Times are Changing!

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Hello my friends, boy have things changed since the last time I posted! It’s happened so rapidly across the world affecting many people! Here in northern New Hampshire life still remains quiet and sedated as the snow melts, birds return and spring seems like it’s here to stay! But If you venture out in our community all super stores and supermarkets host desperate shoppers stocking up on supplies such as toilet paper, disinfectant cleaners and wipes, canned soups, and perishables that will last in the cupboard for several weeks.

Schools are closed, a very sad event for all of us teachers and para educators and students. I went back this last week to get my materials organized and to help my co- worker Zack to compile learning packets for Title I students. The halls were bare and lonely without the energetic children. I look forward to the time it’s safe to go back. I miss the children and my co-workers. I’ve always known how fortunate I am to hold this special job but now I’m even more grateful!

We have enough food and supplies ( toilet paper, tissues, medicines and cleaning supplies) to get us through a few weeks. I pray this resolves itself sooner than people are saying this will end.

My son Branden is here taking his college courses online. His apartment outside of Boston sits empty as he is here and his girlfriend is back home as well. Considering the uncertainty and total roadblock to his plans, Branden has been a trooper! He has cooked a lot for us and has helped plan meals. He stays optimistic and hopeful that in within a month Boston will be back to normal. Then he can resume his life that’s on hold. I pray it happens like that so he’ll be complete, happy with his girlfriend and life there. In the meantime he’s facing this pandemic like we are, with steadfast bravery, patience and focusing on what he can do while he’s here.

We all could use a little cheer…what’s more cheery than beautiful flowers?❤️

How are you all doing? Do you have still have your job? Are you practicing self quarantine while this craziness rages?

All My Best,

Mary

Podcasts and Netflix Days

Well it’s still winter here but with February winding down we are certainly edging closer to spring! As snow continues to blanket every inch and corner of the yard and slippery ice lines the driveway, it doesn’t leave many outside activities to do. There are outside sports such as walking, ( with careful watch of ice), snowshoeing and hiking. With that said, I must get snowshoeing!I have a pair in the garage but haven’t been at it this year or last.

Check out my podcast library for some ideas! It’s free with the Podcast app.

Lately I’ve been listening to podcasts such as Suzy Orman, the Financial whiz, the Goop Podcast with Gwyneth Paltro, and a few Homesteading podcasts. Listen to Simple Farmhouse Life with Lisa Bass, Old Fashioned on a Purpose with Jill Winger and Live Simply with Kristin Marr. They all present handy and interesting podcasts about cooking, planning, being frugal, canning, etc. I’m not a homesteader but I do live in a country home in a rural region of northern New Hampshire. I try to be frugal, plan my meals and costs according to supermarket sales and buy local meat when I can.

This is an old picture of me relaxing. I sure do miss that kitty Katie!

It’s a good season to watch Netflix as well. Tom and I have watched the first three seasons of Outlander and the fourth season on a Netflix dvd ( sent in the mail). We also watched Yellowstone with Kevin Costner. This series reminds me of the 80’s classic Dallas, about a turbulent family who are ranchers who fight, cheat, brand and even kill their hired help. Even though it sounds rough, it’s an entertaining show. Your guy seeking tv adventure will enjoy it!

If you’re looking for sentimental and feel good programming, check out Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings. It’s a season of mini stories about life, love, marriage and forgiveness. The mini season Virgin River is really good too! It features a young nurse relocates from busy LA to a rural small town in Northern California. Alexandra Breckinridge is outstanding and you may recognize her from playing Sophie on This is Us.

Other Netflix shows to watch are:

Eat Pray Love

When Calls the Heart

Holiday in the Wild

An oldie but goodie chick flick, The Notebook

I hope it’s just over a month until our snow melts and I post pictures and thoughts about outside, gardening and of the backyard.

