipes on Pinterest and found a new muffin recipe that sounded good, so I had to try it.

This Apple carrot and zucchini muffin recipe is borrowed from the blog at wineandglue.com. Lisa is a mom “ with a glue gun in one hand and a glass of wine in the other”. That’s my kind of mom, honest with a sense of humor! Check out her blog.

Apple Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Yield: About 18 muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp.baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup shredded zucchini (about half a medium zucchini)
1 cup shredded carrot (about two carrots)
1 cup shredded apple (about one apple)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray with Pam.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and oil.

3. In another large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.

4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar and egg mixture. The batter will be very thick.

5. Mix in the zucchini, apple, and carrot.

6. Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Enjoy! My family ate these for a snack or breakfast. Either way they are moist and delicious!

 

I want to share with you all how I store muffins, cupcakes, cookies and other baked goods. About six years ago I saw these snap it plastic storage containers on QVC. They were selling a set of two and I don’t remember what I paid for them but they are handy and convenient to own. I have a handy deep one with a traveling handle and a shallow one without the handle. I’ve also seen similar containers at T.J. Maxx.

They keep baked goods fresh for me. I also store veggies like lettuce and beet greens in the refrigerator in them. Look them up if you need great storage containers for your kitchen.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

 

I’ve made this dessert recipe for years and it never disappoints.

 

 

During zucchini harvest there’s a bountiful never-ending process of picking and using it before the next few are ready. It’s common knowledge that the zucchini plant grows steady and hearty, unfaltering and even without constant care it continues to flourish. I happen to know that the devout gardener faces a challenge when the zucchini is ready. The first one or two is a blessing and exciting to use, but after that a surplus rages and time is ticking…when gardeners ask the question, what will I make with zucchini again? Stir fry? Stuffed? Lasagna? Bread? Chocolate Cake? Yes!

 

 

 

For many years I baked mini zucchini breads and froze them, mostly for Tom. They were the perfect size for a snack and easy to defrost. I’ve slowed down doing this, mostly because he couldn’t seem to eat all of them. Now I use the delicious squash for stir fry, feta and Calamata black olives appetizers, stuffed with hamburger and rice and many other recipes.

 

 

One of my favorite zucchini recipes was inspired by my husband’s former employer’s sister, Lois. Mrs. Geneen, Lois and their niece Stephanie would stay for the summer at the farm. One summer we discussed different scrumptious zucchini recipes to try. Lois told me of a zucchini party that she attended. The whole affair was devoted to unique zucchini recipes and everyone got to taste as much as they liked. She mentioned a chocolate zucchini cake, much to my disgust. Yuck, I thought. At that time I didn’t think or could even imagine chocolate and veggies going together.

 

 

This handwritten recipe is stored in my scrapbook cookbook with all my favorites.

 

 

Coincidentally the next day Good Morning America featured a baker who presented that very cake in a bundt form! I was intrigued enough to try it and the rest is history! In memory of dear Lois I share this delicious cake with you. All of the ladies have passed on since then, Lois and Stephie died last year. I think they may have liked this or maybe tried it at least.

 

It’s moist, sweet, and perfect for a summer dessert on the deck. Try it, despite your reservations, you may be pleasantly surprised like I was!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:

2 c. Shredded zucchini

1/2 c soft butter

1/2 c oil, I use Canola

1 1/2 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tap. vanilla

1/2 c sour milk

2 1/2 c. flour

4 heaping Tbs. Hershey’s cocoa

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp baking soda

powdered sugar for dusting

1. Shred zucchini in a food processor. I have a little one and it works great, even though it takes a few times for 2 cups. I made extra here for zucchini carrot muffins.

2.  Beat butter,oil, sugar,eggs and vanilla.

 

3. Next add milk, flour,cocoa,salt, baking powder and baking soda.

4. Mix together gently.

5. Fold in shredded zucchini.

6. Pour mixture into  greased bundt cake pan. This also could be baked in a 13 x 9 pan or in a little bread loaf pan.

7.  Bake at 350 F for 35- 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

8.  Cool on rack.

9. When cool, take a butter knife and insert on edges to loosen cake from pan. Flip over on serving dish.

10. Dust with powdered sugar or add a chocolate glaze.

This is  a delicious dessert and people may never know that the special ingredient is Zucchini.

 

Happy baking! Use up that endless zucchini in a cake!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

 

Seeking Stillness at the Lake

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Imagine a comfortable warm afternoon at the lake. As you sit on the beach, you dig your toes in the smooth sand, getting lost in the luxurious heat. The lake smells of a fresh earthy scent, yet there is a faint musty odor as well. People smell of sunscreen rubs and bug spray. Wet dogs shake their hair upon emerging from the lake.
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Many families are spending their vacation here, at the Mountain Lake Campground, nestled in the northern mountains of New Hampshire. Laughs ring throughout the beach, an indication of content families basking in vacation togetherness.

 

 

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I sit by myself reading a book. A few years ago I would’ve been on edge and not truly relaxing. The boys would’ve been swimming in the lake, racing to the dock a few yards away while I worried if I could help them if they struggled. I’ve never been a good swimmer and almost drowned when I was 8. This still haunts me today, especially if I’m in charge of little ones in the water.

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This day at the beach is a stark difference. The boys are not here and are working this day. It’s my mother in law’s and my twelfth year camping together but the first one without children. My husband has a busy work schedule in the summer with his lawn business and part time job for the town, forcing him to skip most of the camping trips. There were a few times he could camp and so we would race away for the weekend, towing the pop up camper with two excited boys.

 

This beautiful day as I sit in my quiet reflective thoughts, I thank God for my body being still. I really have a hard settling myself and giving in to relaxation. This moment at the beach is pure serenity, stillness that is unmatched. I also praise Him for giving me the gift hearty laughter of the families and my ability to enjoy it and smile with them. I am genuinely happy for them.

 

The silent lake holds the key to my stillness and serenity. The water calmly ripples ever so gently from a kayak cutting through it. In the left swampy corner, one can spot a sea of white, water lilies creating a beautiful scene. Overlooking the glossy tranquil  water stands strong stately mountains, guarding the lake with clusters of pines and firs growing around its circumference. I wonder which animals congregate within them.

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When you clear your mind of racing thoughts and jarring problems, you’re on the path to stillness. Open your heart to peace and acceptance of the moment. It’s a must that you give your body complete permission to allow it to happen, to enter relaxation and let go of everything. Maybe you can’t visit the lake and beach often and that’s okay. Seek a peaceful spot in your yard, perhaps under a special tree. Use that spot to be still and with that, your every being will cherish the peace.

 

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All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul ❤