The Stories You Keep

the-things-they-carried
taken from Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

“ Forty three years old and the war occurred half a lifetime ago and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it last forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, where there is nothing to remember except the story.”

From The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien

 

 

 

 

A few years back my son Dylan had a school assignment to read the prolific and passionate work, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. He wasn’t enthusiastic about it, for he dislikes reading unless it’s about baseball or hunting. Since I’m an avid reader and lover of books, I dove right in and got myself a copy too. I figured that I could read it myself and maybe have meaningful conversations with Dylan about it.

 

 

 

 

 

I think as he read O’Brien prolific words, he started to think about war and the emotional and human cost it bears. We would talk about certain parts and I think that helped him with his assignment. As this progressed, I started writing notes from the text, fascinated with O’Brien’s words and feelings. It placed me in a soldier’s boots in Vietnam and into their fascinating but terrifying world. I loved O’Brien’s writing because it stirred up feelings inside my gut and that’s when you know it’s good.

 

 

 

 

Aside from war stories, I believe everyone has a distinct story. Every story is special , whether it’s heart breaking, life changing or remarkable, it doesn’t matter. It can reveal truths and explain why someone is the way he is. A story can trigger forgiveness and understanding. It can connect you to another time and place and that can be as exciting as being in the present. These tales need to be told to family members, friends and acquaintances for in life, a simple story can change everything.

 

 

 

 

Stories can sometimes be nightmares, told of horrors and indecencies that we would never wish upon our enemies. Yet even these stories need to be told, for they connect the past and present.If they weren’t told or recorded, then they would fade away and it would be as if they didn’t happen. When they are spoken from generation to generation, it remains real and  it can teach lessons. We can always learn from events in the past and make sure our story is enacted differently.As Tim O’Brien says, stories are sometimes all we have when we forget how we got from where we were to where we are.

 

 

 

 

If you or your family has a special story, make sure to share it with others. Write it down in a journal or publish it for others to enjoy or learn from. Embrace the art of storytelling…around a dining room table or a cozy campfire. It doesn’t matter where you tell it, as long as you do!

 

 

 

 

I highly recommend this book, From the Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. It brought me right there, in the thick of the fight and I truly felt the misery and emotion. I loved his descriptive writing and it made me think about war and dying and a soldier’s sacrifice. I’m eternally grateful for all American soldiers and all that they have sacrificed for our way of life and our freedom. 🇺🇸

 

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

King Arthur Flour Baking Classes

img_2188

Meet my friend, Michelle Kupiec. I first met her a few years ago through my good friend, Laurie Burridge. Ever since we get together a few times a year for lunch. We used to go Black Friday shopping together at Wal-Mart but have graduated to a shopping day.  I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s always great conversation and really fun! We are just busy working moms and wives with no airs about us, just working hard and loving our families.

 

 

Michelle has a pretty cool job at King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, Vermont. She’s a baking instructor/ purchaser, which means that she instructs cooking classes and purchases all the supplies for the class. Michelle’s one of about a dozen instructors. If you love baking, then doesn’t it sound like your dream job?

 

 

Michelle started at the company working on the baking hotline and did this line of work for a year. Did you know that King Arthur Flour hosts a hotline? People call with their baking questions to converse with an employee, who can help them figure out what went wrong with their project. Michelle says that she enjoyed it because it was detective work to figure out what went wrong with peoples’ baking projects. One common mishap is using too much flour. Adding too much changes the consistency of cakes,cookies and breads.

 

 

 

We were all laughing hysterically when Michelle shared her favorite caller stories. One outrageous baker called with a bread emergency! Her loaf of bread was exploding and popping out of the oven! Laurie kept us in stitches, reminding us of the bread scene in the Lucy show. The woman told Michelle that she used a pound of yeast, when an average recipe calls for a teaspoon. Another caller asked where you can buy scalded milk for a recipe. This sounds like an entertaining job!

img_2198
I just watched this clip on YouTube and can’t stop laughing! Welcome to my world, yeast and I do not get along!

Presently Michelle teaches different classes from making pizzas ( one of her favorites) to breads. Baguette classes and Bread101 are popular choices and because of that, Michelle suggests to sign up early. She also instructs a Pizza From the Hearth class, where you can learn how to bake a pizza in a wood fired oven.

