Make Your Own Pizza Night

A few weeks ago we celebrated the union of family when my son’s girlfriend came to visit. I thought it would be fun to get our family together on a Friday night to make our own pizzas. To start, I made my father- in- law’s pizza sauce a few days before. Next I bought Boboli crusts, different cheeses such as Mozzarella, Extra Sharp ( my favorite because I can eat it being lactose intolerant), Monterey Jack and Parmesan. I sliced peppers, broccoli, onions and black olives. Unfortunately the pepperoni stick I bought smelled bad so I ditched the pepperoni idea. ( Next time I won’t buy the Bridgford brand)

Branden and Emma Jo making their pizza.

While we chatted, everyone made their own pizzas. Once we were done we sat at the dining room table and ate much to our hearts’ content. Lexy brought bacon maple cupcakes for us to enjoy for dessert! It was fun to play card games after, screw your neighbor ( it sounds naughty but it’s not, you just trick your neighbor) and Emma Jo’s version of Trash.

My son Dylan and his wife Lexy.
My son Branden and his girlfriend Emma Jo.

All in all it was a special evening of family connections. It’s these times that bring joy to a mother’s life. I value the moments we can unite, talk and laugh. How could anything else be more important, than family?

Here’s a thought…create your own pizza night. Maybe you’ll want to make your own crusts! Next time I’ll invest more time to make my own pizza dough, which involves more time. Invite family or friends. Do your research ahead and ask your guests what they prefer for toppings so you’ll be prepared. Plan on games or conversation starters after dessert. Enjoy the memories you’ll make!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🍕🍕🍕

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A Winter Walk

Amid mounds of glistening snow and icy sheets that glaze driveways and roads, I choose to walk. I’m sure heat worshippers think I’m crazy! It’s that I simply enjoy the crisp cold air, inhaling the freshness. This energizes me and reminds me that I’m alive! Everything is clearer and crisp. Distant white capped mountains stretch in the distance as the dazzling trees are dressed in bridal whites. Fiery sunsets paint the sky with rich peaches and promising pinks, an amazing accompaniment to this white world surrounding me.

While walking in winter, I spy animal tracks winding in yards and spiraling into the mysterious woods. Curiously I attempt to break the code and discover which animal had tread there. Deer? A fox? Possibly it’s a little white ermine such as the one that’s living in our yard and sometimes in the attic.

Cars race by, slipping in the snow. Even bulky trucks barrel on this quiet country road, as fuel deliveries are being made to stoke people’s furnaces.

I slip on a pair of mittens and comfy hat. Then pull on fuzzy socks and laced up boots. A parka is zipped up. Sometimes a woolen scarf wraps me in like a present. My house key lay buried in my pocket. I’m on my way…walking down the hill towards the bustling town and then up another winding slope to my road. Months ago this walk exhausted me. It left me gasping for air and I had to intermittently stop to regain my raspy breath. Since I’ve exercised mostly every day and mastered this walk, I no longer stop. My strides are longer, more fluid and my breathing healthy and not rushed.

A turkey crossing the snowy road.

I do not walk during snow storms per my husbands sage advice. Plow trucks take much of the road. Cars slip and slide, sending slush and snow at any passer by. Ice patches are hidden by white cover, easy slipping conditions.

I don’t really think during these treks. Instead I notice my surroundings, the houses, the cars and the animals tracks. I breathe deeply. I exhale warm puffs. As I approach my little house, the grayish column of smoke twists up from the chimney. I can already feel the houses warmth. As soon as I jingle the key in the lock and thrust open the barrier, a sultry heat wallops my face. Instant comfort. Our black cat, Smokey, saunters to the entry and greets me with his mewing and rub up against my frigid legs.

I hear the stove crackle as I tear off my wintry layers. This completes the winter walk experience and I sigh with a happiness, a general contentment that I live in New England and actually thrive because of it. I was born of strong stock, of Vermont families that have lived and loved the winter. So I continue the tradition and always wish to do so.

Have you walked in a winter landscape lately? Do you have a habit of walking and noticing every little detail of your surroundings?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💜

The Divide, my Latest Read

I just finished this book written by Nicholas Evans, the author of The Horse Whisperer. It’s story is of a broken family, one that went through several changes including a failing marriage and daughter’s rebellious activities. I love the fact that Evans profiled the characters expertly, drawing me in and forcing me to invest in them. My favorite characters are Abby and the father, Benjamin.

I picked this up at a book sale a few years ago and stashed it on my book shelf until about a month ago. Sometimes I do this, put the book away and forget to read it. It was worth finding and filled many quiet winter moments and snow days for me.

A January To Do List

If you live in the wintry Northeast of the United States, you know that many January activities involve the cold, snow or inside venues. I compiled a little to do list for you New Englanders to try this month. If you live elsewhere ask yourself if any of these ideas would work for you.

Credits to Janet Lee Logan & Princess Sassy Pants & Co. Thank you.
  • Go sledding with your family and friends! We have a long Tobaggon that I won at work many years ago. It can hold two or three bodies and goes like the wind!
  • Host a Saturday lunch for friends. I’m hosting my two friends Laurie and Michelle in a couple of weeks. Serve hot or cold sandwiches or homemade soup. Have tea, coffee or hot beverages available.
  • Organize desk drawers or cluttered countertops. It’s easier now while the weather is colder outside. Once spring comes, you’re going to want to be outside instead.
  • Organize your printed photographs or digital thumbprints. Label folders such as Christmas 2018 or Summer 2018.
  • Take an afternoon hike in the woods. Tom and I hiked about a mile to check on his game camera and feed the local deer. It was simply magical with snow falling while we were in the midst of the stand of trees. Animal tracks spiraled throughout the woods like a crazy maze.

  • Build a cozy fire in the stove or fireplace and cuddle up nearby. Watch a good movie, Mr. Church on Netflix. It’s a heartwarming story of a mother and daughter who have a cook who becomes part of the family. Read a good book! Right now I’m reading The Divide by Nicholas Evans about a family facing a tragic loss of their daughter and the search to find out what happened to her.

I hope you all enjoy the month of January and everything that comes with it!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

Netflix Suggestions Part II

We are fortunate to spend under $50 a month on television entertainment. Years ago we were fortunate enough to have our employer pay for our satellite tv. Back then cable wasn’t available in our neck of the woods and that was the best you had. Now many tv watchers are rethinking the high cost of cable and satellite services and are resorting to downstreaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime to name a few. We have those three services as well as YouTube available on our PlayStation console. I’m happy to report my avid tv watching husband is completely satisfied with all the shows, something that worried me in the beginning.

Here are a few Netflix suggestions that are downstreaming currently.

Wonder ( this is on the dvd plan but also available on Amazon’s Prime)

A sentimental family film featuring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. It’s about fifth grade Auggie who has facial deformities and his loving family who supports him throughout. It’s based on the book and years ago I read it in school with fourth graders.

The Holiday Calendar

This movie is about a motivated photographer who is gifted a magical advent calendar. The calendar could lead her right to love. It’s a sweet holiday story with that Hallmark feel.

El Camino Christmas

This movie drew me in and I don’t usually like robberies or violent movies. I’m not sure if it was the acting and their interesting characters or bonds that are formed…all I know is that it was a good movie and very entertaining!

Julie & Julia

An oldie from 2009 but a great movie. It is about a woman who cooks up all of Julia Child’s recipes. Meryl Streep is fabulous in this! I would recommend this to you if you love to cook!

Big Miracle 

This flick is also an oldie from 2010 starring Drew Barrymore. She is a reporter who writes about stranded whales in the Article Circle. Based on true events, the US and USSR work on rescuing the whales. A good family movie!

This time of year I get my Christmas movies out to compliment Netflix. Every weekend and some week nights I choose one to watch in front of our Christmas tree. Yesterday I chose A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott. I remember long ago as a teenager watching it and loving his acting. It’s a calming way to indulge in a hot cup of coffee in my comfy armchair. Within the next few weeks I’ll view It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone and I’ll Be Home for Christmas. 

What movies do you watch this time of year?Are you also bypassing cable tv and opting for downstreaming apps? 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Netflix Suggestions Part I

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I don’t know about you, but this time of year I love watching Netflix at night and on weekends! There’s less to do outside with chilly temperatures and the gardens at rest, blessing me with ample reading and viewing time. My blogging friend Rhonda inspired this post recently with her question what’s good to watch on Netflix? Here’s my list…I hope you can find what you would like and enjoy!

 

Christmas in the Smokies

A young ambitious woman tries to save her family’s farm and wrestles with thoughts of her ex boyfriend as he arrives back in town. A heart- warming story set in the Smokey Mountains.

 

Dear Santa

Crystal finds a lost letter written to Santa by a young girl hoping for a new wife for her daddy. Another heart- warming story to enjoy.

 

A Holiday Engagement

Can you tell that I love Hallmark type of movies? My husband is a good sport and watches some with me. This movie is about a woman who fakes having a fiancé to bring home for Christmas. It’s a funny film and enjoyable to watch the story unfold.

 

Coffee Shop

A small town coffee shop owner and an ambitious writer from New York meet and you have to watch to see what happens.

 

Sixteen Candles

Young Samantha is feeling unimportant as her sister’s wedding overshadows her sixteenth birthday. I watched this flick in the 80’s growing up and still enjoy it with many laughs! It’s a funny and cute movie of her trials over her birthday and crush on a high school hunk.

 

National Treasure

A 2004 movie starring Nicholas Cage, Harvey Keitel, Diane Kruger and Jon Voight. It’s about a historian who discovers clues to hidden treasure and the Declaration of Independence is involved. How hard can it be stealing the historic document to continue his quest? This is a fast paced adventure with a bit of history involved. It was my oldest son’s favorite movie from school and we have the dvd. Currently it is trending on Netflix.

Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End

Another movie installment of Johnny Depp’s interesting character Jack Sparrow. It’s fun and filled with adventure and Orlando Bloom appears once again!

An Unfinished Life

A beautiful film starring Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez and Morgan Freeman. It’s about a woman confronting her past. Set in the country on a farm with a nice story and scenic views. A must to watch!

 

A Beautiful Mind

I watched this years ago at the movie theater with Mrs. Geneen,  her sister Lois  and niece. It’s based on a true story of a brilliant mathematician  who suffers from schizophrenia. I watched most of the movie not realizing this was so. A great story and Russell Crowe delivers an outstanding performance!

 

God Knows Where I Am

A documentary based on Linda Bishop’s slipping through the cracks of the mental health system. Based in my home state of New Hampshire, Linda was released from a mental health hospital and she found an old abandoned farmhouse to live in. Living in secret and surviving on picked apples and rain water, Linda kept a journal of the solitary days hiding. It’s an eerie insight into mental illness and read with so much expression by actress Lori Singer. At the end of this film it shows from route 93 the farmhouse and barn, taking me aback!💜I know exactly where it is and have passed it hundreds of times back from trips to Concord. It’s about an hour and a half from us. 

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

 

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Random Facts About Me part 2

 

 

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 💕