What are you watching while experiencing cabin fever?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💜

The Love in His Eyes

One of the special things I look forward to on my days off is snuggling with my cat Smokey. I have a comfortable well- used recliner that I snuggle in with my blanket and cup of coffee. It doesn’t take long for Smokey to meow his morning greeting of love and then he eagerly jumps up to be with me. I’ve tried to get a photo of his adorable eye communication with me. Unfortunately the iPad camera ruins the moment and my cat looks away in protest! I pet him gently and whisper sweet things like “ we get to be together today buddy” or “ I love you Smokey boy!”. He purrs his motor in a fantastic melody and sports the squinty eyes at me. He doesn’t need to talk human…I know what he means to say. His eyes says it all!

I love my kitty so and my cat Katie who passed away about a year ago. She lives in my memory but most importantly in my heart.

All My Best,

Mary😻❤️

Scrapbook Cookbook

heartandsoul974

Good morning my friends! I’m reposting this because I think it’s imperative for the cook of the family to be organized! I use many of my cookbook binder recipes(which holds family traditional recipes ) as well as recipes on Pinterest. What I’ve done lately is print our favorites from Pinterest and place in the binder. That way it’s easier to find than in a cluttered folder with thousands of pins.

img_2220About ten years ago I revamped my recipe collection in a big way. First I threw out my dilapidated recipe box and hauled out recipes that I never used. Second, I found a cute whimsical Susan Branch cookbook kit with scrap booking pages and stickers. The book was cheap enough but cheaply made too, as I found out this year.

img_2222Like many housewives who cook everyday, my recipe book started to show wear and tear. Then one day after making…

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Wacky Wednesday

It’s Read Across America week, a carnival of sorts with guest readers in the elementary classrooms, special Dr. Seuss themed snacks, movies and activity events in the afternoons. We celebrate now instead of March as it’s the best week to celebrate, a week before February vacation!

Wacky Wednesday!

Yesterday was wacky Wednesday…a day of mismatched socks, backwards or inside out clothes, funky hairdos and loads of laughs.

Everyone is allowed to be wacky once in awhile! We are all wacky in some ways…let’s sport it proudly! Haha!

I truly LOVE my job! Thank God for my 15 years at school and the loads of fun I’ve experienced!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 😂

Most Days

A little thought for this morning. Bless you all.😘❤️

heartandsoul974

Most days I breathe with positive intentions

and think optimistically …

IMG_1226 I have a few books from Norman Vincent Peale about positive thinking. This picture was taken from GratitudeHabitat.com

Most days I feel peace in my heart

and want others to feel it just as deep

I am quiet but loud

quiet in reflection but loud in thoughts

Most days I long for affection in small ways

A hug, a held hand or a warm friendly smile

Most days I love with acceptance and unconditionally

 I hear people out and sympathize

Most days I love life and it’s simple offerings

 I mostly see subtle signs of tranquility 

 I give my very best

whatever it is…

because that’s how I want to be,

positive.

My friends…what are you, most days? Are you happy, content with this life?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul >3

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Stretching for Sanity

It’s my latest love. It feels good from my head to my toes. It relaxes my body and settles my mind. My muscles flex and stretch. Stretching is pretty much a part of my exercise routine everyday. The Pilates on dvd, my athletic weights work- out on dvd all include sessions of stretching as a warm- up and cool down.

Everyday I challenge myself how I can incorporate more stretching my body into the day. Here are some ways I stretch while doing tasks:

While brushing my teeth I squat up and down squeezing my thighs, inner thighs and buttocks. It feels good to stand on my tippy toes and go up and down.

When I’m doing cooking pots and pans ( that I don’t put in the dishwasher) I stretch one leg at a time, kicking out.

In the morning when I’m blow drying my hair I stretch one leg at a time on the window sill and feel the muscle burn. It’s a great feeling!

You can simply stretch with the use of a chair!

The more I breathe deeply and stretch…the more I feel alive! It does my body good as well as my emotional well being. By working all my muscles, I’m investing in my health. After all I’m 50 now and it’s my obligation to myself to use what I’ve got. Want to know what’s crazy? I am moving more than I ever did in my twenties! I didn’t eat healthy in those days nor did I take care of my emotional well being. I would say I feel the best I’ve ever felt, simply because I’m doing the hard work!

