Margaret Curtis Aquino  1928 – 2021

Margaret (Curtis) Aquino, age 93, went to be with the Lord at her home in Carolina Shores, NC, surrounded by her loving daughter Mary Margaret Aquino-Cooper and her son-in-law Jim Cooper.

Born in Gouverneur, NY, to Leo and Louise Curtis, Margaret attended the Crane School of Music at Potsdam State Teachers College (now SUNY Potsdam) where she received a BS and later her MA in Music Education. She was a sought-after piano accompanist at Crane, and it was through that talent she met her husband, Antone. They became tenor and accompanist, then married in 1955.

Active in the arts around the greater Boston area from 1969–1994, Margaret accompanied the Paul Madore Chorale, played organ at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, and sang with the John Oliver Chorale and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for many of those years.

In 1994, she moved with her husband to Carolina Shores, NC, where she volunteered with the Brunswick County Literacy Council and remained active in the arts, accompanying and singing with the Myrtle Beach Choral Society.

Margaret was predeceased by her husband Antone (d. 2012), her parents, her brother, and her half-sister. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, and by her son.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to one of the following organizations:

Salem State University Antone Aquino Scholarship (indicate Antone Aquino Scholarship)

Lower Cape Fear LifeCare (feel free to indicate in memory of Margaret & Antone Aquino)

Long Bay Symphony (feel free to indicate in memory of Margaret & Antone Aquino)

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I just wanted to help

It occurs to me as I sit here that I can’t do this all alone. I wanted to do something for someone else and I couldn’t do it alone.

Why does it matter now? Because in that someone’s hour of need, I failed. I truly feel useless.

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It’s Not a Cult, It’s a Feeling

The running joke about CrossFit is that it is a cult. And, to the point that those who are part of the “cult” share common loves (the WOD after you’ve finished) and hates (Assault bike)…and we speak a language many don’t understand…maybe it’s a bit like a cult.

The fact that you can come and go without reparation in any way kinda disproves the cult theory.

The most amazing thing I find about CrossFit in general is that when it comes down to the ultimate competition, The CrossFit Games….we each have our favorite elite competitors but in the end, we want them ALL to win. They are all THAT good and in each moment you feel the elation and sorrow as they succeed and succumb.

During the games this year, I learned a few lessons.

1. Lead with uplift. As a woman, I am trying to change the way I think when I encounter new people and instead of leading with judgment, I am trying to lead with an uplifting energy….especially towards other women.

2. I can. We all need to tell ourselves what is possible, not what is impossible. I am inherently hard on myself. Years of being “not as…” Not as thin, not as pretty, not as talented, not as smart….whether it was true or not, it was in my head. Perception is reality. Watching the community of athletes on the field give it everything…reminded me that I CAN. If I allow myself to learn, I can.

3. Annie Thorisdottir taught me to always do my best and keep at it. Yeah, I knew it before she said it but seeing her come from where she was to podium…and to see how the community rallied around her…it was just like the fans running with Scott Panchik cheering him on and encouraging him to keep going. My best is just that…mine. There is a community of CrossFitters out there cheering me on to do my best with each workout.

So, maybe CrossFit is a cult…we all wear the same shoes, booty shorts, sports bras and drink the same post-workout protein drinks (no we don’t)…talk in a language others don’t understand (AMRAP, EMOM, macros, METCON) … if that makes it a cult then so be it.

I mean…..I want to be part of a cult that includes people such as these….

…..and all the amazing friends I’ve made in the past couple of years. A community of people who uplift, encourage, and challenge each other to be better every day.

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Colorado High Country Dreaming

Is any path to an end ever a straight line?

A few years ago, I think I blogged about my favorite authors and probably Pamela Clare came in the top five…highly likely the top 3…yes, too lazy to go look.

There are just a few authors I will buy a book from, sight unseen, words unread. I read about 70-80 books a year and while that isn’t significant in the big picture, I have my favorites. Again, Pamela Clare is among the top 3.

What made me such a Pamela fan? Book Bub. Yup. Book one of the Colorado High Country series was either free or 99 cents and that’s my go-to price for an author I’ve never heard of before. And at the time, I had not heard of Pamela Clare.

