Being Grateful for Challenges

I’m at the point of my life that I appreciate and accept challenges that arise on this rollercoaster of life. Trying trials and challenges are meant to be written in my story. They present difficulties to overcome and conquer, all that test my heart, my perseverance and strength. These are all God’s gifts, part of his master plan for us to grow inwardly, to accept in our lives and thrive once we’ve overcome the hurdles.

Every challenge in my life have taught me unique lessons, ones that I carry with me everyday. They’ve been sewn into my cloth, embedded in my inner soul and have made my path sweeter and smoother. The nerve damage injury I had for two years, the horrifying enclosed MRI test that taught me that I have a phobia of closed dark spaces. Even so I talked myself into enduring the annoying and terrifying test. It taught me right away that I can do anything that I set my mind to do!

I’m grateful for difficulties and tests because each time I made it to the top, with the help of God of course! I am much stronger than I ever knew or expected. Much of my life I haven’t known myself, adopting a sweet but meek persona. That’s okay. It’s how I survived but now I know myself better, relying on my strength to guide me. I’ve risen higher than I ever have due to my strength. It ( with the Lords help) equals steel, a permanent fixture, something that I intend to nurture and maintain.

The next time you face an unpredictable difficulty that brings you to your knees, remember that “ this too shall pass” and that it could have happened for a reason. Any adversity in your path will surely build a wall of strength. Life holds not only pleasant times but tough moments, a patchwork of sweet and sour memories. Without hard challenges we wouldn’t appreciate the joys in life!

Have a blessed week and as you maneuver through your days, have faith that the stresses and challenges are fleeting. These hard moments will fade but the lessons they provide will build you into who you are meant to be…strong!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕🥰

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Plants in Progress!

The cucumbers and squashes!

About two weeks ago I shared with you all my latest venture with growing plants indoors. I figured that I needed to start super early here in northern New Hampshire, zone 4b. ( according to the USDA map) Usually I buy my plants already started and we plant them in early June. This year I thought that I could start them indoors and transfer to our greenhouse sometime in May.

In just two short weeks the Boston Pickling Cucumbers and Straight Eights are thriving and look like they may need repotting within a week or two. Now I’m on the hunt for bigger containers to repot them before we leave for Las Vegas in late April. ( I will dedicate a post to that trip soon after)

Now I know that this process doesn’t take long indoors! I’ll plant the seeds in early May next year for a month of growth before putting in the ground. So this year we will have to try to baby them until it’s safe to plant outdoors! Thankfully we have our new greenhouse to help next month.

Happy planting friends! Have a blessed week!

All My Best,

Mary ❤️


Staying Calm

Lately I’ve been re-evaluating my state of inner peace and calmness. While randomly reading, I’ve stumbled upon an abundance of material relating to being calm. This is purely coincidental yet fortunate as I’m seeking this. As I work on inner peace, it seems natural to focus on being calm.

Let me tell you candidly that my personality is the farthest from calm you can get! I’ve always been hyper, loud, anxious and nervous. I’ve accepted this for its who I am, but with that, I also desire to change some of my ways! I wish to instill peace and calmness in my life replacing anxiety.

Living in a calm state is a challenge, especially in this hectic world we live in. By turning on the news we see devestating occurrences that build a deep rift in our state of peace, severing any calmness within us. Jumping on your cell phone, answering multiple texts constantly and trying to stay ahead of emails can try someone’s inner peace. But I believe that we have a choice!

I choose NOT to own a cell phone. I know, I know, you may think I’m behind the times and fighting society’s norms. I am doing that…but I’m also choosing calmness! Without a cell phone I am not bound to constant calls and I’m truly happy without it!

Lately I’m working on staying calm as a reaction to others. Sometimes people say hurtful things or lash out at you with negativity. In these situations it’s helpful to keep your emotions in check. Is becoming angry going to help or hinder the situation? My suggestion is to keep calm, walk away, breathe deeply and feel the emotions and then let them go.








Staying calm is any situation can be difficult, especially when you’re exhausted. Make sure you get plenty of sleep at night. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Drink lots of water. Journal all your feelings that overwhelm you. All these practices are medicinal and will not only make you feel great, but will aid your emotional and mental states.


My flower garden is a source of calm.

I truly miss my yard of vibrant yellows, deep purples and red flowers, all that keep me calm and centered in the summertime. The flowing green, cool grass on my feet, the cooing of morning doves and the songs of twittering birds all contribute to my peaceful world. I can’t wait for real spring and summer to relish all of these. Nature keeps me grounded and content.

In the meantime I exercise, go for walks in this small country town, read and write for calmness, and take care of my emotions so that I can thrive as a human, a wife, and a mom.

