January 10, 2016…three years ago I settled in my recliner to write my first blog post. Back then I didn’t know what to expect or if anyone would even be interested in reading it. It was the first time in a very long while that I put caution to the wind and really took a chance. Those fleeting moments of filling the page with words felt liberating. There…I had done it. I listened to my heart and invested in the possibilities. It felt like I had unleashed a woman who had hidden within me for ages, not only a married working mom, but a writer who had copious words and stories to share. This passion has always lived within me, bubbling up finally. I thought maybe no one would care. Maybe someone would. I simply trusted myself and my readers and put it out there.
Since then I’ve learned that not everyone in your life will pay attention or care. Some joke about my blog like it’s a stupid thing or that its funny. That’s okay! But some have been interested and have encouraged me along the way! They signed up for my email! They read now and then and comment, sharing in my experiences in life. Whether you are my family of friends or ones who have stumbled upon my site, it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is that you care, that you support me as I travel this special journey. I’m eternally grateful for your support, your love and friendship.
As I continue this journey and dream of compiling my penned posts, I am considering taking writing classes to learn more. I hope you all will stay connected with me. I wish you all peace, joy and love as you start this new year.
If you live in the wintry Northeast of the United States, you know that many January activities involve the cold, snow or inside venues. I compiled a little to do list for you New Englanders to try this month. If you live elsewhere ask yourself if any of these ideas would work for you.
Go sledding with your family and friends! We have a long Tobaggon that I won at work many years ago. It can hold two or three bodies and goes like the wind!
Host a Saturday lunch for friends. I’m hosting my two friends Laurie and Michelle in a couple of weeks. Serve hot or cold sandwiches or homemade soup. Have tea, coffee or hot beverages available.
Organize desk drawers or cluttered countertops. It’s easier now while the weather is colder outside. Once spring comes, you’re going to want to be outside instead.
Organize your printed photographs or digital thumbprints. Label folders such as Christmas 2018 or Summer 2018.
Take an afternoon hike in the woods. Tom and I hiked about a mile to check on his game camera and feed the local deer. It was simply magical with snow falling while we were in the midst of the stand of trees. Animal tracks spiraled throughout the woods like a crazy maze.
Build a cozy fire in the stove or fireplace and cuddle up nearby. Watch a good movie, Mr. Church on Netflix. It’s a heartwarming story of a mother and daughter who have a cook who becomes part of the family. Read a good book! Right now I’m reading The Divide by Nicholas Evans about a family facing a tragic loss of their daughter and the search to find out what happened to her.
I hope you all enjoy the month of January and everything that comes with it!
My kitchen has turned into my sweet little refuge lately. It is huge now with plenty of space to cook or bake. Since I have ample room, I have decorated it with inviting elements that speak to me. As I cook or bake, the winter light seeps into my tall windows. My twinkly lights play their magic as I enjoy the calm space. Glorious heat from the oven makes the kitchen toasty, especially welcoming in chilly January! Being in my kitchen brings me tremendous joy!
In our last house our kitchen was a tight galley space, one that I adapted to, but never really loved. That lack of space, especially counter space, made any cooking or baking task a huge challenge. Now I have a 26 x 14 sized room, enough room to host a family cooking and talking. I have plenty of counter space as well as a bar top, where sometimes I cool baked goods on.
If you feel like your kitchen space isn’t welcoming or peaceful you may want to change that. There are simple things you can do to create a kitchen that you love. I’m working on another post focusing on kitchen ambience so be on the lookout.
Lately I’ve noticed some quick and easy baking and cooking tips that I’ve started using and have aided me as I work.
Try covering top of mixer with a dish towel, when adding puffy flour, otherwise flour will sift all over counter.
Store all your Kitchen Aid attachments in the bowl where they are easy to access. I have my bowl lined with a dish cloth as well.
Place spoon rest next to work area and have paper towels handy.
Cool cookies on racks. I have one with legs and one flat one, a double decker.
Place in airtight plastic containers instead of cookie jars. That keeps them fresh. Instead stash packaged candy in the jar or your cookie cutter collection.
Place a fresh piece of bread with cookies to maintain moisture and soften cookies. This works great for me!
Place brown sugar in air tight container. It’s so annoying to try to soften it while you are immersed in a recipe!
Have soapy dishwater ready for cooking and baking dishes, pots and pans.
