A January To Do List

If you live in the wintry Northeast of the United States, you know that many January activities involve the cold, snow or inside venues. I compiled a little to do list for you New Englanders to try this month. If you live elsewhere ask yourself if any of these ideas would work for you.

Credits to Janet Lee Logan & Princess Sassy Pants & Co. Thank you.
  • Go sledding with your family and friends! We have a long Tobaggon that I won at work many years ago. It can hold two or three bodies and goes like the wind!
  • Host a Saturday lunch for friends. I’m hosting my two friends Laurie and Michelle in a couple of weeks. Serve hot or cold sandwiches or homemade soup. Have tea, coffee or hot beverages available.
  • Organize desk drawers or cluttered countertops. It’s easier now while the weather is colder outside. Once spring comes, you’re going to want to be outside instead.
  • Organize your printed photographs or digital thumbprints. Label folders such as Christmas 2018 or Summer 2018.
  • Take an afternoon hike in the woods. Tom and I hiked about a mile to check on his game camera and feed the local deer. It was simply magical with snow falling while we were in the midst of the stand of trees. Animal tracks spiraled throughout the woods like a crazy maze.

  • Build a cozy fire in the stove or fireplace and cuddle up nearby. Watch a good movie, Mr. Church on Netflix. It’s a heartwarming story of a mother and daughter who have a cook who becomes part of the family. Read a good book! Right now I’m reading The Divide by Nicholas Evans about a family facing a tragic loss of their daughter and the search to find out what happened to her.

I hope you all enjoy the month of January and everything that comes with it!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

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Mom’s Christmas Traditions

My Mom’s Traditions 

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What is it about getting older that brings nostalgic thoughts and dream reenactments of childhood holidays? I think this happens to most of us as we age…when we truly realize how special family is and the holidays with them surrounding you. There are some Christmas traditions that mean even more to me as seasons come and go.

Every family has the tradition of special foods that are prepared once a year. My mom made spicy gingerbread men every year. Mom poked holes at the top to string ribbon through. We ate some and hung the others on our Christmas tree. Most Christmas mornings my mom made Bisquick Jam coffee cake. 

Tom’s Mom’s Traditions 

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There was always a clementine nestled in the stocking toe with little boxes of cereal that the four children would eat for breakfast. They would open their stockings early around 4, discovering their new treasures. Meanwhile their mom and dad slept. 

The Sears Roebuck catalog was the wish list and each child picked out one gift they wanted and they always got that one special gift. Tom received a bike when he was 8 or 9. One year the girls got ice skates.

Their father plowed snow and one year he was out all day working and they waited for him to come home to open the presents. I’m sure it was even sweeter that year because the children had to wait, but it was worth it to share with their dad.

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Tom and his cousin Kenny

My Christmas Traditions

Growing up our family had a tradition of opening one small gift on Christmas Eve. I wanted us to continue the fun and so our boys always had one or two presents to open on Christmas Eve. Usually there was new pajamas and an ornament for the tree. It was fun shopping for unique ones that represented the year. One year I bought a little snowboarder for Dylan when he was snowboarding on our hill. Branden got a cinnamon smelling cat as he loved our cats. 


As I wrap up this post I want to thank you all for staying with me and investing your time to catch a glimpse of my life. Many of you have become my friends and I’m thankful for the connections we have made across the country and the world. Things are getting quite busy here with finishing shopping, cooking and baking and wrapping for Christmas. I will not post again until Christmas or after. I wish you all a Merry Christmas with your loved ones and friends. 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🎄❤️

My sons in their new pajamas on Christmas Eve

The Ice Castles

My husband wishing I didn’t take a photo of him…but he was part of the adventure so I pleaded with him for a shot.

As winter is supposedly  making its last call,  I am recalling events  of this past season. I spent a  bulk of the season sick with a flu, pretty much weighing me down and leaving me stuck indoors. Although winter was tough to get through,  I do have a pleasant account of a visit to the Ice Castles in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

 

Lincoln is about 45 minutes from us south on route 93, a place we frequent throughout the year visiting one of our favorite Chinese restaurants, Chieng Garden. They serve delicious and fresh food, without MSG. We also used to go to Lincoln to watch Dylan’s baseball games .Those days are long gone but still strong in our memories and hearts.

 

It’s been a few years since people started talking about the Ice Castles. This year I told myself that I would buy Tom and I tickets and just go, seeing what all the hype was. I’ll tell you that if you are ever in the area in the winter, it’s an amazing sight but a little disappointing towards the end of the season.We went the first week of March, probably a little too late. I would recommend going in January…just bundle up and experience an outside wonder. Also the tickets were expensive totaling $35 for two.

 

 

This was the entry way of the adventure.

Upon entering the parking lot of the monstrous frozen structure, I have to admit we were a little disappointed. We had to visualize it looking as a castle. To us, it appeared melted and worn down and the structure just looked like mere ice. Even so, we gathered our hats, gloves and my camera and gave it a try.  I had longed to go for years and the least we could do was check it out once. Sometimes that’s all you need to satisfy your need and then you never need nor want to do it again.

 

See what I mean? Doesn’t really look like a castle from the outside, does it?

 

 

A narrow walkway with flowing icicles actually was magical but drippy. That made me nervous as I envisioned chunks falling as we walked through. But thankfully it was all in my mind.

 

Hundreds of people flocked in the court-yard. Children played and slid down magical slides. Surrounding speakers belted out elevator music, supposedly  enhancing the experience. We could’ve lived without it, you were not going to experience peace here with all the gathered people. I’m sure bringing children and grandchildren is more fun, seeing glee and happiness through innocent eyes.

 

I thought of how they created the ice castles. Tom said they have water guns to shoot the water up and it ices up right away. It looks like a lot of time and hard work involved.

 

 

I thought the interior sides of the ice castle resembled frozen waterfalls, rushing down and stopping frozen in time. It was a magnificent sight against the beautiful March sky. As we walked around the main court, Tom and I were quiet. I think there are moments that call for peace and quiet, to absorb nature. Although we were hushed, many family voices rang throughout and you didn’t reach a peaceful state. I think it would’ve been better with fewer people so you could reflect instead of trying to ignore all the noise.

 

 

This was one of the mini slides with two stalls for wee tiny children to scoot down. I can just imagine how magical it was for them under the iced structure.

 

This was one of the rooms in the ice castle bearing a big fountain in the middle. It’s hard to see from my picture, but actual water spewed up from it. It chilled my insides just to see it, but it was amazing.

 

We were in the ice castle for probably a half hour. Perhaps most families spend much longer perusing the man-made wonder, while their children coast down on slides of sparkling ice. We were discouraged from the long lines at the slides and otherwise I would’ve given a go for laughs. It was an experience we can see we did…finally taking part in something many north country people have done. Tom and I decided that it was our last time because we had seen it first hand . Some events you only need to do once and in my opinion, this was one of them.

 

With this post, I officially say goodbye to winter. I’m ready for spring, with that said all weekend we had snow and freezing rain. This morning is a two-hour delay, a treat for a Monday. I’m having an extra cup of Joe and spending valuable time blogging.

I hope you all have a great Monday where ever you are!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

“Earning Your Keep”

 

I think most writers discover inspiration all around them…in nature’s beauty, in the eyes of their loves, in magical books and movies that take your breath away, to name a few. I watched a movie last night on Hulu, Tumbledown with Jason Sudeikis and a quote struck me so much that I thought about it all night. The female character was looking out over a frozen lake in April set in Maine and her prolific words touched my every being. ” I love living in a place where you have to earn your keep.”

 

 

What does that really mean? I know it was a reference to  living in New England. It can be brutal here with harsh weather with loads of snow and little sun many months of the year to the point of driving many people south for a reprieve. Staying here in this sometimes unforgiving land is”earning your keep.”You have to work hard. Live hard. Love with all your being. You have to accept the seasons and love the changes that are thrust upon you.

 

 

In spring the hearty tulips emerge in patches of snow. Newly arriving robins flutter and fly while frosty snow covers the ground. That’s not what I visualize when I think of spring…yet that’s the reality here.

 

In summer the warmth and pleasant temperatures take over, a season when towns fill up  with returning snowbirds. Small hamlets come to life as economies thrive once again, counting on the hot sunshine, the cool walks in the woods and the refreshing dips in the lake that appeal to any visitor and resident.

 

The crisp fall presence is a prelude of winter but a lingering glimpse of summer. Trees are an outstanding canvas of golden, pinks, bright yellows and rich reds. Mountains call to you to explore and experience the surreal peace on the way to the top.

 

Beautiful yet unforgiving winter brings sparkling whites, glistening sheets of ice and frigid air….testing your endurance. It’s the season your will must be steady and strong. You accept the harsh reality because the splendor and beauty can be humbling yet breath-taking.

 

When I think of living in New England, I think of “earning your keep”. It takes a strong-willed person to not only stick it out, but to love all the seasons for their unique qualities. We choose to stay, to live and love the changes the seasons hand us. That’s what a New Englander does….earns his keep and loves every minute of it!

 

The older I become the more my bones ache ( possibly arthritis) and my patience with the cold waivers at times. With that said, I still love living in the north. It’s all I know and my husband as well…both of us have lived in New England all our lives and I foresee that’s the way it will always be. 

Happy Weekend to you all!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Another Snowstorm!

As the morning trudges on

so do the frantic snowplows

and few cars

paving snow trails

to work.

Yesterday our little corner

of the world was dumped on

with several inches

of the fluffy stuff.

It’s the third Nor’easter

in a matter of days!

There’s a still peace,

as soft snow continues to fall

and pile up in substantial drifts.

A piercing early call woke me

to a no school message.

My husband had few hours of sleep

and he’s out in

the white world

fixing town machines and plowing.

Perhaps it’s winters last hurrah

and a fleeting chance to be

enveloped inside and read a book!

