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😻❤️

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 ❤️🎉

A Summer Breakfast

Good morning friends! Summer mornings are my favorite times to relax with a great cup of coffee! ( Soon our new deck will be done and I’ll be sitting out there with it, see a future post.) I’ve been using almond milk lately, the trick to optimum flavor is to add a bit extra. I found that lactose free milk still wasn’t agreeing with me as it’s dairy. Along with my cup of java I enjoy a fresh fruit cup of raspberries, blueberries, bananas, golden raisins and almonds. I never would have thought this would fill me up…but it does and not only that it’s fresh and delicious!

Other summer mornings I indulge in my peanut butter oatmeal cup, banana slices and Teddie natural peanut butter or gluten free toast with peanut butter.

While I eat in the still moments of morning, birds calls and chirps can be heard. The bright welcoming sun peeks in the windows…a new day has began! Thank God for this quiet start to a new day!

What is your favorite summer breakfast? Do you enjoy a cup of coffee first thing?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

Good Morning! 🌞😃

This photo was taken by accident but it spoke to me and fit with this post!

Good Morning world!

As I open my door a burst of birdsongs delight me

The sun’s glow tickles my skin

Off goes my shoes in one swoop

The grass feels cool and refreshing

and dew squishes between my toes

No car traffic exists this early

A hushed stillness speaks to me

It’s calming to just be here

To relish in the wee hours

of a brand new day

God’s gift with many possibilities

How precious this morning is

and I’m extremely grateful to be able to

Witness the miracles of a new day!

Thank you God for all the blessings of a new day and for my health, for my family and my happiness. Amen🙏

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

Monday Morning Inspiration

You can CHOOSE how you react to others and negative situations. I’m learning this and training myself into calmness before I react. Instead of full bore antics I’m slowing down. I can Stop. I can Breathe. I can ask myself, is this action bringing me to a more powerful place? ( I like to think of it as a peaceful place as well) This is from Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. It’s been a helpful book on self awareness and feeling the fear and then doing something anyway. It focuses on changing your negative mindset and turning it into a positive one.

Enjoy the beauty of this day and don’t let others steal your joy, the joy that you deserve.

Have a beautiful day!

All My Best,

Mary

The Art of Stacked Wood

It’s hot and steamy July, a month when one usually doesn’t think of frigid New England winters. Yet soon enough it will be upon us and that’s my husband’s mindset. He knows how frigid and snowy it becomes here and his steadfast winter preparedness drives him to find wood.

Recently Tom bought wood from his friend Mike, cut from his land in our town. He’s been hauling in it, cutting it on the wood splitter and stacking it neatly. So far he has accumulated about three or four cords. We will probably need at least three or four more, enough to last about ten months. We primarily heat our house with our trusty wood stove besides the little kerosene monitor we have in the kitchen.

This is what Tom is expecting next year! Gotta have plenty of wood!

In the last few summers I enjoy going out and working with Tom. He cuts and I stack, which is an excellent work-out for me. Last summer I spotted a huge black and yellow snake living in the wood pile and since then I’m a bit jumpy and nervous about helping. We have far too many snakes on our property and they creep me out!

When we go on our summer country rides and back dirt roads I appreciate spotting stacked wood piles. It means someone else is planning ahead! It’s amazing to see who still burn wood here. With that said, I’ve heard that many have resorted to burning pellets. It may be convenient and maybe cheaper but you can’t stack bags nor admire their beauty in someone’s yard, right?

Forgive the picture quality, it was through a closed window. See what visited us the other morning? We were having our coffee in the living room and spotted a couple of does in our side yard. They’re so graceful and fun to watch this time of year! I feel beyond blessed to live with these beauties!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

School’s Out for the Summer!🌞🌼

Hello blogging friends, it’s been a hectic few weeks with me finishing up school, attending a few events and squeezing in outside garden time. Every day I thought of a potential blog post but never quite got there. I apologize for such a hiatus but I guess I needed it for my sanity. Now I should have ample time for writing and snapping photos as our school is out for the summer!

The garden in its beginning stage

My primary summer focus is maintaining and harvesting our garden. Every morning I walk a few feet in the rich green grass damp with morning dew to our little plot. Dressed in old t-shirts and sweat or yoga pants, I carry a garden hoe and metal can for weeds. It’s my morning peaceful ritual, joining the variety of birds, an owl that lives in our woods, croaking frogs ( in our pond), deer and turkeys that all love this land as much as I do. Getting down in the dirt is my daily therapy where problems disintegrate and a strength and resolve grows within me.

To the left are my rows of sweet corn followed by Zucchini and Summer Squash

It’s been a tough start to our growing season as nights have been quite cool for weeks, plummeting to the 40’s and sometimes 30’s. In the last month it’s rained a lot but it is waning, transitioning into warm pleasant days now. I worry for my tomatoes I started by seed, as the leaves are purple and they look like frost may have harmed them. I’ve had to replant a row of carrots as well as oregano because the seeds didn’t sprout. Time will tell.

To the left you can barely see my cilantro, then my cucumbers and last is the green lettuce.

One of my things to do is mount the tripods for the cucumber plants for a trellis. It involves Tom’s help where he pounds the stakes in and I tie them together with strong string. That way the cukes will hang up on them instead of being on the ground for moles to nibble on.

As I wrap up this post I wish you pleasant growing weather as you garden in your back yard or in deck pots. I hope this finds you all well, wherever you are physically and emotionally. I look forward to spending the summer with you, updating you of what’s going on in my rural world and hearing your stories as well.

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 💕

My Morning Affirmation

Good Morning Self,

What could you do today to live in peace?

Try deep breaths while closing your eyes. Listen to your lungs inhale and exhale, clearing your mind of worries.

Think positive thoughts of yourself and others.

Start fresh this brand new day,

Ridding your mind of “ I can’t do that”.

Grasp on to joyful thoughts and memories.

Build yourself up for new possibilities,

while bashing negatives that create barriers.

Believe that YOU can make this day

AMAZING in every way!