My collection of exercise dvds

I’m thankful that I browsed through different exercise dvds such as Denise Austin’s Pilates and Ageless with Kathy Smith. I’ve also checked out Jillian Michaels on YouTube. I think variety is key to staying true to routine. Otherwise boredom kicks in and hearing and seeing an exercise routine for years gets old. I’m sick of one exercise dvd I’ve practiced on and off for fifteen years. It’s like playing a broken record…too much predictability, I know what the instructor is about to say and honestly I’m ready to move on. That’s okay…as I’ve found other dvds and videos to challenge myself.

If you’re craving a body stretch, start small. Try stretching while doing the dishes or brushing your teeth. Stretch before you go to bed or just after you wake up. Moving your body will make you feel flexible and so much better. Go to a yoga class or look up a video on YouTube. Trust me, it works and gets addicting as you increase it. It’s great for your emotional well- being as well.

An Easy Valentine Treat

These treats are easy to make if you have some time. You will need:

Mini pretzels

Semi- sweet or dark chocolate chips

1 Tbsp coconut oil

Caramels cut in halves

Jimmies( sprinkles) if desired

First heat oven to 325 F. Lay out a single layer of pretzels on baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent a sticky messy pan. Place half a caramel on each pretzel. Bake in oven about five minutes more or less. While they are in the oven, melt the chocolate chips with coconut oil on the stovetop. Stir constantly so it won’t burn.

Once the pretzels are out dip each pretzel in chocolate. Top with jimmies if desired. Store in an airtight container.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! It doesn’t matter if you are married or have a significant other. If not have your best friend, your pet, your kind neighbor, co- worker or grandchild be your Valentine! Smile at everyone you meet. Spread love everywhere you go!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul💕💕💕💕

Baking with Coconut Oil

As most of you must know by now, I love to bake! I live in the perfect region to do this, the Northeast. The seasons Fall and Winter host ample time to run the oven as the temperatures are cooler then. Running the oven helps heat our kitchen as well. I don’t bake as often in the summer unless it’s a rainy cool day or early in the morning.

About a year and a half back I read somewhere how bad Canola oil is for your health, my primary staple along with butter in my baked goods. After researching other options I decided to try using Coconut Oil. I found the cheapest options at Wal-mart just under $10 for a big jar. Then it was time to experiment and use it in recipes.

Early on I discovered that simple putting it in recipes from the jar wasn’t going to work smoothly. It’s a thick shortening like state and doesn’t cream well. Simply by trial and error I learned that melting it in a small pan before adding it to recipes did the trick. It adds a slight coconut flavor in goods, sometimes noticeable and others not. I recommend you to try it if you dislike coconut. My son Dylan doesn’t like coconut but enjoys my baked goods with it. Experiment and see the results.

I keep my Coconut Oil for a few months. Once it starts to smell rancid I throw it away. My latest jar I’ve had for awhile and it has kept well in the cool cupboard.

Try Coconut Oil in crepes and pancakes, cakes and cupcakes, zucchini breads and cookies and bars.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ☺️

Own Your Story

Presently I’m reading Michelle O’Bama’s autobiography Becoming. It’s on my Kindle, not my favorite way to read but it’s convenient. My old fashioned nature loves the crinkle of the paper pages and the hard binding as I read. But I’ll go with the times and sometimes read on my i-pad.

In the first few chapters O’Bama pens that we should all own our story. For you’ll always have it and no one can take it away. I know I’ve heard this before in different words and by someone else. Reading this recently was a great reminder to me that I am proud of my story, whatever has happened to me from the time I was a child to now is totally mine. I believe that everything that has transpired in my life has been for good reasons.

Let me ask you this…are you proud of your story? Has it molded you into the person you are today? Probably. If you’re not happy with what has happened in your life or who you really are you can change your narrative. You are the author, the person who can control how it goes.

I’m enjoying this autobiography. So far it describes her childhood and family as she grew up on the south side of Chicago. I look forward to hearing about her married life and of her daughters. I would recommend this book for a fresh look at Michelle O’Bama’s life.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