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 💜

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 😂

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 💕

Highlights of the Year in Photos

As another year closes and I excitedly look forward to a new year, I think it’s imperative to briefly look back on where I’ve traveled ( spiritually not just physically). For in order to know where you are going, you must dwell and learn from the paths you’ve tread on . Don’t you think? This past year held fun new places we explored as well as a few surprises in the mix. I also grew more spiritually and my self esteem boosted as I maneuvered through the year. I invested in myself a little bit more and I think it shows.

In January Branden’s girlfriend Jojo came to visit and we all made our own pizza!

I learned that planting inside in dark New Hampshire isn’t a good idea starting in February! Bahaha!

In April Tom and I visited Las Vegas and stayed at Harrah’s a few nights. We explored the strip and rented a convertible to explore Hoover Dam. It was a magical trip for me and I appreciate that Tom humored me by going. It was my way of welcoming and celebrating my 50th birthday!

In May mom and I traveled to Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas to see my nephew Spencer graduate from TCU. It was a wonderful trip with family!

My dad gifted me a greenhouse in the spring and I was fortunate enough to use it the whole growing season.

My daughter in law Lexy and I attended a beautiful bridal shower for my niece.

In June I hosted my own birthday party. It was filled with friends, family, music and laughter.

My paternal cousins and I met one afternoon to eat yummy food and connect. We all looked at old photos of our dads and moms. It was lovely and I hope we do it every year!

Over the summer my handy husband Tom built a gorgeous deck off of our kitchen. It’s a magical place to be! I can’t wait for spring and nice weather to sit out there again!

My mother in law Theo came to stay over the summer. Despite a nasty fall and visit to the local emergency room, we made the best of it. My sister in law Bev stayed with us during this time. We had a lovely dinner with my nieces Michele and Sheryl and Sheryl’s new husband John. We all sat on the deck and magically a Pilated woodpecker flew in a nearby tree and blessed us.

Michele and Sheryl
My sister in law Bev and my mother in law Theo
John, Bev, myself, Sheryl, Michele and Theo
Theo and I

2019, what a year it was! I started feeling better about myself and investing in my weight and health even more. I exercised five to six days a week, drank more water and ate healthy portions. I did experience a health scare for several months with bladder troubles. After an ultrasound, several pelvic exams and a cat- scan nothing showed anything abnormal despite the painful symptoms I was having. My urologist said it could be institial cysitis, a condition that certain foods irritate the bladder and cause pain and urgency. I have adjusted my diet a bit and started taking an antihistimine. It’s 100 percent better! Boy did I take my health for granted! Never again! This trial brought me closer to God and his peace. He carried me through and I am eternally grateful for that!

I wish you happy and peaceful moments in the new year! Cherish your family, friends and your good health.

All My Best,

Mary ❤️🎊

Netflix Binging Recommendation

Recently someone recommended Outlander, a mini- series on Netflix. I started watching one afternoon while Tom was hunting. It took just a few scant minutes to become hooked…I absorbed the beautiful scenery, the costumes from the 19th century and a refreshing air of adventure drew me in. It starts out slow and sets the scene for the story. Hang in through the first few episodes. Picture a married British combat nurse during the post World War 2 era. All I say ( without giving too much away ) is that she goes to an ancient site where she slips back in time to the age of 1743. There her life takes a swift turn in the Scottish Highlands with the McKenzie clan. It’s riveting, exciting, has sexy scenes and more!

Watch Outlander and try not to get hooked! I can’t wait to turn Netflix on now…to fill up on the scenery and adventure! It’s simply wonderful and a vacation back from your armchair!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Book Suggestions

Some oldies but goodies on my book shelf

For the last year I’ve abandoned reading fictional novels and started reading self help books. Now after reading Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Dr. Susan Jeffers and You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, I’m desiring a good fictional book to read for the summer. Sometimes I look at my local library as well as a revisit to my bookshelf for a book that was so good that I’d read it twice or more.

I recommend any book by Anita Shreve. I loved The Pilot’s Wife as well as The Weight of Water. Jodi Piccoult, an author who lives in my native state of New Hampshire, is one of my favorites as well. She’s written Nineteen Minutes, a novel every educator should read about school violence and bullying and who is at fault. Other of Piccoult’s titles include Plain Fear, a mystery of a dead baby set in Amish country, House Rules, a story about a teenaged boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who is obsessed with solving crime scenes until he becomes a suspect himself.

Shared from Bibliolectors.tumblr.com

Years ago I read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, an amazing story that I read in just a few hours. ( I loved the movie as well!) Fannie Flagg is the author, a writer with a poignant style of writing, who portrays the characters with such precision, I feel that I have met them in person! If you love that book you may enjoy Welcome to the World, Baby Girl and Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven.

My latest book wish list is tucked in my pocketbook and I’ll bring it to the local library on my next visit. It’s close enough to walk to on a clear sunny day. If they don’t have the book, the head Librarian Karla signs up for an inter library loan and obtains the book from another library.

Here’s my generated wish list:

Conviction by Denise Mina

Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

Ask Again Yes by Mary Beth Keene

The Summer Demands by Deborah Shapiro 

Don’t you just live these little Free Libraries? I found this one in my sister- in- law’s town of Northampton, Massachusetts.

What good summer books are you reading? Do you have any great suggestions for me to add to my list?

Happy Reading, friends!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 😃

The Challenges of Walking the Cat

Smokey getting used to the leash last summer.

When walking the cat you never yank on the leash

or ELSE!

When walking the cat you prepare

for a hissy fit or

a snotty hiss

if he doesn’t get his way!

When walking the cat be ready for skittish jumps

as loud raging motorcycles race by

When walking the cat hope that baby birds,

snakes or chipmunks aren’t within close range!

Be quiet and calm when walking the cat

Never run beside them

not sure why this threatens him but it does

Be ready for stops along the way for

the cat to rest in tall grass

Or in the sultry heat

of the greenhouse

( my cat adores the greenhouse)

When walking the cat

definitely have a sense of humor

because you never know what’s going to happen!

The safest thing to do

is to cuddle with your cat in the blankets!

Out precious Smokey❤️

On a side note we started walking our cat Smokey last year because he was obsessively licking off his fur in patches. We thought it was a skin condition but the vet thought he had anxiety. Maybe his stress was from not being able to go outside. Our daughter- in- law suggested taking him for walks on a leash, like she does for her cat Smokey Joe.

Over the years we lost two cats to coydogs and one was hit by a car by our driveway. We don’t want to go through that again and so our two kitties were always stay in cats. In March we lost our oldest cat Katy to kidney disease. Now poor Smokey is alone most days when we work. I imagine he sleeps most of the day. I have the summer off so I’m here to keep him company but even so, he’s a cat so he sleeps most of the morning. After lunch we walk around the yard, sometimes twice a day if he’s in a good mood and he behaves on the leash!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 😽

All Adventures Lead HOME

Lately I’ve had the travel bug surging through my veins! I think it’s something to do with more time on my hands and the stark fact that I’m turning 50 in a few weeks! Turning this age is a milestone, a bend in the road where one should lean into it and ride with the wind as a motorcycle rider would. I feel it’s a gift, a chance to really live without inhibitions, to cruise through without a care in the world!

If you browse through my recent posts you’ll see photos and recounts of Las Vegas and Dallas. A couple of years ago my husband and I visited family in sunny Florida. Wherever the trip takes us, it can be an adventure. While visiting Florida we saw the ocean on the West coast and alligators and tropical wildlife in Lakeland. In Nevada we saw flashy neon lights, other travelers with a live it up attitude and desert lands coupled with rising western mountains. Once we were lost on a Native American Reservation! All these adventures are tucked away in my memory box, ready to emerge when I glance at photographs.

Although traveling can be stressful, (especially for me since I don’t do it much) it highlights how special home really is.

Experiences away are amazing. These moments make me realize that HOME is a place where I belong, where I breathe easy and rest comfortably. It’s where I am myself the most. It’s my sanctuary in a world of chaos. I love going away and the sensations I feel along the road, yet HOME is where I belong, where I love and will continue to be my greatest adventure!

All adventures eventually lead HOME!

Do you have a memory book of exciting adventures? Even so, isn’t home the best place to be yourself?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️😇

Las Vegas Vacation Part 2

The Paris Hotel and Casino Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas.

In this post I continue to share details from my recent Las Vegas vacation. After seeing the amazing Bellagio Fountains, we ventured over across the boulevard to see the Paris Hotel and Casino with the Eiffel Tower observation deck. Like the other casinos we toured, there were colorful fancy carpets, a slew of slot machines and people everywhere.

The inside of the Hotel leading to the elevator of the Eiffel Tower observation deck.

We both decided we would enjoy going up in the elevator in the Eiffel Tower to see the lit up city at night. We paid for our tickets and walked up the stairs and through this enchanting walkway mimicking a French bridge. The wait was only a few minutes and then we boarded the elevator. In only 30 seconds we were whisked up with fleeting sights of the neon signs that lined the strip.

Through metal bars one could gaze at the vibrant lights…what the Las Vegas strip is known for. A heavy screen held the observer back but lets in the cool night air. Every few feet there was a square hole( a break in the bars to take pictures) where you could fit your phone in to snap photos. Walking around the deck, you could get a different perspective of the city every few feet. The Flamingo, Caesar’s Palace and the High Roller at the Linq all glowed with an alluring radiance.

You can stay up on the observation deck as long as you wish. We stayed about twenty minutes and then joined the line of people that wrapped around the deck headed back down. I must admit that I panicked slightly when I saw how long the line was for the elevator. I asked myself, “ What do we do if we NEED to go down as soon as possible?” Then I calmed myself just as quickly. All is well. God is good.

I grew up in the seventies and used to watch the Donny and Marie Osmond show every Friday night. Marie was a little bit country and Donny a little bit rock and roll, I remember these lyrics from one of their songs. They are presently playing at the Flamingo. I had to snap this photo of them…they look the very same as they did so long ago!

This is where we stayed, Harrah’s.

I took this photograph from one of the many pedestrian walking bridges overlooking the strip. At just about each block an escalator goes up to a walking bridge. With all the energetic walking, we were relieved to rest our legs on the moving escalators!

A lovely sight at Caesar’s Palace

On Wednesday morning we took the bus southbound to The Luxor Hotel. There was the Titanic Exhibit our niece Bri had told us about. If you are interested in this history of the Titanic that sunk near Halifax, you must not miss this! I couldn’t get photos as they are not allowed. As we started for the bus, this adorable fountain in front of Caesar’s Palace caught my eye. Isn’t it gorgeous?

At the beginning of the Titanic experience you are handed a boarding card with a passenger’s name on it. As you follow the exhibit you may read about your person and a short biography of his/ her life. The last display of the exhibit reveals all the passengers’ names and if they survived or not. My female passenger was 22 and newly married. She survived but sadly her husband did not. Tom’s passenger, a male captain, died. Many men died as mostly women and children were saved on the few life boats.

While walking through the exhibit, I felt sorrow consume me as broken dishes and teacups were on display. A comb, a mirror with an ivory handle, a chamber pot all brought me back in time. Many objects from bedrooms and the kitchen showed their age as well as the underwater damage.

In front of the Luxor


The cost of the Titanic tickets was worth it…even though seeing the monstrous part of the mid ship was devastating, it brought us to a place of understanding. It was humbling to learn more and see discovered artifacts from the shipwreck. I should have said a prayer for peace while we were there, but didn’t think of it.

My next post I’ll share my thoughts on Circus Du Soleil The Beatles Love show as well as our trip to Hoover Dam.

I hope you all are having an amazing week!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 😘

Hello, Las Vegas! Part I

In the past I didn’t have any desire to see Las Vegas…especially since I’m not a gambler nor a glitzy girl. Then when I started planning a special trip to celebrate my 50th birthday ( really in June but this is when we could travel), a sudden interest in exploring Las Vegas was born inside my inner core. I ambitiously browsed through Pinterest and saw all the enticing sights and activities in the city and then I was hooked. The pleasant weather appealed to me as well as the location in the west. Neither Tom nor I have ever been this west before. It would be a new and exciting adventure!

Two weeks ago Tom and I boarded a Southwest flight to Chicago in exciting anticipation of a new adventure! We connected to another flight in Las Vegas to arrive four hours later. We arrived in the “ City of lights” a few minutes of 9pm. Although we were tired and haggard from traveling from the East coast, we quickly checked in, stowed our luggage and explored where we stayed, Harrah’s on the strip. Every casino has a theme, Harrah’s being the carnival and Mardi Gras focus. That first night was perfect as we stumbled upon a little bar, Toby Keith’s Bar and Grill. With a festive atmosphere, country music and the appeal of a friendly crowd, Tom and I soaked it all in….we were actually in Las Vegas and over a thousand miles from home!

The view from our room in the Valley Tower of Harrah’s Hotel. Look at those mountains beyond the city! Wow!

The first morning we took in a quiet delicious breakfast in the hotel. The food was outstanding as well as the service. It amazed me throughout the week how kind people were! We met so many nice people to chat with and that made me happy as I seem to thrive on connecting with others. I talked with a man from Ohio on his adventure and a woman named Alexis ( which is my daughter- in- law’s name so I liked her right away) from Chicago. These sweet people are a perfect example of how much good there is in this world!

Tom enjoying our delicious breakfast!

The first day we explored nearby hotels and casinos like the fancy and dazzling Venetian. It was peaceful to gawk at the murals that sprawled in the grand entrance and throughout the hotel. Glitzy chandeliers hung with an elegance of Venice. A lovely fountain with statues greeted visitors, enticing perfect photo opportunities! I asked a lady and her daughter to snap a picture of us, as selfies aren’t our thing. They were willing to do this, bearing smiles and pleasantries.