 

 

 

Classes consist of 12 to 16 people with one instructor and assistant. King Arthur hosts children classes, children and adult classes ( for instance a mom, dad or grandparent could bring a child) and adult children and parents are welcome to sign up as well. This sounds like a good Mother’s Day experience or just a special day with someone close to you.

img_2075

Michelle reminisces of her favorite classes, the ones with kids because they’re funny and cute. Many times the little ones wear their apron from home, such a great idea for fun and learning! Holiday classes are also popular and fun. My friend’s favorite aspect of the job is making people happy while finishing the class. It’s rewarding to her and I can see how this would be!

 

 

 

King Arthur Flour classes range from 3-4 hours for a day event. Some are long class workshops, some four and five days a week, 9 am to 5 pm. Classes on cookies, cakes, breads, pizzas and pastries all tempt the baker inside you. If you’re interested, you can sign up online at Kingarthurflour.com under the learn tab. A monthly calendar shows the class variety and times and if any there are any openings.

 

 

 

The classes start with all the participants in front, watching the instructor demonstrate. Then each person bakes the piece with guidance from the teacher and assistant. Not only do they learn a new baking skill or hone on one, they get to go home with your creation.

 

 

 

King Arthur Flour originated in 1790, the days of George Washington. The company started out near Boston Harbor, importing the product from England. Soon after, colonist farmers started growing wheat in the colonies and the flour was made here. Eventually the company made its home in Norwich, Vermont ( just a hop from Hanover, NH). The company is completely owned by its employees!

 

 

In the last 20 years or so, the flour has been available in all 50 states. Michelle says a new classroom facility is open in Burlington, Washington. This is a sure sign of progress and popularity.

 

 

 

King Arthur Flour’s facility hosts a store, cafe, classrooms for the classes and kitchen area. I visited the store last year with my mom. It’s fun to browse at different kitchen tools while instructors are creating goodies before your eyes. Within the facility is a cafe as well, where you can buy a coffee and danish or sandwich for lunch. From the tables in the cafe, sprawling windows invite you into the kitchen where the bakers are baking bread.

 

 

 

If you wish to call King Arthur’s baker’s hotline, call 855-371-2253. Monday-Friday: 7am-9pm Saturday & Sunday: 8am-5pm. You can also email them with questions by visiting the website, kingarthurflour.com and click on the contact us tab. For delicious recipes and baking help, see their blog at blog.kingarthurflour.com.

 


I have the cookbook as well, that’s jam packed with delicious and unique recipes.
Thank you ever so much for your time and great ideas, Michelle!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

A Movie to Remember

 

 

img_1899

 

 

 

 

 

It was 1984 and I was 15 years old. I remember the PBS station was holding their annual fundraising campaign and the nightly feature was their gold star breadwinner, It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a show that opens up purses and hearts. I watched the famous movie for the first time, half expecting to not finish it. In the late hours of that cold December night, I got sucked in, despite my dislike of old black and white movies.

 

 

 
This 1945 classic appealed to me…maybe  it was Jimmy Stewart’s character and amazing acting and the drizzly snow scenes set in a small town that impressed me. This beloved story of a family man down and out and a goofy angel coming to his rescue all were staunch reasons why I kept watching. All these elements added up to a once in a lifetime movie, a show stopper that has stood the test of time.

 

 

 
I’ve watched it every year since and sometimes twice at Christmas with that eager fluttering in my heart. I still hold my breath during the bridge scene. George prays for his life back and it’s answered, for snow starts to fall and his lip is bleeding once again. He runs home to find the bank examiners at his house, and I still get choked up when all the people he’s crossed paths with and positively affected in his life show up and help. He made a staunch difference in their lives and never realized that until that moment. He had so many friends that he was a rich man indeed, not with monetary value but with love from family and friends with goodness and loyalty.

 

 
George Bailey’s famous plight continues to inspire  me today, a reminder that wrapped up presents and piles of material goods just don’t measure up to the connection of family members, their love and legacy and their undying loyalty. Being together, laughing, spending time together means much more to me than what you can buy at a department store. Love, goodness and friendship can’t be bought but shared, valued and treasured. These are the precious gifts of life to be cherished everyday and at Christmas too.

 

 

If you’ve never watched this classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, you must treat yourself and watch! If you’ve seen it before, as you watch this year, notice the scenes that mean something to you. Let those moments remind you of what is important at Christmas and most importantly, share that love with others and show them how much they mean to you. Here’s your chance….to act and live as George Bailey did.

All My Best,
Heart and Soul❤️

Christmas Movie Marathon

 

img_2118

 

 

 

The minute Thanksgiving passes, I get out my Christmas movie collection to watch. These movies are special and can be seen again and again and we don’t get bored with them. My husband’s favorite movies are action and adventure and he sports a small sigh when we start. I think he wants me to be happy so he tolerates it for the month of December, but ends up laughing and enjoying our marathon. We don’t have the Hallmark channel but if you do, check out the family oriented movies. Also ABC Family channel has 25 days of Christmas programming.

