What I’m Proud Of This Year

My son Branden and I at a Christmas party

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.

My family and I playing with the iPad timer!

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.

My husband Tom relaxing and watching the kids opening presents

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.

Dylan and Alexis on their wedding day

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.

My son Branden and his girlfriend Emma Jo

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!

Dylan and Lexy and their Charlie Brown tree

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!

Tom carving our prime rib for Christmas dinner. I’m not sure why he carved it on the plate but it worked out okay.

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! 🎉🎉🎉

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🎉💕

It Truly is a Wonderful Life!

Have you ever seen It’s a Wonderful Life ? If you haven’t you must take time and see Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in this classic that plays every holiday season. I have both the color and black white dvd versions and watch both, depending on my mood. It’s an inspirational movie, a simple story of George Bailey who had an itch to leave his hometown of Bedford Falls but fate had other plans for him.

Its greatest lesson is realizing that you inspire and affect people around you and without you, their life could be quite different in a negative way. It certainly puts my life in focus, that regardless of my life’s problems ,it truly is a wonderful life! Every time I watch this flick, it gently reminds me that I’m truly grateful for all the experiences of my life! It hasn’t always been easy, but God doesn’t promise that. But he does pledge that he will carry you through. Every single day is a gift and with the faith as small as a mustard seed you can steamroll through.

Tonight by the colored lights of my tree and blazing fire I watched. I still choke up during the bridge scene towards the end when George says, “ Dear God, I want to live again. Please let me live again.” Then it starts magically snowing. I smiled as his family and friends gathered around to help when he was in trouble. Mostly I thanked God for this life and everyone special in it who has enhanced it. I am grateful for this movie and how it makes me feel. Thanks, Frank Capra.

My family, my young sons and husband years ago

All My Best,

Mary ❤️🎄

Mom’s Christmas Traditions

My Mom’s Traditions 


What is it about getting older that brings nostalgic thoughts and dream reenactments of childhood holidays? I think this happens to most of us as we age…when we truly realize how special family is and the holidays with them surrounding you. There are some Christmas traditions that mean even more to me as seasons come and go.

Every family has the tradition of special foods that are prepared once a year. My mom made spicy gingerbread men every year. Mom poked holes at the top to string ribbon through. We ate some and hung the others on our Christmas tree. Most Christmas mornings my mom made Bisquick Jam coffee cake. 

Tom’s Mom’s Traditions 


There was always a clementine nestled in the stocking toe with little boxes of cereal that the four children would eat for breakfast. They would open their stockings early around 4, discovering their new treasures. Meanwhile their mom and dad slept. 

The Sears Roebuck catalog was the wish list and each child picked out one gift they wanted and they always got that one special gift. Tom received a bike when he was 8 or 9. One year the girls got ice skates.

Their father plowed snow and one year he was out all day working and they waited for him to come home to open the presents. I’m sure it was even sweeter that year because the children had to wait, but it was worth it to share with their dad.

Tom and his cousin Kenny

My Christmas Traditions

Growing up our family had a tradition of opening one small gift on Christmas Eve. I wanted us to continue the fun and so our boys always had one or two presents to open on Christmas Eve. Usually there was new pajamas and an ornament for the tree. It was fun shopping for unique ones that represented the year. One year I bought a little snowboarder for Dylan when he was snowboarding on our hill. Branden got a cinnamon smelling cat as he loved our cats. 

As I wrap up this post I want to thank you all for staying with me and investing your time to catch a glimpse of my life. Many of you have become my friends and I’m thankful for the connections we have made across the country and the world. Things are getting quite busy here with finishing shopping, cooking and baking and wrapping for Christmas. I will not post again until Christmas or after. I wish you all a Merry Christmas with your loved ones and friends. 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🎄❤️

My sons in their new pajamas on Christmas Eve

Boosting Confidence Tips

Tips to boost confidence

1 Write a list of what you are good at, strengths

2Write your achievements

3 Think positively about yourself for you are special

4 Take good care of yourself, eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep

5 Do something you’ve been putting off, something you’re dreading. It will feel great

6 Set yourself a challenge that you can realistically complete

7 Be nice to people and do nice things for them

8 Spend some time with those who you enjoy

9 Avoid people and places that make you feel bad 

10 Choose to focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses 

My beautiful sister- in- law Bev and I at Thanksgiving. She always boosts my confidence and makes me feel proud to be myself. Thanks for believing in me, Bev!❤️

Ideas from Town & country magazine & Red book 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️🎄

Unforgettable Christmas Memories

My sister Barb and I at Christmas. I was 8 and she was 4.

Most families have hilarious Christmas memories that are retold every year. Some of these antics are captured in photos and others live in the depths of memory, ready to be shared with family and friends. I want to share my crazy and not so crazy Christmas memories with you all.

My sister and I were probably 12 and 8 and it was the eighties. We had a habit of taking out the presents under the tree and inspecting and even counting how many they were. I know…this is obnoxious but it was innocent kids’ play. One night while everyone else was asleep, Barb and I started our present pile up. The tv blared HBO and Timothy Hutton in TAPS played. We laughed. We piled. Suddenly our Christmas tree swayed and shimmied, toppling over in a loud crash! Right on top of all the presents! We tried to get the tree back in its stand to no avail.

Remember the old pull string lights, that’s what’s hanging in front of me. From our old Victorian house we grew up in.

Finally I decided that we had to wake up mom or dad to help us. Oh boy, was my dad mad and cussed in his bed at us! It’s funny that I don’t remember if he got up to help or if he fixed it in the morning. I do know that our present piling came to an drastic halt that night!

While rehashing crazy holiday moments I have to share this one. My mom, sister Barb and I were coming home from Christmas shopping. It was a snowy day with accumulations with few snow plows in the area. We gleefully sang Christmas songs in the spirit of the season. Suddenly our car hit a patch of ice and our car spun in a 360 and hit a telephone pole. It’s humorous looking back because we were so joyful and singing and such a freak accident was so unexpected! Thank goodness we were all okay but the car was dented a bit.

Another memory was when I threw away one one of my Christmas records as a teenager! The 33 must have gotten mixed up in the clutter of wrapping paper and it was never recovered! It was a valuable lesson learned! Always keep organized when unwrapping presents and keep the bags of wrap handy in case something ends up missing.

My sister and I.

Every Christmas my sister and I tried to wake up our sleeping older brothers to get up for the tree. No matter what they always kept sleeping! What a lasting memory of impatience on exciting Christmas morning!  Then there were a few early mornings our dad made us have breakfast first before opening presents. Looking back I’m grateful he did this, a little family time over a festive breakfast is a blessing.

There is that Christmas Eve I heard jostling around and thumping around our fireplace. Being a curious child, I couldn’t help but try to catch the big man in the act! I gingerly snuck out of bed. Opening the door ever so softly, I peeked out to discover my dad filling the stockings. At eight years old I knew the truth…the magic was over but it was kind of humorous seeing him in action.

What crazy Christmas memories do you have?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🎄

Silent Night

All is calm, all is bright…

In the silent shadows of night

a peace blankets the Earth

in light.

Somewhere angelic  choir voices

ring in harmony

People spread love wherever they go

and an everlasting joy thrives.

Do you feel it and live it?

Let’s believe in peace and joy. 

God Bless you all

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🌈

Nurturing Your Pet During the Holidays 😻

Around the hectic but thrilling Thanksgiving season I started noticing my pets’ anxiety heighten. The holidays are usually a season of rush and stress for humans but do you know that this rubs off on your precious pets? I’m thinking of ways to alleviate that strain for your fur babies. 

  • Try to keep your daily rituals with feeding and snuggling the same
  • Make sure your pets are eating healthy and drinking plenty of fresh water. Don’t give chocolate or sweets to them as they can be toxic. 
  • Have quiet moments throughout the week without company, loud music or television so the fur babies can rest. 
  • Provide play toys for cats and chew toys for dogs to entertain them
  • If you have sleepover guests, make sure your pets have their same sleeping spot
  • Keep poinsettias away from pets. Poinsettias are said to be toxic to your pets. If leaves are ingested, it could induce vomiting or drooling. That’s enough for me to not have the plants around. 

Remember that during the stressful rush of the holidays your pets are stressed too. Try to keep their life as normal as possible. Nuture and love them too!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 😻🐶

Annual Cookie Day!

If you read my blog posts often you may already know that my family has an annual cookie day. I enjoy hosting my mom, my sister Barb and my niece and goddaughter Ella Kate. Everyone brings a chosen cookie dough, their special cookie cutters and extra cookie pans to work with. Anything goes…most years Barb brings old picture albums for us to peruse. Ella Kate brought paper angels to decorate and lovingly put one on my Christmas tree. We bake, reminisce of past Christmas memories, listen to angelic Christmas songs and drink cocktails. This year we drank mimosas and last year it was homemade egg nog. I get out my special Christmas wine glasses for our drinks. 

This year my mom made gingerbread men with her granddaughter decorating them with her. Barb brought sugar cookie dough while I made chocolate and peppermint kiss thumbprints. 

Although Ella Kate had a little cold and was tired, I think she enjoyed herself. I asked her to check my advent calendar and get out December 8th and hang it on the little tree. She liked that and found my snuggly bear my mom made me years ago.

All in all the day was happy and joyous! I wish for us to continue every Christmas with love. I wish you, my friends, much happiness with your holiday traditions. Old and new traditions are moments to cherish! 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️😇

My advent tree that I bought from QVC years ago. 
Today’s miniature tree ornament is a Santa with a tree in hand. 

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

This is my favorite coffee cake recipe. I posted it last January and it seemed popular. When I make it memories flood back.



I missed making this treat for Christmas so managed to get it done this weekend.




I remember that many years ago my mom made a cream cheese Bisquick Raspberry coffee cake for Christmas morning. She had a special book in the eighties with the recipe and now my sister has the book. It’s a delicious and easy coffee cake to try for your family.

I don’t usually buy Bisquick but I do especially for this delicious coffee cake!




I’ve made it several Christmases, switching the raspberry jam for strawberry and it still had the same delicious taste! It’s been a few Christmases since I’ve made this , so this weekend I decided to try it again. It’s yummy warm and accompanied with a cup of coffee.

The recipe- Bisquick Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

You will need for the cake:

1 ( 3 oz) pkg…

View original post 227 more words