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 ❤

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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 🎁

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.

 

 

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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 ❤

Good night, Garden

Hello blogging friends and readers! Many of you probably saw my few garden posts this summer. My growing garden is my primary priority in the summer season  as I have days off from my school job to focus on the tilling, weeding and picking. Here we are in late October with colder night frosts, therefore my garden is on its way out.

 

 

 

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Some of my harvest this year.

 

We picked endless amounts of squashes, tomatoes and cucumbers this year. Our first year growing corn again was a success with three rows of healthy stalks bearing about 25 ears of corn. It wasn’t the best season for carrots and eggplant though. ( we had three eggplants compared to 25 a couple of years ago)

 

September harvest
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Earlier summer days with a visiting Monarch butterfly
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Huge lush squashes sprawled out of its space.
The colors of the garden reflect fall days.

 

Once again the growing season has flown by! Gazing at the once plot of greenery, now all there is brown corn stalks, tomato bushes deprecated by frost and memories of what once was. Despite all this, my broccoli plants still sport a healthy shade of green and are still producing broccoli sprigs.

 

Soon Tom and I will cut down the plants and throw in our compost pile out back. We could cover the garden with cut evergreen boughs but it may not be necessary. I need to stake a portion of our fence so the heavy snow won’t knock it down. Then there will be nothing else to do but dream of next year’s crop and plan changes for June 2018.

 

In some regions gardeners plant fall crops. Are you growing any plants this time of year?

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

” A Blast from the Past”

This post is dedicated to all classic car enthusiasts who long for the thrill of restoring a gem to what it once was. 

 

 

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A look at Gary’s gem, a 1965 Chevy Impala SS with a 4 speed.

 

 

 

Spontaneity is the spice of life, don’t you agree? With that said, much of my adult life has been just the opposite. I plan, plan, plan and Tom goes along with it and in the end, we always have fun on our little excursions. About a month ago my son’s girlfriend  Alexis asked us  if we wished to go to a car cruise with them on Saturday afternoon. It was a work of spontaneity and fun! We were excited to jump on board, but didn’t know what to expect, only that there would be classic cars involved.

 

 

 

Gary Schoolcraft, a long time resident of beautiful Peacham, Vermont is the event’s organizer. Lexie knows him and his wife, Claudette and introduced us to him. Gary is generous enough to share his classic car , with Dylan and Lexie, letting them take it for weekends and such. This time he let Dylan drive the 1965 Chevy Impala while Alexis sat in the front seat and Tom and I lounged in the back. The weekend event was another fun excuse to dive back in time. Tom and I wish to thank Alexis and Dylan for asking us to tag along. We also want to thank Gary for his hospitality and making us feel welcome during the ride.

 

 

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This was the poster generated for the event.

 

 

 

The gorgeous 1965 Chevy Impala SS has a 396 engine with a four speed. This red as an apple beauty is completely original including the paint. The interior is a shiny red and sparkling. It rides comfortably and purrs like a kitten.

 

 

I thought of what a beautiful outing this was , as we perched on the vinyl seats with windows wide open to fresh Vermont air. The rushing air through the open window was exhilarating while it caressed my thick locks of hair. What’s the sense in taking a thrill ride  without letting everything flutter in the breeze?

 

 

While we waited for other  cars and their owners, we surveyed the vehicles before us in the blazing heat. The sweltering sun cooked up a hot steamy September day. After about 15 cars arrived at the first stop, we were all on our cruise down route 5 to the next stop, Wells River, Vermont. There many other classic cars  roared in, jumping in line for the parade of sorts.

 

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This is the car that Gary drove, a 1974 Corvette with a 454, a 4 speed. Pretty sharp!

 

 

Passing by little towns like Bradford and Fairlee, we saw people waving and smiling widely. I guess you don’t see classic cars like these everyday and it’s always a joy to be launched back in time! Our last stop before the drive-in movie was at Wings Market in Fairlee where we all parked askew all over the parking lot and raided the ice cream stand. As the line snaked out and people laughed while waiting , a familiar voice came from the crowd. Our nephew, Luke was there! What a coincidence…Luke was driving his friend’s classic car and spotted us in line. You never really know who you will bump into on a given adventure!

 

 

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Another beauty with on lookers including Alexis, Tom and Dylan.

 

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Dylan drove the Chevy Impala for the day. He was an outstanding chauffeur!

 

Arriving at the Fairlee drive-in I experienced a bit of nostalgia from my childhood. My parents and one time my brothers brought my sister and I to the drive-in to see movies. Back then they sold the mosquito coil that you would burn on your dash but they would end up scorching holes in it. The smoke would fill up the car and  yet the mosquitoes still were attracted to us. We would take the old metal speaker and latch it on the windows to hear the show. Now they give you the radio station to tune in to, to hear the audio.

 

 

All the classic cars paraded into the drive-in of all colors and makes. I would guess that maybe 40 or 50 cars were there. You could hear people visiting and laughing and engines roaring in, to celebrate days of old. After a quick dinner of hamburgers and soft drinks, it was time to settle in for the movie. While Dylan and Alexis sat in the front, Tom and I sat like two teenagers in the back in luxury.

 

It was so much fun seeing the movie with the kids and experiencing this day with them. It felt like we were immersed in a time capsule and thrust back to the 60’s for one special day. Riding in such a beauty was a magical experience but what really topped it off was to be surrounded by the nicest people! All the crowd had one thing in common….a desire to gawk at all the amazing automobiles and honor all the work and sweat poured into each frame.

 

 

 

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It was getting dark and we were ready for the movie, American Graffiti. 

 

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Mary

 

 

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Thank you, Dad!

Look at my beautiful moose that my dad made me in his workshop! I stained it a few coats and then he was ready for placement.

 

 

 

 

This guy stood proudly in my new garden this summer as I walked by everyday with lots of love for my dad. He gave this to me on Easter and made a Golden Retriever plaque for my sister. It meant so much that he made these treasures for us but it’s not the first. In the past Dad has made me a wall clock, my sons’ bookcase, a tv stand, a jewelry box when I was in my early twenties, a clock bearing my name, a bed, a New Hampshire plaque, a deer picture, a deer house sign and now my beautiful moose. All these hand-made goods were made with skill but also with love. They all mean so much to me for he made them with his two hands and that means much more than a store bought gift.

 

My dad with my sister on the left and I am on the right.

 

 

Thank you, dear Dad for creating beautiful pieces of art for me! 

I love you,

Mary

How blessed I am that both my parents are artists in their own way. My dad is a wood worker and my mom is an artist of painting with oils and acrylics.

What is This?

Does anyone know what this rusty object could be? A few weeks ago I was weeding around a stump in our front yard. I planted flowers there and wanted to clean it up. As I pulled grasses and weeds, I pulled on this object that was immersed in the core of the rotting  stump. At first I guessed that it was a type of bottle opener but the more I study it, it doesn’t seem to be. It was made in Taiwan and almost looks like the narrow end was broken off of something. Perhaps this object was part of a machine but how did it get in a rotted stump?

 

 

 

 

I love a good mystery that’s why I enjoy ancestry immensely! It’s fascinating to wonder about what people did long ago,  especially in our house that was built around 1890. Once I found a few pieces of old China dishes buried underneath my garden. Long ago families dug trenches on their property to dump discarded items and apparently there are several on our property. Last summer Tom found a site where he was building his garage. Coincidentally the old barn stood on the same spot and when it was torn down, many objects were buried there. Tom found old chains, tires, milking instruments, animal bones and a rusted jewelry box to name a few.

 

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I’m keeping this piece of history, even if I may never know. It’s a curiosity that will rest in my garden, keeping me wondering and connected somehow to the past. Let me know what your guess is.

 

An update…I just googled ” old bottle opener” and found this image. Could this be the same?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