First Snow Sparkle ❄️

 

This is a view of our woods bordering our backyard.

 

 

The first significant snow

of the season pounced on us

Saturday night!

Sunday morning and afternoon the fresh fallen snow glistened

on bushes and trees

as the sun pelted its presence

upon us.

Frosted trees sparkled

with glistening milky snow.

The wind softly caressed the branches

while wisps of sparkling snow sprayed in clouds

and fell to the ground.

The air smelled clean and anew,

a sure sign of new fallen snow.

As I trudged up the dirt road behind our house,

the suns rays shined upon the road

with an angelic like aura.

I’m grateful for coming winter and the beauty

all around.

Welcome new snow!

It will be a white Christmas!

 

 

Our front yard
Beautiful apple trees in our neighbor’s yard.
Along the dirt road I spy our garage

Look at the beauty around me!

Do you have snow where you are?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

 

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Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!

There’s nothing as comforting as a plate of homemade cookie concoctions baked fresh out of the oven! With a glass of milk or coffee a cookie is a special treat, especially around Christmas. Recently I’ve spent much busy time in my kitchen baking different cookies for fundraisers, co-workers and family. It has been a peaceful and fun week as I listened to my Spotify Christmas playlist and baked my heart away.

 

Chocolate Thumbprints

I found this Chocolate Thumbprint recipe on Pinterest, from Shanon at The Curvy Carrot. She is a physician and enjoys cooking and baking while at home. I’m sharing her recipe for this delicious and beautiful cookie. I doubled the recipe and it made about four dozen. It will be a steadfast addition to my annual cookie list. They are also pretty easy to make and that means a lot this time of year!

 

I used parchment paper and love the results!

 

 

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Servings: about 20 cookies

Ingredients

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup chocolate or multicolored sprinkles

20 (or however many cookies you end up with….) milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.

3. Add sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.

4. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.

5. Beat in the flour.

6. Your dough should be at ball-rolling consistency at this point. If it’s not, let it chill in the refrigerator for a while to firm up a little.

7. Once easily handled, roll dough into 1-inch balls.

8. Roll balls in sprinkles to coat.

9. Place balls 2 inches apart on your lined cookie sheets, and, using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

10. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are firm. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie’s center. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

 

 

 

 

Next I made Melt in your Mouth  Pumpkin Cookies with frosting to top them off. I love pumpkin cookies and believe they are not just for fall but would be great to add to a Christmas cookie tray. I got this recipe on Pinterest, from Crissy at Dearcrissy.com. She’s a mom and wife, writer and food photographer. This recipe is the best pumpkin cookie I’ve ever tasted and baked! It will be a hit at parties, work or just at home.

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies Recipe
YIELD: 60 COOKIES PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES COOK TIME: 10 MINUTES PER BATCH

Ingredients:

2 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
4 cups all-purpose flour
Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar (add until desired consistency/firmness)
ground cinnamon sprinkled on top (optional)

 

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl beat the 2 cups of butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder,baking soda,salt,the 1 teaspoon cinnamon,and the nutmeg. Beat until combined. Beat in the eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Beat in as much of the four as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon.
Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
For frosting, in a small saucepan heat the 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cookies. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired.

 

 

Every year I write my cookie list to bake for family, friends, co-workers and neighbors this year. It varies from year to year. Most years I make peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies nicknamed Black eyed Susans, a family favorite. My son Branden and I still make sugar cookie cut outs every year. Since he was about 7 or 8, he has had a keen interest in creating and decorating these beauties. I asked him a message recently if he wanted to continue the tradition when he gets home for college break. He said yes, he would love it and so I look forward to this time with him in the kitchen.

 

Today my sister Barb, niece Ella Kate and my sweet mom are coming for Cookie day, a tradition we started a few years ago. Each of us will bake a batch of our favorites and then we split them up between us. We play music, laugh, reminisce and just enjoy each other while baking cookies. It’s a special day for me and I hope the tradition lasts with my future grandchildren.

Are you baking Christmas cookies soon? What are your favorites?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

Christmas Wrap Station

 

Every Christmas I have quite a variety of wrapping papers, ribbons and tags for wrapping. Years ago I did something clever and organized by buying a tall  container to store all the rolls. That way I could be mobile and wrap in any room I wished. Most years I tug out the container and watch It’s a Wonderful Life while peacefully wrapping in front of the Christmas tree. What a joy it is to give and wrap the present!

 

You see, I think I have a wrapping paper addiction! Our former employer Mrs. Geneen had a special wrapping room with hundreds of rolls of wrap. Every color of the rainbow and prints of quaint villages, snowmen and vintage Santas lay in big pull out drawers. A large table was set up for working elves on Christmas Eve. Ever since I saw Mrs. G’s layout I’ve wanted a good variety of Christmas paper. I did resist buying new wrapping paper this year because I know I have more than enough.

