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 ❤

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Preparation

This will be my third year hosting Thanksgiving at our home. It’s been a learning process and it still continues as I work on planning the cooking. Somehow it all comes together in the end like a perfect wrapped package, despite anxiety over the details. While I have planned on  how things will go, my go to for organization is to make many lists. I jotted down a simple menu and as the big day approaches it’s been tweaked a bit. It changed as I discovered which relatives will bring what dishes. Next I wrote a grocery list. This year I had two, one for a week ago and one for fresh veggies for today. I picked up chicken broth, pickles, olives and the turkey last week and today shopped for fresh veggies and last-minute additions.

 

 

I brushed up on recipes, talked to my mother-in-law about her tasty sausage stuffing and my sister-in-law Bev on her fabulous gravy. I will make these dishes the best I can in the next few days and every year it should get easier and become a science.

I’ve already made my son’s cookies since he prefers them to pie and tomorrow I’ll make deviled eggs and start roasting veggies for the gravy. I’ve planned what I’ll make on which day and the big pie baking day will be Wednesday. Wahoo!

Here’s some advice for your Thanksgiving planning that have helped me. I always love to read my blogging friends holiday tips!

* Go early to the grocery store to avoid crowds. The next few days will be hectic

* Write a list of dishes you wish to prepare and a separate list of items needed for them

* Communicate with family and friends to see what they are bringing

* Ask your spouse and family members to help peel veggies, vacuum the house or other tasks you may need done while you cook and bake

* Light the candles, wear your favorite apron and play Christmas tunes as you cook. It will lighten the mood and relax you.

 

My son Dylan laughing with our company, my brother-in-law Chris

Laugh with your loved ones. Doesn’t Dylan look happy?

* Most Important, have fun and thank your blessings as you plan and prepare the feast! 

Last year’s gravy, apple crisp, cherry pie and pumpkin pie

 

As I wrap this post up I wish you all a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! Indulge in good food, company and remember to acknowledge what you are grateful for! I’m beyond thankful for my loving family, they are my anchor and life is so sweet with them! I’m thankful that my son Dylan proposed to his girlfriend Alexis this month and will marry her in August! I’m so thrilled to be gaining a sweet daughter in law! I’m also grateful for my friends, my little job at school and the children there.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

 

 

Living in Peace and Love

Little reminders of life’s fleeting actions keep me in check at times. A mammogram and the waiting for an answer…my thoughts asking will they find something or do I go about my life as usual? Phew, all is okay and I move on. Then I heard the horrific news of the Las Vegas shootings on what would have been a quiet day. It  should have stunned me but honestly it didn’t. I believe that I’m numb in response to the shooting occurrences across our country because it’s everyday news. It’s sad but the truth.  I do feel compassion and sympathy for the victims and the families they left behind. Now the latest terror attack in New York City is a prominent reminder to me, that life can change in a heartbeat.

 

 

But through all this chaos, I refuse to spend my energy on hate! Instead  I desire to focus on the victims and pray for them and their stricken families. I know that hate will always exist in this world and that the hurt from it will never disappear completely. In spite of this truth, my intention is to lighten this anxiety by focusing on love and nurturing it in any way I can. There is an immense LOVE that connects us and can empower us. This outstanding circle of love around the world CAN overcome the pain that hate inflicts!

 

A recent picture of my sister Barb, my dad and I at my niece’s Halloween Birthday party. Enjoying moments with my family.

 

 

Making memories

 

 

Another way we can honor the victims is cherish every moment of life. Everyday we have that choice to grasp on to the wonders of life and to live without fear clouding our vision.  With that choice of strength, we can focus on small but significant moments for our joys. Gazing at a local mountain range looming in the distance or absorbing the love and light of a peachy sunset at twilight all are wonders that amaze me! When I go for my walks alone or with friends we notice the colors and textures along the road and glints of light shining through a stand of trees. Loving my family and friends is also a celebration of life and an assurance of celebrating love and peace.

 

I challenge you to notice the small but significant sights on your walks or trips to work or the car. Why live life speeding as if in a race without stopping to cherish the simple things?Even a deep breath and release in the chilly air is exhilarating. Don’t you think so? 

 

By choosing love and celebrating life’s smallest miracles, I believe each and every one of us can live life to the fullest. Living life in peace and fostering love is what I intend on doing, despite the hate of others. 

 

Live in Love and Peace🌷

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

An Everyday Positive Intention

Okay, friends, take a gander at this beautiful scenery and you’ll know why I relish my walks in this small town in New England. It all started this summer when my mother-in-law visited and we trekked a six-mile or more hike through every corner of this hamlet. From then on, I caught the walking bug and found that I felt really great physically and emotionally when I hit the pavement. Most days I walked by myself about a mile or so. Other times I walked a few times with co-workers after school, panting and chugging the whole way. (About three or miles each time.) 

