The Joy of Sunday Baking!

The wind whips steadily as a few snowflakes fall outside on this bright Sunday afternoon. My son Branden is home for college spring break, giving me great inspiration to bake some goodies! Ever since I bought my Kitchen Aid mixer and invested in real Vanilla extract and King Arthur flour, I’ve enjoyed indulging in this baking game.

It brings me great satisfaction and joy to please my family and friends at work with baked goods. Even though everyone is watching what they eat,( including me) we all need a small treat from time to time coupled with our rich cups of coffee. Don’t you think?

The oven heats up as my mixer whirls. Today I chose to create Lunch Lady Brownies, a recipe I have shared before here. Find the recipe at life in the loft house.com. Https://life-in-the-lofthouse.com/It makes rich chocolately brownies with a chocolate frosting to die for. I plan to treat myself and have one today and relish every single bite! Yum!

Mixing the butter and Cacao Powder

I’ll share with you what I feel makes a difference in baked goods:

*Real butter

*Good flour, either King Arthur Four or Gold Medal Flour

*Organic Cacao Powder, according to Food Matters.com, raw Cacao is cold pressed Cacao beans, not roasted like Cocoa is made. When Cocoa is roasted, the Cacao beans molecular base changes, depleting it’s nutritional value. I’m using this instead of Cocoa now.

*Fresh farm eggs, thank you neighbors!

*Real Vanilla

I bought this at our local Ocean State Job Lots. I find unique food products there!

While browsing through the food section at Job Lots I found this Cacao powder, something I needed for my daughter- in- law’s avocado chocolate mousse. I also found cheap spices like Cinnamon and Nutmeg there. They have baking ingredients such as Bob’s Red Mills flour and granola. I discovered a local business, Maple Grove Farms of Vermont’s sugar free Vidalia Onion salad dressing as well as Sugar Free Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing. They’re delicious and with low calories! If you have an Ocean State Job Lots check it out! The store houses cool and unique finds!

I’m so happy our son’s home! Someone else to bake for!

The afternoon has waned with my brownies all frosted and waiting for tonight’s dessert. It was a perfect activity to engage in on a Sunday, to work in my warm kitchen. Now after having so much fun baking I’m ready to exercise to my dvd for an hour. That way I don’t feel guilty about indulging in one and I can work some of it off!

Okay blogging friends, what have you baked and sampled lately? What are your thoughts on baking ingredients…which are a necessity in a good recipe?

I hope you all are enjoying your Sunday!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

Advertisements

Random Facts About Me part 2

 

 

A90AF2C9-C528-4D13-A9B2-312226B95522
My co-workers and I in our elementary wing after school on Halloween. I’m the sixth person in.

I really enjoy reading facts about my blogging friends as a huge way to get to know them. I was browsing through last November posts and found a post I penned about myself. I’m piggy backing to it with more random facts about myself.

 

1. Do you enjoy your present job and get along with your co-workers?

Yes! I’ve taught reading groups for 13 years at our local elementary school. As years pass I am more grateful for God leading me there and for bringing different co-workers into my life. I truly enjoy the children and what they say from day to day. They keep me young and therefore I feel alive! The people I work with are great and we have fun! This Halloween we dressed as dominoes, an idea Carol found on Pinterest. All day the kids counted our dots and had much fun with it!

 

Last Halloween we dressed as gnomes from the Trolls movie. We had hats made of construction paper and flowing beards of cotton! What a hoot it was! The kids loved it! We are posed at our monthly community meeting with our principal Jackie Daniels in front.

 

436D8ED5-4C5D-456B-A406-B6A7AD1C6080

 

 

2. What’s an average weekend look for you?

Usually Saturday is my sleep in day but not lately. Tom gets up at 4 and that wakes me up. Sometimes I lie in bed in the flannel sheets awhile and then get up. I savor my two cups of coffee, read my blogging friends’ posts or watch Grey’s Anatomy or This is us. I attack my housework list early. There’s always laundry to wash and dry, the bathroom to scrub and vacuuming to do. After I accomplish all that I exercise in some way, whether it’s a walk or Denise Austin exercise dvd, it doesn’t matter as long as I stay active!

IMG_0032

 

Sundays Tom and I spend time together. Sometimes we have a nice quiet breakfast at the table and others we eat watching Hulu. I have less to do this day so it leaves it open for visiting, baking and blogging. This is the day we go on car rides or hikes depending on the weather.

 

3. Is there something that is weighing on your heart lately? 

Yes, very much so but it’s much better! Our 15 year – old cat Katy is aging and we’ve noticed concerning changes. It appears that she’s lost muscle mass and 3 pounds since her last vet visit. I took her for a thorough physical check with a really nice young vet. She listened to my concerns, talked with me about possible causes and examined our beautiful baby with care. She decided to take blood tests and now we know that Katy has Hyperthyroidism. The odd coincidence is that I have thyroid issues too for Hypothyroidism and take meds for mine. She is taking meds twice a day and will go back soon for a kidney checkup.

