A Snow Day

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Yesterday in the morning at 7:15, I was all dressed for school with lunch in tow when the phone rang. No one ever calls us that early, unless, I thought maybe it’s the school! Sure enough a robot voice relayed the no school message. I admit that even though the car was running and I had everything ready, I skipped with glee and kicked the snow playfully when I went to shut off the car. No School! This never happens here, even when it’s icy and the roads are questionable, school remains open. I guess the furnace was on the fritz, no heat.
It felt like a snow day for the snow was falling and we had several inches piled up. Huge loud orange plow trucks pushed on by as I wrote my Christmas cards at my dining room table. My cat Katie accompanied me, trying to claw the envelopes and I laughed because I could pull them away just in time.  Glancing out the window, I spied about twenty wild turkeys crossing the road into our yard. Thoughtfully, I placed a chair in front of a kitchen window so curious Smokey could watch them longingly.

 

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I trudged out back to gather some firewood for our stove, for that’s how we heat our house. When I zipped around the corner I noticed fresh tracks in the snow going to a little woodpile near the house. I thought maybe they belonged to a squirrel or chipmunk. With an armful of logs, I suddenly saw a little white creature pop up from behind the wood pile. I could have missed it if I hadn’t been looking that way, for it blended in with the blanket of pearly snow.

 

Oh my gosh, it was so cute ! This little adorable face looked like a mouse or ferret but with a white long sleek body. It’s tail had a black tip. A mink? A weasel? I researched online and discovered that it was a long tailed weasel, known to live in northern regions and even in the Arctic.

 

He scurried and laid down a trail in the snow and didn’t even seem frightened of me. He romped in the snow here and there. What a blessing for my day because I’ve never seen one and it was so magical at that moment, while snow was falling. Even though Tom informed me that weasels can be vicious, I hope to see him again and wish him well during the cold days of winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My new friend’s tracks

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Sentimental thoughts come to my mind when I think of snowdays. In previous years I loved announcing to the boys that there was no school. This day no one was here except my cats who I hugged and petted and talked to. Instead I sent a message to my son in college and he responded right away. It made me happy that we could still connect on a snow day and he will be home after his last final this Friday. He probably misses snow days too. Getting up late, a mug of hot chocolate and venturing out in the winter wonderland was his snow day itinery.
So my snow day was special and magical and unfortunately something had to happen to the school furnace but many teachers and children received a well needed day. Thank you God for the little miracles of the day, a precious gift in the hustle of the holidays!

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ☃️

A Christmas Village

 

 

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My Christmas village nestled in a glittery cover of snow

Has a life of its own and a precious fancy glow

It’s the perfect snow globe all dressed in light

A moment of silence and bids a magical night

Scurrying villagers wander about the streets

Wishing a Merry Christmas to whomever they meet

Soft lights wink with a peace only small towns fare

An unspoken presence of goodwill and generosity hung everywhere

eager children fashion their snowman , their personal best

A Jolly old soul with nothing to do but to freeze and to rest

Church bells ring solemnly all around

Hollering it’s message from the sky to the ground

Before I scuffle off to bed and lie my head down to rest

I snap off the lights and admire my little village , feeling  so blessed!

 

This is a simple, small collection I started when I was first married. A general store, toy shop, fire station, church in the center of town and a post office complete the collection. There are just  a few villagers, church goers, store clerks and groups of children. I used to have a big hockey rink but many pieces broke off it and after gluing and re-gluing I discarded it. It rests upon my antique bureau in my dining room.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

Cookie Parties

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Start a Christmas Cookie day tradition this year! For me, it started about 15 years ago when I baked cookies with my sweet mother in law, Theo. A few years we baked in her log home, a beautiful big kitchen and laid our treasures on her bar counter and dining room table. Then we started making them at my house, the house we used to live in. Even though our kitchen was a nook, we made it work by putting a big wooden cutting board over the sink. We would divvy up the cookies for home to give away to co- workers and friends and family. Last year I had two Cookie days, one with Theo when she visited from Florida and one at my sister Barb’s house with her, my niece and mom.
The Cookie tradition continues and today we celebrated baking, sistership, family and love all in one. We laughed and talked about life, my niece’s Kindergarten class and about future trips to Florida we are planning for next year. Bing Crosby and Judy Garland Christmas tunes played in the background as we rolled out gingerbread and mixed chocolate toffee cookies. The hot oven buzzed every few minutes and we hurriedly grabbed pot holders and checked the goods. “Not done, pretty close, done and ready to come out!” Sitting on cooling racks,they smelled delicious and the spicy ginger aroma coaxed the kitties in to investigate.