 

 

IMG_2955
Would you believe this used to be our view, right in our back yard? Now I walk by it with fond memories and appreciation for its majestic beauty.

 

 

A few weeks ago I took a chance and asked my neighbors to walk. We’ve lived here almost three years and unfortunately I hadn’t connected with them yet. I’m beyond blessed that I’ve made two friends in the walking process.  Anita, Irene and I walked twice a week up our road and stretching uphill towards town with friendly conversation shaping our walk. 

 

 

Another beautiful sight on our walk.

 

 

Anita has taught me that it’s healthy to set a positive intention everyday. In the mere hours of a quiet morn, I sit still and reflect on the coming day. At this time I also pray to God for the people in my life and for ones in need. In the peace of these moments, I’ve started to set a positive intention to focus on for the day.

 

 

 

My intention is to focus on something new everyday and breathe positive air into my corner of the world. The first positive intention was calm. That day whenever something stressful appeared , I focused and breathed of calm. The next day my positive intention was confidence. I have fought low self-esteem much of my life, especially at work when I have to be on top of my game. Although I had a rough day, my lesson was that I need to be confident with whatever life throws at me. Fastball zingers happen and it’s up to me to stay strong and take them as they come. 

 

The grown up road side bordering a local farm.

 

As the autumn season rushes in, our daylight is diminishing. Walks may be less frequent and more spontaneous on weekends and such.  As I reflect on this, I am extremely grateful for our country walks with fresh air and mountain scenery, fit for a postcard. A nearby pasture hosts curious cows watching our steps down the road with keen interest. Trees shed leaves of crimson and mustard yellows, wind swirling them in squalls. These nature strolls are even richer with the company of two really nice people!

 

I challenge you to try to set a positive intention everyday. Some ideas to focus on are peace, calm, giving, listening, smiling more and forgiveness. Meditate in a quiet spot in the morning before you plunge into your day. Write your intention down and how it could help you grow. It’s been a healthy practice for me and an inspirational way to stay positive in a chaotic world.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

Happy Anniversary Babe

August 26, 1995 Our Wedding Day 

image
Lasting love….our wedding day 1995

 

 

Twenty two years ago I married this guy. We have made a home together, where we created a beautiful family. Through the years we’ve  raised two great sons, who have grown into promising young men with strong work ethics and future visions. I’m proud to say our home was and still is happy, safe and filled with love for each other.

 

 

My anniversary card that my husband bought me last year.

 

One of our wedding photos. We are posed where we married, in front of the pond.

 

 

This is us this year, lots of physical changes are apparent but our love has grown stronger with age.❤

 

This guy is my best friend…the type of person who has your back, a good listener and he makes me laugh! How blessed I am to be married to this guy! 22 years of marriage and 24 years together❤ Tonight we are going out to eat, our usual celebration for tying the knot. Another tradition is that we order dessert to go and bring it back home to savor during a movie. 🎉🎉🎉

 

Laura’s Spirea Bushes

 

My front yard has come to a vibrant life! With our annual posies framing our house front, a vibrant splash of color greets passers-by.  A few weeks ago I noticed how my Spirea   bushes have grown immensely since I received  them. Two years ago my co- worker, Laura Mulkigian gave me these full green beauties for my birthday. That day she also made me a strawberry cake and all the girls at lunch ate some in celebration. Every time I glance at these beauties, I’ll think of her. She recently passed away after a courageous battle with cancer, something I’m trying to come to terms with. ❤

 

 

 

Before

image
Look at how tiny one of the bushes was!

 

After. Click on the link for picture from Microsoft Word. 

spirea

 

 

 

It was our first year in our new house and I proudly planted them in front of our house, one on each side of the steps. These lovely shrubs host many small leaves  and have grown magnificently!  Both of them are spreading a few feet wide and are about two feet high.  In the beginning we didn’t realize how big these bushes would grow! We may have to cut them back so they don’t block our window.  I expect them to continue the growth spurt and as that happens I’ll replant my hostas to allow more breathing room. 

 

 

 

img_1917
As October dawned an autumn glow in hues of orange and reds, the bushes sported the same fiery colors.  Notice how the sky casts a pinkish color to match the scene. This was taken last fall. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirea betulifolia TOR bushes flourish with tiny white  flowers in June even though the tag states that they bloom in the fall. I’m going to research  it and feed them fertilizer to help the blossoms. This year it mildly hosted just a few flowers so my future goal is to have full bushes of flowers of a beautiful veil of white.  It would be wonderful to see it bloom twice in the summer!

 

 

 

Do you have any unique bushes in your yard? Have they grown much larger than you expected? In coming years we’ll keep an eye on “ Laura’s bushes” and trim them if needed. I truly feel blessed that I have these to remind me of Laura. 

 

 

 

Happy days to you all and thanks for stopping by! It means the world to me to have such lovely ” pen pal” blogging friends! 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