How do you stay calm in difficult situations? Are there vital things that contribute to your sense of peace?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

Seed Starting Indoors


My Sunday project, planting seeds indoors! Check out our snow in the yard!

Here I am on a sunny Sunday launching my summer garden by planting indoors! I got the idea last week after reading a bit about it. First I discovered Bear Creek Heirloom Seeds on Facebook from a friend’s post. She had just received her seed stash and was excited for the growing season! I did some research and decided to go ahead and buy my seeds instead of what I usually do. Every year I frequent Wal- mart and buy organic seeds from Burpee or Better Homes and Garden. But how do I know if they are GMO? Also all that time I was supporting a huge company instead of favoring a family run business. Additionally I would buy my tomato, cucumber, eggplant, all squashes, and basil plants already grown at a local greenhouse. (Here in New Hampshire you need a jump start for successful growing as it’s a short season. ) Now I’ve resolved to support this seed company owned by a little family in Missouri. All their seeds are organic and GMO and are heirloom seeds.

First I jotted down my growing list and decided what seeds I’d start now, giving them just over two months indoors. I’m growing Black Beauty eggplant, crookneck Summer Squash, Zucchini, orange Butternut Squash, Martino’s Roma Tomatoes, Tappy’s Heirloom Tomatoes, Straight Eight cucumbers, Boston Pickling cucumbers, corn and cabbage ( free seeds the company sent me).

Next I figured out what seeds could wait until June. I always plant carrots, green beans, lettuce,spinach, thyme, cilantro, oregano, and beets then. Those will do well in the warm ground and won’t need a boost.

We have a pretty warm room facing South. It’s bright and sunny, an ideal spot for germinating plants. Tom brought in our six foot folding table and placed in front of the window. I bought a growing tray and dome for a greenhouse effect for some of the seeds, a growing light with two LED lightbulbs, Happy Frog Potting Mix and wooden popsicle sticks for marking the types. Luckily we saved the plastic plant trays from last year. They are perfect to start the seeds with little wells in a tray of four.

I opened the soil mix and stirred it around, preparing it for planting. It warmed up easily in the window. Tom made a marker for 1/4 and 1/2 inch holes to plant the seeds so I could easily place it in, tuck a seed or two in and then gently cover with the mix. Each plant has a different planting depth.After prepping each tray I put the veggie marker in so I wouldn’t forget! It would be easy to do…the whole time I was visiting with my daughter in law and sometimes I can’t do two things at a time! Haha!

I tried really watering them well the first day. I bought a little water spritzer for watering the seeds, yet I don’t know how much to soak them from here on out. I sprayed it several times as the mix dried out quickly in the heated area. Today I’ll soak it well and hope that I get in a routine of watering everyday.

I intend on using the growing light on gloomy and dark days and a few hours after the sun goes down. I don’t feel comfortable leaving it on when we go to work as it gets quite hot. It will help keep the babies toasty.

So that was my Sunday project, immersing in the potting mix, plopping seeds in and hopefully giving birth to our garden gems. This hobby probably came from my dad, who has gardened much of his adult life as well as his father, my grandfather who has passed away years ago.

Are you planning or planting your seeds now? Do you have any advice for me, as this is really new to me?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🌞

A New Lifestyle ( My tips on Successful Weight Loss)

Before
at 162 lbs

About 10 months later,
after at 132 lbs


Listen to me…I’m no expert nor do I pretend that I know what the right practices for your lifestyle will be. I’ll tell you what I do know and what I’m 100 % confident about as it pertains to my life. If you want to lose weight and become fit, you need to throw away the word diet from your vocabulary. Once you commit to a diet it solidifies pressure on many aspects of your life such as your eating habits, social eating, your exercise regiment, etc. This kind of deep hold on your life works but what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t last. Eventually it fizzles out!

My weight loss journey unexpectedly was launched through a stressful situation. I don’t wish this on anyone but it catapulted me into a different version of my life. It was a negative that transformed into a life changing positive. ( Thank you God) I was living from one sweet to the next with an overload of non-nutritious foods on the menu. I didn’t exercise nor did I wish to. I was sick for weeks every winter with a run down immune system. Lastly my emotional and mental well being went haywire, thrusting me into rough waters to try to swim out of.

One day I woke up…really emerged and I asked myself, is this the way I want to truly live, to exist and not thrive? That day I set a mini goal on the horizon, that I lose a little weight for my son’s wedding. Then I started eating healthier and lighter. Instead of eating a whole sandwich at lunch, I cut back to a half. I snacked on almonds, pistachios, fruit and veggies and hummus. I walked a few times a week with my neighbor Anita, not only experiencing a great workout but a mental strengthener from our enlightening conversations.