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

My February Facts

I thought I’d write this post with a February theme and as the month is almost in the books, I’m on a time crunch! So here it goes…

 

February is a birthday month for my family! Both my sons were born this month two years and four days apart. Their Papa’s birthday was tucked in between the boys. Now our daughter- in- law’s birthday is in the same month! Wow, that’s a lot of birthday dinners! 

 

 

February usually presents itself in a milky white with snowy landscapes and frosted trees. Sometimes temperatures hover near freezing and other times we have spring like conditions with melting snow and flooding. You never know what you’re going to get here in New England!

 

February meals simmer in crockpots and we eat our hearty comfort food by our fire. I cook cream of chicken ( rice pilaf on the side), baked beans and barbecued ribs this month. With cold and snowy conditions, there’s nothing better than hot homemade food! I must mention I bake up a storm this month too….cookies, brownies and goodies!

 

 

This is the month I consider planning my garden and read up on planting techniques. It’s a way of bringing spring closer than what it is. Four months from now Tom and I will till the garden and plant for the season! I can’t wait!

 

 

 

 

February is cabin fever month for me. Winter seems long here and although I like the season and some of the beauty it gifts, by mid month I’m itching for green grass, summer birds and hot sun. Most northerners pack up and vacation south, but we need to stay for Tom’s job. Needless to say, February is a soul-searching quiet month.

 

 

What I love about February is that the wildlife emerges from a deep sleep and start trekking all over the region, in hopes of spring. Chipmunks, squirrels, skunks, foxes and deer show themselves and play amid the snow, leaving their tracks behind. These movements are my hope that spring is around the corner! 

 

 

Just a few February facts to share with you….I wonder if your Feb facts are similar or different? What do you love about February? Here’s looking forward to March and spring!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

 

 

 

A February Snowstorm

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We’ve just weathered ( excuse the pun!) a snowstorm . It dumped a few inches shy of a  foot of new heavy snow. Looking outside my window all I see are mountains of white, pushed against our house in drifts. The road is encased with snowy forts up to four feet. The DOT  monstrous orange plows rumble back and forth, pushing snow up against the banks. Private snowplows rush by with the flashing lights on their roofs as the new promising day begins.

 

 

 

It started its magic about 11 am on Wednesday and continued with nature’s force until it petered out in the late evening. We were released early from school at noon, and even then teachers were already digging their cars out and roads were frosted with new snow. Most cars slowed down in slow motion, as snowflakes fell at a rapid rate.

 

I arrived home quietly and greeted my two lovable  lounging cats. As I lit my candles and ate a little lunch, our road became still. There wasn’t the  usual deluge of passing vehicles going somewhere. I suppose many people went straight home, as I did and nestled in it’s comfort.

 

Is it odd to say that’s one of my favorite elements of winter? The nesting inside…beside the blazing heat and crackle of the fire. Gazing at the constant glittery show of the snowfall, sometimes pelting against the windows. The feel of snugly lap blankets and fuzzy slippers. The good hot cup of tea or rich coffee in hand and an interesting book or my iPad to write.

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That night while I prepared for bed, snowplows hurried by and I hoped the drivers would be able to rest soon, including my husband. I went to bed and left the light on for him and in the midst of the night I heard the ruffle of blankets as he tiredly climbed in our cocoon. We both fell asleep and I didn’t even get to ask him about his snowy work filled day.

 

I woke up to more plow trucks racing by with weary drivers at the helm. The school bus barreled by and as I fixed my breakfast I thought that this is a way of life here. The outside world is piled up with snow and even so, life goes on as usual. I would dress and anticipate my school day, as I always do.

 

Yes, we have to endure snow boots, gloves and hats, snow tires, huge heating bills and sometimes inconveniences of messy roads. But through all this, I’ll take it and my husband will to. For we chose to live here, to dwell in the four seasons and reap in its rewards. Winter has its lovely elements, despite nasty flu floating around as well as cold temperatures and snow.

 

A winter blessing is the sparkling beauty of snowfall and it’s magical presence hung on branches. The cold air makes you feel alive ( I’ll take this over too much heat). Winter is the perfect time to rest, to renew from the passing year and prepare for the months ahead. It’s the only time you can snowshoe and stargaze at a perfect sky frosted with unbelievable stars. Tracks from our wild friends scatter throughout the yard like a busy maze, something we can’t see in other seasons.

 

 

So winter is in full force here, in New Hampshire. Our beef stew is ready in the crockpot along with a pan of freshly baked biscuits. The stove crackles and pops and the white wonderland outside is where I live, where I rest and mostly love my family.

 

I was born in New England like my mom and my dad and both sets of grandparents. I hope to die here. I’m proud to live here! Maybe I’m crazy!  Maybe it’s a stubborn trait, to defy the odds and stay. Or maybe I’m just at home, no matter which beautiful season it is! I’ll accept winter and the rest as snow falls outside and the stars twinkle their show.

 

Are you content where you live? Do you have snow or tropical weather?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