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My niece and I 

 

My niece rolled out dough, sometimes I helped and other times her mom, my sister Barb helped. Cutting gingerbread men, Santas and bells, she popped them on baking sheets to wait to bake.

 

What’s special about our cookie days is anything goes. I drank white wine while my sister had a shot of Baileys. We snapped photos of us by the tree and in the thick of cookie making. We enjoyed our labors and each other’s company.

 

 

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My mom mixing the batter
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Lots of cookie cutters and my favorite jar

 

Do you want to start this with your family or friends but not sure how it goes?
Let me give you some helpful tips:

*Decide who you wish to approach with the idea, sisters, brothers, mom’s, aunts, best friends, daughters, who ever likes baking cookies

*After deciding who will come, pick a mutual date, time and place that works for all. If you can’t decide where, choose one and the next year you can switch

*Decide who will bring what. I chose to make simple chocolate toffee cookies that could be mixed and spooned on the tray easily. I also made the gingerbread dough and refrigerated it for two hours for easy rolling. My mom brought peanut butter cookie dough for chocolate kiss cookies and my sister brought all the extras to decorate the gingerbread men.

*If you’re planning a few hours three or four types of cookies will do, because remember you have to share the oven and bakers cooling racks. We did three kinds and it worked very well.

*Write an ingredient list ahead and make sure you have what you need for your cookies. Each person coming will be responsible for their cookies. Sometimes it’s easier for them to mix it together at home and bring to bake and decorate.

*Prepare your kitchen by getting out cookie pans, cooling racks, scoops,cookie spatulas( to take off pan), bowls, spoons, measuring utensils and I got out my favorite big jar of cookie cutters. It usually sits on my high cupboard but today it had a place on the table so we could choose which cutters. The jar was a pickle jar and I found it on EBay for $20. 

*Have cookie exchange guests bring plastic containers or tins to take their cookies home in

*Designate who has what space and make sure there is enough baking cookie sheets, scoops, spoons, etc

*Play a Spotify or a Pandora Christmas tune play list. Mine includes many old favorites of mine by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Judy Garland,Andy Williams

*Plug in all the house twinkling lights and Christmas tree

*Wear your favorite apron and or Santa hat

*Take lots of photos and even videos to remember moments


*Lastly have lots of stress free fun and enjoy baking and your company!

Do you have family or friends over for cookie parties? What are your traditions?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul💗

The Christmas Tree 🎄🎄🎄

 

I’ve had a real Christmas fir tree as long as I can remember. The earthy pine scent wafts in the room it dwells in. The prickly needles poke a bit as I hang family ornaments. There’s something magical and amazing about a real tree adorned with family ornaments collected over the years.

 

When the boys were little we lived on a farm where Tom worked as a caretaker ( details in another post someday). Mrs. Geneen gave us permission to go across the yard to the field of Christmas trees and choose the perfect one for us and one for her house. Sometimes we trudged in feet of icy snow with an excitement that warmed your insides. Pulling our wooden toboggan across the packed blanket of white, Tom and I each inspected the trees. Short and tall trees, finely shaped trees, handsome gentlemen trees greeted us as we walked from tree to tree. The boys ran around with wonder and glee as dad and I chose the right one.

 

 

 

One time we went further into the field so Tom brought the truck. The roar of the motor and the boys’ laughter interrupted any quiet. He parked the truck and we all scrambled out with an excitement that had a life of its own. Rows of spectacular evergreens stood like a line of soldiers, each with its own shape and size. Back then I took forever deciding, for once I spotted one I liked, the neighboring tree would also catch my eye.