For a busy family holiday meal, call upon the guys to help with heavy pots and lifting. Tom and my brother-in-law Chris were a great help to Bev and I at Thanksgiving. They helped lift the big pot of gravy.
I found that having the oven on to help dough rise helps. Place on top of stove with damp kitchen cloth.
Plan your baking times, if needed, bake on different days so items don’t rest too long waiting for the oven. On Christmas Eve my cinnamon rolls rose too big ( they still came out delicious but they rose out of the baking pan) while I was baking the chocolate cake. It would have been handy to have two oven chambers!
I am curious what valuable kitchen tips you practice often. Please share with me, for I’m always looking for cheats to make cooking and baking easier.
This year I decided to start living and eating healthy. Instead of multiple snacks and sweets I chose fruit, vegetables, hummus, portion control and little sweet treats every once in awhile. I’ve been meaning to switch to healthy food options for years but I never truly followed through.
I’m proud of my 22 pound weight loss! It’s taken months of exercising and hard work. The hardest season is this one, the holidays, when everyone seems to gift food and give their permission to indulge. I may have taken a few steps back and gained a pound or a few more but now I’m getting back on track and continuing my progress.
This year, like all years, I’m extremely proud of my family and new additions. My husband worked hard all year and played just as hard during hunting season. He hung in there while I was going through my difficult time and he supported me throughout. Every year my love and respect grows for him and I’m proud to say that I’m his wife.
My oldest son, Dylan, started his grown up life and married his sweetheart in August. He wrote his own vows and snuck in a David Ortiz comment and his coming back in the ALS series in 2004 ( if you are a Red Sox fan you may remember that walk- off home run). He landed a new maintenance job in a successful wire making company and works down the street from us. I’m not only proud of his choices and accomplishments but of the gentle man he has become! He is kind, honest and funny, the type of guy people want around.
My youngest son, Branden transferred colleges smoothly, rented an apartment with his girlfriend and had a successful fall semester. My mom and I went to pick him up and he showed us his college building. We even got to meet one of his professors. Branden and his girlfriend Jojo took us to the Shaking Crab restaurant in Cambridge. We enjoyed a scrumptious seafood lunch and great company! I am proud of the man Branden has become as well. He is also kind, giving and supportive of Jojo.
This year my family got to know Emma Jo, my son’s girlfriend. She is talented, beautiful, kind and caring and I’m thankful that she is in Branden’s life. Soon she will visit us for a few days, something Bran and all of us are looking forward to. The last time she stayed here our house was chaotic with Dylan’s wedding, but this time it will be more relaxing and she and my son can celebrate their Christmas together.
In August I gained a beautiful daughter- in- law and friend in Lexy. She works hard at her job, volunteers at a crisis hotline and is highly motivated. She finished her college degree this last year. Lexy is a person to be proud of, for her beautiful and kind spirit lights up a room. She listens and cares. She gives to others. She is the best daughter- in- law that you could have and my family and I are blessed to have her!
This year was not perfect. I had obsessive anxiety and jealousy that made me resort to hard work and counseling. It had been coming for a few years and I never dealt with it, like I should have. I feel like I’m on the other side and my soul is healed. Thank God for His interventions and carry through!
I’m proud of my decision to go to counseling, which wasn’t easy. It’s humbling to put all the messy stuff out there and let a stranger work through it. It all paid off in the end and my confidence level is up.
I’m proud of my transformation inside and out. I’ll tell you that I made personal progress with confidence and self esteem, but I still have work to do. Like anyone, I’m always learning about myself. Life isn’t perfect nor am I! But my wish is to continue striving for a better life and with God’s guidance, I can keep growing.
This year 2018 had special moments, our son’s wedding, family visits from Florida, a few fun music concerts, a special Thanksgiving at home as well as Christmas. We grew another healthy garden, with more rows of sweet corn for the winter months. I made roasted tomatoes and homemade spaghetti sauce and we are still using it, lovely reminders of the summer. This summer we grew towering and beautiful sunflowers. They were a sight to see when passing by and I plan to grow them again next year. Tom worked more on our house, buckling up the backside and shingled the other side. All in all it was a great year with many highlights. I look forward to 2019 and I welcome whatever comes our way, for we are strong and will handle anything.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! I hope you have special things to be proud of this year! 🎉🎉🎉