My Mom’s Amish Country Adventure

 

In April my mom excitedly experienced a week-long Amish Country quilt retreat! Sounds pretty intriguing , doesn’t it? She was invited from relatives to attend this quilt retreat in Ohio and she couldn’t say no since she is a devoted quilt maker.

 

 

The retreat was in Charm, Ohio, a little Amish community. The Amish hosted the participants in a modest yet modern housing complex. Mom and her relative and friends worked on their quilt with help from Amish women. They brought their materials, cloth and sewing machine to work on all week.

The Amish women cooked for the group including providing snacks such as popped corn made on the gas stove. They have this convenience but no electricity nor televisions or modern devices.

 

 

Mom came home with freshly made turnovers, to serve at Easter dinner. It’s not everyday that you can taste something so delicious and made by the Amish. What a treat they were! I just wish I would’ve snapped a photo of them!

 

 

What an experience she had and I’m so happy for her, for she doesn’t travel on her own adventures. I would love to see her go once a year. I feel it’s vital to go on your own treks, to meet new people and see places you’ve never seen before. It’s these times that build your inner self-awareness and confidence.

This is one of the amazing quilts my mom has crafted for us. I love the different shades of blue! It’s comfortable on chilly evenings and mornings and Smokey agrees. Here he is lounging on my bed before I make it for the day.

Have a blessed day and seek adventure whenever you can!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

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Beautiful YOU

I love this quote because it’s so true! Many women need to accept themselves the way they are, including me!Just be yourself…for acting like someone else isn’t you. It’s fake. Do you want to be real and honest? Then just be you. Your friends and family will love you for who you are and the rest of the world doesn’t matter.

I’m placing this quote on my fridge for when I have self-doubt. Isn’t it just easier to be yourself with love and acceptance? I would imagine life will roll a lot smoother when you do this.

 

 

 

Happy summer, friends! I hope you all are enjoying it~

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Your Happiness

Photo credit, lessonslearnedinlife.com

I’m finally learning this monumental lesson as a 49 year-old woman. Happiness doesn’t lie with your husband or children or on exciting Christmas morning. Happiness isn’t what you do for a living nor how you spend your free time.

True happiness begins within you. Yes, you! I’m working on this, on seeking contentment and peace(which I think are relatives of true happiness for the three go hand in hand) within myself. I am extremely grateful for learning this and I’m on my way to self happiness. It’s a tough and long road but will eventually lead to peace and self-love.

photo credit, Facebook.com/itsthehappypage

Maybe you can find short-lived happiness in a book, a favorite activity or movie. But true contentment and happiness MUST be inside of you first. You must find it, cultivate and let it grow so that all around you, so that everything will fall in place.

I do hope you’ve discovered this truth! I wish you all loads of happiness as you live your life. A question to ask yourself is, “am I happy with myself?” If not, it’s time to change this. I am.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Blue Bellflowers

My favorite gardening activity right now is making new beds and creating beautiful spaces around our home. The first summer we were here we planted Hostas in the front that bloom in August. The following year we added two Spirea bushes, gifts from my friend and co-worker Laura. Our niece Michele gifted us a cool shady tropical looking plant and I bought a few Astilbe plants for the shady side of the house. Last year I had so much fun adding a new garden with yellow Coreopsis and deep purple  Echinacea Coneflowers.

My new little garden is on under the window next to the door. This full picture of our renovated house shows how small the space is.

All winter I dreamed of designing a new small space about two feet wide to the left of our door, our only real entrance that we use frequently. First I thought of daisies but they need spaces to flow, like a field for the area behind my vegetable garden. Next I wished for a Hydrangea bush but that would be too big for this space. Finally I decided on a whim to search for random flowers that may speak to me.

 

The other day  I set out for Lowe’s and Home Depot. I wished for something that would look beautiful and fit that area just right. I found these Taikon Blue Bellflowers on the clearance rack at Lowe’s for $3.00, half price. I’m not sure why they were marked off other than a few blossoms gone by. My son’s friend works there and helped me tag it. It was a good feeling to find something and at a perfect thrifty price!

After digging a hole with Tom’s trusty shovel and planting it, I mulched and lined it with rocks we have around the property. I call it my “Love Garden” as it hosts my heart-shaped rocks and upon entering our door you can feel the love in this house. It’s sappy but I know it’s true.

Most of the flower photos I share will be outside ones. I have never been able to keep cut flowers nor plants inside because of our cats. They eat all the leaves and blossoms and dig trenches in the dirt. Not pretty for a beige living room carpet! There is one special place I keep my picked posies, on my little mantle on our chimney. I like to change them every week or two with local pickings. Today I have wild daisies and another wild purple flower as well as picked roses. They truly make my day happy, it’s the little things that I find joy in. Do you find peace and joy in gardening flowers?

I’m wondering if anyone else has made a new flower bed recently? If so, what did you plant and what companion plants do you have?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

A Garden Update

It has been very hot and dry here in New Hampshire. With just a one day of rainfall until yesterday, I was becoming good friends with our new garden hose (Thanks so much to Tom and Dylan for setting up the outside faucet and hose for me). I’ve been trying to save my frail cucumber plants. Have you ever had trouble getting yours growing? I have…even with a daily watering habit the cucumbers are floppy and the stems are white. This happens to my tender plants early in the season if the weather is hot.