At the Venetian

After exploring the Grand Canal shops, this awe struck couple walked to the adjoining Palazzo. Again charming decor and sights were on the menu. From there we walked down the strip going South towards the Flamingo.

If you plan on visiting this area, be aware that you will be probably be walking a lot. In a few days time Tom and I probably walked a good 25 miles or so. I loved it and was energized and ready for it! I wore my walking sneakers and good socks. Tom usually loves walking but wore work sneakers so they started bothering him on the second day. My advice is wear comfortable walking sneakers and have bottled water at all times. Try to download a good Vegas walking map to reference as you stroll. It helped us and we gained our bearing two days in. Take sitting breaks if your feet are bothering you. Many casinos and hotels have sitting accommodations and welcome everyone inside. There are bathrooms everywhere in the hotels so that’s not an issue.

Besides walking, there is the Deuce bus system that you can buy a 24 hour pass for that has stops along the strip. We rode on it south to the Luxor for the Titanic Exhibit. It was convenient and a nice ride. We also took two taxi rides, one from the airport and one to. It was costly but we thought it would be the best option, not knowing much about Uber.

The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat was an area of waterfalls, stretching palm trees towering above, ducks swimming up the man made brooks, pelicans grouped together in the shade, and cawing tropical birds hiding in branches. Fountains bubbled on display as people walked, laughed and snapped selfies in the sun. Benches were here and there as well as a Buddha to rub his belly for good fortune. I did this…I could use good fortune and luck for my life, although my prayers to God satisfy me.

Despite jet lag, we enjoyed our first day! Here we sat in the Flamingo wildlife habitat.

Tom at the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat, right on the strip.

A fountain we made a wish at.
Ah, a refreshing change from the pines we have in the Northeast!

That afternoon was a perfect day ( 86 degrees F) to rest in the sun at the pool. It was difficult finding two beach chairs that we didn’t need to pay for it but we managed finally. After a long and frigid winter in New Hampshire, I was content to soak up the heat and close my eyes a bit. Tom sat too but doesn’t love the sun so went back to the room to rest for our night outing.

That first night I convinced Tom that we had to take in the infamous Bellagio buffet. What man can refuse a good buffet? Walking down the strip in the sun, I people watched…something a writer always does and has ample material in places like Vegas. We went early around 5:30 and got right in. The food stretched throughout the banquet room with delicious aromas floating everywhere. There was a fresh roast beef about two feet high and as thick around and we watched the woman carve it with unfaltering ease as our mouths watered. There was a roast turkey, prime rib, and ham station. Fresh salmon, shrimp, mussels and crab legs were ready for the hungry crowd. Pasta, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes steamed in the chafing dishes. There was all kinds of colorful salads, roasted vegetables such as asparagus, eggplant and summer squash, which got added to my plate. Rolls and breads were available as well as soups. A dessert station overwhelmed me, as I went to Vegas with a mission to treat myself but maintain my weight. Chocolate mousse cups, peach parfaits, little Canolis, chocolate fudge brownies, mini pecan pies and much more were on a delightful display. I chose a mini canoli and a fudge brownie and enjoyed every last bite! That’s what you do on vacation, am I right? Wow..you haven’t experienced Vegas until you visit a buffet! Some other good ones are Flavors at Harrah’s and the one at the Flamingo.

The Bellagio

After filling our plates( I chose beef brisket, roasted vegetables and salad with blue cheese) and eating with content, but not being too full, Tom and I explored the Bellagio. More beauty, sights to see and these vibrant butterflies and umbrellas beckoned to have photos taken.

To close this long post ( I hope I didn’t bore you but possibly enlighten you) that evening we stayed to watch the Bellagio Fountains. There is a show every half hour during the day but every fifteen minutes at night. I can show you photos and describe it to you, but nothing will match being there live. The lit fountains swirl and dance with lovely music playing as the crowds watch. We were fortunate enough to hear Con te Patiro by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. Goosebumps went up and down my arms as I gazed and heard this magical show. It lasted a few amazing minutes and after, Tom and I looked at each other with love. Words couldn’t express how I felt…just that we had witnessed magic. The show is free as well but it’s best to get there early so you can see.

I hope you all have vacationed recently and enjoyed some time sightseeing. It filled my cup to the brim, to experience this lively city with my husband. My next post, part 2 will cover the Paris Casino and Eiffel Tower as well as Hoover Dam and the Nevada mountains.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕🥰