Two Years and Counting

While browsing my blog stats and dates, I noticed that my blog has been running for two years. It all started as a simple idea and a whim. I had no expectations or plans tied with the launch. All I knew is that it was time to present my writing and satisfy my need to be complete. For as you and I both know, if you’re not practicing and doing what you love, then you’re not truly being yourself. I had to write and this blog was a way to do so.

 

I want to thank you, all of my readers who many have become lovely friends who I “talk” with back and forth such as Rhonda, Jodi, Tammy and Ellen just to name a few. Others who I check in with from time to time mean just as much. The one thing I’ve learned as a blogger is that you become a family member of the community, gaining a rich patchwork of friends. With all  you special people, I have read fascinating stories, tried delicious recipes and gawked over amazing photos and pieces of artwork! In the process I’ve shared my life stories and pictures and have put everything out on the table and trusted you all. It’s felt natural and good to trust and share my life.

I hope to continue this blog as long as I can for years to come. With this wish, my other dream is to compile alike posts and write a book someday about a mom’s life in rural New Hampshire. 

So here’s a HUGE thank you to my family and friends who regularly read my posts and offer positive comments in response. This is what has propelled me to keep moving forward…it’s something I’m very grateful for! ❤❤❤

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

Mary ❤

Advertisements

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cream Pies ( Cookies)

I must say so myself, these are delicious! Merely the cookie without the filling would be great too!

 

 

Recently I was thumbing through my Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine. It’s been in my recipe collection for 17 years. It’s worn and torn in places, showing its age and constant use. It has been one of my favorite magazines to find cookie recipes all year. I say all year because many of the recipes are good for all through the year and why limit them to December and Christmas?

 

It was a Saturday afternoon and I wanted to whip up these peanut butter oatmeal cream pies ( cookies) for Tom and the girls at school. I try to bake for them all weekly and the weekend off is a great time to do it! I gathered my ingredients, lit my kitchen candles and away I baked!

 

Homemade Peanut Butter Oatmeal Pies

Taken from Better Homes and Garden Christmas Cookies publication

1/4 c. flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. quick cooking oats

Filling

2 tsps. hot water

1/4 tsp salt

1- 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream ( Fluff)

1/2 c. shortening

1/3 c. powdered sugar

 

My new mixer that I have used a lot!

 

 

1. Preheat oven to 350  degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. In a large bowl combine butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium until combined. ( I used my Kitchen aid mixer but you could use a hand mixer) Beat in sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until just combined. Stir in flour mixture and oats.

2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes or until edges are light brown and centers are set. Cool for one minute and then transfer to wire cooling rack.

3. In a medium bowl combine hot water and salt. Stir until dissolved. Add marshmallow cream, shortening ( I’m not crazy about shortening and may use butter next time) and powdered sugar. Beat until well combined.

4. Spread filling mixture onto flat side of half of cookies. Top each frosted cookie with another cookie. Makes 13 sandwich cookies.

I store my cookies at room temperature in my plastic cookie keeper that’s air tight. These are so much better than store-bought cream pies…look out Little Debbie’s!

 

 

Enjoy your week and take time to bake for your friends and loved ones!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

 

 

 

When I Stopped Writing

Most of my life I’ve written…starting on school yellow lined paper and graduating to writers tablets and journal notebooks. I always felt like I had to get my thoughts down or they would be lost forever. I’ve said before that writing saved me for I’m a talker and people would much rather read something then hear babbling on and on. In my opinion.

Even though I write now and have my blog, there was a time I walked away from it. It was mostly because I had a young energetic schedule with my family. Instead of investing the needed time to pen my thoughts I got hooked on the internet. As a young learning mom, thousands of parenting sites appealed to me and sometimes I was glued hours after the kids were in bed.

 

I wish I could go back and recapture that lost time. I could have documented raising my boys much better than I did. Then I ran into an old friend and he asked me if I was still writing. I had forgotten about it…maybe not completely but it had been years. It triggered ideas of putting the pen on paper again.

 

Soon after  I bought a new cloth bound writers journal. I was going to be true to myself again and no matter what anyone thought of my work, it was happening. This little hiatus from my writing made me stronger and I can honestly tell you that it was as if I had never walked away. The language flowed within me spilling on to the pages, making up for lost time.

 

From this point in my life I can predict this hobby/ calling will always be a priority like breathing and loving. It’s something I won’t deny or abandon now for it’s a part of me and without it, then I just won’t be true to myself.

 

I hope you found your hobby or calling and that you are staying true to it. If not start searching for it by dabbling in different hobbies, writing, drawing, painting, acting, singing, crafting…some ideas. Once you find it, you’ll find practicing it is vital for your happiness.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

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 ❤

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.

 

 

IMG_3240
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.

 

 

 

IMG_2953
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
IMG_2960
Earlier summer days with a visiting Monarch butterfly
IMG_2958
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 ❤