Here is a list of good Christmas flicks:

Home Alone and Home Alone two
Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation
Christmas With the Kranks
The Family Stone
The Family Man
Four Christmases
Fred Claus, funny
A Christmas Story, a classic with a funny pink bunny suit, ” you’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”
The Spirit of Christmas ( Netflix)
It’s a Wonderful Life, my favorite
I’ll Be Home For Christmas
Trapped in Paradise with Nicholas Cage
Miracle on 34th Street

Love Actually, Netflix

 

img_2113

 

I’m trying to slow down and take care of myself. I’ve been nursing a lower back injury for close to two months. Finally I went to the doctors and without an x- ray she’s pretty positive that it’s a herniated disc or deteriorated disc problem. This time of year is hard to slow down with everything that moms do but I must attempt to. I’m on Naproxen for two weeks to shrink the swelling and no lifting over five pounds. Physical therapy starts in January. I can’t help think that it’s another test of strength…of course I WILL pass! In the meantime I plan to go to work for four days but take it easy as best as I can. Christmas will come and with help, I’ll make our dinner.

 

Because of taking it easy, I watched a wacky movie on a Netflix disc, Mixed Nuts. The title is fitting for it’s about a counseling center around the holidays. Anything that could happen does, it has the romance, accidental murder, crazy happenings that are quite comical. Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn and Rita Wilson star, to name a few. Check it out!

Happy movie watching!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

The Power of Music🎶

image
Def Leppard took the US by storm in the 80’s by exposure on MTV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music channels people to past moments, a time to reflect . It moves the soul, and stirs the memories up within you. It evokes deep emotions such as a lost sadness or happiness that penetrates your every being, suffocating any other emotion at that moment. When listening to old favorites, I find myself remembering when I was  a young soul with much to learn.

 

 

 

 

My music interest is an eclectic mix of rock,80’s and current pop,  some rap, some country, and classical. I play whatever I’m in the mood for…sometimes it may be Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks,Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Dan Fogelburg or James Taylor. When excited and full of energy, it’s Def Leppard, AC Dc, Aerosmith, Bad Company or Boston. Rock music makes me feel like Im alive and importantly, young again. Because of this, it remains my favorite music genre. I listen to Spotify music while cooking or doing dishes. I have created different playlists for different occasions, such as mom’s current songs for an upbeat mood, old favorites for a blast of the past , classic and quirky for a somber mood and so on. The sound and beat of music has to match my mood and then everything is right with the world at that moment!

 

 

Music is an artistic medium that speaks to my soul and as I reach milestones in life, a song can explain each one! Listening to a mere melody from younger days brings me right back to that moment! I relive those memories through a song. Whenever I hear ” I swear” from Muchael Montgomery, visions of our wedding day rushes in. Our first dance was to that honky tonk tune. If I hear the energetic “Photograph” by Def Leppard, my heart skips a beat even thirty years later! It transforms me into a young and innocent 16 year old.

 

 

 

 

My high school craze was passionately listening to a hair band in the 80’s, the British rockers Def Leppard.I remember seeing their video on Music Television. MTV was a way of life then. Watching and absorbing rock videos and all these years later, I still love the music and let it guide me through life.

 

 

 

 

Imagine this middle aged mom and wife transformed at a Def Leppard concert in New Hampshire last summer. Standing in an outside venue with my husband and son with his girlfriend, the oh so familiar songs magically brought me back to the age of 16. I sang my heart out, danced and laughed and I can honestly say it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had! That memorizing bug bit me and I fell in love with the music all over again! I sang every lyric, all close to my heart and soul.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have certain songs that resonate memories and milestones in your life? Think about this, write them down and access them through CDs, Pandora, ITunes or Spotify. Try compiling your favorites into a playlist. You can skip around and choose songs or just listen to it straight through.

 

 

Until next time listen to the music and let it take you away!🎶

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

Party Planning 🎉🎉🎉

image

 

 

I love to make my own platters for parties, whether it’s a graduation party or cookout or birthday party. I know the basics of meat and cheese and vegetable platters from working in a deli for 12 years. I bend the rules a little and create different things every time. For instance when I made the fruit platters for two special young ladies who graduated last year ( one being my son’s special girlfriend and the other being a long time neighbor),  I decided to use the cantaloupe shell I was about to toss in the trash and realized  it would be unique to put blueberries in it. I also used a cookie cutter to make watermelon star shapes.

