The Love in His Eyes

One of the special things I look forward to on my days off is snuggling with my cat Smokey. I have a comfortable well- used recliner that I snuggle in with my blanket and cup of coffee. It doesn’t take long for Smokey to meow his morning greeting of love and then he eagerly jumps up to be with me. I’ve tried to get a photo of his adorable eye communication with me. Unfortunately the iPad camera ruins the moment and my cat looks away in protest! I pet him gently and whisper sweet things like “ we get to be together today buddy” or “ I love you Smokey boy!”. He purrs his motor in a fantastic melody and sports the squinty eyes at me. He doesn’t need to talk human…I know what he means to say. His eyes says it all!

I love my kitty so and my cat Katie who passed away about a year ago. She lives in my memory but most importantly in my heart.

All My Best,

Mary😻❤️

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🎉🥰

Winter Wonderland

The last few days have been snowy and icy here. It’s a good thing I didn’t plan on any trips on my school vacation, the first week I was busy preparing for Christmas and this week I’m just hanging out. Tom has been in and out plowing, for our town and his driveway clients. He leaves in the wee hours of the morning before the sun rises and I never quite know when he will return. I am sure of one thing…he will return especially for a quick hot meal and the warm bed eventually.

I’ve been happily sleeping until I wake without the obtrusive alarm clock squawking at me. I rise when I rise…whether it be 5 or 6 am, it doesn’t matter. I bundle up in my comfy chair and sip my coffee. The first thing I do upon coming downstairs is turn on my Christmas tree, it is still up! I love having it lit in the early morning and in the evening. It stretches the holiday out for me and I can’t think of a better way to relax in my living room than in front of a colorful pine beauty.

While I’m on vacation it can snow and pile up for I have nowhere to be but here. It’s beautiful to walk in the woods and up our dirt road, an enchanting mass of trees frosted white and glowing in what little sun we have. I do love winter and the change of season. Now if you ask me in late February I may have a negative answer instead.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 😘

Baking and Hiding Treats!

Featuring Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

My healthy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies made with banana

Lately I have a problem. A sweet problem, that is. I want desperately to bake sweets to please my family and co- workers, yet the temptation that goes with having goodies in the house is too much for me. ( especially around the holidays) I make my husband hide the air tight cookie container but then he forgets where he has hidden it! Sounds like something I would do!

 

Once it gets frigid here with a blanket of snow everywhere there is a comfort of an oven baking. It warms the whole kitchen with a nesting glow and the scent of fresh baked goodies wafts throughout the house. I tend to bake with candles lit and my music playing in the background. I’m an old school baker as I wear my apron, use wooden spoons yet with a modern twist with the use of my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer.

 

Here is a list of cookies and bars I enjoy to make.

  • M&M cookies
  • Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Blossoms ( with a Hershey’s kiss)
  • Lunch Lady Brownies
  • Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies

Here is my favorite Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies recipe that I make often. They are delicious and are hard to eat just one! This isn’t the recipe made with banana but I’ll try to share that soon. 

The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • You will need :
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, unpacked
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole rolled oats, not instant
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional
  • 1 cup heaping semi- sweet chocolate chips

Combine egg,butter,sugars and vanilla in mixer. Beat on medium speed for four minutes until creamed and combined. Stop and scrape the sides of the mixer. Add oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, optional salt until just combined, about a minute.

Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Add chocolate chips and beat until combined.

Using a large cookie scoop form equal sized balls and flatten slightly on cookie pan, about two inches apart. If you wish strategically place a few choc chips on each mound. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 11 minutes or until edges and top are set. Don’t overtake as cookies firm up as they cool. Cool on rack. Can be kept in airtight container for a week and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

I hope you will try this recipe. You can make it gluten free by using gluten free flour like oat flour. It may change the consistency but they will be amazing!Happy baking, my friends.

As I close this post I want to focus on positive thinking and faith. If you are going through troubles right now, please remember turning your thoughts ( and praying too if you practice that) to positive and uplifting ones, it will help. When I experienced health troubles for a few months I prayed for strength but acceptance as well. Any bad experience in your life is meant for a lesson. It’s power can build you up, to a stronger person with a new appreciation of all the wonders in life. Have faith that crooked roads lead to beautiful peaceful pastures! 

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 ❤️🎊

Almond Butter Brownies, Gluten Free, Delicious!

This is my sweet sister- in- law Bev’s almond butter brownies. She found the recipe online somewhere and made these for our family Thanksgiving dinner. They are gluten free and healthy, using maple syrup instead of sugar but most importantly they are delicious! Even both my sons gobbled them up, convincing me to bake them for Christmas!

You will need:

  • 1/4 c. and 2 Tbls. cocoa powder
  • 1 c. Soft almond butter
  • 1/2 c. and 3 Tbls. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. rolled oats crushed or I used 1/3 c. Oat flour. You can use almond flour instead if you wish
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease or line a 8 inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes and let cool for an hour. Can be refrigerated for up to a week. Don’t overcook. These are soft, rich in flavor and fudgy. Delicious!

An up close photo of the last brownie!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul💕

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😘

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.