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💕💕💕💕

Spending More Time With Family & Friends

Okay let’s be honest here! How many of you truly keep your New Year’s resolution and honor it throughout the whole year? I’ve never kept my intention, not from not caring about it but life gets busy with work and commitments and it gets pushed to the wayside. With that….it’s lost and forgotten replaced with to do lists, bills to pay, etc.

My interest in setting a new year goal for 2020 was sparked by my daughter- in-law Lexy. She shared that she and her best friend were getting together to set New Years goals. I liked the idea of sharing with a friend for accountability sake but it can also turn into a fascinating conversation. Sharing your positive intentions for the new year opens up channels of new ideas and thoughts fostered through friendship. I have always kept my resolutions private and perhaps that’s why I’ve failed at them. Maybe I’ll start shouting from the rooftops of my goal, with a true desire to reach it.

This year I honestly intend to spend more time with friends and family, especially since I’m feeling better. I may go to lunch more often, make a few more phone calls, write quick sweet notes and send them in the mail. I want to see my mom and dad more, making the trips to their homes. I’m blessed to still have them and their spouses alive, in their seventies and early eighties. They mean the world to me and I want them to know how fortunate and happy I feel to have them.

When our Florida family comes in the summer I wish to connect through down to earth talks, nice country walks or by lounging on our deck in the sunshine. I want to hear stories of how their life is going down there and have Tom reminisce of old times growing up and of relatives passed but not forgotten.

This year I vow that I’ll try to keep this goal alive and not hidden. I wish to connect more, talk more, laugh more and let my friends and family know how precious they are to me. 2020 will be an amazing year of wonderful possibilities to carry my resolution through. I pray to God for me to carry it through and reach out to people even more than I have!

What’s your New Year’s resolution and what is your strategy for keeping it alive and going all year?

All My Best for the new year,

Mary🎉🥰

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 ❤️🎊

Cookie Day 2019

A few years ago

Every year my mom, sister and niece gather with me to celebrate the holidays. Our true intention is to create a way to connect over a busy few weeks of the holidays. We soak it all in in one Saturday afternoon, gazing at our Christmas tree and decorations, toasting to our kinship and time together and lastly but not least, we bake cookies.

In previous years we have all brought ingredients to mix and bake one type of cookie. I’ve made peanut butter kiss cookies, chocolate crinkles and cherry chocolate cookies in the past. Now that we’ve mastered this tradition we have gotten smarter. The three of us mix the dough ahead and bring to bake them together. This saves time and space, for four busy bakers in one kitchen can get confusing.

The last several years us girls held cookie day at my house. This year we had it at my sister’s new home about 45 minutes north of me. My mom met me at my house with all her goodies and we packed my car for the ride.

This year’s cookie day toast

My niece Ella Kate rolled out sugar cookies playfully while we listened to Christmas classics such as Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. We rolled and we laughed. We taste tested and reminisced of days of old when we were little girls at Christmas. My mom made coconut macaroons with a new twist, a plopped Hershey’s chocolate kiss on top. I made peanut butter blossoms with kisses. I designated Ella as my helper to unwrap all the kisses so that when the cookies were done we could quickly press them on each treat. One year I messed up by not preparing them ahead and in the time it took to unwrap them, the cookies started to cool and the kisses didn’t melt and stick. Take my advice, do the prep ahead of unwrapping so once the cookies come out of the oven, the kisses are ready!

We were all having such a good time baking, decorating and talking, I forgot that I had another bowl of chocolate kisses and started using my mom’s. The bowl was hidden among other plates and bowls and I discovered them after I used my mom’s! I easily get side tracked in a hoopla of fun but live and learn! No harm done.

While I’m talking about Christmas cookies I wish to share an awesome yummy cookie recipe I found on tv. For a few weeks I was hooked on watching Giada’s Holiday Handbook, watching her craft holiday treats for her family and friends. I jotted down a few recipes including her Peppermint Sandwich Cookies, little light whoopie pie like cookies with a peppermint filling inside. I made them for my family and co- workers and they were a hit!

  • Giada’s Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

You will need:

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 4 oz melted bittersweet chocolate ( cooled a bit)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. Nonfat yogurt or Greek yogurt, I used nonfat
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

For peppermint frosting:

  • 2 sticks ( 1 c ) softened butter
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
  • dash salt
  • 8-10 peppermint patty candies chopped

Combine dry ingredients. Set aside. Mix wet ingredients. Gradually fold in dry ingredients to the wet mixture. It will resemble cake batter. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375 F. Drop tablespoonfuls if dough, five across and 3 down on a standard baking sheet. Bake about 9 minutes.

Cool on rack. Meanwhile mix frosting together. Once cookies are cool, add filling on one cookie and sandwich with another. Can be refrigerated or kept in a sealed plastic container.

You can freeze any leftover frosting for another time. I tried it and it was delicious once I thawed it out.

Serve with pride and expect to have an empty serving platter after. They are delicious!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul😘

Lil’ Moments

Lately I have been caught up in everyday life, so immersed in it that I’ve neglected my blog. It’s been over three years that I’ve written it and shared my life with you all and I’m truly thankful for the friends I’ve made through it. I go through times of not knowing what I should share and what should remain silent. Also I’ve been battling a health issue that hopefully will be resolved soon. For the first time in weeks, last night beautiful ideas blessed me and so I will share.

I’ve had a few little moments that have touched my heart, making my week special when I needed it. The other day a little first grader who I work with shared with me that he had never tried a gingerbread man. Can you believe that…six years old and he has never held the little arms and legs of a gingery spicy treat adorned with sweet icing and raisins for buttons!

It brought me back to my younger days when I was a little girl. My mom used to bake big gingerbread men and poked a hole in the top. That way we could lace ribbon through the hole and hang them on the bristly branches of our Christmas tree. I would sample a cookie here and there, savoring the spice on my tongue.

my sister and I at Christmas. Notice mom’s gingerbread men on the tree!

I went home the same day and promised to myself that I would fulfill that little boy’s wish and bring little gingerbread men in for my reading groups. I think I’ll bring icing and candies for the kids to decorate. Maybe he will love them as I did or if not , at least he can say that Mrs. Blowey baked gingerbread men for school and that he didn’t care for them.

Another lil’ moment was when another first grade boy chose to write about me in his circle journal. Every Friday the class has a journal with a little circle and in are pieces labeled of different activities they did or learned in school. The teacher modeled several sentences they could write about and one was of the music teacher and how she is kind in class. This little boy announced that he would write about me because I am fun. It was a sweet thing to say, something I’m proud of, because not only am I teaching growing minds but I’m spreading kindness and joy in my groups as well.

Ever since I’ve lost a colleague to cancer a few years ago, my true intention is to make a difference. Her spirit reminds me to play with the kids, to laugh deep belly laughs and to make school a fun place to be for them. I cherish her memory as well as her teaching ideas and have taken her kindness and joy and made it my every day mantra.

My sons Branden and Dylan

Yesterday my son Dylan came for his after work ritual. He stops by every day, either just before his night summer job or for hunting. He was gathering his hunting clothes while I sat quietly in the window watching snowflakes magically scatter outside. It was serene and beautiful, a lovely way to unwind after a busy day at school. Suddenly Dylan ran to me and gave me the biggest hug! He does hug me, for I’m his mother, but this one was different. It not only spoke of love but friendship and appreciation. I value these small moments of connections with my son, as they don’t happen all the time. Life is busy and even though we talk mostly every day, sentiments and hugs are not always included. Now I ask myself, why not? For I love this young man I gave birth to many years ago and he loves me.

My son Dylan and I at his wedding
My son Branden and I

Lastly my youngest son, Branden sent me a Facebook message saying, “ I love you so much.” He doesn’t always convey his feelings either! What a special day of love from my guys! I’m not sure what stars were aligned in the universe or if God gifted me these lil’ moments to carry me though my trials. He always has my back, even when I’m sick. I believe He has the best intentions and deepest love for me. That carries me through anything. I’m blessed beyond measure and I trust He will walk beside me all the way.

As I wrap this up, I challenge you to notice the little things, for they are truly the big most important things. Your child’s little hug or smile, a friend’s message, a colleague’s act of kindness….whatever it is, relish in it. Accept the love and then pay it forward.

All My Best,

Mary 💕

I’m thankful I get up every day with open eyes and a loving heart.

Being Gutsy…

My nephew Lucas and my dad, who everyone calls Top Shelf

Being gutsy is staying true to your beliefs and values

even when someone challenges you

Being gutsy is staying strong in any situation

easy or difficult, either way being on top is the

positive outlook ( a few years ago my dad lay in a hospital bed

sick but told the nurse he was on the “ top shelf”)

Being gutsy is fighting cancer everyday but laughing

anyway and finding the joys in every day( my niece is doing this, fighting

but mostly importantly LIVING)

Being gutsy is working hard day in and day out

having a strong work ethic and taking pride in every action

( my husband Tom practices this and it’s one of the many reasons

that I love him and I’m proud of him)

I know many souls that are gutsy

they’re living with extreme strength

and faith

with a quiet and steadfast perseverance

Rest In Peace Mrs. Geneen

Maybe you live gutsy

Plowing forward through your troubles

Making the best of it

Praying to God

and having eternal faith that all will be well.

Here’s to all the gutsy people in my life,

they have taught me strength

Persistence, confidence, and faith.

My cousins and I. Carmen in the middle

Anita, Sherrie, Dad, Tom, Laura ( Rest In Peace), Mrs. Geneen for your strength and example ( Rest In Peace) ,Theo for her strength through her trials, my cousin Carmen who has battled back from a horrific attack and tours now to teach others , my stepfather Gary and many more.

Theo on the right front, a woman who smiles no matter what
My niece Ella and my stepfather Gary who has had recent health challenges but still on top

All My Best,

Mary 💜🌈

Turning Fifty!

My friends and family. My daughter in law Lexi on the far left, friend Irene and my friend ( her sister) Anita, me, my sister Barb, back row left my brother in law Pat, co- worker and friend Beth, co- worker and friend Stacie, friend Kathy, friend Michelle, back row, son Dylan, Toms friend Mike, my husband Tom and Kathy’s boyfriend Bob.

A few weeks ago I turned fifty and I really have no problem with it! People I chat with about it almost compare it to going up a tedious hill and how it’s the start of the aging process. Sure, I guess I am closer to retirement now within 15 years and perhaps I’ll start seeing physical and mental changes. But maybe I won’t! Maybe I’ll continue to feel great physically and keep learning about myself and be stronger than I ever have been! That’s all I can strive for, to climb that mountain easily and smile because I conquered it!

Months ago I decided that I wanted us to go on a milestone trip marking the big 50. So we traveled to Las Vegas and had quite an adventure! Next Tom will turn 60 next July and he’s thinking of where he wants us to go to. I also wished to have a little get together with some family members, friends and co-workers to celebrate. It was a great party with my music coming from Dylan’s speakers, good food such as meatballs, a vegetable tray, quinoa salad from my friend Anita, guacamole and tortilla chips, macaroni and pasta salads.

I feel blessed to be as healthy as I am, happily married to a wonderful man who is my friend and a mom to two amazing sons who have conquered the world with hard work and humility. Even though my age is half a century, I still feel like a 22 year- old but with an aged mind and a whole lot of life experience that has brought me wisdom. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. All the stupid mistakes I’ve made have seasoned me and have propelled me to learn and grow.

Tom and I in the 99 degree heat at Hoover Dam!

I’m in the Fifty club now and it’s entirely okay! I look forward to coming years as I age. Hopefully I can remain healthy and happy!

All My Best,

Mary

A Fun Cousin Reunion

July 1, 2019

From left to right me, my cousin Mary ( who had the same first and last name as me), my cousin Carmen, my cousins Michelle and Lisa, my sister Barb and my cousin Holly in the back row)

My sister and I rode South today to our cousin Lisa’s beautiful home in Ashland, New Hampshire for a cousin’s reunion. The day was steamy and sunny, perfect for sitting on the screened porch. We all caught up over iced tea and lemonade, appetizers such as Artichoke dip and tortillas, a delicious Quinoa salad my sister made ( made with quinoa, feta cheese, avodaco, tomatoes), a beautiful cheese and cracker tray with Fontina and Pepper Jack, Michelle’s chocolate peanut butter cups, my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and Holly’s cream horn medallions( recipe to follow on my next post).

A delicious glimpse of desserts, cream horn bites and chocolate peanut butter cups.

We didn’t have all the cousins there as many live far away. The cousins who could come caught up with our stories, ones of our family and careers, getting older and the dread of finding white and gray hairs and about nostalgic memories at Grammy and Grampa Doyle’s house. We reminisced of Grampa or Poppy (as my cousin Mary calls him) would lay on the couch and grab us children and begin the tickle war. He would stick his tongue out and laugh with such glee. My Grammy had a grinder business ( sub sandwiches for those of you who have never heard of the term) in her house and I remember once or twice seeing her make them. There were races sledding down the hill when you couldn’t stop and banging hard on the out of tune piano on the porch. We all have fond memories of those days on the hill in West Fairlee, Vermont.

My Uncle Mel brought boxes of pictures for us to look at and encouraged us to keep a few if we wished. It was fun thumbing through our dad’s photos and his family growing up. In the photo above my dad is the tallest boy on the right. I didn’t recognize him at first but we decided it truly was him. It does my heart good to see these precious moments captured and I’m thankful Uncle Mel brought them.

Uncle Mel

So it turned out to be a fun successful day celebrating cousins. Many of us have been busy raising families and haven’t always connected. Even so, we have our childhood memories and our blood lineage to connect us. Perhaps we will have this event again and maybe even more Doyle cousins will attend. It’s something special to look forward to and maybe when all of us have grandchildren they will come too!

All My Best,

Mary ❤️

At the End of the Day

At the end of the day…

the small hamlet

is as hushed as a whisper

yet nearby peepers rattle their tunes

breaking the silence

lulling me to slumber

At the end of the day…

whatever negative occurrences

that happened don’t seem to matter

What remains are the beautiful moments

The warm peachy sunset promises

a bright new day ahead

A chance to commence anew

to rid all of your resentments

A cleansing and renewal

of sorts

At the end of the day

I thank God for the chance to live

and love.

My son Dylan and husband Tom. You can tell it’s at the end of the day…Tom looks pretty tired! God bless them!

All My Best,

Mary 💕

Just Like You & Me

Last month Tom and I boarded a Southwest flight to Chicago in exciting anticipation of a new adventure! We would connect to another flight to arrive four hours later in Vegas. I met the nicest Chicagoan who sat in the window seat next to us on the plane. Her name was Alexis, sharing her name with my special daughter-in-law! This coincidence cemented my immediate like for this kind woman.

She told me that she was headed to Las Vegas for a finance convention where she would work all week. We shared a special forty minutes before landing. The sun was setting as we passed by miles and miles of red rock mountains and untouched land. Eventually the bright lights of the city shone with mountains beyond it. After wonderful, friendly conversations and a smooth flight, Alexis and I hugged and bid our goodbyes. I knew that I’d never see her again but I would remember her warm kindness. Once again God introduced me to an angel on a plane ride, something I’m extremely grateful for because of my flying anxiety.

The ride to Hoover Dam from a lookout

I have been blessed beyond measure with all my recent airplane rides. Each flight I sat by truly kind and personable people. One young lady was a professor going to see her sister in Austin. Another father and son were traveling from Dallas to Boston for a father son weekend, for a special game they were attending. Another older gentleman was visiting his daughter. All these passengers were like you and me, traveling to a destination, sharing moments with me as we took off into the wide blue sky and held on tightly as we landed back on ground. We all put our lives in that pilot’s hands, especially in God’s mercy as we maneuvered our way across the country.

A beautiful part of traveling is connecting with others, other souls who hold a special story. Some may mirror mine and others not so much. Yet all our lives meet in the airplane, meant to be in our lives for a few hours. I’d like to call these passengers potential friends and not strangers. Strangers sounds cold and disconnected. All these people touched my life in a small but sincere way. We all rested, talked, laughed or simply sat on a plane, shared our journey in the sky and then landed to continue our life.

As I look forward to my future trips on planes and conquering my intense fear of them ( loss of control), I can’t wait to see how many more kind folks I cross my path with. I believe God has given me these experiences as gifts to heal my fears and so far it’s working!

On my last trip my mom and I landed in the little airport Love Field. My brother picked us up and the three of us had to walk to the parking garage. Mom and I rejoiced being on solid ground once again. As we strolled through the outer edge of the lot, we watched the Southwest airplanes take off and land. They were just a few hundred feet from us, giving us a front seat view. I was in awe as this monstrous vehicle smoothly sped up the strip and took off with such grace and precision. This experience gave us a brand new respect for airplanes and the pilots who maneuver them.

Lastly I want to share with you what I do when getting off the plane. Every now and then the cockpit will be open after the flight and the pilot and co- pilot will be standing there, both in uniform. This gives me a chance to connect and voice my “thank you!” It is with sincere appreciation that I say this, for that helps me beat the fear of loss of control. I also make sure to heartily thanks the stewardesses and male stewards, as they work hard to make it a comfortable flight.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 😃