The GOOD in YOU

 

 

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This is a keeper and I think I’ll frame it. 

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We all have bad days now and then. It’s simply a part of the package of life, even if you are the happiest person you’re bound to experience them. The other day was my bad day. I don’t need to share every detail that made it that way but trust me, it was horrible. Everything I said or did was booby trapped and I got to the point asking God, “ Really, is this a joke?”

 

 

 

 

When I get physically and emotionally tired, it seems that bad days turn into catastrophic events. It brings me back to my teenager days when my emotions were raw and would set me in a state of chaos. When I feel like this, I call my mom and she listens and says a sweet little prayer on the phone. Other times I reach out to my mother in law and friend, Theo, who lives in Florida now but we can connect by phone or messaging. I try not to give my problems to my husband and this is why, he’s tired many times because of work and I don’t want to add to his stress.

 

 

 

My horrible, awful really bad day hungrily fed my low self esteem and I started beating myself up over certain events. I stewed over it and cried salty tears that reddened my face and made my throat scratchy. This time I chose to call my sister and she was at my nephew’s snowmobile race so it wasn’t the best timing. While watching the race, Barb heard me out. She offered soothing words and a few minutes later I hung up, feeling a little better.

 

 

 

One crucial help that I forgot was calling on God. Every night I say my prayers and thank Him for my wonderful life and family, yet when I’m having a terrible day, His presence gets pushed under the rug. Why do I forget His promises of comfort during trying times? It’s a pattern that I repeat often and then when I look to him wearily,  he brings me up to a place of peace and comfort as warm as my softest blanket.

 

 

Yesterday my daily trip to the mailbox was a surprise…inside sat a blue envelope addressed to me, from my sister. I was tickled pink even before I tore it open because it had to be a card of some sort.

 

 
The cover was :

The GOOD in You is STRONGER Than Any Bad Day

 

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My sister and I on my 40th birthday, a photo from her throwback Thursday album. 

This inspiration made me feel better! Knowing that my sister believes in me, caused me to question myself. Why can’t I do the same thing? As the self esteem battle continues from time to time, I know from deep within me that I need to put more energy in this project. I’m going to think about this and share my journey with you all.

Does anyone have some tips for me to try busting up low self esteem? Thank you, friends!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

Bus Stops on Your Journey

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My first meme that I made with my own picture, of a local backroad. I made it on makeameme.org.

 

 

Long ago a friend used an analogy that has stuck with me, simply because it just makes sense. He said that any little diversion or step back you take on this journey of life is like a bus stop. My friend said that all his jobs, no matter how trivial or common, were like waiting in a bus station. He was working towards a bigger goal but realized that to get there, little steps had to be taken.

 

 

 
I believe that we all have these brief distractions from our goals and that they change us. Bus stops are meaningful lessons, for they are where you learn and don’t even realize it much of the time. These quick detours may be problems or distractions
and you probably will be annoyed by them.

 

No one ever stays long at a bus station, for it’s brief, but those moments can present different people and experiences that will stay with you. They all contribute to a splendid and richly made mosaic, your unique life. Without minor distractions to keep us focused on our ultimate goal, there’s no inner growth. You may even abandon your goal for something better!

 

 

 

 

This little reminder has always stayed with me when I was stuck in a less than perfect chore or job. It helped me along this journey of life to appreciate every bus stop and the people and experiences that presented there. I’ve offered this advice to others, when they were discouraged with their situation.

 

 
If you aren’t where you long to be in your relationships or careers, step back and tell yourself that it’s okay. You may be striving for one precious thing but you keep stopping. Tell yourself that this is just a bus station and just making a quick stop. Practice patience and recognize that these bus stops are valuable and appreciate them for what they are. Eventually you’ll leave the stop and continue on your journey.

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

Looking For the Best

Flipping through my journal recently, I found an entry from summer 2013. At that time I had been watching The Bachelorette and had jotted down a thought. One of her pursuers, Brooks, had said that he looks for the best in people. I want to be that kind of person, who gives people the benefit of accepting their shortcomings…for we all have them, right?

 

 

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My sister, niece, mom and myself…looking our best!

 

 

 

 

Lately I’ve slipped away from this and have had negative feelings about people. That’s definitely not me or how I feel most of the time. Like anyone who gets wrapped up in a busy life, I tend to weaken and stray from my positive outlook. I realize that I set myself up for this by letting social media weigh me down and turn my mood.

 

 

 

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My sister is good at listening to me and offering positive advice about relationships with people.

 

 

 

Looking for the best in people may take some work and steady gentle reminders to yourself.

 

 

 

 

Look past faults and focus on strengths.

 
Forgive when someone wrongs you, for maybe they are trying their best and they didn’t realize their actions would hurt you.

 
Always strive to look for the best in your spouse, your children, friends and co- workers!  Don’t they deserve that chance and unconditional love?

 

 

 

Wouldn’t you want someone to look for the good in you?

 

Thinking of it this way may make you realize that we are all human and most of us are trying to live and love the best we can.

 

 
Go about your day with the challenge of looking for positive qualities in a person, instead of focusing on the negative ones. I can guarantee you feel better about life and feel happiness for accepting others.

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

The Stories You Keep

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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 💗

 

Vanilla Twinkie Bundt Cake

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I made this cake for a special family dinner we had in January. We were preparing for our son to return to college and I wanted to make a special meal for the occasion.

Vanilla Twinkie Bundt Cake
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, optional ( I didn’t use this)
2 cups sugar
½ cup vegetable oil, I used Canola oil
3 eggs & 4 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk

1.Preheat oven to 325 F. Prepare Bundt pan by spraying or greasing. Set aside.

2.In a medium bowl sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3.In another bowl mix butter, vanilla and vanilla paste together until smooth. Slowly pour in sugar until well combined and fluffy. Mix with dry ingredients.

4.Add Canola oil and beat until incorporated. Beating eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. Beat well after each addition.

5.Carefully add ⅓ of flour into wet mixture, alternating with ⅓ buttermilk until all flour and buttermilk is added. Mix just until smooth.

6.Pour batter carefully into bundt pan, smoothing over the top.

7.Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

8.Remove and cool for 45 minutes. Then flip cake out of pan. You may have to go along the sides with a knife.
Marshmallow Cream

1 stick butter, softened
1 71/2 ounce marshmallow creme or Fluff
1 tsp vanilla

Beat until creamy. Transfer to piping bag or ziploc bag with corner snipped. This is a messy process so keep a damp kitchen cloth handy.
To Assemble Cake

This is messy, as well, so do it over a baking sheet to catch crumbs. Flip cake over. Cut 6 or 7 deep holes in the bottom of the cake. Be careful not to go all the way through. This is a challenge but after careful consideration, I successfully did this.

Once the holes are made, using your hands, burrow down and connect the holes to form a tunnel. Be careful not to puncture cake.

Clear the cake from the holes and discard.

Now start filling holes with cream filling. Do not overdo this because cake could burst open.

Once holes are filled, carefully flip cake over. Dust with powdered sugar.

Eat and enjoy!

 
Taken from the kitchenprepblog.com
http://thekitchenprepblog.com/2014/05/very-vanilla-twinkie-bundt-cake.html

 

 

 

This was a delicious cake! All the fuss and assembling was worth it in the end!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

Baking Tips

 

 

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I have never been formerly taught the art of cooking and baking. As a young woman, it never interested me and I only associated it with tireless house wives who considered it a chore. In seventh and eighth grade I had Home Economics classes and that was my first true introduction to it all. We made simple dishes, no bake cookies and rice krispies bars and I have a fleeting memory of cooking pudding on the stove.

 

 

 

 

My present baking knowledge is from observation of others and from trial and error by myself. I guess it’s true what some people say, that no matter how old you are, life is full of learning opportunities. Recently I wrote a post highlighting my friend Michelle’s exciting career as a baking instructor at King Arthur Flour. I asked her to share some useful baking tips for others and I ended up thoroughly surprised that I didn’t know some of the tricks.

 

 

 

Michelle informed me that most people’s mistakes with baking is using too much flour. People are always asking her why their bread comes out like bricks and pizzas like hard frisbees.  The key is using less flour. While many experts will tell you to measure in cups, King Arthur Flour encourages bakers to weigh the flour. A cup of King Arthur Flour weighs 4- 4 ¼  ounces.  By weighing flour and not using volume, you’ll be accurate with the amounts.

 

 

 

Another tip Michelle shares is when measuring flour, don’t pack it in the cup. ( if you are still using cups and not weighing) Instead, sprinkle the flour in loosely and level with a knife at the top. When I think of this, I think of the act of packing brown sugar in a cup. You want to do just the opposite because if you pack it, you have too much flour.

 

 

 

I have the King Arthur Baking cookbook and I noticed when browsing recipes, a commonality is the note of avoiding over mixing. I already knew this tip from blueberry muffin recipes. Michelle says to be careful not to overmix cookies, cakes, and muffins. If you mix the batter too much, there will be too much gluten. If you want tender baked goods, DO NOT OVERMIX!

 

 

 

 

A hint for amateur pie crust bakers, keep your butter cold when adding to your flour mixture. Also Michelle reminds us that using melted butter instead of softened makes a negative difference. For example,  when baking cookies make sure you leave out the butter overnight so it softens. Melting the butter will change the consistency. When you cream the butter and sugar you are supposed to put air bubbles in. If you use melted butter instead, it’s very hard to get the air in it. I didn’t know this, amazing fact!

 

 

 

 


Now that we learned some valuable baking tips…let’s get out there and bake! Use these techniques and see how much better your cakes, cookies and breads are! Share these tips with your family and friends and always have fun in your kitchen!

 

 

This weekend I’m baking a chocolate cheesecake for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday and old fashioned whoopie pies shaped like footballs for the Super Bowl. Go New England Patriots!

 

 

 

This is a heartfelt thank you to Michelle for her gift of time for the interview and her kindness.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

 

 

 

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My Vanilla Twinkie cake with marshmallow fluff inside

King Arthur Flour Baking Classes

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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!

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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.

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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