 

If you search your kitchen you may find acceptable trays, plates or platters to shocase your delicious foods. You can be creative as you want, which saves you money and is valuable to use what you have. Currently I am collecting different platters for special parties. The oval plastic platter above was a cheap find at wal- mart and is large enough for any large tray of goodies. The green rectangular tray belongs to a set from Old Temptations on QVC. It serves as a gorgeous tray for rolls, sandwiches, even fruit plates. I have a Christmas tray I use all year, because all you have to do is cover it with aluminum foil and a doiliy or two and you’re ready to fill.

 

 

 

 

 

image

 

 

 

 

 

Two years ago we hosted a party for D’s graduation from high school. We invited about 50 people and they were coming and going for a few hours, making it very hectic. I was fortunate to have a nice neighbor who offered to help set up for the party, while we were at the graduation ceremony. I had prepped burger patties ahead and Tom worked the grill cooking burgers and hot dogs. We had salads, fruit salad, cheese and crackers, and chips. In the end Tom and I worked most of the party filling coolers and dealing with food. We hardly got to visit with everyone so I vowed to myself that this time will be different!

 

 

 

In three weeks B will be graduating from high school and that means the party planner in me comes to life! Time to jot down lists, look at sales, start picking up items like paper plates and plasticware. The crazy thing is that I get nervous about hosting dinners and parties but I make myself do it for my family and myself. Anything out of my comfort zone prods me to grow and so I embrace the difficulty I have with it and hope someday it will be easier.

 

 

Our plan for this party is altogether different. No grill…Actually I stole this clever idea from my sister at my nephew’s graduation party last year. Barb had platters of food and salads and it was less stress without the complication of working the grill. I plan on doing assorted salads, a meat and cheese platter, veggie platter, fingerroll platter, appetizers like seven layer dip, deviled eggs, and crockpot dishes.

 

 

My sister in law, Bev gave me a great idea of hiring teenagers to work at the party. They would help serve, fill food as needed, fill soda and water coolers, and clean up after. I’ve posted a help wanted sign at school but no one has responded. A few teachers have recommended certain people and I’ll approach them to see if they are interested. The luxury of paying this person would help me relax and enjoy all our company at my son’s grad party, a special time for our family.

 

 

Does anyone have party suggestions to share with me, regarding big crowds, food, clean up, or anything that would be useful for us?  Thank you kindly.

In a future post I’ll share my centerpieces I’m making from an idea on Pinterest.

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

 

Spring Point Ledge Light

 

image

 

Are you a lover of the sea and its hypnotizing powers? Do you relish in the lure of a rocky walk with  a far reaching view of a bay? If you answer yes, then you may want to check out Spring Point Ledge on the Southern Maine Community College campus in South Portland, Maine.

 

image
My husband and son on a challenging walk of granite slabs .
image
A beautiful view of Springpoint from the campus.

 

 

 

 

 

Our son D attended Southen Maine Community College in South Portland in 2014. It was the first and last college he scoped out. The location was beyond stunning! D has always loved the  Atlantic ocean when we’ve visited it over the years. He majored in Automotive Technology and eagerly signed up for the college baseball team.

 

 

 

 

The campus overlooks stunning Casco Bay.This campus was Fort Preble at one time and by studying the buildings and classrooms, it’s obvious. The buildings are constructed of brick and inside classrooms are aged and plain. What makes Southern Maine Community College stand out is the location, something that appealed to our son, as well as the baseball team!

 

 

 

 

 

When exploring the campus, follow the seaside paths to breathtaking views of the bay and a spacious Willard beach just below. A manicured trail with various plants and rose bushes paves the way to a set of benches. Sit down and breathe in the salty air, watch the seagulls dive into the water and gaze at lines of boats caressing the waves.

 

 

 

Walking to the lighthouse you spot sailboats gliding in the distance and seagulls swooping to and fro. Tourists and college parents soak in the peacefulness as they snap photos of it all. Peering in a handy set of binoculars, one can see a distant building that resembled an old fort.

 

 

 

 

If you visit, park in the college parking lot. There’s a short walk through the array of quaint buildings that leads you to the bay. A bench or two invite a little picnic or just a pit stop to gaze at the surroundings. Walk the rocky path to Spring Point Ledge lighthouse and travel back in time.

 

 

 

Writing this makes me miss Maine and our annual mini vacations there! Here’s to strongly hoping that it happens this year…basking in the warm glow of the sun, burying toes in the gritty sand while absorbing  views of never ending sea is what my soul needs!

 

I hope YOU have a chance to visit Maine if you have a chance.

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul❤️