I purchased Barely Breathing and started reading it right away. The world building and character development grabbed me right away. The story was full of different sub-plots that kept me hooked. And, the idea of search and rescue…in the Rocky Mountains had me rapt. As often happens, once Barely Breathing was done, Kindle recommended Slow Burn and I just WANTED to know more about these people. I wanted to know what made them tick, what kept them together – I had to buy Slow Burn…and Falling Hard. Right about when I finished Tempting Fate, I realized that I wanted to learn to indoor rock climb. So you may briefly think, “What’s the big deal there?” BIG DEAL: I am terrified of heights. At that time, I thought to myself, it’s gonna be hard to climb if you are gripped in a terror lock when you’re 3 feet off the ground.

After these 4 books, I was hooked. I was hooked on Pamela and I was hooked on the idea of indoor climbing. I swear, I consumed the remainder of the series (two more books) in no time flat and knew I had to find a climbing gym. I’ve been blessed that there’s a climbing gym less than an hour away but I wish there was one close enough I could go to more than twice a year. I can tell you that especially when belay climbing, the concept of height is somewhat irrelevant since you have a harness and you are roped to someone or something that prevents you from crashing down from the 40 foot (or higher) wall. I highly recommend it as a fun way to be a momentary daredevil.

And while I am recommending things, I highly recommend all of Pamela Clare’s books. She writes historicals, romance, and romantic suspense books. There are three main (non-historical) series – this one, the Colorado High Country series. Another romance series of hers puts you in the bull pen of an investigative reporting team at The Denver Independent newspaper called the I – Team Series. If Romantic Suspense is more your jam, The Cobra Elite series is SUPER!

For those of you who like historical romances, my favorite is the MacKinnon Rangers series. There’s also the Blakewell/Kinleigh Family Trilogy series. Both of these historicals center around 18th century America.

On my recommendation, I hope you jump into a climbing gym just to see if you are as excited about it as I was. Believe it or not, it was the climbing gym that brought me to CrossFit (which is now a passion) and it was Pamela Clare’s Colorado High Country series that ignited that flame in the first place. It’s summer. You should be attacking books and consuming them as if they are vital to your being! Consider Pamela a chef for your needed sustenance!

Check her out (the four Colorado High Country books are on sale) right now, right here! Click to buy from Amazon! https://amzn.to/35Oeb28

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Blueberry Peach Cobbler

I never can remember how cobbler is supposed to be made, so I typically have to Google cobbler recipe. Well. This time I’m writing it down. This came out great. I “adapted” the Paula Deen peach cobbler recipe and this is MY version. I used fresh fruit, so I could have added water (but I really didn’t). If you use frozen fruit, drain it well and cook off any excess liquid.

4 cups of fresh peaches, peeled and cut into small pieces.

1 cup blueberries

2 c sugar, divided

1 c flour (I used whole wheat flour and Protein flour but AP would work.)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 c rolled oats

Cinnamon (to taste, or omit)

1 cup milk

4-6 tbsp butter or coconut oil

Bring fruit and 1 cup of sugar to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at least 10 minutes. Remove from heat when liquid is syrupy and let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350 and melt butter in a 2 or 3 quart baking dish in the oven.

Combine dry ingredients. Pour milk into dry ingredients and stir well.

Pour the flour mixture into the baking dish. Spoon the fruit into the baking dish, including syrup.

Wet and dry ingredients will swap places in the baking process.

Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm…or not. With whipped topping or ice cream…or not. 🤣

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Banana Oat Protein Muffins

I’ve been on a savory breakfast kick lately and I’m positive that will continue but I had 3 bananas left from my weekly banana stash so I decided to invent a recipe.

These are not super sweet so if ypu want to “up” the sweetness, you can sub dark brown sugar or add some honey. Oh, and the protein powder I added is just a basic whey-free protein powder by Purium. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to get some, or sub in your favorite. I do NOT know if whey protein will change any of the chemistry.

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup protein flour

1/4 cup chia seeds

1 /4 cup Purium MVP vanilla protein powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, room temp

1/2 cup demarra sugar

1 egg

3 ripe bananas, mashed (approx 1 cup)

Dash of cinnamon

Directions:

Sift flour, protein powder,, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine with oats and chia.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg.

Combine bananas with cinnamon.

Alternate adding banana mixture and dry ingredients to butter and egg. Combine well but do not over beat.

Preheat oven to 400. Grease muffin tins. Fill tins 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center cones out clean. Cool on a rack.

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The Battle For Crust

I can honestly say I have struggled with pie crust for years. Too dry, too wet, sops up too much of the pie filling, burns to the bottom of the pan…you name it…I have battled against it. Pie crust causes me angst and I just can’t avoid it.

But….a few weeks ago, I discovered a crust recipe from an old Frieda Arkin article in a VERY OLD Boston Globe clipping my mom/dad had saved that has now become the base of my own successful pie crust recipe. Now mind you – I’ve only tried it twice so it may not be perfect but I came as close to the same process both times and it has come out pretty dang good both times.

Frieda’s recipe uses margarine. I just can’t. Even though her recipe says it will be fine, I just can’t. I use margarine sparingly. I use butter and Crisco/vegetable shortening when baking because margarine…well, I just can’t. And, I do a weird thing with my bench flour that I’ll describe in the recipe.

Let’s just say to make pie crust, ensure everything possible is COLD. Start there. And use a food processor for cutting the butter into the flour. So much easier. So remember to put the food processor bowl, blade, and water in the fridge at least for 30 minutes prior to making this. Ensure your unsalted butter is frozen and your vegetable shortening has had some freezer time too.

Ready?

This recipe makes enough for 2 crusts – I have not tried cutting it in half for a 1 crust pie. I assume it will work.

2 sticks of unsalted butter, cold or frozen, cut into small chunks

3 tbsp vegetable shortening (you can use butter flavored or not)

2 cups of AP flour

Whole wheat flour for bench flour

1/2 tsp salt

2-3 tbsp sugar (depending on the filling)

1/4-1/2 c ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the dry ingredients using one or two pulses. Drop the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients and pulse until the mixture looks like small gravel or tiny pearls.

Start the food processor mixing and stream in cold water until the dough just comes together. You may need 1/4 cup, you may need 1/3 cup…you may need the whole 1/2 cup. The dough should be dry (not sopping wet) but tacky to the touch.

Dust a pastry board (or whatever surface) with whole wheat flour. I use Bob’s Red Mill organic whole wheat bread flour but any whole wheat flour will do. Dump the contents of the processor bowl onto the pastry board and knead until you have pulled together all the dough into a 5-6″ disc, about 1″ thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Several hours is good too.

When it’s time to make the pie, dust the pastry board with more WW flour and place the chilled dough (unwrapped) on the board. Cut disc in half.

Roll using a rolling pin to the desired size. Flip onto the rolling pin and place into pie plate. Press lightly to shape dough to the pie plate.

I’ve only used the 2nd disc of dough for lattice topping. If you want a full 2nd pie crust, roll out the dough to exceed the side of the first crust. Fill the pie plate with filling first, then either use water or a bit of egg to coat the edges of the bottom crust. Lay the top crust over the pie and crimp using a fork.

Bake following the timing for whatever pie you are making. I wrapped my crust edge with foil to prevent burning but that will completely depend on temperature and length of baking.

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Low Fat Granola

I don’t actually know how much fat is IN this granola aside from the fact that there is no ADDED oil or dairy so any fat is fat that occurs naturally in the ingredients. And I’ll add the disclaimer that I don’t think it’s “diet” granola based on some of the ingredients 🤣. But here we go.

1/3 c agave nectar (can sub maple syrup…I don’t really like maple syrup, but the consistency is about the same)

1/4 c honey

1 c oats (rolled, not quick)

1/2 c pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds). I used roasted and salted but raw would be ok too.

1/2 c unsweetened coconut

1 cup dried berries (i bought premixed organic cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries)

1/3 c dark chocolate chunks

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp hemp hearts

Spray a bar pan with cooking spray and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine agave and honey in that bottom of a bowl.

In a zip top bag, combine berries, coconut, oats, and chocolate chunks. Zip the top and shake to evenly distribute. Pour into the bowl with the agave and honey.

Spread evenly on prepared pan. Sprinkle chia seeds and hemp hearts on top.

Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once. Let cool and transfer to a storage container. Makes approximately 4 cups.

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Rant

Roman’s 12:2 and Matthew 5

I’m sure those of you who don’t believe will stop reading after the first line. But if you feel ANY anxiety…if you feel ANYTHING at all, stop now and go read both Romans chapter 12 verse 2 and then Matthew chapter 5. 

You have to know that a loving God looks at us fighting and sniping, accusing, name calling, chest puffing, brow-beating….all the sh*t that we are doing and he IS SAD. You may also wonder WHY a merciful God “lets” all this happen. I’ll explain it in 2 words. FREE WILL.

The God of love and mercy does not force you to believe. And some of you don’t. That is you, exercising your free will.

Some of you believe, and still beat your breast claiming to be RIGHT and knowing of impending doom quoting Revelation…and I say you are imposing your interpretation of His word to fit your own need.

It’s about time we should all stop, get right with KINDNESS and CARING. Humble ourselves and be a servant as Jesus was a servant. Stop pretending we are “right” because we all have faults…

Don’t think I’m talking to you? You are probably exactly who I’m talking to…

If you are on line (you are reading this so I know you are), there are fantastic resources available. Bible Gateway. Through The Word. YouVersion and so many more. Don’t just say you are praying for people. Those are just empty words. Get in The Word and truly pray the Bible.

Even better, shut your phone (or computer) off and OPEN A REAL BOOK (there are actually printed Bibles out there…you may even own one or two…)

If you can’t see that both the left and the right, the blue and the …. whatever the other color is … the donkeys and the elephants are caustic, you may be part of the problem. If you think that because you shout louder on social media that someone will change their mind….or that capital letters and strong words makes you bigger better smarter and more American than someone else…well… BLESS YOUR HEART.

I’ve never considered myself an empath but all y’all are giving me heartburn…and back spasms.

My dream is that a year from now I will look back on this and say, “Remember when everyone was being assholes to each other?”

Let’s make that dream come true, people. Learn a book.

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It’s Been Such A Long Time

I have wanted to blog for a while but life has been a bit hectic. I’ll explain that some other time. And typically, I blog what I’m baking. Today I happen to be baking the same thing I bake every other week…Salad Dressing Cake (the chocolate cake made with oil and vinegar…it’s here some where search for salad) because mom finished her cake two days ago and life isn’t the same without chocolate cake.

I’ve been baking a lot of yeast breads but it’s almost 80 degrees out today, so not much of a baking day….I have a couple of things I’m thinking of making to clean out the fridge…..but nothing exciting enough for a blog.

I did want to document how lately, mon has been different. She is less challenging about some of the things we’ve put in place to keep hear healthy. But she has also not been playing the piano without being prodded and she keeps telling me how interesting it is that she moved here to the same place I moved.

Quite honestly, I have stopped correcting her because, well, it doesn’t matter what the actual events were. She isn’t going to remember even if I do correct her, and I can tell that she gets upset if I correct her. So why upset her?

Instead, I bake her chocolate cake and try to smile.

A brief reminder here…I do not blog to receive pity, nor am I asking for help in any way. I know the path I am walking and if you are reading this, maybe you are on the path or maybe you see the path in your future…or maybe you are a friend who likes to be tortured by my ramblings. So, I accept your love and words of encouragement but please know that writing is cathartic for me and that is all…

On the “daughterly” side, recently there have been a lot of tears. After 40-50 hours of work, 5-7 hours of preparing and feeding mom, a few hours of doing her laundry, shopping for groceries and toiletries, cleaning up, getting her into bed and knowing WAY too much about bodily functions that no child ever expects to know about their parents, sometimes im exhausted. And overwhelmed. And emotional.

I’ve got Jim here, helping me every step of the way. Without him, I probably would cry a LOT more and would probably be 100% hermit. If you are caretaking full time and don’t have a Jim, I don’t know how you do it. Having a partner to keep you sane is vital, I think.

Also, having a pastime…a hobby…a preoccupation helps too. Mine is CrossFit. I’m not skilled, but I’m consistent. I can’t lift heavy things but I keep working toward a higher goal. I want to be healthy. Whatever that looks like.

For now, I will leave you with a picture I love. Hangs in our dining room.

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