 

 

 

Eventually we took turns picking out the tree and each one was beautiful and unique. Many years we had a fat towering monstrosity that hardly fit in our livingroom. This reminds me of the infamous Clark Griswold’s tree from A Christmas Vacation movie! That was no problem because my husband is a problem solver! He’d trim the tip off or bottom branches and then it fit like a puzzle piece in the corner.

 

 

Since Mrs. Geneen has passed away and the farm sold,now we frequent a local Christmas tree farm nestled in a neighboring town. This year Tom, Dylan, his girlfriend Alexis, Branden and myself ventured out on a Sunday on a tree quest. The day was a little chilly with no snow or New England snow showers to paint the scene. Yet we were together and having fun and that’s what matters.

 

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Here they are with our newly cut tree. Priceless memories.

 

 

Unlike previous years, we were looking for a minute or two. The young men and Alexis were heartily joking about a tree that had two feet of boughs cut off. It resembled a Dr. Seuss tree. Not far beyond the strange tree, it stood. It’s grand demeanor and lovely shape drew our attention. I think the kids noticed it first and that was it! As simple as that and then Tom got his chainsaw buzzing and it was zipped off.

 

 

 

My heart was filled with love as Dylan, Branden and Alexis carried our tree out of the field towards the truck. They joked and talked and I thought this was what Christmas and family is all about! It’s the little moments that mean so much and there memories that will last a lifetime.

 

 

Once our grand fellow rested in its stand, Tom strung a few lights, Dylan, Bran and Alexis hung a few ornaments and then their interest waned. Sadly I hung the rest of the beautiful ornaments while I listened to old time Christmas tunes. Things change and I understand that. I’m fortunate that they still wanted to go on the tree adventure and that makes up for the decorating. So I’m okay doing most of the trimming by myself because we had that special time at the tree farm.

If you celebrate Christmas, do you have your tree yet? What traditions do you practice with the tree?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

Organized or Messy in the Kitchen?

Are you Organized or Messy in the Kitchen?

 

 

 

 

 

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Just a week and a half ago,  when my sister in law and I were prepping for the Thanksgiving dinner, my thoughts were how organized we were while we cooked. Because I have a good sized kitchen and workspace now, we each had ample counter room to gather our ingredients and get to work. Not only that, but we washed dishes after each task and dried them shortly after.

 

 

Now I have a question for you and you just think about it and be honest with yourself, are you organized or messy? When you cook or bake, do you clean as you go or create a magnificent mess and deal with it later? Maybe it doesn’t matter to you, as long as it gets cleaned up eventually. Perhaps you are already organized and neat as a pin in the kitchen, so then just be content that you’ve created great kitchen work habits.

 

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Honestly most of the time, I make a bit of mess, a disarray of ingredients on the counter amid bowls and cups and measuring spoons, while cooking or baking. I’ve always been that way, organized setting up the ingredients but messy with the rest.

 

 

Now that I’ve faced this problem, I feel like I should work on it to become a bit more organized. First it’s necessary to fill the kitchen sink with soapy hot water and as I use the cups, teaspoons and bowls I can plop them in. Washing dishes as you go prevents a big mess and saves time in the end. Next I plan to wash the counter as I spill flour, sugar or whatever. Lastly it’s helpful to put each ingredient away as you use it. I do this sometimes but it’s truly not a habit yet.

 

 

 

Other tips to stay organized:

 

*Write down baking times or set a timer as a reminder of your goodies being done

 
*Plan your oven times. This was a challenge at Thanksgiving because we used the oven for several things, many with different baking temperatures. Decide which dishes go in first and set the timer. Write a list or keep a mental list of the pies, cakes or dishes, their temperature and baking time. It helped us that we did some dishes the day before.

 
*Write down any ingredients that you use up for a future shopping list. It’s important to pen this, because you may forget you used it up until you need it for baking again.

 
*If you must share your space, do it in fun. Fun chatter and a magical music playlist will lighten the mood. Designate which counter top or space you and your friend will have. Give that person the bowls, cups and measuring spoons she needs.

 
*Play music and create a magical atmosphere

 

 

 

 

Staying organized and clean in the kitchen will alleviate any chaos or mess. You’ll be happier that you did this and probably will save yourself some clean up time.

 

 

Do you have any kitchen organization tips that you would like to share?

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul💗

Grammy’s Mystery Mocha Cake

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The Doyle family, with my Grammy in the back and my dad, David Doyle , in the back on the right

In Dedication to Grammy Doyle, my Dad’s Mother

Irene Doyle, West Fairlee, Vermont

 
Every family has a staunch recipe that stands the test of time. It’s the go-to dish that always results in success. It’s passed down with pride and the unspoken agreement that future generations will do the same. My family has this recipe… it was my Grammy Doyle’s dessert recipe and you always could count on her making it at gatherings, whether it was my dad’s birthday or Christmas.

 

 
The word was that it was a secret, though I’m not sure of the origin. I’ll never know where my Grammy got it or if it was handed down to her. All I know is that it’s one of the few constants when going to her house and I will never stop associating Grammy with her Mystery Mocha dessert. Now that she is gone, this recipe means even more…a little reminder of what was.

 

 

 

When arriving in the small hamlet of West Fairlee, Vermont, one corner market stood. A traveler would see quaint simple houses. Next to the fire station stood my grandparent’s house on a little hill and when you rolled up the sloped gravel driveway, you spied a screened in porch. Amid dusty chairs sat an old forlorn piano, forgotten and well out of tune. All the grandchildren probably tinkered with the keys at one time or another.

 

 

 

This many years later I can still hear the rickety screen door, as if it  was on the set of the television show, The Walton’s. Inside the house you entered in the dining room, where was a huge wooden table that had fed six children at one time and all the visiting relatives through the years. Another prized piano stood beyond, where my Grammy played church hymns on it. This treasure was played often and every once in awhile she played for us.

 

 

The living room had wooden exposed beams, a rustic living space with a few windows to let light in. A long old fashioned radio stood on one wall, which belted out many Red Sox games. My Grammy and Grampa would sit and listen to the radio and play by play well into the seventies. Then years later a television stood there as well, but I think it was never the same to them as the play by play. As kids, we would creep over to Gramps, who would be relaxing on the couch and he would grab us and tickle us. Wth a silly grin and rolled up tongue, he was the tickle master. There were squeals of delight because he was fun and loving.

 
Mystery Mocha cake was often baked for my dad, since it was his favorite. He was her first born, David, and was and still is a chocolate fan. (I think this is where I got my chocolate addiction!) When my parents were married, my mom made it and I’m sure my stepmom makes it as well. Now my sister and I make it from time to time. My sons aren’t used to the rich chocolate taste and since it has coffee in it, they don’t care for it, but my husband likes it well enough and I do too.

 

 

 

It’s as if Grammy’s kitchen comes to life when I make Mystery Mocha, for it’s a family recipe and a reminder of her and our visits to the Doyle house. It does taste the very same, with rich, dark chocolate with a complement of mocha flavor from the double strength coffee. I think it’s more than a recipe but a bit of Grammy’s legacy in every bite!

 
Grammy Doyle’s Mystery Mocha Cake
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 square unsweetened baker’s chocolate
2 Tablespoons butter
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons cocoa
1 cup cold double strength coffee

Mix dry ingredients. Melt the unsweetened chocolate with the butter. Add the milk and vanilla. Put mixture into greased cake pan and top with the following: brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cocoa. Pour cold coffee over the top. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Serve for family or company. I recommend serving this rich dessert with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream!

Why Not Accept Differences?


Why not Accept Differences?

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If you could rid the world of one thing, what would it be? I would end hate. Hate is a strong obsessive emotion, that has caused many conflicts, murders, and The Holocaust to name a few. You can’t reason with or fix hate. It feeds on anger and ignorance, like a cancer that thrives and needs to be stopped. It’s much easier to feel love for others, rather than hate.


It actually shocks my every being when I overhear people saying nasty hateful things about others. What were they taught from their parents? Especially now, after our chaotic election I still see nasty negative posts about Muslims, Democrats or Republicans, give me a break! Stop judging folks! People are people with many differences and similarities. We have to accept others and what they believe in. Even if it’s not your way or religion, you don’t need to write nasty things on the internet,such as, “ Get out if you’re not a Christian. “ I wouldn’t think Jesus would do that and persecute others. He would’ve tried to convert but wouldn’t punish those who didn’t believe, would he?

 

 

Let’s spread love and acceptance to others. Just because someone isn’t like you or believes in the same things, it doesn’t mean they are a bad person. Obviously I’m not condoning erratic and extreme Islam and terrorism, that’s a different story although I don’t hate those people. Just a dislike for their bad choices and violent lifestyle. 

 

Religion shouldn’t be based on judgment of others and harbor negative resentment. It should spread love, kindness, acceptance and goodwill. I have no desire to be involved with judgment, persecution or intolerance of differences. I choose love instead of hate. Won’t you delete hate from your life?

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

An Ordinary Day

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It’s a Monday
an ordinary day
Most try to wish it away
The back to work scurry
The dreaded frenzy and hurry
People dislike the repetitive song
Playing dully all day long

However, it’s a new beautiful dance
Why not hold on to this chance
Of a new day
And it’s ordinary moments
For they are what makes up a great life
Simply told by a content wife
Accept the quiet and uneventful scene
For that’s what truly is serene.

Thank God for my ordinary day
I woke up able to walk and talk
Work and play
No piled up bills
Oh what a thrill
Of an ordinary day!

I hope YOU are having a great Monday, even if it is ordinary!

All My Best,
Heart and Soul❤️

The Richness of FAMILY

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Do you know that first graders learn how to write family early on? They craft letters to their family every week in circle journals and learn how to spell this important word. They can tell you who makes up their family, the obvious ones…mom, dad, sister, brother but they also associate family with love. Even at this young age, children know the importance of family!

 

 

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching fast, I’m thinking of family. One vital component of this feast of plenty and grateful hearts is family and being together.
Being in a family is one of the greatest blessings on Earth. An even greater blessing is to be a part of a healthy thriving family, a group of people who not only love and respect each other, but are friends. It shows in their actions that they enjoy each other’s company, laugh and share memories. I’m proud to say my family is like that.

 

 
I know several families that have members not speaking to each other or estranged from their lives. Sometimes family members don’t see eye to eye and maybe they disagree most of the time. Hopefully they can bridge this divide and find common ground? This is so very sad and depressing to me, because to me, family is everything and the hub of my life. I can’t imagine being estranged from my husband, children, parents, sister or brothers. Although I don’t see or hear from my brothers a lot as they live quite a distance from me. Despite this, I know they love me and it’s always special when we connect once a year.

 

 

 

Family is the cornerstone of society and if we BUILD it up instead of breaking it down, our country would be a better place. Do you want to wage peace in this country?
Start with loving your family! You can make a difference in your corner of the wild by respecting, listening and compromising with your family members. Talk to them…don’t shut them out!

 

 

If you have a strong family, you are as rich as they come! Love, respect and honor can’t be bought. If you have all these things, consider yourself beyond fortunate and show those people that you love them!

 

 
As you celebrate Thanksgiving soon, remember to acknowledge your family. Not only tell them that you are thankful for them in your life, but show it. Spend quality time with those special people, cooking the huge meal, baking a pie together, gathering for coffee and good conversation or a night movie at home. Whatever you do together, cherish that kinship and connection.

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul❤️

Choose Kindness

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Kindness lives within all of us 

All you have to do is nourish it

Let it steer your life direction

Spread cheer wherever you roam.

Be kind to the older lady in the grocery store

Who may only see you during the day

Who may go home to nothing
all alone

Those kind words and precious smiles

could make all the difference in the world!

Start your day by smiling at others

Think kind thoughts

Pray hopeful prayers of kindness

Be happy for people living in success

And understanding and hopeful

for those who drown in sorrow and unhappiness.

Help however you can

Send a message, a phone call, a simple card

A small donation

Always a thoughtful prayer

When you are immersed in an argument or situation

Choose kindness

You don’t have to always be right

Or have the last word

It’s a better feeling to let go

To be kind and walk away

furthermore don’t get in an argument

in the first place!

For the last few years I start my day

Spreading kindness

The minute I arrive at school

I smile and talk to others

I acknowledge people

I always tell the school secretary and whoever is in the office

“ Have a good day!”

It’s the best feeling being kind to others

And it boomerangs back to me

most of the time!

All My Best,
Heart and Soul 💗