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 ❤️🎊

Suddenly the Stockings Were Filled

Forgive me my friends…I meant to post this on Christmas Eve but family celebrations and excitement prevented me from doing so. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas with family and friends. Happy holidays to all! 🎄❤️🎁

As I rummaged happily in our boxes of Christmas of long ago, mementos from past Christmases appeared hidden in the depths of the box. One of them was my Merry Christmas stocking I had as a child. It’s really the only stocking I possessed growing up. It’s threadbare and simple but all red with holly and a font out of the sixties. Many little toys and candies were tucked in it through the years. Tom also has his old red stocking, one that saw many Christmases and always held a clementine in the toe.

When I see my stocking I think back to Court Street in Haverhill, where I grew up in a huge blue Victorian. Every Christmas at 3 am, my sister and I crept down the stairs to snatch our stockings. We tiptoed quietly with an overflowing anticipation of surprises and the magic only Santa Claus can provide. We would go back to our beds to look at our goodies and snoozed back to sleep until later.

One significant memory remains vivid. It was in a different town south of Haverhill, Lebanon, New Hampshire on Williams Street. I was eight years old and still believing in all the miracles of Christmas. But something changed that night, a drastic knowledge and understanding of how Santa Claus really worked.

In the depths of a late Christmas Eve night , I excitedly lay in my bed with bubbling up anticipation. Suddenly I heard a creek of the floorboards and rustling movements. As a curious young girl of 8, I had to sneak a peek at Santa. For what stories I could share and I could finally see what he looked like in person! Sadly that day, some of the magic dissipated, for I caught my dad filling the stockings. “ What the **** are you doing?” That was my dad’s surprise reaction, as he think he was just as disappointed as I was. Even though I knew the truth after that, I still believed in all of the wonders of Christmas.

Our stockings are hung on the stair railing and on the bureau knobs. It still gives me a tremendous joy filling them and seeing my family’s faces light up with surprise and gratitude. It’s a simple tradition, one that Tom and I practice with each other and covertly hide our goods in anticipation of the dark hours of Christmas Eve. A little globe of a clementine nestles in each toe while the rest of the stocking holds warm gloves, hats, toothpaste, deodorant, chap stick and candy.

It’s always been our tradition to open our filled stockings first in the wee hours of Christmas morning. This year Dylan and Lexy will be here celebrating the holiday on Christmas Eve. They will open their stockings then. The next morning Branden, Tom and myself will open ours.

We are blessed beyond belief not only with material goods but the incredible gifts of health ( my previous health scare has subsided and thankfully with God’s help I’m okay), friendship, family and most of all love. These beautiful presents carry us through the hard times.

My family’s Christmas photo

I wish you all a Happy New Year 2020 with health and love. Be looking for more posts in January as my health is better and I’m ready to write and share!

When the cat photo bombs your Christmas photo attempt!

All My Best,

Mary ❤️🎉

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.

Celebrate Where You Are

From Livelifehappy.com

Do you remember when you envisioned what your adult life would be like? Is your story playing out the same way? Probably not. That’s okay! Life has its way of throwing surprises at us and sweet presents that are so unexpected.

As a young girl I aspired to be a teacher and would line up all my dolls and my little sister and proceed to teach them. Somewhere along the way I lost my dream and self confidence. I thought I wasn’t good enough to teach, to actually inspire children. Then as a 35 year old mom, my son’s preschool director asked me if I’d be interested in volunteering and helping out. After a few months that led to a full time job with children. From there I took early childhood education classes and landed a job as a reading paraeducator at a local school.

Fourteen years later I continue to teach young children every day. Yet I’m not a certified teacher but a paraeducator. I could continue college to complete it but I’m tired and I love what I’m doing now. So maybe I’m not living my childhood dream but that’s okay. For dreams change and take different forms as we age.

I am content where I’m at now…living and celebrating my life as it is. I’m not wallowing in lost dreams or questioning of what ifs. What’s the point of doing that? If I really think about it, my life and how it’s played out have far exceeded my expectations. I’m blessed beyond measure. My husband and I have raised two wonderful boys ( young men now), they both have met gems for girls, we hold steady jobs and we share our own haven we call home. That’s a blessed life I would say!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

I Wish Grandpas Never Died

Recently one of my Facebook friends mentioned a new Country song by Riley Green called I Wish Grandpas Never Died. I downloaded it right away on Spotify and fell in love with it. It instantly reminded me of my dear Grandpa Gould, who I lost in 1988 when I was in college. He had been sick for many years with a blood disease but it progressively got worse.

My early memories of Grandpa were of westerns and cowboys…it’s as if he was one himself and it ran through his veins. An old cow yoke hung in his living room and he was always watching the infamous Gunsmoke on television. When I stayed overnight that’s what we would watch with a candy bar or a bowl of Jiffy Pop popcorn. One of his favorite actors was John Wayne. I remember my mom rented him a vcr and videos of his best movies when he was sick. I think he truly enjoyed that even if he was not himself.

A photo my mom gave me a few years ago of my grandpa and I. My first birthday.

Grandpa loved to tell corny jokes and even if I didn’t think they were funny, I always laughed out of respect. He served in the United States Army and fought in World War ll in Germany. Grandpa rarely talked of those times, probably it was too painful to visit them in memory and even more so to share them with others. Although this was true, one time he recounted a story of enemy planes overhead. I asked him if I could interview him for a school paper and he obliged. Unfortunately my memory is terrible and I don’t remember any details from this exchange. Sadly it’s lost forever I guess.

This is a grandpa’s love…my grandpa and I . Look at how pudgy I was!

Growing up I was very close to my mother’s parents, Nanny and Grandpa Gould. When Nanny sometimes watched me Grandpa would come along. One time he helped me bake a mini cake in my Easy Bake Oven. Another time I hid from him at his house. My mother was calling for me and I thought it would was funny to hide behind Grandpa’s stuffed chair. I was four at the time and everyone panicked as my grandparents lived near a raging river. My family thought I got swept away or something and searched for several minutes, not finding me. Eventually someone discovered my charade. My grandpa spanked me twice. I’ll never forget it. He was scared. My mom and Nanny were terrified something had happened to me. I earned that spank and never hid from my family again. I respect my grandpa for teaching me right from wrong. This fleeting memory will always stay with me….one of respect and love.

My sister Barbie, my grandpa, my brother Del, me and my brother David celebrating Grandpa’s birthday.

I wish grandpas never died, that mine lived longer than he did. I wish he could’ve met my husband Tom and see us dance at our wedding. I wish he could’ve met my two sons and held them on his lap with pride. Mostly I long to talk to him and to Nanny about my life now. How I’m truly happy, much happier than I’ve ever been and that this life has been wonderful. I’ve made it that way!

I know Tom wishes his grandpa could’ve lived longer, he lost him when he was around 11. I know my sons’ wish Tom’s dad, their Papa Blowey could’ve lived to see them grow and thrive. He was the kind of grandpa that wrestled on the floor and played fun tricks to get the boys to laugh. One day when he had us over for dinner he placed a Billy Bass fish that sung on a platter. Around it there were french fries, making it look like real food. Once our family sat down to eat, he pushed the button and the fish started singing. The boys’ eyes popped out of their head with sheer amazement! He was a great grandpa to them and they remember that. How proud he would be, I’m sure he’s looking down with pride and knows how they turned out.

Tom’s dad

No one wants to say goodbye to their grandpa, the man who jokes, laughs and slips a treat here and there. But it’s all part of this life. We have to let go and move on. Thankfully we have our memories to keep dear to us. It’s amazing we had those moments, ones that we can keep forever, close to our hearts.

In memory

Stuart Gould, my grandfather

Thomas Blowey, Tom’s grandfather

Robert Blowey, Tom’s Dad, my sons’ grandfather

William Doyle, my paternal grandfather

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

A Glimpse of Fall

Beautiful serene Lake Willoughby in Westmore, Vermont

It’s a warm pleasant morning in the 50’s with the sun coming up to gift us a new day. October is well under way bringing a crinkled up mosaic of leaves in ambers, yellows, pinks and deep reds. Everywhere you venture in this land you see a patchwork of colors, immersing you in a new world other than rich greens. There’s no place I’d rather be than here in my home state in October!

My back yard showing the season.

Every October Tom and I indulge in a foliage ride in either New Hampshire or beautiful neighboring Vermont. Last year we ventured down the infamous Kangamangus highway through Lincoln into Waterville Valley, NH. Cars and people were everywhere, an indication of all the mystical beauty surrounding us. This year Tom mapped our journey ahead, planning to go through Dalton NH across the covered bridge into Vermont. We went through Lunenburg VT up north and stumbled upon lovely Lake Willoughby in Westmore, Vermont.

During our Sunday ride, the warm sun beat on us through the windshield. All we saw where idyllic farm lands, cows grazing in pastures, country dirt roads, as seasonal turned leaves lit the way as we rode. We didn’t pass many stores, gas stations nor restaurants. This ride held lost north country lands and homes that host quiet rural living. It was the perfect foliage ride of peace and exploration!

Upon entering Westmore, Vermont we were greeted by massive cliffs with surreal views. A sprawling Lake Willoughby was on our left as we explored the winding road parallel to it. We came upon a small beach where a few families eagerly snapped photos, as we did. A lone canoe and a small kayak were parked on the beach, beckoning one to venture out on the lake. Across the road a quaint country store stood with a small campground beyond. Hiking trails wound through the woods, appealing to nature enthusiasts.

Tom and I decided that we would visit Lake Willoughby again in the future and trek up one of the trails. It’s peaceful and tranquil gorgeousness spoke to our souls. It’s not often that we find such peace, one that can’t be described in mere words. Silence does it justice for this level of tranquility needs no words, just paying homage to it’s beauty.

Coming home we were fortunate to be able to see fall colors in our own yard, solidifying our love for our land. Going on a foliage road trip is exciting, especially when you explore a new place you’ve never seen before. The only perfect ending to that scenario is returning to the subtle serenity of the place where you belong, home.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🍁❤️

It’s All About Tomatoes!

Last night we had a hard frost here in northern New Hampshire. Despite the glittery ice frosting the plants in the garden as well as the flowers in the window boxes, stark reminders of the growing season lie on the kitchen counter, fresh garden tomatoes. Red ripe juicy globes await to be roasted into sweet caramelized sauce. An overflowing bowl of more tomatoes will be simmered slowly into a thick spaghetti sauce for pasta.

Tomatoes ripening

Every late September into early October, I allot my weekends to put up my tomatoes. Sometimes I make spaghetti sauce and others I roast them. In preparation for the sauce, first I boil them with their skins on. After that I plunge the beauties into a cold water bath. This process makes it easier to skin them.

With cutting board and a sharp knife, I cut out bad spots. Next I load them in the blender and pulse it so they’re smooth. It’s time to simmer the sauce with basil, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, a tablespoon of Olive Oil and two tablespoons of sugar. I also add Prego Spaghetti sauce to thicken it. It still tastes homemade but hold together better in a thick yummy sauce.

Tomatoes are a wonderful tasty addition to stir frys, grilled cheese sandwiches, pesto veggie sandwiches and one of Tom’s favorites BLTs. Once you’ve home grown your own tomatoes, you get spoiled for the taste knocks it out of the ballpark and you can’t go back to store bought. The taste just isn’t the same!

Can you taste that scrumptious tomato? I’ll enjoy a few more before next September. The wait will be long and difficult, but it will be well worth the wait!

Until next time enjoy those fresh tomatoes!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

Do What You LOVE

My first blog photo from January 2016.

One thing that I’ve learned in this crazy life and hold dear to my heart is to do what you love. I’ve learned by trial and error how to follow my passion and steamroll forward without any worry about anything or what others think. It’s my journey and mine alone and others may not understand it…for it’s not theirs to own.

My loves of gardening and writing complete me and are sacred to me during this phase of my life.With that said, my life has been hurried the last month or so and I haven’t been doing what I love continuously. We had Florida and Massachusetts family visit for a few weeks and with that came nice sessions on our new deck and delicious meals made by my mother- in-law and sister- in- law. School started and with it came changes within the staff, forcing me to adjust to a new teacher working with me. It’s been fine, more than fine and I’m happy how things are going now. But somehow I disconnected from this blog and all of you, who I consider good friends. Because of this I’ve been empty a bit and the longer I went not writing this, the harder it’s been to comeback. Does that make sense?

 One special thing we did when my mother-in- law Theo was here was going out to eat with Butson’s friends. Years ago we all worked together in the supermarket, some in bakery, deli or produce departments. It was great to catch up and connect and especially to laugh!

I hope to catch up with you, post photos of my garden and what I’ve been doing the last six weeks. I know I’m back now…pursuing what I love and sharing it all with you. I have missed you all and hope your lives have room for what you love!

All My Best,

Mary ❤️🥰

Everything Zucchini!

73E72BFD-1E28-4EC7-897D-36D2FD76B957.jpeg Most gardeners know there’s a harvest time of scarcity and a time of plenty. Usually when the garden starts producing, it’s slow. I pick rich green leaves of lettuce and herbs first while I patiently wait for other veggies to be ready. It’s mid- August and I’ve been picking zucchini consistently for about two weeks. Most days I pick at least two or three green squashes. Bringing my kitchen shears comes in handy as I need them to cut the thick stem while I hold the squash stem tightly with my other hand and twist it. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with a severed stem. This happened to me the other day forcing me to use that squash right away. It seems to dry out without a stem. Some ways I use zucchini are: zucchini mini bread chocolate zucchini bread zucchini carrot muffins chocolate zucchini cake stuffed zucchini with hamburger, rice, chopped tomatoes and cheese ( made pretty closely to stuffed peppers but in a hollowed out zucchini squash ) sautéed zucchini with summer squash ( in butter) zucchini spice whoopie pies ( see a recipe soon!)
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Can you spy the zucchini sandwiched between the corn and broccoli?
However you use this hearty vegetable, it will surely satisfy your family! Thankfully zucchini is easy to grow and hard to kill. No matter the weather, the plants always grow well with enough weeding and watering. Every year I tend to have too much of it so I share with family and my co- workers. In past years I’ve grown less but this year I had a lot from seeds, about eight vivacious plants. All My Best, Heart and Soul 🥰

Nature’s Perfume

Thanks to my honey Tom I have an Oriental Lily in my garden greeting every visitor at the cusp of the door. This thoughtful man gifted it to me on my birthday. Last week I was surprised when two opened up wide and two days later another two bloomed. It’s aromatic presence entices and soothes your olfaction receptors. Ah, a beautiful scent! I can even smell it inside the kitchen through the window screen!

You may remember from a post a few weeks ago that my Coneflowers weren’t doing so well from the late cool start. Now they all have blossomed and are doing well. I noticed they aren’t as tall as I’d like but I imagine they will grow taller every year, weather providing.

All My Best,

Mary ❤️🥰