52F9C448-F452-4C2F-A423-2D2039558675.jpeg

When all was uncertain I worried for Katy and for my family. We have raised her with our boys, therefore she’s a huge part of their growing up experience. Our daughter in law and mother in law love her too. I don’t know how I’ll be when I lose my precious Katy but I know God will give me strength when I need it. She is doing well so I won’t worry about that now.

 

4. Do you have any trips planned for the future?

I don’t travel that much so when I plan on it, it’s very different and exciting! I just bought plane tickets for my mom and I to travel to Dallas, Texas for my nephews’ college graduation in the spring. We will spend four days and three nights with my brother David in the Oak Cliff community of the city.

2356262A-9F98-46F5-A958-1317B903D103

I’ve been there once before about eight years ago when I went with my son Branden and my nephew Spencer. This photo is on the Southern Methodist University campus, where my brother David teaches History and is an assistant Dean of the Honors program. Left to right my nephew Spencer ( who will graduate college in May), my son Branden and my brother David.

 

Other future trips include some sort of get away for Tom and I for my 50th birthday in June. We also wish to visit our niece Jen in Montana sometime. We have a few  travel trips to look forward to!

 

 

I hope you enjoyed some facts about me from the present and the past. I wish you all a blessed week with your family and friends.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

My Son’s College is Closing

 

Photo taken by Jojo Anderson

I have been in shock for a couple of days over this! Branden’s college has gone under and sold out to a big school, the University of Massachusetts. His dreams of achieving his degree at Mount Ida are gone. His Presidential scholarship totaling $100,000 for four years is gone. We try to process, especially since we both love his college and community. From here he and his girlfriend must deal with their emotions, study for finals and scramble for colleges. My cousin Flora must try to finish her Master’s elsewhere, away from the only college she’s attended. Two years ago Branden took months to decide, tour, talked with college faculties, stood in on classes and now he must do all this again. The difference is that he has just a few weeks to decide and get the ball rolling for the Fall semester.

 

This is the post I just entered on a Mount Ida Support group. Many parents and students are lost and don’t know where to turn. I’ve read negative posts of legal action and talking to the media and my response is, why? Will that solve anything or make it worse? See my Entry below.

 

I joined this group as support as I am mourning the loss of Mount Ida College. My son is a Sophomore in the Animation major and up until the other day had dreams to achieve his goals through this institution. I am not bitter, full of hate or have no desire to blame anyone for what has happened. After all, how is that going to change things and put our students on the right path? My desire is to cope but mostly be there for my son and his girlfriend as they try to pick up broken pieces and move on to achieve their dreams. It’s not going to be easy, struggles in life never are but I’ve learned they make you stronger! I will not fight nor look into talking to media. I will not seek legal action, as I feel my son has received a great education at this college. I also want to add that my son has lost a Presidential Scholarship promised to him, $100,000 in total if he kept his grades up. It’s a blow to us, as that helped seal the deal on his initial decision. But we will see what other colleges will match and let it go however hard it may be.We will move forward with grace and acceptance. That’s how I was taught to live…simply, with strength and kindness. No hate. No blame. No negativity. I do hope many of you will choose that path and help your students find their college and move forward without hate and negativity.

 

With a heavy heart I seek your prayers and well wishes. I know it’s God’s plan and that it will work out but in the meantime it’s difficult. I feel for the 1,400 plus students and the faculty who found out the same day as the students that they were out of a job. Please keep them all in your prayers and thoughts.

Jojo’s Photography Dream

There’s this young woman I know who has inspired me to write this post and share her work with you all. I am thankful to say I know her and am getting to learn more about her everyday. She has given permission for me to share her photos and interview her on her love, photography.

 

 

Her name is Jojo Anderson and I know her because she dates my youngest son. They both attend the same college and have been dating for a year. There’s something special and loving about this lady…she’s kind, thoughtful and honest and has taken lovely photos, so it’s a pleasure to share her story and photography with you!

 

 

Jojo started taking photos when she bought her first camera in the sixth grade. Her photos were of everything with no rhyme or purpose, just for fun! Suddenly one day the camera broke and she stopped taking photos for a while. Years later, just before her senior year,  her parents encouraged her to buy a new camera. Jojo says that the more photos she snapped the more the she fell in love with the power of it.

 

Isn’t this photo of captured nature beautiful?

This talented young woman always had an interest in old cameras but she really doesn’t know why. She was attracted to how things were made, which lead to an intention to pursue engineering after high school. Jojo applied to colleges with this major in mind. While taking photos and exploring photography, Jojo realized that she loved it! With the change of heart and majors, she applied to Mount Ida College majoring in photography with a back up of being a vet tech.

 

 

Jojo started posting her work on social media and received attention from professional photographers. Her dad taught her some basic principles of art/ photography fundamentals such as the rule of thirds and the rule of odds. Her parents were a big influence on her goals, especially her dad.

 

 

One of Jojo’s favorite subjects is of people she loves. A few months ago this young lady snapped this gem of my son and he loved it so much that he used it for his social media profile. She values the fact that the photo highlights who Branden is as a person, a genuine capture of him without being fake. His smile is real and not posed for the shot. Jojo thinks it’s special that she captured  his essence, as if the camera wasn’t there. Sometimes Branden changes or freezes up when a camera focuses on him,( as most people do)  so this picture shows that he can relax for the camera. I do love this pose, spoken from a proud mama!

 

Jojo also took this great portrait of her younger sister. I love the outside backgrounds of these photos! She loves using photography to tell a story and enjoys taking photos that capture the moment in nature.

 

 

 

 

In class Jojo had an assignment of taking photos of food in an arrangement.

If you’re interested in viewing Jojo’s photos, you can sign up free on Behance.net. She also sells prints, cards and posters on Zazzle.com under her artist name Jojo Anderson. I ordered a beautiful card of a mesmerizing sunset recently. I was thrilled with its beauty and it was shipped to me within days.

Here’s my photo card I ordered from Jojo. I love it!

 

As I wrap up this post I’m encouraged of Jojo’s promising photography career. I believe she will succeed in what she sets her mind to. She wishes to work freelance eventually but may pursue a job in the industry, just starting out. Whatever this young lady achieves, it will be great because she has heart and guts to reach her dreams. I’m happy she’s dating my son and proud to know her and call her a friend.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year Two Drop Off

An installment of Empty Nest Notes

 

IMG_3115
I’m so proud of this guy! He’s a happy guy back at college!

 

About three weeks ago my husband, son and I ventured south to our son’s college. It’s Branden’s sophomore year, an easier move than last.  This year we all knew what to expect and thankfully there were no tears as we moved and dropped off.

 

 

 

Imagine a squished family wedged in a jam packed car. Heaping clothes were piled high in baskets and a microwave, mini fridge and crates of supplies were stacked upon each other. My husband is an expert car packer from years of caretaking and chaffeuring, so he was up for the task. By the time all was loaded, a small seat in the back remained where Branden had to squeeze in for the ride. Thankfully Tom could still see in the side mirrors for a safe drive.

 

 

 

Upon arriving, we saw cars with families like ours everywhere. People scurried around with crates, small pieces of furniture and all the college essentials. It was comforting to greet some student helpers with huge laundry wagons to transport Branden’s belongings. It was as simple as signing up and while we waited and ate a quick snack, Branden went to sign in and receive his room key.

IMG_1726
This photo is a vivid memory of last year, Branden’s first year at college.

 

 

 

This year our son lives on the second floor, a floor down from last year. The room is much smaller facing the back side of the building with two windows letting in the lovely light. He shares his room with a friend of his, one person less from last year. Last year’s room was big but needed to fit three grown men.

 

 

 

 

Tom helped Bran haul the mini fridge in and placed it under his bed. It’s cool that the bed is on risers so we raised it, with enough room to fit a few crates and the fridge. His bed was placed on the right side of the wall parallel to his buddy’s bed on the left. He has a desk and chair and a bureau which we placed at the foot of his bed to save space. His closet is good sized, enough to house all his clothes and essentials.

 

 

 

 

We stayed about an hour and then was on our way but not without hugs and spoken well wishes for a great school year. Riding home we talked about Bran’s happy disposition and how this college really is the perfect fit for him. He set his mind on it early in the college search and just knew in his heart that it was home. I can only wish this for any college freshmen, to know what place speaks to them as a second home. As proud parents, Tom and I are blessed that he made the right choice for him without pressures from outside sources.

 

 

 

In a few weeks I plan to bake one of Bran’s favorite cookies, peanut butter chocolate chips to send in a care package. I figure it’s a package of home for him to enjoy and relish in. I talked to my mother in law and she plans to bake when it cools down in Florida. We are setting up a system that we let each other know when we send our packages so that it doesn’t arrive the same week.

 

 

I want to wrap up this post with a small prayer for college students and their families.

Dear God,

Please allow these students to adjust to college life, especially freshman. Give them strength to harbor the change and courage to withstand any obstacle. Help them study hard and make good friends, friends that last a lifetime. Bless them as they live the college life and ease their parents’ minds that all will be well.

In the Lord’s name,

Amen

God Bless you all as you go about your day. I’m spending some time writing today and hope to tackle a few more posts for the coming days.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul