A Little Sign

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Have you ever been on vacation or a get away and stumbled upon a surprise, a gentle reminder of God’s love? I have,  on my camping trip with Theo, my mother in law and friend. As far as I’m concerned the gift was no coincidence…

 

I sat on a metal folding beach chair when my right foot skated across a smooth surface, a rock. It was partially hidden in the shallow depths of the sand. I love finding special rocks and the few times that they are unique, they are secretly stashed in the folds of my pocket for the trip home.

 

This particular rock was not only smooth and beautiful, but a heart shape! It’s not the only heart shaped rock I have stumbled upon, for years ago I found a big rock that my mom painted for my garden and last year a pinkish heart rock that decorates my shady garden. It seems that I’ve started collecting heart shaped rocks simply by fate. 

 

This heart was a sign from God for a few reasons. I believe he coaxed me to find it so that I was reminded of his presence and His love. It also served as a reminder to drop anxiety and relax during the trip. I’m grateful for these signs, for they just appear suddenly when I seem to need them. I’m always on the look out for them, for if I’m not paying attention it may just pass by without meaning. Be on the look out for little signs from Him, however how small. There’s always a reason and you must figure that out for yourself.

I must mention in the wake of Charlottesville and recent terrorist attacks, I’m thinking of how the news focuses on all the evil in the world. Please remember to focus on the love that people freely give to each other instead of the evil and hate that occurs! Our steady army of people who refuse to give in to hate stand strong with an unwavering faith in good. God’s love lives in all of us who believe and fight for love and peace! Blessings and peace to you all.❤❤❤

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I think an amazing sunset is one of God’s pure gifts!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

 

I’ve made this dessert recipe for years and it never disappoints.

 

 

During zucchini harvest there’s a bountiful never-ending process of picking and using it before the next few are ready. It’s common knowledge that the zucchini plant grows steady and hearty, unfaltering and even without constant care it continues to flourish. I happen to know that the devout gardener faces a challenge when the zucchini is ready. The first one or two is a blessing and exciting to use, but after that a surplus rages and time is ticking…when gardeners ask the question, what will I make with zucchini again? Stir fry? Stuffed? Lasagna? Bread? Chocolate Cake? Yes!

 

 

 

For many years I baked mini zucchini breads and froze them, mostly for Tom. They were the perfect size for a snack and easy to defrost. I’ve slowed down doing this, mostly because he couldn’t seem to eat all of them. Now I use the delicious squash for stir fry, feta and Calamata black olives appetizers, stuffed with hamburger and rice and many other recipes.

 

 

One of my favorite zucchini recipes was inspired by my husband’s former employer’s sister, Lois. Mrs. Geneen, Lois and their niece Stephanie would stay for the summer at the farm. One summer we discussed different scrumptious zucchini recipes to try. Lois told me of a zucchini party that she attended. The whole affair was devoted to unique zucchini recipes and everyone got to taste as much as they liked. She mentioned a chocolate zucchini cake, much to my disgust. Yuck, I thought. At that time I didn’t think or could even imagine chocolate and veggies going together.

 

 

This handwritten recipe is stored in my scrapbook cookbook with all my favorites.

 

 

Coincidentally the next day Good Morning America featured a baker who presented that very cake in a bundt form! I was intrigued enough to try it and the rest is history! In memory of dear Lois I share this delicious cake with you. All of the ladies have passed on since then, Lois and Stephie died last year. I think they may have liked this or maybe tried it at least.

 

It’s moist, sweet, and perfect for a summer dessert on the deck. Try it, despite your reservations, you may be pleasantly surprised like I was!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:

2 c. Shredded zucchini

1/2 c soft butter

1/2 c oil, I use Canola

1 1/2 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tap. vanilla

1/2 c sour milk

2 1/2 c. flour

4 heaping Tbs. Hershey’s cocoa

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp baking soda

powdered sugar for dusting

1. Shred zucchini in a food processor. I have a little one and it works great, even though it takes a few times for 2 cups. I made extra here for zucchini carrot muffins.

2.  Beat butter,oil, sugar,eggs and vanilla.

 

3. Next add milk, flour,cocoa,salt, baking powder and baking soda.

4. Mix together gently.

5. Fold in shredded zucchini.

6. Pour mixture into  greased bundt cake pan. This also could be baked in a 13 x 9 pan or in a little bread loaf pan.

7.  Bake at 350 F for 35- 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

8.  Cool on rack.

9. When cool, take a butter knife and insert on edges to loosen cake from pan. Flip over on serving dish.

10. Dust with powdered sugar or add a chocolate glaze.

This is  a delicious dessert and people may never know that the special ingredient is Zucchini.

 

Happy baking! Use up that endless zucchini in a cake!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

 

Seeking Stillness at the Lake

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Imagine a comfortable warm afternoon at the lake. As you sit on the beach, you dig your toes in the smooth sand, getting lost in the luxurious heat. The lake smells of a fresh earthy scent, yet there is a faint musty odor as well. People smell of sunscreen rubs and bug spray. Wet dogs shake their hair upon emerging from the lake.
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Many families are spending their vacation here, at the Mountain Lake Campground, nestled in the northern mountains of New Hampshire. Laughs ring throughout the beach, an indication of content families basking in vacation togetherness.

 

 

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I sit by myself reading a book. A few years ago I would’ve been on edge and not truly relaxing. The boys would’ve been swimming in the lake, racing to the dock a few yards away while I worried if I could help them if they struggled. I’ve never been a good swimmer and almost drowned when I was 8. This still haunts me today, especially if I’m in charge of little ones in the water.

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This day at the beach is a stark difference. The boys are not here and are working this day. It’s my mother in law’s and my twelfth year camping together but the first one without children. My husband has a busy work schedule in the summer with his lawn business and part time job for the town, forcing him to skip most of the camping trips. There were a few times he could camp and so we would race away for the weekend, towing the pop up camper with two excited boys.

 

This beautiful day as I sit in my quiet reflective thoughts, I thank God for my body being still. I really have a hard settling myself and giving in to relaxation. This moment at the beach is pure serenity, stillness that is unmatched. I also praise Him for giving me the gift hearty laughter of the families and my ability to enjoy it and smile with them. I am genuinely happy for them.

 

The silent lake holds the key to my stillness and serenity. The water calmly ripples ever so gently from a kayak cutting through it. In the left swampy corner, one can spot a sea of white, water lilies creating a beautiful scene. Overlooking the glossy tranquil  water stands strong stately mountains, guarding the lake with clusters of pines and firs growing around its circumference. I wonder which animals congregate within them.

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When you clear your mind of racing thoughts and jarring problems, you’re on the path to stillness. Open your heart to peace and acceptance of the moment. It’s a must that you give your body complete permission to allow it to happen, to enter relaxation and let go of everything. Maybe you can’t visit the lake and beach often and that’s okay. Seek a peaceful spot in your yard, perhaps under a special tree. Use that spot to be still and with that, your every being will cherish the peace.

 

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All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul ❤

 

It’s Growing!

 

Upon checking out my garden today I spotted a Monarch butterfly resting.

 

 

As many of you know, one of my summer focuses is my garden. A timelapse process is playing out for me. One day I’ll work diligently among the family of plants and the next day,  a massive growth spurt will occur. It’s mind-boggling how much plants can transform into a towering cousin, still the same being but a much larger version. My tomato plants are swaying trees, busting out of the metal cages and the squash leaves lean towards the tomatoes, creating an intertwined row. Not only are the plants growing, but their veggies are expanding from one day to the next. Leaving one finger sized cucumber one day leads to a gigantic cuke the next! I’m not sure if it’s the sun or few rain showers we’ve had, but it’s a must to visit the garden everyday!

 

 

 

 

 

I picked all these beauties this afternoon.

 

Our corn stalks sway with the New England breeze and the husk appears from the growing cobs. The green bean plants proudly stand about 12 inches with beautiful beans in tow. Romaine Lettuce has been cut back and it grows for other cuttings. I’ve thinned out the carrots as they grew quite thick in the row. Now green fluffy leaves look so pretty in the soil, my ornamental beauty in the garden.

 

 

 

I feel so blessed and in a monumental state of peace beyond the wire fence. It’s a different world, away from bills and problems. I can only wish that you all can bathe in this euphoric sensation…whatever activity you indulge in. It’s these moments that pull us through tough times or mundane days. The restoration feeds the heart and soul, something we all need to live calmly.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

 

The First Time

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Photo credit, Facebook.com/BEGINWITHYES

 

Upon seeing this Facebook post, I sat down and thought about it. Since I’m a creature of habit and don’t try new things all the time, it was a difficult task to recall the last time I tried something new.

About a year ago I attended an art class in my hometown and painted an outdoors scene with birches and scattered rocks. It was an amazing learning experience and my first time I really painted aside from Kindergarten projects. What stays with me is not the painting itself or the class, but the fact that I went alone. I had planned to go with my sister but she couldn’t go in the last minute. Worried thoughts plowed through me and I even contemplated attempting to get a refund. But what stopped me was a need and want to go. I had my mind set that I would have a great class. I’m proud of myself for entering that class of laughing and talking women in groups of two or three and stood alone optimistically. That was the first time that I set my mind to attend something alone and I walked away triumphant!

 

Another first this summer is it’s my first time growing corn! In previous years Tom planted it and I really had nothing to do with it. He got discouraged because of raccoons and other critters ate a lot of it. Now we are trying it again, many years later and God willing, our plates will be full of corn in a month or so.

Think about this, friends. Share when was the last time you did something for the first time?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