 

This year I wanted more organization and since we have a spare room no one is using, I set up shop in there. On a little cardboard table I have a wrapping station of wrap rolls, a place for bags, a station for tags, scissors and tape. I guess I’ll wrap on the table if I move the rolls or on the bed. All the packages and presents are in the room ready to be lovingly wrapped.

 

 

Do you have a wrapping tradition? Is it a random action or do you put a lot of thought into it? I have to admit that even though I enjoy wrapping presents I’m not that great at it! On the other hand my husband is very precise with it and does a wonderful job! He could be one of those quick wrapping department store clerks!

I hope that this year you find wrapping is fun and not a pain! Play festive music, have a glass of wine or a cocktail and enjoy it!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🎁

The Christmas Tree: Real or Fake?

Apparently there is an ongoing dilemma with Christmas trees. The question is do you cut a real tree every year or put an artificial one up? As long as I can remember I’ve had a real evergreen tree. I remember plodding through the snow for the perfect shaped tree. I can still smell and hear the chainsaw cutting it down.

My sister and I posing in front of last year’s tree, a real one

I’m an old-fashioned kind of girl from New England, favoring those steadfast traditions of exploring for a tree and smelling the rich woodsy scent everyday.  The spiky or soft needles brushing against you as you trim the tree gives me goosebumps.

 

I can understand why people choose artificial trees for it’s less of a mess and probably easier. You buy it once and that’s your total investment as real trees cost money every year. My dad and stepmom keep it decorated and put it away as it is.

Which do you favor…real or fake?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗🌲

The Perfect Morning

I want to share with you all my perfect morning yesterday. Since it was Saturday the alarm clock could stay off. Thankfully I peacefully slept until I woke up. That’s this working woman’s prayer…that at least once or twice a week I can slumber without a blaring wake up.

 

I don’t have a photo of this mornings sunrise but look at this stunning sunset from a few years back.

 

Waking up sleepily, I glanced out my new bedroom window just feet from my bed. As gorgeous pink ribbons painted the heavens, I sat on the edge of my bed absorbed in this  wonder. It’s amazing how beautiful the sky can be the same day as a storm, a calm miracle preceding a turbulent event.

 

 

Trudging down our stairs, I heard a crash against the window and saw a little chickadee fly away unharmed. About six other chickadees fluttered and swooped in front and into the roadside bushes. They flew with angelic grace but with an energetic speed. One landed on our front stoop and pecked at a dried plant sprig and at that very moment, I knew this morning was magical and a gift from God above.

 

 

So I want to thank God for my perfect morning! After these beautiful sights I cradled my hot brew and sat comfortably in my favorite chair. It’s these moments that increase my faith and affirm my belief in Him. I know He’s watching out for me! The only regret from this experience is that I don’t have photographs to share, instead you’ll have to take my word for it and  I’ll share a sunset I enjoyed a few years back.

 

All the beauty and love in the world is proof of God’s love! I happily embrace God’s magic and I hope you do too!

Be looking for a Thanksgiving post soon!🏡

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

A Book From My Childhood

Dedicated to my Grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Gould

 

 

I would love to share with you a gift that my Nanny Gould gave me in 1976. It’s Joan Walsh Anglund’s Love is a Special Way of Feeling. On the first page she penned a precious note and her signature, which is written in cursive beautifully. It’s this little inscribed note that stays with me and influenced the importance of signing a book. I’ve mostly signed all my book gifts with the person’s name , the year and my name. I feel that it’s a memory to cherish and will live long after you’ve forgotten the act of giving. All the books we bought for the boys are inscribed.

 

 

IMG_3240
This is one of the few keepsakes I have of my maternal grandmother, whom I called Nanny.

 

 

A few years back I looked up Joan Walsh Anglund on Amazon and ordered the Christmas is a Time of Giving. The adorable illustrations remind me of Holly Hobbie pictures. I keep my little books on my bookcase and look at them now and then. It gives me a warm feeling inside and reminds me of my Nanny Gould. When decorating for the Christmas holiday, I put the little Christmas book out on the coffee table.

 

 

 

 

When Dylan was a little boy he liked cowboys and possessed the hat, cap guns and holsters. One Christmas we gave him The Brave Cowboy from Anglund. I kept the book along with the other many books the boys had. They’re all hardcover and were kept in excellent condition. I’ve packed them away in the spare room and my future intention is to share them with our grandchildren. Something wonderful to look forward, sharing my love of books with my sons and their children someday!

 

I firmly believe that special books are like photos and must be treasured. With handwritten messages they are a piece of the past and can be read over and over again!

Do you sign your gifted books for posterity? Do you have gifted favorite books that you hold dear?

All My Best,

Mary Elizabeth ❤