As my journey progressed, I maintained active in my garden and did yard work. I stacked wood with Tom while sucking my abs and bottom in. ( This sounds wacky but I feel it helped) I practiced my old Denise Austin aerobic/ exercise/ weight training dvd a few times a week. I journaled( and still do this) all the meals and snacks I ate so that I would see what I actually shoved in my mouth on a daily basis. It’s a fantastic way to stay accountable to yourself. This has been quite an eye opener as I didn’t realize how much I was eating. Journaling goes hand in hand with meal and snack planning. Jot down what your meals and snacks will be for the week and use this for a generated grocery list. Try a variety of foods so you don’t tire of your choices.

stin also has a website and free exercise videos here and there

One trick that worked for me was not weighing myself. In the past on my weight loss journey, I would get upset if the scale didn’t favor me so in turn I ate. This time I went for months not weighing myself but gauged my progress through how I felt physically and how my clothes fit me. As they got baggier and bigger I knew that I was getting favorable results. Now I weigh myself once a week at school for The Biggest Loser program, which isn’t a competition but an individual track of your personal weight loss.

As of yet I have lost 33 pounds and feel unbelievable! I feel healthy, fit and in turn that helps me emotionally and mentally. Knock on wood, I haven’t caught the flu or even a cold this winter! Proper sleep at night and a multi- vitamin has its benefits as well.

Here are some of my tips that may help you:

Start small without huge expectations and pressure

Downscale your meals at first, focusing eating a variety of fresh vegetables, a protein every meal and limited carbs like potato and rice

Eat two snacks a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. That would put you at five times a day of eating( three meals and two snacks)

Drink lots of water and stay hydrated

Start exercising a few minutes at a time every day or every other day. I started at three times a week with the dvd and now I practice it four to five days a week, 50 minute workouts every time

Walk with a friend twice a week to start. Make sure you stretch first to avoid painful Charlie horses at night. This happened to me last summer! Ouch!

I skip eating bread all but maybe a piece of toast a week and sometimes a half a sandwich at lunch. It’s been a tough adjustment as I love bread! But I’ve done it and sometimes I treat myself!

Try to not talk too much about your new lifestyle, unless it’s collaboration with a friend who is doing the same thing.  Sometimes talking about a diet to everyone puts pressure on yourself.

Try simple body moves while washing the dishes or brushing your teeth. I do a stretch where I try to keep my heels up tall and squeeze my legs, calves, thighs, inner thighs, bottom and abs as I go up and down a few reps. While washing dishes I kick my legs up on each side six reps while sucking my abs and bottom in.

My great snack ideas that have worked for me:

Carrot or celery sticks with hummus ( I love red pepper and the garlic flavors)

celery sticks with peanut butter

10 whole cashews, 15 almonds,or 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

apple slices and peanut butter ( sometimes I sprinkle dark chocolate chips and granola pieces on them)

pretzels with hummus

roasted chick peas 1/4 cup a serving, a great source of protein!

Avocado slices and ak- mak sesame crackers

one orange, two clementines, half a banana, one cup berries are all one serving for me

one mini box of raisins


Breakfast ideas:

One piece of whole grain toast ( I buy loaves of freshly baked bread from a bakery in Vermont that sells to Shaw’s) with two tablespoons peanut butter, a half of banana or apple slices

An overnight oatmeal cup, 1/2 cup steelcut oats, 1/2 cup milk, one tablespoon peanut butter, place in a small mason or jelly jar, set in fridge overnight. The next morning add apple chunks or banana slices and more milk if needed. You can eat this hot or cold, I enjoy it cold.

1/2 cup Grape Nuts or Kasha Shredded Wheat cereal with fruit

1 cooked egg with spinach and garlic, one or two slices bacon

2 small homemade pancakes with fruit one tablespoon maple syrup

Treat yourself





One important aspect of my new eating lifestyle is treating myself! I have always savored chocolate and have adamantly decided that I will still eat it in moderation. Most of the time I treat myself three times a week, mostly on weekends so I can workout to limit the damage. Sometimes I indulge in a cup of Haagen Daas almond milk ice cream or a homemade cookie or two. Other times I have a few squares of dark chocolate or dark chocolate raisins. Don’t feel guilty if you go off track, after all you are human! Maybe a rigorous walk or workout will offset your treat intake.

freshly cut carrot sticks to roast, a delicious side dish!

I will post on this topic again as I try new things in my new life and will communicate my strengths and shortfalls. All I know now is that as a 49 plus woman ( a few months shy of the big 50), I currently feel the best that I have ever felt physically! I wish this success for you as well! I feel women need to support other women during the journey instead of tearing each other down!

Believe in yourself for you are worth changing your routine! It may take a few weeks of trial and error with building confidence, but stick with it until it becomes a positive habit.

Let me know how your eating/ exercise regiment is going. Are you committed to feeling the best you ever have? If so, take a chance and make small changes that could grow into an amazing positive lifestyle!

I made these low fat Chocolate Chip cookies with banana yesterday. All they have is two ripened bananas mashed, 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 tsp. Vanilla. Mix together. Place in tablespoons on cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 350 F for ten or twelve minutes. They will be soft and need to be stored in the refrigerator.



All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

Daily Positive Intentions

One gratitude I hold dear to me right now is my discovery of Maria Shriver’s Sunday paper. Maria posts a positive and uplifting message about thriving in this noisy and chaotic world we live in. Shriver writes with sincerity and clarity, drawing me in and helping me through everyday life’s noise. She also ends her paper with a prayer to God pertaining to her topic, something I read with fervor and end with an amen. If you wish to sign up for her free weekly paper, go to Mariashriver.com for details. Maria also hosts a free podcast called Meaningful Conversations that I enjoy as well. I just listened to a conversation with Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea discussing Soul Kitchen, their successful project that has not only fed many homeless souls but empowered them with the opportunity of working and giving back to the community.

In this week’s paper Maria discusses rising up from life’s noise and breaking news to staying calm and focused. She suggests that you don’t get wrapped up in every media news story or tweet but limit the noise. Shriver also shares how she lists her positive intentions every morning for the day. This is something that I already practice in the shower while I’m preparing for the day. I also pray for my family and people I know who need it. I think focusing on light rather than darkness ( which Maria discusses as well) is the perfect calm in any storm.

As I write this, I’m planning on journaling most days of my positive intentions. One intention is to spread kindness to all, even people who dislike you or don’t seem worth the time for who are we to judge?We don’t know everyone’s battles so choosing love, acceptance and kindness is the answer. This can be tough at times but everyone deserves the embrace of graciousness.

Another positive intention I’m currently practicing is avoiding watching the dramatic news every morning. First of all, it’s never good. Do you notice that? It heightens my anxiety level and causes me to question our flailing President and government. I choose calmer and peaceful shows to watch in the morning or I connect with my blogging friends. It’s one way I can control what I’m inputing into my heart and brain and limit the clamoring confusion.

I believe focusing on a positive idea and implementing it throughout the day is my personal way of creating peace. It grounds me and keeps me centered heart and soul, as I continue to live and thrive in this life. I challenge you to set a positive intention today. Do you wish to focus on peace, kindness, acceptance or forgiveness? Once you set that daily positive intention, you are on the right track for the day.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️🌈

How I Transformed a Dislike into a Love ❤️

Can you tell that I enjoy cooking now?

For many years cooking for my family unfortunately was one of my disliked chores. It’s not that I didn’t love serving my family but every day and night I had to rack my brain of meal ideas and then magically throw them together for their consumption. It was the constant pressure of having it done by 5:30 or 6 and no matter what was happening with the kids, it just had to be on the table for all. I can imagine many of you busy moms feel the same way, right?

Fresh sliced tomatoes. Yum!

With that said, the last six months I’ve noticed a change from dread to excitement with a burst of creativity. It may be because there’s just the two of us now or the fact that I wanted to transform these feelings from dread to desire. It happened slowly at first. My flourishing garden produced fresh herbs, greens, carrots and tomatoes ( to name a few), kindling my interest in cooking. As you may know, mastering delicious and healthy meals depends on fresh ingredients!

My garden from last summer!

I would pick the ingredients in the afternoon for supper that night. It was straight from our rich soil to the dinner plate. This excited me beyond belief that I was homesteading in some ways! The food started tasting more delicious, for with freshly grown ingredients and locally raised meat how could you go wrong? I experimented with pungent Basil, sassy Cilantro and lemon Thyme.

My youngest son was greatly influenced by this, learning the herb names and cutting his own for his cooking creations. His interest intensified mine and my love for cooking grew even more! There were a few summer meals we co- cooked, which was so much fun!

My veggie harvest for my dinner!

With a positive and creative outlook, my disliked chore is a loved one now! I think I got tired of the dread hanging over me and I wanted to feel good about creating dinner! Now I plan ahead with the ingredients, read cookbooks, browse Pinterest and borrow recipes from my blogging friends, all to craft delicious meals for my family. I’m truly grateful for making this change and turning meal time into love! Wow, the food tastes more delicious because of my new passion!

Is there a household chore you dread and dislike? Could you put some imagination and creativity into it to make it fun and rewarding? Can you make a game of it? Is there a way you can have fun doing it by listening to a podcast or your favorite music? Whatever it is, I do hope you can beautify this chore to something incredible!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