Apr 24
by Maryclaire Mayes

The Little Winters of Tennessee

Tennessee winters are a little unpredictable. It is more moderate than upstate NY, but we still get cold temperatures and usually at least a little bit of snow.

March may start with some warm days and daffodils popping up here and there. Then suddenly it seems like we are back in mid winter. Then you may get a week or two of warm sunny days, but more cold, rainy and maybe even snowy days will follow! For centuries, farmers have observed and journaled signs that helped them decide when to plant their crops and when to wait. Here in East Tennessee, this seasonal predictions are still used today and passed down from generation to generation. These predictable cold snaps, called “little winters” happen around the same time each spring and each were given a name corresponding to what is blooming.

  • Redbud Winter – Mid-March to early April, when the redbud trees bloom.
  • Locust Winter- Early April when leaves start to appear on locust trees.
  • Dogwood Winter – Mid- to late April, when the dogwood trees bloom. Still a chance of heavy frost.
  • Blackberry Winter – Early to mid-May, when blackberries are in full bloom. In the Tennessee mountains, this often coincides with the last frost of spring, which can kill new plantings.
  • Whippoorwill Winter –Mid- to late May, when the whippoorwills can first be heard.
  • Cotton Britches Winter – Late May- early June, when farmers changed to light cotton clothes.

Interesting that down here they say the same thing they did in Upstate NY: “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.”

Aug 23
by Maryclaire Mayes

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Ok so we don’t have lions and tigers here (although there are some mountain lions). We do have lots of big spiders, all kinds of snakes, including rattlers and copperheads and black bears. But so far our biggest problem is fighting with spider webs everywhere we walk outside. We have seen lots of harmless black snakes, but no poisonous snakes. One thing we are really not used to is seeing bears. We have seen them several times on our hikes and recently one even walking through our backyard. But everything we know about black bears is they usually mind their own business and as long as they don’t think you have food they pretty much run the other way. It is always exciting when we spot one, but I have to admit it is still a little bit scary!

Jul 23
by Maryclaire Mayes


We made a quick trip to to New York for Dean’s family reunion. His side of the family has one every two years and folks come from all over the country. The original plan was to host this years reunion at our little upstate farm. Fortunately Dean’s brother, ( thank you Brian & Nanette) who owns a christmas tree farm agreed to host this year for us. It was fun catching up with extended family and so much fun to see the all nine grandkids together again. Little Mr. Number Seven and Miss Number Eight have always had a special bond, I was happy to see they still wanted to be buddies. We made a long weekend of of, but the cousins were able to hang out for the whole week. It is true that family is where love grows.

Jun 23
by Maryclaire Mayes


Why do we celebrate Independence Day, the 4th of July?  Is it just the first holiday of Summer or another day off from work for a party? In the past it was always called Independence Day and there is a reason for that. Independence Day celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by delegates from the 13 colonies in 1776. The Declaration of Independence changed the course of history. It celebrates the experiment of a new kind of government. For the first time in history, the people, not kings or conquerors, would rule a nation. Delegates elected by the people would vote, representing the will of the people, because they declared it is a natural right for people to be free. This was a radical new idea that would allow people to pursue their own dreams and see their own hard work benefit themselves and their family. No where in the world before, had people been inspired to be independent and self sufficient.

After the vote, John Adams writes to his wife, Abigail: “Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which never was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony ‘that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, …This . . . Day . . . will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Was it perfect? No, but it was a daring experiment to throw off the yoke of class and let people govern themselves and strive to be better. America has been striving to be better since its inception.

So on this day, July 4th, Independence Day, celebrate… just remember what you are celebrating. I am celebrating the vision of our founding fathers and the brave men and women who have sacrificed to make us free, the right to worship God, love my family and friends, live my dreams, be independent and own my own business making our healthy skincare products! What about you? What are you remembering and honoring about the 4th of July?

May 23
by Maryclaire Mayes

She Smiles

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This is our granddaughter Miss Number One. She is so excited and proud to be 14 years old. She has overcome medical challenges as well as many other challenges. Born with defects in her heart, she had open heart surgery at 3 months old. The first surgery didn’t fix her leaky valve well enough and her surgeon felt her only hope was to try again 10 days later.

Many people loved and prayed for our little angel. We prayed that God would help the surgeon make a good repair. The surgeon wasn’t that hopeful after the surgery but said he did the very best possible on her tiny heart. The heart defect contributed to her getting pneumonia that was not responding to antibiotics and at times was very critical.

After over a month in the hospital she was allowed to go home on oxygen with a monitor. Her heart was able to work better and she was able to wean off of oxygen. At 18 months she had another emergency surgery this time to repair an issue with her intestines.

Miss Number One’s heart still needs to be monitored every 6 months. Her doctors aren’t quite sure why it is doing so well for her. I will never forget taking her to the lab for a blood test when she was about 3 years old. She held her arm out for the lab tech to draw blood as if she was just getting a kids cute sticker, never flinched. Then she smiled and politely thanked the tech when she was done.

It takes longer for her to learn new skills but through the help and determination of her family and her early intervention team of therapists, she learned to walk, talk, read and write. Through all the hurdles in her life, she smiles and loves life, her family and Jesus.