 

Thankfully the day before yesterday we had a deluge of rain, perking up my green plants and moistening the garden soil. It’s amazing how a significant rainfall can make a difference with their well-being. With a blink of the eye, the growth is unbelievable!

Here is our little corn patch, four meager rows. Tom and Branden love corn and I enjoy it too. I made the decision to rotate its placement.  Last year the corn rested on the East side facing, where the sun comes up and this growing season it’s on the West side.

My green beans have sprouted nicely forming an L shape in the East corner. I hope they are close enough to the fence to intertwine the vine on it. It would be cool to pick beans off the fence.

As most of you may know, I planted a bed of sunflowers for my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding in August. Here is a recent photo of one and even now, with the rainstorm, it’s a few inches taller. Next Tom and I plan to fence it in to protect it from deer and woodchucks. I’m grateful that I can do this and really hope they will be ready to pick by the 18th.

How are your gardens doing? Have you spent much time nurturing and talking to your plants as I have? I think that’s my mother-in-law’s success with growing flowers is simple, talk to them everyday and love them. You can’t go wrong with love, don’t you agree?

I hope you all are having a pleasant week. I plan to catch up and read many of your blog posts.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

One Small Sticker, One Huge Heart

I am always looking for special moments throughout the day, occurrences that restore my faith in humanity. Sometimes it’s a wide smile and a pat on the back…others times, it’s witnessing adults and students helping each other with a kindness that will surely change our world.

 

 

About six weeks ago at 7:20 with a steamy mug of tea in hand and my school bag slung over my shoulder, I walked the path to the school building. It seemed like any other work day. But little did I know I would receive a surprise at the door. A smiling eighth grader sat on the pavement with a book of bright glittery stickers. “Do you want a sticker?” Brendan Wall asked me. This was strange to me, for I am always  giving out stickers to my students, but no one has ever asked me!

 

I immediately thought that it was a special gesture, especially early in the morning. This was a sure sign that this kids heart was in the right place! From that day on, the sticker collection grew. Brendan would have sheets fanned out on the walk with surrounding kids waiting for a sticker to start the day. He would generously hand them out to students and teachers. Smiling and laughing kids and a genuine happiness hung in the air…simply from a sticker.

 

Brendan told me that he hands out the little stickers “because it makes people happy and that makes me happy.” He said some people ask if he wants money and the answer is always no, “because people don’t need to pay for their happiness!” he stated proudly.

 

I remember having this young man in reading a few years ago. What an inspiring gift it is, to see what good he is doing for the school community now! I’m not sure how Brendan got this fantastic inspiration ( I should have asked him) but I do know that with this simple sticker and kind smile, he’s contributing to a healthy and positive school climate. It sends a simple message that you can spread goodness and kindness with a small token but affect others in a huge way!

Upon taking these photos on the last day, Brendan gave out his sticker sheets for the summer. I didn’t ask him if this project would be ongoing and since he’ll be in high school, I expect it may change. One thing that won’t change is Brendan’s huge heart and his gifts of kindness to others. Maybe someday this young man will have a promising career serving others.

Thank you to Brendan for letting me share his story. Also a huge thanks to his mom for her permission to take photos and write about him. She must be a proud mama to have such a giving son and I’m sure her love and kindness has positively influenced him.

As you go about your day, how can you spread kindness and generosity in small ways? If we all do this, in these special and small moments, our world will definitely be a better place! I hope you will feel inspired from this young man and do your part to spread love and kindness to others!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

aka “Mrs. Blowey” as Brendan knows me

Letting Fear Go

 

 

Many women have learned to live life with fear, either by being taught this or by being immersed in the fear cycle through emotional or physical abuse. I’ve always been fearful…starting as a little girl I was afraid of anything and everything. To this day I still need to remind myself that I’m stronger than the dark cloud of fear and that I can overcome it! I’m  tired of the pattern it knits and how it makes me feel inside.

 

 

What has helped me tackle it  is trusting God and riding the storm with his sheltering umbrella over me. It’s not to say that it creeps up now and then, but it keeps these feelings at bay and under control.

 

Recently I had to venture alone down south on busy route 93 to pick up my son close to Boston. I had scattered fearful thoughts of what if…my car breaks down? What if I get in an accident so far from home? When ever I go alone, fear invades my every being but I squash it and say to myself that I am confident and strong. For I am!

 

 

Fear stunts growth and keeps a person stuck in negativity. After acknowledging the fear, I let it go. I challenge its foundation and embrace strength instead. This is all part of my growing journey…an exhilarating triumph to see it for what it is and squash it entirely.

 

I’m not saying that all this inner work is easy for its not…sometimes life’s events will happen and jar my strength and then I am back to the drawing board. It’s constant work to remember that fear only lives when one gives it life, wouldn’t you say? I would rather give energy to strength and confidence. I can’t wait until the day I bid a complete goodbye to this work, but until then I’ll strive to do better.

As I write this, I think of another plaguing insecurity of mine is jealousy. I’ve planned on writing a post on it in the future and hope you all can lend me a hand on my journey by encouraging my removal of it from my life.

Thank you all for your friendship and love. I never could have imagined the incredible people on word press that have contributed to my life. I consider many of you dear friends, although we have never met, we share many hopes and dreams and hurts.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul